Sunday, January 24, 2010

Movies: Decent Foreign Movie Double Feature

I shuffle through a lot of foreign movies, and I can safely say that just because a movie is in a different language, it doesn't mean it'll be more engaging than the latest Hollywood blockbuster at the multiplex. Plenty of critically acclaimed foreign flicks are just plain boring; here are two that might hold your interest:


"Noise" is a drama directed by Matthew Saville. It was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, but don't hold that against it - it's really a well thought-out, entertaining movie:

Constable Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell) is stuck in a job he hates - jockeying the "mobile police station" (a glorified truck camper) for a sleepy suburb that's been wracked by a series of murders. On top of these long night shifts, he's experiencing tinnitus, a constant ringing in his ears, and it might be a sign of more serious medical problems.

"Noise" is a slow-burn police drama, with a pitch-perfect performance from Cowell - he's at turns sarcastic, sympathetic, and serious. There's action, at least at the end, and there's a dose of mystery, too. But what keeps it from being boring are McGahan's profanity-laced encounters with the locals - there's nothing like corrosive banter being delivered in an Australian accent.

Rating: 7/10

Taxi Number 9211

Hollywood regularly poaches ideas from world cinema, so it's only fair that Bollywood return the favor in this Indian remake of "Changing Lanes" (the 2002 American thriller starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson). Directed by Milan Luthria, "Taxi Number 9211" is markedly different in tone than the source material, ditching the thriller elements and opting for a more lighthearted romp through Mumbai.

In the movie, a recalcitrant cab driver named Raghav (played by veteran actor Nana Patekar) faces off against a spoiled playboy named Jai (the photogenic John Abraham). When the two first cross paths, Jai is desperate to get to court to deliver a will in order to claim his inheritance, but his constant demands to go faster get on Raghav's nerves. Several car accidents, dirty tricks, and police chases later, and it's a full-on battle between two guys who really need to take a chill pill.

I liked the chemistry between the male leads, especially Patekar's angry deadpan humor. The plot does follow the Bollywood formula, and you'll see the feel-good ending coming a mile away, but it's still a pretty good flick. "Taxi Number 9211" does tend to overuse "Meter Down," a track by composer Adnan Sami. I really can't blame them, though - if you had a song this catchy, wouldn't you try to stick it in every scene?

Rating: 6/10


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