This month, Filmi Geek (the blog, not its author) turns 6. In those six years, I have published well over 200 movie reviews here.
But not all reviews are created equal.
Some of the older reviews on this blog truly make me cringe - if I had time I would rewatch the first 50 or 75 Hindi movies I ever saw and rewrite every last review in the light of what I know now, both about movies and about writing about movies.
In contrast, every once in a while I write a review that I'm actually rather proud of - one that captures what I felt while watching, or that explores an interesting idea. My favorite reviews have a cohesive narrative structure of their own, something more than a paragraph-separated recounting of highlights and lowlights. The best reviews, I think, tell you as much about me as they do about the movie.
In honor of Filmi Geek's 6th birthday, I offer this thoroughly self-serving post, in which I browse my own archives and compile for you a selection of what I think of as Filmi Geek's very best. These are not necessarily reviews of my favorite movies - those can be found, for better and worse, in the GOAT's Favorites category. Rather, these are the reviews that come closest to achieving what I strive for every time I sit down to write: my experience of a movie and my thoughts about it, presented (I hope) in a way that is interesting for you.
So, without further nattering, here is what I think is the best of Filmi Geek so far. Thank you very much for reading. Here's to six more years.
This is a rather gushing review, and gushing reviews aren't always my favorites. After all, there are only so many superlatives one can trot out. But in my gushing about this sweet movie, I went out on a limb and made some bold proclamations about the future of its stars. I am already fairly certain those predictions will prove false. But I am still pleased with the review, for taking that chance.
Another gushing review that injects a small amount of substance. The review does pause to acknowledge some problems with the movie, before waving them away to revel in the delicious sweetness of the movie and the intoxicating sway of Aruna Irani's hips.
Writing about movies I hate is even more satisfying than writing about movies I love. Here, I tear apart a movie that is simply a horrid example of filmmaking craft gone wrong.
Although this is another gushing review, I feel it captures better than some exactly why I love the movie so much. It's a solid discussion of the movie's themes and devices, and offers a bit more substance than a mere rattling of superlatives.
This was one of the first movies I saw after returning from my first trip to India, and the experiences of that visit shaped my experience of the movie. This review explains the feedback loop by which my visit to India colors what I see in the movies, and vice versa. It also discusses the vitality of location in a film.
Another example of shredding a movie I despise. This is a fairly old review, and it's the first movie I really attacked with glee and with the gloves off. My language in this review may have waxed somewhat purple. It's very tempting to get hyperbolic when tearing apart an awful movie. Since this movie is itself so hyperbolic, I don't feel too guilty about going over the top myself.
I ventured outside my usual review format for this recent review. It is a dialogue between my serious, nerdy side - the one who usually reviews movies here - and the side of me that is just plain turned on by Vidya Balan. The result is not everything I hoped it would be, but I think it makes an entertaining read.
This gorgeous movie inspired some of my better turns of phrase, as I worked to capture some of its lyricism in my review. As a bonus, there is an interesting discussion in the comments with someone who criticized me for being excessively sympathetic to Muslims.
This is one of my all-time favorite Shabana Azmi movies. I like this review, one of my older ones, because of its discussion of the film's rich substance.
This movie's use of Calcutta as an exotic backdrop for its story allows my review to cover two of my favorite themes: Location as a character in its own right, and the use of exoticism in storytelling.
In this relatively early review I struggle with the problem of bringing an outsider's point of to view to criticism of the substance of Indian films. Kaise bhool jaaun ki main Hindustani nahin? I don't always get the balance right, but I was pleased with the way this review expresses my attempts to think about it.
Though my friends are often kind enough to vouch for my wit and humor, for whatever reason these qualities - to the extent I have them - don't show up here on the blog very often. But this weird movie brought my sense of humor out to play, and resulting in that rarest of creatures: A funny Filmi Geek review.
More gleeful evisceration of a dire and dreadful movie. This one is almost unfair, because the movie is so horrid that a vituperous and snarky review practically writes itself. Trashing a movie like this is the film critic's equivalent of popping bubble wrap - it's not terribly challenging, yet it's immensely satisfying. I include the review because I did manage some substantive criticism in the midst of all that joyous venom.
Writing about movies that are good, but could have been great, is of particular interest to me. I find it quite compelling to analyze precisely where a very promising movie bumps off the rails. What intrigues me about this review is that my interpretation of what's wrong with this movie isn't universally shared, and may in fact be colored by my perspective as an outsider, a non-Indian viewer of a very Indian film. Some of that difference of opinion is explored in the comments.
Like Jab jab phool khile, this movie touches on the east-west tension that I find terribly fascinating in movies of this era. This is a relatively old review, and so its tone is not as delicate as I would like; I didn't know enough, at that point, to know the contours of what I don't understand about the complexities of India. I would tread more lightly today. Still, I like the review for its examination of that favorite theme of mine.