Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Taps (1981)

There are some classic movies you just have to see. Often they are popular because of the actors. Especially when they cast present-day stars early in their careers. In Taps, you get Timothy Hutton (fresh after winning an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Ordinary People), Sean Penn in his first feature film and a testosterone-fuelled Tom Cruise.

Cadet Major Brian Moreland (Timothy Hutton) is a made man. He’s now a Major, the highest rank at Bunker Hill Military Academy. After dining with General Harlan Bache (George C. Scott), he’s on military-themed cloud 9. That is, until Bache makes a devastating announcement—that Bunker Hill Military Academy will be closing its doors. The historic buildings will be razed and condos will be built. This drives the boys mental. Following a devastating incident,taps-764552 Moreland launches a siege to take control of the academy. They won’t let their 140+ years school be destroyed without a fight. Tension starts between best friends Moreland and Cadet Captain Alex Dwyer (Sean Penn). Dwyer doesn’t share Moreland’s and Cadet Captain David Shawn’s (Tom Cruise) idol worship of Bache. The situation escalates and soon, their war comes to a head, but how far are they prepared to go to save Bunker Hill? Taps plays like a modified incarnation of Lord of the Flies and, nearly 30 years later, is still relevant.

Director: Harold Becker

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 129 minutes

Scale: 4

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Outsourced (2006)

When Seattle employee Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton) finds out his fulfillment team at Western Novelty is being outsourcing to India, he has seconds to decide whether or no to go there himself and train his successor at the call center or lose his job.

OutsourcedWhen we see him next, he has landed in Bombay and is assaulted by the new smells, colors and chaos. As he makes India’s acquaintance, he likes it less and less. Idealistic and excited Purohit (Asif Basra), future call center manager, finds Todd as he arrives from Bombay. Cultural nuances follow as we learn that Todd has ventured to India without any cultural preparedness. As he opens up to India, his experiences change.

Josh Hamilton masters facial expression control and anchors Outsourced as the metamorphosing lead. We learn about Indian culture in thoughtful ways that don’t ridicule the characters or dumb down the story. You get the Indian perspective on experiencing training at the hands of foreigners who know nothing about India. Expect culturally specific humor rich in confusion and social commentary. The ending is not the usual saccharin type for this sort of dram/rom/com hybrid; you want things to work out for Todd but it’s alright that it doesn’t serve up a half-baked ending. Savory plot twists abound.

Director: John Jeffcoat

Country: USA

Genre: Drama-Comedy

Run time: 99 minutes

Scale: 3.5