Movies About City Life
2 Nov 2013
Taxi Driver

Director: Martin Scorcese (1976, English, 113 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (98%), IMDB (8.4), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Similar movies: city life, loneliness.

Summary: Good reviews: Stanley Allen explains the significance of the ending shots. Roger Ebert explains the overall movie very well.


Modern Times

Director: Charlie Chaplin (1936, English, 87 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (100%), IMDB (8.6), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: YouTube, Hulu.

Similar movies: city life, comedy, silent.

Summary: When I was a little kid, I thoroughly enjoyed Charlie Chaplin movies. His peculiar gait and his comical gestures were so funny! Twenty years later, when I saw Charlie Chaplin movies again, I was wowed. For the first time, the deeper meaning of these movies became clear to me.

Modern Times is a poignant critique of mechanization and modernity. The highlight of the movie is a long Factory Scene (YouTube). Charlie Chaplin shows how factory workers become depersonalized. They start behaving mechanically. Some go insane. The most memorable portion of this scene is Charlie Chaplin sliding through huge mechanical gears: Scene with Gears (YouTube). Another memorable scene is The Feeding Machine (YouTube) in which a contraption feed factory workers efficiently is being tested.


The Bicycle Thief (Ladri Di Biciclette)

Director: Vittorio De Sica (1948, French, 93 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (98%), IMDB (8.4), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Similar movies: city life, crime, family.

Summary: A poignant movie of a father and son who search for a stolen bicycle. The setting is depression days in Italy, soon after World War II. Realistic, entertaining and sad.

The Bicycle Thief has been a favorite of critics for several decades, showing up in many 'top movies' lists. See List of Films Considered the Best (Wikipedia).


The Song of Sparrows (Avaze Gonjeshk-Ha)

Director: Majid Majidi (2008, Persian, 96 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (98%), IMDB (7.9), Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: city life, family.

Summary: Nice movie. The story shapes up organically. The main character is Karim, a middle aged dad who struggles to provide for his family. After losing his job in an ostrich farm, he picks up odd jobs in the city. The differences in the pace of life and the value systems of people in villages and cities is brought out well. City life starts transforming Karim but occasional sightings of ostriches bring him back to his roots. Overall, the movie is about joys and sorrows, the ups and downs of life.

A detailed review by FilmSufi (read only after watching the movie).


The Big City (Mahanagar)

Director: Satyajit Ray (1963, Bengali, 122 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (89%), IMDB (8.0), Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: YouTube, YouTube.

Similar movies: city life, family.

Summary: Yet to write.



Director: Akira Kurosawa (1952, Japanese, 143 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (100%), IMDB (8.4), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: Hulu.

Similar movies: city life, death, illness, old age.

Summary: Fabulous movie. One of my all time favorites. The story revolves around Watanabe, a city bureaucrat who has lived a purposeless, listless life for over three decades, pushing paper around. Suddenly, he discovers that he has stomach cancer, so he has about six months to live. He is rattled. He doesn't know what to do. Drink? Spend time with women? Relive his youth? What will give him peace of mind? Is 'khao, piyo, aish karo' the right approach? Or is Leo Tolstoy's short story 'The Three Questions' the right approach? As the movie progresses, Watanabe discovers his answers and comes alive :) Cinematography, acting, story development, the theme - everything is superb.

The structure of the movie is quite unique. There are two distinct parts. In the first part, time moves forward chronologically. In this part, Watanabe discovers that he has stomach cancer and looks for answers. The last scene in the first part is in a restaurant where Watanabe has an intense and honest discussion with a younger female friend on what he should do! He suddenly hits upon an idea. Within seconds of his aha! moment, he starts alighting a staircase while a 'Happy Birthday' song plays in the background.

When the second part of the movie starts, Watanabe has died and people have come to pay their respects. It is at this point that people put together Watanabe's story, discussing how he changed in the last few months of his life. This is a long scene with many flashbacks.


A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin)

Director: Asghar Farhadi (2012, Persian, 123 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (99%), IMDB (8.4), Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: city life, depressing, family, intense, separation.

Summary: An intense family drama that won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2012. The story involves two families. The first family is a middle class couple with an 11-year old daughter. The husband's father lives with them. He has Alzheimer's. The second family is a poor family with a 5-year old daughter. Both families have troubles of their own, a lot of which is due to the strong personalities of the two husbands. Acting is great. Character development is awesome. The story is gripping. It kept me engaged throughout. An Amazon review aptly puts it, "The only film where people watch the end credits with bated breath!" :)

After watching the movie, I read the story at Wikipedia and understood a few moments in the movie better.



Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour (2013, Arabic, 98 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (99%), IMDB (7.8), Wikipedia.

Similar movies: childhood, city life, family.

Summary: A cute movie with a serious theme. Great acting by everybody. The social conditions around a 10-year old girl are portrayed, as seen from her eyes. Music was pretty good. Worth watching.


The Lunchbox (Dabba)

Director: Ritesh Batra (2013, Hindi, 104 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (94%), IMDB (8.0), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Similar movies: city life, loneliness, old age, romance, separation.

Summary: Nicely done! A good review at Boston Globe.


Dum Laga Ke Haisha

Director: Sharat Katariya (2015, Hindi, 110 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (7.5), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Similar movies: city life, family, romance.

Summary: A beautiful movie that shows how a couple comes together after serious conflicts from the first day of marriage.


Supermen of Malegaon

Director: Faiza Ahmad Khan (2008, Hindi, 69 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (7.9), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: city life, documentary, true story.

Summary: Supermen of Malegaon is an offbeat, award-winning documentary by Faiza Ahmad Khan. It narrates the passionate journey of Shaik Nasir, a low budget film maker. Shaik Nasir is a resident of Malegaon, a small town in Nashik district in Maharashtra, India. He makes comical spoofs of popular Hollywood and Bollywood movies, tailored for residents of Malegaon. While the documentary is being shot, Shaik Nasir is making a spoof of Superman. The short film by Shaik Nasir is also called Supermen of Malegaon (YouTube, with English sub-titles) — it is only 8 minutes long. I'd recommend watching the original short film after watching the documentary.

The passion of Shaik Nasir, his crew and the artists is amazing. They all belong to the middle-class in a small Indian town. The depiction of their day to day lives, their aspirations, and their acceptance of life is touching and enriching. What I love the most about Supermen of Malegaon is that nobody is acting — everybody speaks honestly from their heart.


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