Monday, December 12, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Watching Delhi Belly is like smelling aftershave lotion. The first time you do, you like it but then it evaporates. That’s how volatile Delhi Belly is; its effect wears off in no time. Every joke works because of its inherently unpredictable nature and that is precisely why the film doesn't warrant a second viewing. You remember scenes from the film much more than the film itself. It has all the ingredients of a no-brainer - bare characterization, average acting and silly gags. Serving no purpose other than popcorn escapism, Delhi Belly is entertainment served on a silver platter. Just be sure to leave your brains behind.
Rating - 6/10
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Source code is a tightrope walked by Jake Gylenhaal and held on either ends by screenwriter, Ben Ripley and director, Duncan Jones. Jake Gylenhaal walks it with utmost sincerity yet he wobbles because Ripley and Duncan Jones are pushing him and our patience too hard. He never falls and you sit there hoping he makes it but you come to realize that it was all staged. A gimmick like this doesn't warrant a second viewing.
Colter Stevens (Jake Gylenhaal) wakes up to find himself on a train talking to Christina (Michelle Monaghan), a woman he’s never met. As flustered as he is, he goes in to the toilet to figure things out only to find a face he doesn’t recognize in the mirror. Eight minutes later, the train is blown to smithereens and he’s transported to a secret laboratory. Apparently, he’s been employed by Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), the commanding officer of an army of scientists who repeatedly transport him back (only virtually) for the last eight minutes of the explosion with the hope that he’d help in tracking down, the terrorist involved, and prevent another scheduled explosion. Every time he’s transported back he becomes increasingly callous and desperate, using violence to find what he needs. I loved this part. It’s nice to hurt someone and not have to live through the consequences because after all, it’s an alternate reality. Unfortunately, he seems more interested in finding out about his employers and trying to prevent the explosion even when he’s aware that he isn’t really changing the past. This is where the film begins to falter.
Stevens is constantly told by Goodwin to focus on his mission. I wish the filmmakers did the same. The film ends up fluctuating between finding the terrorist and flirtatious conversations between Stevens and Goodwin (who conveniently turns from a hard ass to a humane do-gooder); and once in a while, his eight-minute built love for Christina. They could've stuck to just finding the terrorist by replaying the events, focused on the characters and kept us guessing. That’s precisely why Groundhog Day worked, with the laughs. But no, they’re clear with their intentions. They want to make money, a lot of it and they won’t compromise on that. Source code was hinged on structure at first, and then it shifted to the relationships of poorly written characters. I understand that there isn't enough room for characterization, but why take on more than you can handle?
The first half was constantly energetic while the second half steadily lost tempo. Another problem with source code is giving us its source code. It’s a science fiction; no one’s going to question it. We just suck it up. I don’t remember anyone asking about the how’s of Inception. They just asked where? Where does it end? That of course, was a word-of-mouth marketing trick. Source Code thinks it has ended on an intelligent note but it isn't smart enough to know that it doesn't.
Rating – 6/10
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Shallow. Dark. Unrealistic. Ribald. Hilarious. These five words encapsulate The Hangover Part two. The words shallow and unrealistic stand out to me. So the film didn’t really work for me. To those of you whom the words ribald and hilarious stand out, I recommend the film.
I find it hard to turn off my brain before watching a no-brainer. I am bombarded with questions regarding the plausibility of the film’s events. With The Hangover Part Two, each time I threw a question, it softly bounced off the screen; but I didn’t care. I was too engrossed in what was happening to even remember what it was that I wanted an answer to. The film switched off my brain. Starting from the same point as the prequel and ending at pretty much the same point, the film takes a similar journey, different in the number of bumps it encounters and the catastrophic nature of each. The screenplay is packed with dull dialogue but it tries mighty hard to torture its characters and awakens the sadist within us. Whether it is a moron getting sodomized by a tranny, a fingerless teenager being stuffed into a refrigerator or the ebbing pulse of a crack addict, we grin with pleasure. There’re extremely horrible parts but they’re so uncompromisingly horrible that you’re left in stitches. Well, that’s that. Now, I’ll tell you why it didn’t work for me. I expect a film to have decent characterization, developed relationships and fairly good acting. The Hangover Part Two doesn’t have any of these. Ed Helms is effective at displaying high-strung emotions but that’s about it. Zach Galifianakis, who delivered his best performance with a cameo appearance in Up in the Air, is more of an unnecessary appendage than those of the transexuals in the film. The Hangover Part two’s saving grace is Mike Tyson. It isn’t a feat to be proud of, though. Even as the credits roll, you’re sitting there watching a montage of still photos; not because you care about the characters but because you can’t get enough of seeing them suffer.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I don’t consider myself to be a music critic. A film critic, yes very much but not a music critic. I choose to review Dead Loops because it has had a profound effect on me. The pent up energy instilled in me has to be let out and I will channelize it with this review.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Snakeism. I couldn’t care enough to pay attention to it and that was because listening to it without the lyrics was already very satisfying. When Dead Loops came out, I just had to check it out and I did, again without the lyrics. It wasn’t satisfying. Why? It never attempts to catch your attention; it believes it deserves your attention. I couldn’t form my verdict without giving it a fair shot and eventually I did listen to it with the lyrics. It was a depressing experience. With every song, I felt like I was being slowly lowered into a deep dark empty well. As soon as I hit the bottom, I was told to take the risk and ‘Rise Above’ by myself. Adam and the fish eyed poets kept raising similar questions that some part deep down inside me wanted to ask but didn’t seek the answers out of fear of having to deal with them. And then, it answered them too short and too quick. It was an unsatisfying answer. I was angry. I was unprepared. I felt let down. I was pushed out of my comfort zone. And those were just the artist’s intentions. I eventually got to it again with the hope that I will get the answers. The answer was to seek an answer by MYSELF, not wait for circumstances to give me one.
Two days later, I was awakened at five in the morning by ‘suicide girl’ playing in my head. It wasn’t just the song that lingered but the feeling it evoked. I could feel the character’s sense of loss. I listened to Snakeism again and this time with the lyrics. Snakeism is deep but you’re given the liberty to glide through the surface. Dead loops refuses to be taken for granted. You’ve got to work your way through it. Characters with contradictory thoughts and conflicting ideas fascinate Kishore Krishna. If the song isn’t his rant against a society that kills the individual spirit, it’s mostly the experiences of these characters silently at war with themselves. These characters, I believe, if connected the right way are part of a common world. Dead Loops’ intensity and Kishore’s self-expressive honesty are what make it a poignant work of art.
You can listen to it here- http://adamandthefisheyedpoets.bandcamp.com/album/dead-loops
Friday, May 20, 2011
23 year-old Severine (Catherine Deneuve) has been married to her soft, sensitive husband Pierre for a year but their sex-life is in limbo. Pierre is a doctor with compassionate looks while Severine, on the other hand has repressed her sexuality because she’s afraid of sex. Being a woman of self-defeating behaviour, she’s drowned by masochistic fantasies. Her own physical pain is mental pleasure. All her fantasies end up with her being abused and feeling worthless. The more she wants her husband to demand sex as if it were his right, the more he requests her for it, followed by an apology when declined.
When she learns that a friend of hers is a sex-worker (a profession she didn’t think still existed), she fails to understand why or how anyone would be able to have sex with a stranger (“You don’t get to pick”) and asks around but they all explain the business like it didn’t need an explanation, in brief. She still doesn’t understand it. It isn't long before these unanswered thoughts translate to action. Inquisitiveness builds and eventually overpowers her making her enroll at a whorehouse as a sex worker.
The sound design is the viewer’s map. If you want to understand the film, looking carefully isn't enough; you must listen carefully. Every sound in every scene has significance. If you perceive the film in a “what you see is what you get” way, the film will make no sense. You have to make sense out of it. In spite of that, the film has no background score. That’s because the film doesn't intend to stimulate the heart. It’s your mind that will be stimulated.
Nor does it intend to stimulate the prostate gland. Severine is elegant and attractive in an aristocratic way. You’re tempted all along to see her nude but this is no porno; the film’s focus is on the self-destructive thoughts swimming inside her head. That explains the absence of frontal nudity. The director, Luis Bunuel knows her beautiful body would serve no other purpose than being a distraction.
Catherine Deneuve delivers a perversely innate performance. Her act doesn’t communicate as much through her face muscles as it does through her eyes. It’s a subtle performance of restrained power.
Belle De Jour is art at its purest form. The biggest risk it takes is in not providing explanations. Doing that would just take away subjectivity from the film and art is subjective. The first watch raises the questions and it’s up to you to look for the answers with multiple viewings. This is precisely why it isn’t a film for everyone. You won’t be satisfied after the first watch but with repeated watches, you’ll be glad that the film raises more questions than it answers. With Belle De Jour, Luis Bunuel has taken surrealism to its pinnacle. This is no erotic thriller and I don’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t enjoy intellectually stimulating films; because, Belle De Jour is a cerebral work out.
I’ve watched it thrice and all three interpretations of mine are considerably different. It isn’t one of those films with simply ambiguous binary endings- answer A or answer B? It’s not just open-ended, it’s open all the way. It’s a maze; you start somewhere and you always think you’ve made your way out but its path is one that you choose.
After you watch the film, you’re going to ask two questions-
1) What is real?
2) What is fantasy?
It’s whatever you want it to be.
Rating – 10/10, added to Great Movies.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
All Good Things is based on the true story of a real estate mogul accused of three murders but let off the hook. David Marks (Ryan Gosling) watched his mother jump off the roof and “crack her skull like a walnut.” He hid under a table for a week. When he came out, it was as if it never happened. In spite of therapy, the feeling associated with the memory doesn’t change and the issue remains unresolved. Adding fuel to the fire is his overbearing father (Frank Langella) who needles at his conscience for not being as involved as he’s expected to be in the family affairs and often reminds him of his scrounger status. Ultimately, David falls prey to the manipulation and joins his father’s real estate firm. I can’t go on in this direction because this is where the mystery starts.
What I will tell you is that this is a first-rate murder mystery. I understand why most critics panned the film though. They wanted a satisfactory explanation. But there isn’t one. The film’s director Andrew Jarecki has simply taken all the facts from the case and presented them in just that manner. The film is based on facts, facts that are inconclusive. No one really knows what happened which is why David wasn’t convicted. Based on what Jarecki’s heard on the characters involved, he tells the story and lets you decide whether David is guilty or innocent.
The obvious characterization is excusable because this isn’t a character drama it’s a thriller. Kirsten Dunst excels as Katie Marks, David’s love interest. Nevertheless, the film stays on David and his struggle with the voices screaming in his head. You don’t hear them but you see the conflict on the actor’s face in every frame. Gosling is ticking dynamite. It’s a performance of repressed intensity. Each and every time he makes an appearance, you hold your breath expecting him to explode. You never know when, but you know it will happen. However, it isn’t just the actor who brings forth the character. The cinematography and the score have nakedly exposed the character’s mind- his fears, his urges, his angst. Its synergy is what makes All Good Things a triumph of ambience.
Rating – 8/10
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Ryan Gosling is probably the best actor of his generation- The Believer, Half Nelson, Lars and the real girl, Stay and Blue Valentine. Seriously, what a brilliant character actor! There was no way I wasn’t going to check out The Notebook.
The Notebook opens with a senile woman looking out of a window with a dazed expression in her eyes. The window of a nursing home that keeps the place alive by allowing old men to read out to old women. One old man reads out to an old woman a love story between a Noah and an Allie. If you want to know anything about the story, you’ll have to watch the film. Wait a minute. Did I just say that? No, don’t watch the film. It’s a dreamy, sugary chick flick that is so down and out that even the luminous performances of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams don’t elevate it. Despite the characters being shallow caricatures, the actors manage to breathe life into them. I don’t know you and I don’t know what you do but whatever it is, Nick Cassavetes’ The Notebook is a big waste of your time.
Rating – 4/10
Monday, May 2, 2011
A.L. Vijay has no imagination of his own. He’s taken ideas from Lagaan, Titanic, Apocalypto and Shanghai Knights. In trying to infuse cinematic realism, he’s spent a lot of money on the production design. Madrasapattinam looks like a world of its own; I’ll give it that. Art direction, cinematography, costume design, make up and editing have provided it that. It looks real, but it doesn’t feel real. The film lacks substance. The characters do little that you can possibly believe. You’re not rooting for Arya’s character because he’s a character you feel for. You root for him because every other character is a moron. His screen presence being felt is attributed to comic foils. The film tries to have everything in it- comedy, realism, heroism, patriotism, romance and irony. It takes on more than it can handle and every saccharine cliché is soporific. Madrasapattinam is nice to look at; that’s just about it.
Rating – 5/10
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Until I saw it, Angadi Theru was simply the name of a film that got critical acclaim. It was almost sent out as India’s official entry to the Oscars this year. But now that I’ve seen it, it’s a lot more than that. Just recalling the film puts in me enough positive energy to go on for hours about it. Let me first tell you what the film is about. It’s not an assumption, it’s not a possibility and it definitely isn’t reading more than there is. Anyone who’s seen it knows that the film brings to light, how employees of Saravana Stores are ill-treated.
Director Vasanthabalan has a lot he wants to tell the people. He believes that happiness and sadness are just phases in life. With that treatment, the film achieves the realism it deserves. He’s read about the events and mishaps at Saravana stores and his heart is aching for the employees. Each time there’s a signboard bearing “Saravana Stores” on the screen you know that burn is all that there is to it. He’s got great communication skill as a director. The cinematography is sly. It isn’t used for you to go “Wow, beautiful shot.” There isn't anything beautiful about the film's content. The shots shock, provoke and make you see eye to eye with the characters- just how you would’ve perceived it had you been in the characters’ shoes. The montages provide essence to the film and the acting is uniformly great. The store manager is played by A.Venkatesh with enough villainy to make you grit your teeth and feel pleasure even when the slightest hitch befalls him. It’s an award-worthy performance. The characters are well developed and the screenplay tells a lot within a small time frame. Not only is Vasanthabalan a brilliant director, he’s a raconteur. He makes it an exclusive experience for the viewer. You don’t feel like this is a film made for everyone to see, you believe it’s a story that Vasanthabalan is narrating directly to you. Even the characters that aren’t relevant to the story of the film have been given identities.
Angadi Theru is a message against capitalism. Those of you sitting in front of the computer screen and reading this are beneficiaries of capitalism. Angadi Theru says nothing for or against capitalism; it merely shows the plight of the people who’re at the suffering end of capitalism. There’s no way you won’t ache for them. Their plight is shown with so much power and realism. Just that is enough to convince you. You’re a rightist? So am I. But it did make me sway, as long as the film stuck to me. It’s definitely one of the years best and the most compelling film of 2010.
Rating – 10/10
Rating – 6/10
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
King George VI waged war with Germany. But before that, he was an inveterate stammerer. How he overcomes that is what the film is about. Hence, “The King’s Speech.” The King’s a fragile person who shies away from people. There’s a connection between that and his stammering. He doesn’t stammer when he talks to himself or his family but when he’s out there in front of people, he’s conscious of what he says. As far as he can remember, he’s been stammering.
At the age of four, some incident sparked his stammering. That incident is mentioned in passing and so is the world war. The film keeps these issues at arm’s length and refuses to stray away from The King’s Speech. His haranguing father is on his death bed and someone has to succeed him. His inability to live up to his father’s expectations has made him want to be left alone. However, when his elder brother intends to marry a divorcee, (who acquired certain skills at an establishment in Shanghai), the throne becomes his to lose. Even his father had remarked, “When I’m dead, your brother will ruin himself, this family and this nation, within twelve months. Who’s going to pick up the pieces?” The expectations pile on and he cries, “I’m not a King.” Destiny however places the crown on his head and with it comes the royal responsibility of addressing the nation.
Colin Firth is both subtle and over-the-top in playing King George VI. The character is real but it is just one dimension of him that we’re shown. Who would’ve expected to see the freak in Fight Club and Sweeney Todd, portray British highness with grace? Here, Helena Bonham Carter breaks stereotype. Just as her character, Queen Elizabeth stands by the King, Carter supports the film. Not entirely of course. There’s Geoffrey Rush playing Lionel Logue, the unorthodox and controversial speech therapist. Logue has no diploma, no qualifications, and no credentials; yet he’s a man with his head on his shoulders. Haven given people faith in their voices, he’s mighty sure of his work and himself. Rush shines in the role and the scenes where he and Firth indulge in verbal sparring are a pleasure to watch.
David Seidler, (who probably used a lot of his own diary entries for research) a cured stutterer himself, gives heart to the film by laying the foundations with his slick screenplay, one filled with British banter.
The cinematography is beyond functional. It isn’t just beautifully shot; it is effective enough to make the microphone look vicious and overbearing. There’re wide angle and low angle shots capturing the audience who’re actually at a lower plane but appear to be towering the King. As the last few long shots are shown minutes before The King’s Speech, it is you who’s going to feel the tension mounting with every “Good luck, your Majesty.”
Every scene resonates with royalty thanks to the sublime direction of Tom Hooper, a master of his craft. Unlike its Oscar rival ‘The Social Network’, it may not stand the test of time; but for what the film is, it’s flawless. The King’s Speech is a powerfully inspiring film that is relatable to anybody wanting to be a somebody.
Rating – 10/10
Let me start by telling you that Seedan is unbearable. It does nothing to stand on its own feet. Absent of ideas, the film is so formulaic in its plotting and clichéd in its dialogue that within the first fifteen minutes you know exactly where the film’s heading. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to spoil the film for you. Here, predictability is at its most abysmal. I can give you a number of reasons for you to avoid Seedan but I can’t think of a reason for you to watch Seedan.
Similarities between Yudham Sei and Nadunisi Naaygal-
2.Women get abused.
3.There’s a message.
4.At least a part of the story is narrated by a character in the film.
Differences between Yudham Sei and Nadunisi Naaygal-
1.Yudham Sei plays with your emotions; Nadunisi Naaygal doesn’t.
2.Yudham Sei is completely music driven; Nadunisi Naaygal is visceral and has no background score.
3.Yudham Sei starts preaching right from the very beginning; Nadunisi Naaygal tells you what the point of the film really was after the film is over.
4.Yudham Sei has characters that are either “good” or “bad”; Nadunisi Naaygal doesn’t judge its characters and treats them as individuals.
5.Yudham Sei is laden with a horribly contrived plot while Nadunisi Naaygal has no plot.
6.Yudham Sei has sociopaths working together (Mysskin, please do your research the next time) who react the same way to the same situation; Nadunisi Naaygal does a character study of a psychopath.
7.Yudham Sei has choreographed fight sequences; Nadunisi Naaygal keeps it real.
8.In Yudham Sei a bearded drunkard who has a bullet lodged in his stomach tells the story; the psychopath of Nadunisi Naaygal is narrating his story to a cop.
9.The cinematography is solely for the purpose of catching your attention in Yudham Sei, in Nadunisi Naaygal it is used with authenticity.
10.The actors in Yudham Sei could’ve been replaced by pieces of wood; the lead actor in Nadunisi Naaygal digs deep and gets into the psyche of the character.
11.Yudham Sei tells you to kill anyone who checks you out when you’re changing in the dressing room, Nadunisi Naaygal tells you that victims of child abuse are unable to move on and need serious attention.
12.Yudham Sei gets 0/10 from me, Nadunisi Naaygal gets 8/10.
I don’t have to tell you which one to watch.