site statistics


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Who would’ve thought that a trick like this would work a second time? Paranormal activity 2, the prequel of paranormal activity although released after its sequel initially works. That’s as much credit as I can give the film. With each thud you’re going to skip a heartbeat. It convinces you that while dying might be bad, living with intense fear is worse. The constant wave like noise gets under your skin and tells your instincts that something terrible is about to happen. I’ve covered the first half hour of the film. The remaining hour is a spoof of the first half hour. The ghost turns hospitable by opening and closing doors, but when it doesn’t receive the due “Thank you”, it burns a man’s testicles. When the teenage girl tries communicating with the ghost, the ghost starts flirting with her by saying that he wants pussy. And a hat. Since she doesn’t respond positively, he wakes her up by whispering her name in her ear. Not very imaginative, is he? From here on, he goes on a series of pranks with locking her outside and triggering a false fire alarm when she’s making out with her boyfriend in the pool.

Here’s the twist- it’s not a ghost, it’s a DEMON. The head of the house refuses to acknowledge the demon’s existence. Now, the sensitive demon feels insulted. The increasing anger of the demon drives the remaining half hour of the film. From here on, it works neither as a comedy nor as a horror. The film throws sucker punches by banging open every door that could possibly be opened, when you’re expecting the frying pan to fall on the wife’s head. The characters are not believable. They hold on to the camera even when the certainty of their lives is suspended by a thin thread. There’s more chemistry between the camera and the people who feel it up than between the husband and the wife. To make up for that, the demon’s character is well developed. He suffers from identity crisis. But the people in the house don’t know that, do they? So they assume that talking about the demon would just enrage him further. How close it all came to never happening!

From here on, it’s hilarious. The dog gets tossed from one corner to the other, you can’t be sure if it got humped just before, because the demon’s invisible, but it certainly seems so. This scene in particular, is rib crackling especially for PETA activists. Of course, the pets are always killed first. The screenwriters have obviously seen Fatal Attraction and Cape Fear. The film ends like the first one, with everyone dying. The Demon is a wrestling fan; it performs a chokehold on the husband, a choke slam on the wife and walks away with the baby (an allusion to the golden belt). Why the baby? Apparently, some old hag in his ancestral tree hadn't honoured a deal with the demon- to exchange a male infant for riches.

Rating- 2/10

Monday, January 24, 2011

Open Water(2003)

Two people kicking against water, the sound of it and sharks. This is a film that attempts to do no more than tell the bloodcurdling story of a couple left in the middle of the sea. It isn't something that'll go down easy. Every cinematic element is used in the barest amounts with the exception of the camera. Not much has gone into developing the characters but that doesn't stop the characters from being real people. The sound of the water induces temporary aquaphobia. Open water is cinematic minimalism at its biting best. Its simplicity is what makes it so effective. It accomplishes what it intends to without attempting to foray beyond and entertains you without requiring your complete attention. Just let yourself into the world and you're in for a treat. Movies like Open Water are rare in the 21st century. The film rests on ideas, less on technology. This little gem of a natural horror based on real events is not to be missed.

Rating- 8/10

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Conviction (2010)

Even the excellent performances of Sam Rockwell and Hilary Swank can’t save this absolute farce of a film. Conviction is such a drag. There is nothing interesting about the story. But just the fact that it’s a real story about a brother and sister, who spent most of their childhood in foster homes, fighting for justice managed to attract a lot of good actors. Once they’re on board, director Tony Goldwyn lets them do all the work. He just sits by and watches them work while translating the screenplay in a color by number fashion. The pace is steady only because the director makes no attempt at capturing your attention. Depicting real events hardly matters when what you see on screen isn't the least bit believable. Not worth your time. Just skip it.

Rating - 4/10

Friday, January 14, 2011

Easan (2010)

Critics didn’t treat Easan very well. Many reviews mentioned that the second half of the film wasn’t related to the first, that there could’ve been more time spent in the editing room cutting down the time duration and that eventually, it wasn’t worth watching. I’m a person who trusts critical opinions over trailers. Since I watched Subramaniapuram free of cost and loved every bit of it, I decided to pay my respects by watching Easan at the theatre. It would be difficult to disappoint me since I had little expectation.

As soon as I came out the theatre, I felt something strong surge through my head. The last part of the film was so unsettling that I really didn’t know what to say. But I could feel something. The film was powerful enough to create such strong emotion in me without meaning to do so. Easan is a film that has so much substance that it can be appreciated more in retrospect. The more I think of the film, the more I see its brilliance. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to keep you thinking. It’s the film maker’s brilliance I’m talking about. The amount of importance he gives to little details is astounding.

Easan’s a film that carves a niche for itself in kollywood. I’ve seen nothing like it. The screenplay isn’t something that comes from a lucky brainwave but something that is a product of great insight, something that’s been studied for a long time with interest and attention. It has a plot, but the film isn’t plot driven. The plot while being complex in itself is told with such authenticity that it keeps you engaged the whole 200 minutes. Before you get to the plot, there’re a lot of culturally relevant aspects that are focused on. Once you get to it, he still retains some of the focus on Chennai culture.

The film maker, Sasikumar has studied Chennai, its people, how they think, how that thought translates to action and how society reacts to it. Besides, he doesn’t take sides or tell you what to think. He just shows things for what they are and gives you the freedom to decide how you feel on issues that we know of but hardly talk about. There're some strong themes that have been dealt with very subtly that I'd rather not mention, but you'll know it when you see it. He knows that films aren’t about stories, but about storytelling. And he’s a damn good storyteller. By adding new characters, one at a time, the story is unraveled, bit by bit. Easan, he narrates with brutal honesty- it has gore in the right amounts and at the right time to make you feel just the way you would if you saw it happening right in front of your eyes.

This is not just another Tamil film. Heroes and Villains don’t exist. There’re so many characters and not one of them is neglected. Sasikumar decides to treat them as characters and show them for what they are. They don’t do what they do because they’re ‘good’ or ‘bad’. You see their wants, their motives and their actions. The actors who play them, retain their characters in their shoes as long as they’re on screen. You understand the characters by what you see, not by watching them tell you how they feel.

James Vasanthan has done a good job scoring the music for the film. Most people are bound to compare it to that of Subramaniapuram, but they compare it not by its use but how the music tracks stand out, alone. Instead of being present for the purpose of entertainment, it has been employed purely as a device for storytelling.

The main stand out of the film, is the camerawork. My sincere appreciation goes to Sasikumar for expoiting cinematographer Kathir and to Kathir for letting himself be exploited. This is just why calling Sasikumar a film maker would be understating. That isn’t what his definition limits to. He’s an artist. I’ve seen the film twice in the theatre, spent almost seven hours watching it and I plan on watching it again when it gets a DVD- release. Yes, it is that good. For what it is, I believe it’s a flawed masterpiece. There're a few parts of the film that were rushed. Has it outdone Subramaniapuram? I don’t think so. Subramaniapuram had more raw ferocity to it. Easan, covers so much more but doesn’t have that grit and it isn’t supposed to. Subramaniapuram is as great a debut film as Easan is as a second film. The former was clearly a labor of love while the latter shows Sasikumar’s evolving maturity as a film maker.

Rating – 9/10

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Machete (2010)

I'd been waiting to see Machete after I saw the fake trailer of it in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse. I enjoyed both parts of Grindhouse, Planet Terror and Death Proof. While I liked Death Proof more, I felt Planet Terror deserved more appreciation.

But Machete? I can't find one reason to recommend this film. It's not so much of a misfire or a disappointment. It's too dull to be given even that much of importance. A movie like this isn’t one I expect to satisfy my intellectual appetite, so I don't pay much attention. Its entertainment value is supposed to grab my attention. Does it do so? Not one bit. I won't tell you what it's about, there's nothing special about it. There's gore, in amounts that neither entertains nor provokes you. The film's a snooze.

In trying to recall the film, I remember it ends with nuns, priests, rock n roll stars(who've picked up a trait or two from 50 cent) and Mexican parasites in blood lust mode, all of them spraying away bullets hoping to reach orgasm. It's a blood bath, sadly, not of the holy Christ. The screenplay is laughable with dialogues that are caricatures of already existing catch-phrases. "You Just Fucked With The Wrong Mexican." Woah! That did send a shiver down my spine. Jessica Alba gets on top of a car and screams “ We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” A crucified priest decides to say “God has mercy, I don’t. You go to hell.” Cool? Smart? Maybe, if you’ve just reached adolescence.

Danny Trejo is lethally magnetic but nothing that Machete does is even close. Machete's a guy with enough scars to prevent his dead body from being recognized, constipated expressions that'll make you restrain your laughter(Out of, not fear, but pity), a cartoonish raucous voice and a weapon belt with a lot of knives that look like they were stolen from some old lady's kitchen at midnight.

If anything, I'm glad I watched this cheap gimmick because it's been on my hard disk long enough, now I can free 1.22 GB. But you don't have to sit through 100 minutes watching it, just to free your hard disk, you could take my word and delete it right away. I know, there's a lot about the film I haven't talked about. Those aspects just exist, they are not worthy of criticism.

Before the credit rolls, we're asked to look forward to sequels. Machete Kills. Machete Kills again. The missing object in the sentence is Robert Rodriguez' reputation.

Rating - 4/10

Large Association of Movie Blogs