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Skyfall

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50 years of Bond, what can one say! The trailers and the reviews leading upto the film have built a lot of buzz and expectation. The director, Sam Mendes, had his work cut out for him and he hasn't let us down. Skyfall is easily one of the best Bond movies of all time and certainly one of the best movies of the year.

The film has all that you would expect from a Bond flick. Guns, fights, chics, brilliant opening sequence .. you name it. What the writers and the director have also added is depth to the characters. Since Daniel Craig donned the role we have seen Bond not as a merciless killing machine- womaniser, but as a human being. Skyfall brings out the depth of Bond's character. Not satisfied, the writers have brought up Judi Dench's M on a pedestal. This isn't just a Bond movie, it's also an M film. Jane Martinson at the Guardian called Skyfall the least sexist Bond film, and she's right. M will leave your jaw dropping, the writers have fleshed out her character from all the hints they've left to her character in the previous movies. The tough, no - nonsense, do-whatever-is-necessary M has been beautifully essayed by the inimitable Dame Judi Dench.


A while into the film you start thinking the trailer has let out too much. Not to worry though, there's plenty to come ;-) If you've seen the trailer, then you pretty much know the first few minutes.

But there's plenty of material left to enjoy. Javier Bardem does well as the Bond villain. His backstory is well woven, I thought.


A piece of advice before you rush to the nearest theatre - watch this in a good theatre! The cinematography by Roger Deakins is simply superb. I especially enjoyed the scenes in Scotland. The huge mountains and the deserted plains have been captured so well.


tl;dr - Must watch

Filed under review
Nov 4, 2012

Carnage (2011)

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Carnage is Roman Polanski’s caricature of the modern life. The movie, save for a couple of scenes, takes place within a house. There isn’t much of a plot in this movie, it is the characters who shine through. The film is as such simple and humorous in a dark fashion.

The setting is provided by a fight between 2 kids. Their parents – Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet (John C Reilly)  as well as Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) – meet up to discuss what they need to do about their children’s fight. Alan is a high flying lawyer whereas Michael is a “mediocre” salesman. Penelope is the “liberal” type and Nancy tries to be mature and conciliatory. The discussion that the four have veers away from the children and offers us a perspective into the lives of these individuals. Alan is wedded to his work and his cellphone, frequently interrupting the conversation to take calls. Nancy is fed up with this behaviour. Penelope has strong ideas about being civilized and does not like or understand violence. Michael tries his best to conciliate and bring about an understanding between the couples. Things slowly start degenerating and the conversation takes a turn for the worse when Nancy vomits.

The direct and brutal Alan can’t stand the almost naive point of view of Penelope. While Alan maintains that kids will be kids, Penelope talks about understanding and violence. Michael is fed up of trying to be conciliatory and blows his top. He provides his (excellent) Scotch to Alan and they start agreeing with each other. The otherwise cool and calm Alan’s weakness is reveled when the drunk Nancy drops Alan’s phone on water. Alan is distraught with his non-functioning “toy”, as Nancy puts it. As the credits roll the boys, who started off all this trouble, are shown to have re-conciliated and become friends.

The movie is adapted from the play “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza, who co-wrote the screenplay along with Polanski. The simple setting provides ample room for the characters to display themselves to the viewer. Their absurdities and follies are held up for view and we see glimpses of what is wrong with our society. You will likely relate to one of the characters. The actors are superb, offering performances which are sublime. Christoph’s beautiful essaying of Alan proves that Hans Landa was not a flash in the pan. Jodie Foster’s portrayal of the liberal, and towards the end hysterical, Nancy is brilliant. This is one of Reilly’s more outstanding roles and neither does Kate Winslet let us down.

Worth the watch.

Filed under review
Jun 3, 2012

Ee Adutha Kaalathu

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Sometimes things come together as if magically. Destiny, luck, coincidence.. whatever you call it, things just seem to lock into place. It’s all right at the end, the good guys win and the bad guys lose. This is the theme of Ee Adutha Kaalathu (In Recent Times) a Malayalam movie released in recent times.

The film shows you multiple threads. You bite hoping it tastes good. The movie drags on and on. You look at the watch anticipating the interval. Then the script knocks you over suddenly and then cuts to the interval. The slow pace of the first half is improved upon in the second half. After a few tense moments the movie comes to a close all movies are supposed to – with the good rewarded and the evil vanquished. Go into the theatre expecting three – quarters of the movie to be slow, please. The way things come together is worth it.

This is not your regular movie with action and romance. The script writer and director tries to tell a good tale and I must say they succeed. The movie touches on themes like poverty, frustration of the married Indian woman, sex rackets and sexual impotence. We come across the husband who hides his impotence by ill treating his wife and acting out fake “affairs” in front of her. The yellow press is not spared, with the script writer showing his disdain for them by creating a dislikable character well played by Jagathi Sreekumar. Most of the actors are competent with some of the stalwarts like Indrajith displaying a fine performance. Indrajith’s name in the starting credits was received with well deserved applause – he seems to have made character driven roles his forte.

Murali Gopy has penned the script with skill. He also dons the greasepaint, essaying a major character with great skill. It is unlikely to be an accident that he chose to essay that particular character as it is quite clear the lovingness with which that character is detailed. The character stands out with his frustration and quirks. The writer bringing it alive on screen is indeed a treat to watch.

Arun Kumar directs and edits this movie. He presents the brilliant script really well. There does seem to be a few rough edges that I expect he will polish. His previous attempt at direction – Cocktail – justifiably did well in the box office.

Anoop Menon’s presence in a film has come to be seen by some as a weatherwane of sorts. The actor tends to be selective and shows up in really good movies. In this movie too he plays the character of the pompous Commissioner of police really well. Contrast this with another Commissioner who has set out to blast our eardrums with the err.. King!

Overall I would definitely recommend this movie. Go ahead and watch it – Malayalam cinema is still alive! :)

Filed under review
Mar 28, 2012

Engeyum Eppothum

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Engeyum Eppothum poster

We’ve heard the same thing an umpteen number of times – drive carefully. It is refreshing to hear the same thing being gently given to you instead of pushing it with a stick down your throat. Lest you think that’s all there is to Engeyum Eppothum, the movie boasts of excellent characterisation and brilliant performances from its leading cast. M Saravanan has shown that good cinema does not require a superstar and that good cinema will be accepted by audiences.

The movie opens with a horrifying accident involving 2 buses – one heading from Trichy to Chennai and the other in the opposite route. The film then unravels some of the characters in the buses and takes the audience to the lives and love. Each of those characters offer a chance to connect. You would stand by idly and move on in accident involving people you do not know. You would be actively involved in the rescue effort if a loved one’s life is at stake. This film gives you ordinary characters you can connect with and through their pain, feel disturbed. This is,perhaps, in contrast to the young men in Ko whose desire to see a change in the political system is not explained with much depth. Other devices were employed by the filmmakers to keep the audience connect.

Among the characters in the movie the character of Manimegalai ( played by Anjali ) stands out. Anjali portrays the strong Nurse brilliantly. Practical to the point of being blunt, her antics finds us giving her a special place in our hearts. Kathiresan, played by Jai, provides an excellent foil to Manimegalai. Simple and naive, his true love makes him endearing to the audience. The two other leads – Amutha ( Ananya ) and Gautham ( Sharvanand ) also plays their role very well. There are some side characters, like a Gulf returnee who is dying to finally meet his daughter, who provide richness to the texture of the film.

In this age of superstar movies and mindless song – dance routines this film provides a welcome relief. Do watch it.

Engeyum Eppothum

Definitely worth a watch

How an accident cuts short the life of many people. The film provides us with a peek into the life and love of some characters and how their plans for the future are smashed by an accident

Rating by Anirudh: 4.0 stars
****

 

Filed under review
Sep 24, 2011

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

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Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is what they call a  “coming of age” film. At times it might seem preachy, but overall it’s a good film and definitely deserves a watch. I would give it 4/5.

 

The film begins with Kabir ( Abhay Deol ) proposing to Natasha ( Kalki Koechlin, recently married to Anurag Kashyap ). Before Kabir gets married to Natasha he wants to go on a 3 week trip to Spain with his buddies Imraan ( Farhan Akhtar ) and Arjun ( Hrithink Roshan ). The “3 musketeers” had made a pact with each other to go on a trip where they would surprise each other with an adventure sport of each one’s choice that the others had to participate in. The 3 arrive in Spain and complete 3 adventure sports. Along the way they meet Laila ( Katrina Kaif ) who is a part – time driving instructor. During the trip each of the friends learn about life and come out the better. How they do so during the journey is what forms the film.

The movie is beautifully picturised. One of the sponsors is Spain Tourism and the movie provides a very good promo of this beautiful country. Not only is the scenic beauty captured well, but attractions of Spain like La Tomatina festival are also highlighted.

The movie deals mainly with relationships and life. Occasionally the film can get mildly preachy – particularly the scenes where Katrina’s character teaches Arjun how to live life. Even in such scenes the philosophy does not stick out but rather blends in. By sending demon’s in each of the character’s ways and by portraying their transformation with each adventure they face the movie shows a mirror to our own fears and insecurities. Each adventure that the characters participate in proves to be a turning point for one of the characters who must take his fear head on. Towards the end the characters take on the ultimate of fears – the fear of death.

The characters have been crafted beautifully by Zoya Akhtar ( who is also the director ) and Reema Katgi. Executed well by the star cast, the audience is able to appreciate each character and realise why it is that they do what they do.

The songs in the movie as well as the shayari of Farhan’s character have been penned beautifully by Javed saab. One expects nothing less than the best from him and he delivers with ease. Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy provide the beautiful music to Javed saab’s words.

Overall it’s a nice movie. Do catch it.

Filed under review
Jul 31, 2011

Waiting for Pirates of the Caribbean 4 : On Stranger Tides

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News is that the teaser poster for Pirates of the Caribbean 4 : On Stranger Tides has been released. It was released on twitter by Jerry Bruckheimer ( the producer ).

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 teaser poster

It will be great to see Capt Jack Sparrow again. Johnny Depp is one of my favourite actors and Jack Sparrow (Capt Jack Sparrow!) is one of his most popular roles. In a big plus, Penélope Cruz is also in the movie.. yayy to that :) The stunningly beautiful and talented actress will surely make a great addition to the movie. Geoff Rush will reprise his role as Capt Barbossa - he was superb in the 3 movies before. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly are out - that makes me happy :D In a prominent role, Ian McShane is the famous Blackbeard in this movie. He has a great voice (Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda - brilliant) and acts well (The Coach in Death Race).

Gore Verbinski will not be directing this movie. Rob Marshall, director of acclaimed movies like Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha, will be directing this one. It will be interesting to see what changes the new director brings to the series.

Also special is that this movie comes out in 3D. It is the latest fad since Avatar - perhaps this one will stay?

So here's to the movie and here I am with fingers crossed :)

Filed under films
Nov 16, 2010

Movie review : Inception

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So I watched Inception today and here’s the once sentence verdict – You have to watch this one. First, the trailer -

I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan ever since I saw Memento. This one has only strengthened the respect I have felt for him. In Inceptionhe deals with a powerful subject – Dreams. Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) is a thief who uses dreams. He creates a world in his victim’s dreams and the victim populates it with his subconsciousness. By designating certain areas or objects as safe zones, he forces the victim to automatically store their innermost secrets in that place. He then proceeds to steal that idea. Now instead of stealing an idea, he’s asked to implant one – an Inception – in exchange for being able to go back to his kids.

Do not expect to sit back and enjoy the movie mindlessly. Christopher Nolan will push your brain. He’ll make you think. You have to let your mind run with the idea to enjoy the movie thoroughly. Imagine the sheer power of the concept he’s explaining here. The story is superb – I hope somebody writes a book with this theme if they haven’t already. It isn’t complicated enough for you to not understand it. But you have to sit down and watch this one with some concentration. It’s written brilliantly. It’s no mean task to make the audience comfortable with a complex concept and then run the rest of the film based on it. It’s a tribute to his skill that Nolan is able to pull this off in an entertaining manner. The film is not slow or dull even in some parts – it runs pretty tight throughout. The last few minutes particularly make for edge of the seat watching.

The ending in itself is a masterpiece. The last few seconds of the movie in itself is so perfect. He does not intend the audience to forget the movie after they come out of the theatre. By leaving a crucial point to his audience’s imagination he has made a master stroke. The 4th level dream introduces some twists to the story line in the last few moments – but in the hands of Nolan it doesn’t seem forced or artificial. Lesser directors would’ve fumbled there.

The performances by the actors leave no room for complaints. Leonardo di Caprio makes for an excellent leading man with a brilliant but troubled mind portrayed effectively. Marion Cotillard plays Cobb’s wife Mal. The other main characters have been brilliantly played by Ellen Page, Tom Hardy and Ken Watanabe. Nolan regular Michael Caine makes a short but well handled performance.

Music by Hans Zimmer stands out. The theme manages to convey the tension and the disturbance of the movie.

Inception– Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Filed under films
Jul 18, 2010

Sita Sings the Blues

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Came across an interesting article on Wired.

NEW YORK — Amid the documentaries and live-action features at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is a first for the event — a feature-length, computer-generated animated film rendered entirely by a single animator, working out of a home office.

Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues, which makes its North American premiere Friday at the festival, tells two parallel stories: the ancient Hindu epic the Ramayana and the breakup of Paley’s 21st-century marriage. It does so through four distinct styles of animation, a “greek chorus” of Indonesian shadow puppets and wildly imaginative musical interludes that use authentic 1920s blues recordings to link narratives 3,000 years apart.

The article has got an interview of Nina Paley as well as a trailer of the film.

From what I read from the article, it features Rama leaving Sita.

Wired: You voiced the role of yourself, and that leads to the film’s most excruciating scene, in which your character asks your husband to take you back.

Paley: [Laughs.] Isn’t that pathetic? I wanted people to feel my pain. And believe me, that’s just a little taste of it. [Laughs.] When this sort of thing happens to you, it’s so shameful, so humiliating. Which is why I included that scene of Sita sitting there on the banks of the river saying, “I must have committed a terrible sin in a previous life to deserve such suffering.” There’s always a sense that, if something bad happens to you, that there’s something really wrong with you. And I love that even Sita believes this, because she’s completely stainless, that’s the whole point of her character. I feel that airing this stuff out is the way to take the shame out of it. Plus, pain is funny!

The Ramayana says that Rama chose to leave Sita because of his duty as a king. In the otherwise spotless character of Rama, I feel, this is a huge blemish. And so do a lot of people. Many “experts” though have felt otherwise.

Should be interesting to see how Ramayana and the character of Sita is treated in this film.

Links :

Wired article : http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/news/2008/04/sita?currentPage=all

Site of the film : http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/

Filed under films
Apr 26, 2008