The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (05-July-2012)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a charming little movie that doesn't test its prolific cast. When was the last time we found an assemblage of a steller starcast of such proportion in a 'popular' film? It was, the way i remember it, in the Harry Potter series, where JK Rowling demanded the best artists from the British Film Industry to sell the rights of her books to film. And here, I assume, by sheer strength of the script someone managed to convince these great actors to be a part of this project. And what we get as the end product is something that is not completely satisfactory. What I found the most appalling was the Great Dame Judy Dench's voiceover belting out chicken soup for the soul kind of truths about life and the generally accepted cliched, indulgant and condescending views on India. Consider these cases in point: 'the colours and the chaos assault your senses', 'in the end everything will be fine and if it is not fine, it is not the end'. I wonder if all the positive reviews the movie is attracting owe it to the credibility of the cast more than the film itself. Or may be the expectations from a Western audience about a movie set in India are different from the expectations of a Indian from a foreign movie set in India. The movie doesnt rise above the expected and predictable story arc and has a tame happy ending. The ending is so sweet and endearing that it would make a diabetic numb with paralysis at the overdose of saccharineness. As one watches the film, one does enjoy the dialog but on reflection, one doesn't see anything extraordinary. It was a similar feeling I had after reading Paulo Coelho's Alchemist many years ago. It creates an illussion that you are witnessing something special but in truth it is underwhelming.
2.5 out of 5 Marigolds
The Amazing Spider-Man (29-Jun-2012)
I stood at the ticket counter and showed my ticket confirmation. The girl at the other end asked me 'Spider-Man?'. I said 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. Giggles exchanged between the personnel at the ticket counter. True Story. You know what makes him amazing? That he is so real a Superhero. Spider-Man goes out to work every single day and comes back home bruised, scarred or bleeding like a guy who can do something to a certain limit and overreaches his own limits. You see all through the film Peter Parker (or his alter-ego Spider-Man) standing up for something and getting beaten up and coming home bleeding - which indeed is superheroic, isnt it? And the best scene... it's the one where all the crane-operators come together to Spider-Man's assistance. The movie is filled with a few nice touches like this. There is another scene where Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker wish good byes and as Gwen turns back to steal a glance, you see Spider-Man turning in the direction of the police sirens as duty beckons. It is scenes like this that make cinema the art form that it is - for a minute it directly touches your heart and leaves you a memory to cherish and share with your friends and talk about it with a kind of enthusiasm like it happened to you. I went to the movie with the preconceived idea that I wouldn't like anyone other than Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man and came back satisfied with Garfield's interpretation. On the other hand, I thought Gwen Stacy was underwhelming, to say the least. I always thought that Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane looked older than Peter Parker. My view now is that if I were Peter Parker, I would fondly look back on that memory of that wet kiss with Mary Jane while hanging upside down.
The movie didnt leave anything much to take away - or ponder upon - after leaving the movie hall. It was a bit predictable though for the few minutes after I left the hall, I wondered about the motives of a few of the characters. There are a few scenes that scare you and make you feel repulsive towards the screen. As we approach the end, the movie comes closer to the Alien vs Predator series than the Alien series that was originally kicked off by Ridley Scott. All in all a middle-of-the-road movie that doesnt offer much. The 3D is unintrusive by saying which I mean it doesnt really add or remove much from the entire experience. The movie touches upon the theological psychobabble that has been better handled in a few other movies. Si-Fi is not my preferred genre and 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', the way i remember it, still remains the best movie in the genre as far as I am concerned. Whatever great work Michael Fassbender does, he will always remain the guy who used the wrong finger to point the number 3 that resulted in a large scale massacre in an underground-pub.
Gabbar Singh (13-May-2012)
What can one say about a film where the only fellow you remember after watching it outside of Pawan Kalyan is the guy who parodies Pawan Kalyan. Gabbar Singh is an overdose of self-indulgence by the hero and one gets tired of the camera always showing the hero in slow motion and towering over the screen. Notice that most of the scenes featuring him are shot from below the eye level which makes him look lager-than-life. the whole marketplace where most of the film takes place looks like a set erected in a studio - very artificial - and the whole film is a series of gags strung together. I have been told that the director is a fan of Pawan Kalyan. The film does look like it is made by a fan and made for fans. The director could learn a good deal from Ram Gopal Verma by watching Kshna Kshnam on how to make a movie featuring the star you hold in great adulation. Of course, the movie is only about Pawan Kalyan - with him breaking not only the bones of the goons in large numbers but also the 4th and 5th walls frequently. Was I entertained? Yes, I was, to a certain extent. I found myself smiling or laughing at various places during the film inspite of being conscious that it was turning out to be a movie-length portfolio of Pawan Kalyan. But is that enough - I am not sure of that. By the way, there is also the little matter of the cheerful dig at Dr. Rajasekhar which people knowing the background between the two of them will enjoy it even more and then I have my regulation complaint of Pawan Kalyan piggybacking on Chiranjeevi after all these years.
2.5 out of 5 Stars
The Artist (24-Feb-2012)
As part of a worldwide initiative to revive interest in classic movies, the 1935 silent classic 'The Artist' has been re-released. We know from Calvin and Hobbes that the world didn't turn into colour until the 30's and so like everything else of that period, the movie is in Black and White. unlike the modern movies in widescreen - this was before the invention of television - this one is shot in 35mm (i mean 4:3 aspect ratio). The space on the screen is used very productively - the film is loaded with visual symbolisms which might be one of the many reasons that might make you want to watch the film more than once. it is one of the finest movie watching experiences in the recent times for me. (i shall park my thoughts here and hope to revisit this movie for a full review sometime in the future)
The Tree of Life (09-Feb-2012)
It is a journey of evolution. Adaptation. The journey we all take. A journey that unites each and every one of us. Darwin writes that we all come from the very first single-cell organism. Yet here I am. And there's Laroche. There's Orlean. And there's the ghost orchid. ... in moments in history. That's it. That's what I need to do. Tie all of history together. Start right before life begins on the planet. All is... lifeless. And then, like, life begins... with organisms. Those little single-cell ones. And it's before sex, because, like, everything was asexual. From there we go to bigger things. Jellyfish. Then that fish that got legs and crawled out on the land. And then we see, you know, like, dinosaurs. And then they're around for a long time. Then an asteroid comes and - the insects, the mammals, the primates, monkeys. The simple monkeys. Old-fashioned monkeys giving way to the new ones. Whatever. And then apes. Whatever. And man. Then we see the whole history of human civilization. hunting, war, love... heartache, disease, loneliness, technology. And we end with Susan Orlean in her office at The New Yorker... writing about flowers..." -Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation (2002).
The first half of the movie is very good with a lot of dead-pan-straight-faced humour/dialog delivery from Mahesh Babu. The second half threw my mind back on the 'thank you Ram Gopal Verma' card before the opening credits for being an inspiration for the movie. It is incoherent, comes across as preachy to the point of pontification and you can actually see Mahesh Babu reading out the Telugu translation of RGV's blog and his cynical philosophies and arguments. This is the second time in succession - after Dookudu - that Prakash Raj has been underutilized in a Mahesh Babu film. I went to this movie with a lot of expectations - it offered something different but definitely not completely satisfying. But do not be discouraged by this. All in all, I must agree that I enjoyed the film and heard myself laughing out loud for most part of it. A definite watch.
3 out of 5 Stars
The first half of the film is predictable but good. The second half is entirely pointless with the plot coming back on track in the last 15 minutes. The whole film is a linear reworking of Baasha and the million assembly-line ‘Seema’ Movies where the hero is leading a calm life as a regular guy in a relatively serene setting and ends up with a gory flashback and the climax eventually taking him back to his roots. (Don't think of 'Out of the Past' (1947). That's blasphemy.) The opening credits of the film look like the pages of a graphic novel setting the mood up for a powerful/intense movie. What follows is something that could have been a far better effort. The background score sometimes sticks out and distracts the audience from the dialog. Two girls play major parts and both of them look very ordinary. We have something to worry when Pawan Kalyan starts looking like his less-illustrious sibling.
2.5 out of 5 Claws.
"Jis mein hain dum, dont fuck with Bajirao Singham". This is the best Entertainer of 2011. This is what Dabangg should have been - The Bang was what was missing there. To pontificate on the subject... well, let's leave it for another full length review of the film. 4 out of 5 Stars. "kyon ki kuch bhi karne ka tha Singham, Jaykanth Shikre ka Ego hurt nahin karne ka tha".
To paraphrase Quentin Tarantino, Inception (2010) is a Heist Movie with a sci-fi-chological thriller iconography. Don't believe notices that the movie is complex or incomprehensible. It's pretty straight forward, exciting and fun. I wonder why most movies now-a-days have to have a hero with a moral conflict - may be to add depth to the character. It's not a complaint; it's an observation. The best line of the movie comes when the heroine, for lack of another word, is exasperated and says, 'Whose subconscious are we in exactly?'. it kind of sums up the movie and reflects the audiences thoughts.
Didn't the totem wobble in the final scene? I couldn't help craning my neck to check. What do you think?
Before Sunrise (11-Apr-2010)
The protagonists in 'Before Sunrise' are on the same Ferris wheel and not one of them acknowledge Harry Lime(Orson Welles), Holly Martins(Joseph Cotten) and the cuckoo clock speech. They are indeed made for each-other.
Herold and Maude (09-Sep-2009)
Herold and Maude(1971) is the love story between a 19 year old boy and a 80 year old woman. One of the characters of the movie - not one of these two - sums the movie up brilliantly when he says...
I would be remiss in my duty if I did not tell you that the idea of intercourse - the act of your firm, young body... comingling with... withered flesh... sagging breasts... and flabby b-b-buttocks... makes me want... to vomit.
I cannot think of a more succulent summation of the movie. It is the best one line movie review ever - and ironically, the movie itself provides it.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (01-Mar-2009)
“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy retirement. You drink alcohol, you party, and you get ready for High School. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last 9 months floating with luxuries like central heating, spa, room service on tap, then you finish off as an orgasm! Amen.”
-George Costanza, Seinfeld.