Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Look - #10


Plot: A man with an awkwardly disfigured face, leaves from France to America carrying a part of the secret life he'd had in France. With his smart and tacky ways, he creates an empire of his own and through a letter from his caretaker in France , he comes to know of the startling other half of the secret. This makes him use his second love- the opera to bring from France his first love - the opera singer he loved & a pack of surprises get unveiled.

  • I didn't know, when I picked this book, that it was a sequel to a book written by another author. But a crisp epilogue and an astonishingly imaginative story makes this a brilliant work to be read.
  • The narration style employed is unique - Each chapter narrated by different characters that form the story; a narration with very little contribution by conversations; a narration where all the characters come from various walks of life in the society - GRIPPING!
  • The shattering revelations and a special climax make this a superb page-turner.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #168

Movie: Smultronstället (or) Wild Strawberries (Swedish,1957)

Plot: An old doctor, during a travel to get an honor for his work as a doctor,understands his own self through his daughter-in-law and how lonely his life has been through three young teenagers who travel with them. He realises how his loneliness has led him to live his life with just memories from his past.

  • The peculiar and out-of-the-box style of screenplay adopted by Ingmar Bergman is impressive. Dreams that we get are as weird,yet connected with us, as the ones shown in the film.
  • The roles of Dr.Isak. The old man plays it wonderfully. The beautiful looking girl who plays Marianne is sharp with her action too.
Creatively superior; Stands Unique contentwise.

Two Line Reviews - #167

Movie: Serpico (1973)

Plot: A honest Bronx cop keeps getting transferred to different positions thanks to his righteous ways and when he unveils a huge money laundering scam involving officers at all levels, he earns the betrayal of his department and gets a bullet. Finally, his relentlessness pays off , only at the expense of the profession he loves.

  • Al Pacino's impeccable role of 'Frank Serpico'. With all the getups,looks & above all a terrific performance it isn't surprising to note that a lot of Kamal's body language and roles in his movies of 80s have been inspired by this legend.
  • The engaging screenplay of the writers and Sidney Lumet's direction with sequences of raging outpour sandwiched between nonchalant scenes.
  • Music,fire-powered dialogs,locations & Al's costumes are good too.
A highly under-rated film. Watch this for Al Pacino and his inspiring role.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Harris has Ennamo Edho!

I have watched the song trailer of ‘Ko’ in atleast five screens thanks to the weighty marketing measures that the producers Red Giant pictures have taken. With just a glimpse of the song that gets played in the trailer, one could make out that it is a HIT material. Now that the album has been released , the notion gets confirmed. But what intrigues me is “How many times has he been successful with just a single tune!!”.

The song that I’m talking about is ‘Ennamo Edho’ from Ko. If you haven’t listened to it yet, no worries; it sounds so similar to ‘Hasili fisili’ of Aadhavan. Coming to think of the source of inspiration for this particular signature tune of Harris, I have to go back to atleast the ‘12B’ days. So, ‘12B days’ (Dasavatharam Kamal narration style!). In the film ‘12B’ there is this song ‘Sariya Thavaraa’ & in this song, there is this verse ‘Saa pa ma ga, sa sa pa ma ga ma pa ga ri sa; ma pa ma ga ri sa’. The swarams seem to have reached Harris’s subconscience as you can identify it in many of his songs. The startling fact is that all the songs that have this tune have turned out to be raging blockbuster hits. Be it Unnale Unnale’s ‘June Ponal’, Vaaranam Ayiram’s ‘Adiye Kolludhe’, Ayan’s ‘Neeyum neeyum adi needhana’, Aadhavan’s ‘Hasili Fisile’, Engeyum Kaadhal’s ‘Lolita’, Vettaiyadu Vilayadu's 'Paartha mudhal naale',Saamy’s ‘Hayaiyo’ and a hell of a lot of other songs. The latest to join the bandwagon is Ko’s ‘Ennamo Edho’ which is sure to follow the rest in the list of big hit songs of Harris.

I am not demeaning Harris for being so monotonous for two reasons:
  • I am a fan of all these songs despite me & have listened to them quite a lot of times.
  • His music is not just about that; He keeps giving songs like Dhaam Dhoom’s ‘Aazhiyile’, Vaaranam Aayiram’s ‘Anal mele’ which are highly genial melodies.
As long as he keeps churning out hits with these ‘Sa pa ma ga’ tunes , no complaints; One has to agree that the Harris guy has an ennamo edho magic to overcome his restricted repertoire!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #166

Movie: Letters from Iwo Jima (Japanese,2006)

Plot: A commander and a set of soldiers guarding the all important gateway island of Japan 'Iwo Jima' from the impending attacks of the USA live with their parted families through letters. The sheer purposelessness of war and the similarity in soldiers across parties is reflected in the end.

  • Clint Eastwood's films have one thing in common. The emotions, the message - they all get injected slowly but powerfully like cortisone injected into the vein. This film is no exception.
  • The fine performances of the persons who play the commander, the soldier Saito & the Olympics gold medallist.
  • Excellent art work, graphics and cinematography are evident in the shatteringly realistic air & water attack based war sequences.
Yet another cherishable Clint Eastwood classic, in Japanese this time.

Book Look - #9

THE VETERAN by Frederick Forsyth

Plot: This book comprises five medium-size stories that have contextual descriptions and details to the most immaculate level. They focus on subjects ranging from a british trial on an assault case to art world felonies to drug trafficking to 14th century rome to the wild west of the 1800s.

  • Each story has its own highlights but if there is one thing that is common to them all - It is the level of detail at which Forsyth narrates. I saw a tagline that befits him wonderfully - "With Forsyth, you live and learn".
  • The psychic twist to the story of Rome & the brilliant climax of 'The Veteran'
  • The drug trafficking story & the one on the west were gripping (especially the wilderness depicted in 'The whispering wind' was fascinating) but they had confusing ends. I am yet to fathom them accurately.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #165

Movie: True Grit (2011)

Plot: A girl whose father gets murdered wants to avenge the loss. She takes the help of a field Marshall and a Texas ranger who are at loggerheads and the three are in pursuit of the killer ; the girl for her father & the other two for the money.

  • Once again, a film with a simple story scores with the narration of the Coen Brothers.
  • The lazy action of the giant like Jeff Bridges & the supporting roles played by Matt Damon & the girl.
  • The night shooting sequence & the climax.
A watch-worthy cowboy film which ,for a change, is less on adventure.

Two Line Reviews -#164

Movie: Mean Streets (1973)

Plot: Two low profile wannabe-thugs share fun and life in the mean streets of a city. When one owes a debt to a bigger thug, the problems start for the duo. One's association with a don and his love with the cousin of the other magnifies the problems!

  • Some of the carefree & 'take things easy' manoeuvre's of the GANG of thugs are good to watch.
  • De Niro & Keitel share good screen presence.
  • Scorsese's usage of constant soundtracks behind the scenes, as always, is good.
The film fails to move. There is not much substance.

Watchable if you are a De Niro/Scorsese fan;Avoidable otherwise!

Two Line Reviews -#163

Movie: Fargo (1995)

Plot: A man badly in need of money hires kidnappers to kidnap his wife so that he can share the ransom that he could get from his father-in-law. Only he doesn't know that the kidnappers are two weird characters who end up killing unknown people in the process. A shrewd policewoman on their trail nab the culprits finally.

  • The Coen Brothers' screenplay makes this simple story tick. Though there aren't many twists, it makes for an interesting watch.
  • The characters of the two kidnappers & the pregnant police-woman.
  • The mindblowing soundtrack 'North Dakota' that comes and goes time and again in the background.
Too many ends appear to have been left untied.

 A decent film that falls in an unusual 'Humour-thriller' genre.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #162

Movie: Aadukalam (Thamizh,2011)

Plot: A trio comprising a guru and two proteges are seasoned experts in arranging seval sandais across their district. In a big event, a difference in judgment of the capabilities of a seval by the guru and one of his proteges shifts the focus from rooster-clashes to ego-clashes setting up an intriguing finale. The honest protagonist has an anglo indian girl as his ally in testing times.

  • Vetrimaran's radiant story, screenplay and direction. All actors have performed nicely. The screenplay is of the no-nonsense type with a superb shift from cock fights to the fall of a giant possessed by his king sized ego.
  • Dhanush's action. He exceeds benchmarks and does everything - Humour,dance,emotion,speech accent - perfectly; A role tailor-made for him and he makes full use of it.
  • The core areas of cinematography,editing,stunts have been handled with perfection. Credits to the team for acknowledging Indian and foreign films that have inspired the cinematography techniques employed.
  • GV Prakash's songs and background music. It's a pity that En vennilave wasn't picturised completely but the picturisation of the rest of the songs more than makes up for it.
  • The pre-interval rooster fight scene - Suspenseful and brilliant aided by some very good graphics work.
Verdict: Celebration of Commercial cinema. Hits the Bull's eye!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #161

Movie: Mr.Smith goes to Washington (1939)

Plot: A honest and innocent man who values the liberty earned by former great politicians of the USA is elected to the US Senate and he finds that it is corrupt and directed by powers that be. When he is tailored and projected as a corrupt, he fails to back out and plunges into an act of filiburst to get things corrected.

  • James Stewart as the senator Jefferson Smith who fights for his lost cause is at his usual best. Watching more and more of him makes me feel he is a definite contender for the 'Best actor of all times' tag.
  • The role of Jean Arthur who plays his ally Saunders is sweet and enjoyable.
  • The dialogs and the powerful senate scenes are outstanding,credits to Frank Capra.
Verdict: Riveting Political drama, A 'must-watch' classic

Friday, January 14, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #160

Movie: The Fighter (2010)

Plot: The elder brother loses his opportunity at becoming big in boxing thanks to his cracking. He trains his younger bro who always idolises his big bro. The duo get off track due to the unruly ways of big bro but just as the opportunity of a title shot knocks the door of the younger one, they regroup and knock things out.

  • The way the film gains tempo is terrific. A solid setup is established followed by a resurgence - Perfect recipe for an inspiring boxing film.
  • A film on Brother bondage and that makes this so very special. Christian Bale with his antics & Wahlberg with his laconic performance steal the show. Bale's work is oscar-worthy.
  • The climax boxing encounter & the regrouping scene (of the three main characters ) that precedes the climax.
Verdict: A Brilliant 'Boxing-Brothers' film,Warrants a watch.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #159

Movie: Baanaa Kaathadi (Thamizh,2010)
Plot: A slum-dwelling kaathadi expert falls in love with a college girl who he had got acquainted with accidentally. A disastrous twist when he proposes causes a rucus between the two and in the meanwhile he witnesses the murder of a politician which adds to his troubles. When the lover duo finally settle their differences, the murderers are ready to kill their beloved witness.

  • The director makes a fresh and promising debut. The characterisations of the hero heroine pair (with their honesty,self-respect and pride) are remarkably good and Atharva & Samantha have done well.
  • The slum sequences are filmed well. Not exaggerated like it is done in many films. Prasanna,Mounica & Karunaas' roles are good. The 'pen-drive' comedy scenes were good too.
  • The colourful visuals and ear-pleasing music add to the positives.
  • Given the feel-good factor, the climax could have been different.
  • The unwanted item number towards the end - Don't know why these producers make such senseless,tasteless demands these days.
Verdict: Decent timepass,Worth a watch.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #158

Movie: 127 Hours (2010)

Plot: This film,based on a true life incident, sees trekker Aron Ralston get trapped in a rock during an adventurous canyoneering trip he undertakes in an isolated canyon.Measures to get himself out notwithstanding, he decides to record the last few days of his life in his cam. Inspired by the hallucinations of his family, he makes on last valiant attempt to liberate himself, sacrificing a limb in the process.

  • Salutes to the original Aron & to Danny Boyle for making a film and glorifying the incident. This film is a celebration of human perseverance,grit and optimism.
  • James Franco,the guy who plays Aron has done a tremendous job,especially in the liberation sequence.
  • A.R. Rahman's arousing background music is apt fitting perfectly with the show on-screen.
My Rating: 9.5/10

Monday, January 10, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #157

Movie: The Elephant Man (1980)
Plot: A birth deficiency due to an elephant attack trauma his mother had undergone during pregnancy causes a man to be severely deformed,so much to the extent that he is branded an 'Elephant man' and shown on display in a circus like setup by a crook. A doctor saves him,shows him care and after getting to know he's talented as anyone else is, a few others follow suit. In their care,the man finds love and starts constructing his own cathedral of a life.

  • The nobility & feel-good factor. This Lynch film has such positivity and shows an unfortunate deformed deficient person in good light. The beautiful climax accentuates the effect.
  • The person who plays the elephant man & Anthony Hopkins as the doctor are the roles to watch out for.
  • Christopher Tucker's tucker make-up. It makes the man look ugly and believable at the same time.
The 'lowly men who ridicule the man hugely' concept is a cliche.

 My Rating: 9.2/10

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #156

Movie: The Wrestler (2008)

Plot: A highly popular former Wrestling champion gets a heart attack subsequently retiring from his sport. His retirement makes him realise he's insignificant to the external world - even to his daughter - and the ring is the world for him and he gets back just there.

  • As if to say that he isn't just a complex film maker, Darren Aronofsky delivers class in a simple and gripping record of a wrestler.
  • Rourke,the actor who plays the wrestler Randy 'THE RAM' Robinson is perfect.
  • Touching scenes are in abundance - Some scenes with the dancer Cassidy,Nintendo game scene, super market burst scene etc.
My Rating: 9.1/10

Friday, January 7, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #155

Movie: Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Plot: 4 individuals - A mother,her son,his friend & his lover - have their own dreams in life. In their dream realisation path comes DRUGS and it shatters each of them to unimaginable proportions in a span of just a year.

  • If DRUG ABUSE is the message Aronofsky wanted to deliver, he delivers that right into the head of the viewer with a style that can even be termed 'mentally disturbing'.
  • The acting of the 4 addicts are great. Especially that of Ellen Burstyn who plays the TV addict Sara Goldfarb.
  • Wonderful editing,strange camerawork & the music. The violin soundtrack is as shattering as it is inspiring.
  • Too crude. Not an easy watch for normal audience.
  • The drugs,drugs and drugs scenes though crisp are repetitive. 
My Rating: 9.3/10

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #154

Movie: Black Swan (2010)

Plot: A ballet dancer who has perfection is given the role of a white swan tailor-made for her & that of a 'black swan' which requires to let herself lose control and emote. She finds she must do it and she can't do it. The struggle within her to play two contrasting roles in a single play is supplemented by ridicule,competition and other things.

  • This shocking essay of a struggle of a person from within/against competition shown with a lot of twists is stupefying. The writers,story writer deserve credits. Also,at the helm is the impressive Darren Aronofsky with his trademark psycho stuff - trains,washbasins and weird scenes.
  • The out-of-world performance of Natalie Portman as the soft,suave white swan and the devious black swan.She DESERVES the Best Actress Oscar Award this year and I hope and wish she gets that.
  • The grand musical orchestrations,constumes and sets are other pluses.
My Rating: 9.6/10

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #153

Movie: Amadeus (1984)
Plot: Mozart Wolfgang is a music prodigy and Antonio Salieri is a mediocre musician who plans and does all he can to bring the audacious Mozart down. The ploys he undertakes to get Wolfgang down and the way 'music stands the test of times' is shown are brilliant.

  • With a shocking story,astounding scenes and amazing concerto/opera music , This one is a masterpiece. All credits to the director-writer duo of Forman and Shaffer.
  • The actor who plays Wolfgang Mozart has absolutely lived the role.
  • The acting of the Salieri guy is equally good. He shows his inferiority complex with some conniving acts and a calm,yet shaking body language.                    
My Rating: 9.7/10

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #152

Movie: The Sting (1973)

Plot: A small-time conman wants to avenge the murder of his partner by conning the person behind his friend's killing who happens to be a rich banker. For his revenge, he seeks help from a big-time conman and with their immaculate planning calls for an interesting viewing.

  • An enthralling screenplay explaining in detail the con-work of the con-men, the way they set the trap for their target!
  • Paul Newman's effortless acting and the Brad Pitt-like Robert Redford's supporting role.
  • Some interesting twists thrown around here and there.
The reason for taking such a huge risk seems not worthy enough.

My Rating: 9.2/10

Two Line Reviews - #151

Movie: Unforgiven (1992)

Plot: A retired gunman living by retiring off his infamous past thanks to his now-dead wife reforming him, reluctantly makes a comeback to kill two scums who'd cut off the face of a woman in a county. He reinvents his own self,losing his good old friend & setting right a young guy's ambition in the process.

  • Thalaivar is special.Clint Eastwood's slow and lethargic,yet, intense style of making is in full flow in this film.
  • The sync that Clint and Morgan Freeman share. The duo command respect in this film too.
  • Scenes involving Gene Hackman and the English Bob, the killing of the second cowboy were special.
My Rating: 9.3/10

Two Line Reviews - #150

Movie: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Plot: A british soldier who has an uncompromising love for desert and an unshakable will unites the different Arab sects in their war against the Turks and at some point, he gets fed up of the desert and his killings and the politics surrounding Britain and Arabia makes things worse , mentally,for him.

  • The film has 'EPIC' written all over it. The unbelievable capture of deserts, the travel travails & war action in the desert are terrific to say the least.
  • The awe-inspiring theme music that runs throughout the film.
  • The character of Lawrence is brilliantly etched & the first scene (where two ppl offer two views on him) finds its meaning after the last scene in the film!
  • Peter Toole & Omar Sheriff have done very well in their prominent roles.
The politics in the last 30-40 minutes could have been explained clearer. It was vague.

My Rating: 9.6/10

Two Line Reviews - #149

Movie: Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Plot: A person proved to have murdered a barman who had raped his wife is defended by a lawyer who vies to prove it was on irresistible impulse that he did the killing. Pitted against the lawyer is a famous city attorney and they play their games of convincing the jury on the convict being guilty/not guilty in an absorbing court-room setup.

  • 'James Stewart' is the name. It is one of the best solo performances I've seen in a film. He stands out as the smart and brilliant lawyer. This one is better than his Rope & It's a Wonderful life acts.
  • The characters of the convict,his wife, the associate of stewart & his assistant,the judge & the public attorneys - They all perform very well thanks to perfectly etched out characterisations.
  • True to its name, this film's screenplay is a perfect 'anatomy' of a murder case bringing in all points necessary.
My Rating: 9.6/10