Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #324

Movie: Rajapaattai (Thamizh, 2011)

Plot: Some NONSENSE on land-grabbing by politicians

Positives: NONE, if i could discount the humour antics of K.Vishwanath.

  • A 'no-story' accompanied by a terrible sequence of scenes by Suseendhran
  • A shoddy show by Vikram in which he performs scenes that even Vijay would think twice before doing them!
  • Terrible music from Yuvan - easily his worst album in a long time!
  • Eyesight-affecting costumes worn by Vikram & the getups he come in are nothing more than spitting matter!
The worst film I've seen in theatre since Azhvar in 2007!

Two Line Reviews - #323

Movie: Don 2 (Hindi,2011)

Plot: The Don is back in action after a hiatus. This time, he is a headache to a drug cartel who aim to wash him off; He washes them off and plans a heist on a German bank to get his hands on its note imprinting plate. This he does with his aide Vardaan and is trailed and troubled,as usual, by Roma. When the heist goes well, there is betrayal! Don loses the battle but wins the war sending across a message to get ready for Don 3!

  • With his ruthless villainy and style as Don, Shahrukh yet again impresses in the sequel; His punch verses are enjoyable & he has put some nice effort in the stunt sequences.
  • The visuals and stunts are spectacular - the aerial and long shots capturing the cities of Kualalumpur, Singapore, Zurich, Berlin show them in all their glory.
  • The twist in the climax (it is nowhere close to that in Don) , though predictable to an extent, is convincing.
Farhan Akhtar misses the bus in plotting the story and screenplay. There is no story at all and the sequences shown are already seen in many films before.

Nowhere near Part-1 but the King is definitely back after the Ra.One debacle!

Two Line Reviews - #322

Movie: Warrior (2011)

Plot: The mixed martial arts championship is planned for over the July 4 weekend. Among the 16 men, two underdogs hog the limelight: A professor, an old pro at MMA, comes back to fight his financial crisis & a US War hero at Iraq is the other. They,deservedly meet in the final & THEY happen to be brothers!

  • The film has sentiment, action & inspiring scenes in the right mix - so apt for an engaging boxing film! The screenplay is intriguing powered up by a mix of quiet and action packed sequences.
  • Tom Hardy and his relation with his father(played by Nick Nolte) is portrayed superbly & so is that of Joel and his coach! It is these combinations that make the film special.
  • The action scenes in the ring are power-packed and the hard fought wins of the professor backed by his students and school principal are inspiring!
  • The AWOL act of Tom stays true to his ruthless character displayed in fights and the climax fight is a fitting tribute!
'The film to watch' this season for Boxing fans & Brothers!

Two Line Reviews - #321

Movie: Love and Death (1975)

Plot: Russia goes to war and along with it takes a timid, war-hating crackpot where he surprises all and sundry by playing pivot in Russia's war victory. When he gets back home, he yearns for the love of his cousin who seems to have loved every other person in the country! They fnally become a couple and when another war approaches, they decide to disguise as spanish diplomats and try to assassinate Napolean!

  • Woody's take on what is love and how one experiences death is quite impressive,with more focus on love than on death!
  • The fast paced narrative and the introductory scenes are full of sarcastic comedy taking digs on Russia and war and are funny to the core.
  • The complex dialogues that Woody and Diane exchange are downright funny and brilliant!
  • The Napolean assassination plotting scenes add to the fun and provide a climax to enjoy.
Dostoyevsky, a terrific funny character!

Two Line Reviews - #320

Movie: Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989)

Plot: A doctor's illicit relationship grows into a problem when she starts blackmailing him and he battles between right and wrong before finishing her off. Elsewhere, there is battle between the good and the ugly for the love of a woman and the confluence of the stories is the film's climax!

  • This intense drama from Woody Allen is appreciable for the screenplay which shows one story and itst analogy in parallel and shows the irony crisply!
  • Martin Landau who plays the doctor shows emotions - love, guilt, fear- to perfection with his expressive eyes
  • Woody shines , in his parallel track as the ambitious film maker who loses his love for the most irritating person who the couple had had laughs about.
  • The detailed artwork (Woody's house in the film being as close as it could get to a film maker's house) is appreciable.
Intense and gripping drama!

Two Line Reviews - #319

Movie: Small Time Crooks (2000)

Plot: A crook of a spoilt man, his wife and friends plan on a bank job, rent a nearby shop for doing that and by unusual change of fortunes, their shop flourishes and the couple get rich in a way they never assumed it to be. With the riches come a penchant for class and they lose their way in the quest for class,a dn finally realise their own selves!

  • There is a gem of a message at the end of this hilarious film and that isn't preachy! Another humour filled outing from Woody Allen.
  • This is one of those films which would display Woody's spontaneity in acting - the scenes where he word-fights his wife, the scenes where he show frustration etc. are amazing! The performance of the lady who plays his wife is equally good!
  • The bank job tunneling scenes & the scenes where they get coached are rip-roaring fun.
Hilarious entertainer!

Two Line Reviews - #318

Movie: The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)

Plot: Two investing agents at an insurance co. who are at loggerheads are hypnotised by a magician and are brought under the curse of his jade scorpion. Through them he tries to win a lot of jewels; The duo , who get chased by police, finally come together to solve the case and nab the magician.

  • Another interesting Woody Allen film rated poorly! The intrigue, the sarcasm, the humour - they are all there in the right proportion in this film too.
  • Woody as the serious yet funny agent rivels in his role and his cat-fights with Helen Hunt are all the more engaging!
  • The screenplay though predictable and flat is enjoyable nevertheless.
Engaging and funny!

Two Line Reviews - #317

Movie: Scoop (2006)

Plot: A dead reporter gets a scoop on a serial killer and his spirit gives the scoop to an amateur reporter who, along with a street magician, try to solve it by tracing and tracking a wealthy handsome tycoon who they are after.

  • It comes as a rude shock that the film is badly rated on IMDb as it is highly engaging and is one of the better films to watch without one losing interest over its course.
  • The brilliance of Woody Allen is everywhere to see - the screenplay,dialogues and direction are exemplary.
  • Add to that his own performance as the wrong-side-driving-fearing guy who moves on from a scared-to-death magician to a curious one trying to solve the case.
  • The pretty Scarlett Johansson and the hunk Hugh Jackman perform amply well to suit the film's mood as well.
A taut thriller, easily made in typical Woody Allen style!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #316

Movie: Midnight in Paris (2011)

Plot: A writer who wishes to write about the classical past which he loves is battered by his wife, her parents and her friends during a family holiday in Paris. When on one day he takes a stroll to avoid their bickering, he suddenly gets to the past and meets the likes of Fitzgerald, Hemingway etc. He eventually realises that he has to break up with his girl as their tastes donot match at all.

  • Even though the subject has been dealt with in the past, the premise chosen for showing the writer's delusion is fresh and Woody Allen gets the viewer to the past.
  • Owen Wilson comes up with an effortless yet impactful performance and his love and reverence for the legends from the past is evident in the scenes he meets them.
  • The way Paris is captured in the first three-four minutes is amazing and the rest of the film is as poetic as that.
  • The scene that Woody uses to stress the point - for every generation, the past seems better than the present - is brilliant.
Nostalgic tribute to the 1920s writers!

Two Line Reviews - #315

Movie: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Plot:Two friends from the US spend their summer vacation in Spain and in the process get acquainted with a Catalan painter on whom the two of them develop inexpilcable passion at different times. His ex-wife gets into the picture at exactly the wrong moment causing trouble to the already delicate relationships that exist.

  • This must be one of the Woody Allen gems,for the way in which a sensitive relationship situation is handled extremely logically & delicately is highly commendable.
  • Javier Bardem & Rebecca Hall provide nice supporting fiddle but the role of Scarlett Johansson as the passionate girl with an indecisive quest for love and that of the beautiful Penelope Cruz whose frayed temper and Spanish outbursts are extremely delightful to watch are the roles to look for.
  • The scene where Cristina explains her relation with the Spanish pair to Vicky takes the cake as the most convincing scene in the film.
  • Nice spanish locations - churches, ruins - among others, a lively narrative and a solo barcelona background track keep the viewer engaged.
Delicate subject, delivered deliciously!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #314

Movie: Mounaguru (Thamizh,2011)

Plot: A group of policemen accidentally happen to get a chance to cover up a case that would present them with a 6 crore loot. When one of the policemen's conversation is recorded and the group gets blackmailed, they plan things hastily leading to mistakes after mistakes. One such mistake - taking the life of a silent college student for granted - costs them dearly in the end.

  • Debutant director Santhakumar deserves applause for presenting a heavy no-nonsense script with an engaging screenplay within the commercial format and delivering a quality product at that!
  • The hero's honest characterisation justifies the Coelho philosophy of 'whole world conspiring to help him'.
  • The casting appears apt with nice performances from Arulnidhi,John Vijay & his group of wrongdoing policemen, Uma Riaz, Iniya & the rest.
  • The dialogues pack a punch at places (eg. the scene where he speaks with and spanks the doctor with belt) and the characters in the hero's family appear realistic.
  • Thaman's songs carry the heard-before feeling but with a good background score, he impresses. So do the photographer and Editor.

At one point towards the end, the case solves by itself and the probing that Uma does after that seems unnecessary.

A taut crime-thriller; Laudable effort!

Two Line Reviews - #313

Movie: Sweet and Lowdown(1999)

Plot: A guitarist who thinks he is the second best all over the world has reverie for his numero uno Django. The film traces the career of the guitarist over the 1930s during which he had flourished.

  • I've always longed to see what the result would be when Woody Allen directs a good talent and from what's evident with Sean Penn's performance, it would have been great to see many more such combines.
  • Woody's screenplay putting a take on the human ego through his prime character and dialogues to stress on that and sandwiching that between humorous sequences & an unusual pairing makes this a refreshing tale.
  • The commentary, with the usual nonsense touch of Allen, is enjoyable (not as much enjoyable as in Zelig though!)
Journey of a musician & a take on the elephant called Ego.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #312

Movie: Stardust Memories (1980)

Plot: A director known for his comedies turns philosophical and that is something that irks his audience. He gets caught in a nostalgic warp when he is made to contemplate whether or not to get back to what he was liked for.

  • Woody Allen shines with an abstract screenplay whose climax bears an evident semblance to Fellini's eight-and-a-half.
  • He performs his role with aplomb; It's a delight to see him get vexed in movies and here it comes in the form of irate audience wanting his autograph for the films from his past!
  • The dialogues are as good if not as humourous as they are in Woody Allen films; the final scenes where he explains one reason why one could live for is a gem.
A bit complex but interesting to watch.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #311

Movie: Deconstructing Harry (1997)

Plot: Fictional characters from a writer's past get back to him and the memories compound his problem of getting into a writer's block. Through them, he deconstructs himself & finally his own characters honour Harry.

  • This purely imaginative stuff has been filmed wonderfully well by Woody Allen and his team. Fictional characters getting life is a delightful proposition.
  • Woody Allen reiterates some of his own philosophies on life, relationships, awards, his trust on medicine etc. with well constructed sequences.
  • The dialogues with an apt dose of humour is a big plus. The guy who gets out-of-focus is an example of the outrageous characters that Woody creates time and again.
Hilarious Harry, constructed well!

Two Line Reviews - #310

Movie: Match Point (2005)

Plot: A tennis pro gets acquainted with the sister of a person he coaches, gets into their family & suddenly gets a feel for the lady of the man he coaches for. His not-so-enthusing family life and the opportunity to mix with the girl of his liking take him to trouble - to the point of a planned perpetration!

  • Like in Prestige, the premise that is set (with the let cord luck) in the very first minute gets captured in the very last stages of the film.
  • This is a mature, no-nonsense Woody Allen film and when things gather momentum, it qualifies as a suspense film.
  • The guilt-ridden Meyers, Goode, Emily et al. come up with convincing performances & the passionate and furious scenes involving Meyers & Scarlett Johansson are the film's marquee scenes.
  • The twist & the re-twist at the Police officer building in the climax is brilliant.
From romance to suspense, the transition is terrific.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Look - #29


Plot: The plans to assassinate the first lady president of U.S.A. leaks via a Greek servant to the Cops. The gang washes out the Greek, a few cops and a witness. They let loose one cop with the info. The cop and the FBI director's meticulous and sleepless week of work is all it takes to nab the murder-planners right at the moment of the planned assassination.

  • The book moves at a lightning speed from page one & makes for an interesting one-go read.
  • The difference in the approaches of the experienced FBI director & the novice FBI agent are shown subtly but enjoyably.
  • The humorous verses and narrative styles employed here and there are worth taking a note on.
  • The romance track of the agent with one of the suspect's daughters keeps one guessing.
A Super-fast page-turner!

Two Line Reviews - #309

Movie: Osthe ( Thamizh, 2011)

Plot: A police officer with autocratic instincts takes the money off the area hoodlum and pockets it home. His half brother and the villain get after the money, he loses his mother in the process. After some chessboard battles with the villain, the police triumphs and seeks his revenge for his mother's death.

  • The songs of Thaman are the key pluses for this film. They are all foot-tapping numbers & Dharani has ensured that they have been picturised well.
  • The colours in the film make it a watchable commercial fare. So does Simbu (if one can bear his self-trumpet blowings & artificial accent) as Inspector Osthe Velan. It surprised me that he showed some sort of screen presence in this film.
  • The heroine Richa Gangopadhyay, Sandhanam and Co. play roles that have been beaten to death in Thamizh films but are OK with whatever little they have to do.Sonu Sood too,is better than the shouting, raucous gypsy jeep villains you normally see in films of this kind.
  • Well, the screenplay is as flat as a Kanpur wicket. No twists and turns - disappointing from Dharani who has shown them in Dhil & Dhool.
  • The irritating,irrelevant & nonsensical repetition of the word Osthe by many characters in the film.
Verdict??When the first 'plus' put is a film's songs, you'd probably get an idea of the verdict :)

Book Look - #28

FIRST AMONG EQUALS by Jeffrey Archer
Plot: Four men from different parties -  two from the conservatives, one from the labour party, one from social democrats - rise from their ranks to become contenders for the Prime Ministerial role in the British parliament. Their sojourn, their moves through their careers of ascent is what the book talks about.

  • The progressive narration of how they rise from the 1960s to the 1990s is praiseworthy. When things seem a bit repetitive, a new course of action is what ensues.
  • The characters of all 4 - Simon Kerslake, Raymond Gould, Andrew Fraser & Charles Seymour - have been sketched marvelously & ensures the reader doesn t get biased towards any of the 4 men.
  • The roles the wives play in the men's success is brought forth brilliantly.
Difficult to get through the first few pages but Impressive as things catch on.

Two Line Reviews - #308

Movie: Mayakkam Enna (2011, Thamizh)

Plot: A wannabe photographer falls in love with his friend's date who too has her sights on him. In the midst of it all, his pursuit of passion gets badly hit when his inspiration - a leading photographer - denies taking him as an assistant & steals his click which brings instant national & international fame. Meanwhile, he marries the girl he was fatally attracted to but loses his mind. That's when his girl steps in determined to get him on track from the mental trauma he undergoes, and that she ends up doing successfully.

  • The last 45-50 minutes of the film is where all the pluses lie - Be it the grit of the lady ( played well by Richa) in wanting to get her husband to recovery mode, be it dhanush's performance, be it the music - and that's when Selvaraghavan shows stuff.
  • The photography, by the highly talented Ramji, is a huge plus.
  • Music by G.V. Prakash moves well from catchy in Oda Oda to touchy in Pirai Thedum during the film's course.
  • This time, Selva goofs up the first half instead of the second! The first hour and a half is utterly unrealistic - the friend's character being the worst of them all.
  • The irrelevant situation in which Kadhal en kadhal song pops up is example enough to show what we see is not what Selva must have initially had in mind for the film.
  • There are cliches aplenty from his previous films - a heroine who stares pointlessly, a friend who doesn't even know who his date is after etc.
Didn't enthuse or inspire me ( which it seems to have done many)

Two Line Reviews - #307

Movie: Inside Job (Documentary,2010)
Plot: The film traces the roots of the Global Economic Recession of 2008 and how leading U.S. Banks and Financial Cos. like Lehmann Bros.,Goldman Sachs, Merill Lynch etc. got trapped in the web created by their own selves in an attempt to find ways to create wealth.

  • The Iceland prologue sets up the base wonderfully for this Ferguson directed, Matt Damon narrated documentary.
  • The way things such as the securitisation food chain are explained make it an easy and understandable watch even for the uninformed.
  • The kind of research done is quite evident from the footages shown & the digs taken at the leading Executives of the major banks by mentioning they denied speaking for the film are worth a mention.

Learning the '08 Recession made easy.

Two Line Reviews - #306

Movie: Submarine (2011)

Plot: A school going teenager brought up as an introvert gets a lover girl who he feels matches him best. When he finds it difficult to cope with even the closest possible match he gets, he suddenly doubts that his parents' relationship is getting fragile. He tries patching it up damaging his love life in the process.

  • The narrative with powerful, psychological commentary makes it an engaging watch.
  • The lead pair teenagers do marvelously well in their psychic yet likable roles.
  • The photography, which is neat, is a definite plus for this film.
An engaging off-beat fare!