Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #359

Movie: Fracture (2006)

Plot: An aeronautics expert turns into a meticulate murderer when he gets to know of his wife's affair with a SWAT agent. He defends himself on court and a lawyer who has impressively made his way up the ladder falls for the bait the murderer sets and loses a golden offer from a reputed firm. Is it the career of the lawyer or the meticulousness of the murderer that gets fractured? We get to see that. in the end.

  • The director Gregory Hoblit has made a fine casting, supported by an intense screenplay by Daniel Pyne and the film's magic works well to an extent.
  • Anothony Hopkins plays to perfection in a turf that he has made his own over the years!
  • Ryan Gosling was the surprise package. This is the best I have seen of him - Stylish, charismatic and delivers nicely. Rosamund Pike is beautiful and is pleasing when on screen.
  • The twists to the tale make this crime-thriller a worthwhile watch.
Hannibal Lecter, minus the psychological convolutions!

Two Line Reviews - #358

Movie: Margin Call (2011)

Plot: An analyst at an Investment Bank is part of the job-cut exercise. He lends his partial work to his subordinate to complete them. The revelations are shocking that the unit head is summoned, who summons his head and finally the CEO. How they burn the midnight oil to protect themselves from a devastation that is waiting on its wings come the next morning is what the film shows.

  • One of the initial turmoils in the Economic Crisis of 2008 at Lehmann Brothers is brought into detail with considerable style and intrigue. Director & Writer Chandor deserves some praise there.
  • Kevin Spacey in his role underplays the confusion and shock he's been made to get into & Demi Moore is all grace when she's made the scapegoat.
  • The dialogues are well-written making the conversations and the meetings look interesting.
Gets into the intricacies of the colossal IB collapse of '08.

Two Line Reviews - #357

Movie: Hakuchi (or) The Idiot (Japanese, 1951)

Plot: A man who gets reprieve when he's at the cusp of capital punishment considers it a reincarnation decides to be as kind as he could be to everyone. His naivety and innocence make him get tagged as 'an idiot'. Only to two ladies does he seem the best. They love and loath him, one of his companions marries one of those ladies. It's complex trouble all the way in a triangular possessive game.

  • This Kurosawa translation of the Dostoevsky novel is as complex a drama as I have seen; It's a cut version I gather and so the magic is not in full-flow.
  • The guy who plays Kameda,the idiot has been aptly chosen for the role; Toshiro Mifune,as the thug, happily plays second-fiddle only to terrorise at the end!
  • The contrast in the two lady characters who adore the idiot - Ayako & Nasu - has been explained brilliantly in the scene where they face each other - Classic scene!
  • Background score, camerawork and editing departments impress making this another high-quality Kurosawa product.
A Complex cob-web of feelings!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #356

Movie: Kaadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Eppadi (Thamizh, 2012)

Plot: The love affair of a B.E. studying duo literally breaks with a hit on the hero's forehead! That's when he gets into the retrospective mode offering pies of advice when his friend attempts to indulge in a love -trip.Simple things get blown out of proportion and big issues get solved before a wink and the mystery that shrouds around is let to stay the way it is.

  • The film-debut of Balaji Mohan, the maker of the short with the same title shows he is quite intelligent; He has interspersed two of his short-film tales with a solid camera-facing narrative that makes him a welcome addition.
  • Siddharth is casual and effortless and impresses with the way he carries himself and the role in the film; a solid run in Thamizh this guy deserves.
  • With her pretty costumes and a nice hair-do, Amala Paul is a delightful eye-candy and more, thanks to a decent show with her action.
  • Experimental shots, songs, boy-girl scenes, the curious friend who throws superb humour at places are positive factors too. 
  • The negative that is to be pointed out comes in the form of a 'sodhappal' handling of the Suresh saga towards its end! Mockery..
  • The SS music VJ who plays John & his Thamizh accent irritate to the core.
  • Songs aren't impressive in an otherwise catchy film.
Breezy light-hearted entertainer!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #355

Movie: The Tree of Life (2011)

Plot: The film shows how the formative years of 2 among 3 kids of a strict suppressive father can get influenced and when the suppression crosses a limit, the elder kid goes in search for the answer on what death is;who god is;why can't he stop being cruel and the likes. Years later, the younger brother seeks answers for the same.

  • The positives first. The crazy camera angles and the abrupt cuts employed make this film a worthwhile watch! So does the premise that the film sets.
  • The portions where the elder kid grows and the youngsters are born and how they grow together, how issues with the father's sadistic nature affect the family etc. are captured brilliantly by Terrence Malick.
  • Brad Pitt, in scenes displaying his fury, and the elder kid act superbly. The background opera-type music provides an apt background.
  • On the negative side, I couldn't understand anything on the 'evolution of earth' scenes. They made no sense to me as they did not seem to carry any scientific logic either.
  • Ditto on the scenes involving Sean Penn.
  • The climax reminded me of The Seventh Seal and 81/2 both of which I never liked much & both come in The Tree of Life's related films category at IMDb (No surprises there!)

Tiresome, Confusing but Worth a watch for the childhood sequences.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #354

Movie: Hugo (2011)

Plot: A kid who works in the clock station presumes earth to be a machine and everybody on it exists with some purpose. With the partially fixed automaton his father had been working on before his death, he tries to find his purpose and ends up saving back a lost purpose.

  • It is astounding to think that someone could conceive such a thought - Both the writer of the book and the film's director Scorsese deserve the plaudits for this scorcher of a film!
  • Scorsese traverses a genre that, to me can't be named and the output is marvelous, and the tribute paid to the cinema of the past's past is artistic!
  • Ben Kingsley provides the dramatic act the role seems to require and the kid who plays Hugo is brilliant in some scenes.
  • The Station inspector,Isabelle & mama Jeanne characters earn the respect of the viewer; Inspector and Maximilian provide some fun.
  • The sequences eulogising machines are terrific. The visual effects are of extremely good quality, the unwinding first scene is just one example.
Go,dream with Scorsese!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #353

Movie: Yoidore tenshi (or) Drunken Angel (Japanese,1948)

Plot: A drunkard doctor who gives personal importance to his patients' health gets a hoodlum for a TB Patient. The doctor's frank ways embarrass the thug and he responds with reluctance to the treatment. When health gets to more worrisome levels, he realises the mirage that the thug world is about.

  • Akira Kurosawa after quite some time but the admiration stays where it was. Another brilliant narration of contrasting but respectable characters.
  • Veteran Takashi Shimura revels in the hyper role Kurosawa tailors for him and Toshiro Mifune impresses with his gradual make-over.
  • Music of Fumio Hayasaka is grand as ever.
  • AK's symbolisms with the stagnant pond, angel toy, candy seeking girl etc. are marks of true brilliance.
Ode to human willpower!

Two Line Reviews - #352

Movie: War Horse (2011)

Plot: A teenager raises the horse he had admired from its birth; When WWI begins, the family has no option other than to lease the horse out for war. After 4 years of transfers from the Brit to the Germans to the French, the brave stallion's unwavering grit and destiny take it back to its master who had warred just to trace back his horse!

  • Steven Spielberg has it in him to make a massive Indian film! He makes a horse an idol in this film showering heroism and sentimental scenes (which work!) upon it and its master.
  • In combination with the amazing orchestration of John Williams, extremely believable war sets ( cakewalk for Spielberg's team though!) and captivating visuals, he makes this sort of yet another epic.
  • The soldier bonding scene where they free the horse from the barbed wires, unrealistic as it may be, is touchy and symbolic.
  • There are plenty of predictable portions in this drama.
  • The film carries the 'All's happy and all men are good' Vikraman effect
Spielberg has made heroes out of horses this time!

Two Line Reviews - #351

Movie: Dhoni (Thamizh,2012)

Plot: A lower middle-class widower works, works over time, makes and sells pickles to get what he wants for his two children - 'A good education'. But all that runs in his son's mind is cricket. When tempers fray beyond proportions one day, he accidentally injures and sends his son to a coma. The kid's period of recovery is when he realises the gaps in the education system and he goes social to do some reform for his son's cause.

  • Prakashraj, in his tamil directorial debut, makes a mark with some nice touches in the first half; He also carries the subject interestingly till the half way point.
  • The actor in Prakashraj revels; This is home turf for him and he scores handsomely ( voice modulation in some emotional scenes are brilliant)
  • The supporting cast comprising Radhika Apte, Nasser, the kids do their job fine ( a better dubbing for the son would have made it good though).
  • Ilaiyaraja's music is mesmerising at places and disturbs as it usually does (especially the interludes and stanzas in the Vilayatta padagotti song)
  • Second-half is wayward (he takes an extreme move to education from his son's interest) and the '17x8' lines are absurd.
  • The climax is a dramatised dampener; Was expecting something much much better.
Dhoni - 53*, Retired hurt!

Two Line Reviews - #350

Movie: Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

Plot: A soviet-UK double agent is in the midst of UK's agency. When one attempt to get to him makes the agency lose one of their men, expertise of a retired officer is called for and he discovers the men code named Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and also the Spy.

  • This film was quite a big surprise as the first few minutes suggested it might be a slow-mover. But the intensity with which it moves later is very high.
  • Gary Oldman, for his fine performance as Mr.Smiley earns respect and is a rich contender (at least in my view) for the best actor academy award this year.
  • The roles of Tom Hardy, Mark Strong and the aide to Oldman appeal.
  • Twists (especially the Witchcraft one) are of good quality - Typical Espionage Novel stuff.
Gripping tale of spy-tracing!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #349

Movie: The Descendants (2011)

Plot: A Hawaiian lawyer is shook by the coma that his wife goes into. He realises how he had missed bonding with his two daughters over the years when his wife was around. A shocking revelation from his wife's recent past ironically helps him connect back with his daughters.

  • It is mighty difficult to come up with a simply-told, positive, uncomplicated film that can delight the viewer and Alexander Payne succeeds in doing just that with this classy tale.
  • George Clooney comes up with a casual portrayal and acts brilliant in an effortless manner in some scenes ( when he pours out angrily to his near-dead wife etc.)
  • The roles of the daughters are likable and so are their performances; Even the initially irrelevant dodo of a guy who comes as the boyfriend of the elder daughter has a nice role.
  • The Hawaiian landscape is captured marvelously and the sound tracks add to the beauty on screen.
Simple & Simply Classy!

Two Line Reviews - #348

Movie: Män som hatar kvinno (or) Man Who Hates Women (or) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Plot: A journalist gets hired by a wealthy old man to trace the mystery behind the mysterious disappearance of his step-daughter. A hacker girl who had closely followed the journo in another case comes by to help him in tracing more than what they had expected to.

  • The first praise is for the style adopted in making this thriller. The flurry of close-up shots is something that captures interest.
  • As for Nikolaj Arcel's screenplay, there are moments that are thrilling enough to make one want to see how the story finishes.
  • Performance-wise both Michael Nyqvist & Noomi Rapace score handsomely and so does the killer person.
The film has all cliched stuff part of thriller-film grammar. Some of that could have definitely been avoided.

Intriguing chase tale.

Two Line Reviews - #347

Movie: The Man From Earth (2007)

Plot: A man who is about to shift his base answers to the question from his colleagues at his farewell on why he is leaving a lifestyle that appeared well settled. The answer is something that shakes them all apart and a debate on the surreal claim is what follows. Who wouldn't get shaken when one says he is 14,000 years old!

  • The construction of the idea and the conversion of it into a film that shows only an indoor conversation is quite an achievement from the makers Jerome Bixby and Richard Schenkman.
  • The characterisations of the intellectuals in the scene couldn't have been more diverse to complement the plot set up.
  • The eerie background score that runs mildly throughout the film is nice.
  • Conversations, points, counter-points surely attract viewer attention.
The Jesus connection was a bit going overboard!

Eerie, unique and interesting.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #346

Movie: Chronicle(2012)

Plot: 3-high school teens happen to touch a weird maze encompassing power and get the power transferred. After a lonely suppressed youngster has his fun with it, the power starts governing him and when one of the three dies in a freaky accident and the other falls for love, loneliness gets back to him and the vent out of suppression makes his power turn into a rage.

  • For Josh Trank the director, the film is a pretty decent debut outing where he convinces with the characterisation and creativity.
  • Among the friends, Dehaan shines as the introvert and as the outrageous villain.
  • VFX is convincingly good in quite a number of scenes ( the game they play amid clouds is a good example)
  • Camera of characters acting as camera for the film is a pretty ingenious idea.
  • The crystal power ball (or whatever that is) is an unconvincing base for a sci-fi.
  • The first few minutes with the handycam are shaky and induce irritation.
Not much 'Sci' in this otherwise good 'Fi'

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #345

Movie: The Artist (2011)

Plot: As Hollywood gears up to make a move from silent films to talkies, a popular silent film star is reluctant to join the bandwagon. Ultimately, he sees his own downfall and the sky-rocketing of a then wannabe star to fame simultaneously.The duo with contrasting fortunes share admiration for each other.

  • The director and scenario developer Michel Hazanavicius breaks path to achieve something that turns spectacular on-screen. The film amazes with its simplicity and communication - What a tribute to the silent film era.
  • Jean Dujardin, as George Valentin scorches the screen. He's very expressive!
  • The girl who play Peppy Miller is cute and enacts her role nicely too.
  • The roles of the chauffeur and pet dog create an undeniable impact!

A Sound winner, this silent film is!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Look - #35

CHANAKYA'S CHANT by Ashwin Sanghi

Plot: A tale on how politics is resistive to change in time - a whopping 2300 years. The book provides a fictitious record on how Chanakya devised the plot to enable Chandragupta Maurya to rule the Bharat empire; History repeats itself when a certain Gangasagar Mishra tailors the career of his protege Chandini and makes her the Prime minister of India.

  • Ashwin Sanghi's imaginative juice is admirable, for he has spun an engaging tale on Chanakya that is pretty much at the circumference of the true story.
  • The parallelism and subtle similarities he has shown between the Chanakya and Gangasagar characters are appreciable.
  • Some twists thrown in (the one on the EVM co. for example) surprise and the use of apt quotes at right points citing them with the source at the end is credible.
Certain methods of Gangasagar holding the trump card against some politicians are pretty amateurish con techniques which politicians would be smart enough to note.

A Fair attempt in turning the historical clock.