Saturday, March 31, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #375

Movie: 3(Thamizh,2012)

Plot: A school-going guy loves at first sight a girl when he accidentally meets her. His determined persuasions make her reciprocate the love back. After a few years of smooth sailing, the girl's parents are U.S.A. bound. She opens her love to them and then the boy does the same to his parents and after some dilly-dallying, they become a happily married couple. That's when an issue pops up sending shocks to their lives and there is even a death.

What works?
  • The prime plus point is Dhanush's performance in the film. Though his childish histrionics as the school-goer is a photocopy of reactions he's shown in previous films, his work in the latter half of the film is of top quality - Especially the climax act!
  • Shruti Haasan (unlike what I feel-after listening to the laughters in theatre seeing her act- many might think) has indeed given a nice performance in the film. A marked improvement in expressions and a little less improvement in diction from her 7aam Arivu days.Prabhu's is a decent cameo too.
  • Aishwarya Dhanush needs to be recognised for attempting (if this was not just proxy directed by her that is!) something exploratory and sticking to it with very little wavering outside the central theme. The last scene where Dhanush shows the value of life has been captured marvelously.
  • The songs Kannazhagaa,Po nee po, Nee partha by Anirudh and the bell-tong background score in the thrill scenes are proof enough to say this guy can contend with the biggies around.
  • Though deliberate at times, the photography has some decent pluses to be voted for.
  • Thank goodness, Why This Kolaveri has not unnecessarily been butchered on video. It has been handled as well as it could have been, comes at the right time and some smart deals with corporates would have let the makers earn fast buck!
What doesn't?
  • The graphics of images that Dhanush gets to see are absolutely unrelated and pathetic. Any relevant thing could have made sense there.
  • Breaking conventions is good as long as it only involves showing a funeral in the very first scene of a debut film; It is unnecessary to show couple getting married in a pub amidst some DJ blast!
  • Cliches of a dull-housewife (Banupriya), friend(Siva) bore.
  • The reason for what is shown in the second half has literally been untouched causing the viewer to miss something. The car-park stunt was more heroic than it was realistic.
An effort that deserves a pat on the back.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #374

Movie: Adaptation. (2002)

Plot: A screenwriter starts work on a book written by a Newyork Times writer on a horticulturulist. He wants to make a film that is devoid of any cliches that have been shown in films and he is unable to do so. He finally gets the help of his twin brother(who's a commercial screenwriter) to understand a lie in the book has been the reason for why the script lacks magic. The twins go chasing the writer's secret and the chase turns calamitous.

What Works?

  • This Spike Jonze film is one of the most different films adopted from a novel. It is different right from the word go and succeeds in sustaining the interest factor through its course!
  • Nicolas Cage, in his twin role, is terrific! His portrayal of the vulnerable,intelligent,dissatisfied writer Charlie Kaufman is near-perfect and his twin Donald Kaufman uses the ample scope for comedy!
  • Meryl Streep is sidelined to a support-role and her scenes with the unique Laroche sparks interest too!
  • The scene in the swamp where the brothers talk ranks among the best scenes and takes the film to a higher pedestal!
Marvelous idea wonderfully captured!

Two Line Reviews - #373

Movie: Silkwood (1983)

Plot: A worker in a plutonium plant realises how the owners have been exploiting their workers by making them work in an hazardous environment. The feeling starts possessing her and makes her join the Workers Union and press the issue with the leaders of the board. This doesn't go well with her bosses who set her up in trying to cause internal plutonium contamination induced cancer in her. Her friends, after a misunderstanding, stay firm by her side and help her in her relentless quest.

What Works?

  • This Mike Nichols film sets stage and cries for a social cause and creates the effect that is expected of such films as it moves gradually from lifestyle depiction to realisation to action to reaction.
  • Meryl Streep in her bob-cut is absolutely adorable and when she suffers and fights for the cause, it does create an undeniable impact!
  • The roles of her rebellious friends at home have been created to suit the character well and that works too.
Realistic film on a true social issue.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #372

Movie: Out of Africa (1985)

Plot: A Dutch Baroness marries her friend and the experimental duo settle in Africa growing Coffee. Her husband has other priorities making her look after the coffee estate and seek some wildlife adventure. That's when she strikes a romantic chord with a guy whose philopophy of life captivates her. Finally, she receives blow after blow, yet displayes the grit she is known for.

What Works?
  • The film's different setup - Entirely shot in African wilderness, the film offers ample scope for wonderful picturisation which is duely done.
  • Meryl Streep - in an adventure seeking, self-dependent, rational role brings to life an inspiring character Baroness Karen of Denmark.
  • Her husband and Robert Redford, both with subdued action provide an apt foil and complete things up.
  • The background score in the touchy aircraft scene, the coffee plant burn-down scenes offer scope for our appreciations.
Celebration of a lady's grit in colonial Kenya!

Two Line Reviews - #371

Movie: Sophie's Choice(1982)

Plot: A Polish PoW survives the Nazi attack and recovers her health under the passionate eye of her American biologist beau. The couple befriend a writer from the South who joins their apartment. After she gets tormented by her beau's schizophrenic quest on knowing how she survived the camps, the friend turns protector and she reveals to him,how a choice she made at the prisoner's camp let her survive.

What works? The film is centered around the character Sophie and who better than Meryl Streep to essay the role to perfection.
  • Her broken english, her jolly bustling love affair with Nathan viewed from the eyes of Stingo bring about a pleasant feeling.
  • Scene at the bridge where Nathan toasts for Stingo's unfinished work is proof for how a good choice on location,camera,music and conversation can create magic on screen.
  • Meryl Streep's transformation, pain and ironic guilt at her Auschwitz camp send a shock down your spine.
A Poetic make on a holocaust survivor!

Two Line Reviews - #370

Movie: Doubt(2008)

Plot: A negro kid is the first of his race to join a catholic school. The priest dotes and cares for him fondly. The principal of the school doubts it to be something else. She seeds the doubt in the mind of a teacher in the school as well and goes all out against the dumbfounded priest.

What works?The film's focus on just three prominent characters makes it sail through. It is fast.
Meryl Streep, in her stern principal role, revels! The scenes with Hoffmann who is equally good are fiercely contested action duels!
The kind character of Amy Adams & Viola Davis's revelation about the biy add contrast to the show.

Pretty Good, beyond doubt!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #369

Movie: The Hours (2002)

Plot: Three women at different points of time - the 1920s, the 50s and 2000 - have one thing in common. A doubt, a quest on the triviality that their lives seem to show them; the lack of purpose. One (Virginia Woolf) makes a character out of it, one reads and associates with the character and one acts like the character. They make the only choice available for them and that leaves a regret out of the question.

  • Watching this film makes one get the instant temptation to get one's hands on the book which it has been adapted from. Such a quality product this.
  • That's not taking anything away from director Stephen Daldry as he deftly handles the screenplay written by David Hare supported by some solid editing work!
  • The film boasts of big names such as Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julian Moore, Ed Harris etc. and everybody come to the party giving power-packed performances including the kid of Julian who's brilliant with his action.
  • Another beauty is that the expressions of Kidman,Streep & Julian are contrasting, yet they seem to tell a common story.
  • A continuous flow of background score throughout the film is something unusual but it works well with this film!
A Thoroughly engaging take on life!

Two Line Reviews - #368

Movie: Kazhugu (Thamizh,2012)

Plot: A group of 4 men earn their livelihood by recovering the bodies suicide victims off the valleys in Kodaikanal and one loner in the lot experiences love when the sister of a victim falls for him. When all is about to go well, the witness of the group on a death case involving bodies of policemen earns the wrath of a local goon who comes for their blood.

  • The debutant director Sathya Siva makes a good start with this film that doesn't go overboard on any of the aspects even when such plots offer temptation for the same. Efforts of his technical team too deserve a mention for helping in doing it neatly.
  • Yuvan's songs are the biggest draw for the film and the director gives justice to them by picturising them (The wonderful melodies Paadhagathi & Aathadi in particular) pretty well ( Another reason why he appears to be a good prospect; A director who films his songs well seldom ends up a failure in ktown!).
  • Krishna has understood his options, limitations and has given a good performance saving his best for the last; Offering him good support are Karunaas, heroine Bindhumadhavi & Jayaprakash(who fits perfectly to any role he is given these days)
  • The biggest show-stealer is Thambi Ramiah. His histrionics are absolutely enjoyable - Be it his expressions in humour,dialogue delivery and sentimental scenes - he thoroughly impresses! His effort in Aambalaikum pombalaikum song is a screamer!
  • However, the screenplay is bland, and every second scene is predictable (Perhaps the reason why it doesn't create as big an impact as it wanted to) as the film safely follows tried and tested by Bala.
A neat film that follows the 'Bala template'!

Two Line Reviews - #367

Movie: 2046 (Cantonese, 2004)

Plot: A writer makes an effort to find his lost love and eventually creates a a sci-fi story that takes people to 2046 - A year,a place where people's memories donot fade. When he comes back to his own self and present, further experiences of love make him shutlle to 2046 and back. Memories of his love is what fills the book finally.

  • Wong kar wai's has written and directed the film with a lot of heart and it shows with his treatment of scenes - special!
  • The fictitious thread is an intelligent work and how the truth ties up with the writing of the protagonist shows the smartness of the maker all the way.
  • The role of the writer, played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai creates a significant impact and his stints with Wang & Su please.
  • The Opera-type music combines perfectly with the trade mark slow-motion sequences & create a visual treat!
  • Switching back and forth, the similar Chinese names and faces actually confuse in a film that's already a bit complex!
Another Creative piece from Wong!

Book Look - #37


Plot: Another collection of 11 crisp short stories spanning across various genres.

  • The variety in terms of the level of humour, satire, irony, honour and emotions portrayed in these stories vary hugely and such a diverse presentation within the short story template captivates.
  • Stories that especially surprise include ones that act as flagship for principle as a matter of honour, for love that transcends years.
  • The final story with a fictional biblical allusion shows how even very simple thinking can yield stories that delight the reader.
Crisply told shorts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #366

Movie: Chung Hing sam lam (or) Chungking Express (Cantonese,1994)

Plot: There are two cops, they fall in love with two girls after having gotten broken-up with their two former girls. Their periods of uncertainty after getting broken-up is captured and portrayed in this film.

  • That the director Wong kar wai places special importance on stle of making is evident with this film too. It has a lot of unconventional sequences and the way the film's screenplay meanders too is not something one gets to see often.
  • The narratives of both the cops are gripping - The first one's stress on jogging to cut back tears and the second one's monologu with kerchiefs and towels on tears etc. are touchy!
  • The myriad of colours that the film shows is noteworthy and its uber-confident heroines - the white drug peddling lady with coolers and the independent girl who loves loud-music are characters etched quite distinctively.
  • Here again, the bits-and-pieces background score is captivating.
  • On the negative side, the film is a bit too unconventional that a feeling of incompleteness is quite unavoidable.
Love stories that distinctly differ from the usual!

Two Line Reviews - #365

Movie: J Edgar(2011)

The film traces the rise of John Edgar Hoover from being a member in the Department of Justice to becoming the mastermind behind the scientific inclinations of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

  • All films on a personality should, in the end, make the viewer feel good/bad about the man depicted and that is something Clint Eastwood successfully does with his account on Edgar. At 82, how this man directs such marvelous films is beyond me!
  • Leonardo diCaprio is fiery and meticulate as Edgar and in the young and old forms of the man, he shows consistency in body language and voice modulation which is terrific to see; The guy deserved an Oscar nomination for the role but sadly the Academy jury seems to have thought otherwise.
  • Once again, Clint master takes us back to the 1920s and pulls off a convincing show with nice art and camera works.
  • The scenes where he stresses the need for 'science' shows how good a visionary Edgar has been!
An intense and moving biography - Serves the intended purpose!

Two Line Reviews - #364

Movie: Fa yeung nin wa (or) In the mood for Love (Cantonese,2000)

Plot: Two couples get lodged as neighbours in an apartment complex. The wife of one and the husband of the other have occasional work abroad. With their inconspicuous absence and some evidences in sight, the other two get to know of the affairs between their better-halves. With the curiosity of getting to know how they must have fallen for each other, these two get attracted but not all people are the same!

  • This Wong kar wai effort is terrific in the artistic sense. The subject could have been told in 'n' ways and he chooses the best of styles to show it!
  • The way he establishes their periods of doubt,agony,attraction,confusion etc. with slow-motion and a poetic background score speaks volumes of his creative style.
  • The lady who plays Mrs.Chan steals the show with an immaculate and graceful performance; Mr.Chow's character isn't far behind.
  • The sheer audacity of the director is evident as he doesn't even show the faces of the duo in affair!
A Highly captivating, stylishly made stuff!

Book Look - #36

THE FALL by Albert Camus

Plot: A judge-penitent based in Amsterdam meets the reader in the bar and engages with him in a monologue style confession and talks to him about his routine in the sailor-city, his period of flourish as a lawyer in France, his downfall and of a lot of other things that are philosophically sound!
  • The striking feature in this Camus work is the style! That he speaks with the one who reads the book directly and predicts some of the reader's reactions to his words is something astonishing!
  • The way he speaks about slavery being a necessary thing and not something that needs to be eradicated as people say so is wise and makes humans instant hypocrites.
  • There is wry humour thrown all around the book - His stints in jail, his association with a notorious clientele, his description of the Nazis etc. are ample proof for this.
  • He neatly ties his claustrophobia symbolically with things that he means through his work.
Not completely understandable; Yet, a Brilliant piece of work!

Two Line Reviews - #363

Movie:Aravaan (Thamizh,2012)

Plot: Back in 18th century, a loner earns the trust of the leader of a village whose expertise is in looting. During one of their looting expeditions, the leader gets caught and the loner saves him the next day which unravels the mystery about his unspoken past in which he used to play the exact opposite role - That of a village night-guard. Why the reversal in role is what follows in the flashback.

  • Vasanthabalan makes his mark in his 3rd venture and after Angadi Theru, comes up with yet another promising fresh film in Aravaan. The strains that he and the crew must have undertaken is visible in the good output that the film comes up with in terms of location, costumes etc.
  • Aadhi must arguably be the man with the best bod in k-town at the moment! And he shows distinct changes in his post and pre make-over periods (though the post-performance falls a bit on the over-acting side!)
  • Pasupathi plays a good role and the first looting scene is worth a mention.
  • Singer Karthik gets promoted as a music director and has done a pretty good job with the background score; The cinematographer has done well in chase scenes but his love for 'fish-eye' gets too evident!
  • The twist has its share of suspenses but it is something which could have been shown found in the very first scene after the murder; It gets extended only to elongate the film and that is a negative.
  • Roles of Bharath,Anjali and the heroine are better left alone than being spoken about.
  • The graphics in the interval sequence pitiably falls in the 'poorly made' category.
Could have been made better, but a Laudable effort nevertheless!

Two Line Reviews - #362

Movie: Shaitaan (Hindi,2011)
Plot: A group of carefree drug-abused friends ecstatically get out of control and kill a family in a car accident. The police working on the case finds traces the culprits and negotiates a deal. To cover up, the group enacts a kidnap tale blackmailing the parents of one of its own members and clearly get defeated by the consequences which it hadn't considered while formulating its plan.

  • Considering the fact that it is Bejoy Nambiar's debut film, one has to give it to him for the style and daring approach he has adopted.The film has its share of appreciable sequences.
  • Among the performers, the one who plays the police and the lead of the abused gang do well. The gorgeous Kirti Kulhari & her friend have their roles towards the end which they do well; That of Kalki's is simple and done ok.
  • Music is a plus in this film; Amit Trivedi's tracks carry the mood of the film.

  • The big minus is the way the disintegration of the gang is shown; How they try to escape make them look like retards.
  • Shiv roaming around with just his vests on is another thumbs-down.
  • Another dampener is the influence of her locked-up mother on Kalki.
Pedestrian stuff (Pun intended)!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #361

Movie: Ji jie hao (or) Assembly (Mandarin, 2007)

Plot: An army troop fights for a lost cause after its batallion retreats failing to alert them. Only the captain survives and after two stints in action, he partially loses eye-sight but nothing stops him from fighting for the recognition of the efforts of the 47 men of his troop who had lost their lives in war.

A war action film that decorates and celebrates the efforts of the men involved is always usurping and this one from Xiaogang Feng, with its classy,touchy narration and rich production values is right up there with the best.
The character Captain Gi is worth a worship and Hanyu Zhang, the man who plays it lives the role to perfection.
There are some extremely touchy scenes with terrific exchanges (the one in the coal mines when he searches for their bodies, the landmine scene, the scene at the cemetery where he bombards Liu for not alerting his men), Fiery!
The apt ending with the bugle getting played sums up the whole film - perfect!

One of the very best war-action films!

Two Line Reviews - #360

Movie: Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom (or) Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.. and Spring (Korean, 2003)

Plot: An old monk living in a serene lakeside monastery lets a kid disciple to learn life the tough way. The disciple's life stages are depicted over seasons, over years. Finally, the baton is passed and the disciple now lives the role of the monk and nurtures his own kid. Nothing else changes.

  • This must be one of  the most simple,yet influential films I have come to see. A film by Ki-duk Kim that is as poetic as it is surreal.
  • The location has been captured in all its splendour over four different seasons and it's a sheer delight to watch the seasons unfurl!
  • Each season has its own moments to cherish, and the monk earns the admiration for his work. So do the different forms of the disciple.
  • Music plays a sizable role in the transformations the kid undergoes.
Simple yet Soulful!