Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #395

Movie: Duel (1971)

Plot: Anything revealed about this film might spoil the mystery and bring out an experience of a far lesser magnitude!

What Works?
  • Steven Spielberg's debut film!!!! The idea works big time; The same could well be said of the execution too!
  • Excellent Camera-work!
A stupendous film of the 'must-watch' kind!

Two Line Reviews - #394

Movie: Jerry Maguire (1996)

A sports agent gets busted for a 'mission' statement he drafts that doesn't go well with the company he works for! When a big-shot deal fails him, all he has to rely on is a single athlete who stays loyal; He finds love in the midst and due to the tumults of professional failure, his personal life takes a hit- Before the athlete sets things right!

What Works?
  • This is not a sports film at all! This is a film about a person who is as persuasive as he is egoistic and morally good. Good writing indeed by Cameron Crowe!
  • Tom Cruise actually revels in his Maguire avatar and comes up with the right emotions at the right times!
  • RenĂ©e Zellweger as Dorothy, with her confused and cute looks stays in your mind; So does the kid!
  • The relation between Maguire and his athlete Rod Tidwell is special and that is something which makes the film work!
A tale of a special relationship!

Two Line Reviews - #393

Movie: Ronin (1998)

Plot: A group of freelancing experts are hired for a covered operation on snatching a mysterious package before it reaches the hands of either the Russians or the Irish both of which gangs are hell-bent on getting their hands on it!

What Works?

  • The mystery that shrouds the film's plot is what makes it tick; Kudos to Frankenheimer and Zeik for that.
  • Robert de Niro is scintillating as ever and here again, showing bursts of temper and cool, he shows real stuff!
  • Aiding him adequately are Jean Reno and the beautiful Natascha McElhone; The chase-action sequences are pulsating.
  • Music by Elia Cmiral sets the mood brilliantly right from the start!
Action that sends your adrenaline up!

Two Line Reviews - #392

Movie: Coach Carter (2005)

Plot: A former player for the Richmond high school takes over as coach of the current team after a poor year. He imbibes confidence in them and makes them taste victory! But, his concept doesn't end with that. He makes them academically successful too, in his own special way - By benching them all!

What Works?

  • When the film takes the detour after the team's succes, that's where this film gets different from the rest of the pack! Thomas Carter uses the film to nicely present an emphasis on the student-athlete concept!
  • Samuel Lee Jackson is monstrous in his role; With his trademark accent and a simple outlook, his role earns all the respect.
  • The boys too have done a good job.
  • The basketball action is captured marvelously; There are some scenes which look completely real!
'Just another' sports film - That's what this film is not!

Two Line Reviews - #391

Movie: SLC Punk! (1998)

Plot: Two youngsters in the Salt Lake City take pride in them being the real rebellious 'punks' in town. They lead lives on their own terms with no iota of how the world around them moves. After a sudden shake-up, things get order resumes.

What Works?
The narrative is interesting and the screenplay wanders here and there which suits the mood the film provides.
The role played by Matthew Lillard is the core and his nice performance helps the cause; Bob's character makes the audience sympathise with him.
Some dialogues involving the cult group, the city and the habits are extreme fun!

Not the usual teen-rebel stuff!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #390

Movie: Vazhakku En 18/9 (Thamizh, 2012)

Plot: The misdeeds of a pampered school-going youngster on a school-girl & the arm-twisting capabilities of politicians and the bribe-hungry nature of policemen in power together turn the life of a poor housemaid and a worker who loves her with all devotion.

What Works?

  • In two separate but connected tracks, Balaji Sakthivel tries to narrate and give messages on a lot of social ills and that is quite commendable!
  • The new faces have been cast aptly and have performed marvelously; Especially, the character who plays Idlykadai Velu! The story of his past too is impactful.
  • There has not been much dramatisation in the screenplay (that is otherwise bland) which is appreciable.
  • The camerawork gets experimental coming good at a few places and the music is adequate and experimental too!
  • The climax, though predictable, is powerful.
What doesn't?
  • The fact that the same story could have been made into a 20 minutes film too is undeniable.
A very noble attempt at revealing some nasty social-ills!

Two Line Reviews - #389

Movie: You've Got Mail (1998)

Plot: A man and a woman in Newyork are mail-friends over the internet. Personally, they both are business people in the same line! The man's shrewd business sense makes the woman go out of business; She confronts him with the advice he gives as the anonymous chatter. The cat-fight leads them to love, all with the woman not knowing who her mailing friend is!

What Works?

  • This must have been one of the films that took up the Internet boom for a story-line and the presentation of a love story in such a setup is good with the book-store factor acting a prominent thread that carries the film.
  • Tom Hanks plays his role with comfortable ease and Meg Ryan's role is absolutely adorable.
  • The squmishes they get at the sight of each other is funny and ironic to watch!
Predictable love story but enjoyable too.

Two Line Reviews - #388

Movie: Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

Plot: A couple decide to adopt a child; When the adopted child grows into a kid high on IQ, the father is curious to find who his parents were. When he gets to know his mother, he tries to smoothen and set her life up so that it becomes socially reputable!

What Works?
  • An unusual plot of this kind is something only Woody Allen can come up with and narrate convincingly!
  • The mythical characters that act as his conscience, their songs and the way they lament are fun to watch and still carry strong meaningful messages for life!
  • Woody Allen, the dumb-headed wannabe actress have nice chemistry going on between them and that surely creates an impact.
  • The pig clock in the lady's house is an epic :)
Interesting, funny and special too!

Two Line Reviews - #387

Movie: Tootsie (1982)

Plot: An actor, after a frustrating period of unemployment, chooses the unthinkable! He makes himself up as a lady and wins a place in a show. With his spontaneous acting skills, he wins over the awe of audience making his lady a popular character! In the process, a co-actress confides in his lady-self while he falls for her! The question in his mind is 'When and how to open the Pandora's box?!'

What Works?
  • The characters click wonderfully; the narration is filled with classic humour and there is Dustin Hoffman to play the lady - What more would one need to have a hilarious piece of time!
  • Dustin Hoffman,as Dorothy, looks and behaves like a tempered old lady would and his voice modulation is absolutely brilliant as well!
  • The background score and the songs play a nice little role in the film.
  • Portions involving the actress, her father, Hoffman's friend and girlfriend all of who act nicely offer blasts of humour.
Humourous, yet touching!

Two Line Reviews - #386

Movie: Everyone says I Love You (1996)

Plot: An American girl narrates the romantic associations of the members in her family and in the process explains how she tried to tie her divorced father up for a relationship with a lady who meets a known shrink!

What Works?
  • This one, probably, is Woody Allen's tribute to musicals and he has chosen an apt story for that! Some of the musical portions make this a refreshing watch!
  • The Woody Allen-Julia Roberts portions are as eccentric as they come in WA films!
  • Drew Barrymore's terrace scene with the murder convict is a hilarious piece as well; Edward Norton has a minimal role to play but the tap dance at the ring shop is memorable.
Good in parts,this musical is.

Two Line Reviews - #385

Movie: Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

Plot: A couple have a thing for solving mysteries. When the wife of their newly acquainted neighbour pair dies, they suspect the husband and the suspicion spikes up when they see his wife alive elsewhere!

What Works?
  • Woody Allen has his own style of dealing with even thrillers and mysteries! Here, he offers a punch of humour-filled thriller in a way only he can!
  • As usual both Woody and Diane Keaton light up the scene and come up with delightful performances.
  • When Woody pensively tries to get his wife off the detective act, and when she shares her findings with their friend, his frustrations are a riot to watch!
Murder thriller, the WA way!

Two Line Reviews - #384

Movie: Whatever Works (2009)

Plot: An old man lives by the philosophy 'one must choose to do whatever works for him/her'; He gets tensed with the world acting around him and when he provides shelter to a girl from south country, she stays, settles and even marries him. After a good time with her, he sees her off settling with whatever works for her.

What Works?
  • Another Woody Allen breezer with all nice philosophies thrown in from the first-person perspective!
  • The man who plays Boris (Larry David) can't match Woody but he comes close in matching him with spontaneity and the way he gets irritated and badmouths his chess students evoke laughter.
  • Evan Rachel is a beauty and has a wonderful supporting role which she performs well.
  • The narrative with occasional dialogues with the audience is quite engaging.
Breezy stuff.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Billa-2 Music Review

A prequel to a film is something Kollywood is new to. With Billa-2, the seeds have now been sown. It is always tricky to score music for a second film in a franchise - the music shouldn't loose the essence it created in the first edition; On the other hand, repetition is not an option as well. A right balance of carrying the juice from the previous edition and refreshingly new tunes is what would strike gold. Let's see if Yuvan has struck gold with the album of Billa-2.

1. Edho Oru Mayakkam
This song is all set to boom through discotheques and pubs in Chennai in the near future with its catchy lyrics, techno music in which Yuvan seems to be revelling in the last 2-3 years. The inclusion of the nadhaswaram portion is genial stuff. Lively renditions from Yuvan, Suvi & Tanvi support amply.

2. Unakkulle Mirugam
A song that talks of the hero's re-invention is something that Kollywood is not new to. This one fits into that category. Yuvan has went completely Rock and Metal with this one. Ranjith's work is impressive, the lyrics too making immense sense. The juxtaposition of the famous Billa tone makes this the Naan meendum naanaga vendum version of Billa-2.

3. Gangster
This one's my pick of the album. Again, Yuvan gets into the techno mode and a plethora of synthetic music rings in your ears to create a nice buzz. The lyrics elevate David Billa's heroic status to higher pedestals. When Yuvan sings the Billa tune and croons 'David Billa,Billa is the monster', the song gets narcissistic but that's how David Billa is and that's why it fits perfectly!

4. Idhayam
This one's a surprise melody among songs high on beats. Here again, the lyrics are worth mentioning. A calm loop in the background, interludes of veenai,flute and tabela doing their rounds and a sweet and spotless rendition by Shweta combine to make this song the surprise package of the album.

5. Madurai Ponnu
An uncanny music to begin with catches attention, the regular kuthu beats that follow provides contrast and Andrea singing the 'bad-girl' lines makes this a routine Yuvan song. However, the re-jig of the music used in 'Ajith-Premgi' Mankatha sequence in the form of Nadaswaram shows Yuvan's mischievous smartness! This one's for the theatres.

6. Billa-2 Theme
Billa-1's theme stands among the best of themes in Kollywood. There was always a doubt if Yuvan could come up with something comparably good in Billa-2. However, he seems to have come up with something that's even a tad better! The inital portions of the theme are in no way inferior to the Zack Hemsey touch of the Inception theme and the latter portions with the Billa whistle thematically represent the mean ruthless & calm villainy of the don that Billa is! This music is sure to set the screen on fire when it gets played.

Overall, the album has variety, the songs bear energy and the music appears to be highly relevant to what a Billa story can offer. To answer the very first question on whether Yuvan has struck gold, it is safe to say 'Yes, he surely has!'