Monday, July 23, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #416

Movie: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Eight years after Harvey Dent's death, search is On for the Batman. Bruce Wayne comes out of his self-imposed exile to take on Bane, a forceful opponent who operates from underground who has an eye on the Nuclear energy project of the Wayne Enterprise and a hand on the 'truth' behind Batman.

What Works?

  • After the superhero films that came this year, Christopher Nolan's efforts to idolise the Batman for a third time comes as a relief and offers what superhero films are expected to offer - sensible and intense entertainment!
  • Tom Hardy, as Bane, has a brilliant role and his rugged portrayal with his one-liners and ruthless vengeance is terrific! He comes quite close to Joker and that is a big enough compliment!
  • Christian Bale carries off the Wayne and Batman parts as expected, Gordon Levitt promises to keep the saga going, and both the lead ladies in the film have neatly fitting roles.
  • Bringing in Ra's Al Ghul from part I and tying it up with a gripping portion in this part has worked superbly.
  • Hans Zimmer's prolific background score is pulsating!
What Doesn't?
  • A particular casting decision makes a thing or two predictable.
  • The police going into the dungeon are made to look like fools!
Entertainment Guaranteed; Honestly, not any less & not much more!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #415

Movie: Stranger than Fiction (2006)

Plot: A taxman who leads a near-perfect routine life experiences a strange voice narrating and describing him. It starts conquering his thoughts and actions and when it says he would die soon, it engulfs him. With the help of an author, he traces the voice's owner and tries to change his destiny!

What Works?

  • As the title suggests, this story is stranger than fiction & is more engrossing than many works of fiction have been! Credits should go to Zach Helm, the writer of this marvel, and its director Marc Forster.
  • Will Ferrell portrays the brilliantly etched character of Harold to perfection! Emma Thompson's action gives him stiff competition!
  • For Dustin Hoffman, the role he plays is a cake walk; So it is for Maggie Gyllenhaal & the assistant of Karen has a nice role too!
  • The execution with beautiful scenes put together is taut; The climax is something one would enjoy!
Much stronger than many a fiction!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #414

Movie: The Gods Must Be Crazy (English & Afrikaans, 1980)
Plot: Bushmen living in Kalahari-an Africa who know nothing on the existence of fellow beings elsewhere get introduced to feelings such as competition, fight etc.thanks to a 'Coke' bottle that lands in their midst .Their leader decides to travel to earth's end to throw the 'evil thing' away. On his way, he is helped by a scientist when he lands in trouble, who he promptly returns the favour to, by saving his girl and school children held captive by a terrorist outfit!

What Works?
  • The movie is magical! Its comedy sparkles, its characters captivate, its treatment is interesting & its message is BIG! So, cheers to Jamie Uys, its maker.
  • The bushman N!xau gives a picture of how human race would be if societies hadn 't got a chance to interact! He is adorable!
  • The scenes between Steyn and the teacher Ms. Thompson is a laugh riot! Adding to the humour is the bearded aide of Steyn.
  • The narrative works & the hyper-speed visuals shown at times works too!
  • Crazy scenes such as the Jeep taking to the tree, the tree bending when a Lion tries to get the bearded man are sure to get a laugh out of the stern-faced too!
A treat, for the crazy person inside every human!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #413

Movie: Family Plot (1976)

Plot: A phony spiritualist and her boyfriend try to track a person upon success of which they are bound to get $10,000 from a woman who seeks the person for making him heir to her property. The guy they are after happens to be a kidnapper/diamond smuggler. When they successfuly chase him down for the right reasons, he understands they are behind him for the wrong reasons and it gets them into deep trouble!

What Works?
  • A typical plot that has loads of suspense and action has been handled impeccably again by Alfred Hitchcock - 40 years after he started making films and his touch hasn't been lost!
  • The actors - the con-woman, her reluctant cab driver friend, the cunning smuggler, his aides have all performed aplaudably well.
  • The suspense around the buried Eddy Shoebridge and the tracking of it via Maloney is the best block of the lot!
  • John Williams' music is haunting enough and the camera work is of top quality making it a superb thriller to watch.
In his last Hurrah, Hitchcock doesn't fail to impress!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #412

Movie: Billa 2 (Thamizh, 2012)

Plot: David Billa, a refugee from Sri Lanka waltzes his way through to becoming a Don by rising against all odds displaying ruthless, murderous attitude.

What Works?
  • The line toed in following the idea of tracing the life of Billa's past has been good.
  • To some extent, Ajith's fierce body language and screen presence work.
  • Yuvan's background score is revelling at points, at least good at others! RD Rajasekar's camera work has also been good.
  • The effects in the initial title card and Unakkulle Mirugam song are praiseworthy!
  • The main villains do well and the handling of their roles has been pretty good.

What Doesn't?
  • The film's screenplay is as bland as it can get.The sensibilities are completely absent. It is action, gore, murder all the way and creates no impact at all. For an Indian audience, this Latino treatment doesn't work at all.
  • The paunch that Ajith carries, his stoic expressions, gun-mania need to come to a halt, it has gone past the limit! The heroine(who at all?) is a complete joke.
  • The scenes with dialogues come and go like incomplete conversations.
  • Chakri Toleti's direction is amateurish - proof: Pre-interval scene and predictable scenes lifted from the likes of Scarface and The Godfather.
Deja vu Don, this Bland Billa is!

Two Line Reviews - #411

Movie: Torn Curtain(1966)

Plot: An American scientist goes to East Germany to get details on the revelations a German scientist has done on Nuclear power before the Russians buy him out. He goes into the iron curtain posing as an impostor but before he gets out, his true intentions are known making it difficult for him to come out of the curtain.

What Works?

  • An Alfred Hitchcock film, it seems, never fails to impress with the suspense it promises to deliver.
  • Paul Newman faithfully follows the Hitchcock hero grace earlier shown by the likes of Cary Grant & Stewart.
  • The iron-will of his girl aide Sarah is another winner; The beautiful Julie Andrews is adorable.
  • Characters such as Lindt, Kromer & the Polish lady stay in memory for long.

Super Suspense!

Monday, July 2, 2012

In search of the 'Next Big Thing' in Men's Tennis

Rafa made ‘HIS7ORY’ with his 7th triumph at Roland Garros. It is quite likely that he will do ‘H17tory’ with his 17th slam by 2014. Despite a shuddering exit for Rafa at Wimbledon this year, it is likely that we  see a lot more Rafa – Nole heavyweight tussles in Grand Slam finals in the coming years.

If we look at tennis by decades, the decade when Bjorn Borg was accumulating Grand slam silverware, Newcombe & Connors shared much of the remaining spoils. Then came the enigmatic McEnroe only to get his glory cut short by Wilander and Lendl. They were then succeeded by Edberg & Becker. Then came the era of Sampras and Agassi who were perturbed only slightly by the likes of Courier and Rafter. When the baton was passed from Pistol Pete to a feisty Federer, it was Hewitt and Roddick who were hogging the limelight before Federer could bloom into the champion he went on to become. Federer was not even 24 years old when the ‘freak from Majorca’ (as Agassi once said) started competing for Grand Slam glory. When Rafa was around 25, Djokovic was handing out to Nadal what Nadal was handing out to Federer: trouble! A close observation on all these top-level transitions would reveal the emergence of the next big thing. With the current scenario however, it doesn’t appear that this pattern at the top is going to continue. The top-2 are set to rule the roost. Evidence below.

Rafa is 26, Djokovic is 25 and the most likely slam contenders are Murray (come on, give him a chance, at least on paper!) who’s 25, Del Potro who’s 23 (his doctors might not agree) and maybe the likes of Tsonga (his level of play in the quarters at RG gets him the space here) who is 26 again! Where are the 20-21 year olds? Are there any champions likely to emerge? Will 2012-13 be a breakthrough season? The answer to these questions, looking at performances, is pretty straight-forward – ‘not likely’. We see the ‘big four’ close to being unreachable at the top. A pattern that seems to be emerging is that the ‘next four’ are getting pretty consistent too. They appear unreachable too. This means the same Ferrer, Tsonga, Berdych, Del Potros of the world are the ones to bite the dust in the quarters against the big four. Much worse, those who appear to threaten them too are the Tipsarevics, the Almagros and the Isners of the world. And these players that have been mentioned are not getting any younger either.

That shows us why the first line of the article is not some impractical babbling. Do we see any young out-of-their-teen threats in the top 20? The first name that would cross one’s mind is probably Milos Raonic, who is actually just outside the top-20. (Unless you are an Australian who upon reading this piece is furious for not mentioning Bernard Tomic). Raonic is good, yes. His serves are almost impenetrable, yes. But can he handle the Rafa – Djoker slug-fests if he were to meet them on the second week in a Grand Slam? Common sense would say, ‘probably not’. And to the flag-bearers of Tomic – I’m sorry. He loses to relative unknowns in early rounds of the tournaments and he needs a much better arsenal than his fusion of 70s-2000s tennis to trouble the top players. To the Americans who place their bets on Ryan Harrison, the only words I can think of are ‘keep hoping’. For people who feel ‘The Dog’ has it in him to breakthrough, his performances over the past few months is all I will put on the platter.

The only contenders who can break the beastly duopoly of Djoko-Rafa are either 23 or 25 years old (no prizes for guessing the two); Am I forgetting someone.. Oh, Yeah. There is one more. If a certain gentleman from Switzerland can re-surge for one last hurrah, the first statement tI have made becomes null and void. With due respect to Stanislas, no, I’m not talking about him here; not about Chiudinelli either.

Second Monday beckons at SW19. Let us see if that yet to be known ‘out-of-the-teens’ slam champion emerges at the sacred church of the sport. There have been occasions when such things have happened. If not at Wimbledon, where else to expect?

Two Line Reviews - #410

Movie: The Mist (2007)

Plot: There is a mystery in the mist that shrouds a little town. Many of the townsmen are held up in a super market and all hell breaks loose when a store boy gets eaten up by what appears to be a tentacle of an unknown being! Upon severe distress, many turn fanatically religious and the escape plans of the rational few fall on deaf ears - What follows is utterly calamitous!

What Works?
  • It has definitely got to be the imagination on how a clueless life threatening situation can take the civilised man back to his barbarian roots; The film based on Stephen King's novel presents an interesting premise to dwell on that topic!
  • The portions inside the supermarket with the multiple views and the dreadful events are gripping.
  • The hero & his kid, the super-store assistant manager, the teacher, the old man and the biblical lady have prominent roles to essay.
  • The anti-climax is bloody ironic and touchy and the eerie music for this portion is a good fit.
What Doesn't?
The reason that is told for the mist and the deadly creature is weak to a point of being ridiculous.

When calamity strikes, beware of 'Mankind' - Well told!