Thursday, December 12, 2013

#Biriyani Tweets Tracker

As we approach the release of Venkat Prabhu's Biriyani, here is a look at how the Twitter world has used the #Biriyani hashtag over the last 9 days (Dec 4th to Dec 12th).

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #491

Movie: Arrambam(Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: A man takes on to terrorism to inflict pain on a minister & his accomplices. He uses mean ways to persuade a hacker & forces him to provide more than a handful in his mission. The smart hacker tries his best to alert the police of the terrorist & later, through a gruesome flashback, he is made to realise that the man's acts were all to fight against a corrupt political system. Will he joins forces to help the mission get accomplished or does he play it safe?!

What Works?
  • Ajith Kumar, slowly but surely, is trying to redefine the lexicon that exists for commercial heroes in Tamil Cinema. With his arresting presence, fierceful body language, stylish demeanour & risky stunts, he proves there is no need for heroes to go around loud-mouthing punches & dancing around trees in duets; This is the 3rd consecutive film he has skipped those rituals & with Arrambam, has made it work in two! Arya provides a nice foil with his quirky mannerisms & funny one-liners.
  • It is 2/2 for Nayanthara since her comeback & the Arya/Tapsee pairing surprises us in being refreshing, thanks to Vishnu's treatment!
  • Vishnuvardhan's stylish presentation shows itself up in a number of places, combining well with Om Prakash's camerawork & Veteran editor Sreekar Prasad's slick editing!
  • Subha, in spite of coming up with a story beaten to death in Tamil Cinema, offer some crisp dialogues reminding us of Sujatha (reminding & not filling his shoes).
  • The stunts are the other major highlights of this film & in providing engaging fight sequences (including an impactful one involving Ajith & Rana Daggubati), Lee Whitaker deserves a worthy mention.
  • Yuvan's songs have been picturised with some nice creativity.
What Doesn't?
  • Vishnuvardhan has used a story that has been dealt with innumerous times & inspite of his best efforts in keeping us completely involved, we are made to feel the drag due to the predictable sequences in & post flashback.
  • For the logic fanboys, there are quite a number of loopholes to feast on in Arrambam. Sampling a few - A hacker, who with his fancy softwares can hack into anything & everything, An escaped convict flying across countries at will etc.
  • Yuvan's background music is a definite dampener & it is a puzzle why the grand track that comes in the trailer has been used minimally!
Arrambam has its flaws but a refreshing first half, a slick flashback & Ajith's overwhelming presence make this click!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #490

Movie: Captain Phillips (2013)

Plot: An American Cargo ship from Oman navigates through the African belt known for its notorious Somalian pirates. When 4 pirates on a boat are on their way to capture the huge ship, the intelligent moves of the Ship's captain & crew notwithstanding, pirates get hold of the captain and hold him captive. How does America react & how the two captains hold stead in such uncertain times are dealt with in the later part of this enthralling enactment of a true story!

What Works?

  • Paul Greengrass, known for his Bourne films & intense documentaries, tells the turmoil Rich Phillips had to go through over the course of the hijack & also provides the PoV of the Pirates quite convincingly!
  • Who better than Tom Hanks to, first,reason out with the Somalian captain and later,express the jolts of the captured! His final act is only about 3 minutes long but could be good enough to earn him an Oscar nomination! Close on his heels are Barkhad Abdi, who plays the ruthless but wise Somalian pirate, and his 3 comrades!
  • Paul's idea of filming this on the Ocean instead of using miniatures & VFX in a studio works hugely in favour of the film providing a breathtaking & impactful visual experience; The gargantuan efforts of the Cinematography team is to be thoroughly appreciated!
  • The editor comes to the party in the scene when the boatmen chase the ship down & board it. If you felt respect for those villains at those moments, it was partly due to the superb cuts!
  • Paul has smartly scripted this & written dialogues so that the film reaches any cine lover & has also offered reasoning (from the Somalian angle) and questioning of such reasoning (from an American angle!)
What Doesn't?
  • The film sags a bit towards the middle of the second half but that is only for a brief period as it picks itself up in time for an exciting climax!
An enthralling ocean ride that pays tribute to two fearless captains!

Two Line Reviews - #489

Movie: Gravity (2013)

Plot: A first-time space mission specialist Dr.Ryan Stone & a veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski are the sole survivors of the faulty Space shuttle Explorer. Their attempt to reach an International space station with which they could make their way back to planet earth takes a beating when debris floating off a Russian destruction mission put their lives in danger. At one point, Matt decides to let himself go so that Ryan, at least,could possibly survive, he instructs her to reach a Chinese station 100 Km away and provides her the 'means for survival' leaving Ryan to ponder over the question on the 'need for survival'!

What Works?
  • Alfonso Cuarón's creative imagination & execution needs tremendous appreciation, for it is mighty difficult to imagine an incident of such a scale & to bring such an imagination on screen and cause an impact on the viewers!
  • The editor in Cuarón stamps his presence with one of the longest sequences in movie history, spanning about 20 minutes! Effort from Cinematographers, Writer, Performing actors & the VFX team are worth a mention in bringing this spectacular starting sequence to life.
  • Sandra Bullock as Dr.Ryan emotes very well in the sequences involving psychological questions & George Clooney proves he can be as cool and comforting in outer space as he usually is on earth,in other films.
  • Touching & metaphorical scenes are strong & sensibly shown - Ryan moving to a foetal position upon getting into the protection of the spacecraft, the cross-talk with the guy on Radio and the questions it raises in her are examples.
  • It will be unfair not to mention the brilliant work of all involved in getting the Visual effects, miniatures & the strongly researched artwork to perfection. The music that runs in loop suits the mood of the dark outer space.
What Doesn't?
  • There is quite a lot of technical jargon as Astronauts talk between themselves and one might lose interest if one doesn't concentrate well! The audio-effect to show they are talking from under their Oxygen masks doesn't help the cause too.
  • If you are to go with expectations on the film to be fast-paced & extremely adventurous as it deals with a sci-fi survival mission, you might end up getting disappointed.
Path-breaking in terms of creativity, technical conception & presentation. Pun intended or not - This one is out-of-the-world stuff!

Two Line Reviews - #488

Movie: The Fountain (2006)

Plot: A researcher who firmly believes death is just another disease and has its cure tries desperately to save his wife dying from a tumour. Meanwhile, his wife has an unfinished book that talks of how a Spanish Queen can go death-less by finding the tree of life Mayans had discovered. There is also a futuristic tale of a man travelling on a space bubble towards a dying star to save a tree that has lived for ages. The stories concur in theme & have similar but different ends.

What Works?
  • Darren Aronofsky, who experiments on different abstract subjects takes to time travel in trying to think about the question of 'Death' & with it, provides an enticing feature!
  • Hugh Jackman is fiery in his portrayals as the researcher & the queen's conquistador. Rachel Weisz, the purpose behind all the stories, plays an apt foil.
  • The screenplay is interesting & would warrant a second viewing for getting fascinated as one can only do as much as connecting all the dots in the first viewing.
What Doesn't?
  • The film talks about a topic which has yet to have any concrete answers but dwells with it on the surface and ends too quickly.
Timeless Love's pursuit of Endless life!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #487

Movie: Raja Rani (Thamizh, 2013)

Regina & John are forced into a marriage for emotional reasons. John keeps irritating Reg post marriage. When Regina recuperates from a sudden epileptic attack, he gets to know of her failed love from the past. John has an equally emotional flashback that makes him start loving his wife. He later realises it would take more than a sudden change of his mind & actions for Regina, who has plans to shift to another country for work, to reciprocate his feelings for her!

What Works?
  • For a first time film-maker that Atlee (an assistant of Director Shankar) is, he shows sparks in the way he handles specific scenes in this rom-com. (For example, the marriage scene in the title, the scene at the registrar office etc.) but has a long way to go if he is to leapfrog other budding film-makers.
  • The major bulk of screen-time goes to Nayanthara and Arya. Nayanthara has carefully chosen a solid role for her Kollywood comeback and excels in emoting; Arya shows adequate & subtle differences in style in the 2007/2013 episodes he enacts. Not far behind is Sathyaraj in a short, sweet role as an uber-cool urban pop!
  • Santhanam does a fine job in occasionally bringing the roof down! But, it is about time directors who cast him realise people are used to him as well as he is used to such roles.
  • The film is technically slick with eye-catching sets by Muthuraj, breezy music by GV Prakash & apt style of cinematography by George C Williams.
What Doesn't?
  • The love stories in the flashbacks are way too easy to be practical & have been handled very casually. Net result is the lack of impact which films in a similar genre like Mouna Raagam & Rhythm have been able to create.
  • Jai & Nazriya don't have roles of substance and their characters too are weakly defined.
  • There are a lot of stereotype scenes & comedies we have seen in umpteen films before (The software engineer boyfriend of Nazriya, Naan Kadavul 'Rajendran''s role reminding us of Boss e Baskaran etc.)
  • Arya has an emotionally shattering flashback but the way he behaves post marriage doesn't exactly reflect that, which would leave the audience clueless!
Not so kingly to be taken seriously!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #486

Movie: Onaayum Aatukuttiyum (Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: A murderer on the loose gets shot when Policemen and his former associates separately chase him down. A medical student saves his life allowing the murderer to gain consciousness & flee. He then chooses the medical student, now under police custody, as his bait in his attempt to perform a task which has a night's deadline. The rescuer and the rescued are chased down by cops and the criminal gang on a chilling night in this chilling tale.

What Works?
  • Mysskin, mysteries & midnights - The combination that often impresses doesn't fail in presentation here as well. The initial chase sequences as the story unfolds move viewers to the edge of their seats.
  • Ilaiyaraaja's symphony style music provides a wonderful canopy for the mysterious plot the film reveals gradually. Those tracks offer more than what you expect from music! Munnani Isai Korppu is, indeed, the apt label for it!
  • The candid-shots of Balaji Rangha work, with all those typical inputs from Mysskin.
  • Coming to performances, Sri does a commendable job in scenes where he is left to perform on his own and shows how Naren was forced to act the way he did in Anjaadhe in scenes where he replicates what Mysskin had expected of him! Mysskin, in his own role as Wolf, packs a punch with noteable support from Shaji who plays CBCID officer Lal.
  • To some extent, the dry sarcastic comedy in the midst of serious scenes work but it is about time Mysskin steps up.
What Doesn't? 

Two things that taut mystery/murder thrillers need are 1. An intelligent set of people chasing the main character; 2. A solid foundational story that, by itself, would justify all the killing.
  • Thamba & his clownish gang members comprising a bald guy in shades, a Lays-chips addict, two clad in eye-hurting Martial arts outfits & two bikers who roam around the city with not much purpose don't make for intelligent chasers. The policemen are shown clueless and the character of the CBCID, which seems to be the answer for that intelligent chaser, also fizzles out as we approach the end.
  • The story that Wolf narrates in the climax doesn't answer many questions & is something that most of the viewers would have already known!
  • Metaphors were aplenty & except for a few touching ones, a lot appeared overbearing!
The film, so, is deceptively good on the surface, with inconspicuous dents as one goes deep into it.

The wolf doesn't bite as well as it howls!

Two Line Reviews - #485

Movie: Rush (2013)

Plot: One was a meticulous racer having profound knowledge on the technical nuances of cars who had to break from his sophisticated lineage to pursue F1 racing; the other was a carefree casanova in whose view Formula 1 was 'meant for him'. One shies away from distractions to focus on his career; the other feels happy distractions are the ends to look for through the 'F1 fame' means. They had two things in common though! Passion for racing & the belief that the other one was an 'Asshole'; One was the Austrian Niki Lauda, the other was the Brit James Hunt. The film shows their epic rivalry that blossoms in F2 racing in early 1970s and reaches its apex in the 1975 Formula 1 season!

What Works?

  • Ron Howard is one film-maker who can take Game theory to the common man & Boxing to the hearts of the soft-hearted! Here, he takes Formula 1, the heat/tension & risks surrounding racers' lives to even the one who is not even remotely inclined to the sport.
  • The screenplay is so intelligently planned that it gives a layer on what experiences a typical F1 racer goes through underneath the exterior layer that provides a record of how Lauda & Hunt set the tracks ablaze.
  • Hans Zimmer's grand background score uplifts the action on screen & provides the complete AV experience.
  • In bringing the cars and tracks of the 70s, the Art & VFX team deserve special mentions.
  • It is Daniel Brühl who comes up with the best performance. His Austrian-scented English accent, mannerisms etc. show the dedicated effort he has taken while Chris Hemsworth effortlessly showcases James Hunt. Olivia Wilde, with some nice expressions in emotional sequences after marriage & Lauda's accident, scores.
  • The climax at the airport hangar expresses with class, how perspectives & the impact of them on priorities can alter champions' careers!
What Doesn't?
  • Ironically, the film ends with 1975 and doesn't go beyond to show the brilliant comeback triumphs of Lauda after his spectacular life-threatening Neurburgring accident in the season of '75. We would have loved to see more, Ron!

Two Line Reviews - #484

Movie: Aadhalaal Kaadhal Seiveer (Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: Two college-going teenagers fall in love and, at that stage of relationship, engage in their nuptial ritual. Unluckily for them, the girl becomes pregnant as well! With the help and tips from friends they try all ways of secretly wiping the trace off & in a revelation the parents get to know the story. The two families try to handle the situation differently & in the period of their discussions, the trust between the lovers is put to litmus test!

What Works?
  • After a film like Raajapaatai, anything sensible would be a decent return to form for director Suseendhiran & in being sensibly handled, this film is exactly that!
  • The sequences following the pregnancy have been handled quite refreshingly & the reminder of the film has a lot of interesting scenes.
  • Performance-wise, the veterans lead the pack with Jayachandran & the woman who plays his wife performing very well. The Heroine, Manisha Yadav, is not far behind! The scene between the mother & daughter when the shock gets unravelled is highly applaudable.
  • Yuvan Shankar Raja's music provides lively moments in the first half & the background song in the climax adds strength to the hard-hitting set of scenes.
What Doesn't?
  • The hero of the film is quite bland in expressions & even his character is not very well defined.
  • The first half might appeal to college going youth but there isn't much in it for the rest.
A decent take on an issue seldom attempted on celluloid!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The 'Lucia' Experience

I have only seen Thamizh, English & Hindi films in theatres before. I have seen a lot of foreign language films relying on my beloved set of friends whose names end with '.srt'! For some reason, never have I seen films in languages of neighbouring states: Telugu & Kannada! I was apprehensive about watching a Kannada film for the first time, in a theatre but going by words of some people who, in my view, have a wonderful taste on films, I had to break my duck and go watch this one. Was it worth breaking the rigid reason-less rules I had set for myself? Hell, yeah!

First things first. The film is experimental from every angle one sees. It is the first crowd-funded mainstream Indian Cinema (funded by about 1300 individuals); It has been made at a budget of about 70 Lakhs rupees. If these are mind-boggling, what is shown in the film is even more so. You are made to dream with the makers.

The film begins with lines from a Kannada poet's philospohical set of verses and at the end of it all you are made to realise, the film couldn't have started more apt!

It is very difficult to give out Lucia's plot without revealing things that, by remaning suspenseful, would make the film an even better one to watch! Hence, I choose the brevity path. The film deals with a guy suffering from insomnia and how he gets introduced to pills that can allow him to cultivate and experience lucid dreams (For more on this, go watch the film or go to wiki). How the dream and real life get dramatically entangled is what gets presented in tremendous style with a classy exhibition of almost all qualities & measures a film can be gauged with.

You get to see a fast-cut, interlaced screenplay with heaps of scenes that give a lot of clue (foreshadowing?, may be!) which you wouldn't be able to connect till all of the suspense is revealed at the end - Quality of a typical thriller which would give one the urge to watch a second time and a delight while doing so! Pawan Kumar, the film's director, I gather from his website, got the urge to make films only later than 2005 (when he mentions he started watching a lot of films) and in about 8 years of following his passion, if he can give this good a film, one can surely expect a lot more gems from him and his talented team. It is evident (and I mean it in the right sense) that he follows a lot of World Cinema and has mixed and matched styles from various such schools at apt places. For instance, the characters of the interrogating officers work as well as they do because they don't go over the top but work the way you see in South American films (those guys show cops best!).

One aspect of the film that stands out is the fact that Lucia despite being a complex narrative, doesn't suffer from a big problem some of the other complex, tough to comprehend, open-ended mindf**k films undergo - Leaving the audience with questions and allow them to discuss things on forums! (I hate such ones like The American Psycho & even Mullholland Dr. to an extent!). The film teases the viewer like anything and ultimately connects all untied ends and trolls the critic in you to perfection. That is the best possible Check-mate a film maker can offer his audiences.To elaborate the point, You find a lot of characters which you could  ,while watching the film, think would be usable in a debate against the film (the tall killer guy and his seemingly irrelevant presence as an example) but with the twist offered and the explanations given, you have no choice but to accept the maker has made that role with purpose!

Coming to the performances of the Cast and crew, the film's technical prowess is evident in both style and efficiency (that has helped this one to be made in a shoe-string budget!) Siddharth Nuni's(who I realised later was in the show with us in PVR today) modern-school camerawork complements Pawan's intentions so well and the music by Poornachandra Tejaswi (aided in BGM by Santhosh Narayanan) is quite impressive. The cuts are classy and combine well with the screenplay.

Performance-wise, Satish - the guy who plays the main role is a revelation! I am not sure if he is a seasoned mainstream actor in Sandalwood! If he isn't yet, he is sure to be one soon! If he doesn't become one - God save the industry! He presents a subtle contrast between the two characters he plays and when he breaks down on the death of his beloved mentor Shankranna and vows to bring back life to the talkies, he brings the raw emotion on to screen brilliantly aided by some wonderful dubbing accent. Supporting him well are Shruthi Hariharan, Shankaranna & the policemen.

If there is anything to talk negative about the film, it could be the build-up given to CBI officer Sanjay whose role eventually fizzles out and makes one feel the initial build-up was unnecessary. Who knows, that could have even been to distract the viewer from what line the film is to take when it gets deep!

There are loads of smartly placed elements that could appease members of 'I-go-to-films-only-to-be-entertained' club as well and I see no reason why this film shouldn't gross some big buck as well!

Given the fact that I have never even watched one Kannada film before, I could be prejudiced in having the view that the Kannada industry lags hugely behind most of the other language industries in India known for their films; One Lucia isn't going to change that view completely but I will think twice before generalising things, for, there has been such a gem somewhere within the industry I have considered low on quality; A gem that, in the best possible way has explained "There is someone with a big dream about your small life!" And there could be many more. We should be glad to welcome them all if and when they arrive!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #482

Movie: Maryan (Thamizh, 2013)

A fisherman who loves the sea and his work is forced to leave to Sudan for 2 years on a construction work assignment to get enough money to save his lover's father from the loan-shark who also has his eyes on the girl! He refreshes his love for the land,sea and his lady when he is a week away from returning back and that is when he is held hostage by an activist group that seeks money from his company's owners for exploiting the oil and resources of its land. He endures the pain of his fate, breaks loose one night and runs about 300 miles over 10 days to try and escape from the group's clutches in what turns out to be a stern test of his survival for love! Does he succeed or succumb in the end?

What Works?
  • Bharat Bala has taken a very simple story, set it up in a milieu that is unprecedented territory for Thamizh cinema and succeeds in delivering what he intends to! The guy who looks a bit like Sergio Leone seems to have taken a few leaves out of Leone's works in terms of providing an unwavering, uncompromising screenplay that grips even while moving at its own pace!
  • Dhanush is at his best in dialect, expressions and performance in Sudan - He can be a towering inspiration for actors of his period. He must have endured a lot of pain shooting for the film and the result we see on screen is something he deserves! Parvathy Menon is extremely good with her emotions & is a bit too classy and urbane in looks to be a fisher-folk woman!
  • AR Rahman s songs were already making waves but they have been aptly picturised and placed (none placed better than Nenje Ezhu) & his soulful background score is an added plus.
  • Technically the film is better also thanks to the contributions of photographer Belgian Marc Koninckx, Editor Vivek Harshan & Author Joe Cruz who is a welcome addition to the dialogue writers club with some brilliant one-liners (Unnaala illa Pani, Unakkaaga, for example!)
A survival tale that inspires; Promising debut venture for Bharat Bala!

Two Line Reviews - #481

Movie: La flaqueza del bolchevique (or) The Weakness of the Bolshevik (Spanish, 2003)

Plot: A banker gets into legal trouble for crashing onto a woman's car in parking. He follows the woman to see where she resides, makes anonymous calls etc. to irritate her & happens to see the school-going sister of the woman. He gets attracted to the small girl's intelligence who responds as well. They become companions, hang out. He makes a grave error of calling the girl from his office phone which the elder sister traces and trouble looms causing an unexpected twist in a matter of minutes!

What Works?
  • This is movie-making at classic levels. A simple concept and limited characters, each having its own perspectives and a collosal culmination in the climax - World class stuff from its maker Manuel Martín Cuenca.
  • The actor Luis Tosar who tries to lure the girl and irritates her elder sister shows subtle yet contrasting emotions in a nice way. The young girl María Valverde is perfectly cast - She is classy in looks and has intelligence written all over her eyes!
  • The music with the symphony like orchestration is brilliant and suits the following scenes to a 'T'!
  • The climax is a blast in showing how fickle life is and how things can change in minutes!
Gripping & Classy!

Two Line Reviews - #480

Movie: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Hindi, 2013)

Plot: Milkha Singh from Punjab joins the Indian Army and his abilities as a sprinter are unearthed by his Coach who then sends him to the national academy. There, persevering pain and insult, Milkha breaks national record and becomes a promising medal prospect in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. After failing to live up to his potential there, instead of getting bogged down, he practices and practices hard winning races across the globe before an unfortunate 4th place finish in the next Olympics in Greece. The film traces his tumultous childhood in Punjab-given-to-Pakistan post partition and how they shaped him to go back to his native place and race to a 'flying Sikh' title.

What Works?
  • Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh is the heart and soul of this film. With his strenuous efforts to get his athlete look and his careful imitations of a runner's body language along with his ability to perform casually make us feel connected and makes the biopic a winner.
  • Not far off is the boy cast as young Milkha. A majority of the emotional scenes are loaded on him and he performs with aplomb.
  • The Army coach shows more than a coach connection very well & the national Coach does a pretty fine job.
  • Shankar Ehsaan Loy's tracks like Zinda, Mere Yaar &Bhaag Milkha and the background music are backbones to the training routine scenes and the slick editing is clearly noticeable.
  • I come to Omprakash Mehra last for a reason; Appreciate him for backing his idea and producing a film on one of the athletes worthy of celebration in the country and giving a tacky narrative that is between commercial cinema and a biography.
What Doesn't?
  • There are goof-ups aplenty. Milkha Singh had never broked world record like what the film proclaims & that is a major sin on part of a film-maker - An insult to the viewers and the achievements of Milkha as well.
  • Also, the film focuses on 2 unwanted love stories in which space it could have provided more on Milkha's exploits in the various competitions.
Farhan and his kid counterpart take this biopic to appreciable levels!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #479

Movie: The Song of Sparrows (or) Avaze gonjeshk-ha (Persian, 2008)

Plot: Times trouble an Ostrich rancher when his daughter's hearing aid breaks and he cannot afford a new one thanks to the job he loses because of an Ostrich that escapes. He goes to a busy Tehran and invents a job as a for-hire-motrocyclist. Opportunities present themselves to test his honesty and survival instincts but he weathers the greed test and tries to make ends meet with the paltry sum he earns. Calamity strikes later as he experiences a domestic accident that puts him to bed and he is made to ponder how fickle life can be!

What Works?
  • In another birth, Majid Majidi should have been a poet! A philosophical one at that. He offers such beautiful touch in the narrative which is so filled with agony and suffering. He shows them in the best way possible - not brutal, not evoking a lot of sympathy. He keeps it simple.
  • The lead actor who plays Karim is a natural and he expresses helplessness in the best way possible, and also optimism when he becomes immobile!
  • The scene where the kids happily transfer flower pots and suddenly lose all the fishes they buy for their tank & the scene where he consoles his crying wife are gems in the jewel the film is!
  • The climax when the unshown guy tells the Ostrich is back and the reaction Karim has for it sums up the fickle nature of life in the best way possible!
Another gem from Majid Majidi! Celebrates honesty and hardwork.

Two Line Reviews - #478

Movie: Soodhu Kavvum (Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: A guy who kidnaps for a living has the conviction that 'Blind arrogance' can be of great help in his profession. He recruits 3 friends who are in helpless positions in life. Their strategy of kidnapping low-profile people is revised when they greedily attempt to kidnap the son of a minister. The minister doesn't budge and brings a psycho-cop from some other town to nab the culprits. The cop chases the guys down and things go crazy when the kidnapped becomes an active partner in crime as all of them go behind Kaasu, Panam, Dhuttu, Money money!

What Works?
  • The film is such a riot because of the treatment it gets. It is casually serious, laughably intense and some more of such oxymorons would define it well!
  • It is one thing to watch, enjoy a Guy Ritchie crazy film and quite another to make a regional film of that kind which succeeds! Claps to Nalan Kumarasami and team for doing exactly that.
  • Vijay Sethupathy and his novice kidnap team members evoke enough laughter. MS Bhaskar does quite well as the honest politician and Yog Japee is a nice fit for the psycho cop with little or no expressions at all!
  • Sanchita Shetty relives that Mr.Brooks role & is such a delight when she makes sarcastic comments sitting by Vijay's side/ on his laps(!) and when Vijay asks her to change costumes etc.

What Doesn't?
  • Towards the end, the film sags a bit as there is not much left and a repetition of events is On.
  • The Hit ratio of one-liners isn't very high. Some of the mokkais fall flat.
Guy Ritchie stuff, Local Style: A Winner!

Two Line Reviews - #477

Movie: Moondru Per, Moondru Kaadhal (Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: In Ooty,a guy loves a girl who he helps get a job in his father's firm. He finds it tough to restrain even when he comes to know she is engaged to be married to someone else. In Tuticorin, a girl falls in love with a man who corrects things in her family and works with all his heart for a social cause but fails to evoke any response from him. In Chennai, an aspiring Olympic swimmer wannabe and her coach are madly in love with each other and a calamitous accident puts their joint olympic dreams in jeopardy. The film compares how different and contrasting love can be!

What Works?
  • When it comes to a Vasanth film, dialogues will be a major highlight and this one has its set of them; Most of them scattered among the 3 stories.
  • The idea is quite novel (novel like too, like in many Vasanth films) and the subtle way of pointing out distinct differences across the stories is intelligent.
  • Yuvan's songs are marvelous (Aaha Kaadhal, Kaadhal Endhan Kaadhal, Unakkaagave etc.) but all haven't been aptly placed in the film and that sort of brings its effect down. On a lighter note, Yuvan could have sung the line 'Touched by an angel' a lot better :)
  • The camerawork goes around with the characters and in not trying to be showman-like, it works!
  • Cheran, Arjun have done delightfully well. So have their partners.
What Doesn't?
  • 'Half-baked' is the first term that comes to mind thinking of all the stories. Vimal's portion lacks purpose; Cheran's lacks Love & Arjun's lacks conviction & the climax tying things is a dampener.
Vasanth doesn't exactly weave his magic this time around!

Two Line Reviews - #476

Movie: In Time (2011)

Plot: The film conceptualises how people would react if they age till 25 and then get only an year's extension which they can refill and reload like exchanging currencies across each other. The automatic divide this creates in society stands a block for someone who gets some hefty year currency and is being chased by the Police who doubt the authenticity of his claim that he got it by genuine means.He takes them on by taking the daughter of a rich guy(read one with huge year currency) as hostage.

What Works?
  • This idea is quite wondrous. Not many can think on those lines, forget writing a script and bringing the idea to life. For that reason,Andrew Niccol, its maker deserves the accolades.
  • Justin Timberlake adequately fits the bill in a film whose scope doesn t require mind-blowing performances; He does well running and chasing around always being under the radar. Amanda Seyfried gives him good company in the latter half. 
  • We don't get to see Cillian Murphy in these sort of roles but as a responsible police-man, he does the routine stuff in a simple style that suits.
  • The year currency exchange concept is brought to life through a simple gadget they show and it is a relief.
What Doesn't?
  • The film, though it takes a wordly concept, offers a very narrow perspective - That of its protagonist. That makes the entire narration a whole lot weak!
  • If the film didn't mean to mock at the Hyper-Inflation and its effects, there is not much in it than an incredible one-line story.
If it was a mockery of Hyper-Inflation, it has worked. Else, not much!

Two Line Reviews - #475

Movie: David (Hindi, 2013)

Plot: Stories of 3 Davids from three different periods and places (1975 London of a David who is a don's protector, 1999 Mumbai of a David whose pursuit of musician ambitions is disrupted by a communal assault on his father & 2010 Goa of a David who drinks and falls in love with the girl of his best friend) get related to each other at the fag end.

What Works?
  • Even though I was expecting much more from this Bejoy Nambiar film, there were parts where the film was absorbing enough. The 1975 portions are intense with the shoot-out at the Moharram march taking top honours; the riot scene in the Mumbai portion is quite engaging as well.
  • The camerawork and slick editing make their own marks in the film. Malpe beach and its surroundings (shown as Goa in the film) is captured in all its vigour!
  • In terms of performances, there is no single exemplary one but none of them disappoint as well.

What Doesn't?
  • The film's climax where the episodes are attempted to be tied together is a sad old stretch of imagination!
  • Vikram chooses the most non-happening of the 3 stories and tries to bring it to life which he cannot quite well do, except for a bit of humour thrown in between.
  • The strong cast has been inefficiently used - Vikram, Nasser, Tabu & Neil - not much of their talents have been extracted!
As separate stories, they mave have been better. Problem is, they aren't and it shows!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #474

Movie: Epic (2013)

Plot: Leaf people are tiny people (not easily visible to human eye) residing in the forests. A researcher tells his daughter, his findings on their existence. His disinterested daughter gets entangled and gets dwarfed and becomes the protector of the forest's future when the dying queen hands her the pod that needs to be protected and given to the next queen. The pod which takes its own sweet time to give life back to the forest is being targeted by the opposition of the leaf people. The girl & the valiant protectors of the leaf people fight it out and help from the girl's father comes at an appropriate time giving life back to the tiny creatures!

What Works?
  • This was my first experience of watching an Animated film in the theatre and it was a pretty decent experience. The film, though kiddish at times, had its moments.
  • The expressive reactions of the tiny creatures, their forms and the beauty of the forest shows the creativity that goes into making such animes and credits to the makers!
  • The film is quite positive and the tiny creatures end up winning our hearts for fighting it out with their mighty dark rivals!
  • It was funny to listen Christoph Waltz's voice being mouthed by some weird creature!
What Doesn't?
  • Things get a tad too repetitive and the outline having a close resemblance to the LoTR story doesn't help things!
Not even close to being an 'Epic'; Nevertheless, a decent watch.

Book Look - #47

THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene StaufferPlot: A biography of Roger Federer, the holder of many records in the sport of Tennis. The book is a carefully researched piece that tracks Roger's career right from when he picked his racquet to how he became one of the greatest sportsmen of all time by 2007! There are snippets of his life outside of the tennis courts as well.

  • The account that the book gives on the early part of Roger's career when he had to be away from his family at a tender age, live in/share rooms in the houses of strange friends and relatives, his weekend calls to his home, his association with fellow Swiss tennis wannabes and his rise in the juniors to becoming a potent tennis star make up for an interesting read. Shows the kind of sacrifices one has to make to realise a dream of humungous proportions!
  • His crucial contributions to the Swiss Davis cup team early on in his career and how he shaped things politically even as he was a teenager show the true grit Roger possessed.
  • The facts that Roger lost his first 11 matches on clay and had lost in the first round of 21 tournaments of the first 38 he had contested in could definitely be inspirational for people who knew only the other side of Roger: How much success he had over 2004-07 with an 18 month stretch of being in the finals!!
  • His fighting spirit and appreciation of and respect for opponents are evident in some of the quotes Roger had given after tough matches (winning/losing not mattering). Appreciations to Rene for bringing them out. Reading those would correct opinions some have on how arrogant Roger was. Reading this one would make them feel he has been candid all along his career and that has been mistaken for arrogance at times!
  • How Roger respected and adhered to commitments he had made in spite of unfortunate injuries and how he was able to turn around the view of the man behind the Houston Tennis Masters Cup between 2003 and 2004 are empirical evidences of the likeable and honest sportsman that Roger has been.
  • The benevolence and humanitarian side of Roger is also brought out in this account with descriptions of his globe-trotting in his dedicated role as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.
  • Some pictures from Roger's childhood, from his teens and some with celebs across global sports & Roger's career timeline and selected quotes are added incentives for one to pick this book for a read!
A well-recorded account of Roger's 1981 to 2007! Expecting an extension sometime in the coming years.

Two Line Reviews - #473

Movie: Kind Hearts & Coronets (1949)

Plot: A member of the kingly D'Ascoyne lineage defaults by marrying off status and is expelled from the family. Her son seeks revenge and sets his eye on becoming the next Duke. Between him and the throne are 8 heir-probables. Powered by his intelligence and anonymity, he plans and gets them one after the other. Does he succeed or does he get caught?

What Works?
  • This one is an instant classic! The film is typically British in one sense but the base plot is startlingly in contrast to the kind of moral values we see in the upper echelons of British society! It is a rude satire on them which is enjoyable too! All credits to Robert Hamer for that.
  • Dennis Price shows his calm villainy with aplomb and his situations with most of the D'Ascoyne family members are engaging to watch!
  • The two women who play pivotal roles are typically the sort of women we see in those old films - reacting mirthlessly and dressed blemish-lessly!
  • The climax, the sudden twist in it & the irony it brings forth are brilliant!
  • Watch out for Alec Guinness playing the roles of 8 of the family members!
Intelligent film, Engaging comic-thriller!

Two Line Reviews - #472

Movie: Ethir Neechal (Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: A guy who is bothered by his name goes to the extent of changing it and around the same time, good things start happening for him, love including! When circumstances later reveal his name changing exercise to his lover, she inspires him to do something of value. He decides to contest in a Marathon race and in the process of training for it, he gets to know the tumults his lady coach had to undergo forcing her to be stripped off her athletic achievements and be deprived of her father. He makes it a point to win the marathon for her and through his voice, make the atrocities made to her be heard and of course, he changes his name back!

What Works?
  • This offering of Durai SenthilKumar isn't exactly convincing but there are moments that make him worthy of appreciation for an unwavering flashback and a decently inspiring climax (predictable, though).
  • Siva Karthikeyan seems to be imitating Dhanush big time; He has to be aware of it but otherwise, he is adequate. Priya Anand looks good but doesn't have as much to do as Nandita has.
  • Music by Anirudh has some chart-busters and some of his background music & songs that appear irrelevant somehow work with the visuals and that is puzzling!
What Doesn't?
  • The film's first half is light-hearted with comic bursts coming from the hero comedian pair but the story doesn't move an inch and that's disappointing.
  • The Marathon was pictured quite realistically, BUT FOR two scenes: A runner from the rival camp applying spray on the hero's face and making him trample are things you never get to see in anything professional!
Watchable, and just that.

Book Look - #46

A PAINTED HOUSE by John Grisham

Prime Characters: Eli Chandler (Pappy), Ruth Chandler, Luke, Jesse, Cathleene, Trot, Hank, Cowboy

Plot: A family that does Cotton Farming in picturesque settings of the Arkansas picks cotton with the help of the Hill people & Mexicans. Their routines, the misunderstandings, the special weekend trips to town & their dependence on weather are all brought to the for through the voice of the youngest member of the Chandler family!

  • John Grisham bases this one partially out of his own childhood & it is highly surprising that a book that is completely out of his comfort zone (of lawyers & trials) is among the best of his works! The stuff has soul in it & engages the reader.
  • The Chandler family's resilience to hardships is actually an eye-opener for readers on the lives and sacrifices of all the farmers who stay back in their lands cultivating against attractive options of factory work elsewhere!
  • The baseball angle, the determined paint-job of Luke & the visit to towns and the enjoyment each of them seeks is wonderfully told; The same could be said of the contrasting yet comparable qualities of the members in the family.
  • The vivid descriptions of the cotton farm, the tornadoes, the family garden & the trip to town explain the imaginative and writing prowess of Grisham.
An excellent tribute to farmers leading their tough-lives!

Two Line Reviews - #471

Movie: Vicky Donor (Hindi, 2012)

Plot: When Vicky, an unemployed youth appears to be the saviour in the eyes of a fertility clinic owner, he forces Vicky to donate sperm to the clinic's sperm-bank. Healthy hit ratio (pun intended) & handsome cash provide incentives for the both of them to use each other! Vicky loves and marries the girl he loves. Her medical condition prevents her from having any possibility of bearing child and when she gets to know of her husband's donor self, her emotions make her start hating him. The doc comes to the rescue to set things straight.

What Works?
  • Shoojit Sarcar, the film's director has made a film that is extremely top-notch in content as well as entertainment value! Tough to believe he isn't a maker of many films.
  • The same could be said of the film's hero Ayushmann Khurrana; He performs effortlessly! Annu Kapoor as the doc is entertaining with his reactions and Yami Gautam is adorable and carries off her role well towards the end.
  • Just when the Punjabi-Bengali tussle moves close to becoming a Bollywood stereotype, the director pulls things back and presents them very well.
  • The film has excellent music by Abhishek-Aksha & team and both the versions of Pani Da Rang are touchy. 
  • The climax is as much new, bamboozling as it is weird!
Entertains thoroughly!

Two Line Reviews - #470

Movie: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Plot: A small boy-scout escapes plans for an escape from his camp and elopes with a native of the town he was camping at. The scout-camp members and the girls parents try to trace them out in a surreal setting!

What Works?
  • This is the first Wes Anderson film I have watched and he is definitely impressive!
  • Kid-love stories are usually a No with me but this one was quite likeable for its presentation & characters.
  • When side-kicks come in the forms of Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray & Francis McDormand, you can easily guess how well the main duo (kids) would have performed!
  • The wonderful scenic locations and a brilliant climax makes this a pleasing watch for the eye as well!
Will definitely make you smile!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The ATP Aces in aceing opponents

The ATPWorldTour website has been getting  better in terms of providing career stats of players. I have thought about putting it to some use, making some analyses out of it and seeing if they lead to some interesting insights!
I start it off with this one involving one of the most loved-about stat in the sport - Aces! The site provided a list of the top 500 men to have sent the maximum no. of aces in their career. Looking at that number alone may not make sense for the reason that someone like Raonic would feature low because of the lesser number of years he has been a pro than, say, Ivan Ljubicic. So, I have taken another parameter 'Aces/Match' and have combined the 'Aces' vs 'Aces per match' into an X-Y chart to see where the 500 players turn up.
Here is a look at the chart. You can hover over each circle to get details of the players. I have purposely annotated some players' names to draw some highlights out of the exercise. Additionally, the chart will also allow you to play with and compare players by giving the option of filtering specific players. Feel free to play with it. Believe me, this filter option is good fodder for some insightful time-pass for any tennis lover.

Some of the highlights that can be inferred from the chart above:
1. The chart is so crowded towards the bottom left indicating how difficult it is to serve Ace bombs day after day, set after set! A lot of the players are in the '2-6 Aces/Match & <1000 aces="" br="" career="" category.="" in="">2. The ones towards the extreme right form a scarce community and the names there are all the ones we get reminded when we think of Aces! Goran Ivanisevic, unsurprisingly, leads by ace count but Ivo Karlovic is way ahead of all others with a staggering 18.72 Aces/Match! Unbelievable number that.
3. Pete Sampras and Roger Federer are not compared and pitted against each other for just their single-hand backhand and grandslam count. They are as close as they are in terms of their Acing pattern as they are in the specified areas. Pete, though, has a pretty solid 10 Aces/Match to Federer's 8!
4. Aces alone don't win one matches - If Goran and Ivo are examples for that theory, the corollary is well defended by the locations of Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic in this chart. The numbers of Rafa are a shocking surprise: He averages 3 Aces/Match! It is significant to mention that Rafa & Ferrer stay close in their Acing patterns.
5. Mildy surprising is the fact that Andy Murray out-numbers Nole in this matrix. He can send rockets,we all knew but would we have thought he would be serving 1.5 aces more than Djokovic on an average?
6. The Ivanisevic effect is quite evident in the current generation of players when you take a look at those who fly high on the Y-Axis!
There is Ivo and then there are two up and coming North Americans in John Isner and Milos Raonic (I don't know if Isner qualifies for that sort of an adjective given the horrid phase he is going through!). The two average more than 15 Aces/Match!

Compare that with the 2.7 of someone like Kei Nishikori and that will make you appreciate the beauty of this sport! Two players could be contrasting in one very important stat but still could stay close in Rankings, thanks to the dynamics of so many other parameters that come into play. More on those other parameters in  subsequent articles!
Till then, enjoy and play with this siloed piece of the puzzle.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Look - #45

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoevsky

 Plot: Raskolnikov is made to discontinue education and go loafing around for want of money and the feeling that he is superior makes him epitomise Napolean and think he's beyond the laws of the land. In making his contribution to help mankind, he gets hot-headed and murders two women and suffers from delirium. Does he possess guilt?; Does the entry of his mother and sister make things better?; Does he continue helping people? All are answered in typical Dostoevsky style with a subtle heavy dose (not an oxymoron, at least for FD!) of philosophy!

Prime Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, Sofia Semyonovna, Avdotya, Pulcheria Alexandrovna, Dmitri Razumihin, Porfiry, Luzhin et al.

  • The tale is as gripping as it is deep in content. Dostoyevsky's works are the best examples of the Iceberg concept. Some may just see the tip, some may understand more and go a bit deep; Few can get to the bottom of what he tells. Having said that, I don't even know if I have breached the tip!
  • Raskolnikov's intent, his sufferings and the validity of his question on why to suffer in Prison when there is so much scope for it outside shake the reader's thoughts! His contrasting deeds that define his character find purpose near the end and his is an inspiring creation.
  • Razumihin, Svidrigaïlov, Avdotya, Sofia - all of these characters that play fiddle have a definite purpose and accentuate the impact! Especially, the flashback of Svidrigaïlov & his culmination towards the end is terrific.
  • There are mind-blowing quotable quotes all along the work. A few come and go i unnoticeable places as well! To sample a few: "Reason is the slave of passion, you know"; "He had the air of a man who wants dreadfully to sneeze, but can't" (How about that for features-depiction?)
  • The sequences of Raskolnikov with Porfiry are fiery and show us clearly how a guilty mind can be played with and irritated to the core!
Classic! No other word can aptly desrcibe this marvellous work of art!

Book Look - #44

Plot: It is highly difficult to reveal the plot in a succinct manner, for, there is a whole bunch of identity-swapping for winning loves and mending broken relations. The 'go-to' man who solves all issues is the sensible valet of Bertie, Jeeves! Any Trouble - Go,Ask Jeeves!

Prime Characters: Bertie Wooster, Jeeves, Fink Nottle, Madeline Bassett, Agatha, the Winkworths et al.

  • The setup is sort of a cob-web and the situations where their swaps make them get into trouble presents excellent scope for comedy, which PGW pounces on and delivers!
  • The characters of the pestering aunts  and how they are being countered makes for interesting read.
  • One cannot just ignore Jeeves smart ideas. His serious suggestions in moments of senseless planning all around makes him the admirable assistant.
A Pleasant read, the comic-tempo builds and bursts towards the end!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Look - #43

PIGS HAVE WINGS by P.G.Wodehouse
Plot: The beloved Pig of Lord Emsworth needs to be made to win a contest. A competing Pig, owned by Parsloe is made to look fit and fine giving Emsworth's obese pig no chance in the contest. The responsibility of jeopardising Parsloe's plans falls in the hand of the Lord's brother. Amidst the Confusion & commotion that gets caused, does he succeed?!

Prime Characters: Lord Emsworth, Sir Gregor Parsloe, Empress and many more!

  • It is a tough start to get into PGW's diction and writing style but once you cross the barrier, there is no limit for fun! It flows!
  • The sarcasm, queer citations and examples, riotous exchanges inside the Blanding's castle are all thoroughly enjoyable!
  • The scene at the house by the railway line towards the end where the Pig is hidden causes a ruckus and the reader has strings of moments to laugh at!
Power of humour, expressed brilliantly!

Book Look - #42

EIGHT DAYS TO LIVE by Iris Johansen
Plot: A cult group named 'Sang Noir' decides to chase down an artist and kidnap her for their yearly sacrifice. She understands the root cause of it being an art-work titled 'Guilt' which she had painted. In search of the answers to why that painting had enraged them, she goes searching for answers which lie in the 30 coins Judas got for betraying Jesus Christ! In her search for truth, she is accompanied and guarded by a highly intelligent & cold-blooded acquaintance from the past.

Prime Characters: Jane Macguire, Caleb Shaw, Eve Duncan, Jack Govin, MacDuff, Joe Duncan.

  • Thriller works that tow the 'Conspiracy' line are a delight to read and when that conspiracy is of the proportions of relating to Jesus, it doesn't get much bigger! In that sense, this Iris Johansen work of the Eve Duncan series is a killer.
  • The character of Caleb Shaw, the protector is worth admiring & those of the translator and Jack Govin who helps in the expedition offer a pleasant angle to the story.
  • The insanse Sang Noir group is portrayed well and the chase involving travel to different countries is pulsating.
  • The climax takes place in vivid settings & the portion of the story in Jerusalem makes one relate to Angels & Demons in terms of the level to which the conspiracy takes shape.
A highly enthralling ride to the early A.D. years and back!

Book Look - #41

TRUE BLUE by David Baldacci
Plot: One of two police sisters is out from jail after serving a sentence on doping charges tailored out on her. The other is on the trail of the murder of a consultant in a litigation firm. With the help of a guy from the firm, the younger one tries to track down the murderer without the knowledge of her elder and things get crazy and their lives are under threat when the story assumes political proportions!

Prime Characters: Beth Perry, Mace Perry, Roy Kingman

  • The sister characters have sets of contrasting & common qualities that keeps them thick & their smart, bold ways carry the trademark Baldacci stamp.
  • The story behind the death & the side-story of the other guy killed keeps the suspense intact and when things tie together, the 'awe' moment is evident for the reader to feel.
  • The tiny misunderstandings between the sisters and how it affects their views on Roy are enjoyable nuggets.
A neat taut thriller with all requisite elements intact.

Friday, April 19, 2013

ATP Top 100 - Countries Split

These are the countries that have produced the current crop of ATP Top 100 ranked players!

Two Line Reviews - #469

Movie: Talaash (2012, Hindi)

Plot: A famous actor drowns off with his car in Marine Drive in bizarre circumstances. The Officer investigating the case gets clues from unexpected circles. He also has the job of bringing his wife back to normalcy from the troublesome impact she had encountered with the loss of their son in a freaking boat accident, or so he thinks!

What Works?
  • The thrills & suspense in the talaash for evidence is maintained for a major portion of the film and that makes this Reema Kagti offering a neat work.
  • Aamir Khan does classily what is required of him without being perturbed; Nawazzudin Siddiqui lives the role of a pucca local; Kareena & Rani have a few scenes to show their acting prowess which they use quite well.
  • The score of Ram Sampath aids the Noir-ish attempt by Mohanan with the lens! The involvement of talents like Farhan Akhtar & Anurag Kashyap is evident in the purposeful & intense dialogues.
  • The track of Aamir's lost kid & the with-the-soul-speaking neighbour add eeriness to the tale.
  • Hidden Clues placed all along the movie that the film-watcher would realise after the suspense is relieved is a fine show by the writers!
What Doesn't?
  • The climax (which is the film's core) leaves one rather disappointed. The fact that the tag-line of the film is so explicit also doesn't help.
Definitely worth a watch! The climax drags the film down from its ascension to being 'exceptional'.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #468

Movie: Gangs of वासेपुर 2 (Hindi, 2012)

Plot: It takes off from where we get left at in GoW-1. The revenge saga gets into a 3rd generation and shows how determination, scouthing & responsibility can transform a hopeless drug-addict into a huge headache for the 2 guys bossing around the big towns of Dhanbad & Wasseypur. The Pathans are not done with Sardar, they come back for more!

What Works?
  • The tale only heats up. In this part, you are comfortable with the characters and what they mean. You are much inside the film and you get to appreciate a lot more than you would GoW-1.
  • Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a revelation and his scope is a lot different from what he does in 1. His Paijal (Faizal) showing is definitely a cult character, at least for me, and would warrant repetitive watching! His expressive eyes & face language is his asset and Kashyap has feasted on it!
  • Richa Chadda, Mishra, Tigmanshu Dhulia & Zeishan Quadri (Depnet) offer instrumental supporting roles.
  • The background score of GV Prakash is more prominent in this one (catch hold of the climax track!)
  • The collaboration Sardar's sons from his two wives offer scope for entertainment & fun.
  • The climax blood-bath is a new for Indian films and is apt for a film that builds this up for more than 4 hours!
Scouthing & Bloodbath continue! A tale of how Freddy becomes Michael Corleone!

Two Line Reviews - #467

 Movie: Gangs of वासेपुर (Hindi, 2012)

Plot: In 1940s, a gutsy Pathan takes on the Qureshi head of Wasseypur and is sent out of town for his mis-deed. In Dhanbad, his lofty ambitions of killing the owner of the Coal mine and owning the business gets him killed and that sets the vengeance saga 'On'. The son of the dead Pathan seeks to avenge his father's death after years but his job gets tougher as the Dhanbad Singh & the Wasseypur Qureshis are more than a formidable duo to out-duel!

What Works?
  • The film doesn't work on you like Chloroform does, but it works like a sedative - Sets the pace slowly and takes you deep into the annules of perspectives of the dead Pathan's family. Anurag Kashyap weaves that magic to make the film deserve the 'Cult' status bestowed upon it!
  • As regards to performances, the conniving and wicked deeds of Sardar Singh are brought to the best on screen by the talented Manoj Bajpai. Richa Chadda, Piyush Mishra, Jaideep Ahlawat offer quality company to Sardar & with his sons coming up towards the end, it is hard to leave their names out as much as it is needful!
  • The native soundtracks show who Kashyap gets heavily influenced by & so does the colourful and effervescent narration!
  • Dialogues are as local and as rugged and lively as they can get. Character names like Tangent, Perpendicular etc. add style to the flow of things!
A 'Sardar Singh' version of Sonny Corleone!

Two Line Reviews - #466

Movie: Sehar (Hindi, 2005)

Plot: Organized crime runs amuck in Uttar Pradesh in the 90s. A special task force formed face a challenge of the notorious adopting technology. The STF collaborate with a professor on Cellular technology & fight against political & technical odds to nab the last and most threatening of goons.

What Works?
  • Kabeer Kaushik needs to be lauded for this well brought-out, no-nonsense affair adapted based on true incidents. Surprisingly, the film didn't make the noise it probably deserved to!
  • An apt casting led by Arshad Warsi's underplay as Cop Ajay is only strengthened by the presence of Pankaj Kapur, the menacing yet unperturbed villainy of Sushant Singh, the beauty of Mahima Chaudhary and the likes.
  • The film's camerawork is commendable, chasing the action in gripping sequences; Crisp editing, especially during the portions that explain the use of Cellular phones, & solid Backgroun score add value to the end product.
What Doesn't?
  • The ending may have been better; The train shoot--out sequence could have been shown better - The film deserved a better ending.
A Gripping Crime-thriller! Reminds one of Kaakha Kaakha in places.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #465

Movie: Contact (1997)

Plot: Pursuing her childhood dream of trying to track intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy, a scientist doctor identifies signals she receives from an extra terrestrial star 'Vega'. The eyes of the world media turn towards a project funded internationally to send a human on a mission to 'Vega'. A debate of Science vs Faith and their common causes are very well brought out in this sci-fi!

What Works?
  • Robert Zemeckis, in more than one way, is comparable to Spielberg & the treatment he gives to this sci-fi makes me endorse the comparison one more time. This is no Back to the Future but definitely has its enthralling moments!
  • Jodie Foster's Dr. Ellie Arroway is the core of the narrative, and she shines with her remarkable style and reactions!
  • Alan Silvestri is to Zemeckis what John Williams is to Spielberg; The music definitely elevate the important scenes.
  • The dialogues (especially, some philosophical one-liners) pack a punch.
What Doesn't?
  • The climax is a bit of a let-down because of the questionable logic.
Wishful concept, well presented too!

Two Line Reviews - #464

Movie: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Plot: A congressman losing his election to New York Senate lets his loser's speech get altered thanks to the inspiration he draws from his 'love-at-first-sight'. He sees her later once, misses her many times again. It takes some time for him to realise nothing at all was mere coincidence that he is just a part of a mesh of guys working on a much bigger and stranger plan! He tries to unshackle himself off their chain, follow his free-will in pursuit of his love. Will his efforts go in vain?!

What Works?
  • This creation of George Nolfi is quite strange in the sense that you get to know where it is heading only half-way through the film! In spite of that, the film doesn't sag anywhere and keeps one engrossed - All credits to the convincing answers at the end!
  • Matt Damon and Emily Blunt share a charming chemistry and that plays its part in making the film tick.
  • The very concept that is the core of the film is brought out pretty decently thanks to some nice action sequences, CG work,camerawork,music & a classy group of Bureau members (The Afro-American lad being the most prominent of the lot!)
A nice mockery of the limitations of human ability to pursue free-will!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #463

Movie: Paradesi (Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: In 1939, villagers of a barren land are given an attractive promise of work and wealth upon migration to the British managed tea estates. When they reach, they understand the cruelties they have to go through. They are exposed to exploitations and unfair extensions of their work tenure, giving them miserable years of suffering. Through his hero, Bala even shows their miseries in not having even the chance to communicate with their dear ones back home!

What Works?
  • After a very mediocre outing in Avan Ivan, Bala is back to his gruesome best and delivers an intense and well-thought out subject in his impeccable style!
  • Among the baggage of surprises is the efforts of Atharva Murali! He has definitely shown how talented he is, with his spontaneity. His Rasa/Ottuperukki character is sure to be remembered and held alongside some very prominent characters in Thamizh Cinema.
  • Vedhika, Dhanshika, the couple who act as the hero's friends & the local village characters are perfectly cast and enact their roles superbly, which is not surprising given Bala is at the helm of affairs!
  • Bala, for the first time, has moved away from the Raja family for music and G.V. Prakash's score and tracks give ample proof on why it wasn't a bad decision after all!
  • The unperturbed camera-work of Chezhiyan aids the story-telling and elevates itself in shots such as the Interval & Climax sequence! Kishore's editing comes in handy in such sequences as well.
  • Bala & team's careful research is clearly visible in terms of the art-work, the costumes, the accent of the dialogues, the references made to Gandhi (who had worked for the rights of Tea Estate workers in Bihar and elsewhere during that time!) & a gutsy take on the exploitation exercise underwent by Christian Missionaries during that time (whose effects are still to be seen in hill-lands dominated by Christians)!
Bala is back to what he does best - Giving Intense, Disturbing films high on artistic values!

Two Line Reviews - #462

Movie: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Plot: Three Britishers and an American plan and rob diamonds from a bank. Two of them betrays the third who in turn stashes the diamonds in a secret place and gives the information to the 4th. The first two decide to befriend the attorney of the man caught to locate the diamonds. What follows are arousal of passions, love and a four-way battle of wills for winning the diamonds!

What Works?

  • Riotous comedy thrillers are among the most difficult of genres to execute and in an effortless show, Charles Crichton & John Cleese pull it off quite nicely!
  • The screenplay filled with a mix of expected and unexpected turns, providing ample scope for fun, works!
  • All 5 prime characters deliver the goods well but the role of Jamie Lee Curtis as the seductress plays pivot!
  • The irrelevant suspense music that comes up at places could not have been more fitting to the genre!
  • Sequence comedies and the tussles involving the American, the Brit and the pet-lover bring the roof down.
Heavy dose of sensuous & hilarious entertainment!

Two Line Reviews - #461

Movie: Rang e Khoda (or) The Colour of Paradise (Persian, 1999)

Plot: A blind kid studying in a city school for the blind comes to his country-side home for vacation and spends some nice time with his Granny and sisters. In a fight between his father and his granny on how his future should be, the kid's extremely special skills are about to get compromised.

What Works?
  • Had Majid Majidi made this film in a more reputed Hollywood, the film would now have been among the best of classics! It has something for every type of audience.
  • The metaphors & symbolic touches that appear all through the film shows the taste and brilliance of its maker!
  • The Kid gives a performance that is on par with, if not better than, the best of kid works in world cinema. The boy resembling a young Rafa Nadal made me connect even more!
  • In bursts, the granny & the father show their capabilities and the selfish human norm is brought to viewing pretty nicely.
  • The locations and the non-chalance of music & photography add quality.
A Touching classic, a masterpiece!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #460

Movie: Special 26 (Hindi, 2013)

Plot: A group of 4 con-men posing as IT Sleuths, lay out careful plans and loot illegal wealth off Politicians and Businessmen. The CBI gets involved in chasing the con-men who leave no trails and on their landmark 50th Con-attempt, they pose as CBI Officers & recruit a special group of 26 officials to make the biggest of their heists. CBI, working its way into their attempt, makes its own plans to catch them red-handed when they are in action. Do the con-men outclass the CBI with their Special 26?!

What Works?
  • Neeraj Pandey showed us what he is capable of with his A Wednesday. This one, again of the cat-and-mouse format, reiterates his capabilities in deftly handling subjects and screenplays of that kind.
  • Akshay Kumar deserves appreciations for his neat performance as much as he deserves it for sharing screen space with a lot others, including Anupham Kher who makes more than a mark as Mr. Sharma!
  • The Manoj Bajpai, Jimmy Shergill sequences offer a nice match-up and adds to the excitement.
  • Sanjoy Chowdhury's background score that is on a 'repeat' mode in the film plays its role in keeping us engaged. The dialogues with shades of dark humour works quite well!
What Doesn't?
  • For one, the portion involving the hero's love affair could have easily been done away with! Kajal Aggarwal ends up wasting film reels as she doesn't even have the usual glossy song-dance sequences in this! And those build-ups preceding each heist - That was going overboard!
  • The film's overall content has the same flaw a recent Thamizh heist film had! There is a big twist but things would have been a lot easier for the con-men if that twist hadn't even been On!
Not very special, but definitely watchable!