Monday, February 25, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #457

Movie: Ameerin Aadhi Bhagavan (Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: A mafioso betrays his master in a deal and earns his wrath in Thailand. A woman whose life he saved before comes for timely help and takes him to Mumbai. When he is arrested and beaten brutally, he doesn't understand why! When he understands the reason, he sets off on a journey to annihilate those responsible for his sufferings!

What Works?
  • Does anything work at all was the question I had when I was typing the header! Maybe, there are sparks of Ameer (the maker of 3 solid films ranging from good to great) that show up in, say, the way the Heroine's character has been handled consistently and some spark-filled sequences in the 2nd half.
  • The lead pair - 'Jayam' Ravi & Neetu Chandra have put in sincere efforts in their roles as Rani & Bhagavan. Bhagavan would have been a pretty big break for Ravi if the role had had some strong basis! Its effect fades away after the initial few minutes.
  • Yuvan's background score is pretty good & the bits and pieces of Bhagavan Rap make some scenes hold stead!
  • The pre-interval twist was nice ( I didn't guess, even though one of my friends did!)
What Doesn't?
  • My initial guess was that Ameer wanted to make Scarface and seeing rushes of Billa-2, he wanted to alter things a lot! He ends up rubbishing his first half letting it go with too many untied ends!
  • Even the Bhagavan portion doesn't have a lot of crisp episodes; What is shown is cliched and talks less of the purpose of the ruthless villain.
  • Ravi definitely has to take care of his voice modulation. While he tries to be rough in accent, in places, his dialogues make one laugh and later, feel for the lad.
Half-baked. On a second thought,no..not even half! Give it a miss.

Taking on the tag-line 'A Mafioso Action Love Story', my friend said 'Mafioso', 'Action' & 'Love' were there as promised, but not the final item in the list! That sums things up perfectly!

Two Line Reviews - #456

Movie: Amour (or) Love (French, 2012)

Plot: An elderly 'over-the-80s' couple lead an independent life. When the wife undergoes a stroke and gets paralysed on one side, the mutual love they share comes to the fore to make them sail through the trouble they face in trying times! A definite tribute to all love stories that have passed the longevity test!

What Works?

  • I have only heard great words about Michael Haneke, the maker so far! After seeing his carefully laid work here, I understand why he is rated as the best film-maker in all of Europe over all the years! He lets us go deep into the characters and makes us enjoy and suffer with them!
  • Jean-Louis Trintignant & Emmanuelle Riva have to be given as much credits as Haneke deserves for living such roles at such an age when you can grasp only so much! They perform unbelievably well!
  • The dialogues within the family and the ones that show the intimacy of the couple are as classy as they come.
  • The impeccable Camerawork that sneeks through their house makes the viewing more special!
Painstakingly moulded Masterpiece! Balu-Mahendra's Veedu types

Two Line Reviews - #455

Movie: Les Misérables (2012)

Plot: In tumultuous times in France, a man sentenced for stealing a loaf of bread chooses to escape from parole and leads a better life under a new identity. When an opportunity presents itself in the form of taking care of the daughter of one of his workers, an officer from his past comes back to hunt him and after years, the stage is set for them to meet during the historical June Rebellion!

What Works?

  • 'Bravo' to the gutsy efforts of Tom Hooper and team in trying to bring a Victor Hugo story & a Schönberg Boublil musical based on the same story together and bringing together, they have done it handsomely!
  • The power-packed star caste is an added bonus - Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and others ensure that Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine etc. will stay in our minds for a long time to come!
  • The kids Cosette & Gavroche steal the limelight in their limited roles.
  • For the roles of Samantha Barks & Carter-Cohen, the tracks play a vital role in making them memorable!
  • The long shots involving crane camera movements and graphics add to the grandeur the songs like 'Look Down' provide.
Colossal & a definite Classic!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #454

Movie: Maattrraan (Thamizh, 2012)

Plot: The lives of a rich and happy conjoint twins duo get completely disrupted ending in the death of one when a group probes on the successful heath-drink product the twins' father's company makes. The other twin, with clues from what his brother had gathered, sets on a trip to a country of the erstwhile USSR and finds answers to the mystery shrouding the product - answers of the order he would not even have dreamt of!

What Works?
  • The film has a tidy plot and the narrative doesn't reveal all the stuff in one go giving rise to a well-paced screenplay. K.V. Anand needs to be commended for this nice treatment which makes one feel like reading a solid thriller novel.
  • Suriya hasn't had the scope for a strenuous performance but brings life to the bromance and one feels the impact when one of them dies. The energetic twin's antics are spontaneous and is a winner! Kajal Aggarwal is a definite eye-candy in songs!
  • The technical team (comprising the men behind the lens, scissors & VFX) has done a pretty good job and efforts of the experimental digital head replacement and other VFX techniques are to be seen as things don't seem ugly when the twins are shown to fight,dance, talk and move together.
  • Anand's signs of his future success as a commercial director are all there in the finely positioned comic one-liners and the visuals of the Rettai Kadhire title song.
  • Harris's songs are foot-tapping but the flow-bothering Kaal Mulaitha Poove could have been avoided.
What Doesn't?
The film's climax where the father gets minutes to justify his act & the stretch the film takes to try in not giving a rough treatment to the age-old 'father-son sentiment' brings yawn near the finish-line.

Decent effort, nice treatment; Deserved a better run than what it got!

Two Line Reviews - #453

Movie: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Plot: A marriage breakdown sends a man into delirium and on his recuperation, he decides to stay positive and see the silver lining in anything he takes up. In his difficult execution phase, a widowed dance-show aspirant gives him company and what follows answers the 'if/will' question on their mutual repsect for each others' troubles helping them see through the tough phase!

What Works?
  • This David O. Russell film based on the Matthew Quick novel is a pleasant positive experience and is the 'need of the hour' film for anyone who is bogged down; It has the capacity to uplift viewer morale and mood!
  • Jennifer Lawrence's character is made to earn instant respect and it does, thanks to her great effort & Bradley Cooper comes up with a very good performance.
  • It was a pleasure watching Robert De Niro in action after a long time: His OCD, his reaction after the fight in the ball game & his advice to his son at the end are priceless examples of what he can bring to screen!
  • Anupham Kher's presence as the shrink is a mild pleasant surprise for any Indian viewer.
Optimism is in the air! Feel it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vishwaroopam Movie Review

Movie: Vishwaroopam (Thamizh, 2013)

The Kamal Haasan pet project is finally out in its homeland and going by the word-of-mouth the film has gathered over the last few days of run elsewhere, it could enjoy quite a rollicking run in theatres. Giving due respect to fans, this review had to wait for the film to release in Tamilnadu & now that that has happened, Wait No More! Off to the review..

The Plot:
A Kathak dancer is captured by a terrorist outfit when a spy his wife sets on him knocks on the wrong doors! The fact that the dancer is a Muslim under cover, opens and spills a can of worms and the leader of the terrorist gang reminisces of the times he spent with the now escaped hero of the tale in an Afghanistan Al-Qaeda training base. The saga later, shifts back and forth between Afghanistan and USA and an attempt at detonating a dirty bomb has to be thwarted and who else can do it other than the man who has planted himself in USA for years waiting just for this moment after getting a clue during his tenure in Afghanistan.

The Plaudits:
The film begins with the same dialogue The Godfather begun with (" I believed in America; America has given me fortune"); In parallel, doves are shown to fly across the city and there begins the smart, subtle & intricate details that the director actor Kamal puts in and they appear all through the film, some of which I could decipher in my 2 attempts so far!
The intention of Kamal is clear! He wants to say and say aloud that he can make an entertaining film that can rake in the moolah and when the Siren sound of the title song starts the warehouse scene it is sheer exhileration! A scene that is ample proof of the massive screen presence the man carries - A treat to savour for Kamal fans.
When the film shifts base to Afghanistan, we see a lot of Kamal touches making one realise later, the importance of a scene shown earlier: Clint Eastwood-ish!
The latter half of the film in USA is all about thrilling chases, providing answers to some questions put forth in the first half & a nice build-up to a riveting climax sequence and a lot of scenes in the last hour gives one a pleasant deja-vu of Dasavatharam.

The Performances:

For once, Kamal the actor doesn't overpower the director and enacts his two-folds role to perfection. The Kathak dancer's effeminate ways and Brahminised accent is no surprise for anyone who has seen Kamal before but the Terrorist Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri is a pleasant surprise!
Rahul Bose was not chosen for nothing and he shows it in a nicely played role. Shekar Kapoor, Pooja & Andreah have very less scope but some of the dialogues they mouth make their roles prominent (E.g.: "Pottunu poiten naa?, Vela Irukke.." from Shekhar)

The backbone of the film is the music of S-E-L who have combined to give some amazingly apt tracks and a nice background score ( The 'Allah' hum gaining momentum towards the climax & the Thuppaaki music in Afghanistan being notable ones)

Another praiseworthy effort is that of Art director Lalgudi Ilayaraja; His sets for the Afghan action scenes are breathtaking for a Thamizh film considering the limitations in budget. The aerial shots in Afghanistan and America escalate the grandeur of the film, a nice effort from photographer Sanu John Varghese.

The film takes cinematic liberties at places but loop-holes - There aren't many to be seen; All questions are answered and some of the incomplete ones are in store for V-2 and snippets of proof are shown in the teaser.

The title Vishwaroopam is no misnomer! This one's got everything in it to set the box-office ablaze! Experience it.


When the film ends and the teaser of V-2 is shown, there comes a sequence when Shekhar Kapoor says " Wisam is our only live agent" and Wisam is shown in his various moods and missions; The franchise film effect this scene sets is a delight for fans of Kamal. Hope V-2 is made and made the way it was meant to be, not giving in to any of the events that marred the release of Vishwaroopam!

Two Line Reviews - #452

Movie: Kadal (Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: The life of a young orphan with a rough upbringing turns for good when a Church priest becomes his guiding beacon. Things turn back rough & he is made to shift from the good to the evil when the priest is sentenced for a crime he was not part of, thanks to the work of a satanian evil who shares past memories with the priest.

What Works?
  • Maniratnam tries and tries strenuously to present a biblical tale of the good and the evil creating polar characters to drive the point home. He succeeds too, to an extent in his endeavour. Unlike in Raavanan/ Iruvar - here the parallel that Mani establishes is a story not known to many. It's a pity that the viewer is unable to relate to things and they look abrupt.
  • The technical qualities of the film are unquestionably good offering the peripheral elements of a film to perfection.
  • The taste and spark of Maniratnam show up in bits and pieces (the childhood portions of the hero, the transformation sequence, his scenes with the priest etc.)
  • Arjun as the Satan-obsessed Bible freak revels and Arvind Swamy comes back after quite sometime and shows he is still a solid actor.
  • The debutant Goutham Karthik is quite natural for a first-timer but the same cannot be said of Thulasi who doesn't have much scope.
What Doesn't?
  • The base for the 'good vs evil' is very fragile and that leaves one wanting more when they meet in the climax; Similarly, the hero is neither here nor there towards the end and is as confused as how we feel we are watching it.
  • Lyrics in most of the songs are terribly out-of-context & that is highly surprising coming from the Mani-Vairamuthu-Karky combine.
Not up there but pretty decent.

Two Line Reviews - #451

Movie: Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Plot: The film tracks the decade long hunt for the head of Al-Qaeda chief UBL from 9/11 to when he was undone by SEAL at Abbotabad. The film is a tribute to one agent Maya who was hell-bent on getting the mission successful!

What Works?
  • Kathryn Bigelow continues from where she left after The Hurtlocker & the raw treatment and the amazing attention to detail continue in this tale as well!
  • The character of Maya, reprised faithfully by Jessica Chastain is inspiring & her resolve amazes the viewer.
  • The art work is commendable and the final scene involving the SEAL is a brilliant thrilling take on how UBL was eliminated.
  • Camera & Alexandre Desplat's music track offer more than decent support in bringing the pictures the way they ought to have been!
  • The climax could be perceived open-ended thanks to the smart finish Bigelow gives to the narrative!
Intense, Riveting stuff from Bigelow, yet again!

Two Line Reviews - #450

Movie: Django Unchained (2012)

A bounty hunter joins forces with a slave he rescues for the identification of the Brittle brothers for a seemingly rich bounty. He returns the slave the favour by trying to help him out in his mission to rescue his lost lover, who is a slave in the plantation of a ruthless master!

What Works?
  • Simple.Quentin Tarantino works. His choice of story works. His choice of soundtracks work. His presentation & casting work. So does his cameo at the end!
  • The 3 main characters all have their own spaces to prove their mettle. Christoph Waltz takes the first hour, DiCaprio's dining-room skull scene is a screamer & the massive climax belongs to Jamie Foxx!
  • The camera-work and location remind us of the old west cult movies & the sountrack (among others, it has a hip-hop number that suits the west theme as well) is audaciously brilliant!
  • Samuel Lee Jackson is given a nice little role and some of the dialogues are quot-ably ruthless ("I like the way you die boy" for example!)
Imagination Unchained! Another Enticing Revenge Saga from the QT stable!

Two Line Reviews - #449

Movie: Argo (2012)

Plot: American spies under cover in Iran end up getting sheltered by their Canadian counterparts when a revolution propels Iranians to break into the embassy. A U.S. agent employs a peculiar plan and tries to get them out of Iran!

What Works?
  • You are made to feel the film is real - A good thing for any film based on a book written on a true incident. The scenes featuring the reasons for the outbreak and the History of Iran offer you that. Gutsy presentation by Ben Affleck & Co.
  • The strange idea that Ben Affleck sets up and works with provide entertainment all the way - Especially the scenes involving the Hollywood duo & Ben.
  • The last 45 minutes of the film provides edge-of-the-seat thrill and you end up getting involved and there lies its success.
  • Ben Affleck, the actor understands the importance of underplaying his part (which he so often does quite well) and that makes the scene at the Canadian Embassy Home where he tries to convince the guarded ones work big time.
A pulsating thriller!