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!

Two Line Reviews - #459

Movie: Ray (2004)

Plot: Ray Charles is a blind Afro-American Jazz music star who peaked to stardom in the 1960s. The film traces his way up in the 50s, the hiccups he had to go through and a slew of incidents in his childhood which made him who he went on to be!

What Works?
  • Taylor Hackford, the maker, has got things right in the way he decides what to concentrate on, in a very inspiring story of a rags to riches pianist! The right mix of music, emotions and fun make this an interesting watch.
  • Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles is excellent and his facial mannerisms remind us of the blind men we may have come across in our lives; His hallucinations of fear, his anger against betrayers and his show of helplessness when he deviates are all so natural that you end up admiring his show!
  • The sound tracks carry the film when it moves closer to falling into the sag-zone traps!
  • Kerry Washington as Della Bea, his wife is classy but the other 2 roles that leave a mark are those of Ray's mother and the kid who plays Ray's childhood self; He's unbelievably emotive!
Ray of(fering) Hope! A very good Biopic!

Two Line Reviews - #458

Movie: Crónica de una fuga (or) Chronicle of an Escape (Spanish, 2006)

Plot: Following the Argentine coup d'état in the 70s, In 1977, rebels against the military takeover are kidnapped and probed. In it wrongly gets caught,among others, a goalkeeper of a Football club. How the tortured souls persevere, think and escape makes for the core tense last hour of this gem of a film.

What Works?
  • I am already a huge fan of the way the Argentines make their films and this film only strengthens my loyalties! Natural, stylish presentation comes naturally for a lot of them, it seems - Here, Adrian Caetano who calculates and sets the tempo that gets built up slowly culminating in a pulsating climax!
  • The conversations in the detention centre, the hatred of the officers, the sorry-state of the prisoners and the resolve of the few left-over are all captured marvelously in the indoor shades and lights.
  • Music plays its role without even telling you 'I am there' and that's how good background scores ought to be!
  • Performance-wise, Rodrigo who plays the Goalie Claudio steals the show - He's your typical South American hero and giving him a worthy fight are the man who plans for their escape & the police officer with the shades.
A very nicely presented Escape Chronicle!