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!