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!