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!