Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #491

Movie: Arrambam(Thamizh, 2013)

Plot: A man takes on to terrorism to inflict pain on a minister & his accomplices. He uses mean ways to persuade a hacker & forces him to provide more than a handful in his mission. The smart hacker tries his best to alert the police of the terrorist & later, through a gruesome flashback, he is made to realise that the man's acts were all to fight against a corrupt political system. Will he joins forces to help the mission get accomplished or does he play it safe?!

What Works?
  • Ajith Kumar, slowly but surely, is trying to redefine the lexicon that exists for commercial heroes in Tamil Cinema. With his arresting presence, fierceful body language, stylish demeanour & risky stunts, he proves there is no need for heroes to go around loud-mouthing punches & dancing around trees in duets; This is the 3rd consecutive film he has skipped those rituals & with Arrambam, has made it work in two! Arya provides a nice foil with his quirky mannerisms & funny one-liners.
  • It is 2/2 for Nayanthara since her comeback & the Arya/Tapsee pairing surprises us in being refreshing, thanks to Vishnu's treatment!
  • Vishnuvardhan's stylish presentation shows itself up in a number of places, combining well with Om Prakash's camerawork & Veteran editor Sreekar Prasad's slick editing!
  • Subha, in spite of coming up with a story beaten to death in Tamil Cinema, offer some crisp dialogues reminding us of Sujatha (reminding & not filling his shoes).
  • The stunts are the other major highlights of this film & in providing engaging fight sequences (including an impactful one involving Ajith & Rana Daggubati), Lee Whitaker deserves a worthy mention.
  • Yuvan's songs have been picturised with some nice creativity.
What Doesn't?
  • Vishnuvardhan has used a story that has been dealt with innumerous times & inspite of his best efforts in keeping us completely involved, we are made to feel the drag due to the predictable sequences in & post flashback.
  • For the logic fanboys, there are quite a number of loopholes to feast on in Arrambam. Sampling a few - A hacker, who with his fancy softwares can hack into anything & everything, An escaped convict flying across countries at will etc.
  • Yuvan's background music is a definite dampener & it is a puzzle why the grand track that comes in the trailer has been used minimally!
Arrambam has its flaws but a refreshing first half, a slick flashback & Ajith's overwhelming presence make this click!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #490

Movie: Captain Phillips (2013)

Plot: An American Cargo ship from Oman navigates through the African belt known for its notorious Somalian pirates. When 4 pirates on a boat are on their way to capture the huge ship, the intelligent moves of the Ship's captain & crew notwithstanding, pirates get hold of the captain and hold him captive. How does America react & how the two captains hold stead in such uncertain times are dealt with in the later part of this enthralling enactment of a true story!

What Works?

  • Paul Greengrass, known for his Bourne films & intense documentaries, tells the turmoil Rich Phillips had to go through over the course of the hijack & also provides the PoV of the Pirates quite convincingly!
  • Who better than Tom Hanks to, first,reason out with the Somalian captain and later,express the jolts of the captured! His final act is only about 3 minutes long but could be good enough to earn him an Oscar nomination! Close on his heels are Barkhad Abdi, who plays the ruthless but wise Somalian pirate, and his 3 comrades!
  • Paul's idea of filming this on the Ocean instead of using miniatures & VFX in a studio works hugely in favour of the film providing a breathtaking & impactful visual experience; The gargantuan efforts of the Cinematography team is to be thoroughly appreciated!
  • The editor comes to the party in the scene when the boatmen chase the ship down & board it. If you felt respect for those villains at those moments, it was partly due to the superb cuts!
  • Paul has smartly scripted this & written dialogues so that the film reaches any cine lover & has also offered reasoning (from the Somalian angle) and questioning of such reasoning (from an American angle!)
What Doesn't?
  • The film sags a bit towards the middle of the second half but that is only for a brief period as it picks itself up in time for an exciting climax!
An enthralling ocean ride that pays tribute to two fearless captains!

Two Line Reviews - #489

Movie: Gravity (2013)

Plot: A first-time space mission specialist Dr.Ryan Stone & a veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski are the sole survivors of the faulty Space shuttle Explorer. Their attempt to reach an International space station with which they could make their way back to planet earth takes a beating when debris floating off a Russian destruction mission put their lives in danger. At one point, Matt decides to let himself go so that Ryan, at least,could possibly survive, he instructs her to reach a Chinese station 100 Km away and provides her the 'means for survival' leaving Ryan to ponder over the question on the 'need for survival'!

What Works?
  • Alfonso Cuarón's creative imagination & execution needs tremendous appreciation, for it is mighty difficult to imagine an incident of such a scale & to bring such an imagination on screen and cause an impact on the viewers!
  • The editor in Cuarón stamps his presence with one of the longest sequences in movie history, spanning about 20 minutes! Effort from Cinematographers, Writer, Performing actors & the VFX team are worth a mention in bringing this spectacular starting sequence to life.
  • Sandra Bullock as Dr.Ryan emotes very well in the sequences involving psychological questions & George Clooney proves he can be as cool and comforting in outer space as he usually is on earth,in other films.
  • Touching & metaphorical scenes are strong & sensibly shown - Ryan moving to a foetal position upon getting into the protection of the spacecraft, the cross-talk with the guy on Radio and the questions it raises in her are examples.
  • It will be unfair not to mention the brilliant work of all involved in getting the Visual effects, miniatures & the strongly researched artwork to perfection. The music that runs in loop suits the mood of the dark outer space.
What Doesn't?
  • There is quite a lot of technical jargon as Astronauts talk between themselves and one might lose interest if one doesn't concentrate well! The audio-effect to show they are talking from under their Oxygen masks doesn't help the cause too.
  • If you are to go with expectations on the film to be fast-paced & extremely adventurous as it deals with a sci-fi survival mission, you might end up getting disappointed.
Path-breaking in terms of creativity, technical conception & presentation. Pun intended or not - This one is out-of-the-world stuff!

Two Line Reviews - #488

Movie: The Fountain (2006)

Plot: A researcher who firmly believes death is just another disease and has its cure tries desperately to save his wife dying from a tumour. Meanwhile, his wife has an unfinished book that talks of how a Spanish Queen can go death-less by finding the tree of life Mayans had discovered. There is also a futuristic tale of a man travelling on a space bubble towards a dying star to save a tree that has lived for ages. The stories concur in theme & have similar but different ends.

What Works?
  • Darren Aronofsky, who experiments on different abstract subjects takes to time travel in trying to think about the question of 'Death' & with it, provides an enticing feature!
  • Hugh Jackman is fiery in his portrayals as the researcher & the queen's conquistador. Rachel Weisz, the purpose behind all the stories, plays an apt foil.
  • The screenplay is interesting & would warrant a second viewing for getting fascinated as one can only do as much as connecting all the dots in the first viewing.
What Doesn't?
  • The film talks about a topic which has yet to have any concrete answers but dwells with it on the surface and ends too quickly.
Timeless Love's pursuit of Endless life!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #487

Movie: Raja Rani (Thamizh, 2013)

Regina & John are forced into a marriage for emotional reasons. John keeps irritating Reg post marriage. When Regina recuperates from a sudden epileptic attack, he gets to know of her failed love from the past. John has an equally emotional flashback that makes him start loving his wife. He later realises it would take more than a sudden change of his mind & actions for Regina, who has plans to shift to another country for work, to reciprocate his feelings for her!

What Works?
  • For a first time film-maker that Atlee (an assistant of Director Shankar) is, he shows sparks in the way he handles specific scenes in this rom-com. (For example, the marriage scene in the title, the scene at the registrar office etc.) but has a long way to go if he is to leapfrog other budding film-makers.
  • The major bulk of screen-time goes to Nayanthara and Arya. Nayanthara has carefully chosen a solid role for her Kollywood comeback and excels in emoting; Arya shows adequate & subtle differences in style in the 2007/2013 episodes he enacts. Not far behind is Sathyaraj in a short, sweet role as an uber-cool urban pop!
  • Santhanam does a fine job in occasionally bringing the roof down! But, it is about time directors who cast him realise people are used to him as well as he is used to such roles.
  • The film is technically slick with eye-catching sets by Muthuraj, breezy music by GV Prakash & apt style of cinematography by George C Williams.
What Doesn't?
  • The love stories in the flashbacks are way too easy to be practical & have been handled very casually. Net result is the lack of impact which films in a similar genre like Mouna Raagam & Rhythm have been able to create.
  • Jai & Nazriya don't have roles of substance and their characters too are weakly defined.
  • There are a lot of stereotype scenes & comedies we have seen in umpteen films before (The software engineer boyfriend of Nazriya, Naan Kadavul 'Rajendran''s role reminding us of Boss e Baskaran etc.)
  • Arya has an emotionally shattering flashback but the way he behaves post marriage doesn't exactly reflect that, which would leave the audience clueless!
Not so kingly to be taken seriously!