Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dhoom 3: No Boom

After watching the movie, I had a lively debate with my sister-in-law. Five minutes into the movie, I was squirming in my seat unable to take the mindless and childish action scenes, far-too-many songs and amateurish performances. Though towards the end, movie does get a bit interesting. My sister-in-law on the other hand enjoyed the movie, thoroughly.

Our discussions led to many interesting points. She said that while we appreciate such stunts and gizmos in a James Bond movie or any other western flick, why can't we accept it in an Indian movie? Valid point.

Secondly, I was probably disappointed with Aamir Khan doing a masala movie. Having seen him make intelligent and sensible movies, it feels odd to watch Aamir in a different shade. But then I think that is a wrong way to look at it. As an actor, I am sure Aamir also wants to do as many different roles as possible. As a fan, it is not our right to say what type of movie an actor should act in.

Finally, maybe I didn't like the movie because it was a masala movie. It has all elements - comedy, emotions, action, romance, humour and, of course, very little logic. Maybe that is the issue. Maybe I have grown out of these formula movies. Nothing wrong with the genre though. Going by the amounts such movies are raking, there does seem to be a big market for it.

Bottomline: Dhoom 3 is a B-grade movie with A grade stars and a very big budget. It is an expensive "imitation" of couple of English movies.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ivan Vera Mathiri, Etho Mathiri

As there were good reviews and ads publishing an appreciation letter by Superstar Rajinikanth, I decided to watch the movie.

The movie is set in the background of violence instigated by a politician in the law college which results in the death of a student. There is a huge out pour amongst the public. The hero decides to teach a lesson and kidnaps the minister's brother who is out on parole upon surety provided by the minister.

This results in the minister losing his position. Hero releases the brother thereafter. Now, minister's brother seeks a revenge and kidnaps the heroine. The rest of the story is hero's efforts to rescue his fiancé.

I am not sure if the movie is indeed as good as it is claimed in the promotions, though the way the story has been handled is bit different. For one, the hero isn't portrayed as someone who seeks to clean up the society of bad elements. He is inspired to teach the minister a lesson only for one particular incident. Despite knowing that minister's brother is a killer, he doesn't take the law into his own hands. He just kidnaps him and releases him when his objective is met.

But that's that. Bit different. Many elements seem to be force fit and half hearted attempts to satisfy movie goers.

Fantastic? I am not sure. But maybe it is bit vera mathiri (different) in some ways.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pizza 2, Ghosts Demystified

When the movie got over, I thought it was a good movie. Then a natural comparison with Pizza 1 made me feel that maybe it was not as entertaining. Then again after sometime, I thought maybe this was better than the previous edition in many ways. And after some more pondering, I now think this is probably the most intelligent ghost movie that I have ever seen! The best and the most intelligent.

This movie, in a scientific way, explains ghost. Of course,  I have no expertise in the subject and I don't believe in them though I do get scared thinking about them, can't ratify it. But what I can say is that in all the ghost movies that I have seen, in Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood or from other -woods, this probably is the best. Ok, I have said that already. This is a fan of the movie speaking now.

For the story, please go and watch it yourself. For my opinion, read on.

What is ghost? The "scientific" explanation is very nice. As the "exorcist" explains, there is positive energy and negative energy. And that is what it is all about.

What do ghosts want? I am not sure. From the movies that I have seen ghosts' basic profession or occupation is to kill human beings. Bite them, possess them, suck blood, throw them around. They can kill people with a reason or without one. They can also display emotions - possessiveness and vengeance. There can be good ghosts, too. Oh, I forgot, they can be "religious".

How do they look? Gory, of course. They are here to scare us.

Now, this is why I liked Pizza 2. The ghosts have been shown in different light. A totally different philosophy. For an intelligent ghost movie, watch it. For the cheap thrills and almost similar action, watch any other ghost movie. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara, Local Dreams

Vijay Sethupathi has become some sort of phenomenon in Tamil Cine industry. He has built a reputation for acting in off-beat yet commercially successful movies. While Pizza was a thrilling entertainer, Suddu Kavvum was a brilliant black comedy and Naduvula Konjam Pakatha Kannum was refreshing movie that will ever remain in memory.

So naturally I was keen to watch the movie, though initially dejected by some negative feedback.

Story in short. Hmmm. I am just thinking what the story line was. Makes me think if there was any story or if there were too many.

1. The love story of Sumar Moonji Kumar and Kumudha. The girl spurns all the moves by the guy. An upset father then reaches out to a local goon to teach the guy a lesson.

2. The love story between Balakrishnan and Renu. A sales executive caught between his nagging girl friend and his irritating boss.

These are the main tracks though not necessarily the only important ones. The other parallel tracks are that of a drunkard man whose wife has just announced that she has become pregnant after long years into their marriage. A painter and patti guy (Tamil) gang who have just murdered a thug. Both of them instigated by the thug's wife. Both of them also vying for her attention.

The movie will keep you entertained till the very last. Though movie has an ensemble of cast, in my opinion, Pasupathy as a local goon with diabetic condition was the best. While Sumar Moonji Kumar and Kumudha's father fight, Pasupathy impresses with his performance as someone who gets low sugar. Hilarious!

You will like the movie for its very Chennai flavor (the slum clearance dwellings, TASMAC bars, local goons) or, if you are diabetic like me, you will see the lighter side of low sugar through Pasupathy. I loved it.

Ganesh Happy! (just like Kumudha Happy at the end!) 

Monday, November 18, 2013

In Darkness, In Good Light

Recently I went to a school as a volunteer. The task was to talk to students there and mentor them. Since it was my first time, I decided to sit with other mentors while they spoke with children. Though I don't consider myself an expert in English language, I decided to help a young Muslim girl with an essay she had written on Joy of Giving.

It needed bit of editing which I helped her with. While reading it, I was quite impressed with what she had written. I can't vouch that it was original thought. But that such a young girl used it aptly in the essay was commendable. Not the exact words but this is what she had written.

"...We often say we don't have anything to give to others. We have smile, which we can offer to others. We have love that we can share with others."

That exactly is what In Darkness is about. The Polish movies is based on true incidents. Set in Lwow, the story is about the transformation of a man. From a burglar and sewer maintenance worker to a man with a noble heart, Polish Catholic Socha agrees to help out a group of Jews fleeing persecution by Nazis by hiding them in the sewer. He extracts a price for his services.

Being a man without much education and sophistication, he is not moved by any great principles. Money is his only criterion to help. As he helps the families, at some point, he under goes a transformation. A person who doesn't like Jews to start with has a change of heart. He risks his life to ensure their safety. He becomes part of his extended family living in the sewers and participates in their sadness and happiness. In this process, he loses his friend. He frowns upon his daughter. He discovers Jesus was a Jew. At some point, he forgets his motive to make money.

But what is impressed me more was the perseverance of human life. Imagine living in sewers for 14 months. When the circumstances force, the human life adapts. In fact, there is even a child delivery!

Out of the three movies that I have seen with similar backgroud, World War 2 and persecution of Jews, this one is the best. The other two were - Schindler's List and Sophie's Choice. They were good, too. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Captain Phillips, Pirated

You must have read about it and seen it on TV. Somali pirates taking ship-jacking cargo vessels, taking crew as hostage. Here is the true story of Captain Phillips and his ordeals as he is taken hostage by Somali pirates. The movie is good and certainly keeps you tied to your seats.

Two things that impressed me were:

1. The fightback: Surprisingly, the ship doesn't have any arms to fight armed attacks. Captain and his crew neutralize the attack with some tactical thinking.

2. The role of Navy Seals: The coordination and execution of the release plan.

Worth watching! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gravity, Death in Space

Death is the only certainty in this world. And we are scared to die, almost all of us.

While everyone has to die their own death, dying alone with no one around you feels more cruel. What if you are let to fend for yourself and fight to keep yourself alive? With all the odds stacked against you.

How would you feel?

Gravity is about the fight for survival of an astronaut stranded all alone 600 kms up above mother earth. A mission that goes wrong leaves Sandra Bullock fighting one disaster after another that seem to be attracted to her like she is a magnet. Does she survive is the story. The movie is brilliant from the perspective of the way it has been shot. Will remind you of the film that is played at a planetarium.

Why are we so scared of death? In this movie, Sandra Bullock, in fact, has nothing to look forward to. While reasons could be obvious, why do we feel for the characters who die a lonely death? Is it because there is no chance of their bodies ever getting a burial or cremation? Is it that they do not get a chance to say a good bye to their loved ones? Or because they probably have no opportunity of seeing their loved ones before life is sucked out of them?

While I did like the film and felt very bad for George Clooney, I probably thought it wasn't as touching the other two movies that I have seen with pretty much the same core - Castaway and Life of Pi.

Tom Hanks' brilliant performance that moves you in Castaway takes you on an emotional roller coaster as he tries to survive and connect with the rest of the world. While Sandra Bullock has just one day to ensure that she survives, Tom Hanks has to find ways to kill his days and also try surviving. From a sophisticated urban professional to a cave man in an isolated island, he has to acquire new skills and keep himself sane. The most touching scene in the movie was when he loses his only friend in the island while he attempts to survive.

Life of Pi on the other hand is spiritual. About God. Yes, it is also about survival of young Pi Patel at sea. If loneliness and sea were not enough, he also has to deal with Richard Parker, "ferocious tiger". He discovers God and himself in his quest for survival.

In terms of visuals, Gravity and Life of Pi are delightful treats. But probably Castaway is more emotional and painful fare.

Death is the only certainty in human life. Be it on sky or land or water, we have to face it. And we have to fight for our lives, till the very end. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lunchbox, satiates

Lunchbox serves a very different meal to film goers used to Indian masala diet. This despite the fact that this movie is like the Maanga Pachadi, a dish made with raw mango, jaggery and neem flower, that my mother makes for Tamil New Year. It has all the tastes. And just like my mom's preparation the movie is more on the sweeter side. The Pachadi is supposed to be equally sour and bitter in addition to being salty.

The main ingredients of the movie? An old widower on the verge of retirement accidentally starts receiving lunchbox from a depressed housewife and the depressed housewife is trying to gain her husband's attention by cooking delicious meals (believing the way to a man's heart is through his stomach). The lunchbox becomes medium of correspondence between the two. 

Before I go further, there are other side dishes served along. There is a young raw accountant trying to get the attention of his manager, the old widower. Then there are two old ladies stewed in pain. One turns into a sugar syrup despite her husband's condition while the other becomes dry and burnt due to her husband's state. 

So coming back, the correspondence which starts as a way of killing each other's loneliness, soon turns into love. The relationship seems like perfect mix of spices, each bringing what the other wants. Soon the practicality sets in and the old widower is unsure. 

The movie entertains in all parts. The interaction between the housewife and her helpful invisible neighbor, and the young recruit vying to get the attention of his superior adds zest. 

Like water which despite not having characteristic but important for any dish, the Mumbai dubbawallas and the local contains the plot. 

But what the dish really delivers is love. Love served to the old man, who otherwise is cold and emotionless, makes him give love back to the unknown lady, children in the neighbourhood and an inept subordinate. Love given to a depressed lady gives her hope. 

Lunchbox is a good fare. Despite being an Indian movie the spices seems to be light. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Horror Movies Demystified

The other day I was watching Narnia on TV. Because I received a phone call, I put the TV on mute and did something which is not a good practice. Instead of focusing on the conversation I started watching the movie.

It was the scene where Lucy Pevensie discovers the wardrobe! The gateway to the Kingdom of Narnia.

With the voice on mute, I felt that that scene could have easily fit into a horror movie. It had everything that would make it to that genre.

The Valiant Queen discovering Narnia through the wardrobe and Carolyn Perron in Conjuring encountering a ghost inside the wardrobe are pretty much the same. If you have the inclination, resources and time, do compare those scenes. Either watch them on mute or with the same background music.

Of course, the context is set even before we watch a movie. And, the cast and cinematography plays an important role in shaping our experience. While the smile in the little girls face gives us reassurance, the context in horror movies make us think otherwise for the similar expressions. You expect something horrifying in Conjuring when the mother, who is blindfolded, searches the wardrobe.

When an unknown entity turns positive, it becomes fantasy. But on the other hand if that turns evil, it becomes horror. The common denominator is the unknown! 

For someone who hadn't really give much thought to background music, watching Narnia in mute, conjured respect in me for this element of movies.

Do you know what casting can do to movies? Read here

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag & Pan Singh Tomar, Runners' Movies

Despite being the largest producer of films, India doesn't make films on sports personalities much. Leaders and politicians, yes! Sports, I don't remember seeing much. 

Probably, Paan Singh Tomar was the first full scale feature film about a sportsman, I ever saw. And now, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Both these movies would easily get into The Best Indian Movies ever made list. 

Interesting to note that both these sportsmen are from the same period and worked for the army. In fact, they both represented the country in Pakistan where Milkha was give the title The Flying Sikh. But similarity ends there. While one has become a living legend, the other met a violent end after turning a dacoit. These movies also are testimony to what circumstances can do to a human being. More importantly, how the choices we make determine what we become. 

While Milkha finds his calling in sports and works towards excelling in it, Pan Singh after retirement loses focus and becomes a dacoit. 

Watch this interesting video on the two great Indian athletes! Hope there are more movies on sportsmen like Dhyanchand, PT Usha... Will certainly support promoting sports in India. 

Conjuring, Christian Horror

My friend told me that there was nothing horrifying in the movie. She said she laughed through it.

I am a person who loves horror movies and then get scared after watching them. So her statement came as some sort of encouragement.

Conjuring was entertaining. And as my friend told me there were loads of comic scenes which made me and the rest of the movie goers burst into laughter. But now it makes me wonder why would we laugh when we were supposed to be wetting our pants. The scenes were supposed to be scary, afterall.

I realized that in many ways Conjuring had nothing new. Actually almost every movie in this class has very similar story line and "scaring" scenes. We probably have been fed on such scenes all our lives.

This movie is supposed to be based on a true story. What disturbed me about the movie was the scene where the priest hesitates to perform exorcism because the children in the family have not been baptized. Do Gods bother about that? Do Gods help only those who abide by the policies of their institutions. Imagine, a Hindu or a Muslim family was living in that house, would Christian institution not perform exorcism, if required? Or other way around, would Hindu or Muslim institutions not help a Christian family? That also makes me ponder if the Ghosts or evil spirits also follow religions.

I was watching Kanchana, Tamil horror flick starring Lawrence and Sharathkumar, on TV other day. Looks like ghosts in Indian movies are as secular as the country itself. Sharathkumar's spirit responds to Hindu and Muslim exorcists! Could that be because Sharathkumar was born in to a Hindu family and then raised by a Muslim? Strange are the ways of these ghosts, I say!

But looks like American Christian Ghosts are consistent with American superhero, Superman! Alas, Steel Man is protector of American interests not the World. Unlike his father had envisioned him to be.

Whatever it maybe, Conjuring is enjoyable American Ghost story. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sonna Puriyadu, Parthalum Puriyadu

I believe that some movies are better watched in DVDs, sitting in the comforts of home. These though aren't bad, one shouldn't waste their time or money by going to theater to watch such flicks. This one is one such movie.

The movie isn't that bad, actually. It will make you laugh. Especially, the scenes where Shiva and Blade Shankar dub for Chinese movies. There are other moments were you will burst into laughter. Some twists to keep you engaged, too. But when I came out of the theater, I felt as if I watched some crap movie. The second half drags.

Light, very light entertainer. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kutty Puli, Periya Tala Valee

Periya Tala Valee means big head ache. Well that is what I got after watching this movie.

One expects Sasikumar movies to be neat entertainers which have a good mix of everything for a viewer - action, emotion, comedy, and most importantly a message.

Unfortunately, with everything in this movie the final dish served was completely burnt. Maybe the masala wasn't made properly and wasn't effective. If you have seen Sundarapandian, then maybe you have seen 25% of the movie.

The mother sentiment was too much forced making Kutty Puli very salty.

Felt bit disappointed.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Now You See Me, Abracadabra

A very fast paced movie. Thoroughly enjoyable. Lots of twists and turns till the very end, a bit dramatic.

Four magicians come together to perform acts before large audiences. And instead of audiences paying for the show, they get awarded. For they are not just performing magic tricks, they are working on a mission set by the "Eye".

On their trail is cop who tries to bring them to justice but keeps failing miserably. To support him, there is an Interpol officer from France, and an ex-magician.

The movie is intelligently made. At times reminding me of Breaking the Magician's Code, the TV series.

Very entertaining.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Man of Steel, Little Brittle!

The movie wasn't that bad.

But couple of things really irked me.
  1. American Superhero or World Savior: Right from the start we are led to believe by Superman's biological father (Russell Crowe) and adopted father (Kevin Costner) that Superman is destined for something really big. He is proclaimed as the one who will save humanity (we the earthlings). Then at the end, Superman claims to be as American as anyone else in the US of A. And more importantly he promises that he will act in the best interest of America, at all times. 
  2. Why was Lois Lane summoned by Zod? Beats me. Why was the Daily Planet reporter and the love interest of Superman summoned by Zod? Probably Zod wanted her to play the spoilsport and jeopardise his plans to recreate Krypton on Earth? 
Isn't it nice to know that we have so many saviors? The Avengers and, now, the Justice League! These guys save us from aliens all the time. After watching a series of movies on Earth savers, I felt little bored. They all have almost similar story lines, amazing graphics, some human emotions.

Wish there could a superhero who could help us deal with with road rage, rape, urinating in public, spitting...The problems from within and not outside Earth. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Barfi, Very Sweet

I know it would be stupid if I write a review on Barfi, now. But then I happened to watch it only now.

Here is a single, though complex, sentence review. A love triangle revolving around Ranbir who is deaf and dumb, Priyanka who is autistic and Ileana who is normal. One of the best movies that I have watched.

While I wouldn't get into further details, the moral of the story is if you are in love then just follow your heart.

There is an important scene in the movie where a concerned but understanding Rupa Ganguli, mother of Ileana, narrates how she dealt with her own love story. She says that despite being in love she chose to marry a different person because that was the practical thing to do. Ileana takes her mother's advice seriously and gets married to the practical choice.

This made me think of my own life, the "love" life. Did I follow my heart or head? "Love" happened more than once in my life and my mother also had at least two Rupa Ganguli moments with me. In one case I listened to her advice and in the other I didn't resulting in the end of my "love" life. I mean I got married to the girl of my choice, finally.

While the movie enthralled me, I was left with two disturbing thoughts.

  1. Considering our heart falls in love often and at times early on in life, this movie can send wrong signals. Looking back, I do feel that my mother's Rupa Ganguli moments definitely saved me at least once from a marriage that would have turned out to be disaster. But then, in another case Rupa Ganguli did not win. So, when should you follow your head and when should you follow your heart. I presume heart takes the precedence and but one shouldn't lose head. After all, love before marriage and love after marriage are two different species. Married friends might know this better. 
  2. Just because you have chosen to heed to Rupa Ganguli advice doesn't mean your life has to be bereft of any romance with the practical choice. I didn't like this portrayal in the movie. How can it be that both Rupa Ganguli and Illeana can't get over their puppy love? As the Titan ad says - Move On! 

But then it is a movie and it is Anurag Basu's take. While Ranbir is a natural talent, I did like Priyanka's performance a lot. 

Theeya Velai Sayaanum Kumaru, fiery comedy

It was a laugh riot!

These are good times for Tamil cinema, especially for the comedy genre.

Except for the songs, Sunday C has given a great entertainer and there is never dull moment in the movie.

Sidharth is software professional who has had some bad experience with women(unkind) in his childhood. But having been born in the family where love marriage is the norm he is expected to woo a girl and get married.

He loses his heart to Hansika who joins as a Trainee in the same organization he works for. He faces intensive competition not only from others in the company but also from himself as he is clueless in the matters of heart. Upon his brother-in-law's suggestion he seeks Santhanam's (the hitch doctor) tutelage.

The part where he manages to win over Hansika's love is as interesting as the twist in the story where Santhanam turns against the affair will keep you entertained till the end.

Don't miss it. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sudu Kavvum, honest lessons

It has never been so good for Tamil movies. Marina, Pizza, Neer Paravai, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanum (NKPK). All relatively low budget movies that have excelled in entertaining. Unlike Alex Pandian sort of movie that have a big stars and bigger budgets with pathetic script and storyline, these movies are very intelligently made.

Vijay Sethupathi seems to be really doing a good job in choosing his movies. After Pizza and NKPK, he is back with Sudu Kavvum. But I must say that he is not the only hero of the movie. Everyone in the movie have been given a chance and none of them have failed.

A group of youngsters join Vijay Sethupathi who runs a kidnapping racket. But he has strict principles of "kednapping".

Then there is an upright Minister who has a wayward son.

Due to an enmity with a Minister, a businessman commissions Vijay and his team to kidnap Minister's son. And then a laugh riot ensues.

The Police Inspector, Vijay's Doctor Rowdy brother, Vijay's girlfriend, and Radha Ravi are as impressive as the others.

But the winner in the movie is the Minister's son. Especially, in the climax scenes where he interacts with Radha Ravi.

The movie is a great dark comedy that portrays the current affairs. Loved it. Kudos to the entire team. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The PRomised Land

I am not sure about fracking process. Whether it is safe way of extracting the gas from the ground below. The movie does convey that it may not be. There weren't details and enough facts. But the movie does give a cute lesson in PR.

Matt Damon works for Global, a gas company. He is successful sales person who is able to source the lands for extraction for the company. He is sent to a farm town in Pennsylvania. There he meets a resistance in the form of an old teacher. To make things work an environmentalist also arrives and starts to campaign against Global's efforts.

In the climax, Matt realises that the entire show is being managed by Global. For more details do watch the movie. Not spectacular but still watchable.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Alex Pandian, Why Why Why?

I am not sure if the producers realize that they are making a stupid movie. Or do they think that the movie goers are so stupid that they will want to pay for such movies.

Did you know this? In the initial days of cinema, people were actually paid to watch movies. Alex Pandian starring Karthi is one of those movies that one shouldn't watch even if they are paid. Don't watch it even if it is on TV without advertisement. Don't watch it is even if someone gives you the bestest of DVD without charging for it.

I don't have anything else to say. Of course some stupid like me has to watch it warn others. That is my excuse.