Friday, December 12, 2008

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

I paid 210 rupees to watch this film. And entering the theatre, I had no clue what to expect. I had seen just a few promos on television. I knew nothing about the storyline. Unlike other times, here was a film which I knew nothing about before watching it. I had heard the songs a few times. Never really paid attention to them. And as I stepped into the almost full house first day first show of Aditya Chopra's Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi at Inox Swabhumi, I felt highly uncertain.

Rab Ne.. starts off with just random shots of Amritsar. The place where the whole story unfolds. As the opening credits appear on screen we are made familiar with an everyday morning in the city. People slowly starting to make their way to the Golden Temple, workers cleaning the streets, grandmothers making their way to their house roofs to worship the rising sun, vendors cleaning their carts for the day's business. It establishes a city waking up. In the midst of this bustle we are taken to the Amritsar train station where the focus is on a man deboarding a train. The man, probably in his early 30's, is dressed in a full-sleeved shirt buttoned up all the way to the wrists, plain trousers, and white running shoes. His hair is well-oiled and combed, he has a moustache which looks very well maintained. He wears plastic rimmed glasses. Your average middle-class working man. Behind him, a beautiful woman, much younger, wearing a beautiful red patiala. She sports an expression of uncertainty. It is assumed that they are married; a fact that we are made sure of a few scenes later. And so the story begins..

Rab Ne.. is, quite simply put, a love story. The simplicity of its story is clarified by its tag-line- 'There is an Extraordinary Love Story in every Ordinary Jodi'. Expect the unexpected, but not so much as to make the film an unsatisfactory watch. It could indeed be the story of an ordinary jodi. Firstly, what this film does not do is show something absolutely over the top. There are no outrageous and frustrating twists and turns. It is a very straightforward story. Very cutely constructed. The circumstances of the marriage between Shahrukh's character Surinder, and Anushka's character Taani are very believable. The instances that follow, are also the same. This is the story of an ordinary middle-class man who falls in love with a simple family girl. They get married the day after they meet each other for the first time, their marriage is the result of the sorry happenings of one day. What follows is a story involving a makeover, a dance competition, incidences of uncontrollable joy over a yellow tiffin carrier, and figuring out what love, really, is all about.

This is a film for the entire family to watch. Rab Ne.. is a love comedy/drama. It has most of the elements of your average Bollywood film. There is the song and dance routine, there is the melodrama, there is the action brought about by the word bitch, there is even time for some male bonding. For the entire two and half hours, its hard not to either smile or feel sad about the characters on screen. One thing it successfully establishes is characters. It centres around the characters and characters only, never giving way to unnecessary details.

Shahrukh Khan, playing the role of Surinder Sahni, our average middle-class working man; and also the role of Raj Kapoor (Yes, you heard that right. To know more you've got to watch the film), is a gem to watch. What he did in Om Shanti Om he does once again. He makes us laugh, and he makes us cry, telling us again why he is the Khan of the industry. He tackles both roles, one of Surinder, and the other of the flirty and flamboyant Raj, churning out one one-liners after the other, with absolute ease. The contrast between the two is amazing. One wearing the plain shirt, trouser and shoes; the other with the body hugging chain-around-the-neck t-shirt, designer jeans and cowboy boots.

Vinay Pathak is another gem in the cast, playing the role of Surinder's best friend Balwinder 'Bobby' Khosla. You will not believe the fact that it is actually him the first time you see him with his back turned to us, knocking on Surinder's front door. And then there is new-comer Anushka Sharma. Top model. And Rab Ne.. would not be what it is without her. She is a natural. A treat to watch. There is something about her smile that makes you want to smile. With every smile, she lights up the screen. She speaks with her eyes, those perfectly soothing stretched eyes. She has unbelievable screen presence. And the chemistry between her and Surinder, as well as her and Raj is perfect. One, where they sit at either end of a huge family table and have their dinner talking about how nice the food is; the other where they are going neck-and-neck in a golgappa eating competition. Even the chemistry between Shahrukh and Pathak is perfect. It is all about characters.

Rab Ne.. is also a film about moments. Small insignificant moments perhaps, but ones which mean the world to the characters. When Surinder discovers the small yellow tiffin carrier his wife has given him, filled with food she herself has cooked for him, his joy is uncontrollable. This is followed by one of the cutest song and dance routines of recent times. Haule Haule could be a short film by itself. With two excellently choreographed sequences within it, both amongst the hustle and bustle of busy Amritsar, this could be the story of a man exploding with joy about the fact that someone he loves has cooked a meal for him and packed it with love and care. There is also the small gesture of rubbing rang on his cheek in the same song. Then there is the song and dance of Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte. It will remind you of Dhoom Tana from Om Shanti Om, having the wordings and settings of famous hindi songs of old. Shahrukh Khan brings out comedy even when he is dancing. There are several other such instances, involving a sumo-wrestler or the Dhoom-like bike face-off, to name a few.

Taken without complications, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is still a love story. An Extraordinary story, about a very simple couple. Don't judge this film too much. It succeeds in being outrageously funny, very soothing and feel good, all at the same time. Rab Ne.. is all about feeling, realising, deciding, and most of all, about loving. It will make you sad, it will also make you as happy as Surinder was when he discovered the yellow tiffin carrier. Do not forget to stay for the closing credits. This is a very-very cute film.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


When it comes to the historical epic, Hollywood has not had much of a successful run over the past few years. Big budget productions from directors like Wolfgang Petersen and Oliver Stone have left a bad gash on the historical epic genre. Leaving apart the historical accuracy of the films which could stir up elaborate debates by themselves; Troy was far from satisfactory, and Alexander was just plain sad. The only exception was Zack Snyder's beautifully stylized 300.

Mongol is an offering from Russian film-maker Sergei Bodrov known for his Academy Award nominated work Prisoners of the Mountains, nominated for the Best Foreign Film category. That perhaps is the only similarity between these two films of his. Mongol was nominated in the same category in 2007.

Mongol tells us the story of young Temudjin, of how he became the great Khan, Genghis Khan. The major part of the story is a telling of his early childhood and his growing up by Temudjin himself, now in captivity. Being a story of his growing up, most of the emphasis lies in lessons, learning the ways of life. To fear, to be brave, to defy, to make friends, and so on and so forth. The film shows us Temudjin's slow transformation from being the oppressed son of a Khan, awaiting death once he his found by his enemies who want the crown of Khan, to his becoming the great Khan himself.

The film's lead Tadanobu Asano, playing the role of Temudjin is considerably good. But the one deserving more credit is Sun Honglei who plays Jamukha, Temudjin's 'blood-brother' who became his enemy. Sun Honglei is a revelation. He commands attention with his screen presence. His role is a lesson in how to control the glare of the camera. Apart from some solid acting, the film has a brilliant background score, often haunting; and some top notch cinematography. The fight sequences are exceptionally well-made, and some of the landscape shots are beautiful. The camera tracking in the war sequences toward the end of the film deserve special mention.

Recalling Troy and Alexander, Mongol is a far superior film, from all angles. It shows everything it wants to in graphic detail in its mere two hour run-time. It has an extremely fast-flowing narrative which ensures that the viewers are never tired or bored of what is going on on-screen.

is only the first of a trilogy on Genghis Khan, and it is a very very good start to what promises to be an epic story. The second installment, The Great Khan is due out in 2010.

Worth it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Good Night, and Good Luck.

At the present times, when the film and film-making in general has undergone such a drastic change that more often than not, a major portion of the viewers is accustomed to a film with either action, a lot of humor, exceptional chills, over-the-top stories, and so on and so forth. The very root of film-making seems to have been forgotten. The film, we must remember, is also an agent of communication. It puts forward a message. Good Night, and Good Luck is such a film.

As we hear David Strathairn's Edward R. Murrow speak, we are reminded of the positive points of what we call television. He asks the public not to underestimate or overlook the fact that television has a potential to inform and educate. Good Night, and Good Luck is basically a political drama, playing out an event that took place in the early 1950's in the Columbia Broadcasting System. The war of words between CBS' broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and Republican U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. It is more of a docu-drama with actual footages and dialogue from the happenings.

Directed by George Clooney, who also stars in the film, Good Night, and Good Luck is completely in black and white. It is exceptionally stylized. The repeated shots of Strathairn holding his cigarette, the light reflecting off his well-oiled hair, and his chiseled expressionless face; the glare he gives the viewers at the end of each broadcast, is the very point of the film. There is no added material here, no extra ingredients to spice up the events and modernize it, no effort to make it more appealing except for giving it the actual look and feel of the 50's. Almost the entire film is inside the CBS newsroom, or its adjacent offices. The music that occasionally plays in the background is more often than not a part of the diagesis, perhaps a jazz recording, or a broadcast in an adjacent room.

Then there is Edward Strathairn's performance. Flawless. His acting, more than anything else, takes us into understanding and realizing the consequences of the events that are taking place. The calm yet ruthless nature of him, the clarity with which he speaks in the broadcasts, is perfect. The supporting cast is also top notch with the likes of Frank Langella, Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson. Frank Langella is exceptionally brilliant in the sequence in his office with Clooney and Strathairn.

At ninety minutes, the acting and the stylization make the film a visual treat. It is however suggested that one be informed of the events that the film portrays beforehand. It is the mere representation of an event; without any explanation, any commentary, any justification whatsoever. The film never tries to be something it cannot. It is not meant to be an entertaining action-packed film. It's action lies in the play of dialogue between characters and the facts that the conversations eventually reveal. It is man against man. One trying to bring out the truth about the other. It is a debate. It is a fiery battle of words between two men. It is about one man who dared to tell the truth, and went to all ends to bring it out into the open. Good Night, and Good Luck is a detailed and accurate account of the feud between broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth.

In 2004, the creators of the box-office hit Independence Day came out with another apocalyptic science-fiction film. Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow soon became one of the highest grossing films of all time. The crisis brought into account something that the entire world had been avoiding and hushing up for quite some time. Global warming, although indirectly, was finally being addressed to. Critics however did not much agree with the scientific accuracy of the film. Nonetheless, the destruction the film showed, opened eyes.

In 2006, came out a documentary on global warming. The piece was written by former United States Vice President Al Gore. An Inconvenient Truth was not merely a film on global warming. Not only did it address the entire topic at point blank, it also did not make the use of computer generated graphics to show us the crisis we were facing. Finally, the issue that the world might indeed be on the verge of chaos, the fault being our very own, was coming out into the open.

An Inconvenient Truth, apart from being an eye-opener by the time it ends, is also a film made with a lot of care. Just by looking at Al Gore throughout the entire screenplay, one notices the flawlessness with which he talks about the issues of rising CO2 levels and the state of the earth at the time of the last Ice Age. Even if The Day After Tomorrow was termed as scientifically inaccurate, it showed us things which, after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, one will realize were right. The known fact that students have learnt in school, about the temperature rising and the melting of the polar ice-caps resulting in a rise in sea-level, which eventually drowns low-lying areas, etc etc; is all true. All that and more. A particular sequence in the film shows us Al Gore commenting on satellite images of various low-lying areas of the world- The San Francisco Bay, the area around the rivers of Japan, the Bay of Bengal. Then comes the unexpected turn. The images that follow show us the state these places will be in in less than fifty years time given the continuation of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at the present rate. The images are shocking, showing us the displacement of over 100million people all over the world. And that, speaking for itself, happens to be just the beginning.

When they marketed the film with taglines like 'Nothing is scarier than the truth' and 'By far the most terrifying film you will ever see' they actually meant it. An Inconvenient Truth beats any blood and gore slasher film when it comes to chills. The photographs of places on earth taken now and decades ago will shock you beyond belief. The change the earth has gone through in the last fifty years is more than the change it went through in the previous thousand. That itself is fact enough to make anyone realize the need for change, and the time at which the chance to act is running out. A very noticeable factor about the film's narrative is that Al Gore explains the entire progress of global warming, its consequences, etc etc; almost in layman's terms. More often than not he uses cartoons to explain the situation and bring it to life. The technique not only adds as a comic relief, but it also acts as a more effective explanatory technique ending with the realization of something dire. Making the truth all the more difficult to handle. It is a contrast that he uses to full effect.

An Inconvenient Truth also shares with us the life of Al Gore. One gets a very warm feeling listening to his story, right from the start. From where he lived, to how he grew up, and all for the purpose of showing us how much he wants us to care for his cause, how much he wants to see this world care about itself. It's very easily noticeable, how much effort the man himself has put into this project. The fact that the entire team have dedicated their heart and soul to this cause shows very clearly. This is not a film. This is a lesson. A lesson about the wrongs we have done to our planet, and the consequences we must face unless we rectify them. A lesson that everyone on the face of the earth should learn to see what Mother Earth is going through at the cost of our progress. It is time to face the music.

At the end of the film, contrasting the image of the Earthrise, which is perhaps the most influential environmental photograph ever taken, Gore talks about another photograph (the one above). It is a photograph taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft taken from a record distance of 6.4 billion kilometers away. Known as 'Pale Blue Dot', the image is exactly as its name tells us. It is the Earth, lost in the vastness of space, a small dot in the middle of nowhere. An insignificant speck on the face of the Universe..
Or is it?


Friday, December 5, 2008

Children Of Men.

The closing credits of Children Of Men starts with the laughter of children, echoing a line spoken in the film itself - 'Very odd, what happens in a world without children's voices'. That line itself sums up the shocking nature of the film. This is not make believe science fiction. This is not human beings turning into zombies due to some drug. This is the slow death of the human race. This is humanity which has not heard a child's voice in almost two decades. This is chaos. This is disorder. This is dystopia. And amidst all that, this is hope.

Children Of Men sports all the characteristics of an action-packed science fiction film with its outstandingly orchestrated long and drawn-out single-shot action sequences, it's grim setting, the hinted darkness which is present throughout the length of the film, the beautifully grim and dead and at the same time uplifting background score and soundtrack. It is all that, and it is more. Within, lies hope. Lies faith. Lies redemption. Woven together with spellbinding perfection by director Alfonso Cuaron, Children Of Men is an apocalyptic film that raises the bar for films of the genre.

Based on P.D.James' 1992 novel of the same name, Children Of Men is an extremely well-written and well choreographed piece of cinema. The screenplay, most of the credit for which goes to Alfonso Cuaron and Timothy J. Sexton is an absolute gem. Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography takes you to an entire different level in the art of film-making. The action sequences are brilliant. The picturisation, perfect. It is a relatively small film supporting an immense story. At an hour and forty four minutes, it never ceases to be jaw-dropping.

The year is 2027. It has been almost twenty years since the birth of the last human being. Starting of with the death of the youngest living human on earth, we are thrown into a world of turmoil. A world where human beings are grasping onto whatever hope they might have left. People are glued to the telecast airing the death of the youngest living human on earth. And hope, it seems, is fading away, ever so slowly. What Cuaron succeeds in doing at point blank is something we have already witnessed in some science fiction films of the decade. It is the same as what Spielberg did in The War of The Worlds, it is the same as what Abrams did in Cloverfield. We are tossed into the middle of a horrific crisis with no hope whatsoever of question or recovery. It takes us a few minutes to realize what exactly is going on. And therein lies the genius that makes this film brilliant.

The films boasts of some fine performances by Clive Owen and Michael Caine. Michael Caine, there for only a few sequences is a treat to watch. Oana Pellea, who plays Marichka the gypsy deserves special mention. She plays the character, who perhaps, gives you a feeling of hope. She cannot communicate much, yet she goes out of her way in order to help out as much as she can.

Children Of Men is simply a treat to watch. It is a film that will put you on the edge of your seat. It is a film that will get your heart racing. It will get you involved. There will be scenes that will shock you, scare you, awe you. And all to show you something even greater. Something even more important. You will feel the pain. You will feel the fear. You will feel the helplessness. You will feel the human race clawing for a grip at the edge of humanity. And at the end of it all, there will be hope.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pineapple Express.

The red band trailer for Pineapple Express, released quite a few months back. I remember watching it and being addicted to it, and the song it featured. Paper Planes by M.I.A. Check out the trailer here. To put things straight right at the start.. Pineapple Express is an action comedy inspired by the buddy comedy genre, coming from the team of Apatow/Goldberg/Rogen. The ones who made Knocked Up and Superbad.

Carrying forward the touch and feel of their previous two films, Pineapple Express is quite simply a hilarious film. It is not really to be taken seriously at any point of time. But it has these moments every fifteen or twenty minutes that make you feel light, and heavy at the same time. After all, it is inspired by the buddy comedy. The remaining time, it is a film that is absolutely stoned. Stoned as in high. Yes, you heard me right.

The main story of Pineapple Express, if you can forget the characters for a moment (which you actually cant) revolves around a type of marijuana called the pineapple express. The consumption and/or use of marijuana. The feeling of being almost permanently high from its consumption. The selling of marijuana. The battle for remaining at the top of the list as the seller/producer of marijuana. Well, basically its about marijuana. That is, if you can leave out the characters for a while. Which you still cant. Simply because they have amazing screen presence and the acting is top notch, as is the dialogue.

Marijuana, added with witnessing a murder, added with a couple of outrageous misunderstandings and over-analysis of situations and people, a bunch of hilarious Asian commandos, shouts of fuck you mothafucka , a guy who is obsessed with going home for dinner, a black dude who has a little too much feeling, and a whole lot of other things which i cant categorize right now, forms Pineapple Express. James Franco is a marvel. He acts high throughout the entire length of the film. Perfectly. He slurs, obscures things. When asked 'how could they have found us?', he replies..
Heat seeking missiles, bloodhounds, foxes.

Seth Rogen and Danny McBride are equally good. You will want to hear the sequence they have together in Red's bathroom over and over again. Just to try and make sense of it, with all the Buddhism. And they aren't even stoned in that sequence. And I quote..
Yeah, except if you're a dick your whole life, you're going to come back as shit. Or a slug or a fuckin' anal bead. But if you do something heroic, then you'll come back as like an eagle or a dragon, or fuckin' Jude Law. Now which would you rather be, an anal bead or a dragon?
And they're still following the laws of Buddhism.

Pineapple Express is a film with a lot of feeling. Just like Superbad, it has very nice, mellow background music. Especially in the sequence that comes after Dale and Saul get into the fight. It's just a marvellous sequence. Reminds you of the last sequence as well as the one in Evan's house in Superbad. Dont take this one too seriously. It is sweet. It is soul. Added with some Asian shouting Neeshi tikomotulya. aah! The response to which is Get out mothafucka!

8/10. Very very nice.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

There Will Be Blood.

There Will Be Blood is visionary director Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil!. Set in the early 1900's, it tells the story of a man's ruthless quest for power and wealth during Southern California's oil boom. It was nominated for eight, and won two Academy Awards.

There Will Be Blood is, simply put, a powerhouse lasting two and a half hours. By the time it ends, one cannot help but be awed at what has gone on on-screen. Daniel Day Lewis, known for churning out the greatest performances by any present day actor, is at his vicious best. After roles like that of Christy Brown in My Left Foot, and Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting in Gangs of New York, he is back, and with more to offer. It is a treat simply watching him on screen. He is credited for being the most selective actor around, and for good reason.

Expect P.T.Anderson's best work till date as well. Topping masterpieces such as Magnolia and Boogie Nights is not an easy job. So we would think. There Will Be Blood is a whole new arena to what Anderson can do as a screenplay writer. Certain sequences in this gem of a film stand out as particularly magnificent. The background score played during the derrick fire sequence is beyond description. It is a few minutes of perfection. Haunting. Expect to go wide-eyed. The cinematography top notch. The rythm and motion, in perfect harmony.

There Will Be Blood is a story about ambition. Greed. Hatred. About a man who is so self absorbed that he cannot imagine anything apart from what he wants. And he does everything he possibly can to get it. The shock of what the film shows is stays for a while after one has seen it. Not merely because of the actions it shows us, more because of the ways and the circumstances in which the actions have been performed. From greed. From whim. From madness. Daniel Day Lewis' Daniel Plainview is such a man. And his performance puts forward to us as much of him as it possibly can. It is simply shocking.

The character of Eli, portrayed by Paul Dano, deserves special mention. Especially for the way it all comes out in the last 20minutes of the film. Another brilliant sequence there. Paul Dano does marvellously to keep up with Lewis in this particular sequence in the film. It is hard to believe that anyone of his age can stand up to Lewis in so powerful a sequence. The last 20minutes of the film will leave you speechless. It is a lesson in acting and cinematography, in editing and sound mixing. It is a film in itself. There Will Be Blood is a masterpiece that deserves a lot more respect and credit than it has recieved.

And I quote Daniel Plainview from the scrumptious final sequence :
Did you think your song and dance and your superstition would help you, Eli?
I am the Third Revelation!
I am who the Lord has chosen!

There Will Be Greed.
There Will Be Vengeance.
There Will Be Blood.

Flat-out masterpice.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quantum Of Solace.

After all the success and box office smash of a relaunch to the Bond Franchise, Quantum Of Solace comes in with low expectations, the smallest run-time for a Bond film, an absolutely new and original script, a name suggested by none other than the star of the show himself, and a truckload of critics waiting to write it off as 'just another Bond film which could not live up to it's former'.

Michael G. WIlson's plot and Marc Foster's direction creates an all new Bond. All over again. If Casino Royale re-invented James Bond, as a character. Quantum Of Solace redefines him as a human being. Once again, we must bear in mind the Bond of the old days. One who has a License To Kill, is devoid of all emotion whatsoever, who has gadgets coming out of his toes, who lives the sweet life, and one who is never to be harmed. Well, here, Bond is already, as Mathieu Amalric's slithery Dominic Greene puts it, 'damaged goods'. As is his new partner, Olga Kurylenko's Camille Montes; with a scarred back (very noticeable. believe me!). They both put themselves through danger for very much the same reason. They are merely different people.

For more firsts.. Quantum Of Solace happens to be a direct continuation of Casino Royale, kicking off minutes after where the previous left us. It is not written by Ian Fleming. The script, the work of Michael G. WIlson. The name, inspired by the title of a short story from For Your Eyes Only.

The song for this one, Another Way To Die, performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys, is decent. Definitely has a better feel to it in the opening credits rather than in the original video. And similar to Casino Royale, it is the tune that runs through the length of the film. The film is an hour and forty six minutes of edge of the seat stuff. It hardly lets you breathe. The direction, bearing in mind the amount of action it has, is of the highest quality. Quantum Of Solace is, if truth be told, a solid action entertainer. Don't think about Casino Royale while or before or even after watching it. Don't compare. Never compare. Standing alone, Quantum Of Solace is a good film. It is a follow up. The lies, the betrayal, the hatred, the wounds, everything from the previous, gets carried into this one. Whatever happens, happens because of whatever has already taken place before. I recall something I've been taught in film studies class - Cause and effect. Direct relation.

Daniel Craig, I repeat, is still the perfect Bond. After this, it seems more like he was born to play James Bond. The ice-cold blue eyes, the fear-anger-hatred he portrays with them, his sheer physicality, the dialogue delivered as calmly as possibly, the expressionless face - it's all in the eyes. Craig, till Casino Royale came along, is the Bond we never had (all due respect to Sir Sean Connery). Mathieu Amalric is the bad-guy who wouldn't have been had they still been following the old norms of Bond. Much like Mads Mikkelsen's Le Chiffre. He is perfectly slithery. Olga Kurylenko has that fineness in her too. Almost like she was made to play Camille. She's brutal, cold in her own way. Yet she too is vulnerable. She too happens to be damaged goods searching for revenge.

You lost someone?
Find whoever who did it?
Let me know when you do.
I'd like to know how it feels.

With Quantum Of Solace, to James Bond, is added more feeling. More emotion. More brutality. More reality. And the people who undertook this uncertain venture have definitely gone all out in trying to successfuly reboot the Franchise. Quantum Of Solace is a good sequel to an even better film.

8/10. It still is Daniel Craig's party.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stranger than Fiction.

Stranger than Fiction is a 2006 dramedy film directed by Marc Forster, also known for directing films such as Monsters Ball, Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner, and the upcoming Quantum of Solace. It is written by Zach Helm. It stars the extra-ordinary talent of Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Queen Latifah.

As the narrative states early on in the film, Will Ferrell's character, Harold Crick, is all about numbers; and this story, is about him and his wristwatch. The weird intervenes when Harold starts hearing the voice of the narrator in his head, narrating his every move. All this, unknown to the narrator herself. The concept is taken from Miguel de Unamuno's Spanish novel, Niebla. However, Zach Helm's screenplay is extremely well written, perhaps worthy of much more praise than it got. There are numerous double-meaning references in the film which one would probably miss at first viewing. Stranger than Fiction is a film which demands numerous viewings to spot out any flaws. The film is so perfectly made than one could often find oneself looking for flaws in it, which aren't there at all.

Will Ferrell has never been better. His role as the suddenly frustrated man who many think has gone nuts because of the intervention of that voice in his head, is brilliant. Then there are Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, who seem to have been miscast, but a few seconds into their roles, the roles seem made for them. They own their characters. Like I said before, everything in this film seems too perfect, and also, too simple. There is also a very cute, nice chemistry between Ferrell and co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal. Every one of the characters seem to share a beautiful chemistry between them.

Stranger than Fiction lies in the league of films like The Truman Show, Fincher's Zodiac; all amazing in their own way, but simply not for everyone. Hence their underrated-ness. This, remember, is a story about a man named Harold Crick, and his wristwatch.

8.5/10. Loved it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Wednesday.

A Wednesday is a film about an idea. The idea of one man. An idea by one who can make a difference. And it is about what that one idea can accomplish. It is directed by Neeraj Pandey and was released by UTV Spotboy Productions. It stars Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill, Amir Bashir, and Deepal Shaw.

The script of A Wednesday is extremely well written, as is the screenplay. Sanjoy Chowdhury's background score is gripping, as is Fuwad Khan's cinematography. With numerous uncanny camera angles and slow motion shots with involving background music, A Wednesday is technically brilliant. The acting could not have been better. Naseeruddin Shah is a revelation, as is Jimmy Shergill. Anupam Kher also does a good job. The fact that the characters are absolutely involved in the situation makes it more of a treat to watch. The flow of dialogue and human emotions is perfect.

A Wednesday is Neeraj Pandey's vision portrayed to perfection by Naseeruddin Shah. There isn't a moment throughout the two hour film when you will not be involved. There isn't even time for you to look away. It's thrilling, keeping you on the edge of your seat, from start till end. It will get you thinking. It will shock you. You will be awed, and you will thank yourself for seeing this film. It's only that good.


Friday, October 10, 2008

You Don't Mess With The Zohan.

You Don't Mess With The Zohan is a 2008 comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan. It was co-produced and co-written by Adam Sandler, who also stars in the lead. Sandler's production company, Happy Madison, produced the film; and it was distributed by Columbia Pictures.

With it's fake accents, elaborate storyline, in-your-face dialogue; You Don't Mess With The Zohan is solid-entertainment. It pulls jokes at the most unusual things, in the most unusual ways, at the most unusual times. It is satire of the most raw kind. Straight from the acting - Presenting: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Rob Schneider, Michael Buffer; and cameos by Henry Winkler, Mariah Carey, Kevin James, and John McEnroe; Zohan is a fun ride with moments which can make your tummy ache with laughter.

Negatives come in the form of it's running time- almost two hours, a tad too long. But remembering certain sequences makes it feel worth it. The background score, with a host of middle-eastern tracks, is highly engaging. With everything from hair-dressing to fast-food outlets, from shoe-selling dreams to fake breats; Zohan has a numerous laugh out loud things on offer.

6/10. Yes, John McEnroe has a cameo in it. Believe it!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Welcome To Sajjanpur.

Welcome To Sajjanpur comes from visionary director Shyam Benegal. It stars Shreyas Talpade, Amrita Rao, Ravi Kishan, Ila Arun and a whole host of others. Benegal, popularly known for his parallel films, with Welcome To Sajjanpur, shifts to a comedy/parallel film. The touch of realism/naturalism in terms of social and political conditions is unmistakeable in this film, and more often than not, it is the base of it's happenings.

The most flashy thing in Welcome To Sajjanpur comes even before it's opening credits. The UTV Spot Boy banner. From then on, everything about the film is primitive. It's setting. 'Some' village which was once called 'Durjan'pur, but was renamed by Nehru himself to Sajjanpur. It's people. Mostly uneducated. There is a man who portrays a doctor in the film, but he appears in a grand total of one scene. There are the numerous bai's and mausi's, and Ramsingh's and Ramkumar's (among the numerous Ram's whom the narrator speaks of in the introduction, while brushing his teeth with a twig). The comes in the superstitions. I shall only speak of the one that says a girl must get married to a 'kukur' (yes, a dog) because she is, well, unlucky (or whatever one calls it when translated into primitive, religious hindi. Then comes the political state of things. It's election time. There is a eunuch (acted brilliantly by Ravi Jhankal) running for it, along with your gang of gangster-type people who roam about on motorcycles with their 'mamaji's' sitting behind them, carrying a rifle. Etcetera etcetera..

Shreyas Talpade does well as the film's lead. The narrative, always having a comedic spark to it, does not dissapoint. The acting is top class. Ila Arun, Yashpal Sharma and Ravi Jhankal are priceless. Also the man who plays the Subedar (damn, i forgot his name). The songs are mediocre. Bheeni bheeni's picturisation is done very well, with what one can only call a dream sequence. Aadmi azad hain acts as the revolutionary (comedy) song, as does Munni ki baari (yes, it was sung after Jhankal's Munni bai won in the election). Kunal Kapoor makes a nice guest appearance.

You wouldn't miss anything if you do not see Welcome To Sajjanpur. It's a decent watch though, which introduces you to certain bits and pieces of primitive Indian thought and action. 6/10.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Kite Runner.

The Kite Runner is a film based on Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel of the same name. It is directed by Marc Foster, and was adapted for the screen by David Benioff. Most of the film's dialogue is in Persian Dari, with subtitles for the regional language. English is also used in the film. It was nominated for an Oscar for Alberto Iglesias's background score.

The Kite Runner is, simply put, a very good book to screen adaptation. It is so predominantly because of the engaging background score which switches comfortably between Middle-Eastern music and Spanish music. Most of the songs are not in English, and the one that is, is sung by a native. The cinematography is decent, never letting one take ones eyes off the screen. The sequences of the kite-flying tournament are particularly well done. The film is never raw in it's depictions of certain political situations. It is frank. Precise.

Marc Foster, better known for directing Monster's Ball and Finding Neverland, captures moments very efficiently. The actors are all very good, which makes the film all the more fun to watch. Khalid Abdalia, who has previously starred in United 93, is of special mention here. He plays the role of Amir as an adult. The Kite Runner is worth a watch. By the time it ends, a soft smile is guaranteed.


Sunday, August 31, 2008


Wanted is a loose adaptation of Mark Millar's comic-book mini series of the same name. It is directed by Timur Bekmambetov who is better known for directing the Russian blockbusters, Nochnoy Dozor (Night Watch), and Dnevnoi Dozor (Day Watch). It stars James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.

The story revolves around a 1000 year old organization of assasins who are gifted with superhuman killing abilities, and young Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) in general. The first noticeable element of Wanted are its flashy visuals. The film itself is quite ragtag in nature. James McAvoy's narration, which is actually quite good, never gives you any time to think at first. Right from the start, one is thrown into a series of disjointed events. It actually takes a while to settle down and figure out what exactly is going on. The visuals are downright flashy and outrageous. Fun, awing, magnificent. The acting, with the exception of James McAvoy's lead, is passable.

Wanted is not a film for everyone. It is a film which certain audiences will love, and some others hate. It mostly supports itself on popular graphic novel to celluloid adaptation elements; such as the narration, which is often angry and often calming, it also has the ability to make you think a little. Then there are the obvious comic elements. A lot of comedy. One scene in particular got me into splits. 'Iii'm Sorrryyy', he says, in slow motion, while putting a bullet through a man's chest from his car's sunroof. Yes, in Wanted, expect the unexpected, and you might just enjoy it.

6.5/10. James McAvoy is good. Very-very good!

I Am Legend.

I Am Legend is a 2007 post-apocalyptic science fiction film based on Richard Matheson's 1954 novel of the same name. It is the book's third celluloid adaptation. The film stars Will Smith and comes from director Francis Lawrence who earlier directed Constantine.

I Am Legend is a futuristic film which is dependent on basically two things : Will Smith, and stunning visuals. The later succeeds in grabbing one's attention to an extent. The visuals of a 2012 Manhattan; empty, deserted, abandoned completely after the spread of a deadly man-made virus, are truly something to marvel at. However, if one remembers, this is nothing new. We have already seen such images in Danny Boyle's earlier film which revolves around a similar story, 28 Days Later. The only difference is that the setting there was London. The let-down here is that the film is a little too dependent on the visual effects. Even the zombies here are CGI as opposed to what they were in 28 Days Later. After a point of time, it no longer seems interesting anymore. There are just two sequences that are actually scary throughout the 100minute film.

However, the marvelous thing about I Am Legend are not the visuals, it is Will Smith. The actor shoulders just about everything on his own. It is entirely upto him to keep us involved, to keep us interested. And therein lies the savior of I Am Legend. The film itself might not prove to be much of a legend, but the individual who shoulders just about every second of the film is. Will Smith is The Man. He, singlehandedly, makes I Am Legend what it is.
He makes you care. For him, for his pet dog, for his remaining cans of food, for his mental state, everything. The ending of the film was a bit of a let-down, as was the background score. Then again, maybe I was expecting a little too much. It loses out to 28 Days Later when it comes to being a solid post-apocalyptic film with zombies, but it still is quite a good watch.

6.5/10. All for Will Smith.

Rock On!!

Rock On!! is Abhishek Kapoor's second directorial venture. This one with Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar, the masterminds behind Dil Chahta, Lakshya and Don. It also marks the acting/singing debut of Farhan Akhtar. There are also a few not-so-familiar and ok-average actors in Rock On!!. With music from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and lyrics from Javed Akhtar, Rock On!! reaches high, and clutches the stardom which it's characters dreamt of.

Rock On!!, with it's first promos seemed like it could be one more of those wannabe rock-star films. But the very thought of it being Farhan Akhtar's production and his launch as an actor/singer, and the introducion of the title track borrowing the main theme of Lakshya, pretty much took away the whole concept of a wannabe film. Right from the opening sequence which shows us a band performance in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, till the time when the closing credits start rolling, Rock On!! is a star in it's own right.

The whole feeling of the film just feels right. It's almost a kind of tribute to rock bands down the ages in it's own special way. It even puts in bits of the situation that is prevailing in India, where rock bands are mostly recognised by their lead singer (Read : Euphoria). The story is simple enough.. A couple of friends had a small rock band. They got separated from each other due to a nasty incident of clash of egos and personal desires at what could have been the launching of their career. Years later, they lead lives different from what they could have been like had the mishap not taken place. Then comes the re-introduction, the make-up, the flecks of vintage Bollywood, and voila.. Rock On!!

After watching the film, one almost feels a bit dazed. Sometimes, it almost seems like it tries to achieve what Dil Chahta Hai succeeded in grasping almost 7years ago. Given the fact that it is quite shorter than Dil Chahta Hai, and it goes a little less brutally on its characters, Rock On!! too succeeds, in a way; for it never really tries to hit at deep friendship and it's separation and re-uniting. It, more importantly, stresses on togetherness, personal aspirations, and moving on. This is something that is clearly clarrified by the inter-titles before the closing credits. Rock On!! never tries to be something it cannot be, or take us somewhere it cannot go. It remains on the ground throughout. There are no big arguments here, there are no cheesy break-ups or make-ups. It is all very-very personal. It beats, tortures, but eventually sets free it's characters.

Supporting all that is a brilliant set of actors, some wonderful music, and off-the-chart stunning cinematography. Most of the character shots which create tension between characters are never concentrated on the characters directly. A very efficient replacement is used in it's stead. Reflections. There are instances of magic in between (The photo-shoot session in the empty pool, the Goa trip, the jeep rides and and most noticeable - the basement jam sessions, and the concerts). The background score always goes back to a theme which started the film, and it keeps coming back. As far as the songs are concerned, asking for better is madness. The title track is not a strong rock song simply because it comes about in the film in not so raw a moment. It does not show the band performing the title track at any concert. It's a collection of flashback images that go on with Rock On. What it does not do, another song conquers.. Pichhle saath dino mein. It's a great track. The pick of the lot with ease. Then there are modern-day partial-rock versions of old hindi songs which are absolutely hilarious. Adding a considerable amount of heart are Tum ho toh, and Phir dekhiye.

The casting is perfect. At first Arjun Rampal seems to be in the wrong place, but by the time he lets loose his emotions (and also his hair), you know why he is so perfect for the role. Purab Kohli makes a great transformation, as does everyone else actually. But his is the most noticeable. From absolutely raw to simple. Kohli has a lot of jokes (some good, some really-really bad, but kind of funny), which establish him as the goof-ball of the lot. Luke Kenny efficiently plays who turns out to be the central character of the story. Prachi Desai is a revelation, as is Shahana Goswami as the insecure and all family-caring wife. Then comes Farhan Akhtar. You never get the feeling that it's his debut. He seems to have been doing this for years. His acting/singing seems to be something that he had wrapped up in a cloth and stored safely away in a box for all these years - For this. For exactly this film. I do not know when the concept/script for this film came along, but it totally changes Farhan Akhtar's career. The man can sing rock tracks very very well.

Rock On!! never feels like a 150minute film. It is extremely fast paced owing to it's refreshing technique and take. The whole rock music concept acts as a mere connection between the characters, yet it is crucial. It adds the flavour. It could as well have been four friends working as partners in a business, just the flavour would have been different. The essential rock music aspect, missing. Therein lies the secret to the success of this film. Therein lies the reason why it gets you. Watch this. It is very very interesting.

9/10. Rock On, gentlemen. Rock On!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Ruins.

The Ruins is a psychological horror/thriller film based on Scott Smith's bestselling novel, and directed by Carter Smith. Scott Smith is best known for his novel A Simple Plan, his screen adaptation of which earned him an Oscar nomination in 1998. He has also written the screenplay for this film. The film stars Jonathan Tucker, Shawn Ashmore, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey and Joe Anderson.

Unlike the new age slasher films that come out of Hollywood in the name of horror/thriller these days, The Ruins differs. It will not disappoint fans and critics of the psychological thriller genre. It does not switch gears to become a slasher film. Like what D.J.Caruso did with Disturbia last year, Carter Smith does even better with The Ruins. Disturbia's shift to a slasher film was a huge let-down by the time the closing credits rolled. The Ruins stands out because of its independent nature. It does not depend on blood and gore to make you feel queasy. It plays with your head, your views. It churns your insides by showing you fear and pain instead of spilled guts and decapitated heads. The sounds, the silent breathtaking visuals, the close-ups; are the elements that make the Ruins work. The tension that it succeeds in creating halfway through the film never backs out. It remains throughout.

The Ruins is a simple film, with a simple story. There aren't any digressions in it. It's all given to you straight. Take it, or leave it. The viewers are thrown smack in the middle of the situation. The popular nature of the film becomes evident after the introduction of the main characters themselves. A few 20 something's on vacation. There is nothing new in The Ruins when it comes to setting or characters, it's the technique that makes it stand out. It delves as deep as possible into the human mind as it can within its 93minute running time.

Loved it. Love the song in the closing credits (Phenomena by Yeah Yeah Yeahs).

Sleepy Hollow.

Sleepy Hollow is a period horror film released in 1999 and marks the third collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. After making Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, the teaming of Burton and Depp has become one that works wonders. Loosely based on Washington Irwing's story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the film takes the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman one step further.

The first thing about Sleepy Hollow is it's elaborate, haunting and eerie set design. Tim Burton is best known for giving an eerie turn on everything he makes (Recall : Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Yet another Depp/Burton film). Sleepy Hollow already had elements of horror in it, Burton's task was to make it worth remembering. The use of fairytale music is prevalent in this film. Indeed a lot of its background score comprises the music from a music box or a doll house. The setting is silent, yet it screams. The town of Sleepy Hollow is always covered in fog. The woods are silent apart from the occasional brush of leaves underfoot. However, the excessive use of blood, like in his later Sweeney Todd is required to make the film what it is for the crisis comes from someone who does not have a head and who excels in chopping off others'. The horrific image of the witch, the sight of dead eyes through the floorboard, a sarcophagus spilling out its contents; these are what make Sleepy Hollow a work of art. The tree of the dead, with blood dripping from its roots uncovering what is hidden within its trunk will make one squirm in the seat. The cinematography is worthy of praise.

Acting in the film is top notch. Everyone convincingly plays scared, and even tries to be a hero. None more so than Johnny Depp. One can understand his situation when he hides behind his blanket in bed and says,'It was a horseman, a dead one. Headless!' The flashbacks of Ichabod Crane are done marvelously. The echoes and imagery in those particular sequences are outstanding. Sleepy Hollow is probably the finest piece of cinema Tim Burton has made to date.

9/10. Watch it alone, at night. The Horseman cometh.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall comes from breakthrough producer Judd Apatow. Directed by Nicholas Stoller and written by and starring Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the latest offering from Team Apatow after the success of 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad.

The film, very delicately and realistically deals with the period of post break-up. It also sheds light on celebrity/part-celebrity relationships. Containing a huge amount of situational as well as slapstick humor added with a hilarious performance from Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is another success story in the book of Apatow. The fact that men are as emotionally involved in a relationship as women are is clearly shown in this film. It is more reality than fiction. The fame aspect added in by the character of Kristen Bell brings in the slapstick humor. The characters are all perfect in their roles. Russel Brand and Jonah Hill are two very important pieces of this jigsaw puzzle. Mila Kunis is plain cute.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is just a good time at the movies. No real complications here, just a simple story of a highly complex situation, well told. It's wonderful how Team Apatow just come up with these films. It's getting impossible to think of comedy without them now..

8/10! Love the Rock Opera on Dracula..

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

The Mummy : Tomb of the Dragon Emperor arrives in theatres right at the end of Hollywood's 2008 Summer Blockbuster Season. The film is directed by Rob Cohen better known for making XXX, Dragonheart and The Fast and the Furious. Stephen Sommers who directed the previous two Mummy films, produces this one.

The good thing about the film is that it brings back Brendan Frasier in the lead, as Rick O'Connell. If you have seen the first two films, you will know why it is so crucial that he plays the lead role. He is the landmark in a Mummy film when it comes to comedy, timing, expressions, everything. Rachel Weisz makes way for the flat, but funny and expressive Maria Bello. John Hannah as Jonathan is once again a treat to watch. We have a new mummy. An Asian mummy - Jet Li plays Emperor Han, with style! He singlehandedly leads through the film. There's just something about Jet Li that makes me pay attention to his every move. Whether it was The One or Cradle to the Grave or Fearless, Jet Li is amazing. That being said, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor lacks the urgency that the first two Mummy films had. The special effects are not as good as the previous ones. The cast additions, namely Michelle Yeoh, never really impress. The one hour and 45 minute film doesn't seem that long, solely because it fails to get you involved. The narrative is a huge let-down.

However, given the fact that it is a Mummy film, it is fairly enjoyable, although the first one is the best of the series, then the second and now this. They leave us with the promise of a fourth installment, which I will most definitely watch because anything to do with mummies is fun! Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is B-grade stuff, and the makers probably knew that when they made it. It is harmless fun, with a lot of bad jokes at the wrong time. Then again, that is what makes a Mummy film so special. Definitely worth a watch, especially if you liked the previous two.

6/10. Next up - Peruvian mummies. Hoorah!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight.

After months of waiting, and one of the most aggressive viral marketing campaigns ever seen, The Dark Knight is finally here. With the tag of 'most awaited film of the year', The Dark Knight has so much expectation on its shoulders that one wonders whether it indeed will suffice, or disappoint. The Dark Knight is not merely a comic book to celluloid adaptation. It is not merely a superhero movie. It is not merely about a masked crusader killing the bad guys. It delves deeply into human nature. It shows us the tolerance of the soul to the limit of choking.

Gotham's need for a hero is glorified in this film. And so is it's hate for that same hero. A masked hero is not a hero at all. He is more like a vigilante who is to be arrested on sight. For it is he who has brought darkness upon them. Hence, they await a 'White Knight'. One who does not need to hide his face from the people. One whose identity is known by all and sundry. One who fears nothing. We find ourselves witnessing sacrifice. Then again, it isn't merely the sacrifice of a person, or even many, for the sake of something good in the end. It is the sacrifice of oneself.

The genius of Christopher Nolan brings to us the sequel of Batman Begins, a revamp to the entire saga of Batman on screen. A film that changed the way the entire world looked at comic book superheroes. The Dark Knight succeeds in taking it not just one, but a couple of steps further. Christian Bale's hoarse voice is still the same under that black mask. He still fights all his battles with his hands. Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker is not just terrifying or shocking, it is beyond belief. That voice, that walk, that laugh! It is nothing short of haunting. Then there is Aaron Eckart, playing Harvey 'Two-Face' Dent, who is just as good. Everyone in this film is spot on. Everything about it is a revelation.

It's two and a half hours long. The dialogue is gripping. It is absolutely magnificent seeing something like this on the big screen. The entire concept of Batman wanting to go back to becoming Bruce Wayne and be done with his superhero days, and how he tries to achieve that by glorifying Harvey Dent, the DA of Gotham City, goes deep into the character of Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is, after all, only human. The character of The Joker, his want to give Gotham a 'better class of criminal', to prove that 'when the chips are down, civilized people will eat each other' shows us an entire different side of the common people. It is one that contrasts the entire 'we will throw garbage at the bad guy for hitting Spiderman theory.

Indeed, The Joker is perhaps the most complex villain created in comic book history and giving him a simple 'bad guy' tag would not be doing justice to him (Read: Venom from Spiderman 3. Horrible. Absolutely excrutiating!). The wonders they have done with him is unbelievable. He robs millions of dollars only to burn it. He is indeed a man one 'does not understand'. He is one who 'just want to watch the world burn'. The film is a work of art, often obscure. The sequences have been made with the utmost attention to detail, the last 45minutes being absolutely outstanding.

There are probably a million other things I could write about, but I would probably be giving away the story, so I shall refrain. The Dark Knight is one HUGE film. It perhaps might even be one of those few summer films that make it till the Oscars. It should. It will break box office records, and it will create new ones. The Dark Knight is destined for superstardom, and that is indeed what it shall get.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kung Fu Panda.

Kung Fu Panda is Dreamworks' latest animation flick. It features the voice talents of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen and Jackie Chan. The film has an absolutely amazing opening dream sequence with some off-the-chart hand-drawn animation. It reminded me of Samurai Jack, a cartoon series. The sequence, made to resemble shadow puppetry could as well be published as a comic book.

Simply put, Kung Fu Panda is a brilliant animation film. Using China and the art of Kung Fu as its backdrop, it resembles stories that one would expect to hear in Chinese Mythology. The storyline is serious in nature, yet it is never stupid. The entire Panda thing is what makes it an animation-comedy. I loved the character of Tai Lung, the would-be Dragon Warrior gone wrong. Same with all the others. The emotions portrayed by the characters are very human. Those of rage, the search for limitless power, glory; they seem almost too well done.

The Kung Fu fight sequences, Tai Lung's prison escape, the entire Chinese look and feel of the film, everything seems to have been made with immense attention to detail. The slow-motion scenes are hilarious, and also scary when they need to be. The dialogue is terrific, so is the background score. I'm finding it very difficult to find anything wrong with this film. Kung Fu Panda is a film that strikes a chord for it's message. Recalling Tennyson's Ulysses ~ To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. Watch this with the entire family. LET THE PANDA-MONIUM BEGIN!



Continuing Hollywood's run of Summer Blockbusters for this year, Hancock is a brand new superhero film. It is not adapted from a comic book, but an original story written by Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan. Directed by Peter Berg; the director of Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom, both of which are outstanding movies; and starring Will Smith, Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman, Hancock delves deep into a superhero who simply 'doesn't give a shit'.

Hancock wears a ski-cap with an eagle knitted on it, humongous shades; he hardly shaves, he drinks throughout the day, and his abusive skills are good enough to win a competition. And like I quoted ~ He simply does not give a shit. Kids abuse him, the city hates him for all the damage he causes (Read: hang a SUV from the top of the tower of a multi-storied building, derail a whole train to save one individual, etc etc), yet he is the only one of his kind. He 'gets the job done', although clumsily. He is, what one would call, a superhero needing a serious makeover (In every aspect!).
In comes Jason Bateman, a public resources spokesperson, rescued by Hancock, who decides to help him successfully change his public image.

The first thing about a Peter Berg movie is style ~ The way the film is hot. Second is the background score ~ with very engaging music. Hancock falls short in both spheres. However, what it misses there, it makes up for with it's witty dialogue and great comedy. Hancock, if truth be told is a comedy film, tackled with the utmost care. Timing is almost perfect. Will Smith, once again, like he did in I Am Legend, singlehandedly shoulders most of the screen time flawlessly (Amazingly close close-ups, done brilliantly!). He smiles once throughout the entire duration of the film. Some painful, yet funny sequences (A man's head up another man's, erm, behind. The girl sitting next to me went 'Oh shit' and covered her eyes), and good special effects make the film visually quite good, though below par. The film suffers from the absence of a central villain, but succeeds in creating a new superhero with a very solid background storyline. He has strengths, and he also has weaknesses. It's short - barely 90minutes, and it makes for a great launching of a new superhero franchise..

6.5/10. I want a sequel!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

King Kong.

King Kong is a 2005 Academy Award winning film directed by the visionary Peter Jackson and starring Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody and Jack Black. Andy Serkis, who played the role of Gollum in the Lord of The Rings, through motion capture, plays Kong. King Kong won Oscars for visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing. The film is a remake of the 1933 classic.

Peter Jackson's King Kong is one of my all-time favorite movies. Fresh from the success of The Lord of The Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson picked up this project.. and he did wonders with it. At a screaming three hours and twenty minutes, the Director's Cut edition is a treat to watch. You don't get a seconds rest throughout the length of the film. Jack Black gives the performance of a lifetime. His portrayal of an obsessive film-maker, Carl Denham, is Oscar worthy! It's a shame he didn't get one for it. It truly is a gem of a performance. The film itself is a marvel. With visual effects that make ones mouth hang open and with sound that makes one jump up in their seat, King Kong is, technically, mind-blowing! The sequences of the SS Venture moving into the fog, the first coming of Kong, his showdown with three Tyrannosaurs, his rampage through New York City, and numerous other sequences are simply unbelievable to witness. King Kong requires a giant screen and surround sound for one to get absolutely involved in the film. After that.. Prepare yourself for 220minutes of outstanding film-making.

King Kong too is one of those grossly under-rated movies. It is one of those films that you have to see to believe, and see you must! The tribute it pays to its previous versions, or the new age of visual amazement that it brings, Peter Jackson's King Kong gave me a feeling of intense satisfaction after I saw it. It was much much more than I had ever expected it to be. Just an amazing piece of cinema!

10/10! One day, it will become a classic.

Superman Returns.

Superman Returns is a 2006 film directed by the critically acclaimed Bryan Singer. Singer, best known for his work on The Usual Suspects and The first two X-Men movies, co-wrote the screenplay for the relaunch of the Superman franchise. He turned down the offer to direct X-Men 3 to make Superman Returns.

The Superman franchise is more popular for the performances of the legendary Christopher Reeve than the films themselves. Superman Returns is a continuity 'branching off' from elements of 'the first two films'. Personally, I have never been a big fan of the franchise. However, Superman Returns deserves praise! It is probably, together with Steven Spielberg's War of The Worlds, one of the most under-rated films of recent times. It is ground-breaking cinema. You do not expect Bryan Singer, who Peter Jackson called up to direct scenes of his phenomenal King Kong, to pull off some cock and bull movie. I seriously do not understand why this movie doesn't have a rating up their in the 8's. It is, together with Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, one of the best comic book to celluloid adaptations ever made. Right from newcomer Brandon Routh's portrayal of a very vulnerable Superman (With all due respect to Christopher Reeve!), to Kevin Spacey putting the icing on the cake with his chilly take on Lex Luthor, Superman Returns is a treat!

Be it the straightforward storyline or the realistic performances (Loved Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane!), be it the minimal dependency on visual effects (Superman actually gets beaten up with a person's bare hands!) or the smash-bang edge-of-the-seat action sequences; Superman Returns is a film worth watching.. Over and over again.

8/10. The sequel, Man of Steel, is in the making already.