Saturday, April 19, 2008


David Fincher, in my opinion is a movie-making genius. He hasn't made, what one would call, a LOT of movies, but each and every one he has made has stood out. I've seen all his full-length features to date. From Se7en to Fight Club. Now, I know many people will disagree with what I'm saying, but, in my opinion, Zodiac is his best. And for more reasons than one, if I made a list of my Top 20 Hollywood movies, Zodiac would be one of them.

In the late 1960's through till the late 1970's a notorious serial killer who called himself The Zodiac haunted the San Francisco Bay Area. It is not known exactly how many murders he committed. For the purpose of publicity, he used to mail letters and zodiac codes to famous newspapers in the city giving them information which only he could know, taunting the Police to carry out a mass investigation. Till date, the case remains one of the greatest unsolved crimes of San Francisco.
The movie is based on actual case files, and adapted from Robert Graysmith's Zodiac account books.

I saw Zodiac on a sultry afternoon, in the dark confines of my room. It is a two hour thirty seven minute movie. It felt no more than ninety minutes. By now, those who have read my takes on movies will know that I hold the background music as, perhaps, the most important factor in getting the viewers into the basic feel of the movie. Zodiac has got a blend of 60's Jazz, Pop and Rock music. Even the closing credits have got music enough to make you remain seated and hear it out. It has a gripping background score. The film starts, and ends, with the same song. The song : Hurdy Gurdy Man. It is stylized, almost scary, along with a nod-ya-head vibe to it.

The movie has an ensemble cast. With the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Brian Cox, the acting is stellar. Ruffalo's portrayal of Inspector David Toschi is the pick of the lot. Gyllenhaal, playing the role of Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle whose obsession with The Zodiac leads to the most striking amount of evidence in the case, carries on the express that he started with Brokeback Mountain. I have never seen Chloe Sevigny's other avatar, but her coldness shines in every scene we see her. The whole 1960's/70's setting merely adds to the excellent screenplay. The film has a black imagery. The only clear amount of brightness we get is in the first five minutes, coming from a flashlight.

The dialogue is gripping. The delivery is perfect. The screenplay, sublime. Everything is just right. The cinematography, the setting, the direction. It just fits right in. There was not a moment during its length that I looked at my watch or thought that it was long. It is edge of the seat stuff. The movie is perfect. I didn't know much about the Zodiac killings till I saw this movie. It interested me enough to spend a day reading whatever I could find on the net. When a movie gets you to do that, it says something. For all that its worth, I cannot find a single reason why this movie was overlooked at the Oscars. If this isn't Oscar material, I'm not sure what is.

By the time the movie ended, Zodiac left me stranded with a million random thoughts jumping in my head. It's a thriller of amazing proportions. It just gets you. Whether it is Downey Jr's stylized portrayal of an engaged reporter, shifting to a drunkard who doesn't really give a damn, or the very voice of the Zodiac over the phone. The opening sequence, 5 minutes long, only sets you up for a treat of a movie. This is vintage cinema.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Watch out for the opening sequence. It rocked me to my core. Highly recommended to anyone who loves watching movies. Straight 10!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Water Horse.

I have seen numerous documentaries and films on The Loch Ness Monster. Most of the movies told about a man-eating beast lying in the depths of the Loch Ness in Scotland. Amateur films more than anything. The documentaries told of a wild goose chase, and sightings of perhaps a prehistoric creature that had somehow survived through the ages, living in tranquility. The Water Horse is by no means any of those things. It shows us a clear and fresh take on the famed Nessy. It is adapted from Dick King Smith's novel of the same name.

It comes from the Producers of The Chronicles of Narnia, another well-made fantasy feature. To put things straight, the story speaks of the legend of a water horse, a sea-creature that hatches an egg before its death, and dies at the birth of its offspring. It is asexual. There can be no more than one water horse existing on the planet at a time. It grows in size freakishly fast. It is hard to say the period of time through which the story runs.

The story of The Water Horse is told by an aged man to a couple of tourists, sitting in an Inn in Scotland. The old man, played suitably, by Brian Cox. He speaks of Scotland at the time of the 2nd World War, of a country-boy named Angus MacMorrow(Alex Etel), living in a huge manor with his mother and sister. His father, a veteran of the War, hasn't seen home in years, and is presumed dead after his ship was sunk. Young Angus, on a pleasant day of collecting sea shells by the shore, discovers an egg. An egg of a Water Horse. He cares for it, looks after it, and calls it his greatest friend.

And so begins the life of the Water Horse. It is a friendly, lovable creature at first. Adorably cute. Named Crusoe by Angus, within a very short span of time, it grows to monstrous proportions, and is set free in the Ness. Angus still cares for his friend Crusoe. He goes to the Ness to see it. And much like Harry Potter and Buckbeak the Hypogriff, Crusoe gives him a ride on his back. To the depths of the Ness and back out again.

There are pros and cons in the movie, but the pros outnumber the cons by a mile. Apart from having commendable visual effects, the acting is exciting, with awe and anguish from the young Angus. Ben Chaplin, who plays Lewis Moubray, an injured/decommissioned soldier of the war, is the best of the lot. Morissey is the flaw in the casting. A spot of overacting, but he just looks plain weird in this role after that disaster of a sequel to Basic Instinct. The others fit the bill in the casting department. Alex Etel is perfect in the role of the young Angus.

The movie, perhaps a tad 15minutess or so longer than it should have been, suffers from the impressive amount of detail it has. It falls short when it comes to editing. There were times I found myself thinking,"Now why did they jump that scene?" However, if it falls short there, it makes up in the background music. A Scottish tinge to it. Pleasant to the ears.

The Water Horse is a nice film to watch, especially with the family. It comes across as a children's movie, and the utter cuteness that the creature possesses when it is young will just make you go "Aww" at times.

The film, in its simplicity, shows us man's undying eagerness to help other living creatures around him. A cross shown to greatness in Spielberg's E.T.. This might not be an E.T., but it doesn't disappoint like most of the boy-rescues-animal flicks. Definitely worth a watch after all the mess they've made with movies based on the Loch Ness Monster. This one differs. It's good.

7/10 for the acting. 7/10 for the story. 7/10 for the visuals. They ended the movie the way lots of movies end. Doesn't necessarily mean that they'll make a sequel. But, if they make one to this, I'll watch it.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I'm yet to get out of the dizzy feeling I got after seeing Cloverfield. Basically for two reasons. The first being that its been shot on a hand-held camera. Secondly, what a movie!

To say that J.J.Abrams and Matt Reeves make an awesome movie-making couple just doesn't say it. I loved the movie they had made a couple of years ago, The Pallbearer. This is contrast at it highest point. It's like Laurel and Hardy decided to make movies, and it was oh so good.

Yes, Cloverfield is a monster movie. But, unlike the monster movies which have been made more recently, this one works. It's from the point of view a few 20-something's living in New York on the night of a farewell party. It's Blair Witch style. But better. It's Godzilla, but more terryfying. It's fear, its pain, its horror, its loud, its everything. All packaged into an hour and fifteen minutes of a roller coaster ride.

It is a look into the monster attack on Manhattan on 22nd-23rd May, 2007, recorded by an individual on a hand-held camera. It was later found in Central Park. The name of the movie is basically the name of the sighting. Read : Multiple sightings of case designated Cloverfield.

What I enjoyed most was the hype created before its release. No one had a clue what it would be like. Whether the monster was Godzilla, some dragon, etc etc. I recognized no one in the cast except Jessica Lucas, whom I had seen on Life As We Know It and The L word. So, it was even more of a surprise for me. The casting is perfect, mind you. I haven't seen a bunch of 20-something's running for their lives more horrifically in my life. You can feel the terror. It's like its sitting there right beside you.

There is no background music. Its real time sound. Man, is it loud. Man, is it freaky. There's just something about the fact that there's a 400 foot monster roaming around somehwhere near you that freaks anyone out. And that isn't all. Wait till you find out that its dropping little many-legged-thingies making sounds like 'ayayayayaya' which could tear you limb from limb. Not just that. If you happen to get bitten by those little thingies, guess what happens.. Na, I wont give that one away.

Behind all the horror and all the havoc of this 'monster', their lies a very well pronounced story. Something that most films lack these days. A bunch of people trying to save a loved one. It ain't no tear-jerker, but its bound to make you care for the characters. That, added with "Dude, I really think we shouldn't be here", and stuff that happens so fast that you'll go,'What the Hell was that!?"makes Cloverfield one of the best creature feature's you'll ever watch. Just listen to the havoc when the severed head of the Statue of Liberty falls to the streets. You'll know what fear is. Cloverfield, like Spielberg's War of the Worlds, totally immerses you in the crisis of the situation with no room for you to think.

Cloverfield is short, exhilarating, sad, scary, all at the same time. Sure it leaves certain questions unanswered. But, that is really what its all about. Even the closing credits were scary because of the background music, the only piece of composed music in the length of the picture. I was hooked on to this movie, from the time the thump hit and I saw that red robot running around the bushes. Then came the writing, Bad Robot Pictures. And the movie began..

9/10 for acting. 9/10 for story. 9/10 for direction. Straight 10 for the sound. DO NOT miss the musical piece in the closing credits. And I cannot get enough of the dizzy camerawork!

Krazzy 4.

Bollywood, it seems, is on a flop run after Jodhaa Akbar. Observe, One Two Three and Race (Yes, it was crap). I expected a slapstick comedy after looking at the promos of Krazzy 4, choosing this over the weeks other release, U Me aur Hum.

The story is simple enough. Four 'mad' guys, are taken out on a field trip by their doctor. Doctor gets kidnapped, havoc ensues, or should I say, krazziness. Fullstop. Simple enough. Doesn't torture you like the 'come-sit-down-and-let-me-tell-you-how-I-planned-your-murder' way of Race.

The mad people under question..
Krazzy a. Arshad playing Raja, a man suffering from sudden bouts of rage. Anger disorder.
Krazzy b. Irrfan playing Dr. Mukherjee, suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. He's a cleanliness freak who'll try to get dirt of the backside of a nurse's uniform.
Krazzy c. Rajpal playing Gangadhar. He thinks he still lives in the Gandhian era. Vande Mataram.
Krazzy d. Suresh playing Dabboo. Hasn't talked since he was four years old.

Their doctor played to utter sweetness by Juhi Chawla. Dont think I'm being sarcastic. The places where Krazzy 4 succeed are its utter sweet moments. Apart from being extremely tenderly acted by everyone, it also isn't very long. Hardly an hour and fifty minutes. All four leads play their roles very efficiently. Rajpal being the one who offers the most laughs. Just wait till his ending speech. Irrfan Khan, the great actor that he is, gets a small role, easy for him to play. He plays this even more delicately. Suresh Menon, for a guy who hardly talks, is fun to watch. His expressions will get you laughing. Rajpal Yadav had me in splits everytime he spoke. His way of delivery is such. Watch out for the scenes with 'Aazadi - 50% off' and the one with Gandhiji and Nehru. The backing actors, Rajat Kapoor, Dia Mirza, and the 'bad guys', serve their purpose well. The guy playing Dia's father deserves special mention. You've seen him before.

The songs are merely there. No romantic hus-phus etc etc. Shah Rukh Khan has never looked better. Trust me. Stay back till the end to watch Hrithik too. The two music videos are sheer eye candy proving to us who the real pin-up boys of Bollywood really are. High point of the movie is where a little girl sings Jana Gana Mana. If the people in the hall stand up to attention to it, like they did in the show I went to, you'll feel good. Vande Mataram. I shall not go far enough to say Rakhi Sawant 'does not' look good in the music video, but I would have preferred Mallika Sherawat in it. The song is Beedi'ish, but not nearly good enough. And we finally did it people. They've written a song about One Rupee. An amazing one at that too. They've added everything, from Kajra re to Dum to Opera - style. Hilarious.

Krazzy 4 tries the Munnabhai-way of entertainment, preaching about the ways of society and how people who are 'different' have no place in it. It misses the Munnabhai mark by a long shot. But it really doesn't matter. It's a sweet short movie. You could say it was made with a lot of care, and they promised us a sequel at the end. So, to be continued..

6/10 all over. The music is just okay. However, 10/10 for the two pin-up boys. P.S.: Get Mallika to do an item number in the sequel.