Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 12th April, 2013
Time : 140 minutes
Director & Writer : Derek Cianfrance; Co-writers : Ben Coccio, Darius Marder; Music : Mike Patton
Starring : Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Mahershala Ali, Ben Mendelsohn, Bruce Greenwood, Emory Cohen, Ray Liotta, Dane DeHaan, Harris Yulin, Rose Byrne

The central theme here is that a man’s legacy (and I’m using the word ‘man’ in a very unisex way here) lives on long after he’s gone. This is a movie split in three distinct halves. The first about Ryan Gosling. The second about Bradley Cooper, who’s life intersects for just a fraction of a life changing moment with Ryan’s. And the third, well, I aint telling…

Ryan is white trash, a daredevil bike rider. Meets a very sexy Eva Mendes, and post a very steamy encounter (which is completely snipped off by our beloved censors), he leaves with his circus to return a full year later. When he reunites with Eva, he feels compelled enough to quit his job and stay back. Doing some odd jobs before, given the lack of money and egged on by his mate, he decides to rob banks.

Bradley Cooper is an ex-law student and a cop, against his influential father, a retired Supreme Court judge’s wishes. Intelligent, charming, articulate, with plans to transform the police force. Likes to play it by the book, do the right thing. But his chance encounter with Ryan changes all that.

Love. Fate. Opportunism. Fatherhood. Corruption. Politics. Marriage. Love. I wish the movie was a bit faster paced. That there was more screen time with Bradley and Ryan together, quite rare that you see two hunks oozing such sex appeal, together. I wish the censors wouldn’t be so childish in ‘A’ rated films. Several times, it felt the movie was about to end, only for it to acquire fresh legs. Several times you felt the film was dragging only to get piqued at a new turn of events.

It’s an interesting premise, told in a strangely disjointed, quiet, understated way. It makes its points in a ruminative, soft-spoken manner rather than the sledge hammer approach more favoured by Indian film makers. However, its possibly precisely because of such a demeanour, parts of the film stay with you, some of the questions it raises, float in your head as you leave the hall. This is one of those films which makes you wonder what you would do in such a situation. Just wish it was put together as a more compelling whole.

Nautanki Saala

Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 12th April, 2013
Time : 131 minutes
Director & Writer : Rohan Sippy, based on the French film, Apres Vous; Co-writers : Nipun Dharmadhikari, Charudutt Acharya; Music : Falak Shabir, Mike McCleary, Rashid Khan
Starring : Ayushmann Khurrana, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Pooja Salvi, Gaelyn Mandonca, Evelyn Sharma, Rufi Khan

This one stretches credulity and patience. Nice idea (borrowed from a French film), but no cigar.

Ayushmann, actor and director of a RavanLeela and a chronic do-gooder (it seems), saves Kunaal from committing suicide. And then, inexplicably takes over caring for him, ferrying him around at the risk of jeopardizing his relationship with his disapproving girlfriend, Gaelyn. Finding him a job, even at the risk of jeopardizing his own livelihood. Then even trying to get Kunaal’s failed relationship back on track, leading to unforseen consequences. All this while there is nothing that Kunaal brings to the party, everything is pretty one sided, which makes every additional help offered by Ayushmann even more bizarre.

There are some nice jokes (too far, too few) and some nice visuals (one of Gaelyn against a steaming kettle stands out in memory), but the overall pace of the film is slow, its so disjointed, jerky in its entirety that it makes for a rather painful watch. Ayushmann and Kunaal do the best they can, Evelyn as Sita stands out, while Gaelyn plays the angry girlfriend and Pooja the sentimental, mushy Bengali reasonably well.

It’s a remake of a French film, Apres Vous, which I haven’t seen, but am sure they managed to infuse it with a lot more charm, quirkiness than this, quite painful watch.


Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 12th April, 2013
Time : 126 minutes
Director & Writer : Joseph Kosinski, based on the graphic comicbook, co-written with Arvid Nelson; Music : Anthony Gonzalez, M.8.3.
Starring : Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo

Scavengers / Aliens attacked the moon, destroyed it and then attacked the Earth. Humans won that war but lost the planet. Earth ravaged first by the loss of the moon and the resultant quakes and tsunamis, then by the battle itself, becoming an inhospitable barren land. Now, in 2077, policed by a few humans, its only a source of energy for the human survivors on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.

Tom Cruise is one of the technicians cum policemen. Flies around, locates drones which are missing, gets them back in action, avoids or fights the few remaining scavengers, as the case may be. Is haunted by memories of a past life. And is partnered with Andrea, both of whom are monitored by a controller on Titan, who constantly keeps checking if they are an ‘effective’ team. The big carrot is moving them from Earth to Tithe when their time there is up, and that’s just two weeks away. Andrea is very excited about that, is very particular about rules. Tom is not so sure he wants to leave Earth. Something holds him there, makes him yearn for the old times. And keeps seeing visions of Olga Kurlyenko, whom he has never seen before in his life.

The set up is good, mysterious. You always sense a surprise around the corner. Special effects, photography, sets are excellent, the best thing about the film. The pace is slow, probably a notch below what it needed to be. And when the surprises do come they fluctuate between being utterly confusing, utterly predictable or utterly incredible.

Tom Cruise comes across a bit flat in this one. Some touches of emotion but otherwise very soul-less. The others in the film, Andrea, Olga, Morgan Freeman don’t really have too much to do, making it a rather longwinded one man show.

Everytime I see a sci-fi film like this one, I realize how much I admire the Matrix, where they brought forth a mindblowing concept, yet kept the film very, very simple. Oblivion, on the other hand, left me distinctly underwhelmed and has every possibility of fading into its namesake.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Chashme Baddoor

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 29th March, 2013
Time : 131 minutes
Director & Writer : David Dhawan, based on the 1981 film written and directed by Sai Paranjpe; Music : Sajid-Wajid
Starring : Ali Zafar, Taapsee Pannu, Siddharth, Divyendu Sharma, Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor, Lilette Dubey

Its loud, its garish, its very, very funny in parts, its whacky, over the top, sometimes sleazy, some silly subplots, slightly meanders in the second half but otherwise quite enjoyable as a not altogether mindless remake of a classic

You can easily judge whether the humour is to your taste by viewing the trailer and figuring out whether Divyendu’s innovative shayari or Rishi Kapoor’s mangled sayings, both of which flow consistently through the film, frequency as well as quality wise, tickle your funny bone or not.

The story retains the broad outline of the earlier film, with three friends (two street smart skirt chasers and one innocent, good at heart) trying at different times to woo the same girl. Some largely unnecessary sub plots are added with Rishi Kapoor as a pub owner, Lilette Dubey as their landlord and Anupam Kher, playing Taapsee’s father, doing a ridiculous double role with a whole side story of Army vs Civilians.

Divyendu and Taapsee steal the show with their excellent performances with Rishi Kapoor almost believable as the tattooed, senior biker and pub owner. Ali and Siddharth do justice to their slightly extreme roles (one too simple and the other too over the top), while neither Lilette nor Anupam Kher are likely to include this one in their best of showreels, due to the kind of characters they are saddled with.

I think I was in the mood for something like this, am possibly being generous. Don’t go looking for too much or go with a set of friends and you're likely to enjoy the fun with priceless gems like ‘If you can’t change the girl, change the girl’

Jurassic Park 3D

Rating : 9/10 (as much for the original as for this 3D version)
Release Date : 5th April, 2013
Time : 127 minutes
Director : Steven Spielberg; Writer : David Koepp and Michael Crichton (based on the book by Michael); Music : John Williams
Starring : Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Samuel Jackson, Wayne Knight, Cameron Thor, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero

Despite our familiarity with the film (three members of my family have seen it not less than 25 times), it was great fun going back to a theatre and watching it in 3D. The fact that the story is well-known allowing you to observe little details, like the fact that Cameron Thor doesn’t shut the taxi door while getting off to meet Wayne Knight, with the driver making a rude gesture behind him. Or absorbing the fact that a hit film about dinosaurs, that sparked a world wide interest in the giant lizards, had actually only fifteen minutes of footage showing dinosaurs…

3D enhances scenes like the goat leg being thrown on the jeep, the T-Rex and Raptor scenes (including the grill and Ariana falling down when crawling through the vent) and the helicopter ride by the waterfall. Iconic scenes like the shot of the raptor with the computer code projected on him or the T-Rex roaring while the banner of ‘When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth’ falls in the foreground, are as amazing as in the original.

Not sure I would trek to theatre to view many films being re-released in 3D, but absolutely enjoyed watching this one…

The Call

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 5th April, 2013
Time : 94 minutes
Director : Brad Anderson; Writers : Richard D’Ovidio, Nicole D’Ovidio, Jon Bokenkamp ; Music : John Debney
Starring : Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, Michael Imperioli, Evie Thompson, Roma Maffia

An unexpected tight, taut, tense thriller that catches you from scene one and never really lets go right till the very end. Whats really fascinating is the new perspective, that of the 911 operator, who receives the emergency calls

One such call, picked up by Halle Berry, a veteran operator, leaves a lasting impact on her, almost making her quit altogether. Months later, there is a chance to make amends, but it will take the combined wits of Halle, Abigail (the victim), Morris and his other partners in the LAPD to thwart the stop-at-nothing villain, Michael Eklund.

The acting, especially by Halle and Abigail, is great. The tension and pace of the film is relentless, the plot gets a little unrealistic towards the close but I quite liked the twist right at the end. The violence is gritty, gruesome and there are scenes involving young teens, so wouldn’t recommend this one for those of slightly squeamish disposition. All others are going to enjoy this nerve-wracking thriller…