Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: MADAARI

Too Loud, Too Long And Too Melodramatic
To Be Anything More Than Mildly Interesting.

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

An eye for an eye to get the corrupt politicians to own up to their mistakes, is a great idea. And we don’t doubt that Irrfan Khan is able to carry the movie on his shoulders alone. But once you know the ‘eye for an eye’ motive, the thrill wears off and you labor through the how is he going to get caught by the police. It’s too long, too loud and too melodramatic. Watch only for Irrfan Khan.

Main Review:

If you’ve watched the trailer, they gave away the plot: Will Minister sahab ka beta be treated like a joota banane wale ka beta?

So you know it’s a kidnap drama because they show it in the trailer. The first half goes in showing an unkempt Irrfan Khan keeping an eye on the home minister’s kid who runs out of the boarding school every night to savor street food in Dehradun. Then Irrfan Khan kidnaps the home minister’s kid and throws the system in chaos. The system depends on the skills of a police officer Nachiket (Jimmy Shergill in a role he has played many many times), and even though Nachiket is right, he has to fight self-promoting individuals - politicians as well as security services - to help find the boy.

It is clear that Irrfan Khan has not thought the kidnapping through because we the audience are subjected to him dragging a reluctant kid in bus journeys, and train journeys and truck journeys and by foot… We meander everywhere as aimlessly as the duo and even though to sympathise with Irrfan Khan’s loss, you fast lose empathy. Where is the movie going?

Now don’t get me wrong, Irrfan Khan is a good actor and the one scene where is sitting at the hospital when the child is being treated for food poisoning, and another hospital scene after he discovers that his own child is dead are award worthy and a star each have been given in this review just for these two scenes.

But how long can you watch him change clothes, journey with the kid, move from one place to another while the helpless cops say, ‘He is moving from one place to another which makes it difficult for us to catch him.’

And when you see this for most of the film, your mind starts wandering into the funny zone. How come he has internet in the middle of the desert? Forwarded Whatsapp jokes crowd your head that maybe the service providers have a limp net service and reach in the cities, but in remote places the Airtel girl finds net connection! You smile at the thought of Irrfan being the Airtel girl, and then the smile vanishes.

The predictable end (which repeats the footage borrowed from all the protest marches you have seen on TV) shows corrupt politicians to be spineless and admitting rather quickly to, ‘Yes, I have taken bribes and will continue to take bribes…’ you just want the movie to end. The background score which was decent in the beginning has become so loud you wish you had ear-plugs, the dialog becomes so bombastic and preachy you want to say, you’re telling us nothing news about corruption, so stop going on and on and on…

Had this movie been short and succinct, the rating would have been through the roof.  The child actor does a decent job and Irrfan is good too when he’s not hamming the ‘I’ve been wronged!’ part. The movie is average because there is nothing subtle and instead of coming away with any hope for change, you come away as if you have been attacked by a sledgehammer for almost three hours.    




(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: M CREAM

Stupidathon


½ star


Mini Review:


A pretentious little film that’s so cliche ridden, you wish the four friends who have set out for the hills in search of a ‘legendary’ drug to smoke up, fall off some cliff.


Main Review:


‘This film is about drugs and alcohol, but it will be in ‘art’ space.’

The moment that is decided, then you also know the fate of the four protagonists of the film whose stories are so hysterically mundane, you find yourself napping.


Napping, opening eyes, finding nothing has really happened, napping, opening eyes, discovering empty coffee cup in your hand cannot keep you awake.


And there’s plenty to keep you awake: poetry, sex, views of the Himalayas. The film fails here too.


The poetry is something you might here at open mic gigs at pubs: ‘we are but sunshine on blades of grass’. You want to mow that lawn where the grass is growing!


The sex is so tacky, not even a soft focus long shot of naked Ira Dubey is enough to make you happy.  


There’s not a single breath-taking view of the Himalayas, and anyone who’s been up there in Uttarakhand knows the mountains are gob-stoppingly awe-inspiring. That’s because the four are shown ‘tripping’ on LSD in ways only film people know how. You have seen such ‘scenes’ in many b-grade Bollywood masala films where they want to show how heroine or the sister of the hero has been ‘drugged’ by the villain in order to rape them… You cannot unsee this ‘throw your head back and sway in slow motion’ type acting.


Neither can you understand how Imaad Shah is supposed to be a wonderful actor when all he does is throws his head back to squint into the sun (even if the scene is set in the evening), and spout supposed intelligent stuff like, ‘You’re a hypocritical dumbo’. For someone shown to be drinking rum straight from the bottle at all times, it’s a miracle he wakes up in the morning to then drink tea. And the whisky drinking scene with ‘save the trees’ activist is so bad, phone videos made for Facebook of Goa trips are nicer.


And yes, the activist is a ‘foreign’ journalist, the drug infused people infesting the hills are all ‘foreigners’ with backpacks who start a ‘German bakery’ even if they are from Louisiana, the four protagonists too are stereotypes: one is a rich girl with a farmhouse and a jeep, the boyfriend is a photographer who tries too hard to be cool and drunk, the third is a lad with hair and bottle of rum in his hand and writes poetry in a diary, pages of which he mostly tears and crumples (someone told them poets/writers crumple pages in little balls all around them), and the fourth is a girl who is an upright ‘I don’t smoke but I can pass the doobie’ type person, who wants to interview Tibetan exiles… If you think these are cliches, then imagining suffering their drunken scenes and smoked up scenes and insult first kiss later scenes, and driving through winding roads and getting lost scenes…


And when they do reach more guitar playing firang circles who are happy to pass the chillum, the movie ends. Before expletives escape your mildly surprised, lulled by boredom head, you are helped by someone who informs you that the film has been around in cans for the last three or four years. Maybe it should have stayed there.


(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: STAR TREK BEYOND

Not an ordinary trek, but an action-packed roller-coaster ride!

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

The Enterprise and its fabulous crew are back in a crackling, action-packed adventure in a nebula far far away. And this time the villains are so scary and so bad, they destroy everything we love about Star Trek movies. But can they keep the good guys down?

Main Review:

Pick up your popcorn and other treats before the curtain goes up on this fast and furious space adventure of the Starship Enterprise and its young crew Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg and Karl Urban - Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty and Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy who have to face the evil Krall and his bees…

The movie opens on a melancholy note and we realise that both Kirk and Spock are planning on quitting. Before you can exclaim, ‘No way!’ you are hurtling through space into a nebula where the war is spectacular and the camera work so incredible you’d think you are on a roller coaster.

When Enterprise is forced to land on the alien planet, of course there is a cool alien who helps the good guys escape. Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, has written a juicy role for himself and the engineering tricks involved really add fun to the already cool adventure.

The dizzying ride through Yorktown, the alien M-class planet Altamid are so cool, you don’t have time to take those 3D glasses off to breathe. Zaylah the alien is a good addition to the cast and I loved her spunk. There are also reminders of old Star Trek movies and it gives solace to trekkie hearts, starting with Kirk delivering a symbol of peace to a race of aliens…

The impossible camera angles competes well with the music and the repartee between McCoy and Spock keep that smile plastered on your face. The director’s experience with The Fast & The Furious movies make sure that the action is superb too.

Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov, died tragically after the movie was made, and it is good to see his name in credits along with Leonard Nimoy’s. They will be missed.



(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)



Review: KABALI

Kahaani Ki Bali!


2 stars


Mini Review:


Rajinikant is such a phenomenon today that he now has to live up to that larger than life persona in the movies as well. He cannot be shown eating pakodas at a roadside stall, calling the baddies and saying, ‘parashakti hero da!’ or be shown beating up politicians who insult his sister while his auto rickshaw driver friends watch in awe or even drunk dance after asking the nadaswaram goshti to perform at a dhaba… This movie tries very hard to capture that magic, but the script stutters and fails, despite his ‘bahut khoob!’


Main Review:


At one time Rajini films would be known for his entrance, whether he appears as Baasha the don coming up below stairs to get into his car, or appear (cigar first) as Padaiyappa to save the ancestral house… Now the audience yelled and hooted and clapped and whistled because of the nostalgia. We see him reading a book in prison… that’s too tame a first look. Fans did not want him to see change prison gear for a suit, we just wanted to see him stride out to a Neruppa da welcome!


The pace of the movie is so slow you wish there were more action set pieces. There’s over an hour of telling the audience how he became the leader of the Indian plantation laborers in Malaysia and how the other leader took Kabali under his wing and how Kabali fell in love with a worker who becomes his wife.


The rivalry that turns into hatred between the Chinese workers and Indians is understandable, if you know the history of immigrant laborers. But from fighting for equal rights to turning into mafia is a transition that is a tad unbelievable. And even here, the morals have to be high. No dealing in drugs and girls. They good gondas. Even if we take the story as is, there are too many choppy edits and you’re saying, ‘Whaaaat?!’


And the flashbacks! Oh, the flashbacks! So badly done, you’d think Kabali’s wife Roopa (Radhika Apte) is pregnant for a lot longer than women usually are.


I’d take the handpump ripping scene from Baasha (which Sunny Deol copied in the Gadar in 2001), the pulling down of the swing in Padaiyappa, the tears in Mullum Mallarum as he bids farewell to his beloved Valli any day over the obvious ‘Rajini the super star is so great he does good by rehabilitating drug users’


You ask, where is the story? We’re all fans here! We don’t have to see him as a pale shadow of Baasha, we want him to make us want to dance in the aisles. We want him to walk to the frame and break a coconut with his head and dance ‘naan autokaaran autokaaran’ or at least a happy horse and buggy song as he did in Muthu. This movie just makes you sigh for Manik Baasha’s super chair scene where he kicks Albert’s butt. In fact every time Kabali sits on a chair, you know a gun or steel rod is going to appear from his sleeve so he can shoot or hit the bad guy in front. And yes, the audience is going to hear a lecture about doing the right thing.


The Chinese bad guy is overdressed and his dialog is so stilted you start wondering if the table where he eats his soup came from Inception.

Yes. The film exhausts everyone. As a Rajini fan, I have come away feeling demoralised. Was it the language? There is a Tamil, Telugu as well as the Hindi version. But it’s not that. It’s the lack of a story. It’s like a fanboy film. Is that why the star laughs at it so much?




(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)




Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: GREAT GRAND MASTI

Na Sex Hai, Na Comedy. This Bhoot Tale Is Not Titillating!

1 star

Mini Review:

Amar, Meet and Prem are back on the screen with the third instalment of their almost sexcapade. This time the story is set in a haunted house. But no matter what the setting is, the comedy remains shallow: the jokes do not go beyond buxom women and male genitalia. It could have been very funny had they aimed at ‘Carry On’ series, but they do not go beyond bad Whatsapp jokes.


Main Review:


Everything in this movie is so obvious, they could have easily called it, ‘Men Who Stare At Boobs’. With due apologies to the women reading, let me continue. Staring at female bosoms may be the pastime of young men, but a two hour movie, is stretching the joke too far.

I will be the first person to say, yes, there are five instances which show us how clever the writing is and what this movie could have been, but it remains in the realm of playing the piano with a viagra induced erection.


So the three lads (Riteish Deshmukh, Aftab Shivdasani and Vivek Oberoi) land up in a haunted house in Doodhwadi (don’t ask! It has exactly all the visuals desperate for sex lads can dream up). They are confronted by a sexy woman (Urvashi Rautela) who says she can fulfill all their wishes. By now you know what their reaction will be: the cartoon dog panting, salivating at the sight of a steak. Not again you say, but the woman turns out to be a ghost who insists that she needs to be ‘serviced’ or she won’t let them leave.


Here is where you see a flash of wit. ‘Mere shauk poore karo or main tum ko shock par shock doongi.’ The aural pun roughly translates to ‘Fulfill my ‘shauk’ (desires) or I will give you ‘shock’ (electric ones, because there are no surprises here)’


That brings me to the four other funny lines in the film. Watch out for them because they are thrown in casually as though they did not know that they were funny. But they are funnier than woman stuffing cash into her blouse. Here are the funny lines:


  1. ‘Bada aaya Kambal Haasan!’ said to a man with a blanket (Kambal) who tries to deter the three lads from going to the haunted house.
  2. The same blanket clad man is called Ramsay, after the famous Ramsay Brothers who made cult horror movies. Since he is telling tales of a haunted house, the joke is awesome, truly.
  3. ‘Gaon mein wow!’ the lads say when they imagine buxom, scantily clad women in Doodhwadi.
  4. When the two lads are suggesting the third look into the mirror because the ghost doesn’t have an image, he says, ‘Aaina chhodo, muaaina karne do!’ Clever aural pun on mirror (aaina) and ‘ckecking out’ (muaaina).


Am I spoiling the movie for the audience? Not at all. The movie has been created for lads who stare at body parts. That’s why the three wives of the heroes are reduced to being just bodies. That’s why you have to suffer the long standing jokes at the level of Antakshari Baba who has watermelon coming out of his…


When will we make a smart sex comedy, I wonder? Even if we copy Mel Brooks, it will be brilliant. His movies had erections and buxom women, but no tables rose like here. He was hiding in a harem dressed as a eunuch in a feathered skirt, and he is discovered because the feathers fly when he sees the buxom queen. Those movies were funny. These face pulling men who shake as though being mildly electrocuted are not funny. They’re just amateur cartoonish creatures.


(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: ICE AGE COLLISION COURSE



Strictly for Kiddies. Tiresome For Grown Ups

2 stars

Mini Review:

Scrat the sabre toothed squirrel has managed set off the continental drift, fall in love with a female squirrel and usher in the age of the dinosaurs,  started the meltdown as well all in order to save that precious acorn… Frankly, someone got fed up and sent him off to space so we won't have to see him again. But he sets off a destruction of the world. And despite the funny lines, you wish it ended earlier than 94 minutes.

Main Review:

'Crash and Eddie reporting for duty!'
'He said doody!'

You just want to reach out and hug these immensely talkative twin possums Crash and Eddie, who you met when they thought they were mammoths! You're happy to see them on the big screen again! Louder, funnier and they rule the action because, ‘We have superpowers!’

Meanwhile in space, Scrat's search for a safe place for the acorn has resulted in a gigantic meteor rushing towards Earth: The end is coming!

Manny and Ellie are just learning to deal with baby Peaches (now all grown up), and her boyfriend Julian. Diego and Shira and Sid and the usual gang is there, when the pretty meteor showers turn deadly. It's halfway through the movie and you find yourself yawning. This is deja vu all over again! The pre-historic animals are lumbering towards finding shelter again!

Their journey and their quest to save themselves and the whole planet makes for a very engaging 94 minutes long tale. Not.

This movie will make grown ups feel exhausted. There is not a single Manny and Ellie moment of trunks touching to make a heart, no moment of peace under the night sky with Diego keeping watch, no fear inspiring pirates… The art of animation has become so sophisticated that you have come to expect faultless rendering of characters and action. There is so much color and action that the kids will love the Shangri Llama (yes! That’s the name!) and the madness of Eddie and Crash. As a grown up watching the movie, I loved the science used here, the many movie references and the best part of all, Buck singing ‘Figaro’. Very smartly done, but as they said in an ad once, ‘The magic is gone!’




Thursday, July 07, 2016

Review: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS


Pets Just Wanna Have Fun!


3.5 stars

Mini Review:

This movie is everything the trailer promises and more! Funny, witty, and delightful, it won't make you feel guilty about leaving your pets home alone while you go out to work every day. Trust me, these pets are wickedly funny. 

Main Review:

Let me admit to this right now. We've always had a pet or two or three in my family. And I'm happily immune to the persistent tail wagging, or the sad-cat face and have survived loving pecks from pet parakeets flying freely around the house (so no fans!). Maybe that's why I enjoyed this wickedly funny movie more.

As the trailer tells you, your pets are partying after you are gone. And they party hard. The characterization is faultless: the stately poodle Leonard is subjected to Classical music, when his heart belongs to head-banging Rock. 

The fluffy bunny Snowball was my favorite even though he is the villain and leads a band of revolutionary pets called 'Flushed Away'. Watch the movie to see what I mean...

As always this is not just an ordinary tale of pets partying when the owners are away. It brings lessons of friendship and loss and ownership and pain and of course love and lessons learnt by watching tv soaps...

There are street cats in an awesome homage to Andre Lloyd Webber, and even though you don't hear them singing, you hear, 'The things I've seen!'

The story of Max and Duke is central to the movie and when all pets rally around to help them, despite the differences:

'You were the random cat who tried to eat me!'

'No Tiberious! Put that hamster down!'

Of course Duke and Max learn to survive challenges that living in Manhattan throws at them and their escapade makes you laugh out loud. The sausage factory scene is so good you begin to feel hungry. 

This is a pretty short film (lasts for an hour and a half) considering how long-winded full length animation films can be. There is not a single moment that makes you want to step out for a cup of coffee. The film is engaging and the story really heart-warming. 

Duke's homelessness and his need to belong touches you for real. Max's acceptance of Duke makes him a hero at last. Then there's Chloe. And there's Gidget and Pops... And there's the Viper...

You emerge from the theater with a smile on the face that does not go away until you reach home and realise that you don't have a pet. Then you get into the kitchen and make yourself a cup of tea and hug the microwave for making perfect popcorn every time...

Are they making secret life of appliances next?