Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: X The Film

Superior Style, Really Tiresome Content

2 stars

Mini Review:

One laughed at Pyar Ka Punchnama which painted women as gold diggers and vain, but this one takes many many gorgeous women and plonks them in beds in bras, wanting to have babies of a man who is a stalker, and a self-confessed 'loser'. It's a humorless, tedious watch, except for one story which is simply outstanding. Such a pity.

Main Review:

As much as I loved the idea of ten (or is it 11) directors who chose to come together and shoot one man's story, I hated watching the slow paced, tedious story where you wanted to perk it up with some Criminal Minds style action just to get over the trite, 'If this were Hollywood, I'd be tearing your clothes off and if it were Bollywood, we'd be sitting on the bed like good boy and girl...' type dialog.

Besides gagging at the stupidity (it's at a film festival! Which delegate even remembers Hollywood or Bollywood when watching world cinema? Sigh!), I was so bored I almost clapped when the girl at the bar slaps the protagonist who doesn't know his wine, and has pick up lines so gauche you suddenly like Pyar Ka Punchnama and remember Sophie Chowdhary was so much cooler when she asked Rahul Bose, 'Coffee?' 

And when the hero (Poor Rajat Kapoor!) continues to mouth super dumb lines like, 'I haven't written a word since last six months' you have no sympathy left for him and heckle, 'Maybe you need a different day job, asshole!'

If only Huma Qureshi's character had a whip (or an old fashioned wooden 'ruler' in her hand) her trouser-less avataar would have been more fun.

If only the Calcutta girl who was reading rubbishy 'thoughts' in the lad's diary edited and made corrections (and he goes on to publish the corrected version as his own book) I would have loved his story more.

If only the maid had added a mirchi to the vodka...

If only his wife had passed off another man's child as the director's instead of whining about, 'You fucked her? You fucked her?' 

If only the protagonist had enough cojones to kill his whiny wife with extra chillies...

It's like the directors have missed watching the brilliant short called Ahalya where the saucer eyed Radhika Apte behaves like a woman who knows her mind. All these stories had so many possibilities. They just ended up being boring. Why would so many beautiful women clad in bras falling on the bed, their curly hair spread beautifully on the sheet wanting to see 'little Ks running around the house.'?

'More like little K's sitting in the corner and moping!'

But the whole movie has been edited and put together so beautifully, you regret wanting to slap everyone.

And then there's the story of Swara Bhaskar seducing young K which made me sit up and go slack-jawed. She walks home, knowing the young man is following her. Wow! She just seduces everyone in the theatre. The movie just becomes brilliant. Both the stars this movie earns are here. One for this story, and the second for not having subtitles and allowing the simple Tamil to seduce you.

Unfortunately one part of ten doesn't a hit make.



'I Thought You Came Here To Die!'
'It's a matter of Perspective.'

3 stars

Mini Review:

'If James Bond doesn't get to seduce the women, who will?' my mum said when she heard that the idiotic Indian Censor Board asked Sony Pictures to cut the kisses from this awesome new movie. But they could not take away the innate sexiness from the man. The action is super too. Good weekend watch!

Main Review:

One of the bad guys in the movie is called 'C' and I hope Nirlajj Pahlani (the right honorable Varun Grover of Masaan fame coined the name!) feels like the letter (it connects to the 'arse' in hindi) is branded on his forehead. 

Cutting the kisses from a Bond movie is so asinine, and it shows. Wonder how Sunny Leone's Ek Paheli Leela slipped through. Maybe Nirlajj ji was salivating too much...

But no matter what our arse-licking Censor does, Bond emerges hotter than ever. He wears his suits so well: large checks in Mexico, black in london, dusty brown in Tangiers and Morocco and a Uniclo type padded jacket in Austria... He is simply delish. And don't forget, he is perhaps the only man who has been able to carry a horizontal striped suit! (Yes, he does!)

He even looks awesome standing at the window, waiting for Moneypenny in his apartment. And talking to a mouse...

Why am I not mentioning the gorgeous Tom Ford Snowden 05B ($227 only) sunglasses? 

Because they are a cover for not-so-great a story. Especially because we have seen and heard and read so much from Assange to Snowden, this global surveillance is not as menacing as say the baddies from Live and Let Die, or Goldfinger even...

This story is personal, and you feel for M who wears his frustration well.

'If you don't know where James, is, I'll have you...'

But James is filling up the screen with excitement wherever he goes. Helicopters, trains, cars and airplanes... He makes us all part of the action. Mr. Hinx is powerful and creepy all right, but Jaws from Spy Who Loved Me and Oddjob from Goldfinger were scarier.

And the song! The song! Why does a man sing the song? Where are the husky voiced seductive songstresses?

Oh! They probably anticipated Nirlajj Pahlani's objection to sexy voices and asked Sam Smith to sing...

I wish there was more of Monica Bellucci in the movie. Literally and storywise too... She disappears from Rome all too soon.

The action set pieces -- and you will hear every critic mention the phrase -- are stupendous. The end is a bit tame. My mum said, 'The Inglorious Basterds wallah baddie should have been a little meaner, no? Why drill only little pinholes in someone's head? '

I looked at my mum in alarm.

Have hid the Black & Decker drill set after coming back home. Tonight I sleep with the door locked. You go book your tickets to Bond!

P.S. I don't wish to sound like a show-off, but boss, finding a traffic-free road in Rome was too unbelievable. Even a lame (in comparison) comedy movie SPY got the traffic is Rome right...            

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo


2 stars

Mini Review:

What could have been a 1 and a 1/2 hour decent movie, has been stretched beyond belief for 174 minutes with 12 most godawful songs, and the word 'Royal' attached to everything including horrid brand endorsements. A Royal Pain in the you know what!

Main Review:

Rajshri does not let you forget, not even for a minute that everything about this movie is 'Royal' (Except when Salman Khan makes an entry wearing Royal Blue kurta)

The palace is royal, the school is royal, the scissors are royal, so are the shoes, and the study, and the servants and the clothes and the dining hall... 

If that is not enough, there are rajkumaris and diwan saabs and head of security (who is sent to buy fruit in the local market), also there is a royal carriage (jisme bachpan khila tha!),

Oh is that more than three sentences? Then let me sing you a trite song, which might be about something completely inane: the Tulsi found her Raam, and now let me sing a song because her dupatta is green...

So the pauper helps royal family by pretending he is prince...Oh damn! Am I giving away plot? Let me numb your senses with a song: Prem se sabkuch bhoologe, jo bhi Salman karta hai woh cute lagta hai kyonki her dupatta is sky blue!

Salman Khan looks gorgeous in a black shirt.
Salman Khan looks so gorgeous in a transparent black shirt.
Salman Khan is stupid in love with a princess...

Oooh! Did you say, 'in love'?'

Time for a song, 'Jo humse takraayega... choor choor ho jaayega!' 

Halt! Achtung! This is not a love song! 

Rajshri doesn't care! It sounds royally royal. You know, sword fights and all...

Oh and a good time to introduce Jaani Dushman-Ek Anokhi Royal Prem Katha. It would have been fun to see Icchadhari Naag appear. After all, there is room for wicked snake making chhote rajkumar behave badly (Remember Puli? Bad guy makes Sridevi behave badly!)

Wasted opportunity there, because we don't really know why Jaani Dushman wants to hilao the Royal Family ki neev! 

But Family is watching, so we just allow Royal Villain to be just that.

Oh! Time for a song. 'Royal time aayo! Royal alarm baajyo! Royal mara mari roko because her dupatta is orange!'

Sonam Kapoor looks really nice playing dress-up a la Maharani Gayatri Devi, a pretty picture when seducing Salman with a song: 'Flowers are falling, in the bower, put your royal arms around my royal waist, right now!'

And the audience wants to run over the swords the brothers were using to show us royal timepass. 

Brand endorsements are rampant with Haldiram, Gowardhan Ghee, PN Gadgil Jewelers, brand emblazoned on cooking range, cars... Royal puke!

Oooh! By the time Swara Bhaskar is out of her Royal Koap Bhawan, there have been two more songs and flashbacks about how Sheesh Mahal is a place of flashbacks for the grown up royals.

Boss, No wonder Neil Nitin Mukesh is sodden drunk in that Sheesh Mahal. 

Speaking of which, they missed an Enter The Dragon type royal homily: Destroy the image and you will break the enemy, and a fight with Icchadhari Naag. Imagine shirtless Salman being scratched by Jaani Dushman's snakey claw...

What a cool fight it would have been!

All you know that nobody in the royal family called the royal carpenter and fixed the damned ledge of the royal glass palace...

I kept having flashbacks from The King And I and I happily imagined Salman Khan do a Yul Brynner, 'Etcetera, etcetera...'

Alas. Rajshri is yet to get out of Hum Saath Saath Hain mode. Nothing wrong with that. Except, this time it was Hum Royals Songs Ke Saath Saath Hain!

The story is not new, but it could have been told in say 120 minutes. The songs screw your happiness, but the lead pair is cute enough for you to gush and sigh.

Wait! Did I like the movie? Let me sing a song first: Prem is too sexy for his shirt, too sexy for his shirt, so sexy it hurts... (And these lyrics are 100% superior to what we heard!)

What was the question? Fuhgeddaboutit. After 174 minutes, your arse is so set in the chairs and your senses so numb they send in ushers with cattleprods to help you up. You scramble for the exits before one more song assaults the credits...

P.S: There's a bhai dooj scene when two royal sisters accept Salman as royal Bhai, "Hame apni behen maan bhi lo ab!" Suddenly royal Neil Nitin Mukesh steps forward with a dialog, 'Aur main bhi...' Before I clutched my heart and collapsed, anticipating a strange politically incorrect confession, he added, 'Bhai samajh lo!' Phew!


Friday, November 06, 2015

What a finish to the Mumbai Film Festival!



My Golden Days (Trois Souvenirs De Ma  Jeunesse)

Land And Shade (La Tierra y La Sombra)

Morning started on a low note, with life intruding on Deepa (the best movie watching partner!). I stepped into the theater alone, wondering how is it that kids manage to stay healthy all year and are feverish when mum wants to lose herself in the movies. While Deepa was on mom duty, I watched Taklub (Trap), a Filipina movie.

Having lived in Hong Kong, I have watched maids go from happy to distraught at news of hurricanes and typhoons, this movie jolted me more than it should have. The idea of survivors looking for their lost loved ones, building lives with the debris of their former lives looking for survivors after the typhoon where people lose everything is awful.

The movie is so real, you begin to think you are watching a disaster documentary. It shows how the lives of three people inter-linked and their concern for each other makes them so human.

And although the Filipinas are deeply religious, the loss of faith shown was too melodramatic I thought. 

Too much despair to start the last day of the film festival...

But then Charlie Kaufman came to the rescue, and we were plunged into the world of seriously strange stop motion animation. 

Once you got over the 'humanness' of the figures/puppets, you begin to enjoy the tale that is being told. The ice is broken by the common 'grab your arm' co-passenger on a flight (i choked on my chai here because I was reminded of a fellow film critic who grabs the nearest available arm at anything dramatic on screen).

But Micheal Stone is telling us the story of how everything and everybody conforms and that he is alone because he won't. Was weird bawling in an animated movie where people were gasping at the nudity in the shower. But if people have ever told you what to do with your life, or asked you, 'Why can't you be normal like everyone else?' you'd understand why the movie hit home.

Charlie Kaufman is telling us how lonely it gets when you do not conform. You want to adjust, and Micheal Stone tries really hard, but he cannot. The humor is never absent. And you are reminded by the uncomfortable laughs in the fully packed auditorium that you are watching the movie with many a tortured soul.

The line outside My Golden Days was so long, you wondered if the synopsis was misguided. Misspent youth sounds like a promise of lots of onscreen sex...

Once the movie started, my cynical side vanished. It was drowned in the most deliciously written correspondence between two lovers. Deepa (who was back!) and I, and possibly all the women in the theatre began to fall in love with Paul. 

The film has been shot beautifully and I loved the choice of non-conventional looking actors. Instant love for scenes from Tajikistan and one where Paul's dad walks into his own bedroom and finds his son with Esther, and slowly steps back embarrassed.

The film, no matter how much it indulges every woman's swooning poetic side, left me wondering why Paul hated his mother so much. It is probably fashionable to say 'How I hate my mother' but even so, it sort of rankled...

Came away wondering if there were shades of Heathcliff in the movie... Laughed pointedly at two gents who were having a conversation which something like: What men! French cinema and so little sex?

The sex was there. In the words of the letters they exchanged...

Land And Shade (La Tierra y La Sombra) seemed to be incorrectly named. 'Sombra' the Spanish word which has been called Shade is more 'Shadow'. The story of a family living in the shadow of the land they own, is a far, far sinister tale than the simplistic description Land and Shade.

You are immediately drawn to the horrors of cane farming and know why Don Alonso leaves the farm and why he is back. Especially in Maharashtra, where sugarcane is depleting the water table far more rapidly than ever, to watch the ash cover everything is an eye opener. You think of ways of saving the little family when you watch Alonso do the dishes, sweep the floor covered in ash. You feel claustrophobic when you realise that they dare not open windows because the ash and soot will cover everything.

A shower scene in a movie generally titillates, but the scene in this movie just made me want to kneel down and pray to the gods they had water.

It sounds trite, but even the drunken song Alonso sings touches you deeply. It gives you no time to think though, because the land continues to engulf this family in its shadow, attempting to bury them under ash and dust...

I stepped out of the theater, wondering how much it would have cost my dad to give up on the lands of his fathers. In my head though, I was sitting next to the mother, stubborn and helpless, unable to let go of the land that was hers.

A sombre end to a film festival that delighted my heart and head with so many amazing films. Deepa and I said quiet 'byes' and walked towards the parked cars, ready to be swallowed by reality once again.

We will meet again, over wine and discussions of about Waheeda Rehman in pants, Guru Dutt's designer forehead wrinkles, and Ingrid Bergman saying, 'Play it Sam, play 'as time goes by'...'