Friday, May 06, 2016

Review: One Night Stand


Jai Maa Sunny Leone!

1/2 star


Mini Review:

Why would you take a perfectly seductive body that sheds clothes so enchantingly and dress it up in mom jeans and sarees and bindis? Then match it up with someone who needs a bath and a haircut and an admission to a rigorous (Navy Seal rigorous) acting school? This whole movie also tries so hard to be feminist too. Everything fails.

Main Review:

If everything fails in the movie, why the half star? 

It's for Sunny Leone's ability to make a perfectly godawful line of dialog, 'Meri family hamesha first rakhtee hoon' sound like an lispy orgasm   

He seduces her for just one night in Phuket ('Phuket mein fuck it' is the priceless dialog), and becomes obsessed with her. Then promptly finds out that she lives in the same city when he goes shopping with his wife...She's married too, and has a lovely family. And her name is not what she said it was. So many lies! How dare she! He's mad. He begins to stalk her because she says, 'Cha-h-le-h jaa-oh! Ye-h tum kyon-h kar-ah rah-he ho-oh?'

While we are trying to get over the delivery, we begin to laugh at the stalker. The Virvani lad has appeared on the big screen before. If he was forgettable then, he's awful now. He has fewer expressions than John Abraham. And John is so-oh good looking. The chap gets uglier and uglier as a drunk person, and you hope he were the donor of the heart in Traffic the film releasing on the same day as well.

I know I shouldn't say it, but adding pretentious poetic dialog in a movie: Kya tum hamesha se itni romantic thee? Woh door par dekho, samundar aur aakaash mil gaye hain and its ilk is like spraying poop with gold glitter hoping no one would notice it is really vile. 

Yes, yes, there's a feminist agenda. Why are women not expected to enjoy a one night stand? But when the dialog is so breathy and pretentious, you end up laughing instead of turning into a cheering squad for Sunny Mata.

There's this neglected wife who bakes furiously because her husband seems distant and drunk and not ready to make out with her. She is such a tedious character you understand why the husband would wander. Unfortunately you kow you'd be clobbered for saying that, so you turn your attention to the annoying child who baby talks. No wonder she got out of the house and into the arms of a stranger, you think. You realise how politically incorrect that thought is and let it go. You want to pat the hairy backs of creepy producers who understood that Sunny Mata is not the avatar you need to see, it's Sunny Doll Yeh Soney Di!

You step out into the blazing sun and ask the boyfriend on the phone, 'Are-ah we-ah meeting-ah tonight-ah!' and hear him gasp at the other end, 'Are you having an asthmatic attack?'

Sunny should do what Sunny knows best. Shed clothes. Discard all desires of being Nirupa Roy...




Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR


Whose Side Are You On?

4 stars

Mini Review:

Captain America fights Iron Man on billboards. The trailers show that other Avengers have taken sides and will fight too. And in two and a half hours you will experience such an adrenaline rush, you will come away exhilarated and plan your next viewing of the movie again!  

Main Review:

Remember reading the Civil War comics? The series that came out six or seven years ago were so different - Avengers Dissassembled, House of M, and Decimation. I remember them simply because they had a tagline that has been a life mantra: Whose Side Are You On? 

The movie is unlike any other superhero blockbuster. It tackles an ethical dilemma which you have seen maybe in Watchmen: Who Watches The Watchmen? There is a proposal in front of the Avengers: accept the security offered by the United Nations or pay the price of the collateral damage that inevitably occurs when the superheroes fight aliens and other dangerous creatures? Or they should...

That's more than what I should be telling you here. So book your tickets and read on. 

So as the poster tells you Captain America and Iron Man are at loggerheads. Delish muscles, no? That too! But what is delicious, truly, are the sparkling, wit-laden repartee between the superheroes. You guffaw, you giggle, and you exchange hi-fives with strangers (or friends) sitting next to you. The writers need a huge pat on the back. Who said that action films don't have clever dialog?

Of course Marvel manages to reel in so many superheroes, this movie feels like a pantheon. But not one person is needlessly there. In the comic books, there is Maria Hill who is the acting director of S.H.I.E.L.D but you don't miss her at all in the movie. There is however a gorgeous aunt who makes an appearance and you want to see more of her...

The action set-pieces are simply jaw-droppingly awesome. By the time you realise you are all collectively holding your breath, the action has smoothly moved to another location. A spectacularly imagined movie this is! The power of the superheroes are used really, really well, and they never let you forget the childlike delight you first felt when you watched the cartoons as a child. The same delight is delivered in this movie. Considering how awful the last couple of superhero movies have been, this movie is a treat. Both visual and intellectual. Amid all this action, they never let you forget the original ethical dilemma that started the whole drama. And you suddenly realise that you are not just some spectator in the theater. You have been drawn into the dilemma. They make you choose sides. They make you ask yourself: Whose side are you really on?

The best scene of course is a 'bro' scene that involves a kiss. Let me know if you thought the same. 

Speaking of a 'bro' code, watch the movie with a gang of your friends. So you can re-live the action long after the movie is over and also argue over which side was right. Plus, only like minded friends know that you are treated to a special scene from the upcoming movie at the very end of credits. They will not let you move an inch, remove your 3D glasses or eat that tub of popcorn alone...

    








Friday, April 29, 2016

Review:BAAGHI


Revolting!


1 star

Mini Review:

Why would anyone spend so much money and talent of young Tiger Shroff and make a ridiculous movie that is neither as powerful as The Raid: Redemption, nor is it Varsham. This is such an unintelligent dull copy that you emerge weary from the experience.

Main Review:

Martial Arts movies have a story that is so oft told, you don't have to offer any detailed explanations or back stories. We just accept a foolish apprentice learning from a master (Wax on, wax off!) who is killed by a villain with a super power. The apprentice avenges master's death by practicing hard.

Here in scenes borrowed straight out of Varsham, the hero and the heroine meet when it rains. The villain also falls for the heroine during the same rains. And with every next meeting the novelty of the romantic meet-cute goes down the drain. And twenty minutes into the movie you are soaked wet in this stupidity. Varsham be damned!

The hero is a reluctant student at the martial arts academy where the head teacher wears some Fu Man Chu style costume whilst teaching kalaripayattu. The teacher has a son (the villain!) who wears leather jackets and wanders about with a bunch of thugs. Why he lives in Bangkok and what brings him back to India no one knows, but everyone and every body is afraid of him, and that's clear. Villain in leather even kills his own dad because he wants to marry the heroine and his dad has arranged for villain to be married to some Mangalore girl. Some other lad would have been happy to just say, 'no', but villain being villain, he kills his dad.

Then leather wearing villain then abducts heroine and sets her up in his own Tower of Babel. Hero shows up to rescue heroine. But first he has to kill lots of murderous residents in that Tower of Babel. Every floor has baddies that grunt, growl and make guttural animal sounds. This could have been a copy of The Raid: Redemption, but you can hear Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian laughing their guts out somewhere in Indonesia whilst getting drunk. The hero who is known for his roundhouse kicks, punches and kicks his way up to the villain and forces him to remove the weird leather jacket.

I heaved a sigh of relief that the jacket came off but fell off my chair when I discovered that the villain was wearing a full sleeved tee inside! Poor man must be stifled inside! The hero screams, 'Aaaargh!' and you begin to wonder (between great guffaws) if the scream was in reaction to the awful body odor...

I wish the fights were a little more imaginative than roundhouse, punch, roundhouse, punch, roundhouse, punch... Yes, the screenwriter earns his money by writing one good line which comes out of nowhere (like the hero was suddenly mainlining on Arnie) and wakes you up. But that is only 1/2 a star worth line. The other half star is awarded to the hero's newly acquired facial fuzz that makes him look less like a princess and more like a boy. Looks like he is going to age well if he chooses better movies. But everything else is revolting. 


P.S. The 'yaya' kid is so annoying the tubby dad leaves midway. The heroine is so annoying her dad leaves the movie midway too. Conclusion: Save The World. Do not procreate.







   

Review: THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY


Learn About Ramanujan, But Fall In Love With Jeremy Irons.

3 stars

Mini Review:

Srinivas Ramanujan was a mathematical genius who saw the numbers in a perpetual celestial dance. But this movie shows that men who acknowledge and polish such genius without jealousy are far greater. 

Main Review:

Bertrand Russell is famous for having said, 'I will not die for my beliefs because they might be wrong.' When you read about Ramanujan who was so confident of his theorems and ideas you want to tell him that These theorems are useless unless accompanied by proofs.

You'll wonder why after so many years we are watching a movie about this luminescent mathematician, and then come away with a deep satisfaction of having seen the magical connect of a diamond to his cutter, of Rodin to his sculpture, of Beethoven to his symphonies. We realise that this film is as much about Hardy as it is about Ramanujan. This is not a biopic in so many words, but the tale of love of two men who had the same mistress: mathematics.

The movie does not show how Indian mathematicians encouraged the genius that was Ramanujan and helped him out monetarily as well as with encouragement to pursue the subject. There are many books and online references to show how Ramanujan worked out mathematical theorems in his head. 

Jeremy Irons plays Professor G.H. Hardy who tells Ramanujan (played by Dev Patel exactly what the editor of a math journal MT Narayana Iyengar had said: 'Ramanujan's methods were so terse and novel and his presentations so lacking in clearness and precision that the ordinary (mathematical reader), unaccustomed to such intellectual gymnastics, could hardly follow him.'

Professor Hardy attempts to rein in Ramanujan's natural intellectual leaps and challenges him by making Ramanujan work out his theorems and assertions, 'step by step'. Anyone who has had any kind of formal education will remember math teachers insisting in solving problems that way too. And before we begin to smile, at that familiar phrase, we realise that a man who could simply state 120 theorems in two letters to professor Hardy, could hardly understand the reasoning behind the step by step working out of the assertions in order to prove them before publishing them as a paper.

Professor Littlewood (Toby Jones plays the part with a brilliant tongue in cheek performance) who worked with Hardy admitted after watching Ramanujan work, that he could be compared to Euler and Jacobi, 'at least a Jacobi'.

If a movie makes you come back and look up these casual references made to mathematicians (a subject that one has always found daunting and beyond comprehension), then it has achieved something remarkable indeed.

Jeremy Irons plays the role of the tough taskmaster so brilliantly, we begin to care for him as much as we care about Ramanujan. If you dig up pictures of professor Hardy you will se remarkable similarities to the professor in real life. And you will discover also that Hardy and Ramanujan published a paper together that is not easy to comprehend. But you don't have to. The film lures us with so much more than formulae.

We see the connect and we worry for the both of them. This is a new feeling to have as audience. We saw a movie about Stephen Hawking just last year, and despite an award winning performance we did not worry for the characters. Here, we do. We want the two of them to work out the differences in their approach to the subject and create magic. A delightful cameo by Bertrand Russell (Jeremy Northam) offers us many insights to the connect both mathematicians share.

What was really awful about the movie is the melodramatic Indian portions. You are told Ramanujan lived in abject poverty and then we are shown his mother and wife in silks and jewellery. Yes, they make for beautiful viewing, but so untrue to the characters. And before you say 'exotic India' you see a temple elephant! And of course the machinations of the mother-in-law make it all too Bollywood even if true. If you can ignore this portion of the movie, then you will certainly come back home satisfied on the account of Jeremy Irons who is forced to acknowledge that there is God in numbers...

And the movie will affect you in ways you wouldn't even think possible. I found myself looking for a cab with a number 1729 to ride back home. Why? Read up about Ramanujan. Or watch the film.


p.s. The conversations between Bertrand Russell and professor Hardy are delightful, and what I thought was a mere clever dialog of the film is real. Professor Hardy said,' If I could prove by logic that you would die in five minutes, I should be sorry you were going to die, but my sorrow would be very much mitigated by pleasure in the proof.' 

Review: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE


Incorrect Address. Turn Around And Leave.

1/2 reluctant star

Mini Review:

A really pathetic movie that tries so hard to be the Oscar winning Room and a Science Fiction movie about alien attack that drives your patience to the ground.

Main Review:

If you decide you want to see this movie because you watched the original Cloverfield (2008), where you watched a giant monster attack New York, then you are going to wish it would show up sooner to gobble them all up.

This film too has been shot in the same hand-held camera style, but only in the beginning. Just becomes a really poor version of Room, with John Goodman as the one who imprisons the heroine (who seems to be blessed with lots of presence of mind and is ready with all kinds of solutions to her situation), and there are hints and clues strewn all around that he has done this before. John Goodman is rough, conspiracy theorist living at a remote farm. The bunker he imprisons the heroine is like a well-stocked apartment, only underground. Just like a scene from the original film there are shelves of stocked food (see, how hard I’m trying to keep the connect?). Besides that, the bunker is equipped with an air filtration system, a garbage chute, water to bathe, a rec room…

There is another resident in the bunker, a farmhand who corroborates the story of alien attack that John Goodman has fed her. As expected, she pretends to fit in and tries to run away at every single chance she gets.

Had this character the John Goodman plays been half as suspicious as he is supposed to be, half as experienced as he is in abducting people, then he would have seen the heroine act suspicious, surruptitious and sly. The ‘acting’ was so groanworthy, you began to wish John Goodman would catch her and hit her.

The twist can be seen from a mile away: who asked you to name the film ‘Cloverfield’? Not clever at all. If you do drive into the multiplex where this is playing, reverse the car and drive away. 10 Cloverfield Lane is clearly a wrong address.



(this review appears in www.nowrunning.com)




Review: MOTHER'S DAY


Candy Crush Is Real

1 star

Mini Review:

This is the ultimate American dysfunctional suburbian story! There are as many people as there are candies in the game and as many problems crushing them. And the colors! Oh mah lord! So bright and cheerful you want to wear dark glasses just to shield your eyes from the screen. 

Main Review:

Despite the impressive star cast - Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Olyphant, Kate Hudson, Sarah Chalke, Margo Martindale, Hector Elizondo (remember the suave manager in Pretty Woman?), Robert Pine - this movie is such a tasteless candy crush you wonder why they wanted to be a part of this film at all.

So each of these stars plays the role of a dysfunctional person: a mother of two who is stuck on her ex who has married a younger woman who wears skimpy clothes, a lesbian woman who has not told her parents about her sexual orientation, a woman who has married an Indian doctor and has a child has not informed her parents about it, quintessential 'white' parents who drive around in an RV quaffing beer and fried chicken who are bigoted and racist, a man who ignores his teenage daughters because he's still mourning his dead wife, the teenage girls who miss their dead mother, neighbor hood gym-going ladies who want to fix the mourning dad with one girl or another, a young woman who has abandonment and commitment issues which stops her from marrying a perfectly good lad, a woman who has forfeited her life for her career and more... 

With so many cliches intercutting and looping without any solutions (erm, the audience has seen the solutions to these problems a mile away) you barely get any time to like a single character. You do, however want to ask Jennifer Aniston why she chose to be dressed like a frump, be a mom who will comment on doughnuts in the house? Why does she want to get back together with an ex who clearly is not interested in her? You want to ask Kate Hudson why she needed to lie to her parents in the first place even though she knows they are racist? You want to ask Jason Sudeikis why he let someone get him to wear pink pants?

The movie goes on and on and everyone's problems are resolved. But you come away with a question for the filmmakers: who says 'I have abandonment issues.' in a dialog?

Abandon this film and let it appear on cable. Even then watch it because I gave Julia Robert's legs the lone star for this movie.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

review: NIL BATTEY SANNATA

80 / 100 VERY GOOD!

3 stars

Mini Review:

‘If the son of a doctor becomes a doctor, the son of an engineer, an engineer, then won’t the daughter of a domestic worker become a domestic worker?’ A mother of a stubborn young girl who lives in a shanty town in Agra decides that she is going to prove her daughter’s statement wrong. And we get to watch a delightful film on relationships, on tenacity, on education…

Main Review:

Swara Bhaskar is one of the most amazing actors we have in the movies today. Most heroines today would not even dream of playing the role of a mother of a 15 year old because it usually spells the death of their careers as ‘heroines’ in Hindi films. Swara manages to convince us that she is can be the three job holding, hard-working maid who hopes that her child won’t have to struggle the way she has had to all her life.

The child though just wants to play and be the lazy teenager we have all been. Who wants to study when there’s distractions offered by TV and dance and movies? Who wants to study hard when it is more fun playing hooky with school-friends? Why make the effort when you can have more fun sitting in the back bench, laughing at the Principal?

Swara works as a cook and domestic help at the home of a doctor (played by Ratna Pathak Shah) who is not only her sounding board but also guide. The memsaab has a wonderful solution to bring the child out of her stupor. Reverse logic!

The movie is just so amazing because the solution brings a smile to your face. The mother uses this reverse logic on the child to egg her on to getting better marks. The child is unsuspecting and falls hook, line and sinker to the ‘project get the child to study’.

Pankaj Tripathi the principal plus mathematics teacher is simply brilliant as a sum of all teachers caricatured from our lives. Although exaggerated, he is simply brilliant.

The classmates of the daughter are all delightful too, even though we don’t know their names as actors and no listing is available right now…

The intermission comes so quickly upon us, you know you are immersed in this world and understand their language (Hindi spoken like someone less educated than you or I). It’s only in the second half that the preachiness creeps in slowly and subtly. But it’s there. There is no escaping the ‘larger message’ the film is trying to teach. You grit your teeth and bear it because you like the characters so much. The last Pursuit of Happyness style ending is so bad, you want to shake someone up and say could you simply just tell a story and allow the audience to make up their minds about the importance of never losing hope and dreaming big without you having to explain it all?

This is a precious little gem of a film, despite it’s obvious moral science lesson. Watch!

(appears on www.nowrunning.com )





review: LAAL RANG


How Much Can You Depend on Randeep Hooda's Bod On A Motorbike?

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

It's a welcome change watching dark comedy on the screen. And the writing is good, the scenes are outrageous and the chuckles are genuine. There's also the smashingly good bod of Randeep Hooda and his evil grin riding on a classic motorbike. If only the the film could be held together a little smartly...

Main Review:

Stealing and selling blood for profit is not exactly something you want to chuckle at. But when the crazy haired, goggle-eyed lanky man who steals blood packs is called 'Dracula' you can only but laugh. 

Then you watch wide-eyed at Shankar. He's all-knowing, smirking, smoking, seducing 'sargana' (the head) of the blood smuggling operation. He has attitude and an obvious sexuality that makes mothers hide their daughters in the basement, and hospital admin department ladies swoon. And he owns an RX100 bike. A classic now. Yes, yes, that's Randeep Hooda. 

The young man who is the young apprentice who is super-impressed and wants to be like Shankar. Alas, Akshay Oberoi who plays the role of Rajesh, the apprentice has no other expression than 'male ingenue'. This role needed someone who could express more than amazement at meeting Shankar. He is supposed to carry the story forward, not make us want to tell him to stop staring and blink.

The writing is sharp and even though it is in Haryanvi Hindi, it is fun to hear the dialect. The supporting cast is brilliant. Neelam the Admin lady (Shreya Narayan), Babuji the Blood Bank official (Rajendra Sethi), Piaa Bajpai is Poonam - Rajesh's love interest who consistently uses plural of every word (thanks to Rapidex English Speaking Course) shine in their roles. So why is this such an average movie?

The music is so forgettable it actually gets in the way of the story. And the long, lingering shots of the motorbike are not really a homage to the classic bike but just shameless product placement. The first time the apprentice waxes lyrical about the bike, you smile because that's the awe you felt too, and you remember how you bowed and scraped so your brother/best friend took you for a ride on their first motorbike. But then you see those long rides again and again and again as well as a buying of the bike from the showroom scene too. It's unnecessary and very obviously a product placement. 

The biggest carp one could have against the otherwise fabulous script, is it does not answer the question the film starts with: the apprentice's wife needs blood at the hospital, so does he buy blood? The film waffles in many places.

But it does have the brazen boy Shankar grinning at the women in the audience with a, 'Come, ride on my bike with me' invitation. Even though it makes for amazing eye candy, it does not a movie make.








   


review: SANTA BANTA PVT. LTD.

SABKI BLANKET DHULAYI KARO 

ZERO STAR

Mini Review:

Lots of money has been wasted (turning black into white?) by taking the entire cast and crew to Fiji and letting them play Secret Agent Secret Agent with the most asinine scenes that have been put together by cretins. This film is an insult to the awesome Santa Banta Pjs we enjoy.

Main Review:

The villain's name is Sonu Sultan so calling him Rehana Sultan, Tipu Sultan, Razia Sultan, Sonu Nigam, Sonu Walia is supposed to be a joke.

And this goes on and on and on through the movie even though it has fallen flat after three 'Hain? Tipu Sultaan?' 

No amount of playing comic sounds as background score makes it funny. And neither does animation inserted in the middle of a scene. 

The cast sounds enviable: Boman Irani, Vir Das, Johnny Lever, Sanjay Mishra,Vijay Raaz, Ram Kapoor, Tinnu Anand, Vrajesh Hirjee, Vijay Patkar, Neha Dhupia and Lisa Hayden and more. But what are they doing?

Ram Kapoor is a villain who does not know what 'Luka Chhipi' is. Come on! You don't know hide and seek? This is the climax, by the way.

The two heroines are made to wear leather outfits. Someone forgot to tell the wardrobe assistants that they are shooting in Fiji. Whatever happened to bikini babes on the beach concept?

Johnny Lever is a Nepali Don hiding in a cave in Fiji. Before you can ask 'why?' you are shown Ayub Khan, the Indian Ambassador to Fiji (insert car name jokes Fiat, Mercedes etc here) has been kidnapped. Indian RAW agents threaten Fiji police, get their own agents in for investigation. The Boss (Tinnu Anand) yells at the second in command so much that the second-in-command (Vijay Raaz in a pony tail) sends to yokels Santa and Banta (Boman Irani and Vir Das) to sabotage the career of his boss.

Santa and Banta have dumb encounters with 'Chinese kha raha hai' ('angrezon ko kha gaya kya?' joke does not even raise a mild hyuck) Ranjeet, and Sanjay Mishra...

Obviously Santa and Banta have, 'Belt lagao!' orders and react with 'But hum toh naade waale hain'

The snores from the audience indicates that the jokes are trite and dead, and that it is ghastly to see decent actors make an ass of themselves. The only conclusion: the actors had better be paid well for this truly shitty film.






review: THE HUNTSMEN - WINTER'S WAR


Five Year Old Girls Wouldn't Buy This Story

half star

Mini Review:

Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt play dress up and do such silly things, even five year old girls who walk around in their mommy's high heels will be bored watching the unoriginal, silly story.

Main Review:

Remember Snow White? And how though the movie wasn't much the special effects were? How you were gobsmacked at the gold melting mirror, and the evil queen's dress that turned into birds? The sequel is here to disappoint you on many, many levels.

The evil queen is dead, and Snow White rules over happy lands. So what new story could you weave? Go back a bit in time and add a character: evil queen's love lorn sister. The evil queen insists on something like, 'There is evil inside you, tap into it.' When the sister asks, 'How?', the evil queen turns her sister into... Wait for it... Elsa from Frozen! While originality begins to gasp for air, we are shown more nonsense that is straight out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang... Flashes of deja vu continue through the movie, and you need something stronger than caffeine to stop yourself from groaning.

Indians love mythology and we made careers of stars like NTR by casting them as Krishna in movies. But even we have now confined costume dramas to the small screen (Suryaputra Karan, Sankat Mochan Hanuman, Jodha Akbar, Ashoka and their ilk). Why on Earth is Hollywood still stuck on fairy tales that are daft when told without any twist whatsoever. Is Snow White were a horror movie, maybe there would be a glimmer or hope. But they think getting stars like Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain to play star crossed lovers playing with bows and arrows. Their conversation is so stilted, you can see how uncomfortable they seem 'acting'. In every scene Jessica Chastain seems so distracted, you wonder if she's still looking out Osama Bin Laden.

The funny dwarfs, the firefly like creatures, the bear/snow-leopard creature the Snow Queen rides, the goblin chief... are such cliches you emerge from the movie exhausted. Charlize Theron's dead evil queen shows up again, but even then, the story feels like they've been flogging a dead horse. You wish Surya Putra Karan shows up to shoot one last arrow that splits into two to kill that golden bird from the evil queen's dress that takes flight, and the second to the voiceover that promises yet another sequel by saying, 'Evil doesn't die, now, does it?'