Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: Non-Stop.

One star

How Could A Liam Neeson Movie Be Boring?

Mini Review: 

Non Stop boredom inducing predictable action movie that should be relegated to a midweek afternoon watch. And only when no other Liam Neeson movie is available.

Main Review:

The script bleeds to death non-stop. And there's no one to tie a tourniquet of logic to tell them 'I will kill one person every twenty minutes' is a threat bank hijacker TV dramas have used successfully. Here, you just want everyone to die. And this is a Liam Neeson movie. 

The setting is ridiculous. Liam Neeson has released the Kracken, chased his daughter's kidnappers across the globe, and saved planets by training Jedis. You stuff him inside an airplane full of passengers? It's like putting Dr. Bruce Banner in a bottle and then saying things to annoy him, hoping the bottle won't break. Who thought that it would 'okay' to put a large man in an action movie where the only thing he can do is drag someone across the aisle in the economy section?

The co-stars are downright moronic. The gorgeous Julianne Moore is so nosey, I wouldn't want her to stay in my neighborhood. Her story is waffle and her behavior is exactly like a gnat on a bunch of bananas. Speaking of those, the passengers on the flight are exactly like that. Only monkeys would find them interesting. A Muslim (prayercap, beard and shifty behavior) person who turns out to be a doctor who will save lives. A bald, suspicious looking militia-looking man turns out to be a cop. A mild mannered school teacher who is the bad guy. A decent, well-dressed African American man turns out to be a bad guy whereas a mean dark-glasses wearing, African American young man in camouflage turns out to be a wimp. How they missed the Asian American stereotype is a mystery... And they put Liam Neeson with this bunch? He who saved the planets across the Universe!

This movie does one good deed though. People who are actually plotting to bomb planes and hijack them and demand ransom money would be so bored if they were looking for inspiration from this movie, that they would change their plans and choose to study.

John Travolta acted in Broken Arrow for the cash, so he could showcase his talent in movies like Pulp Fiction. Maybe Non Stopn is Liam Neeson's Broken Arrow. 

Review: Shaadi Ke Side Effects

Three Stars

Married People's Wrongs Are A Riot!

Mini Review:

Other people's marriages are funny to watch. But tempus is meant to fugit, and this movie needs a push off a cliff...

Main Review:

'Time Flies,' they say, 'When you're having fun...' But this movie is like a fly caught in an open jar of jam. You want to swat it and end the misery, but you don't want to throw away the jam.

Farhan Milkha Singh does a great job of running away from the word responsibility that accompanies the word 'marriage', and you empathise with him too. And you watch Vidya Momzilla Balan's every move with 'oh mah gawd' and 'so true' and 'i know someone exactly like her' at the back of your head.

You are drawn irresistibly in this vortex of marriage and other mistakes and you will hear uncomfortable laughs from many parts of the theater from people who wish they had the courage to escape from their Godzilla wives. But as the wise man says, 'No one can control Go-jiro. He go as he pleases. He come as he pleases.' This movie too is like Godzilla. You are awed by the destruction of everything rosy about marriages but it doesn't go away. The movie goes on and on and on until you wish you were like Farhan's football friends. Gone after ninety minutes.

Why is Bollywood stuck on the two hour plus format for movies? It is in this dragging that they start making mistakes. Characters come into this marriage and vanish - families, neighbors, even friends - all smoking guns that don't really fire. You wonder what happened to all these people. But the film is so busy moving from one joke scene into another that the laughs are all it seems to be aiming at. The last forty five minutes are a hastily written pukeworthy lesson on how you'd better like being responsible and practical. It's just gyaan given by a hero who smells of baby powder and diaper rash cream. You come away vowing to watch Farhaan in the shower scene from Rock On!  

Vidya Balan is at so much ease in her role, you ignore her omnipresent weight and watch her perform. Her look has been designed brilliantly by Jayati Bose and you wish someone like her would find clothes for all the extra large aunties who wander about malls wearing the most inappropriate chiffon kurtis a la once size zero Kareena Kapoor.

Of course you should watch the movie, married or no. Whether you are thinking of procreating or no. Especially if you have friends who have just been hitched and are waxing lyrical about their new life. It's like seeing a lemming for the first time. It must be a cute animal, no? It has friends, it probably parades in front of you, doing many cute tricks. But soon you want to play Warcraft or Assassin's Creed on your gadget and push the darned lemming off the cliff...

As someone gorgeous and still single said: This movie is like a Hindu wedding. So long, it is like living all seven lifetimes at one go.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Darr @ TheMall

half star

Bored At The Mall

Mini Review:

Not horror, but it's a crime to make such a boringly predictable movie. Re-runs of saas bahu serials are more interesting.

Main Review:

So ghosts have killed nine random people at a mall. It is shut for a few months and the owners will reopen again without investigating why or how... So they have a party (yes, at the mall) with phoren girls (one of the characters actually says, 'Sir, ek bees minute ka item number bhi hai) 
dressed in skimpy costumes gyrating suggestively and singing, 'Pina Colaaaaadaaaa!' (really? that's what people are drinking these days?)

a standard ugly attempt at sex (a young man frantically groping phoren female as though she might vanish any minute with orgasmic sounds that look silly when you realise all their clothes are on and they were just... ugh!) happens and that man dies horribly by ghosts who seem to like to not make a clean kill but like gruesome.

Now gruesome is fine because they made an effort to pay some prostheics guy to create melting due to burning make up effects. So far so good. But why were the mannequins partially burned? If the ghosts died in a fire, wouldn't they want to stay away from it? why would they burn mannequins partially?

You ask such questions because people just don't die quickly enough. 

And if it is a horror film, then people need to die horribly and one after the other. It's tedious to see doors opening on their own, ghosts laugh ad giggle, ghoulish faces going splat on glass (Aren't ghosts formless? They run through people, but not glass doors? Where's the logic in that?)

You want to catch a nap, but a comment on the special sound effects of the main ghost (the crackling, sizzling and burning) makes you snort your carbonated drink: Is the ghost getting a tadka? 

While you are coughing and laughing, they characters in the movie still haven't figured out why so many burnt ghosts are chasing them. 

You sing, 'burning down the house!' quite inappropriately under your breath and begin to text your friends about dinner plans. Characters in the movie are now dying in tandoors and crawling about in extra large ventilation ducts. The movie is still uninteresting. You begin to admire the earnestness with which Jimmy Sheirgill plays out his part. You laugh for the last time at the overacting by the nun (i did prefer her partially burned avatar) and you nod at your neighbor assuring each other that we are still breathing.

Then someone mentions that another 'horror' flick is to release this week. You go home and watch Purana Mandir or even Zibahkhana again. And curse yourself for having laughed at these movies when you were kids.

p.s. The movie is so boring, I fell asleep three times trying to write this review


4 stars!

Captivated By This Road Trip

Mini Review:

This beauty and the beast on a road trip is a captivating tale well told. Imtiaz Ali takes his time to share all the secrets. The best film so far of 2014!  

Main Review:

Have you ever felt like escaping your own life? Finding freedom? Fleeing to a place in the mountains where you could stand on your tiptoes, reach out and touch the skies? Then this movie will find a place in your heart. 

It's a road trip movie, so unlike Imtiaz Ali's previous rom-com Jab We Met, that there seems to be an almost a DrJeykll/Mr Hyde thing happening here. Everything a shrink could take delight in is in this movie. And making you sit up straight (when you are not swallowing an emotional lump in your throat and secretly wiping tears) is this surprise package called Alia Bhatt. Stripped of make up, stripped of her 'Radha wants to paartyyyy' image, stripped of all fripperies that accompany a name on the marquee, Alia Bhatt makes you watch the screen as she holds your attention, scene after scene.

But what good is beauty without the beast? Randeep Hooda is perfectly cast as the rough, uncouth, and delightfully disheveled beast who takes beauty on a road trip and finds gentleness himself.   

Be careful what you wish for is what they say. And a young girl gets her wish and more when she makes a wish just to get away from the rituals and customs of her family.

But is it just wish fulfillment? A taste of freedom? Or a case for shrinks? Imtiaz Ali touches all parts forbidden and breaks off from his mainstream mode and takes the road less traveled. Literally and figuratively. We get to see stunning snow-clad mountains in Himachal and we visit cold, lonely places inside the hearts and heads of the two protagonists. You weep for the loss of childhood, the implied and exploited violence, the Stockholm syndrome (Is it? Or is it gratitude?). You smile because secretly you have wished for the same freedom, unbridled by time or money...

Yes, there are a couple of speedbumps on this road trip where you shake your head and hear Amitabh Bachchan say, 'Hain?' in his most melodramatic voice. But the rest of movie is a revelation: you don't feel the need to eat pop corn or drink coffee to stay alert. Even the minor characters are well cast. 

The background music, which is so annoying and intrusive in most Hindi films, is practically absent. There is A R Rahman and his all too familiar addition of 'dargah' music, but you love the folk singers at the travelers tapri chai stop, and the lullaby (sung hauntingly by Alia Bhatt and Zeb of Zeb And Hania fame)...

Initially, the road shots from the passenger seat made me a tad roadsick. And I wondered if we would have to suffer the long and winding road shots all through the movie. Thankfully the story kicked that thought right out of my head and slapped the hand reaching out for Avomine.

It's one of the best road trip movies that I have seen, and it certainly the best of the year, so far. And it's a movie that made me sing: all the way back home...

Do yourself a favor. Take that wilderness holiday you have been dreaming of for a while. But see this movie first. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Monuments Men

2 stars

Monumental Cast, Not So Impressive Film

Mini Review:

It's an inspiring story in a commando comic way, a phenomenal cast, but as a film it's boringly predictable.

Main Review:

The idea of saving art from bombs and war is phenomenal, and the story of the non soldiers recruited to go into the thick of war to preserve and find stolen works of art is nothing short of monumental. 

With George Clooney directing the story and a stellar cast you'd want nothing less than The Ides Of March. Monuments Men is so straightforward, you could be reading a commando comic book. 

Geroge Clooney acts as well as directs this fabulous cast: Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and the legend himself: Bill Murray! And yet the inspiring story is told as if it were an everyday chore.

Each actor gets a 'wow' moment, each actor has a high 'kewl' quotient, each actor is given a quirk. Each actor gets a set piece to perform, and they are all adequate. They are so accomplished, these roles don't challenge them at all. There's no great mystery, no stumbling upon a secret which will help them save the world... 

You can almost predict who's going to die because the story stays true to war trope. For example: the soldier who shows pictures of his girlfriend/child/family or keeps talking about a quiet life on a farm or some day going up in his father's esteem will inevitably die. In this movie too, this happens, and you groan into your popcorn.

The Christmas song broadcast over camp was so cheesy, it took away the Bill Murray moment for me. But having seen the sculpture of Madonna at The Church Of Our Lady in Bruges, and having read the history of the statue, the movie suddenly became very interesting to me personally.

Even so, the movie is so straightforward, there are no surprises. It's like hating having to study Dickens, and then melting at the sight of pictures in the media of his great-grandkids posing for pictures with his statue.

See it for the great cast. If you have patience, then wait for it to appear on TV. 

P.S: hated Clooney's hair, loved Matt Damon's white shirt. 

Friday, February 14, 2014


One and Half Stars


Mini Review:

You can the story from a mile away. But the two male leads bring bromance to bloom on the big screen rippling muscles, grunts and all. Watch the skin show but there's little else.

Main Review:

Had there been no Master Mayur who played young Amitabh Bachchan, no Amitabh Bachchan's angry young man flicks, no double crossing femme fatales in movies, never seen Amitabh Bachchan-Shatrughan Sinha's Dostana, no avenging brother infiltrating the gang, no coal stealing scenes in movies ever, or that maybe you have lived under a rock for the last sixty years, then and only then would you think that Gunday is a fabulous movie.

The story is so unabashedly unoriginal that you can see the twists in the plot a mile away. Also because everything in the movie happens in slow motion...

But the two boys, Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor are so hawt, it's visual porn seeing the two partially undressed through the movie. Undressed is good, because there's coal mines and smoke spewing trains, thugs and fish markets that are not exactly romance inducing visuals to be distracted with.

Yes, there's Priyanka Chopra, who mostly walks into every scene like a crane ( ). And every time she opens her mouth to say anything, you think she's going into, 'I'm so exotic' and start bobbing her head to that tune. You want to ask her what she's doing in a fish market, in the flower market and indeed in the movie, but the two lads have lost their heart to her and yes you feel vindicated when a bullet hits her and it is interval.

Only the interval? You groan. And you realise you are not the only one. The hoards of boys that should have been cheering and hooting at Priyanka's cabaret act are actually glad she's dead. Is she? Or is she alive just to kill us with her enunciation, 'Nandita Sayngupta naam hai mera'...

But Ranveer's hair is so awesome, you borrow a scrunchie and tie up your own straggly strands. Then Irrfan shows up chewing dialog upon dialog without losing his shirt (literally, that is) and you wonder when your checklist will end. Hero walking away from explosions, check. Heroine asking hero to mend his ways, check. Hero telling heroine she is the most fragile thing ever, check. Policemen who can never shoot straight, check.

Your neighbor sticks her elbow in your side. Pssst, the boys are topless again... Wow! Let's forgive them everything. 'I'm so exotic!' Priyanka Chopra is still singing while pulling out a gun...

You wonder if you have missed friendly appearances by other shirtless men like Upen Patel, Uday Chopra, Randeep Hooda, John Abraham, Salman Khan... But you like Ranveer's moustache and Arjun's biceps... Is that enough to pull crowds into the theater? Don't know. Logic says it's trying too hard to be a macho movie. But who can deny the cuteness of two brawny topless men wearing pants that have hearts emblazoned on their butts?


Friday, February 07, 2014

The Lego Movie

4 and half stars!

You can't Leggo of its Awesomeness!

Mini Review:

This movie is so much fun, you'll see it again! And after you have seen it, you will go buy a Lego set and create many Lego worlds...

Main Review:

I admit it. I was snobbish and did not visit the Altenberg or Windsor or even the Legolands in Malaysia and Singapore. I thought it was childish and a waste of time when one could catch a more grown up Broadway musical or eat exotic foods at fancy restaurants instead.

Then I saw The Lego Movie.

I wept on the way back home for all the fantastic adventures I could have had just walking through miniature cities built from little Lego bricks. What the filmmakers have done with their imagination is build not just fantastic cinema, but their filmmaking has pushed the boundaries of animation and computer graphics. My mind is completely blown.

And just as relentless as the action is, there is humor. Tons of it. When you think you are recovering from one funny line, they deluge you with more. And it's not limited to the little guy saying, 'I'm Batman!'

I am amazed at their vision. Each sequence is impeccable. You cannot find fault with any scene. Actionwise, this is a roller coaster ride (made with Lego, of course!). And humorwise, this movie is better than what Hollywood funnies churn out in summer (like the Hangover sequels).

You should simply book yourself twice to see the movie. Once for the humor, and the second time to marvel at the fabulously shot movie.

I will never again curse if I step accidentally, painfully on a Lego piece ever again. 



two and half stars

Like Finding Macarons in Soggy Bhelpuri!

Mini Review:

A soggy bhelpuri of shaadi stuff is the framework for this movie. Thankfully redeemed by the delightful lead pair, who are effortlessly engaging.

Main Review:  

Take every hateful cliche you can find in a shaadi: weird relatives, shaadi songs, clothes with zari and jewelery, chhed-chhaad and food. Then add to this mostly blah setting, the most amazing lead pair with behavioral problems. It’s like finding Macarons in your bhelpuri. You don’t know if you want to hate it or love it.

Parineeti Chopra is so effortless you love the ease with which she fits into any role. She is brilliant in fact with the material she is presented and performs like a dream.

Trouble is, Valley Of The Dolls got it right many, many years before this film does. The Uppers and the Downers are so easy to understand. Here, every time the heroine mentions ‘Serotonin’ as her choice of antidepressants, and is made to behave badly as a result of popping those pills, I remembered my doctor saying, ‘Eat a banana when you are feeling depressed, because bananas have Tryptophan that releases Serotonin which is a feel happy chemical in the brain.’ If she’s as good with Chemistry as she’s supposed to be, then the filmmakers should have recognised that the side effects are more Ritalin (the nervous tap-tapping, the widening of the eyes to see better because vision is blurred) and Norepinephrine (needing to eat sugar, the fight or flight response, the not-caring about consequences) and Serotonin makes you happy, not turn you instantly into a Priyanka Chopra in Barfi person.

Chemistry arguments aside, the track of the two lovers is simply awesome. Siddarth Malhotra is so good, I’d advice young women to watch out for anyone who looks at them the way Siddarth Malhotra looks at Parineeti in the movie, kidnap them and keep them in the basement until they agree to be theirs for ever and ever. He wears his clothes well and makes the rest of the cliched family look good.

Mohan Joshi, the brilliant actor, mostly seen in forgettable movies, makes us believe in the love between fathers and daughters and his logical, ‘Why can’t she have the money?’ made me reach out for the box of tissues.

There are some beautiful moments in the movie which come at you unexpectedly: Adah Sharma’s moment of realisation when she sees the fifty phone messages, the hug Siddarth and Parineeti share in the locked room, the late night daru and snack place scene where Siddarth goes alone, the mosquito infested guest house scene... And that’s when you realise the director is a veteran of ad films, and these moments are well made.

What one loved the most was the humor. And I am not talking about the weird uncle who keeps asking everyone, ’And then?’ or the weird small town cousin with big dreams (he’s a good actor that guy, but why are all small town cousins in Hindi cinema so weird?)... Watch out for the balcony and terrace scene, the spoof of a TV show, the shopping expedition, the tea tray scene, the general repartee between friends - all written in delicious good humor.

I hated the Shaadi scenes. Overdressed people and overdressed sets, the overdone ‘Gujjuness’ and ‘NorthIndian-ness’, things going wrong at weddings, last minute panic, people sleeping on the floor and crammed in an apartment... This goes on and on and on (at one point I thanked the Lord that there was no Haldi ceremony or the ghastly stealing of footwear) ... 

Thankfully, the two lead characters and their escapades made the movie delightful. I should have dug deeper for a Chemistry or drug related headline and punchline. But like Parineeti who does not find the wet towel, I too can think only of food metaphors. This movie is a hotch-potch soggy shaadi bhelpuri and you find delicious macarons in the mess.