Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: NOAH

3 stars

NO it’s not religious, and AAAAH for the spectacular effects

Mini Review:

The hero is so droolworthy, the movie needs a flood of biblical proportions to cleanse the planet! It’s a very long film, and violent, but so spectacular, you cannot miss it.

Main Review:

With half the audience drooling over the hero, you know you are going straight to hell, because the origin of the story is biblical. And that part is beautifully shot too. After all, who wouldn’t like a God that can make a flower grow on barren burnt out land? And yes, I know I am giving away a piece of sigh-inducing special effect, but it made me want to believe in a God that made such magic of nature happen.

That said, the movie is more about ethical questions than religion. And the questions are rather contemporary given how much we really need to care for the environment today.

Broody and graying piece of handsomeness, Russell Crowe has this screen presence which is larger than life. He dominates the awesome locations (Iceland, here I come!) and we forget that this is a story meant to instill fear and faith in religion. That story was made fodder for spoofs the moment Cosby questioned, ‘How do we know a male mosquito from a female one?’

Jennifer Connelly in cleverly camouflaged jeans and boots looks so fragile when compared to Crowe that we know God chose well, chromosomally, at least.

The story moves at a thoughtful pace, and that explains why it is two hours and eighteen minutes long, but personally I didn’t mind it at all. In fact, I wanted to know more about the snake skin than watch the violence of men shown on screen.

And it is violent. It’s not about man killing man, or the trading of women for food, the depravity of the humanity that shocked me, it was the tearing of food that made me drop my popcorn. It is a film not meant for the faint hearted.

Yes, the slow pace will make your head wander a bit. You will begin questioning God’s design skills when the ark turns out to look more like a container that has fallen out of a ship than a humongous boat sent by God himself to save all the creatures on Earth. But then, you think. this is a rescue mission. If Robert Redford in a movie can have his boat destroyed by a container, maybe a gigantic container is what can actually survive the biblical flood!

After Gladiator, Russell Crowe gives you, the women in the audience, one more chance to count the lines on his craggy face, empathise with his dilemma, share the magic, look into his eyes and even wipe the sweat off his brow when he jolted awake from nightmares… For the men in the audience, a word: your never ending cricket matches feel exactly like that to womenfolk. So when you see them drool in the movie, hand them a tissue to wipe the excess, or just step out quietly and bring back coffee and enjoy the spectacle on the big screen...


half star

The Career Is Dead. Really.

Mini Review:

For an Arnie fan, this film is truly a sabotage of his filmography, proof that there is only muscle between his ears. Mindless bullet pumping and not a single memorable Arnie line. Ugh!

Main Review:

While movies like Expendables still manage to get a few chuckles (and groans), Escape Plan made you think that there was more than some life left in the old dawgs Arnie and Stallone, Sabotage proves that there is nothing intelligent about choosing a film which has so many large loopholes, circus seals could jump through them with ease.

And when it’s an Arnie movie, his fans don’t care about narrative structure or sound design or art direction as long as the bad guys are being killed spectacularly and Arnie spouts lines like, ‘I’ll be back’ or ‘Hasta la vista, baby!’

This movie offers nothing memorable. Nothing. Unless you count Arnie randomly chopping up celery as surprising and awesome.

Yes, there is plenty of blood and gore. And entrails of men nailed to the ceiling. But that’s excitement for a different kind of audience. Even Arnie is rendered speechless and just grimaces at the body parts and blood. And when the sabotage is revealed (like you really care whodunit), you cannot believe they would go through so much trouble to kill someone when just a bullet (okay, maybe a hundred) would have sufficed.

And Arnie himself lumbers through the role looking so unhappy and unfit, this movie becomes a pain to watch. I winced at the ‘romantic’ angle and mentally bowed to all Hindu gods and Muslim, Jewish and Christian ones that they did not show any lovemaking but hinted at it. When I had finished bowing to just about all of them, the movie still hadn’t moved forward, and then I realised I had to begin prostrating in front of all the gods again because thankfully there were only a handful team members who were getting bumped off.

What got me irritated were the supposed red-herrings that were thrown at us. The mean FBI/DEA teams questioning Arnie’s team, the drug cartel guys… None of them looked fit enough to harm Arnie’s little finger, let alone his cursing boozing weapons totting team.

Let’s say you like blood and gore. This movie doesn’t even offer you the satisfaction of seeing a train run over a man tied to the railroad, or a live person being nailed to the ceiling and then gored by a knife, it just shows bloody pulp, or entrails and that’s no fun. And why would anyone carrying a gun, stab someone messily, then tie them up and place them neatly in the fridge? It’s not like they cared…

I like Arnie killing really nasty bad guys (like in Commando) and then pausing to say, ‘Let off some steam, Bennett’... That’s why when he’s kicking his teammate awake saying, ‘Wake up you drunk fuck.’ there is no joy. I’d rather learn to spell ‘Schwarzenegger’ without auto correct.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


one star

Aptly Named!

Mini Review:

So cute this one line premise spinning through two hours of so cute candy floss problems! A-cutely stupifying!

Main Review:

Awwww! This dad is so cute! His daughter? Ohhhhh! What awesome clothes she wears! She looks so cute! And she tells us from where she bought her birthday dress! 

Wouldn't it be cute if the censor board made it imperative for running a ticker to tell us where she buys her cute shoes and her dresses? And omg! Her pajamas are so cute!

So her dad is so cute naa? He says he cooks Chicken biryani (Eeeek! My boyfriend just fainted next to me because he said something like,'There is no such thing!' But I'm going to ignore it because I still have caramel popcorn which my boyfriend cutely pronounces it as 'carmel', so American naa?)... I forgot what I was going to say because she looks so cute in glasses.

And he's so cute naaa? Tries so hard, naa? I love him for saying, 'You're hot can I eat you?'. I think it's damn cute when boys make teddy bear faces (What? My boyfriend quotes some tweet fact, 'All teddy bears are manufactured to have the same expression') I hate my boyfriend, because he always buys me cheap Archies bears not the Hamley's ones. Sigh. 

So I was like telling you like about the cute boy in the movie. Yaa... He does have so cute hairy caterpillar like eyebrows and so much hair on his face (mom says it's probably like ScotchBrite), but thank JustinBieber he has no hair on his body. 

But he loses his job! Not nice naa? But in cinema there has to be conflict naa? So it's okkay! It will get sorted out because he's MBA and stood first in class. He looks so cute when he's supposed to act grumpy naa? But I like him better when he shows his cute dimples. Anyway, he gets to feed cute pigeons.

Daddy, of course has no facial hair except that strange shape shifting mooch. Haw! I said vernacular word! It's cute naa, sometimes we all do that!

Anyway, he gets a cute job in a cute coffee shop and that boy who works for him has cute hair... Wonder what gel he used...

Oh yes, there is a cute song which had rhyming words but they were so many rhyming words i'd rather sing the title song, 'Bewa...kooo...fee...yaaan!' because it is perfect when I bob my head to the cute tune...

Anyway, my boyfriend (who's majoring in cinema from Columbia... Yess! That USwala place where Aamir Khan studied) stayed awake during the second half because things happened quite quickly. And the cute dad pretended to be a horrible dad and made everything cute again!

I've decided one thing though. When I have a fight with my boyfriend, I'm also going to Dubai. There are some cute places there!

P.S. I love romances. Really, I do. But after seeing this movie I understand why people might think this is fun.  



Friday, March 07, 2014

Review: Gulab Gang

One star

Gulag For The Audience

Mini Review:

When Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla play roles usually written for Prakash Raj and Mukesh Tiwari, you know Bollywood is close to hitting rock bottom. It's Gulag for the audiences.

Main Review:

A courageous woman called Sampat Pal really runs a pink saree wearing brigade of women who carry sticks and are working at grassroots level to free the village women from domestic violence and death. The documentary Gulabi Gang (jaw-droppingly real) has released today and it tells the real story of Gulabi Gang.

Gulab Gang is a work of fiction, and it has been released today after being embroiled in a lawsuit from Sampat Pal Devi who claimed that no permission was taken from her even though this fictional work seems broadly based on the Gulabi Gang she heads.

It is important to note that this film technically escapes scrutiny from reality because it they said that it is a work of fiction.

Alas, no one in the audience suspected the fiction would be so tedious and teeth-grittingly bad.

The story is as fictional as the bad Bollywood remakes of violent Tollywood stories. Now we have seen bad remakes make 100 crores with the violence and the gore. We have happily watched every star (from Salman to Shahid) get into a police uniform and beat up baddies like Prakash Raj (and sometimes Sonu Sood, Ashish Vidyarthi, Sayaji Shinde or Mukesh Rishi). To lure two female stars to act in a comeback film no one would suspect was really Policegiri in sarees, is as fictional a tale as can get. After that everything is simply downhill.

The dialog belongs to a fictional India. Have never heard such a murder of language. TV serials like Gustakh Dil (Life OK channel) and Diya Aur Baati (Star TV) get it right, so do movies like Queen (local Delhi Hindi) and Gangs Of Wasseypur (Dhanbad/Bihar). Here the hotch-potch gets unbearable, and you begin to wish Madhuri Dixit would just speak her normal Americanised Hindi, and Juhi Chawla would do the same. Their fake 'I'm-a-Village Belle' so will speak pidgin English is ghastlier than hearing American accents on actors playing Greek Gods.

The village is fictional too. Perfect tree in the corner of a perfect compound (even Osama or Branch Dravidians or the Aryan Nation didn't plan it so well).

The events are so fictional you've seen them all a hundred times in movies. A politician's son and his entourage sitting idle? Then, pardon my crassness, you must have a young girl cross their path so she can be raped. A politician? Then he must betray the cause, and die violently. A bribe-taking government babu must be shown eating and talking with his mouth full. Women must be dragged by their hair and be tortured and they must be Tannishtha Chatterji. 

Yes, there was a chilling moment when the rapist is punished, but the delivery reminded me of Underwater Nazi Zombies emerging from water in an old cult favorite Shock Waves, and I missed some ghastly background score, so that was a blessing in disguise. 

My following confession borders on the fictional too. So hear me out. The constant song and dance was so annoying this movie felt like a musical. And I missed item numbers in the Bollywood remakes that keep the action separate from the nonsense...

Speaking of action, even the lousiest of Bollywood movies do blood and gore beautifully. Here the accent was on making Madhuri Dixit look like the perfect Durga and Kali that they forgot a simple thing: when you slash someone with a sickle or a knife or a made-up weapon, and they are lying on the ground, your weapon must have at least some blood on it. Aah, but why should it? This is fiction, they claim, and fictional deaths or slashes, may produce fictional wounds and fictional blood...

And the tale ends with a fictional sympathy-garnering by listing names and tales of real victims of violence. But most of us had had enough. I saw Laxmi's name being used, and walked out. My term in this Gulag lasted 139 minutes.

P.S. The one star we offer here, is shared by the two brilliant support actors: Priyanka Bose and Divya Jagdale. And that is no fiction.   


Review: Queen

4 stars

Queen Will Queen Will Rock You!

Mini Review:

The wild child of Hindi cinema comes into her own. This is by far the most well written and superbly acted role in the last decade. Unmissable!

Main Review:

I cried because I've always wanted a large, insane, yet supportive family just like Rani.

I laughed with her roommates when she shops at the sex shop in Amsterdam

I understood why she would need to keep the curtains drawn and wallow in her loneliness in a city that is made for love.

I hurt when she was hurting.

I hated the man who left her standing alone after promises of forever and after. 

I knew that it was just perfect for her to find real friends in strangers.

I smiled when she was.

I knew why she could dance the way she did.

I even reminisced about my first kiss with my crush.

Yes, I know. That's too much information for you readers, but I have not identified with so many characters from the movie for so long, I knew I would want to see this movie again (or buy the dvd!).

Please don't waste time on reviewers going ga-ga over the amazing use of music, or how brilliant the colloquial dialog and the use of Hindi and English is. How seamless and effortless her character transition is. How she still retains her innocence...

Just book the tickets and watch the movie.

And yes, stay for the credits. You will love the Facebook updates and probably change your own status message to 'Aaj Church Dekhne Jaayenge.'

P.S. 'Vijay' may no longer be Amitabh Bachchan's property. Kangna Ranaut has managed to make a villain out of that name. And then Lisa Hayden makes it sexy. You choose.

Review. 300: Rise Of An Empire

half star

Men In Black... Leather Undies

Mini Review:

Warrior's Code, Love For Freedom, Dying For Mother Greece, Sea Of Blood... Everything sounds so awesome until you see these men dressed in black leather undies. It's just downhill from there...

Main Review:

'This is Spaaaartaaaa!' was a meme magnet, and you enjoyed the fighting againts all odds, mask wearing Persians giants, the gold-skinned bondage jewellery wearing Xerses, the creepy hunchback in the original 300.

This movie has all of Greece uniting to fight a common enemy. There's all kinds of noble reasoning: freedom, patriotism, love, revenge, brotherhood, honor, valor... But it is rendered hilarious because all Greek men seem to be wearing black leather undies.

It's like watching a sea of undies on boats. No wonder the Persian soldiers wore masks to fight. I would be laughing my head off too if I had to raise my sword in battle against men in black leather undies and capes.

But I am being unkind. Men In Black Leather Undies were also given helmets which hid their faces. 

There is blood and hacked limbs from start to finish (and because it is 3D, every hacked limb and blood drops come at you in the name of special effects). In fact, it gets so dull, you don't even question how the general of one army travels from the thick of the battle to ask for help all the way to Sparta only to discover that Spartan men have all been killed. Spare us, you want to say, but we are offered a super flashback.

Xerses with intense eyes and a beard roams the desert in Persia and goes wandering into a hermit's cave. There he dives into a pool and the voiceover tells us that he made a pact with the darkest of evil forces. Now you're talking, I say to myself, 'Now we will see Greek mythology style plagues and banshees and special effects!' But no!

Xerses emerges from the pool his awesome beard and head of hair gone, and his skin covered in gold paint. Damn! This was a depilatory pool! Women would all over the world would want to know the secret!

Alas the awesome visual of Xerses' new found physical shape (the prettiest gold covered tush this side of mythology) is made to look silly because he's given silly capes to wear. Not to mention the fetish style jewelry he's made to wear.

The only saving grace is the discovery that the rather vengeful Eva Green gets to wear long dresses while the men wear skirts... I mean undies....

And no one here did research too. Her eye make up is more Egyptian than Persian, but who cares, right? It's covered with yells and hacking and jumping off great heights swords raised and bringing the sword down on some extra in leather undies...

Fans of 300 will find awesomeness in the blood and gore. But there will be people who might push Greece lower down on their list of countries to visit before you die... I just wondered: With so much dampness from the sea and the salty air, how did they survive wearing leather...

P.S. The half star goes to two battle days where strategy is actually utilized and shown.

Review: Total Siyapa

no star

Totally Annoying 

Mini Review: 

The best acting came from a tall container of frozen soup. Enough said!

Main Review:

The audience would have clapped really hard had the tall container of frozen soup that went flying out of the window not just beaned but actually killed Anupam Kher who plays Daddyji. And I would have personally flung that frozen container on Mummyji, Brotherji, Sisterji, Jijaji, Grandfatherji, Bachhiji, Heroineji, Policeji, Sardarji and even the Heroji.

Looks like this otherwise affable Heroji has discovered Madhuri Dixit. Why else would he heave his chest a la Dhak Dhak song in EVERY scene? And he rolled his eyes at everything.

So did the audience.

Because nothing that was happening on screen was even remotely funny. Wait, not true. The Shahid Afridi line (which you saw in the promos) was true and funny. Especially after he hit those two sixes a la my once heartthrob Miandad in the recent Asia Cup.

And the falling container of frozen soup. I truly wish that it had rendered real harm on the writer who cooked up the intensely annoying pregnant child, the senile grandfather who touches the hero rather inappropriately, the caricaturish, stupid brother and also the 'I'm Mister Bean' cop.

Someone should have also thrown the director out of the window. The film is so slow, the slowest and the sleepiest people sitting in the theater would have guessed every joke a mile before the punchline. And to watch grandpa pee with heroji sitting on top of the cistern of the commode is a scene out there competing with scenes we have collectively puked on: Sanjay Dutt smashing idlis with his hands in a plateful of beer in Policegiri, the large breasted Kainaat Arora in Grand Masti saying,'Mere do doodh ki factories hain...

Who thinks up of such ridiculousness? The audience does not think watching anyone pee is funny, even if it is a mentally challenged Barfi (if he truly is challenged, then how would he know it is 'inappropriate to pee in the fields' and then shy away when discovered peeing by people working in the fields?)

Poor Mummyji. Kirron Kher tried so hard but even her act got stale and annoying. I'd rather watch her histrionics as a judge on a TV talent show. But she made that soup, so she's forgiven the loud crass role she had to play.

The xenophobic brother, the stupid sister (she maxed out her husband's cards on clothes, it is said. But she's shown to wear some that are so ill fitting, I did not blame the supposedly kanjoos husband for kicking her out of the house). And the research done (oh Lord! What did I expect from this film) is so flimsy you want to pound their heads with that tall container of frozen soup. A dozen roses in London today start at three pounds at Lidl's Supermarket. 

But they just wanted to remake a foreign film without using their brains! And to borrow from Dave Barry, so much of their brain space was used up by the idea of 'Let's make a Hindustan-Pakistan joke' that there was room only for ring-the-doorbell-and-run prank which even five year olds today (from either country) will label as lame. 

We saw 108 minutes of this tripe. So you won't have to suffer it. Better watch Yami in fairness cream ads. And Ali Zafar? I am sure after seeing this crappy movie, he ought to be denied entry home.