Friday, March 13, 2015

review: NH 10

Highway To Hell Has Potholes

2 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

Suspend all logic and say, 'Wow, what a role!', 'What revenge!', 'What acting!' but then you're probably paying homage to the production house. Rest of us scrambled hard to find empathy initially but enjoyed the revenge, nonetheless.

Main Review:

If you have grown up watching the angry young man beat up men three times his size and bundle them into an ambulance; if you have seen (and enjoyed) scrawny heroes batter big SUV sized henchmen and made those films 100 crore hits; if you don't mind the mindless blowing up of cars and storage units and buildings in the name of revenge in movies, then you'll love this movie. And you'll want to give it all the stars you've saved up.

So let's say I give this film five stars. But it wants desperately to stay away from the popular 100 crore club color and unbelievable action-song-romance drama. So you begin to look at the film closely. And you soon knock off a star.

Can't keep their hands off one another (in dialog at least, seduction wise) couple Arjun and Meera (Neel Bhoopalam and Anushka Sharma) reluctantly arrive at a party and instead of being glued to each other (puke inducing reality be damned!), party practically separately. The husband is so lame, he lets the wife drive off alone. I think, 'There go your chances of scoring any with the wife forever and ever!'

But this is an arty movie. Maybe she likes her men lame and socially inept.

She presents an understanding of the rural India mindset, and one is impressed. But the husband continues to annoy the audience with his, 'Main in sab ko dikhaata hoon.'

You don't delete one star for foolhardiness, you drop the star because that fancy SUV the two lovebirds drive has no phone charger, and their smartphones have no map assist. 'Oh come on!' you say, 'Eden Lake was made in 2008 and they have Google Maps and the woman advising the couple to 'turn around at the earliest'.

And the husband is shown to make it a habit of leaving without his phone. Erm... How many men today wander even two feet away from their phones? This is not a Rohit Shetty film where a cute, horizontally challenged child steals the hero's phone to type 'meet me' messages to the heroine... This is an art film.

The four star film without a phone map wanders into Haryana where everyone knows how to write 'randi', is a smartmouth, and lawless enough to beat a runaway couple in full public view with baseball bats. This four star movie tells us that people get shot in Gurgaon for asking baddies to pay toll, but the village baddies have no guns, not even desi kattas. And you believe the same production house made Gangs Of Wasseypur? This pothole in the highway to hell made me scratch out another half star.

This three and a half star film now limps around when the hero decides to play Singham without the muscles (and cojones) and go after the baddies. I missed Rohit Shetty here. The slow arty scene with the mentally challenged marigold chomping Chhote brought in sharp focus Adam from Eden Lake. Which was creepier? As proof, I take away yet another half of a star from the movie. How not original this is!

The baddies chasing, beating, injuring the hero and heroine is fun only because you realise you don't care whether the hero and the heroine live or die. Going by the characterization, one expected the fiesty Anushka Sharma to intervene in the fight rather than the lame husband. The 'bad guy slapped me so I'll chase them down and scare them with my gun' is such a daft idea...

But foolhardiness pushes the story forward. Not. We are still lost in the jungles, going round and round (you are so fed up you want the chasers and the chasee to find each other), finding brilliance occasionally (the quarry scene) but you grit your teeth again when the fauji (super acting by Ravi Jhankal) accepts drinking water from a Bihari. For a hugely casteist film, how did they overlook that? They tell you why a Bihari cannot stay within the village, but he can offer water to the upper cast baddies? Oddly convenient that...

That made me scratch out another star from the film.

The two and half star movie finally shows up for what it is: a facepalm worthy homage to Kill Bill. The yellow jacket and the dragging iron rod.

I sigh. But I enjoy watching Deepti Naval steal the whole movie from under the heroine's nose in that little cameo. That is the one point of time when the heroine sits on the bed, clutching a pillow, when I felt scared for the heroine. 

The end is predictable because Uma Thurman dragged the Hanzo and so should Anushka...

I wish this had been a regular chop-schloky fun masala movie like Dabanng, I would have happily forgiven its potholes and enjoyed the bumpy ride. It could have made other heroines want to jump on the action bandwagon. But when the director decides to keep it gritty and arty, then the judging is harsher. It's not original, it has too many obvious mistakes, and the empathy for the heroine seems forced.  

Eden Lake, the Micheal Fassbender and Kelly Reilly movie that inspired this movie is far creepier and superior in its story telling. Watch the trailer here and see for yourself. You will be afraid of 12 year olds forever. But NH10... Sigh... It only raises a feeble voice against the unfairness of patriarchy,  and after two hours, you are wondering how corpses with head wounds on tv shows bleed so much and why the husband in NH10 did not bleed at all...

the Kill Bill inspired scenes, story idea borrowed from creepy revenge cinema like Eden Lake and even Last House On The Left 

If you can watch scrawny heros beat up twenty guys in a regular chop-scholky film then this film is stupendous. Let's say you swallow a whole lot of disbelief and then watch the film

Review: CHAPPiE

Bots Not To Love About Chappie?

3 stars

Mini Review:

From R2D2 to The Terminator and Wall-E and Eve, we love Robots. And this gangsta robot may come across as a spinoff of Robocop, but has so much heart, you too will fall in love with Chappie as I did.

Main Review:

The movie is set in Johannesburg, South Africa and those not used to the Afrikaan accent /Sowetospeak, will appreciate the subtitles. That said, the story of robot police saving the city from the looters seems like a repeat of Robocop.

But wait! There's Dev Patel... playing the nerd again (nervous, hesitant The Newsroom role flasback) and there's one robot who turns out to be like Johnny 5 (again an Indian nerd owner/maker) of Short Circuit. 

('Dammit!' you think, when you watch Dev Patel do the nerd thing and give his robot real artificial intelligence by programming, failing, re-programming and failing again. 'It just took a short circuit to make Johnny 5 alive, didn't you see that movie?')

In spite of those references of all the robot movies you have seen, Chappie gets under your skin...

I was touched not just by the innocence (Chappie and the stray dog... Chappie says, 'I've got blings?') but by his learning of 'people's ways'...

I was reminded of Pran when I watched how jaw-dropping awful the villain gets. He's vicious with that circular saw. He's vicious with a remote control. He's vicious in his office guy avatar. Yes, I'm talking about the sexy, awesome hero until now: Hugh Jackman.

But it is Chappie who has so much screen presence, you want to take him home...

Watch this film and discover a part of your heart that is still alive and drenched in the milk of human kindness...

p.s.: there is a superb list of robot films here:


Review: FOCUS

Focus Induces ADHD

1/2 star

Mini Review:

Will Smith does not look like the fresh prince any more. The coolness just looks forced and Margot Robbie tries too hard to sizzle. The result is, that the audience would rather focus on their phones...

Main Review:

I must apologise for using the disease 'attention deficit disorder' in a headline, but I couldn't resist it. I spent a whole lot of time wondering why Will Smith looks so battered by time, you wonder if he'll just turn into dust like an unwrapped Egyptian mummy exposed to a mere breeze. He's 46, wiki tells me, and then I'm distracted by lists of con films on the net.

Yes, everything from The Sting is listed. Why is this film attempting to be so cute? Will Smith teaches her all about stealing from people by stealing her ring, her purse, her ring, her shoes, her ring, her sunglasses, her ring. her scarf, her ring, her watch, her ring... I hope you get the picture... And they're doing this on a snow-covered street.

I lose focus because I realise if the hero of a Hindi film were teaching the heroine to steal, or if there was a crowded street where heroine was pickepocketing people's watches and wallets there would be 'jhumka gira re' for distraction, not cleavage.

Now I don't want to sound like our CBFC and object to cleavage, but you'll be so irritated with that constant erasing of sounds which CBFC thinks are harmful to their (and our) collective sensibilities that you begin to lose focus again and check facebook statuses of friends of friends...

meanwhile, here's ten con films you ought to have seen:
(in no order of preference)
The Sting
American Hustler
Ocean's 11
Matchstick Men
The Grifters
The Flim Flam Man
A Fish Called Wanda
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Color Of Money