Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: Drishyam

Drishyam Is Time Naashyam!
Drishyam Is Unintentional Haasyam!

2 stars

Mini Review:

Had they told the story simply without over-explaining everything, the movie would have been brilliant. At 166 minutes, Drishyam is mostly a waste of time. And a silly, simpering heroine doesn't help.

Main Review:

'Red Riding Hood is a girl who is wearing a red riding hood.'
'Is she a girl?'
'Yes, it's a girl, who is wearing a red colored hooded riding jacket'
'Is that so? Correct me if I'm wrong, Red Riding Hood is a girl who is wearing a red riding hood, right?'
'I'm going to tell everyone about Red Riding hood now.'

(cut to)

(dialog repeated as person tells everyone about red riding hood)

You throw popcorn at the screen because they forgot capital letters...

This is the kind of show and tell and tell again and again makes Drishyam 166 minutes long. You wish they'd fast forward those parts. Don't get me wrong, the story is good. It's just that they tell and they tell and they tell again and again, and you are so weary, you want to send in a request that since there isn't any suspense any more, so could you please kill or maim someone to break the monotony?

Now Ajay Devgn and his awesome choice of sandals (just perfect for the role) and he is rather sweet as a cablewallah who watches movies all night. But his muscles do not hide. He looks like he could take on the entire bunch at both police stations without breaking into a sweat. You can imagine a Rajkummar Rao or even Nawazuddin being beaten up by cops, but not Ajay Devgn. He's still Singham. Not paavam enough. But having watched Mohanlal in the same role, you wonder how Mohanlal manages to look less of a man mountain even though he's a big guy. But he's a big guy who rides a bicycle (Ajay has been given a motorbike) and his frame magically shrinks when confronted by cops.

That brings us to Gaitonde. Baddy supreme. He's so awful, you want to make sure you don't attract his attention if he's walking on the same street as you. He's so bad, he could be Pran. What a fabulous actor Kamlesh Sawant is. If there's one reason you need to see the movie, he would be the reason. He's superior to even Tabu. The job is to be single-mindedly nasty, and he earns the star for the movie.

Tabu simply holds he breath and pretends to be stern. She doesn't even weep at the camera. She hides her face in her husband's shoulder like some damsel in distress. How one missed Vijayshanti! Pardon me, but Tabu's uniform is too tight across her bosom. And her back to camera shot when she's torturing men is guffaw inducing.

Speaking of guffaws, Shriya Saran simpers and simpers and is so coy, you want to extricate yourself from the molasses dripping out of every frame she appears in. She's even coy when she's sitting on the floor, stricken, after the tragedy... How I wished for the simplicity of Meena - Mohanlal's wife in the other Drishyam. And their believable home.

You expect an old but modest home (Not Finding Fanny style dilapidated, but a home with a with a little bit of damp here, and plaster falling off there...) but you get a perfect picturebook house with crisp curtains. What the art director does not realise is that the audience is so bored of the slow moving story, we notice that a switch by the door switches on a table lamp! The house is as silly as Shriya's coyness.

Just compare the pictures of the two families and you know why Ajay Devgn and co look like they're tourists when Mohanlal and his family look like they could give you direction to your aunt's house

The young cable lad (seen previously in Balak Palak) is as perfect as casting could get. 

The story gathers momentum in the last 45 minutes. And you like the story. And you wish their editor had a trigger finger for the delete button. He would have put together a far better movie than what you watched for 166 minutes. 

I wish to apologise to my forehead for the number of times it met my palm through those 166 minutes. The how-they-dun-it reveal is stylishly done, and you'd have appreciated it more had they not shown it being done, and told us about it again and again and again.

Friday, July 17, 2015


It's A Salman Film!
It's A Nawaazuddin Film!
It's A Harshaali Film!
Now Bring On The Violins!

3 Stars

Mini Review: 

A Salman Khan movie is usually a shirt tearing mara-mari fest. But Kabir Khan manipulates us all into sniffling into our handkerchiefs and gives Salman his Andaz Apna Apna vulnerability back. Plus Nawazuddin and the little kid are simply brilliant.

Main Review:

Bring on the violins? Did I not buy extra popcorn to throw at the screen when the shirt comes off? What is going on? This is a Salman Khan film, isn't it?

Oh yes, it is! But you'll find wads of tissue on the floors instead of popcorn. In fact there is no need to buy any corn (topped with cheese) because there's more corny, cheesy stuff on screen rather than ever before. You know you are being shepherded into a story that has more aman ki asha, peoples of two nations holding hands across barbed wires so don't you dare gag kind of stuff than anyone has dreamed of, but you don't mind it. Not one bit!

I did not take my usual pack of tissues because it's a Salman film. That means it has thodee story, thode laughs, and lots and lots of mara mari. And yes, room for whistles and claps the moment he makes an entry and when his shirt comes off.

But I found myself frantically and judiciously using the lone tissue that came with the multiplex coffee. The air-conditioning helped dry the tissue so it could be used again... And again.

Am I being sarcastic? Not at all. Logic knows you are being manipulated. Awww! Wake up mommy! We worry! The child is lost! Awwww! The child watches Bajrangi dance, there's hope! (By the way, everybody watches Bajrangi dance. You don't think that his gulaal stained shirt is so-oh staged to make him look hawt... You're just going, 'Awwww! Look at man-mountain with that little kid! I would also hold his hand in a mela like that one and pretend I'm lost!'

Your logic is stabbed to death by the cuteness of both these characters. 

So cute Salman is! He's wearing kurtas! His muscles look so awesome! He looks like a wide bodied Airbus. But he's so cute because he's somehow got that Andaz Apna Apna vulnerability back. No Dabanng wala arrogance. No added style. He's just a humble, so humble Logic resurrected and got stabbed in the eye again! And, he's so cute, you think even the mosquito coil in his hands becomes cute.

Speaking of cuteness, there's an overload of it because of the little girl who is lost. Now movie kids are obnoxious. Usually. But in this movie, this kid is really, really cute. Especially cute, because, as a fellow critic rightly said, 'She's cute because she does not speak.'

Nawazuddin shines on screen because he does a YouTube viral video imitation better than the original and then carries that same dementedness, the same dogged need to get a saleable story on air (Aaah! They understood the 'vyatha', the pain of a freelance journalist! That's a huge chunk of population there... the small unrecognised people... brilliantly manipulated again!)  

If you saw the video, you'll realise Nawazuddin's character is called Chand Nawab even in the movie...

No more of the story. You just go see it. As someone unkindly said, you are being generous because it's the last Salman movie you will see should be be sent to jail. I'm just glad it is not the awful spread the joy, give back to the community kind of puke-inducing rubbish he made and called it Jai Ho.

The movie is beautifully shot, and you wish it were as easy to travel to those pristine parts of Kashmir today without the threat of guns...

Also it was a pleasure to see Kashmiri theater actor Bhawani Bashir Yasir play the part of a village elder. Kareena Kapoor cries and cries in the movie and is quite forgettable even though she acts as Bajrangi's conscience, shows him right from wrong...

Yes, the script is manipulative, but you don't mind listening to 'love is bigger than doctrine', 'all religions are good', 'people are misunderstood', politicians are bad' kind of aman ki asha stuff. It is a natural part of the script. And the little kid is so cute, and Salman Khan is so cute and Nawaazuddin is so nice (no over the top hamming like he did in Badlapur), you are happy to be a part of their journey.

You don't mind the no mara mari bit at all. In fact, the shirt off, beating up scenes look too melodramatic in the movie. And it won't matter that you know and I know that You Tube is banned in Pakistan. 

But what a Salman Khan film this is. Quite hat-ke. Worth a watch in the theaters, and when it comes to the telly. Because the kid is so cute and Nawaaz is so awesome and you love Salman Khan's muscles and his cuteness and also how he looks hawt in Kurtas...

Okay, Manisha. Breathe. Let the violins of manipulation playing in your head stop. And step carefully over tissues littering the floor of the theater. Thank God it's not some sticky popcorn this time... Also look away from logical people who shake their heads in disbelief when they see your teary eyes. Sniff!

When the cash registers ring and ring and ring, I do hope the filmwallahs will learn that a soppy story is wayyyy better than the beat 'em, punch 'em loud sounds cops and really horrid raping pillaging villains stories remade from the South... 

P.S. People from both sides of the border will watch this movie and sniffle. So there!

P.S. The chicken dance is crap.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Sexy Naughty Bitchy Gals 

2 and 1/2 Stars

Mini Review:

The songs are fun, the situations funnier. The girls are naughty, the situations are naughtier, the competition is bitchy, the podcasters, bitchier. Overall a fun watch with your gal pals!

Main Review:

It's a date movie with your gal pals, and although the situations are 'stock' and the answers to problems are perky and pat but you start singing along, 'Apple bottom with the fur...something something something... and shawty got low, low, low, low, low...'

Speaking of low, the funnest part of the film are the two podcasters. They're bitchier than anything I've seen in a long time. Am surprised some of the comments went past the idiotic censor board that believes in muting curse words even though the certification is 'Adult'. But so glad that they missed on the word play. Otherwise the movie would have lost its bootyliciousness...

And when you think about the censor board you are singing with the bellas, 'I don't think you're ready for this jelly...Baby can you handle this...'

See, you're singing too, no? I was happily humming Hanson lyrics and it's a good thing the movies are seen in the relative darkness of the theater or my friends would be laughing me out of me skin...

It always bothers me when large people are made the butt of jokes and tights ripping in public is not funny at all. And it is a tad off putting but you must admire Fat Amy's limber skills. Physical comedy is not easy, so credit does go to her...

'Many times I've tried to tell you...Many times I've cried alone...Maybe I wouldn't know what to do with my strength any way...'

Let me stop singing for a minute and tell you that there are many girly things you want to barf at - pillow fights and campfire singing (with marshmallows none of the girls eat) - but you don't because it's all very earnest. They're trying so hard to be normal...

But it's Friday night and you don't care, and you sing along with Montell Jordan, 'This is how we do it!'

This is a happy, feel-good, gal pal, singalong movie... As they say in the 'hood: Paisa Vasool!

Review: Max

Max 'Awws', Max 'Ooohs', Max ‘Get ‘em, Max!’

3 happy pawprints 

Mini Review:

The cleverest manipulation ever! A not-so-cute dog and a not-so-nice teenager makes you go, ‘Awww!’ so many times that you start liking them and by the end of the movie are so involved with their story that you find yourself crying quietly as the credits roll.

Main Review:

When a dog cocks its head sideways and looks at you with hope in his eyes, even the hardest of hearts will melt a bit. Thanks to the internet, we are also used to sharp looking dogs that stand guard and protect, or really cute cuddly pooches. Here, Max the dog is not cute  at all. Neither does he look smart. In fact, he is quite lean to the point of looking hungry and his coloring does not want to make you instantly want to pat him. And he has an attitude. He bites, he bares his fangs and is generally disgruntled.

The teenager who is given the responsibility of the dog is sullen and selfish and not likeable at all. The dog and the boy make a fitting pair.

But you've seen many films to know that is just the perfect set up so that you will be witness to the change and root for the duo when the change happens. You know the kids are going to love the practically mangy, unloved dog and his boy. No matter how many movies you have seen, you are soon swept along the change and begin to say, 'Awww!'  

Not only do you say, 'Awww!', you even watch with bated breath when the two are in imminent danger, or you cover your eyes when you think bad things are going to happen. You don't care that you are being played. You love every minute of the movie. You want Max to bite the bad guys and you hope they never recover... 

And then the credits roll. It's like catharsis. You let all those emotions run out of your eyes, and hope that the lights don't come on soon. You're a grown up. You are not expected to have a never ending lump in your throat...

Sniff! Sniff! Where are the tissues when you need them...  

Review: Terminator Genisys

This Time Travel Tale Trips Over It's Own Feet!

1 star

Mini Review:

Take earplugs along. This Terminator is noisy, in the horrid 3D, has a story that trips over itself and poor Arnie is left to save the day with his lines which are flogged to death.

Main Review:

Imagine watching a Terminator movie and not wanting to hear 'I'll be back!'

Imagine getting so irritated with the heroine that you come back home and write a letter to George R R Martin telling him to kill her character in the Game Of Thrones TV show.

Imagine watching a Time Travel story that is so confused, even the characters ask, 'Is he the good Terminator or the bad one?'

Terminator Genisys does everything to destroy any nostalgia you feel when you excitedly enter the theater. You want to be terrified of the Terminators sent by Cyberdyne to destroy Sarah Connor, John Connor, Reese, or any of the 'good' guys. Here, the reveal is so daft, there is no fear, you hear many palms being slapped against foreheads and groans in the theater. You pick up your phone and announce on social media: Seriously? They didn't find anything else?

So the good guys and bad guys travel through time to fight Cyberdyne and each other and while you are pining away for the awesomeness of the Terminator walking nonchalantly with a box of long stemmed roses, you groan at the sight of the Terminator walking in with a giant teddy bear as if it were being held hostage. Who is going to miss the gun you ask, but there are so many groan-worthy scenes in the movie, you just want it to be over now.

The special effects are nothing to rave about. Harry  Potter Prisoner Of Azkaban had more believable past and future characters existing simultaneously. Jurassic Park had a similar scene where the characters hang by a rope and the bus falls into the abyss... And the 3D has just been put in for you to pay extra at the multiplex. 

My sympathies go out to Arnie. He has put in maximum effort in trying to instill the pathetic story with humor. If people in audience felt bad for him being branded as the oldest Terminator again and again ('He's only T1') imagine how much it cost him to say the line he's made to repeat again and again that he's still in working order. The only reason why you should watch this daft movie is for him.

And the story? Here's a priceless piece of stupidity: Like in other Terminator movies, someone has to travel in time to save something. This time, Sarah and Reese get into the time machine and go back to save the world by destroying Cyberdyne. But friendly Arnie cannot step into the time travel thing because everything buy skin and bones gets destroyed. Arnie says, 'I'll be there in the past, don't worry.' Erm... Then why couldn't they all travel the Arnie way? Was that just an excuse to get the hero and the heroine naked? And didn't Arnie of the original Terminator travel in time (presumably in the same time machine)? He is naked too, remember? And how come he is older when he travels back in time while the hero and the heroines don't age?

And if Cyberdyne is destroyed by these heroes, and now Sarah and Reese can be happy for ever after, what is the need of the stupid senti scene planting a memory in the head of the little boy? If this is done to safeguard the future, then shouldn't Reese and Sarah never produce John Connor either?  

The story seems to be so devoid of logic when you ask questions like these. But you enjoy the Arnie moments, so you book the tickets and watch nostalgia being systematically destroyed. I wished they had really traveled in time and destroyed the idea for this movie.