Friday, November 25, 2016


Shah Rukh Khan Is Hawt. For Everything Else There's A Martini

2 stars

Mini Review:

A PYT cinematographer dumps boyfriends like they change shoes. Then hates it when that happens to her. Circumstances take her to Goa (riiiiiiiiight!) and she encounters Dr. Jehangir Khan (His Hawtness Shah Rukh Khan) and he cures her of everything from insomnia to trust issues... You hate the shallowness of it all, but every time the camera is on Shah Rukh, you sigh into your seat. The last half hour is emotional, but by then you're bored out of your skull.

Main Review: 

You cannot watch a movie only because His Hawtness looks so good when he's: 
Fixing bicycles (awww! he loves kids! He fixes things!), 
Walking on the beach (I'm singing 'Suraj Hua Maddham' in my head, get rid of the patient quick!), 
Sitting on a chair (oh mah gawd, he crosses his legs!), 
Telling hokey homespun stories (cho chweet na!), 
Using the CSI New York Medical Examiner glasses (looks so stylish, but he doesn't seem to really need them, still...), 
Listening to his patient (ye gads! A man who listens!),
Bicycling (is the theatre airconditioned? Why is it so hot in here?)

That he has a screen-presence is known, but to wait for him to look directly into the camera after he's put eye drops, now rivals his standard open arms for heroine to run into them gesture. 

But this is not why you watch a movie. You want something to happen. Nothing does. Even after the Intermission (I staggered out and ignored the free popcorn for the press line and went to the pay for chai to sustain you through the tinsel tedium counter). You sympathies go out to the good-looking Kunal Kapoor who just seems to never get a break. He has a great smile, has acting chops, but somehow he ends up in such films where he gets his ex in rebound.

Aalia Bhatt, the PYT in the film, gets Ali Zafar. Who sings and sings and sings so much even you want to scream and say, 'Dude! Make out with her instead of singing to her!' Thankfully he is not poet from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil or we'd have more pouty shayari (peppered with pointless Urdu) to put up with. You like Ali Zafar's character: tattooed lad on Goa beach with a guitar. So when he begins to educate Aalia about music, holds up a vinyl which he casually puts on a cluttered table, saying, 'This is Pink Floyd's first album. Great music!' And it makes me choke on the chai. First Album! You are casually throwing Piper At The Gates Of Dawn on a table that has melting chocolate! 

Obviously the writers know of Pink Floyd, and it's cool to own a Vinyl player today, but first album? Someone, somewhere should do a little more research. Do they know how much it costs? If they did they wouldn't be casual with it. Even second pressed albums are handled like priceless aritfacts. 

Aalia's friends are nice. But their concerns seem so casual, you'd expect them to have bets on how long the new boyfriend would last rather than 'he's the one yaar', 'he's perfect for you'. Even the parents and uncle and aunt seem to be dated, as if they were the director's parents and not young Aalia's. Today's parents are a little more ambitious for their kids instead of only wanting to get them married off. Seems more like a scene from Pride & Prejudice rather than something in 2016.

And I absolutely hated the 'Gay Jokes'. 'Are you Lebanese?' the uncle asks instead of 'Lesbian'. Not funny. It spreads homophobia, does it not? Then the random, needless incident where Aalia asks a crew member: 'Do you keep saying I go to a shrink because you're telling people you are gay?' And the boy replies, 'No I'm telling myself that I am gay'. The boy is not seen again in the film. What s the purpose of that scene? 

Are there straight jokes in the film? When will Bollywood stop assuming all gay people are flamingly so and making comic tropes of them hoping people would laugh? Are gay people not being persecuted enough in real life already? 

Did I say Shah Rukh is hawt in the film? He is, he is! Sad change of subject, but needed. So Aalia is shown to have a legendary memory. *Cough!* *Cough!* You try to remember the name of the awful math teacher who beat you in middle school and you cannot. But Aali's character remembers everything about her childhood - when she was three years old she did x, y, and z - but doesn't remember the last time she spoke with her parents. She tells Kunal Kapoor she drinks only when she's in love (and when she's not) but is happily seen drinking in Goa. You don't care to remember why, because the movie makes you squirm in your chair with the homespun, un-doctorly advice His Gorgeousness dishes out...

There's a reason why sessions with a psychiatrist are private and confidential. The soul-baring is emotional. There's only one scene in the last half hour where you don't want to slap/groan at Aalia's silly concerns. Both Shah Rukh and Aalia Bhatt make the 'last appointment with Doctor' scene perfect.

You emerge from the theatre not satisfied with either the illness or the cure. Mebbe they should have had a story with substance like they did in English Vinglish, the movie about fixing memories is just too foo-foo to be memorable. 




Glad They Showed Up!

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

When aliens land on Earth and no one knows if their silent, gigantic presence is threatening or no, the US Government asks for help from linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) who manages to communicate with them. Denis Villeneuve directs this deeply thoughtful yet suspenseful drama about alien forces that is as satisfying as cinema can get but falters when it comes to the science.

Main Review:

Sci-Fi fans will love the idea of an all powerful alien force showing up in gigantic contact-lens like stone spacecrafts. Have they been designed by Steve Jobs, you will wonder, because the edges of the doorway are smooth like the apps on your iPhone...You’ll enjoy how armies posture and aim their guns at the things suspended quietly (or should we say ‘menacingly’?). Those who enjoy thoughtful drama will find all the right boxes checked and be wholly satisfied with the beautifully crafted screenplay by Eric Heisserer (If you have read the short story ‘Stories Of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang, you know it is too complex to become a screenplay.).

Amy Adams steals your heart as she struggles with her personal loss and at the same time attempts to fulfil her duty of communicating with the aliens. Jack Renner is at her side as the mathematician/physicist who will bring logic to the whole ‘communicate with the minds’ business.

Denis Villeneuve (who has directed movies such as Sicario, Enemy, Prisoners) gives you many clues into this rather thoughtful Sci-fi thriller. Circles inside circles and events that come full circle... You just have to pay a little more attention than you would in a usual Aliens Vs. Humans science fiction movies you have seen until now. There are no aliens who want to eat humans or are just on some vengeful quest, or in search of some mineral they value more than human life. There are no heroes who will penetrate their alien vessel hovering over Earth and kill them with the flu virus or blow the mothership with clever algorithms…Politicians and people around the world react typically, but you are shown again and again that this movie is different.

In this movie, the Septapod aliens make you think. About time. About relationships. About communication. You unconsciously attempt to analyse their ‘language’ and nod your head to say, ‘I knew that!’ when Amy’s electronic pad translates the words on the screen.

How Amy Adams convinces the authorities as well as the audience that her technique of communication is right is simply brilliant. Her breathlessness and fear seem to be stupidly ‘female’ and out of place in the movie and no explanation is given. Thankfully the doubt is momentary and Louise Adams the Linguist takes over. A couple more places where the science becomes fiction and that jars your senses. But only if you are a geek and see holes in the plot bigger than the opening in the spacecraft.

The music is as awe-inspiring as the size of the alien spacecrafts. It will distract you from the doubts that creep up in your head. You wish for the philosophical end to be different and yet you sit in the theater stunned at the visual feast you have consumed. The next time your phones ring in school or office, you will look up at the sky involuntarily...

If you have teenage children and feel like they’re rather alien when you try and communicate with them, then you will love this movie just a little more than others. And you know that if real aliens did show up, you would be glad Amy Adams is on our side.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


Ho Hum

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

Ranveer Shorey plays Aman, a real estate agent who wants to get rich quick. His wife Divya (Neha Dhupia) is a television producer who disapproves of his schemes. When his one cheat-deal goes wrong, he has to find an even worse idea in order to get money lost. Of course things do not go well. What the audience can see from a mile away, the characters cannot. The film starts out well and quickly degenerates into a poor cousin of Khosla Ka Ghosla or Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.

Main Review:

Remember watching a spate of movies like Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Khosla Ka Ghosla and smiling at the shenanigans? Well, this film belonged to that time, and alas, it is not only ten years too late but it is so humorless, you just want it to be over soon.

Neha Dhupia manages to put in her heart in her character (Divya). A wife who is a reluctant partner in a dodgy scheme to make money. Her husband Aman is played by the ever unhappy Ranveer Shorey who cribs about being ‘Middle Class’ and hatches a real estate scam.

Of course when he gets caught, he loses his job after his boss literally slaps him. Now you’ve heard people in Delhi are generally physical, and yet it surprises you to see fisticuffs flying when Aman is caught.

Also, we watch Neha scolding people on the phone, but we see no real work. A TV producer who tells a person on the team to ‘edit 23 seconds of a promo’  is basically telling us that the promo must be really long…

And if they’d just added a word ‘Work’ to Visa processes they go through for Hong Kong, then the knowing audience would not cringe. Because Hong Kong offers Indians Visa on arrival.

Why am I looking at such things? Because the humorless movie just gets from ‘it’s-going-to-be-a-disaster’ to ‘why-is-this-disaster-so-slow’. The only shiny beacon is Neha Dhupia whose character grows on you, in spite of the surprise turn towards the end. The story is like so many insurance fraud movies you have seen. You can see where the story is going and wish there was even a teensy-weensy bit of humor in the story. The director makes Ranveer’s character so weak, so miserable, you don’t like him. And once the protagonist becomes dour and unlikeable, the rest of the movie is so easy to dislike. The end is obvious, and you wish it come earlier.       

You do feel for Neha Dhupia and feel terrible when her character gets caught in Ranveer’s web of lies. But empathy for one character does not a movie make, no?

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Friday, November 18, 2016


Eddie Redmayne Is A Truly Fantastic Beast  

3.5 stars

Mini Review: :

Eddie Redmayne and his magical suitcase bring alive magic that J.K. Rowling has penned as part of Harry Potter history. In 1920s New York a visitor with an interesting suitcase shows up in search of a person who will sell him an exotic creature. He breaks all rules of the magic world and Tina Goldstein of the Ministry makes many futile attempts to contain him and his fantastic creatures. What we get to a spectacular ride with an awestruck muggle… Good in 3D but even better in 2D

Main Review:

Set in New York where street corner evangelists rant against witches, we accompany the terrifically cute Eddie Redmayne and his magical suitcase in his search for some creatures who have escaped. The city is already being terrorised by ‘a black cloud with white eyes’ that has broken buildings and uprooted roads, toppling cars and mangling scaffoldings and train tracks.

The ministry of magic is worried, they know it is some evil magic but they don’t know who is responsible.

Eddie Redmayne is so cute, so British, you begin to like his demeanor as he doesn’t really look at you when he speaks at you. You love the sharp, witty writing and he delivers the lines rather cutely. He is rather cute, you realise. Yes, even when he walks everywhere with his suitcase, you know he is cute. Yes, the word ‘cute’ needs to be used again if only to emphasize the immense likeability of his character. Even the very rotund Mr. Kowalski is compelled to respond to the cuteness when Eddie calls him with a hand gesture from inside the suitcase!

No! Shan’t give away the secrets of the suitcase. You will want to make those discoveries yourself.

The magic is what you have come to expect from Potter films, but I cannot resist telling you that you would want to rush out to a concession stand and buy an apple strudel after you watch it being made in the movie.

Yes, the pace initially is slow, but patience pays, and you are soon ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at the goings on. The dark magic scenes are rather gobsmackingly scary for little children, but grown ups will understand the motives of the dark magic and know how it operates. The reveal is surprising and makes you look forward to the sequel.

The special effects are superb. Spectacular in fact. And the fantastic creatures are so endearing, you wonder if there are plush toys in the market already. 

(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: TUM BIN 2

Will Cure Anyone Who Says They're In Love.

1.5 stars

Mini Review:  

Girl loves Boy1. Boy1 loves Girl. They sing love song on Scottish Mountains. Boy1 goes skiing, presumed dead in an accident. Girl cries on Papaji's shoulder (everyone calls him 'papaji' and he sounds like a universal daddy, but is Boy1's dad). Boy2 shows up and Girl and everyone falls for Boy2. Boy2 and Girl sing many love songs. Then to create confusion, Boy1 returns alive and well. Who does she choose? You wish they were all dead. The movie is that terrible. You listen to songs on your phone.

Main Review: 


(They shouldn't have mangled love into this silly putty mess.)
Boy1 is gareebon ka Siddarth Malhotra with a Shah Rukh hangover. Looks like lads working out in your neighborhood gym and gets that mildly electrocuted anti gravity hair from the same neighborhood salon where famous producer was once seen... Oh yes, he has those bee-stung lips which does look nice on some creatures, but here, it looks like a swarm of bees had a go at his lips. 

Thankfully he has a skiing accident and is off the screen after one love song with Girl.

The Girl cannot act to save her life. Her kissy face is the same as looking at lasagna face is the same as missing Boy1 face is the same as confessing to loving Boy2 in a Gurudwara. She bicycles furiously on a bike that seems to be pulled by invisible strings and moves slower than it should. Like a wit in the theatre said: Her bicycle chain seems to have come off! 

She lives in Edinburgh, but dresses as though she's in sunny California. And junta on the street are dressed to the gills in warm clothing. We know Chiffon Sarees In The Snow is a Hindi film trope, but those scanty baby doll dresses are very cold inducing. Speaking of cold, each time she's talking to Boy2, it seems to be snowing outside. But when they step out, there's sunshine! Magic weather!

Talking of Boy2, he's again a clone of the gym lads looks wise. But the moment he opens his mouth, oh dear Lord, he sounds like a book of motivational quotes where each quote ends with an ellipse. 'Har lamha aise jiyo jaise bas woh lamha hee poori zindagi ho...', 'Shayad jo khushi tum dhoond rahi ho woh is lamp post par lean karne se mil jaaye, ya phir mujh mein dikh jaaye, tum dhoondti raho,,,', 'Life ne mujh se jo cheen liya main sochta hoon ki mera saath us cheez ke saath bas utna hee thaa...'

The Girl falls for such homilies, but he gets to kiss her only after dragging her to the edge of a cliff and  jumping into the cold Scottish sea. I visualised hypothermia and some whiskey to revive them, and songs a la roop tera mastana around a fire... But no! he gets to kiss her instead of getting slapped.

Then Boy1 shows up nursed to health by French nuns in Scottish mountains. Don't ask. But I did wonder about kilts and big Scottish men... No luck.  

The Girl confesses of her love for Boy2 to Boy1. he accepts that fact. But Boy2 cannot understand why Girl can choose him, so tells Girl, you must love Boy1. Each one wanting to palm off the Girl to each other pissed off those of us in the theater, and makes Girl teary eyed. But she asks: Who are you guys to decide whom I should love. I almost stood up and clapped. But her kissy face put me off. 

Manoj Muntashir's beautiful lyrics have been sung rather nicely. But songs cannot save the pathetic film. Sangam (Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar and Vyjayantimala) and Saajan (Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit) too had wonderful songs, but they also had actors who could carry a role.

The only other wonderful part of the movie is Kanwaljit who plays Papaji who mouths dialog like, 'Har zindagi ke apne apne dukh hote hain, ' and managed to make me sob into my cappucino. And also the two sisters Gurpreet and Manpreet and their suitors, and the Pakistani tehzeeb wala dialog wali mom are all amazing roles. The family scenes look real and feel real. But then they want to make a love story.

We laughed so much at that love, it made me puke into my neighbor's popcorn. It would have been a better movie had the two lads flew away into the sunset and their plane was blown up by some random violent terrorist (brother to the random dholi bajane wali Jasleen). 

This movie has cured me of 'love'. And the six couples who showed up to neck during the screening looked so shell-shocked when the lights came on, I felt bad for them. Not.




Review: SHUT IN

Lock It Up And Throw Away The Key

½ Star

Mini Review:

Poor Naomi Watts! She plays a recently widowed shrink who has to look after a stepson who has been rendered catatonic in the accident that killed her husband. Not only is she alone, but is traumatised by a missing patient (the boy you have seen in the Oscar winning movie ‘The Room).
As her fears grow, you wish there weren’t so many sudden loud noises, creaking doors and hiding in the closet scenes to make you yawn through this silly scare flick.

Main Review:

Naomi Watts must have realised at some point that her terrified face can only do so much to keep the audience interested in this cliche ridden tale of horrors.

Creaking doors, suddenly shutting doors, howling wind, rattling windowpanes, horrible dreams from which you awake with a sudden start, needless walking outside searching for the ‘boy’... the cliches are endless. And you hate it when you yawn loudly at yet another hide-in-the-closet or something is in the closet scene.

Oh yes, not to forget how the storm outside is going to mean power cut and if it is wintertime in Maine, then it would be blue-white snow covered rural scenes, with scary leafless trees looming like ghostly arms reaching out to you, should you decide to wander about in the night. And she does! She is searching for her missing patient, a young deaf boy who has run away from his foster home. Of course there will be raccoons who scare the heck out of her (but not you, the audience) and you feel for her - am sure she did not know it would be such a tiresome laughable script - because she’s earnest. But then there are a whole lot more questions than scares. The biggest one? She’s forever skyping with her shrink (Oliver Platt) telling him her fears and he diagnoses her problem over skype! Now would you want your shrink who needs a shrink herself?

Jacob Tremblay is not getting typecast. Soon he’ll be relegated to B-grade horror films (which this one is, alas!) wandering about houses like a ghost, looking lost, staring at houses and people and things creepily....

And Hollywood! No matter how fetching the heroine and her winter wardrobe is, we the audience are fed of scenes that take you into their closets. I said that before? The director repeats such scenes so many times, you want to whack everyone in the head and ask, ‘If you are so paranoid about ‘something scary is in there’, then shouldn’t you be running away from the cupboard/closet instead of investigating it?’ And that The Conjuring has already done and dusted with the clapping from the cupboard scene.

The movie gives you ample time to count creaking doors. It works like counting sheep… This film is that much of a yawn.

(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: FORCE 2

The Villain Who Talked Too Much

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

Have you ever come across a villain who talks so much you know the hero is driving like a man possessed just to get away from his bak-bak! Well, Mumbai Police officer ACP Yashvardhan (John Abraham) and RAW agent KK (Sonakshi Sinha) have to deal with the most talkative villain ever on our screens. Ever. No amount of violence to finally put him out, shut him up is then bad.

Main Review:

John Abraham's angry ACP once again kicks, punches and shoots his way to the baddie, his biceps flexed permanently, his dimple flashing rarely. As they say in Hindi cinema parlance, 'John ki entry dhaansu hai!' He has to get his man to a court hearing, and he shows up in a white shirt (takes a couple of minutes to come off, hallelujah!) and yesssssssssss! The muscles are all there and we've heard so much about him being a fitness freak, that we gape in awe at his muscleness!

But when it comes to the mission, he has to play second fiddle to a RAW agent (Sonakshi Sinha) who is a stickler about protocols and obeying orders. The mission is to catch a baddie who is having field agents killed one by one.

And he talks... So much we know immediately that he is an Indian with a grudge.

This is a paint by numbers cops and robbers film, and it delivers fast-paced action from the word 'go'. Nothing wrong with a bullet-fest and bombs blowing up and double crosses and gun-shot wounds and chases on rooftops. Nothing wrong at all. But the film could have done with a dose of humor, which could have made the film immensely enjoyable (there are a couple of moments, but not enough).

Thankfully there’s no romance between the two lead actors to dilute this relentless action-packed bullet-riddled Budapest fest.

Speaking of women agents, it's not an original idea. You have seen in scores of spy movies before. The woman agent either turns out to be super efficient and can hit better than the hero, or she’s a stickler for rules and becomes more of a roadblock than help. But the woman spy is always given some skill that makes the partnership equal in some way. Unfortunately, Sonakshi Sinha is not given any extra skill that enamors us to her. She seems strident about following rules and her data analysis seems to be wrong every time. But she does kick butt. She was good in Akira, and she looks even better in Force 2.

The villain (even when he's not on screen), is talking... Or you imagine him to be talking.

The problem lies not with the paint by numbers thriller where the good guys are chasing the baddie. The problem lies with giving the villain too much screen time. Where is the good old fashioned duct-tape when you need one? The taunting, the baiting by the villain just did not work and though the surprises are many, you just want to fast forward to the next set piece.

The parkour and the video game style killing of the villain’s goons goes on and on, but the end makes it worthwhile. You want to ask how the villain affords these henchmen, and you groan at his never-ending emotional response to everything. It’s an overdose. You want an unrepentant Gabbar Singh like villain, who does not need a sad, pathetic history to be a bad guy.

P.S. Death comes too easily to someone who talks so much. I imagined a torture scene where the villain is tied to a chair, mouth shut by duct tape, and John lets him say one word and shuts the tape back again! what fun!

Friday, November 11, 2016


Ang Lee's One Trick Pony Is Lame

2 stars

Mini Review:

The young men of Bravo squad have returned home after a heroic battle and nineteen year old Billy Lynn needs to make sense of his life before he is deployed with his mates once again. And the time he has is during the flashy thanksgiving celebration football game takes us through a predictable journey where he compares the uncertainties of his life as a soldier to the mostly banal but ugly life as a civilian. The idea is spectacular but with so many political points being made, the film becomes gimmicky and trite. Not Ang Lee’s best work.

Main Review:

The hero is nineteen, but he has been through so much inhumanity and has seen death at such close quarters, that you smile when he actually shows you what he’s really thinking at the press-conference where the state is feting his squad as heroes. The press asks banal questions: what do you do during your down time? What was it like to kill enemy soldiers in a hand-to-hand combat? Did you feel heroic when you did that?

In a flash, black and white footage appears and we see Billy’s sergeant nicknamed ‘Dime’ give a true, cutting, sarcastic answer to these ridiculous questions. But in reality, the squad offers ‘human’, ‘almost cute’ answers with dignity.

Flashbacks are used with good reason as Billy realises he doesn’t belong in the world that has cheerleaders, tables overflowing with food, stadium shaped cakes, loud and proud to be American oilmen, an agent who wants to peddle the story as a movie, general public clueless and offensive, family that cares about him being ‘Hero’ but doesn’t understand him, a sister who understands what Billy has gone through in the war but wants to get him out in a way that can only be called dishonorable, and yes, a world that wants the soldiers back home, but does not see the PTSD that seems to be evident in every member of the Bravo squad.     

Billy’s long walk seems to be an exercise in futility. It’s painful to watch the half-time show - all the spectacular fireworks and the music and the cheerleaders -  all too cleverly juxtaposed with Billy Lynn’s dark thoughts. The film has been shot with love, so you cannot find fault with the over-the-top garishness, or the starkness of the war shots. But the ending is so predictable, you want watch Vin Diesel give Billy reasons to be in the war just one time.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: ROCK ON 2

Ho-oi Kyon Banayi Yeh Picture?

1 star

Mini Review:

After 8 years the story of a broken band 'Magik' comes alive again. Barely. It is so slow you can see where the story if going a mile ahead. Each band member though busy with different things, deal with the death of young lad - who wanted to make music and whom they ignored - differently. This includes the sister of that boy who also makes music. The faraway village where one band member lives is burnt and the band comes together to save the village, and save themselves.

Main Review:

The one saving grace to this movie is a khasi song ‘Hoi Kiw’ sung by the Meghalaya band Summersalt featuring Usha Uthup (she sings the Hindi lyrics). The sound is so new, you know you have to go seek more of their music. There’s enough time to do that in the movie because the rest of the movie has been such a drag you had sunk to the bottom of your multiplex seat and were almost asleep.

The band you saw eight years ago in shambles again. This time Aadi (Farhan Akhtar of the awful sand on broken glass voice) is hiding away in a Meghalaya village and is busy ‘saving’ the villagers by starting a school and a farming co-operative. Joe Mascerhenas (the ever so handsome Arjun Rampal) is not playing guitar any more. He’s drowning himself in judging music reality shows and running a club. Purab Kohli is the narrator in the film and does not seem to be doing much except offering comic relief that might not work for a ten year old, let alone grown ups.

They’re all suffering from guilt over the death of a young man who hounds them with his music. He kills himself after a nasty encounter with the band. By the time they show this encounter, you feel for the boy who says sarcastically, ‘All you can sing is ‘jaago, jaago!’. You call this music?’ You want to clap hard because every song they sing is dullsville.

The village Aadi has adopted burns down and he’s devastated (thankfully Farhan Akhtar’s beard hides his really bad acting). He is saved by a young girl (Shraddha Kapoor. Poor girl! She didn’t know she was getting into am sure!) who records music of the local singers. Aadi returns home (that’s what he’s best at, this running away!). Meanwhile we learn Shraddha Kapoor is the sister of the lad who committed suicide because the Magik guys would not listen to his music cd. Her dad is the profoundly talented Kumud Mishra who is misused here as a poor man’s Vikram Gokhle from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. She also writes and creates half baked songs - which no matter how good you are with lyrics and tunes - you will not remember.

Coffee saves you from more trite songs and forgettable music (one song actually reminds you of Aerosmith’s ‘Sweet Emotion’ but you put that thought out of your head). Then the whole band goes back to the village to save the children by singing in a rock concert. You have to see the scene where Farhan and Shraddha distribute meal packets. It’s the worst orchestrated scene in movies this year. The village people have been made to look so suitably dirty, you have to stuff your empty popcorn packet in your mouth lest you get slapped for giggling uncharitably at the people in relief camps.

Thankfully the Meghalaya band sings ‘Hoi Kiw’, which is peppy and catchy. The refrain begins to sounds like ‘Hoi Kyon’ (Hoi why!) and you add ‘Hoi kyon banayi yeh picture!’ (Hoi! Why did you make this movie!)’  

And puhlees! No one bought the movie post-script that Shraddha Kapoor became an International singing sensation singing to a packed audience in New York.  

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


Hunting Illegals At The US-Mexico Border

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

A group of illegal immigrants make a crossing across the Badlands from Mexico into the United States. Their danger is not the hostile desert terrain or the relentless Sun. Their biggest and unknown danger comes from a rogue rancher who has a sniper rifle and a tracking dog. He kills the immigrants for sport with a hatred that is horrifying. Among the immigrants is Gael Garcia Bernal and it’s such an obvious story you know he’s going to win. You just have to sit through the awfulness.

Main Review:

That many American ranchers who live on the border live with a hatred for illegals crossing the desert is known. With the current President Elect promising a wall built across the border makes this movie bone-chillingly prophetic. Could immigrants making that death-defying border crossing even more dangerous?

The movie is fast paced and the superb camera work make you feel every step of that run through the desert. The cactii are hostile, the stony, dusty ground is hostile and there seems to be no cover from the hunter’s rifle that seems to be picking the illegals out one by one.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan has played the part of a rough soldier before, so the gun suits him. The dog by his side is able to track the illegals so his master can shoot at them.

‘Is there a law against hunting rabbits?’ He has asked a border patrol policeman who asks him why he is wandering about so close to the border.

But in the movie, rabbits seem to have a fair chance of surviving the sniper’s rifle than the group of illegals making their way to the promised land. The group is largely made up of assorted non-individuals, except for Gael Garcia Bernal. It’s painfully obvious that he is going to be the savior of the immigrants. Alas, when the others die, horribly and too easily, we don’t really care because the director fails to tell us their backstories. We are horrified when they are killed one by one, but there is no empathy for the individual characters. The only stories we know are through one line the young girl tells Bernal: I didn’t want to leave home, but my parents said their home wasn’t safe any more. The guy who has promised to take care of the young girl makes unwanted amorous gestures towards the girl and she does not like it. And there’s our hero Bernal who is carrying a teddy bear given by his son which has a sound chip. You know the teddy bar is going to start singing when least required. The rancher too is shown simply hating illegals attempting to cross the border. We are given no reason why he hates so much. We don’t understand why when he hates so much that he can love his dog equally well.

In movies that have come before we have seen men who hate illegals hunt in packs to capture and torture. There is a sadistic joy which is understandable, with each rancher egging the other on for more violence. But with such an obvious and dodgy, slim line of a story, we are just appalled at the hunting and the hunted. The catharsis comes too late and it is too little. There seems to be so much violence in the film it borders on celebration rather than shock. Sin Nombre which has a similar plot was way more human and engaging.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Friday, November 04, 2016

Review: TROLLS


2.5 stars

Mini Review:

They’re ugly! No, they’re not! They’re bite sized! No, they’re cute-sized! They’re lurid pinks and blues and purple and they sing and dance and they hug! Plus they’ve got sparkles! Trolls are so happy the Bergens think eating them will make them happy. Princess Poppy has to rescue the trolls and change the Bergens’ way of thinking… It’s a happy, funny, sing along adventure that will put a smile on your face.

Main Review:

Animation films for kiddies usually bring on a headache for the parents or grownups accompanying them. Initially you think the too pink, too glittery, too neon colored trolls are nothing but a marketing gimmick, a ploy to make you buy plush toys.

But you forget these concerns within minutes and are happily bobbing your head to the music and smiling at the antics of the trolls and even though you cannot identify each one, you are in love and make a mental note to buy all the plush toys in the gift store.

The trolls have watches that light up when it is time to hug! The trolls like to scrapbook. Their party invites are awesome and they spend all their time dancing and singing and being happy. Too saccharine sweet for you? Then you must be the grouchy, killjoy Branch… Or the perennially unhappy Bergens…

And they are scary too! They eat trolls to taste happiness. Oh no! Should the trolls stop partying? There’s so much fun that follows you forget that you are an adult and sing along. You root for Bridget and you hope the cruel chef gets her comeuppance. You smile at the clever adaptation of several familiar fairy tales and you enjoy the sparkles! Sparkles? I mean glitter! There’s a troll that… That… You will love the glitter! Borrow a neighbor’s kid and go watch Trolls. You’ll find that inner happiness again.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


The Doctor Will See You Now!

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

Doctor Strange gives you action-a-minute thrill ride with what is perhaps the best use of 3D that one has seen in any superhero movie. When a celebrated brain surgeon (Doctor Stephen Strange - Benedict Cumberbatch) finds himself unable to perform miracles in the Operating Room, he seeks help from The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who shows him the possibilities of everything he can do and be. Does a doctor accept his role as a superhero who can save the world?  

Main Review:

Even if you have never heard of the yogic chakras and healing powers of the body, you will enjoy the metaphysical lessons offered by a guru called The Ancient One. Now you’ve seen Tilda Swinton in all kinds of roles from Narnia, Orlando and Constantine to We Must talk About Kevin. Here, she is the all knowing Guru of an ancient order of sorcerers protecting Earth from supernatural evil forces. Her unlikely pupil - Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch in a role that will make you forget his evil Smaug) needs to find the strength to become the celebrated surgeon he once was.

As in all superhero movies, there is a choice the hero has to make. Should Dr. Stephen Strange just use his newly gained strength back for himself, or serve the greater good. Is he evil?

Marvel takes you on a wild Inception style ride through many lessons and even though the plot is like all superhero plots, you love the innovations. The fighting techniques, the different universes they create, the super villains, the minions of the super villains make the movie a wonderful wild ride. As always, just when the villains seem to be getting the better of the good guys, you see how cleverly the heroes find a brilliant way out. You cheer for the good guys and groan when the bad guy (Mads Mikkelsen with the funnest eye-makeup) get one step ahead.

The best part of the movie are its awesome special effects. Whether it is the mirror dimension or the fractured realities or the weapons the sorcerers conjure, the effects satisfy even the most nitpicky watchers. For once you will not hear complaints about the 3D glasses, or how dark the film becomes once you wear those glasses. The movie plunges you into action directly and keeps you engaged until the end when credits roll.

As always, it is great fun to see Stan Lee make his mandatory appearance in the movie. And even more fun to come back home after the movie and google the name of the book he’s reading…

Oh yes, the film takes itself quite lightly and does not make heavy ‘gyaan’ out of philosophy. In fact the sense of humor comes in handy when dispensing knowledge. Thankfully the witty lines are well-distributed across the characters as well as the length of the film.

Watch the film. It delights you on many levels. I loved the restraining device and the cape so much, I forgot to sigh at the handsomeness that is Cumberbatch.

(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)