Friday, June 24, 2016


'Ganvesh zhala ka mahal?'

(Buying Uniform Or A Bungalow?)

3 stars

Mini Review:

The sooty eyelashes of the little boy are unable to hide a hopelessness brought on by poverty and realisation that opportunity to make a speech before the entire village and the minister will slip out of his hands... Unless he gets a new school uniform.

Main Review:

'He has never asked us for anything, and this speech at the flag hoisting ceremony is really important,' The mother of the little boy implores in front of her employer, 'Could you give an advance on my weekly pay?'

'Will you sell your broken down bicycle?' The local politician asks the little boy's dad.

'Raise this placard and shout the slogans we tell you!' Another local thug tells the little boy's dad, 'Then we will give you some money.'

'Buy me the uniform first, then I will learn the speech!' 

If you thought that it was going to be easy for a poor couple who work in a brick factory to buy their nine year old a new school uniform, then think again. The father promises to buy him a new uniform and this whole movie helps us realise that making promises is one things, and being able to fulfill them is another. It seems like a doable task for most of us, isn't it? There are so many things we take for granted in our lives. As the story unfolds, this errand to 'buy a new uniform' becomes insurmountable. 

The setting of the story - the first half - takes just too long to establish how dirt poor the family really is. What is charming is the relationship between the mother, the father and the kid. Kishore Kadam is phenomenal as the gruff dad slightly pissed off at his inability to buy even that little uniform for his son. He has pride and will not cower down in front of bullies even when they bring down the argument to his penury. His wife, played beautifully by Smita Tambe is a perfect foil. She works hard, she teases her son, she scolds him about wanting more and at the same time worries about not being able to fulfill her child's little wish. 

And what can you say about the sad yet hopeful little boy?   

Tanmay Mande steals your heart right from when the camera sees him in the class room. Perfectly cast, he makes you want to jump into the movie and buy him a uniform.

In this world, Kishore Kadam crosses paths several times with Mukta Barve who plays the upright cop on duty. She looks the part and plays it convincingly. Her love for her uniform and her values make her a sympathetic figure in a world full of hooligan thugs with connections to people in power. 

Although the movie is in Marathi, there are subtitles to help you get through the language barrier. Watch it for amazing performances and little hidden gems in storytelling: when the husband tells his wife to sit on the bicycle with him and she is embarrassed...

Dilip Prabhavalkar plays a good politician who also takes pride in wearing khadi is present for the Independence day flag hoisting ceremony and the story of the three uniforms comes spectacularly together. You come away smiling, and a craving for jalebis.



Dead Upon Resurrection


Mini Review:

‘Today we celebrate our Independence Day!’ Bill Pullman had announced, many many years ago, and cinema audiences loved him and loved Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith. This time too the same aliens are back, and the same old tactic is employed with the same old special effects. You wonder, why re-make the story and call it ‘Resurgence’?

Main Review:

So man has managed to build a base on the moon, with a defense system that will protect the Earth. But within twenty minutes, we realise that it’s not capable of defending anything because they did not even sense the presence of a gigantic alien ship more than 3000 miles across right above them. No matter how cute the new recruits look and how capable, they cannot do much when their base is just trampled upon, isn’t it?

Well, the novelty wears off here. After that the aliens land on Earth and those predator type aliens start doing what they did earlier - destroying cities and drilling for molten Earth. As requested by the film certification board, the aliens do not destroy the Taj Mahal or any Indian monuments. London Bridge as the kiddie rhyme says, falls. But the aliens don’t touch the Eiffel Tower (It’s clearly visible). Alas, the non destruction keeps you untouched. We are not moved by the aliens at all. Nor are we afraid of them. We know they have not watched Star Wars and will leave openings in their ships just like the Death Star, which will help our brave pilots to take a bomb load inside the craft and then destroy them.

The idea of a Queen Alien insect controlling a hive is even older than the Borgs of Star Trek. And the Borgs could choose to take on a beautiful form if they wanted to... The joy of watching a science fiction movie is not knowing the enemy and using science to destroy bad aliens. So when you're watching sequels, it gives the audience something to look forward to.
That's why Star Trek and Star Wars or any other sci-fi franchise move either forward or backward in time so there new stories can be told. This story should have buried upon narration, not resurrected.


Review: RAMAN RAGHAV 2.0

What A Ride To Your Seamier Side!


Mini Review:

Anurag Kashyap delivers a gritty, grimy, gut-wrenching story of opposites in order to tell you that they’re not really so. Takes a while to come to the point, but you understand why it is so difficult to edit out stuff that is so deliciously dark. The opposites played by Vicky Kaushal and Nawazuddin Siddiqui are so equally ugly, you know the director has made his point when you cannot swallow popcorn.

Main Review:

It’s the seamy side of the city and no one but Anurag Kashyap knows the alleyways better. But this time he manages to get inside the convoluted corridors inside your head and you stare at the creepy Indian slasher come alive on the screen, cornered and plastered to the theater seat.

Remember Al Pacino in Cruising?

The moment you are introduced to Vicky Kaushal the cop dancing to Qatl-e-aam, you know this movie is going to be khaas! I tried and tried to keep the comparisons to Cruising and the image of Al Pacino dancing in a gay nightclub out of my head but couldn’t. The two subversive films kept overlapping, along with slasher films one has loved watching for the violence we feel and suppress.

What? Did I say there is violence buried deep inside us checked only by a thin veneer of politically correctness of our daily existence? Anurag Kashyap’s story-telling has tackled this before in Ugly and you had everyone running for cover with gems like: ‘How can everyone in the movie be so bad? How can every character lack any redeeming feature?’ and so on and so forth...

The violence here is again, like in Cruising. It is graphic but necessary. I did think the extended sequence with the sister was too long, but then it is meant to terrorise people in the audience who are happy to watch good cop -bad criminal movies where they rob banks and take ‘Sona door kaheen Switzerland mein in helicopters and take their Mona darling with them’. Somehow the image of villains who steal gold bricks (‘Sona kahan hai’) and threaten to blow up cities (‘Yeh Missile dekh rahe ho?’) is easier to accept than a chap who can eat Chicken Bhuna over people he has killed.

Cruising showed us the seamier side of gay life and you had to look away from the sexual violence in the film. You do that when you watch the cop in this film. His misogyny is underlined and bold and unrepentant and the submissive yet fiery girlfriend adds to that violence by verbal assault when she stands up to him. You are looking into someone’s dark bedroom and you don’t like what you see. It does not mean it doesn’t exist. These are things which make you want to fling your popcorn at the screen. But you’re rooted to the seat and realise you haven’t bought any popcorn because you too have a dad (or a mom) that treats you the way his dad treats him, and you too have cowered down in front of the habits you are addicted to. Maybe it’s something as mild as drinking tea, but you know you are enslaved by the habit when you experience rage when someone puts a cup of over boiled, over sweet milky tea in front of you instead of the sophisticated, light Darjeeling you are used to.

I do hate how Anurag Kashyap still pays homage to Tarantino when he separates the story into ‘chapters’, but then what are idols without clay feet?

Now moviegoers who don’t cringe at everything will find the story rather meandering, but it satisfies the need to see both sides of the coin. It’s not out of the goodness of your heart that you say, ‘Bhaiyya, rehne do (keep the change)!’ but because you are saving yourself from touching the coins that materialised from his armpit pocket along with bidi bits and lint of unknown origin.

Just as Al Pacino discovers a seamier side to himself and his police department (watch for the floating balls test the cops subject a suspect and you will realise the similarity in this film as well. The unethical locking up, the ‘don’t give anything to eat, beat him up’ procedures they employ have several parallels to what you saw in Cruising. You know that Vicky Kaushal the cop is not undercover here, but his persona is. You know you want to know why Raman the killer - played brilliantly by Nawazuddin - is the way he is. You want to understand what joy he feels when he has made a kill because you see the triumph in his face after. You steal a glance at the people sitting next to you (who may not have seen slasher films) to see if they are affected by the sound of the iron jack being dragged on the road…

I just wished they had not used him humming the song he hums because you find that in most slasher films and indeed the killer in Cruising hums as well. And the weird poster of the film which tells you the story in hindsight is also from Cruising: ‘there’s a lot about me you don’t know’, with a switch in this film which says: ‘I know more about you than you think’...

Go watch this film because you learn to confront devil within you, and no one makes you want to side with the devil better than Anurag Kashyap.     

p.s. Here is the trailer to Cruising:



2 stars

Mini Review:

A mix of Hindi and Marathi (with English subtitles) Ek Albela chronicles the life of Bhagwan Dada who gave Bollywood’s megastars like Amitabh Bachchan their dancing style, and many, many hit songs like ‘Shyam dhale kidki tale’ and ‘Shola jo bhadke’... It’s made with not too much finesse, but the likeness of actors of yesteryears is uncanny, and gives cinephiles lots of information.

Main Review:

Cinephiles will love to find out really cool stuff about cinema of Bhagwan Dada who most of us know only as a dancing dude who gave us the ever-so-memorable songs like ‘Shola jo bhadke’.
I was glad to learn that Bhagwan Dada was a star of B-grade action flicks!

There are many more nuggets on the workings of the film industry at that time. You watch the young man struggle with his family and career when a good break he literally falls into helps create a career. But still, the movie feels just uni-dimensional. You see him fall for a nautch girl’s niece who inspires him to work hard. But then she conveniently moves away and it does not seem to break his heart. He seems to imply get married to someone his family finds for him.

Even his struggles with the distributors and financiers seems to be very forced because his ‘never say die’ and belief in himself seems to be too good to be true. We like heroes to fight the good fight. No one believes the hero was always so confidant. We need to see a more human side of him.

Even though all the principal characters look like the originals, the film looks like it has no fine feelings, no class. Everything is just gigantic colorful set. Only a die-hard fan of cinema will be able to sit through this effort. Others will enjoy the song and dance.



No stars

Mini Review:

What starts out as a horror mystery story of a dad who talks to his dead child turns into a hilarious sexual escapade for not one or two characters, but all of them. Hilarious because they are not feeling it, but looking into the camera and acting out orgasms with lots of help from attempted orgasmic sounds.

Main Review:

Manav Kaul, whatever inspired him to ‘act’ in this movie, no one will know. But if he had as much fun as we did watching him open his jaws really wide and bite into the heroine’s shoulder, then I suppose everything is forgivable.

The trouble with so many young women wanting to prove that they have powers of seduction (not only for the hero on screen, but for the hormonal males in the audience as well), is that they end up looking comical. Their gyrations are learnt from Bollywood Item Number classes in the neighborhood dance studios, their hip thrusts are faked and the director does not realise that when heroine jumps into the arms of the hero in slow motion, and she’s wearing an ill fitting bikini, the extra flesh keeps bouncing out of sync with the mood they’re desperately trying to create.

The mood is of course hardly elevated by enunciating simple words like ‘devil’ and ‘smell’ as ‘Day-will’ and ‘Ismayell’ without the ‘I’. Titilation is the expected effect on the audience when the lusty man inhales the perfume of the woman after ripping off her clothes. It dissolves into laughter instead when he says, ‘Aaaah! Your ismayell. I love it!’

They even have Manav Kaul attempt his worst ever acting scene when they dress him up in eye mask, suspenders (tight pants) and a bow tie (no shirt), make him sit in front of a computer and kiss the screen as an attempt to have cyber sex with a silly looking lass who thrusts her derriere at the computer and slaps herself.

You want to slap the art director real hard because they have the poor heroine painted in Gold in an item number where she’s panting so hard (presumably in orgasmic delight) and mouthing words like ‘Labo-h se laga-h le-h, main pants ban jaaoon teri-h’.

Wait a minute, did she say, ‘Pants’? It takes several giggles to realise she’s saying, ‘Pyaas’. If you’re thirsty for a story beyond the ugly clothes that are ripped off every three minutes, and the orgasmic sound track, then you will wonder what happened to the dead child giving darshan to the dad. Never mind. This scandal is not even worth a whimper.    

Review: 7 HOURS TO GO

Audience Held Hostage To What Feels Like 7 Hours

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

An angry young man takes seven hostages and asks the police for the head of a super rich man who has wronged him. The result is loud, chaotic and mostly pointless runaround. You want to empathise, take sides - the cops or the hostage taker - but the story is too convoluted for us to care.

Main Review:

It’s a mockery of the system when an outstation cop walks into the Bombay High Court and holds people hostage because his girlfriend, who is a witness in a case is shot just after the bad guy gets away scot free. He gives the Mumbai cops seven hours to get the said bad guy back in custody or he will shoot every hostage one by one.

Now that sounds like a plot that works fine for an action flick. But then they try to get clever with it. They begin with ‘wow, I’m so clever’ introductions: Varun Badola plays police officer Dhadke: The Quirky Cop; Shiv Pandit plays Arjun Ranawat: The Hostage Taker and the villain Khemka is called ‘The Evil Villain’, and if that is not enough, there is a trickster called Amol Palekar. You want to wash your hands off this gimmicky flick, but you cannot. You are impaled to your seat by sharp, incessant background score that is accompanied by criminal strobe/flashes of blinding lights that are supposedly ‘high-tech’ laser and computer security system ‘sounds’.

Oh there’s a lady cop who changes her decent white shirt in front of all the other male cops just to prove that she’s badass. And if that white shirt was changed because it was not pristine any more, then why does she wear the blue tee shirt the chaiwallah lad was wearing? If you wonder who writes such trash, then be amazed at the reveal: everyone and their uncle is involved in the plot. You don’t care what motivated each one of them to be a part of the plan. You don’t care why the ‘Hostage Taker’ tied the pillars in the corridor with string as if they were lasers. You don’t care if the heroine Police Officer chases the baddie as though she has never run ever. You don’t care if the supposed hard disc full of incriminating information on the baddie is finally downloaded on a pen drive! You don’t care about asking why did they go through an elaborate heist plan when they could have just shot the baddie and vanished...

And you realise you have been held hostage for what feels like 7 hours, and you are so bored by the movie you have decorated the curly head of hair of the person sitting in the seat in front of you with popcorn.



1.5 stars

Mini Review:

A physics teacher shows up to teach ‘section D’ at a posh junior college and helps them ‘clear their fundas’. Beautifully shot, the writing makes for a frustrating viewing. It makes a weak and very obvious point about the education system but fails in delivering the message.

Main Review:

You’ve seen Hollywood’s Dangerous Minds and Stand And Deliver where teachers instil a love of learning and even help students written off to overcome their challenges and win. You’ve seen Robin Williams the teacher use not-so-usual methods to inspire students in Dead Poets Society. You’ve even seen Vinod Khanna’s Imtihan where he’s a professor who turns a group of rowdy students into model citizens. Not too long ago Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla played teachers in a not too memorable movie about the ‘commercialised education’ (Chalk ‘N’ Duster). So this movie offers no real surprise even though it a subject that needs to be talked about, and it aims well.

It is the story of a Physics teacher (Tannishtha Chatterjee) whose unusual teaching methods to a class of losers relegated to Section ‘D’ inspires them to take that ‘all important’ IIT-JEE exam after the 12th grade high school exams. And with a little help from her friends (Joy Sengupta and Jayati Bhatia) prepares them for taking the competitive exams and passing in flying colors.

So far so good. But if you are a parent, or indeed been through the system (as all have) as a student, you will realise that students who score poorly in the tenth grade are never ever offered a ‘science stream’ for their all important 12th grade exams. Even though you want to believe that students who fare poorly (a kid who wants to dance, a kid whose heart is really into music) really want to go to IIT, even if they are the photographer lad from 3 Idiots, even then you fail to appreciate what the movie is trying to say. It’s just that the writing is not sharp at all. It meanders everywhere and as audience that frustrates you. You want to hear something concrete, and the debate about education to go further. It’s a minor character (Ram Kapoor plays a dad to one of the ‘rowdy’ kids) who makes a clear, and sincere point. That actually shows how smart the writing could have been.

Thankfully the locations where the movie has been shot, the gorgeous weather that has been captured beautifully in the movie are such an awesome relief, you understand why the writing may have meandered off into the misty hills… Might make for a decent watch on tv at home where you can start a conversation. Until then you just wish for something sharper than this blunt pencil…


Friday, June 17, 2016


What a take off into the storm!

3 stars

Mini Review:

Controversy’s child makes an appearance on the big screen and you will find yourself involved with the characters. The storytelling is so good, you will want the good guys to win. You will take sides. You will despair at the bad guys. You will love the characters, hate them, and just be plain horrified and disturbed by them, but you will not come away untouched.

Main Review:

Next time you see someone wearing reflective sunglasses, I’m going to imagine him to be like Balli.
Next time someone says they’re looking at MOOCs, I will remember ASI Sartaj Singh who passed his BA by correspondence course.
Next time someone says they’re jamming with friends, I’m going to wonder if Tommy is singing about a lost girl somewhere.
Next time someone says they wish they were going up to the hills with the gang, I would wish to have Dr. Preet’s number at hand
Next time someone says, our films cannot hold the audiences, I will drag them to watch this movie. It manages to tell the story of users, abusers, of people who want to milk the system and those who want to help drag people out of this vicious circle.

Dr. Preet is played convincingly by Kareena Kapoor (she makes you forget she was a caricature of a doctor in 3 Idiots, and even in Kambakkt Ishq). She is so gorgeous, she lights up every frame. And it’s a relief because she is running a drug rehabilitation clinic, which is gritty and not a pretty sight.

ASI Sartaj Singh is played convincingly by Diljit Dosanjh and the movie ought to receive a star simply because he looks at Dr. Preet like she’s immensely edible and is embarrassed by his thoughts. That he accomplishes without looking like some food deprived Ranjeet or Gulshan Grover…

Shahid Kapoor as the wild Tommy Singh is cool, and his character at once ghastly, at once kinky, at once ‘I’m never going to allow my daughter to any rock concert’ bad, and at once ‘is there any good in him?’ I loved his transformation and it is such a pleasure to watch him transform. Yes, for a habitual user this transformation seems to be too convenient, but hey, it’s Bollywood, and love is strangely miraculous.

Plainly shocked at what characters in the movie can do to Aalia Bhat, it took me a while to watch the screen without upchucking my coffee. But I felt the same when ASI Sartaj says, ‘Now you will realise what it is to lie within the system and betray it…’

The violence in the words may not be what the big city coffee shop crowd tweets about, but then the big city coffee shop crowds are also dealing with uber urban recreational drugs. The story is the same. The vituperative language is so natural, you know the expletives belong there. They have not been added to make silly women giggle and go, ‘Haw!’

The movie is so claustrophobic at times, you begin to look at the Goa billboard with the same need for release. The events that hasten the end even I couldn’t have predicted. And when the credits roll, you begin to breathe.

Review: DHANAK

'Okay okay, I'll call them cute...'

1 star

Mini Review: 

You will read reviews like ‘heart-warming’, ‘cute’, ‘innocent’, ‘natural’, ‘endearing’, ‘brave journey’, ‘restores faith in humanity’ and wonder why no one is saying, ‘exotic India’, ‘made for the festival circuit’, ‘annoying kids’, ‘silly characters’, ‘far-fetched’...

Depending on how politically correct you are, you will either love it because ‘the kids are so cute’ or step out for coffee ever so often, come back and discover that the journey has gone nowhere.

Main Review:

The idea is cute. Blind boy and his sister believe that Shah Rukh Khan will cure the blindness and undertake a journey to meet the star who is at a film shoot in a city far, far away. Yeah, yeah we grew up watching Wizard of Oz, so we know you will meet a cowardly lion, the scarecrow and so on and so forth, and the merry band will then face the man behind the curtain. Unfortunately for this movie, there are no wicked witches or ruby slippers that help make the journey interesting. It is just 'quirky' characters that you might think you will meet when trampling across Rajasthan.

So needlessly quirky, you start noticing that the Silly Hippie who faints in the desert carries an Indian backpack. And that ‘Padharo Mhare Des’ is perhaps what comes to one’s head as the Rajasthan’s folk song for welcoming tourists rather than ‘Damadam Mast Qalandar’. But you let that go because ‘the children are so cute’.

You look up dead baby jokes on your phone as the blind boy asks for more food.

You groan as the list of characters they meet grows: from the wedding feast to the Godwoman conwoman to the child nappers to the divine oracle. They’re all such insincere. caricatures you want to go hug the chachi who hated the kids. Now you know why. Even if you allow the truck driver and the wedding feast to be real, and good people, you cannot but see how manipulative this movie gets in order to force you to say, ‘So cute these kids are! Even when they’re crapping in the night and the older sister is so cute because she is keeping a watch even though she is just a little girl.’

The writing will have you wring your hearts. Bad aunt, ineffective uncle, kids running away under the hot summer sun not realising what a dangerous place this big bad world is, but their innocence pulls them through. Then the little boy is blind. And before you can say, ‘How can anyone say bad things about a little blind kid and his little sister?’ the movie tells you again and again how cute they are because they love Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan and like millions of ‘cute and innocent’ Indian villagers believe the stars can save them from their lives.

The kids are cute. Up until the little boy starts belting out songs as though he is a professional. And the lame reasoning is: This is the first time after our parents’ deaths that he’s singing. And you think, are people going to hate you for not liking a talented little blind boy?

The child nappers are so stupid, they travel without guns and get taken in by robbing gypsies. Now gypsies have been given a short shrift everywhere, and if all that cuteness of woman with antique gun hasn’t numbed your logic, you would know that the gypsies wouldn’t let one person rob travelers. They’d do it in groups.

The singing, oh the singing! Looks like Mharo Rajasthan is full of singers of folk songs and dancers and people who say, ‘Stay the night, leave in the morning.’ It’s not exotic India, people, it’s a journey of cute blind boy and his feisty sister to find a cure…

I know this film has been made for those with a surplus of the milk of human kindness, but it made me hanker for something more. Why don’t we make movies like Children of Heaven? Can watch that any time and it touches you deeply every single time. Cuteness can carve out only a part of the heart. I still remember Hyderabad Blues and Iqbal. And this movie is too shiny bright, too glossy and and tries too hard to be cute.

Despite the name of the movie, it creates no longing, no space in your heart to sing, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow!’

P.S. watch it on a sunday afternoon when they're playing it on Doordarshan... i mean cable...


Not Really Intelligent, But Lots of Laughter!

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

If you think getting shot in the butt is funny, and find physical comedy a lark, then you might just find the action-packed madness of Central Intelligence really funny. Fans of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will be happy to see him in a role that is actually endearing. And his reluctant partner Kevin Hart makes for a funny hostage. The movie goes around in circles, and although you come away laughing you wish it had more.

Main Review:

‘Once a fat kid, always a fat kid.’ This dialog resonates so much across audience of all ages, it deserves a half star of its own.

The movie surprises you with the physical comedy and the sharp volleys of dialog that make you guffaw. That’s why you must watch the movie with a bunch of friends. Friends who understand why sometimes ‘expected to succeed’ from the high school yearbook, does not necessarily translate into real life. And the boy you laughed at for his size was really a good guy and hero.

Everyone loves an underdog, and this movie has two, not one. And they make a wonderful team dodging bullets and the CIA. Flashbacks from highschool serve to remind you that we don’t really grow up at all, and in the intermission, you do a quick search of person who got laughed at because they were too fat, or too skinny, were too tall to too short, had two left feet or were plain ugly in the hope that they turned out to be okay, and also look up beautiful people for whom high school was a breeze in the hope that they had somehow turned into gigantic losers and turned into the weasels they were…

You don’t have to refill your popcorn tub because there’s so much of it on the screen. Dwayne Johnson endears you immediately because he pretends that his size is nothing. That he is really a fanboy of the only boy in high school who showed him kindness. Kevin Hart on the other hand needs a boost to his self-confidence and reluctantly accepts The Rock into his life. Of course it is turned upside down. It is so much fun because you like that gags and the physical comedy. But had the script been stronger this duo would have had so much more fun. More fun than, ‘You just shot my butt!’


Found Lots Of Tears But Lost Fun

2 stars

Mini Review:

Lost Nemo made us gazillions, let’s make a sequel!’
‘This time let us complicate things by losing Dory, and we’ll have the world working hard to find her.’
‘It will be wonderful because she’s already a sympathetic character. She has a disability.’
‘Will the kids think this to be too serious a subject?’
‘Naah! We’ll make her disability ‘cute’!’

Main Review:

‘Hi, my name is Dory. I suffer from Short Term Memory Loss...’ is repeated so often in the movie, you start to wonder if you should reach out with a pair of chopsticks into the screen and pick her out and say, ‘Sushi!’ after the twenty-thirdth time…

The memory loss is rather convenient. Because Dory begins to remember so many things and does so many things by saying, ‘What would Dory do?’ and the six year old inside you asks, ‘How does she remember that?’

Sometimes you wish they had thought up of the script first rather than say, ‘Let’s make a sequel!’
Plus, in the sequel, they forgot to add the fun elements that would make everyone laugh. Including the grownups. It’s hard to take this movie in a light spirit because you will worry for Dory, who suffers from short term memory loss and should not really be out there alone in the dark ocean, crying out for mommy. It was personally terrifying to imagine a child lost swimming around for years, not knowing where mommy and daddy are. The fish who swim by and don’t help are very scary and real. Children would probably chew their favorite toy to bits watching the horror unfold.

Pixar though, have not forgotten to create cute but grumpy character who becomes a reluctant hero. Hank the octopus. He brings a freshness to the script that was making me so miserable, I wanted to step out and call mom and dad. But then the script gets too complicated for its own good. You switch between Nemo and Dad looking for Dory and Dory looking for parents. And everyone is trying to get to some part of the sea sanatorium. The Sigourney Weaver joke is super fun, but then it remains just that one liner. No one stretches it to Alien fish or some other Avatar.

‘I cried buckets’ or ‘I was so-oh touched’ is what grown ups will say to each other while their kids would be holding on to the parents for dear life. Me, I asked, ‘How come Dory forgets everything else, practically but remembers that Hank is a Septopus and not an Octopus?’

Review: NOW YOU SEE ME 2

Why Did I See You?

1.5 stars

Mini review:

Take everything you loved about the original (magic and wonder) out of the sequel, and fill it in with flashing lights and fireworks. Then add cockiness to all the characters. And then take a beloved child actor and turn him into a smug, silly villain. The result is an a overwrought, tiresome movie that has a flimsy story to tell.

Main Review:

When you watched the original, you fell in love with magic and the wonder of it all. You oohed and aahed as the horsemen performed magic in the film. You sighed at the reveals and you nodded when the bad guys got their comeuppance.

The sequel should have logically, therefore, offered all this and more.

That’s the basic audience expectation from a sequel. The trouble here is that they have a wonderful ensemble cast, and a few more added, but the story is wafer thin and they thought they would get away by showing lots of special effects. And when so much depends on special effects, why should the actors work hard?

That’s why Jesse Eisenberg looks like he’s going to ask us to join the Social Netrwork, Mark Ruffalo seems burdened with more revelations from the Spotlight team, and Morgan Freeman is still playing God… You get the picture!

An annoying addition to the team is a ‘girl’ horseman. Even if you’ve been living under a rock, you will guess that a ‘girl’ would have to be sharper, smarter than the lads ( she would be a regular Jane Bond in high heels) and to prove that she’s a ‘girl’, she would be yakkity yakking until she exhausts everyone. And yes, you would at some point see her underthings, even if only for shock value. If you guessed them all, you’d watch the movie play out even before they’d planned it. Thank god they did not show her screaming because she saw a mouse or some such thing ‘girls’ are supposed to be afraid of, in order to get the attention of the man she fancies. Small mercies!

But the flash and fireworks begin to grate on your nerves, the double crossing can be seen a mile away, and the movie becomes so predictable, you can even see the filmmakers will have the tiny Chinese lady speak clearly in English after having frustrating conversations before. The worst though is watching young Harry Potter pretend he’s some sort of Bond villain. You want to smack his silly smile and send him off to bed without dinner. Or better yet, you begin praying for Voldemort to win in the next sequel of Harry Potter films.

Friday, June 10, 2016


They've conjured up real good scares!

3 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

Ed and Lorraine are cajoled into solving yet another case of haunting. This time it's in England. And the haunting starts creeping you out from the very first scene. You don't eat popcorn because you've dropped it already. You cannot drink the coffee because your hands are shaking so much. And you're barely breathing... It's behind you!

Main Review:

The best part of watching the movie with a theater-full of college kids who have come to be scared, to clutch at sleeves of boyfriends, and to laugh only to prove how unafraid they are, is that confidence one has  that one will not be scared at all. The original was advertised as the scariest movie ever. And one felt nothing. Am so glad I joined the seventy odd people in saying, 'No, no, no, no! Don't go there!' and make strangled sounds every once in a while, and swallow air hastily when... When... When the... When the thing appears...

Yes, I was terrified for the protagonists They're kids! You said in your head. Why them?

Initially you try and settle down in your seat. You've seen it before: toys that start working on their own, lights that go on and off, levitating people, upside down crucifixes, people speaking in voices... But then this movie takes them all and wraps you around it's cold bony fingers that appear from behind doors... Shudder!... And you are willing to scream.

You know the demons will appear from the shadows, but the amazing part of the film is that even someone like me who does not get scared easily did not guess when the demon would appear. I was delighted to be scared the way this film manages. You imagine the worst of horrors when you see them step into water and they show electrical wires dangling. But then the horror you imagined is less that what really happens. And you shudder even to remember that afterwards.

A good scary movie will stay with you long after it is over. And kudos to the kids who do such a good job being haunted, Ed and Lorrain and the parents and neighbors... Just about everyone acts their part so well you are drawn into their world easily. The skeptics and the police also do a great job. And you laugh nervously when the demon moves the chair back to its place when no one believes it exists.

Let me not tell you more. Go watch it. Before the demon garbles *nlezxi8 my words and 4k(d+les#2 It's...%^* behind you...