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Movie Roundup: 21/12/2009 December 21, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Articles, English, Movies, Reviews.
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1) Funny People (2009)
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman

I had a strange uplifting feeling at the end of Funny People. I can’t recall too many films which made me feel that way (this year at least). Like a lot of people have said, you either love this film or hate it – I am definitely in the former group and can easily vouch for this as one of the best films of the year. Unfortunately, for Judd Apatow it bombed unexpectedly – the main reason seems to be its branding as a regular Apatow comedy and failing to deliver on that particular count. That’s not to say it isn’t funny – just that its a lot more than being funny. This is a heartfelt film about comedy, love, friendship and coming to terms with all of them. There have been many glimpses of these in Apatow’s previous films but this is where he really opens up like never before. Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen are lovable and the rest of the Apatow regulars lend great support as always. Funny People is a great film – the only thing sad about this is that not too many have seen it.

2) The Warriors (1979)
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Michael Beck, James Remar, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, David Patrick Kelly

Walter Hill’s cult classic is a trashy film set around street gangs. What makes it special is its bold visual technique – the graphic novel feel which is rather commonplace now but groundbreaking during its time. Apart from this there is absolutely nothing here (No wonder Tony Scott is working on a remake). It has a lot of elements which speak for its cult status – unprecedented bad acting being just one of them. At 90 minutes, it’s nevertheless fast-paced mindless fun.

3) Beautiful Girls (1996)
Director: Ted Demme
Cast: Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton, Uma Thurman, Noah Emmerich, Natalie Portman, Lauren Holly, Michael Rapaport

I’d never have seen this film – thanks to the deceptive title and poster art which clearly scream – multistarrer mushy romcom alert!!! Thankfully it also included a bunch of glowing reviews splashed all over the cover which reassured me a bit. And how different and refreshing it turned out to be from what I imagined! Centered around a group of late twenty something friends who decide to have a school reunion, Beautiful Girls is a brilliant coming-of-age tale of extremely relatable people in equally relatable circumstances. Again, don’t be too mislead by the title – this one’s honestly a hardcore guy flick. Timothy Hutton tops the performances and his thread is incidentally the most interesting. I especially loved it because it is far more honest and a lot less pretentious than other similar-themed flicks. A must watch…

Watchmen March 14, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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I was left with mixed feelings after watching this film. The Watchmen universe is intriguing. I haven’t read the graphic novel but I could sense that there was a lot that was left out of the film, especially the back stories of the characters that seemed to be very interesting. I wasn’t bored as I know some will be in the 166 minute film. I particularly enjoyed the visuals but I can’t say I that I fell in love with the film. It worked fine as a sort of a mystery film set in an alternate world but I am not going to recollect this film with fondness. I think I am getting ahead of myself. Lets backup a little.

Watchmen is considered by many as the greatest graphic novel (12 issues) ever and was also one of the Top 100 novels listed by Time (the only graphic novel to be on the list). Many thought that it was probably never going to be filmed due to the difficulty of bringing this rich and deep world to the screen in limited time (without considering the legal troubles it had to eventually face) but director Zack Snyder (300) and his team persevered and did what many famous directors before him could not. If you’ve got wind of the hype, you’ve probably heard all this and were just as excited as me to watch this.

Snyder and his team have certainly not failed. The film is well directed, carefully detailed and provides a superior visual experience. The cinematography and visual effects are assets and Snyder makes interesting use of the soundtrack. But the film is really about the characters, their conflicting moralities and crazy lives. This is the most interesting aspect of the film and it is the one thing could make me read the graphic novel but it is also the one thing that gets sacrificed due to the limits on screen time (yeah, 166 minutes ain’t enough).

However, the film isn’t very successful here. The characters that really play well in the film are Rorschach (played by Jackie Earle Haley) and The Comedian (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the actors playing them are the only ones that impress. In the Watchmen universe, Dr Manhattan (played by Billy Crudup) is the most important character and he says a lot of things that we probably need to think about but as a viewer, my mind was mostly focused on trying to understand everything rather than thinking. This character didn’t really work for me in the film. Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II and Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl II are also somewhat bland though they get considerable screen time.

This film isn’t for everyone. Those who wander into theaters thinking of this one as a superhero movie with lot of action will be disappointed. A long and serious look at life through the subtext in a fantasy crime mystery might just not be the thing that you were looking for. Whether this film is about hope or the depths to which we need to plumb to get it is not clear enough to me. As a film, Watchmen wasn’t particularly absorbing. This convoluted tale of twisted crime fighters might not be for those who haven’t read the graphic novel.

Wanted July 3, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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What a rush!

Sexy. Supercool. Awesome. Funtastic. These may be apt one-word descriptions for this film.

Pointless. Also another apt description.

Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch) delivers an extremely stylish, visually inventive action thriller. Wanted is the tale of a nobody who finds out that he is the son of a dreaded assassin. He is recruited by the Fraternity, a secret organization of assassins founded a thousand years ago, to kill a rogue assassin who murdered his father. After gruelling training sessions, he is finally ready for the job. But is he really ready? What surprises await him (and us)? Can he complete the job?

Frankly, I knew I was going to love this film after the first chase sequence. And if anyone is not having fun by that point, chances are that they will not enjoy this film.

This film is full of sensational (not to mention impossible) action sequences that have been composed brilliantly and executed even more skillfully. The action choreographer, the visual effects team and the director deserve all the praise they can get. Bekmambetov’s ingenuity is visible throughout the film and this film could have been a big dud without him.

James McAvoy (Atonement, The Chronicles of Narnia) hardly struck me as an action hero but he delivers. He makes a smooth transition from an accountant to an assassin, making both of them believable. Angelina Jolie makes this film even more sexier than it already is and it is always wonderful to watch Morgan Freeman.

The film isn’t for everyone though. Remember, it is based on a graphic novel series (written by Mark Millar with art by J. G. Jones) and there can be a lot of things that could be considered silly (if bending bullets seems preposterous, wait till you hear about the ridiculous Loom of Fate). But this film doesn’t intend to be realistic and Bekmambetov makes sure that you realise the film’s distate for the laws of nature in the first ten minutes.

The film may have scant respect for logic but it does have enough in its plot to keep your mind occupied. It may be incessantly violent but it has been made with great imagination. It may be a wet dream for guys who lust for sexy action films but it is also art. It may not find favor with everyone but it will make money and it will be imitated. It may be construed by some as an inconsequential forget-me-soon summer movie but it is not and it will stay with me for a long time.

Those who want something “sensible” can go elsewhere but those who feel low on adrenaline should definitely watch this.