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Love Sex aur Dhokha March 22, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Articles, Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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After being successfully deployed in Hollywood Horror flicks (and firmly embarked on the path of overkill), the lost-footage-from-camera genre finally makes its debut in Bollywood – and a smashing one at that. And no….this isn’t about any unknown entity spooking you out in the end but a grindhouse format 3-movies-in-1 tale of Love, Sex and Dhokha.

More in line with his last film, rather than the plot or even the format – the beauty about LSD are the wonderful characters created by Banerjee (equally well performed by all the actors). The plot hardly qualifies to be called a thriller but it is just too engrossing to take your eyes off it even for a minute. The way the three stories are interlinked is also great. LSD is truly path-breaking cinema and Dibakar Banerjee is a genius….period.

But beware… if you are planning the watch the movie only for the much publicized “scandalous scenes” you’ll be really pissed (like I noticed a lot of people were).

PS: The end credits which come in with the title track were cut-off at the edges of the screen. At first I thought, it was some issue with the projection system but when that effect was visible simultaneously at all parts of the screen….it seemed like a deliberate grindhouse effect. Somehow, that seemed lame in an otherwise great flick.

Movie Roundup: 18/12/2009 December 18, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Articles, English, Movies, Reviews.
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1) True Crime (1999)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Isaiah Washington

Definitely among Eastwood’s lesser works, this one’s just an above average drama-thriller about a reporter trying to save a death row inmate from execution. Works mostly for Eastwood’s presence – can be easily skipped otherwise.

2) Below (2002)
Director: David Twohy
Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Davis, Olivia Williams

A really well made horror flick about a crew trapped in a submarine under water and – creepy stuff whose explanations seem to lie in secrets held by certain members of the crew. BTW, this flick was written and produced by Darren Aronofsky. It featured in some year-end list of the best sci-fi films of the decade and that’s why I checked it out in the first place.

3) Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)
Directed By: George Miller
Cast: Nick Nolte, Susan Sarandon, Peter Ustinov

I really have mixed feelings about this one. If it weren’t “based on a true story” this would have been in my list of most emotionally manipulative movies ever. Lorenzo’s Oil traces the story of the Odones who perseverance against all odds to find a cure for their son Lorenzo’s debilitating ALD syndrome. It is incredible what they ultimately achieve but portraying it as an overly triumphant battle against an unjust and uncaring world seems too contrived. I honestly felt that a few of the alternative viewpoints presented by other characters to the Odones were quite apt given their circumstances. On the whole it’s a really engaging watch and you do get to learn a thing or two about biochemistry. This film came out in 1992 just a few years after the original set of events transpired. Once you watch this I am sure you’d want to know what ultimately happened to Lorenzo in real life.

Movie Roundup: 16/12/2009 December 16, 2009

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1) Chicago (2002)
Directed By: Rob Marshall
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah

Now this is what I call a musical!!! Not that I’ve a lot of them to be able to judge but from what I’ve seen this completely stands out be it the format or the entertainment quotient. A satirical take on media and celebrity fame, this one is embellished with awesomely choreographed numbers (by Director Rob Marshall himself) commendably performed by the cast. I only checked this out due to the initial buzz generated by the first trailer of “Nine” – which is getting mixed reviews right now but still managed to bag prominent nominations as the awards season begin. You should check this out even if you are apprehensive about musicals – thisĀ  just might be the one which might would your conception about them.

2) Sneakers (1992)
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson
Cast: Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, River Phoenix, David Strathairn, Sidney Poitier, Mary McDonnel

Sneakers is the ideal hi-tech heist flick. It has everything you’d want in one – unbelievable plot and gadgetry, fast pacing, loads of humor and excitement (and as always) a few words about friendship and loyalty. The charming cast is an icing on the cake. Also check out James Horner’s catchy theme.

3) Death of a President (2006)
Directed By: Gabriel Range
Cast: Hend Ayoub, Brian Boland, Becky Ann Baker

It’s amazing what these guys have achieved with their 2 million budget. Still having been publicized as the most controversial film of the year/decade – I wished it went much further than the usual post 9-11 flicks. The shock value of the premise – the assassination of the then President George W. Bush and its aftermath – works very well; especially the way they’ve used the mocumentary format. The visual effects are superb and the movie also is quite effective as a thriller – much better than other films dealing with similar themes. Tone down your expectations about what you’ve heard about this one and you’ll surely relish it.

Movie Roundup: 15/12/2009 December 15, 2009

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1) Terms of Endearment (1983)
Directed By: James L. Brooks
Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, Danny DeVito

Now this one’s a real tearjerker. Most of the film feels like one of those familiar indies about dysfunctional families with quirky characters but then it gets so real when death comes into the picture…it becomes really hard not to be moved. This is one of the really few movies where I had a tough time stopping my tears. And it has this amazing theme (btw a really bad version of this plays as the call waiting tune of a mobile service provider – Airtel or Idea I think!) which is so evocative – especially once you’ve seen the film. If you objectively look at it, the whole “terminal illness” angle seems manipulative but like I said, it seems so believable that you won’t have a reason to complain. Quite an unforgettable film!

2) Role Models (2008)
Directed By: David Wain
Cast: Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Jane Lynch, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb’e J. Thompson

A comedy in the Apatow tradition – far less outrageous yet packs in a lot of crowd pleasing laughs. Rudd and Scott end up in a community service program where they have to pair up with “troubled” kids to mentor and bond with them. Fun ensues with all the familiar themes you come to expect with such films. I liked this one a lot more than other prominent comedies which made a splash last year.

3) The Lost Boys (1987)
Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland

You can’t escape at least a few of the big budget vampire (close cousins also include fallen angels, zombies, werewolves) movies ready to invade the screens in the next couple of years – and if you’ve also taken an oath to stay away from the Twilight Saga; then “The Lost Boys” is your perfectly respectable initiation into the genre. It might not be the purist’s idea of a vampire flick (it might even be seen as a parody) but I couldn’t bother about that as long as it kept me entertained. The Coreys are absolutely hilarious but don’t go near those direct-to-DVD sequels just because their names are associated with them.

Heroes October 27, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Heroes has a huge cast to boast of as its USP – a closer look and you’ll realize most of them are non-happening ones. That’s not really the issue if the film had something really nice to offer. Conceptually, it sounds quite good. A group of guys have to submit a film to get their graduate film degrees and they end up choosing their subject as “Why not to join the Army!”

As they begin their research, Saand (Sohail Khan) and Nawab Saab (Vatsal Seth) are advised by a war reporter (Mohnish Behl – on screen after a long time) to deliver the last letters of three slain Jawans to their respective families. How this journey changes their mindset is what this film is supposed to be. From each of these trips all they (and we) really get to hear trite desh-bhakti and “national pride” dialogues from each of the families. Initially our protagonists intended to hear dukh-bhari stories and laments from their hosts which they thought would buttress the point were trying to make through their film…..but on hearing the contrary their whole viewpoint changes suddenly. In fact years later they end up running a “national pride” school – whatever that means!

If this film was intended to be the director’s personal tribute to the army then maybe it works but as a viewer I had an absolutely bland cliche-filled experience. The only person I was really feeling sorry for was Sunny Deol who gets to do the most cringeworthy role in his career. It’s a classic case where an attempt to get the audience pumped up turns laughably ridiculous (more so because poor Sunny goes through the whole thing with such sincerety). Even the Mithun-Dino thread which seemed to be promising (and expectedly Mithun is in great form) is woefully underdeveloped. It’s only the piece featuring Preity, Salman and the kid which fits in well and that too mostly because of their performances. The only notable song in the movie “Mannata” (which is basically a typically Salman Khan Chunari number retrofitted to new lyrics) is also part of this thread. Preity especially is top notch.

As for the main protagonists Vatsal Seth has pretty much nothing to do except accompanying Sohail while the latter as usual shines in the comic moments (no matter how silly they might seem) but nothing much to write home about elsewhere. Before its release, the stars and filmmakers were talking a lot about how this film is absoultely not jingoistic unlike others in the genre. It’s true to some extent but that is compensated for in other ways.

Samir Karnik’s third attempt is a much better effort than his first (which I had the misfortune of watching three years back) but there really is nothing much to look forward to unless you are someone who believes that a film about “patriotism” is intrinsically good.

Baladhoor August 19, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Somehow pushing in a “family” in between doesn’t make a “clean family entertainer”. Udayasankar – best known for his blockbuster “Kalisundam Raa” few years ago tries his hand again with a feel-good family flick but cheated is the only thing you’ll feel after watching this.

For starters, you know a film isn’t going anywhere when Ravi Teja is talking less and fighting more. He plays this regular good-for-nothing guy who under certain circumstances gets thrown out of his family and has to win back their love and trust – especially of his uncle (Krishna). Successful films with this storyline have mostly relied of fun moments to sail through but the director decides to do something different here and his definition of fun just seems to be those flying-people-fights. Ravi Teja does most of those while Krishna is also brought in towards the end to throw a couple of punches. Whatever little laughs are there are brought in by our hero and Sunil but even that won’t make you smile too much. Brahmanandam is also given a lame routine to perform. Anushka gets to do her trademark slutty act once again. In one of the scenes, she makes multiple references to something shocking “she did when she was 13 years old”. Unfortunately, the censor board muted it out and kept everyone guessing.

In the first place you are subjected to a flick which starts being average, then turns boring and finally becomes almost unbearable….and on that you have these songs which don’t seem to run out. The collective groans of the audience when they realized that the song which they thought was the last in the film actually wasn’t is noteworthy.

Baladhoor is the most disappointing Telugu flick I’ve seen in the last few months and even if you are a die-hard Ravi Teja fan you might want to have second thoughts about watching this.