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Public Enemies August 14, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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If you compare it with any previous gangster flick (the good ones of course), Public Enemies seems rather redundant. It follows every rule in the book including being “based on a true story”. Yet at the end of the film you hardly get to know the protagonist or any of the other numerous characters in this enterprise. Still watching Public Enemies was such a visceral experience that you can’t help but admire it.

It’s a rather bold gamble to visualize the film the way it is but the payoff is superb. Really hard to imagine a film like this to have been shot with a handheld HD camera. I wasn’t aware of this before so it took some time for me to adjust – the opening sequence with those incisive close-ups and jerky movements sets the tone for the rest of the film. The biggest impact of this is evident is those brilliant shootout sequences which get better and better. Michael Mann is a master of such scenes and this is an area he never disappoints. The actual film moves at a rather leisurely pace but never really gets boring.

The talented cast is another reason why this film works. Right from the time the film was conceived, the makers made sure that this wasn’t projected as a face-off between John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) – otherwise it would have been a case of Christian Bale being overshadowed by the other guy in yet another multistarrer. Johnny Depp is great as always however like I said before his character isn’t well etched enough so you never really like or hate Dillinger. Marion Cotillard is nice but then it’s such a cliched character you’d have come across so many times before. Billy Crudup as J. Edgar Hoover doesn’t have that big a role, yet I felt he was actually the one who made the biggest impact.

I never really liked Michael Mann’s previous two features but this one was quite exhilarating. Public Enemies is a visually innovative and violent gangster movie where style overpowers substance¬† – and that’s what makes it a memorable experience.

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The International May 8, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Big Banks controlling the world has been one of the oldest ideas of conspiracy theorists. And pretty much everyone seems to hold that belief albeit at different levels. At this point of time when Banks have become one of the most reviled institutions in the world, Tom Tykwer’s The International is a highly entertaining take on the issue.

The International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC) is out there to take over the world – for “you control the debt, you control everything”. Investigating its operations are the persistent Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and DA Elanor Whitman (Naomi Watts). Anybody close to compromising the Bank’s operation ends up dead. When everything seemingly leads to a dead end and all your options are running out what do you do? Well – for starters give Clive Owen a gun and let him handle this in his own way.

The International for most part resembles any well made corporate thriller in the past but unlike other films in this genre this one caters more to a popular audience. Which simply means you shouldn’t start looking for believability and loopholes in the plot. One thing which comes to my mind first is that nobody seems to mind or care as Owen walks around with his gun menacingly in everyday places. Where the film scores the most is through its locations. The urban landscape and the architecture presented here are pretty ominous and spooky – especially the modernist office buildings of the IBBC and the Rotunda Gallery.

Clive Owen and Naomi Watts do what is required of them and honestly a film like this requires star power than memorable performances. I quite enjoyed watching this film and would easily recommend this to everyone – for it is not always that you see a highly engaging film on an important issue while dumbing down to acceptable levels for a wider audience.