Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Casino Royale" (2006) - Movie Review - "A Thorough Entertainer"

The birth of 007 and his first mission in the force is “Casino Royale”. Daniel Craig (“Layer Cake”, “Munich” and “Enduring Love”), appears as the new bond. His enactment of Bond, who is novice, yet shrewd and skillful in the job is emphatic and phenomenal.

Black and white sequences kicks of the movie with the double “oh” agent, James Bond, born as a spy with cold heart and proves his presence in the league of secret agents. From then on, it is an intriguing tour around the globe with Mr. Bond and his adventures, his intelligence, his skill and his love. “Casino Royale” basically wins in the department of characterization which has suddenly found its mark in Hollywood in the past couple of years. It seeped its way into super-hero movies and finally got into our very own Bond. For all the regular Bond movie fans, there will be no amazing electronic gadgets or usual amount of steamy scenes, rather they are set for a ride into the dark hearts of a secret agent who does mistakes to learn from them, to trust on the mistrust and also to learn that he is still a human.

In the technical department, even though there is no explicit evidence of experimentation in the cinematography, it definitely bodes the “Fight Club” environment required at the intense moments. A special applause to the stunts department for coming up with an edgy and intelligent choreography. After a long time, there marks a spectacular human chase sequence which is gripping and makes you finish off all your nails. The background score brings out the modern Bond theme with the old tidbits which tingles in subtle ways.

Eva Green (“Dreamers”, “Kingdom of Heaven”) as Bond Girl gets a meaty role as Bond’s Love. What more can a Bond Girl ask for? She gives in a nice and neat performance while it is Daniel Craig all over the movie making his presence enchanting and classy. Even though Martin Campbell, the director, who gave an impressive start for the previous Bond in “Golden Eye”, has surpassed it in this movie, it is the brilliant seizure of the opportunity by Craig which steals the show. Judi Dench as “M” who is in her usual acidic tones during the briefing and advising Bond is impressive.

Coming to the weak points of the movie, it is too long for a Bond movie. There were some instances which could have been easily eliminated but it seems the director wanted to make sure to address all genre of audience. The second weak point in the list is the antagonist; the character of Le Chiffre played by Mads Mikkelsen which does not compliment the Bond’s striking presence.

Nevertheless, this movie will make an impression among the audience as the classiest, grittiest, and sexiest, and of all substantial Bond we have ever seen since “Dr. No”. Everyone can surely witness a “long life expectancy” for this Bond.

(Thanks to Mathangi for Proof Reading and Corrections)

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Babel" (2006) – Movie Review – “A Dark and Moving Poem”

(The movie is Rated R for violence, some graphic nudity, sexual content, explicit language and some drug use.)

Alejandro González Iñárritu acclaimed director of “Amorros Perros” and “21 grams” has presented his new creation “Babel” with the same style of non-linear editing and four stories that happen in different regions across the globe. The ripples of one particular event forming the spine for all the other events within the plot is something the current audience is used to, through previous movies from the same director and also from movies such as Oscar-winning “Crash”. Still, Alejandro presents a heart-throbbing script in a novel fashion, which fills the audience with anxiety and pathos throughout the course of the movie.

“Babel” depicts lots of issues and emotions ingrained in human society in general, regardless of the geographical location. The slips and dips of normal human beings of different ages have been portrayed through astonishing stories. There is no strong dialogue or striking twists; rather the movie plays with the viewer’s emotions while he/she is fastened to a roller coaster. The viewer gets into the screen along with the diverse characters as the movie progresses. This is the strength of “Babel”, on how well it connects with the audience.

The impressive performance by Rinko Kikuchi as the physically challenged Japanese teen girl, who is deaf and mute, stands apart in the movie. Her emotional distress and frustration and the guilt associated with it are so disturbing and touching. The rest of the cast definitely gives a solid performance as well and the movie stands on their shoulders.

The colorful Mexico, the bright deserts of Morocco and the blue-tinted Japan revolve as if it were a literal Kaleidoscope showcasing life around the world. Editing is astounding and compelling. The movie can be described as four short films blended together with a remote connectivity. The link between these stories seems merely to provide closure for the audience as well as the director himself. Each of the four stories could have been watched individually with the same substance but the scene-shifting between them is what gives the touch of elegance and a mesh of moods.

Some of the poetic scenes in the movie worth mentioning are the marriage party in Mexico, night life club sequence in Japan and the unusual romantic piece involving Brad Pitt as Richard and Cate Blanchett as Susan.

“Babel” will be set apart as a piece for genre audience who has the patience and the artistic involvement as generally termed by the common world, but it is purely entertaining and classy in its own way for all audience.

(Thanks to Mathangi for Proof Reading and Corrections)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"Vettayaadu Vilayaadu" (Language - Tamil) (2006) - Movie Review

First and foremost about this movie is that, this is a Gautham Menon’s movie and not Kamal’s which is kind of surprising and also shows how much the director has the control over the script. When this happens with Kamal, either it turns out real bad or real good. VV stands in the latter.

The story of a cop hunting down the responsible people for the serial killings is the story of VV. How Gautam handles this is what makes the movie interesting. First half of the movie slides smoothly and swiftly to give you all the necessary introduction for the characters and the audience along with the investigating Cop of the killings wonder why are they doing such a brutal act? Even though it kind of seems Jyothika’s character is pushed in, it fits nicely. In fact the sequences involving her and Kamal are handled with real sophistication and grace. Second half of the movie makes it slow and dragging a bit but comes back in its pace at end. The idea of investigation going from India to New York is pretty interesting. The idea of FBI and NYPD missing big time clues looks kind of sloppy but well, you need to accept those when you are watching a Hero oriented movie.

As for the technical aspects, it is extremely fantastic for Indian Movies. Right color, calculated style and excellent videos gives us the feeling we are watching a finesse work of art. Good to know that Indian Cinema is picking up the intricacies and minuscule niceties involved in the Hollywood movies.

Songs in VV are extremely good and heartening but Harris Jayaraj did not give the same when it comes Back ground score. It is high time that Mr. Jayaraj concentrates in this department.

Performances are clean and smooth. Kamal walks as Mr. Raghavan, Deputy Commissioner while Jyothika cruises the role of his divorced lover. The villains are the ones which gives you chill in the bones. They bring Novelty for southern cinema school of characters and they did a nice job as well. Gautam’s direction is still the same as that of “Kaakka Kaakka” and it takes real control to bring in the Big Star as Kamal to do this character.

People may complain about the blood and violence in the movie but you cannot expect to have colorful dresses and sweet faces in a serial killing story. VV may not be the extreme experimentation what Kamal usually does but it is definitely your Friday night movie.

(Thanks to Mathi for proof reading)

"Chocolate" (Language - Hindi) (2005) - Movies Not To Watch

With the slick look of wall papers and posters of the Movie, one can definitely take a guess that it is perfect remake of a Hollywood Movie. Bingo !!!! It is a frame by frame copy of “The Usual Suspects”. Its quite a surprise that it took so many years to copy that. Well, audience are looking out for more different stories now a days and hence director Vivek Agnihotri need to come different.

The good things about the Movie is that the story from “The Usual Suspects”. That’s it !!!!! The editing is pretty bad. Some of the scenes are unexplained. Casting has been done well except for the heroine (for the hunger of Desi Janta). Pick of a lot in acting would be Arshad Warsi. He did his part cool and composed. Others try to act but they need to try more. Pretty sad to see Anil Kapoor giving such a mediocre performance.

The bad things (Lot) about the movie are, jumbled pieces of scenes, unexplained behaviors of the characters, horrible back ground score, etc. Director solely depended on the original. Picked up some decent faces, showed them the DVD of the Hollywood original and asked them to act in Desi style.

The good part seeing the movie is that to feel happy because to see the Indian audience improve. Its high time for the film industry to give movies what Hollywood gave and is giving. People who did not watch “The Usual Suspects”, go watch “ Chocolate” and also see the original to realize how well made it was. People who already watched the original, wait for the “Chocolate” DVD. Rent it and watch it at home. Why ??!!!!! It would be Fun to comment the movie. It would turn out to be a pretty good comedy movie.

"Batman Begins" (2005) - Movie Classics

If you take all the super hero movies, one thing always stands out which are the Action scenes. If you are going to expect that in Batman Begins, you will be terribly disappointed. People who want to take their kids to show their favorite super hero hitting bad guys can cancel their tickets.

Then what does this movie have which made me put the Title as “Batman Rocks”. To start with, the seriousness of the movie. The real reason why Batman born in first place has been dealt and given in a beautiful manner. When you have great director Christopher Nolan who gave us “The Memento” and “Insomnia”, you can be assured that there is more to this movie than normal comic hero.

The movie starts of with Bruce Wayne in a prison trying to prove his point in Life, “Punish the people who go against justice”. The real purpose of doing that involves more to it which he learns from his mentor, done beautifully by Liam Neeson. Things like guilt, anger and fear have been given a different explanation. And when Bruce comes to know that the whole philosophy of eradicating criminals by his mentor which goes crazy, he escapes. This really brings out why he becomes a super hero. Even though the whole philosophy was molded by his mentor, he takes the good things and leaves the bad things. A tough thing to do by a normal man. Then starts his journey towards saving the Gotham City from the scum of the universe.

Christian Bale is a potential artist and I realized it when I saw “American Psycho”. He has matured a lot as an actor from that point onwards. The casting is done to perfection. The Back ground score of the movie is in each and every scene. You will never realize the power of it until the end when the names show up. The only draw backs in the movie were the Action sequences. You will never know who hit whom in the fight. Nolan should have concentrated some more in this department which would have made this movie complete. Finally, Batman makes you think and understand the realism involved in it. I liked Spider Man mainly due to the characterization and it goes the same for Batman. I would say it went more than Spider Man.

Not recommended for Action people but strongly recommended to see a different Batman.

"Magnolia" (1999) - Movie Classics

If you are a cinematic connoisseur and post cine analysis geek, “Magnolia” would be the right choice for you. The film has a major star cast, including Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore and William H. Macy, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

“Magnolia” is a movie with 6 stories running parallel in a day. As expected, all the stories have some commonality. It is not the normal climax where all the stories converge, but something different and thoughtful. Throughout the movie, the pace is consistent. More of realism and high cinematic class is evident in each and every frame of the movie.

Since there are 6 stories, the movie runs for more than 3 hours which may raise eye brows for the normal Hollywood Masala Movie seekers, but believe me it’s worth it. The movie takes itself the viewers in and they will be eagerly waiting where it all will summate. The climax will initially disappoint most of the people but I would suggest the viewer to research on the ending and you will realize the blend of realistic and cinematic elegance and excellence.

“Magnolia” is an emotional drama which talks about lot of issues running in the society and with individuals. Be it domestic disturbance or adultery, it deals everything with sheer brutalism and hits you in the head. The quiz whiz kid whose emotions are shattered and unrecognized, the wife who seeks redemption for her adultery, a daughter puzzled with her distorted past, every character addresses a different set of situations still correlating and criticizing itself to the basic conscience and values.

I would say Tom Cruise’s best performance throughout his career will not be matched to the eclectic display of acting in this movie. Julianne Moore is as good as Tom. There are lot other performances which will remain in your heart but how could I not tell the character of the police officer. One of the most principle oriented and shy characters that will be placed in your heart forever.

Editing needs to appreciated in a great deal for its technical excellence. Handling 6 stories and collaging it in a beautiful and elegant way would not have been a cake walk. All the technical aspects of the movie stands apart, take it the music or the dialogues, Magnolia rips of the society's ill fated discrepancies towards everyone's life.

Of all, “Magnolia” will be an entertainer, practical and provide you redemption, if you have the patience to research about it to enlighten yourself.

"No Man's Land" (2001) - Movie Classics

When all the people in India were praying for “Lagaan” to win an Oscar for 2001 Best Foreign Film, one movie defeated it and clinched it away from the hands of Aamir Khan. Keeping aside that factor, “No Man’s Land” is one of a kind for a war movie. It has comedy, thrill and most of all, the blame factor which takes away innocent lives unnecessarily.

The movie starts right from frame one. War in between Serbia and Bosnia. The Bosnian civil soldiers try to cross the border when they get spotted and showered with bullets. Everyone dies except one Bosnian. He hides in a trench in between both the territories which essentially is a No Man’s Land. Two Serbian Soldiers come to clean up the unfinished job and one set a bouncing mine over a “supposedly” dead Bosnian soldier. The plot meets an interesting spot wherein the Bosnian survivor kills one out of the two Serbian soldiers. Now starts the ultimate movie wherein both of them need to survive in the trench without getting shot by either of their own people. Things get intense when the soldier over bouncing mine is actually alive.

There are no supposedly “important” characters even though with the storyline it seems highly impossible. All the actors do a wonderful job. The movie flashes the harsh reality of a “so-called” peace. The political pressure, the media business, the human values and the basic hatred even by the matured people on pressure situations are all been wrapped up well and gifted to the audience.

There are no gruesome bloodsheds for a war movie or the unimaginable Sunny Deol heroic patriotism. Plain and simple fact about how cruel a war can be and how tough it is for the people with values to digest it.

With the right mix of comic and seriousness, this movie definitely deserves its Oscar and would suggest for all the people not to miss it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

"The Departed" (2006) - Movie Review

Two persons from opposite sides of the law intrude their enemies and operate to foil the plans of each other. With this amazing plot and gargantuan hope to build on the suspense and thrill, everyone enters the theatre with much to expect and enthralled. They do get all of those in typical Scorcese way. “The Departed” is the remake of the Honk Kong Thriller “Infernal Affairs – I” and anyone who saw the original would exactly know what is going to happen in this Hollywood flick, but what they do not know is that Director Martin Scorcese has his own way of improvising the plots to suit the characters.

The plot remains the same and most of the characters remain the same from the original. The addition though is the foul mouthed intriguing Detective Dignam played marvelously by Mark Wahlberg. The movie populated with heavy star cast proves to be one of the best films in 2006 both entertaining and artistic. There needs to be at the least two to three pages to admire the performances of each actor.

Jack Nicholson as the cold, creepy and wicked humorous Frank Costello shows us why he was nominated in the Oscar for supporting role with just 15-20 minutes screen time in “A Few Good Men”. Matt Damon and Leonardo Di Caprio fit the characters like a glove and roll in perfectly with the director’s top notch story telling. Alec Baldwin as the officer in charge gives us the interesting, hyperactive and weirdly passionate cop. Martin Sheen as the mentor and guidance to the undercover cop stars as well as rest others. The most unexpected package would be Mark Wahlberg as Dignam. The audiences flinch and fall in love with this obnoxious, and bitter mouthed officer.

Scorcese hits us back with his traditional and popular gang wars but with a twist. In his past works, “Goodfellas” and “Casino”, it was inside the gang but here Scorcese goes inside the walls of the Police Department and comes out firing guns. It was just time for him to show the audience that he is still out there in this genre and he still is the Don.

Every frame with the meager layer with a mix of brown and yellow brings in the gritty streets of Boston while the gloomy yet hitting blue pattern brings out the justice department of the city. The soundtrack of the album is terrific with opening sequence with Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter” and on and off “I am shipping up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphy’s are decorations to this master piece. And the news for the people who knows this director’s specialty and also to all who do not know about him is that, “There will be Blood”.

“The Departed” will not only be the Friday evening entertainment but also reside in your home DVD collection to show your grand children that you witnessed Scorcese’s art of direction.