Monday, September 29, 2008

"Microcosmos" (Documentary) (1996) - Movie Review

There is going to be no argument over the incredible cruising into the jungles of grasses and the residents of it to watch in agape while seeing “Microcosmos”. Directors of this documentary, Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou embarks us to a journey happening in an unnoticed foreign space in Earth which is not in the interiors of Amazon or the deepest dense forests of Africa but a simple meadow. It has some of the millions of myriad creatures living along with us under those green territories. You wonder the possibility of us being watched like this by a more powerful creatures or aliens or whatever it is. The time is twenty minutes into the film and you begin to get restless. And it grows and summits in the end with boredom.

With the few lines of narration from Kristin Scott Thomas about these hidden creatures, the film takes us into various insects we encounter in our daily life and some we have no clue of its existence. It is colourful, gooey, textured, moves like a robot and words can be hunted to explain those beings amongst us. There is some opera and orchestration which does its synchronizing ability to these tiny living things. The fights, the copulation and their collection of raw materials for their survival are shown with care for the nature and the factor of us living oblivious to those is interesting.

With a short span of eighty minutes, “Microcosmos” is calculated correctly for its running time but unfortunately they also miscalculate the stretch of the happenings in it. It has some of the most bizarre and eerie moments in surprise, amazement and creepiness altogether in three to four instances. The rest are all fillers or to me at least it appeared merely uninteresting. Because the awe factor passes over and the thinking has been done. Another reason is that the Discovery Channel and National Geographic have reached those with in depth details and analysis. Here it is silence and some music with nothing at all. It is then an exercise of silent actions of the insects doing their chores obviously with better hard work.

It is amazing that the techniques they use to catch their prey are so sophisticated with abilities beyond our imagination and at the same time how their minds are ceased to act on things which appear simple to the human are of mere impossibility for them to grasp. They can be associated and compared to computers. Computers of course are a non-living thing and it needs electrical energy unlike these beings. It makes me say so because of the superiority in certain things and a blind following towards other things of so much relative measure of ease. Irony of life.

All the thoughts and praise goes for the key scenes scattered which would collectively be a thirty minutes short film. The rest drags, slows down and brings the film to slowness screeching further into more lethargic movements but not stopping at any moment. It appears as an infinite circle of movements with chirps, ticks and creeks. And begin to feel differently of this nature’s beauty suffocating with boredom. It is too much, way too much to take the miniscule steps of these things going haywire.

There are two things which interested me while seeing the film. First obviously the life of these tiny monsters, a complete scary and a surreal look only that it is real under the grounds and in between the grasses. The second thing is the technology to capture these regions of impossible access in a fashion to doubt the existence of such advancement in the media field. I appreciate both of these but it becomes too much of this world.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"The New World" (2005) - Movie Review

My second Terrence Malick feature and am in love with his style, the most tender style in wrapping it meticulously and comfortably to its stillness undisturbed and purity woven in tandem to give it the decoration the subject beckons. This is “The New World” a traditional love story told in very much traditional way only that it goes to phenomenal authenticity. It is given by the daringness of a director fuelled by the obsession in achieving the reflection of immaculateness.

As the English sends more colonizers to the Americas in 1607, there is Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) who will be falling in love with a young princess (Q'orianka Kilcher) of the Native American group of that region. There will be next to nothing conversations and abundance of body language in between them which would not make us in anyway not believe in their eternal love. Known for his aggression but never seen, Smith is captured by the tribe and rescued by the beauty. She learns his language and he reads her waves of passion and the undiscovered love he did not make time for.

The greatest nature sceneries over greeting cards and photographs would shy in embarrassment of this spectacle of the serene virgin beauty. The muddy rivers rippling sporadically but has made a peace with the surroundings to keep it low to be in that zone of submitting to the naturalness. In photography of Emmanuel Lubezki he does not disturb that peace rather captures it to its atom of being what it is, origin of nature. But it is not shiny ornament with glow and vacuumed of substance. It is the love story performed in many films with sweetness and sorrow, buttery and bogus and sometimes real but not the kind Malick does.

The questions of the conscience, the decisions and the entity of which we all take a vacation from to be that smiley faces of merry are the broken lines and unspoken words between each other for Smith and Kilcher’s character. They bury it as many would have in those times of existence based on King’s measure of laud and availability of food and fear of scarcity. Strangers are destroyers and trust existed only among the clan. To go out of it is an invite to pillaging and looting. In that the young girl falls for the man. The man while with her forgets those qualms of reality. He believes in the dream he is going through. He knows the bite of reality is yards away and despite that he gives in to the feeling. “Love..Shall we deny it when it visits us” asks Smith.

The circumstances comes for the lovers to depart and Smith being bound more by the responsibility and duly understanding the situation he has got in leaves the girl giving his fake death through his men and put her in grief and pain to continue his conquest of new lands. She goes mad and is unable to grasp the pain which has embraced her with the slow actions of bringing her down day by day. Along comes a widower John Rolfe (Christian Bale) seeing the loss in her eyes as he sees in his heart. He takes her to his tobacco field and gently he places himself side by her. The slightest looks and the submerged twists of those lips called as smile are hopes of love to re-emerge in this broken beauty. She asks how the will of her has put the happiness in demise. Constantly her quest for the answers to those questions towards the emotions of pain, love and happiness make her gloomy and a walking dead. Rolfe understands it and asks for her to marry him. She cries unknown of what she is going through. Is she feels guilty by the lost past or embarrassed and shied by the kindness of this man or the sterility of her emotions for everything around her?

It is poetry. It is painting. It is a symbol. It is an art. It is everything art is characterized by. The conversations are replaced by breezy photographic motions. The fields green and yellow, the waters deep and shallow with trees hiding these and the sunshine igniting those makes you surrender for the untouched glimpse of that part of the history. And it is not a hindrance or deviation away from the people in the film. They are bound and separated by the love and duty. But they are in terms with their happenings and actions. They respect theirs and others emotions with a maturity hardly to imagine.

James Horner’s music takes two themes for the two loves. Between Smith and the girl is the loud declaration of the unknown territory of love to both and a calm touch of piano for the hope of lost love between Rolfe and the girl grown into a woman. In a story of these three people, we are fantasized by those tranquil pictures in between them. It takes the camera with kindness and gentility feeding even the pain with tender and acceptance. This is a visual treat not for special effects but a celebration of original images of nature and its virgin beauty.

"Eagle Eye" (2008) - Movie Review

How can the director of a much poignant, composed and matured film like “The Salton Sea” give two successive films of pure preposterous fest? With his previous year annoying “Disturbia”, D.J. Caruso casts Shia LaBeouf again in what should have been a worst Michael Bay film. There is always some one watching, hearing and laboriously following the sites, mails and blogs we visit over the internet. This paranoid is a valid one and I definitely have that feeling of being constantly watched.

Apart from the effect of film influences, I feel the regular civilian data would be boring and clichéd for the security personnel sipping coffee and eating junk food at 12 AM would fancy him off for finding the possible culprit. This paranoia was used as a plot device for the brilliantly executed “Enemy of the State” which was thrilling and more thoughtful in this genre. In “Eagle Eye” the epidemics of every single one in United States carrying a transmitter and self bugged devices of cell phone, music players and laptop indeed becomes the corner stone factor to move the plot. “Eagle Eye” though riding that possible wave jumps into the jaws of ridicule, insane, insulting and clichéd to the clichéd tradition in thrillers.

Granted that I am an admirer of the “Indiana Jones…” series but when the film attempts to put reality into that, it tips over the category. In “Eagle Eye”, two strangers are put together to follow the order from a voice of a woman over the phone. The voice controls traffic lights, cell phones, banners, neon bulbs, train, flights, tooth paste, condoms..ok the last two is my two cents in mocking but hey there is a possibility if a sequel comes called “Crazy Eyes”. The thing is this; Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) a “copy associate” in a store comes back from his army twin brother’s funeral. He comes back to his dingy apartment to find it filled with explosives and the ultra sophisticated modern warfare instruments. A call comes to threaten giving the precise timings to exit the place in order to escape as the FBI is closing in. Now why when an expert over phone or in person in films comes with a precise calculated but rounded off number for seconds? I can understand minutes but why not say “You have 23 seconds and 10 milliseconds to walk away”?

Ultimately Jerry would be interrogated with a tough good agent (Billy Bob Thornton) and then by his brother’s air force officer (Rosario Dawson) which would drive him to follow the voice commands to be clubbed with another victim of voice, a single mother Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) with her son Sam (Cameron Boyce) used as the threatening factor. If they act upon fear of life and run through around bazillion cars, trucks and people, the trained FBI and police go nuts along with it.

Yes the suspense of who and why are they doing it will be answered with further preposterous plots which would only make you look the watch. Considering the genre of thriller and action, there is a minimal expectancy of logics but action scenes are expected to be choreographed pumping adrenaline forgetting the sham of screenplay. And they bring on totally misplaced close up shots of cars and buses crashing. We are wondering what the clever thing the central characters did to escape or what is the control “god” voice has in hand to make it interesting to watch for what will be the next move to press them forward towards whatever the mission is.

For people who still want to see “Eagle Eye”, please skip this paragraph and come back to read it after going through with it. The voice in the end is actually a super computer “ARIA” (remember V.I.K.I from “I, Robot”) wanting to replace the president since he omitted an abort recommendation in capturing a terrorist in civilian circumstances. Jerry’s brother Ethan found it out and he got killed by one of the induced accidents by ARIA. If it is so powerful in formulating its targets and disobeying commands, why does it need an “unlock” for it to go ahead with the assassinations? Yes I know logic is the least I should expect out of this film but the extremities in going for reality in all wrong way purports this fallacy to be questioned, of course in vain since you have lost the couple of hours of your life to mediocrity of Hollywood.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Choke" (2008) - Movie Review

“Choke” goes on this arc of unnamed perspective on sex and its relation of human attachment. It at one instance deals it mechanically and clinically as a part of a daily process as a human would consume food and in another moment treats it as the barrier/enabler for a relation. So this oscillation from one end to the other considering it interrelated and departed does vibrate the necessary sound but a calm and sullen thirst is left unquenched at the end of it. Truth is that Clark Gregg’s directorial debut of Chuck Palahniuk’s “Choke” is a slapping treatment of this phenomenon of sex termed upon as the dirtiest, purest, perverted and pleasuring act of humans going on describing in their life terms. It may not suffice the pleasure of a fulfilled film experience but is originally directed in many ways.

Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) is a sex addict, a very true one who breaks the sobriety in a flipping second to a fellow addict Nico (Paz de la Huerta) every time he goes for the addiction group session. His mother (Anjelica Houston) is suffering from Alzheimer’s and he takes care of her institution fees by working as a re-enactor of colonial times but his other source of income is to choke himself to death in a public restaurant. That brings in the constantly wondering people of their existence for goodness to extend their arms of being saviour. Victor seizes that need for approval to feed off them in terms of love and money.

Apart from the lookout for some one to have sex with Victor is in another compulsion as to find out his father or any roots of blood. He wants to see whether his problems are genetically inherited but more so to search for a regular person. In flashbacks we learn how he was made wanderlust by his mom. She has parental skills of a cat and that means placing her son in foster homes and snatching him away when she feels like it. But Victor has been loyal to her every inch of those crazy times because she never gives an opportunity for him to mingle in a society. The exact reasoning for her behaviour goes unexplained but that has made Victor into a stranger forever.

His only source of contact apart from his mother would be his fellow addict member Denny (Brad William Henke) a compulsive masturbator. Unlike Victor Denny tries to get out of this loop of doing something unwilling and of pure involuntary action from mind per se. He follows through the step and when he makes a break through Victor is unsettled because his friend is getting off the station to leave him alone. But it is even more hurting because Victor’s unfulfilled liking for his mom’s doctor Paige Marshall (Kelly Macdonald).

“Choke” meanders and gives us a feeling of being so without a purpose but it isn’t so. Within moments of the film, Gregg makes us completely comfortable with the explicit material because it is no more a passionate or labeled act of the characters, rather a usual occurrence in their life, only more so often. The problem with the film though is the meandering I was talking about. Whatever be the case, sex is truly culminated by the love for two people in romantic terms or a more so happening if not. The latter is emotionless and that happens a lot in the film. Despite being fine with it, we are drawn into the void of numbness Victor goes through. Whether it is the success of the film is not sure but it dries us up fast.

The characters are sad and live in this world of flesh and no pain. This carnal zeal while be a fantasy for many in reality is a painful endurance only that you do not feel the pain. The happening soon becomes the frustration driving to the edge as it does to Victor. But in the end, the film advocates something completely different. It does not offer solution but an acceptance. An acceptance of how one sees themselves and acts upon it. Not hunting for reasons but deal with the present. Victor learns it in a really hard way and I may add quite painfully.

Gregg’s direction is a good one in fact a better one. There is an unflinching display in approaching the subject for what it is and in Sam Rockwell, it is not creepy but disturbingly empathetic. He is not a complete crook but a man carrying a board saying he is a sex addict and in this world that is asking for character assassination. But people look at it as a different kind of honesty or it creates that plane of comfortable talking of a more tabooed human action. That is attracting attention which makes Victor’s addiction grow in leaps and bounds. But it sucks his inability to grasp his situation in coming out of it or more so accepting it. “Choke” is a strange film and its property might trigger thoughts but shut the doors for the film’s empathy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Miracle at St. Anna" (2008) - Movie Review

“Miracle at St. Anna” a flag bearer by director Spike Lee in properly giving the due credit for the African American soldiers served in the World War – II has everything a war movie should have except the emotion. The promising script and characters with one mainly being the role of big soldier Train (Omar Benson Miller) is a still water in a ferocious river, not serene but dangerously alarming in its territory uninviting the visitors. With a screenplay mechanically executed, it is astonishingly missing its paramount piece of connecting out of the screen to the audience. And this coming from a passionate director Spike Lee dumbfounds us further adding to the placid effect the film leaves on.

It follows four soldiers making it out of a suicide mission of crossing a river opposing the Nazi soldiers into Italy. The story is a flash back comes from Hector Negron (Laz Alonso) an old postman shooting a man in without any question in a regular work day. With immaculate record and a war hero, a journalist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) rekindles the haunted memory of this war veteran into those days of serving the country which denied the equal rights to him and his fellow soldiers. They are Train, Bishop (Michael Ealy) and their lead Stamps (Derek Luke). Train carries a statute’s head which gives an emotional strength and a hope for the soldier. He happens to save an Italian Boy (Matteo Sciabordi) and they become close forming a bond of strange trust. They get into a village wherein they stay for further orders from the headquarters. There is a female Renata (Valentina Cervi) who happens to speak English and Hector is well versed in Italian giving a communication bridge for both the people.

In the times of segregation and severe ill treatment of African Americans, it is as Spike Lee says is more than a love for the country. It is quite a shame that the war films negated the contributions of these soldiers. This act of going in front for a country which treated them unfairly and cruelly is the pondering plot for the film. Or it should have been that case and we are in for a surprise of that been dealt may be only in one or two scenes. In the entering sequences of the war scenes, the Germans tactically arrange a psychological technique to lure these men to their side (and of course kill them easily). They bring in a lady (Alexandra Maria Lara) to speak over loud speaker propagating and play mind games over them of what is their purpose of being here risking their lives for country which does not respect them.

The war movies have flooded so much in the industry and most of them given so well has automatically took the standard a level above than the usual. Spike Lee of course had a challenge and he is a man very much capable of tackling it. With his zeal and the passion for film making, it would have been just a matter of finding a plot to put these characters for dissecting and carry out the psychoanalysis in a manner no one thought to take. Instead it is cold, dead cold and it has so many characters believing in their roles seriously undergo the pain of getting into it. Unfortunately they become the right characters for different play. We are confused on what the mission out here for these soldiers and what at all these villagers have a plan in staying in the place soon to be gushed with German soldiers.

Derek Luke’s character is supposed to be the conscience of this film and the neutrality face of the plot to provide on the insight of an African American in the midst of a war field with most of the other men doubting whether it is their war to be out there risking their lives. Instead he is this war film’s usual unsung young hero who seems to follow the rules and believe the goodness for the future to only lay out there commanding orders and guarding with stale face. Similarly Michael Ealy’s character is the cynical man wanting to loosen up and be carefree to protect his head and move on staying alive to head back. He instead with an unsuitable womanizer look did not convince me a bit on his character. May be I got so attuned to the role he played in “Sleeper Cell” but that should not keep him the same over the screen.

I loved the score of Terence Blanchard in “25th Hour” and I was pestered by the war drums in “Miracle at St. Anna”. It is as though Spike Lee for his child hood likings towards John Wayne war films (which I have not seen but can imagine a little) requested to use that glory theme to be played consistently for his film. Hence every time it comes along we are taken far away from the tragic morbidity of war to a place of unnecessarily boosted up patriotism. Music elevates an existing powerful scene or theme to something extraordinary to our senses. In this film it externally tries to feed the mood to us and that wakes us every single second reminding the existence of dark theatre encircling us. It happens throughout these 160 minutes of the film and that is one of many drawbacks of “Mircale at St. Anna”.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Birth" (2004) - Movie Review

You can truly understand the meaning of “getting on one’s nerves” when seeing young Sean (Cameron Bright) and Anna (Nicole Kidman) irritate on the ridiculousness of the situation. But near the end something happens and we understand both of them nevertheless leaving the film with flaws. One being the script conveniently brushing away the intervention from other characters paving for the emotional deliverance tangled with absurdity.

A voice jokes the possibility of life after death and then we see a man running ultimately collapsing in a tunnel situated in the park. Ten years later we meet Joseph (Danny Huston) and Anna celebrating their engagement. A young boy is in the lobby of the building and begins to follows a lady (Anne Heche) walking tensely and burying something in the bushes. In the midst of Anna’s birthday party he comes uninvited and declares that he is Sean, Anna’s dead husband. He goes one step further in advising her not to marry Joesph.

Anna being an adult at least for that time laughs away the foolishness of this boy’s approach. He then shows up again and this time she shoos him. It only comes back to haunt her later consistently which triggers the implausibility of strange things happening one after another. I was dismayed by the idiocy and stupidity of Anna but a loved one reincarnating is the hope and comfort the person in grief crave for. Death is insurmountable pain of driving the senses to search for something to feel and have some hope again on something. Anna beginning to believe on the boy is unbelievable even in remote terms of emotional scale but we can associate due to how Kidman handles it.

The part which annoys the most is the zilch effort from the others to shake her up and possibly asks this question to the boy claiming to be her husband. “What in the hell he needs now?” I mean hypothetically being the case as true, what is the ultimate purpose of interrupting the devastated Anna’s prosperous life ahead? It sounds cruel to pose that question and Jonathan Glazer approaches this subject of unexplainable situation of complete traumatic results.

If this film has something immaculate, that would be Nicole Kidman. There is a five minute shot of her in a concert hall wondering on the possibility, pain and befuddlement. After failing to convince Sean of stopping to bother her, he collapses which shakes her. In those close up shots along with appreciation for her acting, it was so perfect that it had me almost convinced of the character’s behaviour in later parts of the film. Of course I was not convinced completely. The feelings she is overwhelmed are truly and understandably real and we empathize of it in not alone surrendering to those emotions but also breaking Joseph’s heart. But her pursuing that hope of abyss doubts her character and the script.

There is no getting over a loss of a loved one. It tones down in time being and the life of the mourning becomes busy which gets on with the future nevertheless having the burden cornered. It pricks and as the time goes by recedes as an effortless smile of missing them. I have not lost some one whom I loved the dearest and hence I can only imagine. The day will come and beyond these rational lines of putting forth openly, it is going to tear me apart and the dealing of it would be painful. I was able to picture that once you see the character of Kidman pushing the envelope. Despite the impulsive emotions, the time she has come along and her being an adult questions those actions forgetting not alone the moment of reality but about the people surrounding the young boy.

“Birth” annoyed me on the continuing obstinate craziness Anna and Sean exhibit. Sean is a boy and that becomes in favour of the character. Anna in deep sorrow of lost disappears in the tears (and I mean it in negative way) in spite of a performance so close in pulling it off by Kidman. The music, ambience and those gloomy house of silent people while adds the beauty of the film sucks the possibility from the other through those family spectators. I was beginning to hate the film when it surfaced its intent of deep love yearning for immortality, reincarnation and a false hope.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"The Clay Bird" (Language - Bangla) (2002) - Movie Review

“The Clay Bird” is a wavering trend on politically correct religion and the people who carry those divided, united, against and for it in the pieces of microscopic signs but with amplified frustrations assimilating day by day, in a family, in a madrasa (Islamic School) and as a country discomforted in the partial treatment from Pakistan. The film set in Bangladesh in 1971 which was the East Pakistan at that time is about a family, a village and the cultural trend of variance in religion and perceptions in those forms of society representations.

Anwar (Nurul Islam Bablu) or Anu as he being called is sent to madrasa by his father Kazi (Jayanto Chattopadhyay) a devout follower of Islam. In those strict regiments of rigorous fundamentalism, Anu finds a friend, Rokon (Russell Farazi) teased constantly by other kids of him being different. Anu’s sister Asma (Lameesa R. Reemjheem) is treated by her Kazi, a homeopathic practitioner whose treatment is not effective and against his wife Ayesha’s (Rokeya Prachy) constant request to go for a doctor believes to be god’s will. Unlike Kazi, his young brother Milon (Soaeb Islam) is liberated and actively participating in the political growth and often discusses with his friends about the philosophies of politics and religion. In those and some very interesting folk songs and stage stories we see the varied degree of faith in religion, politics and relationship.

Director Tareque Masud uses the colourful village lands, rivers and muddied lakes to his film’s cinematography. In the silent ambience of suppressed emotions he brings noisy attractions of village fair and flamboyance. Then he takes the cracked and scaled surface walls of the madrasa standing high but dull with the people of ignorant blind beliefs. Milon in his liberated mind says to the boatman Karim (Shah Akam Dewan) that the country’s current state of chaos and instability is due to the people like Karim taking blind plunge towards the abyss of religion. Karim replies with an undisturbed face of conviction that any true believer of any religion is not blind but liberated. But what is true believer of a religion? How does one measure that? How does one perceive that exemplification for an attestation? It is in perfect good will and the nature to accept the differences amongst each other and may be Karim is the true believer but does the name of religion wide enough and free of adulteration at all to trigger those?

“The Clay Bird” takes multiple perceptions of the struggling personality in a world of defined normality. Rokon amidst being mocked and isolated by his fellow students and put into foolish rituals of cleansing him of “evil” spirits wants to stay out there which he calls his only home. He needs the walls and he understands the place. Whilst being an outcast he has an asylum behind it. Similar to that is Ayesha suffering from male chauvinistic husband boosted by the fervor of religion in Kazi but wishes to stay in the house for her children. Finally is Milon in the passionate mode of liberation and equality stays at his homeland and defends in the form of free speech and resistance.

It is a patient film. It might not weigh those states of agony as heavily I might describe. But that is the actuality of life. It happens in pinches of actions in treatment of day to day events. In the school of how the teacher handles a subject and approaches a student, a husband in the way of treating his wife in her requests and a fellow human being in the outlook toward a stranger. These form the society of behaviour accumulating and representing itself to the outside boundaries of village, town, city and country. But it is not as simple as generalizing it is the purpose of the film. In changing politics and liberating views of that forewarned times of independence fight are these people standing in their values and beliefs. Milon even though is liberated does seem to mildly take a self righteous stand and Kazi who we come to know through the story of boatman used to be a “English” (westernized) and suddenly embraced or even tightened the grips towards Islam are changing personalities despite being blood brothers.

There is a beautiful ambiguous discussion of a teacher in the school, Ibrahim (Moin Ahmed) with his fellow worker Halim Mia (Adbul Karim) regarding the use of Islam for political purpose and how does it attribute as a religion and brings out a question of what constitutes Islam? Is it a country or a group of people as such? In his diplomatic discussion of his liberal views, while challenging his fellow worker, he challenges himself and wonders what that is which would make a religion or faith? The actual opinions buried in those talks not alone of him but all the characters in the film marks the specialty of “The Clay Bird”. In its multiple characters of various faiths the film clearly says a much wider opinion. We as people amidst the diversity are not that different to be accommodated into numerous religions or villages or countries.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Lakeview Terrace" (2008) - Movie Review

What begins as parental protection paranoia soon becomes a terrorizing campaign for the menacing and troubled black cop Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) towards the newly wed interracial couple Chris (Patrick Wilson) and Lisa (Kerry Washington) moving next door to Abel. But it is one man’s quest to find reason for his hatred towards this particular couple alone. He wants to find it because he can justify his hate than solving his problem. A man’s proclaimed righteousness and a proclaimed protective father becomes the demise of what could have been a good person. “Lakeview Terrace” is a well made film not because that it has the performance it needs but due to the pity we are left in for the character we like and hate.

Chris and Lisa are madly in love and have the regular newly wed couple problem of whether to have a child as their next step. Chris expectedly wants time and Lisa while understanding begins to get restless. She could have been fine unless for the troubles from next door. A hard dad, a tough street cop and a man unable to find truce with his loss Samuel L. Jackson brings jitters of uncomfortable and scary hell not alone to Chris but to the audience. As soon as the couple moves in, he has a conversation with another Asian neighbour and you would not notice that this guy can be a racist. But it is not the racism and it points to his root of the problem as the end approaches. It is individual and his perceptions with the society giving enough to feed the anger.

Let us forget about the race and take this person for who he really is. He is seriously can be our next door neighbour or friend’s dad or the teacher kid’s would go after school tuition. Abel wants the “right” things to be learned and he could not accept the teaching of marrying between races is the right thing. When he confides or bullies because it is nearly impossible to read the motives of this person and as Chris naively has hope of something of resolve coming out as we do, Abel tells about how he lost his wife. That happens after Abel cuts off the branches of the newly placed tree by Chris and fighting with branches and what not over the fence with him. Chris is agonized on who he has become and what the deal with this guy is and Abel comes to lie down and see the memories of his wife over a drink. They are in the same bar and that is the enlightenment of this character’s hate especially to him. He realizes why he has so much rage flowered upon these two or precisely on Chris who is all but nice people. Unreasonable and the man feel more fuelled after that.

It cannot be more subtle and be louder on its approach on race. The turmoil Abel creates for these two and the problems they have as any married couple would have are put in a perspective many would not notice in their life. How much of external forces stir up simple problems into a disaster in day to day life of a family. In the absence of Abel, Chris and Lisa would at least get an opportunity to hear each other out best but the situation he puts on becomes threatening for their marriage.

If Samuel L. Jackson dominates the script which lets you a slit wide into this mad man, then the work of Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington is the soul of the emotions. Director Neil LaBute wants the audience to be them and Wilson and Washington not only does that but makes us love these two people who cannot be more perfect to each other through the unstressed smiles and slanted concerns. The reason “Lakeview Terrace” becomes the fear and the social pain Jackson brings in is due to these two performances.

Abel while a pure prick can be empathized as a single father and a hard working policeman coming from racial toughness and tolerance for all these years. But he steps up to twisted and scheming methods to make his neighbour’s life a misery. That demarcates him into something else. The way it ends might not comfort but that is the intention. Because in this mixed emotion of his cruel tendencies and care for his kids, we are lost on the agony of unable to educate this man on friendly co-existence. It is even more unsettling when he knows what his problem is and yet he keeps on doing what he did.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Ghost Town" (2008) - Movie Review

It is indeed great to see talents extracting terrific materials out of the old churned in sappy romance plots. It is greatly comforting that there is no such thing as exhaustion of a material too. Anything can be done again and again every time birthing into a fresh novel script on right hands. The first human to see a ghost in my life would Whoopi Goldberg in “Ghost” working merely out of annoyance from Patrick Swayze character. And we have seen that setup being used either as a subplot or the main in rather irritating films. Now say the name of this film “Ghost Town” a bit loud. What do you think? I agree. It does sound “distilled” zillion times of stereotypic comedic ghost film, and distilled out here means worsening proportionally with use. Life is full of surprises though and especially is relishing in films, for me at least.

I know Ricky Gervais through the “The Office” US series fame but have not seen him on works with his original Office and “Extras”. Hence I got exposed to his comedy style only through this film and he is what Jim Carrey is now. May be I did not get to see the “Ace Ventura” of him but one does not mind when something is good as he does in this film. He does not make awkward talks but the pauses are at its height of its stumbling bizarre. And the smiles of that caliber during those intervals are signs which erupts the trade mark wackiness needed for a comedian.

Ricky Gervais plays a misanthropic dentist Dr. Pinkus and they do not dig examples wasting time to show that he does not gives a damn to any one else. They sink right in on the marketed plot which is his sudden sight of dead people after a colonoscopy which makes him die for seven minutes. One such is Frank (Greg Kinnear) a good talker demanding him to break up his widowed wife Gwen (Téa Leoni) and her fiancé Richard (Billy Campbell). Unfinished business->dead people stay-> blah blah, no need for details is the viewer’s mind and so is writer John Kamps and writer/director David Koepp.

Pinkus a terrible people person and as his colleague Dr. Prashar (Aasif Mandvi) says to him in a scene, he got to think why he is a prick and what exactly is the deal. We never know much about that than a hard break up with his girl friend. Gwen is a passionate Egyptologist analyzing in depth details about mummies and their cause of death to learn some thing from it but she is biting herself for the affair Frank had which she knows after his death. What made her husband to opt for another woman is ringing on and on.

As expected Pinkus falls to Gwen in the process to separate the pair and in thinking about it is of no surprise. For whatever he has chosen to be this hard and crowd hating person, a chance he lets some one in to his good side excites him. It makes him a part of something which he avoids at all cost. When Pinkus indirectly with flashing obviousness tells Frank about him being the candidate for wooing Gwen for the strategy, Frank laughs and we know why but soon enough we are proven wrong. He is funny because he wants to be funny and not in the cheesy awkward routine cuteness in romantic comedies. In getting some tips from Frank, Gwen and Pinkus do actually enjoy each other’s company.

They break the convention in the genre as such not making the fiancé a complete undeserving match for the lady. Rather he is a dedicated and true altruist who takes the sadness and pain of the world a bit too seriously. The question arises in Pinkus as it does for us in this of why Frank wants him out of Gwen’s life. These are the little works of unconventional nice dips which sweetens the picture appreciably.

But in the end it becomes the movement of these three characters around each other coherently and complimenting correctly. Kinnear, Gervais and Leoni take it out of the league of numbing exercise into a charming romantic and serious film on its content and characters. So does the necessary supporting characters both for comic and dramatic parts. Look the carefulness in penning something for the surgeon for Pinkus played by Kristen Wiig. I like how she chooses her roles in these bright comedies. Wiig knows that the roles should not be too lengthy to accustom the people of her mannerisms and not too short to be forgetful.

“The Office” label should not stop the non-fans of that from going to this Gervais show. It is not dry and it is not awkward. It is not offensively raunchy nor does the bored to death disgusting graphics which has propped up to be the props for these coming comedies. It has a plot and routine that has been used badly in the films we have seen and they twist to make it palatable. It has the cast simple enough in this light comedy drama to chill us and yet care for these characters. It mainly has a good script and a right direction.

"Igor" (2008) - Movie Review

I have done something terrible which I never did since I started blogging for film reviews. I missed the first ten minutes of “Igor” and hence whatever the perspective I will be sharing will be for the remaining eighty six minutes of the film which is sad because it is a sweet little film targeting the kids and is a fun little trip for the adults who will be accompanying them. With John Cusack voicing the titular character, this is the animated feature which coasts on the line of being cheesy and acts mature in kid’s way to make it perfect for children.

In the darkened world of Malaria is ruled by King Malbert (voice of Jay Leno) preaching evil as the tool for harmony and better life. To celebrate that philosophy he arranges a yearly evil science fair wherein he himself nominates a scientist from his administration to take part. The goal is the battle of the evil invention robots and creatures done by these scientists. In this evil scheming life style as you know have no scarcity for machinating seeking people. One such is Dr. Schadenfreude (voice of Eddie Izzard) stealing ideas from scientists to win the recent past fairs with success. He has a side kick lady (voice of Jennifer Coolidge) who with the aid of different pills transforms to multiple appearances and intrudes the scientist’s den to extract intelligence.

The King’s scientist has the assistant Igor who has no one to consider him as a person that he creates two inventions namely “Brain” (voice of Sean Hayes) and “Scamper”(voice of Steve Buscemi). They are his buddies and he aspires to be a great “evil” scientist himself one day. Situation comes in place wherein his boss is blown off during a dangerous experiment leaving him to do his dream. He builds a monstrous woman who is supposed to be this mistress of evil. Well, it does not turn as it supposed to.

The nice thing about “Igor” is the duration of the film it limits and how it operates swiftly. Nothing is too surprising and too predictable. Everything becomes and happens without many hassles. When “Eva” the monster woman comes out incommunicado and nicety as her propaganda, the land of Malaria has process for faster and better evil quality, an evil brain wash. And the writer Chris McKenna and director Anthony Leondis smartly puts a little homage to Stanley Kubrick’s viciously twisted “A Clockwork Orange” experiment in it. But alas Brain/Brian accidentally changes the channel to James Lipton’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and emerges Eva as an aspiring actress. Nothing scary than that isn’t it?

I guess the greatest winning factor for “Igor” is its simplicity. Its pastoral nature in an uncomplicated screenplay and characters not too sugary and not too dark either. The concept of having a land of evil being the source for survival makes it hard to ride on the plausibility of certain characters to be the way they are but that is the sweetness of them. Some of us are just too naïve to ourselves in telling something who we are not really. It is that character of an open honesty in planning negative attitudes and plans for these innocent Igor and his sidekicks which make it smiley fun.

In this dry land of voluminous films of quality comes “Igor” a small and calculatedly smart presentation of kids. It does not have the marketing strategy of “Wall-E” and it does not stand equal to it either but to its teeny tiny miniscule world of wonderland it takes little steps aware of its capability. In doing so they set a short story with a curt screenplay to have a good fun time along with the kids. (And if you think I have used the “evil” so many times in this review, see the film and then decide who used the word less)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"The Accidental Tourist" (1988) - Movie Classics

How lovely and placid movie “The Accidental Tourist” is. Adapted from the novel of same name by Anne Tyler it has characters as many would mention as “characters” and not in a single moment mock at them but laugh cheerfully at their behavioral characteristics cuddly and empathetically. It runs at a note of such a precise tuning of its tone through characters that when suddenly things start to happen near the end, we feel completely lost and become wanderlust in a different movie. But only do we realize in the end how in subtle comfort cleverness they have tripped into the situation of this Leary character in us.

One of the Leary’s is the film concentrates but it is a film about all the people in it. Macon Leary (William Hurt) is returning from a trip. You see he writes guidebooks for professional travelling men who would hate to be away from home. He advises on not to carry too much of a baggage and have everything of your own, carefully plan yourself, avoid strangers and be with yourself. It sums up Macon for us. He comes back to a gloomy house when his wife Sarah (Kathleen Turner) leaves him. “It seems there need not be any issue at all for problems like this” says Macon to his publisher Julian (Bill Pullman) about his separation. Sarah cannot stand the tightness and unchanged life of Macon after their son Ethan’s death. She loves him but wanted some one who can show the vulnerability of humans.

Macon moves back with his sister Rose (Amy Wright), brothers Charles (Ed Begley Jr.) and Porter (David Ogden Stiers). We understand the nature of Macon when we see his siblings. They are what they are but how they cope with that is the nuances of comedy and learning to accept certain characteristics in people and in us. Macon is numb but not smug, non-reactive but not emotionless. His emotions are what you can term as conditioned. He fights the regular battle what every person does of being steady and staying calm regardless of a situation but he has mastered it with perfection.

He has accepted his son’s loss or so does he tells himself and holds his chin high up for him to move on. He has the face where poetry of melancholy is invisibly written that it feels as if he is telling himself of getting over the pain at every heart beat. He is falling down and in comes a persistent, talkative and flashy personality in the form of a dog trainer Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis) to train Ethan’s remembrance dog Edward. Yes they end up together but not in the traditional formula. Unlike regular run of the mill, Muriel is open and puts her availability in place. In fact Macon openly rejects in the diplomatically appeased manner possible but she brushes it off and tells to think it over. She is sweetly stubborn.

What happens next might turn off some viewers because they might not be able to alert up after the lethargic but deeply emotional part of the film. It takes a little while and we lure the possibility of fantasy and imagination of bottled up Macon but it is not. It is not inconspicuous for Macon to narrate the techniques and facts of planned travelling as he progresses through the life but never do we doubt the placement of it. It is not for melodrama, not for the stirred up crack pot emotion but for the reason for what it is, purely necessary and beautiful.

Macon makes decisions as easily and as casual as possible when Sarah shows up. We are surprised by the decision but that is where we are in for the real moving on of life. The contrast of two people behaving after a grievance and we see the real couple emerge out. And when the problems arise we doubt the possibility of any complete relationship in between three people. What would you do or plan for when people spring up and ripple the life you had built on the stillness of heart?

Director Lawrence Kasdan not alone spot lights on this person’s sorrow and pain but also peels the layer of this gloomy personality for a chance to be who he really is. How did William Hurt manage to pull off this character of lukewarm procedural personality with a passion for his unperturbed emotion? There can be a mistake in reading this character as an emotionally lazy but he is all the more in need of love and comfort. And Hurt walks off easily as it seem to put forward a performance of great treasure. Geena Davis and Kathleen Turner who never meet in person onscreen provide the variation of these two women in different statures to meet this same man and not alone to try to fall in love but make him flinch when he is pinched.

For all the randomness in the decisions of Macon and of many other characters in the film, it is a mild fantasy in retrospect. The people in the film either know or have felt the warmth of love completely. The people who know believe it is the cure for everything while the people who felt knows that it is stepping stone or an imaginary foundation for a bigger world one would imagine. Love as it the feeling of that uniqueness is termed can be the toughest psychological summarization we could figure upon. The success in sustaining it sometimes is so random that you got to have unplanned travels with haphazard packing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Stroszek" (Language - English/German) (1977) - Movie Review

Sometimes you do not even get the slightest teeny tiny objective and the arc it tries to take from a film. Despite its lauds, it would be an excruciating exercise of accumulating frustration and withering of patience when it pursues scene by scene with its snail pace. What is it with this movie? What are these characters jumping out from desolated muddy streets doing the oddest thing possible one could not even imagine in this film? What is Wernor Herzog thinking or what was running on his mind when he made this film? What the heck is “Stroszek” meant to be? I am left with question marks and a passed time of vain.

Apparently Herzog being a naturalistic director casts Bruno S. a real life street musician in two of his films, “The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser” and this being the second one. Not that the acting is unsuitable rather it is more than natural for the character, the film is painful exercise on strange uneventful actions. Bruno Stroszek, an alcoholic and a weird personality is released from prison. In his first encounter he comforts a prostitute Eva (Eva Mattes) from the hands of two rogue and sociopathic pimps. He lets her stay in his apartment which has been guarded by his old neighbour Mr. Scheitz (Clemens Scheitz). These three flee off from Berlin in the fear of being tortured and humiliated by the pimps. Off they go to US of A into the state of Wisconsin where Scheitz’s nephew lives. And you have half the film in hand till this point.

May be I am numb to these eerie screen because I always have similar reaction to movies of Tarkovsky. I do not see poetry in the making but a careful precise attempt in constructing emotional emptiness through characters. They operate like a keyed toy and never stop as they keep on running the momentum of boredom in chains of diligent mundane not in the things they do but the way they carry it. Sure we cannot see or may not even imagine these three strange personalities traveling away from home to a strange land with nil communication (except for Eva who becomes a predictable opportunist). But what is there to meditate in their miserable state? It happens in an utterly lethargic motion of scenes tumbling upon one after another.

Does it mean their sufferings are not justified or to be indifferent? Definitely not. I get the melancholic situation of people in a fix with no clue about their life. Stroszek in my opinion is a troubled person who seems to do nothing but move and talk in uncorrelated sentences. Eva on the other hand is suffering in living with this personality whom she initially has a feeling of being a pet and a temporary cajole factor till she gets her head up above the water. And Scheitz is a grown up Stroszek only to be neater but still muddled in this wonderland behaving chaotically for them. These three does not create sympathy nor do we able to empathize with their situation. It is indeed tragic but the film does not put forth it in a manner which stains us with heavy emotions for these helpless and unpredictable characters.

There are some poetic shots. The inverted reflection of a water filled suspended jar in a prison is one of them. But the ending with dancing chicken cannot be more annoying (mildly entertaining in the start though). Are these the surreal images he wanted to create? It has no effect on its uneven pictures but beats us on what do we need to get out of it. Films are not a straight arrow shooter to unravel the answers and have a purpose or message in it. It is the pleasure of an experience regardless of its end or beginning. It is the movement of the camera amongst the people and the nature surrounding it to provide an opportunity to view a prism of minds on the characters we would miss to meet and the ambience we would not live to see. And understanding it completely, I say that “Stroszek” does not provide it. Beyond the fact of not meeting characters and not seeing those places, it is plainly blunt and irritatingly indifferent.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Righteous Kill" (2008) - Movie Review

The titans of the Hollywood fame of acting Robert De Niro and Al Pacino pairs up for their onscreen showdown where they share the screen together unlike “The Godfather – II” and they do it for a lot more than five minutes than they did in “Heat”. Unlike those two, this is not in the league of it but does not go down the drain completely either. Now let me settle down one thing before we go on this review. For the recent times I have constructed the expectation for the films I view, which is to have none. Even the expectation should be decided during the film. Hence I was not expecting fireworks by these veterans. They sure do ignite the screen but the film is a little behind time, say twenty years.

We see De Niro reading a confession of a kind about the killings he did in his life. It is Turk and he is a cop. He says he has killed fourteen people. He tells about his partner Rooster (Al Pacino) who has always stayed behind his back in decisions both good and bad. Now Turk is a rage maniac on high wire when he sees a criminal and that means a lot. He is controlled and toned down by Rooster who wants the same thing as Turk but in a mature patient manner. They are dragged into the mess when the bad guys are getting killed by a serial killer.

We all know how these two people can flip the smallest of roles into a detailed character in minimal time. So they do it with ease and that sparkle this otherwise out of date screenplay suspense. Writer Russell Gewirtz has found the wrong generation to showcase this film through a cast whom most directors drool to direct. After viewing Jon Avnet’s disastrous “88 Minutes”, I wrote he should redeem himself for Pacino in this film. He does not redeem himself but does a fair justice to the screenplay he was handed.

The current generation has seen more than enough of suspense films. Gone are the days when information was concealed to heighten the curiosity and then jump from a closed door to yell “surprise”. Now a day without sharing information it is a cheap sport game. Rather the audience has expected to be part of this suspense but this is the key which has been forgotten by films like “Righteous Kill” which is to have the substance in arriving it. The suspense is not the film, the screen play is.

Without much expectation, apart from some silly explanations in ending, the film does its job of “entertainment”. It has De Niro spitting profanity we crave to look forward while Pacino does the cool and easy one-liners. Surprisingly there are two supporting roles which would be overlooked by many. John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg match up these giants with a fearless characterization as the other two cops running around to find the killer. Carla Gugino as the hard lover of Turk has an unknown but clearly unnecessary sexual tension. Fortunately it does not flow through much into the film.

It runs as an exercise and has a passion dying right away as soon as we see these two legends on the screen. They sleep walk the material and that is all is needed for a film like this. De Niro and Pacino have seem to long taken retirement from dramatic films. True that they have done countless spectacular roles but when you see talents take easy shots and walk by, there is a sense of being put down. What they do and be contended is theirs but on the looks of the recent history, their choices of roles looks to be long away from the roles they could take upon.

“Righteous Kill” does not provide any moral or conscious scale to weigh either. If you take away the sexual encounter of Turk, both of them have an absent personal life. They are laborious in being cops but the moral dilemma in either of those is simply handled. You do not need a plot twist for two veteran cops at the edge of their retirement deal with their outlook on right and wrong. All it needs are wonderful actors and a screenplay having sense of its time and people. “Righteous Kill” gets the former and misses later.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Burn After Reading" (2008) - Movie Review

Having stellar film cast, Joel and Ethan Coen venture from their dark “No Country for Old Men” to darkly comic “Burn After Reading” which needs a mind set to go without any clue. That would not help a lot but would be the best thing when the end comes. Because as the characters does one idiotic thing after another without thinking of consequences, we wonder what in the hell does CIA want from this and then it all makes sense in an ending of such kind that you leave on a very high note. It is definitely the high note George Costanza describes and uses in one of the “Seinfeld” episodes. Always leave the room when the high impression remark is declared a success. Well, Coen brothers have so much trust on their ability and its performers J.K. Simmons as CIA Superior and subordinate executive Palmer (David Rasche) to close with their conversation and finish triumphantly.

A CIA employee Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) whose job we are unaware when we meet is demoted by Palmer. We want the outburst we expect out of Malkovich to go profane. The anticipation is served well by him and then we see his unfaithful wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) and her lover Harry Pfarer (George Clooney). Osborne decides to write a memoir of his CIA experience while Katie plans for divorce and in its first phase decides to copy all the information Cox has to a CD for her attorney’s perusal. It lands somehow in the hands of gym employees Chad (Brad Pitt) and an overly insecure Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand). While Linda plans a black mail so that she can do several cosmetic procedures to be front on the internet dating market, Chad’s motivation is purely an act of idiocy. Well, the idea itself is an epitome of idiocy.

But wait, it boils with all these characters in a crack pot of paranoids, stalking, breaking and entering, accidental killings and planned killings. Brad Pitt oozes out his character with so full of it. He shrinks his eyes and talks in cold voice while calling Osborne to extort money. Osborne floods Chad and Linda with showers of profanity. That scene works entirely because of Brad Pitt’s facial expression. He is clueless, does not even know what he wants or what the point he is making out of it. Linda comes with driven nonsense of being commanding. She thinks she is taking control of the situation and when Osborne goes ruthless, she drives to Russian Embassy to trade the secret. How about that for height of ignorance?

The sporadic but copious stupidity of these people does not make any sense for the story. Constantly we wonder where they are going with it. What is the rebuttal in this story which has people just do what they want to without a single idea of how it is going to hit or turn back to them. Pretty much that’s the feeling the directors put across to the viewers. And the discussion inside the CIA office does not make sense but voices similar opinions we have in a highly eloquent manner. They become the critic of these events of befuddlement and chaos. That ignites the film.

We can all argue about the necessity of such a big cast for a film like this but why not. And every one does not alone have fun but bring a particular form of adamant foolishness for their character. The only man who makes to sense and be rational is Ted (Richard Jenkins) but it is a matter of time for him to be sucked in by his crush for Linda. It is a cast well managed and well placed.
The film while appears to take a puzzled approach is due to the curious eye for finding the plot. The plot though is none and it is those height of erratic whimsical scenes which mocks its film and out of it is the striking winning blow for the Coens. Clooney and Pitt play the good looking men with unbelievably crazy instincts. They are vulnerable in the easiest manner possible but pose the appearance of personalities who can keep the talking and the party going on. Their absence of sense becomes a comedy making people believe they are mimicking some one else.

Seeing “Burn After Reading”, I seriously questioned what does CIA has to do now? Sure they have enemies but not like olden days. In a world of deception the awareness of their behaviour becomes the paranoid. Even if one declares jokingly of their knowledge of knowing something without any idea at all, the cloud of clandestine conspicuousness surfaces. It can never be solved as the nature of the operatives is to have constant doubt. So to leave it is not an option and to investigate it will not suffice and hence the only thing left is what the character of J.K. Simmons is always happy to hear about which is eliminate the person of doubt. While every time he is slightly surprised, he definitely is relieved. May be because it is one less person to worry about.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"The Fall" (2008) - Movie Review

If not for anything else “The Fall” should be watched for its rich vegetation of fantasy. Tarsem Singh the director of the film in his first feature film the spectacularly overlooked “The Cell” was an exhibition of vivid and visceral nightmares. In this it is the colours of a child and a grown man with pain and purpose. “The Fall” is not a thriller like “The Cell” rather it is a tale of two people trying to tease each other with their story telling and form a friendship.

A bridge with a steam engine and something is lifted from the water body under it. A horse drenched and this picture is shot in monochrome. That will be the only extensive concentrated photography for the reality part of the film. The rest of the luxurious paintings of frames will happen in the imagination of the stuntman Roy (Lee Pace) or the little girl Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) in the same hospital. I use “or” because despite Roy narrating the story to her, it is never said whose images are those. In fact “and” depicts it right as both begin to mingle their stories and events around the hospital into this adventure.

Now having said it is a visual spectacle, the film as such has wafer thin script in terms of drama or plot. While it develops this relationship between the girl and the man devastated by his lost love, it is all a tool to stage this parade of dreamy sequences. Unique would find it tough to encompass as a word for this presentation which forms out of the narration. Never before we have seen deserts like this, may be we have but not the splashes of bright colours too perfect for reality or for that case fantasy. If we get a correct lens for our dreams, the best fantastical pieces, then this would be it.

Singh with cinematography by Colin Watkinson sometimes trumps his own creation scene by scene and keeps on surprising us. To move his time in the dreadful mundane hospital and the hidden agenda of getting the morphine pills, Roy invites Alexandria to his story of five legends. These five have a common enemy Governor Odius and they travel the real places set in the land of swimming elephants, butterfly shaped islands, palace in the middle of lake, blue city and natural sceneries captured in artificial settings of excellence in creativity are some of the few places Tarsem takes us in. What the story takes through soon gets lost in these mesmerizing, murky and moody skies and costumes.

We have seen a kid’s locked mind liberate into an escape from reality in “Pan’s Labyrinth” which is visually appealing in its own way. The missing part in this picture will be the element of emotions. And let me not overlook the fact of the true calling of emotions in last confrontation of Alexandria with Roy but immersed in these visuals, we lose ourselves to the possibility of realism in the hospital. Roy a young man popping pills over a lady love seems out of place and in a way unsuitable for the heavy connection the film beckons.

Sometimes the poetry of the film in its art of reproducing images from our sleeps blankets the requirements of a story. It can shade that essential part but beyond those colours, there needs to be substance. “The Fall” has it but it does not have the mass it could have had. The little cute girl played by Catinca is the winner in acting department. First she does not act and she clearly communicates with the actor Lee Pace. And that helps the story as the strange gap between these two characters is the human element of this film. Secondly it charms the innocence out of her in a carefree atmosphere. There is never a moment where things are made up or melodramatic with a nice kid in place.

When I saw “The Cell”, it was the most unusual film I have ever seen during that period. I was waiting for this immaculate illusionary creator for his second venture and the only thing I regret of this is that I was not able to see it over the big screen. It clearly fulfills its destiny only when it is viewed on how it supposed to be seen. Despite my dissatisfaction with the emotional part of the film, it is by far the greatest visual film I have seen so far. Sometimes the most extraordinary thing in a film becomes the great reason to see it hiding its small misses. In “The Fall”, there are dragging misses but it should not stop any one from viewing this art at its pinnacle of imagination.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Recount" (TV) (2008) - Movie Review

“Every vote needs to be counted”, Ron Klain, the man leading the democratic recounting team says where at one point crosses the political stand point of getting a victory for Al Gore but to really know the winner of the election. Kevin Spacey plays the fighting character starting from being sidelined in the campaign and coming back as the marching leader to contest for desperately getting the recount in the 2000 Presidential Election. In that staging of systems failing and falling apart emerges the political thriller film. Even when we exactly know the result, the internal success and defeats are still surprising and works as a suspense thriller.

It follows the tooth and nail fight by both the republicans and democrats literally turning into a table war for the throne of the White House. It has Bob Balaban as Ben Ginsberg along with an always powerful performer Tom Wilkinson as James Baker, the ring leader for the legal team for republicans while along with Ron Klain is Denis Leary as Michael Whouley in the democrat’s campaign. As the nation hears George W. Bush as its President, the reports does not match and the scene when the team tries to stop Al Gore in conceding is thrilling. The film has lots of those.

How they align up their warriors for the fight of this is cut shot back and forth by director Jay Roach. Warren Christopher (John Hurt) comes in for democrats and is the only member seeing the country as such and trying the means to be perfect and clean in this battle. In complete contrast come James Baker with all his ammunitions, gears, legalities, fireworks, paperclips and whatever his hand could grab to come hard with no mercy for his fellow opponents in this situation. Every body with white ironed shirt and perfectly tie knot, roll up their sleeves and allow the air in their loosened up collar as it is going to go all the way down.

What happened during that dreadful time of democracy going in shambles has its favouring hand for both the parties through the players such as Katharine Harris (Laura Dern), as the Secretary of State of Florida and US Supreme Court for republicans and Florida Supreme Court for democrats. But what the film takes on is how it never had the intention of seeing it straight as an idealist would say. Warren Christopher was seen as the soft ball player with no fiery attack as that of his opposition but his is the long term prospect and a real follower of the constitution which had its stake and got broken in this turmoil.

Jay Roach gets the cast and gets it right. Laura Dern will be the show stealer in this flooded cast presenting the woman who took the infamous decisions and statements in that times. Roach takes us through the conference rooms, glass doors with personal ears, coffee talks, smoke talk, phone conference, and moment of short lived big victories and the disaster of the so called largest democratic country in the world. At the end of it James Baker says that tanks did not arrive on the streets which are indeed true other than some aggressive protestors ready to break apart the recount procedures outside the election office. It never can be done right would be the argument but the effort never was done to get it right too.

Now with eight years passed, George Bush being re-elected in 2004 and being the man of the jokes for the late night show hosts, is it the right thing which happened? I guess the question was not about the leader but about the system. How the system got dissected in this close contest and how dirty and to the extent both of the team went on. An old quote is that you should never argue with an idiot as he/she might stoop you down to his/her level and win the argument as they are experts in their turf. Idiot may be a harsh word but it can be substituted with playing aggressive politics.

In the final moments when Ron Klain still clings on to give one more shot to this hard fought lost war, the voice of Al Gore over phone says, “I can’t win. Even if I win, I can’t win”. A man who has had it enough with the games for which he went on till he could and finally succumbed to the reality of not alone the fiasco of the system but the possibility in the decline of one’s conscience.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Aamir" (Language - Hindi) (2008) - Movie Review

If only for the very slow predictable motion around the culminating moment, “Aamir” is a tight film with an honest outlook on the preconceived notions developing towards the media news about bombs rooting in India. But more than that is the inch of life in streets, roads and gullies of the Mumbai city. One would not nearly have seen the places in close and with a passionate anger towards this city as director Raj Kumar Gupta has. How one can be manipulated and how it is perceived upon is becoming the bone of contention in films but to take moment about the person who the media says is the culprit is never given a benefit of doubt.

The titular character played by Rajeev Kandelwal comes to Mumbai from London. He is a doctor and with the new immigration policies in UK, he is coming back to homeland after three years. He gets the regular treatment from the customs official and sees the discrimination on two levels. One obviously is the fact of being a Muslim but the other is the discrimination of being an outsider by choice. He has chosen to leave the country and in that become an outsider or an opportunist as it termed. Honestly it is the factor of jealousy which emerges from it. He shrugs it off to see his family waiting outside only to be left stranded as a stranger in homeland. He goes to make a call when two people in a motorbike races and throws him a mobile. From there on he is given instructions to save his family from the hands of a religious fanatic.

There are three prominent things which is not only novel but also tells the aesthetic sense of the director and mainly his uncompromising attribute in presenting it. First is making the city a character, second is making the passer by people as a representation of the situation Aamir is in and the finally the music by Amit Trivedi. Raj Kumar Gupta takes away the Juhu beach or the cosmopolitan region of the city.

Gupta takes us right into the depths of the poverty driven line the films scares to take. I can identify the places because it reminded me of my very first visit to Mumbai. At the age of sixteen and haven’t travelled out of the state, Mumbai is the furthest north of India I went on and it is in the southern part of India. I and my brother were chauffeured by our dad’s assistant and family friend whose wife grew up in Mumbai. She severely warned about the basic amenities missing at her place and we had no idea what is out there and with a complacent attitude brushed those aside. We reached their house in Dharavi. People from Mumbai might know this right away but these are the slum part of the Mumbai. The facilities were next to nothing and the basic requirements of rest room were paid for which you got to walk a mile. The immediate “free” public rest room is something to be not imagined and Raj Kumar Gupta does not shy to put it across the screen. The London returned Aamir is asked to discover clues and craps in those dungeons.

That experience may have constituted a lot in identifying with Aamir’s nightmares. While we both were looked after amazingly well by the people out there, things are not so good for Aamir. The man who moves him like a puppet calls him an escapist and how come he being a Muslim has not even thought about serving his faith and people. And Aamir gives it right back not in speeches but in terse honest opinions. But those are not going to change his plans for the day.

We want him to do heroic things. Aamir wants him to do heroic things. When he is in a hotel room looking on a discovery program of hunting of deer by lions, he smiles when the deer escapes and we expect him to take action. Raj Kumar Gupta teases us with those and immediately says what Aamir can do nothing other than to oblige the commands. The camera looks on the people staring at Aamir with contempt for unknown reasons. The stare is to wonder towards this well dressed man not belonging to this place. What Aamir sees are those faces which ogle him with suspicion, curious and may be surveillance. This paranoid what Aamir goes through is what the audience encounter in guessing an outlet for this poor character.

In spite of such a truthful film, “Aamir” takes its moments of predictability and mainly a lot of slow motion. It does not mean that the effects did not make an impression at the start but it seemed unnecessary and if I may add, mildly dramatized for the tone of the film so far. Gupta poses a view that he desperately wanted the film to elongate and fulfill a period he had in mind. Till then the close up shots and the reaction time of the character made sense and unpredictable but when the time came for it to close up, it became a couch potato. Regardless the ending is disturbing and puts forth the question of innocence of an instigator in a calamity.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

"Hellboy" (2004) - Movie Review

Guillermo Del Toro’s visions are appreciatively bizarre. He creates the bizarreness through these grotesque creatures in appearance but a unique soul in each to overcome to alter the perspective based on their character as we see them in action. Del Toro really seems to get the superficial life we lead to give a peek in to the imagination of his minds of doom, destruction and a damn lot wit. Rising from the comic book by Mike Milogna, “Hellboy” is like “X-Men” wide apart in characterization.

During World War-II, Hitler has deviously planned to marvel in the collaboration of science and black magic to grant him the power he obsessed. Hence through his assassin Karl Ruprecht Kroenen (Ladislav Beran) seeks a man named Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) and opens the channels to awaken a deadly monster to bring in the end of the world. In the process of disruption, the US army with the help of young Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm (Kevin Trainor) stops that and a little demon emerges out of the other side of the world to be known as Hellboy. Sounds cheesy through each letter in paragraph, isn’t it? Del Toro is the X factor for novelty in this routine.

As years pass by with Hellboy now all grown up is played by Ron Perlman who I have seen in some movies sparsely, as the villain written on his forehead. Here he dismisses the opportunity for any other actor to represent this Red man. He is grown but is like a kid with cockiness as his potion for motivation. He aids the FBI through the department of paranormal activities and defense. There exists other people with similar special abilities, one of them is called Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) resembling a fish dressed in scuba outfit and has immense sensation of the surroundings and senses. Also there is Liz (Selma Blair) who has secluded herself from the bureau in order to maintain her sanity of going pyro-crazy (which is her power). Hellboy loves her and that part is dealt with a profound maturity not boggling it with melodramatic awkward pauses of romance.

Del Toro knows the line up of super hero and special powered beings films made with the concentration on their existence to fit in this society. In looking on most of these films, it is always the question of mingling normally. Not being gawked at for appearing otherwise from the crowd. It is a wide view of such the people reacting on the outlook and being accepted. To have a life of regularity as one might call it. But it is to prove something else to some one of their affection. To say that they fit the normality of living as the humans have defined and I can be there for you to like me but mainly love me. This is where it lies upon anywhere one goes and lives. Hellboy is one among those people who appear and may behave different from the clan of monotonous guidelines of humans for seeking an embrace of love.

Ron Perlman’s lines of wit are crackers of simple eloquence suiting the situation and the body language of this character is much beyond than perfection. The character obviously is cocky and wants advertisement of his dexterity in performing the task of hunting down the monsters these big officials fear to near. At the same time, his affection for his father Broom (John Hurt) is immense and obedient. He becomes a small boy in fear and loyalty towards him when he knows his behaviour has caused concern to his pop. To nanny and keep Hellboy in sight comes John Myers (Rupert Evans), a young lad not alarmed but curious to know these people’s purpose and behaviours.
End of day it is a visual film. With the entire budget he has got, Del Toro goes crazy like a kid finally getting the right equipments to paint on big screen than in his brains. The stunts are choreographed with uber graphics and routine scenes but the one-liners make it worthwhile. But more than graphics is the make up department whose intense details astonished me. The way we are able to separate blood on this Red man and make gooey creatures, eggs and what not with a tolerance to sustain through it while appreciating the art of its creation are purely spectacular.

I did not watch the sequel “Hellboy: The Golden Army” since I was waiting for this to arrive. Hence I missed the action on big screen which is tragic since I missed “Hellboy” over the screen too. Yet what makes “Hellboy” series is not that alone but the witty, adventurous, imaginative and surprising screenplay with characters and a genuine emotion existing with each other. Del Toro went ahead to make the brilliant “Pan’s Labyrinth” about the girl who may or may not be guided by a fawn and missions. Seeing “Hellboy” gives more information on how the girl’s imaginative character has been structured. None other than the creator himself, Guillermo Del Toro.

"Hamlet 2" (2008) - Movie Review

An overly enthusiastic and dramatic failed actor after facing so many rejections and mocking would be numb and indifferent to the surroundings of constant heckling. He would be terribly hurt inside but it no longer surfaces and habituates in ignoring it so conveniently wherein it not only gives the pleasure to the mocker but to him in moving on with his life. Steve Coogan’s Dana is one such and he goes through mockery personally as devastation and who knows is a bad actor. Dana’s attempt to come up with an original play is a sequel or more exactly pre-mid-quel (with whatever of the play we see) of the “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare.

Unknown about the “Hamlet” and its plot is not going to hinder any one in following the film. The movie connects on its right lines early in the movie and sinks down along with the time. It has one ending piece of fun as a musical yet collectively it evens up the missing factor of sense and laughs as it recedes. Despite that, Steve Coogan gives his heart and soul to this character. A man passionate about acting and has beaten down the path of trying and being rejected he believes that his teachings of the so much he knows to the future generation would help his life live a little peacefully.

The film narrates as a screenplay saying how Dana’s dreams chose Tucson to die permanently. A dry town with nothing up the prospect of art vibrancy but Dana with his loyal two students Rand Posin (Skylar Astin) and Epiphany Sellars (Phoebe Strole) puts up yearly play for people who seem to have got lost in the desert. But what hurts him more is the school critic a kid (Shea Pepe) who rips the play and performance quite thoughtfully and logically. He goes in confronting and learns actually lot to be motivated for the next year. Their scenes play so well wherein it migrates from the realm of being funny with a thoughtful advice from a kid way out of his age.

On that note of the kid’s suggestion Dana goes back to write something of his own. The “creative process” as they say title is where we laugh out loud crazily. And the resultant is the “Hamlet 2” where he is so convinced on his play and mainly his instincts. Take this; Jesus guides Hamlet through a time machine so that he can undo the tragedy of the play. Now it draws all the ammunition for offending everything which is controversial. We see little of the play but Dana is as serious about in his play and that is simultaneously funny and interesting.

Coogan gives a drama man oozing awkwardness and a smile of blush and bamboozled tangoing side by side for Dana. The film innovative all through its way just fizzes out the content and the tempo in the final act. They segment the movie with Act 1, 2 making it a spoof cum a new look for a comic film. And the best part is seeing Elisabeth Shue as herself giving a pseudo fictionalized version of her. In “Hamlet 2” she has given up acting and decided to be a nurse in the city of Tucson. And Dana excited on his high heels invites her for his class and one of the students Ivonne (Melanie Diaz) asks what she misses in acting. You can see Shue loosening up and having fun in a different part of her.

Catherine Keener as Dana’s wife is first a look up for the motivator when he is down but stumps us with a weird connection along with Dana and later coming on totally different. I am not sure whether she is the one for this role but she does it in her style. Her factor of surprising easily the audience coming out of this stay at home wife who effortlessly loosens up to a degree of likeability in unlikeable behaviours of her.

Director Andrew Fleming is a promising talent. The idea is ludicrous enough to make it to go through the slight underplayed third act. Till then Steve Coogan makes sure we see through the film and constantly provides the funny bone when needed. What I hoped was that the film elevates itself as it goes towards the showdown of the play. Instead we see glimpses of it which is fine since it is just a cover for the character of Dana. And with ample supporting cast, “Hamlet 2” is not a downer but gave more promising outlook which it does not hold well enough to sustain.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Primer" (2004) - Movie Review

“Primer” is a paradox of itself that every time you think to figure out on how the heck the logic works, you are stuck and befuddled. But something interesting is happening and something definitely unique. I for one could never figure out the entire happenings in it but it is a curious experience. May be it is the appreciation for a person laborious in his presentation and his arduous work visible over the film. He is Shane Caruth who with a budget of 7000$ took the role of actor, writer, director, producer and composing music, gives a film very highly technical in script and vision.

A group of garage geeks Abe (David Sullivan), Aaron (Shane Caruth), Robert (Casey Gooden) and Philip (Anand Upadhyaya) are doing a part time passionate science project. Abe and Aaron clearly seem to do something greater and hence cut out the two others. When you get into lunch with a group of Engineers it might get awkwardly boring. Because without their knowledge they tend to be in the mode of self centered science obsession which results in the negation of a friendly social communication. Hence the separated geek cult with a social loser tab on their head exists in their parallel universe. Mostly in films they are depicted as intelligent no gainers. In “Primer” they are the film. There is no effort to tone the techie terms down by Shane Caruth which might annoy some one but that is the fun. They describe an unknown device they are building for which we are curious to see it finally while the characters are obsessively curious and tense on what does it going to do. They indeed see what it can do which is where the mother of paradoxes and confusion starts to happen both in the film and for the viewers.

What is unique about the “Primer” is their dauntless display of dialogues and surprisingly sharp performance from new, young and may be a lot inexperienced actors. Every one makes a debut and Sullivan and Caruth is a pair of chemistry personalities where we believe their brainiac adherence to each other. Each not only knows each other’s technical move but they compliment each other on that which is where their friendship gets content and fulfilled. That completes them because their technical universe is their personal universe and everything intertwined around it. Wife, girl friend, friends, work and everything.

And the discovery of their accident is the riddle which keeps on building for us to be solved. What are they talking? What have they discovered? Is it going to be a moral dilemma to succumb to the moguls of machine world? Anxiety keeps the film running on high wire and never stops. Perplexity grows proportionally along with it but it never ceases the screenplay at all. It is pure work of honesty in details and done if I may say brutally ruthless to their imagination. It does not condescend because it is their realm. Being a mathematician and engineer himself, Caruth just plays his field perfect.

So what are all this bewildered expressions I am talking about? What are these paradoxes? Well, when Abe and Aaron begin to venture their time over a possibility in finding a solution of super conductivity, a phenomenon happens which makes time travel possible. Now do not jump into the conclusion that we have seen it done badly in lot of films from the time of silent films. It is not the blockbuster summer action but a genuine intelligent concept. It comes with strings attached for the travel and being who they are. Being the engineers they are, they go back and begin to alter their past to perfection and that result in their disintegration of personal life and also the friendship between them.

I was wondering what it all meant. Where are these doubles they talk about and what in the end they do in correcting those? How do they correct it? It never made sense at all but there is a proof somewhere in it. It is how some one comes up with algorithm logic design for software to tell for an example with which I can feebly associate. Some where in the process of finding the solution, one would have thought through and worked over it in their head and when it comes down to writing down over the paper or implementing it, some thing is wrong. It would be a simple correction and getting to it is agonizing. Sometimes it never does arrive and the design goes back to start from scratch again. “Primer” will be like that and may be it can be solved but it would take a long time in reiterations. The thing is, it is fun doing it and that makes “Primer” a very tightly made intelligent film.