Monday, June 30, 2008

"A Clockwork Orange" (1971) - Movie Review

In today’s corporate recruitment procedures behavioral interview constitutes a deciding round for selecting a candidate. It is a series of questions for which the candidate tells an incident or an event which would be guiding factor for the interviewers to analyze and judge his personality by his past, his attitude in particular. How much better a new lock gets invented, there would emerge a method from locksmith to crack it with time and practice. It is the same with these and forming stories and telling what the interviewers want to hear can be mastered to perfection. For a time period, they alter their attitudes and behaviours in order to achieve their goal of winning the job. The psychoanalysis has gained so much of attention in determining of a candidate to perform in a team, as a team. Does the same can be applied to exist in the society? Does the criminal can be mastered of their attitude and rehabilitated by prison or is there a serum and psychoanalytical procedure that can bend the inclination for violence and sexual aggression into pain and sickness when he/she attempts those? “A Clockwork Orange” is a cold attempt in precisely giving that.

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of novel of same name by Anthony Burgess is a neo Shakespearean play with pompous dialogues spitted out from the vicious character of Alex (Malcolm McDowell). He is a teen with a taste for mob violence and classy ears for Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony which would later turn to be his weapon of death. With a lovely home environment and parents naïve enough to believe he is sick for bunking schools, nights are his pleasure periods. Leading his team of young sociopaths, he beats up homeless old man, wars against rival clan, rapes and sweetly drinks the milk potion in a bar with an art galore to repel and appreciate simultaneously on its interior design. It is right away known that Alex is an unsympathetic and unbelievably psycho-chaosed teen when the camera fixes on his face with those eyes of hypnotic deviousness and pans away to his whole gang.

In circle of his arrogance and ego, his buddies sabotage to get him caught while he bludgeons a lady in a health farm. He goes to prison for murder and after two years of dipping wicked smiles to accept religion as his trump card for escape; he lands in the hands of an experiment. It is a cruel experiment which makes him watch violent sexual films with a drug shoot up. His eye lids are tied up so that he cannot shut it away. So whenever he is on the verge of violence or sexual aggression, he goes into the sickness which would drive him to surrender and thereby making him “good”. How this is going to affect his rejoining with the real world? Whatever it might be, it would be interesting to see.

What the film does is drive us away using its emotional vacuum. Not because of Alex’s unmerciful acts but by the other characters. If only there is a clear indication of some goodness in the film, it would be his parents. But their expressions are so mechanical that we indeed wonder whether that is one reason for this boy’s social insolence. Amongst the moody and misty tints of layered chaos, it loses us as soon as the face of Alex reeks out such immense force of brutality against the order of existence to detach that string of expression which keeps a viewer to the screens.

“A Clockwork Orange” despite is a daring exhibition of an arduous artists uncompromising skill. Kubrick places the elements of sexuality in a raw form which spats up on the screen. It has a lyrical arrogance to it which perplexes us. Anything stranger and especially sexual is an alarm bell for reclusion and rejection instantly. That does not make this maker to stop it. He dares the viewer as Alex to look into these provocations and digs the introspection for a wild ride.

I neither love nor hate “A Clockwork Orange”. It is one of those films which baffles you for words and has a story telling in solidarity of images and expressions powerful yet pressing. It picks up the pressure points of delicacy with an iron force and rips it from the veins, except there is no reality but a visual visceral jitter in brains and skins. Whatever said on its fierce nature of story telling in 1971 which does not loses its property after thirty seven years is a film to shake the balance, if there were any. But as any film which tries to be anti-violence becomes the most violent films of those times and that catching up on this film is not a shocker. Then again Kubrick does not intend as anti-violence but a simple dissection of human flexibility and rigidness to the nature of choices and behaviour. While I might not like the film, it creates a respect. Women will be offended, men will be ashamed but the back bone of the film is the human attitude which has the capability to be changed, only by him/her.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"WALL•E" (2008) - Movie Review

“WALL•E” in its presentation is a form of silent film and it has two electromechanical beings developing emotions similar to humans. Pixar’s new creation and director Andrew Stanton’s work after “Finding Nemo” has a peculiar approach in “WALL•E”. Apart from the imaginative visuals and a spectacular screenplay, the film is given in the form of an auto focus camera. Its lull moments are nothing and with full gear on this geeky cuteness of this worker bee robot, “WALL•E” is the summer film for the family.

In the far ahead future of our earth is a lonely robot WALL•E (robotic voice of Ben Burtt) building boxes out of garbage and piles of it becoming an architectural structure. It has survived the deactivation of rest of his compatriot versions and even an emotionless robot longs for company. It has a cockroach pet which again is a micro mechanical device with a wit of its liking towards this worker. They wander like a happy family and do the boring monotonous work of arranging and disposal of the waste. It sees an old classic film of a couple holding hands and that is taken as the indication of love for him. Now all he needs is his love.

One fine bright day lands a space object to put a white egg shaped angel robot with blue digital eyes which scans things amongst the dirt. Soon both the devices meet up and catch up. WALL•E goes bongos for his new “lady” robot EVE. It is beauty and geek for these androids. In his den of residence, WALL•E presents her with his new found material, a plant. This triggers her command system and we learn that EVE is Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. Her job is to detect the vegetation and report to the far ahead space ship provided by a giant consumer market seven hundred years ago.

See the earth got consumed itself in the consumer existence by the giant company aptly called BuyNLarge. The same company took off to space with lot of earth members into its full automated space resort. No one walks and each person has a traveling bean bag glued to a projected visual of chatting and entertainment. Food are made into drinks and the resultant is bunch of lethargic obese people in the AXIOM space ship where WALL•E chases to rescue EVE.

It is a challenge for the creators in physical comedy. Dialogues are next to nothing and the sounds of communication between WALL•E and EVE are scrambled robotic speeches with each other calling their names umpteen times, which never gets boring and resonates the sweetness in these two. In a digitized system of enormous opportunities of made up run downs and comedic eventualities, “WALL•E” develops into a plot of substance and entertainment.

These two characters entirely take the story line with other side kicks having their boxes of material arranged for the screen. WALL•E will be adored by kids and the irony will be that corresponding toys, video games and advertisement would have already basked through super markets and outlet stores. The Captain‘s (voiced by Jeff Garlin) numbness in all these years with excellent slaves of comfort and the knowledge kicking the instincts of the human quality makes us wonder the possibilities of our extension in this current luxurious environment.

As the reviews are raving about the film, I would take couple of steps back and see what the whole some value of this film is. The film does not in anyway make compromises in either technical or creative department. It works with the passion the team has brought upon in previous ventures. Given that, “WALL•E” is a film I had fun and quite extraordinarily woven a futuristic science fiction romance animated feature with great success. While the charts go off on this, “WALL•E” did not entirely cover me with the zeal what “Ratatouille” gave. But it is unfair to compare it with that as the individual film characteristic represents each of its own. It is a cute little robot story with a doubtless heart for family audience.

"Wanted" (2008) - Movie Review

How many times you have gone into a theater with notion of hating the movie? I guess not. How many times have you decided to judge a film by its trailer? Always. “Wanted” is a film I judged by its trailer and went in to hate it. And I was quite successful in doing that for a sufficient number of times and then I realized in the mean time. I am not bored or irritated or condescended. I am having fun of this pure adrenaline rush with defying plausibility of everything in this film. At the end of it, I completely got caught in to this insanely violent and ridiculously designed super hero stunts. What happened to me? I could not properly explain but let me make an attempt.

There is this “Fraternity” found thousand years ago when guns were not yet made its presence but the extremists of eliminating the “bad” people are omnipresent in individuals though. In this clan, there are “selected” few with super hero instincts and capabilities. Some of that would be bending gravity and come unscathed. If scathed, there is the bath of healing. Cut to current world with boring people and one of those will be the loser in identity crisis, Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy). A dude with serious problem of getting pushed over to be screwed around in work by his obese boss (Lorna Scott) with the title of Account Manager and in personal life by his girl friend (Kristen Hager) and best friend Barry (Chris Pratt).

Rules of cinema speak that his reincarnation should be coolest, meanest and bloodiest man by getting absorbed in to Fraternity for avenging his dad. Reason, do we need one? Blow up, shoot up and do cool stunts. They get orders from “fate” or who knows on a coded fabric, says the Sloan (Morgan Freeman) to assassinate. Why? Again, do we need one? Alright, it is to set “balance” and avoid chaos, as if the current earth is in complete order. But lets us bring the lovely vixen Fox (Angelina Jolie) to have the violent sexual tension along the twisting bullets and jumping cars, you get one of the most ancient form of action entertainment done million times. Yet, “Wanted” survives those clichés. Alas, it worked on speechless level. When Wesley questions the morality of this killing, Fox explains the cause and effect of killing one to save thousands. Yes, the very old greater good but what happened to the thousands they kill in the wrecked train, buses, countless cars and the missed bullets? For the zillionth time, do we need a reason?

“Wanted” is not the category wherein it is so bad that it becomes good fun. It seriously creates a side to side on in the end. But clearly its driving factor is the brainless chases and fights orchestrated in a manner I might hate myself saying this, to appreciate. The simplicity and the agility in which Jolie’s Fox lays down to avoid the tunnel on top of a fast moving train and the mere power presence she makes is fabulous. McAvoy gets the job of transforming from nobody in to this fearless man yet boyish in his charm and stylish in his execution.

The film is been adapted from a miniseries comic book by Mark Millar. It does not become a comic bookish in the environment but in the powers. The film deserving its R-rating pumps the energy in all the right senses. Since the idea of assassins is morally tips off the viewers to have a doubt on this clan, so does Wesley. The film which I insisted does not have lot of reasons for its behaviour acts on one in the end. And I was stunned by the placement of it when the mind has attuned to the flying gravity and intelligent ignorance to the viewers.

Director Timur Bekmambetov debuts in the Hollywood whose previous films are in Russian language. The neatness of the script is the placement of the scenes. It does not get embarrassed in the openly declared idiotic flying stunts but takes pride in the shot of the kinetics it provides with sufficient beauty. Something similar in the violence and graphically choreographed stunts was done in “Shoot em Up” which I got bored after a point. “Wanted” is in the same category but it limits when it knows. The film’s protagonist constantly questions his existence and identity which is not the case of the screenplay. It is more than aware of the people’s view on their Physics defying glamour and a plot weaved blatantly with big holes. And in making peace with their film making, they have escaped a death blow and amazingly used that force to lift up the film.

“Wanted” is mindless action film which does not pretend to be real. And when it tries to be real, it exists in the universe it created. These kinds of movies surprise me and I wonder within on what caused me to like this brainless flick. More than that, I have been questioned by friends on the scale level I put on each film. I have been said to take high pedestal on very many films and if that is the case, “Wanted” would have been thrashed to many levels. I believe the standard is set by the film itself, how moderately financed or has a bar low set for itself. I might not be able to come up with set of rules to define those but it floats in the film. “Wanted” is an example on a film which can be entered with preconceived notion to be proved otherwise even with unbelievably chaotic idiocy and stupendous insanity.

Friday, June 27, 2008

"Persepolis" (Language - French/Perisian) (2007) - Movie Review

Why would “Persepolis” take its form as an animation and in a perused manner of observation opt for the traditional method of hand drawing? One of the directors Marjane Satrapi and it is her autobiography which is the film explained in the interview that it eliminates the confined walls of addressing one nation or people or religion. I did not necessarily notice that but the artistically distorted and hallucinogenic poetry in a reality infested film is a commentary of a woman’s life in an oppressed society and how did it shape her life.

Growing up in Iran in the days of its revolution against Shah’s regime, it is past in black and white animation for the young Marjane Satrapi (voice of Garbrielle Lopes) getting educated in opinions, politics and liberation by her dad (voice of Simon Abkarian), her mother (voice of Catherine Denevue) and the wonderfully cheerful grand mother (Danielle Deroux). Along with them are the tragic and eclectic enlighteners like Uncle Anouche (voice of François Jerosme). Merrily dancing it goes through the darker phase of the revolution, arrests and killings. After the revolution and in surviving through the war and its implication over her attitude and morality, she is sent later to Vienna for her schoolings. There she becomes a lady Marjane (voice of Chiara Mastroianni) and from one end of spectrum in stringent rules to walk, talk and dress she goes into this land of cultural paradigm shift.

Yet as more it looks like the narration of the Iran’s cultural inhibition of creativity and fundamentalist rules, it is Marjane’s behavioral science drawn and invented by the society and influences. Being brought up in an open minded family, she is a fan of Bruce Lee and wonders the move of Michael Jackson. When ABBA wins over the coolness of Bee Gees at early age, it is Iron Maiden’s hard metal to shoot Bee Gees in her teens. It shows an irony of rock musical stereotypes over the judgment of the present culture on viewing any Middle Eastern origin people as extremists and fundamentalists. The black market of regular luxury of ours as cosmetics, music and movies on to the streets of Iran is tragically comic.

The audience of “Persepolis” will be limited to the art house group which would appreciate the nuances of the aesthetic appeal of the animation having an antique outlook over a predominant cultural and oppressive issue of a nation. But it is a universal concept of women able to stand up for their rights and if it means leaving their homeland as their rejuvenation into liberation, so be it. Marjane’s father and mother were open minded people to grow her daughter up into some one they got to live under the roofs and shades of a time and people most of their life.

My friend always says that the best artistic work in films comes from Iran while most of it gets banned in the country. That opinion runs synchronous seeing Marjane’s story of survival. Beyond that, “Persepolis” is actually the hearty story of a woman seeing and comparing worlds she was brought up, the world she went out to learn the liberty and the world she created for herself through the intricate minds of prophet images, clouds and her ever loving grandma’s words of wisdom. It has the humour of the tragedy in the denial and just the tragedy itself of how religion morphs into the clutches of the men and women into narrow minded path of distress, pain and violence.

Seeing the traditional animation reminded the good old National Film Development Corporation of India producing general animated concepts of morals and values for Doordarshan Television, a government run telecast. Those had the creativity and finer concepts of individuality in it which I never really appreciated. And Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud magically state that the material dictates through this creativity which I imagine would have been the great cases of those people in the NFDC.

“Persepolis” is not condescending or pseudo intellectual on the Iranian religious rules. A young naïve enthusiastic girl exposed to suppression and strangeness through her walk of child hood and adult hood is the common line of observation. The presentation is new to the eye and the comedy of the animation is how it originated but the drama of the reality apart from the graphic novels of such form is feat which stylistically appeals. It deals with the men than the philosophies of the cult. It deals with the good will of the forward thinkers than being sarcastic and degrading as blind protestors. And in the median of those grows Marjane confused and maturing in her own terms. It while finally dictates the term of a society controlled and closed, Marjane’s journey is “Persepolis”. It is more of a film than the city it takes the title of.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"The Final Cut" (2004) - Movie Review

Clearly the third act of the film has been edited completely out by the director Omar Naim of the film “The Final Cut”, a thought provoking and profound science fiction with intense psychological drama. It puts forth a theory of imagination manufacturing in the brains as memories to be an hour and half film best scenes possible from it. This would enable a psychopath to have a film with empathy and sweet moments and the possibilities are endless. It is a film without any doubt cleverly and characteristically made but leaves you begging for a lot more. As mentioned a proper finish which it deserves and it could have been delivered by an able man Omar Naim in his feature film debut.

Some where in future time emerges a biological implant which can be embedded into some one as old as few second out of mother’s womb to begin recording what he/she sees through the eyes and what it get pictured in the mind. When they die, “cutter” or a life editor would assemble those with moving pianos and melancholic violin in back ground to lay out as a tribute to their life. This they call beautifully as “Rememory”. The cutter out here is Alan (Robin Williams), the best in the job who has a child hood memory turning him into what he is now. Cutter has three rules and one of them is that they should not be implanted with this device. A detached and insipid personality as he is sees life as a fictional account completely unrelated to his moral and social conscience. That’s what makes him numero uno in his line of work.

With privacy issues ripped off and vandalized, there are anti-group which has advanced from protest to devious violence. The company EYE Tech is the villain for these people and their lawyer’s life is given to Alan for Rememory. Fletcher (Jim Caviezel) an ex-cutter a current group member of the anti-group wants that badly since it would reveal the cruelty shoved under the basement of Rememory. But Alan discovers something very important to him, the child hood friend he motivated to take risk in an abandoned ware house which led to his fall and demise.

“The Final Cut” is not a thriller and surely not aims for cheap plots and obvious suspense. Thinking about the life being recorded every single fraction of second; right now we are surrounded by media with uber digital storages for many life times. We edit our own life using photos and videos only for marked occasions with guaranteed happy moments. But to acquire those real emotions on simple times can be captured with these implants. And the cost of it will be the entire nakedness of one’s life. The machine which is the editing hardware with the software tool is called “Guillotine”, a creative ironical name. A sudden death and butchering of the head dismembered but not damaged. The scientific machine and processing looks real and the tool separates the life history in to key topics. Childhood, School, University, Puberty, Masturbation, Romantic Life and it goes on and on filling the paranoid in the current media flooded world.

Robin Williams out here does not complicate things and the material drives his character. He is lonely and workaholic. Having seen many histories of human, he could only manage a night date with a librarian Delila (Miro Sorvino). And his capability gets unrevealed due to the shortage of further acts. The film with focused creativity and laying out the details and plot wraps itself well ahead. It is not that Naim did not want to take risk or afraid to dig the morality of the implant system and the rebels but it is a beauty of work left unfinished.

The investigation of Alan’s guilt comes into light when he gets to peep into his own thoughts clearer. Something sparked in me. It is a day to day event of convincing ourselves to do things what we want to. Accept it or not, there are multiple personalities in each of us fighting constantly and one of it wins. We do not know who it is but some one wins for the moment and the guilt or pain or regret or anything comes as the runner up shouting for help and even pounding on this external person we carry on. Did that happen to Alan in rewriting the truth for his convenience for escaping the guilt? In that case, does the whole notion of memories clearly been recorded as mind perceives might be after all, skewed as the videos and photos we take? “The Final Cut” is a movie I would strongly advice some one to watch. Yet it would be a constant reminder of a movie well made from start to credit roll only that it should not have ended out there.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Layer Cake" (2004) - Movie Review

I saw “Layer Cake” two years back and at the first viewing, it is a highly entertaining crime flick with “Guy Ritchie” influences here and there. I was not able to find any depth into the story. I did not get to know the unnamed character played by Daniel Craig. Watching it now, the unknown emotional details of this protagonist is the signature of the film directed by Mathew Vaughn, a frequent collaborator with Ritchie. They gave us the trend setter cult “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch”.

This man with no identity (name per se) is a smooth player. He is a business person whose business just happens to be drugs, as he says. He has played the cards clean till date when the film opens and means everything is going to crumble down. As expected there is one final assignment he got to do for his boss Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) and things goes haywire. Old revenge, double crossing, mishaps, stupidity and plot intended to twist and turn is spun closed and the tension makes to obey their story telling. And it has a faithful unique mark of tribute to the gangster films and yet does not mimic it but fort in its territory.

As said earlier, almost all details of this character are under the sands. We get the character plainly and solidly in a pure condensed form. His reactions are on the grounds of this business and personally he is nobody. We know he knows the games and we know his thoughts are far from the time. He is the sanest street smart and drug middle man with so much clarity in his business. His skill in swindling marketing with Duke (Jamie Forman) a nerve wreck glittering show man with nothing but turmoil is a talent display of this sharp cleaner. He tells with much sincerity the facts of street sales and yet we know the mockery he is making out of the loud attention seeker. These are the conmen we appreciate over screen and scowl at ourselves when blank shots are pulled on us.

He does not have passion for becoming a gung ho gangster. He honours his line of work and the details of death lists happening around him. It has the personalities accustomed to unique practiced dialogues and attire with immaculate suits and bloody face bruises. We are fancied by these testosterone hallucinations. The same kind which we have seen as a boosted shot of eroticism in violence painting blood along with an existential philosophy in “Fight Club”. “Layer Cake” is not profound in human inner meanderings but an English thriller mastering wit and plot twists native to the director Mathew Vaughn.

Craig’s pre James Bond avatar would have been a trump card for the polished flesh and blood gadget man for “Casino Royale”. His veins sprout through skins when he helplessly begs his mates to believe in the incredible lies and cheats they have been caught late in the film. But all before that, it is how the dirt free man in muddy waters get soaked and drenched in a mess which keeps getting deeper and deeper through the plot. The plot which takes through not alone the astuteness of Craig’s character but his friends, boss and the stupid people who potentially get him into the hole are interesting and funny.

A man playing his part wisely in an ugly business with surgical approach behaves on knee jerk reaction. He is close to his retirement dreams and gets a baby sitting job from his boss and to deal with frenzy man written trouble all over his recent robbed goods. Beyond that his trusted buddy Morty (George Harris) beats an unknown man to pulp and flees while he is left aloof in a situation which pretty much threatens his savings and his life. He overcomes it beyond the odds digging tunnels predicting the people’s reaction which he has used to avoid but this time around depend on facing it.

“Layer Cake” disguises as a dark comic thriller is more than it advertises. The film starts with an argument very much true in the future as the protagonist says and a man sticking to his plan till the last moment. He comes out clean with consequences but we want a good ending in our hearts for him. His world is detached and flourishing for screen writers. Indeed it is prolific for his finances but he pays the ultimate price day in and day out. Even after that his sum of all accounts comes close to death and makes him do the act he advices us not to do if in business of drugs. That is the lesson learned for him that getting out is a dreamer’s term. It might be washed away but the stain continues till the life time haunting and making peace is a process attained by distance and death.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"In Bruges" (2008) - Movie Review

People who decide to take the job of killing people for money generally bury their conscience and one who cannot come up with values and rules in excluding their targets and adhering to a code religiously. This theory makes three hit men in the film “In Bruges”, a poignant and darkly comic film which turns into a bloody mess in the end is one of the best slow starting film with a ramped up nerve biting culmination I have seen in recent times. It has a conviction so rare for a film taking the shooters as its prime object in its plot.

Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) come to a place every one will now be aware of called Bruges in Belgium. It is a tourist town with land marks enough to entertain for couple of days or may be just hours. Both are hit men on hide on the advice of their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes), whose voice is all we hear till he appears in person late in the film. He is the boss we do not see and a foul mouthed personality with weird taste for his sense of questioning, expectations and admiration. The expected plot unfolds when Ken learns the real purpose of being in the town with Ray. Harry gives a hit on Ray because of a kid being killed. But Ken likes the kid and owes a lot to Harry. Where does Ken stand? Or where does Ray stand with himself?

Ray is the young and obviously does not get along with the patience and mature Ken. Ken appreciates the beauty the town has to offer while Ray is simply irritated by the place and cannot wait to go back to London. They are in the hide out because of the last job Ray in a way screwed up. In the process of killing a priest, his stray bullet hits an innocent kid. Now a hit man should shred off it as the acceptance of collateral damage but Ray is not able to. The guilt in this film has a feeling of outsider as from an audience, because you think of the Irish accent and sarcastic profane guys has only one thing to offer, dark wit with guiltless blood spill. “In Bruges” takes that dark comic into factor but we get close to these characters. The world and laws they have formed in their constitution is the inner mind. And it kills them and for Ray it is double staying in Bruges.

Director Martin McDonagh in the character of Ken takes us through the touristy side of this town unknown to many with rich buildings, boat ride on canals and street bars. Ray is the irritated kid running with his guilt and trying to survive the day. There are two women which represents some hope among these men of guns. They are Marie (Thekla Reuten) and Chloë (Clémence Poésy), former a pregnant hotel owner with a mutual respect and soft zone for Ken while the latter becomes the reason for his day to blossom for Ray. There is a dwarf Jimmy (Jordan Prentice) which brings about the skewed reality the film and in a way for the town. Every one has a part to be played with a necessity.

Gangster films or any violence film is watched, enjoyed and appreciated for a reason that it is not happening to us and mainly some of its unreal factors. Adding to that is the convenience of the people deserves to die attitude which provides a major comfort for viewers. Here the hit men while seem deserve to die show humanity which makes to look it with a different viewing glass. “In Bruges” concentrates on these three characters that kill people for living but carry a code of conscience which does not really make up a good profile for their job. But they exist in the film very much real and their outlook on their job with actions makes even greater sense of their remorse and regret. Their rational to dissect this feeling of a moral taught in as children only intensifies their pain.

The writing is sharp and the humour is as dry it can get. As the film begins, McDonagh tempts and tests with some of the raw touches of humour and then throws more of those and it keeps getting better and better till the final lines of the Ray’s voice over is said. The bloody comedy Guy Ritchie brought through “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” has given origin to many other similar films but “In Bruges” is a level above that trend. It amongst its character of wit invents feelings and in profanity embeds morals and codes. But mind that it is a sleek line with a slippery slope to experiment which as a confident director with right cast skates through. The character Ray as Farrell is a novice among the men who has done the act with more experience and with stern are Gleeson’s Ken and Harry played by Fiennes.

There are phones broken by villain which we have seen but a follow up word of “inanimate object” has never uttered. There has been strange shootout with funny instances but never in that was comedy an intention with genuine request. “In Bruges” does have bad people but it is a film about them where we watch them behave and find a plot and niceness. In that we want to take sides and forgive some but the consequences are known. Nothing heroic is going to happen and tragic is a question of perspective and observation. But “In Bruges”, it is a matter of a humour bland and caustic, action thrill and tragic and humane in the world of blood and steel.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Three Colours: Red" (Language - French) (1994) - Movie Review

Sunken streets and pasted water on the stones of the road becomes a live wallpaper in the “Three Colours: Red”, the final piece of the trilogy by director Kieślowski. Similarity in various people’s life is coincidence and when we learn the end of this film, it is more than coincidence flooding our thoughts with limitless possibilities. Is it a past in present or future in the past or is it merely a present? Yet without any answers we are not worried about the riddle rather it is the merging of numerous hearts, some defined, some never gets its name.

In the sullen roads of a big town with a small busy street lives a model Valentine (Irene Jacob). She has a long distant boy friend shooting questions and loading annoyance, yet she needs some one to confide on her lonely days. Accidentally hitting a dog, she traces the owner, a man with no empathy only to take care of the dog herself. A neighbour of her Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit) is in love with a blonde Karin (Fredirique Feder) preparing for his exam for becoming a judge. Both Auguste and Valentine cross each other as stranger and yes they would end up together but not in the manner we have been used to. The film is more about the lonely old man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who is the heartless owner of the dog as introduced and his developing acquaintance with Valentine.

He is an eaves dropper listening to the passionate encounter of his neighbour the head of the house with another man. His neighbour is a husband and a lovely father. When Valentine sees it, he does not hide it and motivates her to do the right thing, telling the man that he is listening. She could not do it but he knows the consequence of this. He has no attachment to whatsoever and the conversations of him with Valentine have nakedness. She while being humiliated as a human being by his acts of invading privacy is also impressed by his candidness. This drives her back to him and he has missed a woman or a person to speak his heart in a long while. In Valentine he sees the soul to listen and reads her eyes for his accurate judgments of events and personalities to be validated and wondered. A strange relationship blossoms.

It is beauty for the old man and he knows his limits when it turns into a trusty friendship. He cleans his act while both are in a photographic moment of washed up memories. The segment of Auguste is detached and that bothers but how it joins the film is a demonstrated method in films before in a clarity not seen before. The dry leafs in a deserted front yard of his house, the windows half covered with book cases and coffee tables, the table lamps shining lights engulfing the characters in its diameter with broken glasses and sounding silences some how tells me the French imagination in it. Not that I know much of the French art or an arduous follower of their films and for that case Kieślowski is Polish. Yet in the couple of films I have seen, they seem to have grasped the missing moments in the reality and the unnoticed pieces of time left in the emotions of two people. They see the surroundings and in the nostalgia and worries they blanket them with a comfort of picture perfect colours.

The obsession for finding reasons for events and naming relationships have always been the controversial and comforting factor of people. Age, sex, religion, colour, jobs and factors undefined have determined the sustainability and possibility of a relationship. It might start but not necessarily finds its end. Here in between a man in island syncs up with a young woman unknown of her presence. They take time to understand each other and end up becoming more than friends and less than lovers.

There are connecting events and reoccurring characters in three films which I have failed to mention in other two. It is mainly because of how it is used as a preference of resemblance of sitting in Kieślowski’s trilogy film than a matter of significance. But he reminds us of its importance. In “Blue”, there is an old lady bent all the way down trying to dump a bottle into a dumpster high above her. Julie Vignon the widow numbed in pain watches that but does not help. Similarly in “White”, the old lady goes unassisted and we are wondering what is wrong with these people and in this film it is ended as it should be. In this final film, it hints on various logics but with one proper feeling of ending a trilogy, complete.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Get Smart" (2008) - Movie Review

Not seeing the “Get Smart” TV series did not stop me from enjoying the “Get Smart” film, with Steve Carell as Agent Maxwell Smart. Smart is working for covert intelligence team called CONTROL which has an arch nemesis of KAOS. CONTROL is clearly run by the US government while no specific claim is taken for KAOS. But who cares as their enmity blows up for a plot seen in serious and spoof film of spies. “Get Smart”, forgive me for the eventuality that the film actually is smart.

Maxwell Smart is an intelligence analyst eyeing for the field agent job forever. His role model and an effective field officer Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson) supports him while his three numerals pages of reports are annoying sleep pills for other bullying colleagues Agent 91 (Terry Crews) and Larabee (David Koechner). Smart is not an idiot as the stereotype runs for spoof James Bond films. He is diligent in his job of analysis and deduction. He knows information and how to process it. The thing which goes wrong for him is the misfortunate matter of luck. True that he gets couple of instances due to his idiocy but every one gets that moment of foolishness.

Making him an effective operator actually brings laughs due to Carell’s nice charm with a loss of touch to his naivety. Director Peter Segal uses the talent astute and gives the correct lines for each of them. The villain Siegfried (Terence Stamp) and his assistant (Ken Davitan), Chief (Alan Arkin), nerd buddies of Smart Bruce (Masi Oka) and Lloyd (Nate Torrence) and especially Anne Hathaway as Agent 99 are placed with clean as a whistle screenplay.

When viewing an action film’s stunts with car chases, escape tactics and landing zones, often we determine the flaws of logic. Quite obviously it would not add up but the Hollywood has considerably cast its spell over the audience such that those logics are forgiven. Still sometimes the line gets crossed and insults the audience. In well executed films such as The Bourne series, time is not given to think about those rather the pure adrenalin of a temporary believability surpasses that stressful truth, logic. This film accumulates the possibilities of those failure and not comically but genuinely fails it which is funny and acknowledges the intelligence of the audience.

I once read the favourite quotes of actors which are shown before a film which had Steve Carell saying that he has cornered the market for being idiot. Indeed he has the juice for it with a sweetness required for a likeable person out of it than to be bored or to dislike the character. In Maxwell Smart he is zealous and well equipped as an agent but at the same time has the awe struck factor of being a rookie and sustaining the attractiveness and appreciating for his new partner Agent 99. The joke is generated out of his unaware unluckiness than an actual act of being a jerk as Mike Myers does in Austin Powers (I do like Powers in pieces than as a whole character).

“Get Smart” treats the story with seriousness and it plays for its good a lot of times. The plot has the same routine but it goes on with a purpose revealing a good suspense. And Alan Arkin is easily able to be funny as he did with a foul mouth in “Little Miss Sunshine”. He is trusted with the remote observer of the stunt in the climax and generally that part has the danger of being incredibly flat and an awkward indulgence of a kind to demise the scene. Arkin is in control of that and he becomes the instrumental character in being a commentator of the comedy which happens far from his place.

Another fact which makes the film effective from start till the end is the stunts. They are used as a blatant display of exhausting material in a comedy film and hence we sleep through those. The care of choreographing it as an interesting, funny and a thrilling fact in the film projects how the team worked on it with gravity for its content. Trailers I have learned are great spoilers but that is the marketing strategy for inviting the viewers. I have come to dislike it completely since it robs the pleasure of surprise and pure cinematic experience. For “Get Smart” it did a lot of it and it worked favourably for the film this time. Because as the trailer gives Maxwell Smart as a complete unfit for being an agent, I went underestimating Maxwell and his skill did surprise me and it was fun to see a spoof spy not being inept at his job. But he has cheery dumbness as any human and fortunately it happens in a comedy film for not casting catastrophic results.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Three Colours: White" (Language - Polish/French) (1994) - Movie Review

Blanc is the French translation of the colour white and it stands the title. It is a poignant and melodic sans extraordinary film. The characters are sinister and Dominique carried by Julie Delpy is up for serving cruelty in multi course meals to the protagonist Karol played by naïve and hopelessly caught in love Zbigniew Zamachowski. The intensity of Dominique in hurting Karol increases proportionally with the attempt of contacts he tries to make. She ignites a fire in a property attained by divorcing Karol and says she will tell cop that he did it, she freezes his account and leaves him in streets and finally to top it off when he calls to check on her at night she moans and screams in her lovemaking with another man to him. And still Karol could not able to get over her.

Karol could not make love to her is the reason she gives for breaking up the marriage and it indeed is. She makes it miserable break away. Either Karol has pestered her to nuts or she is a little devil with an expertise skill level in moral and emotional torture. Karol a Pole meets another countryman, Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos) at the train station. Mikolaj has that comforting big brother scent as that of Philip Baker Hall in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Hard Eight”. These are the men who can immediately identify a failed and defeated man, comfort him with a drink and offer a help and are genuine in the succinct sentences uttered to accept it without doubt or concern. With some dangerous risks, Karol comes back to Warsaw and begins working with his friend Jurek (Jery Stuhr). He has been a great hair dresser and he does that. He still loves and aspires to attain Dominique. What now is the question?

Director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s second in the three colours trilogy is unlike “Blue”. We can say both films have an approach of similar nature by a creator particular about camera angle, music and mystical suspense of how a scene might end. The direction is directionless in the character’s next step of action. He does not let Karol speak up what he is about to execute and the film smirks when Mikolaj performs what Karol asks to without any question. It is a cruel test of teasing when Karol is about to tell him but Mikolaj walks away. The scene gets its nature of concealment and while it runs condescending on the viewer, it is not insulting because Mikolaj’s character’s honesty and integrity is maintained.

How man is hopelessly attracted and becomes an emotional slave for the opposite sex? The more they are rejected, the more they are attracted. With insolent actions and humiliation, they polarize it as a test of their love. But the naked truth is the pleasure in self pity, a drug which once identified can be got rid of and that happens at a pace of the person’s discovery of denial. Karol is a nice and amicable person as we see him sleeping on the street, suffering under the hands of Dominique, getting robbed and kicked. But he is not stupid and he is a clever businessman. He begins to venture tactics of money making in a risky with perfect plan. But we do not question his state of mind for the love he has for his woman mainly due to the association we make with his pain and while simultaneously want him get over her, feel sorry for him too. He keeps it to himself and make sure it does not interfere in his day to day life which is the reason we like him. He is a friend not grouching about the unfairness but building up a life for him and may be some thing more. As the money making process attains fruition, the coming events would give closure but the end is more tragic and has a deep sense of wicked innocence. The two characters come to terms over a plain of discomfort and pity. But we are convinced by it.

The film’s nature of its lightness and basically plot driven loses some of the serene emotions “Blue” carried on. Still it operates in its circle of genre and execution. It has uncorrelated scenes which come to make sense later which are rightly to be put as such but it is more about the chemistry of these two men, Karol and Mikolaj. I liked that better than the passion which drives Karol and Dominique. Karol and Mikolaj should have been the interests. It is said that “White” is the conceptual representation of equality and in this case of both sexes. While most of the time a film of such value would go for the take of an injustice act upon woman, this takes the other way round. This is a film with multiple emotional pay offs to take upon. It is in its content of depiction attains its destination. The journey while appears bland has significance of how characters has the capability to be vicious and able to make peace with them to survive upon. It is not disturbing not because of how much one would go to hurt another rather we come out guiltless and the acknowledgement of the dark companion in us scares a little.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Three Colours: Blue" (Language - French/Romanian/Polish) (1993) - Movie Review

“Three Colours: Blue” is the numero uno in the trilogy by late director Krzysztof Kieślowski. It is a somber journey of a woman’s grief. The visuals following the title has tints and shades of the colour never as a distraction of an unnecessary prop but an aiding symbol and landmark of the sorrow unexpressed, words unsaid and tears that never made it to the earth. A painting of pain through isolation, introspection and suppression, it is an exercise to listen and observe the back ground behind and away from its characters.

A close tire, we watch its treads merging into a smooth surface, a tunnel ride, we see that through the vehicle sounds it diminishes and a little girl, through the rear wind shield staring with blank eyes and unreceptive stare with still an innocence to charm. A young boy with a skate board is on his side walks asking for a lift, the car passes and the boy continues his handy game. His face is drawn suddenly towards the direction of from where the loud sound of the crash comes. If the car would have stopped for the lift, it would have survived. Is it the point or does the director teases us in these thoughts of fate and missed opportunities? It is neither but a tragic start for the sole survivor of the crash, Julie (Juliette Binoche). Her husband a great composer pending to play his music for marking the “unity of Europe” is killed in the crash along with their daughter.

Julie does not cry or react. She could not commit suicide not for any reason but simply cannot. The film begins the viewer as the stranger to her sorrow. We are sympathetic but are we really sympathetic to leave our work and console her? We are in that stage of pausing a second for her but moving on with life, not because we are boorish rather the help is to leave her alone. Julie precisely does that. She decides to wipe the memories, objects and pieces of her loved ones. She tells the lawyer to sell the house and the furniture. She sleeps with her husband’s friend or assistant whom she knew he loved her. She does that not for company but for the pain of guilt. She rubs her fist through stone walls to feel and to punish herself. Out of every sold piece, she keeps a chandelier of blue coloured stones. In the desperate eradication of memories, Julie as any other person in deep grief cannot erase everything. For better or worse, stones with stains of past lacerations take immense impossible measures to neutralize those permanently.

She even destroys the half composed music of her husband but the music she has seen keeps on playing in her mind. At distress, she blacks out in her heard to the sounds and comes back. Director Kieślowski darks the screen for that to return and seasons the viewer with the sadness. The situation is tragic and Julie of course in a state of homeless feeling in her mourning. As any broken heart would do, she cuts off the risk of knowing some one. In desolation and doing nothing, she feels safe. When relapses occur, she dissolves her tears through swimming in the blue water.

A sad film with profound details attended real close in photography. In the mood of dull air, the film punctuates with sudden sounds, a sliding light and a fluid motion to provide energy of drunkenness. Juliette Binoche encapsulates the stern Julie not expressing but has a calculated rudeness wherein one empathizes but still be hurt. She is spectacular when she eats the blue candy in a hurried motion as if slowing it down will make her breakdown rapidly. It is wrapped in a toffee paper which we have seen the tender hands of her child flapping against air through the car window. The secondary information becomes the aesthetic guidance to the primary object. This gets applied to the faces and back ground sounds, a sugar cube’s tip on the surface of a coffee and a street flute player in one side of the screen with the other side a coffee shop door.

It is a navigational tool in to a woman separating her from human contact recuperates and rejoins the life through subtle contact by them. One wonders what the symbolic significance of the colour is apart from its visual depiction. Blue is her sorrow, pain, solitude, anger, guilt but of all a masquerade for those under which she relaxes to release them submersing herself into the colour.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Green for Danger" (1946) - Movie Review

The good old murder mysteries with a knack for fast dialogues and fast plot are lost in the word wars than the actual discovery of the murderer. Here I was able to guess as Inspector Cockrill (Alastair Sim) but as him was not able to reason out or come about on how. This is a noir crime film and in an odd way is funny as well by the narration of Cockrill. His letter to the Scotland Yard is the investigation he led and some hapless smug of him costing a deadly loss of a life. But we do not take it seriously because it is not meant a tragic rather a crime thriller for entertainment. It is like watching Tom and Jerry cartoon beating the hell out of each other and we laugh at it. It is not a comedy but every instance of it is not real and we view it as a play. Hence the murder seems as a puzzle than sympathy.

Everything happens in a hospital during the war time with V-1 guided missiles giving chilling silence to intrigue the fear in the existing tense scenario. The narrator Cockrill focuses on an operating room with Mr. Eden (Leo Genn), anesthetist Mr. Barney Barnes (Trevor Howard), Nurse Freddi Linley (Sally Gray), Nurse Esther Sanson (Rosamund John), Sister Marion Bates (Judy Campbell) and Nurse Woods (Megs Jenkins). Two will be dead and one of them is the murderer is the clue Cockrill provides. Later one patient in the operating theater dies which causes to rethink all the relationships, hates, unknown past and devious looks and envious eyes to figure out who could have been responsible for the event. Of course we would not get a hint of who did it because that would eliminate the film in fifteen minutes.

Every one talks in a hurry and gets a terse intelligent reply as a bouncing ball’s force on a wall. Eden is a charmer and smooth gentleman having a romance for Linley who is having problems with her fiancé Barnes. Sanson is recovering from a trauma happened a while ago while Woods is plainly rude. Bates is a strict invigilator of the hospital having enormous love for Eden. Thus the circle completes in this dubious people of rigorous hospital ordeal of saving lives and constantly denying sleep.

The beauty of black and white as it always has the skill of silhouetting the dark and bright drawings. The characters are well aware of their positions and that does not stop them from being sarcastic and solid in conveying their innocence to the necessary intruder Cockrill. Cockrill relishes this situation seeing this as a form of amusement. He instigates situations, pops up from bushes and reveals the tidbits clues. He delivers as though he has been practicing it daily in front of a mirror. While he is a clever observer and interpreter, his complacency in his job and the funny bone mixes to give a careless approach. He acknowledges it in letter with an addendum of slick slip on of his success over the case.

“Green for Danger” directed by Sidney Gilliat in my eyes is not a classic but a display of sharp acting and a screenplay clearer than a still water. It knows what it’s dealing with and has the actors to perform rightly just for the required amount. Once the killer is revealed we do not feel shocked because the number is minimal in guessing. The journey though is interesting and does not bore us. The old mystery film rarely carries emotion or drama since it is not the person who died is of importance but are the ones who are alive to create suspicion to keep us guessing till the end. We may have found the killer but the reasons are unjustly kept in dark. But we do not feel much cheated since the screenplay jumps under our nose and keeps us busy in these studious exchanges of words with little emotion.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"House of Sand and Fog" (2003) - Movie Review

Often we go through an incident and handle it by the spur of its whirlpool enormity of the situation and the reason by a person to be in an unknown area of his judgments and actions. At that moment, words flow like a river of uncontrollable filter to brain and mouth. What has said will stay forever and the emotions are going to haunt him/her for rest of his/her life despite atonements and apologies. Those emotions are the ones which would be in the firm grip of the grasses and stones. Not a house of bricks and bones of contention. And “House of Sand and Fog” is a sad story to remind us that. It is a film tough to watch through the end because its confrontations are sour for its harsh truth.

We are aliens in a great wide earth yet we have borders, boundaries and fences especially to the place we live in. In a turn of events Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) loses her house to the county for not paying business tax which she does not owe. She is in a state of personal and financial depression. Massoud Behrani (Ben Kingsley) of Iranian origin has got his daughter married and has a son waiting to finish his school. He seizes the opportunity to make money out of this deal by auctioning Kathy’s house to sell it later for a better price. He is in desperate needs too. This tug of war for the property becomes the fulcrum of many traumatic events.

These are all good people caught in a situation of survival driven by the affection for their family members. Behrani used to be a Colonel and behaves as one in the immigrated America. He is sharp and clean. He works hard labour for feeding his family but opts for the life of luxurious personnel. Drowning in dirt he comes to his expensive suite but before he enters the apartment goes to a rest room and cleans up. He shaves and dresses up in a suit sparkling. He is the man of the house. He has a faithful and loyal wife Nadi (Shohreh Aghdashloo) with broken English and an unbelievable patience. She questions his decision only to be asked to shut up and follow orders. Behrani is not all tightened. He knows to be calm, respectful, and gentle. He is a husband and a father taking every single moment of pride in his management of his family. And he adores his son Esmail (Jonatha Ahdout).

In comes Kathy need of a morale support. Her family has been critical of her life that we get every thing we want to know about them or to be precise what Kathy thinks in a single phone call at the start. Kathy has not said a word about her separation with her husband and her current eviction. She has always opted for alcohol and cigarettes but has managed to keep it under control for few years only the current situation to tempt her to succumbing for it. She finds support in a married police person Lester (Ron Eldard). Lester is clean even in his act of adultery and its consequence. Once a bad guy for him it is always a bad guy which proves fatal.

This is a film of human dynamics failing to communicate or acknowledge a translation of it. Everything gets masked by the cloud of injustice, anger and sadly a lot of fear. Fear to lose the identity, love and a roof. The attachment we create towards our living space is a scale model for having a country, state and city to belong. This feeling to belong over an earth more than people is astounding. I know how much I feel about the house I grew up. I remember the day I visited it back which we rented. It is an unexplainable feeling to see some other people reside at the place I used to call as home, my room, the dining room, living room with a corner for TV. The shelf whose edges never failed to indent my skin every time I crossed. The scratches and splinters sound a poetic invitation. And for that moment the object comes to life. In Roger Deakins cinematography the lines of that poem are read through rays, shadows and remarkable human presence.

Vadim Perelman, the architect of this film debuts and it is a classy and artistic piece of framed emotions of tragedy. We feel angry at the end towards Kathy for her insolent association with the house and the action she takes upon herself. But we realize the zeal of Behrani in sticking to his gut for desperation. The innocence shattered is the people who get involved in this battle. In between so many people’s mixed emotions and judgments, all it takes is a bullet for a great tragedy. In every sobbing moments of the end, we think of the title over and over again to weep in our hearts of helplessness.

"Dasavatharam" (Language - Tamil) (2008) - Movie Review

Great movies need great reviews. A film ignites a reviewer to pen a satisfying and proud composition which he obliges for his self sufficing pleasure and to the people reading it getting resonating emotions what they encountered watching the piece. Even if some did not enjoy the film as they did, there will be room for discussion in positive manner. The film “Dasavatharam” is not one and does not deserve a review in first place but all film gets its day with equal rights of dissection and disposition.

Hence, I came up with ten reasons I hated the film. For people unknown of the choice of ten, actor Kamal Hassan does ten roles in this despicable film written by him too.

(1) The amount of time and money through resources and materials for creating ten characters could have been solved by ten very good actors with more dimensions and depth for a film, but it does not matter since this film is not an attempt in giving good cinema.

(2) The baseless story of ridiculousness with a condescending intellectual stand Kamal takes on his knowledge of the 12th century history which has no place in this film. It deserves more than an ego inflated person who is known to be the hope of the Indian film industry to put a great effort for contributing to the art of cinema. He has not been that and have avoided it most of his films giving priority to the film rather than his stardom and the rare talent he possesses in a mundane film industry.

(3) A baseless and implausible screenplay having characters walk in and out with no agenda other than to create a project for the CGI people to interlace multiple Kamal in single screen. And for the money they ravished upon, at least couple of shots should be a wide one to show the fund dispatched in those multiple waste characters.

(4) While I hated at least 7-8 characters, the prominent professional killer Christian Fletcher, an ex-CIA officer (No Kidding!) with a bad make up wanders senseless and sociopathic having no idea whatsoever on what to do with the “biological” weapon of mass destruction carried on by the protagonist Govind.

(5) Asin’s character of Andal and mainly her voice – Andal an orthodox Brahmin girl with fanaticism over her religion spitting out in every scene is neither funny nor insightful. She shouts “En Perumaale” (My Lord) towards the idol which has the “weapon” box so many times with an irritating voice and ignorant mode that I was suffocated with that character.

(6) Himesh Reshammiya’s horrible display of senseless aural hell. That is enough since nothing more is needed for this abysmal audio sample.

(7) There are twenty easy instances of awkwardness which mocks itself. It does that because the film tries to be intelligent at many places and makes a fool of it but it goes to auto pilot in logic when there were chase scenes of uber insanity.

(8) A length of 165 minutes of sheer boredom. In the first thirty minutes, I saw the watch to check the timings and then in a tragic sigh I told myself, “I have another freaking two hour and fifteen minutes of this irredeemable film to rob my salvation”. I immediately shrugged off it to do a fair justice on judging the film by its first thirty minutes. After 165 minutes, my salvation was robbed. How much naïve I was?

(9) The boasting up of its story, technical aspects and every single tiny departments of the film stating its obvious success. The stench of their glorification was so bad that the one interview I saw made me to doubt the actual intention of Kamal. And he proved the intention with the film shamelessly advertising on its value and presence in the industry failing to make advancement.

(10) Finally Kamal, for whom I have always been a fan and have great respect. I loved his “Guna” during when it was discarded as a social film outcast. “Mahanadi”, “Thevar Magan” and mainly his “Hey Ram” were master pieces. My appreciations for his films did not stop with his artsy drama but loved his diversity and versatility in his blockbuster entertainment and comedy hits. It would have been great to see an entire comedy flick with couple of characters especially the funny Balram Naidu to have it the way of “Michael Madhana Kamarajan”. Even in his “Aalavanthan” failure there were ahead of time touches of cinematic excellence. His stardom persona never interfered in that. But here you see a distorted Kamal pompously declaring his uniqueness in a common entertainment done bad proclaiming artistic aesthetics. Apart from the character of Balram Naidu, the rest were first of all an unnecessary baggage for his pleasure of doing “extraordinary”. This is a sign of decline towards his perils of stardom in his realm of great stand in a mud of entertainment blockbusters. It hurts me more because some times when great talents decline, they take the film trend along with them. I can only hope there is a redemption plan currently in his production.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"The Happening" (2008) - Movie Review

What to expect out of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening”? In his films after “The Sixth Sense” he has not been able to sustain the wave he created in it. And he will not be able to because the occurrence of that film is not regular. Also people anticipate a stunning end like that which again is shortening his creativity. “Unbreakable” lived on the frequency of “The Sixth Sense” while “Signs” is something I had hard time grasping. “The Village” and “Lady in the Water” were both films I missed. I went to “The Happening” as I go for any regular films and it can be said that the film is a pleasant thriller and a horror film with unconventional approach in the current gory trend.

Being his first R-rated film, I had reservations on what blood bath Shyamalan has planned. Either the scale of gore I had in mind got elevated to make it look normal or the films now a day has tuned every one for gruesome images, I survived with couple of flinches. The north east of United States encounters a strange phenomenon of people affected by a neurotoxin suspected to be a terrorist attack. It disables their senses and allowing a window of it which is applied for killing themselves. The event spreads across and a science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) is the character we begin to follow. He is a regular man with marital problems with his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel). He tags on with his friend Julian (John Leguizamo). Julian has a daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez). These are the people who will be the ones we would root for to survive this cataclysm by the nature.

“The Happening” works for lot of reasons. One such is the actors. It only takes couple of glances and stress in the dialogues to establish the friendship between Elliot and Julian along with the strong disliking opinion Julian has over Elma. In the situation of ultimate destruction, the humans are props for killing and one or many take the heroism potion. But “The Mist” handled it extremely well on the human horror existing in the society. Here it is the nature’s reaction to the zillions and zillions of human inhabitation and abuse of it. Shyamalan gives a horror film with an unconventional tone. He does not go for cheap shots of people killing each other in grisly manner. It would then be a zombie attack. He does not make strange things jump from nowhere or from a closed window. The fear he creates is a fear inhabited in common. In making the people suicidal, the terror is on the living ones. When the victims choose any form of tactics to choose their demise, they do not seem to feel the pain or at least their face is expressionless..

While it is effective, the film is not a great statement either. Mentioned earlier Shyamalan employs a novel style in giving a horror film with a human relationship at stake. He did the same in “Signs” which did not move the pace either as a thriller or as a drama. It got stuck in that zone of identity crisis failing to mingle the content properly. In “The Happening” the relationship trouble between Elliot and Alma has its moments of understanding and oddly a couple of comic timings in a fear looming picture.

We fathom and luxurious ourselves in the strong hope of nothing can happen in most circumstances and the truth is most often nothing happens. The tiniest possibility of the worst thing such as apocalyptic calamity has no place in our minds amongst the diurnal chores of hedonistic pleasure of routines. That is the reason world destruction comes as a block buster than a serious analysis of the effects. In that “The Happening” distinguishes a little bit.

Much credit goes to Wahlberg’s performance who manages to maintain the atmosphere of tension with a cool face. While the air is filled with fear, his ambidextrous ability of controlled deliverance at ease oscillates in between rare comic touches and terrifying runs. His Elliot does not become the almighty expertise hero to save the reducing clan but he is regular man who behaves as a regular man. And his deduction of this event is from his observation as a science teacher. This is a well composed role by him.

In theatres, I could hear most of the people sighing and a gentleman commenting that no wonder critics hated this during a scene of Wahlberg having a moment with a plant. It is quite impossible to go for a film without any expectation. The trick is to tone it down and ready to open up for what the film has to offer. The film obviously has the responsibility to fit the viewers in and guide them through where it wants to. The disappointed fans in most anticipated film often fall in to that iron curtain of disobeying to free them up. So I can understand what they would have wanted out of Shyamalan, one another “The Sixth Sense”.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"The Incredible Hulk" (2008) - Movie Review

Bruce Banner and his inner beast Hulk has not found a place in my comic hero years. The nostalgic fan of the TV series might get it is what I was thinking but “Iron Man” fell in the unaware radar and yet I enjoyed it. Ang Lee’s “Hulk” dealt most of this green guy as a human trapped inside and “The Incredible Hulk” does not have the time to let Bruce Banner here portrayed by a favourite actor of mine, Edward Norton to let out some more words. May be he would said the right word I am saying out here. Disaster.

The title roles up with chronicles of events to what made Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) diminish in to the lands of Brazil and practice his controlling skills of repressing excitement. He has a communication through chat with an unknown identity declaring as Mr. Blue. Supposedly Banner has come to trust this mysterious man/woman for a cure to his green nightmares in daylight. He has managed to keep things under control so far with a menial labour in a soft drink manufacturing plant. These initial scenes had an unspoken charm and desperation of this lost scientist. With a music guiding the current life of him, I was hooked and when he undergoes a breathing control from his martial arts instructor (Jiu Jujitsu I presume), I grinned. It is going to be a character study and an analogy of monstrous behaviour as such in us. It fizzled within couple of minutes.

It is bound to happen that he will be located by the military dictator General Ross (William Hurt), father of Bruce’s love interest Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). And his intelligence and sense can be questioned in each of the strategy he plans to capture Bruce. He sends a team consisting of an aging soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). I was able to digest the chase but after that it is an opposing contrast of the first fifteen minutes. The film migrated into a silent chaos of banality and insanity. Every character has a single line agenda. Bruce Banner – Cure for green monster, Betty Ross – Love Bruce, General Ross – Frame stupid plans for a grandeur fiascos and Emil Blonsky – Do not want to grow old and get high on the super serum. Throw the CGI into this mix to have big fat blockbuster disguised in the name of characterization and close sense of reality.

What is the drive for Blonsky? The age rarely seems to be his problem because without the experimental fluid inside his veins, he is one tough gun to seriously kick some butts. The connection between Ross and him is immediate. The following lines would have been more sense than what connects these two people.

Ross: I am General Ross. My motto is killing the Hulk dude. I have a fluid to kick off your veins. You want to get high and become a super freaking soldier.

Blonsky: Get me high, forget about super freaking soldier.

The people in this film are denied to talk and I mean not even sigh for help. They do not understand discussion rather keeps mum and let the mean big dude come out to make pieces of cars and what not. What were they thinking when the attack of Hulk on a university front was shot? The mistake is that the world Louis Leterrier creates is too real for Hulk and thus tweaks the sensory cells in a viewer. That would directly advice to call that a rubbish. It is rubbish.

Norton has always been an intelligent actor and a good one. His patience and choice of roles has significance effect in adding a film something more than usual. And when he signs on to a block buster, curiosity is a tickling word. It is another attempt after Ang Lee’s execution which pumps up the excitement to another stage but I had limited scope. I was ready for either an introspective Hulk or a blind entertainer sufficing the summer film parades. Combination would have been good too. I was ready for pretty much anything. It does not succeed in any of those and I was staring with disappointment.

“Hulk” had a greater inspection of a beast which still had a little sense of the human Banner. In calamity of rage sprayed on by him, there was a part which was shaded on the consciousness of the inner personality. The “Hulk” lost me when it shifted to the mode of bad CGI and again ridiculous plan of General Ross involving “attacks”. In “The Incredible Hulk” it has CGI ramped up to high technical caliber and music impressive to stand alone in boosting the race of the story but has vacuum of horrendous implausibility and stupidity.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Rocket Science" (2007) - Movie Review

A high school film with students not resembling the real kids but anyways give a satisfying film have been seen in the raunchy comedy genre of “American Pie” and in the artistic independent circuit in “Rushmore”, “Thumbsucker” and some of the Gus Van Sant films I have not seen (I am saying this on the dependency of the other reviewers who have to say a lot about Sant’s films like “Elephant” and “Paranoid Park”). “Rocket Science” is about as right is it could get on giving a high school reality comedy one would desperately try of.

It tells the story of a suburbian kid Hal Hefner (Reece Daniel Thompson) keeping things to himself due to his stuttering. It is a study of one’s life in terms of himself and his surroundings rather than the big picture of the school ambience. The school activities become the part of his life but do not grab him into the suction of the spiced up themes of sex and deviance. As the film opens, there is a cold narration similar to what I have heard in “Little Children” in a known fact of two distant events conjoining to represent an artistic uniqueness. It was a let down when it happened since it had the symbols of indulgence most of the independent directors masturbate on. It freezes the silence of a debater Ben Wekselbaum (Nicholas D’Agosto) in his sonic speed delivery in a state championship competition to be watched by his partner Virginia or Ginny (Anna Kendrick) who has aspired so much to win the prize. The same silence is seen when Hal sees his dad (Denis O’Hare) leaves his mom (Lisbeth Bartlett). The relation at that moment though poetic does have a distant union making complete sense of natural behaviour.

“Rocket Science” does the thing what most of the best movies does, merging the reality in to an art of presentation. It has characters with an underlying heart of goodwill with the age and situation playing them. Take Hal’s brother Earl (Vincent Piazza) and he has a secret chest of his favourite items, stolen by him. He talks like a big brother and in every way behaves as one. He is a subtle loving brother in an uncompromising egoistic masquerade of a bully. He has plans or agenda as he calls it for every day and every month encompassing his whole life. And the way he organizes it is too perfect and he would be sucked up into the pyramid marketing as his first fall in fast achievement in life.

There is love and sex not as a material but as an eventuality of life in high school. And when it breaks, a person that age cannot come to terms on the emotion as whether it is rage or affection. Hal is lured in to the debate team by Ginny, a desperate go getter aiming the next year’s championship. She is fast, showy and has a vibe sensing satellite reacting to people watching her when she is not looking them. And she gives a chance for Hal to be in a map not in a school but in himself of what he could make out of this existence.

This is brilliant film making with unique common characters some how or other would have encountered in our school life. The film has teachers eloquent and versatile in their subject that they do not shy to show it off to their students either as a power or an approval of their accumulation of that talent. And there are coaches for special students and the school as an exercise hires some one in the idea that it never gets much people in first place. One such is Hal’s coach Lewinsky (Maury Ginsberg) supposed to help him overcome his stutter. And his knowledge on the subject is umpteenth hand gossip of an online forum discussion about overcoming stuttering.

The hero of this story does not have a high note in front of a crowded auditorium to deliver his success in confidence and speech. He does not get his love back nor has a mystified understanding to look at life as it is. He gets his confidence in a natural way and his level of success is something he could ask properly on what he wants to eat. Reece Thompson gets Hal in every nuances of predictability and topples us with a simplistic delivery of a usual line. He stutters to make the realization of our impatience and completes the meaning of it before it runs off thereby giving the sense of his situation and gets away with it. This is a mature acting by the young Thompson.

Director Jeffrey Blitz’s has one documentary to his name and this is his first feature film and he has the courage to show high school students as high school students. Here he generates comedy out of the old school rule book, on some one else’s misery. But we laugh guiltless and empathize with Hal and many other personalities around him. It is an execution of a screenplay to its creator’s content. I cannot think of a scene which may be out of the lot. Blitz teases us on bringing the formula prep and the usual culmination. He wants us to think that he is taking that path and comes up with a different novel realism which is not put to trick us but anchors the film in to a terrific story telling.

"The U.S. vs John Lennon" (Documentary) (2006) - Movie Review

All the information of John Lennon, the quintessential Beatles member and his influential wife Yoko Ono I have heard (not read, heard) is that (1) Lennon produced lovable cheery music with the Beatles and (2) he bedraggled in the pool of drugs and sex (3) Yoko Ono separated the Beatles and (4) both had a vague participation in the peace activism. And how much we assume out of media and inability to pursue for a truth or the necessity for knowing about them is a shame especially in my part in this case. “The U.S. vs John Lennon” in a manner is a post Beatles biography of John Lennon.

It in its title means a revolutionary stand against the then Nixon government for appeasement in Vietnam but all the more it is the illumination of Lennon not able to contain his excitement on learning things about the world or simply maturing. His first marriage with Cynthia is not discussed and it starts with his love for Yoko. Yoko Ono a creative audacious artist ignites Lennon to amalgamate hers with his in giving birth to a form of revolution which caused more stir, controversy and entertainment too.

The film begins by the controversy created by a statement by him and it is clever of the directors to start with the subject matter of religion. All of the arduous religious people (which are majority of the world) were terribly disturbed when Lennon said a statement of Beatles is more popular than Jesus Christ. I believe it was said as an expression of their status and their presence of theme and cult as that of religion ticked all the people. He tries to explain but only in vain. It is the genesis of his awakening in being a rebel from a rock star.

Seeing the footages of Yoko and him kissing, caressing, in bed and in tandem reciting their answers and points to the journalists, I was wondering how much love these two shared which is oozing out whenever they are over the screen. Of course the documentary is not a discussion of their marital problems but it is a matter of their unity in a cause both believed in and went beyond conventional approach to spread it.

Whether giving press meet out of big bag or representing their honeymoon as a mark for peace, Lennon and Ono had their way with the society. The notion of artists’ opinions automatically losing its intensity and value towards politics of the world is put into trashes by Lennon. He stood up to whatever was thrown at him. And he used his stardom and that over the media to bask the rest of the world. If I was in the era of the 60s and been in a society of shunned down view point of normalcy, then Lennon appears insane. He dances on the streets with Ono and comments bravely on the incoherence of war in the countries. His hope in changing for peace and prosperity through concerts and songs were sky high. And it brought him trouble too.

Nixon’s government nearing the election saw the mere presence of Lennon in the New York City a threat for their survival. Lennon in a plain sight is an artist with his principles of having harmony in the cacophonic universe of violence and vengeance. But it is “unpatriotic” in terms of the US government at that time. Patriotism always had the dubious misconception and deviation of fighting for the country one belongs or in simple terms is the egoistic attribute of protecting their property and acquiring others. This troubled Lennon who in his songs had a strong opinion of a single world with no country. Idealism is insanity in any time period as per the definition of normality. It will not work out which is the easiest way to dispose and discourage the attempt to take an effort. Lennon wanted the people to take that effort.

He made friends with Bobby Seale the head of a group considered dangerous in US called Black Panther party and activists such as John Sinclair to intensify his chances of getting axed by the government. He believed to be followed by the FBI. He believed that his phones were being tapped and basically driven to paranoia. He was thought to be paranoid because that a government watching a musician looked laughable. But it came to shock to have him deported from US. And that is the open declaration of war on his principles and presence by the Nixon government.

David Leaf and John Scheinfeld II does not over do the sentimentality and present a straight lined narration of the necessary elements needed for this statement of Lennon being singled out by the presidency of United States. Interviews, footages and songs are assembled accordingly which tells the character of this persona now viewed with the realization of what he was talking about. His actions reminded me of the Larry Flynt in “People Vs. Larry Flynt”, a man boosted to riches by selling explicit pornographic material through his magazine. Many did not like what he did but his right to live and lead a life was valid and similarly, Lennon did what he thought was to be a liberation from the cruelty of lives being lost in the name of patriotism and property.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

"Kung Fu Panda" (2008) - Movie Review

“Kung Fu Panda” cannot be a surprise film for you as the title pretty much says the amount of Kung Fu air fights, training and slow motion fight frame freeze drags it has to show. Hence it lives not exceeding its limitations and you got to give it to submission because what cooler animal could you think of than an overweight Panda. Po the Panda (voice of Jack Black) is a sampled representation of any sizeable lazy kid who aspires to be the cool kick karate master. How else did “Karate Kid” found its place? It is a drug for the lazy kids (like me) to relish the dreams over the screen.

See how the voice of Jack Black says “awesome”. No one ever will be able to match that voice of energy and honesty in the true meaning of the word that it is destined to be said by Black repeatedly in the film through Po and we say, “Yes it is totally awesome!” Po the dreams of the Kung Fu legends who are the residing Zen of the temple of Kung Fu in the top of the mountains with the never ending steps to discourage any one at all to attain some moments of inner peace they practice.

The film does not mention the time period or place or why does animals live in ancient Chinese valley, but that is not one goes for a film titled “Kung Fu Panda”. They go with their kids and have a little fun for themselves. And the film uses this luxury well enough and develops on their strong holds. First is the animals as such are chosen to a level of coolness one can qualify to him/her. Apart from Shifu (voice by Dustin Hoffman) a red panda and Po the rest of the players Master Tigress (voice of Angelina Jolie), Master Mantis (voice by Seth Rogen), Master Viper (voice by Lucy Liu), Master Crane (voice by David Cross) and Master Monkey (voice of Jackie Chan) have a small role but are used well in stunt scenes. But the film worked in its first half by Oogway (voice of Randall Duk Kim) the tortoise. The old age and the calm wisdom of the creature bring a sudden seriousness in this animation comic.

It is for most of the part is the conversation of Black and Hoffman. And that combination as actors as such is a duo of professional combat in action. I have been widely impressed by the way the casting of the voices is done for the animation films. How do they choose? The animated characters do the acting and while in some mannerisms they can match the actors, how does the real challenge of going for a voice takes place at all? That is something I would love to see happening because what would happen if I did not know the actors who voice the characters? While watching most of the animation films I can picture the actors and their voices dropping through the creatures on the screen. Yet the eyes absorbed the animation and that blend of visions had a great work of magic in “Horton Hears a Who”. For “Ratatouille” I did not know the actors and still it to my best films of 2007. This is always a puzzle of how this casting and the mechanics of its effects on audience for an animation film has its charms. Here the amalgamation of Black trying hard to inject the life of strange activeness in this lazy Panda turned out well.

Director John Stevenson and Mark Osborne did not want a complicated creative method in their film. They went for the straight execution of the Kung Fu moves with the animals which has found its place for being cool than cute. Hence the film has the feel of honesty in its story, stunts and voices. When I say they do not try hard, it does not mean the material is bland, rather the departments they concentrate add up to the predictability the screenplay offers. If there is something which can be different about a Kung Fu film that would be the moves either animated or not. In those aspects and for the sincere effort of Jack Black breathing life into Po the Panda, this film succeeds.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

"You Don't Mess with the Zohan" (2008) - Movie Review

Awareness of the stereotypes and inside jokes are must for “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” or else the super hero stunts and easy sexual jokes are the only islands of happiness as it had for me. I do not know how much of the jokes I really was lost but the hint of it is a must know factor. Adam Sandler of course is refreshing to not shout, scream and he plays his nice charms innocence side to give this killer commando Zohan the sweetness he needed.

A well built and toned Sandler is a serious strength and super agile human Zohan, a man for whom any attack can be dismantled. The army of Israel depends on him and he delivers. But as someone who has been doing the job of rescue, killing and tackling of terrorist it has become a job of boredom and wants to go for his passion, a hair stylist. After performing his own death under the hands of his nemesis Phantom (John Turturo), he lands in America. He becomes the super hair stylist with a special service of screaming sex to his female customers. So you can judge where the jokes lie.

With a PG-13 rating they manage enough semi nudity not of women but Zohan to raunchy the material on surface level. The film had lots of stunts which in reality was not comic but fun to watch. It was no different as any super hero film might have and as the genre is comedy which will be a known fact while watching, we inflict some humour onto the stunts a bit ourselves. Actually the film appealed more on a regular story telling than a complete comedy. It had smiles but laughs were hard to come by. I liked this sweet guy with sweetness and innocence with lewd acts seemingly casual. That goes a lot to Sandler. He is committed in the character of the Zohan.

Zohan eats hummus for anything and I believe it is comments on the dining choices the Middle Eastern or Israelis have. I cannot know for a fact whether that is the intended comedy out there. I was blank at those and many other scenes. They bring in the issues with Palestine and Israel which I was not sure is the right track for a comedy. Yet it made it clean without any scratches. It did not aid in the comic stand either. Strange that I am so indifferent to the film and I cannot strongly say whether I had a good time or not. It was a lukewarm material with really nice performance from Adam Sandler.

I liked the film and it would have promoted if it had rioting guffaws and a toned down stereotypic pieces. My preference for penning the reviews for the films I watch is the immediate writing of it as soon as it is over. For weird reasons, I do so because I feel that more than the film my retentivity for the thoughts got stay and to do the proper justice to the film itself, it needs to be spitted out as soon as possible. Still there have been films which missed its chances and made it to this space after a while. I am writing the review for this film after six hours and it is kind of tough to think back everything I enjoyed or dragged on. For the most part, Zohan did the job of entertaining me successfully but I hoped it could have been more. It could have been in the class of the comedies Apatow crew has been producing prolifically without any problems at all.