Sunday, February 28, 2010

"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" (2003) - Movie Review

Films like “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” swings full on the killer moment of confrontation. The route to get one character to meet with the other he/she been chasing in steps and care needs to be big and powerful. That is the route Mike Hodges directed film takes on with Will Graham (Clive Owen) to Malcolm McDowell’s Boad. When that happens and it is followed up with another unexpected return, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” elevates to a good noir thriller to a better one.

Davey (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is low in the chain drug dealer. Goes to the parties, sells his dope and gets laid and keeps moving on for the next day. This is something we know of that fatal night in the film. After he is returning home, the people that have been following and watching pulls him to that dark and scary place. Boad rapes Davey and that brings the eventual suicide at his apartment. And it brings back his brother Will, a man laying low for three years after his previous life of gangster. A damn good one from the reputation the people speak of him or do not speak of him.

A film without any suspense of this investigation Will begins on is about him, deeply. His mother (Charlotte Rampling) is unable to erase the adamancy his eldest son has towards being detached with people, despite his past. Will is the man leading his days in the big van and working menial jobs. Is he trying to make amends or punishing himself for the life he has led? He comes back eventually and meets his mother. That is a touching powerful scene.

Will does not speak much now a day and as he says so to his mother. He has gone by weeks without speaking to a soul. I have had mine for couple of days. It becomes conscious when it is over and for Will it is an exercise as I could imagine. Rethinking the regrets and the lives he put in those, he does not know how to react to those. He summarizes those unexplainable actions in a single line to his mother which is sad and knocks you out.

And when Will does speak, it cannot be more precise and known. He does not punctuate to make his point rather state it like a fact. He is fast on getting to the things he wants to say. He meets up with his old crew for first time in three years and he shocks them. Outside of a ragged appearance of cave man, he is cleansing his soul which never can do an absolution.

There are other characters apart from Will but he brings down the weight to the audience whenever he is looking through those eyes which scares and attracts. He is a saint with a rage under control. Throughout the film, it goes upon that electric force Will has over the people he meets. There are two such scenes which comes of greater relevance of his presence. One is the report he reads line by line given by the Coroner sitting still and patient. The second being the verdict on the second postmortem he hears. Both the cases the members communicating with him are careful, very immensely careful delivering news, the bad news. That is the mood of the film which remains till the melancholic ending.

Clive Owen’s physical appearance is a much needed makeover for the character of Will. He is stunning when he cleans up but that sharpness is there because of the ruggedness he posed for most part of the film. This is a film of obvious style but calculate one. It does not side step from the story and uses those as a character punch lines than an unneeded aesthetic nuances. In Clive Owen, it cannot be more present than any one else.

The reason to know the actions is something needed to move on. It does not fast the process but adds tool to satiate the quench of the boggling mind. Will comes to the city in a hunch of hallucinating his brother for a second just before he was about to leave to a new place. Yet when he discovers the death, the itch has started when the grief has tired enough. To do that he will go to people with an agenda. For an avenging story, there is little violence but it is affecting. A strong film with a very strong character makes “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” a better film in this genre.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Pusher" (Language - Danish) (1996) - Movie Review

Even the dark and tragical gangster films have a redemption and a glamour to that field of work. Martin Scorsese albeit that short lived glory of people in “Goodfellas” did have a better finish. Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Pusher” is raw meat of a livelihood in that one week any drug dealer do not want to happen. The drug pusher is Frank (Kim Bodnia) and he will meet that one week. It is not a question of whether he will survive but this is the backstory the film world generally make it happen off the camera or polish it for aesthetics. This is a documentary and evokes the same effect.

Told entirely following Frank, it begins as it would have been like any other week. Frank and his buddy Tonny (Mads Milkensen) loiter around the city and do drug dealing. Then have crass sex conversations in the car. Frank does the job because he knows every one around and every one of course likes him. Who will not? He is easy to get along and appears level headed. This week would have been like any other week as it looks like but this is when things do not go one’s way.

There are key characters in Frank’s unique week of debacle. The main people are Milo (Zlatko Buric) and his muscle man Radovan (Slavko Labovic), the call girl he will not sleep with or will not be even a little intimate Vic (Laura Drasbæk). There are others becoming witness or victim to the deterioration of Frank. Frank gets his supplies from Milo and he gets one big order. It is a big score but then again this is how his week works. Adding to the 50K he owes Milo, he gets 120K worth of drugs next day for the deal promising to be back with the cash. The deal goes wrong with the cops busting him. Now he is 170K down with Milo and no drugs on his hand.

Now you will be wondering on the scheme of crazy things Frank will try to get the money and then it will go wrong again and then it will be adventurous, funny and finally fulfilling action dark comedy with him getting off surprisingly. Every thing happens till the wrong part and the film is quite adamant on showing this man’s position of being stuck, cornered and eventual end. This is Guy Ritchie’s films going darkly unfunny.

The film is audacious and begins taking this crazy stand of objectivity. This man of connections and friends becomes into something else as the day progresses. He acts out of desperation and cluelessness. He does not have a plan and he believes in being elusive. Get one more day and may be one more till the greatest friends become his worst nightmare. In the midst of this he behaves as a jerk to the only human shedding some form of love and he treats her like door mat. This is not a nice person and that is how the trade works.

Refn developed this movie from a short film he made as an application for his film school. He got rejected and he decided to make it a full feature. He found funding some how and began this work and boy it is unbelievable professional film making. This became a cult Danish film and it is no wonder why it succeeded. Almost all the films how much ever realistic one tries to shoot it carries a sense of style and that cannot be called tainting but another step away from the actuality. Refn’s film is ridiculously pure in capturing the life. They remove all sorts of prejudice, assumption and any sort of glamour attached to this profession.

Frank played by Kim Bodnia can only be called magnificent and he brings out the real emotions in the other characters. The best though is Milo’s character played with Zlato Buric in my opinion gives a deadly drug lord in the history of gangster. He does not make that person fancy. He makes him funny but as genuine it can be. He is deadly when the time comes but that too is not a style.

Everything about this film dangerously brings the doubt whether it is real. It does not run as a mockumentary or even docudrama. This is more than documentary. As if some one took a camera and ran behind a drug dealer during his breakdown of a week. There is nothing about hope or redemption. This is life on the street taking over the screen with almost next to nothing modification. As much as clinical the film makes its characters, “Pusher” is revolutionary filming. And I cannot wait to see the remaining two films in the trilogy.

"Panic" (2000) - Movie Review

The curious case of a hit man is an apparent attraction for writers and directors. The mind inside that ice cold mercenaries and the cleanliness they keep in their profession is dozen too many in the world of television and film. Some succeeds and others, go their own ways into making it as a glorified career opportunity. In “Panic”, it is a tool for a story. And the story is of Alex (William H. Macy), a man taking up his family business with an up close training from his dad Michael (Donald Sutherland).

Sons and daughters are an extension of a parent. For women it is literal but for men, how it does makes them reach out unconditionally and see something more than themselves? In the next trend of news hearings from my friends, this is the phase in their life for offsprings. I have heard the happiness but to feel and see it is different. You see a side of somebody you thought to have a thorough understanding springs up. In the best possible way is what I might add. You see the best part in them. Alex sees in his son Sammy (David Dorfman) and Michael does see it in Alex, in the way not much can be attributed towards kinship.

Michael and Alex’s mother Deidre (Barbara Bain) run the business of killing. Alex has been a faithful employer and keep up his Joe routine for so long with his wife Martha (Tracey Ullman). Written and directed by Henry Bromell, “Panic” is a writer’s film. It cuts through the chase and narrates what it is going to do and does it unexpectedly. One such is the character of Sarah (Neve Campbell) a young stereotypically liberal and out of norm girl. Herself and Alex spend ounces of time every week when they wait for their respective therapists. Alex feels special and Sarah feels the same. Both of them acknowledge the cliche of this situation and do this dancing on the disaster. That is the extent of the thrill you might get in this film. Not the killings.

Bromell does things right and first being not dedicating excruciating hours on the detail, finesse the protagonist is in his job. Nor does he digs in the therapy sessions he has with his shrink (John Ritter). He has been nurtured into this and he has accepted it with the scare tactics of his dad. We have been considerably educated in those arena and Bromell says lets get to the business.

It feels like watching “American Beauty” on another set of eyes in a situation of its own. The dysfunction is not always funny and shakes the characters up. Alex is the typical bottled up submissive guy which William H. Macy plays with a passion. He is not in control with his parents while does not make it appear in front of his wife. He is without inhibition with his son Sammy and the young boy David Dorfman gives a kid we have not seen. He talks more than his age but maintains the cuteness. We are not alarmed by his questions but are wondering what a great man he might become. The scenes with him and William H. Macy are the best fatherhood sequences I have seen in a while.

Bromell moves these characters with snippets of details to explain who were they. A simple reference of Martha’s coke habit before Sammy was born, a quick flashback of how she met Alex, the extent of powerful control freaks in Michael and Deidre and how Alex’s therapist contacts local police for a situation and feels bad about it. All these not alone tell some information but has an integrity to the characters each one are. Bromell makes them work and fulfills an unknown obligation of explaining the characters in detail to the audience.

“Panic” is a simply told complex people story. The truth is every body is complex. If you go ahead thinking that is not true after reading that line and say that you have a regular boring life and it cannot be more simpler than plotting the daily life of yourself but think harder, despite that there is this constant cycle of thought process which unwillingly questions and wanders without answers in agony to do things uncontrollably. You know what I am talking about and before we judge Alex, let us take some time to think about ourselves. Bromell conveniently disregards the victims of Alex and only takes the consideration when he needs. That is the art of a best director, who knows what to make every one feel when they want to. “Panic” appears to be a cliched film but is a writing exemplification and versatility from Bromell with a correct acting from his main people. This is a good film.

"The Color of Paradise" (Language - Persian) (1999) - Movie Review

I went back to see what I wrote for Majid Majidi’s lovely film “Children of Heaven” and was astounded to realize that certain parts of the write up fits picture perfect to “The Color of Paradise”. That film which walks around barefoot in between the thorns of sappiness is a work of art in presenting the pristine form of human emotions. And that can be only achieved through the innocence of childhood and here there is an adult man in the brink of dropping off his burden and is in the most cruel dilemma in his life. But when the movie gets over, we are surprised on the resistance Majid Majidi has broken in his audience and see the father’s point of view. However unjust it might be, there is an empathy running along.

Mohammed (Mohsen Ramezani) is off for summer vacation from the school for blinds in Tehran. Along with other kids he is waiting for his parents, his father for him as his mother passed away years back. His father (Hossein Mahjoub) comes ridiculously late and asks the staff out there to take care of him. They of course are perplexed because he is a working man and what is more important is that he is a caring man. With no choice, he takes Mohammed back to his village. Mohammed is an astute and creative kid who cannot wait to see his sisters and his adorable Granny (Salameh Feyzi). Every time people meet after a long time in this film, there is an energy unconditionally present and felt. A very narrow margin for error in scenes like this and Majidi using his actors makes it ethereal and so transparent.

In “Children of Heaven”, despite the cuteness of the kids there was strong sense of the realism in the hardship they go through. The family circumstances and a working father with an ill mother are there for a realistic purpose which does not feel like a script rule. It comments on the social scenario and its claws on people. In this film, we cruise through lush greenery and mountains just right enough height to appreciate and not be scared and the flow of water. Cinematography by Mohammad Davudi advises that people living in this condition would have to be good and mostly they are.

The film which centers on this blind boy makes him likable by every one out of his character than out of pity. His Granny cares and preciously take him through the fields. His cute young sisters are filled with smile when they see him. But his father struggles and is tip the limit where the boy is hindrance to everything in his life. He is hesitant to get married which is very prospective on the bride’s side. He has had a tough life coming through this and now he is left with kids, a mom to take care and the woman he loved under the ground. He has throughout his manhood given to others and worked on the hardship. He is disappointed with the praised god and he wants his love. Majidi of course does not show these when we meet him and the few scenes he stands by to see the kid surrounded by affection.

Mohammed walks by his own when he can and continuously feels the nature of things and listens to the sounds of the birds and animals. During his wait for his dad at the beginning, he goes towards the woods and begin to shoo away a cat. He feels the leaves and finds a small bird fell out of nest. That scene which sounds so overdramatic has to be seen and relished of this innocence and kindness. A kid of such nature never complains about his disability but there comes a point where he has the same question for god what his father has.

Every kid actors are wonderful and play their role with the same naivety and truthful joy they would be carrying around at that age. The father played by Hossein Mahjoub though is the one stealing the show. When the audience is led to believe that the film is about this boy, suddenly they are flipped through in couple of scenes to see what this man has to say. Mahjoub gives a character shifting through the film who can only be disliked and yet we feel for him. There are things in life which never have a reason and plainly exists for the nature of it. The truth is blunt and harsh but the mind beckons a reason and demands a legality for the cruel actions. Mahjoub’s character goes through that and comes out as something else.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Following" (1998) - Movie Review

“The Prestige” is the clear cut message of Christopher Nolan working his films like an illusionist, a magician loving his profession to see the surprises and awes of the audience. “Following” begins that origin of passion coming up in simple characters but a fairly scattered screenplay which knows its path. That is the ingenuity of Nolan’s story telling which has such a bright clarity of the vision the route he takes on. There is a definite ending and a definite suspense which is very ultimately positive to be breathtaking.

Here it meanders through the streets of London through a loner and an aspiring writer whose name wanders between Bill and Danny as he pleases. Jeremy Theobald would not have realized that he is permanently marked in the filmography of someone who would be sweeping the globe revolutionizing blockbusters into sensible films. Here Theobald’s character is the unquenched youth trying to find characters for his writings. That he does through randomly choosing strangers and begin to stalk them with the only purpose of them making into his fiction. This creepy and dangerous tool of his chooses another man Cobb (Alex Haw). Cobb knows what this young man is doing and immediately confronts him. Rather unusually soft to the approach of confrontation. May be there is more to Cobb than a regular stranger the writer has stalked before.

Cobb indeed has more than any one would guess. As the young man, he too has a profound weirdness in his daily activities. He breaks in stranger’s place. Takes random things and does unexplainable changes in these houses. His explanation is the liberation of the unnoticed material in these people’s lives. Cobb becomes the most interesting character in the writer’s upcoming book.

All these details are not laid out for you immediately. There are three time lines happening and each one has different appearances of the writer to denote it. In one he is this long haired genuine burglar candidate. In another he is neatly dressed and smartly cut young man ready to seduce women and the final one the previous hair makeover and beaten up face. Along with this are little details which are given in conversation. There is obviously care in these but not an underlining. An information which peeps out as a casual off hand note.

The film beginning as more of a philosophical inclination becomes into a web of deceit, betrayal and plotting. Yet the departure is smooth and used as a likable distraction. Nolan’s characters does not get three dimensional shape but a pseudo realism into the short story of him. The conversations are something natural. Appears bland but has an agenda of itself. Basically leading to its point in so many way without boring us.

Many might not be blown away by the revelation the film leads us into. But all will agree the completion the film provides which appeared to be quite impossible with the collage of several time lined layering. Everything we see is used as clue and clarity for guiding to the end which makes it solving an equation without any doubts or stumbling.

“Following” apart from this director’s beginning force for a successful career at such a young age has the actors becoming the director’s actors. They do not push themselves out of the edge while keeping them believable in these odd people. They believe each other because the oddity in their actions attracts them and gaining trust without shred of doubt. It is a film which does not strain much but provides a satisfaction rare these days in the production, even in the independent film circuit. Within twelve years, Christopher Nolan has directed some of the best films and most importantly made it widely known without compromising himself. This is where it all began for him and it is a pleasure to watch through it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"The Road" (2009) - Movie Review

John Hillcoat’s “The Proposition” is a prime example of how the man gives the savagery a discordant but a rare treatment of a poetry. He is an obvious choice to take Cormac McCarthy’s novel to the screen. A book I thoroughly enjoyed and for the first time in a not so vigorous reading habit of mine, I was able to capture the versatility of the prose and the passages ending abruptly yet giving a meaning of itself. So the expectation is understandably high adding what can be called the mastery of dark music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. They were the scorers for another lovely masterpiece I adore, Andrew Domnik’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford”. This is a resume for a candidate an interview might be an insult. You proclaim its greatness before you see it. But there is fairness and I need to exercise a dutiful departure from the adoration I have to avoid the contamination of the emotions I might feel. Much went against the film to be honest.

This might be the closest this novel of McCarthy might get its rightful treatment for the screen. Adapted for screen by Joe Penhall, this cannot be called completely faithful but carries the soul of the passages. In the post apocalyptic world where life has turned into black and grey, a man (Viggo Mortensen) has set forth the direction to south and take his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) to the coast. Not much is left in this infertile earth a calamity which is not explained. Trees are falling, water is impure, humankind has becomes savagery than animals and life has no meaning. It is a black hole sucking the life with pleasure and pain.

Viggo Mortensen is an actor whose “Eastern Promises” and “Appaloosa” uses his chiseled face and the relentless charm to the characters. As the man in “The Road”, his face is covered with bushy beard and the prominent features of his body are ballooned by the ineffective jackets and clothes. He is worn out, beaten, tired and he makes us to believe that he has every reason to pull that trigger through his head. He also makes us to see the reason for his survival, to get the boy safe. This is not a purpose but he takes it as much as he can till either one would die. His carrying of this role is an inspiration from the book itself and he lives it up.

In this hopeless environment, both the man and son have forgotten the happiness defined in the world before. The son has an angel face but his eyes carry the ever growing doubt. These two are not ordinary father and son. This is where both the novel and the film turn around the perspective of the observer. The material pulls its viewer to this surroundings and roam around shoulder to shoulder with its characters. We understand the solitude and the abysmal expectation. This is not a film about tragedy but the adaptation of human soul. The shift in the moral and ethical survival diminishes and the line between the evil and good are erased and the darkness creaks from the cracks of the once balanced society.

Analyzing Hillcoat’s movie as a film alone and forgetting the existence of the book which most of the time is the case for me, it is a mastery of telling such a story. Now I can understand why certain critics gets disappointed or rather feel the rage when their beloved pages does not come out as they imagined. But that is not fair and “The Road” is the one I could relate to. It not alone stays sincere to the source but stands on itself. It is due to the actors which brings to the wonderful supporting roles of Robert Duvall and Charlize Theron. Duvall is the old man losing his sight and shares or rather does not share his story with Mortensen’s character. Over a dinner session in front of fire place, Duvall’s wrinkly torn appearance with the blinding white eye is saddening but Duvall makes that his time. Charlize Theron comes in the flashbacks and is encountering the beginning of this catastrophe. Their love is shown in couple of scenes, one simply the fingers caressing the piano and voices to tell it.

“The Road” takes it times and then immediately departs itself as something from a book into real. While Hillcoat is a man of dark poetry, there is only bleakness in this place and it is how it should be. The little moments of joy in between these two are not amplified and mellowed down. The boy played by Kodi Smit-McPhee is sometimes not convincing but then again the boy is a person from this world and often times the character of Mortensen need to remind himself that. He asks during a rare leisurely dinner scene, “You think I am from another world, don’t you?” and the boy nods. In any other film, it would have been an answer of no or silence, not here because this is McCarthy’s writing and Hillcoat leaves it as to be. Those choices with Hillcoat’s direction and performances makes “The Road” a film which scares and moves you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Shutter Island" (2009) - Movie Review

There can be no mistake in “Shutter Island” that Martin Scorsese has dumbed down himself and it is to let the story be a phenomenal precedence than the character development. The problem though is that it is like making a brain surgeon be an executioner. When the trailer arrived, it was perplexing, why would Scorsese take a film leading to a plot and a story? Having seen a major portion of his filmography, scratching my head I went to the film. I cannot say I was thrilled and I cannot say I was not intrigued. It is a Scorsese film but the suspense was not a suspense.

Clocking nearly a century of film history in the globe, the medium has educated a simple movie goer to the cleverness of a plot. In the living days of movie going experience, the viewer is intelligent but more so is to be doubtful and watchful to be not fooled by the art. Ego plays a role in current movie going experience. To not be left out and to crack the suspense and decode the plot before it summates becomes an ulterior motive. And a more rigorous film freaks like me, ego is least of the troubles in defeating ourselves in the pleasure of being fooled. It is both a curse and a gift. “Shutter Island” leaves cues like that and in the very beginning I sensed the suspense lurking by my shoulder and grinning. I brushed it off but it came back to haunt.

US Marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) are coming to the mysterious earth of Shutter Island. There are cops geared up and Teddy and Chuck are set to find the missing inmate from this mental institution. A place for criminally insane, this is where the head of the place will be dubious, devious and have no inclination in providing any details necessary and crucial for investigation. It is Ben Kingsley as Dr. Cawley doing that job. The place of course is as mysterious as it looks. In this land Teddy has headaches and dreams of his dead wife (Michelle Williams). Mind game begins.

Obviously Scorsese wants to create mood but there is a withhold of information every time there is a magical moment between the performances. One such is when fellow psychiatrist Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) dissects Teddy’s character and draws conclusion through his history of violence. Teddy coming out of World War - II is fresh off gory images, one such getting played repeatedly in his mind. The countless number of bodies with a mother and child held frozen in the pile is giving him chills consistently. This is a man looking for answers and not here for the investigation alone.

The commentary of violence of Teddy is discussed on and off in precise occasions. After Dr. Naehring’s psychoanalysis, near the end there is Ted Levine as Warden of the institution gives a ride to Teddy. It is a scene belonging to Levine taking such a care in channeling the actual message through hazy discussions to Teddy. And just as when we think the scene is taken completely by Levine, DiCaprio gives a fight back in simply saying “Why don’t you try?” and grimaces getting out of the vehicle. Where are more of those scenes?

Scorsese much as the brain surgeon I compared to, goes into the operating theatre with his team and takes the human carcass to make a painting which is terrifying and beautiful hand in hand. It is not that he loves violence but that is the way his story gets their voices and he wants it to be loud. “Shutter Island” has pieces of those but is not an intimate look on his films. May be I had the wrong expectations out here and I am inclined to question whether this is not a story for the master. But I would be wrong in saying because anything which grabs the instincts of a film maker’s passion shapes itself into what the creator wants it to be. Unfortunately, “Shutter Island” becomes a work of not so much greatness or classical touches of a finesse director.

With some very sincere performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Ted Levine, the film does not abuse them but does not rise and shine as it generally does in the films of this legend. Even the darkest and gloomiest characters in his films carry a shining armour and offers a solace of pure joy in watching them destroy themselves. “Shutter Island” is a just enough scary nightmare to wake us up from the sleep. We go back to sleep unhappily.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Best films of 2009"

“Yes! Here we are, all together. Is everyone listening? 'Cause this is the moment you've been waiting for, a very special piece of paper, so let's have a big, paranoid, malignant round of applause... for”...well not the United Northfield Culcitate Internal Research Memorandum #229! (“Michael Clayton” Hello !) but for my list of best movies for the year of 2009.

In a year where distribution sucked and the access to critically acclaimed movies stayed in the film festivals not getting picked up, some managed their way in the little towns like mine. This year might be lot of surprises from my picks and a roller coaster ride in selecting those. This might be the first time wherein one of the best movies selected by me will not be recommended for reasons you will learn. So let me not keep you waiting (for whoever you are), here we go....again.

(In Alphabetical Order)

(500) Days of Summer
Marc Webb’s film is the much waited and needed romantic piece. A cheery and relatable performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the dream girl by Zooey Deschanael brings a story about a young man’s quest for the love he does not want to lose. It is powerful, enthusiastic and carries a maturity the train of rom-com debacles the audience has to go through. With a great soundtrack used at the precise times, this is a film which can become personal, distant or painful but never cheating the audience.

Away We Go
Sam Mendes takes on an indie dramedy and he succeeds as he mostly does. Casting an odd pair, John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, “Away We Go” tells the story of a modern day couple trying to settle and find a place to raise a family. Through their ventures, they see a layer of the American strata culture, perception and values ranging from crazy to abnormally normal. Another film striking a great soundtrack by Alexi Murdoch, this is light in taking the audience through it but leaves a heavy heart of content in the end.

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans
What can I say about Nicolas Cage in a performance which sadly misses the nominations for this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor? In this picture hated by the director of previous “The Bad Lieutenant” Abel Ferrera, Werner Herzog creates his own version of it. Does it have the same characteristic of the titular character and the story line, yes but comparing the films is futile as they are so distant in the way it is given. A movie with so much background of surrealistic and hallucinating drive through the minds of this madman, this is a film I cannot stop loving and cannot wait to see again and again.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson’s steps into the animation arena and he can make it his own without any compromise to the content. This stop motion animation developed based on a children’s book is a kid’s film I have never seen before. Pixar has a track run of never ending success to address both the parents and the kids they come along with but this movie addresses the aesthetic sense and the dialogue brilliance Pixar might not be able to achieve. That is unique and this is Wes Anderson once again making a brand for himself as Martin Scorses does.

Inglourious Basterds
If Quentin Tarantino makes a film however repulsive and incoherent the product comes out, the passion for his filmmaking is relentless in every little details of his piece. While Brad Pitt continues his original selections in picking up project, this movie belongs greatly to the performance of an actor no one ever heard of, in America at least. That is Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, giving an ice cold man who has an imbalance in the liking of his nickname “The Jew Hunter” makes the audience like him in a disturbing manner. With Tarantino’s spiraling dialogues and scenes creating tension in minute talks summating to a blood bath, this is a director at his peak of creative liberation.

How much heat I am going to take for putting this film on the list? Hated by many critics and pummeled the director Alex Proyas for giving a preposterous plot and a more preposterous acting from the man I adore Nicolas Cage, this is a film which almost makes me feel special to have loved this. A science fiction which I would have to agree with the ridiculousness of the presumption amidst is visually satisfying, horrifying and finally a thought proving film. It has a charm I could identify with and the final chaotic drive to the destiny the main character come to terms with is poetic. Hate me for this but I cannot dismiss a true experience of a film.

Sam Rockwell is another unique actor taking up interesting projects. Directed by debutant Duncan Jones, this is a pure and pristine science fiction how it used to be. With Rockwell doing a “Castaway” Tom Hanks, brings dilemma to the viewers on whether his character going crazy or understanding the reality around him with a precision. Happening in a station in Moon of near future, the main of this film is harvesting materials which helps in producing energy back in Earth. His contract is for three years and he is two weeks away going back. Things begin to happen and a Kevin Spacey voiced computer friend both helps and add confusion to his sanity. A creative and inventive production, “Moon” gets immense help from composer Clint Mansell to add the mood it needs.

My One and Only
Richard Loncraine brings one of the best performances from Renee Zellweger in this film which went unnoticed. It tells a story of single mother having had enough with her famed husband Danny played by Kevin Bacon sets to a road trip taking her children. A woman who has almost entered the phase of aging finds it hard to cope up with the reality and in the process discovering her independent nature in the hard way. This movie finds beauty through Renee and Logan Lerman as her character’s son. It sees a woman being beaten by the society and her realization of her own potential. With an amazing support from Kevin Bacon, this is a movie about family done with a confidence.

Paranormal Activity
Remember I told you about a movie I would not recommend is in this list? One of the spookiest and scariest films I have seen, this despite ruining a week of mine stands as a great movie making. Said in a hardcore realistic documentary style, writer and director Oren Peli extracts two wonderful performances from actors Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat. It is comfortable in its initial half an hour and suddenly becomes this unknown monster. The scare with no blood shed and no cheap tricks slowly begins to get the viewers and finally when the film ends, there is nothing but fear left in them. The real experience of fear is after you have watched the film. As much as I unbelievably appreciate this master film making, I cannot recommend this to people and spoil their fun.

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
It almost feels like whatever I say out here for this film have been covered and presented by every other reviewer in the country. This has several people to appreciate for and Mo’Nique comes out a tad little ahead of other performances. Her character is the venomous and abusive mother of Precious played by debutant Gabourey Sidibe with a thorough understanding of the undertone and layers to this sixteen year old. Director Lee Daniels presents a hard and drowning story of this girl trying to get a hold onto something which she has left the hope for. There comes hope in sparse amounts but she is ready to take anything. Not becoming one of those sappy inspiring stories, this is a film giving a darkness of life none of us can imagine. It almost questions the humanity in circumstances like that but comes with the hope some of the humans bring forth. This might be the honest film of real human conditions in dreadful places.

The Girlfriend Experience
Steven Soderbergh is another director I wonder on what his next project will be. This film made with Hollywood’s term of meager budget circles on subject I love seeing about. Sexual gratification seen much more than a regular daily act while the real money these men pay are for someone to listen and have a conversation with. Casting adult film star Sasha Grey as the call girl, Soderbergh understands what she can bring to this film and she does so honestly and casually. Given in something of a electronic dance music experience, this movie dissects the city, the men and the girl herself who cannot beat the emotions in the end.

The Hurt Locker
After several war films with tones of accusations, sympathy, anger, agony and pain, Kathryn Bigelow’s film gives a twist like no other. It focuses on an elite force in the US Army and particularly on one character William James played by Jeremy Renner. A cowboy when it comes to dismantling bombs works with an obsession. He goes fearlessly and never backs off at anything. This movie goes through several sub stories relating to the character but does the job of making us understand of the nature this man is. With visual electricity and tension all through the film, this is purely powerful film making.

There can be only few documentaries which presents its object of interest to spill out everything and anything about their life with a candidacy that gives a thorough understanding of them. With nothing but boxing champion Tyson speaking his guts out and the video footage, this film by James Toback is a must-see. A movie weaving this wide opened confession and cleansing procedure Tyson puts through, it becomes intimate with its viewer and then sees the life of this man making mistakes and elevating attitudes. A documentary stands out every year in this list and “Tyson” makes it spot with all deserving standing ovation.

Up in the Air
Jason Reitman’s third venture brings George Clooney into one of his roles he makes it made for himself. As much as he made us believe of him being a powerful firm’s fixer in “Michael Clayton”, here he cannot be more convincing as the solo firing machine traveling from east, west, south, north and everything in between. His Ryan Bingham has managed to stay away from ties to anything emotional, physical and settlement of a human mind as such. He meets a female counterpart Vera Farmiga as Alex and Reitman gives a grown man learning the value of connection without compromising for a cheesy ending. It stumps us with surprises and audaciously provides a fulfilling cinematic experience. Jason Reitman’s “Juno” did not interest me as his “Thank you for Smoking” but “Up in the Air” has an odd beat which tells a director having a stability in giving what he does best.

And that concludes our session with the glimpse of the best films of 2009. Now as many might know, I will indeed be adding some more films to this list as I see. The things I cannot wait to see are “The Road”, “The Messengers”, “The Last Station” and “In the Loop”

Below are some other films which I equally liked but did not make the list for reasons unknown. I would recommend these too along with the bests. “A Serious Man”, “A Single Man”, “Crazy Heart”, “An Education”, “Big Fan”, “Good Hair”, “Michael Jackson’s This Is It”, “Zombieland”, “The Informant!”, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, “Gamer”,"Funny People”, “Whatever Works”, “Chéri”, “Brüno”, “The Brothers Bloom”, “Star Trek”, “The Hangover”, “Up”, “Adventureland” and “Push

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Suspect Zero" (2004) - Movie Review

Ben Kingsley does not have a screen presence but creates an aura through his acting. His silence in characters bring a mystery which can be both chilling and caring. A troubled person with a reason to it. Such is what he portrays an old man Benjamin O’Ryan with a knack for scare his victim before gruesomely executing them. To mark symbolism and leave clues to FBI Agent Tom Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart). A psychological thriller, “Suspect Zero” moves beyond that to experience what these two people go through, how much ever one doubts in the process.

This empathy is not melodramatic but an obsession films like these might say it as a statement and move on. Not “Suspect Zero” directed by E. Elias Merhige giving a background for it. Tom arrives to the not so dynamic Federal office in Albuquerque and he is one of those defamed agents films haunt to bring the past. Here despite that marring character, he is haunted by Benjamin. He sends out faxes and then they find a traveling salesperson with circle and cross marked paper by him. That leads to bring back old memories of bringing Tom’s ex-partner Agent Fran Kulok (Carrie-Anne Moss) to the team.

A film not so flashy is dangerously digesting in the findings. Editing John Gilroy and Robert K. Lambert carries so much of the story telling which has details of something super natural. It brings in a concept which almost makes it ridiculous to consider it serious in a film like this. Benjamin apart from killing these dubious middle aged men sits in a room with a pen in his hand hearing instructions from a tape. Suddenly he begins to draw random scribbles which then turn into specifics and still remain unprofessionally draw. A systematic approach to have those two quality to make it clear and believable.

We later learn something called remote viewing which much to my surprise was practiced widely in the secret community of US intelligence and army in obtaining information. A science developed out of that and still murky around its application, “Suspect Zero” use that to build a character and through which does what every film aims at doing, putting the audience through the shoes of a character. What would be the trauma to see the gruesome things and feel it through something diabolical living and breathing? Benjamin would have seen that and may be that is the reason he has developed this obsession to find the man he theorized in his college days.

Carrying the suspense and keeping it intriguing through till it hits the credits, the screenplay is arranged purposely to be chiseled in pieces which does not make sense. Despite that the narration always gives a hope of something real coming out of it. It does not want to make an end but unravel naturally towards it. And in Ben Kingsley, they get a character who is ferocious, sadistic, obsessive and deeply saddened with the things he cannot control. Aaron Eckhart as Tom living a guilt is caught by this obsession and through this investigation he does not become the mad man doing everything out of instinct with the audience frowning why would he do that. We understand his drive when he breaks into Benjamin’s victim house to understand and confirm his findings.

“Suspect Zero” as regular thriller achieves the protagonist’s temptation to become the follower and get through it. But this is a film about the study through the results of seeing evil, more than a regular person. It asks all sorts of questions of these theories presented to us. The idea of someone randomly killing without pattern and escape right through the system always enough to cause genocide spooks us with a believability. Written Zak Penn and Billy Ray, this is a film serious enough to take something questionable and make it a conversation than a statement. Through it it also provides character we empathize, with scare.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire" (2009) - Movie Review

There are movies which do not make the despair as an art and does not have hopes of living it up to a feel good end. “Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” tells the story of a sixteen year old obese girl in the Harlem and it goes with the direction where we instantly know that there is nothing good going to happen to her. Then it does something beautiful which you never expected would come out of this, hope, unadulterated and in its purest form. If anywhere it would have been ground level real and alive, this is where the word suits to be.

Debutant Gabourey Sidibe as Claireece “Precious” Jones convinces us that she is sixteen. But there are things bigger than an actor convincing the viewer. This is confrontation of the judgment we carry and the film asks the honesty. Previous is obese and is not the girl someone would immediately ask for a date. This is the truth and while there are several films which puts those out there, this puts everything on the table, naked. It wants the audience to get over that fact. There are indeed bigger things at stake and the circumstances reverts everyone around. We genuinely see things for what it is.

Precious sits in the last bench as in the days of the college I took as a sign of mischievous status symbol. Here she does not want to be noticed and still get a perspective on the other normally structured and bred kids lead their life. She likes math and like the teacher even more. She enforces discipline if someone disturbs the math class but it is time to get called by the Principal. She is pregnant with her second baby and immediately director Lee Daniels makes his audience think of how stupid one can be to get pregnant again at this age. We see the horrendous reality followed. We are not made us to feel guilty to judge. It dismisses the notion and there is nothing between the truth and us.

Precious lives in the most horrible condition with the most cruelest character I have seen in the recent days of film history. That will be her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique). She is disgusting, mean and unclean. In the living room with the fragrance flavoured with nicotine, she sits and watches television. An old dusty television and orders her daughter to cook, clean and be a slave. She beats, abuses, insults, lets her boy friend rape Precious. She is not scary or deadly but brings an unsettling feeling which has to be seen to be believed. She is not a drug addict but is more vicious than any one driven as such. She hates Precious for reasons we learn in the end which only agitates more hatred towards this character. If Daniel Day Lewis won the Best Actor in 2007 with no questions asked, this year the supporting role for Best Actress should goto Mo’Nique handsdown. This is unlike any other nature of evil you would have seen through gore and terror.

Precious gets by through her dark days that never seem to end by fantasizing and creating an escapism which she knows. It is the only addiction which gets her to be alive. Not hoping and acknowledging the lie she imagines, this is not escapism.

Precious in this circumstances do find some good people. One will be the alternative school she gets assigned to and the tutor out there. Miss Blu Rain (Paula Patton) is the perfect teacher. She asks her students who are all Harlem’s faint reach for hope to write whatever they feel. Miss Rain reads those and replies back. An exemplary form of opening up communication. Listening and replying with a care which they never experienced.

Lee Daniels gives a picture which hides no shame in the living conditions of the African American predominant projects and the people using the welfare to lead on their life with nothingness and spite their family members and others. But in between those there springs tiny flowers with the spots of its own. It does not do Himalayan achievements if they are compared with accomplishments the inspirational film boasts but this is more than a physical achievement. This is defeating the emotions of fundamental cruelty practiced with immense precision by Mary and the conditions around her. Precious gets out and in the land of nothing but misery, she finds the happiness that has no place otherwise.

Much has been said about this film and much I have said about the performance of Mo’Nique but this is an all round performance. Starting from the protagonist played by Gabourey Sidibe through Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz (in an almost unidentifiable normal look) and Mariah Carey, this is an empathy in studying these characters. This is a movie which created much buzz like the mediocre “Slumdog Millionaire” and trust me, “Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” is not a buzz but a film of human emotions at its best and worst. An unrelenting film, this is more than one of the best movies of the 2009. This is real.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"Crazy Heart" (2009) - Movie Review

Why does a spiral to the eventual of a lost alcoholic celebrity brings the best in any actor? Is it because they can relate to it too well or is it just that good when the sorrow is a muse to an artist? What Mickey Rourke did in “The Wrestler” is Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart” and they are equal in putting their hearts to these men. They can never hold themselves together and they abuse their body and mind to the maximum. A psychological conclusion would be that their way to punish for their mistakes. Well, they do not realize whom they take along for that punishment.

It is always great in the golden days. Anything and everything of nostalgic value are considered as the times when things were best and the blunders seem like miniscule detail. Such is Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) a run down and riding disaster country musician. He has his days of glory and he sweeps that in the dusts of the Southwestern country. Now he is left to play in bowling alleys and not having money to get his own booze. Thanks to the old and loyal fans that they buy the man enough to go and throw up for the song they asked to play.

He has ego like a mountain but does not realize the dirtiness he lives in the cheap motels. He spites his once partner and protege Tommy. Tommy is popular and he cannot stand the sight and sound of that. He travels places and lands in Santa Fe where a beautiful local reporter beckons an interview and special attention. Single mother Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) asks the questions he denied to answer or no one bothered to ask him. This might have been his regular one night stand but he likes her. More than that he likes her kid Buddy (Jack Nation). He realizes there is something special because someone cares about him. Having had bad marriage histories and in the state he is, Jean knows what she is getting. She is fine though to see the best side of Blake buried for a long time.

Bad Blake is not a mean man but a cliched broken down musician. He does not hate every one because he knows the ditches he took are his own choices. He is unforgiving towards himself and regardless sinks himself into the mud day by day. Bridges plays him like an ordinary man and more than that an honest musician. He does not bad mouths much about the drag the current country music industry has become and continues the bad run he acknowledges.

In “The Wrestler”, Rourke’s character carries similar integrity to the profession he loves. He knows whatever he has lost is partly due to the sport and reaches a point where punishment is the last thing someone wants. In “Crazy Heart”, Blake hits that point and his bounce back is not a winning story because there are purely two options at that moment.

And the faces are familiar but the people are someone else. They are not Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall but country music heart throb Tommy and an old bar owner Wayne. Both these men are as important as Jean in Blake’s life. Especially Tommy who tries to do good to his falling star. When Blake and Tommy meet, Tommy cannot see the man eye to eye and has a humility like any other. Despite Blake bites himself to open for him. When they perform for a song, there and then we see what these actors have become without informing us much.

Having said so much about the performances and the story, I do have to say that it is a film made before. The broken promises and the unforgivable slips does not come as a surprise because that is more so the story and in all possibility the real life taking its downturn on this man. While the emotions run high, “Crazy Heart” lacks the novelty Jeff Bridges and other actors bring into their characters.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

"A Single Man" (2009) - Movie Review

It is a nightmare to lose a lover but to deal with it alone is hitting the wall and believing it is the only solution. Such is George Falconer (Colin Firth) as the titular man. He comes as one being steady as a still water and muddled all inside. Colin Firth whom I never really taken seriously wants me to. Written for the screen by director Tom Ford and David Scearce based on a novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, “A Single Man” is a tragic noir love story, if that tells you something.

George has lost his lover Jim (Mathew Goode) to a terrible accident and now is considering the reason for continuing his existence in the midst of 60s nuclear end. Living in Southern California, there is lag in the sense of time from the moment he wakes up. His dreams considers of close encounters with the dead Jim. George lives in a neighbourhood where opposite lives the role model family of the times, Susan (Ginnifer Goodwin) and her family. Nearby is also George’s lonely friend Charley (Julianne Moore). This is the day he wants to get by.

In this film Tom Ford gives the background of the time when world is believed to meet its end. In that, George wanting to die does not even connect to it. As if his day happens in a calendar of his own and it involves passing people and drifting conversations he can choose and dispose. Everyone sees the underlying fear of distress bursting out in him but they are used to it for a while. Clean, arranged and articulate, it is not a surprise to see him as the Professor of English.

When you live alone, smaller things gets better details. The lace which slides on the side you wish it would have and there is a philosophy in arranging things on a table. George has flashbacks on the pockets of memories through the place they cuddled and the people they talked through this day. He packs things for his college with an Aldous Huxley novel and a gun with no bullets. Everything has an unfinished poetry to it in this film.

Tom Ford focusses on this man so intensely. He makes it so when he conducts the class, we see few students getting their faces seen. George vanishes into the thoughts but the sense in the current world takes the view points of a student crowd as it should, insignificant in front of his sorrow. One student brings his complete attention by saying that the novel seems to say Huxley is an Antisemite for which George gives a remarkable opinion. In that there is a student Kenneth (Nicholas Hoult) who has and wants to communicate to the lacerated man inside this immaculately attired man.

When someone thinks of the moments that can never be recreated, even the worse fights appear as a beautiful remembrance of them. George and Jim did not have fights but a discussion clearly getting through to each other. In between them comes the history of Charley, a friend George has slept with but cannot fall in love with. George has dinner, drinks and some cherishing memories with Charley before deciding to pull the trigger.

“A Single Man” presents the ending and discovers the life of a man in pain and sorrow in a single day. His loneliness is not mentioned because his glass house is filled with thoughts. He has faint hope of substitutes or the opportunities of recuperation has only left with him more self pity than a chance to live forth. In this vastness he is going to figure his life out or may be not, but till he does, we like the people he talks and the Jim he sees.

Tom Ford is obsessed with this man for this day. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Mathew Goode are intimate in the words they spill and the comedy of each other’s lives they scatter around. George is not alone dealing with the loss but the possibility of never finding another love in the more conservative times of the America. With several undertones, emotions, interesting conversations, “A Single Man” is a bitter sweet film.

"It's Complicated" (2009) - Movie Review

A film I settled for since I missed the show for “Crazy Heart”, “It’s Complicated” scared the hell out of me when the bitching (pardon my French) session with Jane (Meryl Streep) and her lovely friends happened. They do not pour out their hearts rather live the dark side in the most disturbing and elaborate manner their deep inner feelings. But in comes Alec Baldwin with the spectacular Meryl Streep to make everything all right in a movie which happens in la-la land. Steve Martin at his calmness and right tinge of comedy does not hurt either. Who else than these three can make the beat up getting high in inappropriate routine so fun.

This feature directed by Nancy Meyers is a land of immense love that even the devil might insert the knife on innocence with scary costume and every one will be smiling about it. As much phony it gets, “It’s Complicated” pulls itself out of its misery through these wonderful actors. Add John Krasinski as Jane’s soon to be son-in-law Harley to that list. Jane has still trouble seeing her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) with his now trophy wife Agness ( I did not see that extra “s” coming) played by Lake Bell. Jake as a cliched old boy syndrome has his eye on Jane as well. This re-ignites their love for all the bad reasons.

Minus daddy Jake, the family is amazing. With three kids, the youngest Gabby (Zoe Kazan) who is not hot but cute and an adorable graduating brother Luke (Hunter Parish) and the big sister Lauren (Caitlin Fitzgerald). All is perfect as Jane has to live in a humongous and ridiculously rich house by herself. Lets build the dream kitchen to bring in Architect Adam (Steve Martin). There is so much need of hedonism around because no way in this world the terrible things of these people are going to feel well when they go on the spree of destroying themselves into bad decisions, one after another.

Jake has problems in his marriage which is kept on the bay with not knowing about Agness that well. As in these films where we are told whom to like and not like, an important character in the life of Jake and Jane is nothing but a hot tempered woman. She barely gets chance to speak out and her five year old song Pedro (Emjay Anthony) is there to annoy and teach us how it is to have a kid!

Despite these unsettling flaws, you see how great actors can be and turn around a film if they want. Alec Baldwin as the man desperate to get his previous wife back makes us forget how one does not get over someone for more than ten years. And that is the same reason Meryl Streep does so charmingly of a character we would terribly hate in other films. Baldwin and Streep makes Jake and Jane a couple in misery and how they are so right and so not as they wish.

As Jake continues his cheating record in his second marriage, Jane has to deal with the empty nest problem all by herself. This leads into her taking the route of having an affair with her ex-husband. Even the sentence of it makes is sound wrong but so are humans. The really disturbing part though is when Jane reveals that to her awesome friends and the reaction is nauseating. Jake is so convincing in getting Jane and Jane wants that for reasons we can understand but cannot put in words. She psychoanalyzes herself and comes with questions which all seem to be right. She does not need a new kitchen but a relationship to grow old.

“It’s Complicated” as much has so much dangerous capability of being the melodramatic feature sustains the ride to make it a romantic comedy and thanks for the genre Nancy Meyers seems to be used with. Steve Martin comes as the perfect gentleman and gets screwed as expected. When the apology session comes in the end, we see the adults these people are and accept the age. Even though Meyers gives a plausible attempt to be brave and take the high road in end, we know it is too good to last. “It’s Complicated” is a glossy and implausible tough comedy drama which escapes the death by some great actors and pleasant looking people these films always have. It advises on trying out the crazy side and draws comedy out of it but then it becomes the hypocrisy the parenthood needs and says that releasing the youth inside at their age is not always fun.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Kaminey" (Language - Hindi) (2009) - Movie Review

It is said that Vishal Bharadwaj bought the script for $4000 from a Kenyan writer named Cajetan Boy. He mentored him at a script writing workshop. As much as the credit goes to the author of the script, Vishal Bharadwaj took that with the respect he has for his audience and mainly not assuming they are incapable of grasping an intelligent film. It is these kind of films wherein the comedy of errors is seriously dark. Coming in the genres of Quentin Tarantino’s dark laboratories and the followers like Guy Ritchie with his cult classic of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, Vishal Bharadwaj’s “Kaminey” is not a wannabe but an original and natural product of Bombay or Mumbai.

Twin brothers are poles apart and they have chosen that destined path the Indian cinema industry advised. Here it is the young Shahid Kapoor but time is not mended on the details of their separation. From the narration of Charlie Sharma, he tells the dog of a life he has led to lose all his money on derby race where someone bought the jockey to double cross. Working for psychotic brothers, Charlie is looking for that one chance to hit the button to get the money raining. The button has screwed him this time and he cannot wait to get his hands on the guy ruined it for him. This brings him to a hotel where another drug deal gone right by two enforcers Lele (Hrishikesh Joshi) and Shumon (Rajatva Dutta) for a Mafia don Tashi (Tenzing Nima). It involves a guitar.

Charlie’s twin brother is the soft spoken and stammering Guddu. He is in a crisis too. His girl friend Sweety (Priyanka Chopra) tells him that she is pregnant with his baby. But Sweety hides a sweet information about her family. She is the sister of a notoriously known Marathi clan fanatic cum politician Chief Bhope (Amole Gupte). Everybody are walking time bombs looking for blood and they are all in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you think this is a regular twin mix up, you will be surprised because there is a genuineness in this mix up.

I am yet to see Bharadwaj’s “Maqbool” while his take on Shakespeare’s Othello, “Omkara” was not alone impressive but carried careful detail in the people he pictured with the authentic Indian brush. From that, this film is a story afar in time and place. It leaves the protagonists for who they are. When chance leaves Charlie to get hold of the guitar case with drugs, he is happy to deal it with his friend and boss Mikhail (Chandan Roysonyal), an eccentric unstable personality. He comes home to fetch his stuff to find Bhope waiting with his gang to get the whereabouts of Guddu from him. Out there Charlie wants to get rid of them as smoothly and swiftly as possible. He laughs when they tease him for lisp and learning about his brother’s stammer. He stays himself and Mikhail comes to ruin the party. This is a very simple example of abiding to the sensibilities of the screenplay and character than to churn the formula film.

As much as “Kaminey” will be considered as an entertainer, it is an excellence in screenplay and every actors knowing their presence in it. Starting from the Lele and Shumon becoming the first surprise for Charlie, it extends to the details of the each characters going in branches. Tashi has his own problem with his brother in law’s partner from Angola growing impatient of the drugs not coming on time. In between these we see the ardent Marathi fanaticism in Bhope and when Bhope’s right hand man learns the news of Guddu being from Uttar Pradesh, that is one hilarious scene in the film. It finds the humour in the undercurrent of the animosity and problem of neighbouring state and clans.

While the name of Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra are for marketing purpose and they indeed do their job wonderfully, it is the goons in various forms and shapes stealing the show in “Kaminey”. There is a purpose for every character and their importance in the scenes they are around. In between them is the rainy and drenched Mumbai City forming a character of its own. In the Indian film industry an attempt of difference is considered success and “Kaminey” is not an attempt but a wonderful success.

Monday, February 01, 2010

"Dev.D" (Language - Hindi) (2009) - Movie Review

If the mythological stories of every religion and culture is dissected and psychoanalyzed, that would exhibit the most hypocritical and egomaniacal characters blatantly been forgiven and sometimes glorified for their acts. I am waiting for a take on that from director Anurag Kashyap or some able minded person but till the time can count itself off, “Dev.D” is under the dissection table of Kashyap’s feature presentation. Lot has been said and praised about this modern take on the long known tragic love story. It is of course as Kashyap’s disastrous previous experiment “No Smoking” shows his adamant integrity but it is not as faltering as that. Yet it does not complete itself.

Kashyap cannot wait to splash our face with the modernization of this story which begins within minutes into the film when Dev (Abhay Deol) from London asks Paro (Mahi Gill) in a village in Punjab whether she pleasures herself. Then to confirm his stance, Dev asks for a naked picture of her. Paro is the village girl with prompt modernization and the realization of the new India while playfully teases Dev is as curious and desperate to sleep with her lover. Before there is a genuine exchange of words, there is suspicion and the relationship ends before it begins. Focus goes to Chanda (Kalki Koechlin), a young curious school girl gets into a sex scandal which appears to be taken from the guide to becoming a prostitute. As Dev comes to Delhi in stalker mode of the newly wed Paro and indulges in sex, drugs and alcohol, we learn that the much idolized Devdas by the men who lost their love is nothing but a narcissistic and dangerous spinal pain in the back for every one.

I believe no one would like to talk about the elephant in the room, which is the disjointed story telling. Or more so the haphazard narration. The content is a breath of fresh air and the director is a man ready to tackle toe to toe the immersed cruelty dusted off in the stories and reality. Dev is shown for what he is. He is a rich spoiled brat never learning the meaning of life and mainly love. He wanders around to forget the reality he denies to understand. And for that Abhay Deol does not have much to do other than have a disdained look and utter words of insult now and then at the females who hopelessly care for him.

The soul of “Dev.D” is truly the songs it uses to boost the scenes which do not carry the justice to the music. Amit Trivedi’s music is not a mere hit of catchy songs which get short lived in the techno scene of the current youth. It has a precision in each of the beat and variation in the tunes. It is the mood of the film. Whatever Anurag Kashyap explained to Trivedi should have been beautiful, promising and emotional because it requires an understanding to come about such songs to fit a story which is soaked in self loath, carnality and tragedy.

Despite these qualities, “Dev.D” becomes complacent even before it starts. As swiftly it moves through the introduction of Dev and Paro followed by their failed love, the part where Chanda’s young age taking a wrong turn puts the story off. Kalki Koechlin does a better portrayal of the matured Chanda later in the film but does an amateurish acting in the earlier scenes. It becomes a play going wrong in the stage and every one panics unaware that their fiasco is instantaneous and recovery is a far away land.

As much as a jerk Dev is, he should have been given some chance to speak up of what he really thinks. The idea of Chanda falling for this damaged and rotten persona is not good enough. May be she identifies of being ostracized by society and family with Dev but he chose to do so and hardly looked back. In making Dev such a scoundrel, the film forgets to authenticate the reasons Chanda and Rasika (Parakh Madan) go crazy for him.

The feel and look is of course something new for the Indian film industry because people do not take music videos serious. That is what “Dev.D” is, a sometime thoughtful and peppy music video taken seriously. As a musical mix, it is fun to watch the drug trips Dev takes into the shady and hidden night bars in Delhi. When both the video and music clicks like it does in the night bar scene, it shows the passion of Kashyap. But those are sparsely scattered and does not engulf into a single piece of good work. “Dev.D” is a lovely mess and the mess becomes predominant.