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Also The List is in no particular order!
Dhoom: 3 (2013)
Worst is the Dhoom 3 Year of the Movie
Didn't that mean anything ?
Oh Yeah, you are absolutely right!
Dhoom 3 is exactly that - MEANINGLESS
It has already taken 3 valuable hours of my life.
It doesn't deserve a review longer than this.
Aamir Khan - You have lost a lot of respect.
Not only because you signed for this movie. But also because your acting sucked royally.
YRF - This is no way to make money.
Abhishek Bachchan - Dude, just do something else. Uday Chopra is smarter. He has already quit acting.
Cinema is dying a slow death.
A 'Beautiful' Bond Job!
You grab your seat, with a bucket of popcorn, anticipating a bond-wagon to roll you over and you see a start which is perfectly in line with that anticipation- a mad chase in a Non-British, Non-American country which provides cultural variety, crowded streets, colorful landscapes and everything one has traditionally associated with a location for a spy chase sequence. Even before you get a chance to settle in, you are asked to get ready for a trip as start credits begin to roll along with some brilliant visuals and trippy music.
I have always considered Bond movies as wholesome entertainment packages with which a lot of famous names have been associated over years. I could never see it fall in the category of serious cinema where I would want to spend a lot of time. But I was pleasantly surprised and was full of hope the day I got to know that Skyfall is being directed by none other than Sam Mendes who has created more than one masterpiece in his not so long career and is a master at slow plot building/twisting and also loves to create life like characters who are complicated,dark and layered.
Skyfall is a rare experience in itself .It is a blend of what Bond movies have stood for over five decades and what Mendes has perfected as an art. It is that rare bond movie where scenes are not exhilarating but are absorbing in nature. Here, director doesn't want the adrenaline to rush but wants your senses to go numb and flat before they surge back with a different kind of excitement. Skyfall is by far the most beautifully shot Bond movie ever. The climax sequence which is being shown to be happening at the time of dusk in some beautiful Scotland countryside location is one of the most hauntingly beautiful shooting sequences that you will ever come across. The manner in which blueness of sky and the glow of fire and bulbs complement each other is a sight to cherish. The portions shot in Shanghai and Macau are neither loaded with nor devoid of what you are used to see in a Bond flick but refreshingly suck you in the scenes through beautiful frames and lighting and most importantly a surrealistically relaxed treatment.
In times where Nolan has created the most revered anti-hero character, it is very natural that any director, how so ever acclaimed he might be would tend to get inspired by the character of Joker (The Dark Knight). It would be extremely unfair to say that Mendes and his writers drew inspiration from Joker's character while they created Silva's character for Bardem but there is no doubt that there is uncanny similarity in the development and treatment of both these characters. Javier Bardem plays a fantastically devilish ex-agent of MI6 who takes the path of cyber- terrorism to seek revenge from M, the head of intelligence wing of British secret service played by Judi Dench. She has played her part satisfactorily as required by the plot but the expectations are much higher when an actor of her caliber is cast in a production like this and that certainly is an area where Skyfall could have thrown few more punches.
Go and take a plunge in the world of Mendes's Bond. It could work for you just like it worked for me but I have a feeling that a lot of 007 aficionados would feel a little cheated.
Ladri di biciclette (1948)
Bicycle Thieves - Steals the Show, Immortally
It is an immortal classic and now I know why. What a brilliant piece of film making at display! It is close to impossible to better this piece of work for many reasons, most importantly because it would take an event of the order of WW II to be able to do that. Of course, one can recreate it through a period drama but you can not recreate what isn't real(or neoreal) anymore with the same effect.
The movie depicts the social,economical and cultural panorama of Italy(focus on the lower/middle class) which is still suffering from the after effects of the war and is trying hard to limp its way out of it. Vittorio De Sica shows it all without ever focusing on it but through a very simple story in the forefront. There is no fuss around the story, there are no sub plots, there aren't any superfluous scenes either. The plot is as simple as it gets. It's the reality of characters and the treatment given to the film that creates a winning combination. The skill of director is such that withing ten minutes into the movie, one starts to relate with the protagonist and empathise with his situation. This certainly doesn't happen because of the problems and challenges the protagonist faces. Its the liveliness and realism that each frame of the movie possesses that completely absorbs the viewer into it.
The impact of the movie is accentuated because at the center of the plot lies a father-son duo. Its a relationship which is mostly understated be it the reel life or the real, which of course opens up the possibility of multiple layers. Once there is so much screen time available for this relationship to be portrayed, magic is always on cards, all it takes is a magician who can play the tricks right from his heart and for once not keep anything away from his audiences. This is exactly what Vittorio has been able to do here. If, like me you have also seen Life is Beautiful(1997) before Bicycle Thieves ,you will constantly be reminded of Bengini's masterpiece and which will in a way amplify the goodness of the experience. The fact that the kid here was also (Just like Lamberto was not a pro prior to this role of his) directly picked from the streets gives an immensely raw and mature feel to the kid's character and that reflects directly in the quality of each scene.His expressions, mannerisms,and specially the reflexes are too real to have been directed by anyone.
The brilliance of the movie also lies in the fact that it is being filmed in the same city of Rome which has those typically beautiful Europeon streets, lanes, walls, bridges and markets. These characteristics would have otherwise perfectly catered and serviced to the tastes of people who have special liking for these but yet the plot and its presentation is so strong and gripping that one hardly gets a chance to wander away from the core of it.
Bicycle Thieves, which is nothing less than splendid till its final chapter begins to unfold, transcends into the realm of immortality within a matter of minutes with what transpires. In those few minutes, you would look at yourself inside out (there are chances you might end up feeling naked), you would see those 'moments of truth' from your past flashing past your eyes at frantic pace and you are bound to experience a range of emotions at once. This was one of the very few occasions in my film watching career where I have found myself inside the frame as the movie begins to throw the end credits
English Vinglish (2012)
English Vinglish - Beautiful Sheautiful
English Vinglish is a beautiful journey that a middle class Indian housewife takes, to regain something she lost or probably never really got, ironically enough, in a foreign land with a foreign language as a tool.
The movie has a simple plan, and audience gets to know about it right at the beginning. There ain't any surprises or twists therein to wow you, its purely the execution of a simple yet universally appealing plot that makes English Vinglish one of the most beautifully made movie of the year.
This is a sort of cinema which has traditionally been oiled with loads of melodrama and any director would have wanted to do that considering the fact that people who are going to relate the most with the central character are most prone to be pleasantly affected by the overdose of melodrama ( Yes, I am being a little 'judgemental' here!). Credit must go to Gauri Shinde for shunning the temptation and going ahead with a recipe where she was able to create delight out of right mix of ingredients rather than putting a coating of sugar on the 'laddoos'.
Make no mistake, the feel good factor of the movie isn't there just because all the pieces have been put together in the correct order but also because there are layers attached to the story and the characters. These layers help English Vinglish surpass the expectations that an ordinary viewer would have had with it before stepping into the cinema theatre. These layers have been treated with utmost care and are interwoven in the script with great skill. Even though the plot of the movie doesn't encapsulate many genres, the scenes are successful in generating a range of emotions. Thanks to the central plot, humor becomes a part of majority of the scenes and it is never forced upon you.The entertainment quotient of EV is way more than one would have expected.
There are a few sequences which could have easily gone in the zone of 'Oh, thats ridiculous!' but yet they were right there in the 'that will do all right' category and this was only possible because of masterful Sridevi who hasn't lost even an inch of her charm and she still stands way ahead of any of the contemporary actresses when it comes to the art of acting. Her presence is so overpowering that one hardly notices or gets annoyed by certain instances of manufactured dialogues and stereotypical display of characters. The journey, the transformation and its impact on the movie and the audience wouldn't have had half the quality had there not been Sridevi at the helm. Every other actor (and guest actor) plays their part well enough to create the right garnish for this savory meal.
Without taking any credit away from Gauri Shinde, everything from costumes, to music and locations to screenplay had impressions of R Balki's(producer) previous works and he would have been of great help in the making of EV as well.
The affect that English Vinglish will have on a particular individual will depend on the relationship that he/she has with the one/two women that hold the most important place(s) in their lives. The degree of impact will vary, though one thing is for sure, it will only lie on the right side of the axis.
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Some Like It Hot - The Classical Comedy
There is always a thing about Classics, even before you absorb the first frame; you are burdened with huge expectations. But, Some Like It Hot is one of those jet planes where you got to tight your seat belt and forget everything else to enjoy the joyride or you would fall off your seat.
I feel casting in a movie is one of the most under discussed elements of movie making amongst general public but it plays a very significant role in the success of a movie and SLIH is the prime example of it. Apart from Jack Lemmon, none of the protagonists were known for their superior acting skills and they would not have made the cut for a Billy Wilder piece. But, in retrospect, who other than Tony Curtis who had a boyish look and at the same time possessed sharp features could have played a saxophone playing woman charmer who could cross dress to be a part of a woman band. You can only get a flawless performance from a bad actor only if he/she is playing himself/herself and that is the exact reason why Marilyn Monroe wows you in every scene of Some Like It Hot. She is playing a dumb, vivacious and vulnerable damsel who can sing, doesn't mind sleeping with a charming guy whenever she gets a chance and then dips herself in a whiskey bottle when left all alone with herself. Jack Lemmon with a broad muscular jawline was surely the one who had a better chance of getting caught as someone not in the right clothes, but that is very small price to pay, as an actor of his caliber was indispensable to the cause of SLIH. He has an amazing sense of timing when it comes to humor; he is almost chaplinesque when it comes to expressions and the confidence with which he delivers his lines puts him right at the top of stack.
I am not sure when was the concept of black humor introduced in the world of cinema, but, SLIH has to be one of the better examples from the old times where black humor is integrated in the comedy. The black humor is there only to make its presence felt and nothing more. Other than that SLIH is a fun filled journey of Gerald (Lemmon) and Joseph (Curtis), two musicians on the run from dangerous Chicago gangsters who are after their lives. They find their safe house in an all-woman band that is off to Florida for a string of performances. This is where they meet the gorgeous Sugar (Marilyn) and try their luck on flattering her. It is all about how Joseph manages to get ahead in the race and Gerald like a true friend tags along without any explaining or pleading by Joseph. This is what makes SLIH sweet. The necessary salt is added to the movie by little moments like women having a party on train, Sugar hiding whiskey in her stocking, Fielding (Joe Brown) hitting on Dalphe (Gerald disguised as a woman) and further complications that set in because of these. What makes this classical comedy special is the fact that it makes you laugh at so many occasions without being slapstick or cheap or using the chaos technique. And when it doesn't make you laugh, it makes you smile. Most importantly, the movie stays with you.
The manner in which the movie begins, it suddenly makes you wonder - that's too much of real car chasing and shooting for a black and white movie of 40's and then you realize it's done in 1959 and the movie was intentionally produced in black and white. The first scene itself is a cracker and will create a cocktail of emotions, with words like liquor, crime, party, death, music all floating around at the same time. There are plenty of scenes where the camera pans out from one object to another capturing multiple things with different moods and complexion in the same scene and that is a technique which I guess wasn't used quite frequently back then. Make-up job of Curtis and Lemmon is too good for those times and it would have been so important for that to have been correctly done as that is absolutely central to the whole plot. Marilyn's costumes are way modern and she carries them effortlessly.
Some Like It Hot is without any doubt a classic but, probably in no other movie would have the last line played such an important role as in this. The finishing frames where Joe Brown utters the unexpected leave you pleasantly surprised and I am sure it would have had far better impact on the audience 50 years back.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - A Thrilling Drama
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, unlike what the title suggests, is as dark, depressing, profound, layered and pervasive as any drama film can ever be, aptly shot within a limited perimeter with a handful of characters. It raises as many questions about life and people in general as it answers about the mysteries of the plot which is the foremost reason why this movie will never lose its relevance even though few of its ingredients are past their expiry dates.
The movie doesn't take too much time to draw the viewer in, thanks to a fabulously shot long opening scene which has at display the acting prowess of Newman and Taylor along with a continuous piano instrumental in the background which makes the conversation all the more interesting and intriguing. The tonality of Taylor's dialogue delivery and the pauses she takes are so typical of those times and are yet so charming that they can make you fall in love with her. She is arguably the most charming diva of the 20th century, yet it is never difficult to imagine her portraying a character which is most of the times transmitting negative vibes. She has a special gift, with a little change in her glance and a minor change in her eye liner, she can create a different version of herself. In fact, as the movie reaches its culmination one begins to realize that the part of Maggie is so carefully constructed that the option to not like her has been completely left to the audience ,of course at their own risk!
Brick, an alcoholic ex-footballer is played by Newman, who pulls it off without any crutches. He is playing a man who is a fighter, yet hell bent on losing the battle, is an optimist at heart but decides to traverse the path of indifference. I do not know whether it is Brooks' style or Newman's improvisation, there are scenes where Brick would enquire further to a statement made by Maggie by asking 'Is it Maggie?'. The tone of this query borders between sarcasm and apathy and that just takes the scene to another level altogether.
Being an adaptation to a stage play,COAHTR has done fair justice to it by being a compilation of long sequences(not long shots, that would have been epic!) which are shot within a house. Also, it is quite evident that while adapting the play into a feature film, Brooks had chosen not to include certain direct references taking into consideration sensitivities of 50's audience and censor which actually has worked in favour of the movie by making it even more interpretive in nature at certain critical junctures. There are two philosophical questions pertaining to morality and death which are at stake in the movie. The manner in which focus shifts from one to another is much like how a stage play would be divided in two halves.
Unlike conventional cinema where a character develops as the story progresses, here the circumstances and their portrayal is such that the major characters indulge in the discussions pertaining to their past making you feel as if some one is literally peeling off the character's skin and you suddenly get to see a new layer with a different formulation.
There has to be a special mention for Burl Ives, who I had never heard of before watching COAHTR and I certainly can not forget him after this. If he received an Oscar for a different movie in the same year he was nominated for his role in COAHTR, I will have to watch his winning performance very soon. Burl Ives is by far the best actor in the movie, as he literally explodes into a power house actor as the story unfolds. His mannerisms, voice modulation and depiction of moments where Big Daddy's stature/arrogance is challenged combine for a supreme acting display.
It is an out and out drama but, in so many ways it pans out as a thriller. It will always make questions pop and float in your head and would draw you ever closer to catch the Cat. If you are a fan of drama, its salivation time, if you like thrillers, there is enough to keep you glued and if you just like good cinema, it certainly is good by being 'not-straight' to say the least.
Sublime Kareena in a Sub Standard Heroine
I hate to measure movies in terms of halves or segments because a segment or a half cannot change the overall quality of a movie, but Heroine is a movie about extremes and Bhandarkar has probably made the mistake of living it too literally. There are particular segments of the movie which are smooth, real, boast of A-grade acting from the supporting actors, have dialogues worthy of being in a feature film, non-stereotypical but unfortunately these segments put together do not even form 33% of the movie. The remaining (majority) of the movie clearly reflects that Bhandarkar is in an eternal hangover mode as a result of his earlier works. Not to forget that the effect is amplified by fake acting by proved bad actors, unreal sets, unnecessary scenes which devalue the movie rather than doing any good to it.
One can only muster courage to go through the remaining parts of the movie, thanks to a performance by Kareena that comes only once in an actor's career. The biggest reason why the portrayal of an emotionally vulnerable and confused actor would have been a huge challenge for her is because she seems as someone who is completely opposite to that description in real life. The manner in which she has managed to express the insecurities and complexities of the character, there is no doubt that she has come out with flying colors. And that makes her the biggest winner in a movie which lost the race in the buildup itself. In fact, if you follow her eyes, expressions and antics throughout the movie rather than paying attention to the dialogues you will be able to empathize with the story of 'Heroine' and have a far superior experience. Others who deserve the credit of making the good segments of the movie exciting as well as entertaining are the actors like Ranvir Shorey, Divya Dutt and Shahana Goswami who have time and again proved their mettle as high caliber character actors.
There are certain scenes in the movie which make you wonder why couldn't Bhandarkar keep up the same tempo and finesse throughout the movie. Two such scenes have Helen in them who is playing a yesteryear superstar, explaining Kareena how the film industry has changed over years in one and affecting Kareena in a more spiritual manner in the other one. Thankfully, technically the movie did not have any major deficiencies and the best song of the movie is there as a background score to one of the better scenes. The bottom line is that this is a movie which unsuccessfully tries to break out of the zone of average and at the same time cannot be ignored because of a powerful performance which can blow you away.
For other filmy experiences visit www.imnotafilmcritic.blogspot.com
Don't just watch it, Be a part of the Epic!
I have always watched and enjoyed movies produced all over the world but I feel its high time I put my thoughts on paper for the sake of records at least . Also, these will have the potential to create some nostalgic value later.
Coincidentally, I watched Casablanca for the first time (emotionally) few days back. The movie which is largely known as one of the greatest love stories of all time is not one, its much more than a mere love story.
It is a work of a man who at the time of making this piece seemed to have acquired such levels of skills in his art form that it is next to impossible to be able to find a flaw in this work even for the finest of the observers.
How do I even start here? I should very well start with the image which has not left me ever since I have finished watching the movie. There is no doubt that Ingrid Bergman is one of the most naturally beautiful actresses Hollywood has seen in the last century, but in my opinion she is also one of the very few actors who could speak through their eyes exactly what was there in the heart of the character she was playing. This is a skill/gift which is found in a rare breed of actors. The scene where she looks at Rick (Humphrey Bogart) after all those years of separation is a perfect example of the role eyes ought to play to emote ones feelings without utterance of a single alphabet. Its hard to believe how she did not receive an Oscar nomination for this movie as she ended up receiving seven of them in a long glittering career. The prospect of watching all of those is a temptation that can not be defined.
I haven't seen all of Bergman's fine performances but in the few that I have seen, one can easily conclude that she has the ability to give multiple layers to her character which is the case in Casablanca as well. The flair with which she has been able to shift between various moods of innocence, mystery and sheer passion is remarkable. Of course, credit must also go to Curtiz who orchestrated this mood dance.
The character of Rick is like an iceberg which has been put in fire to melt and vanish and just before it starts to lose its identity it takes inspiration from itself and extinguishes the fire with the water it had lost. There could not have been a better choice for this role than Humphrey Bogart, every square inch of whose countenance reflects the state of mind he is in. Moreover, he is a true style icon in this movie and fits the part to the hilt which pops up the following question: was the role of Rick written for him or he was the best fit for the role!
As is seems, the image of protagonists is at the top of my mind their role in the greatness of the movie is certainly not limited to being the faces of the movie. Having said that, below the surface its the work of a master who has engineered multiple components into a giant which overpowers most others in its proximity. This fine piece of work makes its entry straight into the list of Cinema Extraordinaire because of its universal appeal, unique treatment, essentially real yet whimsical script, gripping screenplay and stupendous display of ever changing human behavior.
The range of emotions and situations this film has on offer at every stage of the movie makes it a sumptuous and delicious meal for audiences of varying taste. The movie reaches its climax in 95 minutes and it feels like that perfectly timed dessert which is an extremely rare delight.
The manner in which any two characters have been linked in this movie is the most unique to say the least. There are many two way relationships which have been portrayed with considerable depth on screen in such a small time that you start wondering by the time movie reaches its final moments that how was it even possible to experience so much in such a short time.
Every character leaves an indelible mark even though all it did in the movie was hit a few guitar strings or pick pocket at a restaurant. Every scene in the movie is a study in itself.
This is a must watch for anyone who has ever thought of himself as a movie fan. Casablanca without doubt makes its way in my all time top 5 list!
A Level Up : For Bollywood and Banerjee!
Shanghai is a level up for Dibaker Banerjee as well as Indian Cinema for so many reasons:
1. I don't remember if there has ever been a director after Kundan Shah(Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron) who has braved a quality satire on Indian socio-political system.
2. Shanghai shows nothing more than what you already know but still keeps you engrossed because the intensity never dies down.
3. It is full of instances where ironical moments have been juxtaposed in the time line and that definitely is one of the core strengths of the movie.
4. Another facet of Abhay Deol is unveiled in Shanghai.He perfectly portrays the characters without overdoing the accent which even a seasoned actor could have ended up with.
5. Emran Hashmi never lacked talent but Banerjee's Shanghai provides him of the right opportunity and Hasmi makes full of it by delivering a career defining performance.
6. Kalki is her usual best displaying plethora of emotions with aplomb ease.
7. The research done to show how the government machinery works is worthy of praise considering how most other movie makers don't even care to research.
8. Above all these what makes this movie a grand success is the stupendous casting of all the secondary characters.
Ferrari Ki Sawaari (2012)
A Ride Little Bumpy
Ferrari ki Sawari (FKS) is one of those movies which ends on a note so high, both emotionally and morally that you don't really have a choice but to summarize it as a 'good watch'.
Its a movie set up in a world where everything would ultimately fall in place and has people who fall on the extreme ends of the human axis. Even in such an improbable world, director has been able to successfully fit in a juicy(carrying potential)enough script without making it much of an embarrassing affair. It would have been an elegant and far better piece of cinema had it been without its extended sub plots and some out of place characters. That would have automatically made it a shorter and crispier ride on the Ferrari. But then it would not have been a Vidhu Vinod Chopra Production.
It goes without saying that the presence of Boman Irani was an absolute necessity for FKS to have its core in the right place. I wish he gets to do more of such roles where one can sit back and admire the talent this guy has and wonder where he was hiding before he broke into the scene. Of course it is Sharman Joshi who has come of age and has been satisfactorily able to carry the movie on his shoulders till the very end. It is a movie where you would leave the cinema hall thinking of it as a paisa vasool picture but at the same time you would know that you have somehow been tricked!! Go watch the movie for little flashes of brilliance and to have a feel good trip from the theatre exit to your car.