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Gone Girl (2014)
Gone Girl - Good Execution rendered with Pot Holes
By Raj Doctor
The movie was consistently rated 4 or 4.5 out of 5 by most critics. The IMDb rated it quite high at 8.5 out of 10. The Director is David Fincher of Seven, Panic Room, Fight Club, Zodiac and Social Network fame. Gillian Flynn (resembling a bit the movie actress Rosamund Pike) the author of the 6-million plus copies sold "Gone Girl" was on New York Best sellers' list for more than 10 weeks. Does it get any better not to see this film?
David Fincher has made movies on various subjects and is considered master of adapting books and novels into movies. It might be his phase of life where he wanted to explore couple relationship and he found an apt book through Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.
The story Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) discovers his wife Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) missing, and reports to the police. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) investigates the case and the audience is taken into exploring the case clues that somewhat point to Nick's hand in the disappearance of his wife. In flashback it is shown Nick having relationship outside marriage and having bad temper thus becomes the unassuming suspect in the eyes of police, audience and to some extend Nick's twin-sister Margo (Carrie Coon) who supports Nick in every way. Just around half-time we know that Amy is alive, and she is the one who has orchestrated the disappearance act to take revenge on unfaithful husband Nick. How Amy returns back to Nick forms the rest of the story.
The movie is surely about issues around modern couples and their relationships within marriage. Not one partner is true there are lies, cheating, hate, deception within their interaction, yet they are together.
Ben Affleck is effortless and does not have to do much in terms of acting, and yet he justifies his role and the mystery around his cheating character. Amy Dunne plays a very contrived so called referred (in the movie) as sociopath and she brings much nuances in her role with her expressions to understand what goes in her mind. The remaining star cast is okay. Kim Dickens role as a detective reminded us of Fargo's Frances McDormand, but Kim's role did not have that much depth.
The first hour of the movie is just a built up and slow. Nothing much is happening. The second half picks up and holds attention.
I could not fathom why a wife should go to such an extend to take revenge of her husband by enacting her own disappearance and murder? (Sociopath?)
I would not say that there was anything wrong with the film's execution. I have read that Director David Fincher has been very faithful at the adaptation of screenplay which is also written by the authoress of the novel - Gillian Flynn.
I think there is a problem in the plot of the novel itself. It may be well written and surely liked by people as it is a best seller. But there are BIG pot holes in the story itself. I would not dwell into it one can read the IMDb hated reviews to understand those.
Ending is one point that is discussed and debated a lot but I do not find it worthy to discuss much. It is this - husband and wife continue to stay together within the marriage knowing each other's dark sides.
Overall, the movie was okay. Well directed but bland. As what happens now a day to most of the movies it is over-hyped and under-delivered. I found Gone Girl suffering from that psychosis. Nothing amiss if you miss seeing it and nothing to give such high rating!
(Rating 6.75 out of 10)
Katha Sangama (1975)
Katha Sangama - A must movie to watch to study Puttanna cinema
Because no one has reviewed this title on IMDb, I thought of writing a review of this masterpiece of Puttana Kanagal.
Puttana Kangal is respected for his master touch of weaving emotions to the mundane story is such richness that allures audiences to accept and empathize with each and every character and story he narrates.
Katha Sangaman is such an example. It was a unique attempt (in 1975) by Puttana to present three contemporary literary stories by young Kannada writers in one film. He structures the movie with an introduction of Kannada Sahitya (literature) and prominent writers through ages. Establishing that he introduces three author one by one - of each short story to present the theme of the short film that would unfold. Puttana selects three stories as follows: First is Hangu, it is about a up-right university professor who is in a dilemma when a contractor tries to bribe him to pass his son for attaining a college seat in the face of his sick child who requires immediate medical treatment. The contractor extends all his help to the professor who has no way but to be servile under obligation for the sake of his son's life.
Second is Atithi, it is about a hostel warden lady (B Saroja Devi) who looks at her past while comparing the lives of young girls staying at hostel with hers. As a young independent thinking, liberal girl studying in college Saroja is being wooed by our hero (Kalyan Kumar); but in feminist mood declines the offer, and later in life while serving as a hostel warden gets aware of her loneliness in her stern disciplinarian outlook as independent feminine.
Third is Munithaayi, it is about a simple villager blind girl (Aarati) who is saved from teasing by a good man (Gangadhar) staying in a nearby village, who later offers to marry her. Aarati's trouble starts when Gangadhar trusts a wayward youth as younger brother to safeguard Aarati when he has gone for work. The wayward youth along with a local goon (Rajnikant) first, invades the privacy several times of the blind girl by watching her take bath, and later conspires to rape her, and later blackmail her. In final distress Aarati informs Gangadhar who forgives her, as it was none of her fault. The goons run away from the village.
Each of the three stories offers a moral question to the audience bribery, feminism and exploitation respectively and makes audiences think. The acting of all the cast is superb. Puttana has the perfection to present the movements of characters, dialogues, flashbacks and music of his stories brilliantly. Cinematography - at many places is not good due to over-exposure of the film.
One who wants to get introduced to Puttana's cinema and feel his range should watch this film. A must.
(Rating: 7 out of 10)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da (2011)
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
I had not followed the schedule of film festival, but when mention of screening of Turkish movie came in newspaper, I got interested. After knowing that it is directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three Monkeys fame) I surely got excited and checked whether it was to be re-screened? It was. Thus I went to see it.
The Director Ceylan had impressed me thoroughly with his earlier movie Three Monkeys, by its unique narrative structure, still camera, minimal dialogues and picture perfect images. I was not able to sit through his earlier film Climates (but I wish to see it again now!).
The film is about a team of 10 state officials - mainly Doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner), Commissioner Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan), Prosecutor Nusret (Taner Birsel) and their entourage of driver, police, lieutenant, diggers plus 2 criminals suspects (Firat Tanis and other) who set out in the evening to search of a burial place of dead body of a person killed by the suspects, in rural landscape of Anatolia. The team travel unsuccessfully from one location to another, taking rest in the night at a remote village where they are served dinner by the Mukhtar (village head). Morning they re-start their search and finally find the dead body, and take it to the town where a post-mortem of the dead body is done.
There are a few sub-plots that unfold in layers of Prosecutor's story about (probably) his wife's suicide; Commissioner's story about his sick son & his experience about crime where he says In 20 years invariably he has come across a woman's role as a root cause in all crimes he has investigated (anti-feminist!?; the suspect story about his son; the Doctor's story about his divorce; Mukhtar's story about his village problems and about his daughter (Cansu Demirci); the dead person's wife's and son story.
The movie was mentioned many times over that it is tediously (painfully) slow which I did not find because the movie allows audience to get involved with the characters. The narrative is not straight. It requires audience's attention and involvement.
A few things about the movie it is a murder mystery, where the hint of mystery is unfolded in the last 5 minutes. I would not reveal it, but as a hint - from the beginning closely watch the Doctor's character who unravels the mystery during post-mortem. Brilliant! A few scenes that require mention car headlights in long shot beaming amongst the Anatolia hillock, the journey of a freshly fallen apple (from the tree) down the hills to the stream, the magical scene of Mukhtar's daughter serving tea, (WOW!) and the last post-mortem scene. There are also various streams of dialogues that are very intriguing to render the characters.
Ceylan has come to age with this cinema. He has his own style of cinematic narrative, that many on commercial diet may not digest; but he has this thorough knowledge of cinema as a medium. Read Ceylan to understand how he has evolved as a director: "The placement of how high a camera should be depends on the straight lines one sees on the screen." Thespianique! Ceylan started with a team of 1 person in his first film (himself) to progress a team of 14 technicians in this film. No need to say more. Acting of all cast is brilliant! It is Ceylan show all the way! Watch it.
(8 out of 10)
Bangkok Dangerous (2000)
Nicolas Cage is always a reason for me to go and see any movie is the star.
This movie is about an assassin / hit-man Joe (Nicolas Cage) who is hired to go to Bangkok and assassinate four people who are bad. Joe befriends a local pick-pocketeer Kong (Thai actor Shahkrit Yammarm) to help him with odd jobs. In the beginning, Joe keeps a distance with Kong, but later becomes his close friend. Joe also falls in love with a dumb pharmacist. When the big villain kidnaps Kong in the end, Joe goes to rescue Kong, but in the end along with killing the villain, kills himself too.
The Pang brothers made their BIG directorial debut in Hong Kong with the same movie in Thailand in 1999. This is their better and improved international version of the same story and same title with Nicolas Cage as their brand ambassador for international market. Do they succeed? I would say NO because throughout the movie I felt as if I was seeing an Indian movie of 1980s. The story the characters, the events, the love story everything was so clichéd, that I was bored.
Nicolas Cage also could not lift the spirit of the movie. He looked old and haggard and mumbled his way through this deadpan character. Though I should say, he put a sincere effort.
The print of the movie was intentionally made high contrast, dark and blue, as if to give international look (?), but it looked very amateurish. Most of the movie is also shot in dark that too makes it unpleasant viewing.
I would recommend the movie only if you are a great Nicolas Cage fan or Action fan or Thai person. For everyone else - a movie that one could skip without a blink.
(Stars 3.25 out of 10)
I am a die-hard fan of movies Indian movies to be more specific not so much of Shah Rukh Khan since his magnanimous rise to super-stardom when he has started preferring to work with his self selected friends and directors. After seeing the promos of RA one and with the knowledge that Red Chillies - Shah Rukh Khan production house Producer/wife Gauri Khan - has spent nearly Rs 135 crores (the costliest Hindi film), I knew I would go to see RA one and pay my contribution to the effort that has gone into making this film something different.
RA one trailers conveyed a super-hero film like Superman, Spiderman, Batman etc. Exciting to say the least especially when Shah Rukh's last film My Name is Khan was released nearly 18 months back. Those 18 months saw the rise of other star powers Salman, Ajay, and Aamir who ruled the box office in getting phenomenal record breaking collections. Shah Rukh Khan knew the comparison, burden and the expectations. He made sure that he dished out every form of Hindi entertainment mas-ala to matches his star aura and expectations.
RA one is a story of a South Indian Tamil programmer Shekhar (Shah Rukh) working in UK - developing video games. He lives with his wife Sonia (Kareena) and their son Prateek (Armaan Verma). Shekhar, to please his son, develops a video game with its villain RA one (as in its evil personified to the Indian religious legendary figure of Ramayana - Raavan). Things go wrong when the virtual avatar of RA one comes out and takes real form to pursue Prateek - its virtual game rival aka Lucifer. In search of Lucifer (Prateek) RA one - kills Shekhar and his friend and colleague Akaashi (Tom Wu). Here enters the pro-to-type of virtual game world Super hero - G one (as in Jeevan meaning LIFE in Hindi) who is destined to fight RA one. The family Sonia and Prateek go back to India with G one (Shah Rukh again). RA one (Arjun Rampal) follows them to India. What happens Is RA one able to save Prateek, forms the remaining story.
RA ONE has everything that would serve many taste technically superior graphics, good acting by all cast, interesting story outline, great conceptual super villain, popular Akon number (Chammak Challo), world class stunts, a bit of Shah Rukh styled low wit comedy (sexual and a looking down take on South Indians) thrown here and there, some emotions to serve family palate tributes to the genre of super heroes including Rajnikanth (as Chitti of Robot).
What it scores low is its script, screenplay and direction. Translating an interesting plot to celluloid is not easy, weaving a thread to needle in audience's emotions is where it fails, a poise of relief on screen where one sits back with involvement, not all musical numbers are up to the mark, most are out of place and does not take the story forward. RA ONE as a super villain does not fetch kudos in creating that aura of greatness like Gabbar, Mogambo, or even a small timer Ghajani did. Each sequence is great when seen stand alone, but as a whole it does not serve the expectations we would have ordered for.
I had gone to see the film with friends who seemed to be die-hard fans of Shah Rukh and Indian movies; I had gone to see the film in a single screen theater where 90 percent of the audience were probably from Shah Rukh fan club. So the thunderous uproars whenever Shah Rukh did something in slow-mo or a picture perfect pose or a one-liner - were adding up to the lack of what was going on the screen.
Shah Rukh has worked credibly he is a great actor and shows his versatility in each frame. Kareena is able as Shah Rukh' wife and picks up right moods and entertains. Armaan as Shah Rukh's son is very good. Arjun Rampal does not get enough screen time and space to show any histrionics. All the other cast are passable. Satish Shah as Indian neighbor does what he has been doing throughout his career loud comedy! Guest appearance of Sanjay Dutt and Priyanka Chopra. But the thunder is stolen by a cameo by Rajnikanth as Chitti from Robot.
Production values by a team of eight producers are excellent. Music by Vishal Shekhar is okay Chammak Challo is fantastic a big high point of the movie! Cinematography by Nicola Pecorini is of international standards. To mention here, that I did not like the digital camera prints. It does not give that earthy feel and depth of other movies we normally see. Editing is fast paced (as in most new movies) and does not allow the audience to dwell or settle in the proceedings. Art, Costume and Makeup departments have done fabulous jobs.
Worth mentioning here are the Chammak Challo song, the entry of G one, cameo of Rajnikanth, the shot of RA one in front of the burning effigy of Raavan. Big letdown is the last fight of G one and RA one in a virtual world platform of video game format. Rural India wont like it!
There is an obvious take of several sequences and ideas from Rajnikanth starer Shankar's ROBOT and other Hollywood super hero films we might have seen.
See it if you are a tech freak or a Shah Rukh fan, you would love it. Others can wait for the TV / DVD release.
(Overal Rating: 6.25 out of 10)
How I wish I am Maari.....
For me, Poo has been a three year journey of searching and coming closer to understanding pure love. I saw the movie for the first time in Amsterdam in 2008. The way the poster was artistically designed with calligraphically written title had attracted me to this movie. Sadly, that was the same time I stopped writing review of movies on IMDb. The movie had affected my soul so much, that in these three years I have re-visited this movie so many times, seen it again and again.
And I do not know Tamil or understand it. There are a few movies that have made me cry so much. I think it has to do with different stages of my life and growth. The pursue of Maari (the protagonist of Poo) lead me to buy the translation of its original Tamil short story Veyyilodu Poi written by S. Tamizhselvan is Sudhir Kakkar's Indian Love Stories. Back in India, my love for Poo made me meet Director Sasi in Chennai who gave me the copy of the movie with English subtitles to watch. This was my first experience of seeing Poo with sub-titles and understanding the poetry within its spoken language. Throughout the 2 hour 17 minutes run time, I cried so much, at every juncture when Maari came on the screen, watching this pure, golden and innocent immortal love story.
Would be it fair to write a review of a movie after 3 years of theatrical release? I think, YES. I understand that the story is inspired from a real life character of Maari.
Maari (Parvathy Menon - debut) loves her maternal uncle's son Thangarasu (Srikanth) since childhood and dreams of marrying him. The movie is about Maari's pure love that is heavenly, out of the world, innocent and sacrificial.
Director Sasi has taken brilliant performances from his cast. After meeting him I understand the sensitiveness with which he has dealt with the subject. The tenderness of this immortal character can only be niched by a poet and so has Sasi done justice to each and every frame where he captures Maari's mood to the celluloid. The casting is almost perfect, with brilliant cinematography (P.G.Muthiah), and heart rendering dusty and rustic village locales of South India state Tamil Nadu and soul stirring tunes by Music Director S.S.Kumaran especially Avaaram Poo and Choo Choo Maari.
The depth of characterization is seen in most of all the leading cast, that projects their motivations, aspirations, dilemmas without spelling it out in words. All actors and actresses have acted nicely.
Lastly, the review would remain incomplete without mentioning Parvathy Menon, who debuted in Tamil cinema with this role. She plays and enacts the role of Maari to such perfection, that I wish to engrave the image of Maari forever in my psyche. Brilliant is the only word I can say for her.
I hear that the movie has done average business, but it stands out as a classic reckoning to last eternally for the flavor of love it projects on the silver screen. How can one not would fall in love? with cinema Masterpieces like this, restore faith in humanity and the power of cinema and movies that could translate and transplant new seeds of subtle love in heart forever.
What better tribute I can give than say that the movie inspires me and makes me the protagonist Maari to its very core. And I am happy to have been exposed to this lyrical poem of love and romance.
This movie was not in my list of movies. I would not have gone to see it, but my friends persuaded me and I agreed to join them.
An ex-cop Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) takes a night job at a burned out departmental store in New York. Soon he knows that the mirrors in the department store are communicating, and want him to find a person named ESSEKER otherwise Ben s family is in danger. Ben finds ESSEKER and ends the mystery, but looses himself as being one of the mirror spirits.
Young writer director Alexandre Aja, ventures into horror stuff. Personally I found the whole movie to be full of clichéd, the characters, the family, the sets, the dialogues, the screenplay, the events, the ending, the suspense everything Kiefer Sutherland acted well, but at times over-did his role a bit. Paula Patton in the wife role was so so This is a Twentieth Century Fox and Regency production. As a child when I used to hear the starting music of the Twentieth century banner, it gave a sign of branding and surety that we are watching that wont be something run of a mill but would be of a very good quality.
After seeing this movie, I have to say that the standards of Twentieth Century has fallen despite fierce competition. How can one invest money in such cheesy script and screenplay? Even wanting to get scared - I did not get scared even once throughout the movie, but got annoyed by the sudden loud jarring sounds that were used to scare the audience.
There were surely few pluses the beginning titles shots of New York skyline and its mirroring effect, the last shot of New York skyline and the whole scene when Ben's sister tears open her own jaw.. I thought that was a fantastic scene! Overall not a great movie for me.
(Stars 3.75 out of 10)
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
3:10 to Yuma
I knew that this movie was a remake of 1957 classic western movie. I normally do not like re-makes because they are never well made or come anywhere near the patch of the original. But this being a western I love western movies and that too released after so long, I was much more than excited to venture out to see this one.
Ben Wade (Russel Crowe) is an outlaw - robs money and kills people. He is brutal, but this complex character has also some humane side to him. He has his gang with his deputy as Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). They rob cattle from a ranch of Dan Evans (Christian Bale). Dan goes after Ben to get his cattle back and in process becomes ends up in getting Ben arrested. Their tasks is to put Ben on the train at 3:10 pm to Yuma where he would be hanged. How they take Ben there becomes the remainder of the story.
I liked the moral twist the story brings at the end where Ben helps Dan to take him till the train, so that he can set an example to his son that his Dad did not take bribe nor he was afraid of the outlaws.
All characterization of the movie was absorbing - especially of Ben Wade, and his relationship with Dan Evans; they share a complex form of understanding. Both of the two main protagonist Russel Crowe and Christian Bale have done equal justice to the role beautifully portrayed. Ben Foster as the deputy was intense and a pleasure to watch.
The cinematography of any western movie landscape is mindblowing and so was for this movie. The ruggedness, the dirt, the soil, the horses I just loved all of it. A treat to watch such movies on a big screen.
Director James Mangold did a fantastic job in making this remake. As I have not seen the original I don't have any words to compare with. But this movie is technically excellent and has a larger time space of 122 minutes (compared to 92 minutes of the original) so that is nice.
One observation why should anyone try to protect an outlaw and take so much pain to take him to a train station; in the process let soooo many people die and killed anyways the outlaw is going to be hanged. Very stupid and silly I say of those people and director.
But, I overlook this stupidity, otherwise there is no story, no adventure, no action and no pleasure given to audiences to watch two excellent actors in the backdrop of a western setting on a BIG screen.
I thought of writing this review after I saw the original too, but later changed my mind. I will see the original later and write my comparative review covering both the movies sometime later.
(Stars 7.25 out of 10)
Brideshead Revisited (2008)
I read that the movie is based on a 1945 novel and 11 hours 1981 UK television serial.
Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) goes to Oxford to study painting, and befriends a rich lad Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw), who takes Charles to his palatial mansion Brideshead. There Charles meets orthodox religious family of Sebastian his sister Julia (Hayley Atwell) and his mother Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson). Events unfold where Charles and Julia start loving each other but face the passionate jealousy of Sebastian. Julia marries another man, Charles marries Celia (Anna Madeley) and Sebastian runs away to Morocco in depression. Lady Marchmain requests Charles to bring back Sebastian, but without success. Ten years pass and Charles and Julia meet again just to be together. Do they succeed in being together? Go and see the movie for yourself.
I have not read the book, nor have I seen the television serial, so I was not exposed to any comparison of sorts. From what I saw on screen except a few drastic editing cuts and jumping of events, I could not find anything out of place.
The production values of the movie are outstanding; the cinematography amazing; the eye to details perfect; the acting from the star cast top notch (especially the display of eye movements of each characters, that say much more than words).
Director Julian Jarrold (his third directorial venture) has done a commendable job in bringing to life an epic saga of sorts in nearly 120 minutes 2 hours of length. A magnamus task to achieve. I am sure he himself would be dis-satisfied with many of those important events to be left out while editing. Julian has develop this nack of handling British family sagas with wealthy opulence around.
The palatial location of Brideshead is depicted with so much panache, that it is nearly like a dream land. The location a real Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.
Regarding the cast Emma Thompson stands tall above all with her short but pivotal role. Next comes Ben Whishaw with near the edge feminine guesture. He sets the screen ablaze with his intensity. The main protagonist Matthew Goode, plays an under-written and subdued character of sorts that is an atheist, and an observer. He is the common string across the movie and floats easily with all events and character ranges with equal grace.
For those who have not read the novel or seen the TV series, this shorter version is a good curtain raiser. So go and see and enjoy the magna opus. I liked it.
(Stars 7.25 out of 10)
Bored with the types of movies that are shown on any cable television in any country across the globe (even with 200 channels) I always find it hard to make a decision on what to watch. This movie was shown on UPC Dutch TV, and reading somewhat good reviews on IMDb, I decided to watch it.
At first sight, Jeremy Jones (Robby Benson) a young boy falls in love with a newcomer girl Susan Rollins (Glynnis O-Connors) at school. After a few awkward meetings, they start liking each other, go together, and its special confused adolescent moments make love, discuss life, know each other, enjoy each other's company before the inevitable strikes. Susan's father (Ned Wilson) gets his transfer back and has to leave the city. With so much sadness both this young souls depart.
This is a beautiful simple FIRST LOVE story of any young souls. The moments, the stalking, the emotions, the happiness everything is depicted in its simplest and truest form. There is not much coming in the way of their love which is a relieving part of the story. It is straight forward. The supporting cast especially Jeremy friend, his musical teacher and Susan father give a very understated but human character. Their responses to this teenage love stays with you in formulating your own responses in life.
Both Robby Benson and Glynnis O-Connors give the best performances of their career that spans (for both of them) to nearly more than 55 acting projects in last 35 years. But this role will remain their most loved and well remembered. Both are so comfortable with each other especially in those delicately filmed love making scenes that it surely must be hard for the director and acting to film that successfully.
The Director Arthur Barron has done a very decent job in taking out performances from these young stars who look so natural and full of honest love. He makes this movie still watchable and relevant, even after 35 years. It is fresh as a morning dew drop and I think will remain so. This Director made only two feature films in his career, and mainly devoted his time for television.
A special mention of the theme song of this movie Hour Glass which is still hummable and pleasing to hear even today. It is a classic.
I would strongly recommend the movie to each and every adolescent to see and make it a part of their growing up years.
(Stars 7 out of 10)