Reviews written by registered user

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863 reviews in total 
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Capsule Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, 17 October 2017

If repetitive chase sequences, contrived colorful explosions at the end of every action sequence, and occasionally forced and isolated comedy are the only parameters that you judge a superhero movie in 2017 with, then Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 should be a collector's product. There's a lot of references in this film that demands you go back to Vol. 1 and also take a 50-hour pop culture lesson narrated by Stan Lee. The plot associated with Walkman-ambassador leader guardian Quill's parentage is a boring cliché and one that makes you puke, considering there are more grotesque beings and objects in the film. A sheer lack of novelty, the inability to improve the charm in the characters, and reckless usage of CGI majorly affects James Gunn's second major feature film that is gaudier than the film's obnoxious poster. Chris Pratt has begun to slightly annoy and if he maintains a similar air we'll have to turn to DC by the time these guardians create the next volume. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an ordinary superhero film with lots of blabbering using advanced vocabulary and lots of flashes, lasers, flares, and plasma. It also has a gold-obsessed priestess awkwardly trying to get at the guardians for stealing a bunch of her Duracell batteries. Like this, there are many more mindless arcs, but I'm fairly content because Quill was finally introduced to Microsoft Zune, arguably one of the best music players to come out of the technology race. TN.

Tiyaan (2017)
Capsule Review: Tiyaan, 17 October 2017

The grandeur of Tiyaan is enough to attract you into its world of magical realism and religious madness but blame the tepid screenplay the journey becomes long-winded and repetitive. Prithviraj Sukumaran is a Muslim demi-god of sorts who is out here to bring about communal peace by helping Indrajith Sukumaran's Brahmin character keep his honor. Murali Gopy is the prime villain of the world in the disguise of a sick Hindu godman remind you of the news headline you read today. Religious extremism has been sampled before in countless films, but not as intricately as in Jiyen Krishnakumar's debut feature that has more to do with the current scenario and state of religions and quasi-religions in the world and their conjunction that often has dire consequences. Running at more than 160 minutes, the film hopes to convey few messages about blind piety and how it is affecting the brotherhood but ends up dissolving in its own vile complexity. What starts as a bearable drama with potential to raise questions turns into a mess that has multiple interpretations, none of which make sense owing to the lack of clarity in idea. Tiyaan is, thus, an ambitious play about the effects of theology in a world filled with blind faith and power abuse, and if you are hoping to enjoy it, take packets of patience as offerings. TN.

Parava (2017)
Capsule Review: Parava, 17 October 2017

In Parava, a school teacher makes a failure student the leader of the class he is going to repeat. That is the kind of motivation I want in real life. And that is the kind of fresh and crisp writing you will find in the film as two streetwise kids, played amazingly by newcomers, practice for an upcoming pigeon flying tournament in Mattanchery, a town in Kerala, India known for its diverse culture, effervescent attitudes, and a dark criminal undercurrent. Director Soubin Shahir sheds light into one too many stark social issues that hamper life in the town, including the growing drug menace, child marriage, and gang rivalries we last saw in Angamaly Diaries, but ultimately focuses on the game. I can only imagine the difficulty in filming those pigeons, shots of which are as awe-inspiring as the rest of the film's. Although a trim would have made this platter tastier, the story is heavily compelling and filled with warm doses of friendship and life stories in general. There's a certain cordiality that encapsulates the narrative and that's exactly where the film shines. Solid attention to detail that make you smile, beautifully-structured captivating score, and the controlled decency while talking about porn and menstruation to avoid sexual innuendos just for the laughs are what makes Parava a film to watch, treasure, and revere. It's nothing like I remember seeing in Malayalam cinema.

Ramaleela (2017)
Capsule Review: Ramaleela, 16 October 2017

If you are an ardent follower of Kerala politics, you will be easily introduced to and have a clear understanding of whatever is happening in Ramaleela's first few minutes. For someone like me, who's not too knowledgeable or vocal about any state/national politics, director Arun Gopy makes his debut film a bit too difficult to comprehend. But, then things start rolling like a series of lies out of a politician's mouth as front-man Dileep, with his please-exonerate-me attitude and a skillful sidekick, delivers sharp punches to his political nemeses. It takes a while for the film to transform from its political drama shell into an engaging political whodunit as it sheds its seasonal ingredient of communism and gets talking. Dileep plays a former MLA who has suddenly attracted the wrath and jealousy of adversarial party members, his fellow party members, and even his own biological mother who seems to have never gone to bed since her husband met his maker. After much dilly-dallying, the stage is set for him to take the people surreptitiously involved in a crime to task. Ramaleela manages to surprise with its creative plot, a crisp second half, and an overall applause-worthy performance by the cast.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Amusing., 16 October 2017

The Meyerowitz Stories starts with a critique of Manhattan's constantly changing architectural landscape that has very much to do with why Adam Sandler's character is unable to find a parking spot. Unable to critique his own life, which has broken apart and aggravated since his divorce, he is now trying to mend his relations with his father (or please him rather), a three-time divorcée, an unpopular sculptor who is excited he met Sigourney Weaver, and sort of a pivot to his total of three children. Noah Baumbach's writing, that covers a whole wide spectrum of comedy, will crack you up. It's surprising because these are not second-hand jokes spewed by Sandler, as you'd think, but funny social mix-ups also involving Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, and Emma Thompson that reflect life as you know it. I do not know if I can call these characters dysfunctional (go watch the Bluth family) because there's a certain degree of truth and warmth in their airs; I almost am a Meyerowitz myself. Of course, also blame the goofy editing, the writing slips into boredom theater at some point in the second act with occasional slug-fests and slapstick ruining the flow, but Baumbach manages to wrap it up with a satisfying climax. The Meyerowitz Stories is essentially a film where the characters, although talking to each other, are talking about different things. So you are watching two films at once.

It's A Draw. ♦ Grade C-, 14 October 2017

Everything comes easy for the characters in Ektaara Collective's delightful little drama about the game of chess and game of life. The "hero" is on a winning bout at the local tournament where the spectators are more worried about his caste primarily because theirs is a different one. While most people in the village have chess in their mind, some have politics and angst that are propelled by a recent incident that every other person can guess in India when I use the c-word. Salvaged by the brave casting of a grandmother who is the god of sarcasm against her co-characters, Tupur reflects on multiple factors that mar peace in current times in a country where "politics is all about sports, and sports all about politics." Partly affected by the terrible performance of the majority of its cast and a string of convenient events, Tupur is fun to watch but not life-changing. After all the humor and the feigning solutions to major problems, it ends in a draw. TN.

(As part of the Young Film Critics Lab 2017 at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)

Ajji (2017)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Self-Righteous Guide On What To Do With Rapists And How. ♦ Grade C+, 14 October 2017

The unconventionality of having a grandmother as the protagonist about crime and revenge is what makes Devashish Makhija's cold thriller a tantalizing watch. Ajji is an ambitious story of an old woman who takes the law into her own hands – cliché in the town – and asks us to wonder about the consequences. You tend to incline to the positive because you want her to win and so do the colorful characters who help her, but what we don't see are the obvious superhero powers that she possesses which you cannot blame on the power of will or circumstances. Sexual molestation of minors is definitely a grave topic and one that must be discussed openly but that doesn't mean you celebrate the idea of self-righteousness especially when related to the matters of justice. Ajji is definitely an engaging watch with clever camera work, mirror placements, wonderful performances, and above all, a magically complementing sunless setting. Everything works except for the enthusiastic plot for a film that is evidently the wheels of this crime drama. An accident is inevitable. TN.

(As part of the Young Film Critics Lab 2017 at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)

No Music. ♦ Grade F, 14 October 2017

The amateur cast who originally hails from the same village in Assam where this coming-of-age film is set in is the highlight of the otherwise dull story about following one's dreams. If I say that it is the only highlight of the film other than the beautiful nature- kissed shots, most of which I hear were done in natural light, it'd be like me chasing the ideal dream about this review. I can try and relate to all there is about not conforming to the rules of society, but when a story is filled with bits and pieces, which are average per se and not as a whole, I find that the message gets lost. That is exactly what happens in Rima Das's Village Rockstars where a group of school kids, led by a sometimes taciturn, sometimes high- powered Dhunu – the only female member – decide and try to start a rock band. Driven by imagination and a one-time experience at a musical soiree, Dhunu and her mates encounter a series of limitations, none of which hinder their aspirations because the film has everything sorted out for them. Even if they do, Dhunu finds a way despite being mysteriously hit by puberty. A film for aspiring cinematographers. TN.

(As part of the Young Film Critics Lab 2017 at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)

Sexy Durga (2017)
Worship This One Instead. ♦ Grade B-, 14 October 2017

A man and a woman find themselves doing the same thing again and again in Sanal Kumar Sasidharan's crime drama, Sexy Durga. What is about to happen or you think might and can happen to them is what is recurring in the real world that the film so hauntingly, and to an extent successfully, reflects. Two characters, both confused and hapless thanks to their circumstance, are forced to seek help from the indifferent society at large to get them from A to B. What they get is what they fear - not policemen who understand the ways of love and internet but four weapon smugglers who have tongues that spew lava and airs that can make you lose control of your bladder. The arresting visuals, be that of men hung from hooks going through their skin or a menacing little van designed like a concert, are enough to make you feel vulnerable throughout the 85 minutes of long, long takes and an overall ominous setting that tells you something bad is about to happen. Sexy Durga, despite losing its three letters, is a remarkable critique of the dangerous and unchanging times we live in. TN.

(As part of the Young Film Critics Lab 2017 at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)

Take Another Road, Please! ♦ Grade D-, 14 October 2017

Feed an untested randomizer with three stories and add few essential ingredients like you are Professor Utonium. What you get is Karma Takapa's second feature film, Ralang Road, a fragmented product of Lynchian mystery and spineless drama with bulbs of mediocre comedy. The film tries to escort you into the lives of select people in Sikkim through the lens of the cold mist that never seems to leave the air – whether from slices of cucumber in a barber shop or from a cat's fur in a hotel room. An outsider teacher struggling with "small-town mentality"; two students trying to get at him, and another character that the writer thought less significant are the primary containers brought together by a mysterious bag. Looking like an unedited version of a film student's first product, it is filled with dull shots that force you to take another road but enough loose yet intelligent references, one of which thankfully remind you of Edgar Wright's rapid quick shots, that make it not entirely dismissive. Watching Ralang Road is like trying to make sense of a doodle spattered by a 4-year old. You don't know what it means; the kid tries to explain it and you still don't know what it means. TN.

(As part of the Young Film Critics Lab 2017 at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)

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