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The Spectacular Now (2013)
High school trappings
Aimee Finicky could be that girl/boy in school who focuses on their academic and always tries to make way for their future.
It is a dream for Amiee(a girl) to have Sutter, an outgoing party hopping high school charmer, showing interest in her. Her dream may seem like a nightmare for many in the audience. Going literally through physical pain and emotional trauma and disappointment, one really wishes having an intervention for her. Because by viewing through any vantage point, this relation if just started at the end the movie 'The Spectacular Now', seems only destined to be turbulent.
These flawed but deeply lovable and real characters, such as Aimee and Sutter, are the ones that are responsible for the positive reaction to 'The Spectacular Now' at the yearly festival circuit grind that an independent movie goes through. Among the audience for an early screening of the movie there were more than a few disgruntled audience members.
Adapted from a novel with the same name, the movie is filled with overwhelming genuine teen romance moments. It is also pleads innocence for the decisions made by its teen adult leads that makes the movie hop off through their times during the final year of school.
Broken up recently from his longtime high school sweet heart Cassidy (played by Brie Larson); Mr. Keely may be on a high school rebound. Sutter Keely's life takes a turn for the tragic for his spectacular now lifestyle when drunken and passed out he meets Aimee, on a neighborhood front lawn the morning after he discovers Cassidy dating with school Footballer Marcus.
Aimee being mostly an unknown entity for her entire school life appears gullible to Sutter's boyish charm. Her attraction to Sutter comes at a cost of her only friend Kristal, a friendship that heavily relies on Aimee being a pushover.
As Sutter's influence on Aimee increases, he gets her to start drinking and prods her to take a stand against her mother, who uses Aimee to get away from her daily early morning paper delivery profession. Aimee overwhelmed by the life changing experience and relationship decides to commit to Sutter even further their High School arrangement.
Her request for Sutter to consider moving with her to Philadelphia for further studies shows off her growing confidence within her and in the relationship. While Sutter quietly makes the transition of being tamed into have deep affections for a person of opposite sex.
On Aimee's insistence Sutter confronts his mother and sister to provide contact of his abandoned from childhood father. The long awaited visit to his father's place provides Sutter a vision for the future to his own 'spectacular now' life agenda. With his father spouting the very same banality of living the life now; Sutter realizes where his life might be heading towards.
Aimee's love and affection towards Sutter after the anti-climactic Father-Son re-union finally breaks the bubble for Sutter to make him realize that it is time to embrace adulthood.
Mr. Ponsoldt's primary skills seem to be depiction of alcoholism and it consequence after last year's 'Smashed' and 'The Spectacular Now'. Sutter's short interaction with his father and realization that his father's alcoholism is a cautionary tale for him brings out the best out of the director.
Additionally, the romance and its poignant and touching moments is where Mr. Ponsoldt triumphs over the novel. The novel by Mr. Tharp sketches far more complex and real characters and brings out an emotionally numbing end to Sutter's spectacular now theory. But Mr. Ponsoldt gives us a slice of high school romance that rarely looks so truthful in cinemas.
Although the movie's ending is a far cry from the novel's numbing vision, Mr. Ponsoldt's version of the end is edgier enough for a Hollywood film which brings out the best from it talented young leads Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.
Though the romantic leads hog the movie, a shout out has to be given to Brie Larson for her role of Cassidy, a character which makes all the right choices in life for herself. Brie Larson makes sure her character does not devolves into a snippy popular high school girl.
'The Spectacular Now' avoids being a Hollywood Rom-com and is a welcome addition to the coming-of-age genre that always has a new tale to narrate.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Living in its moments and surrendering in its narration
The Indian film industry's most loud and noisy version Bollywood has survived most of the last three decades without telling any story to its audience. The only creative aspect of Bollywood has been its lilting music which is created by those not so good looking talented singers and musicians who are left to watch beautiful( fare skinned) actresses and actors with chiseled body(Steroids) dance and lip sync over their hard work. So whenever a story does drop by in front of them they stumble and fail to narrate it in front of their audience.
'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' is one those important true stories that needed to be told by someone other than Bollywood. With its very prejudice and narrow minded thinking it fails to liberate an inspirational personal life story beyond their myopic views.
Milkha Singh, the Indian athlete who was one of the few bright spots during the early years of independent India was like his nation lived its childhood in bloody tragedy of partition. Born in a Sikh community in pre-partition Multan, Milkha survived the partition with his elder sister along with her abusive husband.
Milkha goes on to survive the hard ships in the refugee camp in new born India by hook or crook. His persona comes off as lively and mischievous. In a very prolonged flashback we are shown his small town love affair and his tryst with the law. The director uses these sequences to insert the usual Bollywood machismo with girls shying from kisses & hugs along with tons of humorous sequences that are inconsequential to the storyline.
All these flashbacks are narrated to the secretary of Prime Minister Nehru during his journey by train to Chandigarh to meet Milkha Singh personally at the behest of Mr. Nehru. He is meeting Milkha to convince him to go to Pakistan for the Indo-Pak friendship games to be held in Lahore. He is accompanied by Milkha's athletic Coach in the Army and his current Indian national team coach who are trying to narrate Milkha's reason for not visiting Pakistan.
His refusal is due to his childhood traumas based in Multan i.e. now in Pakistan. He watched his father's head being chopped by Islamic fanatics after his father forced him to run away from the massacre. He does not feel any strain of friendship towards the neighboring state.
While the narration is about his refusal to go to Pakistan, there is no reference to it for over two hours into the movie until the Secretary himself stops the coaches in between to make them aware of his and audiences dilemma that what has been narrated has very little to do with Mr. Milkha Singh's refusal to head to Pakistan.
Throughout the narration we see Milkha join the Indian Army and dance with his colleagues in the dormitory, he grows up being a small time burglar and falls in love with the village beauty and sing and dream and then when he goes to Melbourne Olympics, he falls for a Blonde Australian and they sing and dance. By this time the murmurs and the desperation inside the movie theater is palpable as it is already over two hours. When the movie finally reaches its climax after over 180 minutes we witness a fleeting moment of a real historical sports movie with a race in Lahore that include Asian Champion Abdul Khaliq. The interjecting images of the race watched by Pakistani dictator Ayub Khan (who confers Milkha with the title 'Flying Sikh') and listened around India through Radio it is an easy win for Milkha but an important personal win. And the moment passes away as all the side characters begin to do Bhangra dance for the 100th times as they did for many other inconsequential sequences and occasions.
But nothing less is expected from Bollywood makers who are diagnosed with narrative mood swings that could be compared to a bi-polar person. They never stay in the moment of a storyline and try to squeeze out every existing emotion one way or the other.
Apart from the sharply written character of Milkha i.e. comparable to his sharply chiseled body none of the characters hold together for more than few minutes. They are either left praising Milkha or being jealous or falling head over heels to fall in love with him. Pakistani athletes are characterized as they way Indians feel they would behave with flaring nostrils and deep disdain for anything Indian (may be Abdul Khaliq did act arrogantly in front of Milkha).
But it has to do with some deep rooted feeling for white blonde among the film makers, for the way they portrayed Milkha's two love stories. While his village love is shown in a very asexual manner, where when the couple goes away for privacy they make childish gestures of love towards each other alone, but with the Australian it is filled with sex and booze from first night. May be they do go far off from village to make out, but for Bollywood to show intimacy it is easy way round to hook up with a blonde white woman.
Such views and forced dramatization of a very personal story discourages the narrative of the film to go along coherently. Unfortunately Bollywood manages to bring down the story of a national hero to its knees and successfully fares well where every other forgettable Bollywood movies fare; in its moments. In moments during Milkha racing from the pains of running bare feet to running for life, 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' finds its footing that are rare and too few in myriad of drama and Bhangra.
The Bling Ring (2013)
The life and times of wannabes
It was quite a conundrum in the movie theater while watching 'The Bling Ring'. Were we about to sympathize with Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Lindsay, Megan and all? It was getting very close to that because nothing is as lowly as a life of wannabes and wannabes were what the Bling ring members can be best described. Wannabes get hyper excited if they see anything they wished to be or be in. Their life is a quest to replicate into a person they are obsessed with; no matter where there actual life circumstance is leading them towards. And what they become is a train wreck of a personality.
I and very sure the rest of audience were dumbfounded to witness the kind of lifestyle these five teens of the Bling ring gang from the Los Angeles vicinity were leaving. The ring master Rebecca (Katie Chang) is on a lookout for a partner and she finds one in a socially awkward schoolmate Marc. They both are seen at the beginning of the movie strolling around wealthy neighborhoods stealing from cars left open. They use there unlawful treasure to party around with their school pal Chloe who is the most laid back of all the ring members.
And then are the adopted sisters Nicki and Sam (played impressively by Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga respectively); who make it a point to be seen in most happening parties in Hollywood. They are pushing their careers in Hollywood glamor world and their only goal is to be a Hollywood Celebrity. They are depressing to watch as there social and family life observed from anywhere drains down to be shallow at all levels of human emotions. They regularly hang out with Rebecca and co at these parties.
It is Rebecca who is obsessed with clothing and jewelry wore by celebrities and soon begins to look for celebrity home addresses on Google with help of Marc. They start with their idol Paris Hilton and find her house key on the front entrance mattress. Once they get in her house, it is like their mother ship is calling as they navigate through Paris Hilton's materialistic wealth.
Once Chloe, Nicki and Sam hear off these adventures in their idols temple precious, they are in and ready for their wildest dreams to come true. All together they search through Google for their fashion icon's addresses and rob them one by one, while entering Paris Hilton's house reported five times. Their nightly Hollywood adventures make them prime-time news material because it is important for us the society to know whether the celebrities we worship have their precious clothing junks secured.
Within few months the investigators get their hands on all of them (well not all) because these Hollywood Robin hoods brag a little too much about adventures around the party circuit. With prime-time spotlight on these robberies the investigators are able to track the Bling ring with their stolen possession on their own Facebook page.
And is justice is done? Well society loves Robin Hood and some of us are thankful they were not stealing from some poor bloke. But these kids were from wealthy household and were punch drunk on their celebrity obsessed life. Audiences are left to scorn the most on the two sisters who now have their own reality show. Their remorse to their crimes is just as shallow as their life and somehow it is justified. They are famous because of their crimes which have pushed their careers. Marc brags about him getting hundreds of friend's request after police convicted him for the celebrity robbery.
It is here that the audiences are baffled because the celebrities whom these teenagers went on to rob are the one who crave such obsession to sell their precious junk. And these houses were filled with possessions to cover a small island population. If the security cameras would not have captured the images of these kids robbing into their homes; then none of these people would have known if anything out of the huge pile of fashion line is missing from their wardrobe.
So in the end those are worthless robberies triggered by teen obsessions and need not have been prime time news after all. This is where Sophia Coppola jumps in and holds a mirror in front of the audience to show the society we leave in. Our attention and priorities are revolved around everything famous rather than everything worth to be famous. She slyly injects enough news reels from last decade which we all paid attention to but were in fact nothing but celebrity junk fed to a celebrity obsessed society.
Clearly at some level we were all having a great time with the adventures of the bling ring. Though everyone in the cast played there role perfectly (maybe because they all are also in real part of the Hollywood celebrity circuit) but credit should go to Miss Coppola who brings her usual piercing slow look of lives of these teenagers unraveling in the face of hardcore celebrity worshiping culture. In the end they all succeed to be celebrities in their own right.
A mind-bender by one of the best director alive
Some stories are field with land mines and not told in assured manner, you may just lose your audience forever. Ask Shyamalan, if you feel cocky about your storytelling method. Staying clear of those mine fields and unraveling a story with firm grip needs concentration and bold decisions. And Danny Boyle will always be your man to carry out these difficult tasks without compromising the storytelling or undermining audience intelligence. After going through this mind-bender I am unable to tell anyone who is the central character of the film as it shifts its focus quite a few times. The story is twisted quite a few times for the audience losing a few threads, but Mr. Boyle makes sure we pick up the story by the end of the film.
At an elite auction center, an employee of the auctioneer (James McAvoy) is planning a heist of the most precious of painting during the time of the auction. His duty at the Auction center as an employee is to protect the prized item in a situation of a robbery attempt during the auction (conflict of agenda!). When the robbery takes place, Simon (James) carries the painting in the back room to dump it into a safety vault. And while the whole robbery is played out he ends up taking a hit on the head. That incidents massive bleeding leads to coma and back to consciousness without any knowledge of the sequence of events after he took the hit. This becomes a problem because only he knows the location of the painting.
After consulting with doctors the gang's members force Simon get treatment from hypnosis specialist of his choice. Upon realizing her patient is wired inside his clothes, the specialist (Rosario Dawson) suspect foul play and after a quick background search contacts the gang bosses to get her share of the spoils. This marks the beginning of convoluted events in which loyalty and love is tested for each and every character involved.
One of the many positives of the storyline is that none of the characters could be described in black and white. Every character is sympathized regardless of their deeds and whatever they must have done in the past the movie lends a happy ending to their personal stories. In the cast it is Rosario Dawson, who outsmarts her male colleagues in all departments. I seriously thought she does not that much confident to excel in such a complex character. Her character is richly written with a past and a slow twist in her intent.
In the end, a movie that was supposed to be revolving around Simon, takes a turn to focus on the hypnosis specialist. The twist & turn and extra special care to uncover the truth puts this Danny Boyle gem in the category of the 1995 special 'The Usual Suspect' in my good books.
It may not win any awards or accolades as Mr. Boyle's previous two films, but will be able hold its own ground in director's treasure chest of masterful movies of the past and future.
Midnight's Children (2012)
A cautionary tale of what not to do when adapting a long novel
As I sat through the final gala event of the Indian film festival in Los Angeles, I witness a sea of NRI theatrics to promote and celebrate there film communities beloved cinematic achievements. It is there night to celebrate two of finest exports of not so artistically talented community of Indian Americans in North America. 'Midnight's children' is the movie they are trying to celebrate today. I am saying trying because unfortunate as it may be this one has turned out to be cold turkey.
Based on the celebrated novel of the same name by Salman Rushdie the movie version is staunchly conservative as it decidedly sticks honest with the book's narrative. May be Mr. Rushdie did not wish to tinker anything to his beloved book and he is entitled to do whatever he wishes to with its film version. Unfortunately for the audience, Mr. Rushdie along with Miss Deepa Mehta has served something that is too much to consume in approximately two and half hour of the films running time. The movie has a life trajectory beginning with main character Salim's grandfather's love story in British India Kashmir in 1917 and ends in Independent India's Mumbai in the seventies with Salim's young son. In between the movie is a mess of character's coming in and out of the movie with break neck speed.
The film is fable and a tribute to the Nehruvian (Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's style of politics) India's broken secular promises. Salim is a boy born at the stroke of midnight of India's Independence from British occupation. He is supposed to be the son of Indian Muslim family but is actually the son of a local Mumbai street singer who had affair with a British gentleman during his empire's final days. The street singer dies during child birth. The hospital nurse Mary, because of her social beliefs regarding the nation's so called Independence, decides to switch the newborn son of the poor street singer to the rich born kid of a Muslim couple.
The destinies of the two new born are not only entangled by the switch but also with the gift that they possess along with every other children who are born on the stroke of midnight with a new born nation with promises of its richly diverse population.
Each of those new born children are metaphor for the nation's promises of what it can achieve if those natural gifts are used effectively for better means. They all possess different powers with Salim being able to telepathically communicate with each one of the Midnight's Children. While the couple's real kid who ends up with the husband of the street singer is named Shiva who possesses the powerful destructive powers, while Parvati is a magician who is destined to be Salim's soul mate. Salim's destiny is forever bonded with the nation of his birth and hence we are taken to a journey through modern Indian history.
The source material for the film is a literary classic, so there is no doubt that Miss Mehta has been brought down by the wait of expectations. She gave no space for any character development and the second rate cast does not do any favor to the films flow. Unfortunately, the worst of the lot is the main lead Satya Babha who plays the grown up Salim. A small actor in American sitcom, Satya did not have any facial expression or emotions that could light up even the most well written scenes. He fails to carry the film on his shoulders and makes it a stretch for the audience to continue with the film. The only noteworthy and perfect though stereotypical performance is Seema Biswas's Miss Mary.
Some of the best parts of the novel is the Bangladesh war and Indira Gandhi's emergency days. Unfortunately in the movie version no sense of history is evoked during those sequences and to those who may have very scant knowledge of those events may remain disillusioned.
Miss Mehta mentioned during her introductory speech; how Mr. Rushdie got annoyed when some audience member at Toronto film festival compared the film with Forrest Gump. Even I would be annoyed. Forrest Gump maintained a smooth flow even with its long generational trajectory and allowed character development by concentrating on only the main character rather than his entire family tree. But Midnight's Children ends up becoming a fast paced narration of the novel that deserved a better movie version.
Mr. Rushdie and Miss Mehta spoiled a perfect opportunity to create a memorable journey through modern Indian history and placed this cobbled screen adaption as footnote in their respective careers.
Spring Breakers (2012)
It's good to go away from reality to find you are dumb!
During the final reel of this supposedly masterful observation about the degradation of American culture, Ashley Benson's character 'Brit' calls up her mother to assure her that she is fine and has had a wonderful experience in which she discovered herself. She explains that her experiences during Spring Break in Florida enabled her to discover herself and was glad that she was away from reality. I do not know about Brit but in reality everyone goes on a spring break to have a good time. How miserable your life has to be to find enlightenment on a spring break. Reality in this dull piece of film making, story is very thin. The director was definitely away from reality. He just forgot he was supposed to tell a story. The 95 minutes of runtime feels bloated with misogyny and the director would have served better if he had made a short film.
Let's get to the myths surrounding this movie. First of all there is no observation of any kind regarding any culture. Each and every culture has gangsters and thieves in a large party town. Each year college students from across America go to beach-side areas at the advent of spring coinciding with a certain one week college breaks between the semesters. They go to party and try to have a great time before the business end of their college semesters. No one is going there to look out for danger nor anyone is turned on by guns and gangsters. There is definitely a large amount of activity that is considered immoral. But that is easy target if the director wants to say it is a slippery slope.
We all have seen what spring break down in Florida is and are aware what goes on over there. But still the director and James Franco insist the movie to be culturally important for this generation with new age story telling method that is an inspiration to new film makers. I am praying for next generation of audience if this is what we are served as culture examination because this movie reminded me of those B grade movies like Wild Orchid that had stories situated at places with loose morals.
What did the director achieved by showing topless girls again and again getting drunk and forced to get drunk other than enforcing a cultural stereotype. Showing those images over and over with interjecting storyline about four small town girls creates a perverted image that girls ask to be exploited. And those small town girls are frustrated with their quiet life and have some immature fantasy about an exciting life. It is supposed to be comedy but becomes a very dark exploitative movie. The male counterpart to these college going spring breakers are missing and are portrayed by extras who are enjoying and having good time next to submissive girls. Any stories about male college student's behavior in Hollywood are always frat boy comedies in which boys will be boys image is enforced to laugh off their antics. But over here boys are the victims of robbery by these girls who are constantly mentioned as bitches.
The countless images of female body flesh and drugs along with showing the girls take a leak on the street with gleeful excitement was anything but mature filmmaking. If the director's argument is such kind of behavior is common hence have to be shown then at least revolve it around a story. Audience has not come over to witness exhibitionist dumb behavior with James Franco's character 'Alien' constantly whispering 'Spriing break y'll'. How irritating James Franco has become after everyone thoroughly enjoyed '127 hours'!
The reality is every kind of perversion trick was used. The stunt casting of Disney darlings Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens to piggy back movie's publicity on their popularity was ill conceived. Due to their pop culture image the antics of their characters definitely came off as dumb and they fail to shore up any audience interest or sympathy (if they needed any) for their characters.
The exploits of these female characters by being submissive and naive in male dominated world does not require deep observation to conclude this movie being director's male fantasy. But in between the audience end up with four dumb characters who decide whether to stay in a certain situation or not only if they are physically threatened or shot. Until then they think a breaded and tattooed guy named alien talking about rape and gang bang is perfectly fine gentleman to hang out with.
A new kind of behind the scenes look into making of a masterpiece
Film history has much folklore and just like our movies they come out of the most creative but imaginative minds in Hollywood. If you stretch the imaginative part a little more it can turn any potential masterpiece into a gimmick. If it would not been for two masterful performances by Mr. Hopkins and Ms. Mirren as Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock; this could well be placed in the laughing stock section.
Mind you, 'Hitchcock' the new film that takes an anecdotal view at Sir Alfred Hitchcock's life during the making of his finest works 'Psycho' is enjoyable. Unfortunately, what the audience is served can best be described as a clever gimmick. It is certainly enjoyable and creative, but is audience really looking through a viewing glass of history or is this some feeble imagination of the makers who are clearly mesmerized by Mr. Hitchcock's histrionics. In his every eccentric behavior, the director provides a sympathetic look.
What are these movies meant to do? If it is to entertain at the cost of reality then why bother to base it on a real person. To be more precise; after watching 'Hitchcock', I am more enamored by the HBO TV-movie 'The Girl' about Hitchcock's relationship with Tippi Hedren during the making of the 'The Bird'. At least, it did not go to great lengths to give explanation to Hitchcock's eccentricity and showed how it affected Tippi. In 'Hitchcock', Janet Leigh is threateningly attacked with knife by Hitchcock to make her look more scarred for the famous or infamous (oh I don't know how it works) shower curtain scene. And after that it's all forgotten about how Janet felt regarding that incident. Instead it all becomes about Hitchcock (or the makers) trying to give rhyme and reason to the audience about such behavior.
The curiosity to know the story behind one of the greats 'Psycho' dies down when all we get jokes and funny anecdotes. They are all cleverly placed for the audience to be deviated from realizing no real story is taking place that must have affected the future lives of all the characters. Our thirst to know more about any legendary secrets have led to footnotes of these actor's and maker's life into a movie.
If that was not all; we are given an absolutely trivial scene in the end about how Mr. Hitchcock gets the clue for his next project 'The Bird'. In all fairness, audience would not be bored to this funny and manipulative take on eccentric Mr. Hitchcock.
For more reviews visit http://cinemadose.blogspot.com/
Life of Pi (2012)
A magical journey, no matter what you believe in
I love coming of age movies. They have been my go to movies for over a decade. A real world experience that molds a person's character for rest of his/her life is a universal subject that would never dry up. But then there is this book called 'Life of Pi' that I came across and provided more than my staple coming of age diet and take me through a journey of faith and beliefs. This book acts as a disguise to be spiritual (given that is set in India), but at the core is a coming of age story of a boy finding answers of faith and beyond having born in a nation of millions of gods. And to turn this book into a captivating movie, we have Mr. Ang Lee; who clearly love challenges.
Set in India and made by Hollywood studio; you should expect the simplistic description of a very complex nation and its affair with religions of the world. But Mr. Lee manages to breeze through the shallow storyline based in India. Almost all of the situations and scenarios about young boy Pi's life in Pondicherry, India are created to suit the taste buds of western audiences. As we watch the young Pi grow in dreamy India along with a soulfully spoken narrative by Irfan Khan in background; we instantly are lost in the color and the mood of the film. We never look beyond those colors into reality and we are ready to accept anything.
But as we move on from Anglo India into open sea; faith and personal beliefs of Pi collides with nature's fury. After Pi Patel's father, a zoo owner decides to move his family in Canada and sell the animals to a North American zoo for a good prize; they begin their journey. The entire family along with all the animals travels through a Japanese cargo ship across the oceans. There they have encounter with a borderline racist French cook and a very gentle Buddhist. There reel time is only for one sequence, but there presence and importance will be felt late in the movie. As the journey of the ship abruptly ends in a very violent ocean; Pi is survived on a life boat with an injured zebra, an Orangutan, a Hyena and a Bengal Tiger.
And from here on the journey could not be more breath taking and satisfying. It literally and astonishingly unbelievable with Pi surviving on a life boat with these animals and they are animals. They will do anything to survive like humans. The mystery of the journey and whether you believe in the memories of the adult Pi about his experiences across the vast ocean will make you rethink about all the mystical fantasies that we have ever came across.
The story already hooks the audience into the ongoing proceedings and Mr. Lee's breathtaking visuals puts 'Avatar' in its place & carries you through a journey of vast beauty across our planet. After Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, Mr. Lee successfully trumps those monumental achievements in Cinema history with this visual masterpiece that deserves compulsory 3D viewing.
For more reviews visit http://cinemadose.blogspot.com/
The Hunger Games (2012)
The odds would always be in favor of Hunger Games
Being a phenomenon among teens and tweens can guarantee your box office success, no matter how bad is your production. But to guarantee you increase beyond your target audience you need to smart up. Where Twilight sets the bar, you expect others to follow suit. You hire bunch of good looking dudes & girls (who happen to be extremely talented) and dumb them down until you think they are just sticks in good looking clothes. But little did we know, some of them were taking notes of the mistakes Twilight series committed and made sure there movie version of another book phenomenon does not make the audiences roll their eyes over and over again.
How good was Hunger Games can be measured by the audience reaction to the anticipated scene they had read in the book and yet gasp on every scene that struck a chord by its penchant melodrama between all the bloodshed. Truth to be told, the bloodshed was minimal in the movie version compared to all the gory details of each death in the book. This was still a packaged product to attract young to very young audience and would not expect 'Battle Royale' kind of gore. But the movie still packs a punch amid all the melodrama.
Even if you are not interested in the teen love triangle being played out, you would find the politics interesting. It's pretty amusing how the pundits from Left and right of American political spectrum came to the conclusion that the movie justifies their political stand against one another. All in all, an entertaining movie that provided something for everyone to enjoy. That said the success does make the maker's task easier and provides a loyal audience for its following sequels. One hopes they do not just concentrate on marketing and focus on keeping the quality of their product consistently good.
Searching for India's first so called Rockstar
India does have an underground rock culture, but it has not been able to generate a mass appeal that rock music enjoys in the west and rightly so. India is the land having its own traditional music culture and if there is any place for another music culture in the commercial music industry, it has been hijacked by the pretend to be anything industry Bollywood. It churns out music that appeals to vast majority of people but does not create music stars as they are not photogenic for an image obsessed industry. Hence even a musician's music and voice has been legitimately hijacked by publicity whores of Bollywood.
Speaking of image, rock music artists somehow have etched an image of him standing with an electric guitar on stage with rest of the world swooning or jumping over whatever tunes the musician spews out or in case of Bollywood's latest offering 'Rockstar'; India's latest teen heartthrob standing with a guitar in his hands pretending to play it and spew out some catchy music sung by none other than A R Rehman. Nothing wrong with it and largely effective even without providing concession to Bollywood over details of the art form they are pretending to show exists in India.
Rockstar is directed by India's commercial film-maker Imtiaz Ali, who won the license to make whatever he wants jackpot when his rom-com movie 'Jab we met' became a blockbuster and middle class India's favorite go- to movie. Thankfully, he has not miss-used his freedom like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and has been able to keep a semblance of depth in his work. The movie about a rockstar (stage name Jordan) rising from the abyss of India's lower middle class is a delight to watch mainly because the characters have been rooted in reality. His inspiration to be a rock star and his rise as a musician has moments of truth and go a long way in diminishing the gap between reality and fiction.
But one very important of the movie fails to lift itself above fiction. Nargis Fakhri's Heer as Jordan's love and reason for many angst ridden songs efficiently fulfills her goal to turn her character from fiction to farce. As the movie focuses its complete attention on the romance between Jordan and Heer, it desperately tries to cling on its hope on Ranbir Kapoor's performance and Rehman's yet another perfect score. But Nargis never really is able to act her way through a very important character in the film and evaporates all hopes of making this a memorable film of 2011.
More blame has to be taken by Imtiaz Ali for his casting fetish for fare skinned foreign born models who are never ambitious to become an able actor. They use this golden opportunity to further their goals to maximize profits for being fair skinned in an increasingly insecure middle class India. But if Imtiaz had any short term goals for the film, I guess they have been achieved with the satisfying box office run. As far as India's Rockstar is concerned he also is lost after a little while into the second half of this movie. Rehman though composed some impressive array of tunes does not really gets a grip of the rock culture in India as it won't have a mass appeal. But rock music becomes just an excuse to confirm the super star status of Ranbir Kapoor.
Whereas the movie is concerned, it is not at all the farce that was achieved in 2008 with 'Rock on!!' and is far more polished than that misguided middle class dream wagon. 'Rockstar' has its moments in the first half and has its disappointments in the sad final reel.
For more reviews visit http://cinemadose.blogspot.com/