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1/10
Absolutely miserable
21 December 2017
A potpourri of fake and real Indian accents, bad acting, William Shatner and Russel peters trying hard to act.
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8/10
In the beginning there was Nawaf al Janahi...
13 January 2007
I saw this film during the India Arab Cultural Festival held in the Kerala Social Centre.

The film highlights loneliness experienced by today's urban youth. Although the film was shot in various parts of the United Arab Emirates, it has managed to maintain the generic nature of the city. This could be any city in the world. It can be any young man of any background.

What is depicted in this film is the indifference of the environment he lives through.

There are some great photographic moments. Most of the film is in high contrast wide angle perspectives. Although the movie does not have any dialogues, it speaks volumes about the rapid urbanization and loss of the neighbourhood friendliness that once existed in many similar cities.

Worth a watch. A grand beginning for young film makers in the UAE.
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Kaante (2002)
When Hollywood makes a Bollywood film.
18 January 2003
Let me begin by saying that I write this review with a very open mind. I have deliberately refrained from comparing this film to a dozen Hollywood films I have seen in the past. I think its unfair to judge a Bollywood film produced entirely in Hollywood with a budget that's a fraction of the cost of a low budget Hollywood film. Let's judge this cinema as we judge an Indian cinema.

The opening sequence of this film sets the atmosphere for a warm summer day in LA. It sets the mood for some sinister event that is yet to happen. Some crime has taken place in the City and the usual suspects are rounded up by the LAPD and questioned. The usual suspects being: the Yashvardhan Rampal "Major" (Amitabh Bachan), Jay Rehan 'Ajju' (Sanjay Dutt), Marc Issak (Sunil Shetty), Raj Yadav (Mahesh Manjrekar), Anand Mathur (Kumar Gaurav), and Maqbool Haider (Lucky Ali). None of them trust each other, yet they team up to rob a bank. (By mentioning the words "usual suspects" please bear in mind that I am not throwing you any hints.)

The first five minutes of the film sets the mood, perspective, character relationships, general theme of the story and direction of the plot. This first six minutes in itself is a first as far as Hindi film goes.

One of the most outstanding features of this film is that it has done away with post production voice dubbing, and has made live on site recording of the dialogues. This is a real change from the unnatural dubbed voice-overs we have grown sick and tired of in Bollywood films. Dialogues are natural and the sound actually blends in with the LA atmosphere. There is also depth and perspective to the sounds. The sounds of police siren wailing away till kingdom come, constantly reminds us that it is really LA. Some real professionals have been put to work on the sound recording.

The title sequence in this film is also a welcome change. Something I have never seen in other Hindi movies. Smartly designed urban typography with proper spacing and thematic colours. Music is well chosen. Timing is uniform. Motifs and theme are consistent. simply smashing !!!

For once Americans speak the way Americans usually speak as opposed to the usual slowed-down-for-desi-audience-dialogues we usually hear in Indian films.

Cinematography of Kaante is simply brilliant. One can see a perfect marriage of editing and photography with sharp cuts, different camera angles and some dramatic perspectives of Los Angeles city. Anamorphic lenses have been cleverly used to show wide angle shots especially during the shots of the LA strip bar. However the use of warm filter has been a bit overdone. Some indoor night shots can be seen in warm tones, which was quite unnecessary.

Some nice time lapse sequences and aerial shots can also be seen. This does not mean the photographer goes on a tour of LA city tour, as most Bollywood photographers do while shooting in foreign lands. You also won't see the hero and heroin doing the usual Universal Studios tour in this movie for a change.

Kaante is packed with some decent action sequences. Perhaps also a first for a film shot in a foreign country. Money has been well spent on some real American stunt actors playing cops. There is also a tastefully executed strip bar song and dance number with the sexy Malaika Arora. The American cast is excellent.

Has Hollywood invaded Bollywood in Kaante? There are real reasons for technical excellence in this film. Apart from the cast, direction and script writers, there is very little Bollywood presence in Kaante. Cinematography, set decoration, special effects, makeup, and almost all of the technicians in this movie are Hollywood hands. Perhaps that's why this film is so different.

Sanjay Dutt and Amitabh Bachan have performed their roles faithfully well. New comer Mahesh Manjrekar puts on a commendable performance as the crazed hoodlum. I could resist comparing him to Joe Pesci in Casino while I watched him, :. We hope there is more up his sleeves in the near future. The rest of the six main characters do not share equal number of lines or screen time. There is plenty of wit and humour without trying too hard to be funny. The dialogues are natural. Actors perform effortlessly giving the impression of life.

Having said all that. There are drawbacks. The script is too wordy at times. The fast paced action sometimes grind to dreaded speech session. Some minor plot holes and illogical turn of events can be noticed. I mentioned that plot introduction and character building took place during the first 6 minutes of the film. But then the story continues to build relationships even till the end of the film. During the last 1 minute of the movie we are shown some 2nd unit shots of Raj Yadav's sister in an institution. This really has little bearing on the story, and is completely unnecessary. We also learn little about Majors wife and family hence we are unable to share his emotions. Sometimes its best to leave the complex relationship building effort in the first half of a story. It tends to distract the viewer from the story line. There is even a song towards end of the film, which was quite out of place. It seems there is an unwritten law in Bollywood that a film has to be longer than two hours, regardless of whether you have the material. This film would have been lot more exciting, if it was a little shorter.

But none of the drawbacks should scare away anyone who wants to see Hindi cinema at the juncture of a major revolution. Kaante will remain an unforgettable and major step in the evolution of Hindi Cinema.
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Iruvar (1997)
A film that will stand the test of time
17 January 2003
Mani Rathnam has told a fine story about two friends. One who is a film actor whom the people love dearly and harbours political ambitions. One who is an accomplished writer, poet and politician. sounds familiar?

Anand is played by Malayalee actor Mohan Lal and Tamil Selvam's role by the very talented Prakashraj.

One cannot miss the resemblance to the real lives of M.G. Ramachnadran and Karunanithi. However very little is revealed of Pushpa who plays the love interest of Anand. Perhaps Manirathnam was playing his cards carefully, avoiding possible repercussions from Ms Jayalalith, who was the real life mistress of MGR.

There is also some fine acting by Naser who portrays the real life Tamil leader, Anna Durai. Indian cinema has few directors who can make a film that will stand the test of time. Manirathnam is one of them. The story for this film has been well researched and planned. Most Indian films skip these vital steps prior to production. Some may complain about the typical indianess of the film with the usual song and dance sequences in a good film like this. But do bear in mind that the intellectual crowd who sees the usual song and dance as a distraction is a minority. Majority of our desi brothers go to see Aishwarya Rai shaking about. And a movie can make money only by pleasing the Lowest common Factor of the society: The typical desi. Unless Mani Rathnam entertains them we won't have the opportunity to see more movies from this fine director.
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What would we do without Hollywood
2 January 2003
Fazils, Life is beautiful, is mix of two movies. One is the famous Hollywood film Dead Poets Society, and the other is Fazils own concoction of a sappy mallu flick, complete with song and dance and all the masala of regular malayalam films.

If it was'nt for the copy of Dead Poets Society, (which was ripped rather poorly) The film is a dud.

For those who hav'nt seen Dead Poets Society, please see that film first.

I would give this film a 4 out of 10.
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Signs (2002)
And Shyamalan has his first flop after two successes
1 October 2002
And Shyamalan has his first flop after two successes. This is a lame film. This is a film for the 60s. It lacks the charm of the 90. The only driving force in this movie is the good photography and music. Although the music does remind us of Bernard Hermann, (Psycho and vertigo).

I was at a loss when I had to look for a central theme in the film. Several key issues are addressed but left unanswered. The movie is not consistent with the style of Shyamalan.

Disappointing.
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A must see for 3D Animators. Bad story.
26 March 2002
This is a very ambitious full length feature film based on a popular computer game. Fans of the game will be treated to an extravagant audio visual feast with plenty of action, thrilling explosions and weird creatures. The music and sound is excellent. The only bad point in this film is the story.

A lot of hard work has gone into producing a sense of realism that we take for granted in regular films. What's unique about this film is that it has been generated entirely in CG. It tries to present us with very realistic looking synthesized human characters. The most daunting task is in attaining visual realism in matching human behavior and expressions, as opposed to animating dinosaurs or cartoon characters. The details and texture on the terrain, structures, machines and craft are by far the best I have seen. The designers have given great attention in portraying atmospheric effects and optical distortions. There is a scene where heat dissipates from the craft right before it touches down in the Tucson Wasteland (00:35:19): This was perhaps the high point of visual realism in this film. Only a highly dedicated and serious production team can depict details to this extent.

The bumpy flight in the craft was conveyed effectively by jerking the crew just like it happens in a train ride. A great deal of attention has been given to the natural aspects of vision that we take for granted in cinema. Lighting effects, focus, depth of field, lens-flares, motion blur and camera shakes add a sense of realism to this purely synthesized cinema. The details and dynamics of hair on Dr. Aki Ross have been rendered beautifully well. The blemishes on her skin are also very real, especially during extreme close up shots of her eyes.

To a very large extent Hironobu Sakaguchi and his highly skilled team has succeeded in portraying humans using CG, but since we have seen humans before, lets look closely: Facial expressions were limited to the eyebrows, lips and forehead. There was little attention given to the cheek muscles in almost all characters. Smiles, frowns and laughter are limited to just the eyes mouth and forehead. The muscles around the eye sockets and the cheek bone area do not move at all. This is one major drawback that distracts you from the illusion being created.

I am assuming that most of the action, if not all, was captured with real actors wearing motion capture gear, which explains the fluidity of movement in the characters. The dialogues match very well with their body language, especially by veteran actor Donald Sutherland. I couldn't help noticing some inexplicable resemblance between the character and the voice actor.

The rather thin and unimpressive script is what actually brings this film down. One would be forced to ask this question: Would this be a good film if all the characters were played by human? I doubt that very much. This film draws attention only because it's an attempt at mimicking humans. I could not digest the whole idea of spirits and some kind of spiritual reunion theory. I also doubt weather it may sit in well with the more religiously inclined section of the audience. The lack of a strong script is perhaps the only shortcoming in this otherwise well executed film.

All those aspiring 3D designers and animators must see this film at least twice and study it for its perfect execution of dynamics and atmospheric effects. The bad story shouldn't stop you from learning a thing or two from a team of outstanding animators and designers. My ratings:

Character Animation 4/10, Lip Sync and Facial expressions 3/10, Overall Design and Animation 8/10, Sound Effects 7/10, Story and Script 3/10

Overall 5/10
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Gosford Park (2001)
1/10
Quick cure for insomnia.
25 March 2002
This is a film about some aristocratic English snobs who live in a big house for a few days for some kind of hunt. There is an entire hour showing scenes of people walking about, sipping tea, shooting birds, and more walking about. They all talk some very strange dialect of English. You do get bits of information here and there, but nothing that makes any sense. There is no wit or humour in any line of dialogue. Nobody faces the camera throughout film, hence you never get to see the countless servants guests and households.

You might be led to believe that Robert Altman is trying to portray the class differences that existed in the 1930. But wait he is also trying to tell a story about a murder and the ensuing investigation. Yes a guy gets killed in the film, and a clown dressed up as a detective tries to make a laughable impression of Hercule Poirot.

I tried hard to like this film. but there was no help from the story or the actors. Since there is absolutely no efforts made to make the audience understand what's going on, I guess its perfectly all right if you didn't like this film.

I had to endure this two hour torture, just to see what the juries at the Academy Awards saw in this movie to even nominate it for "Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen". Other movies in this category were: Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Memento, Monster's Ball, and Royal Tenenbaums. This movie should be voted as the worst movie of the decade.

I would strongly recommend this film to anyone who suffers from severe insomnia.
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Gosford Park (2001)
1/10
A film for the sleep deprived.
25 March 2002
This is a film about some aristocratic English snobs who live in a big house for a few days for a hunt. There is an entire hour showing scenes of people walking about, sipping tea, shooting birds, and more walking about. They all talk some very strange dialect of English. You do get bits of information here and there, but nothing that makes any sense. Nobody faces the camera throughout film, hence you never get to know who is who. I tried hard to like this film. but there was no help from the story or the actors. In IMDB This film is classified under Mystery, Drama and Comedy. Do not be misled, you won't find any of those in this film. Yes a guy gets killed in the film. And a clown dressed up as a detective tries to make a laughable impression of Hercule Poirot.

Since there is absolutely no efforts made to make the audience understand what's going on, I guess its perfectly all right if you didn't like this film.

I had to endure this two hour torture, just to see what the juries at the Academy Awards saw in this movie to even nominate it for `Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published'. Let me remind you that Lord of the Ring was also nominated for the same category. To even compare J.R.R. Tolkien's work to this piece of trash is unthinkable.

I would strongly recommend this film to anyone who suffers from severe insomnia.
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3/10
A bad interpretation of the medieval sport of Jousting.
25 March 2002
This is a below the average production set in Medieval England about a young man who impersonates a nobleman/Knight in order to participate in a Jousting tournaments. It is funny in some scenes, but nothing to throw you off your seat.

The film fails to capture the atmosphere of period in which the story is set. You do get a feeling that the whole movie is just a few Americans dressed up as knights and lords.

The story is rather simple in its progression there are few distractions from the main theme and does capture the audiences interest throughout the film. The main theme being the competitiveness of the sport although without getting into the details or the spirit of jousting. The Acting can only be described as satisfactory since the script doesn't have room for any powerful moments. The cast of this film is best suited for a teen flick not a period film. Some of the attempts at English accents are simply unbearable. The father son relation ship was built up rather well. there are some good performances by Christopher Cazenove, who place the part of Williams father.

The letter writing scene was done rather well and was different from the rest of film. It almost seems as if this was done by a different director.

During the course of this film I noticed The music switching between rock music to 15th century traditional folk music. The use of contemporary music did not add any entertainment value to this film.

I would recommend it to a younger audience who is not looking forward to seeing a good bit of action or history. Rating: 3/10.
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1/10
Setting records...in the wrong categories
23 March 2002
This movie has set many records in being the first 3D animated full length feature from India, but from an international point of view this film has also become the worst animated movie of our times.

This was apparently, the crew's first crack at animation. Hence several flaws were noticed. Glaring errors just kept jumping at you while you tried to keep pace with the very fast pace of this story. The lip sync, character animation and motion dynamics were all out of sync in many places. There are literally no shadows falling on the ground in most scenes. You also see horses and elephants running with absolutely no mud thrown about. Light is distributed evenly, giving a very unreal appearance to the scene. The animators also seem to be completely unaware of the Motion Blur feature available in most desktop 3D packages. The lack of this key effect gives a very choppy feel to fast action scenes. The quality of animation in this film is comparable to the first version of popular 90s computer games: Doom and Wolfstein 3D.

The modeling crew has put in a lot of good work in making the palaces, buildings, forests etc, but they still need to see a lot of Disney and Pix ar movies in order to convincingly make the characters talk, walk and express emotions.

The music was very thin and did not convey the atmosphere of the subject of this nature.

We can draw on our experience of watching hundreds of animated movies that have graced the screens from all over the world. Pandavas face comparison from DreamWorks, Pixar/Disney, and Fox animation studios.

Perhaps Pentamedia will come up with something better next time. The Mahabharata is a true epic. Summarizing the life of it's lead characters into an 80 minute feature should not have been the first project of this otherwise fine production company. By making this rather elaborate blunder of a film, we the audience may also have lost the opportunity to see a glamorous Disney version of the Mahabharata.

Animation is more than technology, its creativity, experience, and a little sense of humor, all of which are lacking in this movie.
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Memento (2000)
7/10
A beautiful mental jig-saw puzzle.
21 March 2002
A mental jig-saw puzzle for the audience. That's the best description of this fine movie. Every proceeding scene in this film will make you reconstruct and review the story so far. In doing so the film has accomplished to transfer the mental condition of Leonard ( Guy Pearce). When you see this film you will experience to some extent what memory loss is. By reversing the order of scenes, the film maker has managed to capture the viewers interest and made this into a film we can add to our list of great cinemas. This film would have not been so interesting, had it been told in the traditional fashion of chronological order. This is a very nice film. 7/10
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2/10
One more attempt at lame humor
23 February 2002
Once again we are presented with yet another lame excuse for humor. A Muslim singer enters a palace pretending to be a namboodiri (Upper Cast Hindu)and impresses upon the His Majesty, the "Thampuran" and falls in love with his grand daughter. No this is not the review for "His Highness Abdulla" It may sound similar, but it isn't.

The idea of photography, according to the genius who made this film, is to light up the set with flood-lights from all directions. Shadows and dark tones are simply absent throughout the entire film.

The makers of this cinema try hard to make the audience laugh with physical comedy and silly one-liners. The usual cast of clowns (Jagathi, Haneefa, Hari Sri Asokan, Innocent and a few mimicry artistes) are mixed into the potpourri. Malayalam Cinema is heading for troubled waters not due to presence fatty-porn queen Shakeela, but because of sheer lack of talent from script writers and directors. There are a few laughs but not enough to sit till the rather predictable ending.
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The all-time classic of animated movies
4 February 2002
Monsters inc. is not just an animation movie. This is the movie that will go down in history as the perfect animated movie. This was one movie I watched without being distracted by the 3D rendering. Most Animated Movie distracts the viewer from the story by dazzling spectators with fancy animation. But this movie is definitely different. You can easily forget that they are digital imagery and fall completely in love with the characters. It brought back memories of my childhood. And I would grade this as the best movie in all my 33 years of watching movies.

The concept and fast paced story of this film is so unique that you will sit through the entire movie without a blink.

The fluidity of motion achieved in the character animation surpasses Bugs Life, Toy Story and even Final Fantasy. The visual realism created by the fur on the Monster was very realistic. The behavior of fur in wind and snow was true to life. Good animation are those that does not give the impression that its synthesized imagery. The whole object of computer animation is to give the illusion of events and characters without actually filming them. And this movie does that beautifully without distracting you with the creators' technical aspects of animation.
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A large concept crunched into a small script
8 November 1998
The media hype blitzed this movie was quite inflated. I greatly was impressed by this movies concept. The movie was not exactly a disappointment but it lacked certain elements that would have done more justice to this fine story.

1) The story left so many loopholes that could have been filled with more creativity. 2) After Truman's discovery the movie ends abruptly without even showing His expression. Was jim carrey incapable of expressing those much awaited emotions? Or wasn't there enough time/film. 3) Many of us go to see Jim carrey movies to See Jim carrey. We did not see him. Anybody else could have done the same role with more or less the same effect.

4) The Secret lover of Truman could have been used with more creatively. She could have sneaked into the set and caught his attention.

5) Truman could have realised something fishy and played along and had a joke or two on them, And make them look like fools for a change.

Well This is what I expected. I know it's a tall order.

Well that's about it.

Nishman...
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