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Red Sparrow (2018)
Gritty esposinage story that reminds you of the cold-war days...A Must-watch
27 May 2018
Red Sparrow brings the world of espionage to you in a gritty, hard-hitting way that reminds one of the cold-war, as if, as one of the characters in the film remarks, never really ended.

The relatively low rating of the film prepared one to go with moderate expectations, but the story-line is complex, has enough twists and turns to keep one occupied through, with lots of focus on details. The premise of the search for a mole within the Russian intelligence establishment is interesting to begin with, and as one gets deeper into the lives of the protagonists, the difficult choices they face, and the compromises they end up making, it's pure cinematic joy. Can't imagine how we ended up with a 6.6 rating here.

Jennifer Lawrence really gets into the role of Dominika. We feel her pain, we cringe at her disgust, and her fear makes us scared too. If anything, it's worth watching the movie only for her, but no, we get more, much more, ably supported by Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons , Ciaran Hinds, Joely Richardson. Last, but not the least, I like the portrayal of her uncle, played by Matthias Schoenaerts. His response, at the end, when the truth is revealed, is priceless.

A must-watch.
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Warrior (2011)
Best Action movie of 2011, and something to be seen again and again
26 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Warrior is Gavin O' Connor's best movie to date, and certainly one of the best action movies of all times. Beyond the top-notch, and quite realistic action sequences, the movie--as the t-shirt of Brendan Conlon's trainer Frank shows--has the 'soul of a lion'. The backdrop of an MMA championship remains so, in the backdrop, with the key element of drama remaining the tension and struggles of a broken family, consisting of a ex-alcoholic war-veteran father, an elder son who teaches school Physics, and the younger son who suffers from PTSD from the war in Iraq.

Forgiveness comes hard when the wounds are too deep, when the man to forgive was responsible for the premature and miserable death of your mother, and when the elder brother stood you up when you tried to run away from the abusive father. Tommy Conlon finds refuge in the marine corps, only to see his best buddy die from friendly fire. He goes AWOL, takes his mother's name, and surfaces back in the States. His father Paddy is the best trainer he's had, the main responsible for making him a child prodigy in wrestling, and despite the loathing, he knows that's the way to go if he's to get the money to support his dead buddy's family.

Brendan Conlon the elder brother has always resented his father's preference for his younger brother, the better fighter. Now a schoolteacher, with a delayed and oppressive loan, he knows the three jobs between his wife and him are not sufficient to retain their house, and tries his hand at MMA, harking back to his past stint at the UFC, where his performance was nothing to write home about. He knows the prize money is the way out of a potential bankruptcy, and knows the choices are difficult, but limited.

Paddy Conlon the war veteran has been off the bottle for a thousand days and seeks redemption in the church, and Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Try as he might to get closer to either son, the two sons have only thing in common as Tommy puts it sometime late in the movie--they both have absolutely no use for their ex-alcoholic wife-beating father. He tries nevertheless, taking abuse and ridicule in his stride, since he knows forgiveness is the only way out of his past sins. Nick Nolte's role is understated and so realistic it defies comprehension. For that matter, both the protagonists are so good I kept expecting to see either one of them being actual MMA fighters (having not recalled either of their earlier movies). The fights between them are realistic, and hold your attention without being tacky.

The climax is sure-fire tear-jerker with the two brothers fighting out each other, but more than that their own demons. One gets to see that blood is indeed thicker than water, but without the message being drilled into place.

Worth seeing again and again. 10/10.
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Black Swan (2010)
A journey into a higher plane
23 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Darren Aronofsky's 'Black Swan' is among many things a tribute to balley, that fine art that does not touch the lives of most of us that comprise the hoi polloi, the common milieu, that revels and indulges in the mediocre and the mundane, and has steadily lost touch the finer aspects of civilization. And that's not all, of course not. It's also a journey into an artist's mind, a discovery of the dark side, not just for the protagonist, but for the audience too, into their own. Natalie Portman's Nina shall stay in the inner recesses of the mind for the rest of your life, as she not only discovers the cygnus atratus in her during the course of the film but almost gets the same release too.

In the inevitable comparison with his other films, it pleases one to find a brilliant director adding to an already formidable oeuvre of movies like 'Pi', 'The Fountain', and the 'Wrestler'. 'Black Swan' is without doubt Aronofsky's finest till date. The technical aspects of the film are first-rate, the characterization absolutely apt, the editing tight, the cinematography brilliantly succeeding at the introspection of the dark side of one's character. The quality of the lighting and the sound forces one to get into the mood, and feel the character's pain, both and real and imagined. Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' is rendered in a beautiful manner, with the composition seamlessly melding into the background, rising and falling in a cadence, making for a heady and memorable experience. This is required viewing for every lover of grade-A cinema, and in doing so it forces one to think about the pedestrian nature of most oft the other movies released this year. That to my mind could be the only negative for the movie.
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The Collector (I) (2009)
Pretty much the worst movie I've seen in sometime
11 February 2010
A one-line story (ok, perhaps two lines), the hero with no emotions whatsoever, the villain without any motive, character depth of 0.001mm, and plenty of incredulous violence, torture, and unrealistic gore. Scenes that defy credulity, and situations totally unlike anything close to reason.

What exactly are we coming too? Is there no sanity left in movie-making? Whatever happened to a story? A plot, motive, conflict, and resolution.

Yes, there's definite patronage for 'slasher', and torture movies like 'The Collector', but perhaps we're losing the plot, and the basic tenets of film. Why?
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Forbidden (2001)
Excellent Soft-core film, a must-have.
21 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
'Forbidden' is about the best soft-core movie I have seen in some time. Expectations are usually quite low from this genre, but on that scale, the film scores, and scores big-time.

Our protagonist walks out of a bachelor party before his wedding by his friends, but meets a girl with whom things seem to click all at once, and they have a great one-night-stand.

Cut to three years later, and the happily married couple are on a weekend getaway, with a friend, when it turns out the friend's companion is the same woman he'd met before the wedding! What unfolds is nice set of situations, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes funny, but never boring. The sex scenes are quite tasteful, and the soundtrack complements them in an amazing way. Some of the songs are worth storing as mp3s! Tracy Ryan as the happy wife gets most of the scenes, and she does great, but Renee Rea is someone you'd like to check up on the Net immediately after the movie. She is, in a word, cute. The fact that her acting leaves a lot to desire, does not in any way take away her young, fresh beauty, where Ms. Ryan does appear tired in some of the scenes.

The guys are both good, and the sensible storyline does not let things get out of hand. None of the scenes are senseless, and one never gets the fast-forward-for-the-scenes feeling, which usually comes after 10 minutes after the start in movies of this genre.

My score: 8/10 largely for non-nonsensical story, if you see what I mean, and for Renee Rea.
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Get Smart (2008)
A Superb Comedy!
21 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Get Smart was my second movie of the day after the Incredible Hulk--watching movies back-to-back on weekends is fun, one just gets out the door, and enters again for the next one! And while the two belong to different genre, there was no question about which one was more entertaining!

Get Smart is about the escapades of Maxwell Smart (Chris Carell), a desk-bound analyst with Control (An intelligence organization with the US Government) who desperately wants to be a field agent, so he could fight the evil forces of the evil organization KAOS, led by unknown forces that threaten to destabilize the world unless their demands are met. Maxwell's boss 'The Chief' (played with surprising alacrity by Alan Arkin) knows Maxwell's good for the role, but doesn't want to lose his best analyst. Agent23 (Dwayne Johnson aka 'The Rock' gets better and better!) is the star field agent who's just come back from a mission, but since a leak in Control has compromised identities, is forced to become a analyst. After an attack by KAOS blows up their HQ, Control is forced to deploy a new agent, and Maxwell finally gets his chance as Agent86, and gets paired with another star agent. Agent99 (Ann Hathway) is openly reserving about Agent86's lack of experience as an agent, but gets to know him better as they chase stolen nuclear weapons,and Uranium yellow-cake thieves in Russia, and fight the evil Siegfried of KAOS, his man-Friday Shtarker and his man-mountain-dean henchman Dalip (WWE superstar 'The Great Khali' making a cameo appearance). It appears there's a conspiracy to assassinate the President, but would the redoubtable duo prove equal to the task against the immense odds involved, particularly when there seems to be a mole in the organization, and loyalties are suspect?

Get Smart is a spoof on spy movies, particularly the James Bond series, True Lies and many others, and is hilarious from the word go. More than the slap-stick, the best parts is the dialogue; amazingly funny throughout, it easily brings out the best of humour, while steering clear of being vulgar, or crass. The screenplay is tight, the film's pace never slackens, and the action is well thought-out and quite large-scale. Some of the scenes are unforgettable, particularly the Russian Ball, the plane and the jump thereafter, and the War-Room, which is reminiscent of the Dr. Strangelove. Alan Arkin's 'I've waiting for this since Nixon!' is Gen. Turgidson! Chris Carrel brings out the best of a 'serious' character who's hilarious, see him in 'The 40-year old Virgin', and this one, and you'll see what I mean. The movie's is worth a visit simply for his sake. Ann Hathway provides a superb foil as Agent99, she really should go for more in this genre, as she able to mix the elements of glamour and action quite well!

All in all, a 7/10 as movie, and an 8/10 as comedy.
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The Ring (2002)
Satisfying horror.
25 January 2003
I saw "The Ring" last night. It's been a long time since I saw something so utterly horrifying. I enjoyed the movie to the last minute. There are no demons or goblins, no gore, no loud, ear-splitting noises, and no aliens either. Yet this movie manages to rivet your attention, holds you spell-bound till you feel the chill in your veins.

Any good horror movie should leave some of the details to be figured out by the viewers. This move does.

I like horror movies, and this must rank all the way up there with "The Exorcist". The cinematography is excellent. The aerial views of Rachel's car speeding along the lonely road are breathtakingly beautiful. The whole movie has cyan tinge to it, and the images are haunting. The director has not spent much time on irrelevant details, and must be congratulated for it.

I'd give this movie an 8/10.
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