Certain subplots remain underdeveloped even though the director and writer do try to tie it all up in the end. The comedy does feel forced at times, even feeling completely out of place but there is enough here to keep one entertained. The supporting cast performs adequately.
'Neuilly sa mère!' isn't among the finest of its kind but it has enough bright moments to be watchable with the family.
The film boasts of several superb performances. Tom Hanks does a decent job. He exudes enough charm to carry off the part. Colin Farrell, even though not a convincing Australian, does a remarkable job otherwise. Same goes for Annie Rose Buckley. Paul Giamatti is excellent. Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzmann and Kathy Baker provide fine support. Rachel Griffiths is wonderful but she deserved more screen time. But, 'Saving Mr. Banks' belongs to Emma Thompson who delivers yet another transcendent performance marking one of her best works.
Flawed it may be but John Lee Hancock's movie is well worth watching. It's charming, colourful, delightful and very well acted.
The film falls on the lines of 'A Single Man'. Here the viewer is accompanied by some fine music and some suitably awful songs. Moreover, the director duo also create a gloomy but equally intriguing atmosphere set in 1961. It's also darkly comic. All the other people Llewyn meets throughout the film are losers too. The only difference is that Llewyn has pretty much lost everything except his love for music while the others lead a relatively more secure life that is equally, if not more, empty.
Oscar Isaac finally gets a role that allows him to showcase his abilities as an actor. He is well supported by John Goodman and Cary Mulligan. The only bad performance comes from Justin Timberlake. He is awful but thankfully he's only there for a limited time.
Whimsical and atmospheric, 'Inside Llewyn Davis' works as both a character study and mood piece. It's lyrical in style and dark in tone but subtle in humour.
There are several songs (ranging from mediocre to awful) and dances. Yes, Madhuri does dance and I doubt she'd ever do a film where she isn't required to dance. After all, she's a much better dancer than actress and here she fails to have an effect. Sen's 'Gulaab Gang' (should have been titled Madhuri's Gang) are all good looking thin women with nice makeup. Occasionally, they swing their hips to music, stand erect looking indifferent or jump around with domestic weapons. Madhuri also gets to do some Kill Bill-Matrix style action sequences (which are mostly shot in slow motion because Bollywood thinks that's cool).
Moreover, the references to Madhuri Dixit the star (and her steamy numbers from 80s movies) are painfully evident. This film was supposed to be about the real Gulabi Gang and not Madhuri the hero. But enough on that. Even otherwise, it's all done so over-the-top. A shootout final? Really? Is this 'Sholay'? The sequences of Rajjo's childhood are laughably bad. Alphonse Roy's cinematography is decent but Sen's script and direction are messy. The film lacks a consistent narrative. The tongue in cheek dialogue appears forced at times.
The only interesting thing about the movie are the Sumitra's sequences especially those with Rajjo. In fact, the Sumitra character is way more interesting than the formulaic (super?)hero. It makes the viewer wonder about her background, what made her into this ruthless power-craving monster. She's clearly a sociopath who's managed to get away with so much all those years.
And of course, Juhi Chawla is transcendent as she steals every scene and is the only reason why the film is even watchable (despite limited screen time). Of the supporting cast Tannishtha Chatterjee and Priyanka Bose stand out. Divya Jagdale is quite loud. Overall, 'Gulaab Gang' is silly. It, very noticeably, tries to milk on Madhuri's former stardom and the growing recognition of the real Gulabi Gang, with it's supposed 'feminist message'. No.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing but the film gets much more interesting when Meena meets Rajendra after marriage and embarks on an affair with her ex-flame. This was quite a surprise for a film of its time when women were portrayed in stereotypical roles as the loyal and devoted wife, mother or sister who would never cross social boundaries.
Moreover Chopra depicts it quite well without resorting to clichés and he presents some interesting arguments, especially where Rajendra raises the question about whether Meena is only meant to be a caretaker of Ashok's children. However, Chopra's concluding argument is faulty. Is a woman's role only confined to being a homemaker and limited within her home? Granted that it was wrong of her to cheat on her husband but doesn't the husband have any responsibility and granting her the happiness she deserves, a happiness that was forced away when he tied the knot? In addition, the whole Shashikala track felt forced and awkward, changing the entire rhythm of the film.
'Gumrah' is technically well made. The cinematography captures the sense of space and gives us many eye-candy shots. The lighting is impressive. The songs are nice but repetitive.
All three actors deliver some stellar performances. Ashok Kumar is quite charming. However, his French is hilarious (was that intentional?). Sunil Dutt is brilliant as the boyfriend/other man. But 'Gumrah' belongs to Mala Sinha who not only superbly delivers a nuanced performance but very few of her contemporaries could have depicted the internal conflict and vulnerability as effectively as she has. Sinha remains underrated as the actress is hardly mentioned these days when one talks of classics.
'Ssa-i-bo-geu-ji-man-gwen-chan-a' is completely different from Park's more popular films. He took an original concept and has made a poetic film that has heart and magic.
'12 Years a Slave' is craftfully made. There's some fine cinematography and lighting. Music is used efficiently. In my opinion the best scenes are the ones that had no music or dialogue. For example, the scene where poor Solomon is hang to a tree and left there with his toes barely touching the earth. No dialogue, no music but the rawness of that scene and the 'bystanders' getting along with their day-to-day life in the background is brutally effective.
Chiwetel Ejiorfor is sensational and hopefully this film gives him the recognition he deserves. Lupita Ngong'o is equally stunning and raw. Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulsen are wonderful. Brad Pitt is the weakest link. The actor doesn't impress and his role should have been cut down. Moreover, it doesn't help that hes given preachy dialogue.
The pacing is a little uneven. Some shots just focus too much on faces, for no apparent reasons (nor does this add anything except more running time) and it's rather distracting. Some of the characters come off as one-dimensional.
'12 Years A Slave' is not one of the finest films but it is well shot, scored and wonderfully acted.
Joaquin Phoenix delivers a marvelous performance. He is wonderfully supported by radiant Amy Adams. Their scenes together Scarlett Johanssen does a good job. However, I do wonder why Jonze had Samantha Morton (who'd already done the dubbing)? Olivia Wilde does a very effective job too. Chris Pratt is quite adequate. Jonze himself does a funny job as Alien Child.
'Her' is perhaps one of the most refreshing on-screen love stories of 2013. In its own subtle way, it addresses the relationship between man and technology and how people are becoming more and more dependent on technology everyday.
Where writing it concerned, most of the jokes work effectively but there are a few that fall flat. Moreover some of the main characters should have been more properly defined.
The performances, mainly by Bryan Brown, Toni Collette, John Goodman and Sam Neill are brilliant. However, Sam Worthington lacks screen presence.
The pacing is quite uneven and the story does tend to get a little messy in places. The cinematography is good and the score is brilliant.
'Dirty Deeds' thinks it's a smart black comedy and that may be so to an extent but it does have its share of flaws, a few big ones. Tighter editing and more character development may have done the trick. Yet, it's still watchable. After all something that's visually amusing and draws a few laughs may deserve at least a one-time watch.
'August: Osage County' touches on some bitter truths that many will be able to relate to. However, that's about all it does. Granted that the film is more of a portrait than a narrative story and a movie isn't necessarily required to answer questions. Yet, I cannot help but feel that something's missing.
It's got quite an interesting ensemble that boasts of well-known names. Meryl Streep hams her way through as the mentally ill, drug addicted, foul-mouthed, cruel mother. It's perhaps one of her worst performances. Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper do a decent job. Julianne Nicholson is brilliant and is the only one who shines. Juliette Lewis is no stranger to such role. Misty Upham leaves a mark with a tiny role as witness to the ticking timebomb that is this family. Dermot Mulroney does a fine job as the sleazy fiancé. Julia Roberts is quite good but her presence isn't as strong as that of the aforementioned. But, Ewan McGregor lacks screen presence here at all and his dialogue delivery sounds forced.
On the technical side, the cinematography is excellent and its got some nice music. Lighting needed some work and I the slightly washed out colour didn't do much for me. It's given that the atmosphere in the film is meant to be gloomy and tense but this is a tool that has been used, perhaps overused, in many films.
As for writing, some of the dialogue, especially the humour misses the mark and they tend to be overlong in a few sequences but otherwise, it's quite decent.
In the end, 'August: Osage County' is a bitter family portrait that showcases some fine performances especially those of Streep, Nicholson and Martindale.
The story too doesn't dilly-dally too much on irrelevant subplots. Usually, in such films the more intense scenes tend to be melodramatic but here it doesn't feel that way. The bond between Ashburn and Mullins is believable and even though their characters are polar opposites, it's easy to see why they would be drawn towards one another. Ashburn's loneliness and Mullins's disappointment at her family rejecting her are very well portrayed.
I hope the second movie lives up to the first one. For me, Bullock and McCarthy form one of the funniest on-screen buddies. Like most movie buddies, what makes them so great is that, even though they're hilarious together, their bond is real.
The subtle performance by lead actress Sofia Helin is also very effective and brings out the depth of Mia making her struggle more convincing. Kajsa Ernst and Ann Petren are equally wonderful as the two older sisters who couldn't be any more different. The rest of the cast do a fine job bringing in some humour.
The execution is quite ordinary but the pleasant snowy Swedish landscape is refreshing to look at. The soundtrack is used smoothely. The birthday party track especially stands out as it's filmed beautifully and so many things happen in that scene, both on the surface and within the characters (portrayed very well by the actors).
'Masjävlar' may not be one of its kind and even though it tells a familiar story that has been witnessed various times on screen, there is a freshness about the way its treated and told.
The premise may be promising for a children's film. However, what Ruia makes is completely juvenile. It's very poorly written and executed (almost as bad as those 80's 'so called Bollywood moneyspinners). The editing is dreadful and the songs, with the exception of the one that plays during the opening credit, are horrendous. The animation is abysmal. The less said about it the better. Come on, if you're going to make a children's film, surely one can come up with something better.
The acting by the children is quite bad but the director is to be blamed for this. Cameos by Hritik Roshan and Latrina Kaif are laughably bad. Paresh Ganatra is adequate as Kantaben's assistant (even though he does tend to go overboard at times).
Juhi Chawla is terrific as Kantaben and I couldn't think of a better actor for the role. However, someone of her talent really deserves a much much better film. If there is any reason at all to watch 'Main Krishna Hoon' then it's her.
'The Luzhin Defence' is also quite simplistic (and a tad melodramatic) as it attempts to provide a solution for everything. Perhaps the intention was to make it lighter in order for it to appeal to a wider audience who like happy endings. But if that's the case, why not change it completely, at least give the main characters different names in order to not mislead the viewers into thinking they're watching something similar to the book it's supposedly based on?
The highlight of 'The Luzhin Defence' are the lead pair's performances. John Torturro and Emily Watson are spellbinding in their roles. Watson, in a wonderfully reserved performance completely convinces the viewer why she would fall for Luzhin. Torturro delivers yet another nuanced performance of a complex man. Geraldine James also does a good job. Stuart Wilson's Valentinov is one dimensional (pretty much your usual antagonist). Alexander Hunting does a fine job as the young Luzhin but he bears no resemblance to Torturro.
Adapting a book into a film isn't an easy task and there is bound to be some criticism if a big book is to be fitted into a 90 minute film. However, perhaps the most important thing is to capture the same essence and that's where Marleen Gorris and Peter Berry fail. Nabokov certainly wouldn't have been pleased with this adaptation.
As for the plusses, it's a well crafted film. Cinematography, lighting and art direction are first rate. The characters are well written (except for the Frenny character). The performances are splendid especially that of Rani Mukherjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui who are superb. Aamir Khan does a decent job. Kareena Kapoor is average at best.
Despite its many flaws, 'Talaash' is still a watchable film. I didn't find it boring at any point. There's something intriguing about the characters, including the minor ones that draws your attention.
'Weird Science' is certainly something for an 80s classic fan. In addition to humour, it's got an amusing dose of science fiction and action.
Parker's direction and Gerolmo's writing are first rate. 'Mississippi Burning' has a very earthy look. The sets, props and costumes look authentic. Gene Hackman is superb as the man who's seen a lot and is yet determined to get to the end. Willem Defoe is great as the idealist copper. Frances McDormand is excellently restrained. The rest of the cast does well too.
There have been numerous films made on similar themes but there's something about 'Mississippi Burning's rawness that draws you in.
The main flaw is the Kajal Agarwal track and the songs (especially that first wedding song). In my opinion, 'Special 26' should have been a songless film and either the romance angle should have been better developed and linked to the main story or removed completely. But there's much more good in the overall film that compensates for the flaws.
Performances by the main cast are brilliant. Akshay Kumar and Manoj Bajpai do a superb job in leading 'Special 26'. I hope Kumar doesn't fall back into the rubbish he's been doing all these years as he's taken a leap towards the positive here. Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill and Divya Dutta (offers good comic relief in a brief role) provide fine support.
The art direction, costume, hair and makeup department deserve mention for creating the 80s look (the film takes place in the mid-late 80s) and giving it an earthy look.
Whether one likes 'A Wednesday' or Akshay Kumar or not, shouldn't be the basis of the decision to watch 'Special Chabbis'. It's an overall solid film with a few flaws.
There are several plotpoints here but they all feel very rushed or ignored after a certain point (such as the Steve Buscemi track). Even the sudden romance between Wilde's Jane and Carell's Burt is a little too fast.
Carell is terrific in the title role as the arrogant magician. The transformation of his character happens a little too soon, but that's hardly the actor's fault. Buscemi is sidelined but he does good with what he's given. Gandolfini's Manny is a cliché. Carrey is superb (only an actor of his calibre could pull this off). Arkin too is wonderful. Wilde holds her own despite being given lesser importance than her male colleagues.
Despite the flaws, it's still a fun movie. Thanks mainly to Carell and Carrey that there's a lot to laugh about.