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Delhi Belly (2011)
Americans Will Like, If They Give a Chance
I'm reviewing this with an American point of view. First off, most non-Indian Americans might not understand what the big deal is. To us, this is nothing new. We've watched comedy like this for years. However, those of us who have some general knowledge of Indian films and Bollywood will certainly be able to appreciate just how different and important this movie is. It is like no other Indian film previously made (at least, not like any I have seen.) It's dirty, raunchy, explicit, disgusting and crude. It's also extremely witty and hilarious.
While I don't think most Americans will feel this is anything special, I *do* think a lot of them would like it, if they gave it a chance. It's the kind of American Pie like comedy that sells well here, yet I personally think it's a lot more intelligent than our normal crude comedies. Also, I'm a girl and while I may have liked it, I can see how not many other females would be into it. It's really, when it boils down to it, a guy movie, about guys, complete with their toilet habits, dirty clothes, and disgusting apartment. ;) If you don't speak Hindi, that's not a problem, since the movie is about 98% in English and the spoken parts that aren't in English, had subtitles. The only disappointment I had with the language barrier was that, in the version I saw, there were no subtitles for Aamir Khan's absolutely HILARIOUS song number at the end, where he is 'Disco Fighter'. Apparently, the lyrics for "I Hate You (Like I Love You)-In Brackets" is loaded with innuendo and double meanings, but unfortunately, I was unable to understand.
So, if you have shunned Bollywood because you can't speak Hindi, you don't have that excuse with this movie. If you have stayed away from Indian cinema because of the over the top melodramatic love story formula, you also have no excuse with this movie. Go see it. Just not with your parents or on a first date. ;)
The Borgias (2011)
Pretty, but Disappointing
I am giving this show 6 out of 10 stars because it *is* a visually striking example of entertainment, and even I consider it to be an entertaining series. However, it has been falsely marketed to viewers, since before the beginning. First off, it is not very historically accurate, which wouldn't be so much of a problem, as so many films and television shows depicting actual historic events and people forsake the facts for dramatic purposes. The problem here is that, again, almost from the beginning, we are lured into watching, believing that we what will be getting is a more factual portrayal of one of history's most notorious families. That is false. We are being given nothing more than typical Hollywood fare, with characters dressed in pretty costumes, sets that are visually pleasing, and situations glossed over in favour of the sexual or titillating. Even in that, though, the show does not deliver.
Character development is deplorable, and once more falls into making each nothing but a tired cliché, from the emotional tormented heart-throb as one of the lead characters, to the innocent and cutely childish lead female. However, while Francois Arnaud still manages to convey a subtle intensity that one imagines the actual Cesare Borgia to have possessed, poor Holiday Grainger makes Lucrezia Borgia seem almost mentally challenged in her over-the-top childishness and unbelievable sickeningly sweetness. Even her attempts to portray a tad of feminine manipulation seemed unnatural and forced, but then again it isn't all her fault, as much of the writing is left to be desired.
Speaking of the writing, it really is atrocious and I am at a loss in trying to understand how any of the people who were hired to write this got the job in the first place. One mistake they seem to have made is to change around many actual known historic facts, such as the birth order of the oldest Borgia male children, and the family relationship between Ludovico Sforza and Cardinal Ascanio Sforza. Again, changes such as these would be completely understandable had they anything whatsoever to do with the overall plot and story, but ultimately, these changes serve absolutely no purpose at all and would have served the same purpose, which is nothing, had they not been changed.
Another mistake was to have brought in the character of Niccolò Machiavelli. Historically, Machiavelli would not have entered into the picture until much later, but again, this can be brushed aside in favour of dramatics. The issue is that they try so hard to convey a sense of intellect and wit about him, and utterly fail in his portrayal and especially his dialogue. It's as though none of the script writers possess any sort of marked intelligence themselves so have no idea how to write a character that does, except to just say that he is, in the most uninspiring, brusque manner.
My last example goes back to my earlier statement of false marketing. Anyone who is familiar with the Borgia history will also be aware of the notorious rumours of incest that still persist to this day. Neil Jordan and Showtime are milking those rumours for all they are worth with the promo shots and photos showing the characters of Lucrezia and Cesare posing in a variety of un-sibling-like poses, teasing viewers with the idea of an incestuous bond. Nothing like that actually occurs in the show at all, and Neil Jordan himself has said in at least one interview that the siblings are not incestuous. However, they still seem to be profiting by manipulating viewers with the possibility of watching something lurid and forbidden.
In conclusion, if you are looking for an hour of mindless historical drama once a week, or looking for a bit of bare ass, you'll probably give The Borgias 10 out 10 stars. However, if you're looking for something that might teach you a little history, or are expecting to get some intelligent political tension, you will be sorely, sorely disappointed. It's fluff, plain and simple.
I Hate Luv Storys (2010)
I have no idea why this movie has received such scathing reviews. The only thing I can surmise is that people were looking for it to show some sort of deep meaning or hidden message about love or life or something. Truly, this movie shows us none of that. It's pretty obvious from the get-go that this is a movie not made to be taken seriously, but to simply provide entertainment for people, which in my opinion, it does. Rather well, too, actually.
Now, I'm not Indian, and neither have I seen a lot of Bollywood movies, but I do consider myself a rather jaded and picky movie-goer. When I chose to watch "I Hate Love Storys", I was looking for a light, fluffy romantic comedy to keep me entertained for a couple of hours due to insomnia. I wasn't disappointed in the least, which is rather surprising.
First off, I was expecting the usual over the top, melodramatic Bollywood love story fare. Even though I'm not an expert on the genre, I do know that seems to be the norm. Well, it's notably absent in this movie, at least, in a serious sense. What one must take into account is that the whole movie is a spoof on such traditional Bollywood love films. It is full of clichés, quite obviously meant to be clichés and meant to be taken that way. Yet, it does so with such wit and humour that even I laughed out loud more than once.
I think the actors did a wonderful job. I did not get the impression of 'overacting' on the part of any of them, which is saying a lot, considering it is Bollywood. Imran Khan is fabulous as J. He brings both a sex appeal and sense of humour that make his character irresistibly cute and endearing. Sonam Kapoor is both beautiful and strong, and really comes across a real person rather than just a love-struck heroine. The real scene stealers, though, I thought, were Kavan Dave as J's best friend, who was hilarious as the egg-throwing, overweight sidekick, and Aamir Ali, who plays the typical Bollywood hero heart-throb who has an overwhelming love for his own backside. :D All in all, if you're looking for an epic love story, this isn't for you. However, if you're looking for cute, feel-good movie full of humour as well as romance, a film that doesn't take itself too seriously, then you'll certainly be pleasantly entertained for a couple of hours.
Overall Wonderful But For Romola Garai
It was impossible for me to keep from comparing this version to the Gwyneth Paltrow version, as the other has been a longtime favourite of mine, but two things stood out to me in this version, one very good and one very bad, that prompted me to write this review.
The story adaption, I thought, was done very well. I have no complaints about that at all.
My biggest annoyance was Romola Garai as Emma. Now, I am already not a big fan of her, but as Emma, she annoyed me most of the series. She overacts atrociously, to the point and past it, where it becomes very distracting. Especially her facial expressions. They are so very exaggerated as is her whole portrayal of Emma's personality. If she is not forcing a huge, excited smile, she is laughing every five moments and had me thinking that Emma would have benefited from some sort of anti-anxiety medication. So, yes, she was a horrible Emma.
The rest of the cast, surprisingly, did a wonderful job, in my opinion. I was especially impressed with Johnny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightly. Make no mistake, he is not Jeremy Northam, and neither is his Mr. Knightly like the other's. Yet...he is no less wonderful and no less a delight to watch. This Mr. Knightly is not as reserved as he is in the other version, yet he is still the quintessential gentleman. I felt there was more of a realistic appeal to him and his personality came across as very natural.
In the end, I do think this was an entertaining little mini-series that was more faithful to the book and allowed for more character development, but I couldn't give it more than 7 stars because of the main actress. Had they cast a different actress as Emma, one that can actually act, I probably would have been able to rate it higher.