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A small-time reviewer on IMDb.com.
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Good Performances, Mediocre Film!
Abhinay Deo's 'Blackmail' has an interesting premise, that sadly never turns into an entirely interesting, wholesome noir-comedy, that only works in bits & pieces. Despite complete support from its cast, the film remains untapped in its potential.
'Blackmail' Synopsis: When Dev finds out his wife is cheating on him, he secretly blackmails his wife and her lover as a form of revenge.
'Blackmail' is the same old story of a husband's wrath on his wife after he finds out she's cheating on him. The twist here is the blackmail angle & how the protagonist literally turns things up, side, down for his wife & lover. 'Blackmail' is twisty tale of dark characters, who have very few redeeming qualities & will go to any length to their share of money. All of this appeals in the beginning, but as the film progresses & the blackmailing doesn't remain only one person hands, the story begins to fizzle out. Too much happens & very little actually works. Though the dark humor does get laugh out of you, its continuous act one blackmail after the other, wear you off. In short, 'Blackmail' engages in parts, not entirely!
Parveez Shaikh's Screenplay is alright. Abhinay Deo's Direction is fine. Cinematography & Editing are standard.
Performance-Wise: Irrfan, as always, is highly commendable. As the husband out for sadistic revenge, Irrfan doesn't miss a single beat. Arunoday Singh springs a pleasant surprise. The actor shines as the calculative yet dumb lover, who also flexes his gift for comic-timing here. Kirti Kulhari as the wife in trouble, is perfectly cast. She looks beautiful as well. Divya Dutta is deliciously wicked as Arunoday's wife, delivering a delightful turn, despite limited screen-time. Pradhuman Singh Mall overdoes it in his part. Omi Vaidya is fair. Anuja Sathe is fantastic.
On the whole, 'Blackmail' is only partly engaging.
Tumhari Sulu (2017)
Vidya Balan Soars in An Average Comedy-Drama!
Vidya Balan returns to tremendous form in 'Tumhari Sulu'. This box-office hit, that rightly earned Balan many accolades, including the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, rides on the actress's firm shoulders to camouflage its thin story. While Balan shines as Sulu, the film never reaches beyond the ordinary.
'Tumhari Sulu' Synopsis: Sulu is an ambitious housewife with a loving husband and a happy family. Things start changing for her when she accidentally lands a job as a radio jockey and her show becomes an instant hit.
'Tumhari Sulu' is about a common women's triumph, told with honesty. I do applaud the makers to make a film about a women, who doesn't have a size-zero figure or is even remotely shown as an activist fighting for women's rights, but of a women, who leads a simple life & how she triumphs on the merit of her talent.
BUT, 'Tumhari Sulu' settles for mediocrity. Sulu's tale has honesty, but overall, the story lacks meat. The sub-plot involving her husband (The Wonderful Manav Kaul) isn't very engaging & even Sulu's life post her success as a radio jockey, isn't high on energy. Sure, some moments here are all heart & soul, but as a whole, 'Tumhari Sulu' is an ordinary story.
Suresh Triveni's Screenplay is half-baked. His Direction, on the other-hand, is simplistic, yet effective. Cinematography & Editing are fair. The Soundtrack is excellent.
And now of course, to Sulu herself. Balan gets into the skin of the character & delivers a rock-solid performance. Balan is the beating heart of this so-so film. Its no surprise that Balan is considered as one of the best of our times.
On the whole, 'Tumhari Sulu' is a Vidya Balan show all the way. For her alone, watch it.
Rich In Atmospherics & Creepiness, Despite Its Uneven Story!
For any Horror Film, its the most essential to scare the viewer with an impact. Some horror movie tropes including gore, screams or even absurdities. In 'Pari', what we get, is a richly atmospheric horror film, that will creep you out for sure. However, the disappointment lies its uneven story, that never comes up as a whole. More on that later...
'Pari' Synopsis: Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) allows a mysteriously women Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma, in terrific form), to stay with him after an accident, only to realize something eerie & creepy related to the women he's given his shed too.
'Pari', Co-Written & Directed by Prosit Roy, begins interestingly & takes you in its ghastly world instantly, although the brutality is very off-putting. Roy successfully transports us to an unsafe, unpredictable world & the director sets up an atmosphere of cold dread & fear. The first-hour of 'Pari' is engaging stuff, as the mystery unfolds slowly, but interestingly.
Its the second-hour, however, it fails overall. What starts off as a twisted tale of mystery, horror & subtle human-romance, suddenly turns into a bizarre story, that keeps getting more & more outlandish. While some moments in this hour are effectively unsettling, in its totality, it lacks the fizz. And that's underwhelming, since 'Pari' has a genuinely winning first-hour & a consistently well-created atmosphere.
Roy & Abhishek Bannerjee's Screenplay, which focuses on the concept of Ifrits & Jinns, begins strongly & builds up its story nicely, but loses the fizz mid-way. While I truly enjoyed the subtle romance between its leads, the entire romantic-triangle bit in the second-hour appears forced. How I wish the Writing was strong all through!
Roy's Direction is well-done. Cinematography captures the dread & gruesome violence, to great effect. Editing is alright. Make-Up is realistically done. Art & Costume Design are top-notch. Action-Sequences are too brutal & will put off the faint-hearted instantly.
Performance-Wise: Anushka Sharma delivers her best performance in years. 'Pari' is Anushka's 3rd home-production venture, after the superb NH10 & the heartwarming Phillauri, & Anushka oozes range in a role that gives her enough meat to chew on. As Rukhsana, Anushka is, at times, vulnerable & at times, frightening. She's simply terrific here. Parambrata Chatterjee is very nicely restrained. Ritabhari Chakraborty is excellent. She has wonderful screen presence & the confidence an actor demands. Rajat Kapoor is first-rate, in a strong supporting role. Dibyendu Bhattacharya leaves a mark.
On the whole, 'Pari' utilizes only half of its potential. And yet, its worth a watch for the fact that it dares to be a horror film that uses atmospherics as its trump card.
One Of The Strongest Films Based On Faith In Recent Memory!
Writer-Director Daniel Kokotajlo's 'Apostasy' is a film that leaves you shaken & uncomfortable, by its sheer power. Kokotajlo paints his film with subtlety, but ends it with the impact of a sledgehammer. Its a stunning victory for the man in charge.
'Apostasy' Synopsis: A faithful Jehovah's Witness is forced to shun her own sister because of a religious transgression. As the separation draws out, she starts to question the meaning of God's love.
'Apostasy', which I watched last year at Mumbai Film Festival, left me rattled. This is a film that depicts faith & its fanatical approach to people, whose freedom & choices are repeatedly questioned or condemned. In 'Apostasy', we see a family of 3 women, a mother & her two daughters, wrestling it out in their heads & lives as their faithfulness to the practice of being a Jehovah's Witness. Its a shocking film, that never uses loud background score (just like Paul Schrader's Fantastic "First Reformed") or melodrama to prove its point. 'Apostasy' is quietly devastating as its powerful. Its such an emotionally overwhelming experience, that even people belonging from a particular faith or beliefs, are bound to be left engrossed.
Kokotajlo makes a stunning debut. Kokotajlo's Screenplay slowly builds up, only to gradually pick up & leave a thunderous impact. Kokotajlo's Direction is remarkably controlled. This man deserves more work! Cinematography, Editing & Art Design are top-notch.
Performance-Wise: Siobhan Finneran, Sacha Parkinson & Jessica Baglow deliver extraordinarily. Robert Emms is first-rate. Others lend perfect support.
On the whole, 'Apostasy' is, quite simply put, a roaring motion-picture that deserves to be seen. Don't Miss It.
First Reformed (2017)
Paul Schrader Returns To Top-Form With A Spiritual Spell-Binder! Ethan Hawke Is Astonishing!
Paul Schrader is at his most powerful & angered in 'First Reformed'. This stunningly unsettling spiritual drama, finds the director adapting themes with hard-hitting honesty. And Leading-Man Ethan Hawke delivers the performance of his career.
'First Reformed' follows a Protestant minister faced with questions of faith and morality while serving as a pastor of a dwindling historical church.
'First Reformed' is about a man who questions his own faith & morality, after life & circumstances around him, give him no choice but to think. Rev. Ernst Toller, the protagonist, is a troubled, shaken man, who represents god with genuine faith and watching him questioning his very own ideals & ideologies, makes for a deeply affecting & absorbing experience.
Schrader attacks the Trump Administration & reminds us how climate change is real & the future near us is bleak, while also questions God & its Preachers, to know if their practices still have a place in this ghastly world. Schrader's inner anger & bravery reflect in 'First Reformed' to outstanding effect. I don't want to give away any more spoilers ahead, as here is a film that is actually meant to be experienced in its no-holds-barred approach. Schrader has made a film that not only resurrects him back in the game of showbiz giants, but also among the very "ballsy" storytellers, who aren't afraid of speaking their mind. Schrader's Direction is chilling & his Writing, spell-binding!
Alexander Dynan's Cinematography captures the claustrophobic mood with excellence. Benjamin Rodriguez, Jr.'s Editing doesn't flinch to show us the darkness & remains sharp all through. Art & Costume Design are superbly done.
Performance-Wise: Ethan Hawke is astonishing. The supremely talented actor surrenders to Schrader's unforgiving vision & enacts the troubled protagonist with command. The actor has never been this good before. I suspect Oscar-Chase next year! Amanda Seyfried does very well. Cedric the Entertainer, in a non comedic role, is terrific. Victoria Hill is first-rate. Philip Ettinger is remarkable in a brief role. Michael Gaston is highly competent.
On the whole, 'First Reformed' is Power-Packed Cinema! An absolute must see.
Action and Beyond!
The sixth installment in the Mission: Impossible film series, 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is an exhilarating action roller-coaster, that is worth every penny & minute of yours. It is quite simply, the most tense & action-packed MI film to date, that is sure to leave you spell-bound by its pure rush!
'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' Synopsis: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.
Action films come and go, but 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' takes the Action Genre ahead with ferocity. No Kidding, this Action-Spy affair offers spectacular Action from the word go. Be it the hand-to-hand combat, or mesmeric car chases or even helicopters flying up and above, this film has it all. I was left awe-struck & felt richly rewarded all through the film. Clearly, 'Fallout' has taken the action level way up & hence, only the MI Series have to top themselves, here-on.
Writer-Director Christopher McQuarrie's motive is simple: Leave the Action buffs overwhelmed. And he does! While his Screenplay moves on a fast-pace, despite its wafter-thin plot, its the action here that's the mainstay of the enterprise. McQuarrie's Direction is an Action-Packed dream, where its bad-ass leading-man races, chases, flies & bashes up the baddies, with much glory.
A special mention & respect for the extraordinary Action-Sequences, that have been envisioned, choreographed & executed, astonishingly. Each & Every punch is effective to the core! Clearly, the stunts & the aggression are the soul of the film. Hats Off!
The Cinematography by Rob Hardy captures all the action & carnage to stupendous effect. Eddie Hamilton's Editing is razor-crisp. Art & Costume Design are efficient. Lorne Balfe's Score is superb.
Performance-Wise: Tom Cruise roars as Ethan Hunt! The 56-year old Superstar oozes energy & charisma from start to end. Its a delight to watch him take on the bad-guys once again & give them their desserts. Ving Rhames & Simon Pegg are lovable, yet again. Rebecca Ferguson does a stellar job. Sean Harris continues to be a strong, conniving villain. Henry Cavill is fair. Alec Baldwin & Angela Bassett make brief, but arresting appearances. Vanessa Kirby is first-rate. Michelle Monaghan is perfect. Others lend support.
On the whole, 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is an Action Extravaganza! It has Blockbuster written all over it! Grab a ticket now!
And yes, Mad Maxx: Fury Road has finally found its competitor. And that's no small achievement.
The Breadwinner (2017)
An Honest Yet Imperfect Film!
Well-Intended & Rich in Animation, 'The Breadwinner' is an honest film, whose victory lies in its disturbing truth. This is an important film on disparity & courage, that deserves a watch.
'The Breadwinner' Synopsis: In 2001, Afghanistan is under the control of the Taliban. When her father is captured, a determined young girl disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family.
Despite its uneven Writing, that goes jumps from being excellent to becoming monotonous, the sole strength of 'The Breadwinner' lies in its honesty, which is unquestionable. Kudos to Director Nora Twomey for churning out a film that shows whats life beyond our borders & how gender roles are still played upon, particularly on women. A special mention for all the vocal-performances by its actors. Their work here is very strong!
On the whole, 'The Breadwinner' isn't perfect, but so isn't life, right?
Lust Stories (2018)
An Entertaining Anthology!
'Lust Stories' is the sequel to 2013's uneven Bombay Talkies, presenting four short films by four of India's biggest directors exploring love, sex and relationships in modern India. So its Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar, calling out the shots!
The First Story centers around Kalindi (Radhika Apte), a fickle minded college professor, who after engaging in sexual intercourse with a student of hers named Tejas (Akash Thosar), introspects her life. Kashyap Directs this appealing & bizarre tale of a woman gone cuckoo with energy & outwardly humor. Apte is simply extraordinary, while Akash Thosar shows signs for a gift in comedy.
The Second Story centers around Sudhaa (Bhumi Pednekar) and Ajit (Neil Bhoopalam), who are secretly in a passionate sexual relationship. It is revealed later that Sudha is his maid, who, despite giving him love & lust, can never be seen as Ajit's wife due to her stature. Zoya is in stupendous form & easily delivers the most affecting story out of the 4. Padnekar is richly controlled, while Bhoopalam gets little to do.
The Third Story centers around Reena (Manisha Koirala), a housewife, who is indulging in an extra-marital affair with her husband's best friend Sudhir (Jaideep Ahlawat). Things get tense when the husband (Sanjay Kapoor) arrives to the scene. Banerjee's tale is average & a tad too verbose. Koirala is a delight to watch, while Sanjay Kapoor steals the story. Jaideep Ahlawat, who was so good in Raazi recently, appears miscast here.
The Fourth & Final Story centers around Megha (Kiara Advani) is a young school teacher who gets engaged to be married to Paras (Vicky Kaushal), an office worker. After their marriage, Megha discovers that while Paras is continuously pleasured during sex, he is not aware of her dissatisfaction. But Megha's urge take a new form when she gets some help from her colleague Rekha (Neha Dhupia). Johar has fun with story & even takes a jab at himself in the story's most hilarious sequence. Advani is pure perfection, while Kaushal & Dhupia are fabulous.
On the whole, 'Lust Stories' is a mix of good and ordinary! Not a bad way to spend your lazy Sunday afternoon.
Don't Think Twice (2016)
Are Our Dreams Even Meant For Us?
In 2016's mesmerizing Comedy-Drama 'Don't Think Twice', Writer-Director-Actor Mike Birbiglia asks us a very vital questions: Are Our Dreams Ready For Us? By ready I mean, are the dreamers going to accomplish their dreams or is just an imagination of their minds? For Birbiglia, its uncertain. And interestingly enough, Birbiglia has made a film that's nothing less a triumph in terms of storytelling.
'Don't Think Twice' Synopsis: When a member of a popular New York City improv troupe gets a huge break, the rest of the group - all best friends - start to realize that not everyone is going to make it after all.
'Don't Think Twice' is about dreams, dreamers & the part of destiny & luck doing its job. No one in this world is born without skill, courage or determination, and the characters here, an amusingly lovable improv troupe from NYC, are shown as dreamers with talent. But, as luck chooses its opportunists, only one of them, actually makes the cut. And its sad what happens here, but not all of it. Triumph in life is usually waived by the amount of money & fame you can make for yourself (not only in showbiz), but at times, when the dreams aren't materializing in reality, you look on the gift on looking at the gifts you have left: To Be You!
Birbiglia is up for top-honors. 'Don't Think Twice' is a bitingly great film, whose nakedness on life & dreams, is of high-order. Birbiglia's Screenplay is super strong, while his Direction, is extremely arresting. The Cinematography & The Edit, merit a special mention.
Performance-Wise: Birbiglia does well as an actor as well. Clearly, the man has excelled in all the roles he's put himself in! Keegan-Michael Key is nicely restrained. Gillian Jacobs is outstanding. She's at her best here! Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher and Chris Gethard, also deliver magnificently. Others lend excellent support.
On the whole, 'Don't Think Twice' takes a piece out of you & stays in your mind long after it concludes. How many films do that? Don't Think, Just Watch It!
Love Per Square Foot (2018)
A Breezy Watch!
Having lived in Mumbai for many years now, its relatable for me to connect with 'Love Per Square Foot'. Mumbai is an expensive metropolis, where every moment is either a way to make fast cash or a missed opportunity. In this fun & breezy Rom-Com, Director Anand Tiwari delivers a story on young people trying to be independent and achieve what most Mumbaikars can't afford for themselves -- a home owned by them!
'Love Per Square Foot' Synopsis: Individually, Sanjay and Karina don't earn enough to be able to buy a home, so they enter into a marriage of convenience.
'Love Per Square Foot' is a cute film, that has its heart at the right place. Having said that, the Writing isn't always engaging. Tiwari & Sumeet Vyas's Screenplay gives some interesting characters, but the story flows in a slow manner & never reaches a pinnacle in terms of Writing. Its a simple story, told with a subtle attitude & for the most of it, it works. BUT, the Writing doesn't go beyond its premise & that at times, hampers its impact overall. The Dialogue, however, are natural to the core. Tiwari's Direction is good & the man captures Mumbai with love. Cinematography & Editing are standard. Sohail Sen & Anand Bajpai's Score is average.
Performance-Wise: Vicky Kaushal wins you over with a delightful act. The supremely talented actor portrays his part with effortless ease. Angira Dhar is also a welcome new addition to the Hindi Film Industry. The actress is confident & charming. Alankrita Sahai is feisty. Kunaal Roy Kapur is as usual. Ratna Pathak Shah & Supriya Pathak are simply outstanding, yet again. Ratna is flawless as Angira's moody Christian Mother, while Supriya plays the Hindu Maa to perfection. Raghubir Yadav is efficient, as always. Arunoday Singh is adequate. Gajraj Rao is superb. Brijendra Kala is fantastic in a brief role.
On the whole, 'Love Per Square Foot' is a breezy, undemanding watch.
A Stunning Depiction of Hate & Circumstances!
One of this year's Foreign Language Nominees at the Academy Awards, 'The Insult' is a heartbreaking story about divide, hate & circumstances. Made with the sharp vision of Writer-Director Ziad Doueiri, this is a film made with a beating heart & a sensitive mind.
'The Insult' Synopsis: After an emotional exchange between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee escalates, the men end up in a court case that gets national attention.
'The Insult' is a deep insight into a common insult between two men. One is a Lebanese Christian & the other a Palestinian Refugee, both complexed & equally haunted souls, who stumble upon each other on a regular day & end up offending each other. What follows is a messy court case & the circus around it, which in turn, is a strong portrayal of the cultural differences, the hate that has followed on for legacies & the circumstances caused by people itself, who for the worse, have given in to their emotion of hate.
Ziad Doueiri, along-with co-writer Joelle Touma, Writes a Screenplay that captivates & disturbs to equal effect. The motive of its strong Writing is clear: This story is important & it needs to told. The Screenplay is a protest towards hate & the people who are spreading hate now as we speak. Ziad Doueiri's Direction is subtle, but highly commendable. Cinematography & Editing are perfect. Art & Costume Design are decent.
Performance-Wise: Kamel El Basha & Adel Karam, both, are excellent. Both the actors portray intensity & genuine emotion, without ever missing a single beat. Rita Hayek does a wonderful as Karam's wife. Others lend remarkable support.
On the whole, 'The Insult' is an important story told with sensitivity & command. Don't Miss It.
Dario Argento's Colorful Frightener!
Writer-Director Dario Argento's 'Suspiria' is an experience in pure fear & colorful bedazzlement. 'Suspiria' is widely known to be as Argento's Masterpiece, that has gripped its viewers ever since its release 41 years ago, way back in 1977. And to no surprise, this supernatural horror film is a work of a true visionary. I was, in equal measure, compelled & horrified.
'Suspiria' Synopsis: An American newcomer to a prestigious German ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amid a series of grisly murders.
What makes 'Suspiria' one of the greatest horror films of all-time, is how it creates fear in its colors. The German ballet academy here is painted red for the most of it, with some other colors such as blue & black having their shine. And Argento uses the colors as a metaphor for this mostly disturbing tale, that is rich in violence & grisly gore. The violence depicted in 'Suspiria' is brutal & the nerve-wracking murders will leave you a little distressed.
Keeping in mind that even the great tales of horror demand relief, Argento provides nicely in the narrative. And he intelligently gives this tale a twist in its characters, with particular standouts in the form of Daniel, a blind piano teacher played delightfully well by Flavio Bucci & a help in the academy, who is given spooky make-up (intentionally) & a peculiar voice, to give this horror tale a campy feel for relief. These two characters are Argento's vision of making us realize that even the tales of haunting eccentricity, demand a sense of relief & abstractness.
The Performances in 'Suspiria' are decidedly over-the-top. Argento opts for deliciously hammy portrayals from his actors, shooting them in dread, with close-ups, extreme zoom-ins & zoom-outs & in pure blood. Jessica Harper is perfectly cast as the protagonist out to know the ghastly truth within the ballet academy, delivering a worthy turn, that comes across as a strong feminist part. Stefania Casini is also credible in her part. The Late/Great Joan Bennett & The Late/Great Alida Valli command the screen & adapt to Argento's bizarre vision of horror to perfection. The remaining cast are in sync with the film's mood & sportingly add to the required campiness.
Luciano Tovoli's Cinematography is another masterstroke for Argento's vision. The lensman opts for wide frames, offering vastness & grandeur, while also creating fear & dread with, as mentioned earlier, extreme close-ups & some zoom-ins & zoom-outs. Tovoli's work also captures the colors on display to astonishing results. The Late/Great Franco Fraticelli's Editing is razor-crisp & doesn't keep it down on the violent bits. The violence here hits you & the Editor knows exactly how to cut & shape them for frightening effect. The Art & Costume Design are a work of mastery, while the Make-Up is easily of textbook material for b-horror movie makers & buffs.
Goblin's Score is magnificent. The haunting tunes are as much a character here, giving the film the eerie feel, it strongly demands. The Score is a mix of dread & punk, that turns into a chartbuster of sorts. I have a feeling that its main theme plays every Halloween at the gothic parties?
But the real star is Argento, from start to end. The Cult Filmmaker's relentless approach to execute a spooky tale on sadistic witches, is truly a work of vision & guts. He paints the film with colors (red in particular) & throws its characters in a land of unpredictable brutality & frightfulness. The results are gratifying.
On the whole, 'Suspiria' is as fascinating as its frightening. This Cult-Classic has earned its status on the strength of its storytelling, style & colors.
P.S. I can't wait to see how Director Luca Guadagnino will tell Argento's story with his own distinctive vision later this year. After all, the influence has been unparalleled over the years.
Shallow Hal (2001)
Beauty Lies In The Eyes Of The Beholder!
Directed by the Farrelly Brothers, 'Shallow Hal' is a film that depicts the inner beauty in us, with honesty & earnestness. Though its a bit too sweet, its simplicity & its thought of looking beyond the looks, is one to take home. Cleary, this Romantic-Comedy has aged well.
'Shallow Hal' Synopsis: A shallow man falls in love with a 300 pound woman because of her "inner beauty".
The Farrelly Bros have made a film about imperfect people in an imperfect world. And its interesting to see Hal, the protagonist, give life a newer look by getting his shallowness removed. While the Farrelly Brothers have made sure the laughs keep coming in, the subtle message of searching the real beauty in one's soul, is actually heartwarming. I was arrested in Hal's journey & the world would certainly do a lot better if we followed what Hal does here.
The Farrelly Bros & Sean Moynihan's Screenplay is sweet & arresting. The Farrelly' Bros' Direction is perfect. Cinematography, Editing & Make-Up, merit a special mention.
Performance-Wise: Jack Black is very good as Hal. He gets a meaty role & Black nails the role with a lot of honesty. Gwyneth Paltrow is controlled. Jason Alexander is entirely irritating & convincing as Hal's ever shallow friend. The Late/Great Joe Viterelli is cute. Others lend fair support.
On the whole, 'Shallow Hal' is a winner that comes right from the heart.
Brad's Status (2017)
Ben Stiller Gives The Performance Of His Life In This Beautiful Film!
'Brad's Status' is one of 2017's most emotionally resonant films & yet its among the least watched or talked about in common lists of the years best. Strange isn't it? Well, so is Brad's life, the protagonist here, who somehow is behind his colleagues of college, in terms of luxury & status, despite being noble & honest in life. Trust Ben Stiller to give a performance of a lifetime & he does. Its a sweeping victory for the actor.
'Brad's Status' Synopsis: A father takes his son to tour colleges on the East Coast and meets up with an old friend who makes him feel inferior about his life's choices.
Writer-Director Mike White ups the ante for the Common American Man in a story about life & how destiny plays out. Its not that Brad's life is boring, its just that Brad, in his own right of having ambitions, is underwhelmed with what he's given. Brad owns a non-profit organization, and lives a comfortable life with his loving wife and son, but cannot help imagining how his friends, are rich & more accomplished than him. If you look at Brad from a perspective of having a respectable life, he has it all. But ask Brad if he's happy & all he'd tell you is how he feels left behind & unfortunate for the lack of opportunities given to him. He's a husband & a father, but deep down him, despite his own standing, is a man jealous as well as clueless of knowing how he never achieved what he dreamt to be. This is a human story, and in a very strange, we all have or are going to be Brad at some point in our lives & there lies its piercingly beautiful reality.
Mike White's Screenplay is relatable & engrossing. Brad is a fascinating man & his journey, along-with his Son, is truly an immersive one. White's Direction is simplistic, yet effective. Cinematography & Editing are done right.
Ben Stiller conveys genuine pathos in his portrayal of Brad Sloan. Stiller is no alien to taking up challenging roles (Greenberg & The Meyerowitz Stories, remember?), but his courage to play a man who feels incomplete each day, is one for the ages. Stiller is masterful in his subtlety. What a shame that he didn't garner awards attention this year. I wonder what even qualifies as a committed performance any longer.
Of the rest of the cast, Austin Abrams as Brad's Son & Jenna Fischer as Brad's Wife, are wonderful. Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson, Jemaine Clement & Mark White, portray Brad's friends/foes, to perfection.
On the whole, 'Brad's Status' is a story worth watching. It takes a piece out of you.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Fun & Fast-Paced, But Not As Good As The Prequel!
2015's 'Ant-Man' was, in my opinion, the best Marvel film at the time of its release. And over the years, with a plethora of superhero films wrestling it out quite frequently, I still chose the story of the tiny superhero as the real deal. So obviously, its sequel is a big event for me as a true fan.
So, is 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' as great as its prequel? The answer is - no. BUT, is it a bad film? NOPE. This sequel is actually quite a fun watch, that doesn't take itself too seriously. Its fast-paced & fun, and to be honest, never boring. While it lacks the perfection of the 2015 blockbuster, it still stands on its own, despite its undeniable glitches.
'Ant -Man and the Wasp' Synopsis: As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.
The key problem with 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' is that it lacks a strong villain. Of course, there is an adversary in the form of Ghost (played superbly by Hannah John-Kamen), but this villain isn't the one that comes across as a troublemaker obsessed with attaining power. Not giving away any spoilers, but Ghost isn't a villain that Ant-Man or the Wasp have to fear their lives for. And that, for any superhero film, is a minus, in my opinion. Its simple: When you have people with superpowers, make sure they use those powers with someone who's equally as powerful or challenging.
Keeping aside its baddie problems, 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' is quite a joyride on every other front. The jokes are on-point, with some LOL moments that leave you in splits. I also liked the fact that this wasn't a story about saving the entire world, in turn, this sequel, just like its prequel, is a personal story about a bunch of people & their conflicts. I found myself laughing at most times & also entertained, although I craved for some kick-ass action.
Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers & Paul Rudd's Screenplay plays it cool & offers ample moments of true fun. How I wish they penned a stronger, meaner villain. Peyton Reed's Direction is satisfactory. Cinematography, Editing, Art & Costume Design, are perfect. Christophe Beck's Score is great. Graphics are excellent. Action-Sequences are nicely done, although they are in short supply.
Performance-Wise: Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang/Ant-Man & he's delightful all through. Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne/Wasp, is wonderful. Michael Peña as Luis, is super-efficient. Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch, is terrific. Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne, Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster & Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, being veterans, are absolutely perfect in their respective parts. Others very lend good support.
On the whole, 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' is definitely fun, but falls short of expectations overall. Nonetheless, its worth a watch!
A Poetic Film With A Knockout Christian Bale Performance!
Scott Cooper's 'Hostiles' is a poetic film, that explores life & death with gut-wrenching violence & a hard-hitting narrative. This isn't an easy watch & nor does it want to be. Its a film about hate, divide & circumstances, & Cooper along-with leading-man Christian Bale, deliver a deeply affecting & meditative experience.
'Hostiles' follows a U.S. Cavalry officer (Bale) who must escort a Cheyenne war chief (A Fantastic Wes Studi) and his family back to their home in Montana in 1892.
'Hostiles' is about people haunted by their past & their actions towards one-another. Every character here, be it the protagonist, or the characters around him, are unsettled & victims of hate & hatred. This is a story about people who want to question their hate for one-another, but are unable to, due to their given circumstances. This is a human story & the sheer brutality here depicts a side of humanity we all are aware off. Its told with honesty, albeit, with gut-wrenching aggression.
Scott Cooper is in top-form this time around. 'Hostiles' is a slow-moving, poetic piece, that sees the filmmaker in strong command. Cooper captures the bleakness & conflict, with remarkable understanding. Cooper's Vision is astonishingly captured by Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi, who paints 'Hostiles' into a visual marvel. Takayanagi's Camerawork is meditative & skillful to the point of perfection. Editing by Tom Cross adapts perfectly to the film's pace & offers sharpness overall. Art & Costume Design are pitch-perfect. Max Richter's Score is beautiful.
Performance-Wise: Christian Bale delivers a knockout performance. As the conflicted & haunted Cavalry officer, Bale portrays the part with rare conviction. Its no new fact that Bale is among our greats, but 'Hostiles' shows us a side of his that may have just put him up there, right next to the all-time screen giants. What a wonderfully nuanced performance by Bale. Of the rest of the cast, Wes Studi portrays his complex part fantastically. Rosamund Pike is restrained. She's controlled & believable all through. Jesse Plemons is solid, as always. Ben Foster plays a yet another unlikable character, with the perfect blend of menace & insanity. Rory Cochrane is first-rate. Timothée Chalamet makes a very brief appearance, yet he does his bit nicely. Stephen Lang, again in a cameo, is outstanding! Others lend good support.
On the whole, 'Hostiles' demands a viewing on the strength of its sheer merits. Don't Miss This One!
A Well-Made, Well-Acted Yet Flawed Biopic!
Rajukumar Hirani's keenly anticipated 'SANJU' has finally hit the screens. With tremendous hype & fantastic pre-release promotions, the expectations from 'SANJU' are expectedly gargantuan. So does this biopic live up to its hype? The Answer is a Yes, but with a few eyebrows flipping up and down.
Reason? Sanjay Dutt is not only a Superstar of India, but also one of the most controversial figures of our country. His Life, right from his addiction to drugs, to superstardom, to his jail sentence, to his release, has been seen, observed& witnessed by millions of people. So, making a biopic on a figure as celebrated & questioned as him, requires a no-holds-barred narrative. And Hirani, the genius Director, attacks 'SANJU' with a pinch of realism. And at the same, he treats 'SANJU' as a filmy, Bollywood biopic, that at the end, plays it a bit too safe.
'SANJU' Synopsis: Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor) narrates his turbulent yet courageous life to a writer (Anushka Sharma), when his name is questioned again when he is sentenced for the second time by the court of law for under arms act. Its his journey right from his early days of becoming a star, to drug addiction, to losing his mother, gaining back his life & stardom, to further turbulences, including the loss of his father.
Sanjay Dutt's life deserves a biopic. Heck, this man has seen the peak of popularity & wealth and has also seen the days of a convict, who lived in a prison with no windows to even being called a terrorist by the media. Its indeed a journey that demands your attention. And Hirani presents 'SANJU' as a biopic that begins right from the beginning to the superstar's release in 2016.
'SANJU' has a rousing first-hour, where each & every sequence leaves you stunned. The initial days of drug-addiction, to meeting his best-friend, to the loss of his mother & the burden of being a popular leading actor's son, are presented & executed with gut-wrenching realism. The first-hour of 'SANJU' is riveting stuff & its what a biopic demands: honesty & pace. I found myself emotionally overwhelmed in this hour & also found myself tripping over the film's skill, that switches between humorous to heartbreaking.
However, post interval, 'SANJU' becomes less impactful. And the prime reason being the change of pace & the honesty turning into a one-man's version of a story. Again, Sanjay Dutt is no ordinary man & his good-will is enormous, but this hour of 'SANJU' appears a little too safe. While the first-hour is so engrossing despite its heroes flaws & lack of ambition, the second-hour turns into a filmy affair. The sequences in the jail are effective, but appear lanky overall, as the gear shifts into a Bollywood-ish biopic, where melodrama sets in & you begin to realize that you're watching a movie after all, which is meant to cater to all. 'SANJU', just like its protagonist, begins fearlessly but later slips into a propaganda, which takes away from its glory overall. This is an uneven biopic, that doesn't maintain a consistently balanced pace nor does it have the courage to be no-holds-barred entirely. Also, some of the characters shown here, are given different names to real life. Again, a minus for a biopic, that promised to go all the way! And that's a little disappointing, since this biopic is made by Hirani, who has delivered one gem after the other. Of course, his previous efforts weren't biopics, but the expectations from a cinephile like me, weren't obviously going to be low.
Coming to the Writing, Hirani & Abhijat Joshi's Screenplay is excellent in the first-hour, delivering ace after ace. But, as mentioned earlier, the second-hour is less effective & turns filmy. The Writing needed to be stronger overall, though some of the bits are truly terrific. Hirani's Direction is simplistic, as always. Cinematography is perfect. Editing is crisp, despite a running-time of 162-minutes! Background Score is powerful. Make-Up & the Art & Costume Design are remarkable.
Performance-Wise: Ranbir is simply superb as SANJU. The immensely talented actor slips into this mammoth challenge to portray a superstar as relevant as Sanju & performs with astonishing conviction. Ranbir not only looks the part, but also inhabits the body-language as well as the heart of the man, to startling results. Definitely, among Ranbir's finest works to date. Vicky Kaushal is the real surprise package here though. As Sanju's best-friend Kamles/Kamli, Kaushik is magic personified. The actor sinks his teeth into the part & shines all through, matching up-to Ranbir (and at times overpowers him) and is undoubtedly the scene-stealer. Wow! Paresh Rawal as the Late/Great Sunil Dutt, is sadly miscast. Though he's fair in the role, the actor doesn't look like the man he's playing. Manisha Koirala is wonderful as the Late/Great Nargis, delivering a elegant turn in a small cameo. Jim Sarbh as the dodgy Zubin Mistry aka GOD, is fantastic. Dia Mirza as Manyata Dutt, is alright. Sonam Kapoor as Ruby, does a fair job. Boman Irani is efficient as Ruby's dad. Anushka Sharma as Winnie Diaz, a biographer who catches Sanju's interest, looks gorgeous & justifies her part. Kashish Vohra is cute. Others lend support.
On the whole, 'SANJU' isn't as gutsy as it promised to be. Nonetheless, its a decent film, with a gripping first-hour & some very strong performances. Go, and experience the story this weekend!
A Deeply Affecting Film with A Career-Best Performance by Varun Dhawan!
Director Shoojit Sircar's 'October' is a gem, that will pull your heartstrings & also tear them apart. This story about love & loss, is deeply affecting. This film has so much heart & soul, that its hard not to be moved by it. And Varun Dhawan delivers a career-best performance in the lead-role.
'October' Synopsis: Dan (Varun Dhawan) is a carefree, reckless young man who works at a hotel. His life turns upside down when his colleague Shiuli (Banita Sandhu, in a terrific debut), goes into a coma after an accident.
'October' is about unsaid, unspoken love, that may exist or may not, from both the ends. Dan, the protagonist, finds meaning to his mediocre life when a tragedy as big as losing Shiuli, occurs. Initially, we don't even know what Dan is going to do. But, as this story progresses, a sense of immeasurable pain & love is experienced. This isn't a love-story where the lovers meet, make memories or get intimate, but one, that is connected by the souls of 2 people having found a connection. I can't tell you how overwhelmingly beautiful this story is. Experience It.
Juhi Chaturvedi's Screenplay is pure heart & soul. The Writing moves on a soothing pace, and despite deep sadness & depth, this is a Story that demands to be felt & experienced. Chatruvedi has written a love-story, that without even getting into the usual romantic cliches, delivers dollops of genuine emotion & heartache. The Dialogue, merit a special mention. Shoojit Sircar's Direction is controlled. The talented filmmaker has captured 'October' with sensitivity. He's in Top-Form! Cinematography is wonderful. Editing is perfect. Shantanu Moitra's Score is soothing.
Performance-Wise: Varun's portrayal of Dan, is one for the ages. Shunning away from his "Hero" image, to portray a reckless, flawed man with a beating heart, deserves immense respect. The star-actor is stunning here, delivering an entirely realized performance, that unfolds with remarkable conviction. Banita Sandhu as Shuili, is exceptional. There is a sense of unspoken mystery that reflects in her eyes & her appearance & performance, both, add to the film hugely. Gitanjali Rao as Prof. Vidya Iyer, Shiuli's mother, is fantastic. Her grief stricken eyes form the emotional core of this film. Sahil Vedoliyaa & Isha Chaturvedi lend remarkable support.
On the whole, 'October' is the kind of film, that warms your heart & at the same time, tears it apart. Its something to special, you'd have to see it to believe it. Very Strongly Recommended!
The Tale (2018)
Laura Dern is a Force of Nature in this Heart-Wrenching True-Story
Some True-Stories demand to be told, despite their heartbreaking, heart-wrenching reality and 'The Tale' is among those films. This Stunning film registers a sledgehammer impact & the exquisite Laura Dern delivers a performance of pure force.
'The Tale' is an investigation into one woman's memory as she is forced to re-examine her first sexual relationship and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.
'The Tale' is a true-story & what you see here, is something so disturbing, that it will leave you shaken. Pedophilia is a serious crime & Pedophiles are among the most brutal creatures out there, who are out to harm, manipulate & destroy the lives of children living in our society. Written and Directed by Jennifer Fox, 'The Tale' is Fox's true life-story on the sexual abuse she faced during her childhood & her life beyond. Fox is a brave, gutsy woman, who's made a film of her own horrors & has presented us a story that's disturbing as well as powerful. Here's a woman who's courage needs to be witnessed, spoken & shown. We can no longer let these beasts abuse the underage. Enough!
'The Tale' is also packed with stunning performances, led by the magnificent Laura Dern. Dern, One Of The Finest Actresses of All-Times, portrays Jennifer Fox with sheer heart, mind & soul. Its a performance built in force & executed in exuberance. Dern is a force of nature & 'The Tale' Salutes talent to the maximum. Isabelle Nélisse, as the younger Jennifer Fox, is extraordinary. Of the supporting cast, The Legendary Ellen Burstyn does a wonderful job as Fox's Mother, who must accept what has been happened & yet not lose her conscience. Jason Ritter portrays the evil pedophile, astonishingly. His performance is as real as it can get. Elizabeth Debicki does an excellent job as Fox's childhood idol, who has much more to say & do, than it seems. Frances Conroy portrays Debicki's older version with command. The Late/Great John Heard, as the older Ritter, is beyond perfection in a brief appearance.
On the whole, 'The Tale' is a true-story that needs to be seen, for its courage & the horror that happened. Don't Miss It.
And to the courageous Jennifer Fox...Salute!
Black Panther (2018)
A Rousing Spectacle!
One of the Biggest Box-Office Blockbusters of All-Time, 'Black Panther' is PURE Popcorn Entertainment! This Panther is a true superhero, whose cultural triumph is even more important than its storytelling propose.
'Black Panther' Synopsis: T'Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T'Challa's father's mistake.
Predictable to a fault, 'Black Panther' is a zesty blend of mesmeric action & predictable cliches. Having said that, there's no denying that this worthy critical & commercial smash never fails to engage its viewer.
Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole's Screenplay is up for the claps as it rightly establishes Stan Lee's raging Superhero. And make no mistake, the experience & joy of watching an Black Cast delivering explosive action & drama, is one of its own. The Writing is well-done, although the second-hour does give inn to many cliches, that do effect its impact overall. But, for the most part, the Writing is nicely sustained. Coogler's Direction is superb. The Director seems to be confident & assured in his first blockbuster directorial effort. Cinematography & Editing are done with merit. Art & Costume Design are excellent. Graphics are top-notch. Action-Sequences are simply spell-binding. Ludwig Göransson's score is rocking.
Performance-Wise: Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa / Black Panther, is charismatic all through. He has the heroic presence to hold his own. Michael B. Jordan as N'Jadaka / Erik "Killmonger" Stevens, is over-the-top. Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, is charming. Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi, passes muster. Danai Gurira as Okoye, is first-rate. Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, is a strong, persuasive menace. Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, is effective. Angela Bassett as Ramonda, is adequate. Forest Whitaker as Zuri, does not deliver. His role appears forced.
On the whole, 'Black Panther' offers a strong impact & its cultural importance, is impossible to ignore. Lets Marvel This!
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Han Solo is immortalized by Harrison Ford's sterling, career-defining performances in the ORIGINAL Star Wars Movies created by the masterful vision of George Lucas. And now, 4 decades later comes a standalone Han Solo movie, that is an origin story of the legendary hero. So while Ford isn't on-screen, its up-to new-lad Alden Ehrenreich to portray the part. And as far as Alden's portrayal is concerned, there is no sign of underwhelm, as the actor is energetic all through.
Sadly enough, barring Alden's winning performance, 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' is a painfully disappointing film, who's existence makes no sense. This Ron Howard Directed spectacle fails to deliver, as this film aims for visual splendour, but gives us no tale. Its a noisy action film, that has a wafer-thin plot, that ultimately is nothing but all noise and no soul!
'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Synopsis: During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.
'Solo' stands on a faulty script. Jonathan Kasdan & Lawrence Kasdan's Screenplay runs out of breath even before your popcorn does. Its just one action piece after another. 'Solo' is one long-running action-sequence, that hardly has story to talk about. Its sad that despite such a brand attached to this big-budgeted film, that the Writing is so lazy. Ron Howard's Direction is average. Cinematography & Editing are so-so. Visual Effects & Action-Sequences, are top-notch.
Barring Alden, no other performer really stands out. Its only Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, who gets his moments & leaves a mark, despite limited screen time. As for Emilia Clarke, Woody Harreslon, Paul Bettany & Thandie Newton -- they are just ordinary.
On the whole, 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' is a disappointment.
An Interesting Spy-Thriller with Strong Performances!
Meghna Gulzar delivers a yet another winner with 'Raazi'. Though not as great as her last fim Talvar, this Spy-Thriller is an interesting watch, that holds your grip for a large part of its running-time. And The Performances are strong!
'Raazi' revolves around an Indian spy (A Terrific Alia Bhatt) married to a Pakistani man (An Endearing Vicky Kaushal) during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.
Set during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, Meghna gives us a story of a young girl who had to leave whatever she had, for the sake & love for her country - India. Sehmat Khan, the protagonist, is a young girl who can't even see a drop of blood & cares for every live being, be it a human or any other. And to watch her turn into a Spy against her beliefs, is indeed interesting & at times, heartbreaking. Meghna commands the narrative with a strong grip & makes sure you are engrossed in Sehmat's journey.
Having said that, Bhavani Iyer & Meghna's Writing isn't perfect. The Screenplay, which is an adaptation of Harinder Sikka's novel Calling Sehmat, gets a bit slow at times & even the pacing is erratic. While some of the sequences, especially after Sehmat gets married & begins her life a spy, are extremely engrossing, some parts lag too. The first-hour has a few moments that don't engage, but the final 20-minutes, are the least compelling. The final-act is the real weak-link, in an otherwise gripping film. To be honest, 'Raazi' could've been tighter & more gripping, since it has such an interesting story to tell. Hence, The Writing woks for a large part, but isn't entirely on-point at times. The Dialogue, are pretty good.
Meghna's Direction is excellent. She's in top-from, yet again! Cinematography is lavish. Editing could've been a little more crisper, especially in its first 30-minutes. Art, Costume & Production Design, are elegant. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's Score is wonderful. Even the Background Score, deserves a special mention.
Performance-Wise: Alia Bhatt continues her winning streak with 'Raazi'. One of the finest leading-women of our times, Alia portrays Sehmat with the right amount of innocence & conviction, that the character demands. Its a fully realized performance, that wins you over. Vicky Kaushal is lovable as Alia's understanding & respectful husband. Jaideep Ahlawat is outstanding as the man who trains Sehmat. The actor gets a meaty tole & he completely nails the part! Shishir Sharma is dependable, as always. Rajit Kapur is perfect. Amruta Khanvilkar is first-rate. Arif Zakaria is excellent. Soni Razdan is adequate. Others lend very good support.
On the whole, 'Raazi' is definitely worth a watch, despite its blemishes. Make time for this one.
A (Minor) Delight!
Director Jason Reitman returns to true form with 'Tully'. The talented director who hit a few lows with his 2 previous outings, is back with force in this interesting & engaging tale on Motherhood, Mental Illness & Life, itself. And Reitman's teaming with Writer Diablo Cody, this being their fourth together, proves victorious, once again. This is the kinda film, that has a simple storyline, but its Writing & Treatment, make it engrossing & even, despite a few minuses, memorable.
'Tully' Synopsis: A mother of three hires a night nanny to help with her newborn.
'Tully' isn't about Tully, even though the title belongs to her. This is the story Marlo (a sterling performance by Charlize Theron) , a wife & a mother of three, who's going through postpartum depression & is simply, done being mommy all the time, round the clock. So, things get much better when a night nanny named Tully (a star-making performance by Mackenzie Davis) shows up & gives Marlo her much needed peace. And that's all I'm gonna tell you about this story. Where it goes after Marlo & Tully meet, is something that demands to be witnessed. And while there some flabby bits here, the overall result of its storytelling, is strong on merit.
Cody's Screenplay is truly well-done. It tackles a relatable & affecting circumstance & turns into a ride, with some very clever turns. Having said that, the Writing isn't always on-point & gets a little monotonous, especially towards the middle, but picks up rapidly again to a startling finish. But yes, the Writing could've been a little tighter in the middle portions. Reitman is fine form this time. The Director commands the narrative with precision. Cinematography & Editing are good. Art & Costume Design are top-notch.
Performance-Wise: Charlize Theron is in top-form, yet again. Her portrayal of Marlo, a woman in desperate need of help & rest, is pure acting magic. Theron, who did wonders with Reitman & Cody in Young Adult years ago, triumphs once again with 'Tully'. Theron is one of the finest actresses working in the planet today & 'Tully' proves that fact right, for the umpteenth time. Mackenzie Davis is absolutely lovable as Tully. The actress stands on her own, despite sharing space with Theron. She has the potential to make it big. Ron Livingston is excellent as Marlo's husband & Mark Duplass scores as Marlo's brother. Others lend remarkable support.
On the whole, 'Tully' deserves a watch, for sure! Strongly Recommended!
Father Figures (2017)
Better Than What The Critics Said!
'Father Figures' is no great movie. But it isn't a bad movie either. At least not as bad as the critics called it. Its, at its very core, a very watchable comedy, that, believe it or not, has got a heart too.
'Father Figures' Synopsis: Upon learning that their mother has been lying to them for years about their allegedly deceased father, two fraternal twin brothers hit the road in order to find him.
'Father Figures' is a tale of two brothers, who go on a journey to find their real dad, but end up exploring each other more than they could've imagined. And this story, though monotonous after a point, has some funny jokes that land & the banter between its brothers, has moments that evoke mirth & some genuine emotion too. I found myself emotionally connected in the film's concluding moments, which I least expected too. Having said that, there is no denying that 'Father Figures' gets repetitive & even some of its jokes don't land. Also, the length could've been trimmed by 10-15 minutes.
Justin Malen's Screenplay is a mixed bag, but there are some nice things here, that leave a mark. Lawrence Sher's Direction is adequate. Cinematography is satisfactory. Editing could've been tighter. Art & Costume Design are standard.
Performance-Wise: Owen Wilson & Ed Helms are extremely likable. Both of the terrific actors add a lot to their roles & excel in the comedic & emotional bits. The Legendary Glenn Close appears in a cameo as the mother of the boys & as usual, lends grace to the part. Among the dads, Terry Bradshaw is fun to watch, J. K. Simmons wild & The Great Christopher Walken gets barely anything to do. Ving Rhames & Katt Williams are funny.
On the whole, 'Father Figures' is an entirely watchable comedy, that has its pros & cons. Not a bad Sunday noon watch!
Let The Desires Live!
Bill Condon is in serious form here, as 'Kinsey' is truly a work of sheer genius! Based on the life Alfred Charles Kinsey (June 23, 1894 - August 25, 1956), a pioneer in the area of sexology, this Biographical Drama, is informative, interesting, brave & proficiently acted by its strong ensemble, led by Liam Neeson (As Kinsey) Laura Linney (As His Wife).
'Kinsey' Synopsis: A look at the life of Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research, whose 1948 publication "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was one of the first recorded works that saw science address sexual behavior.
Sexual Education has been basic learning for us in schools, and how procreation takes us ahead. But, Kinsey wanted to learn about the concept of desires & the acts of sexual fantasies, that engross the human mind & body. And this biopic brings his life to light, with an interesting blend of sexuality & the tensions between its humanistic characters. We see Kinsey soar, struggle & even explore his own ideas of sex & biology, with the correct blend of dramatic punches & emotion resonance.
Bill Condon's Screenplay & Direction, both, are masterful. His Screenplay is engaging & unlocks your mind on sex & beyond, with stunning connectivity. His Direction is equally competent, capturing his each moment with finesse. Cinematography, Editing, & Art & Costume Design deserve a special mention. Carter Burwell's Score is well-done, as usual.
Performance-Wise: Liam Neeson & Laura Linney add tremendous weight to 'Kinsey' with their sensational performances. Neeson digs deep into Kinsey & portrays a complicated, yet compelling man to perfection. A complete contrast from his now Action-Hero Image, Neeson's depiction of a man who's felt pain & also searching for answers, is truly delightful. Linney, as his long-suffering wife, is a scene-stealer. Her performance is undoubtedly the one that leaves the maximum impact & Linney leaves no stone unturned in her unforgettable portrayal. Of the rest of the ensemble cast, it's Peter Sarsgaard (extraordinary), Chris O'Donnell (controlled), Timothy Hutton (very good), John Lithgow (flawless), Tim Curry (perfect) & Oliver Platt (superb), who leave a strong impression.
On the whole, 'Kinsey' is a ride worth taking. After all, Kinsey is only exploring each one of us. Isn't He?