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Rampage (2018)
Dumb, But Also Kinda Fun!
18 April 2018
'Rampage' is a brainless summer blockbuster. Its big, dumb, but also kinda fun. While I clearly didn't have a ball, I didn't really mind the film either. Its, at best, a very watchable film, that works in parts.

'Rampage' Synopsis: When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.

'Rampage', which is loosely based on the video game series of the same name by Midway Games, has some fun to offer. Watching the animals become abnormally giant and destructive, along-with superb visual-effects & the fast-pace, never turns boring. Dwayne Johnson adds muscle to the goings-on, giving the film the heft is strongly needs.

But, The Screenplay settles for laziness. Despite some crazy loud action, the Writing is overall, soulless. You don't really feel for any of its characters, be it the humans or the animals. You watch them in chaos, but never end up rooting for any. Also, the supporting characters (particularly Naomie Harris & Jeffrey Dean Morgan), aren't given with much to do, and hence, don't add much to the narrative. A Stronger & more Consistent Screenplay was needed, for sure. Brad Peyton's Direction is passable. Cinematography, Editing & Background Score, are decent.

On the whole, 'Rampage' is fun in parts. And Dwayne Johnson delivers once again. Go in with limited expectations & chances of being letdown will be minimal.
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A Quiet Place (2018)
A Very Well-Made Film that is Scary & Affecting!
17 April 2018
'A Quiet Place', the recent box-office & critical smash, is an achievement to envy. Especially for horror filmmakers & also the buffs. I am NOT a horror movie buff, but 'A Quiet Place' left me very impressed. This is A Very Well-Made Film that is Scary & Affecting, that is terrifying in parts & also emotionally rich in totality.

'A Quiet Place' Synopsis: A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

John Krasinski is in very good form. The superb actor, who helmed the very underrated 'The Hollars' sometime back, returns to the director's chair with a superlative horror offering. Krasinski along-with Bryan Woods & Scott Beck, has penned a story that's actually more about family than fear/dread. While 'A Quiet Place' is a horror film, with fear as its trump card, the Writers here, add a tremendous heft of emotions. Watching the family of Abbott's trying to survive in a world where creatures destroy humans at the tip of a sound, is heartbreaking & heart-pounding. This is a brave horror film, that remains silent for most part & creates fear in its silence. While there is some repetition here that takes away some of its glory, there's still not denying its rock-solid merit.

Krasinski's Direction, also, is top-notch. He directs a scary atmosphere with genuine dread & also uses silence as one of the aces of the film. Cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen is fantastic. Christopher Tellefsen's Editing is razor-crisp, culminating the film in 90-minutes. Art & Sound Design are marvelous. Graphics are superb. Costume Design adds authenticity to the intense proceedings.

Performance-Wise: Emily Blunt & Krasinski excel. Blunt, one of the finest actresses of our times, expresses fear, grief & courage, with complexity & remarkable conviction. Krasinski is wonderfully restrained & portrays his part admirably. Millicent Simmonds & Noah Jupe are top-notch.

On the whole, 'A Quiet Place' is a really good horror film, that is also affecting. Go, get spooked!
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Blockers (2018)
Funny, Silly & Surprisingly, Heartfelt!
12 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
When I first watched the trailer of 'Blockers', I had a feeling that I was gonna laugh here, even if only in bits. But after the reviews came in & rotten tomatoes gave it a certified fresh rating, my interest grew quickly.

And to my surprise, 'Blockers' proved to be a rewarding experience. I found myself laughing much more than expected & believe it or not, I also felt emotional in its final bits. This is a funny, silly comedy, that surprisingly, is also heartfelt.

'Blockers' Synopsis: Three parents try to stop their daughters from having sex on prom night.

'Blockers' has a thin premise, but Writers Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg & Eben Russell come up with a winning Screenplay. The paranoid parents trying their best to stop their girls from getting laid, is pretty entertaining. Yes, the first 20-minutes are a bit flat, but the rest of 'Blockers', is truly fun. Also, the sequences that follow one after the other, especially the alcohol chugging scene, left me & the almost packed auditorium, in splits. The humor is offensive at times, especially in the sub-plot involving (Gary Cole & Gina Gershon as a kinky couple; both superb), but the laughs, fortunately, don't stop. In short, watching the parents go on a rapid chase evokes laughter, the girls trying to get laid are fun to watch too & by the time the film comes to an end, the emotional connect leaves an impact. The final 15-minutes are heartfelt & offer empathy, that's usually hard to find in this genre.

Kay Cannon's Direction is satisfactory. Cinematography & Editing are well-done. Art & Costume Design are perfect.

Performance-Wise: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz & John Cena are in good form. Mann does well as the paranoid mother, Ike is terrific as the boisterous dad & Cena scores the best as the over-emotional dad. Cena, sportingly takes a shot at himself & is the butt of all jokes. Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan & Gideon Adlon are also lovely & portray their parts to perfection. Others lend great support.

On the whole, 'Blockers' is a funny film, with heart. Go and have a good time!
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Isle of Dogs (2018)
The Magnificent Vision of Wes Anderson Remains Strong With This Winner!
7 April 2018
Written, Produced and Directed by Wes Anderson, 'Isle of Dogs' is a gripping & satirical delight, easily resulting as one of the strongest stop-motion animated films yet. Funny, Gutsy & Metaphorical, this canine comedy has teeth & soul.

'Isle of Dogs' follows a young boy who goes in search of his dog after the whole species is banished to an island due to an illness outbreak.

'Isle of Dogs' is about political greed, love, loyalty & immigration. Come to think of it, Wes delivers a film, with dogs as its pivotal characters, to deliver a story about members of our society who go into banishment. Does this story ring a bell to you given the current talk in America by its most powerful man? It sure does. But, Wes being Wes delivers a darkly comedic, metaphorically poetic film, that uses current circumstances (most of them, condemnable) to great impact. I found myself laughing here many times, but at times, I knew it wasn't really a joke to laugh on. Wes is in top-form, as a Writer & Director, both, and gives us a nearly unforgettable film. The stop-motion animation is top-notch & each character, be it the dogs or the humans, appear detailed & emotive.

Oscar-Winner Alexandre Desplat's Score is another ACE of 'Isle of Dogs'. The musical genius delivers moody & soulful tunes, that match up-to Wes's wildly innovative imagination to mesmerizing effect.

The voice cast that includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Courtney B. Vance, Fisher Stevens, Harvey Keitel, Liev Schreiber, Bob Balaban, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Frank Wood and Yoko Ono, are beyond perfection. Each & Every Performer brings their A-Game here.

On the whole, 'Isle of Dogs' is a true winner. Its not only compelling, but also socially important. Wes Anderson is a vision to envy. Don't Miss It.
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2 April 2018
Based on Cline's 2011 novel of the same name, Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' is a fun watch, that sees the versatile director flex his talent for a summer blockbuster yet again. Although largely imperfect, this bid-budgeted Sci-Fi Adventure is never out of breath or visual bedazzlement.

'Ready Player One' Synopsis: When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

'Ready Player One' is about video gamers & I'm certain video gamers are sure to enjoy this ride. The story here is basic, with an earnest protagonist (Tye Sheridan) who must fight against an evil villain (Ben Mendelsohn, in fine form). But, Spielberg is up for the challenge & he delivers entertaining sequences. I'd like to single out the sequence involving the Stanley Kubrick Horror Classic "The Shining". Its truly a terrific sequence, that captures both, humor & rush. Also, the visuals are to die for. 'Ready Player One' is a pure visual dream.

Now coming to the flaws, the biggest problem with 'Ready Player One' is that it lacks soul. While its definitely a fun watch, this story lacks soul and also hardly has any characters that you actually feel for. And thats where the Writing lacks the bite. It goes all-out in imagery & action, but its out of considerable depth. Its all great to look at it, but there isn't any genuine emotion here to feel.

And yet, 'Ready Player One' isn't low on its marks. Its very much, a watchable & at times, hilarious film, that delivers a bang for your buck. Screenplay by Zak Penn & Ernest Cline is up for the bets, but lack of emotional depth take away some of its glory. Spielberg's Direction, as always, is well-done. I mean, he just gave us the terrific 'The Post' 3 months ago & now a popcorn entertainer with 'Ready Player One'. Now that's range! Janusz Kaminski's Cinematography is top-notch, as ever. Michael Kahn & Sarah Broshar's Editing is finely done. Alan Silvestri's Score is lovely. And oh that nostalgia of the 80's music! Art & Costume Design are perfect.

Performance-Wise: Tye Sheridan shines in the leading-role. The actor brings a certain likability to the part & stays committed throughout. Olivia Cooke is a Stunning leading-lady & a delight to watch. Lena Waithe has her moments. T.J. Miller is very funny. Simon Pegg is decent. But its Mark Rylance as the deceased creator of the OASIS, who steals the show.

On the whole, 'Ready Player One' is imperfect, but never not worth watching. Go in and have fun.
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Annihilation (2018)
A Spell-Binding Sci-Fi Film!
18 March 2018
Based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, 'Annihilation' written and directed by Alex Garland, is a film so deep in its truest sense, that it demands to be felt, as well as experienced. This is A Spell-Binding Sci-Fi Film, that brings its mysterious world with a thought-provoking twist.

'Annihilation' Synopsis: A biologist (A Terrific Natalie Portman) signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don't apply.

'Annihilation' has too many themes & yet Garland, a well-deserved Oscar-Nominee for the unforgettable Ex Machina, brings a sense of doom & humanity to the intense & at times, scary proceedings. 'Annihilation' is not merely a Sci-Fi flick with a horror element, this is a deeply poetic & heartbreaking story, that deals with life, death, self-destruction & the consequences of life. I won't give away all any spoilers here, as this is a film, that needs to be viewed with all its might. Also, considering the amount of themes & ideas 'Annihilation' has to offer, everyone viewing this film, just like me, will have his/her own ideology of the film. And that's the beauty of Garland, who creates a scary & beautiful world, where violence, grief & realization play a big part. I was hooked all through.

Garland is master. 'Annihilation' isn't an easy film to write or direct, but Garland takes the challenge & delivers one of the strongest Sci-Fi Films of recent memory. This is spell-binding stuff, that challenges its viewer to think beyond the general. Garland's Writing & Direction, both, are top-notch. Rob Hardy's Cinematography captures the unsettling mood, with brilliance. Barney Pilling's Editing is bang-on. Art & Costume Design are fabulous. Visual Effects are sharp. Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow's Score is haunting.

Performance-Wise: Natalie Portman's portrayal of a troubled protagonist looking out for answers, is one for the ages. Its a magnificent performance, that shows the Oscar-Winner at her brightest. The superb Jennifer Jason Leigh brings depth to her part, proving once again how underrated she is. Gina Rodriguez is in top-form. The actress commands the screen. Tessa Thompson & Tuva Novotny lend remarkable support. Oscar Isaac, as Portman's husband, is in superb form.

On the whole, 'Annihilation' is brave, absorbing & challenging. Just sit back and behold.
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Mudbound (2017)
Stunning Cinematography & Superb Performances Help An Uneven Narrative!
3 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
'Mudbound' is a yet another Hollywood Saga based on the backdrop of racism & racial violence back in the times of World War II. While the narrative isn't rock-solid, The Stunning Cinematography & Superb Performances, almost make up for it.

'Mudbound' Synopsis: Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.

'Mudbound' isn't an easy watch. The racism depicted here, like many other engrossing Hollywood Sagas, truly hits you. The final moments of 'Mudbound' are brutal & unsettling & that's exactly the impact its maker intend to leave us with. Racism is an act of cruelty & inhumanity & IT MUST be condemned to this day, be it threw movies, books, speeches or protests, it needs to end.

Dee Rees & Virgil Williams' Oscar-Nominated Adapted Screenplay (based on the novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan) offers some powerful moments as well as a truly harrowing end, but it also fumbles in parts. The sub-plots aren't very impressive & the first-hour, in particular, lacks aim. Its only when the war-heroes return, is when 'Mudbound' takes flight, before that, its a slow-moving slog that's headed to nowhere. Dee Rees' Direction is impressive, though. Rachel Morrison's Cinematography is the highpoint of 'Mudbound'. Morrison, the first woman ever Nominated for Best Cinematography in Oscar History, gives us visual poetry. Each & Every Frame of 'Mudbound' has a story to say. Her work is simply flawless! Mako Kamitsuna's Editing is also nicely done.

Performance-Wise: Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, and Mary J. Blige, all are in top-form. Mulligan is extraordinary as a woman torn apart between two men, delivering a richly realized performance from start to end. Hedlund is excellent as a War-Hero who returns home unsettled. Clarke does a fine job too as a man who dedicates his life to his family. Mitchell is wonderfully controlled, also as a war-hero, whose return to his hometown reminds him the color of his skin & his limitations in life. J. Blige, in an Oscar-Nominated Performance, uses her eyes to convey an array of emotions. The rest lend very good support.

On the whole, 'Mudbound' isn't entirely compelling, but when it works, it really does.
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Jeff Bridges & The Late/Great Martin Landau Are A Dream-Team In Coppola's Underrated Biopic!
3 March 2018
Francis Ford Coppola's 'Tucker: The Man and His Dream', based on the life of the Late/Great Preston Tucker and his attempt to produce and market the 1948 Tucker Sedan, is underrated biopic, that hits all the notes. And with Jeff Bridges & The Late/Great Martin Landau in company, its hard not to be mesmerized.

'Tucker: The Man and His Dream' Synopsis: The story of Preston Tucker, the maverick car designer and his ill-fated challenge to the auto industry with his revolutionary car concept.

'Tucker: The Man and His Dream' captures Preston Tucker's madness & passion to bring an automobile to the people, that was far beyond people's imagination back then. It also captures his scandal between the "Big Three automobile manufacturers" and accusations of stock fraud from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, all of which whom, he won rightly against in court.

And Coppola, the genius, is at the top of his game. 'Tucker: The Man and His Dream' is among the legendary director's most accomplished works, delivering a biopic that's both fascinating & heartfelt. Arnold Schulman & David Seidler's Screenplay is wonderfully gripping. Cinematography & Editing add punch to the narrative. Art & Costume Design are excellent.

Performance-Wise: Jeff Bridges as Preston Tucker & The Late/Great Martin Landau as Abe Karatz, the man who helps Tucker achieve his dream, are a Dream-Team. Bridges adds authenticity & charisma to Tucker, portraying a real-life man with full force. And Landau is pure acting gold as Abe, whose performance here, has to be among the strongest supporting turns in the film history. Watching these 2 men unravel here with their gift for acting, left me spell-bound. Of the rest of the cast, Joan Allen as Vera Tucker, Tucker's Wife & Christian Slater as Preston Tucker, Jr, stand out.

On the whole, 'Tucker: The Man and His Dream' is a winner!
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Lenny (1974)
Dustin Hoffman & Valerie Perrine SOAR In This Troubled Biopic!
3 March 2018
Lenny Bruce's troubled life came to celluloid with the Late/Great Bob Fosse's 'Lenny', one of the most well-reviewed films of its time. And like any-other Bob Fosse film, 'Lenny' is imperfect & uninhibited, with two leading-performances that will sweep you off your feat.

'Lenny' Synopsis: The story of acerbic 1960s comic Lenny Bruce, whose groundbreaking, no-holds-barred style and social commentary was often deemed by the Establishment as too obscene for the public.

Lenny Bruce's sense of humor was no-holds-barred & hence he was a controversial figure of his time. 'Lenny' captures his undeniable talent for humor that raised laughs & questions. This biopic also captures his rather sad personal life & his relationship with his stripper wife & her troubled journey with drugs. And some of this is actually affecting & also inspired stuff.

BUT, The Screenplay by Julian Barry isn't entirely engaging. The Writing is brave in parts and unappealing in parts. As acidic as Lenny's stand-up shows turn out, the Writing can never match up to its outspoken, thought-provoking hero.

Fosse's Direction, like always, is driven by human-emotions. And the filmmaker captures Lenny's life with complete honesty. Cinematography & Editing are finely done.

Performance-Wise: Dustin Hoffman & Valerie Perrine are brilliant. Hoffman portrays Lenny as a man with a sharp tongue & a flawed soul, giving us a questionable hero, made pure out of heart & flesh. Perrine soars as his troubled wife Honey. Honey died nearly 40 years after Lenny's demise & Perrine immerses herself into the part. Its a knock-out performance, that proves her powerhouse talent. Its no surprise that both, Hoffman & Perrine, earned Oscar-Nominations for their work here!

On the whole, 'Lenny' is far from perfection, but the acting here, is beyond perfection.
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The House (I) (2017)
Even Ferrell & Poehler best efforts can't outdo its minuses!
3 March 2018
Will Ferrell & Amy Poehler are comedic champions. Having churned out some truly terrific work over the years, one expects their collabration together - 'The House' to be laugh-riot. But what is served here, is a mediocre comedy!

'The House' Synopsis: After the town takes away their daughter's college scholarship, a couple start an illegal casino in their friend's house to make back the money.

'The House' stands on a faulty script. The jokes are funny in parts, but the over-the-top plot & the hard to digest proceedings make a dent in its impact. The Writing nor The Direction, stand out.

So its obviously upto Ferrell & Poehler to do the rest. Weather its chopping off a smart-ass's finger off or peeing on their home lawn, both of the gifted actors manage to deliver rich comedic turns. And its sad that 'The House' can never match up-to their talents.

On the whole, This House doesn't win all its bets.
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Bro-Mance over Ro-Mance!
2 March 2018
Directed Luv Ranjan's box-office champion 'Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety' is a smooth watch, that despite its sexist plot & monotonous proceedings, manages to make you laugh for a good part of it.

'Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety' Synopsis: Titu is going to marry a perfect woman named Sweety. Titu's best-friend Sonu doubts Sweety's character and tries to break the marriage while Sweety tries to do opposite and which leads to war between Bromance and Romance.

'Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety' is all about Men, who are the best species out there. And while Women, are flawed, greedy & decisive. Ranjan, who's no alien to sexism in cinema (having delivered hits with Pyaar Ka Punchnama 1 & 2 with the same theme), attacks his wicked leading-ladies against his good-hearted, concerned leading-men. Definitely not a progressive thought, but Ranjan, though guilty of repeating same themes, is a man with a sense of humor, who's joke land well. For most of this film, I found myself laughing or smiling at its risky humour.

Ranjan's Direction is satisfactory, while the Screenplay goes from hilarious to plain mean. Cinematography adds richness to the visuals. Editing is finely done. Music by Various Artists, is foot-tapping.

Performance-Wise: Kartik Aaryan as Sonu, gets to do the heavy-lifting as the concerned hero out to save his best-friend from the doom. Kartik does well here, although his performance resembles his earlier works. Sunny Singh as Titu is the pick of the lot. He has lovely screen-presence & is earnest all through. Nushrat Bharucha as Sweety, the "kebab mein haddi" for the besties, is fine & feisty. But the show belongs to Alok Nath, who's a complete hoot. The Bollywood Legend breaks free from his general on-screen persona of the well-mannered Bapuji, to a drinking, foul-mouthed & free-spirited grandpa. Its a pleasure to watch the actor loosen up & have a ball. Virendra Saxena also scores as Alok Nath's pillar. Ishita Raj Sharma is very cute in a small role. Others lend excellent support.

On the whole, 'Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety' will make you laugh, but at the expense, of you feeling guilty.
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The Square (2017)
Stunning, Uncomfortable & Sad!
22 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Written and Directed by Ruben Östlund, 'The Square' digs deep into the human-world & artistry, and gives us a scrambled portrait of the world we live in. This is a story about art, made by artists, who are humans, who unlike their art, are fragile & fatally flawed. This is a Stunning, Uncomfortable & Sad film, that very rightly has earned its Nomination at the Academy-Awards this year for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Square' Synopsis: A prestigious Stockholm museum's chief art curator finds himself in times of both professional and personal crisis as he attempts to set up a controversial new exhibit.

Ruben Östlund is a filmmaker to reckon with. 'The Square' isn't an easy film to watch or comprehend. This is a film that doesn't spoon-feed you, its treated like a docu-drama about these people behind a museum, whose life are as fragile as it can get. Östlund's 'The Square' asks you to feel & understand on your own, and unapologetically asks you the truth behind art & the artists behind it. It digs deep, and whenever you laugh here, you laugh until it begins to hurt.

Östlund's Writing may not appeal to the average cinegoer who's pleased with superheroes flying around beating the bad-guys or even to those who like dramas that use dialogue to explain every detail. This is for the elite, thinking audience who are ready to surrender to the man's vision, that, if understood correctly, is much more than selling tickets or applauds. Östlund's Direction is remarkable too.

Cinematography, Editing, Art & Costume Design are done to perfection. The Score also is completely seductive. The Performances are spell-binding. Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Terry Notary & Christopher Læssø, all are magnificent.

On the whole, 'The Square' requires patience, but once you get in, there's no going back. Take a dip now.
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Padman (2018)
Heartfelt & Well-Acted!
22 February 2018
R. Balki's 'Pad Man' is a heartfelt film, that is based on the true-story on Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, who introduced low-cost sanitary pads for the betterment of woman. A noble true-story of a real-life hero, 'Pad Man' never soars as its Hero, but at least it has its heart at the right place & the performances are undeniably impressive.

'Pad Man' Synopsis: Upon realizing the extent to which women are affected by their menses, Lakshmikant (Akshay Kumar, in good form) sets out to create a sanitary pad machine and to provide inexpensive sanitary pads to the women of rural India.

'Pad Man' has a slow first-hour, where Lakshmikant faces objection, rebellion & humiliation, despite his noble idea of helping woman during their 5-day monthly periods. Considering this true-story is set in a rural town, the backlashes to the sensible & concerned Hero aren't very surprising. Even he makes perfect sense, nobody, including his wife (Radhika Apte, terrific), take his side. Its this hour of 'Pad Man' that wobbles, offering some moments that stand-out, but overall come across as repettive & slow-moving. The second-hour is engaging & offers wonderful moments in good portions. The arrival of the film's second leading-lady (Sonam Kapoor, warm & nice) & her understanding of Lakshmikant's obsession of making the pads & making sure they reach to as many as possible, brings the film the much needed pace. And when Lakshmikant does triumph, its hard not to be moved. And there's no denying that 'Pad man' is a sincere story, made with honesty.

R. Balki & Swanand Kirkire's Screenplay, which is based on Twinkle Khanna's book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, offers heart. Its never solid enough to hold your attention all through, but its honesty is on-point. R. Balki's Direction is uncomplicated. He's made a simple film. Cinematography & Editing are decent. Amit Trivedi's Score has a few winning tracks.

Performance-Wise: Akshay Kumar scores as Lakshmikant. As the Pad Man, Akshay portrays the simpleton with pure emotion. The actor particularly excels in the emotional scenes, where he genuinely touches your heart. Also, his speech at the United Nations, is sweet. Radhika Apte, as his long-suffering & innocent wife, is superb. The actress is in top-form, delivering an entirely realized performance from start to end. Sonam Kapoor is very likable. Amitabh Bachchan's cameo is alright.

On the whole, 'Pad Man' isn't perfect, but it isn't without its share of merits either.
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Coco (I) (2017)
A Pure Delight!
18 February 2018
Pixar has done it AGAIN! 'Coco' is a yet another delightful ride from the prolific animation studio, who's winning streak seems to never end. And that's good for all, since 'Coco' is all heart & soul, rewarding the moviegoer wholeheartedly.

'Coco' Synopsis: Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family's ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.

'Coco' captures the themes of Life & Death, with genuine feeling. Themes of family, passion, defeat & redemption also are explored here, but with humor & real emotion. While I laughed for a good share of this winning story, I also found myself weeping in the film's final-act. This is a true fantasy-adventure, that gives life & death true meaning.

Adrian Molina & Matthew Aldrich's Screenplay is excellent. Lee Unkrich's Direction is colorful. And of course, the Animation is extraordinary. 'Coco' unfolds gorgeously & not for a second, does the pace drop.

Vocal-Performances are top-notch! Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel, the protagonist, is a joy, Gael García Bernal s Héctor Rivera, a charming trickster in the Land of the Dead, Benjamin Bratt as Ernesto de la Cruz, the most famous musician in the history of Mexico and Miguel's idol & Ana Ofelia Murguía as Mamá Socorro "Coco" Rivera, Miguel's great-grandmother, stand out. And yes, this is a Film made in America about Mexicans & their tradition. Take That, Mr. President!

On the whole, 'Coco' deserves all your time & money. Don't Miss It. Oscars, are you ready?
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Aubrey Plaza is a Force In This Deeply Affecting And Alarming Black-Comedy!
18 February 2018
We live in the age of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat & of course, Instagram. We all follow people (most of us only through the social networking platform) & comment, like, dislike or even share their posts of views on any particular matter or a selfie. 'Ingrid Goes West', one of the most underrated films, takes this phenomena & delivers a rather scarily sad story about a woman who goes way too far ahead to feel, what everyone today needs to feel: important.

'Ingrid Goes West' Synopsis: An unhinged social media stalker Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) moves to LA and insinuates herself into the life of an Instagram star.

Ingrid is a protagonist who's mostly on the wrong side. She is a stalker, she is a liar, she doesn't believe in moral compass & she'd do anything to get what she wants. Her lonely heart & mind takes her to LA and she literally barges into the life of her Instagram crush. But, truly, more than a story on obsession & stalking, this is the story of the times we live in. When a beautiful, popular personality uploads a post with its location on, its actually possible for one to show up there & see/meet that person candidly. We might call it stalking, we might call it barging into a stranger's life, but then, who isn't stalking today anyway? We all want to matter today & poor Ingrid goes a bit too far to matter. And while some of it is darkly comical, this story eventually, is heartbreaking.

David Branson Smith & Matt Spicer's Screenplay is top-notch & completely with the times we live in. Matt Spicer's Direction is very effective, too. Cinematography & Editing are alright.

Performance-Wise: Aubrey Plaza is a force of nature. As the mentally unstable Ingrid, Plaza gives us a anti-heroine for the ages. Its a striking performance, that unveils with sheer commitment. Its sad that Plaza didn't garner any Award-Buzz this year, despite a remarkable portrayal. Elizabeth Olsen is very good as the woman whom Ingrid is obsessed with. O'Shea Jackson Jr. shines as Ingrid's stingy landlord. Wyatt Russell is decent as Olsen's painter husband. Billy Magnussen as Olsen's trouble-making brother, is brilliant.

On the whole, 'Ingrid Goes West' is bold & affecting. Super Like!
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In Denzel, We Trust!
18 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
'Roman J. Israel, Esq' isn't a great movie nor is it greatly written, but it does have some greatness in it and that is in the form of Denzel Washington. The 2-Time Academy-Award Winner is expectedly mesmeric in his portrayal of the troubled figure he portrays, giving this wobbly film his all. Lets elaborate....

'Roman J. Israel, Esq' Synopsis: Roman J. Israel, Esq., a driven, idealistic defense attorney, finds himself in a tumultuous series of events that lead to a crisis and the necessity for extreme action.

'Roman J. Israel, Esq' is the story of a man who finds himself in a fix after he is sacked from the firm he worked for years. It unravels with the protagonist as he battles defeat, greed, mortality & guilt, all through the soul of a broken man. Denzel is simply terrific, giving us a questionable man, who's a lonely soul & how a wrongful decision leads him to chaos. Its a very interesting protagonist & in Denzel's hands, he's hard to ignore for every a second.

However, 'Roman J. Israel, Esq' is erratically Written. Writer-Director Dan Gilroy gives us a compelling story of an unlikely man, but doesn't know how to contain him. The film also doesn't know what it wants to be - is it about change of heart when one is left alone or - that morality comes at a price. While some of the Writing is riveting stuff, the overall effect, is underwhelming. The Writing lacks cohesiveness, which sadly is its weak link. Gilroy's Direction is admirable, but his Writing lessens the impact. Cinematography, Editing & Art Design, merit a special mention.

Barring Denzel's Oscar-Nominated Turn, there is also a nice performance by Carmen Ejogo, who enacts an activist who understands Roman's voice & Colin Farrell does some of best work here as the man who appoints Roman to work for him after he's left with nothing.

On the whole, 'Roman J. Israel, Esq' is an imperfect, yet decent watch that rises purely on the strength of its powerful leading-man, who brings his A-Game here.
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A Small Little Gem!
30 January 2018
R.S. Prasanna remakes his tamil-hit Kalyana Samayal Saadham & gives us 'Shubh Mangal Saavdhan'. And this hindi remake, is a deliightful ride!

'Shubh Mangal Saavdhan' Synopsis: A couple ( Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar) fall in love but then the groom discovers that he suffers from erectile dysfunction. Chaos Ensures....

'Shubh Mangal Saavdhan' humorously conveys stereotypes on masculinity & societal hypocrisy's. Hitesh Kewalya's Screnplay explores the journey of a couple dealing with an important issue, that ensures much chaos, not in their lives, but also in their respective lives. And its all done in a funny, yet affecting manner. This isn't a sex-comedy nor it does it ever get vulgar in its language, this is a family-friend romantic-comedy, made with the sensibility of ensuring a wide audience. And to their fortune, the film was roaring success last year upon its release!

R.S. Prasanna's Direction is wonderful. Cinematography is perfect. Editing, also, is credibly done. Art & Costume Design are well-done. Rachita Arora's Background Score is superb.

Performance-Wise: Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar are in very good form. Ayushmann enacts the man going through a serious problem, with the perfect blend of fear & care. Bhumi compliments Ayushmann all through & portrays the woman who must understand her lover's problem, despite societal pressures. In supporting roles, Seema Pahwa, Neeraj Sood, Supriya Shukla & Brijendra Kala are simply remarkable. Anshul Chauhan, also, leaves a strong impression.

On the whole, 'Shubh Mangal Saavdhan' is a small little gem, that demands a viewing. Strongly Recommended!
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Baadshaho (2017)
A Fair Watch!
30 January 2018
'Baadshaho' is a typical B-Movie, with a A-list budget, director & cast. And to its luck, it succeeds in being a thoroughly watchable heist flick, that has its own share of pros and cons.

'Baadshaho' Synopsis: An Indian queen (Ileana D'Cruz) asks her bodyguard (Ajay Devgn) to steal back gold taken from her by the Indian government during The Emergency period in 1975, when she is arrested wrongfully.

'Baadshaho' is well-paced & all the stuff revolving around the heist, has moments of fun. Sure, the dialogue are cheesy & done for effect, the Writing is never super-solid (despite a few nice twists) & even has a rather weak climax. But, these minuses don't take away its share of pluses, that are its fast-pace, crackling characters & a genuinely sexy background score, that adds hugely to the narrative.

Rajat Arora's Screenplay has its ups and downs, but luckily, it never runs out of breath. The cheesy dialogue merit a special mention. Milan Luthria's Direction is fair. Cinematography & Editing are alright. Action-Sequences are decent, while The Music has interesting tunes.

Performance-Wise: Ajay Devgn is as usual - macho & committed. Emrran Hashmi does very well in a massy role. Vidyut Jammwal is strictly okay. Ileana D'Cruz is passable, while Esha Gupta has her moments. Sanjay Mishra is first-rate, yet again! Sharad Kelkar is wasted.

On the whole, 'Baadshaho' is a fair watch.
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A Good Effort...
30 January 2018
Inspired from true life events, 'Lucknow Central' is at times a sad, and at times, an uplifting story about living your passion even in the worst stage of life. Directed with honesty by Ranjit Tiwari & winningly acted by its cast, this 2017 flop is actually a good effort that went unnoitced.

'Lucknow Central' Synopsis: Kishan (Farhan Akhtar) is wrongfully imprisoned for a murder he didn't commit & is sent to the Lucknow Central, a dreaded jail. While in prison, he forms a musical band with 4 other inmates, that changes his life forever.

'Lucknow Central', though flawed thanks to its erratic pace, is still an effort that isn't easy to snub. The characters appear real, as does their pain & eventual unity. There is a sense of genuine feeling here. That being said, the pacing plays a spoilsport. The film lacks consistency & the wobbly pace is to be blamed.

Ranjit Tiwari & Aseem Arora's Screenplay is decent, but its impact would've been a lot more had it more crisper & well-paced. Ranjit Tiwari's Direction is satisfactory. Cinematography is good. Editing isn't tight enough. Art & Costume Design are appropriate. The Music offers a few good tunes.

Performance-Wise: Farhan Akhtar does a sincere job. But its Deepak Dobriyal who scores. He's brilliant. Gippy Grewal, Inaamulhaq & Rajesh Sharma lend able support. Ronit Roy is repeating himself. Diana Penty is nice. Ravi Kissen is very entertaining as the slimy minister.

On the whole, 'Lucknow Central' is far from perfect, but its not without its pluses nonetheless.
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Ittefaq (2017)
Akshaye Khanna Entertains in a Decent Whodunit!
30 January 2018
Inspired from the 1969 film by the same name, 'Ittefaq' is a decent whodunit mystery-thriller, that succeeds in keeping your interest alive, despite its shortcomings. And Ace Actor Akshaye Khanna entertains all through.

'Ittefaq' Synopsis: A detective seeks out the truth between two different stories of a crime scene.

'Ittefaq', like most thrillers, delivers a dozen of puzzling suspense, but never at the expense of overdoing it. Its a decent mystery, the unravels nicely. Of course, the film isn't perfect, as a particular sub-plot in the film's second-hour, lacks the bite. Nonetheless, there is not much to complain here!

Abhay Chopra, Shreyas Jain & Nikhil Mehrotra's Writing is decently done, with a good culmination. The identity of the culprit, is interestingly reveled. Abhay Chopra's Direction is good. Cinematography & Editing add to the film's strength.

Performance-Wise: Akshaye Khanna is the scene-stealer. He entertains as the detective on a mission. Sidharth Malhotra does an impressive job. This is among his better works. Sonakshi Sinha is restrained this time & that works on her advantage. Pavail Gulati is perfect. Others lend excellent support.

On the whole, 'Ittefaq' is a decent watch.
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Detroit (2017)
30 January 2018
Based on the Algiers Motel incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot, 'Detroit' is a Spell-Binding Effort by Oscar-Winning Director Kathryn Bigelow! A disturbing & heartbreaking true-story of crime & injustice. It takes a piece out of you!

'Detroit' Synopsis: Fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers respond to a complaint with retribution rather than justice on their minds.

'Detroit' is a powerful film that exposes racism & severe injustice that happened to innocent people by despotic police officers. This is a film that shows the inhumanity within us, who need a reason of color or power, to expose their real ugly side. Bigelow, a master at her craft, brings us a story that needs to be watched & condemned, no matter what maybe the color of your skin! And very SADLY enough, this might be a little relatable story to those living in the U.S now, given the current president, who preaches disparity on people based on their race.

Mark Boal's Screenplay is fantastic. The Writing is gut-wrenching & asks you to think. This is one of the strongest Screenplay's from 2017! Bigelow's Direction is marvelous. She's in top-form! Barry Ackroyd's Cinematography is excellent. William Goldenberg's Editing is perfect. James Newton Howard's Score is superb, as always.

Performance-Wise: Will Poulter is incredibly menacing. The actor nails the part of the horrific cop, making you hate him all through. Its an Oscar-Calibre turn from Poulter. John Boyega is exceptional. Algee Smith is top-notch. Hannah Murray leaves a strong impact. John Krasinski is perfect. Others lend remarkable support.

On the whole. 'Detroit' is a big winner! Don't Miss This One!
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Funny & Silly To The Point Of Overkill!
30 January 2018
The sequel to 2011's Thor and 2013's Thor: The Dark World (both entertaining films), 'Thor: Ragnarok' has to be the silliest superhero movie in a while. And luckily, its the silliness is intentional.

'Thor: Ragnarok' Synopsis: Thor must escape the alien planet Sakaar in time to save Asgard from Hela and the impending Ragnarök.

'Thor: Ragnarok' works till it lasts, but I have one question: Did the humor have to be on till the point of overkill? Sure, the jokes land well & even energy remains all through in the narrative, but after a point, I laughed only because I had too. Its fun to watch Thor aka The Hammer of God on a light note & being the bum of many a joke, as well as watching HULK being supremely angry, with Bruce Banner being the ever surprised in real-self. But only till a point.

Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost's Screenplay goes all-out for the laughs & succeeds. But at the expense of a mediocre villain & a few lagging pieces. The Terrific Taika Waititi Directs this recent Superhero Blockbuster, with the perfect blend of madness & ambition. Cinematography, Editing, Art & Costume & Graphics, are outstanding.

Of the cast, Chris Hemsworth shines as Thor, continuing to play the part with complete commitment. And he's so funny here! Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk, is very good. Tom Hiddleston as Loki, is okay. Cate Blanchett as Hela, is reduced into being a seductive, but one-note villain. And Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, steals the show.

On the whole, 'Thor: Ragnarok' is a good time, but nothing more.
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Nuts (1987)
Strong Performances Empower This Compelling Courtroom Drama!
30 January 2018
Based on Tom Topor's 1979 play by the same name, 'Nuts' is an affecting & slightly heavy courtroom drama, that is compelling & also offers strong performances to empower the show.

'Nuts' Synopsis: A high-class call girl (Barbra Streisand) accused of murder fights for the right to stand trial rather than be declared mentally incompetent.

Much of 'Nuts' benefits from its strong cast who bring in their A-Game. Streisand is excellent as the woman accused of being Nuts, delivering a performance of genuine power & sadness. And the ever-reliable Richard Dreyfuss is terrific as her attorney, nailing the supporting part with flourish. Even The Late/Great Maureen Stapleton does a splendid job as Streisand's imperfect, but caring mother. There is also the pleasure to watch Karl Malden, Eli Wallach, James Whitmore, Robert Webber & Leslie Nielsen on-screen, since they are no longer with us. All the actors are first-rate.

Tom Topor, Darryl Ponicsan & Alvin Sargent's Screenplay is grim, affecting & engrossing. The Writing indulges in disturbing matters such as pedophileia & sexual harassment, but with an impact. The Late/Great Martin Ritt's Direction is effective. Cinematography, Editing & Art Design, merit a special mention.

On the whole, 'Nuts' is a winning motion-picture.
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Padmaavat (2018)
A Well-Made, Yet Overlong Epic!
30 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Chaos, Protests, Violence, Delays....Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmaavat' (originally titled Padmavati) finally has hit the screens with a bang! This Epic Period-Drama, surprisingly enough, has NOTHING objectionable to begin with. The Rajputs, particularly, should be happier than anyone else, as the projection of the Rajputs is genuinely powerful. So, all the chaos & disgusting harassment caused, is nothing but a complete act of bullying!

Now coming to the film: 'Padmaavat' is an intense film, about heroes of honor & a villain, who defines ruthlessness with zeal. SLB's tight direction, coupled with some staggering cinematography & strong performances, make up for the film's biggest flaw - its long running-time (163-minutes!).

'Padmaavat' Synopsis: Set in medieval Rajasthan, Queen Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) is married to a noble king (Shahid Kapoor) and they live in a prosperous fortress with their subjects until an evil Sultan (Ranveer Singh) hears of Padmavati's beauty and forms an obsessive love for the Queen of Mewar.

'Padmaavat' is basically a tale of a evil, despicable Sultan who's obsession towards the elegant queen Padmavati, caused him to wage a brutal war. 'Padmaavat' discovers Sultan Alahuddin Khilji's madness & deplorable hunger for power & achieving anything that was 'Nayaab', that lead him to kill many warriors of the Rajputs, while also losing his own troops in the middle of the bloodbath. Its primarily seen through Khilji's physcotic mind, with Padmavati & Raja Ratan Singh playing as supporting players. I was surprised to see how little Padmavati has to do here, especially in the film's first-hour, which is almost all about Khilji's rise from nothing to becoming the king.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali could've easily called this film as Khilji instead of 'Padmaavat'. I mean, its all about him & undoubtedly the most well-written character here. So considering all the noise caused regarding the film with an 'I' being axed out, there isn't weight to the film's title anyway, as the Queen is barely there for a large chunk of the film.

The first-hour of 'Padmaavat' is overlong & takes its wafer-thin plot to not much use. The king's obsession along-with the love-story between the Raja-Queen traffics this hour till it make you go ho-hum. The second-hour, in comparison, is much stronger & the intensity in this hour, is what makes 'Padmaavat' reach the winning post. Having said that, 'Padmaavat' could've easily been trimmed by at least 20-minutes.

Bhansali & Prakash Kapadia's Screenplay, which is on Malik Muhammad Jayasi epic poem by the same name, is engaging in most parts. Barring its length & its slow first-hour, the Writing is well-done overall. Bhansali's Direction captures the grandeur well. His Direction is tight & the passionate storyteller mounts 'Padmaavat' like a true epic. Sudeep Chatterjee's Cinematography is brilliant. The lensman has captured the epic-scale of the film with complete flourish. Editing is fairly done, with the second-hour offering crispness. Art & Costume Design are excellent. Sham Kaushal's Action/War Sequences are nicely done. Bhansali's Score is decent.

Performance-Wise: Ranveer Singh embodies the evil Khilji to great effect. The talented actor sinks his teeth into the part & enacts the monstrous, obsessive king to the hilt. Its a gutsy performance from a mainstream leading-man, who takes up the challenge to play a man with zero redeeming qualities & excels all through. Shahid Kapoor is first-rate as the heroic Rajput King. His performance is good blend of charming & courageous. Deepika Padukone looks gorgeous as Queen Padmavati, but her performance, is strictly okay. Blame the lack of character developement or the limited screen-time, but Padukone doesn't leave a strong mark. Jim Sarbh is fantastic as Malik Kafur, Khilji's loyal slave & (secret lover). Sarbh, without a shed of doubt, steals the show & emerges as the strongest supporting character here. Of the rest of the cast, Aditi Rao Hydari as Mehrunisa (first wife of Alauddin Khilji, looking way more prettier than the main queen) & Raza Murad as Jalaluddin Khilji (the founder and first Sultan of the Khilji dynasty, Alauddin's uncle), are superb.

On the whole, 'Padmaavat' isn't perfect nor is it offensive, but its definitely a well-made & well-acted film, that merits a viewing.A Well-Made, Yet Over Epic Spectacle!
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Kaalakaandi (2018)
Saif Ali Khan Shines In A Hysterical, Uneven Black-Comedy!
13 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
'Kaalakaandi' rides on an exciting idea, but entertains only in doses. Writer-Director Akshat Verma delivers a trippy, hysterical & absurd black-comedy that has some LOL moments, but comes across as uneven as it unfolds. Saif Ali Khan, however, aces over all & steals the show.

'Kaalakaandi' Synopsis: Three stories unfold during a wild night in Mumbai, India.

'Kaalakaandi' has three stories, out of which only Saif's chapter works. As the man who's diagnosed with cancer, who later decides to let loose & goes all-high & encounters a transvestite, is among the film's strongest points. In his story, there is also Akshay Oberoi, who does something funnily stupid right before his marriage. The other story, featuring the gorgeous Sobhita Dhulipala as a woman who lands in trouble before flying abroad, is strictly okay. But the final story here, based on the supreme talents of Vijay Raaz & Deepak Dobriyal, is a complete waste. Despite two powerhouse performers & a ton of abusive language, this story is devoid of motive or impact.

So, 'Kaalakaandi' aims to be a whacky, absurd black-comedy, with Mumbai being a character in itself in the narrative, but Verma doesn't entirely deliver. Had he stuck to only Saif's chapter, 'Kaalakaandi' would've been a laugh-riot, but alas, that's not the case. The remaining 2 stories don't stand out & even the pace in the second-hour, wobbles. In short, 'Kaalakaandi' has hilarious moments, but they are never enough to compensate for the film's other flaws.

And then there is Saif. In a fearless, over-the-top performance, Saif returns to top-form after a hiatus. Having wasted his talents in duds like Rangoon & Chef last year, Saif takes on a trippy & crazy part & excels from start to finish. His scenes with the actress who portrays the transvestite, left me in splits. Its a shame that 'Kaalakaandi' can never match up-to Saif's bare-naked madness. Of the rest of the cast, Isha Talwar is excellent & Neil Bhoopalam leaves a mark in a comical cameo.

On the whole, 'Kaalakaandi' has its moments for sure, but the minuses hit it hard. Nonetheless, not a bad way to spend the weekend!
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