Sunday, 4 October 2009

Government Okays Indian Summers

The script of director's Joe Wright's next period venture, Indian Summers based upon the book ndian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire (2007) by Alex von Tunzelmann has been green-lighted by our right honourable government. Holy shit! Now Joe Wright's gonna make it before I even reach film school. Oh how bad I really wanted to make a film on that book. Damn Joe Wright! If I ever lay my hands on that person who gave him this idea... he's a dead man.

Well seriously now, government has indeed cleared the project, though of course with some riders, such as the presence of a government official at all times during the shoot and absolute non-deviance from the script. The fact that the film is going to be directed by Joe Wright comes as a relief actually from seeing his earlier period dramas like Pride & Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007) which were quite impressive. But there's always a fear that he might it make more 'British' in feel rather than Indian, which would be a great injustice to India and her struggle for freedom.

And yet another thing that worries me is the choice of casting Cate Blanchett and Hugh Grant as the Mountbattens. Now of course Cate Blanchett is a fantastic actress but it still doesn't help the fact that she's extremely ugly. Falling in love with her might be a little difficult for our screen Nehru. And then comes Mr. Hugh Grant. Believe me guys when I say Hugh Grant is one of my all time favourite actors, but ask anybody who has seen his films and they will agree that he will be a miscast as Mountbatten. With his fluttering eye-lids and nuanced mannerisms he will be best at imitating a dead Mountbatten, unless of course he suddenly decides to show his long elusive versatility. 

For Mountbatten's role I got a suggestion. How about Mark Strong. If you have seen RocknRolla (2008), you know what I am talking about.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Fall of David Dhawan

The 'No. 1' guy, as he can be famously called, must be an rather unsatisfied man these days. After delivering hits after hits (financially speaking) in the last decade such as Biwi No. 1 (1999), Hero No. 1 (1997), Judwaa (1997), Coolie No. 1 (1995) etc, the present decade has offered him only flops. Except maybe Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), all his other ventures had one thing written in bold on them - 'Beware. David Dhawan Inside'. He has directed 15 films since 2000 and out of those only 1 film could be called a 'hit'.

Ever wondered why the man once so famous as India's best comedy director, today so effortlessly bites the dust? Why the sudden transformation? Well his new generation films are almost as stupid as they were 10 years back. So is then the Indian audience finally maturing? No, can't really be sure of that. Films like the recently released Wanted(2009) are a case in point.

So what is it then? A combination of factors most probably. His over-reliance on a specific bunch of actors (did I mention Govinda?), extremely unimaginative and stupid storylines, predictable endings and a superb failure to come up with something even remotely new. The Indian public is an idiot, but even idiots can get frustrated if you test them a little too much.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Gomorra: A Review

Good or bad, this film sure hits hard and hits it good. Directed by Matteo Garrone, it is based upon the novel by Roberto Saviano which deals with organized crime called Camorra (almost like the Mafia) in the Naples and Caserta region of Italy. A radical departure from the time tested conventions of gangster flicks, this movie tries to intertwine five separate stories of Italians whose lives are touched by organized crime (Camorra).

A little background information about the Camorra can come in handy in here since most people outside of Europe or of Italy for that matter, most probably haven't ever heard about it. Now according to the venerable Wikipedia, the Camorra is a mafia-like criminal organisation, originating in the region of Campania and the city of Naples in Italy. It finances itself through drug trafficking, extortion, protection and racketeering and its activities have led to high levels of murder in the areas in which it operates. It is the oldest criminal organisation in Italy. And according to the movie itself, Camorra accounts for the most number of deaths annually in the whole of Europe.

Talking about the movie itself, it sorts of blurs the distinguishing line between a studio-produced film and a documentary. It's gritty cinematography, shaky camera-work, non-glamorous approach and the lack of an structured narrative makes it extremely realistic but at the same time severely reduces its entertainment value. The bleak urban Italy painted in the film is a far cry from the regal beauty of the Italy shown in tourist brochures. The Italy in Gomorra is crumbling down upon its own stark, squalid and bloody foundations.

For the first 45 minutes the story is tough to get hold of, and it only starts to clear up after the 90 minutes mark. The film presents the viewers with such a huge number of characters and situations that it sometimes becomes quite tough to hang on to the storyline. There was very little interconnectedness, the characters just chopped in and out of the story without any apparent relevance and lacking any cohesion. It was the indeed only the common social fabric that binded all the characters together. Now this is both an achievement for the director as well as a tough nut for unsuspecting audience to crack.

The film is unique in more aspect as well, in the fact that it completely shakes itself free of any empathy for the characters which makes it extremely emotionally uninvolving. But the viewer is allowed to soak in the decadent atmosphere and for two hours co-exist in the world of Comorra. Lastly it must be said that the film manages to generate the same feeling of annoyance and intimidation that it tries to expose in the story. The film is more rather a portrayal of society at its edge.

PS: I have to agree though that for persons who relate more to the subject matter than ordinary people sitting in a different country in a different continent, it is bound to generate more respect and admiration.

Plus factors: Cinematography, plot, and characterisation.

Minus factors: Story, duration of the movie, choppy narrative and dialogues.

My Score: 5.5/10

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Pokiri: A Review

I am confused. Are totally mindless masala movies like these even supposed to be reviewed? So today let me hit this movie in a totally different way.

20 Things you learn from Pokiri:

1. Heroes have exceptional superhuman strength.

2. Heroes love to fight in sheds because it is a nice place.

3. You should never lose the keys of the shed after locking it.

4. The hero always dances and sings after a successful fight.

5. The hero loves to dance with girls in blue sarees.

6. You should wear 3 shirts on top of one another even in summers to look smart.

7. Guns used by the police have crooked barrels.

8. Girls like it when you stop them in railway stations and stare at their breasts.

9. Hero learns to use a pistol by seeing movies.

10. Police Sub-Inspectors are sex-starved and corrupt.

11. Villains love BDSM.

12. Hero's gun never needs to be reloaded.

13.  The bad guys need to reload after every 2 shots.

14. Girls wear skimpy clothes and sing in hoarse voices to impress the hero.

15. The hero is better than even the desperado Antonio Banderas as he kills all the guys who come to kill him in his house. Even Banderas had to flee.

16. He loves to dance and sing with item girls in between a meeting with the head villain.

17. Good looking girls have bastard boyfriends.

18. All rogues are actually undercover police officers, or brothers of police officers.

19. Police SIs are dull minded.

20. Police Commissioner sends only 1 police officer to take down an entire gang of 20-30 hardened criminals. And that officer doesn't even care to take a gun!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

P.S. I Love You: A Review

"This is a movie that will leave you stunned and stupefied from beginning to end, if you don't head for the exits first. The only good things in it are Lisa Kudrow and Swank's wardrobe. The plot is unbelievable, although a competent script could have fixed that. The direction is flabby and uninspired, the casting is wrongheaded, and the performances run the gamut from uninteresting to insufferable ... the film wants terribly to be Ghost without a potter's wheel, but it just succeeds at being terrible."

This is what Mr. David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle had to say. Well as for me, I won't be so harsh on the poor film, but would like to elaborate on a few points.

Firstly I would have liked it immensely if the story had been set in Ireland, as it was originally in the novel. It would had certainly increased the cinematographic options at the very least. Forgetting the rather ambitious plot and storyline, overall it looks quite clean and organized. But it has to be said that both direction and acting were at severe fault, as I felt no connection to any of the characters. Swank just didn't get her act right. Something was missing always. As for the rest of the actors and actresses, they were just about average. You should blame bad casting too. 

Then comes the total duration of the movie which was simply too long. It was really hard to stop myself from quiting at 45 minutes. For a film over 2 hours long, it simply lacked the depth and the approach you would have expected. Even the soundtrack wasn't good enough.

But there were a few bright spots also. One of them being the rather nice chemistry between Hillary Swank and Gerard Butler (girls will love him!). And the other being Lisa Kudrow. And yes, I rather liked the ending. Didn't expect that.

Plus Factors : Story, chemistry between Swank and Butler, and Lisa Kudrow.

Minus Factors : Direction, casting, duration of the movie, script and the soundtrack.

My Score : 5/10


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