Rush. Based on real story of rivalry between two F1 drivers of 70s, dashing James Hunt played by 'Thor' fame Chris Hemsworth and clinical Niki Lauda played by incredible Daniel Brühl.
Like a F1 race, Rush is also a racy drive with lots of bends in the story testing the lead characters' spirit and temperament. Both lead characters are so well developed and well played that they leave an indelible mark on your minds. Director Ron Howard masterly organizes a wonderful show of technical finesse, sharp dialogues, uncluttered screenplay and cinematic thrill of F1 racing. The love-hate-respect relationship between James and Niki is electric and every now and then you feel the adrenaline rush that they are feeling.
There is hardly any dull moment and emotional conflicts revolving around the love lives of both the racers is handled with a light hand so that you are never distracted from the main plot. I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Rush. This is one of the best sports movies in recent times and will surely get a cult status in future. Rush for this.
PK. Returning after celebrating the colossal success of 3 Idiots, Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir Khan take you to the another journey of introspection amid all the cinematic fun.
Raju picks the sensitive issue of faith and religion. As usual, his hero is an outsider, actually he is alien to earth this time. Using his quick wit and with the help of master act of Aamir Khan, he creates a series of funny and though provoking scenes asking you if your faith is in God who created humans or God who was created by humans. There is terrific first half, a post interval portion with the 'been there done that" feeling and a heart wrenching climax which sums up the things on a high note.
Anushka Shrama, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani and Saurabh Shukla provide good support but movie belongs to Aamir Khan who never misses a beat while playing this difficult alien act. This is not the best of Raju's lot but it is much better than so many other offerings of Bollywood.
I am going with mind blowing 9 out of 10 for PK. This one is brave, funny, thought provoking and pure Rajkumar Hirani brand fun so have faith and watch PK.
Exodus: Gods and Kings. When you have a plot interesting as Exodus has, lead actor as good as Bale and visuals as stunning as Exodus has, then result should have been great but Exodus misses the bus because execution is dull and chemistry is missing between the key characters.
Ridley Scott fails to infuse the high energy level in Exodus that we cherished in cult Gladiator. Rather portraying it as a faith movie, he could have opted for showing the human spirit that goes against all odds. Apart from Bale, there is hardly any other memorable character. The length of 150 minutes feels too long.
However, great visuals and great CGI work especially in the climax help movie in not being a complete disaster. I am going with not bad 6 out of 10 for Exodus. What could have been a great cinematic experience turns out to be an underwhelming one.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The master of his craft, Peter Jackson bring the finale of the Hobbit trilogy and as expected, he stuns with his command on visuals, cinematography and creation of memorable characters and action set-pieces.
Movie starts right in the middle of action where last movie's star Smaug the dragon is furious and firing all over the city. As movie moves forward, the danger keeps on rising and you are well treated with slick one hour long CGI based detailed battle of the five armies. This is shortest and most action oriented movie among all middle earth movies so there is not a single dull moment.
You might find it underwhelming when compared to LOTR trilogy but it is still a satisfying finale. I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for The Hobbit 3. If you are not a fan, you will be entertained and if you are a fan then you will feel sad because the saga of middle earth movies spanned over 13 years has come to an end.
Office Space. It is nothing special but a good laugh of daily office fun and frustration. What works in favor here is a bunch of funny characters that remain with you even after the movie has ended.
Any normal person working in the closed office space, caged in his tiny cubicle, dealing with annoying co-workers and bearing his cocky bosses, will easily relate to the premise of Office Space. Lively performance of lead actor Ron Livingston supported by gorgeous Jennifer Aniston and other able supporting actors is good enough to keep you glued to the screen for its run-time.
However, movie does not delve deeper or turn into a laugh riot given the huge potential and remains a good fun. I am going with good 7 out of 10 for Office Space. It is worthy of your time, just don't expect too much cleverness.
MY REVIEW: The Apartment of Drama, Comedy and Romance!!
The Apartment. It is one of those ageless delicious comedy drama with a touch of romance that you can watch again and again. It starts as a comedy with witty setup and turns into a sensitive romantic drama leaving you smiling at the end.
Jack Lemmon playing the lead who lets his apartment be used by his bosses for fun is electric. He makes you laugh on himself and feel sad for him with full conviction. From the scene where he finds out that his own crush is part of the games happening at his apartment, his transition from a funny to sensitive guy is smooth and moving. Other actors also play their part honestly. But key winners here are the delicious screenplay, witty dialogues, funny characters and master execution of Billy Wilder.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for The Apartment. Who won't like to stay in the apartment full of laughter, fun, drama, emotions and romance?
Shahid. Movies like Shahid are made because some stories are important and should be told with utmost honesty possible. Hansal Mehta does an excellent job with a touching and thought provoking story in his hands.
Rajkumar Rao playing Shahid, first a victim and then a savior, is exceptional. Court room drama is kept simple but still succeeds in thrilling you. Family drama is there but is kept concise so that you are not distracted from the main issue. All supporting actors provide ample support to the narrative. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub playing Shahid's over burdened brother is excellent. A water tight screenplay, authentic setup, the right length, the serious tone, all make Shahid a mini masterpiece.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Shahid. Watch it with patience, watch it for its relevance and watch it because some movies are worth watching for their honest story.
The Prestige. Every magic trick has three parts. The pledge where you show something ordinary, The Turn where you make that ordinary thing disappear and The Prestige where you make that thing appear again. Without The Prestige, a magic trick is worthless. On the same line, Nolan's magical movie works. He starts you showing few ordinary humanly characters, surprises you with its twists and turns of the story and then leave you speechless and awed at the end.
Centred around the professional and personal rivalry of two magicians played by charismatic Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, The Prestige is a genius work of Christopher Nolan. With its non-linear story telling, he keeps you glued to the show of magic and life of magicians. With is period setting, great visuals, delicious dialogs and top notch performances by its lead and supporting actors like Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson, Nolan creates a feast of cinematic magic.
There are hardly any loose ends and revelations at the end, even if you saw them coming much earlier are great enough to leave you impressed. What also works in favour, that it is a mind bender and you might like to revisit to enjoy it more and more.
I am going with mind blowing 9 out of 10 for The Prestige. As it is said in the movie, people love to be fooled in this otherwise simple world, The Prestige is nothing less than a great magic trick played in front of you leaving you smiling and clapping at the end.
The Wave. It is a German movie and based on a social experiment by a teacher on its students that goes out of control. It works as a study of human behavior that manipulating mind of many at once is not a rocket science.
The Wave is interesting because of its authenticity, its well etched characters, sharp dialogs and most importantly the underlined idea. Jürgen Vogel playing the accused and victim of the wrong doing does well and few key students characters support him well. As a nitpicking, what movie lacks is an unpredictable climax after surprising and engaging development of the story.
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for The Wave. Given the idea, it could have been much more impactful but still it has enough to entertain you and make you think at the same time.
Saw. The cult gory thriller from James Wan is a pioneer among movies which rely on gory visuals while creating suspense or tension. It is damn good fun while it lasts.
The strength of Saw lies in its twists and turns that keep you hooked throughout and imaginative uniqueness of execution from James Wan. Pacing is fast, color tone mostly black and white, characters are twisted, acting overall good enough and length perfectly short of less than 2 hours. If you are seeing it first time, it has enough to startle you but given the disturbing images you might not like it to revisit.
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for Saw. It is something special in horror genre but only for those who do not mind their cinema dark, twisted and disturbing.
Ankhon Dekhi. It is not just another off beat movie from Rajat Kapoor. Instead, it is his big leap as a film maker. He teams up with versatile Sanjay Mishra and result is incredible thought provoking film.
Ankhon Dekhi centers around Raje Bauji, played by Sanjay Mishra who, after a dramatic incident, decides that he will only believe what he sees with his eyes. This one little idea changes Bauji for ever. The strength of the movie is its sharp performances and authentic down town setup. Then there are delicious dialogues, delicious sequences of people first questioning Bauji and then following him blindly. All supporting actors including Rajat Kapoor also do an excellent job.
This movie is about feeling and experiencing what Bauji felt and then doing your own interpretations. I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Ankhon Dekhi. It is about extra ordinary tale of an ordinary person.
The Pianist. Much like any other movie on time of Hitler and his hatred towards Jews, The Pianist is a painful watch of torture and inhumanity.
Unlike Schindler's List which was a movie on the German Saviour, The Pianist is a movie of the Jew victim, a piano player played perfectly by Adrien Brody who survives the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. The Pianist's strength is authentic portrayal of the war time, the plight of the Jews in Poland and how our pianist keeps surviving the odds of the highly difficult times. Apart from that, the whole destruction scenes in second half are perfectly haunting and leave you with pain and sorrow.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for The Pianist. It is no Schindler's List but in its own world, it is the haunting tale of war times.
Highway. It is most personal work of Imtiaz Ali. He deliberately cuts down the frills from the execution and focus only on the characters and their feeling about themselves.
Highway's strength lies in the authentic characterization and right casting of its lead characters. Randeep Hooda as goon from Haryana and Alia Bhatt as daughter from a super-rich family from Delhi look, feel, talk and act like that they are wearing their characters on their souls. Their acting in each and every frame is up to the mark. Being a road movie, Highway succeeds in taking you to a beautiful journey that does not want to end.
But unfortunately, screenplay is predictable and does not have too many surprises to keep you engaged. I am going with good 7 out of 10 for Highway. Watch it for Alia and Randeep's performance, watch it for Imtiaz Ali's understanding of his characters. Watch it for a beautiful journey but do not care about the destination.
The Wolf of Wall Street. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, whenever they are together, you know you shall be ready for a cinematic treat and The Wolf is no exception.
Playing a morally wrong character, Leonardo DiCaprio displays best of his acting skills. His performance in each and every scene is so animated and delicious that you may like to rewind some of the scenes just to enjoy them again and again. Martin Scorsese like a master of his game never let the intensity go down. Supporting actors like Jonah Hill and special appearance from Matthew McConaughey are icing on the cake. Screenplay is full of surprises and dialogues are sharp.
Like Goodfellas, The Wolf is seen from the eyes of the wrong side and keeping everything authentic and comic works big time for this movie.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for The Wolf of Wall Street. It is one hell of an entertainment for three hours.
Interstellar. It is hard not to expect anything but the best when you are watching a Christopher Nolan movie. After all, he has earned this high level of expectation from his every movie.
Interstellar, is his most ambitious work. When other film-makers try to make you believe that there might be other planets for us to live, Nolan goes two steps further and show you such three planets. This movie is a grand cocktail of science fiction, human emotions and their never ending survival instincts. He succeeds big time except for the middle portion involving character of Matt Damon. If you can forgive Nolan for this, then Interstellar is one of the rare cinematic experience that will be cherished forever.
Nolan deliberately avoids CGI and that's why all the special effects feel so real. Performance wise Matthew McConaughey is more than brilliant and keeps you glued to the screen. Second best are the robots which are simple and more humane than humans in the movie.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Interstellar. To Nolan, you want to give a perfect 10 for his ambition and fearlessness. Like Spielberg, he is bound to go into history as most influential film maker for current and coming generations.
Happy New Year. After debacle called Tees Maar Khan, Farah Khan teams up with Shahrukh Khan again and result is similar to their last venture Om Shanti Om. Happy New Year makes you feel happy but there is nothing new or fresh about it.
Fortunately movie has a plot to talk about where a team of losers led by Shahrukh himself plan a heist while faking themselves as a dancing group. Movie has its moments because Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone has got a knack for comic timing and their characters make you chuckle. Farah Khan in her usual spoof style film making creates few moments of laugh as well as irritation.
Shahrukh Khan is here in his comfort zone but an actor like him should aim much better at this stage of his career. Sonu Sood seems pretty uncomfortable in comic avatar. Boman Irani is competent as usual. Movie is around half an hour extra long. The first hour could have been easily trimmed for more impact.
I am going with not bad 6 out of 10 for Happy New Year. If you don't mind brainless entertainers in the name of cinema, Happy New Year might satisfy you.
MY REVIEW: Seven Pounds of Emotion and Sensitivity!!
Seven Pounds. Will Smith scores big time with this mysterious emotional drama about sins of our mortal life and the ways of redemption.
The movie has its strength in its emotions and carefully done drama which has a lot of soul but it does it mysteriously so that you keep guessing what it is all about. Will Smith gives another powerful performance like he gave in The Pursuit of Happiness. Rosario Dawson supports Will wonderfully in emotionally intense scenes.
If you buy the complete transformation of character of Will Smith, you will not complain about his unbelievable good deeds. Deliberate slow pacing, interesting conversations and authentic setup help you soak the emotional intensity and care for its characters.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Seven Pounds. If you buy its premise, you will be moved immensely.
The Birds. Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds is a mystery around a love story and some family drama. It has all ingredients required for a taut thriller but the level of satisfaction at the end might is questionable.
The story starts as a typical love story where heroine chases down her hero to far distance in order to win him but gets stuck in his town when mysteriously birds start attacking people. Like a pure hitchcockian experience, there are consistently impressive performances by all actors, beautiful locations, mysterious conversations and delicious screenplay. The scenes of birds gathering before attacking and attacking from unlikely places are haunting enough to give you goose bumps.
But The Birds feels like a betrayal at the end. With so much suspense built up in 2 hrs, you feel cheated when at the end no questions are answered and movie ends abruptly.
I am going with good 7 out of 10 for The Birds. It is good in every sense but the unquestionable thirst for answers might irritate you at the end.
Haider. After Maqbool and Omkara, Vishal once again seeks inspiration from Shakespeare and this time he picks Hamlet and gives us one poignant and beautiful piece of revenge drama set in the backdrop of struggling Kashmir.
The strength of Haider lies in powerful performances of its actors and above all Tabu. Tabu embraces her character so well and makes it so mysterious that you are confused whether to sympathize or not with her. Shahid as Haider, Kay Kay Menon as his evil uncle, Irrfan Khan as mysterious helper and Shraddha as Haider's love interest, all give their best. Surprisingly, the movie is laced with dark humour. You won't be able to forget the die hard Salman fans named Salman and Salman and a bunch of aged grave diggers singing "Aao Na, So Jao Na"
But Haider is a beauty with flaws. Vishal looses its grip in last half an hour and lets movie wander for extra 15-20 minutes before taking it to the grand finale. There are few unexplained sequences like what was the military mission all about?
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for Haider. Watch it for Tabu, watch it for its emotional complexity and watch it for carefully done Oedipal undertones.
Bobby Jasoos. Vidya Balan sparkles as ever but everything else is so normal. As Bobby she is residing in the heart of Hyderabad and wants to a be a detective but such dreamy things never come easy.
Movie scores in setting up the messy atmosphere of Hyderabad and many small struggles that Bobby faces. First half raises your curiosity as she deals with her big money client and when she consistently struggles to find her father's acceptance for her unusual job because she is a girl. Side characters initially help making things interesting but as time moves on they convert into unnecessary distractions from the main plot.
Second half disappoints as things get more messy and too much time is spent on distractions. The detective movie starts wandering sometimes as a love story or family drama. Low production values becomes more visible especially in songs. The dream song is totally out of the place. And if it wasn't enough, the underwhelming climax leaves you unsatisfied at the end.
I am going with not bad 6 out of 10 for Bobby Jasoos. It is recommended to watch under the comfort of home to enjoy Vidya Balan's strong performance.
Mary Kom: Nice Punches but should have Knocked You Out!!
Mary Kom. The biopic on five times world champion lady boxer Mary Kom is like watching a boxing game that does have some nice punches but fails to knock you out completely at the end.
The true story has great potential where Mary Kom fights her father in the name of love for boxing, finds a father like coach to take her to places in boxing, gets married, has twin sons, has a husband who is her biggest fan, husband pushes her to go into the boxing ring again and she re-writes the history. Priyanka Chopra does a terrific job as Mary Kom. She is in full form whether as a boxer or as a mother or as a lover.
What movie lacks is one adrenaline rushing song and some nail biting boxing game barring the last one. Movies ticks of all aspects of a struggle of a player but fails to raise the dramatic tension. The relationship with her coach or her husband is handled well but does not come across as core strength of the movie.
I am gong with good 7 out of 10 for Mary Kom. It is no Chak De India or Bhaag Milkha Bhaag but it deserves a watch for its intent and Priyanka Chopra.
Mardaani. It's a welcome change. A heroine oriented violent movie from YRF without a single song and without any distractions from the main plot during those crisp and tight 1 hour and 50 minutes. Rani Mukerjee after a long time gets a fresh and meaty role in form of a lady police officer from Mumbai crime branch who starts investigating a women trafficking crime for her own reasons but soon finds the bigger and ugly picture.
Movie gains its strength from its reasonably short length. From the scene one, without wasting a minute you are introduced to tough and quirky Shivani Shiviji Rao and before you settle down, she is playing the cat and mouse chase game with her nemesis played by newcomer Tahir Raj Bhasin who is also at equal ease and full of fire power.
Although movie does not dare to go into much detailing of the heinous crime and also somewhat fails to exploit the emotional connection between Rani and her doctor husband. But still using a linear screenplay and funny one liners here and there, movie holds itself together to keep you interested in the proceedings.
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for Mardaani. At the end, you feel satisfied and movie sends its message right that women are not to be taken for granted.
Bhootnath Returns. The sequel to well received Bhootnath is very different from its original and mostly in good way. Bhootnath played by always amazing Amitabh Bachchan returns to earth, becomes friend with poor kid Akhrot played by superb Parth Bhalerao and fights face to face with corrupt politician played by ever dependable Boman Irani.
The good doesn't stop here. Nitesh Tiwari of Chillar Party fame directs the well written story with conviction and emotion so that you can easily relate to the pain and agony of who are at the receiving end of cancer named corruption. The fresh ideas like Bhootnath using his power to get the haunted buildings freed from ghosts and 'you are not required to be alive to contest an election' stand out.
However, as movie progresses the solutions become more simplistic and less charismatic. Parth's performance is outstanding specially being in the company of big talents like Big B and Boman. He makes you laugh and cry with equal ease. His cracking chats with Big B and emotional scene with his mother before the climax are just one of the many good evidence of his acting prowess.
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for Bhootnath Returns. It deserves a watch for some witty ideas and towering performances.
MY REVIEW: Dawn of the Fantastic Man vs Wild Cinema!!
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There is a ape in every human and there is a human in every ape. This line describes the whole idea behind consistently engaging and imaginative sequel to the well respected Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Taking a jump of 10 years from the last movie, dawn is about the survival of the fittest among apes and humans.
Caesar, the amazing creation of combination of acting skills of Andy Serkis and new age motion capture technology is the heart of the story. He leads, and bleeds for the apes. Apes have become almost human. They have families, the conflicts, the trust issues with humans and the rules to govern their wild colony. These tiny details make Dawn a unique piece of cinema. All jungle scenes are done so well that they make real footage of National Geographic seem ordinary. All apes and humans characters make you root for them even the evil ones. Caesar's elder son's emotional journey is soothing and his younger's son's first encounter with humans is heart warming. At the same time, ape Koba's encounter with two humans guarding the weapons and his ever rising conflict with Caesar is chilling.
For nitpicking, apes riding horses seems somewhat hard to believe and 3D does not add any value in the story telling apart from the massive destruction scene in the climax. Running for more than 2 hours, dawn is a high voltage action and fiction drama that leaves you amazed.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It is the most sure footed blockbuster of Hollywood this year so far. Don't miss it!
Leon. A professional assassin rescues a young girl whose family were killed in a police raid conducted by a corrupt police officer. Girl teams up with the assassin to take the revenge. Now, the assassin here is 50+ played by famous Spanish actor Jean Reno, the girl is in her teens played by Oscar winner Natalie Portman and police officer is Gary Oldman who always enjoys himself so much when it comes to negative roles.
Leon's strength lies in the unusual cracking chemistry between Jean and Natalie. Natalie wears her role so well that it's very difficult to take your eyes off. The scenes of Jean training Natalie the skills of being an assassin are laced with witty humor. The neat, uncluttered and linear screenplay helps movie's emotional strength so that you can absorb the feeling of the characters to the fullest. Gary Oldman gets lesser screen time than expected but does an astounding job as heartless corrupt police officer.
Only false note that seems to be here is not showing is how Gary manages to run his evil business and gets full military support in the climax to take down one man and a girl. Action scenes are very well done and do not try to over shadow the emotional and intense undercurrent that flows in the story throughout.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Leon: The Professional. Watch it for its apt cast, great acting, super dialogs and highly emotional, intense, beautiful and subtle moments.