organicsocial

IMDb member since November 2007
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    IMDb Member
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Reviews

Irresistible
(2020)

Perfect heist movie for those who are disillusioned by the system
I give a solid 8 to Jon Stewart's directorial debut. Well its a reviewer's rating because I feel that anyone giving it their first shot should get some encouragement. From the perspective of a regular movie goer who want's something fun to watch, this movie is not Irresistible. Its a comedy but the humor is for the drab intellectuals who won't get a date easily. Surely I love it but then I loved "Our Brand is Crisis" too which was almost universally panned.

Speaking of "Our Brand is Crisis", Irresistible has many parallels with that movie. Of course the chemistry of Steve Carell and Rose Byrne is way better than between Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton and this has to do with more of the political divide in USA than in some far off country. Truly, this movie is a testament to the issues of Democracy and the people who are both the victims and the benefactors of the dysfunction which comes from the apathy of those who win elections and the way the electoral system works now in America.

This movie comes at a time that USA prepares to go into elections while the world grapples with Covid-19. The despise for Trump among the liberals is out in the open and the Republican Vs Democrat debate is raging. I would say this is the perfect time for this movie to come out but would people want to watch it? I would say you should. In essence its a classic heist movie and viewers only realise it at the end. This is about as much I would give out to the reader who hasn't watched the movie.

One thing I would point out though is that Jon Stewart's keen observation of politics in America and his bipartisan view translates well on screen with this movie. He is right about the state of Democrats in America. Surely, not everything can be blamed on Republicans. There has been some inherent flaw in the way liberal ecosystem has depended on media management and outright lies to control the system for years. Being from the PR background myself, I see the truth about the unsavory tactics and the kind of toxic people in the industry serving those in the power. Irresistible is just a funny anecdotal evidence of the cesspool which really exists.

Watch out for the mid credit scenes.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
(2018)

Sexuality vs Religion vs Society vs Individual Morality
This debate is raging in most parts of the free world today. In a way this movie is the closest to reality I've seen among the movies made about homosexuality. It is comforting to see the filmmakers acknowledging the complexity of human sexuality rather than making it all about LGBTQ rights, which might be the underlying aspect but not blatantly put forward.

The film is an unabashed expose on the so called reformation or treatment centers for LGBTQ kids operated by Christian or other orthodox communities. How they are just making it up as they go along and don't have a clue about what they are doing. This can't be said in a more straightforward way than the movie does.

The biggest problem of our times is that we don't have enough tangible problems. There are still losses and heartbreaks but overtly, there is not enough struggle to really focus on. Traumas still occur but we as society have become too cynical to care about those who suffer. We have become more civilised but we have lost the openness. We don't go to real wars on ideologies but we constantly force our perspective on others psychologically.

Miseducation is such an appropriate word in the title of this movie which raises the question that are we now too scared to even experiment? Perhaps the society is scared; more than ever. The western world is in an uncharted territory with the open acceptance of LGBTQ community. Governments allow it, Churches don't. Law allows it, Religion doesn't. Then there are these hacks who are ashamed to admit their own inadequacies and instead believe they can cure sexual orientation. What a scam!

Moretz is worth watching in this film and is supported well by this new actress Shasha Lane who debuted in American Honey (A film about American teenage wasteland; another must watch). Rest of the cast also deliver strong performances especially Emily Skeggs as this self-deluded fanatic with a seething attraction for same gender and John Gallagher as this 'reformed' gay man who seems confident outside but is all mush inside.

Siberia
(2018)

Has its moments but fails under expectations
Probably the biggest mistake of the filmmaker in this case is to let Keanu carry his styling from John Wick into this movie. John Wick is so iconic now that if we have a protagonist who dresses like him, walks like him and talks like him, yet doesn't shoot like him; it will disappoint the audience. Well probably the movie was shot alongside John Wick 2 and Keanu might have put this condition on the filmmaker who had to play along.... Anyway, just watch it knowing that this is not a John Wick spin-off.

Siberia is a retelling of the classic tale of a shady businessman/smuggler with not so friendly clientèle. Its every bit reminiscent of 'Lord of War' and 'Blood Diamond' but is neither exciting nor as thought provoking. Only thing which absolves this movie from being a total drag is the attention to the mundane aspects of a smuggler's life. There is something so uncouth and disdainful about the protagonist and his lack of innocence is disturbing. Is this the intended effect of Siberia? Perhaps!

The Catcher Was a Spy
(2018)

The Difference Between Spy Flicks and Spy Biopics
What comes to mind when we talk about a spy films? Something like Mission Impossible, James Bond or a little different ones like Salt, Red Sparrow and so on... ?

Well there is a basic difference between spy fiction and the reality of spy trade-craft. Although the most exciting of the spy thrillers try to capture some of the elements of real world spying but those are mostly technical aspects which are adopted to give these movies a certain credibility; to make them believable to some extent.

Spy biopics like 'The Catcher Was a Spy' are different from these spy action thrillers because the titular characters are not out there to perform stunts. They are out there to gather real and sensitive information. Information which could decide the fate of a real war and a real man's life. The thrill in this movie comes from the grand scope of the mission and the conversely understated actions of a spy so as to avoid all attention. There are no guns blazing here.

This is Paul Rudd's classic regular guy performances at it's best. The real life Moe Berg was an anomaly. A sportsman with unexceptional career but a genius mind of sorts. Quite simply a good candidate for a spy in second world war but not of much use afterwards.

If you are watching this movie for the spy thrills then you might be disappointed. However, if you want to get a glimpse of what an American spy must have found out after talking to people like Werner Heisenberg about the nuclear weapons program of Nazi Germany, then it might be worth it.

I can compare 'The Catcher was a Spy' to a bit more contemporary spy biopic like 'Snowden'. Although completely different in tone and nature, both these spy biopics have something in common. They are about getting to know the mind of the person. Both these movies try to bring out the inner complexities of these people who are quite literally doing a job that demands them to be secretive, deceptive and yet charming.

Wadjda
(2012)

Sociology bores me. I'll appreciate it for the human spirit
Very little can be said without controversy about a movie made on a culture that typically rejects outsider's views. Frankly, I fail to see the point of the whole effort and the risks taken by passionate women filmmakers who make films like Wadjda. Maybe it is to keep the hope for change alive or to express dissent against social oppression. In either case, outsiders can only sympathize and then move on with their lives. Truth is, I'll never fully comprehend the state of women in the Saudi patriarchy. As a reviewer of this film, I choose not to comment on that part. I'd only say one thing. A lot of circumstances are comparable to the odds faced by women even the most progressive societies. If you are watching this movie with a sociological perspective then you're probably going to miss the fun. So, for the sake of the story, leave your judgement outside the door.

What strikes me in this film is a child's will to overcome obstacles. It's not because Wadjda is a girl child that her story is more interesting. Although, that might be core to the plot. I can attest that all children at one point or another feel left out, isolated, unloved even. Wadjda's mother loves her but she has a lot of things to deal with. The inspiring part is that she understands this and is willing to work with whatever she has got. Her family is undergoing some stressful times that are usually hard to cope for a child of her age. Instead of acting out like an entitled kid, she hacks her way through troubles. She's a natural entrepreneur who would not back down. Its uplifting to watch Wadjda because of her ingenuity to invent her surroundings. She displays leadership as well. The film deals with hypocrisy nicely. Just compare the characters of Wadjda's teacher with the shopkeeper who holds out on the bicycle for her.

Wadjda is a unique story. It is somewhat reminiscent of 'Children of Heaven'. There is a competition and prize money involved and the outcome is again wholly different and not at all what you'd expect. It is a heartfelt story about a child coping with abandonment issues through a cause. Her aim is to get a bicycle for herself and win a race with Abdullah (a cheeky little boy who's also her best friend and bears a lot of her brunt too). The goal she has set for herself, probably signifies one phase of hardships. Wadjda may have achieved this one with her single minded determination but where she goes from there is left to the audience's speculation. There is a lot of optimism there. Although, her adorable mission is enough to melt away the hearts of skeptics, you'll find her persistence quite infectious.

In a Valley of Violence
(2016)

For a Fistful of Hawke!
Who'd have thunk! Ethan Hawke in a western? Gravelly voiced gunslinger and a reluctant savior of a town oppressed by the Sheriff. Well, to be honest, In a Valley of Violence is not as memorably cheesy as The Quick and The Dead or dramatic as Mackenna's Gold. Nor is it as epic as the Dollars trilogy (Which is an unfair comparison). You can say its pretty standard 'new gun comes to town and frees the people from goons' kinda western. Its a cross between Rambo and John Wick but set in the wild west. Which is pretty simple and there's nothing wrong with that. What's interesting is the director choosing such a "chocolate hero" to play a rugged manly man, a killer at that!

Hawke has most recognizably played suave, sleek, urban gentlemen characters. Be it in Before Sunrise and its sequels or films like Predestination, Gattaca etc. Some of his hardcore action movie roles like in Assault on Precinct 13 or The Purge are as cop or an everyday man in unusual circumstances. How he blends into any role with ease is just pure fun to watch. Btw, Hawke plays a civil war veteran, sharpshooter in another western this year; the remake of The Magnificent Seven. I think that's enough horse-riding and cowboy hats for a lifetime worth of career. Also, Happy Birthday to you Mr. Hawke!

Watch In a Valley of Violence for the non-stop, all out vengeance driven shoot-em-up action. John Travolta returns as a bad guy but not as an intimidating one. He just happens to be paying the price for raising a bad seed. Its a snappy western with almost Marty McFly in the wild west kind of pace. No time for deeper plot development. Although, there are enough dialogues to paint a decent picture of how the characters think. There are some hilarious moments in there which mostly come from the self awareness of a character's own situation. In all, its not a difficult movie to watch at all plus there's a sweet dog in it! Perfect for a midweek Netflix and chill.

Army of One
(2016)

Grandiose Delusions Of a Handyman Don Quixote
Not many would remember a popular Indian TV show from early 90s called Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne. It was about this office peon (an utterly unimportant person in social order) with an active imagination. Typically the episodes would deal with his daydreaming scenarios. Army of One is a story about a similar man. Only thing is that it's about a real life person (Gary Faulkner) who did went on with his quest to capture Osama Bin Laden, all by himself. Now, its something of a debate whether all the incidents in his narrative are true but one thing is certain that he did end up traveling to Pakistan, on multiple occasions, with his Katana blade, without much trouble. That's classic privilege because most Asians would be stopped at airports if they were even carrying a pen knife.

Well, for Gary the orders apparently came from God himself (Played by Russel Brand in the movie). Well if God is in-fact like Brand, then we've no hope. On the other hand, it could be a smart move if he's just channeling through comedians now-a-days. Probably works for the better. Reports say that Faulkner got dangerously close to finding Osama despite his bumbling, idiosyncratic demeanor. The CIA even considers recruiting him. Well, as far as expendable foot soldiers go, Faulkner might actually be a fine candidate. Although, Nicholas Cage went a little over the top in his portrayal of Faulkner, I think that any man embarking on such an insane quest is in-fact hysterical. So Cage's performance makes sense.

If you put aside the main plot for a moment, you'll realize that the movie does have have a heart. Gary's relationship with a single parent Marci is beautiful and touching. Marci's adopted daughter has Cerebral Palsy and to her, Gary is the most interesting person in the world. While he might be the Don Quixote swinging his sword (Katana in this case) at the windmills but when he comes home, he finds the real purpose of his quest. Its a funny movie and if you like watching Nicholas Cage going nuts, its full of it. It's gratifying to see Hollywood recovering from the grimness surrounding 9/11 and daring to bring some levity around the tragedy. Kind of reminds me about the Bollywood movie Tere Bin Laden and its sequel. Watch Army of One when you've nothing else to do.

Before the Flood
(2016)

Worthy successor to An Inconvenient Truth but who cares?
Leonardo DiCaprio didn't ever strike me as a cynical man. His on screen and off screen presence has mostly been too well measured for that. So much so that when he finally won an Oscar, people seemed more elated than him. Somehow, Leo has managed to elude his fans despite his A-list status and highly popular movies. What is more peculiar is how he balances his personal life which includes his supermodel girlfriends with his public life where he is UN ambassador for environmental causes. This dual persona is amply exhibited in this documentary film which is shot simultaneously while he was working on The Revenant. How he mishmashes his Oscar winning role in the movie with this piece of eco-horror documentary for National Geography is enough evidence of his sincerity in the matter.

Nonetheless, Before the Flood stands a very good chance of being sidetracked as just another high profile celebrity effort to bring global warming to the center stage. Not unlike 'An Inconvenient Truth' that had Al Gore try the same (exactly a decade ago), Leonardo's effort has very little chance of propelling any real change. Probably he realizes that himself when he aptly says "Try to initiate a conversation with anyone about environment, they just tune off". Its available for free on YouTube and I've been telling everyone to watch it. I'm yet to hear from anyone who actually did and what they think of it. There... you have it. The all so familiar apathy.

No doubt Leo has made this film at huge personal risk. Forget the large oil interests and what they can do to his career. Whatever few friends and hot girlfriends he has, might abandon him for turning into this hippy, tree-hugging, environment doomsayer. I hope not. Lord bless his heart for he has tried to do the right thing. Well, as for the dangers of brushing shoulders with politicians and policy makers, the fact is that it doesn't always go well for filmstars. There have been many instances of that. Time will tell whether Leo steers clear of all the muddy waters there. As for President Obama, he has already packed his bags. All he could muster up on this issue is his concern that his kids would not be able to see the glaciers like he did when he visited Greenland or some such place. Oh and the more practical concern is the hoards of displaced population potentially headed towards US who may affect the way of life there. As he says "It's a matter of national security!". An opinion I'm sure many rich nations (and historically the biggest polluters) share. It's a good thing that this is on tape now because it will surely be cited in the future as a glaring example of how global leaders were out of touch with the reality while the world receded into a Mad Max like insanity. Its a shocking revelation indeed.

Leo goes to many places in the world to see firsthand, the effects of climate change. He encounters many incidents and he concludes that it is incredibly difficult to turn around now but there's still hope. Probably, you've heard this all before but the presentation is brilliant. No wonder Martin Scorcese is the executive producer on this one. There are some really high impact visuals and the writing is taught. The interviews are well shot and the people brought on board have done a fantastic job. Also, it blatantly points fingers at some companies that are not often criticized on a mainstream documentary like this. How the public reacts to this is a whole different thing. I already threw up when I went down the comments section on YouTube. Of the two things that were most interesting in the documentary, one was how Leonardo almost got scolded by a little Indian lady. Poor Leo. After-all he does come from a country where many prominent leaders out-rightly deny global warming for corporate interests. The second thing that came as a surprise was the scientific proof of how inefficient beef is, as a form of food. To those Indians who shout slogans against beef ban in India, they should really watch this documentary to judge it for themselves. Its not funded by the "Hindu" agenda if that's your concern. Cow, mother or not, does not make for a conscientious dietary option.

As to the actionable steps that we can take to prevent a catastrophic climate change, there are subtle hints throughout the documentary. Suggestions are being presented in a factual manner to really let people decide what, when and how they can best contribute to solving the issues. Environment has been ravaged by us for over 3-4 centuries and we are nearing a 'tipping point'. That much is certain. Our ever-growing needs are also certain. Poverty can't be solved without industrialization and that can't happen without polluting the environment. High cost of green technology makes it difficult to implement where it is most needed. Those who are sitting on the fence follow the ones who can afford it but those who can afford going green are reluctant to adapt because they find it cheaper to run on fossil fuels. There are a lot of catch-22s in there. At the end it becomes a black comedy of sorts where small island nations are forced to buy lands in other countries because their home is sinking right now. No more time for "10 year studies" people! Don't listen to me, listen to the Pope. Forget gay rights and human cloning. What he says about environment is right. Listen to Leo, he really did put his heart in making this film. Watch it and share it and maybe, just maybe, try to do something about it. I'll do so too.

Captain Fantastic
(2016)

Human Spirit and Modern Education Don't Sit Well Together. The argument is set.
An Airport is probably the best place where you can see human diversity trying to cope up with the need to conform. Although flying is like just another transport akin to buses and trains, airports maintain a certain air of exclusivity. The passengers are fed through an elaborate web of security checks and protocols usually not found in case of other modes of transport. You may have any ideology or dressing sense but airports demand you to be sophisticated, airports demand you to act in certain way. If you don't then you risk getting stared at, ostracised and even thrown out. You all may have experienced a subtle classist judgement yourself. Well, the reason for me to write all this is because firstly I am writing it at an airport. Secondly, I find this immensely relevant to the characters of Captain Fantastic. Ben played by Viggo Mortensen introduces the modern world to his 6 kids whom he and his 'hippy' wife Leslie literally raised in the wild. Ben rants about corporate America and criticizes it for the subversive and mindless consumerist culture it has given rise to. The kids despite their inexperience with the outside world, are not uneducated albeit socially inept. Ben and Leslie have raised their kids well and they have all the philosophical and ideological lessons they would ever need in life. It may not seem to be too practical but in a way they are more able than most kids of their age. Only issue is that these kids don't have the common pop culture sensibilities and are forced to expose themselves to the world under some unfortunate circumstances.

The movie is a treat to watch as we see the oddly named kids and their unnervingly honest father navigate the devious and uncompromising modern civilization. The ensuing road trip has many funny moments worth cherishing. The conversations are enthralling and the bonding between the father and his kids seem to be authentic. It's been reported that the kids in the cast started calling Mortensen as their "Summer Dad". There are references to socialism and its many forms but it does self explain the failure of the socialistic ideologies. People are it's weakest link. The Kinks might sing "we take what we want and give the rest away" but in reality people are neither that considerate nor generous. The gatherer in us always wants to hoard more so that we don't have to hunt all the time. Processed meat will always be more viable than wild game. The children's socialistic as well as survivalist upbringing do have some benefits. They are strong and idealistic, in touch with the nature and probably capable of experiencing genuine emotions unlike most kids around them. They are definitely more physically and mentally fit. Their honesty however could appear disarming and even disturbing at times. Most people would not know how to respond to that. The movie depicts these things very carefully and beautifully.

It is a fantastical plot and the outcome is definitely in the spirit of the story. If you don't think its worth an Oscar nod then I don't know what's good film-making. Well, maybe due to its indie feel it might be skipped by academy juries. There may very well be some flaws to Captain Fantastic. The entire movie rants about how the world has engorged itself on capitalist ideals. Like every survivalist, it fails to see the inevitability of civilization's expansion and the resulting changes. Like all great socialist leaders who were never followed to the book, this movie may fail to drive it's message. Quite fascinatingly there was a recent news article about a girl from India who got through to MIT on full scholarship. She was home-schooled for the entirety of her childhood. You'll find such achievements as evidences agreeing with the ideas in the movie but most people will find it hard to balance between Ben's parenting style and modern schooling. So I recommend you to watch this movie for all its great thoughts but don't mistake it for a "kids" movie. It's more targeted to the parents. There is a bit of nudity as well so take your kids on your own discretion.

Nerve
(2016)

Mismanages the thrills and ends up being a mushy teen love story
This movie is definitely an example of missed opportunities. In the post #Snowdengate world, we are more aware of the dangers of internet than ever. Nerve could have been an awesome dystopian sci- fi story about identity thefts, dangerous cyber-criminal underworld or just generally subversive technology dependent society. There are many great movies like Minority Report and Enemy of the State that take on the idea of surveillance. TV shows like Mr. Robot have already broadened our outlook on social networking and hacking. In this environment, a superficial outtake on this subject is more nerve-wrecking than the ill-informed 1995 thriller The Net.

Nerve is not without its redeeming virtues though. It opens up today's generation to a debate of what is sensible and what is not. There is even some ethical pondering towards the end of the movie but its too little too late. By that time we are already fixated on the beautiful couple of Dave Franco and Emma Roberts. Whatever message the movie could have mustered against peer pressure and bullying got flushed down the toilet as soon as you realize that without giving in to the demands of their peers our on- screen lovers wouldn't have even met. Nobody dies and the audience gets to go home without any emotional baggage. Its like a beautiful yet terrible person who you sorta date for a while because the sex is good and nothing else.

The idea of taking dares too far is not new. Yes, there are some scenes in it that remind you of the nauseating videos some Adrenalin junkies post on YouTube jumping on building roof tops without any kind of safety. The most thrilling parts were already covered in the trailer itself. I hoped for the characters to resolve the mess more intelligently but nothing came quite close to convincing. We see more believable techno babble in a single episode of Mr. Robot. On a hindsight, writing this review was probably a mistake as more I think of it, more it gets on my nerve (pun intended).

Swiss Army Man
(2016)

Morbid, Macabre and Metamodern
Ah the unbearable stress to create something original in this increasingly unoriginal world! We are past the post modern times when cynicism was a new thing. Science and promise of an Utopian future are also not what drives us anymore. Instead we see a world constantly struggling against new challenges. The pressures of surviving in a fast evolving culture, the fear of falling into clichés and the utter lack of things to create that will be valued forever. Swiss Army Man is an interesting peek into the changing sensibilities of post-post-modern art. Its gross and beautiful at the same time. Simultaneously meaningless and meaningful. It jerks around with the characters only to dive into very emotional conversations about love, life and loss. This maybe one of the best examples of meta-modernist cinema that dares you to embrace magical realism without shame.

Well, most of the plot can be either interpreted as a weird, metaphorical revelation with a hint of spiritual realization or as a complete nonsense arising from a mental disorder. That is the clever thing about Swiss Army Man. It is unlike anything you may have seen so far. There may be more movies like this coming out soon. Strangely, when you watch it, despite the disturbing visuals, it is calming. The background score is eerie and comforting at the same time. It is this polarity of sensory perception that makes Swiss Army Man more than just an oddity. The macabre in this movie may be something that Aleister Crowley might have found really amusing. He might have even funded a sequel with some of his own ideas!

Daniel Radcliffe has certainly gone to extreme ends as an actor to shed off his Harry Potter persona. Now that he plays a literal corpse, it is safe to say that he may have managed to get past his wand waving fame. Paul Dano on the other hand seems to have slowly crafted his career as an understated yet recognizable actor. His award winning roles are proof of that. Swiss Army Man is the second film after Ruby Sparks where Dano plays a part that merges reality and fantasy. It does remind me of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983), a Bollywood movie that also had a dead body central to the plot. However, it is completely different in everything else. You can dislike it or get grossed out by Swiss Army Man but it is undeniably the most memorable movie of 2016.

Camp X-Ray
(2014)

Illegal Detention, War on Terror and a Love Story in the Middle
Recently, I watched Cafe Society. Kristen Stewart is pretty good in that. However, reviewing a Woody Alan movie felt a little too unnecessary at the moment. Don't misunderstand me. I love Alan's movies. Some of which I'll cherish to my funeral pyre. That being said, I just don't feel up to criticizing his work. Not just yet. So, I went back and re-watched Camp X-Ray, a previous Kristen Stewart movie that was left aside to be reviewed later. Two years since Camp X-Ray, the actress has done a few notable films. What we see in Cafe Society is one of her best roles yet, but I think her character in Camp X-Ray still remains undoubtedly her best. Call me a sucker for drama, I give a lot of value to the emotional depth of the role when studying an actor performing it. Stewart playing an Army Private who is in-charge of a Guantanamo prison cell block is already a far more interesting setting than a secretary of Hollywood producer having an affair with her boss. Period.

Private Amy Cole is a rookie in the best of sense - made to believe that every person behind those bars is a dangerous terrorist. Her training tells her not to trust them, let alone befriend them. But, she's a rookie after all. She's intimidated by the scale of operations at the prison. She's tormented and harassed by colleagues and supervisors. If she complains then it will be seen as a sign of her weakness. Its 'Few Good Men' all over! Gitmo is no place for weak. She comes across a prisoner Ali who at first seems to be every bit as crazy and violent as expected. Inevitably, Amy soon begins to doubt the entire purpose of detaining these men in such conditions. All layers of propaganda, slowly peels away from her eyes and that's when an odd friendship develops. A bond between a prisoner and the guard. There is an almost classic value to this plot; Like the Man in Iron Mask or De Profundis or a story out of Arabian nights. This film should be among top 50 prison movies of all time. Its both historically significant as well as artistically poignant.

In a way you can see that Amy is as much a prisoner as Ali. In a hole like this, no one is really free. Prisoner Ali's role is played by Payman Moaadi and he is perfect. Balancing delicately between a vulnerable scholarly fellow and a prisoner hardened by the torment, Moaadi transforms the situation into a fantasy where he's a maverick heartthrob who excites his very captors. Well, particularly one who has even developed a romantic feelings for him. The fact that it is really hopeless makes it all the more precious. While the war on terrorism takes more lives and rids more people of their homes and self esteems, this movie is a gentle reminder that we may sweep it under the rug but there are collateral damages that we can not morally justify.

Born to Be Blue
(2015)

Mind's a prison and soul's the captive
Ethan Hawke is my favorite actor and I make it a point never to miss his movies. Just for that reason I know about 'Born to be Blue'. Where I live, this movie will never get screened in a movie hall, I'll never find a DVD and it will probably rarely be ever shown on TV. I guess even in Canada(Chet Baker's home country), not many have seen it yet. Such is the low profile of Ethan Hawke's art cinema role preferences that most of the times people come to know about these movies long after they are released. That trend is in-fact exemplified by this semi-fictional biopic about Chet Baker, the prolific jazz trumpeter, heroin addict and a free spirit.

The story is a bit of a noir mixed with real life incidents. It plays like a heroin fueled jazz improvisio. Chet Baker, the artist on whose life it is based on, was a bit of an enigma himself. Starting way back in the heydays of jazz, Chet was a white artist making his mark in the black dominated music scene. Estranged from his father and addicted to substance abuse, he was on a lookout for love that was always around the corner but never enough. A typical self destructive musician. The biggest crest in the plot comes in the form of actual physical harm. Details are unclear but some rivalries lead to him getting beaten up and losing his ability to play the trumpet. We see a lot of movies about 'comebacks' but this one is real. It is not just about overcoming defeat or depression. It is about finding yourself being propelled by passion and passion alone to achieve something impossible.

Ethan Hawke has done it again! Ever since Gattaca, I have found his performance mesmerizing. As Chet Baker, he embodies the pain and madness of a jazz artist so brilliantly that you would forget the flaws of the person and start loving him for what he is. Oh! and Hawke sings in his own voice in two of the songs. Soundtrack of the movie consists of some of the best Jazz standards and songs performed by David Braid. So, if you're a jazz aficionado then you should not miss it for the world.

Carmen Ejogo is a fresh face from England and plays the persistent love interest of Chet in the film. This is her first performance that I've come across and she is scintillating. To say that her role is split in two parts is enough preview without spoiling the rest. I implore you to go watch this film. Go with a lover if you can because it is about heartbreaks more than personal struggles.

Happy Birthday
(2016)

Genre Bending But Interestingly Meh!
Who haven't watched Hangover? You have been living under a rock if you haven't seen the movie about a bunch of partying dudes tripping and puking in the middle of a desert. One of them is lost and the rest try to get him back. Then there's less popular Due Date with the same bearded guy from Hangover, tormenting Robert Downey Jr. They end up in Mexico remember? Then there is even lesser known Search Party with Thomas Middleditch and TJ Miller. It's about rescuing a friend lost in Mexico. This theme is getting tiresome now. To add another film to the list is a bit of a risk. Happy Birthday tries it and survives the sandstorm.

The movie is a bit too thin on the plot, as in, I could jeopardize the entire story by simply mentioning one little detail or by referring to a certain Michael Douglas movie. It's so easy to spoil. Doing that won't be fair to the makers of this film because they obviously tried their best. Yet, I should say it's easy to predict the ending once you are half way through. It's hard to shock the audience these days.

The bit about genre bending is true though. What begins as a stoner comedy takes a turn towards horror and crime thriller. This itself is a fine achievement on the part of the writers. The movie even features a bizarre guest appearance from Steven Tylor of Aerosmith. He's quite good in his character as well. It's a good indie flick with enough scares. However, we are not left with the intended effect at the end. Like the hero of the story, we too want to find a way to get even.

Sing Street
(2016)

Perfect Motivation To Start A Rock Band or Be In One
Move over School of Rock; Sing Street is the new coming of age rock musical. Here is a young lad singing his heart out for the damsel in distress. I've always thought that impressing some girls is the perfectly sound reason to form a band. There are so many rock legends who started playing the guitar simply to get attention. Loves and crushes or the loss thereof make for a strong gateway to the world of music. However, music is a seductress herself. Eventually, you learn to love it for its own sake. Don't miss this movie if you are a 80's music lover. The soundtrack is a good mix of new wave classics but it also features some of the finest original rock songs produced for a movie. They are groovy and fit in nicely with the plot. Especially "Riddle of the Model". But that's all about the music. What about the story?

Set in 1985, in the center of Dublin music scene that saw the rise of many English New Wave bands like Duran Duran and The Cure, semi inspired by synth pop acts like A-ha, Sing Street is one of the best rock music cultural tours you can find in cinema. If you've seen the documentary It Might Get Loud, you'll remember U2 guitarist Edge talking about the early days of the band in Dublin. As he walks through his high school band practice area and the places they would hang out, you get a feeling of nostalgia. Sing Street gives you the same feeling, whether you're Irish or not. Its immersed in the 80s, the education system, the dresses, cassette players, absence of mobile phones and computers, the progressive sounding music and most remarkably, the beginnings of the music video era. It's hard to miss.

Making a period drama musical based around adolescent characters is surely a bold idea, especially when most of your lead cast consists of debutants. The performances are surprisingly intrepid as Ferdia Walsh- Peelo plays the character of Conor, the aspiring teenage musician (who looks like a young Paul McCartney) serenading his muse Raphina, played by a feisty Lucy Boynton. There's Eamon, the band's multi- instrumentalist lead guitarist and Darren, the band manager/cameraman/producer. I must say that it all comes together nicely. We might be looking at a new movie band post School Of Rock. If they are really playing the instruments in the film then they should tour. There are a number of more mature actors setting the premise. For example Conor's family and his Catholic school Principal who, btw are all contributors to his torment. There are great moments with Conor's elder brother Brendan played by Jack Raynor who is a slacker and college dropout but charting his own musical journey. There are a few intense scenes like the one where Conor is forced to wash off his makeup at school or when Brendan rants about his role in clearing the path for him.

The world of Sing Street is not perfect. Its not about privileged kids or happy endings. In fact, it is filled with troubled childhoods and uncertainties. Much like the Ireland in the 80s and 90s. Yet, its a reminder of how creativity thrives in a rut. How the meanest of the people have their reasons to act as such. Sure, at some places Sing Street is predictable but it makes the movie all the more endearing and funny to watch. Teenagers smoking cigarettes, going on out-of-town day trips un-accompanied by adults and making cheap music videos on camcorders. Such great times! Of-course the young bloke gets the girl at the end but we are left with so many questions about their future. We get the sense of what adventures may lie ahead of them as the literal storm approaches. Is there going to be a sequel?

Imperium
(2016)

Plays Like a Glossy Coffee Table Book About Neo-Nazis
Imperium looks interesting at first glance. It draws you in with some interesting concepts around the main character played by Daniel Radcliffe. Builds the tension up to a point and then leaves you high and dry. It's like a coffee table book with lots of nice large pictures but practically no reading material. A picture tells a thousand words but none of it means anything in this case. The viewer gets a glance at the supposed inner workings of some of the white supremacist and Neo-Nazi organizations that operate within law and on the fringes. The seemingly hard core actions of the racist hate groups don't escalate much beyond club memberships, barbecues and fraternity pledges.

The movie struggles to decide whether its a thriller or a documentary. It begins with a good premise and we begin hoping that things will start circling back to the the beginning as the matters keep getting complicated. Instead, we start doubting the efficacy of both the radical organizations and the law enforcement agency that's tasked with investigating them. We hear a lot of intellectual and pseudo philosophical babble and some books are referred to as the foundation of the beliefs these organizations or their leaders perpetuate. However, there's never a real threat, either for our main character or the people in general.

Overall, its a decent plot idea lost to its lack of motivation. This movie can't be compared with the likes of American History X or The Believer. We do see slight glimmers of what it could have been and that is in fact, all the more frustrating. It presents no higher purpose or greater political agendas that sustain the hate groups in real world. The indoctrination of supremacist ideology is unconvincing and you almost feel sad for the bunch of misguided youths wasting their time jousting around in suspenders and shaved heads.

Free State of Jones
(2016)

A Monumental Piece Of History That Ripples Through Generations
What is a society that knows the price of a man but not his worth as a human being? Probably that's the irony of being an industrial civilization. While it aims to improve the status of mankind, it also requires lot of labour. The cheaper it is, the better. That's where slavery comes into the picture. Slavery is a function of economics alone. Race, colour etc. are merely justifications for it. It's ultimately the conflict between empowered and the weak. Free State Of Jones puts it quite succinctly and with absolute conviction. There's no ifs and buts that blur the issue of freedom. It doesn't try to distract us with metaphors and confusing moralities. Its very clear in intention, much like Newton Knight, who's life this movie is based on.

Free State of Jones is a very entertaining film for its performances. Mathew McConaughey is often joked about for his intense style but in this role is where you can see why he's an Academy Award winner. Never mind those impersonations of him. He is John Woodroof, he is Newton Knight. There are also very astute performances from Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mahershala Ali. It has a slew of characters like in any historical drama but thankfully all are in proper proportions. No wonder it comes from the director of The Hunger Games! Another striking quality of the movie is the soundtrack. Use of traditional as well as original songs bring a noticeable gravity to the narrative.

Apart from the brilliant cinematography and direction, this movie has a unique perspective to dealing with a subject as sensitive as this. It transcends the time and period when this story takes place. While the main thread of the narration tells the legendary story of Knight who goes absconding from confederate army and later creates the Free State of Jones in the midst of raging American Civil War, the other thread follows his great-great-great grandson Davis Knight undergoing trial for mixed-race marriage. Yes, even after 85 years, it was still an issue. When you watch it, you'll find the ridiculousness of it, all the more blatant. Well, this review does not mean to judge the laws of the land nor the way of life of the society. However, if at all you are concerned about the historical accuracy of the film then you should know that its one of the very few period dramas that carries this impressive a list of academic consultants to its credit.

The story of the Free State of Jones is not merely fascinating. It's a glorious story of a glorious man. Much like his namesake who discovered theory of Gravity, Newton Knight discovers something about man. You may understand why it could be discomforting to watch if not with an open mind. It is a jab at the ages of segregationist politics, but unlike most films with liberal agendas, it is not cryptic and morose. Its too direct. Too simple to fathom. It doesn't paint Newton Knight as the saviour but only as a hero that he is. He is as deceived and victimized by the system as everyone else. Only difference is that he had an idea way ahead of his times and he had a chance to implement it. Nature was in favour of the man and even when the times were exceptionally odd for his principles to find ground, he endured. Newton Knight went on to live to a ripe old age of 84 which in itself is astonishing in the 1800s. Thank you Gary Ross for sharing this incredible story on silver screen. Too bad it didn't do well commercially.

Blood Father
(2016)

Redemption at its best
Mel Gibson is back and there could have been no better way than with Blood Father. This is the man we all loved for his Mad Max and the Lethal Weapon and Braveheart and wait... The list is long. There has been no reason, other than his personal one time out of the line blowout, for the Hollywood to end its romance with the legendary actor. His professional career has been impeccable. Even when he took to the director's seat. Maybe, that ordeal is behind Gibson or probably it will haunt him like a ghost for a long time to come. Nonetheless, with this movie he has tried to pay his dues with blood. Albeit on screen.

Blood Father has a riveting premise. Its one of those constant action movies that have both the pacing and the sensibility. Its beautiful to watch. Although, there may be some glaring plot holes but you wouldn't notice until you're out of the theater and start to recount things. Mel Gibson and Erin Moriarty play off this amazing dynamics of father-daughter duo that's going to make Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace's bond in the Taken series look a bit dull. Apart from that, we are introduced to some really colourful assortment of characters that almost remind you of the "Toecutter" gang. However, its not set in apocalyptic times. Its very present and clearly contemporary. Then again there's an almost 80's madness about it, a chivalrous attitude that's been missing in the alpha male characters of late. A bit of Shakespearean quality even.

Efforts to redemption are evident from the get go. Gibson's John Link is an ex-convict, a recovering alcoholic, a recovering racist even but never short of the bad-ass we want to get behind. In one scene he vehemently knocks down a mannequin dressed in full Nazi regalia with the butt of his shotgun and shouts menacingly at a washed up white supremacist. Need I say more? William H. Macy makes a well deserved appearance but it was only meant to last that long. From the start till end you get a feeling that this movie was purely made as a one off action thriller like No Country for Old Men. No digging for spin-offs, no baiting for sequels. Just raw carnage that ends with the ultimate sacrifice.

Ace the Case
(2016)

Home Alone Meets Nancy Drew But In an Absolutely Hair-brained Manner
Not many late summer kiddie movies come out every year. Catering to Pre-teens is tough. Yet, too often the efforts that are made to woo this age group turn out to be bad. That's what has happened with this film too. Ace the Case has nothing to ace neither there is a case. The mystery is not half as intelligent as it should be for the kids that it targets. Yet, its not totally unwatchable. In fact, kids would probably love Olivia, A 9 year old everyday New York girl who will resonate with a lot of kids of her age. Being involved in a detective story that takes her to the uncharted and "dangerous" big city all alone is a child trap. While some may consider it risky content for kids, I think its standard children's story trope. Kids these days are exposed to much worse. Heck, even Home Alone movies had more violence. There's also this adorable dog and a humongous rabbit in it which btw, have zero significance to anything happening in the movie. However, if you ask me its just a steaming pile of toddler puke. Chances are that your kids are asking for this movie or you want to take them out to see it. My advice is well, rather take them to a museum or something. Then again, they're your kids, so do whatever you want. I may even recommend it for my own nieces and and nephews.

Susan Sarandon is a pro and its endearing to see her interacting with the the main character of the movie. I hope she got paid well for the role and its not a favour to the producers because her every scene in the movie added a little bit of life to its limp plot. Ripley Solo who plays the role of Olivia, the little red-head kid trying to solve a crime, is promising. Its no wonder that she comes from Broadway experience. She should get more sensible roles in Hollywood while she's cute and charming. We know what happens to most of the prodigious child stars when they grow up. Unless, she turns out to be the next Natalie Portman. Besides these two, every other cast and character is basically unimportant and treated that way.

I can see why kids might enjoy it but won't they gobble up just about anything that's got a child doing bold things? Just plop them in front of a TV and put on a DVD of this movie. It will work. Although, I wouldn't go so far as to claim it is the modern Home Alone. It does remind of the Macaulay Culkin's New York misadventures but its not as entertaining. What's most puzzling is that despite so much classic material available for children movies, filmmakers choose to experiment with sub-par concepts that don't sit well with any generation. Make a modern adaptation of Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer and even adults will go to watch it. On second thought, Ace the Case is probably a welcome break from constant barrage of superhero movies that are not even talking to kids anymore.

Walk of Shame
(2014)

Watch it again. It's meaningless, entertaining and oddly engrossing
This review is probably going to get a lot of thumbs down but before you judge my taste in movies please just go and watch it again. Yes it's flimsy and stupid even but it's perfectly entertaining and very snappy. No scene drags on too long for the audience to get bored. There are cringe worthy moments but those add to the overall craziness. When I watched it originally, I was not writing reviews frequently. However I didn't dislike the movie. Recently, someone showed me that the critics rating on this movie was dismal. Couldn't agree with that because its a pretty funny film and quite similar to After Hours. So I had to watch it again.

It was clear to me the first time that Walk of Shame was not iconic nor brilliant but it was memorable. It requires quite a bit of suspension of disbelief but it is evident that the movie is not trying to find any answers to life. After watching it again I say it's still a damn entertaining movie and that's about it! For those trying to read meanings into Meghan's unexpected nightly adventures are just not getting the point. There's no spiritual quest here. It's just a really bad day (night) for the prudent girl. From that stand point its all too fun to watch. She meets some hilarious characters, goes through a series of unfortunate events, finds kindness among most unusual people while gets totally judged by 'normal' ones. It's ironic and funny and absurd. Maybe not as edgy as Scorsese's After Hours but it's a fair update to the situation. Also, Banks is just gorgeous. She does some gross stuff in this movie to deserve a few laughs! Don't hate it just because it's a star vehicle. What's wrong with that?

This movie is a perfect goof off that friends love to watch together on sleepovers or when you stay in and chill on weekends. There are some good laughs in there and some guilty pleasure. It has two awesome comedians Bill Burr and Tig Notaro doing just the most inconsiderate things to the poor protagonist and that adds to the hilarity. My hunch is that this movie will gain popularity with time. Whether it does or not, 12% on Rotten Tomatoes is definitely not what it deserves.

The Intervention
(2016)

Commitment Issues And Issues With Commitments
Imagine you are having a boring and otherwise quite normal married life. You decide to go on a vacation with a couple of your old friends who you've not seen in a long time. When you get there you find out that they are organizing an intervention to help you sort out your relationship troubles. Only one problem there. You realise that none of your friends have the moral ground to host this conversation. You'd probably go "Huh? why are we even doing this?" You'd probably get pretty mad at your friends. Maybe never even talk to to them again.

On the surface this movie looks like a harmless romcom but the intentions that are driving the plot are questionable and hard to digest. Why in the world would your friends want you to get divorced? Oh, only if they are commitment phobic themselves... guess that makes sense, right? No! It's plain psychopathic.

Many people in relationships struggle to stay sober. Some are just not capable of taking major decisions about life. Alcohol never solves that problem. Many people lose their life partners. They struggle to start new relationships. These were some profound aspects that The Intervention could've focused on but it instead squandered all the deep emotions as the plot rushes to complete the 2 days 3 nights schedule of messing up and making up while none of the relationships show any promise. Is that closer to reality than I think? Are interventions and sit downs even effective? Doubtful!

For the sake of the story, we can agree that there is an inherent problem with modern relationships. We all want to be independent. So, the dynamics really don't work the way they used to in traditional marriages. Trusting someone and then settling down with them is all the more difficult. Then why to even pretend that you need anyone? The Intervention doesn't fight this hypocrisy nor does it stress on the value of building a family. Its like an unnecessary food for thought.

Commitment phobia is more than just a matter of relationships. It is partly a social issue and and partly a psychological response to change. This movie however doesn't address that. Instead it jumps right onto the quarter-life crisis drama of married couples and couples not sure about marriage. It tends to strengthen the misconception that commitment issues are predominantly prevalent among the affluent. Well, we do see more marriages fail in higher income groups but that's not the point. Anyone can have commitment issues. Whether or not they are rich, successful or even ambitious for that matter. Our dependency on technology and social media is turning us into confused, prejudiced and superficial people. Movies like The Intervention push us further towards behaving immaturely.

One pleasant surprise from the movie was Ben Schwartz's immaculate performance as someone grieving yet coping with it. His character Jack is the most normal of the bunch also the voice of reason. Such a long way from Jake and Amir days. Cobie Smulders does a fine job in making her performance convincing. Her character manages to take a stand that gives some closure to the audience. It was much needed because the intervention surely didn't work.

Genius
(2016)

Incredible Passion Of Storytellers
Best of the authors are the most decadent ones in their personal lives, quite troubled too even. Before the films took over as prime storytelling medium, novels were the subject of public fascination. They still are but the romance with them is much more subdued. Nowadays, novelists attain 'celebrated' status when their works are adapted into a film or television series. That was not the case during the times of such geniuses as F Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway or Thomas Wolfe. They were stars of their day through their books alone. Much to the credit of their editor Maxwell Perkins' monumental dedication and honesty. "An editor must remain anonymous" says Colin Firth who plays Maxwell in this movie. Its a commandment that the life long devotee of words lived by. His client and friend, the famous writer Thomas Wolfe wanted to dedicate his new novel to him. Max probably knew through his experience as an editor that this was a bad idea. Does it make him the true genius?

1920s and 30s were promising times and also the most depressing times. New realities were hitting the American society. As Fitzgerald's stories often talk about, new classes were emerging and women were beginning to enjoy a new sense of freedom. These literary greats of their times were like snowflakes. Each unique in their way but also eccentric and fragile. Often vulnerable to creative bankruptcy. Their needy, self centered lives were kept from spiraling out of order by the steadfast editor, who was like a rock. They could all turn to him for inspiration, for moral support and even for sharing personal issues. As if he was not just an editor but a spiritual counselor and a therapist as well! Those were probably less judgmental times and some people like Perkins were as dependable as a Swiss watch. So, there is little doubt that he might have been more important to the famed authors than their spouses and muses. Its a fraternal bond that is worth celebrating. Cinema or otherwise.

Although the movie is a bit monotonous for a period drama, director Michael Grandage's first outing makes for a decent film. He has earnestly tried to tell an interesting story. There is no lack of intensity but the star studded cast must have been a bit overwhelming for the playwright veteran turning to cinema. This medium is more about glamour and less about articulation. Audiences have unusual expectations from period dramas. They like to see anachronistic elements in them. Fancy costumes, classic cars and hip hop music thrown into the mix. No one want's to see an author and his editor arguing about the word length of the upcoming novel.

The movie is too straight in its narrative. Jude Law's loud performance as Thomas Wolfe is distracting in the beginning but as more characters join in, we get used to his antics. Wolfe may have been an overtly passionate man for his times due to his desperation to stand up among peers. I have one contention about the plot though. There are some strong historical women in the film but they are all peripheral to the story. They don't do much except getting disrespected by their men and cribbing about their ambitions being stubbed. Poor Zelda, she didn't even have a line. Maybe that is how the social zeitgeist was back then. If so, then we've surely come far from those chauvinistic times.

Our Brand Is Crisis
(2015)

Morally Dubious, Adversarial and Everything Political PR is!
There is no 'bad' Sandra Bullock movie. But that's my opinion. Our Brand is Crisis reaffirms my belief. It is well paced with sufficiently despicable characters for the story and a cathartic ending. Its a dirty enough political drama and its as dry as the whole business gets. It gets my thumbs up for showing the drab side of political PR that is in reality. Yes, it is absolutely mindnumbingly uninteresting and hollow. Sorry, there's nothing entertaining about political consultants who sold their soul to the devil years ago and are now living for the paychecks that come from installing bad leaders to power, fully aware of the moral deprivation of their job.

It surely would take a certain audience to enjoy this movie. I am thinking of media representatives and political image managers. They must appreciate the depths to which Bullock's character sinks to finally stick it to the adversary, the rival consultant played by Billy Bob. He's so masterful at playing obnoxious roles. Although, I think he got a little shadowed by nastiness of our fierce, Sun Tzu quoting protagonist. Things got way more personal than they normally should but there's nothing normal about American consultants trying to guide leaders in countries where they don't understand the native language and have no clue of the local culture. In fact, the original documentary that this film is based on, goes as far as to claim that this mismatch of perspectives ultimately hurts the future governments in those countries as people basically lose trust in their leaders.

If you love Veep then you'll like this as well. It has those moments of indiscretion that makes the Julia Louis-Dreyfus series so funny. With political campaigning becoming more and more about advertising and less about policy, leaders have become extremely frivolous about their promises. They just want to win the election. This attitude is fueled by more aggressive PR managers who plan for every little act to contribute towards maximum exposure. Whether you fit the narrative to the man or fit the man in the narrative, you know that democracy is about winning the majority vote. Thus the usual trickery of one-upmanship has to ensue, even at the risk of driving the campaign bus down the abyss.

Frank
(2014)

Frankly this creative insanity can wreck your notions about success in art
Last time a movie kept me awake at night was The Ring. Horror movies can do that but can a comedy film do that to you? Frank did, for completely different reasons. I could not bring myself to write a review for about a month. Kept telling myself, it's not going to be easy. Its not hard to tell you the story but to describe the incredibly layered symbolism is tricky. If I tell you that its about a bunch of post-industrial experimental rock musicians making music in a cabin in the woods then you might think its just another indie hipster band docudrama. Then you should know that Michael Fassbender plays the lead singer of the band who wears a fake head all the time. Sounds quirky right? Now why would an A list star take a role in a movie that doesn't let him show his face for the entirety of the film? Because Fassbender can act with his body. Now you might think that's really not helpful but you really need to watch the movie to experience what I'm talking about. It's insane! Did I tell you about Maggie Gyllenhaal's theremin playing role in this movie? She can pull off those nutty characters so well.

Talking of insanity, Frank is an inner journey to discover whether madness is elemental to creativity. Can true art be produced without going crazy? Or is it that all artistic geniuses are born with mental issues? The answer is not very encouraging for the emotionally balanced "intellectuals" who try to measure art through popular conventions. Frank shows a remarkable insight into creative minds and the eccentricity that is sometimes uncontrollable. Why do die-hard fans lose interest in a band when they get too commercial? Because they can't find the insanity and heart in the music anymore. There is only so much creativity you can tap in once you turn your art into a factory produced product.

Frank hit me in the place where it hurts the most. My own failed music career. None of my band members were ever so insane and naturally gifted. Makes me wonder if this what it takes to make really good music? It completely disarms you. If you are a struggling musician then probably don't watch this movie because you might throw your guitar or piano or drum kit in the river the next day. As for me, I'm already retired. I just had to watch Our Idiot Brother to shake off my mood. But Frank made me laugh too. There were some familiar moments and I felt at home with the characters. They were all so flawed and unhinged. Like some modern spiritual successors of 'I am the Walrus'. Frank also made me cry because it brought back some memories. People cried when Led Zeppelin reunited for one last time also when Nirvana played at their Hall of Fame induction. These are happy moments but they are also emotional ones. Reunions always are.

The Dressmaker
(2015)

Having To Seek Revenge Itself Is A Curse
What is it to be cursed? To be born in unfortunate circumstances, growing up in an abusive environment, failing to trust anyone in life. All these recipes of a cursed life are there in this movie. In this story you'll find the crooked, the manipulative and the kind - all living together in a town that is so God forsaken and utterly unimportant that no one cares if its literally named 'Dungatar'. As life progresses slowly in such places, bigotry is often a part and parcel. Social elite with all the power and connections go unpunished while they exploit the common folk for their weakness. Sounds pretty universal. Also, the women are particularly made to suffer more than the men. It is a hopeless situation but sometimes they exact revenge. Kate Winslet depicts it so elegantly as she returns to her childhood tormentors. Her travails have transformed her into the proverbial "vamp". She is armed with her looks, her thirst for revenge and... a skill that makes her the perfect femme fatale. The Dressmaker is more than a typical revenge story. It is a good revenge story!

When tortured people use their pain for creativity, the result is mesmerizing. Their craft becomes their most powerful weapon. They don't need to use guns or physical violence to prove a point. That's the brightest part about this dark comedy. It gives hope to the viewer that some sacrifices are worth making. Although, revenge is an emotion that burns both the wrongdoer and the wronged, forgiveness is just not an option sometimes. Neither is running away. Not at least in fiction. Bad people will do bad things and even with all your efforts to set things right you can't escape it. This movie brings in a tragedy just in time to remind the viewer of that fact.

Social behavior of humans is driven by deception. The Dressmaker points to the hypocrisy and manufactured perceptions that decide the social status of people. Insecure folks move in packs. They denigrate and ridicule others behind their backs. The guilty ones hide behind misinformation as they fuel rumors to avoid being pointed out. Individuals who don't manipulate are pushed down. Efforts to overcome such curses leads to unexpected casualties. Unfortunate, but educational. On a side note, this movie vaguely reminds of Edward Scissorhands especially with the location of the protagonist's house on top of a hill and the way the townspeople go about doing their day-to-day politics.

The Dressmaker is a very women centric drama that never once tries to shove feminism down the throat. Men are both good and bad just like women are both enlightened and ignorant. There are selfish and there are martyrs. The worst are those who justify their wrongs through their bigoted worldview. Even if you manage to burn down the whole place for revenge... it is only bittersweet at best. Watch this movie for the performances of Kate Winslet, Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis. If you've watched Predestination then Sarah Snook's short role will further impress you.

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