GirishGowda

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Reviews

Oh My Kadavule
(2020)

Seems like Tamil cinema is hard hit for good movies
The entire movie is based on a wrong note. If everything were to happen with no second chances from God, Arjun would have divorced Anu and would have been quite happy with his decision while Anu would have drowned in sadness for a few years. If God hadn't intervened Arjun would never have realized he loves Anu.

Lets face it. They were lifelong friends. If he had any sort of romantic love for Anu, he would have atleast felt a twinge of jealousy or panic when she told him about being getting married to some other guy. He also had an entire year to fall in love with her after marriage but he never found even one nice thing about her to love in that time. This leads me to believe that God actually wanted Anu to be happy instead of Arjun.

And on the flip side there is the fact that there is not even one moment in the film about the ramifactions of God literally coming down to Earth to help a human. The movie is flippant about the existence of God by making Arjun hug God instead of being blown away with emotion or devotion. Even one moment would have made it more believable.

The movie chugs along nicely though all the moves were extremely predictable (including the cab driver being revealed as Meera's boxer) and its good for a one time watch. I'd rate it 5.5/10. Its highly overrated.

Simmba
(2018)

Headache inducing low standard mess, especially when there is a magnum opus KGF standing against it.
At a time when there is a magnum opus like KGF: Chapter 1 (which is terrific even in Hindi) and have plenty of good content and entertaining movies in 2018 comes along Simmba, Pummba and Timmba which is slap across the face to every Indian who pays to see this movie. The critics have been bribed (as always) to laud this mess of a movie. Ranveer Singh (whom I like as an actor) overacts to no end. Sara Ali Khan is a classic example of a talentless hack making it big only because of Bollywood's penchant for nepotism. Rohith Shetty should retire already if he's not going to go above remaking South Indian movies and making them worse.

Zero
(2018)

Super flop of the year! Go watch the magnum opus KGF instead!
Watch South Indian Sandalwood's superb magnum opus KGF 3 times instead of this headache inducing movie. Zero's first half was alright. It was bearable, but the second half was like slapping against all logic and common sense. A low class guy spending money like as if he was born to Shahrukh Khan himself. Shahrukh does his usual romantic shtick, but this time as a dwarf. Katrina tried to act for the first time in her career. It was hard to watch. Anushka Sharma was alright. One of the most faltu movies of the year. Shahrukh Khan has now flopped for 5 years without any good movies now.

The Oscars
(2016)

Chris Rock ruined what was otherwise a pleasant night
It started off well enough with the Harry Potter-like magical build up of the Oscar statue and the video mash-up of various nominated movies. And then it all went to hell. The 88th Oscars was a mess primarily because of Chris Rock's amateurish whining about blacks not being represented enough at the Academy Awards. He went overboard with his sarcasm and it was painful to watch him try to be funny. He put forward Jamie Foxx's name as one of the best actors and he is average at best. Where were the Indian nominees? Where were the Chinese nominees? These two make up for so many professional jobs in the US, that its mind boggling not to see them represented with any sort of dignity in the American movies. And what about the very real issue of gender discrimination against women and LGBT people? The black rants were the equivalent of a child crying for attention just for the sake of it.

This was the first time I was excited for the Oscars in a long time since it contained so many diverse and varied titles as its nominees and most of them deserved their spot there. I don't hold the Oscars to any high level of critical praise since the ones who advertise more usually win, but it is the most famous award show and more often than not, they are good movies most of the time. If this is the level of incessant whining one sees at every Oscars, then expect everyone around the world to turn off their TV's in the coming years.

Coming to the winners and presenters, other than Leo's comment on global warming, Louis CK said the most important thing of the night about how these documentary makers will need these awards the most. "Room" was the movie I was cheering for Best Picture, but it went to Spotlight (which I have yet to watch). I was glad to see Brie Larson win Best Actress though. I'd even say the young boy deserved a nomination at the very least. I was also happy for Alicia Vikander, though she deserved an award for Ex Machina far more than The Danish Girl. Mad Max deservedly cleaned up the technical awards. I presumed most people in the audience stood up when the legend Ennio Morricone won because they also thought Mr. Morricone was long dead. My mistake. Leo's win was the highlight of the night. The man finally got what was rightfully his for a long time now. All in all, it was a pleasant show, but Chris Rock ruined it.

PS: Stop pushing off the nominees when they are giving their speeches and instead trim off the extra fat of bringing in school kids to sell cookies and the long walk to the mikes by presenters. You will save far more time then.

Adhyaksha
(2014)

Ponu Illa, Message Illa Nindhu. Elliruve? Naanu theatru mundheye ninthiruve!
In a village, Chandrashekara Gowda (Sharan) is the Adhyaksha of 'Chi Thu Sangha' (Chintheyilladha ThundaikLa Sangha), which is a way of saying that he is the President of all the lazy and unproductive people in the village and the 'Chi Thu' is a form of taunting and putting down the members of the association. He wants to make a high school teacher fall in love with him and a 11th standard student, Aishwarya (Raksha), is the unwitting mule for his love messages to the teacher. Her father, Shivarudhre Gowda (Ravishankar), brings in a groom to get his third and youngest girl married off. Even though he is a powerful village head and is proud of having three daughters, he lives in constant fear of his daughter eloping with a boy like what his neighbour had been saying for years now. However, his plan is foiled by Chandru who stops 17-year-old Raksha's marriage by involving the police on account of her being a minor. As Raksha slowly becomes infatuated with Chandru and starts keeping his gifts for herself, her teacher gets married off. Chandru refuses to entertain her half-clues and sees her only as a kid... That is until he sees her in a different light in a procession of a God. Even if he convinces her to love him, he will also have to deal with her fearsome, gun-toting father.

The soul of any comedy movie is the ability of its cast and the strength of its script to make the audience forget their worries and smile/laugh for 120-150 mins. From the director of Victory and acted by a very able cast, the narration is fluid and the laughs flow quickly and easily. Though the story is a derivative one, I enjoyed it a lot (and judging by the audience who were in splits, so did everyone else) and its a testament to the brilliant screenplay. Sharan and his Upaadhyaksha (Vice-President), ChikkaNNa, make an excellent pair with their believable friendship and fantastic dialogue delivery. Sharan excels in comedy scenes, but is believably uncharming in the romantic scenes as his character demands. Aishu is overshadowed by her father and Sharan for most of the movie and her dialogue delivery leaves much to be desired. I am flabbergasted that the producers didn't want to get a beautiful and talented actress who could speak Kannada properly. Credit where credit's due though; the actress is very pretty and leaves quite an impression in one's heart when she tries her best. Sharan's co-star from the blockbuster 'Victory', Asmitha Sood makes a fun cameo as the teacher. Reality show Indian's fans will be pleasantly surprised as well. Ravishankar who is synonymous with playing terrifying villains will shock the audience with his comedy. Since I already knew what a sweetheart Ravishankar is from his Bigg Boss appearance, I was thoroughly entertained.

Arjun Janya's music is an impressive highlight which manages to blend itself into the story. Though a remake of a Tamil film, the music is original and highly addictive and its been integrated into our village culture brilliantly. 'Ponu Illa, Message Illa Nindhu' brings in quite a bit of stars from Kannada cinema and is a particular favourite of mine due to its ability to make one ponder about its deeper meanings while still being plain fun on the surface. Irony is, I didn't like it one bit when I first listened to it, but now can't get enough of it. Power star Puneeth Rajkumar has sung the chartbuster title track as well. The cinematography is rich and pleasing to the eyes. Make no mistake, if you want to have a fun time at the cinemas, forget all the stupid and dull movies from Hindi or Telugu, this is your best bet. Make some room for the antics of the Chi Thu Sangha and enjoy one of the best movies of the year with your family.

8.5/10

Elysium
(2013)

No substance beneath all its glitter
In 2154, the population is divided in two social classes: the wealthy people live in Elysium, a space station with all the resources; the poor people lives in the exhausted Earth. In Los Angeles, the former car thief Max da Costa (Matt Damon) is on parole and works on an unhealthy factory Armadyne managed by the CEO John Carlyle (William Fichtner). He dreams on saving money to travel to Elysium. Meanwhile the Secretary of Defense of Elysium, Delacourt(Jodie Foster), plots a coup-of-stat against President Patel (Faran Tahir), with the support of Carlyle. He programs a software that can override Elysium's data system and make any change, including the president's name to Delacourt. Carlyle uploads the software to his brain to increase its protection. Max is exposed to a lethal amount of radiation in Armadyne and has only five more days of life. He seeks out the criminal Spider (Wagner Moura) expecting to travel to Elysium, where he can use a medical chamber called Med-bay that is capable to heal any disease and save his life. Spider tells that if Max steals profitable information, such as bank accounts, from the brain of Carlyle that is on Earth. Max accepts the proposal without knowing the powerful knowledge in Carlyle's brain. When Delacourt learns that the information she needs to become president was stolen from Carlyle brain, she sends the notorious agent Kruger to hunt down Max and recover the software at any cost.

Neill Blomkamp's Elysium is absolutely fantastic to look at, but it has no substance beneath all its glitter. It creates a believable future for the residents of Earth, yet Elysium doesn't look 'lived in' and the tale that's told isn't very compelling either. No matter how noble the intentions are to implement a class allegory into the sci-fi world, this was just hamfisted all around. Not once during the film did I really feel connected to the characters, story, or action. The script was way too-heavy handed in it's themes, while the characters were all woefully under-developed. The supposedly dangerous infiltration into the world's safest entity, Elysium, which has its own robot army, was breached so successfully without any defense measures when the protagonist wanted to. This is the kind of superficiality that hinders most sci-fi movies. In principle, this is the kind of movie I usually root for, but Elysium has mediocre acting, awful dialogues and one-dimensional characters along with a far-flung and completely illogical (within its own conventions) third act for me to support it. I like District 9, but don't worship it like its superfans, but this is miles apart from that movie. The only way to enjoy it is to turn your brains off and even that may not help its cause too much. Ideas don't make the movie, execution does.

5/10

Django Unchained
(2012)

Pure Cinema
In 1858, in Texas, the former German dentist Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) meets the slave Django (Jamie Foxx) in a lonely road while being transported by the slavers Speck Brothers. He asks if Django knows the Brittle Brothers and with the affirmative, he kills one of his masters and takes Django for himself, but treats him like an equal. Then Dr. Schultz tells that he is a bounty hunter chasing John, Ellis and Roger Brittle and proposes a deal to Django: if he helps him, he would give his freedom, a horse and US$ 75.00 for him. Django accepts the deal and Dr. Schultz trains him to be his deputy. They kill the brothers in Daughtray and Django tells that he would use the money to buy the freedom of his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who is a slave that speaks German. Dr. Schultz proposes another deal to Django: if he teams-up with him during the winter, he would give one-third of the rewards and help him to rescue Broomhilda. Django accepts his new deal and they become friends. After the winter, Dr. Schultz goes to Gatlinburgh and learns that Broomhilda was sold to the ruthless Calvin Candie von Shaft (Leonardo DiCaprio), who lives in the Candyland Farm, in Mississippi. Dr. Schultz plots a scheme with Django to lure Calvin and rescue Broomhilda from him. But his cruel minion Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) is not easily fooled.

From anybody other than Quentin Tarantino, this would be their life's best work, but from Quentin, this was a little underwhelming, especially after having done the brilliantly subversive Inglourious Basterds with such perfection before this one. Here he excessively panders to his own vices, especially in the third act. The spatterfests were too silly and overlong. Jamie Foxx is inconsistent and doesn't convincingly pull off his character throughout the movie and this becomes more obvious towards the end when everything rests on his shoulder without Waltz and Di Caprio supporting him. For a movie that is all about him, he makes for one hell of a boring character and the actor wasn't able to bring many emotions that the character did require. The first choice for the role was apparently Will Smith who declined the role, and in my opinion, he would have made a good Django Freeman. Jackson was hilarious and Waltz was great as usual, but Di Caprio surprised me big time. He should have also been nominated for an Oscar for his flamboyant and sadistic performance. Kerry Washington is nothing but a damsel in distress which is consistent with the time and racism that prevailed back then. Tarantino also played two characters in the movie to hilarious effect. At the end of the day, this is a pure cinematic experience with great music and songs integrated with such fluidity along with sweeping visuals and reminds me of why I love movies so much.

8/10

The Artist
(2011)

A celebration of the silent era
It's 1927. Arguably Hollywood's most admired movie screen idol, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), is enjoying the success of his latest picture, The Russian Affair. He enjoys his work and the adulation he receives by being a movie star, as witnessed by how he hogs the spotlight during The Russian Affair's post-premiere bows. Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) is an aspiring young actress, who literally and figuratively runs into Valentin at the premiere, which ends up being the launching pad to her Hollywood acting career through bit parts. The advent of talking pictures brings a reversal to their fortunes as Kinograph, the movie studio where Valentin is under contract, is looking for fresh faces such as Peppy Miller to star in their talking pictures, while Valentin resists the entire notion of talking pictures. Peppy, who appreciates everything that Valentin did for her career, tries to help him as much as she can, but Valentin may have to decide on his own where and if he fits into the Hollywood machine, one where he doesn't think people want to hear him speak.

A celebration of the silent era and I can surely see why it won the Oscar. This represents everything that Hollywood loves and has nostalgia for. Jean Dujardin brought his character's joy, pain, pride and the love for another woman who wasn't his wife to perfection on screen. Surprisingly, Berenice Bejo's Peppy was a heart stealer and is one of the best performances of the year by any actress. All the supporting actors like John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller (though her character was painfully one-dimensional) and others are fantastic. The music, the costumes, the sets, the execution were all great. I especially loved the metaphor when George taps his bottle onto the table and he hears sound and he can feel his career vanishing away from him. That was simply marvellous to behold and I was so in awe of that scene. The whole movie is well put together, but my only gripe is that it isn't daring. The movie doesn't do anything that hasn't already been done before and the ending is far too sweet and saccharine and very wishful for the tale its telling and that it has no worthwhile commentary to offer for what happened to many of the stars from the silent era who didn't have such a happy ending to their own tales. But, the movie is unoffensive and I do think The Artist deserved the honours bestowed upon it since its so infectious and charming.

7.5/10

The Help
(2011)

A charming, yet harrowing tale
Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, Skeeter (Emma Stone) is a southern society girl who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends' lives and a Mississippi town turns upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families and showcase their hardships to the world. Aibileen (Viola Davis), Skeeter's best friend's housekeeper, is the first to open up to the dismay of her friends in the tight-knit black community. Despite Skeeter's life-long friendships hanging in the balance, she and Aibileen continue their collaboration and soon more women come forward to tell their stories and as it turns out, they have a lot to say. Along the way, unlikely friendships are forged and a new sisterhood emerges, but not before everyone in town has a thing or two to say themselves when they become unwittingly and unwillingly caught up in the changing times.

This is yet another Hollywood output where the story of the minorities is told through a morally righteous white person, but this time its done really well. Skeeter basically disappears after setting the movie up and only appears here and there when the story requires her and she leaves the floor for the others to shine. Institutional racism is fascinating and disturbing to watch, just like the sexism of the modern world which still exists in most countries. Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), the antagonist in our tale, thinks of herself as a progressive thinker among her peers and yet her actions suggest otherwise. Her club's efforts to save the hungry children of Africa was ridiculously ironic and hilarious.

The disparity, hardships and social status of the black people just because of the colour of their skin back then isn't exploited to the maximum. The critiques hurled at this movie for not showing it is simply laughable. This is just a story where none of the women shown on screen got raped or abused, though there are various viewpoints to the term, by their white masters and one should respect the story for it and not judge based on what didn't happen to these characters. At least, this is not a falsification of history like the supposed true story of Argo. Our critics and society are unfairly critical of female-oriented and minority based movies. Nothing is more telling than the hate bashing of the Twilight movies, a simple tale told through the eyes of a girl and her love for a supernatural being.

I digress. The Help has a good story at its core, but its the strong performances by all the actors which is a sight to behold. Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for her efforts, though I do feel that her pie thing, though quite funny, was done in a slight distaste unbecoming of the movie, and Viola Davis was overlooked in my opinion. But it was Jessica Chastain, whom I liked in Lawless and Mama, who surprisingly impressed the hell out of me and was nominated for an Oscar for her role here. I was thinking that she'd just be another ditzy, suburban blonde, housewife/bombshell who I'd probably hate, but there was so much more to the woman and she made me empathize with her plight against all odds. She is definitely my new favourite actress. Emma Stone was infectious in her portrayal of Skeeter and the way her character's arc ended was realistic and sad. A charming, yet harrowing tale which doesn't overplay the aspect of racial discrimination to high levels.

7.5/10

Bedazzled
(2000)

Enjoyable Movie
Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) is a socially awkward, geeky, over-zealous man working a dead-end technical support job in a San Francisco computer company. He has no friends and his co-workers are always avoiding him because of his banal and embarrassing attitude. He has a crush for more than three years on his colleague, Alison Gardner (Frances O'Connor), but lacks the courage to ask her out. After Elliot is again ditched by his co-workers, at a bar while trying to talk to Alison, he says to himself that he would give anything for Alison to be with him. Satan (Elizabeth Hurley), in the form of a beautiful woman, overhears him and offers to grant Elliot seven wishes in return for his soul. If his wishes weren't going the way he wanted, then he could give her a call by dialling 666. Obviously, it doesn't go his way.

Brendan Fraser plays a Mexican drug lord, an overly sensitive guy who cries watching sunsets, a dumb basketball pro, a suave and smart gay gentleman and Abraham Lincoln among others. He brings some charm to his multiple roles which in another actor's hands would have been completely insufferable. But, there wasn't enough consistency in the writing where the laughs were few and far in between. It was fun to watch Elizabeth Hurley's Satan who was smoking hot and helped the movie from getting too boring. Her assortment of jobs involved a teacher, nurse, night club owner and others. From a prurient perspective as well as from an entertainment point of view, she was great and looked more like an embodiment of Lust rather than Satan. Though I do empathize with Elliot wanting the love of his life, one can't help but imagine how much more awesome it would have been to have Satan, especially one as ravishing as Elizabeth, as a girlfriend. Frances O'Connor doesn't have much to chew scenery with other than being the standard pretty girl here, though she did make me laugh with her 'I just want a guy who pretends to be sensitive' scene. The special effects are surprisingly not that bad. Bedazzled runs on a one note joke and it gets lame very fast. It does tell a morality tale, but its not too overbearing and the ending is just as goofy and heart-warming as the rest of the movie.

5/10

Bachchan
(2013)

Turn your brains off for this one
Bharath/Bachchan (Sudeep), an honest realtor, gets caught by the police after killing a police officer and a doctor. In the interrogation room, he enumerates the events that took place beforehand for him to take the law into his own hands and kill them. Bharath had stopped a rowdy (P. Ravi Shankar) from conning an old couple of their property and had gone to give a complaint to the superstitious inspector Mahesh Deshpande (Ashish Vidyarthi) along with Anjali (Parul Yadav) who was in cahoots with the rowdy. He enrages Bharath who hurts his hand by smashing the window of a car and they get treatment from an eccentric Dr. Srinivasa Iyengar (Nassar) who advises him to never eat sweet/sugar items in his entire life and stalks him everywhere and makes his life a hell. Deshpande stops the marriage of Bharath and Anjali after falsifying a video between Monica and Bharath in a jewellery store and a heartbroken Anjali kills herself. All these circumstances push Bharath over the edge and makes him murder the doctor and the officer. But, the story doesn't end there and has a lot more twists.

This is a blockbuster project for one of the best actors, Sudeep, pure and simple. Over the top action, comedy, supporting actors from different languages, cool dialogues, extravagant song and dance routines (a couple of songs are fantastic - Sadaa Ninna Kannali being my favourite) and too many love interests for the hero are all present. The first half of the movie is absolutely trippy and so absurd that if I wasn't watching with family, who were all thinking that this was a stupid movie by that point and laughing their butts off, I'd have turned it off. The characters aren't believable and they still expect us to believe that this is a fully functioning family. This movie has twists at three different points. At the final twist, they literally ask the audience to forget everything that happened beforehand. These things aren't the marks of a competent director. There's literally no chemistry between Parul and Sudeep and her jealousy whenever a girl comes close to Bharath was painful to watch. You don't marry someone you don't trust. The final part also has flaws, but it is the most well-realized aspect which gives a lot of sense to the events of the rest of the movie and makes it almost worth watching. I definitely have to re-watch this again someday to analyze it better though. You may wonder why they didn't just make the last third into a full-fledged movie since it has such potential, but that would be too much to ask. Just turn your brains off for this one.

6/10

Silver Linings Playbook
(2012)

The Emperor's New Clothes
Against medical advice, Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) is released from a mental health facility into the care of his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) after eight months of minimum court mandated treatment for bipolar disorder. Pat soon learns that his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), has moved away and his father is out of work and resorting to illegal bookmaking to earn money to start a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after a violent episode where he beat her lover to near death. At a dinner setup with his friend Ronnie (John Ortiz), he meets Ronnie's sister-in-law, Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a recent widow who just lost her job. Pat and Tiffany develop an odd relationship through their shared neuroses, and he sees an opportunity to communicate with Nikki through her.

I so wanted to love this movie, but it turned out to be nothing more than a case of the Emperor's New Clothes syndrome. The story doesn't have one iota of surprise and painfully follows the clichéd romantic playbook to a tee. Just imagine this movie with a woman playing Bradley Cooper's character in the same style. This movie is being praised simply because its a romantic drama told from the man's point of view and he ultimately gets his young, hot girl after a bunch of pointless, heightened stakes which is supposed to develop their characters somehow. The best part is the beginning which was really strong and after that, it all spiralled down into mediocrity. Why would you want to introduce your bipolar friend who just came out of a mental institution to your wife's sister who herself was completely nuts due to the death of her husband!

I like Lawrence and it wasn't her fault for the way her character oscillated between shrill shouting and constantly being on the verge of tears. The character was terribly written and the Oscar she got was completely undeserved, along with being in the wrong category to boot. Hers was clearly a supporting role. But hey, she's the new darling of Hollywood. The rest of the nominations are also flabbergasting since they are all mediocre across the board, though De Niro rose above the tepid writing. I do not even want to talk about the portrayal of people with disorder here, but you gotta hand it to Weinstein though, he makes great award campaigns. Generic, contrived and a mediocre melodrama with a faux happy ending.

4/10

The Wolverine
(2013)

Starts off as a wonderful character study, but veers off halfway through
In 1945, Logan (Hugh Jackman), the Wolverine, is held in a Japanese POW camp near Nagasaki. During the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Logan rescues a Japanese soldier named Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) and shields him from the blast. In the present day, Logan lives as a hermit in the Yukon, tormented by nightmares of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), whom he was forced to kill at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. He is located by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant with the precognitive ability to foresee people's deaths and is skilled with a samurai sword, on-behalf of Yashida, now the CEO of a technology corporation. Yashida, who is dying of cancer wants Logan to accompany Yukio to Japan so that he may repay his life debt. The moribund Yashida offers mortality to Logan, transferring his gift to him, but Logan does not accept the offer.

This movie is completely different from any Hollywood superhero movie. Its also a hardcore and character driven movie. It definitely stands out from the plethora of superhero movies. Halfway through the movie, I was thinking to myself about how surprisingly good of a character study this was even though I could predict most of the story and some of the action was over the top. Then it all went bonkers and the strong first half was ruined by a completely contrived romantic turn. Of course, the white guy has to sleep with the first beautiful girl that he sees in another country and she'd obviously be willing to jump him. I wouldn't really blame the girl though. Have you looked at Jackman! He could probably turn me gay. But, Logan moving on from Jean in such a short amount of time and loving the new girl didn't ring true on any level, especially when he dreamt of her every night and was highly emotional for her. A stupid typical final act destroyed any hopes of The Wolverine somehow veering on to the right path. The villains, Viper and the Samurai transformer, were ridiculously cartoonish and didn't have much purpose for the final fight to take place. The less we talk about them, the better. I'd still like to re-watch this movie someday in the future and see how it holds the test of time.

6/10

Andar Bahar
(2013)

Despite the director's best efforts to derail it, the movie still makes for a wonderful watch
Surya (Shivarajkumar), an underworld don on the run accidentally meets a charming girl, Suhasini (Parvathi Menon) in a church. While his subordinate is being treated in the same hospital that she works in, Surya starts to admire Suhasini who has her own quirky views of the world. He discovers that she has a terminal disease and would die soon. He wants to help her fulfill her lifelong wish without her knowing it and acts like an undercover officer.

In an age where most commercial, mainstream Indian movies follow a set pattern of rules and stereotypes, this was a breath of fresh air though conventional wisdoms were strictly adhered to. Even the blatantly annoying and amateur director who abused the use of flashbacks couldn't stop the movie from being completely enjoyable. Despite his best efforts to derail the movie with silly shootouts and flashbacks, the story came through in the end. Actors Parvathi Menon and Shivarajkumar (their real names and our mythology of Shiva-Parvathi amuses me) were great in their roles and Parvathi, especially, was a delight to watch and the story complemented her character. A couple of the songs are really good with Maleyali Minda being my favourite. The supporting cast with veterans Arundathi Nag and Srinath whose characters went from silly to complex were simply riveting. A good family entertainer.

7/10

My First Mister
(2001)

Has its charms, but its manipulative and flawed
Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski) does not fit in. A total misfit, she's as wacky as a teenager can be. Goth-ed out with multiple piercings, tattoos, and dyed hair, she listens to strange music, watches vintage TV, eats primarily chocolate, and self injures. But now high school is over and she needs a job. In an effort to secure employment at the upscale Century City Mall in Los Angeles, Jennifer, a 17-year-old goth-punk, makes a nuisance of herself at a clothing store run by 49-year-old Randall Harris (Brooks), who eventually hires her on a trial basis as a stockroom clerk. Jennifer refers to herself simply as "J", and thus asks Randall if it's okay if she calls him "R", to which he accedes and this is the beginning of a weird relationship.

The first half of the movie is very quirky, charming and intriguing. The two actors are wonderful in their roles and make us believe in the setting. The tone feels real in the beginning and the added touch of her school being a jungle, literally, adds a dark humour to the proceedings. Feeling isolated from the other people in her life, J finds she is somehow slowly attracted to a beer bellied Randall. The first signs of stupidity reared up its ugly head when ridiculously beautiful women were falling head over heels for this homely man who had no discernible attractive traits and weren't making another appearance, save for one lady. This had to be a strong point since jealousy, or some lower iteration of it, was a major point for Jennifer to fall for this guy and it was done horribly.

Society loves to wag their fingers and act judgmental when an older person who isn't family is out with a younger kid. They don't think that they could just be friends. While the feelings between Randall and Jennifer were understandable, it just didn't feel authentic since the very basis of their relationship was contrived and flawed. Then it went to sappy melodrama with Randall having a life threatening disease and a son (played by a young Quinn from Dexter) as well. The ending was gloriously asinine with none of the adults actually caring that their teenage daughter and this middle aged man were in some sort of a very visible relationship and went a step further with Randall advising his son to take care of Jennifer. If it hadn't completely gone off the rails before, well it did now. The movie has its charms, but its manipulative and flawed.

5/10

The Heat
(2013)

Refreshing, yet Generic
FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a very skilled and effective investigator, but is despised by her fellow agents for her arrogance and condescending attitude. Hale (Demian Bichir), Ashburn's boss at the New York FBI field office who is being promoted, sends her to Boston to investigate a drug kingpin named Larkin with the promise that she would be considered as his replacement if she can solve the case while showing the ability to work effectively with others. Once in Boston, she is partnered with Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a skilled but foulmouthed and rebellious police officer with the Boston Police Department. Ashburn's by-the-book philosophy clashes with Mullins' rugged and violent style of police work. Mullins discovers the details of the Larkin case by stealing the case file from Ashburn and insists on helping her. Ashburn reluctantly agrees, realizing that she needs Mullins' knowledge of the local area and has no other choice.

A buddy cop comedy, but with women instead of men which is a refreshing change for once. Its surprising to realize that there has been no buddy cop comedy with women in the lead in Hollywood before now given the vast amount of comedies that have been built around ladies. Sandra Bullock plays the proverbial 'straight man' foil to McCarthy's vacuous, foul-mouthed shtick who gets on your nerves throughout the movie. The actors do their best to give life to their characters. It deserves props for making the gender discrimination at the workplace for women very subtle. The movie is grounded and is more of a light thriller with a few laughs than an all-out LOL fest. Its at its best when its doing physical comedy though the slicing of the throat was a bit too much. The movie is watchable, but its generic and flawed and lets a few jokes run far too long than necessary which hinders its impact. The Heat fizzles a bit here and there and both the actors have been in far better comedies than this.

6/10

We're the Millers
(2013)

Lewd at times, stupid throughout and overlong, but was funny more often than not
Low level marijuana drug dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is robbed of his money and stash, some of which he owes to his supplier. His boss, wealthy drug lord Brad Gurdlinger forces David to smuggle marijuana from Mexico in order to clear his debt. Realizing that one man attempting to get through customs is too suspicious, he hires a stripper named Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a runaway teenage girl and thief named Casey (Emma Roberts), and his 18 year-old neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter) to pose as a bogus family called the "Millers". Because of the extra load of the marijuana on the RV, one of the radiator hoses breaks while going up a steep incline. A family they had encountered at the border called the Fitzgeralds, consisting of Don (Nick Offerman), Edie (Kathryn Hahn), and Melissa (Molly C. Quinn), catch up to them and tow the Millers' RV to a repair shop. On the trip to the shop, David learns that Don Fitzgerald is a DEA agent after finding his badge and gun in the glove compartment.

By all accounts, this movie shouldn't work with its self awareness, breaking the fourth wall moments, a strip club where nobody actually do what they are supposed to, a formulaic tale told in a slightly different setting than the norm, a predictable comedy routine and lets be honest here, the entire thing was sold based on Aniston playing a stripper and still looking good at her age. But what made it work is that the Millers knows when to hold back the joke before it veers into absurdity (even more than necessary) and its actors, a plethora of NBC alumni, sell the hell out of it. That brat from the third Narnia movie is one lucky bastard who got to make out with both Aniston and Roberts. Don't go in expecting it to blow you away with its comedic ingenuity. Its lewd at times, stupid throughout and overlong, but was funny more often than not and made me laugh and that's not a bad thing.

6.5/10

Before Midnight
(2013)

One of the more fascinating trilogies in the world of cinema
Nine years after the conclusion of Before Sunset, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) are a couple and parents to twin girls conceived when they got together for the second time. Jesse is also struggling to maintain his relationship with his teenage son, Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick), who lives in Chicago with Jesse's ex-wife and who, after spending the summer with Jesse and Céline on the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, is being dropped off at the airport to fly home. Jesse has continued to find success as a novelist, while Céline is at a career crossroads, considering a job with the French government.

Its a treat to watch Celine and Jesse again. Maybe its because of the fact that I watched all three movies within a short time frame, but this didn't have the magic and charm of the first two movies and it has nothing to do with realism. The focus on the other characters was mundane, while the fights that our lead characters, though true to themselves, came off as a plot device more than anything. But, I still enjoyed it a lot and the insight the arguments provided were intriguing since I thought that neither one was wrong or right and it was age and normal routine stuff taking a toll on them this time around. This trilogy is one of the more fascinating cinematic experiments. Richard Linklater's third and final (?) rumination on romance is one of the most mature and realistic depictions of long term relationship. I hope Linklater makes another sequel... in nine years.

7/10

The Iron Lady
(2011)

Left Me Cold
Elderly and a virtual prisoner in her own home due to her concerned staff and daughter Carol (Olivia Colman), Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), Britain's first woman prime minister, looks back on her life as she clears out her late husband Denis's (Jim Broadbent) clothes for the Oxfam shop. Denis is seen as being her rock as she first enters parliament and then runs for the leadership of the Conservative Party, culminating in her eventual premiereship. Now his ghost joins her to comment on her successes and failures, sometimes to her annoyance, generally to her comfort until ultimately, as the clothes are sent to the charity shop, Denis departs from Margret's life forever.

As a foreigner and someone who had no idea about who Margaret Thatcher was or the politics of Britain beforehand, this movie doesn't really do a good job at showing what kind of a woman she was or the political climate at the heights of her power. The movie is just a canvas of scattered memories through the eyes of the senile old woman who has Alzheimer's in old age. What I got was that she was the one and only woman minister in the parliament throughout her tenure, but aside from minor gripes by the men, everyone generally listened to her. It would have been a better context to show Thatcher watching the relatively easy lives that other female ministers led while she had to go head to head with the higher powers of the ministry and how truly alone she was. I've come to realize that she was a decisive and divisive person and the country which gleefully supported MT when she was filling their pockets turned on her as soon as she began to exercise equal duty on the population and devolved into barbaric civil unrest. The actors are all wonderful with Meryl Streep giving a superlative performance and earning an Oscar statue for her efforts. The makeup and performances were flawless. But, at the end of the day I still don't feel anything for anyone in the movie. Aside from 15 mins during the Falkland war, the movie left me feeling cold and indifferent.

5.5/10

Brave
(2012)

Straightforward Entertainment
Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, "Brave" tells the tale of a young princess named Merida of the clan Dunbroch. One day she is given a longbow by her father, King Fergus, for her birthday, to her mother Queen Elinor's dismay. While practicing, Merida ventures into the woods to fetch a stray arrow, where she encounters a will-o'-the-wisp. Soon afterwards, Mor'du, a giant demon-bear, attacks the family. Merida escapes on horseback with Elinor, while Fergus fights off the bear at the cost of his left leg. Years later, Merida is now a free-spirited, headstrong girl with much younger identical triplet brothers. Elinor informs her that she is to be betrothed to one of her father's allied clans. Reminding Merida of a legend about a prince who had ruined his own kingdom by pride and refusal to follow his father's wishes, Elinor warns her that failure to consent to the marriage could harm Dunbroch, but Merida is still dissatisfied with the arrangement.

Brave starts out quite enchantingly and has wonderful animation and music. We have a mother and daughter relationship that's going through a rough patch with both involved having to learn to respect each other's point of views and 'mend the bond' between themselves. In the beginning, it had the magic that most Pixar movies have, but somewhere after the first act there was a jarring transition into mediocrity when compared to other Pixar works. It lost its ambition and went into a straightforward clichéd storytelling without any scope for it to be enchanting or intelligent. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I did have high hopes. I didn't know about one director leaving due to creative differences and another one replacing her beforehand. I think the good stuff was done by the first director while the second one just added more action into it while some of the story elements were taken away to make way for plot devices. A shame really. The movie has lots of mixed messages and doesn't have a proper direction. That said, at the end of the day, its a fun and entertaining mother-daughter bonding movie.

7.5/10

Europa Report
(2013)

A Meditative Glimpse into a Plausible Future
Dr. Unger (Embeth Davidtz), CEO of Europa Ventures tells the story of Europa One mission. Six astronauts embark upon a privately funded mission to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, to find potential sources of life. Crew members are Captain Willam Xu (Daniel Wu), pilot Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca), chief science officer Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo), marine biology science officer, Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), junior engineer James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley), and chief engineer Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist), During the flight, the members interact with cameras inside the craft. After a year of mission time, a solar storm hits the ship, knocking out communication with mission control. Blok and Corrigan perform extra-vehicular activity to repair the system outside, but an accident irreparably contaminates Corrigan's suit and he is left outside the ship as it continues its journey to Europa.

Europa Report is based on real life findings of water on one of Jupiter's moons in 2011. The movie is shot through the eyes of the cameras inside and outside the spacecraft and the suits and is claustrophobic and kinda annoying sometimes, but the cinematography is quite mesmerizing when it wants to be. The special effects, the scene where Katya saw the complex organism and it focuses on her eyes, and when Corrigan drifts off into space are particularly well done. The acting was subtle and perfect without any melodrama. It was great to see Copley (District 9), Wydra (House) and Camargo (Dexter) again. We know that this a doomed tale from the outset, yet it brings about optimism and awe right till the finish, something that is unfortunately absent in most big-budget movies which are drowned in cynicism. The main drawbacks are the unneeded nonlinear storytelling and the characters who weren't fleshed out enough for such a meditative movie. Though the non-linear narrative worked, I have a feeling a straightforward story would have had a far greater impact. This is a fantastic glimpse at a plausible scenario that could happen within our lifetime. What makes it good, even though it is quite predictable, is the execution and the ending. An understated, realistic, space exploration horror movie.

7/10

Auto Raja
(2013)

Wasted Potential
Quick-witted Raja obviously admires the critically acclaimed and popular yesteryear director-actor, Shankar Nag and his movie, 'Auto Raja' which is and has been an inspiration for many a driver. He follows his role model's morals and lives proudly in his profession as a simple auto driver. He crosses paths with a naive village girl, Rani, who has come to the city to become a professional actress. Fed up of the radio jockeys frequent taunts and accusations hurled towards auto drivers, he outsmarts an RJ on air. He gets a part-time job as an RJ himself and becomes much closer to the general public than any RJ before, but due to circumstances, nobody has seen him or knows who the real host of the program is. Meanwhile Rani is being stalked by a group of rapists and human traffickers.

The title is a homage Shankar Nag's movie of the same name. The movie has plenty of ideas and directions it could go with, like the increase in rapes, casting couch syndrome in movies, a fish out of water situation with the village girl who came to town with big hopes, the plight of the auto drivers and the general disillusionment with religion. A couple of the songs are great as well. But, it fails to capitalize on any of these due to the director's insistence on playing it safe. Ganesh doesn't impress in this role and its more because of the script than his ability. He's a good actor and the two off-beat characters that he did which were really great were those in Cheluvina Chittara and Aramane. Bhama, Arun Sagar and the rest of the cast are fine. One thing which was exciting was that most of the movie has been shot around where I live, my 12th grade college and tuitions. Basically, the very places I've grown up in. The ending is very interesting since Raja never confessed his love for Rani and yet died for her without her ever knowing that he had died and that the RJ who was responsible to radically change her life was the same man that she had grown to distrust. That would have been enormously powerful if the story that preceded was executed competently. Such potential wasted.

6/10

Krrish 3
(2013)

Consequences are what sets it apart. A radical, yet fun superhero tale, but unfortunately packaged in a generic wrapper.
After defeating the villainous Dr. Siddhant Arya (Naseeruddin Shah), and bringing his father Rohit (Hrithik Roshan) back from the dead, Krrish (Hrithik Roshan) continued fighting against evil and saving innocent lives. Now Krishna is living a happily married life with Priya (Priyanka Chopra), while Rohit is using his scientific brilliance to benefit society. And Krrish is everyone's favorite superhero saviour. Unknown to them, a dark force is growing in another part of the world. Kaal (Vivek Oberoi), an evil genius, is selfishly misusing his powers to spread fear, death and destruction. And he is being assisted by an army of very dangerous beings, which he has created himself. Not long after Kaal's plans are put into action, both Rohit and Krrish find themselves faced with a crisis of epic proportions.

Firstly, context is very important. I believe that most of the comic-book superheroes of the world have been inspired from the Hindu and Norse mythologies. Secondly, Indians have grown up on a steady stream of mostly commercial cinema where one hero takes out ten guys in a fight even in many realistic movies. Each one of us know its unrealistic, yet it fulfills our inner longing and desire to bring out the superhero in oneself. 'Koi Mil Gaya' was a damn good film, albeit I'm speaking purely from a nostalgic point of view since I haven't revisited that movie in years. It has been falsely alleged to be inspired by E.T, but few people realize that Spielberg's alien tale was mostly copied from critically acclaimed Satyajit Ray's late 1960's sci-fi screenplay by the name of 'The Alien' and the same company which backed Ray produced the Spielberg movie. Moving on, then came along the much unneeded sequel, Krrish, which was a mostly satisfying, but forgettable experience. Bits and pieces of Krrish 3 has been obviously inspired by many Hollywood movies, mainly X-Men and Batman, but the end product isn't a rip-off though it threatens to be generic.

The slinky and dangerous hottie, Kaya's journey in this tale was surprisingly strong and is probably the true backbone to Krrish 3 since hers was one of the two characters I empathized with. Kangana Ranaut is brilliantly hypnotic, heartbreaking and the best of the bunch. Hrithik does his two roles to perfection, but Rohit is his true breakout role. Kaal (which means Time), played by Vivek Oberoi is a clichéd supervillain and quite boring to be honest. Priyana Chopra is fine in her limited role. The real hindrances to this movie are some of the weird dialogues which have been inspired from Batman (along with the statue), the utterly mediocre songs which we could have done without, a few illogical sequences, the blatant product placement and the special effects. The rendering of the CGI is not upto mark, but its still well done once you take into account of the fact that most Hollywood superhero movies have a budget that is around 8-15 times the budget of Krrish 3.

At first glance, Krrish 3 is unabashedly trying to woo the children in the audience rather than the adults, once you look past the pure sex appeal of almost everybody on screen. This is definitely gunning for the kids adulation, but the franchise has boldly taken some adult steps that even the most celebrated of the recent spate of Hollywood superhero movies normally shun away from. That, is of consequences. Yes, ladies and Gentlemen. While the major consequences are bore by the family and friends around the lead in most movies, this movie takes it a step forward and devastatingly kills off one of the leads and arguably, the most liked iteration of Hrithik Roshan, that of the childlike charmer Rohit, who is the heart of these movies and who himself had the abilities of a superhero in the first movie and that's a remarkable achievement in itself. Add that to the original 'filter concept' through which Rohit lovingly sacrifices himself, this is a radical, yet fun sci-fi/superhero tale, but is unfortunately packaged in a very generic wrapper. Hindi cinema has the talent and needs to embrace its uniqueness and tell a tale in which none of the parts should be inspired by any Hollywood movie.

6/10

Before Sunset
(2004)

Subtle and Heartbreaking
Nine years have passed since the events of Before Sunrise, when Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delphy) had met in Vienna. Since then, Jesse has written a novel, This Time, inspired by his time with Céline, and the book has become an American bestseller. To help sales in Europe, Jesse does a book tour. The last stop of the tour is Paris, and Jesse is doing a reading at the bookstore Shakespeare and Company. As Jesse talks with his audience, flashbacks are shown of him and Céline in Vienna; the memories of their night together have clearly remained with him despite nine years having elapsed. Three journalists are present at the bookstore, interviewing Jesse: a romantic who is convinced the book's main characters meet again, a cynic who is convinced that they do not, and a third one who, despite wanting them to meet again, remains doubtful they actually do. As he speaks with his audience his eyes wander to the side, and he can hardly believe it: Céline is smiling at him.

The film is short, precise and has several impossibly long takes that are just marvelous to behold. The innocence and naivety present in the first movie is gone and they're both mature and beautiful thirty-something adults living their own lives. Yet, that one night nine years ago has been an integral part of their lives. The movie is great just to see these two people interacting again. The dialogues are more precise, the sexual tension is less, and their instinct to trust each other implicitly, like in Sunrise, is a bit held back this time around. As charming as it is, I just couldn't connect to this as much as I hoped for. Its all very subtle and heartbreaking as the movie moves forward, especially when they finally pour out their hearts and minds in the car, but - people may snigger at this - but, I needed more melodrama. I needed them to burst out crying in at least one vital scene. Its quite good, but maybe in a decade, when I'm closer to their age, then this movie might have a higher position in my eyes.

7/10

Before Sunrise
(1995)

Realistic, Infectious and Delightful
Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American, has been traveling around Europe on his own aimlessly for the past few weeks on his Eurail pass. His last stop, where he is currently heading, is Vienna, from where he will catch a flight home tomorrow morning. Celine (Julie Delphy), a Parisienne, had been in Budapest visiting her grandmother. She is currently heading back to Paris to resume her studies at the Sorbonne. Jesse and Celine meet by chance on the same westbound train out of Budapest. The connection they feel from their short conversation on the train is enough for Jesse to suggest at the last minute that she get off the train with him in Vienna and that they spend time together in Vienna - just wandering around the city as was his original plan as he doesn't have the money for a hotel - before he needs to go to the airport, and at which time she will board the next train to Paris. If it ends up she feels uncomfortable with him as time progresses, she could ditch him at any point. Celine agrees. As they wander from place to place in Vienna, they talk about their philosophies of life and love. They also talk about logistical issues regarding their time, such as why Jesse was in Europe to begin with, what they are feeling for each other, if there is a future for them together and if so what that future may look like taking into consideration both their current lots in life.

Who wouldn't want something like this to happen to them? Its a dream come true to realize that you found the love of your life so unexpectedly in the most unexpected of places and clicked instantly. Of course, its near impossible not to stay in connection with each other nowadays, but the setting in the nineties and the characteristics of these people and their beliefs works wonders here. This is a simple story of love set in the beautiful city of Vienna over the course of a night between an American guy and a French girl, that's told in the most realistic, infectious and delightful way possible. The chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy is amazing. You might or might not warm up to Jesse who craves attention and generally has this snobbish attitude but is a romantic inside his heart, but no one, absolutely no one, will not love the free-spirited Celine who may come off as naive, but is so very hopeful and endearing. The sexual tension runs rampant beneath the surface. There are these most inane of conversations about their lives and how they feel about stuff, yet it is scintillating in the hands of these very capable actors who bring such joy, uncertainty, hope and fear to the table. There's no villain, action, slapstick comedy or any of the regular stuff that you expect from movies. The almost loving emphasis on breezy character interaction is quite remarkable. The dialogues flow naturally and is so good that I didn't want it to end. Definitely looking forward to the rest of the movies in the Before trilogy.

8/10

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