J. C. Chandor is a Director to reckon with. With three consecutive brilliant films in his repertoire (Margin Call, All Is Lost and A Most Violent Year), Chandor has proved to be a distinctive voice. And with his latest entry 'Triple Frontier', the talented storyteller has given his fourth winner. This Netflix Film works, and Chandor brings an ensemble, of whom all, prove their prowness yet again.
'Triple Frontier' Synopsis: Loyalties are tested when five former special forces operatives reunite to steal a drug lord's fortune, unleashing a chain of unintended consequences.
'Triple Frontier', as good as the film, begins dull. Yes, this otherwise compelling has an uninteresting first-act and may make you feel a bit underwhelmed. BUT hold-on, Chandor builds up the narrative in his pace, but once the actual drama kicks in, 'Triple Frontier' comes forward with its pleasures. The entire setting, the characters and the heist they're asked to pull and beyond, is engrossing. Also, despite a so many characters being in the frame at many a time, each and every character gets his own story and arc. Chandor doesn't deliver perfection here, but what he does deliver, without a shed of doubt, is an engaging action-thriller, that leaves an impact. Chandor must be commended for creating a human-drama out of a generic heist film, and to those who are aware of Chandor's taste for the unusual, would only feel further delighted with this film. Chandor's Direction is top-notch.
Chandor and Mark Boal's Screenplay could've been more crisp in the first-act, but it gathers enough momentum there-on to earn itself some well-deserved praise. Roman Vasyanov's Cinematography is skilled. Ron Patane.s Editing is good. Art and Costume Design are first-rate. Action-Sequences have been nicely choreographed and executed.
Performance-Wise: Osscar Issac and Ben Affleck lead the pack. Issac, the man in the centre stage here, takes full use of the opportunity and portrays his part with complete ease. Affleck is superb here, delivering a winsome supporting turn that leaves a solid mark. Charlie Hunnam continues to be a commanding presence on-screen, while Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal are admirable in their parts, as well. Adria Arjona is perfect.
On the whole, 'Triple Frontier' is a yet another success from Director J. C. Chandor. Make time for it.
Dario Argento's 1977 Campy Horror film SUSPIRIA left an unending impression on filmmakers and film-buffs alike. I, myself, loved that film and hold it high to this day. And so is the case for Director Luca Guadagnino, who has passionately remade the classic with a frightening new vision. And Luca, a fine director, delivers a highly impressive remake of a much-loved classic. The brand new version may not surprise the buffs of the original, and may not appeal to all, but its distinctive vision is hard to ignore. This is deliciously twisted storytelling!
'Suspiria' Synopsis: A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.
'Suspiria' is horror film that celebrates the art of dance and the twisted human psyche. Luca, along-with Writer David Kajganich, paints a film that is gorgeous in the most grotesque manner. The narrative is gruesome at times and is sure to put many off, by the bloodshed depicted here. But come on, this is a remake of a film originally made by Dario Argento, and he depicted gore with campiness. And Luca maintains the narrative with the same ideology, although this is a far more serious film than Argento's. Luca is here for the claps, so he colors every frame with a bruised beauty. Luca has done a superlative job here, as the director delivers a supernatural horror film about dance, death and witches, with a vision not many possess.
Kajganich's Screenplay flows well and offers a highly shocking finale, that is sure to leave many surprised, in a good way. However, some of the dialogue here are flat and some scenes needed to be crisper, overall. Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's Cinematography is extraordinary. The lens-man captures the madness with astounding success. Walter Fasano's Editing is sharp, although 'Suspiria' feels a little too long at a 151-minutes! Art and Costume Design are top-class. Thom Yorke's Score is superb.
Performance-Wise: Tilda Swinton is spellbinding. Cast in three roles here, all diverse from one another, the Oscar-Winner is simply unforgettable here. Dakota Johnson, the film's leading-lady, does a stellar job. Mia Goth
is first-rate. Chloë Grace Moretz makes a brief appearance, but is splendid in her bit. Jessica Harper, the iconic star of the original, makes a fleeting appearance. The actresses who portray the witches, are outstanding.
On the whole, 'Suspiria' works big time. I can't recommend it enough.
An official adaptation of the Spanish Film "The Invisible Guest", Director Sujoy Ghosh's 'BADLA' is an interesting murder-mystery, that keeps you guessing. While not entirely unpredictable neither perfect, this atmospheric film is a ride you wouldn't mind taking.
'BADLA' Synopsis: When top businesswoman Naina (Taapsee) is accused of murdering her lover, she seeks help from a prolific lawyer Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) to defend her. Naina says she is innocent, but is she telling the truth?
'BADLA' is a cat and mouse film, where an accused and her lawyer discover each other, while taking us to the back story that involves the murder here in question. And Ghosh, also Writer here, adapts the story well. The mystery unfolds well, and its twisted-ness manages to hold your grip. A particular sub-plot involving a grieving mother (Amrita Singh) is well-done and gives the film a nice emotional spin. Singh, superb in the role, proves how underrated the veteran has remained almost all through her career.
The only glitch in Ghosh's Writing lies in its culmination. And for any suspense murder-mystery, the finale is the most crucial. But, sadly, 'BADLA' lacks the bite here. The main twist in the tale is rather implausible and will make you question it. In short, the film works until the end. A more cleverer end was the need here! The Dialogue are enjoyable. Ghosh's Direction is skilled and well-done. The director is in form this time. Avik Mukhopadhyay's Cinematography captures the grim beauty of Glasgow, brilliantly. Editing is razor-crisp, as the film wraps up under a neat 120-minutes. Art and Costume Design are top-notch. Background Score is first-rate.
Performance-Wise: Taapsee and Amitabh challenge each other with arresting turns. Taapsee captures the flawed woman with a fierceness that comes across as natural rather than overdone. And Amitabh, as always, commands the screen. It's been 50 years since this man started working in movies and even 5 decades later, there are a very few who can hold your attention like Bachchan does. In supporting roles, Manav Kaul is underused, while Tony Luke is fantastic and adds to the film's mystery, purely on the strength of his personality.
On the whole, 'BADLA' will keep you guessing. Just don't expect to be blown away when the final suspense reveals. A decent watch!
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant are Extraordinary in Marielle Heller's Directorial Biopic!
Some actors are so good, that they arrest you into their worlds instantly. And such is the case in Marielle Heller's affecting biopic 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?', where it's leading players - Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant pitch in Extraordinary Performances, and hold your attention until you are left spell-bound.
'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' is based on the confessional memoir of the same name by Lee Israel and McCarthy stars as Israel, and the story follows her attempts to revitalize her failing writing career by forging letters from deceased authors and playwrights, with the help of her only friend Jack Hock (E. Grant).
'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' is about a women who did wrong and was a fraud. But in Marielle Heller's hands, her story, though never shown as a moment of pride, is strangely affecting. This biographical drama shows a lonely women's desperate journey to survive in a cut-throat world and how her also lonely and poor friend, found moments of humanity, amidst the loneliness. Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty's Screenplay captures the human-emotion despite the wrongs done by the people, making you empathize towards them and at the same time, knowing this won't end well and shouldn't. It's a strange, but affecting tale on friendship, survival and loneliness. Marielle Heller's Direction is fantastic. The Director is in top-form here! Brandon Trost's Cinematography is more than satisfying. Anne McCabe's Editing is good. Art and Costume Design are fair.
And now to the aces of 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' - Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. Both of whom, who are up for Oscars Tomorrow (and rightly so!) are simply incredible in their respective parts. McCarthy digs deep into the soul of the troubled Lee Israel, embodying her part to astonishing results. E. Grant, on the other-hand, is an absolute delight as Hock, adding tremendous energy to the narrative with a superlative portrayal. It's a pleasure to watch the two actors come up in aces here, from start to end.
On the whole, 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' is supremely well-acted, well-written and also well-directed. Don't Miss It!
Shah Rukh Khan is Stupendous in Anand L. Rai's uneven Romantic-Drama!
Some ideas sound exciting on paper, but they don't always end up working on the big-screen. Such is the case for Anand L. Rai's mega-budgeted misfire 'ZERO', a film full of exciting ideas, but with only a few that land perfectly on ground. Despite its blemishes, the film rises on the strength of its leading-man - Shah Rukh Khan. The veteran is superb.
'ZERO' Synopsis: Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan), a vertically challenged man, who is full of charm and wit, with a pinch of arrogance and big dreams, finds himself crushed between two very different women, who interrupt his easy going lifestyle.
'ZERO' is about Bauua's struggle with Dwarfism and his flaky attitude towards life. And to give Writer Himanshu Sharma his much due credit, 'ZERO' begins with a BANG! The first-hour of 'ZERO' is flat-out fabulous. I liked Bauua's initial romance with Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a scientist with cerebral palsy. The cocky romance between the two is nicely done, with some moments standing out. The problems in 'ZERO' begin massively post-intermission and sadly, the problems don't end. The entire sub-plot involving Bauua meeting his celebrity idol Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif) is devoid of excitement. And the final act, involving a mission to mars, is unconvincing and adds to the film's length. In short, 'ZERO' has a winning first-hour, but a disappointing second, that plays a spoilsport.
Himanshu Sharma's Screenplay works till the interval, but falls apart just after. Also, 'ZERO' feels a little too long at a 150-minutes! The film needed some trimming, for sure! Anand L. Rai's Direction has flashes of credible creativity, but is overall done away due to an uneven Screenplay. Manu Anand's Cinematography is quite good, while Hemal Kothari's Editing needed more crispness. Ajay-Atul's Score is top-notch. Art & Costume Design are satisfactory. Visual Effects are effective.
Performance-Wise: Shah Rukh is in great form. Now rightly regarded as a Veteran, the charismatic star sinks his teeth into the part and portrays the hugely flawed dwarf to perfection. This performance definitely ranks amongst his best works to date. Anushka Sharma is less impressive, as the usually terrific performer struggles to portray a difficult part. Katrina Kaif is a pleasant surprise. She enacts the self-destructive celebrity with true feeling. In supporting roles, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is excellent as Bauua's friend and Brijendra Kala shines once again as a matrimonial agent. Abhay Deol and R. Madhavan are wasted in cameos.
On the whole, 'ZERO' aims high, but only succeeds partially.
Aamir Khan shines in this big-budgeted action adventure!
Hindi Films have often been guilty of plagiarism and with 2018's biggest box-office disappointment 'Thugs of Hindostan', the idea of originality in the Mumbai-Based industry was in question, once again. This action-adventure period-piece, is undoubtedly adapted from the Hollywood Blockbuster franchise of 'Pirates of the Carribbean'. But, is the film as bad as the critics and the general audience thought it is? My answer - is a NO.
Sure, 'Thugs' was slaughtered ever since it's trailer released and the comparisons to Pirates, and it's setting, were of course obvious. So for originality and also for smartness, Director Vijay Krishna Acharya scores less. But is his misfire a terrible film? Absolutely not. 'Thugs' is a predictable ride, but never an unwatchable film. Its got its moments, for sure.
Set in the late 1700's, 'Thugs' follows a group of Rebels known as Azaad, led by the commanding Khudabakash (Amitabh Bachchan), who must take down a vicious British Leader (Lloyd Owen). In their pursuit to defeat the British, the rebels are faced with a friend/foe in the form of Firangi Mallah (A delightful Aamir Khan), a rogue who cannot be trusted.
'Thugs' is a predictable film, and sadly, barring Firangi's colourful character who changes sides every time and now, there are no surprises here. Even the character of Zafira (Fatima Sana Sheikh)
and her personal vendetta against the Villain, for having killed her family in front of her eyes, is so 1980's. However, the moments between Firangi and Khudabaksh are engaging and the joy of watching two of Indian Cinema's most respected actors coming together for the first time, cannot be denied.
The biggest plus of the enterprise is Aamir's enjoyable portrayal of the anti-hero, who hits all the right-notes, be it Comedic or Sly. The action-sequences are nicely staged, but they aren't exceptional overall. Ajay-Atul's Score is superb and the Production Design is absolutely lavish. The art and costume design are top-notch, as well.
The Writing by Acharya could've be stronger, for sure. Considering the amount of talent and money that has been associated with this biggie, Acharya should've made the narrative more arresting and tried on something novel. The Writing isn't bad at all though, it's by the books and works well in some parts. Acharya's Direction is decent. Cinematography is top-notch. Editing is fine, but the film feels a little too long at a 160-minutes.
Of the cast, barring Aamir, no one really stands out, as they aren't given much to do. Bachchan gets a brilliant intro, but is later given limited lines and scenes, Fatima is just about okay, Katrina Kaif has just 2 songs and 3 scenes throughout the film and Owen does well. In supporting roles, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub does a sincere job as Firangi's friend and Ronit Roy is wasted as Zahira's father.
On the whole, 'Thugs of Hindostan' isn't as bad you have heard it is, but it isn't even as good as it should've been. It's, at best, a fair watch!
There are good actors, then there are some very good actors, then there are some great actors and then there is Willem Dafoe. The Veteran Actor, having worked in filmdom for over 3 decades, has often left us speechless with his diverse portrayals, most recently in 2017's The Florida Project, where Dafoe portrayed a tender motel manager, who connected with kids in search of a childhood. But if you thought that was the actor's finest hour, you're mistaken.
In 'At Eternity's Gate', Dafoe, portraying the tormented yet prolific Vincent Van Gogh, delivers his greatest work to date. And if I may say, this Van Gogh performance, may never be topped by any other actor.
Dafoe digs deep into the soul of the tormented late artist, who found meaning in nature and decided to paint it, while losing touch with what is termed as reality. Dafoe brings the anxiousness, almost out of place like uneasiness, in a performance, that celebrates artistry and the doom of depression. There is a search in his piercing eyes, a sense of loss in his language and an imbalance in his body. Dafoe embodies the tortured artist, and captures his pain and brilliance, with an eloquence so rare, it demands to be seen.
Dafoe has always had a knack for portraying demanding characters (remember his monumental turns in Platoon and Shadow Of The Vampire?), but in 'At Eternity's Gate', Dafoe has found his most challenging and meaty role. Throughout this arresting and challenging biopic, I found myself stuck to my seat, with my eyes right on the big-screen, almost mesmerised by Dafoe's soul-crushing commitment to portray a man, who's tragic life was somehow captured in his priceless, ever-lasting paintings.
Director Julian Schnabel has made an arty film and I'm sure 'At Eternity's Gate' will only appeal to a niche audience. And Schnabel, Louise Kugelberg and Jean-Claude Carrière's Screenplay delivers a true-story of a man's difficulty to deal with life and how he survived through his art, that, actually, was not as successful in his times. Talk about "the test of time".
A special mention for the all the supporting actors, particularly Oscar Issac as Paul Gauguin, the man who inspired Van Gogh to paint and find his voice.
On the whole, 'At Eternity's Gate' pushes Willem Dafoe to deliver his best. And he, in turn, has given us a portrayal that will haunt us for a long time. Don't miss it.
P.S. Dafoe is up for an Academy-Award for Best Actor next month, and if they go purely by talent and NOT by campaigning and box-office returns, Dafoe should take the statue home.
Writer-Director M. Night Shyamalan's sequel to the director's previous films Unbreakable and Split , 'Glass' is the director's most ambitious attempt in years. And the man helming this recent box-office Hit, gives his Superhero saga an interesting spin. So, if you go in thinking that this will be a yet another Superhero movie with the usual cliches and it's generic tropes, you're in the wrong movie. Shyamalan flirts with the ideas of Superheroes, but gives us a tale on what makes one special and how one's gift cannot be denied or contained, irrespective of the people who want to destroy it.
'Glass' follows David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who gets locked in a mental hospital alongside his once-rival Mr. Glass, (Samuel L. Jackson) as well as the multi-personality "The Horde" (James McAvoy) and must escape from a psychiatrist (Sarah Paulson) who is out to prove the trio do not actually possess super-human abilities.
'Glass' combines Shyamalan's very own Superheroes to deliver a spectacle that will keep you invested, although it lags in parts. Yes, 'Glass' isn't perfect, but what makes the film work overall is how it pushes the audience to think beyond the usual mayhem and over-the-top nature of Superhero Blockbusters have turned out to be. While there is action here and some true thrill too, this superhero-thriller flick is more about exploring one's self. We watch the three characters locked in a mental ward by a psychiatrist who wouldn't let them be who they are, thus, arresting them from their superpowers. Shyamalan keeps the narrative progressive and the connections between the 2 previous films prior to this, add up nicely. But his message and vision of making 'Glass' remains clear: You are who you are and the truth of being special, cannot be denied!
Shyamalan's Screenplay definitely could've been sharper, though. While I enjoyed the themes and particularly the film's final act, the Writing lags in the middle portions. Also, the narrative doesn't gather much speed in the first-hour, it's only when Sam Jackson's Mr.Glass comes into play and the film grabs you. The middle bits, particularly the continuous jabbering by the psychiatrist, is given too much screen-time, but hardly leaves any impact. Simply put, The film begins with a bang, then slows down for a good 30-minutes, and then picks up for a truly enjoyable second-hour. And a word for the much-talked about culmination of the film: Rousing! Shyamalan's view of superpowers and his brave approach to do away from the cliches, is rather innovative and impactful.
Shyamalan's Direction is commendable. The man is in form this time, and despite his own Writing not giving him support all through, he Directs the film with a distinctive style. Mike Gioulakis's Cinematography is excellent. The Lens-Man's work is especially impressive when he goes for the close-ups, that explore the intensity of it's characters. Luke Ciarrocchi and Blu Murray's Editing could've been a little more crisper, but it's decent nonetheless. Art and Costume Design are well-done. West Dylan Thordson's Score is excellent.
Performance-Wise: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy reprise their popular roles and none of them disappoint. Willis is restrained as the unbreakable hero, delivering a controlled performance from start to end. Sam Jackson has a blast as the conniving Mr.Glass, who despite his bad deeds, makes us feel for him by the time the film ends. And McAvoy is absolutely sensational as The Horde/ Kevin Wendell Crumb, the multiple personality brat, who's flair for change is a joy to watch. His change of personalties are funny and scary, in equal measure. Sarah Paulson is one-note as the adamant psychiatrist. Anya Taylor-Joy,
Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard return to their roles and deliver credibly.
On the whole, 'Glass' pushes the Superhero Genre to interesting results. While it's not perfect and will not appeal to all, for a change of pace, it works well! I recommend it.
Based on the lives Don Shirley (A Pianist) and and Tony Vallelonga (A Bouncer), 'Green Book' is a surprisingly pleasant effort by Writer-Director Peter Farrelly, who delivers his most sensitive film to date. Farrelly known for madcap comedies, takes a different route this time, and delivers a road-film, that explores friendship and racism, with heart.
'Green Book' Synopsis: A working-class Italian-American bouncer (Viggo Mortensen in a showy performance) becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist (Mahershala Ali, mastering in subtlety) on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
'Green Book' works because this is a truly heartening story of diversely different people who formed a bond, despite their differences. And Farrelly, along-with Co-Writers Nick Vallelonga (Tony Vallelonga's real-life son) and Brian Hayes Currie, makes sure the ride is memorable. Though the film does get monotonous at times and also feels about 15-minutes longer than should've been, 'Green Book' is a charming road-film, that is, in equal measure, humorous and serious.
Tony and Don's relationship is nicely captured, as it begins from awkwardness to true friendship as the story progresses. The entire ark of its characters is well-done, like Tony's racial attitude towards Don initially and how their friendship forms, to Don realizing the power of being himself, deserves credit. Even the entire backdrop of Racism subjected toward Don, offers some hair-rising moments, that definitely leave you angered. The Writing, though imperfect, is well-aware of the times the story is set in (1960's) and presents a story that appears authentic, rather than frothy and artificial.
Farrelly's Direction is competent. It's good to see the otherwise zany director, explore his subtler side here. Sean Porter's Cinematography is excellent. Patrick J. Don Vito's Editing is decent, but could've been crisper.
Performance-Wise: Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are in fine form, yet again. Viggo, nailing the Italian accent and gulping down food like a true foodie, has a blast playing Tony, and it shows in every frame. Ali, on the other-hand, portrays the subdued Don, with grace and restraint. And the on-screen camaraderie between the two, is infectious. Of the supporting cast, Linda Cardellini as Tony's Wife, is extraordinary.
On the whole, 'Green Book' charms. Make time for it.
The Transformers Movies, lets be honest aren't movies that offer soul. Despite making over billions with the Michael Bay films, Transformers are often noted to be mindless, soulless blockbusters. But with a new Director calling the shots and the focus being on just one of the Transforming Heroes, 'Bumblebee' is a pleasant surprise, that is indeed a Transformers Movie with Heart!
'Bumblebee' Synopsis: On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.
'Bumblebee' works because the film focuses more on emotion than on action. Sure, there is action here and there as it has to be, it's a Transformers movie after all, but what is served here, intelligently, is a story offering soul. The relationship of Bumblebee and Charlie, is the film's heart. I liked the way their relationship is built up and how the emotional connect works. It comes across as genuine, rather than manipulative. And that's where 'Bumblebee' scores, it's more about love and bond, rather than just mindless action.
Of course, there are flaws. The biggest one being that this is a familiar story and the beats are predictable. And the entire E.T. vibe is hard ignore. But again these are manageable flaws, in an otherwise charming film.
Christina Hodson's Screenplay is well-done. And it seems the Writer has been influenced hugely by the prolific John Hughes, since her story has flashes of the late/great genius's craft. Travis Knight's Direction is perfect. Cinematography, Editing, Art and Costume Design, are quite good. Graphics, as expected, are excellent.
Performance-Wise: Hailee Steinfeld shines as Charlie. She plays the protagonist and her performance is completely likable. John Cena, in a role with grey shades, clearly has a ball. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is cute. Pamela Adlon is superb as Charlie's mother. Of the vocal performances, Dylan O'Brien as the voice of B-127 / Bumblebee, Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime, Angela Bassett as the voice of Shatter and Justin Theroux as the voice of Dropkick, are pretty solid.
On the whole, 'Bumblebee' is a charming film that brings back the Transformers franchise into the game.
Heartwarming Performances Lead This Lighthearted Biopic!
For any Biopic, it is most essential to feel for its subject of work. And to Director Jon S. Baird's Advantage, his Biopic 'Stan & Ollie', based on the lives and times of the immortal duo of Laurel and Hardy, comes intact with empathy. While its definitely not a Biopic that will leave you entirely satisfied, the heartwarming performances of its solid principal cast and a tear-jerking end, will leave you moved.
'Stan & Ollie' Synopsis: Laurel and Hardy (portrayed here by Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, respectively) , the world's most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song - a grueling theatre tour of post-war Britain.
'Stan & Ollie' focuses on the rise and fall of Laurel and Hardy's magnetic chemistry. The film begins with them at their peak, but continues right after, in their struggle to rise up, after time and luck wears out. And that's a good thing for this biopic, as you explore Laurel and Hardy beyond their successful careers, and a get closer look at their lives behind the curtains and what prompted them to keep going even when the world stopped showing up to watch their magic. The film focuses on the duo's addictions, vices and turbulent relationships with each other and their respective spouse/s, giving us an entirely realized account on the lives of the late acting giants.
Having said that, 'Stan & Ollie' is monotonous after a point. Watching the duo struggle to their get careers going, has a few moments of spark, but the sequences are often repeated and lack surprise. It's the film's final-act, where the film finds it's heart. I was moved to tears and found my heart warmed and broken, at the same time. The climatic sequence, is indeed, the highpoint of the enterprise.
Jeff Pope's Screenplay is heartfelt, but could've done without the monotony. Also, the film lacks an escalation, which might make viewers feel the film lacks beat, for a large part. However, the Writing nicely explores it's characters and the culmination is all heart. Jon S. Baird's Direction is controlled and balanced. Laurie Rose's Cinematography is picturesque, while the Edit is fine. Art and Costume Design are top-notch. Make-Up merits a special mention.
Performance-Wise: Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, bring in their A-Game. Coogan is masterfully restrained as Laurel, delivering a truly fine performance that reaffirms his under-rated status as a performer. Reilly is dependably natural as Hardy, committing himself completely to the part. And the on-screen camaraderie among the two, is infectious. Of the supporting cast, Shirley Henderson is extraordinary as Hardy's wife and Nina Arianda steals the show as Laurel's better half. Rufus Jones is first-rate.
On the whole, 'Stan & Ollie' is imperfect, but it charms nonetheless.
Writer-Director Barry Jenkins remains a distinctive voice with 'If Beale Street Could Talk'. After leaving us spell-bound with the Oscar-Winning Moonlight, Jenkins delivers a yet another personal story. And the results, in equal measure, are poetic and heartbreaking.
'If Beale Street Could Talk', Based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name, follows a young African-American woman who, with her family's support, seeks to clear the name of her wrongly charged husband and prove his innocence before the birth of their child.
'If Beale Street Could Talk' is a love-story about a young couple, who are torn apart by fate. Jenkins shows us the lives of Black People in America, with the harshest realities, and the presentation isn't sugar-coated, this is on-your-face reality with unforgiving honesty. 'If Beale Street Could Talk' is about love separated by hate and prejudice, but a love so pure and real, maybe, too good to exist in a world as divided and hateful as this. Jenkins' keeps the proceedings intense for the most part, but his depiction of love is something to be witnessed. The Master director captures the intensity of love and the aspect of forming a bond of two souls becoming one. This is a colorful love-story, with a lot of imposed intensity, thus making it a demanding, uncompromising watch.
Jenkins' Adapted Screenplay is pure flesh and blood, that offers moments of pure love and unbelievable pain, with the maturity and patience of a true pro. Jenkins' Direction is remarkably controlled and a reminder that he's a voice to reckon with. James Laxton's Cinematography is extraordinary. The Lensman has captured the broken romance with delightful results. Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders' Editing is on-point, keeping the film crisp at a 117-minutes. Nicholas Britell's Score is soothing. Art and Costume Design are faultless.
Performance-Wise: KiKi Layne and Stephan James portray romance and heartbreak with grueling intensity. KiKi, especially, delivers a forceful turn, in a character that gets enough scope to dominate the proceedings all through. Regina King is highly effective as KiKi's mother. Her sequences with KiKi are among the film's most sensitive bits. Teyonah Parris as KiKi's sister, is first-rate. Colman Domingo as Kiki's dad, is excellent. Others lend very good support.
On the whole, 'If Beale Street Could Talk' is a yet another memorable film by Barry Jenkins. It's a personal film, made with passion and heart. Don't Miss It.
Olivia Colman Achieves Greatness in Yorgos Lanthimos's Wicked Tale!
'The Favourite' is Director Yorgos Lanthimos's most accessible film to date. Yes, the man who gave us a film like The Lobster (I haven't seen his other works hence I only have that one film as a reference), now presents us a period piece, of power, greed, cruelty and lust. While not perfect, 'The Favourite' is nonetheless an entirely well-made tale, who's wicked behavior is hard to resist. And Olivia Colman, in the film's meatiest role, achieves acting greatness. It's a virtuoso performance from the firebrand actress.
'The Favourite' Synopsis: In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne (Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz oozing ease of a seasoned veteran) governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone, a complete hoot) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
'The Favourite' is a twisted tale of three complex women who are unable to look at life without power in their hands. What I particularly loved here was the diversity of its principal characters, who have only one similarity: the greed for power. And while not all of their cruelly ambitious motives land as arrestingly as expected, its hard not to be seduced by these women. I really enjoyed the sexual tension as well as the unpredictability among the women.
Having said that, 'The Favourite' has a few shortcomings of its own. Deborah Davis
and Tony McNamara's Screenplay is a little too long and lacks some sharpness. Sure, length is never a problem, but the Writing lacks some bite in the film's latter half. While the first-hour is a mix of sadistic humor and delicious twists, the second-hour is less effective in the same nature it begins upon. But again, these aren't flaws so deep that they take away from an otherwise engaging film. The Writing, for a large chunk of the film, is swift and arresting. Lanthimos's Direction is lush. The man has outdone himself here and has Directed this period piece with sheer class. Robbie Ryan's Cinematography is gorgeous. The Lensman has captured this classy affair with absolute ease. Not one frame lacks beauty. Lanthimos and Ryan deserve Oscar-Attention, next year! Yorgos Mavropsaridis's Editing is crisp. Art & Costume Design are astoundingly done. The Score is top-notch.
And now to the performances! 'The Favourite' has a strong ensemble cast, who bring in their A-Game. Colman takes the lead, of course. As Queen Anne, Colman is acting greatness at its truest. She expresses grief, pain, jealously, love, fear and humanity, all at once, in a performance that deserves respect and accolades. Colman is the underdog this year, who has left us all spell-bound, with a portrayal so deep and personal, it would be unfair to rank it only among the best of the year. It's much more than that.
Following up to Colman, Weisz and Stone are exceptional. Weisz is quietly powerful as a women who fears losing her power and love, adapting and entirely inhabiting the character for a first-rate turn. Stone is at her most uninhibited and portrays the opportunist to perfection.
And while it's the Women who rule the show without any doubt, the men here also do credible jobs. Nicholas Hoult, in particular, is a complete revelation in a key-role, while Joe Alwyn delivers a yet another impressive performance.
On the whole, 'The Favourite' is not perfection, but it most certainly is a well-made, gorgeously shot film with some excellent performances, and one that merits an Oscar. Watch It!
Writer-Director Adam McKay takes on Dick Cheney, his edgy life and his disastrous decisions in power in 'Vice', a biographical comedy-drama, that works in bits. What engrosses the film are the performances, by actors who seem to never falter even in so-so material.
'Vice' Synopsis: The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.
'Vice' explores Cheney's highly controversial life with less sharpness that it hopes. While McKay has a blast in parts by making the most bleak situations comical for relief, he isn't entirely on feet while exploring the story beyond the surface. I, at no point, knew if I am suppose to watch Cheney do what he's going to, or am I suppose to question it? This is a plain biopic, that despite some arresting moments, remains an ordinary watch.
Mckay's Screenplay has moments of pleasure, but it never comes up as a whole. Its, at best, arresting in parts. McKay's Direction is more superior, as the filmmaker shows command in many sequences. Greig Fraser's Cinematography is top-notch. Hank Corwin's Editing is crisp. Art & Costume Design are super. A special mention for the superbly done Make-Up and Nicholas Britell's Score.
Known for emboding every character he plays, real or reel, Christian Bale once again delves deep into portraying his part to perfection. Bale becomes Dick Cheney in an urgent, fierce performance, that proves his repertoire for the zillionth time. Bale's physical transformation is something to behold. Amy Adams aces as Lynne Cheney, in a performance that comes across as strongly (or even more) as Bale's. Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, is decidedly caricature-ish, while Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, has a blast. Alison Pill as Mary Cheney, is outstanding in a brief role. Jesse Plemons as Kurt, the narrator, is first-rate.
On the whole, 'Vice' isn't a knockout, but the performances undoubtedly are. Watch it for the fine acting.
Spider-Man movies have been really good. The ones helmed by Sam Raimi were particularly impressive, as those films focused on the idea of the boy beneath the mask, Peter Parker. The "Amazing Spider-Man" movies seemed lazy and hence 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse', being an animation tale, seems to be a risk.
But let me tell you, 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' is nothing less than Blockbuster Entertainment! Yes, this is the Ideal Christmas film, that is high on action, emotion and comedy. And of course...soul! I don't remember having so much fun at a Superhero film since Black Panther!
'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Synopsis: Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.
'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' is a joyride from the word go. Miles is an interesting protagonist with his own demons and powers that he comes to realize, but this film brims in Magic and brings in too many Spidey's from other dimensions to offer us a blockbuster in its truest sense. I won't give away much spoilers, but this is a film, that deserves to be viewed with your entire family. Its got the bite!
Phil Lord & Rodney Rothman's Screenplay is superb all through. Running high on energy while also focusing on soul and substance, this Animation film never runs out of breath. While the action is simply amazing, the emotional connect among its primary characters is what really stands out. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman's Direction is excellent, as the animation gets enough scope to leave your eyes fun-filled. A special mention for Daniel Pemberton's Score and Robert Fisher Jr.'s Editing.
The Vocal Performances are top-notch all across the board. Shameik Moore as Miles Morales / Spider-Man hits all the right notes, giving us a hero who must explore his own voice. Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker / Spider-Man is absolutely fantastic. Nicolas Cage as Peter Parker / Spider-Man Noir does a remarkable job and seems to be having a ball. Kathryn Hahn as Olivia "Liv" Octavius / Doctor Octopus and Liev Schreiber as Wilson Fisk / The Kingpin, voice the menaces to perfection.
On the whole, 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' is a winner all the way. It's a blockbuster that has heart and soul. What else could you ask for?
Based on the DC Comics character of the same name, 'Aquaman' is the big DC Blockbuster that finally opened in cinemas today in India. Directed by James Wan, best known for helming the spooky Conjuring Series, now delves into the Superhero mold and delivers a visual spectacle. Wan, however, suffers partially on the account of an Overstuffed Screenplay, that is patchy and overlong.
'Aquaman' Synopsis: Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa in a winning performance) the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, must step forward to lead his people against his half-brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson), who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.
'Aquaman', who appeared in last year's disappointing Justice League, gets his solo origin story here and the Superhero is an instantly likable one. And Momoa gets into the skin of the superhero and delivers a fun turn, that leads 'Aquaman' to much success. Momoa not only looks the part, but brings a fabulous heroism to the part, which was essential here.
Another ace of 'Aquaman' are its visuals. This biggie looks like a dream! The world created underwater is dreamy and will leave your eyes mesmerized. The Graphics are of top-grade, and 'Aquaman' is easily the BEST looking DC film, yet! And the action-sequences, though way too many, are proficiently picturised and executed. Some of the stunts are wow! I'd like to point the one sequence that takes place in Italy in the film's latter half. Its stupendous!
However, despite magnificent visuals and Momoa nailing the titular role, 'Aquaman' suffers due to an overstuffed Screenplay. David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick & Will Beall's Screenplay brings much action and a fast-moving narrative, but has no soul. Sure, 'Aquaman' wasn't going to be an experience full of pathos and soul, but here, there is none of it, not even a slight bit of it. The film keeps moving forward, not giving enough time to its characters to make them connect with the viewers, and there is just too much action here! I mean the action does leave a big impact, but there is an overdose of it here, quite frankly. It appears as if the Writers ran of out ideas in the middle, and kept writing action set-pieces until they found another aspect to continue upon. And there is barely any humor here, which is surprising, since Momoa seems to be good at being funny! The Writing could've been better, for sure!
James Wan's Direction is top-notch. As mentioned earlier, 'Aquaman' is a visual delight and the Director gives the film the look it deserves. This is a grand film and looks every bit of it. Don Burgess's Cinematography is fantastic. The lensman has captured the film beautifully. Kirk Morri's Editing is decent, but could've been crisper. 'Aquaman' feels a little too long at a 143-minutes, some trimming, of at least 20-minutes, was required. Art & Costume Design are perfect. Rupert Gregson-Williams's Score is super.
Barring Momoa, 'Aquaman' boasts an impressive host of actors, but the ones who stand out are Patrick Wilson (impressive as the villain) & Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko (efficient in a strong supporting role). Amber Heard as Mera, Nicole Kidman as Atlanna, Dolph Lundgren as Nereus & Temuera Morrison as Thomas Curry, are adequate.
On the whole, 'Aquaman' is definitely fun, but it doesn't utilize its potential to the fullest. A Decent Watch!
Abhinay Deo's 'Blackmail' has an interesting premise, that sadly never turns into an entirely interesting, wholesome noir-comedy, that only works in bits & pieces. Despite complete support from its cast, the film remains untapped in its potential.
'Blackmail' Synopsis: When Dev finds out his wife is cheating on him, he secretly blackmails his wife and her lover as a form of revenge.
'Blackmail' is the same old story of a husband's wrath on his wife after he finds out she's cheating on him. The twist here is the blackmail angle & how the protagonist literally turns things up, side, down for his wife & lover. 'Blackmail' is twisty tale of dark characters, who have very few redeeming qualities & will go to any length to their share of money. All of this appeals in the beginning, but as the film progresses & the blackmailing doesn't remain only one person hands, the story begins to fizzle out. Too much happens & very little actually works. Though the dark humor does get laugh out of you, its continuous act one blackmail after the other, wear you off. In short, 'Blackmail' engages in parts, not entirely!
Parveez Shaikh's Screenplay is alright. Abhinay Deo's Direction is fine. Cinematography & Editing are standard.
Performance-Wise: Irrfan, as always, is highly commendable. As the husband out for sadistic revenge, Irrfan doesn't miss a single beat. Arunoday Singh springs a pleasant surprise. The actor shines as the calculative yet dumb lover, who also flexes his gift for comic-timing here. Kirti Kulhari as the wife in trouble, is perfectly cast. She looks beautiful as well. Divya Dutta is deliciously wicked as Arunoday's wife, delivering a delightful turn, despite limited screen-time. Pradhuman Singh Mall overdoes it in his part. Omi Vaidya is fair. Anuja Sathe is fantastic.
On the whole, 'Blackmail' is only partly engaging.
Vidya Balan returns to tremendous form in 'Tumhari Sulu'. This box-office hit, that rightly earned Balan many accolades, including the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, rides on the actress's firm shoulders to camouflage its thin story. While Balan shines as Sulu, the film never reaches beyond the ordinary.
'Tumhari Sulu' Synopsis: Sulu is an ambitious housewife with a loving husband and a happy family. Things start changing for her when she accidentally lands a job as a radio jockey and her show becomes an instant hit.
'Tumhari Sulu' is about a common women's triumph, told with honesty. I do applaud the makers to make a film about a women, who doesn't have a size-zero figure or is even remotely shown as an activist fighting for women's rights, but of a women, who leads a simple life & how she triumphs on the merit of her talent.
BUT, 'Tumhari Sulu' settles for mediocrity. Sulu's tale has honesty, but overall, the story lacks meat. The sub-plot involving her husband (The Wonderful Manav Kaul) isn't very engaging & even Sulu's life post her success as a radio jockey, isn't high on energy. Sure, some moments here are all heart & soul, but as a whole, 'Tumhari Sulu' is an ordinary story.
Suresh Triveni's Screenplay is half-baked. His Direction, on the other-hand, is simplistic, yet effective. Cinematography & Editing are fair. The Soundtrack is excellent.
And now of course, to Sulu herself. Balan gets into the skin of the character & delivers a rock-solid performance. Balan is the beating heart of this so-so film. Its no surprise that Balan is considered as one of the best of our times.
On the whole, 'Tumhari Sulu' is a Vidya Balan show all the way. For her alone, watch it.
Rich In Atmospherics & Creepiness, Despite Its Uneven Story!
For any Horror Film, its the most essential to scare the viewer with an impact. Some horror movie tropes including gore, screams or even absurdities. In 'Pari', what we get, is a richly atmospheric horror film, that will creep you out for sure. However, the disappointment lies its uneven story, that never comes up as a whole. More on that later...
'Pari' Synopsis: Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) allows a mysteriously women Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma, in terrific form), to stay with him after an accident, only to realize something eerie & creepy related to the women he's given his shed too.
'Pari', Co-Written & Directed by Prosit Roy, begins interestingly & takes you in its ghastly world instantly, although the brutality is very off-putting. Roy successfully transports us to an unsafe, unpredictable world & the director sets up an atmosphere of cold dread & fear. The first-hour of 'Pari' is engaging stuff, as the mystery unfolds slowly, but interestingly.
Its the second-hour, however, it fails overall. What starts off as a twisted tale of mystery, horror & subtle human-romance, suddenly turns into a bizarre story, that keeps getting more & more outlandish. While some moments in this hour are effectively unsettling, in its totality, it lacks the fizz. And that's underwhelming, since 'Pari' has a genuinely winning first-hour & a consistently well-created atmosphere.
Roy & Abhishek Bannerjee's Screenplay, which focuses on the concept of Ifrits & Jinns, begins strongly & builds up its story nicely, but loses the fizz mid-way. While I truly enjoyed the subtle romance between its leads, the entire romantic-triangle bit in the second-hour appears forced. How I wish the Writing was strong all through!
Roy's Direction is well-done. Cinematography captures the dread & gruesome violence, to great effect. Editing is alright. Make-Up is realistically done. Art & Costume Design are top-notch. Action-Sequences are too brutal & will put off the faint-hearted instantly.
Performance-Wise: Anushka Sharma delivers her best performance in years. 'Pari' is Anushka's 3rd home-production venture, after the superb NH10 & the heartwarming Phillauri, & Anushka oozes range in a role that gives her enough meat to chew on. As Rukhsana, Anushka is, at times, vulnerable & at times, frightening. She's simply terrific here. Parambrata Chatterjee is very nicely restrained. Ritabhari Chakraborty is excellent. She has wonderful screen presence & the confidence an actor demands. Rajat Kapoor is first-rate, in a strong supporting role. Dibyendu Bhattacharya leaves a mark.
On the whole, 'Pari' utilizes only half of its potential. And yet, its worth a watch for the fact that it dares to be a horror film that uses atmospherics as its trump card.
One Of The Strongest Films Based On Faith In Recent Memory!
Writer-Director Daniel Kokotajlo's 'Apostasy' is a film that leaves you shaken & uncomfortable, by its sheer power. Kokotajlo paints his film with subtlety, but ends it with the impact of a sledgehammer. Its a stunning victory for the man in charge.
'Apostasy' Synopsis: A faithful Jehovah's Witness is forced to shun her own sister because of a religious transgression. As the separation draws out, she starts to question the meaning of God's love.
'Apostasy', which I watched last year at Mumbai Film Festival, left me rattled. This is a film that depicts faith & its fanatical approach to people, whose freedom & choices are repeatedly questioned or condemned. In 'Apostasy', we see a family of 3 women, a mother & her two daughters, wrestling it out in their heads & lives as their faithfulness to the practice of being a Jehovah's Witness. Its a shocking film, that never uses loud background score (just like Paul Schrader's Fantastic "First Reformed") or melodrama to prove its point. 'Apostasy' is quietly devastating as its powerful. Its such an emotionally overwhelming experience, that even people belonging from a particular faith or beliefs, are bound to be left engrossed.
Kokotajlo makes a stunning debut. Kokotajlo's Screenplay slowly builds up, only to gradually pick up & leave a thunderous impact. Kokotajlo's Direction is remarkably controlled. This man deserves more work! Cinematography, Editing & Art Design are top-notch.
Performance-Wise: Siobhan Finneran, Sacha Parkinson & Jessica Baglow deliver extraordinarily. Robert Emms is first-rate. Others lend perfect support.
On the whole, 'Apostasy' is, quite simply put, a roaring motion-picture that deserves to be seen. Don't Miss It.
Paul Schrader Returns To Top-Form With A Spiritual Spell-Binder! Ethan Hawke Is Astonishing!
Paul Schrader is at his most powerful & angered in 'First Reformed'. This stunningly unsettling spiritual drama, finds the director adapting themes with hard-hitting honesty. And Leading-Man Ethan Hawke delivers the performance of his career.
'First Reformed' follows a Protestant minister faced with questions of faith and morality while serving as a pastor of a dwindling historical church.
'First Reformed' is about a man who questions his own faith & morality, after life & circumstances around him, give him no choice but to think. Rev. Ernst Toller, the protagonist, is a troubled, shaken man, who represents god with genuine faith and watching him questioning his very own ideals & ideologies, makes for a deeply affecting & absorbing experience.
Schrader attacks the Trump Administration & reminds us how climate change is real & the future near us is bleak, while also questions God & its Preachers, to know if their practices still have a place in this ghastly world. Schrader's inner anger & bravery reflect in 'First Reformed' to outstanding effect. I don't want to give away any more spoilers ahead, as here is a film that is actually meant to be experienced in its no-holds-barred approach. Schrader has made a film that not only resurrects him back in the game of showbiz giants, but also among the very "ballsy" storytellers, who aren't afraid of speaking their mind. Schrader's Direction is chilling & his Writing, spell-binding!
Alexander Dynan's Cinematography captures the claustrophobic mood with excellence. Benjamin Rodriguez, Jr.'s Editing doesn't flinch to show us the darkness & remains sharp all through. Art & Costume Design are superbly done.
Performance-Wise: Ethan Hawke is astonishing. The supremely talented actor surrenders to Schrader's unforgiving vision & enacts the troubled protagonist with command. The actor has never been this good before. I suspect Oscar-Chase next year! Amanda Seyfried does very well. Cedric the Entertainer, in a non comedic role, is terrific. Victoria Hill is first-rate. Philip Ettinger is remarkable in a brief role. Michael Gaston is highly competent.
On the whole, 'First Reformed' is Power-Packed Cinema! An absolute must see.
The sixth installment in the Mission: Impossible film series, 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is an exhilarating action roller-coaster, that is worth every penny & minute of yours. It is quite simply, the most tense & action-packed MI film to date, that is sure to leave you spell-bound by its pure rush!
'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' Synopsis: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.
Action films come and go, but 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' takes the Action Genre ahead with ferocity. No Kidding, this Action-Spy affair offers spectacular Action from the word go. Be it the hand-to-hand combat, or mesmeric car chases or even helicopters flying up and above, this film has it all. I was left awe-struck & felt richly rewarded all through the film. Clearly, 'Fallout' has taken the action level way up & hence, only the MI Series have to top themselves, here-on.
Writer-Director Christopher McQuarrie's motive is simple: Leave the Action buffs overwhelmed. And he does! While his Screenplay moves on a fast-pace, despite its wafter-thin plot, its the action here that's the mainstay of the enterprise. McQuarrie's Direction is an Action-Packed dream, where its bad-ass leading-man races, chases, flies & bashes up the baddies, with much glory.
A special mention & respect for the extraordinary Action-Sequences, that have been envisioned, choreographed & executed, astonishingly. Each & Every punch is effective to the core! Clearly, the stunts & the aggression are the soul of the film. Hats Off!
The Cinematography by Rob Hardy captures all the action & carnage to stupendous effect. Eddie Hamilton's Editing is razor-crisp. Art & Costume Design are efficient. Lorne Balfe's Score is superb.
Performance-Wise: Tom Cruise roars as Ethan Hunt! The 56-year old Superstar oozes energy & charisma from start to end. Its a delight to watch him take on the bad-guys once again & give them their desserts. Ving Rhames & Simon Pegg are lovable, yet again. Rebecca Ferguson does a stellar job. Sean Harris continues to be a strong, conniving villain. Henry Cavill is fair. Alec Baldwin & Angela Bassett make brief, but arresting appearances. Vanessa Kirby is first-rate. Michelle Monaghan is perfect. Others lend support.
On the whole, 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is an Action Extravaganza! It has Blockbuster written all over it! Grab a ticket now!
And yes, Mad Maxx: Fury Road has finally found its competitor. And that's no small achievement.
Well-Intended & Rich in Animation, 'The Breadwinner' is an honest film, whose victory lies in its disturbing truth. This is an important film on disparity & courage, that deserves a watch.
'The Breadwinner' Synopsis: In 2001, Afghanistan is under the control of the Taliban. When her father is captured, a determined young girl disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family.
Despite its uneven Writing, that goes jumps from being excellent to becoming monotonous, the sole strength of 'The Breadwinner' lies in its honesty, which is unquestionable. Kudos to Director Nora Twomey for churning out a film that shows whats life beyond our borders & how gender roles are still played upon, particularly on women. A special mention for all the vocal-performances by its actors. Their work here is very strong!
On the whole, 'The Breadwinner' isn't perfect, but so isn't life, right?
'Lust Stories' is the sequel to 2013's uneven Bombay Talkies, presenting four short films by four of India's biggest directors exploring love, sex and relationships in modern India. So its Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar, calling out the shots!
The First Story centers around Kalindi (Radhika Apte), a fickle minded college professor, who after engaging in sexual intercourse with a student of hers named Tejas (Akash Thosar), introspects her life.
Kashyap Directs this appealing & bizarre tale of a woman gone cuckoo with energy & outwardly humor. Apte is simply extraordinary, while Akash Thosar shows signs for a gift in comedy.
The Second Story centers around Sudhaa (Bhumi Pednekar) and Ajit (Neil Bhoopalam), who are secretly in a passionate sexual relationship. It is revealed later that Sudha is his maid, who, despite giving him love & lust, can never be seen as Ajit's wife due to her stature.
Zoya is in stupendous form & easily delivers the most affecting story out of the 4. Padnekar is richly controlled, while Bhoopalam gets little to do.
The Third Story centers around Reena (Manisha Koirala), a housewife, who is indulging in an extra-marital affair with her husband's best friend Sudhir (Jaideep Ahlawat). Things get tense when the husband (Sanjay Kapoor) arrives to the scene. Banerjee's tale is average & a tad too verbose. Koirala is a delight to watch, while Sanjay Kapoor steals the story. Jaideep Ahlawat, who was so good in Raazi recently, appears miscast here.
The Fourth & Final Story centers around Megha (Kiara Advani) is a young school teacher who gets engaged to be married to Paras (Vicky Kaushal), an office worker. After their marriage, Megha discovers that while Paras is continuously pleasured during sex, he is not aware of her dissatisfaction. But Megha's urge take a new form when she gets some help from her colleague Rekha (Neha Dhupia).
Johar has fun with story & even takes a jab at himself in the story's most hilarious sequence. Advani is pure perfection, while Kaushal & Dhupia are fabulous.
On the whole, 'Lust Stories' is a mix of good and ordinary! Not a bad way to spend your lazy Sunday afternoon.
In 2016's mesmerizing Comedy-Drama 'Don't Think Twice', Writer-Director-Actor Mike Birbiglia asks us a very vital questions: Are Our Dreams Ready For Us? By ready I mean, are the dreamers going to accomplish their dreams or is just an imagination of their minds? For Birbiglia, its uncertain. And interestingly enough, Birbiglia has made a film that's nothing less a triumph in terms of storytelling.
'Don't Think Twice' Synopsis: When a member of a popular New York City improv troupe gets a huge break, the rest of the group - all best friends - start to realize that not everyone is going to make it after all.
'Don't Think Twice' is about dreams, dreamers & the part of destiny & luck doing its job. No one in this world is born without skill, courage or determination, and the characters here, an amusingly lovable improv troupe from NYC, are shown as dreamers with talent. But, as luck chooses its opportunists, only one of them, actually makes the cut. And its sad what happens here, but not all of it. Triumph in life is usually waived by the amount of money & fame you can make for yourself (not only in showbiz), but at times, when the dreams aren't materializing in reality, you look on the gift on looking at the gifts you have left: To Be You!
Birbiglia is up for top-honors. 'Don't Think Twice' is a bitingly great film, whose nakedness on life & dreams, is of high-order. Birbiglia's Screenplay is super strong, while his Direction, is extremely arresting. The Cinematography & The Edit, merit a special mention.
Performance-Wise: Birbiglia does well as an actor as well. Clearly, the man has excelled in all the roles he's put himself in! Keegan-Michael Key is nicely restrained. Gillian Jacobs is outstanding. She's at her best here! Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher and Chris Gethard, also deliver magnificently. Others lend excellent support.
On the whole, 'Don't Think Twice' takes a piece out of you & stays in your mind long after it concludes. How many films do that? Don't Think, Just Watch It!