Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cinema Talk - Walking the Dead (2000)

Running Length: 1:45
MPAA Classification: R
Cast: Billy Crudup, Jennifer Connelly, Molly Parker, Janet McTeer, Paul Hipp, Sandra Oh, Hal Holbrook, Lawrence Dane
Director: Keith Gordon
Producers: Keith Gordon, Stuart Kleinman, Linda Reisman
Screenplay: Keith Gordon and Robert Dillon, based on the novel by Scott Spencer
Cinematography: Tom Richmond
Music: tomandandy
U.S. Distributor: USA Films

Plot Summary: Fielding Pierce lives the life of an aspiring politician - in 1972 he's serving in the Coast Guard (trying to avoid Vietnam in the most honorable way), and by 1973 he has entered law school. Along the way he falls in love with Sarah, a fiercely idealistic woman who devotes her life to helping others - unfortunately she's killed in an explosion while assisting members of the Chilean resistance. Nine years later, in the middle of a congressional election, Fielding is suddenly flooded with thoughts and visions of his lost love.

Review: There are a very few a times you wonder that is it necessary to pull up your magnifying glass and gloss through a movie looking for a mole. Can it be possible to not look at the transition point, the bald expression in an actor's face, a loose end in the screenplay and inept editing to spill the beans or yes a director's obsession with only a few characters and other characters looks faded with no space in the script?

Sometimes you just don't want to raise them in a film review, because, while going through the course of the movie, it manages to stir such emotions within in and moves you to tears that you stop looking in the craft that might have gone wrong and still it is balancing on the emotional quotient that has captured your attention.

WAKING THE DEAD skips back and forth in the life of Fielding Pierce (Billy Crudup), a young Coast Guard officer who yearns for political office. In 1972 New York, he falls hard for Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly), whose leftist activism clashes with his driven image making. The pair become passionate, quarrel, split apart and reunites repeatedly over the next two years, as Fielding’s star rises and Sarah’s quest for social justice becomes more specific and dangerous.

The film uses the most often used transition method to flip back to history, the frame washes down to pure white and takes you 9 years back in Fielding's life. But soon, you stop noticing it as Billy gives a great performance where he definitely looks a different person during the time he was with Sarah played beautifully by Jennifer Connelly, her performance reminds me of Rachel Weitz in her role in "The Constant Gardener". But the chemistry that Fielding and Sarah build between each other will touch you in a strange way. There are many a times when two people know that they are made for each other and still wonder if their inner beliefs will act as a barrier for a peaceful life ahead. "Soul mate" is word that is often used when we go back into nostalgia in Fielding and Sarah's relationship, and their performance just reinforces it, although we see in them brief interlude and most often their engagement is not always resolving.

During the last days of Fielding campaign where he builds up a phantom or a supernatural spirit conjured by Fielding’s fervent need for closure? The films places you in Fielding place and for a moment for the great soul mates that they seem to be, you start believing in his false visions. The only thing in the film which didn't work for me is the character of Molly Parker who seems to be as fine as a brittle trophy girlfriend; her character is flatly conceived and badly executed.

Rest will just breeze you through, an amazing film which talks about relationship like I have seen very few a film managing to portray yet. Jennifer Connelly is brilliant and though her screen time seems to be fairly less, you will not realize that, and constantly yearn for her to appear again.

My Rating: 8/10

Friday, July 27, 2007

Double Bill - City by the sea (2002)

"Doube Bill" is what it is called, two films back to back, stretching to the wee hours of the night. Where, at the end, you can think about the film, fidgeting with it, rolling in inside you head, while you puff out the insanely mesmesmerising WILLS NAVYCUT cigarrete into the cool misty air of my hometown on top of our newly built mansion, I prefer to call it a mansion, in view of my present studio apartment in non-hip Qusais, Dubai.

Well, two films, both connected either by the genre they belong to or share the same lead actor or may be the same bigshot director. I remember "True Lies" followed by "Toal Recall" and how can i forget Robbin Willians special "Jumanji" and "Mrs. Doubtfire". So, while I got yet another film from my college library and one from my DVD parlour in Qusais. One day, out of pure curiosity, I asked my seemingly ignorant DVD parlor guy, if he is a member of Cannes Film Club, I gave me first a good hard look and said "Kann!!Wo kya hota hai", I said nothing and picked up City by the Sea this time.

I promised I won't act so hurridly like this ever, probably he can also hardly explain the phenomenon, the fact of the matter remains, how on the earth does foreign titles like "Ebrahim Monsier and the flowers of Quran" or take for instance "The wind that shakes the barley" find themselves in English film shelf. And I knew it for sure, so did he, that this would be first and last time, someone had showed interesting on those film, the entry card was blank except for my name - shabbir. "God!! they misspel my name every time"

So, much for a double bill, well, time I really cant smell the misty cool air, but a hot wind blowing to my face, whispering nothing in arabic.

This time the "double bill" is The Departed (2006) and City by the Sea (2002).

Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Writers (WGA):Mike McAlary
(article)Ken Hixon (screenplay)

Robert De Niro ...Vincent LaMarca
Frances McDormand...Michelle
James Franco...Joey "Nova" LaMarca
Eliza Dushku...Gina
William Forsythe...Spyder

Plot Summary: New York City homicide detective Vincent LaMarca has forged a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, making a name for himself as a man intensely committed to his work. But on his latest case, the stakes are higher for Vincent--the suspect he's investigating is his own son. He and Joey have been painfully estranged ever since Vincent divorced his wife and left the decaying boardwalks of Long Beach, Long Island for the anonymity of Manhattan and a successful career with the NYPD. He lives his life in solitude, keeping his girlfriend at arm's length; But this murder investigation is drawing Vincent home to Long Beach, the self-proclaimed City by the Sea, where the past has been waiting for him to return. The agonizing memory that has tortured him all his life--the death of his father, a convicted murderer who was executed when Vincent was just a boy--still plagues him.

Review:Before I started the DVD of City by the Sea, just wanted to gauge the mood of the film, so I went about to see the trailer of the film. It sometimes fun to locate the high points in the film after watching the trailer, if you remember when digital technology and effects hooked on the trailer making industry and every other film out of the stable looked like some Fantastic Four films or every film looked like a gangster thriller Godzilla movie, great gun-fights, chase sequence or Drugged overdosed movie like "Requiem for a Dream"

City the Sea, is nothing what the trailer looks like, may be, no one bothered to check on the Director's filmography before setting out to make the trailer. But we are not here to talk about the trailer, but the film, so here we go.

Robert De Niro, a police detective who have gained an extra 5 Kg, its a stormy night, and his girlfriend living on the 3rd floor, he lives on the 4th, is a little scared and needs his company, she need him. He has just came from his office, had a beer, made dinner for himself and yes, walking down the stairs to give company to his girlfriend and 40 yr old spinster. A great chemistry seems to be building up between them and you start wondering if the story is about them. But leave the details, she is just an anchor to the great emotional disengagement Robert De Niro shares with his estranged boy played by James Franco.

This film is not about drugs let me tell you that, not about two old people trying to connect to each other, and nor about two police man sharing a great working relationship, this is just the opposite to the film "Road to Perdition". A man not willing to sacrifice his embittered past to face his future and fight for his son. When Robert De Niro confesses his story to his girlfriend whom he has kept in dark, he tells her "That was an old me, and I didn't wanted you to know it". His son in his last days of a convict, tell his father, "Ya, I killed the man, but it was the good me, not the real me".

You see the connection, City by the Sea, is a great emotional story whose sloppy pace will at no point act as a hindrance towards its possibly tragic ending. The drug dealers but looks like some paper tigers and don't really scare you, infact, it disappoints you a bit. James Franco gives a great performance, I really like what he does, when he is not talking, and same goes for Robert De Niro, his controlled performance will what reinforces the fact that he has always something different in store for you.

I like the whole decaying feel of the film, and the over emphasis on the emotional strain both the father son goes through in the film. A highly emotional drama which will leave you high and dry throughout the film. It doesn't try to stylize or waste any efforts in glamorizing the setting of the film, hardly any efforts seem to go in that direction. Had any other director goes this script, could possibly make a stylized drug infested neighborhood, but what remains out of Michael Caton-Jonen's film, is the drama, so well told and so cleanly depicted.

Yet, no thrills, no frills, just a tearful fatalistic film of a man, turning his back to the past and feeling sorry for his lost chances.

My Rating: 7/10

Cinema Talk - The Departed (2006)

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Writing credits (WGA) William Monahan (screenplay)
Remake of "Infernal Affairs"
Suit Fai Mak (2002 screenplay Wu jian dao)
(as Alan Mak) and Felix Chong
(2002 screenplay Wu jian dao)

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio...William 'Billy' Costigan Jr.
Matt Damon...Sgt.Colin Sullivan
Jack Nicholson...Francis 'Frank' Costello
Mark Wahlberg...Sgt. Sean Dignam
Martin Sheen...Capt. Oliver Queenan
Ray Winstone...Mr. French
Vera Farmiga...Madolyn Madden

Plot Summary: The movie is violent crime drama about a local mafia crime boss, and an undercover agent trying to bring him down, and a dirty detective. It was the fun “double identity” theme where each character has to struggle with concealing his hidden identity and coming to terms with the stress and drama the situation creates. Although the material is all stuff we’ve seen before, the “hero” undercover agent who wants his identity back, the dirty detective and the over-the-top hedonistic crime boss ala soprano style.

Since I treat every Martin Scorsese film to be lesson in film making, I infact, wanted to sit with a writing pad, or a pause control, the 2nd time, I drove the DVD in. But, down the line, I lost in touch with my 2B pencil or the remote, because I kept thinking, may be just now, Scorsese stay on a little longer with this character and may be I can find mypencil back.

My first reaction to the film was hurried; a film which was originally may be four hours old and very clinically Thelma Schoonmaker created another chapter in Editing training, one another film edited with no loose ends, but if that is the case, how about the scene with Jack Nicholson and Leonardo. Jack smells his tonic, and says "I smell a rat!”, cut to Leonardo's MCU, in between we see Ray Winstone, smirking, Scary isn't it. Does Jack already know about him, what will he do now, cut him to pieces? You don't know? Did Damon manage to find out his identity by punching? in the Social Security ID? As these questions rage you indefinitely, Leonardo turns on the heat to Jack Nicholson. You start feeling, you have seen this before, may be in "Good Fellas" or "Casino", no, is it different these times or may be not?

Interestingly, When the camera stays on with them, Leonardo doesn't know, what happening behind him, you see that vulnerability behind him, in his face, in his expression, he weights on every word he is hanging on to. But, he gathers himself together, and stares at Jack and says "I told you before, and I tell you again, I am not the rat". You almost believe him.

Had i seen the script before and got stuck on this page, I may be not so impressed, but seeing the scene in the film, I know where the magic began, and how just a few faded lines can be turned into a masterpiece. How a remake remains no longer a remake, what follows are more intricate network of inciting sequences and more defined and rounded characters. When Leonardo and Vera Farmiga does it, as she says "I can’t stand your vulnerability anymore", you get to know the heartbeat of the film, the vulnerability of the storyline, its emotions, its characters. The cat and mouse chase genre transformed into a masterpiece, and just look at the supporting cast, Mark Wahlburg and Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin character just makes you feel sad and funny about the Investigative Team, how lame and unprepared they look before Costello's gang. so, what will take Costello' gang, you keep wondering?

I particularly love the way, when Leonardo asks him, "why do you do this? For money", Jack replies, "The last time, I stole money was from Johnny, when I was four, and far as Cunt goes....” You seem to question the motivation behind Costello's madness?

The fractured Identity crises seem to bind both Leonardo and Matt Demon in the film. They both have places of their own in the film, and whenever they meet, you feel uncomfortable, almost as if you don't want them to converse with each other, as if you want to be buried for ever.

There are so much more, we can discuss about this film like any other Scorsese film, may be next time, if I could find my pencil while watching the film.

Oh yes! I heard Martin finally got an Oscar for this film, I can hear everyone saying, "It was long deserved".

My Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cinema Talk - The Salton Sea (2002)

Director:D.J. Caruso
Writer (WGA):Tony Gayton
Cast: Val Kilmer ... Danny Parker/Tom Van Allen
Vincent D'Onofrio ... Pooh-Bear
Peter Sarsgaard ... Jimmy the Finn
Deborah Kara Unger... Colette
Chandra West ... Liz

Plot Summary: After the murder of his beloved wife, Danny Parker (Val Kilmer) is set adrift in a world where nothing is as it seems. On his journey He befriends slacker Jimmy the Fin (Peter Sarsgaard) and becomes involved in rescuing his neighbor Colette (Debra Kara Unger) from her own demons. Danny is antagonized by undercover narcotics agents (Anthony Lapaglia and Doug Hutchison) and sadistic dealer Pooh Bear (Vincent D'Onfronio)


"Who am I?", he asks in breathy narration as he surveys the flames licking at his feet with a detached nonchalance, "Avenging angel? Judas Incarnate? Prodigal son? Loving husband? Trumpet player? Speed freak? You decide."He gives away both his names, I am Danny Parker or Tom Van Allen, and you are so mesmerised by the visual that you nearly miss out the real truth as he is giving away both the names, and why did he choose to be Danny Parker - the low rug rat.

Van Kilver voice-over is intense, sober and it creeps under your skin looking in for answers to his questions. An intense performance from the very first shot from the towering ceiling to the floors as his apartment is on fire, and Van Kilmer playing one of the Miles Davis's trumpet numbers.

We enter to the world of drugs and the search of gak (Methamphetamine), which Poor Danny is addicted ends with Chemical Brother’s "Let Forever be". "Requiem for a Dream" meets "memento" and they both meet "Train spotting".

Kilmer is greatly supported by Peter Sarsgaard, and we meet some amazing characters in their loosely unreal world of four day drug fiesta or it was three, as Danny can hardly remembers.
You dip in and out of the plot but still seem to miss some links, you seem to get hold of the threads Danny is loosing for you but at the same time, feel them around your neck. Although, it can be said, the film plays to the gallery - I mean the stylization, the suspense build-up and production design of film - noir lighting just makes the film too correct. The sleek treatment of the visuals makes the film too finesse to portray the drug industry or mechanism.

From the mesmerising gun dealer to pooh-bear's portrayal by Vincent D'Onofrio, the performances in the film are worth rooting for. DJ Caruso, took all the chances but at the same time, didn't take any.

Art director Douglas Cumming and cinematographer Amir M. Mokri have combined to stunning effect to realize screenwriter Tony Gayton's vision, creating a dreamscape mood that stylistically blends normality with the hallucinogenic haze of the addict.

So, Dive in to the dark world put together by Curoso, and yes Van Kilmer will not stop short of surprising you, every time you try and settle down.

My Rating: 9/10

This film has steamrolled into my favorite film list, well, after a long gap, a new entry, I am excited!!

Book Mark - The Ambler Warning

In Short: THE AMBLER WARNING opens at a clandestine psychiatric facility on a restricted-access island just off the coast of Virginia, within spitting distance of Langley. The facility ostensibly treats intelligence agents who may know too much or who are too dangerous to leave wandering among the general populace. One of these patients is Hal Ambler, who is kept heavily medicated and guarded at all times. When a hospital worker helps him escape, Ambler doesn't think twice before jumping, and almost immediately reverts to form in utilizing the training and skills that ultimately got him hospitalized in the first place.

Ambler's immediate goal is to determine who caused him to be hospitalized, and why. There's one problem, however: Ambler does not exist. There is no record of him anywhere. Worse, when he looks in the mirror, he doesn't recognize the man he sees looking back. What Ambler does uncover, though, is that someone is attempting to frame him for the murders of foreign heads of state, with a most significant one being ready to occur within a rather short period of time. Ambler, with the might and majesty of the U.S. intelligence service hunting him, finds a couple of unlikely allies, including an agency number-cruncher who is able to extrapolate conclusions from raw data with extremely accurate results.

THE AMBLER WARNING comes at a time, when a lot of Hollywood flicks have been made based on Ludlum stories. The novels kicks off the suspense from Page2 itself and the relentless action continues to the last pages.

The principle character Hal Ambler's failure to understand "Who he is or was" and the constant failure to connect to his past remains the bedrock of the novel. He often ends up saying "Madness...Complete Madness"

However, the Chinese backdrop seems to be the renewed interest of authors after the chilling cold war.

What I particularly liked in the novel and which makes it immensely a must-read is the special gift of Hal Ambler to read people, he is virtually a walking lie-detector, and his interesting vibes on people walking on the busy street and among which he could point out a waiting assassin makes him an interesting character for the novel.

A great read...just that I found the ending a little cliché' not that I have any complains. To be honest I thoroughly enjoyed the cliché' enjoyable read

My rating: 6/10

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cinema Talk - House of Sand and Fog (2003)

Director:Vadim Perelman
Writers (WGA):Andre Dubus III (novel)
Vadim Perelman (screenplay)
Release Date:26 December 2003 (USA)
Cast: Jennifer Connelly ... Kathy
Ben Kingsley ... Behrani
Ron Eldard ... Lester Burdon
Frances Fisher ... Connie Walsh
Shohreh Aghdashloo ... Nadi

Not many will jump at the idea of watching a tragedy, But a film like "House of Sand and Fog" is a scare offering in between the junk of movies released every week. I never heard of Vadim Perelman and this turns out to be his debut as a director, but never in the middle of the film, you realise this to be his first one. The screenplay is without any loopholes and the time transition showed in the film, of course due to the excellent cinematography by Roger Deakins,lifts the film to a different level all together.

You will wonder in the beginning with both the main characters are given equal time with parallel editing: Jennifer who plays Kathy and Ben Kingley as Behrani. But soon enough they will cross lines and that’s when the film actually picks up in the tangent. I just loved Shahreh Aghdashloo, not only she molded herself into the character of Nadi, but it seemed to be written on her. Similarly goes for Ben Kingsley, whose role as Behrani makes you think, was the other way around, was the character based on the castled actors. Awesome casting and nothing more can be added on to Jennifer's role.

Her acting powers as a drug addict and under depression patient seems to be the only way to act, after her unforgettable performance in "Requiem for a dream". The film opens up so many issues about our personal life, our constant search for a stable but exciting life.
Kathy is under depression due to failure to come in terms with her failure, Burdon is a failure due to his boredom with childhood love turned wife, Behrani is a failure due to his tainted past and living to terms for his son Esmail, Nadi is a failure for coming in terms with their gypsy of a life. Every character is trapped in to his own predicament and they all collapse like a pack of card due to their own short-sightedness. And that defines this great tragedy.

Nowhere in the film, will you be able to take a position and takes sides with one of the characters. They all seem to be right in their own predicament. In terms of film technique, this film has absolutely no issues, just that in the middle, the narrative kind of slows down and soon enough picks up for the finale.

There are various points from the film which will blow you away.Whether it is the tragedy or a some of the sequence shot like a music video, this film will show you various facets of human psychology and when you pick up the DVD, do check in Shohreh's Audition tape from the special offering.

Will set your mood after you had shed some tears, you are ready for the film to take over you.

My rating: 8/10

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cinema Talk - Lucky You (2007)

124 minutes
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Written by Curtis Hanson, Eric Roth
Starring • Eric Bana • Drew Barrymore • Robert Duvall

Before I start, I must admit, I know nothing about poker or anything that seemingly like poker. I actually bought the ticket, just to check on, if Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore share a chemistry. And before I even start talking about the film, they sadly don't. And sooner I realise their romantic story is only a smokescreen, what is actually the film within the film is the poker game.

I really want to know, what made Hanson and Eric Roth to include the romantic angle in the film. I believe the Father-Son drama was good enough false facade to pull of the poker game. I timed the last poker series game and it came close to over 20 minutes. Soon my mind warded off to Indian Epic Breakthrough film "Lagaan", where the farmers play a cricket match with their colonial master to decide on their tax debt. The final match is about an hour long, completely riveting and edge of the seat thriller.

I really liked the way, the poker game was shown and interest builds up till the finale of the poker series. Also the complete absence of the LAS VEGAS casino genre elements of gun, sex and drugs was a real twister in the film. The scene, where both Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana witness the fountain with the landscape of Las Vegas was a stealer in the film. You start witnessing the Las Vegas scenery with a new perspective. Why do you do so?

That's the beauty of the script; you live the character of Eric Bana from the first frame o the film. The way he presents his case, while selling off his mother's ring was a beautiful introduction to any character can ever get. His performance is also note-worthy, but as I have mentioned before, it is his character, the game, his father and his transformation as a person due to Drew Barrymore is the crux of the film.

But the soul of the film remains the game. What didn't really work was the pretext of romance in the film. That should have been avoided.

My Rating: 5/10

Cinema Talk - Premonition(2007)


Length: 97 min
Rated: PG-13
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: 2007-03-16
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long, Amber Valletta
Directed by Mennan Yapo
Produced by Ashok Amritraj, Jennifer Gibgot, Jon J. Jashni, Sunil Perkash, Adam Shankman
Written by Bill Kelly

I will not make the common mistake what most of the reviewers of this film has done, that is to compare the film with time travel genre like "memento" and "blast from the past" or may be "The Lake House".

To be honest I find it a heresy to compare a Hollywood commercially released film with experimental films like Memento. Most of the film reviewers who pick up the name of "Memento" in utter disdain today would have filched after their first screening of Memento, while they were busy reviewing some commercial film from the mainstream Hollywood. It is only now that everybody seems to know about Memento.

You must have this funny feeling which I call the "after thought" after watching every film. After watching Premonition, your after thought will linger on for a long time, particularly if you live a routine life, which most of us do.

Not that you need to be a boring house-wife to live a routine life, most of our lives are intertwined with the same events and emotions and weekend breaks and someday when you wait for your transport, to be picked up from office, you will soon stop wishing good morning to your colleagues, think you already did yesterday and everyday you just do the same, so, why bother today? The fear factor creeps in when this routine is suddenly shaken in the foundation and events just unfold and your routine is completely shattered.

That, I think is the main plot in the film, the good way of keep track of the constantly disheveled routine of Sandra Bullock's morning is keep a track of the clothes she is wearing. let’s first go ahead with the basic plot of the film:

Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) learns that her husband, played by Julian McMahon, died in an accident; the next day, she finds him alive. She eventually realizes that she is living the days of her life out of order, and that these premonitions might give her a chance to keep her family together by saving her husband from an untimely death. But, as one premonition leads to another, Sandra Bullock's character becomes increasingly aware of hidden facets to her husband's life. Therein lies the conundrum she must deal with as she struggles between her love for her husband and her disdain for his secret life. Does she use her great premonition for good or simply let the gift of future knowledge fall by the wayside?

so, each day ends and it opens up to the next day with a short fade to black, at this very second, you will gear yourself up for the next day, and see how Sandra Bullock will manage to change her life. The ending comes as a shocker, and your will remember the brief encounter with faith, when Sandra Bullock visits a priest to help her understand her situation.

I like the wide expanse of Sandra Bullock's acting, seems like really wide from the funny detective in Miss Congeniality to Murder by Numbers. She has managed to give low key good performances and provided us good intriguing films.

Her co-stars have also done a good job, and giving the complex narrative, I think Bill Kelly turns a new page in non-linear narrative films.

A clean non-gory psychological thriller.My Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cinema Talk - Page 3

Page 3

Producer: Lighthouse Entertainment / Sahara One Pictures Director: Madhur Bhandarkar Starring: Konkona Sen Sharma, Tara Sharma, Sandhya Mridul, Atul Kulkarni, Bikram Saluja, Boman Irani, Upendra Limaye, Jai Kalra. Music: Shamir Tandon

PAGE 3 is viewed from the eyes of a young journalist, Madhvi [Konkona Sen Sharma], who hails from Bangalore. Since childhood, she’d nursed a desire to take up journalism as a career.
Madhvi gets a job at Nation Today newspaper. Her job involves covering those highly-glamourised Page 3 parties and dos. Her boss, editor Deepak Suri [Boman Irani], is quite helpful, and so is the team.

Madhvi is leading a content life, sharing a rented apartment with Pearl [Sandhya Mridul], an air-hostess, when she comes across Gayatri [Tara Sharma], a starlet. Gayatri moves into Madhvi’s apartment and they soon become thick buddies. Often after seeing a film, you will wonder with this question "what was the intention of the director?" Halfway down Page3, you will not only be sure what the intention of the director is but also I particularly loved playing a quick quizzer and kept quessing who the characters are in real life were. From socialites turned social workers, gay makeup artists, big industrialist cum child molester, media friendly police officer, English novelist who loves to write about sex, frustrated singleton mom looking out for young hunks. You name it you have it, every stereotypes and probable characters from the page3. Infact, you can make a whole list of people coming to such parties, make a square against their name, and tick off as soon as these characters comes into the film, says a one-liner and ward off.

But to think of it, these one-liners may seem to be one of the redeemers of this film, the chaffeurs acts as narrators filling in the gaps and linking juicy stories any entertainment reporter would vouch for. Although there is underlying great plot of three girls staying together and each one of them from varied industry, Madhur hardly uses that aspect and seem to be lost in one parties after another.

While watching the film, I told myself only if Madhur was not too obsessed to take potshots on celebrities from page3 parties and but concentrated more on the new urban phenomenon of young wannabis trying their luck in the entertainment industry and particulaly when basu bhattacharya impersonate tells "Dagi kya". I just couldn't must smirk at the appropriatedness of the pun.

Konkona shines in her role, she come across to be more than innocent of being used and disposed by everyone in the film, including her boyfriend also. I like the inherent chemistry between her and Atul Kulkarni, the crime reporter, given more space, they would have kicked off better in the film. Boman is always his best, this film can't take it away from him.
Rounding off, well, this film would had been a lot better, if Madhur had better intentions.

My rating: 4/10

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Book Mark - The spy who came in from the cold

Excerpt from the book:
Alec was right - you believed in things because you needed to: what you believed in had no value of its own, no function. what did he say, 'A dog scratches where it itches. Different dog itches in different places'. No it was wrong. Alec was wrong. Truth existed - it was a wretched thing to say. Peace and Freedom and equality - there were facts, of course they are. And what about history - all those laws that party proved. No Alec was wrong: truth existed outside people. It was demonstrated in history, individuals must bow to it, be crushed by it necessary. The party was the vanguard of history, the spearpoint in the fight for peace...She went over the rubric a little uncertainly. She wished more people had come. Seven was so few. They looked so cross; cross and hungry

JOHN LE CARRE' exemplifies in this novel how important is a good closure for everyone. after all we look for a good closure to everything, from relationship to a fulfilling job. The pace of this novel is breathtaking, and I particularly like the period where Alec goes underground and meets liz. A good read, and it will set you free...

Moksha: Salvation (2001)

Director:Ashok Mehta
Writers:Hriday Lani (dialogue)
Raj Marbros (screenplay)
Cast: Arjun Rampal ... Vikram Sehgal Manisha Koirala ... Ritika Sanyal Kalpana Pandit ... Neelima Suresh Oberoi ... Mr. Sehgal (Vikram's father)

You don't have films made like this in India. Ashok Mehta's brillance is evident from the first shot in the film itself. The camera tracks on the hard textured surface and stops at Vikram sitting near the crashing waves of the ocean. Arjun Rampal looks immaculate,the best thing that can happen to a debutant actor, great looks and all the space for a staller performance with support cast from the best in the film industry - manisha koirala, nasseruddin shah and Danny Denzongpa.
I wondered after watching the film, how about if the script was worked over my Oliver Stone, directed by Davil Lynch and off course cinematography by Ashok Mehta. The surrealistic dream sequence of Manisha Koirala is unparalled in Hindi film industry. The allegory and metaphor used in the mountain particularly the constant rock climbing done by Arjun and Manisha in the film and attempts of Arjun to move and roll down a rock down the valley just escapes your imagination and soon enough you realise the statement made by the filmmaker.
The story like is full of idealism and the character moulded and played beautifully by Arjun Rampal is an allegory of a idealist who fails to come in terms with reality. You constantly feel guilty of finding yourself on the wrong side of the main protagonist and feel overburdened by the trails of reality in everyday life.

Arjun Ramphal plays Vikram Sehgal, a lawyer with the rare quality of empathy whose sole aim in life is to make a difference in this world, where money is the root of all evil. Vikram wants to open up a law firm that deals with helping the poor and needy fight injustice, a place where even the poorest of the poor can find legal representation. He shares this dream with his ladylove Ritika Sanyal (Manisha Koirala) and together, the two unsuccessfully attempt to raise enough money to open their legal offices. The couple becomes disillusioned with the lack of support from all venues, including parents and friends, and immediately begins to search for other forms of income. One day it dawns on Vikram that robbing a bank could end his monetary issues forever, allowing him enough cash to open his office and live happily ever after with Ritika. He shares his plan with Ritika and the two immediately plot to support each other and go through with the robbery.

However, a few days prior to the robbery, Ritika develops cold feet and backs out of the plan. Shocked and dismayed at his lover´s betrayal, Vikram decides to go through with the plan on his own, and chaos ensues.

Manisha Koirala looks stunning and gives great support to Arjun Rampal, particularly her innocense comes through very clearly. And Ashok Mehta is very clear from the outset, he knows the audience will not understand the film and he continues on that tangent, failing to realise that a little more work on the sequencing and screenplay could have added more flesh to the character and may be the audience could have understood the characters in the film.
Arjun Rampal looks like a cardboard cutout of a character, where he shouts and screams and tries his best to make everyone understand what he believes in but still fails, similarly Ashok mehta fails to make you understand what he really wants to say.

Keeping aside the brilliance in the camera work, the story line could had been more simplified and closure made more dramatic. Some of the surreal scenes streched for too long, but no matter how complex the plot, you just cant forget the surreal scenes.

Perhaps a psychological crime thriller where you travel into the convicts mind like "The cell" looks lacklustre infront of Ashok mehta's brilliance with the film camera.
what if om prakash mehra comes up with such an idea and decides to colloborate with Ashok Mehta, I just can't wait to see the film they create together. Moksha, is the most remarkable film ever made in the recent past, only that the brilliance remains in the rushes of the shots but fails to bind together in the form of a film.

my rating: 5/10

Cinema Talk - Chameli

Chameli (2003)
Director:Sudhir Mishra
Writers:Anant Balani (idea)
Swanand Kirkire (dialogue)
Music: Sandesh Shandilya
Cinematography: Aseem Bajaj
Sudhir Mishra is perhaps the only one of the few directors in the bollywood film industry who have managed to balance the high brow and the low brow of the cinema audience. From being viewed by the front bench, where kareena would get great number of whistles to the subdued and controlled acting by Rahul Bose and appreciated by people who have hardly ever spoken to a front bencher. Chameli is like a fresh breath of air among the crass horrible platter of hindi films made by self righteous new breed of film makers of India.
We will delve into the technicalily of the film later, but I must continue with the resentment on the various film reviewers found in umpteem websites to sunday film reviews in glossy papers of weekend edition in national dailies. If you praise, you praise for all the wrong reasons, and if you detest, you do so with no logic. This goes for almost all the reviews I read before picking up the watered down pricing of the movie's vcd from my video library in Qusais, Dubai.

The story line is not unique in indian movie history, been attempted a lot of time before, mostly in crime thriller genre to action packed films. I recall "ittefaq" made my Yash Chopra starring Rajesh Khanna, which was remade my Ramu in Kaun. I recall "is Raat ke subhah nahi" by Sudhir Mishra itself. You can also draw parallel from films depicting the prostitution business like Market to Umrao Jaan, although each film has a distinct cultural background and cinematic technique and made for different audiences in mind.

After watching "hazaro Khwahishe Aisi" by Sudhir Mishra, you are brought face-to-face with the idelogues and beliefs of the filmmaker. A reformist filmmaker who strives to deliver something unique to the Indian audience but still trys to toy around the commercial interests with invigorating elements that works with all kinds of viewers.

In a nutsell, Aman [Rahul Bose] has lost his wife [Rinke Khanna – in a sp. app.] on a rainy night in an accident. The rain brings back haunting memories of the past.While driving around aimlessly on a stormy night, Aman's car stalls at Mumbai's Flora Fountain. He has no option but to take shelter in the arches of Fountain.Aman pulls out a cigarette and attempts to light it, discovering, to his complete frustration, that he has no match. It is here that Aman meets Chameli [Kareena Kapoor], a prostitute out for her 'dhanda'Their worlds are different. But for one night, Aman is compelled to share the footpath with Chameli.It is this rain that brings together these two strangers. And sparks off a romance…

You already know when they both meet, they are going to find a slice of each others lives and their worlds on this very night. Different character comes and performs their role in the society and leaves. But the story is not about them, its about the two poles from both the society and how each leaves an impression on each other, that's what is interesting. The script is hardly with any loose ends, the pace is just right for the film. The take on the gay couple was surprising but handled pretty well. And i love how the real story of Kareena kapoor is revealed in the film, after the fake two stories, you are left wondering how different it can get from the real, and it proved to be no different from the earlier fake two. But still, sudhir wentahead with the pun on it, and carried it of really well. You can only imagine how stories seduce the audience proposing fake emotioned filled sob stories to create sympathy for the victim in the film.

kareena tried her best, but its hard to shed her refined hindi behind the slurs and swears, also the fake attempt to speak english, didn't really go well. But, it should be highlighted from her performance that she did leave an impression, and with more film like these, may be she will come out of that shell. Rahul Bose didn't really have to work hard, he plays the role pretty well, afterall, he looks, talks and acts like a investment banker. I still believe, that today there are hardly any actress left in the industry who can do that role, the only name that comes to my mind is tabu, but no one else.

Cinematography was wanting in the bar scenes and anupama verma's bar dance, sudhir is not comfortable in handling these kind of sleek sets and the film fails to take off on the first sequence. Infact, the camera work shines from the moment rain starts in the film. The archway of the fountain stays on you even after you eject the VCD. Editing was pathetic, particulary the fast cut sequences with special effects were distasteful and particular mention on the jump cuts on the last scene when Rahul Bose breaks down while talking about his wife's death is appalling.
But on the whole a great attempt and overall and enjoyable film. Special mention on Kareena on doing a honest and wonderful job

My rating: 7/10

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