Friday, 30 September 2011

In the Loop

2009 by Armando Ianucci - English movie from UK

There were no movies for 2 days because of Champions League football and what a movie did I pick after all those football matches.

The British and American heads of the State would like to have a war in the middle East. But there are many senior officers on both sides of the Atlantic who do not want to enter into any war. And there are also supporters. A naive British minister accidently talks about war in an interview and then the real trouble starts. 

I couldn't believe it, when I was watching this movie. This is serious matter they are discussing, but the way it is presented, with a brilliant wrap of sarcasm and humour, it is bloody brilliant.

This is one of the very best political satires I have ever watched. What makes it special even on that level is the topic which is discussed. Such a serious matter and the movie clearly and intelligently takes a poke at all manipulations, what lead to the Iraq occupation.

Whatever you feel towards the end of the movie, as this movie goes on, during all those diplomatic meetings and build ups, its unbelievably brilliant. Incredible.

For anybody interested in International politics, this is a must watch. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


1983 by Costas Ferris - Greek movie

I have always wondered about the striking similarity in the music of the gypsies from Spain and Rajasthani folk. Just like twins almost. Now watching Rembetiko, the similarities of the music score in this movie with Indian music is really incredible.

Rembetiko are known as the music or songs of the outclass. After the Smyrna disaster (war with Turkey) a large group of Greek refugees were confined to living a terrible life in Greece, in the lowest order of the society. Rembetiko reached its peak during this period after the 20's. The movie pans the life of a Rembetiko singer Marika, between 1919 to the 60's and through her let us have a close look at the music and its artists. 

Greece went through lots of political instability during these years and Rembetiko attained its peak during this period too. May be as the only solace for the outclass people who suffered all along. It concentrates on one of the famous singers of this period, Marika, and follows her from her very early days, as a little girl, till her tragic death. Through Marika, we definitely get to know a lot about Rembetiko.

The story of Marika alone is dramatic and add to it the element of music, this turns out nearly like a master piece. There are so many touching moments involving the life of Marika, as both a child and adult, and all this is captured nicely in a subtle way. Her personal life is terrible, but she does attain popularity as a great singer and unlike another predecessor, her funeral attains lot of attention, with many performing for her. That was a beautiful scene.

I found the music of this movie incredibly brilliant. It is so beautiful to the ear and the soul and it makes it also good for the eyes because of the scenes. Some of the characters who are performing looks like as if they have just walked out of Guru dutt movies. I would love to have the music cd of this one. And as mentioned, the similarity of the same with Indian music, both in classical and folk ways, is so surprising. I do not know how this happened. I do not know if the music score is really based on the original Rembetiko style and hopefully it is. If yes, then this is incredible.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Doctor Love

2011 by Biju - Malayalam movie

Many North Indians mentioned to me that Kerala is really good because most women seem to be working. Well, they are only thinking about the women from the middle class. They ignore the fact that outside Kerala too, most women (from the poor who form the good majority of Indian population) work, but the menial kind of jobs, the ones the educated middle class would never do. So the fact that poor women across India, work in fields, forests, homes and sometimes even as manual scavengers is conveniently ignored by the affluent classes. So these people always consider Kerala women to be very lucky. In the north, inspite of getting good education, most women ends up in their slave job as a house wife or as trophy wives or what not. In Kerala they see so many working women, white collar jobs, and feel Keralan women are very lucky group of women who can be modern. I think, elsewhere women end up as slaves at home inspite of their education. But in Kerala, women end up as slaves, inspite of being educated and well employed.  Films influence our life and society in a big way. The same is true in Kerala too. And the way Malayalam films treat women is really pathetic. And many Malayaalee male's perspective of a female is cultured by the way the female is portrayed in our films.

A writer of third rate romantic novels tries to help out people in search of love answers. He ends up doing a canteen job in a college, helping many Romeos seek their Juliette, and himself get entangled in some situations. 

There is nothing new in this plot as it has been told many times in many different movies. And keeping in tact, our way of looking at campus girls, this movie too has painted our girls in a very poor way. Almost all cliches which has been practiced in our movies to describe or tame any kind of women, including the immortal male slap on the female cheek, is all here too. It is all done with the help of some humour that even the women laughing out loud in the theatres do not seem to care. The problem is that many young males watching these movies will turn into typical Malayaalee machos, just like the previous generations did, with some weird and wrong idea about love and women.

The movie is presented in a way that it never gets terribly bohring, but it is still a terrible watch.

I feel sorry, for our women who has to laugh out with their husbands, for these actresses who has to play in such movies and also for the Malayaalee males who will continue having this horrible wrong idea about women and also about love.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Rang Zi Dan Fei - Let the bullet's fly

2010 by Jiang Wen - Chinese movie

This movie came highly recommended. I was told it has broke all records for a Chinese domestic production and is still running to packed crowds. I naturally expected a full fledged entertainer. Of course, it is an entertainer packed with comedy and action, a different kind of heist movie, but this is one movie which has lots of brilliance and class all over, yet churning out an entertainer.

1920's China. Pocky Zhang, an infamous bandit arrives into Goosetown, impersoned as the new Governor, just to make as much money out of the town, which is controlled by a local chieftain Master Huang. Pocky Zhang and Master Huang then go through a clever and brilliant battle of ideas and actions to take control. 

Simply put, it look like a Chinese version of Robin Hood for me. Pocky Zhang steals money, but just distributes them to the poor and his only aim is to free the local people from the tyranny of Huang. But how this is brought about is quite brilliant. We go through an interesting and brilliant war of master plans by the two groups of bandits, packed with action occassionally. Well, humour is like an under ground track through out, is what makes this bandit war even more excellent. All together, especially because of the intelligence factor, Pocky Zhang turns out even better than Robin Hood.

There are many scenes where Pocky Zhang and Huang come face to face and the scenes go on like a teasing drama. These are wonderful duels actually and these scenes, including the one in the climax, I would say, is the hall mark of this movie. I cannot remember another movie which has executed this kind of brilliance bringing in two enemies, who seems to respect the other for their bad talents, face to face offering us brilliant dramatic excellence. There is a duplicate for Huang, who is used brilliantly by the script, which adds to the entertainment.

The story is definitely brilliant, but the script and the director has put together a movie which is full of fantasy, surrealism and voluptuous imagination for visual and mental pleasure. There were moments which got me absolutely stunned, wondering about the imaginative talents of the script and director. Both this is done by the same guy, Jiang Wen, who also plays Pocky Zhang wonderfully. Two other characters who stands out are Huang, played by Chow Yun-fat, and Counselor Tang played by Xiaogang Feng. Owing to the original and duplicate, one a mobster and the other a comic actor, of course it is Chow Yun fat who seem to have done a life time performance here. From all the movies I have seen, I definitely think this is his best performance. I have never seen him do this kind of light hearted role.

I would definitely consider this movie as a classic entertainer, albeit the movie being a bit too long. This we realise only when the show is over though. Because scenes are so nice that we forget the fact that these detailed scenes are dragging out the length of the movie. But still, there are many moments in the movie, including some in the climax, which would want us to think about this movie not just as an entertainer, but something higher.

I would salute this director for two reasons. Not just for making an amazing cinematic idea into script, but also for acting a main role at the same time. That definitely is a hard job to do, considering that this is no ordinary story and setting.

Watching this movie I was sure that I was not able to understand completely many things, to the fullest. I wonder if anybody who is not used to Chinese culture will understand this movie completely. I wish I could, it would have been more enjoyable, for sure.

I really wish, every body see this movie well before it is remade by Hollywood. Probably most of the developing world, barring the film festival audience, would get to see only the hollywood version of this movie and all the credits would go to the west. Most will not even know the original was a Chinese production, just like it happened with Internal Affairs (The Departed). 

Friday, 23 September 2011

Tambien la Iluvia - Even the rain

2010 by Icair Bollian - Spanish movie

We have so so much of problems across India in which the sufferers are always people from the lowest strata of the society or the indigenous tribal communities and at times the religious minorities. Still 99.99% of our movies never look at the problems of these unfortunates. Our movies are always around those 20% middle class community, whose numbers are above most large European countries, or about those rich Indians who forms just a 1% of the population or those billionaires who form less than .01% of our population. It is very rare we have movies which are seriously based on some real issue that happens in India, like Parzania. At the same time, the political troubles and the attitude of the Censor board could be one reason why our film makers dont attempt such movies. Anyways, our movies never look at the problems of our unfortunate majority. Watching T la Iluvia, I was desperately wishing for similar movies from India. But I know, this will never happen. Our country is lead by the choices of a minority rich and middle class, whose voice only echoes every where.

A film crew, shooting the arrival and subsequent events with Columbus's discovery and how they treat the natives, arrives in Bolivia and starts shooting. They had specifically chosen this location for cheap native local actors and labours. A multinational company had got the rights to trap the local water, depriving the locals of water and also making it 300% more expensive for them. The local actors are at the same time engaged in a protest movement which slowly turns violent. 

I simply wish, I was a writer. For the kind of thoughts and feelings this movie had on me is really too much that I am embarrassed about my lack of writing abilities and vocabulary in bringing it out in acceptable ways.  Here is a film, which is about a making a film and it is nearly like we are looking at another film, even within. Brilliant and beautiful.

The movie on Columbus actually concentrates on two priests who accompanied Columbus, who felt really bad by the treatment meted out to the natives. The movie being shot itself is projecting the cruelty and greed of the colonialists. At the same time, the movie crew themselves are doing something similar in the modern times. They have chosen this location for cheap labour and they only care to some how finish the shoot, aware about the water problems in the regions. It is just the brilliance of the story and script that they pick up a local guy Daniel to act as Hatuey, the aboriginal who lead the revolt against the Spanish empire, the same guy who is the leader for the local people fighting against the Government and multi national. This is absolutely brilliant and the characters of both Daniel and Hatuey is so prominent in both the main movie and the movie within, which makes it extremely special.

The Bolivian actor who played as Daniel and Hatuey, was brilliant. I dont think I can forget him ever. The movie was beautifully shot and well performed by everybody, but this guy stands out with his powerful eyes. To know that he is an oboriginal from the region, acting for the first time in front of camera, is unbelievable.
The pain of the native South Americans, who suffered centuries back and the pain of the present natives, both will haunt us. The looks of some of those female characters and their faces will definitely follow us.   Cinematography too was brilliant, offering excellent support to the script.

Almost all of the movie is brilliant and there are incredibly touching scenes through out. It is just a pity that towards the climax, it turned a little bit predictable or pop. Even here, the end meted out to the film crew looks brilliant. It is the end for Daniel, involving the movie producer Costa, which looked like giving a popular touch. I really wish there was some kind of difference to this part, making this movie an absolutely brilliant classic. Still, for me this is a classic. For, it brings into attention so many facts, which the modern 'fortunate' world would like to ignore. It will force one to think and realise that there is not much difference in historic colonialisation and modern imperialism, and that is brilliant.

Centuries back the rich empires looted the poor nations in the name of gold and spices and killed the natives and used them. Now the same is done for oil. The movie just uses water here, which definitely is going to be the reason for future occupations. The movie makes many references about the use of the third world by the west and one of them, which is actually brought out through the character who plays Columbus, a super star actor by character, when he comments that he would really like to meet the world bank or UN or those officials who fix the BPL rate of 1 or 2 usdollars a day,  to request them to demonstrate how they will live with their families for a daily expense of 2 usdollars. That was brilliant. I wish our own government, politicians and the planning board members will demonstrate to the Indian people, how to live for just Rupees 25 per day. This is the new rate fixed, to be considered under the poverty line in India. Much much less than the UN rate though.

I loved this movie, inspite of its typical pop ending, and would not mind giving a 9.5 out of 10, if I was asked to rate it.

Just sad that we do not have similar movies in India, which take up serious issues of our own poor and the aboriginals. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Potiche - Trophy Wife

2010 by Francoise Ozon - French movie

Trophy wife is the name under which the non French world will call this movie. Literally, Potiche does not mean that exactly. But after watching the movie, I think that could be an ideal name.

When a husband, who runs an Umbrella company, is taken hostage by the striking workers, the wife, a rich house wife who have never cared about anything other than taking care of the husband, children and house chores, has to step in and take up the challenge. 

This should have been a great satire. But from the very first scene, we know that there is something wrong here. The story is really good. A great one which can show women in a good and strong taste. And this ends up as the best part of the movie. The character of the wife, inspite of all the draw backs, is really excellent. It definitely shows how women can bring in a different view point and handle difficult situations with flair and ease. This character does grow strong towards the end, making to look her daughter a narrow one.

However, there are many things in this movie which make it look it should have happened a decade ago. Definitely the story is from the 70's, but as we watch the movie, we definitely feel it must have happened some years before. Or how do I say that, may be it lacks contemporary cinematic quality. It is sold as a huge comedy, but there are not many great laughs even. It is still a very good watch.

The show stopper is Catherine Deneuve, who looks absolutely beautiful charming and gracious. And Gerard Depardieu is always Depardieu, doesnt really have much to do considering his talents.

May be I could change my opinion if I watch this again. May be it was because I expected too much looking at the cast and reading the synopsis. I can still watch it for Mrs. Deneuve though. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

En Familie - A Family

2010 by Pernille Fischer Christensen - Danish movie

We see so many family movies from across the world. There are few actually, which depict a real family. Of course, life in a family is different to each and every family. So it is difficult to say, which is the real cinema of a real family.

Rheinwald family runs a dynasties old bakery. When the father, who manages the business, is cleared of a suspected illness, his loving daughter Ditte, who runs a gallery, decide to take up a new job in New York and wants to move out with her boy friend. But then the father's health fails again.

The beginning of the movie was very charming but later slowly the pace went down, typical of serious art house movies. This is a serious movie about a family, about the struggles within the family, when the central figure is failing.

I especially liked the relationship between Ditte and her father. So were the final scenes of the women taking care of the male body. The movie also reaffirms the fact that it is women who always have to make serious sacrifices when it comes to the matter of a decision making between personal life, career and family.

At the same time, the marriage of the father and the celebrations were telling us clearly what was going to happen next. I did feel that the script writer wasn't sure how next to take the movie to the second half, so went for it this way, the easy way. However, the final scene was really a difference, like a dessert after an intelligentsia meal.

A really serious movie, which has brilliant performances by two actors, Jesper Christernsen as the father and Rene Maria Christensen as Ditte. The former especially, was truly brilliant. Could be a lesson for actors around the world, from popular movies, how to act sick. Brilliant cinematography too. 

Monday, 19 September 2011


2007 by Joby Harold - English movie from Hollywood

A supposed to be different Hollywood thriller, which is definitely better than typical ones, but ends up as not that great, could have been much better kind. What makes this one special is its central idea.

A rich man has to undergo a heart transplant. His mother wants the surgeon to be a friend of hers, the best in the country. But the son decides to go with another surgeon who has been his friend. Only on the Op. table does he finds out that, he is one of that rare breed who has 'aneasthetic awareness', he suffers a lot of pain and also gets to know many other things. 

The basic central idea of aneasthetic awareness is definitely the major highlight of the movie, around which a thrilling theme has been built. And at least for a good part of the movie, the story and the movie has built it well. There after it lose that brilliance as the secrets, twists and turns are revealed, making it look less good. Still, it is allright for a watch.

The most seviour part is the scenes in the op.table, in the beginning. The movie quite manages to pass down the pain to us. I thought it will be a difficult watch probably. But then it chages into a different story of twists and turns.

Still, I especially liked the central theme, some of the scenes after the man starts realising the whole plan behind. The 'other world' meeting of the mother and son was really a brilliant idea, but it was over done by a secret at the end of it too.

A  brilliant idea, made into a nice thriller but wasted by over doing. 

Friday, 16 September 2011


2000 by Guy Ritchie - English movie from UK

When I talk to any Indians about English movies, the talk is always around American movies. It is like British movies does not exist at all. I am yet to find one person who have suggested me good British movies. Everybody comes up with some American names, except for a rare mention about the Monty Python or something like that. It is such a pity that British movies do not get their due in India. They do have that European quality in them and except for that production values and marketing strategies, they are much better than the Hollywood ones. And there is lot of entertainment too.

Some people are after a large diamond. So illegal betters, illegal boxing (bare knuckle boxing) brokers, amateur robbers, diamond merchants all are involved in the hunt, in the back streets of London. 

There were so many movies like this from Hollywood. But this is quite a British one and Guy Ritchie proves that they can challenge Hollywood. Guy Ritchie has got good financial backup here that he presents an assortment of stars from Brad Pitt to Jason Statham to Benicio Del Torro. Such a pity and am even angry at him that the character of Benicio Del Torro, an amazing actor, was so short lived. I cant help thinking that this is a typical western ploy to bring in great actors from other countries to announce that - see we recognise you - but then use them in a poor way. May be not.

The movie has lots and lots of hilarious moments and many of those moments carry that classic British touch to it. Lots of humour in the dialogues between the many characters, for example like between the broker played by Jason Statham and his friend, were really English. The kind of ones which I could recall from Faulty Towers or Withnail and I. And yes, there are so many characters in this movie, but there is something attractive about all. Really funny.

Now, Brad Pitt has always impressed whenever he plays such roles. He is brilliant in such weird roles and it looks so natural for him to play them. But the actor who really surprised me and impressed me here is Jason Statham. Even if there were couple of movies otherways, I really thought about him like a modern Stallon. I must apologise. He is really good. I am definitely going to look for the previous movies of Guy Ritchie, which also had Mr. Statham in it. It must be after these movies, Hollywood started using Jason Statham and used him only as an action hero, may be.

An excellent entertainer it is. Watch this movie for some hilarious moments and good performances.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


2008 by Marc Scholermann - English movie

Some movies are quite strange. I cannot fathom any reason for the making of this movie, which was presented as a thriller.

A brilliant young doctor joins for a new job in a Pathology lab, which already has few other brilliant and young doctors. They are enjoying a game, how best to kill somebody, making it difficult for others to find the cause of death.

The idea, though brilliant is quite disturbing and as the movie progress, it gets really too much. The movie is almost like a horror movie, within in a few minutes, and a very disturbing and gory one at that.

Cinematically, this movie might be a success. But it is one such movie which can create real unwanted scares and even thoughts into an ordinary mind. Some came up in my mind too, and even the thought of that is scary for me.

For many, even watching it through will be really difficult. Lots of dead bodies, blood and what not. Oh horrible.

It is only one in a blue moon, I will have to say this, I hope - Inspite of its cinematic brilliance, just ignore this movie.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Azhagarsaamiyin Kudhirai

2011 by Suseenthiran - Tamil movie

Almost always, Indian movies are not simple. They are too complicated mostly and even otherwise have too complex settings, lots of subplots around and the script will be packed with many elements which are like inevitable. This is true even for art house movies, not often though. Its only once in a while we get a simple movie like Adaminte Makan Abu. At the same time we can hear all our directors raving about the movies from Korea or Iran or Europe, which have this simple structure. But they will not try to make one, of course owing to various reasons. Simply, movie makers are scared about the financial feasibility for such projects. Our viewers prefer not to watch excellent movies in theatres. But almost for the past decade, we are witnessing a big change in mentality, in this aspect, with Tamil viewers. Many movies, which were experimental and not conforming to the 'safe' formula were produced in Tamil and the Tamil people welcomed them with both hands and heart. A good percentage of such ventures were a success in Tamil Nadu, I would say is one of the major reasons, why we are witnessing a big change with Tamil movie industry that many are calling as new age Tamil movies. On one hand they make their routine masala movies and on the other they experiment and it is heartening that in Tamil Nadu there is an audience, a percentage enough to ensure the movie is a success, for such parallel or experimental or nouveaux styled movies.

In a remote village near Theni, Azhagarsaami is the deity of the village. Every year during the temple festival, the idol of the deity is taken on a procession atop a wooden horse (Azhagarsaami's horse). Villagers are really affected by the lack of rain and they believe conducting a good festival would please their god who will shower rain on them. And then the wooden horse is found missing. They find a new Oracle (actually a priest), with special powers from Kerala and the man predicts they will get back the horse in 3 days. And they do find the horse, just that it is not the missing wooden horse, but a real one. A young man, from another village, arrives and claims ownership of the real horse. 

Let me be honest. I think, this movie can compete with many classics, from around the world, for its simplicity and genuineness. And it is an indigenous Indian movie too. A brilliant, simple, movie from India.

The movie is quite satirical actually and an element of fun runs throughout the movie, like an under ground river. Just that, the script and director has kept this element in a subtle way. Only if one really wants to nit pick for over board scenes, are there any. But with a little understand of Tamil culture, it is not over board any where.

Such a simple story, which has its brilliant moments. The name of the man coming in search for his horse also is Azhagarsaami, which is like a master stroke, wrapped in simplicity. So is his back ground and so is the reason behind the disappearance for the wooden horse. We can only watch this movie with a light smile through out, even with some really touching moments in between.  And there is a kind of goodness and innocense flowing through the whole story which is quite heartening.

There is a small action scene, which is absolutely brilliant and realistic.

A very interesting aspect is that there is not any main character here. Nobody is going to question about how characters develop or anything like that. Every body in the village is a character and we get to know them, just enough. The horse is everywhere, though. Once again, the movie proves that Tamil cinema has reached a different level in India, as far as casting is concerned. Brilliant. There are only two or three recognisable faces. I cant appreciate the director and the cameraman enough. Brilliant work.

Such a pity, no distributor in Kerala want to release this movie here as if they are sure about the outcome. Nor do I hear about any film festivals or cinema clubs screening this one. If it had arrived with an East European or Persian or East Asian tag, I am sure it would have gained much more appreciation, I am afraid. I wish really, the producers of this movie will promote it abroad. This is the kind of real Indian movie, which will prove to the outside world that India is not all about the Bollywood kind of movies. We too have our own genuine movies, which can interest any movie lover from anywhere in the world.

I know, since Lagaan, that lots of Indians are obsessed with the Oscar awards, as if it is the be all and end all of movie awards. If India really wish to get an award in the Oscars - for best foreign language movie - India should submit this kind of genuine efforts (Aadukalam is another good choice). Not those movies which type to ape other movie cultures. If we look at the awards, we always find that the award winning movie in this category looks always indegenous to that culture, politics apart. (The only movie which won an oscar was Mother India and the one which went close was Lagaan) Since Azhagarssamiyin Kuthirai does not have any politics behind, I believe it will be a good choice.

I do not care for the Oscars. I simply wish this movie is promoted, especially in the big film festivals, and the world realise that we too can make good beautiful movies.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Nueve Reinas - Nine Queens

2000 by Fabian Bielinsky - Spanish movie from Argentina

Some years back I was watching this Bollywood movie, I cant remember the name at all, and was thinking, why are they destroying such a good plot. It was typical of Bollywood. While watching this Argentine movie yesterday, I didn't realise at all for long that I was watching the original of that Bollywood. A particular scene, towards the middle and I knew, yes this is it, this is the original of that Bollywood movie. I have been thinking since then to make out the name of this Bollywood movie. But sorry.

Juan and Marcos, two con artists, decide to partner for a day. They are offered a once in a life time opportunity to cheat a prominent stamp collector, by offering fake replica of the famous 'Nine Queens' and make millions out of it. 

For me, this is a classic, a classic about a con artist. It is never over board, even if it has action, suspense, thrills, fun and everything that we expect of a good thriller. But it is quite subtle. Brilliant movie. A subtle thriller, for sure.

It is not often that I feel so impressed and appreciative of a classic. So let me not do any disservice by making stupid comments of mine.

I will recommend this one to anybody. Even if you do not like movies which will not fall into the normal aspects of entertainer, watch it please. You will like it.

Salute to the director, actors and the whole team.

This movie was remade in Hollywood and the Bollywood movie, I saw, must have been inspired from it, hopefully. 


2011 by Venkat Prabhu - Tamil movie

Mr. Prabhu made a dream debut in 2007 with Chennai 600028. I still consider that movie as having one of the very best climax in Indian cinema. I walk out of the theatre and couldnt stop laughing. Just turned back and found that it was not just me, everybody walking out of the hall was still laughing out. Chennai - 8 was a very different movie, one of the path breakers in Tamil new age movies with its brilliant casting. He followed it up with Saroja and Goa which were also different and successful, especially the former. On hearing that his new movie was going to be a big budget movie with a big super star, two actually, in the lead, I was disappointed, especially because one of the stars was Ajith. Ajith was one of my favourites with his performances in Aasai, Pavithra and Vaali. But there after I think he looked really poor with his movies. He impressed with his physical transformation in one movie (I think it was Godfather) but as an actor and star didnt have a good movie for long time. Inspite of that he remains one of the largest crowd pullers in Tamil cinema and with Mankatha, I am sure Ajith is making a brilliant come back.

There is lot of black money doing the rounds in India, connected with Cricket and illegal betting. Vinayak is a corrupted police officer, currently serving suspension, in Mumbai. Chettiyar is one of the mafia dons who is linked to the betting money. When Rs 500 crores is taken to Mumbai for the IPL Cricket finals, Chettiyar plans its routing. Vinayak makes his plans to steal this. Four young guys has plans too. There is also a special squad, appointed by the Govt. of India who is tracing the illegal bettors. 

To be frank, for me, this movie is may be the best heist movie from India. Whenever we have had movies on similar topics, they always had disappointed. Mankatha is not a classic, nor is it a 100% genuine movie. It has elements which has been inspired by many movies, like the hacking of the traffic lights from The Italian Job, to shades of the character of Heath Ledger from Dark Knight and some other inspirations. But all together it is still an excellent entertainment package. I am not saying it is all brilliant in that front. There are stupid elements and logical issues in the script. But Venkat Prabhu has done an excellent job that we would ignore such things and would enjoy our time in the theatre. Had it been a bit shorter, it would have been much better.

Mr. Prabhu, does not believe that there are any good elements in our police department. This, like in Saroja, is quite clear in this one as well. And including the final surprise, there are lots and lots of twists and surprises, but he manages to hold them well and keep us really involved. To be frank, we could guess some of them, but I would rather applaud the director for the way he has treated it and made it a nice entertainer. There are some moments, when his brilliance is quite evident and some, when we would think he could have been a bit more careful. But still, I enjoyed watching this and I might watch it again. Especially because of Ajith.

It has been long since I really liked Ajith in a movie. And what a performance this has been. From his very first scene to the end, Ajith has played it brilliantly. Acting wise, there is hardly any moment when he disappoints and there are some moments where he was surprisingly brilliant. And above all his charm was brilliant. With his grey hair and the way he conducted himself, I would like to compare him to George Clooney actually. This is definitely the best performance of Ajith and it is indeed note worthy that he made it through a character with dark shades and is almost like a villain for most parts. I much appreciate that he chose to do this role, inspite of having scenes in which he ditches his love without any haste. Normally when our heroes does dark characters, some elements are still kept intact, to endear the anti hero to the audience, especially the women. Here, Venkat Prabhu doesnt seem to care and it has given us one of the best super hero characters in recent times. I hope, Ajith will try to keep his physique in tact.

Venkat Prabhu has used some of his favourite actors here too and Premji Amaran really excells as Prem. Some of his moments are really hilarious too. Arjun doesnt have much to do anyways.

I would have liked it better, if at least two songs were not there. Had the production values been like in Hollywood, this movie could even compete with some of those famous western heist movies actually. Well, money is always a limitation.

This is a male oriented movie and there is not much left for any female roles. Still, Trisha has some prominence in the first half. The theatre was full of Tamil families and it was interesting that the women were laughing out loud for the typical scenes, where a heroine is always ridiculed in Indian movies. Is it that, our women dont realise that the movie is really poking at them, or is it that they really like to laugh at themselves or is it that they simply do not care. Whatever..

I had read, couple of reviews by Keralites that Mankatha was just another Tamil entertainer which could be avoided. After seeing the movie though, I can only reinstate my belief that Malayaalees try their best to downgrade anything from Tamil. If this movie was in English, with Hollywood actors and all, would they have made the same comments, I wonder. Or, if it was Mohanlal who played Ajith's role (or for that matter Kamal Hassan who is the only Tamil actor who most Malayaalees consider as worth to spend money on), would they have made the same comments.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Red Hill

2010 by Patrick Hughes - English movie from Australia

Australia is one country where America is  considered an ideal big brother. From the government to the media, they follow and imitate everything American. Red Hill can be easily mistaken as a Hollywood movie, from the wild wild west genre.

Shane Cooper, a young police constable, arrives into Red Hill with his pregnant wife, after a requested transfer. He walks in for his first day at the new office and the news broke that there has been a jail break and Jimmy Conway, an aboriginal man who was convicted for killing a Red Hill police officer some years back has escaped. 

The movie has a feeling of the old Clint Eastwood films, in some ways. At least for the first few minutes it looks like it will be a good thriller but soon, we know that this is going to be a revenge movie. And it is one. The same old revenge story, but I must admit that it does not look like a poor one at that. It is just okay.

Things are predictable easily and all looks going in a set path, but still the movie is an ok entertainer with some good thrills. There is no dialogue at all, coming out of the most important character ie Conway, except for the final moment. And when it comes out, I thought that was excellent in many ways. The only dialogue coming out of this guy, definitely links up two men, two good men finally, through pregnancy. I really liked this part.

A good one time watch. 


2011 by Joshi - Malayalam movie

There was a very successful Tamil movie, Vennizha Kabadi Kuzhu, couple of years back. It took the sport Kabadi and made a differently good movie around it. Some time after its success, there was a comment by Mammootty, the Malayalam movie legend, that it was sad nobody wanted similar movies in Malayalam. Considering, Mammootty's realtionship with Joshy, the veteran super director, I really thought this movie is a result of that comment. For all the publicity and even the title suggests a movie around Football. Like there is Five a match in Europe, in Kerala Seven a side Football is very popular, especially in villages. And Football looked like the main reason, at least for the first 15 minutes.

A group of 7 friends, who plays football, ends up seriously injuring an opposition player due to some mis information. Since the injured player is from a poor family, just like all of them, they decide to help his family to meet the hospital bills. They do not have any other options than to enter the 'quotation' job (the new millennium term in Kerala for running petty mafia gangs).

As I mentioned, I thought this was going to be a movie inspired by the above mentioned Tamil movie and for the first 15 minutes or so, it did look so. Just that, hardly any of the 7 players had anything close to a physique similar to a football player. When somebody is really into football, it is impossible for that person to have fat around the abdomen area. Well, here all of them looked like as if they are one to three months pregnant. Even the two tall guys, who looked like having some good upper torso had lots of fat around their abdomen. Anyways, this is Malayalam movie and we really dont care for casting. And the way the football scenes are shot are amateurish and even hilarious at times.

But only then are we told that the movie is not about Football, it is actually about a social issue which is actually getting very serious in Kerala, these days. Young men taking up petty mafia jobs, just to make some easy money. It is definitely a serious topic, but the intentions of the producers definitely were not to go after this issue seriously. They just wanted only an entertainer to be built around this, even if some comments based on the issue are thrown around here and there. And it ends up only as a pretty ordinary entertainer, where everybody knows what is going to happen and how it is going to happen. It is disappointing this movie was shot by Joshi. Well, he has not given a good one for long time, so...

So there is still some romance, lots of fights, murder, misunderstandings, mobile camera evidences, and of course songs. Ah, yes the presence of Police too. Nadia Moidu plays the city police commissioner and I sincerely felt, only Urvashi could have done a better over play of this role. Watching her perform, it was difficult for me to believe this movie was directed by Joshi.

In between, the role played by Raju, as a broker who sets up quotation jobs was the only silver lining of this movie. The character itself, the way he is shot always and the way the actor conducted himself, all was excellent.

Watch this movie, if you have lots of time free and if you dont mind watching just another typical ordinary movie.

The movie is titled as Sevenes, instead of Sevens. Either due to the advice of some stupid astrologer or numerologist, or they wanted to make the tile to have 7 letters, just like the team. 

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Jaloux - Jealous

2010 by Patrick Demmers - French movie from Quebec, Canada

Mostly thriller movies are all fast paced. There are only very few thrillers which only had a moderate or slow pace. Jaloux is a quite a different thriller from the typical entertainment ones, and it is a kind of 'curious thriller'.

Thomas and Marianne are on the 7 th year of their relationship and are at cross roads. Marianne thinks Thomas is very jealous when she is in company of other men and Thomas thinks she can conduct better while with other men. They decide to go to a country cottage, of their uncle, for a final try to see if their relationship will work or not. Arriving in the cottage, they are supposed to collect the key from the neighbour, but find that the neighbour is ready for them at the cottage, a dinner prepared for them. 

To be frank, at the end of the movie this is not quite different from many such thriller movies. But the way this movie is shot is incredible. There is nothing, that is part of typical entertainers, and there is hardly anything which goes over board anywhere. The pace is even lower than moderate, but it is unbelievable that even with such a slow pace, the movie kept me really engaged. In fact I felt so curious about what next. We definitely know that there is something wrong and sneeky about this so called neighbour who welcomes our couple. But it is told in such a nice way that it takes us to the limits of curiosity. I thought it was brilliant.

And finally, when the truth comes out it looks even brilliant. Without any explanations what so ever, the director tells us calmly what happened. And there is a kind of calm shock engulfing us. I am not sure shock is the right word here. But we take this truth calmly and feel for it.

Both the script and the director is brilliant. All actors, especially the guy who played the neighbour and Marianne, were brilliant. And the cinematography is simply brilliant. This looks like a very low cost production. But it is quite an example to prove good cinema, even a thriller, do not require huge financial support.

I really wish, this movie was widely seen. I would recommend it for anybody who is really interested in good cinema.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Next Three Days

2010 by Paul Haggis - English movie from Hollywood

Russell Crowe is one of my favourites from the west, especially after watching his Beautiful Mind. His charm is too good to be ignored, even when he comes up with typical Hollywood potboilers.

John's wife Laura is accused of killing her boss and is jailed for a life time. Since the legal system does not offer any more hope, John plans for a jail break, and a life ahead with their little son. 

Once the movie ended, I really felt like, this movie might have been inspired by Shawshank Redumption. Possibly. There are many differences which would nullify my point, but for some reason, one will find moments to support my point too, I hope.

It offers some thrill and some emotional scenes, which are quite touching. In fact, John's love for his wife and his desire to lead a family life with his beloved and son is passed on to us quite easily and nicely. But at the same time, it also has those typical Hollywood cliches. And the most glaring one was John's meeting with an expert jail breaker. The cameo by Liam Neeson was very good though.

But credit to the script and director to make a family thriller, devoid of terrific action. And The Next Three Days is a good one time watch.

Very good performance by Mr. Crowe, it is not a challenging role for him though. 

Monday, 5 September 2011


2011 by Blessy - Malayalam movie

It is an important point that, many of the recent movies in Malayalam, all touted as different and special or what not, were all adapted from movies else where. Couple of decades back, this was un-thinkable in Malayalam as we had a great talent of writers who found ingenious topics for our movies. But right now, almost all movies are good enough for the waste box and the ones which look good, majority of them, are not original. Blessy came in with a lot of promises as a debutant director with Kaazcha, a brilliant movie. He gave some more glimpses of hope with Palunku and Thanmaatra, to some extents. However he did let us down largely. I am sure, many people will hail him and thank him for this movie, but it is just a shame that he has been inspired by Innocence, the 2000 movie from Paul Cox, without any mention at all.

Menon, 67 years, is living in his son's apartment in Kochi city. He meets Grace who has recently shifted to this building, with her husband, Mathews,and family. Menon and Grace had eloped and married in a short living marriage, 40 years ago. 

The master stroke by Blessy is that he has made significant changes to the original and placed the theme to fit into Keralan sensibilities. I saw Innocence long back, sometime in 2003, so not able to recollect it very well. But one of the highlights of that movie was its intense portraiture of love, which can arise at old age which could find pleasure both for the mind and the body. However, catering to a highly hypocritic Keralan psyche, Blessy completely keeps away the physical aspects (and in ways even the mental aspects). And he even suggests that it could be a physical contact between two of the characters, which prompts the end of the movie. This is just my thought, I could be wrong. But this is highly possible and I am sure the Keralan hypocrisy will support him in that. But I cant help saying this, inspite of all his master strokes, the movie still holds elements of an alien culture, which an ordinary Keralite would find hard to understand.(Just like in the case of Bheja Fry, when it was adapted from Le Diner de Cons).

I would say, the movie is more about aging, than love. The original was definitely about love at old age. Here from the very beginning, till the end, it is all about the travails and fear of loneliness of three aged souls. Through them Blessy succeeds in making us feel for the state of  our old. And friendship is what he instills between these three, instead of love in the original. Looking at it that way, I would say it is a beautiful movie about old age.

Blessy always seems to create a wrong aura around his movie for marketing. For Bhramaram, he promoted it as a road movie, when it was not one in any ways. Here, he markets it as one on love, but it looks more like a movie of 3 persons, finding friendship at old age. I feel, a single man or woman, nearing 60, watching this movie, would worry about the lack of a friend for their future.

I was very unhappy with how Blessy dealt with the flash back scenes, the old times of Menon and Grace, some time in the 70's. The settings, actors and almost everything about these scenes, looked quite mediocre (In one of those shots from Maharajas college ground, the LIC building can be clearly seen, which was added in 90's I think). So was his casting. Mohanlal is brilliant as Mathews. In fact I  am very glad to see Mohanlal doing such a role, after a long time. Jayaprada plays Grace and Anupam Kher plays Menon. Jayaprada was not a great actor, even at her prime and even now she is only just ok. Wish if this role was given to Shobana or Revathy or Sumalatha. Any of them would have taken it to a different level. Anupam Kher too, looks good. But his inability to understand Malayalam language is quite evident. Blessy could have found somebody from the South for this role, I hope. So as always for Malayalam, casting is still a problem. Blessy looks like walking on the line of going over board in some important emotional scenes. A little bit of subtlety would have done quite a lot of service to this movie.

Cinematography was excellent. It has been some time since a Malayalam cinema had a camera work, which is quite silent. Just fine for the movie.

Well, it is still a very good movie, considering the present stature of Malayalam movie, like the first rain in March/April. Promoting it as a movie on old age would have been better though.

Theja Bhai and Family

2011 by Deepu Karunakaran - Malayalam movie

80's were the golden era for Malayalam movies. May it be art house, or parallel or entertainers, we got the best during that period. There were some incredible comedies too, which watching now, look like brilliant classics. I wonder, how this particular movie would have been, if it was conceived and shot in the 80's.

An underworld king falls in love with a girl, but her father will only get her married to a man from a big family. The guy has to create a family for him, to impress his would be father in law. 

Of course, if this movie was shot in 80's I am very sure it would have been an excellent entertainer. But but..

It turns out to be a horrible entertainer that it was quite difficult to bear it for two hours and half.

There were two silver lines though. The cinematography, I found quite good, I mean the lighting had a soft touch. May be they spend good money on the DI. Anyways the frames looked quite nice.

A particular scene in which Salim Kumar narrates a story, adapting the epic, Mahabharata, into a real life family story - that was the real hilarious moment of this movie. Brilliant.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

God in action, live - Leo Messi & Co in Kolkota

2 Sep, 2011, Salt Lake Stadium, Argentina - Venezuela, 1-0, FIFA friendly

I have few dreams related to football; watching the derby between Boca Juniors and RiverPlate in Argentina, possibly at the monumental stadium - a match whcih is described by many as one of the 50 things to do before you die, watching a live world cup final, watching an El Classico match at the Nou Camp, when Leo is in full flow etc. And as the news came around the end of April, that Argentina will play in India, I had made up my mind that I will watch it. Finally, here is a chance to watch Leo in India. And how lucky we are. The first match of Argentina, under Sabella and with Leo as the new captain. This was so exciting.

Arriving into Kolkota, in a Barca t shirt was very nice. Everywhere you find only Messi's and all were smiling at each other. And whenver people wearing Barca t shirts come across, we had an extra smile and couple of times even exchanged a Visca Barca comment too. I never thought, Barca and Messi had a such a crazy following in my country. Of course, the craze for the national teams of Argentina and Brazil was always there. Arriving into the huge stadium, the excitement grew in a big way. I was sure Argentina would feel like playing in their home. Huge cheers came out when players appeared for their warm up and sadly, it looked like, that only Messi mattered for the crowd. I was glad that I could recognise each and every player in the Argentine line up including the new no. 3 goal keeper Andrada. The crowd went on cheering Leo, each and every actions of him, whatever he was doing.

Sabella lined up a 4 - 3 - 3 team with the Inter Milan youngster Alvarez joining Mascherrano and Lucho in the mid field. This definitely looked like a little better mid field and as the game went on, the mid field was much better than with Maradona and Batista. But still, yes still a lack of a very creative central mid fielder was showing up many times. It is still a long way away from being called a dominant midfield, like Barca. It is a pity that with all the attacking talent in hand, Argentina cannot find somebody who could link up with Messi, so that Messi could receive balls upfront, 30 - 35 yards from the ball. Nor were there any good off ball movements to make space for Messi or any attempts by other players to use the space created by Messi.  Nobody seemed interested in using the width of the pitch except Messi and in a few occassions, Zabaleta.  In fact, like in the past, Messi had to come deep many times for the ball. There were many moments in the game, when Messi played further behind, even behind Lucho. Such a pity. Actually right now, everything is Messi, the team is depending too much on this boy. Even in this game, he created 5 'put me in' passes, out of which only one was properly tried by Higuain, which bounced off the post. It was unbeleivable how the chances are always wasted. Anyways, one of Messi's shot which was pushed for corner by the goal keeper, ended up as an Argentine goal, which looked like a practised corner kick, when Messi's kick was well placed for Otamandi to head in. Venezuela, however had some good chances which all came out of transition, fast counter attacks. They took up the challenge nicely and put in a good game, but often the only way they could stop Leo was by fouling him.

Rains were held back for the match, but the held up clouds ensured that it was really humid and the players looked tired even before half time. Such a pity actually as we could have seen even a better match without the high humidity. Almost all players on the field looked tired including our Leo. Inspite of that, it was a beauty of a beautiful game. Crowds were amazed by the passing play and some of the passes, especially by Messi invited loud applause. I understood, how bohring it was to watch a passing game, in TV, for this looked 10 times even more beautiful. Almost all in the crowd and me included, was wishing oh it could have gone a bit longer, when the final whistle was blown. So much of beauty was there that every one wished, it never ended.

It was nice to watch Argentina playing a possession game similar to that of Barcelona. Except that the defence was not ready to take up the challenges of the sudden counter attack, it was nearly like a Barca match, the mid field still lacking some majesty though. Otamandi and Zabaleta in defence, Alvarez (considering it was his debut) in the midfield are definitely the new found Plus's for Argentina from this match. Lucho has miles to go before he can be better, hopefully with more games, so is the understanding between Messi, Higuain and De Maria. Was also glad to see Pastore, Sosa and Aguero coming in as substitutes. Sosa's physique is excellent, tougher even more than Aguero , but needs lot of improvement in the creativity.

But let us face the truth. This was the first game under Sabella. This players have had only 3 days of training, together. Still, their possession game looked much better than under the previous two coaches. Sabella, I hope, will take Argentina in the right direction. He seems to have understood the frailities in defence and should make it up with time. At the same time, it is scary that he used Demichilles in the defence. Even Roja does not look like a good option at the left back.

And about the venue, the 1,20,000 capacity stadium was almost full. It looked like a crowd of 80 - 90,000 for me. So many people from all over India came in for the match, was incredible, and thousands from Kerala too. It was really nice to meet many of those guys, esepecially from Malappuram and Kozhikode.
India could have done better, if we had avoided the long list of VIP's who came out to hand shake the players before the game. One of those VIP's went back to shake Messi's hands. All of them seemed to try to tell him again. I wonder how many of them knew that Messi doesnt speak any English. The players were warmed up eager to play and here are our VIP's trying to chat up with them. That was an embarassing sight, typical of India. So was the moments after the game too. I wonder what the players were thinking.

Thank you Argentina and Venezuela, for that beautiful show. And thank you my dear Leo. I still cannot beleive that I saw you live, hardly 100 meters away from me, warming up and playing football. You looked tired, but you still made a few of those brilliant runs of yours and some amazing passes. Thank you from my heart. I will see you now in Barcelona.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


2009 by Denis Villeneuve - French movie from Quebec, Canada.

At times, film makers are inspired from a real life tragedy and makes beautiful movies on it. Kalloori, which I would consider as one of the best among the new age Tamil movies, was made so. The director picked up an event, which hurt the whole nation, and built a touching love story on it, backwards. I have this movie, Polytechnique, because of my appreciation for the director. On reading the synopsis I thought, ok he is inspired by a tragedy. It is a true story except that the director does not build anything around it. He just follows the incident.

On 6 Dec '89, a student in the Montreal Polytechnique, went on a shooting spree in his campus, killing 14 women and seriously injuring many others. Finally he killed himself. 

It is more like a docu drama, but I found it like a horror movie. There are spine chilling scenes in it, which we cannot fathom in anyways. The man just walks through the different parts of his school and just shoots at women. This is all the movie is about. Through random flash backs and forrwards, it just gives a few more scenes about the man, what he did before this, and also about two other characters who lived through the whole incident. Thats it. It is a chilling experience though.

The movie is shot in black and white, for reasons I cant make out. But it does give the reasons for which this guy went on this shooting spree. He was fed up of feminism and feminists. His death note says he is doing this only for political reasons. Neither does the movie goes into any details about why he hates feminism, nor does it points to anybody among the victims, who is a dreadful feminist. In many ways, this is just strange. I mean a feature film just shows a shooting spree. There is very little dialogues or scenes which occurs outside the main scenario. Naturally it ends up like a horror movie.

Quebec is definitely famous for its female supporting laws. It is nearly impossible for a woman to be a culprit there, they can only be a victim, it seems. This incident, infamous as the Montreal massacre still lives in the minds of many students and some are still traumatized, as mentioned through the later life of one character. Through the same character, the director also brings out a masochist point, which women will find atrocious. So may be he is making the point that the culprit here, might had some problems.

It is a very interesting watch, horrific though. But for me, it was quite different from the other Villeneuve movies, and will never be on my list of reccommended ones from this director.