Tuesday, January 29

You alien assholes, I am baaack!

I am back. Which is not to say that I had gone anywhere. I was here, very much. Doing the usual. Movies, Politics, Cricket. Add Job Hopping, Relocation and a 3 year old son growing up very fast to the list. 

Time is like a luxury. To do my own thing. To watch my stuff. To write. Hell, I don't even have time to think. Have been very active on Twitter though. 

I did not write even a single post in 2012. And man(!!!) the year was eventful. In terms of cinema(Small films going big, Big films going DUMB), politics(Scams, Anna 1.0 and 2.0, Kejriwal's exposes) and Cricket(thankfully, one way here, DOWN :-(). 

But there are some positives on the personal front. In May last year, I finally got a job I love which I guess makes up for everything else. The rest will follow. Will write more this year. 

Amen to that!

~ The heading is a line from the 1996 Hollywood blockbuster "Independence Day". Cheeky!

Wednesday, December 28

My Review - Barney's Version

What's not to like about Barney's Version, really? Paul Giamatti, one of my very favourite actors, playing the title role of Barney Panofsky, a funny looking jewish guy, smoker, drinker and hockey lover. A man who admires art, is a total wreck, and yet somehow keeps landing these HOT women every now and then.

An adaptation of a novel by the same name by Canadian writer Mordecai Richler, Barney's Version is essentially a lifestory of Barney's(Giamatti) adventures in love and marriage to three beautiful(and out-of-his-league) women. Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike(the Bond Girl from Die Another Day) play the two wives for whom Barney is married for the longest time. His beautiful relationship with Miriam(Rosamund Pike) is one of the highlights of the film. Giamatti is absolutely brilliant as the bumbling Barney. Easily one of his best performances;at least from the ones I have seen(Cinderella Man, Sideways, Lady in the Water). Dustin Hoffman plays an excellent supporting role as Barney's father, friend and guide and has some of the best one-liners.

Four stars and a Must Watch recommendation! 

Giamatti received a Golden Globe for this one.

Friday, December 16

My Review - Funny People

From the opening credits itself you get the feeling that this one would be a great watch. Directed by Judd Apatow and starring Adam Sandler and Apatow regulars like Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann etc, Funny People starts on a good note.

George Simmons(Sandler) is a successful stand up comic slash movie star diagnosed with a rare life threatening disease. Simmons has no family or friends, GF or otherwise, leads a pretty lonely life sleeping with random women here and there and is seemingly, selfish. Ira Wright, played by Rogen, is a struggling stand up comic looking to make his mark while his roomies are making decent money with dim witted TV shows. They meet by chance and George takes Ira under his wings as an assistant slash confidant. George gets a friend and Ira gets to write jokes for him and learn from 'the best in the business'. Ira is also introduced to Laura(Mann), George's ex, who is married with two kids. She lets George know that she misses him and her husband(Eric Bana) also cheats on her just as George used to do. Meanwhile, the twist in the story comes from the fact that George starts responding to medicine and is on his way to recovery.

I had a lot of expectations from this one. I like Sandler, however low-brow and crass his movies might seem to be. But this one doesn't make the cut. Sandler is unconvincing as the womanizing George. He does not have 'that' personality. A 'Robert Downey Jr' would have been perfect here. The dialogues have an overdose of the word 'big cock' which get annoying after a point of time. The only saving grace is Seth Rogen, who in a stark contrast to playing a foul-mouthed guy in most of his movies, goes reserved and subtle here. Some of the moments he has with George, his roomies and 'the girl he likes' are the high points of the film. 

At 2 hours and 35 minutes, its too long as well. 

2 stars for the movie and 1 extra for Seth Rogen. *Rajeev Masand style*. Dissapointing!

Friday, December 9

My Review - 50 50

Tagline  It takes a pair to beat the odds.

50/50 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as Adam (Leonardo Di Caprio's assistant/partner-in-crime from Inception) and Seth Rogen as his best friend Kyle (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, Kung Fu Panda). Adam on a routine visit to his doctor learns that he has a rare form of cancer which he may or may not survive. This, in a nutshell, is the story. 

What happens from here is how Adam copes with the disease, with his girlfriend walking out on him, demands from his mother to let her take care of him, Kyle's ridiculous and supremely funny suggestions on how Adam should hit on girls in bars, his friendships with fellow cancer patients and his awkward and unique relationship with Katherine, played by the lovely Anna Kendrick(George Clooney's newbie assistant in Up in the Air). 

Some moments in the movie are heart-wrenching, like when Adam discovers the cancer healing books Kyle has been reading, or when he hugs his mother not wanting to leave her, seconds before his surgery or when he has a nervous breakdownThe best part of the movie is that even though Adam's pain is visible, the suffering is never overdone(Sanjay Bhansali, some tips for you). 

Subtle. Funny. Emotional. 4 stars. 

P.S. - Bryce Dallas Howard is a total waste in the role of Adam's girlfriend.

Tuesday, December 6

My Review - World's Greatest Dad

This was probably my first Robin Williams movie. Ahh I know. Sad. I always thought of him as a funny guy. But this recommendation for the 2009's 'World's Greatest Dad' from Mihir Fadnavis introduced me to a number of things - Robin Williams, the serious actor, Bobcat Goldthwait, the cult movie maker and a whole new style of Black Comedy. 

Williams stars as Lance Clayton, a single father and high school English teacher. A kind of softish guy, who has his own dreams of becoming a successful writer. His son, Kyle, a 15 year old sex-obsessed sociopath, hates him and repulses every attempt made by his father to bond with him. Kyle only has one friend, Andrew, who spends his evenings at the Clayton house due to some issues at home(parents again). Andrew admires Lance for what he is what he is trying to be even as Kyle does not leave any opportunity to demean his Dad.

Lance's life is torn apart one fine evening when he discovers that Kyle has accidentally killed himself while ....emmm.......masturbating. To avoid embarrasment, he disguises the death as a suicide along with a (suicide)note that he writes himself. The unexpected twist that the story takes from here gives Lance whatever he has ever wanted in life, until it starts to suffocate him. 

Williams gives a brilliant, brilliant, BRILLIANT performance as Lance Clayton. They way he portrays his loneliness, hesitation and love for his hostile under-achieving son is absolutely spot on. Refreshing story, perfect screenplay, apt dialogues and some fine performances by the entire cast make for a great watch. 

Hats off to Bobcat Goldthwait for the brilliant direction!!! 5 stars and a Must See rating on this one. 

Thursday, August 11

Scary Movie Rules

So this trend was trending on Twitter - #ScaryMovieRulesToLiveBy. So I started scanning. And started laughing. Some of them were really funny. 

Below are the top five. And an extra one at the end. 

Wednesday, August 3

Singham follows nobody

Some may call it arrogance,some may call it attitude. I call it interesting.

Around 1.3 Lakh people follow Ajay Devgan including Farhan Akhtar and Karan Johar. Devgan follows nobody. 

Tuesday, July 26

Bollywood, Box Office and ZNMD

The Box Office never ceases to amaze you. 

I have not seen Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara(ZNMD) yet. Plan to watch it over the weekend. 

After watching Delhi Belly, I actually thought Farhan and Co will have a tough task making money off ZNMD. Apart from the fact that it was made at a budget of mindboggling 70 crores, DB had raised the bar all of a sudden, in terms of story, screenplay and pacing. But after the rave reviews it got, Mayank Shekhar of HT going as far as calling it a Dil Chahta Hai for this generation, I upped my expectations. Still, for the movie to break even was a bleak chance, I thought. 

Bang comes this announcement from Eros Films, the co-producers. 

"Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara grosses Rs. 108 crores in 10 days,with Rs 86 crores coming from India alone". 

Zapped, aren't you? So what are your thoughts - a good movie making good money or a film which has many stars, a great story and great direction doing well?

Thursday, July 14

Some thoughts on Delhi Belly

I did not write a review for Delhi Belly because it does need one. Its a landmark film, in terms of putting together a 'transfer of diamonds gone horribly wrong' with a group of three friends who are having their own issues, GF wise, shit wise, landlord wise etc. Yes, the movie has abuses, more so in the maatrabhaasha, which should not make any difference to the average cinegoer, because that is what happens in real life. 
And did not we want to see movies which are real in terms of story and setting; away from the snow covered peaks of Swiss Alps(YashRaj) or the streets of New York(Karan Johar)?

Considering the above, some of the feedback I got for the movie was extremely disappointing. 

"Its a vulgar film." 
Vulgar is a relative term right! I found Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Ram Teri Ganga Maili not just vulgar but offensive because they sought to hide the sleaziness of their Director beneath the weight of some religious figure. That is vulgar! Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla gyrating to "Main maalgaadi tu dhakka laga" is vulgar. Countless Govinda movies with double meaning dialogues is vulgar. 

Calling a Santro this-is-what-you-get-when-a-donkey-f@#$%-a-rickshaw is simply stating that a Santro is an ugly car. 


Thursday, March 17

The Casting Ouch

this time, involving Khosla ka Ghosla and Love, Sex or Dhokha director and adman Dibakar Bannerjee.

My Review - Tanu Weds Manu

I don't like Kangana Ranaut. I don't think she has a great dressing sense. And I totally hate that voice. Then the question is why? 

Well the trailer was promising. 

Okay the trailer seemed rocking. 

And I got swayed by 'Sanskar saare U.P waale hain hamari gudiya main' and Kanpur and Lucknow and so on.

TWM starts on a promising note. Dr Manu(Madhavan) arrives from London to India and is whisked away by his family and Pappi(Deepak Dobriyal of Omkaara, Gulaal and Dilli 6 fame)to meet a prospective bride aka Tanu(Kangana). Our innocent Dr Saab falls in love with this girl who rejects him in her own words and says - Abe kitni aag hai. Soyi hui ladki ko pasand kar liya. Tumse milne ke liye maine char neend ki goliyan or teen quarter vodka lagaye they. Fate, in this case the script, makes them meet again at a common friend's marriage.

Clearly suffering from a severe Jab We Met hangover, TWM has an engaging and interesting first half with the highlight being the chemistry between Manu and Pappi and the dialogues. The film looses steam in the second half with the script heading nowhere and in the words of Rajeev Masand, the lead characters turning into caricatures. A special mention for Eijaz Khan, who plays Manu's friend Jassi and new comer Swara Bhaskar, who plays Jassi's wife Payal. Both of them do their bits perfectly and are among the better things in this film along with Deepak Dobriyal. Madhavan carries one expression throughout and Kangana's character Tanu comes off as selfish and cunning instead of looking gullible and naive. 

Dissappointing! Catch it on DVD!

Wednesday, March 16

My Review - The Kids are All Right

The Kids Are All Right is essentially a story of a family involving a lesbian couple, Nic(Annette Bening) and Jules(Julianne Moore) and their children - 16 year-old son Laser and 18 year-old daughter Joni. Nic is the stricter of the two and the 'father' of the family in a way while Jules is more open, the 'mother' who stays at home and owns a landscape design(read gardening) business. Both Nic and Jules are called Mom by their children (:-P) and have become mothers using the same sperm donor, Paul(Mark Ruffalo). 

It so happens that Laser wants to meet his biological Dad so he takes the help of his sister as he is a minor. This gives Mark an opportunity to meet both his children and 'enter' the family as such. The story takes a twist when Mark and Jules start having a secret affair. Also, as the kids start start spending more time with Mark, Nic becomes increasingly insecure of Mark being a control freak that she is. What happens next forms the crux of the story. 

Annette Bening is brilliant as the insecure and cynical Nic and Ruffalo is fantastic as the laid back and unassuming Mark. Julianne Moore does a great job as Jules swinging between her frustration in her 'marriage' with Nic and her fling with Mark. The kids are cute and they play their roles well. One of the best scenes of the film are when Mark comes to their home for the first time for lunch and when Jules addresses the family admitting her mistake.

A very 'real' film with real characters committing real mistakes. Don't miss it!

P.S. - At the end, I was left wondering when will Annette Bening win an Oscar. This was her fourth nomination. Sigh :-(

P.S. - The tagline for this film is absolutely SPOT ON!!! 

Friday, March 11

My Review - The King's Speech

A film that has to be seen from start to finish in one go. An underdog story in a way. Yeah, I know. Hollywood obsession!!! But the underdog here is a King, George VI, played brilliantly by Colin Firth, with all the right qualities except that he stammers and a King can't do that. Not certainly in an age where 'Kings have to invade the homes of their countrymen' via the radio and 'not just look respectable in a uniform and not fall of a horse'. And this is just the early 1900s, mind you :-P. 

Enter Lionel Logue(Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist, with methods that are unorthodox and controversial. There are twists and turns subsequently and a final speech which King George VI has to deliver to the nation, needless to say, with Lionel's help.

Your heart goes out to the King as he stumbles, stutters and stammers throughout the film, feeling helpless and humiliated, to his wife who patiently supports him come what may and to his countrymen who are looking for hope and direction. Our very own Bhansali could take some pointers as to how to portray suffering in a dignified manner.

You can see why The King's Speech swept the Oscars. What worked for me was a great cast, fine performances, great setting, some brilliant camerawork and finally the uber snobbish British Accent. Colin Firth is brilliant(Did I say that already?) and Geoffrey Rush is a revelation as the speech therapist. I don't recall having seen any of his films(not a fan of the Pirates Series) but he is simply wonderful in this film as Lionel Logue. I thought he was better than Firth. The conversations between George II and Lionel are the highlight of the film. Helena Bonham Carter also chips in with a fine performance.

Highly recommended! 

Monday, February 21

Bollywood needs mega blockbusters

to go global. An excellent article in last Saturday's Economic times. Among other things, it also tells me that Dev D made 25 crores on a budget of 5.5 crores. Suppa!!!

Wednesday, February 16

My Review - Yeh Saali Zindagi

This is going to be short and simple. 

Went to see as it was highly recommended by a friend. Plus wifey has a thing for Chitrangda. Too many subplots, too many characters(half of which get killed off), uneven screenplay, improper dubbing(Yeah!) and amateur acting too(at least by Arunoday Singh). A lot is there to put you off.

What works here however is the story which is gripping in parts and makes you wonder what the f#$@ will happen eventually, earthy dialogues(some of them are real gems) and fiiinally Irfan Khan, Irfan Khan and Irfan Khan. Some of his lines are the real high points of the film wich could easily have been edited by 15-20 minutes to make for a thrilling ride. Sushant Singh is perfect as the corrupt inspector and some of the supporting cast is also near perfect. Chitrangda is all dusky and sexy but has a problem emoting in hindi. She would do great in Hinglish films I guess while Aditi Rao hasn't much to do than other than kiss Arunoday Singh. No. There are no 22 kisses. Arunoday Singh is passe while Saurabh Shukla is awesome as the haryanvi real estate guy.

I am giving it a little more than 3 stars. Don't expect much and you will have fun for sure.

Wednesday, February 9

Tuesday, February 8

'The' Indian equivalent of the Oscars

So what was new at the Indian equivalent of the Oscars? Ranbir and Imran are better hosts, Rekha(Jee) has a great voice and Gulzar Saab has the ability to keep things simple. Apart from this, everything was pretty much the same. How? You might ask.....here's how!

SRK looked stressed out. Dietary restrictions for Ra.One are taking a toll. Plus a realization that he is widely disliked in Kolkata and might not be number one ever again.

Aishwarya looked plastic, spoke in English(surprise surprise) and turned even more plasticky while presenting an award to Madhuri.

Yash Chopra said something which no one understood.

Priyanka Chopra did a Madhuri medley and spoke without an accent.

Madhuri spoke with an accent. Which surprisingly, is nowhere in sight when she appears on Jhalak Dikhla Jaa.

Arbaaz was found sitting with a smile throughout the show wondering - What the hell did I do right that Dabangg became such a blockbuster? I will tell you Arbaaz. The one thing you did right in life is dating Malaika. Hold on to her!

Shatrughan and Poonam Sinha were sitting in the front row trying hard to hide their Oh-I-am-so-proud-of-my-daughter-bit. It's become kind of a ritual. Every year some filmy family, some new debut and some tears for their child's 'hard work'.

A jury consisting of eminent people from the industry could not decide which one is better? Munni or Sheila. So they gave it to both. In order to please both Farah and Salman!

Best Actor Critics award went to no one from Peepli or Udaan but Rishi Kapoor for Do Dooni Chaar. It's just a coincidence that his son was hosting the awards. I have not seen Do Dooni Chaar; I am sure it's a nice, cute film but I don't think they match up to Peepli, Udaan or LSD(Love, Sex or Dhokha).

Best debutant director went to neither Udaan or Peepli but to Band Baaja Baarat. A 30% discount to Filmfare for hosting the awards in Yash Raj's studio is in the offing.

There were no Indians in the Best Playback Singer category - 3 nominations for Rahat Fateh and 2 for Shafqat Amanat nominations. I don't blame them. The kind of things Sonu Nigam is doing to his hair, they might just invent a Most West Indian style singer award soon.

Best Supporting Actor went to Ronit Roy for Udaan who went crazy for 20 seconds when his name was announced. You almost thought Shilpa Shetty had bought him for Rajastan Royals. Udaan is a brilliant film no doubt. But in no way was Ronit Roy better than Manoj Bajpai in Rajneeti

Udaan won a lot of awards in spite of being an independent film(and a great film, I may add) and a commercial failure. Desi award functions are generally not kind to small films and here is why I think Udaan made it. Salman Khan ->; Dabangg -> Abhinav Kashyap -> Anurag Kashyap -> Udaan. Geddit???!!!

The 'Popular award for Best Director' went to Karan Johar for My Name is Khan. Read 'Most Popular film in Germany/Pakistan'. See once Yash Raj, Salman, Farah et all are satisfied, you just have to satisfy Karan Johar. KJo was himself surprised on getting this one. Proof? He just said two lines in his acceptance speech and left!!! :-)

Amongst all this drama, one individual rose above all. He came in a crumpled kurta-pajama, accepted his award for Best Lyricist for Ishqiya and said, in chaste urdu - ek shaqs ka shukriya ada karna chahunga - Vishal. Unki wajah se mere gaane jawaan rehte hain. 

Thank you Gulzar saab for saving the day!

Sunday, February 6

Inception - My thoughts

My friends and few readers of this blog would note I had refused to see Inception at the time of its release. There was too much Inception baazi going on everywhere and I was sick of it. I did manage catch Inception some days back. And that too on a uncensored, uncut, extended Blu Ray version. And here are my thoughts. 

Inception IS a brilliant film. The dream within a dream within a dream concept! How do these Hollywood guys think of stuff like this? 

Chris Nolan has scored back to back centuries in the form of Dark Knight and Inception. Leonardo Di Caprio was in fine form as well. One could see the pain of loosing a loved one right from the start. Come to think of it, Caprio has had a dream run too. Aviator, Blood Diamond, Departed, Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island, and now Inception. I don't think any other actor has shown such consistency of scripts and growth as an actor. By the end of it, I was too drained(mentally) to think whether the last scene was a dream or a reality.

Having said all that in praise of Inception, I have to say that the film does not have any repeat value. It has if you are a Fight Club fan(pun intended) and you wish to absolutely find out whether it was a dream or a reality at the end, you would watch reruns of the movie or like a friend told me(I have seen it 10 times, at the time of release!). But for lesser mortals like us, with limited time and intelligence, one watch is all it takes. In no ways is it a Little Miss Sunshine or a Sideways. Or even a Cinderella Man

But one thing I just don't understand is why(TF) was Nolan not nominated for Best Director in the Oscars???!!!! 

Monday, January 24

My Review - Sideways

Wonderful, a Hollywood comedy not set in New York. I finally managed to catch this 2004 comedy-drama a couple of days back. It's been there on my to-do list for a long long time.

So here it goes. Miles, played by Paul Giamati(Russell's Crowe's manager in Cinderella Man), and Jack(Thomas Haden Church, the guy who played the baddie in Spiderman 3) decide to spend a week in wine country before Jack's impending marriage. Miles, an English teacher, is an extremely frustrated middle-aged man, unable to come to terms with his unsuccessful marriage and career. He hopes
to spend the one week tasting wines, playing golf and enjoying the countryside. Jack, on the other hand, is an actor and voiceover artist who wants to spend the week having a 'nice time'. For the last time! Once they arrive at the countryside, they happen to meet these women, Maya and Stephanie, to whom both of them take a liking to.

Based on a book, Sideways is lazy yet funny, untouched yet intelligent screenplay of a fun trip with its own twists and turns of emotions and what not. Although one is not desperately waiting for the next twist, you get attached to both the characters who are lovable losers in their own sort of a unique way. While watching this, I could get the Rainman/My Cousin Vinny feel. A perfect film for a lazy Saturday or Sunday.

Highly recommended with four stars!

Trailer - Sideways
Rotten Tomatoes - 97%
Roger Ebert's Review

P.S. - This $16 million film made $110 million at the BO. And Giamati was not nominated for an Oscar.

Thursday, January 20

It's been a long time

It has been, indeed!!! Almost nine months. A lot has happened. So much that I can't even recall. A new year has begun. And there are new resolutions. Like every year. Will try to keep up with my thoughts as fast as they come. And as fast as they go! :-P. Below are some of them...
  • Will complete my second play by the end of the year,
  • Will write at least six posts/reviews every month,
  • Will read more books(have already started reading The Ascent of Money BTW),
  • Will (try to) control my temper,
  • Will travel to either of Ladakh, Goa or Kerela this year,
  • and lastly, will open a PPF account(it's been six years....WTF!)