Category: reviews

Parking Lot Notes: Thupparivaalan

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It begins with the light of a matchstick, an aide in a search or the dispeller of darkness.

That is what essentially a detective story is about; the search for answers and the journey into the unknown.

The detective, our guide or sometimes a co-traveller.

While the opening statement might seem grandiose, this was the first thing that struck (like that match) while watching Mysskin’s Thupparivalan. A detective also fits the mould of the director’s heroes who are seekers.

Fitment is also found in the casting of Vishal (also the producer) as the tall, loner with a bent towards the martial arts as Kaniyan, the detective of the film, but movie making is not just casting.

Thinking through the course of the movie (which the movie allows you to do once you catch it by the flow,which would not be tough if you had been living with a steady supply of detective novels) made me wonder why there was something missing in this homage to the creations of Conan Doyle.

Everything seems to be in place, which by itself is a cause of worry.

While Kaniyan’s room looks like it has been vacated by the BBC and not a living room that would suit the city in which this movie is set, the detective and his trusted sidekick seem to advertising for Indian Terrain in the meanwhile.

I dwell on these extraneous factors only because the characters are flat, whether this is a conscious decision is something best left to the maker.

A character being flat in a film, which more or less depends on the interest created by that lead character, is what I deduct to be the problem.  Especially when your lead is a character that is a shade of the great detective (Sherlock, as we speak is one of the most assumed characters on the screen).

Great ‘Holmes’ of the past have been played by dramatic actors, this would include Jeremy Brett who made the role his own, portrayals since have been either variations of what Brett did or to do what Brett did not do and hence stand out.

The eccentric nature of the Holmes-ian character cries out loud for an expressive actor who can control his/her expressions, which is why I insisted on the word ‘dramatic’; that was the big miss and thus bringing down the levels of excitement.

Sensation and excitement are two keys to the same room in a detective story; Thupparivalan on the other hand is locked in another room filled with Mysskian tick-tock henchmen, beautiful pick pockets and a climax that would reiterate that we already have the best locales for filming. It could be great cinema, but is it engaging?

The Sherlock Holmes homage pool is an ever-deepening one and whether Thupparivalan enriches this pool is something that needs to be seen, but for Tamil Cinema we now have a mainstream detective and I have Arrol Corelli’s teaser music on loop.

 

FRS: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

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Well by now, you what this FRS is all about. It is basically a movie rating system which has striven to be unscientific and hence is fun, we hope.

-30: Tom Cruise never seems to age, he is doing something.

-10: Thus critics can never accuse him of ‘not playing his age’ because he  is not ageing only

-5: Critics

Anyways

+26: Makers actually came up with a title, instead of calling it Jack Reacher 2

-15.7: But title seems to be telling audience that this film does not need a rewatch, seriously yeah we know it is from the book title and all, but then you didnt called the first movie One Shot (which was the book it was based on, why start now? )

+1 : No Narration, yes it helps

+42: To Lee Child, for actually creating a character who doesn’t use a smart phone and hence is actually smart, it’s not like you walk up to Reacher and ask “Hey Reacher, where is the closest laundry place from here”,  and Reacher wont be like “hey, wait let me google that for you”. Geez, he will actually tell you where the closest laundry is, wherever in the world. He also will beat up anyone. Cool no? Take that Marvel/DC.

Whenever Reacher uses a cellphone it is a feature phone and not a smart phone and he seems to have a peaceful life, I mean apart from being chased by the military police.

-10: to the reader who would have mind voice “hey buddy, this was same in first movie as well, so why giving extra points now”; we didn’t review the first one that’s why

+4: Reacher takes public transport, good for health

-30: Hero who doesn’t want to be seen, or does not want any company will do casual flirting with one army major, also note, no whatsapp

+3: that’s what anyone would do if the major is being played by Cobie Smulders, but then Reaccher doesn’t know that because he doesn’t use skype or anything, I’m confused either to give or take points.

Live and let live.

-90: This is actually the plainest of all action films, even the action isn’t pulsating like Cruise’s MI films which we can just watch for the jumps, this looks like a Kathadi Ramamurthy family drama compared to that. Nothing cinematic, see first five mins of part one and you will fall in love with Chris Macquarrie.

-10: Tom Cruise escaping from prison cliche

-8: CCTV camera will capture everything except hero escaping from prison. Dei!!

-34: Tom Cruise running away from bad guys

-6: High school girl outruns two army majors, ok one ex-major, shows US army training, Indians will be happy.

-23: Whatever happens to hero, however he gets hit, in the end he will have only one cut on the face, and that too strategically placed so as to enhance his handsomeness

-109: Main characters will always discuss important plot details while undressing, because….

+10: Even in USA, low cost airlines will not even give water until you ask for it

+10: Even in USA, aadar card xerox and original self will be absolutely different

-670: One more time we use, Even in the USA you can burn down our blog, dei learn new phrases (to self)

-34: For a movie that has military espionage as its core, has very little excitement, ending feels like “ok…hmm”

+39: Female characters out shine male character (here Cruise), most of the plot progresses because of them, Cruise looks up to them but then also accepting that he is not used to being worked with

+7: The Girl, really very very good. funny .

-6: Typical senior officer shouting dialogues like “I wanna know what he eats, where he eats, where he sleeps and i need all these details by yesterday”. Dei dei how many days, also why being unreasonable, give them 48 hrs, this movie is not so much into world saving. It is an intimate thriller.

-20: henchmen dont realise what Reacher can do, which means they haven’t seen the first film. and he hits them very bad.

-83.9: Always during Black Ops operation or any other operation, team leader will say “Go!Go! Go!”, dei

-45.1: A good part of the movie is set in New Orleans which means surely they will show that parade and have a chase in it, esp in this it seems like low budget.

I know these fellows want to be subtle about acting and all, which comes down to much of jaw clenching again and again to express what shouldn’t be, Cruise does this well; but I can see that Sivaji would have had a tough time in Hollywood, especially in scenes where he is supposed to embrace his daughter or is she? Sivaji Ganeshan would have teared down the streets of Washington crying. Cruise just walks down cooly.

-6: Americans don’t give lift to Tom Cruise. Which is sad.

As always all numbers are totally arbitrary and absolutely irrelevant.

Nandri. Vanakkam.

FRS  Desk,

The Lowly Laureate.

The Man Who Became His Mother

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Railways.

Yes let us begin with railways.Last week when the Gatiman Express was launched and proved to be only ten minutes faster than the quickest of trains we already had, I groaned. That’s it?

MORE FASTER!!!!!

Kabir from Ki and Ka would have been amidst those who would have complained about the ever reducing experience of the rail road or how forms of transportation seem to be converging based on just one parameter: speed.

Ki and Ka is one of the most well written films in recent history, it pays to notice that their back stories don’t seem like one liners scribbled in the corners of a script; but that which actually lends character.

A standing testimony to “two good characters and it’s a movie!”

Since we have already begun with railways, let us stick with Kabir; the one who is seen crying for his dead mother in transit, no he is not the spoilt-Singhania (Bansal actually) heir but a deeply sensitive man who misses his mother whom he feels has been thoroughly under recognized for the work she has done.

So we have a mama’s boy, trying to tell the world(and his father, no mainly his father; world comes later) that home making is an under appreciated art and that women almost daily have been denied of this credit while their men work away to corporate glory which has historically been called ‘work’. If women are truly the pillars to a man’s success, then in real time they are rusting only.

Kabir also likes trains, ‘likes’ here is a severely subtle description.

Son thinks he is continuing mother’s good work (also the story of Psycho, oops!) and combines his mother’s passion with his own (art meets art) and what we get is a dinner table served by a locomotive and a bed room that resembles an 80s waiting room (wow), see layers. A really fleshy character, i mean fleshed out character.

An act of God, in Bollywood land.

It would also help to notice that Kabir also thinks, his actions are driven by thinking.

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Pillars (stambh)

Kia doesn’t want to be a pillar, she wants to be a CEO; at first she does seem like the one who would do anything to get ahead, and her back story is not as detailed as that of her better half and depends entirely on how Kareena(brilliant) plays it, she is genuinely curious and visibly tired of meeting the same old men who are seeking pillars, so meeting Kabir on an aircraft was indeed godsend.

Good movies are about two people talking and they become better when what they are talking about is more interesting than who is speaking those lines, the first set up in Ki and Ka is genuinely engaging. The characters need not be yugapurush-es( I dont know the stri-ling equivalent of yugapurush) when they are created and any sort of character development that happens during the course of a movie is like the well mixed flavored popcorn that one encounters when one reaches the very end of the basket.

Ki and Ka is a modern film for a truly modern audience, does it play around with stereotypes? Yes, but only to get to the point, I could not see this as a regular gender/role reversal film, I felt the film had risen above these problems; because it would have become a Ramany vs Ramany* episode otherwise.

To further strengthen my point, the problems that Ki and Ka puts forward are solved without much issue or drama.  This film is not about career driven women trying to not have a baby without guilt because this problem gets solved within minutes.

Films are a reflection of what our society is or what society is moving towards, there could be people like Kabir out there who needs a Kia to function and there could be many Kias running away from becoming pillars and yearning to be architectural structures of beauty by themselves. (Kia ends up becoming the CEO of a construction company, nice touch there)

Ki and Ka is not about role reversal and it is definitely not a broad comment on man and woman, but an intimate look at two individuals post marriage. This is not about who gives up what or which profession is better; this Ki and Ka is actually Yin and Yang.

A well made modern film for the modern Indian, hopefully should inspire more Kis and Kas in real life as well.

Also officially now Arjun Kapoor is my favourite Bolly hero, the kind of restraint he brings to a character that would have become a caricature is absolutely magical.

Hey! Yes, they take the train back home, so finishing with railways as well.

The End.

PS

*Ramany vs Ramany a tamil sitcom on recently married couples.