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cinema cinema: hindi

THERE IS SOMETHING IN THE WATER

https://i1.wp.com/media2.intoday.in/indiatoday/images/stories/talaash-350_101812072223.jpg

TALAASH (2012)

We walked in, just in time to catch Reema Kagti’s name being flashed with the grim yet jazzy “Muskaanein Jhooti hai”; the song which also accompanies a certain TV spot of the film which has a full mouthed and in night gown Kareena dancing to the song in a jazz bar with revolving doors with all the movie’s characters, evoking the both the Bombay of the past and the classic Hollywood thriller, which is what it intends to do.

The night club song does not feature in the film, meticulously shot and high on style, it has no place in the film but then gives you an idea of what to expect from the film.

Which makes me wonder, whether little said the better is the right approach for a thriller?

Aamir Khan plays Inspector Surjan Shekhawat, who is assigned the case of a dead Bollywood actor, whose car crashes into the Arabian sea, but like any protagonist in a quest, he has his own problems which began with the drowning of his son. The inspector has internalized his problem and along with his disturbed wife Roshni (Rani Mukherjee) paint a picture which resembles the first few minutes of ‘En Bommakutti Ammavukku’, the pain of losing a child to water, ultimately ties itself with the case of the drowned actor.

An interesting subject for a thriller, but the writers do not seem to be interested in strengthening the process of investigation but more on establishing the pain felt by its protagonists, it is also to be noted that the inspector is not shown as fast thinking Indian Sherlock Holmes but a very human Mumbai Police officer. This makes the storyline or the case involved look simple; which is how probably real cases work. There need not be knots within knots just to prove the prowess of an investigator, I totally agree but the point of ‘big reveal’ is lost if you can see the ending from long distance. So that is perhaps why, I couldn’t take much from the film or to say it in other words Talaash did not create the effect that Yuddham Sei (also a film with a troubled police officer) had on me.

Or because the tagline of the film is, “the answer lies within” it should be seen not just as a thriller but also a sort of personal struggle. It is quite impossible to discuss the story further without giving away much of the plot.

And yes it is amazing how Zoya Akthar and Reema Kagti went from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, that itself warrants Talaash a watch, also there is Kareena Kapoor and Nawazuddin Siddiqui(Two more reasons).

<click on the picture above to listen to the song, yes technology>

Categories
cinema cinema:tamil

Thuppaki: A Farewell To arms, but is it a welcome to brains?

THUPAKKI(2012)

If this genre was a temple, director Shankar built the Gopuram around which numerous multi colored flats began to appear, obstructing the view and highlighting things that should have never been highlighted. So much so that people were forced to like these high rises and forget the temple.

If you might feel that this masala thriller is a structure made of paper-mache and do not care for it much, then you might not have to bother about how it needs strengthening or how it has dampened over the years. Then like any masala film, Thupakki is not for you.

While wondering whether to strike out irritating architectural metaphors from the previous paragraphs, I realize that I am at an odd position whether it is right to expect serious storylines in a casual film an even an attempt to bring about some story should be applauded. But then a film is a film.

Thupakki succeeds in suspending thought for almost the length of serious bits (the movie can be divided into two films one which has a crazy unrelated love track with Kajal Agarwal and the action film about a military officer saving a city, not once but many times on his own)

The supposed comedic-romantic interludes made me lose interest in the film and thought heavy adrenalin needed to be pumped into me to come back into the man saving the city mode; which also made me think that latter could have been a taut film by itself; while those things had to be stripped out for commercial interests.

Hours after watching the film, the thought that people will always make films thinking that I will like something and compromise on the work, only depressed me more.

I do not belong to any of the fan boy camps and I am not exactly anxious for Vijay/Ajith’s next film; but the time spent in the theatre was good. There was action where it was needed and a lace of intelligence for the action to happen. That’s about it, I wouldn’t subscribe to the ‘greatness’ phrases tossed about in relation to this film.

I doubt if it will accumulate magic over the years and become a staple diet of a movie fan, but one can never rule out anything because entertainment has different meanings even within the same households.

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cinema cinema:tamil Uncategorized

BORROWED MASK

Mugamoodi (2012)

Image 

Sometime in the near past, I made up a character called Turkey Towel Man, a man with apparently no relevance to society but exists only to satisfy my need to be part of the things I was watching at the time on TV, the turkey towel of course was the cape; you could say he was my first indigenous hero of sorts; but he existed solely within the mind, without purpose other than to be part of creation.

The setting is a well lit and brimming indoor auditorium, the kind which makes you immediately think about how much money they spent in bringing these people together, it is a Kung Fu competition of some high order, the participants are wearing different colors. The crowd erupts when one of them falls, there is one man silent amidst all this; the archetypical wise but calm, poor idealist master; the man who predicted the fall from the beginning, just by looking at the stance of the fighter.

That is exactly how I felt while watching Mysskin’s Mugamoodi. But wait, everybody knows the story; not just this one but perhaps every super hero film, especially when the director is spitting into the promotional mikes saying “yes plans for sequels are on.” The matter of any story lies in the telling and Mysskin in his fifth film has achieved that to a considerable extent while managing to combine his usual visual style to the story of the super hero.

I know and I’m tired, there are already a score of them waiting for a Blue Ray release and few more to come to the theaters, but it is the way of the world, the roll of the wheel and the squeak of the mouse.

As it is the tradition these days, these films generally begin with the villain, carefully establishing the power of the character and dropping hints on what his great plan would be, Narein plays Dragon an exponent of Kung Fu and the leader of a meticulous band of thieves; his streak of madness visible only during the time he prepares himself for murder; mouthing child like rhymes scarily and giving the opponent enough time to come to the conclusion that death is perhaps the better option.

So we now have the mad villain, we must also have the hero played by Jiiva who finds his real purpose in life, this is handled much better than the stock villain; Mysskin effectively combines the typical wayward son from many Tamil films and the ‘other’ man characters from Hollywood superhero film to create a fresh Anand alias Bruce Lee; the noms de guerre assumed not only because he has a much worshipped poster on the wall, but his inspiration in the world of Kung Fu taught by his selfless master. In the same city inhabit the duty bound police officer Gaurav who is hot on the trails of the thieving gang and his daughter with whom our hero will eventually fall in love.

There are some great themes in the origins story like how Mugamoodi thankfully isn’t a film where the hero stands for the oppressed; but gets into the suit quite accidentally and the good thought of having both the main characters on an equal footing by making them both men of martial arts, with this come the slow running shots, the movement of people like clockwork and odd ball characters typical of Mysskin’s films

It is in the events that lead up to the climax that one wonders how much the film has borrowed from its Hollywood counterparts and from Mysskin’s own stable but sadly more than it can use; in these times it is the music of K that lifts the film; one of the finest soundtracks in recent years.

Although Mugamoodi’s claim that it is Tamil Cinema’s first superhero film can be debated, but it is certainly the first to achieve an atmosphere comparable to the current Hollywood trend viz. to make the superhero look more meaningful and that at a small percentage of the cost involved; but all that withers away in the end, still making Mysskin’s previous Yuddham Sei (wage war) his most evolved work.

 

Aside, the film also makes the weirdest reference to Sherlock Holmes; the borrowing of set pieces and characters do not bother me to the extent of condemning it to plagiarist hell as it is quite understandable as references for a Tamil super hero are minimal and this made me go back to my Turkey Towel Man, a character as stated before only to fill my fantasies, maybe Mugamoodi is Mysskin’s Turkey Towel Man. The relevance of the character and film can only be known at a later date, if any. But all this seems like I am defending the director for his ordinary work.

Categories
cinema cinema:english

REMEMBRANCE OF (HAPPIER) THINGS PAST

Midnight in Paris (2011)

This is how it begins, gloriously in the present

I have never been to Paris, I don’t know if I can; but then if I do I would like to sit down somewhere and write a page; a desperate test to check if the world’s most beautiful city can actually help me in writing better, knowing myself I would probably make fifteen more spelling errors than usual in all my nervousness caused by the simple fact of realizing something I casually wished for. But then I would like to go.

Gil Pender, a screen-writer from Hollywood with dreams that city of Paris itself would flow into him in creative colors and aid him in completing his first serious novel; much like his idols from the 1920s, he truly believes that the city itself is magical and would be kind enough to him as it was to Hemmingway and others. If only he had come alone.

Together with his wife to be and her parents who are in the least interested in the city’s streets and cultural history but more so in the shops that sell furniture and the comfort that farm houses offer; the parents are irked by his romanticism and the lady is happy to be floored by the superficial effervescence of Paul Bates, a college flame the couple bump into.

It isn’t the whole concept of belief in a literary utopia which is existed before our time that draws me into this picture; but the simplicity of how it becomes true facilitated by Woody Allen’s typewritten screenplay (yes he still uses one).

Nostalgia is a subject of daily discussion, if only we would notice; the feeling that the time that passed by was always better exists within everyone; it still is the best way to build a conversation with anyone, not just the people who are old; but even the recent pass-outs who cry over how good cartoon network was so much better than the power rangers their siblings get to watch now.

Allen’s films have always been filled with his questions, mostly concerning love, death or both. He has for the past so many years, like a donkey to the wall tried to find answers for any form of relevance of life by posing these questions to somehow arrive at any satisfactory answers. He has single handedly in my opinion built his way of thinking along his filmography and innocently chiding those who believe.

“How can I believe? When all I see around me is human suffering”

Nostalgia too acts as a cushion to Allen, he uses it extensively in Radio Days about the time how everyone at home had a favorite song and a favorite show and how people still lived together, laughed and fought over them, nostalgia only increases with utter disdain to present life.But he has answers too, this time.

Maybe we were in happier times before, but did we realize it only later, were we really happy during those times or become intermittently when reminiscing those moments, if so that leaves the present completely out of human life, no relevance at all.

Through the course of his escapades in early 20th century Paris, Gil Pender meets Adriana, the muse of many painters including Pablo Picasso; but she feels that the period just before the first world war (Belle Epoche) is the best time to live in, but those who actually inhabit it(BE) feel otherwise. Human disenchantment for the present seems to have had a long history.

Within all this, Allen squeezes through his usual puzzling love, comic timing and ensemble cast who not only do not drop a single note but behave as just they should making it his truest movies in years, as a fan though I have always something or the other to smile about in the films that he makes, but Midnight in Paris is truly magical.

A reviewer once spoke about how he saw a certain film in a rainy night in Paris and that was perhaps the best way to have seen the film and has since loved it. I have till now watched MIP thrice, twice alone and my amazement for the movie has only risen.

Last year we had Drive, Tinker Tailor, Hugo and Midnight in Paris, it seems we do live in the best of times and will only have to turn to nostalgia when it comes to human suffering.

Categories
cinema cinema:english

THE LAND OF GOLD AND GREED

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a misleading title, most films of the adventure genre employ such title formats; the search for the treasure mentioned in the title which takes a group through exotic lands and fantastic beasts in the course of a long voyage which would bring them to the treasure whose allure accentuated by myth. Recently a group of people complained loudly in the media that they were deceived by the film Drive, they had gone inside expecting something of a dithery version of Fast and the Furious; this in the age of multiple trailers and TV Spots. The Treasure is a film about finding lost treasure as much as how Drive is about drag racing.

Bogart plays Fred C Dobbs, a down on luck American wandering the streets of Tampico, Mexico; begging respectably and partly blaming his accursed life on the natives; wolfing a hooker even when he has not a peso for his stomach. A man who would prefer to shave his face to perfectness with his last coin, the characterization cannot be decided upon, one minute he is the helping friend and then he is the lynching one. Together with his similar friend Bob Curtin, spends the night at a motel; more of a story sharing tavern after coming into some money. This is where they meet Howard, an ageing prospector holding court, amusing impoverished men with his tales of gold, but these are not glorious adventures; but tales of fate driven by gold and greed.

“Never knew a prospector yet that died rich”

What is it with gold? Why has it captured us by our throats occupying both divine and economic status, not even money has been able to guarantee that. In a sense the movie is about how strong your morals are, Howard the old-timer who knows exactly what will happen on the expedition; and honestly admits that if he had been younger he would have done the same, with Gold comes greed, there is no saying no to more.

And that is exactly why, the title is a misleading one; the said treasure is found midway in the first act, leaving John Huston the rest of the movie to what really happens to the people who find the gold, shot almost entirely on location the film mirrors the bandit age of 1920s Mexico. It is also interesting to see what drives each character, Curtin remembers his childhood pleasure of growing up with flowers and fruits and yearns to return to them. Howard with most of his life already behind him decidedly makes the expedition his last, but it is Dobbs again who has no larger vision for what he will do with his share. “A bath!” he says.

But Dobbs somehow becomes the one who is the most attached to the treasure and hallucinates on how the other two are always taking notes to cross him out, most of the scenes are built up on this premise and Bogart simply shines in the role, interesting to note that he was not the first choice.

The Treasure of Sierra Madre is considered to be one among the early great American movies, for me it is about what one man would hope to do on a whim and be consumed by it in the process, in the end they all come to the beginning.

The Treasure of Sierra Madre made in 1948 stars Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston & Tim Holt directed by John Huston based on the novel of the same name by B.Traven.