In 15 mins, I get to know there is a child waiting for an unknown guest somewhere, a group of students are detained at the police commissioner’s office for drunken behavior, a bloody operation results in 900kg of cocaine being seized, a high ranking official sets up what seems like his farewell party and a gang leader puts out a hit job task to his henchmen.
All this before the credits.
But with characters and dialogue, not with narration and flash forwards. So when a police constable says that the current colonial building is being vacated for a new headquarters, it means a lot and at different points in time.
You would notice that all of these events correspond to groups. Kaithi to my memory has the most number of memorable characters in recent times, which is not easy to do, most movies use a good one third of their time in set-up and hardly achieve memorable status apart from the leads.
Lokesh does this is in a “look, I don’t have time, but this is what you have to know, come along and you will figure it out” kind of way.
The seized cocaine is what gets things rolling(literally the truck), but this is not a story about how different groups are in the race to get back what they lost; in fact every set here wants something else- the IG wants a respectable retirement, certain henchmen just want money, a brother is in need of another, Kamatchi just wants his truck in one piece and Dilli (Karthi is brilliant) just wants to see his daughter (or does he?) and so on.
Which is why Kaithi is such a constrained title, it brings back focus to one of the characters, but that is when the movie begins to adopt a one-man-against-the-world-hollywood-actioner aesthetic, and most of it works when set within context, although I fear that some of it, like the bullet ridden climax, is set well outside.
But not all out of context things are bad, especially when Jumbalaka Jumbalaka and Metro Channel starts playing to drown out voices in a lock-up. Fantastic!
Kaithi is blockbuster material when it stays on the road and wants to go from point A to B, I would have never imagined our rural roads, forests, quarries and hills to lend themselves to this type of actioner, but I realize things are what they are, only because of the ways we see it in. Lokesh saw it differently
The immediate message that got to me after watching Arthur Fleck slowly descend into madness is that I should get out of my head for good.
Joker’s a really well made film, thoughtfully so in the departments of art and cinematography, but something about this record of madness doesn’t sit well with me. This was one of the reasons, I gave myself for skipping the film, until today.
Another reason is that I don’t really like the Joker character.
There, I said it.
Enough hot takes, I would like to elaborate a little, what I really mean is that I don’t really appreciate the modern interpretations of the character- starting from Heath Ledger’s take in the Dark Knight.
The character (in the movies) has traveled far from the camp that Jack Nicholson literally painted on screen. Now all the fun is gone.
Well it’s been a generation since 1989. Things change, people tend to be attracted to different things.
Maybe they do prefer this interpretation, where a comic prince of clown is moulded into this thinning frame which has nothing in its heart, but only itself ( and self pity of course). Maybe there is a reason why Arthur Fleck is a stand up comedian- a profession that requires a lot of suppressed anger (on society and on self) to be converted into jokes. And when those jokes don’t work? It turns into the descent, that I touched upon earlier.
Drawing directly from Scorsese’s influential work in the 70s & the 80s that also featured decaying characters in cities of decay, Todd Phillips, adds too little. By throwing in Robert De Niro in as a funny talk show host, Phillips ensure that the Scorsese references don’t go unnoticed.
Gotham now has a rat problem, there is garbage everywhere and they hate the rich. The city then erupts into protests with people wearing clown masks because billionaire Thomas Wayne made an offhand comment, an indication that protests may not always have its origins in meaning.
But there is one thing, it doesn’t seem like a usual super hero(or villain) based film, and kudos to the director for that and Phoenix is in his usual great form; but after a point it becomes difficult to back the delusions of a depressed guy.
Joker, the character itself is quite diabolical and is in constant need of space and adoration, it almost stole the movie from Batman in the Dark Knight; now it wants it’s own movie and going by the box office collections, it could have its own franchise.
A franchise for those who feel they are disenfranchised. God, help me.
It’s been a week since I saw Gautam Menon’s latest film. I remember almost nothing of it. I take home images of a movie and only then, do I begin to form opinions on it (unlike whatever you might think).
With ENPT, I can only recollect Dhanush dancing on the edge of the salt pans somewhere on the ECR. I know for sure that this does not directly concern the story- something like Sunaina’s character ( whose name I have to Google), but I guess one of the bad guys described her “gummunu irukka” (not translating due to lack of appropriate word) somewhere in the movie .
It’s just me, I am getting old. I need to seek help to get this ENPT blog post out. ENPT blog out and ENPT out of my system, so we can really plan what to see and discuss in the coming year. Get the blog out!
So I decided to call up the buddies who put together the FRS, they of course had a good memory, but they said since we have already written the FRS of Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada or AYM, the points would hold good for ENPT.
The writers were also very smart, they said that if I badly wanted a blog post about ENPT then I could just replace AYM with ENPT, Dhanush with STR, Megha with Manjima and voila, ready.
Sometimes, I wonder how such smart people write for us. Mostly, I forget that these people are smart people. It’s just me. I am getting old.
Next I look to the internet, which is a rich in opinion and low on insights medium. Maybe these opinions could help me remember what the movie was all about. After all, I needed to have a memory to form opinions, this seemed a logical option. I had to do it, I had to get into death wish mode and complete this blog post.
But mostly the internet was talking about how ENPT had a lot of voice overs, hmm they were right, but also this was a Gautham Menon movie, what were they expecting? Maybe they were expecting smart voice-overs. But then again, this is a Gautam Menon film.
Ah, now I remember; Dhanush’s college senior is Sunaina. But I know for a fact that Dhanush is much older than Sunaina, so maybe I should write about actors playing their appropriate age, that will surely resonate on social media. It is fairly an easy piece to write, almost a low hanging fruit, even our data analytics team in Pune said it would do good for overall website traffic. I rejected the idea, low hanging fruits don’t appeal to me. That’s why I didn’t write about a 30 years old actress playing a 26 year old.
Another section spoke about how voice overs (i.e VOs) is the modus operandi (i.e MO) of Gautam Menon, they even said like if ‘we’ don’t question shadows in a Hitchcock film, then ‘we’ shouldn’t question GVM too. On the face of it, this seems like a very intelligent argument, our data analytics team also saw such arguments get the much needed traction.
But is it not about using a method of storytelling but how well it is used and what impact it creates on the audience, the “we” in this case. Of course, if “we” say this, the response would be like, impact is subjective etc. Don’t ask me what I thought about the voice overs, I barely remember this film. It had voice overs.
Ah! Now I remember, Sunaina’s character name is Mythili and she works in Mumbai.
With only these minor memories, I was again faced with the question, should I even write about this film? The options before me were clear and they all pointed to one way to escape this misery, I had to.
Don’t ask me why, you don’t have the right, because you did not ask when Scorsese used voice-overs or when Hitchcock used shadows.
I should probably make up sentences like “first half was breezy-romantic, second half was action packed” , but honestly, I don’t know what breezy romantic is. But I should write these things, it’s probably what the ‘we’ felt in the theatres according to some critics.
I know this blogpost will not add anything to discourse, much like Dhanush’s sister character in the movie, much like all GVM’s sister characters.
So I should just put it out there, get ENPT out of the way and move on. Maybe I should go to Mumbai too, just to think about this movie in detail. But that would be a costly thing to do and my life might cross with gangsters and arms dealers. But I can always stay in Mythili’s place. Damn! I should just publish this blogpost.
“Do it. Do a spelling and grammar check. Now hit publish!” a voice in my head tells.
Don’t ask me why.
Even if it is mediocre, some critic in the future might compare it to a blog post about a Hitchcock film.
I am not a motorsports enthusiast, heck I am not even a sports enthusiast but the sports film, Ford vs Ferrari is one of the most impactful films I have seen this year.
James Mangold’s film is a product of conviction and evident proof that the only way to win over the audience is through good story and great characters and not by pandering to them. When done well this approach brings in even those who are not remotely interested in the space that you are making the movie in. ( Me and sports)
I don’t think, I emphasised the previous paragraph to much effect; what I meant to say is that making a good film starts by having complete disregard to the expectations that your audience might have.
“Oh right, this is one of those sports films and the movie ends with the winning moment”
No it doesn’t.
But it plays on the existing sports movie template and makes it better.
Make it better.
Ford vs Ferrari is a movie about optimisation. It’s not what movies are usually about, especially Tamil movies, in which we take the broadest of canvasses to tell the shallowest of stories. Optimisation begins where specialisation deepens. Ford v Ferrari is about making fast cars, faster.
Bit by bit, Ken Miles(Christian Bale in a soon to be multi-nominated performance), our hero is trying to make things better. As a race car driver he is in search of an elusive perfect lap. Every race win, in this movie (and there are many) ends with a feeling of how he could actually have done it better, while the world watches in awe as Ken Miles breaks his own lap record.
The search for excellence is a solitary game, it is a search that does not end with a pat on the back or the roaring sound of applause or admittance from peers. The search for excellence is in fact a never ending search.
James Mangold takes the much seen sports drama arc which has the rebellious maverick- the considerate mentor- the conniving and unreasonable corporate into a drama about artisanal passion where the race (although shot with great precision ) gives way to the characters.
Competing with respect
In any other movie, Henry Ford II ( Tracy Letts is brilliant) would be the corporate monster, a villain who derives pleasure in killing competition like boutique car mechanics. No, but here, underneath layers of tailored suit is an entrepreneur trying to do good by his grandfather’s legacy. Mangold and his writers treat characters with respect, even the stock characters.
Also in the movie is the relationship between designer Carroll Shelby( Matt Damon, too in a soon to be multi-nominated performance) and driver Ken Miles- a friendship so relatable when they have hands on each other’s shoulders talking about chassis and brakes, but not so much when they really try to spell it out.
Nevertheless, Ford v Ferrari takes a close second place in my imaginary best films on friendship contest in 2019. That honor, as on date firmly rests with Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood.
For Mangold and his crew, I do what Enzo Ferrari does, with his hat, at the end of the race.
[As all the FRS writers begin to arrive at the writer’s room atop the 55th floor of an undisclosed chennai high rise building…]
Lool, what chennai high-rise building? You really thought we will give away our location? Nice try.
-5: Narration, since this is a trilingual we will multiply points by 3 whenever wherever. ( you can do the mental math on this )
-10: Usual cinema overdose of gangsters, here of course they run an entire city called Waaji
Maybe their official city song is Waaji Waaji Waaji En Jeevan Sivaji, although no such thing is implied.
Also also, this movie joins the list of movies which just say people are gangsters without explaining how or what made them turn into gangsters- no explanation of the process- these are important for FRS writers, we believe in detail.
+15: The contribution of gangsters to Waaji’s economy seems immense, they have a modern city functioning with the best security systems, banks, expressways and what not; maybe someone can do a paper about the economic benefits of letting gangsters run Indian cities, we mean…legitimately.
+21: The gangster congregation is more like those “Royal Stag- Have I Made It Large” type ad set up and of course we see that the Roy family is going back to India, to take over the country etc
<Cut to Mumbai>
+88.97: Hero is here to save another gangster (yes you cannot keep count) from a housing society, he has to reach the top floor within 5 cooker whistles, going from one floor to another but every floor has a different type of monstrous thugs + wild animals he has to overcome.
Holy mackerel! That’s a full movie right there, like Raid: Redemption meets the Cabin in the Woods.
Actually this can be a full movie. Should we cut points for director not going further with this idea?
+30: Hero is neither clean shaven or bearded, this intermediate state of facial hair is possibly to satisfy the expectations of both kinds of die hard fans of our hero.
-23: Clueless Mumbai Police is clueless or like we say in the office “Mumbai Police is not going to like this film”
+65.21: Although they will be very happy to have Shraddha Kapoor as a special agent <insert appropropriate yet respectable smileys here>
+5.52: Shraddha here is a special agent because she is special to our hero <wink wink>
+17: Whenever Bombay police is going to take up a special investigation, they will first set up secret headquarters which has fun start-up office feel, it has foosball, basketball ring, beer cafe, video game parlour and of course graffiti splashed walls (obvious) and before I forget, a shooting range.
I guess this is done so that the special agents really feel special <wink wink >
Good initiative by Mumbai Police
-7.3: One person in the special unit’s only job is to pan and scan CCTV footage, we believe that such a limited role will not help in future career paths #wecare
-45: Whenever Shraddha Kapoor meets hero, there will melodious music and slow breeze that will gently animate her hair cliche.
-20: Mumbai Police still use a random method to allot cases to their policemen.
<Cuts back to Waaji City>
-51.8: Everytime we cut back to Waaji City, there is a new set of gangster families and their heads that we need to place within the context of the story, since all of them wear suits and have cheroots in their mouth this memory game became a little difficult.
The FRS team as usual were innovative to brand everyone with above characteristics as villain and we went ahead with the viewing.
-8.10: Mega Mafioso death will trigger a succession war and no one in Waaji City knows how to get hold of the wealth cliche
-18.3: Mafioso uncles will have chief economic advisor (their words not mine) but will not have proper succession plan. It’s like one legal document would have prevented this whole film
+41: Mandira Bedi is styled to look like someone from a Gautham Menon film, this we believe is a teaser for next week’s hopeful release.
-23: Indian Music director still using BWAAANG music for any major moment in the movie without realizing that even Hollywood has moved past BWAANG!
-95: Waaji, a city infested with gangsters will also have the best in class police tech in the world including jet based police vehicles.
+23: Imaginative world building: director never gives the audience the time to guess the geographical locations in the movie- one second we are in a Dubai type desert city, next second rainforest, then snowy mountains.
Buy the ticket. See the world.
+4: Hero steals time bound tech device which everyone is after and then takes vacation with heroine all over the world.
Because of course why not.
+11: Vacation is photographed in great detail for future romance things, this we believe will give a boost to a sub segment in the photography economy called “couple vacation photography”
Become a vacation photographer. See the world (with a couple).Wink Wink!
-85: That reminds us, where did the comedian Kodandam go? Missing Mumbai police is missing. #MissingInAction
+21: Hero makes punchline based on cricket so that whole of India can react to it. Masterclass.
-50: Just when you thought you didn’t understand the complexity of the storylines, character will start to recite shloka in sanskrit. #truestory
+200: Director’s noble intention to show many movies in one single movie, I think this is a uniquely telugu director school of thought.
Multiple storylines. Multiple characters. Multiple twists and turns. But singular focus on hero.
Made us question if this movie is for real or like made up?
There too director stumped us by keeping a great song in the proceedings called “unmai ethu? Poi ethu? Sollidu Anbe
( you see we didn’t do the usual “all songs whenever wherever”, wink wink )
These directors are anticipatory genius.
A simple feeling of watching at least 23 movies and TV shows for the price of a single ticket.
A humbling yet exhilarating and uniquely tiring experience.
All numbers are incidental and arbitrary, except the facts provided by our data analytics team