Tag: 2019

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

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.

FRS: Saaho

So you all know what an FRS is right? Right? 

[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

Subam

Team FRS

Parking Lot Notes: Nerkonda Paarvai

It is difficult for me to see Nerkonda Paarvai without making comparisons to Pink, at the same time it is also difficult for me to accept that an EDM festival in such a large scale would be held near Mamallapuram.

Yes, that is how H Vinoth’s Nerkonda Paarvai begins. 

If this had been an FRS we would have cut points for disbelief, but this is no FRS. 

Even with some years behind since its release Pink had something going for me, its absolute lack of heroism itself was heroic, the smooth transitions between the scenes which were not wanting to create dramatic tensions when they did not exist. 

When Amitabh Bachchan stands up to say “No” there is but a ticking clock (presumably of the court) which keeps him company, there is no other score. 

Just a lawyer delivering the closing arguments of his case. 

There has been many a column dedicated to how bold it is for a hero like Ajith Kumar to take up such a subject.But many columns need to be written on how the film making differs and the additions that Vinoth has added only hamper the classic and on point film making of Pink. Hopefully this is a start. 

Nerkonda Paarvai is in all ways an inferior remake of Pink. Let’s start with the characterisation. 

Deepak Sehgal is a disturbed ageing lawyer, his illness is mentioned but not explained, we know it is an impediment when he mixes up words when fighting for the girls. These impediments make the fight difficult, they add one more layer when the wronged girls go against the powerful boys. 

In the Tamil remake, the worst I had feared had happened; Bharath Subramaniam has a mental condition- bi polar, stress and anger issues etc but this is hardly an obstacle, in fact this mental condition gives Ajith a superpower to bash goons- again typical nondescript goons. There is no obstacle, in fact here they fear the hero. 

I loved Viswasam, I almost felt it was a clever Tamil reworking of Logan- Ajith even sports the same tired look of Hugh Jackman (this for another blog post). In Nerkonda Paarvai, his association with super heroes continue and Bharath Subramanium is nothing but a Bruce Banner/Hulk as realized by Ajith. 

Nothing wrong with that, except that this characterisation is in the wrong movie. 

I am not sure if the Pink remake needed a heroic backstory for its hero, but it surely did not require the utterly unconvincing Vidya Balan flashback. Oh and a loud Yuvan background score. 

And of the other actors only Rangaraj Pandey seems to be having fun, playing a version of himself- one of the most confident debuts in recent times. 

At the Laureate we do not celebrate movies just because of the themes that they take up- but hey many liked this film- why such negative notes? 

Maybe it is me, I should have given more time between viewing these films. 

In that case I would have forgotten about how beautifully absent of background music Pink was.

I would have forgotten the biting sarcasm that Sehgal brought about in his ‘guide to the modern Indian woman’.

I would have forgotten that Amitabh was just a player ( an able one at that) in the movie which was more focussed on the girls. 

I would have forgotten all about how the original treats people as people and not playing them as heroes and villains, the remake does this constantly by close-ups and ominous music. 

Maybe it is not them, it is me.