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cinema cinema:tamil FRS

FRS: JAGAME THANDHIRAM (2021)

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

Disclaimer: We can only begin an FRS, we can never finish it convincingly.

And so we begin, with our invocation against gangsterism

Yes it is a genre of film but we don’t have to like it.

Yes it does seem cool, but all of us here at the FRS are in this endless process of ageing, which automatically means that we are against cool stuff like coloured jackets-wearing-beedi-smoking-at-the-same-time-smirking-gangsters.

Maybe you can sense there is some hate or you can also take the logical reasoning about how when you make gangsterism the main vehicle of your film you can give any reason to justify it, where lies all our problems with gangster movies. Yes it’s a genre and we (FRS writer’s room) don’t have to like it because supposed cinematic greats have an affinity towards it and even to risk earning the wrath of all film bros.

So yes gangsterism is against the law, whatever is the reason.

+101: No Narration. Good call.

<Trivia Thagaval Sponsored by Wikipedia>

The first half (divide as you will this is a direct OTT release) is very much a reworking of ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ which itself is a remake of Yojimbo, which in turn Kurosawa said might have been inspired by the pulp novels of Dashiell Hammett.

#PulpisGood

</Trivia Thagaval Sponsored by Wikipedia>

It is the story of an outsider who comes to town where two warring gangs compete for control, the smart outsider plays one against each other, of course for personal benefit.

Here the town is London and the man with no name, actually is named Suruli.

-45: In trying to paint the character of Suruli colourfully, the director has forgotten even to sketch the rest of the characters.

Even the most paraded character of London gangster Peter, here played by James Cosmo, who unceremoniously gets added to the list of foreign powers who pose no challenge.

-34: Reinforcement max: movie, characters keep saying that Peter is a racist and white supremacist, while we already got it with his nameplate which reads “WHITE POWER” and random Ku Klux Klan outfit in his room.

His introduction too shows that how immigrants fear him, but somehow Peter is not able to face the problems posed by the gang headed by Sivadoss (Joju George)

-69: Obsession with intros: the first ten minutes of the film is just intros, some with ultra-text splashed on screen ala Tarantino- most movies take time to introduce their characters and that’s not a fault by itself. But in Jagame, with every powerful intro, the acceptability reduces proportionately.

For example, you show Peter as the most powerful gangster in town, but then in the rest of the movie he hardly does anything menacing.

We don’t know anything about his philosophy, every dialogue of his is just reinforcing that he is a xenophobe, which as pointed out, has been already established.

This begs the question, was this really the character that Karthik Subbaraj wanted Al Pacino to play?

+21.9: Reasons: While the idea to make a cross over gangster film needs to be appreciated, the reason to take Suruli from Madurai to London is one of the flimsiest even by Kollywood standards.

+30: Intelligentally Eli: Hero finds out everything including complex smuggling networks about rival gang within one week which other gangsters (who are in the same smuggling business) could not for years

Suruli can start an online course on competitive intelligence; we would surely pay for such things.

-5: But if hero could find out such things, he could have surely been able to find out why Sivadoss’ gang is smuggling gold etc.  

+78: Mahatma Gang Leader:  For a gang leader, Sivadoss is too trusting.

Boss, like your job description to not trust anyone.

-34: Movie proceeds as thus, till it becomes about immigrants and the Tamil Eelam issue.

While there is nothing wrong in trying to address larger issues in films, but maybe if they had been portrayed with more conviction or convincing actors would have helped the cause.

D is an accomplished actor, the transformation Suruli goes through in the film feels more like the character’s ego trip rather than real internal change, we really cannot say more without spoiling the film.

-450: A Host of Issues: If immigration issues are not enough, movies marries another going nowhere plot for speaking against private prisons, the need for identification and living a free life without borders.

Hmm yeah, maybe that’s why every minute of Jagame feels like two minutes.

+23: Cameron-Kanni Spotted: Movie at some point shows a burning merry-go-round which we feel is a reference to Terminator 2: Judgement Day and so we are giving positive points like these.

Yeah like random.

+91.5: Cut to the Combat: It almost feels that the director and crew only wanted to film the final blast everything in our way to the villain’s room shoot-out.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s really done well with slow motion and all that, but it almost seems that the rest of movie, the emotions of characters, are just a ruse(wink wink, nudge nudge)to get us to here.

Well atleast you enjoyed filming that.

Maybe the Thandiram in Jagame Thandiram is to get us to watch 2:40mins of uninspired filmmaking for the last few moments of inspired action, if that was the intention, then we have a winner.

<Winks winks, nudges nudges>

Subam

Team FRS

Categories
cinema:tamil

Putham Pudhu Kaalai

As The Swivel Chair Spins #13

Anthologies are almost average at 3 out of 5. 

This three is not comparable to the three given to a novel. For the longer form of literature it could mean a “could have been better for all the effort”.

For a short story anthology , the three is a sign of the mixed bag, you never know what you are going to get, and you never know what you are going to like and when you are going to like. 

As days pass perhaps, a singular revisit might have me appreciating what was left behind and quietly accepting that segment for which I  once was over enthusiastic about, was just because of the age and frame of mind I read it in. 

Putham Pudhu Kaalai is also a three on five. 

But it safeguards itself in the sweetest way, so that there is nothing I could overtly dislike, but there was nothing which I was fond of too. Maybe it’s my age. 

Maybe it is about the fact that these stories are really not about anything, they are only placed together because they all revolve around the lockdown. 

I believe (and the Big Book of Jack The Ripper Stories sitting quietly in my Kindle would agree) that anthologies are not meant to be read at one go,they are after all mood pieces, so that’s there. 

A niggling three where you can never quite say what you didn’t like, but also cannot remember what the previous story was about. 

Which is exactly what happened when I was watching director Gautham Menon’s Avarum Naanum, Avalum Naanum (ANAN), the second segment, I forgot about Ilamai Idho Idho. 

Slightly zoned out I was, I guess, also maybe because there was a voice over in the first movie about ‘Kadhal” by R Madhavan, always a non starter. 

Also this is the one with Amazon Prime product placement with Alaipayuthey? Almost thought this was the GVM short, but it was not the Mani fanboi but in fact a Madras Talkies alumnus, Sudha Kongara about how love has no age and all that (insert yawn here) and love makes everyone look younger and all that (can we have another yawn here or is it too short?).

But when the scientist grandpa appeared in ANAN, I was awake, just earlier had slightly thought about sleeping again because the heroine character was doing classical GVM  by way of telling the story through voice over. 

No doubt, M S Bhaksar, is a spectacular artiste (notice how he says spectacular in the movie, haha got you there) and the short almost entirely rests on one of his monologues, but that’s about it, I didn’t get to know about the scientist more. 

While GVM only gave the skeletal frame to chew on, Suhasini Maniratnam’s next is the one with most characters and surprisingly we get to know a lot about them and even more surprisingly it was the one that spoke to me the most, I have my reasons. 

Coffee Anyone? 

I theorize this is the ladies of the Haasan family telling the stories of the brothers, it almost seems like it, I don’t know if Suhasini has spoken about this in any of the promotionals for the movie, but think about it, this short has three sisters Hasini, Anu and Shruti (as opposed to Charu, Chandra and Kamal) trying to grapple with the illness of their mother. The youngest daughter was born when the mother was almost 50, they say, another well documented Kamal family story and how he looked up to his brothers as parents. It’s a similar situation here along with the inversion, okay let’s just say I bought it because of the Kamal reason and some nonsense theory I was making in my head. 

I said reasons, so there is one more, because this is the one that feels almost like a horror film (and not another ‘kadhal’ short) and again with an inversion, which I would not like to spoil. 

There are things in Coffee Anyone which again doesn’t allow itself to punch its weight, like for example the dialogue till we will settle down with the characters and since it’s a short, well you know, it’s over. 

Reunion by Rajiv Menon has much in common with the two preceding shorts about the power of music to change lives (insert classical yawn) but it is also ‘of the moment’ because it deals with the problem of how difficult it is for celebrities to get drugs during the lockdown. 

I mean… 

Of course Oooo Lalala , music is the saviour. 

Even in the next one titled Miracle by Karthik Subbaraj, music (this time by Ilayaraaja) acts as a connector, it’s the most amusing one but falls into the category of ‘slice of life-fate’, you know the ones when you see it, A goes to B via C types. 

Types, I love using the types. I apparently also love typing, the document now indicates that I have written 800 words about Putham Pudhu Kaalai, I hope it means something to someone. 

<Read in Rajeev Masand voice> So I am going with 3 stars out of five for Putham Pudhu Kaalai, because…. Hmm… four of them looked like ad shoots for Bru (filter coffee? Idhu Bru Ma types) and one even had coffee in the title. 

Putham Pudhu Kaalai is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Categories
cinema FRS

FRS: Penguin (2020)

And we are back! 

So everyone here knows what an FRS is right? Right? 

+2: No narration and we all sigh in relief

-3: Movie begins with a statue by a lake in Kodaikanal,the statue has so much of the art department’s fingerprints on it that none will mistake it for a real statue. Small fail. 

-45: Oho so killer in this movie will wear Charlie Chaplin mask. 

Exclusive extract of excruciating moments from the story discussion room 

“Sir, apparently clowns are very scary, in US and all, children get scared by seeing clowns, they have also made movie based on it recently”

“We should also have clown face villain to creep out audience”

“People will find out…”

“Oh then what’s next to clown…maybe we should try Charlie Chaplin” 

“Wow, done deal” 

“Let’s also add one yellow umbrella so that it becomes very iconic” 

<End of exclusive extract> 

Sorry but lol, we could never associate any kind of fear with the Chaplin Killer, no the music also was not helping, sorry. Also he has a yellow umbrella like a CSK fan and so anyone in Kodai should have spotted him by now. 

-32: Movie is set in Kodaikanal types just because our characters can wear sweaters. Yeah please there are lakes all around Chennai, please summa don’t say lakes and all. 

Also also, we can see this trend in which Amazon is picking up tamil movies for release, both Ponmagal Vandhal and Penguin has the following

✅Female protagonist

✅Movie location is hilltop town

✅Murder and kidnapping involving children

✅Drone shot over car, lake and mountain

✅Sweater people and mist

So if you’re writing and selling to Amazon, have the above somewhere in mind. 

+23: One guy (not telling who) will do one morning call for ten minutes to tell what happened in the life of KeeSu so that audience can catch up, this is also aided by some photographs etc

-23: for that 20 minute intro call, KeeSu will reply with just “miss you too” #hmmzoned 

-80: Heroine goes into flashback mode suddenly so that we can know exactly the things that we need to know to progress with the movie. 

-71.2: Heroine will rapidly tell a penguin story to her kid, so rapid that we are sure that the kid didn’t follow, we were not sure if we should follow it ourselves, later we got to know that it’s not the full story even, then why so speed?

-11:Heroine then comeback to “present day” because someone call her name cliche

+34: Lady doctor gives good advice about pregnancy but of course none of this will be followed by our heroine, points for timely advice being timely. 

+101: Understanding husband is too much understanding 

-53: Kodai police are not going to like this film, especially when the inspector seems to have made the right connection at first. 

-56.9: If it is a slasher film involving a kid, then two definite elements will be there. One kid will be allowed to draw random things and characters will get puzzled over this, also said kid will sing some nursery rhyme. 

Supposedly all this is fresh and spooky. 

-23: Something something happens and we suddenly see ourselves watching Silence of the Lambs, no we mean not that movie within this movie, but something like that. Out of the blue surprise. 

-42: Movie really doesn’t progress beyond a set of characters and since the main slasher is also Charlie Chaplin costumed, most of the genre trappings like setting, sound design and the misty cinematography are not effective. 

So we know where they are going, before they get going. 

Also then they say the movie is about motherhood. Yeah, another addition to our hill-top horror series of films which has been giving diminishing returns. Yeah. 

Team FRS

Subam

Categories
cinema:tamil Parking Lot Notes

Parking Lot Notes: Petta

Being in a theatre showing Petta with Rajini fans, I felt like how a DC fan would feel in a Marvel convention.

Even Marvel movies seemed to take the time to make Gods from Norse mythology-gamma radiated killing machines-super soldiers and arrogant inventors relatable to me (some fellow in Chennai) even if I was not one of their ‘fans’. I guess they still care for storytelling to some sense of the word.

In Petta, however if I had purchased a ticket, the movie immediately assumes that I am a Rajinikanth fan. Year after year, a new film tries to sell me this Rajini persona (or variations of it, by other aspiring heroes) but I have not been able to buy into it.  

It(this persona) matters even more in this movie. Petta is a carefully color-graded super-star compilation hits and boy the hits just keep on coming. Karthik Subbaraj ups the gimmicks-catch phrases-political posturing and slow mo staples of Raijni to 11, thus gifting me a pre-festival headache. Anirudh made sure that the headache remained for the entirety of the movie (and the following weekend) with his background score.

Headaches are minor things when compared to the heartache of seeing characters left hanging. Some good actors called just to rot before this constructed image of Rajinikanth.

Because if you are not great yourself, the only way to seem so is by making others feel small.