Category Archives: Hollywood

The Lady: A Pale Recreation Of The Original – Review

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For anyone expecting The Lady to be a epic recreation of the life of Aung San Suu Kyi would be disappointed by the film, though it must be said that it was an honest attempt. 

The Lady is the story of Aung San Suu Kyi and her husband Dr. Michael Aris. It is also the story of her peaceful fight against the oppressive military regime of Burma. Despite such long distance and failure to meet each other often, the film portrays the love of the two protagonists living across continents for most parts after Kyi’s fight begins.

Plot: The film opens up with Michael’s (David Thewlis) discovery that he has cancer. From here it unravels how Suu (Michelle Yeoh) could not visit him in Britain because of the fear that she might never be allowed to return back in her quest of fighting to get back democracy to Burma. How she begins her fight after landing in a disturbed country and how her husband backs her in the entire fight, doing all that he can to make sure the lady wins her battles are the elements that complete the film.

After travelling from Britain to Burma to look after her ailing mother, Suu Kyi, the daughter of a prominent Burmese general, is asked by a group of activists to lead a pro-democracy movement. First she declines and reasons her responsibilities of being a mother and a wife to be not able to take up the position but then after considering and thinking over it, she accepts and from their begins her conflict against the regime.

Characters: Brilliant performances by both Thewlis and Yeoh make the film watchable except the fact that some more detailing on the fight against the oppressive regime would have made the film more moving. The brilliance of Yeoh cannot be hidden and she takes away everything on screen during her presence. The two kids play their parts well but it is the Burmese baddies who look pale in their respective roles. Considering the fame they reserved for being oppressive, the performances could have been much better.

Overall: For someone watching the film after watching The Iron Lady, this one is a dampener except the performances by Yeoh. The film could have gone inside the fight of the protagonist more and here I think it lost the plot. She is shown at the Piano more than fighting against the Militia and that leaves questions unanswered. Someone who does not know Aung San Suu Kyi and would start knowing her from this film will never be able to know about her intense fight against the regime because of the pale portrayal. The Lady tries to show both the sides (personal and professional) of the protagonists and for the lack of focus on either fails in both to certain extent.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hangover 3 – The Madness Gets Reviewed

Kartik Kannan reviews the Wolf Pack’s last adventure! The hangover does not seem to have lasted this time!

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Get Drugged, Wake up in a strange place with an animal, one of your comrades missing, and re creating your night story through a treasure hunt with clues, in the underbelly of a hedonistic city- That’s the Hangover template, that after passing through Vegas and Bangkok, decided to chart a different path ( or so we heard in the reviews).

To get prepared, we downed 3 Kamikazes in an hour before we rushed to the theatre and started watching the flick. It helped us do the ROTFL act more naturally, but somewhere deep down, the movie meandered away without a serious plot, and ended pre maturely.

The movie starts with the demise of Alan’s father, and how the family wants Alan to move to rehab, so that the chinks in his brain get ironed. The wolf pack convinces Alan,and accompanies him to the rehab facility, when the predicted twist happens( Its already 15 minutes into the movie, and its about a twist was manufactured). A gang kidnaps the 4 musketeers, and want them to locate Chow, in connection with some unfinished business. 3 days of time to go find Chow, else one of their partners get killed(who’s held hostage).

To find an international criminal in 3 days, that the FBI and Interpol could not, our wolf packs set themselves on this mission, which is as tough as the Indian Cricket team chasing 300+ totals in England. Chow keeps messaging Alan, and they end up finding Chow. Chow takes them on a trip and deceives the trio and that forms the core of the movie. In between there’s time for Alan to meet some one like minded, and a few LOL moments, but just when you think its time for take off, its touch down time, with a mild hint of what looked like a curtain raiser for another wolf pack adventure. That’s what keeps you happy, as you leave the cinema hall.

For a movie that featured Bangkok, in its sequel, you’d expect a ‘happy ending’ to the 3rd part, but you’ve got to do some self service (like get 3 Kamikaze shots nursing a mild hangover) to really get the ‘happy ending’ that the movie should have given!

The Only Problem With Gangs Of Wasseypur

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Joybrato Dutta writes why the problem with films like Gangs Of Wasseypur isn’t with the script or the language. It’s the same as ‘first impression’. It mostly stays to become the last impression.

Wasseypur, a place unheard of suddenly becomes the most talked about town in the country. A town filled with gangsters and corrupt politicians. Ask the fans and they will vouch for what I just said. But ask the residents and they will deny instantly. It’s the danger with a single story. We believe that’s the only story worth knowing.

American teens do drugs, Chinese teens know martial arts and kids of Uganda become vigilantes. Follow Hollywood movies blindly and you will start believing what I just said.

For a kid who was born and brought up in Bihar I really know what the scenario there is like. No, it’s not what they showed in the movie. I understand if you are disappointed. A few months back during an interview my interviewer was disappointed hearing that I hadn’t used a gun in school. It took me a lot of time to make him believe that every guy in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh don’t carry guns. The only time I used a gun was when I had to burst balloons in a stall during the Durga Puja Mela.

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The problem is, India is a vast place and none of us have seen every corner. So we start assuming things. Assumptions that are fuelled by books, news channels and mostly movies. Kashmir is about shikara rides and bomb blasts, Delhi is about brats and rapists, Mumbai is about celebrities and mafia, Goa is about beaches and drugs and so on. That’s not the complete truth. There is more to every city than captured in a movie.

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I am a small town boy and I have seen the fear in my parents’ eyes the moment I told them I wanted to move to a bigger city. Bollywood had instilled fear in their hearts. They thought I would get robbed in Delhi and murdered in Mumbai. But once I moved to a bigger city I understood the dichotomy of the cities. There is no difference. Big town people aren’t richer than the small town people and small town people aren’t more rooted than their big town counterparts. They are all the same.

Filmmakers will create what they feel will entertain us. So you will never see 3 men going for a road trip in Somalia and you won’t find Faisal Khan and Ramadhir Singh fighting for their life in Manali. Good movies are meant to have a long lasting impression but it shouldn’t last long enough to inculcate assumptions.  

The Great Debaters: Inspiring and Uplifting

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As I watch The Great Debaters, I feel the real need of filmmaking classes for the filmmakers elsewhere. So basically when someone tells the audience that films are made to suit the demographics, they bullshit us because films like The Great Debaters break the notion and the thought on its very base. 

The Great Debaters, though itself inspired from a real story, is like one of those sports films in which one team which is the underdog gets inspired and wins the trophy from the favorite,  a team which looks way beyond its reach. Denzel Washington, the lead, and also the Director of the film makes sure he creates a cast that look exact replicas of anyone suited in the roles. Thus, when this team (Wiley College) wins against Harvard, you feel a sense of victory inside you, something that all such films create, if made from the right senses.

Washington himself plays Mel Tolson, a professor at Wiley College. He builds a school debate team and works hard to make sure they are best with great difference from the rest. The auditions that he takes are a treat to watch and Washington himself, polite yet aggressive, humorous yet serious, makes sure he captures your attention as he so easily does. Finally, after rigorous auditions, he gets ready his team.

The team constitutes Henry Lowe (Nate Parker), someone with great intellect coupled with great looks but easily sway able,  Samantha Booke (Jurnee Smollett) who is at Wiley to learn debating and in the future become the state’s third-ever black female lawyer and finally James Farmer, Jr. (Denzel Whitaker), the 14-year-old son of another Wiley professor (Forest Whitaker) and also Hamilton Burgess (Jermaine Williams), a superb debater who eventually leaves the team for reasons of not being able to handle Tolson’s political pursuits.

There are two parallel stories which go on for a while. As this debate team starts winning and winning pretty easily against other black schools, Tolson and his rebel ways of acting as Labor organizer for local farmers provide a glimpse of the problems of those times. These were the same times when a black man could be lynched for no mistake of his. These were the bad times in the history of America. This team also found its share of threatening when they actually drove into a mob which was lynching a black person. Thankfully for the script, they could drive away.

Although the film touches on Tolson’s rebel ways, what is concealed is that he is one of America’s best poets. Tolson’s poems got published in magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly and in 1947 was actually named poet laureate of Liberia.

I would recommend this movie to not be seen for how they beat the best, but for how the entire black community in this film is seen to believe that education is their only way out to successfully be equals in a country, otherwise proud of its White culture. India, I feel somewhere needs to understand the same and work and we have examples to prove that with education has come affluence and with it misery often ends. The film is about being proud of your color and culture and not just being subservient to a lead. This team actually shows that they are black, proud of it and focused to win at something they are the best at, debating.

The Great Debaters is definitely one of the best I’ve seen and in it has a lot to learn from for filmmakers. Denzel Washington in himself is an institution. The movie does play around the facts a little as the in the great finale the real Wiley team does beat the national champions but they did not come from Harvard, and had actually were from USC. In the end though these things hardly matter because the idea of the film was well take care of.

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Hangover 3: The Wolf Pack is Back, One Last Time

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The epic adventure of the Wolf gang is to hit the theatres in May 24! For sure, this is no news to any of you. It’s one of those movies which create a buzz every time it’s up and all guys between the age groups of 18 and 35 rushes to the theatres. Till now, the first part of the series has been the most impressive (as proven by the earnings, which stood at $277.3 million)! The sequel (which grossed $254.5 million) probably lost out because of the storyline’s similarity to the first.

However, this time director Todd Phillips has promised a different adventure (at least, by the looks of the trailer). Bradley Cooper (Phil Wenneck), Ed Helms (Dr. Stuart Price), Zach Galifianakis (Alan Garner), Ken Jeong (Leslie Chow), Justin Bartha (Doug Billings) and Heather Graham (Jade) reprise their roles. The new faces include John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy.

The trailers of Hangover III reveal a Chow-centric plot and a villainous John Goodman. Let’s try and unravel a little more of the plot on the basis of the trailers.

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Plot

This part of the series has a lot of Alan in it! Alan mourns the death of his dad (Jeffrey Tambor). A weirdo that he is, Alan behaves inappropriately at the funeral several times, which includes his attempting to dig his father’s grave, shirtless. He even insults his mom. All this is because he is off medicines. So, his friends take him for a treatment to New Horizons and on the way, things go awry.

Hangover 3 alanThe action begins when Alan, Stu and Doug get waylaid by a livid Goodman en route New Horizons. Goodman is trying to track the infuriating character, Leslie Chow, who has apparently stolen $21 million from him. Doug is kidnapped, (which is kinda obvious as someone has to disappear), and does not participate in the dangerous frolic that the other characters do.

The Wolf gang finds Leslie in Tijuana cockfighting and indulging in hedonistic acts. This adventure proves more therapeutic for Alan than would New Horizons since the realization of “we can’t be friends any more… when we get together bad things happen” dawns on him. Of course, Chow incoherently, responds to this point with “yeah…it’s funny”.

While the movie probably is funny, Goodman seems to disappear completely from the second part of the trailer. Hopefully, Goodman will make more than just a glorifying appearance to ends the anarchy.

Since the nerve center of the movie is Vegas, the gang has to end up there. Now, let all hope that this time the slightly-older-‘n-wiser-yet-troublesome boys finally find some peace in this sequel and their makers are able to make more bucks this time! All the Best Warner Bros!

Go Goa Gone: Review

 

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Kartik Kannan whose favourite destination is Goa was the best person to review Go Goa Gone. Peek into it to see what he likes and what he does not in the film. 

It doesn’t take too much to excite some one of a movie with the title having the
3 magical letters of Goa in it. To add to that in the trailer, you wacky hummable
music, Zombie plot., 3 guys having bachelor fun in Goa, one new chick as part of
the cast, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, since you’ve seen the trailer

The movie remains very focused on the Zombie plot, and does not waste time
lounging around irrelevant scenes, but you did feel that the movie did not take
you around on a little trip around Goa, as much as you imagined sitting in living
room. The Zombie genre, recently introduced in India, by Luke Kenny, seems to
have been inspired by Walking Dead-from Hollywood, but fits in rather well with
the Goa theme.

The directors have done well to keep a balance between the comedy and the
zombie chase, keeping with the trailer’s promise of a Zom-Com(Zombie comedy).
It’s easy to have fallen for the bait of missing the woods for the trees in focusing
more on the zombie part, but the film makers have done justice to the way they
have timed the length of the movie.

The movie starts with a spicy Telugu number, where Chiranjeevi’s jhatka’s
from the 90’s, have Luv(Vir Das) and Hardik(Kunal) unwillingly glued to the
dance, since neither of them is stable enough to push their laziness to change the
remote. The scene just showed how bored in life, each of them were, and why
they needed a break from the routine and vert appropriately, their mundance
life is highlighted by the catchy ‘Khoon Choos Le’ number. To make matters
more worse, Hardik loses his job due to a make out session in the office board
room, and Luv is rejected by his girlfriend(eerily similar to Eurotrip’s ‘Scotty
doesn’t know’). So in true Indian style, people use their frustration to rise like
the phoenix, in making a Goa trip, thanks to an opportunity that arises due to
Bunny(their room mate), who needs to make a presentation to his higher ups.

Cut to Goa, the director makes a humorous point on how today’s Facebook
friends are mere connections on the web, more than actual friends. Luv’s who’s
full monty in the pool, end up meeting Luna(his Facebook Fraand), who happens
to know everything in Luv’s real life, thanks to his Facebook updates(apart from
knowing that the Chaddi floating in the water is Luv’s). Luna(Puja Gupta) looks
vivacious in the bikini, and one only wishes they had more of her in the movie, to
keep the fun quotient going!

Luna informs them of a rave party in a secret island, and before you know it, our
bachelor trio drive down to a point where where they see the island from the
coast. In a very ‘The Beach’esque fashion, the trio looks at the island from a
distance, and decide how close It is, for them to get there. Once on the island, the
rave party is shown in the rather appropriate ‘Slowly Slowly’ number. The rave
party has pills being distributed for people to get high, and our trio doesn’t have
the pills, since they don’t have the moolah in the pocket. Hardik takes ‘Ariana’ to
make love under the moonlight, and wakes up the next morning, when the

morning sun gleams on his face. He wakes up to see people eating other people
on the beach, and runs for cover to make sense of the situation and meets his
other friends . The conversation that follows is hilarious, given the studious
background of Bunny( A Steve Job fan, who chooses to ask ‘What do we know,
what have we learnt), and our trio trek their way out to get out of the island. In
the midst of their run, Hardik suddenly remembers that Luna, had said that she
would be going from the party to meet her friends on the hilltop guest house.

He convinces his friends to go rescue Luna, and then they get to the hilltop
guesthouse to discover blood stains all over, and find Luna locked in her room.
They discover the Zombie phenomenon is all over the island and not limited to
what they saw., and realize that this may be linked to the pills that were
distributed. While they run together for safety, they are accosted by the Zombies
and just when it seems that the Zombies would have them for breakfast,
Bareez(Boris for the make believe Russian accent), makes an entry shoots the
Zombies, saving the group of 4.

The rest of the movie is about how they encounter and escape from the Zombies,
which forms 60% of the movie, and here is where the movie slips a bit with a
perceived overdose of the zombie bit, but there’s enough rib tickling comedy to
keep you entertained, apart from the racy feel that the movie has all through the
2 hours.

Things to watch out are Luv’s reactions, when he the false alarm ticks off in
his brain as ‘moments-to- make-out’, and Kunal Khemu’s care free attitude on
his sleeve, which makes up for many ROTFL ‘moments’. Overall, it makes for
interesting viewing, but you leave the hall wondering if it could have been better.
Could the ‘Director Babaii’ have given more bootiful ‘Bhaang for the Buck’? The
answer is yes, but you ‘Slowly Slowly’ forget all that, as the songs more than
make up for the few gaffes that stay in the movie!

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The Stoning of Soraya M: A Potent Tale

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By Kushal Sakunia

Based on an incredible true story of horrific injustice, The Stoning of Soraya M. is the powerful tale of an entire village’s persecution of an innocent woman. Originally described in 1990 in a book by a French-Iranian journalist named Freidoune Sahejam, the film tells the story of Soraya Manutchehri, a 35-year-old woman, who was stoned to death in rural Iran in 1986.

James Caviezel plays Freidoune, an Iranian expatriate visiting Iran on assignment when he meets Soraya’s aunt, Zahra (played with strong intensity by famous Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo), who convinces him to visit her to listen to her story.

Soraya (Shohreh Aghdashloo) has two boys and two younger girls and is financially trapped in a marriage to her prison guard husband Ali (Navid Negahban). Ali wants a divorce so he can marry a 14 tempting pre-teen girl, but does not want to commit to the financial support of Soraya and their daughters.

Fearing disgrace and unable to support her daughters, Soraya refuses to divorce Ali. So he devises an alternate plan: accuse Soraya of adultery. He blackmails the local Ayatollah (a former hatchet-man for the Shah) into helping him. Soraya’s uneducated employer Hashem is easily threatened into testifying that she had “slept in his bed,” and the fair but weak mayor of the village goes along with the accusations and convicts Soraya of adultery.  Given the title of the film, we all know exactly what is going to happen and my heart was in my throat anticipating that ending.  The film’s strategy is to slowly draw out the horrifying details: the gathering of the stones; her burial standing and of course the chilling bloodlust of the mob.

As a condemnation of violence against women, The Stoning of Soraya M. is quite effective. The message of the film is extremely clear throughout: that abuse of any kind should not be tolerated, and that even the most kindly disposed person can be swayed by mob mentality. The film will certainly bring tears especially when you see the terror of stoning in Soraya’s eyes and the scene where Ali forces Soraya’s two sons to abjure her and throw stones.

Stoning is a terrible, unjust practice, and it is often used against women even when the women in question have done nothing deserving of punishment. The film is definitely not an easy to watch with its uncomfortable scenes of stoning, but it tells a story that needs to be told, and tells it well.  

stoning of soraya review