Swiss Army Man (2016)

Swiss Army Man (2016)

I intentionally skipped this one at MAMI this year. Everyone said it’ll release eventually, but it didn’t. Yesterday, I finally chanced upon this film.
I’m somehwhere between ‘Leave me alone, can’t talk right now’ and ‘WHAT DID I JUST WATCH!’

I’m mindblown!

sa1

Swiss Army Man touches layers and layers of the human psyche. Your deep, hidden worries about life and death and being lonely and living like a loser – the worse, dying like one. A hopeless Hank (Paul ) meets Manny  (Daniel), the dead body, while he’s stranded on a deserted island and is about to commit suicide. In the first few minutes, you’re convinced Manny is dead. A plethora of questions start hoarding your head. Where is this story going to head?
Oh man! It heads on this surreal journey where Manny, the multi-purpose-tool- dead body, gives Hank’s existence a meaning.

sa2.jpg

The beauty of this film is that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. When I look at it from the POV of society, I see a manic depressed, hallucinating because of lack of food and energy, slipping towards necrophilia?
But when I see it the way Hank sees it, it’s pure and unreal. It’s beauty in its rawest form.
And I prefer to see it the way Hank does!

sa5

Man-O-man! Daniel Radcliffe is a dream to watch! He’s picked up the nuances of a corpse SO WELL! He’s surpassed any great performance of his from the past. He isn’t a tad bit Harry. You won’t even think of that. All you’ll know and see is Manny. Manny who has absurd special powers, my favourite being where he uses his bodily gases to ski in the ocean.

sa4Paul Dano is always a treat to watch! He’s your unconventional guy. The one who could easily suit the role of a lost, beaten down young guy. The challenge for him was to deliver beyond that image. He’s nailed it to perfection. Paul made me laugh, cry and feel so so so much for him.

My favourite moment of it all was when this girl he’s been in love with for a long time, but has no guts to confront, asks him, what is her photo doing as his phone’s wallpaper?
He says, with utmost honesty, ‘I was sad, and you looked so happy.’

sa3

Swiss Army Man is easily amongst my top 10 favourite movies of all time!
It’s delightful and it’s deep and touching, and it’s gross in parts too. Each time I re-watch it, it’ll have a new meaning for me I’m sure.

Written and Directed by Dan Kwan (as Daniel Kwan) and Daniel Scheinert, don’t miss out on this experience.
Too many Daniels have killed it in this one. 

Swiss Army Man on IMDB

Advertisements

Rangoon (2017)

Rangoon (2017)

I crave for the mesmerising trio of Vishal Bhardwaj, Gulzar Saab and Rekha Bhardwaj on the big screen, but even their greatness couldn’t save Rangoon for me. Nope, nor did the gigantic sets, elaborate costumes and scenic locations. rangoonf-min

It’s a Vishal Bhardwaj film, so yes, expectations were high, but it’s a different kind of feeling. I, for one, *want* his films to do well. I have too much love for him and his cinema to criticise it, but as much as I tried Rangoon kept falling apart. The final blow were the last 20 mins. The movie escalated from illogical to bizarre. As much as I want to discuss the last 20 mins (because THAT bizarre) I wont, as I want you to watch the film. You may like it and show me why I should too!

The first half, the essential half, the one where you introduce characters, their motives and set the pace of the film – went by in a jiffy. Edit cuts were abrupt. There was barely any time spent with characters for me to feel for them. Can you believe it, I’m saying this about a VB film? The master of love and loss, unfortunately, couldn’t make me feel for his characters. Logic compelled me to understand what the writer wants me to feel for the character but not even once did the characters pull me into their world of love, war and deceit. I watched like an outsider.

Gandhi’s ideals, the INA’s goals, people for and against it, British India – all these concepts are simplified and explained very well. Saif Ali Khan aka Rusi is a film producer with a prosthetic hand that opens up on the press of a button. That added to Rusi. I’m glad that was thought of, because besides that very little thought was given to him. Saif, with whatever little he got to do, did a fine job. Specially in the second half, he’s evil, cunning, kind, helpless all at once.  rangoon1.jpg

Julia is the most annoying woman ever! I’m sorry, I love Kangana but her dialogue delivery was highly difficult to comprehend. Oh Julia looks gorgeous but that’s not enough. She dances weirdly, and what was sad is that she causes some serious damage to the narrative due to her stupidity. I hate it when women characters are made to do something silly, like while the goons are behind her in a chase sequence she stops to stay with her lover. I am a woman and I would have ran to save the country over a guy! Stop making women look so dumb!
The film is set on her, and she isn’t one bit likeable. 06rangoon-lead

Shahid Kapoor aka Nawaab Ali is the only man I’ve seen who makes a moustache look hot! Shahid has caught the part of being a soldier really well, he’s strong and soothing. I loved him the most. Unlike Saif’s character which is underwritten, Shahid’s character has no character of his own.

I’m going to mention a hypothetical story, you tell me if it seems weird to you too – Two people met at their work place. A boy and a girl. The boy’s job allotted by his boss- the girl’s boyfriend, is to constantly overlook the work of the girl. Obviously the girl doesn’t like him because he’s constantly on her back.
Now one day, the office goes for a picnic and this boy and girl get lost with a Japanese chef (for some reason). The girl wants to go back to her colleagues but is stuck because there’s a cake fight going on and they have to hide. The next day, the girl and boy get drunk over way too many rum balls made by the chef and start making out. The girl in a jiffy forgets that she has a boyfriend, she hated this guy 2 mins back, she met him 1 day ago. Just like that! ran3

Now Rangoon to me, felt just like this hypothetical story. It was superficial and boring.
The British guy who played the British Officer Barry delivered eye-twitching monologues in Hindi. There was no way I’d take a man seriously who spoke like that! He was so annoying that he even annoyed death and came back. He and the Japanese soldier were given way too much screen-time.

Look, I enjoyed the songs specially Bloody Hell and Yeh Ishq Hai. Sunidhi Chauhan’s cameo was cute. The acts that the troop performs to keep the crowd entertained were well done. Making of films in 1930s to the high-society parties, it all felt so vintage and classy.

But nope, I’m not buying that just because Julia does her own stunts, she’ll jump upon a fast moving train and do dangerous, out of character stunts.
Characters appear and disappear from no where.
But what got to me, was the sheer audacity with which Julia got away for her unfaithfulness. Rusi got no closure and the woman was far from apologetic.

rangoon-review.jpg

Watch it for the large sets, VB’s visionary India during the times of British Raj and the fascinating ways of film-making and entertainment back in the days.

Rangoon on IMDB

89th Academy Awards- My Predictions (And Winners)

89th Academy Awards- My Predictions (And Winners)

This year (2016) has been better! For me, and thankfully for the Academy Awards. There were a variety of films nominated from every walk of life. I was running behind time, and just about 5 hours before the ceremony managed to finish watching all of the major films.
Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester By The Sea have my heart!

So just like last year, here is my wishlist of Oscar predictions (P), these are the ones I really wish win. I’ll also mention the ones which won in reality.

Writing (Original Screenplay) P – Manchester By The Sea
Winner: Manchester By The Sea

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) P – Hidden Figures
Winner: Moonlight

Visual Effects P – Jungle Book
Winner: Jungle Book

Sound mixing P – Hacksaw Ridge
Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Sound editing P – Arrival
Winner: Arrival

Production Design P – Fantastic Beasts
Winner: La La Land

Film Editing P – Hacksaw Ridge
Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Direction P – Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea)
Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Costume Design P – Fantastic Beasts
Winner: Fantastic Beasts

Make up P – Suicide Squad
Winner: Suicide Squad

Cinematography P – La La Land
Winner: La La Land

Animated Feature P – My Life As A Zucchini
Winner: Zootopia

Actress in a Supporting Role P – Naomi Harris (Moonlight)
Winner: Viola Davis (Fences)

Actor in a Supporting Role P – Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Winner: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Actress in Leading Role P – Emma Watson (La La Land)
Winner: Emma Watson (La La Land)

Actor in Leading role P – Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Winner: Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Picture P – La La Land
Winner: Moonlight

This year’s Oscars was no less than a well scripted thriller with an underwhelming ending.
None the less, we’ll wait to see what happens next year.

P.S: I couldn’t write about any of these films because I realised I had to finish watching them first. I will skip them but if you’re reading this, please watch – Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, My Life As A Zucchini,  Sing (Short film), O.J: Made In America (Documentary) and Manchester By The Sea. These topped my list!

 

Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight (2016)

Divided in three chapters, Moonlight portrays the internal and external struggle of an African-American man living in Miami, through different stages. Chiron goes by the name of ‘Little’ when he’s young mainly because of his lanky body and low self-esteem. Conflicted and lost within he finds comfort in Jaun played by Mahershala Ali who is a drug dealer. Chiron is stuck between his addict mother and his bully classmates.
mv5bywfhzdnhnjktngm0ns00mjc2ltgxzgitmjqxzjdkmziyoguwxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndgwndg1nzq-_v1_ql50_
With every step, every moment spent quietly in the bath-tub, every word he chooses not to speak; one can feel the pit in his stomach. All the 3 actors who play this character have picked it up right where the previous one left. He grows up a lost and scared teenager. With no friends except Theresa to talk to, who is disliked by his own mother.
In Chp 3, Chiron or Black, is a drug dealer who’s heart is still back home where he left it last. 

mv5bzmy3y2zimwqtzdhlmy00nmzjltgyowmtmzqxm2uzztnkmzlll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndgwndg1nzq-_v1_ql50_sy1000_sx1600_al_What stayed with me post watching this film was the kindness with which Chiron’s sexuality is handled by Director Barry Jenkins and writers Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film gets slow at some points, sometimes too slow but it picks up efficiently.
Dialogue writing works wonders! There are some extremely innocent and hard-hitting scenes, my favourite is the one where Chiron and his friend Kevin have a moment sitting on the beach smoking a J, slowly allowing each other to open up, knowing deep down that being gay is mocked by their neighbourhood but giving in despite of all that. mv5bodayzdg4zwitn2q1mi00mmiyltk4zdytyzbknmflngm2nzexl2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndgwndg1nzq-_v1_ql50_sy1000_sx1600_al_

Chiron builds himself from scratch to fit in. But his heart belongs elsewhere. My heart melted when he so vulnerably confesses to Kevin that he’s never touched another man. His longing, his pain, his journey is so touching and genuine. Not a moment felt disconnected or forced.

Moonlight has been nominated for 8 Oscars and I’m totally hoping that Naomie Harris gets one for her effortless performance. 

MV5BYWYwZWEwNDMtZDNmZS00ODBiLTg2MjQtM2ZjNmYxZDhkMzdhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDgwNDg1NzQ@._V1_QL50_.jpg
So here’s a confession (I’m not homophobic) –

Last year was an overdose of LGBT movies with (wonderful) films like Carol, Pride, Danish Girl, Aligarh, Tangerine, Girlhood, Don’t Call Me Son etc, one needed a change. But Moonlight felt so different. Love here is treated like love, barring all societal permissions. It felt unadulterated and it didn’t need any justification or upliftment. It needed only self-approval.
Apart from dealing with one’s sexuality, Moonlight also touches sensitive layers of mental health, brittle self-esteem and depression.

Take out time and watch Moonlight. Savour it. Slowly.

Moonlight on IMDB

Raees (2017)

Raees (2017)

This is the first time that I read a number of reviews before posting my opinion here. Majorly because I really liked the film, and I wanted to know if there were any valid points to make me dislike the film. Let me assure you, there aren’t any.
Firstly, anyone who hasn’t written a feature length script, or gone through the challenges of directing and producing a film, keeping in mind all the possible hindrances that come along the way, one – however reliable, shouldn’t hold any weight-age in our minds when we’re deciding whether or not to go watch a film.

MV5BNTk2MTc0MmMtZGIyNS00Y2Y0LWJhZjMtMDcxZmVlYzA4NTU1L2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjM1NjkwMDI@._V1_QL50_.jpg

Let me begin by saying, Raees isn’t a perfect film but it is a good film.  It even gets very good in parts. But you don’t have to believe me either. Believe yourself by watching it!
I personally hate it when people thrust their opinions on others and ask others to ‘not watch a movie’ because ‘they didn’t like it’. Movie watching is subjective, so don’t let any critic play you. Please.

I, unfortunately missed the first 5 mins of the film which was a flashback into Raees’s childhood. When I saw Raees all grown up, I saw this Gujju-Mumv5bzjlmy2q1mdetytfjmc00zdmwlwi5njetm2qxzjg1zjkxndlll2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjq2mjq5nzm-_v1_ql50_sy1000_cr005571000_al_slim bootlegger who is hungry to make it big in Gujarat. SRK (after long) has delivered a fine, fine performance. He’s scary and sexy, all at once.
There are debates on whether he being a negative character should be glamorised and called the ‘hero’. I read them all and then tossed them into a bin. Life was simpler when Baazigar and Darr released. We watched a wicked Vicky Malhotra throw his girlfriend off a roof and still wished he got justice for his dead father. Why? Because it is a god damn film. It’s entertaining because it is supposed to entertain.

mv5bzgy3ztqxy2yty2qxys00ymzmlwi1mdmtmjgzoti1ywqwmgy1l2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndk1nzkzotc-_v1_ql50_sy1000_cr005461000_al_If you have a problem with the many songs in Raees then go watch world cinema.
Yes, Raees could’ve been very different, perhaps more intense and less campy but I can’t deny that I also was thoroughly entertained watching Sunny Leone do a Shimmi.
If we had to see a mundane or morose story, we’d peep into our own lives. Why’d we spend our hard earned money if we can’t feel larger than life? mv5bogjizwu2ndqtzgrkni00m2ixltkxzjgtm2u2zja0ytm0zgi5l2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm1njkwmdi-_v1_ql50_

Mahira Khan is cute and acts only when needed.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is fire! He surrounds and captivates like no other. His entry scene is the best that has been written. He isn’t there a lot but when he is, he owns the scene. He’s playing a workaholic, rigid, unintentionally hilarious cop who is at loggerheads with Raees.
Raees, played by Shah Rukh Khan is a fearless bootlegger who believes (and explains dramatically) that no work is big or small as long as you don’t hurt others. He goes on doing his illegal business of selling alcohol to Gujarat (which his moral metre doesn’t call ‘hurting people’), he hurts the bad guys aka whoever comes in his way (but only in self defence.)
He jumps over terraces, climbs up lampposts and even though he’s such a big guy, he prefers catching them traitors all by himself. Why not! Raees is an extra-ordinary man living in ordinary circumstances. Now, although the chase sequences were way too many and unnecessary and the songs were boring (except Laila) the film wavered and yet held itself together because of a strong base. Which brings me to the writers. mv5bngvmotg1mmetotqxmc00nwuzltgwy2etnmuxmjizmdblnmvkl2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm1njkwmdi-_v1_ql50_

Now, I am nobody to comment specifically, but studying and writing my own has taught me a bit about writing scenes, dialogue, character building etc. I can now unfortunately catch certain writing issues. I say ‘unfortunately’ because I would’ve loved a lot more movies to a greater extent had these things not played in my head.

Robert Mckee, in his screen-writing book ‘Story’ has mentioned the skill of using objects to add subtext to the narrative. More the subtext, more the connection and better the film!
Raees got me there. Rahul DholakiaHarit MehtaNiraj Shukla and Ashish Vashi have used objects from a match-box to a carom board to a kite to even spectacles – for the impact!
It wasn’t the story but the scene writing that elevated the narrative for me.
If I had to nitpick, the background score that gushed in each time after Raees said a whistle-worthy dialogue got a bit annoying. But somehow on exactly those moments the entire theatre clapped and hooted for that man, and just like that I too joined them.
Let a movie devour you, with its shortcomings. Unless, it is as unbearable as Hamari Adhuri Kahaani , then walk out. mv5bytdmmwm3otqtmwi5yy00ytm1ltlmzditmwixzjyznzy1yjqyl2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm1njkwmdi-_v1_ql50_

Raees  is a good attempt at a decent film.Watch it for flawless Nawaz, for the ‘actor’ SRK, for some big actors doing cameos, and for the beautifully captured Gujarat.

Raees on IMDB

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2016)

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2016)

I’ve been unwell on and off for the past 3 months. I brought in the new year with a chronic stomach infection because of which I couldn’t savour any of those fancy dishes my friends and family were hogging over. I was hoping to get better in 2017 but in the first month itself my health got worse. I had severe pain in my right kidney and I was admitted in a hospital. The infection had reached my kidney. The treatment is still on, but after a week I was discharged. This was day before. All I could think of on the hospital bed was all the films that have released while I’m stuck in here. The first chance I got, I went and watched a film. It had to be xXx because – Deepika Padukone.
I cannot ruin my OK Kanmani experience by watching OK Jaanu and I had watched Haraamkhor a year back at MAMI.  mv5bzgmwogmymtgtzjdhms00ndg4ltgxyzitmdcwzwfhmtrmzwywl2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynza1njy5mtu-_v1_ql50_

Covered in a big fat hoodie I sat in a theatre atPVR Lower Parel eagerly waiting for Deepika Padukone’s grand Hollywood debut. She did create magic when she came onscreen but there were only few such instances. The entire film rode on Vin Diesel’s deserving shoulders.
Also, the thing I realised (not being anti-national) while watching the film is that Indians are in majority average looking. I’m smitten by Deepika, precisely because there are very few women as perfect in every aspect as her, but suddenly in Hollywood every other person’s drop dead gorgeous. I mean Ruby Rose is equally hot! So kudos to Deepika for still looking so irresistible. She’s throwing knives and kicking butts, all while being a seductress. She’s kept her Indian accent intact and hasn’t forced any Videsipan on herself, which is commendable. But there’s nothing more to her character. mv5bymnmndaxmtetnmrjmi00ytm5lwi1mzitytrlyzgynzfjoguzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynji0mjk2mtu-_v1_ql50_
She’s Vin Diesel’s love interest but she never takes decisions. If her character didn’t exist, the film would go on as is. 

Vin Diesel did a fine job! He’s cute and charming and ferocious all at once. The action scenes aren’t too monotonous or repetitive and they didn’t feel too draggy.

Same old, group of heroes save the day – insider is the culprit – find and defeat insider – save the world while you’re at it – lose a few good men – get the girl.
There’s nothing new to this story but it was done in style.

It’s a good Sunday afternoon chill scene at home.

MV5BM2RhNGNmNDUtM2NkYy00YTY2LTkyMTMtYjU5Nzg3NjkzYTQ2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ2MjQ5NzM@._V1_QL50_SY1000_SX1000_AL_.jpg

I really really hope Deepika bags something better for her Hollywood dreams to work out!

xXx: Return of Xander Cage on IMDB

शाळा (2011)

शाळा (2011)

The magic that a film with children as the protagonists can create, no other can! Shala starts off on an extremely light note. Indulging wholeheartedly into the deepest nuances of childhood, specially childhood in the fahqdefaultce of poverty. But Shala doesn’t talk about the miseries of rural kids, instead it takes us into that world without screaming right into our faces. Instantly, I’m Joshi and I’m Mhatre and I’m rooting for them to confess their love to their school crush, or as they call it – line.

 

Set in the 70s, Shala doesn’t stop right here, it touches some deeper societal issues – protests, child abuse, name calling because a girl chooses to live like a boy, child-beating and the western influence on rural India. shala-2011-xvid-mp3-1-cd-dvdrip-mdg-exclusives-avi_003797582.jpg

Some of the teachers reminded me of mine. Specially the English teacher.
There are some beautiful romantic moments between Joshi and his girlfriend.
Although, the plagiarised background score (This) distracted me, but the moments and the intentions were at the right place.  Milind Bokil and Avinash Deshpande have written some hilarious dialogue. I loved Mhatre – the loyal friend. 254254_10150196816460904_108029570903_7299458_7180475_n

Now, let’s talk about what didn’t work for me –

The forced 70’s look definitely didn’t work. And what didn’t work at all were the last twenty minutes! The film took a dip. Unexplained scenarios, lots of open-ended -read between the lines -moments, and the end was so dissatisfying. shala_2

I’m not criticising the end, I’m just saying it didn’t work for me. You’d know someone who’d precisely love it for the end. I just wouldn’t want to leave the theatre with that feeling.

Special mention to the actor who played Joshi’s father. He was my favourite character!

Shala on IMDB