Thursday, December 25, 2008

Twilight (2008)

When watching a movie that is clearly not intended for you, it's best to let yourself flow with it and judge it on its own merits rather than on pre-conceived notions or prejudices. So with that in mind I walked into a screening of Twilight, clearly aimed at the tween female audience, expecting to watch a vampire-love-story - and it actually turned out to be exactly that! So, in essence, it was not disappointing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

DIFF 5 – Day 7 Roundup

18th December 2008

The grand finale of the Festival, the final movie in my schedule was also the movie I enjoyed the most. But it was preceded by two interesting movies such that over the last day of DIFF I had traveled from Japan to Italy and finally, back home.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

DIFF 5 – Day 6 Roundup

17th December 2008

Yes, one of them rocked my senses alright. Of the four movies I caught on Day# 6, I can safely say that one of them is now the best movie I have seen this year - not just at the festival, but all year through. I did watch the worst movie of the year too. And quite interestingly, these two movies share a common thread. Yes, it was a day of extremes. Read on about them and two more movie screenings I caught.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

DIFF 5 – Day 5 Roundup

16th December 2008

Now this is what a Film Festival really brings to fans of movies. A day that was worth more than 360 minutes of great movie-watching. It helped that a big chunk of that was a one-two knockout of a biopic.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DIFF 5 – Day 4 Roundup

15th December 2008

Now this is what a Film Festival really brings to fans of movies. A day that was worth more than 360 minutes of great movie-watching. It helped that a big chunk of that was a one-two knockout of a biopic.

Monday, December 15, 2008

DIFF 5 – Day 3 Roundup

14th December 2008

When I sat to make my schedule of what I would watch during this year's festival, I filled in Day#3 last - only because most of my preferred movies fit in with times and locations so well on the other days. This meant Day#3 was for mostly experimenting with movies I hadn't put on my "must-watch" list, which would lead to either a great discovery, or a huge disappointment. But unfortunately, it ended up being more of the latter. Luckily, I had the next 4 days to look forward too, which guarantee at least a gem a day. I did I end up watching five movies though! Read on for mostly miss-able movies and one great discovery.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

DIFF 5 – Day 2 Roundup

13th December 2008

Day 2 at the DIFF-5 was mostly unkind, but not at all disappointing. Of the four movies I ended up watching, one bowled me over while the other three fell short, miserably. More on them in detail...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

DIFF 5 – Day 1 Roundup

12th December 2008

For many of us who were not a part of the elite few attending the opening Gala at this year's Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), the festivities started on 12th December, a glorious Friday for films galore. And the start of the festival brings with it the start of a week-long odyssey of movies, mayhem, soap. As I embark on this odyssey, look forward to a daily report on what I caught, what I loved and what I wish I had missed.

Day 1 of a Film Festival is like the opening moments of a football match - there's a lot of excitement and anticipation, yet not much is expected. Expect the *best* movies to follow on subsequent days, while the current lot serves to whet the appetite and warm up the senses. Of the four movies I ended up watching today, none were spectacularly good, but neither were any a waste. Exactly as I expected the first day to be (but I did hope for it to be better!). On to the movies then...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

RocknRolla (2008)

A few years and dismissible movies after he had been written off as a one-trick pony, Guy Ritchie proves that he can yet make a decent movie. With RocknRolla, Ritchie goes back to his trick-defining movie Snatch yet steps forward in his career with a mellowed down and grown-up movie, but, relative to his own movies.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Natural Born Killers (1994)

For the third time now, I have seen this movie and liked it. Over the past seven years, I have learned to like this movie not just for the style in which it is made but also in how it satirizes & ignites the issue of how violence is gratified. The movie is not about violence itself, but about Mass-Media's Obsession with Violence. About how an infant culture adopts and accepts abnormalities in it's fabric.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and others.

I received this book as a gift a month ago, and gobbled it up in two evenings. It consists a series of shorts by Mike Mignola himself that were published at various times, and are now recolored for this compilation. Mike gives an introduction to each story, especially what how he included myths and legends into his stories.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Crow (1994)

14 years after its original release, and the movie still holds up well! This inspite of watching dozens of movies that have copied or have been inspired in different ways from Alex Proyas' excellent 'dark' superhero movie.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Roadside Romeo (2008)

I ended up watching this yesterday while a few of us had 2hrs to kill before dinner. Seems, it is the only excuse you can really have to watch this movie. It really is not worth the effort to take time out, drive to the cinemas and dedicate a part of your evening for Roadside Romeo - it will be too much of a disappointment.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

There is something very genuine in the pleasure of watching classic movies, and probably especially so for film-noir. Movies today, except for a few art-house works, tend to become as much about grandiose and fanfare as much about the movie itself. But watching classic cinema detaches the marketing angle of the movie, and you tend to watch the movie for what it really is.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Max Payne (2008)

Max Payne is a celebrated game, and with its film-noir/graphic novel roots, becomes an easy property to adapt for a movie. Yet, Uwe Boll... no, John Moore botched it up. The movie plays out like a cheaply-written foreword to what a real movie could have been. Although the visuals are spot-on, with muted and gray colors, bleak and contrasting visuals and especially the way the camera follows Max Payne in most of his movements, just like the game, that is all the movie picks of what made the game a success. The game’s omnipresent voice-over narration by the titular character did begin the movie, but it dies a natural death hardly ten minutes in.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Superman: Red Son (2003)

This book has a great premise - one that beckons an immediate reading: what if Superman had been raised in the Soviet Union?

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Dark Knight (2008)

One week of release and The Dark Knight has broken every major box-office record it could, even touching IMDb’s top spot in highest rated movies. This fervor, attributed mainly to the ingenious viral marketing campaign and the tragic demise of Heath Ledger, dictates the response to the movie being as emphatic as it is. Once the noise settles, sifting through that manic praise, the movie surfaces as a great crime-saga, even one of the best ever made. It just happens to be a Batman movie.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wanted (2008)

In the midst of slow-motion action, gravity-defying leaps, bullet-time sequences and curving bullets, the hero puts on a pair of sunglasses, then promptly takes them off quipping “Bad idea!”. Wanted belongs to the generation of movies after The Matrix that have benefited from the success of slo-mo stylized and choreographed action sequences. But Wanted distinguishes itself in the most prominent way possible: it enjoys what it is.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Even though he is as much a motor-mouth as so many other actors who become annoying with time, there is something incessantly likeable about Jack Black. Put his voice in a warm big fluffy Panda, and you just have to love him. Put this Panda in a Kung Fu setting complete with training-school dojo, grand masters and a nemesis to fear, and you have the first Dreamworks Animation movie that can stand up among Pixar’s annual excellence as one of the best 3D animation movies made.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Incredible Hulk (2008)


Yes, the Incredible Hulk does utter those lines in this newer, updated version of the comic-book superhero movie. He does the Thunder Clap, uses two halves of a squad car as boxing gloves and does not fly for miles. The studio has spent a lot of money, hired an A-list star cast, got a famous director and even distanced itself from Ang Lee’s critically-panned outing five years ago. Edward Norton re-wrote the script and Marvel has made sure the movie is littered with direct references from the Hulk comics and the Marvel universe that fan-boys will geek over. Yet, this movie misses the target quite spectacularly. It suffers from the same problem that X3 did – the movie just does not come together due to extremely poor execution and hence seems mediocre at best.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Happening (2008)

It might be cliché, but it has to be said: The Happening is not happening.

Shyamalan has proved to us earlier that he can be as good as the best with masterpieces of cinema with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Yet, since then, he has declined steadily. Signs and Village were good movies, but with Lady in the Water and now The Happening, he has touched a level of incompetence that could never have been expected of him.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Iron Man (2008)

Since Batman Begins released three years ago, most new superhero movies have been particular about their casting – especially about the non-lead characters – and also great care is taken to please the geeks with trivia scattered all about the movie. Iron Man is the first such "production line" movie for Marvel since they have started producing their own movies. And with all our luck, they succeed. Iron Man balances a big budget/big explosions popcorn movie with a host of intelligent actors to make it a worthy opener for Hollywood’s Summer Season this year.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Bucket List (2007)

The Bucket List starts with a narration from Morgan Freeman's Carter talking about Jack Nicholson's Edward while a solitary figure climbs a snow covered mountain slope. His narration has the same timelessness as that of Red's from Shawshank Redemption. Edward, on the other hand, reflects too much of Melvin from As Good as It Gets. This forms an immediate barrier in letting the movie get through to the audience, but not for long. Reiner does not waste much time on the set up - very soon these two seniors, sharing a hospital room, are diagnosed with cancer that sets the full-stop on their life-span after a few months. The rest of the movie is about the bonding between these opposite people - black polite mechanic family man & white rich obnoxious business man playboy - as they go about fulfilling their 'Bucket List', a wish list of things they want to do before they 'kick the bucket'.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cloverfield (2008)

Cloverfield is to monster movies what Blair Witch Project is to horror movies. But while the latter was a gimmicky low-budget fiasco (forget Box Office, it is no measure of quality), Cloverfield is a decently budgeted polished piece of film-making.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rambo (2008)

John Rambo, as the title sequence called this movie, is indeed a movie that finally completely proves how violence can be used to preach anti-violence. This movie has such realistic gore, without ever glorifying it, that I had to convince myself while watching it that it is just a movie. Rambo's insanely calm and cold-blooded demeanor while he massacres an entire infantry is reminiscent of how killing so many people has killed him of human emotions.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

300 (2006)

Before, during and after watching this movie I realize this movie was made with just one purpose - to entertain. No social messages, no character study. Just plain fun. Well, maybe not so plain, but sure as hell lots of fun.

I have not read the book; hence I am not in a position to judge how true the movie stays to the book - in look or in feel. Watching the movie in itself is such a wonderfully visceral and testosterone–fueled experience that it stands for itself apart from the book.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Johnny Gaddar (2007)

There is no dispute on Vijay Anand being the de facto Master of Suspense/Thriller in Indian Cinema history. So when we have a movie that pays tribute to this master (starting from quite an obvious title), purists like me sit up and get ready to tear apart any fallings. Consider the astonishment when the movie not only lives up to the name, but dignifies it! That this movie actually got made, and then received a wide-release is in itself a surprise - hardly are any studios or distributors in India who support movies that do not conform to the fabric of established norms of Bollywood. Yet we have this movie. Raghavan gives us a genuine film-noir that is so rare that it is easy to lose it in the mêlée of mediocrity that Bollywood blockbusters represent.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Saawariya (2007)

A grossly misunderstood masterpiece of a movie from Bhansali that might just drive him back to commercial facades only because hardly anyone is able to understand this movie, far appreciate it. I consider it as good as his best work (Khamoshi - The Musical) and in some ways even better. It is more thematic, more intimate and far more mature, yet made with the fervor of boyish charm that Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) exudes as the main lead. It also equally shares the beautiful self-alluring dream-world inhabitance as lived by Sakina (Sonam Kapoor), the other half of the lead pair. On par with any of world cinema in techniques (direction, editing, cinematography, production - oh, the production!), Bhansali weaves for us an exquisite experience that is so illusive that it is an achievement in itself that he actually got a free hand from the producers to make and release the movie as it is.

I may have lost my marbles completely and this movie may forever be forgotten, but I am willing to compare it to the fate of Pyaasa - chided, derided and unforgiven on release; one of the greatest masterpieces out of India in retrospect.

My rating --> 4.5 of 5