Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tron: Legacy (2010)


Director: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, others.
Release Date: December 23, 2010 (UAE)

Right from the distinct 3D Disney logo at the start, Tron: Legacy is a visually striking film. As depicted in posters and trailers, it has a dazzling, pulsating vibe that relies heavily on CGI – which is apt considering how much of the story takes place inside a digital world. Director Joseph Kosinski marks his feature film debut by making full use of his past experiences, having made equally striking television commercials. Tron: Legacy, therefore, works best for its action, and somewhat less for its story or drama.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter's Bone (2010)

IMDb Link

Directed by: Debra Granik
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt, others.
Release date: September 17, 2010 (UK)

Winter’s Bone is a reasonably well-made drama that falls short of being exceptional. It is a safe movie that follows a tried and tested path, never pushing the plot or characters to the potential they promise. It tries to be a realistic, bleak and emotional story from Midwest US, but instead plays out like a fairly dark bedtime story, happy ending included.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 7 Roundup

18th December 2010 (Day #7)

The last day of the 7th Dubai International Film Festival included a disappointingly bad movie from a director who had impressed at DIFF earlier. It also included a generic drama that tried to be stylish. But thankfully the first and last movies of the last day made up for the middle two, and provided for a nice closing mixed bag.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 6 Roundup

17th December 2010 (Day #6)

A comedy movie about suicide, an ultra-serious drama about a degenerate society and a highly-stylized combination of the western & samurai genres. The penultimate day of the 7th Dubai International Film Festival was a very good day - it held no bad movies for me!

Friday, December 17, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 5 Roundup

16th December 2010 (Day #5)

Violence, intrigue, survival and despair were the order of the day. While there was not much new in the way the first two movies dealt with their respective subjects, the final two movies of the day brought me delight in the way they presented theirs. Here's a lowdown on the four movies I watched on day# 5 of the Dubai Film Festival.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 4 Roundup

15th December 2010 (Day #4)

It is only at the Dubai International Film Festival where you get to watch a Cannes’ Palm d’Or winner, Berlin’s Golden and Silver Bear winners on the same day. And what an experience this day was. More on the four movies of the day below.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 3 Roundup

14th December 2010 (Day #3)

Thick into the film festival by day 3, today was for movies from Asia and Africa. Three of the four movies I watched were testing and one was downright bizarre. Read more about each of these four movies below.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 2 Roundup

13th December 2010 (Day #2)

Day 2 of the festival featured two movies, one each from either side of the Atlantic. The first, although quite acclaimed, did not impress me much. The second movie helped bring balance to the day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 1 Roundup

12th December 2010 (Day #1)

The seventh edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) started today, with a Red Carpet gala screening of The King’s Speech. Concurrently starts my daily coverage of the festival. In addition to the 10 Films You Must See At Dubai Film Festival ’10, look out for my annual day-by-day update of DIFF to tell you about movies to watch, those to steer clear of and some to simply take your chance with.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tangled (2010)

IMDb Link

Directed by: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Voices of: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, others.
Release date: December 02, 2010 (UAE)

Tangled has the honor of being Disney’s 50th Animated feature, as the audience is reminded with a logo at the start of the movie. Deservedly so, for it lives up to the classic animated Disney fairy-tales that the mouse-house built a reputation on in the previous century. Based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale of Rapunzel, Tangled is set in the same timeless story-land that fairytales belong to. Sensibly though, the characters are updated for its modern audience, winning hearts and giving young girls a new Disney princess to idolize.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, others.
Release date: November 18, 2010 (UAE)

It is not as much a surprise that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a good movie, as much as how good it is. With all the Harry Potter books having been released, the filmmakers had a clearer idea of where the story and characters were eventually headed, and hence had the advantage of foresight in this movie that was lacking in the past installments. As the penultimate movie, Deathly Hallows 1 does require the audience to have an in-depth knowledge of the characters and some important back-stories to follow the plot completely. Even so, director David Yates succeeds in delivering an emotional movie that resonates with the same sense of wonder and anguish that the final book’s first-half held for its readers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Town (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, others.
Release date: October 14, 2010 (UAE)

With The Town, Ben Affleck again proves how good a director he is, and that his first film was no fluke. Affleck has a knack for telling a story for the big screen, and combined with his writing – some wonderful lines these characters speak, although in a Bostonian accent that is not easy to decipher – Affleck successfully joins the ranks of some of the best writer-directors in contemporary Hollywood. The Town does suffer somewhat of a predictable storyline, probably owing more to the book the movie is based on, yet maintains a riveting human drama through its runtime.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Inception (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Lewitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, others.
Release date: July 15, 2010 (UAE)

Inception is a clever film that combines summer’s core ingredients of big-budget, star actors, spectacular action sequences and believable effects with the panache of avant-garde cinema. Director Christopher Nolan’s movie gate crashes through the crowded 2010 movie calendar, over populated by sequels, prequels, remakes and adaptations, with a display of sheer originality that has by now become rare in mainstream Hollywood. Constructed atop an intricate plot device that can perhaps only be completely explained with elaborate hand gestures or diagrams, Nolan delivers a sophisticated film that adds yet another title to his impressive film repertoire.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Last Airbender (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Dev Patel, Aasif Mandvi, Cliff Curtis, others.
Release date: July 29, 2010 (UAE)

To say that M Night Shyamalan has failed with The Last Airbender is a gross understatement. This once great director has completely lost his craft; this latest movie by Shyamalan looks like a bad work of an amateur filmmaker. The incoherent high-budget mess he makes out of The Last Airbender does not even contain the short bursts of brilliance that his last dud The Happening had.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Karate Kid (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: Harald Zwart
Starring:Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson, others.
Release date: June 17, 2010 (UAE)

Although a star-vehicle for Jaden Smith, The Karate Kid manages to capture enough heart to be a respectable film. As a classic underdog story, it echoes movies like Rocky, channeling it for a new audience via a charismatic young lead. Owing to its genre, there is not much unpredictable about the story, yet it works suitably to be a crowd-pleaser.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: Mike Newell
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina, others.
Release date: May 20, 2010 (UAE)

There is a reason why summer blockbusters are considered fodder for Hollywood. People adopt a more lenient disposition during this period, allowing the holiday season to become an excuse for them to revel in what is now popularly referred to as “popcorn cinema”. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, (yes, that is the complete official title, more than hinting at the establishment of a future franchise), sits snugly in this category. The movie leaves little for audiences to figure out, instead relying on a deluge of entertaining sequences to engulf them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Losers (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: Sylvan White
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Jason Patric, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, others.
Release date: May 6, 2010 (UAE)

The Losers is an archetypal, modern action film. The title, promos and premise make abundantly clear what to expect from it and the movie delivers on its promises. Even though it is adapted from a graphic novel, it does not make the mistake of being overly stylish at the expense of being a good movie merely to be faithful to its source.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Iron Man 2 (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johannson, others.
Release date: April 29, 2010 (UAE)

In 2008, Iron Man smashed the box-office by defining the concept of a fun modern superhero movie. Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 falls into the same formulaic trap that many big sequels fall into: more being mistaken for better. It does boast of two wonderful action sequences, but Iron Man 2 undoes the strong characters that held together the action sequences of the first movie, reducing them to caricatures here, and in turn disconnecting the audience from a world that was so well defined in the first film.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

IMDb link

Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, others.
Release date: March 4, 2010 (UAE)

It has been long, eleven years to be precise, since Tim Burton successfully employed his skewered imagination to an adaptation that worked. Not since 1999's Sleepy Hollow has this eccentric film-maker made a movie that rekindled hope in fans-turned-critics that there may yet be good films in him. Although Alice in Wonderland is not one of Tim Burton's best movies, it is certainly one of his more charming ones, being a mix of old school Disney magic and Burtonesque surreal visuals.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Messenger (2009)

The Messenger treads a noteworthy path. It is a slice-of-life film, focusing on essentially three characters in everyday America, yet is about a lot more than it shows. It brings a global conflict to our door-step and down to a personal level. Although it is about grief, the movie is not heavy-laden with the emotion itself. This becomes the movie's biggest accomplishment.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hollywood 2010

2010 could mark the beginning of decade where movies take advantage of the meteoric rise in advanced special effects that the noughties also heavily relied upon. It seems the big studios will make money (despite the ubiquitous recession) as long as there are super-hero graphic novels to pillage and tween vampire tales to tell. Unfortunately, this also means that the dearth of original ideas will continue to plague cinemas. Most mainstream movies today tend to be adapted from or are sequels of a book, movie, blog and/or a memoir. In fact, one upcoming movie is even about facebook! As many of us plan the year ahead -- with resolutions, family, vacations, career, etc -- we at have shortlisted, from the 200-odd movies that Hollywood will unload on cinemagoers this year, a few of the more popular titles that we look forward to. The aim is to get you excited about what’s in store. Some of these may be postponed, even cancelled. Others may turn out to be total duds (Transformers 2, anyone), and yet others may surprise everyone, coming out of nowhere and stealing the limelight (like last year’s funny Hangover). The titles are sorted in ascending order of their US release dates.