Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Grand, Dazzling Thriller

Star rating: 4 stars
Bottomline: A delightful Wes Anderson oeuvre that goes beyond a murder.
There is a superlative sequence in the film which brings together the director,Wes Anderson’s trademark visual style and quirky humour in the most heart racing moment. Two victims helplessly hurtle down icy ski slopes on a crazily speeding sled, chasing a sinister looking killer (Willem Dafoe). It looks as if the camera glides you through the same and sends chills of fear and delight together up your spine.
When the sled stops, one is hanging from the edge of a cliff, another ‘s feet can be seen upside down, with the rest of the body buried inside. The killer stomps mercilessly on the cliff. Ice cracks show up. The main victim, Gustave (Ralph Fiennes)clutches the icy edge and belts out a brave dying speech, rendered in the most gentry manner. Seconds later, an unbelievable move concludes the grand spectacle.
There are many such applaud worthy, highly imaginative, gasp evoking and outlandishly funny moments in The Grand Budapest Hotel. A marvelous gunfight across the corridors of the hotel is another deliciously fun ride.
In every single, carefully designed frame of the film, you can see that Anderson loves to weave a tapestry of perfectly stylized decor, period drama and dry humour. Beyond that, we see his softer gaze on a pre World War 2 East Europe seen through the eyes of a young South Asian immigrant, funnily named Zero (Tony Revolori).
In a 1932 flashback within a 1968 flashback,we see Zero getting hired as a lobby boy at Grand Budapest hotel in a war ravaged fictitious place, Zubrowka, by Gustave.Zero is witness to his charming employer bidding goodbye to the dead body of an aging widowed lover, a guest at thehotel.Madam D (Tilda Swinton) happens to be a wealthy lady and has left him a precious painting in her will. There is much more revealed about her connections to the hotel later. When the widow’s greedy, vicious son (Adrian Brody) refuses to let him take the painting, Zero helps Gustave steal it.
The film, thereon moves to a series of adventures and murders, imprisonment, a bizarre escape and a cute, budding romance between Zero and a pastry chef girl, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), a sweet girl with a tattoo like birthmark on her face.
Fingers are cut off and a head in a basket is found in the most sudden, jolting and unforeseen turn of events: the mark of a subtly fantastic written screenplay. The effect is simply startling. Particularly a scene involving a cat.
In a small remarkable touch that bespeaks a hotel background, an escape route is hatched through tiny tools smuggled through miniature pastries sent to the prison. By the time the film ends, too many characters and several time periods and incidents relevant in Zero’s life are covered.
There is a great ensemble cast too that includes Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Jeff Goldblum. But the ultimate heroes are the director, the art directors, costume designers, magician cinematographer, Robert Yeoman who create amazing, frosty and depressing beauty in grey tones along with music composer Alexander Desplat.
Plenty of reasons there to watch the Anderson oeuvre, besides the thrill of a murder, presented with a flourish. And don’t miss those colourful confectionaries.

Friday, 18 July 2014


Rating: **
Bottom-line: A Delhi Belly revisit will cure your pizza wrought indigestion. The story of the bump bellies below will tell you why.
Imran Khan singing the controversial song, ”bhaag bhaag D K Bose Bhaag”, will now acquire yet another meaning after Pizza 3D. It’s likely to be funny or scary depending on how you react to the remake of highly popular Telugu film. The former is more likely.
The first time a Pizza delivery boy, Kunal (Akshay Oberoi, suitable only for TV soaps) encounters a horror moment, the infamous song, ”bhaag bhaag..” is playing on the pretty lady customer’s TV screen. The lady (Dipannita Sharma) is dressed in white silk gown, carries a huge torchlight and sports a big, round pregnant tummy.
At one point, the baby bump moves. The poor Pizza boy screams. It’s a wonder, the tummy doesn’t tumble over. Kunal knows now that Imran on TV was telling him to run. But he didn’t run because he did not have 50 bucks change. For that cardinal mistake, he is stuck in this bungalow with several rooms and staircases and over paintedbhoots.
Ample space for toy cars to move, a stuffed doll to sit on a chair, big worms to crawl out of pizza slices. If that doesn’t freak out the pizza boy, there are screams and musical ring tones.
The ring tone is particularly nice, actually. It goes…theher jaa mehrabaan…The phone with lovely ringtone, belongs to the dead lady with baby bump. It’s her jealous husband (Arunoday Singh) at the door, banging away. Pizza boy picks up the phone. Ah, sadly, the song with the sexy voice is interrupted…’ theherjaa’…Soon Pizza boy ..sorry torchlight boy is dealing with two dead bodies inside the house, hammers stuck to their bleeding foreheads, walking up to him out of nowhere and saying “BOO”. This goes on, in slow repeat mode, for the entire first half. A little girl called Anjali has also joined in and insists on calling him papa.
The not so happy family is complete.
Kunal’s boss (Rajesh Sharma) sends him to his home to deliver a chocolate box to his wife, Pooja. The wife has an insane look on her face. She screams at Pizza boy that she is Anjali. The boss explains later that the wife is pregnant and a ghost sometimes takes over her senses. He gets a pundit to perform a regular puja to get rid of the ghost. When the pundit asks the wife to reveal something, she gives a really dirty look to the poor pizza boy. He does not need Imran Khan on TV to sing “bhaag bhaag..’
Kunal has been leading a cosy newly married life with Nikita (Parvathy Omanakuttan, luminous skin). Nikita is a struggling writer. She is in the midst of writing a horror story. She says she find ghosts “cute”. Her room is full of posters like Joan Crawford’s Circulo de Terror to help inspire her story. Enough to give Kunal nightmares of horrific men in elevators. He wakes up to a more dreadful blow when she tells him he is going to be a daddy soon. Thankfully, no tummy sights here. Just those of to-be mommy with some knitting needles.
A supposedly horror film is built around three pregnant ladies, a haunted house and a pizza delivery. Sounds okay on paper. On screen, the 3D version, long drawn sound effects, blood and gore bring out laughters instead of shivers. None of the actors can convince otherwise. The first time, director, Akshay Akkineni, already had enough ingredients from the South original. However, the Pizza gets overbaked.
By the time, Imran Khan appears again in a rather forced, “look mom, I’m so clever” twist in the end, you know what to do. Bhaag bhaag..

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Rating: ***
Bottom-line: The film and its music grow on you slowly
A year ago, Coen brothers had made Inside Llewyn Davis, a gem of a film with a strong music backdrop. The characters were quirky and mostly unlikeable music artists and the story very believable. The screenplay did not follow any rules and generally meandered like the characters. The hero was the music. After all, it revisited a wonderful ‘60s folk scene.
John Carney’s Begin Again has similar elements: music and struggling artists. It’s half Hollywood, half original. It has a few clichés too. But it serves a masterstroke in the very idea of two desperate people getting together to cut a live album on the streets of New York. There might even be romance and undercurrents, but that’s not the point here. And that’s the best in-between-the-lines part.
So we have the quintessential New York based alcoholic loser of a music director, Dan (Mark Ruffalo) who was once very successful. He wears the look of a worn out man in late 40s. He had even won two Grammy awards. Recently he sold the precious trophies for an amount that could buy him drinks to last one weekend.
This, he reveals in his first drunken conversation with a talented Briton babe in the woods, a singer and songwriter, Gretta (Keira Knightley). Enough to charm her into singing for his own first independent music album.
The entire first half of the story goes into the day’s flashback, which shows how rotten it has been for both of them. While it reveals nothing different from what has been seen before on screen, it holds sufficient interest and involvement in the two characters.
When two underdogs meet, they are bound to gain empathy. Between the two, Mark Ruffalo’s drunken charm is like a heady intoxicant. Soon, one starts enjoying both the album in the making and the story. The bonding between the two is given a refreshing treatment.
The last quarter of the film is like a sweet song ending on just the right note without following any melody convention. The music, too, is like the movie. It grows on you slowly. The first song sung by Knightley, like the beginning sequence, disappoints. The next time you hear the same song, with music track envisioned by Dan in his liquor induced imaginative state. The song sounds better but doesn’t blow you away. Ditto with the story.
By the time, we hear the final version of the song Lost Stars in the film, it bears significance to the story’s theme: the commercialization of music.
It’s no gentle music to the ears. As for the heart, a lukewarm and realistic ending is just right to make you forget the flat beginning.

Friday, 4 July 2014


Rating: 3 ½
(Bottom-line: The treatment is the real hero)
It takes some time to get used to the unusual setup and a character that is an oddity. But once you warm up to the cheerful, plump, semi tomboyish, backpack-toting woman who disguises herself in almost every scene; Bobby Jasoos begins to gently conquer your heart. Despite some glaring plot loopholes.
Bilkis aka Bobby (Vidya Balan) is a 30-year-old single woman who aspires to be a detective. In an overcrowded Mughalpura mohulla teeming with 80 lakh people, everyday is a struggle. First she aches to win over her disapproving Abba (Rajendra Gupta) who worries about her singlehood and weird ways. Then she has to win over an employer who takes her detective act seriously.
Meanwhile she does small jobs for people in the neighbourhood. She spies on a friend who is having a torrid affair with a local goon, Laala (Arjan Bajwa) and blackmails her. When about to get caught, clicking their pictures, she jumps over vehicle tops, clad in a kurta, turban and a beard, like an action hero. Rescuing herself, she sneaks into her home, hides behind her mother (Supriya Pathak) to avoid her Abba’s wrath and quietly drinks a glass of milk like an obedient child.
It is this highly populated, colourful environment of a simple, middle class Muslim family in Hyderabad’s Mughalpura that sets Bobby Jasoos apart. The art production and costume designing along with a pacy camerawork draws you completely into this world and even makes you fall in love with it. Just like the upmarket, unsuitable boy, Tasawur (Ali Fazal) who hates the place initially but Bobby’s honest charm makes him forget the low lifestyle of the local basti.
The charming romantic track between the two does not take away from the main plot where Bobby has to solve a particularly intriguing case for Anees Khan (Kiran Kumar), a mysterious rich stranger. She has to dig out two girls with birthmarks and a young man with a missing toe. A wonderful comically treated investigation leads Bobby into waters murkier than she had imagined. The screenplay seamlessly merges her personal life of an impending unwanted marriage, with her professional adventurous one and does a fine job of adding a touch of emotional quotient.
Each and every character is well used and well performed; including Tanvi Azmi as Bobby’s family member (her relationship to Bobby is not explained), Arjan Bajwa as the amorous goon, Laala; Ali Fazal as the reluctant groom, Rajendra Gupta as the stern but concerned Abba, Supriya Pathak as the doting Ammi; Bobby’s own gang of two assistants. The best scenes are written for Kiran Kumar who makes a fabulous comeback on the big screen. He delivers a most impactful performance in a lovely, satisfying climatic moment.
Then, of course, there is the boisterous Vidya Balan who continues to surprise with yet another fine act. She gets into Bobby’s skin with as much ease as she mingles in with her co-actors.
Vishal Sinha, also the cinematographer of Raanjhanna, is a master at capturing a city’s bright and vibrant character; be it Benaras or Hyderabad. Shantanu Moitra’s background score is used really well, at the right moments to give a comic and pacy tone.
The performances and the treatment charm you enough to ignore some flaws in the basic logic of Balan overlooking background check on her client and a vital question in the end, involving a gun.
Kudos to the director –writer team, Samar Sheikh and Sanyukta Chawla along with wonderful actors for makingBobby Jasoos a thoroughly enjoyable fare.
You walk in to Bobby Jasoos expecting a solo Vidya Balan show. You walk out with delightful memories of each and every actor.


Rating: 3 stars
Bottomline: Nice premise, underexplored
Ever had a recurring dream? One of those where you have no control and things keep spinning on their own and the action and the result is the same. Highway director Imtiaz Ali had once mentioned in some interview that he always had a recurring dream involving trains. The result was Jab We Met. That journey never ended with that film. It continued with the runaway girl in Rockstar and later Highway. The running away theme has doubled now with LHDD. Imtiaz’s brother, Arif Ali, the writer, director of LHDD, has both the characters elope together.
Thankfully, the premise is different and worth exploring.
What happens when baba and baby from rich families happily ride away on a motorbike; a dirty puppy dog and a guitar in tow? Well, dirty puppy unfortunately ends up playing the most important role. Perhaps, in keeping with the culture of anything but wordly wise richie rich babas and babies. Remember Tuffy in Hum Aapke hain Kaun? Only Tuffy was white and fluffy. The street puppy here is black and dirty. Enough about dirty puppy in order to refrain from any spoilers here.
Back to baba and baby. Kapoor family fans will be happy to know that the baba, (Armaan Jain) jumps around like Shammi Kapoor. He also smiles like Rajiv Kapoor. He of Ram Teri Ganga Maili fame, remember? Meanwhile, Nana, Raj Kapoor is probably smiling down at his grandson. Because, Armaan, does have a charm and some acting genes too. Poor chap will have to live up to comparisons with cousin, Ranbir. Hopefully, he will create his own style and niche. Now that the lineage distraction is out of the way, one can move on to the story.
Dinoo (Armaan) and Karishma aka K (Deekha Seth) are college friends. Karishma’s Shetty amma appa are forcing K to get married now that she is all of 20. As K rightly questions, why do parents send their children to the best colleges and give them a modern upbringing, only to suddenly get traditional? D, impulsive baba that he is, decides to be her knight on a red motorbike and whisks K away to marry her himself. Since his own father either mocks him or slaps him senseless, he doesn’t have any other choice. The father’s forced obnoxious character doesn’t help the script either. The romance between the two GenNow adults, doesn’t just get ruined by the villainous parents but also at the screenplay level. The family drama suddenly gets screechy and the easy breezy film acquires a jarring tone every time the parents come on the scene.
The story takes an interesting turn, as things get worse for the runaway rich lovers now turning poor. So poor and helpless that they end up in a jungle in Madhya Pradesh, at the mercy of some Naxalites. The city kids had never heard of the term ‘Maowaadi’. Their four walls of money and ignorance are touched upon, with gentle non-judgement. An irrelevant item number (worst music by A R Rahman) takes the film down a notch or two.
Plenty of credit here to both the director and the actors for pulling this off without drawing too much ridicule. The casting is just apt here. Both Armaan and Deeksha look and act so endearing and innocent that they manage to take you through the otherwise unconvincing ride in the jungles. The premise so far, gets better. Faced with so much hardship, will love fly away from the hilltops where they had screamed and declared “I LOVE YOU” at the top of their voices at 3 a.m.?
The answers blow hot and cold in the latter half. The ending is an easy cop out. But the ride, overall is light and popcorn fun. A R. Rahman’s music is another letdown.
Deeksha Seth, who has acted in six Telugu and two Tamil films, has a fresh and natural screen presence. She and Armaan do a decent job of combining a friendship-romance chemistry that their roles demand.
LHDD provides some decent popcorn entertainment that refuses to take risks. Enough to keep baba log and baby log happy.


Rating: 2 ½ stars
Bottomline: The fault lies in the direction
If Love Story by Erich Segal taught us that love meant never having to say sorry; The Fault in Our Stars shows it’s not important to be extraordinary and great to be loved deeply, not widely. Beyond that, there is not much to this love story between two cancer afflicted teenagers.
Sad love stories usually turn out to be great tearjerkers. The Fault in Our Stars, based on John Green’s novel, has both its humorous and weepy moments, but doesn’t quite tug at the heart. Especially when it stays a tad pretentious.
The only interesting though clichéd character; a bitter, alcoholic writer, Peter Von Houten (Willem Dafoe), tells a cancer afflicted 18 year old fan, Gus (Ansel Elgort),
"Were she better, or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves".
The letter is a result of 16 year old cancer patient, Hazel’s (Shailene Woodley) dying wish to meet the famous Houten. She has been reading his book, “An Imperial Affliction” over and over again and just has to know what becomes of certain characters in the book. More so, because it had actually ended halfway of a sentence. Gus helps fulfill her dying wish by taking her all the way to Amsterdam to meet the author.
Hazel has been afflicted by terminal thyroid cancer that has also affected her lungs and survives on a constant supply of oxygen. She is seen throughout, sporting a neat, short haircut, a thin oxygen tube across her nose and carrying an oxygen tank everywhere she goes. A steep climb up several stairs in Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, when she constantly runs out of breath, though manipulative and wearisome, reinforces her invincible zest for life.
She meets Gus at a cancer support group. Gus has lost one foot but smiles like the sun has never stopped shining on his cute face. Like most teenagers, the two bond over the books they exchange (note, not video games). Soon smses move on to long conversations and picnics together. The two are in love. And yes, it’s most gratifying to see two dying teenagers get their chance to live the normal life of any teenager in love. With their total awareness of their limited time, they reveal how they stretch their time together and as Hazel puts it across in the best speech in the film, quoting the infamous Houten, “some infinities are bigger than other infinities…”
The writing, thus, touches the profound, occasionally. It turns cute at other times. Like the way the characters form their love code “okay”. The rest of the time, the interaction between the two, as well as other characters, especially Hazel’s parents, stays rather awkward. The screenplay is full of dramatic buildups that resolve themselves easily.
Woodley’s natural performance as Hazel sees the stilted scenes through. In a smaller role as Isaac who loses his eyesight to cancer, Nat Woolf, does a more remarkable job in a moving mock funeral scene than Elgort.
If not for the awkward direction and storytelling of a sad love story, The Fault In Our Stars might have been more than ‘okay’. The real fault is that this movie is neither a tearjerker nor a feel good, sad film.
Makes you wonder why it is already a huge success in the US. Perhaps, John Green’s fans can explain that.