Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Thursday, 20 November 2014


It’s dumb, not funny. It’s disgusting, not funny. It’s pathetic, not funny. The sequel, Dumb and Dumber To, is just not funny. The “To” in the title, is indicative enough. The gags are gross. Potty humour is slapped on, thicker than cow dung. Jim goofy face Carrey tries too hard. Jeff Daniels is actually better. But hey, the plot is the somewhat shining metal under the crap.
Its one thing to have dimwit characters but another, to have ugly, yucky faces twist into unsightly grins, showing dirty teeth and worse: dirty, crappy fingers and annoying sense of humour. By the time you are done watchingDumb and Dumber To, you are left with your sense of smell and vision assaulted in the grossest way, imaginable.
Thankfully, the film does not limit itself to the most slovenly characters who pull a fast one on each other, waiting to say, “got ya”. There is actually a plot, which unfolds quite smoothly and ends up putting the dimwits (same costumes as original film) in a place crowded with brilliance and brains – a scientists’ invention seminar.
But first, there are diapers to be changed (yes, one of them lives in those for a while) and jokes that fall as flat as the girls they push into the bushes. There is actually one girl who might find this funny. That’s a pretty girl called Penny (Rachel Melvin) who does exactly the same thing. Much to our middle aged, daft hero, Lloyd’s (Jim Carrey) surprise and delight. “I love you,” he squeaks to her. She is supposed to be his dumber friend’s lost daughter.
The thing is, Harry (Jeff Daniels) opens a letter sent to him 20 years ago, informing him that a certain woman (Kathleen Turner) he dated, was pregnant. Apparently, he has a grown up daughter now.
The two go kiddo hunting. The reasons are different though. Harry wants a kidney from her. Llyod, after one look at her picture, wants the girl.
A trip to the past involves some return trips. Like ending up at the address where they started, simply because they don’t know about the front or back of their hands or posted envelopes. Only, they are not the ones exasperated. They still find something to gloat over. Like how the resident looks just the same.
This is the mildest of the jokes that might bring a faint smile. Laughter is miles away. There is plenty of disgust, instead. Without one reliving the muck here, suffice it to say, it is splattered, throughout the film.
Add to that, some Pink Panther subplot thrills and moments, and you get onto slippery and slapstick tracks of evil scheming. The crappy twosome finds themselves in the midst of the supposed daughter’s adoptive, rich family with a noble prize winning scientist, Dr Pinchelow (Steve Tom) and proverbial, greedy, foster mom (Laurie Holden). A mystery box is thrown in, which the two nuts must guard with their lives.
Thereon, its one wild goose chase after another. By the time it ends, you are left with the daftest, wildest and fattest goose ever. You can almost hear the filmmakers whoop, “GOT YA”. And that serves Dumber and Dumber To’s desperate purpose.
Sorry, can’t say huh.


Happy Ending is like your morning cup of tea or coffee. You have the same Taj or Nescafe brand every day, with the same amount of water, heated to a certain degree. You even sit in the same corner and sip from the same mug too. Yet it is refreshing and brings you joy.
 A rom-com is no different. Boy meets girl. Boy chases girl. Boy kisses girl. Boy fights with girl. Boy chases girl to the airport. Get the lead hero to play the same role he has played so many times that by now he takes to it, like a Nawab to his land. Take all this sameness and churn in a semi spoof on Hindi films. That’s enough to make Happy Ending a happy unabashed film, all the way.
 Make that double happy. There is a rom-com within a rom-com. There is Saif and there is Govinda. This casting coup is by itself like a double decker ice cream; delightful and sweet. Here’s the best part. There is a Saif you have always seen and there is a Saif you have never seen. The latter is the cherry on the ice-cream (if there is such a dish). 
All the happiness pouring out from the film can be happily attributed to the team behind their last film, Go Goa Gone: writers (Raj, DK, Sita Menon) and directors (Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K, they are also twosome). The dialogues  (Hussain Dalal) range from naughty (includes the word ‘penis’) to funny. The story, as Govinda’s character, demands in the film, is nothing different.. “ladka ladki ko milne de….hat ke kuch nahin hai”.
 The ‘hat ke’ part, lie in the easy, breezy treatment and the female characters. These include a warm ex girlfriend (a mother of triplets never looked as endearing-Preity Zinta), a clingy and blindly optimistic ex girlfriend  (Kalki Koechlin at her best) who doesn’t know she is an ex and a girlfriend (Ileana D’ Cruz, charming) who has the same flaw as the hero.
Yudi (Saif Ali Khan)is an out of work novelist. His sole occupation is to woo one girl after another while he sits on unfinished manuscripts. He is commitment phobic and runs every time a girl utters the most dreaded three words in romance. Life gets worse when his publisher signs on a new writer, Aanchal (Ileana). She happens to be a fraud who tells romantic tales without an ounce of personal belief.
 Yudi’s floundering writing career, has just one savior: a has been hero, Armaan  (Govinda). Armaan wants a “mixed writer”-someone who will write a “kickass” film; “Bollywood story in Hollywood style”. Yudi has no choice, but to turn to his keyboard and some inspiration from his rival, Aanchal . Not to mention, some interesting self talk from a fatter, long bearded alter ego, Yogi. These are like any other scenes written before, except that Saif’s look (stylist gets a brownie point) and performance, beats every cliché hollow, and is one of his best on screen.
Govinda talks in his usual tapori style, is more winsome in his dialogue delivery than ever and goes around chucking his glares every time he ends a conversation. His six pack abs too makes an appearance in the best way possible; a perfect good humoured stunt that pokes fun at Bollywood heroes.
Govinda’s single expression towards the end , during a narration, when he sits up deeply interested, is reason enough to spend 300 bucks on Happy Ending.
 So is his dialogue, “teen sau rupaye mein logon ko jeena mat seekhao.” Now that’s kickass.

Friday, 14 November 2014


There is something about a man lying, bleeding on the streets on a dark night, and watching his beloved wife call out to him lovingly on his cell phone camera.
There is something special about him when he wakes up daily to a little, cute beagle. The same, gifted to him by the beloved wife to help him grieve over her death.
There is something appealing about his deep unrest and anguish when drives his black 1969 Mustang around like a mad man burning in helplessness. After all he is an ex hitman who has sworn off anything bad or wrong.
A speeding swanky car, a dead wife, an adorable dog and a wounded, grieving ex gangster who happens to be The Matrix’s Neo, none other than the cool and sexy Keanu Reeves. Add to that, an image that creates fear and fascination. The name: John Wick.
There is an undoubted adrenalin rush in the blood spilling out of this premise; hard to resist.
So when some rich young Russian brat steals his precious Mustang and kills the dog gifted by his dead wife, you know that it is the ultimate death wish.
When John Wick is someone referred to, in hushed tones, as “he was the guy you called to kill the bogeyman”, by the rich young brat’s father, Wick’s ex mafia Russian boss (Michael Nyqvist); it gets even better.
And indeed this scarier and angrier man than boogeyman gets his long buried guns and shining knives out.
Hell hath no fury like a man whose dog is killed.
Soon there are a few dead bodies lying around on his house floor. When a cop comes calling at night and sees the wreck, he asks casually, ”you working again?” Wick shrugs and replies, “Sorting some stuff out”. The cop bids him good night and walks away.
John Wick is back in the world of crime.
The rest is of course stylised action, gun mayhem that match videogames, the popular as always car chases, a regular Russian villain, a loyal old time friend (Willem Dafoe), a killer of a lady and a dapper and a black suited and scarred Keanu Reeves.
This is one neat retro action flick with slickly choreographed neck breaking scenes thrown in, with the ease of a confident handshake.
An amusing and polite hotel manager is the only light break in the otherwise minimal dialogue, maximum fight film. A neon lit nightclub chase of the victim in a towel, aided by the right soundtrack, is perfect in its killing spree tempo buildup.
There is plenty for all types of audiences: dog lovers, video game addicts, gun fanatics, the car crazy and of course, Keanu Reeves fans.
If nothing else, there is always something about a long shot of a wounded guy walking with a dog, down a rainy street, into the dark night.


The mundane can be momentous. Richard Linklater’s experimental film, Boyhood is subtle in this message. By the time, the nearly three hour long film ends, you will feel like a parent who has seen a boy grow up in your home. You have been through it all; every growing up moment till he turns 18. There is nothing earth shatteringly new about his life either. Yet it is nothing like you have seen before. Like a reality show without any drama, yet without a dull moment. And that’s the true achievement of Boyhood.
The film is also an experiment in incredible patience required to shoot for 12 years. The director of the trilogy-Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, Richard Linklater, has filmed the same fictional characters over the long period. It is small wonder that the family is compelling and keep you as involved and transfixed as if you are watching your own home video.
Linklater also brings back his favourite actor, Ethan Hawke, in his finest and most charming performance as the summer trip dad to the children brought up by a single mom. Like the earlier trilogy films, he comes across as very real, seems to improvise most lines and talks the way you and I talk.
Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is quite ordinary. We see his formative years in Texas starting from six. They are familiar to every parent, right from his teacher’s complaint of him staring out of the window all day; his first exposure to women in lingerie magazines; his fights with his annoying sister, Samantha (Lorelei, Linklater’s daughter); the school bullies he faces, his camping out with his dad who gives him great tips on impressing girls (“ask lots of questions and really listen”); his embarrassment while his dad gives his awkward teenage sister some clumsy sex education; his quiet acceptance of shifting and moving homes, changing fathers as his mom struggles through their survival bills; his teacher’s long pep talk on career choices in a darkroom and his first heartbreak as he turns adult.
By the time Mason reaches graduation day, you end up feeling as proud as his parents. When Mason’s mom silently breaks down on the day he is leaving home for college, it’s a heartrending leave-the-nest moment.Boyhood achieves all this by capturing the characters’ turning points and resultant growth therein. The noticeable change in their hairstyles, the children getting taller, the mom gaining weight, is remarkably consistent with their aging. Patricia Arquette who plays the mom, is seen transform through every life challenge, with amazing strength, resilience and gentle dignity.
Simple moments of playing video games, discovering new music, smoking pot, drinking beer and lying about sex, with the nonchalance of an adult, developing hobbies like photography; are woven neatly into the narrative. At the same time, intense stuff like abusive, alcoholic step fathers are downplayed, thus making a most effective statement that life goes on, no matter what.
Despite the parents breaking up while the children are small, it comes across a perfect loving family who stand by each other, throughout. Mason’s dad may not be around all the time, but endears himself the moment he tells his children “talk to me” when they don’t go beyond ‘ok’ when he asks them about their lives. This is a family that represents the changing dynamics in family relationships and more than one marriage. In an unwelcome marital situation, Boyhood is a great example of idyllic parenting. Especially by parents who go through self destructive ways to gradual settled lives and grow up along with their children.
Both Mason the character and Coltrane, the actor, are seen on screen from the age six to 18.That’s the marvel and magic of both growing up and the movies. Linklater displays his ingenious understanding of both. His narrative is a brilliant and original, seamless capture of real passage of time.
There is a scene in which the boy, now an adult, asks his dad, ‘what’s the point’? And there is no real answer except that “you’re feeling it”. Likewise, there is no one point really to this film and yet it is replete with meaning.
Such as, there may not be happy endings but there are no sad endings as well. In fact there are just endings and beginnings. Boyhood ends, adulthood begins.
Like a conversation in the film goes, ‘it’s not about seizing the moment, the moment seizes us’.
Just like that, Boyhood seizes you. And leaves you satisfied in an entirely new, intimate way.

Friday, 7 November 2014


The male gaze can be beautiful. The human form can be worthy of worship. Especially when it is captured in a timeless painting. Raja Ravi Varma proved this in the 19th century when he gave God a face. The acclaimed director of “Mirch Masala”, Ketan Mehta, tells the controversial artist’s colourful story by turning the canvas of cinema into a celebration of art and a voice of freedom.
Rang Rasiya is as visually breathtaking and bold as the artist’s work.
Indian filmmakers and the censor board have always shied away from nudity on screen. Rang Rasiya will probably be the landmark film to change that, having awaited the Censor’s approval since 2008.A woman’s bare breast is shown sans any vulgarity, thanks to a very comfortable and sensuous Nandana Sen and wonderful sensitivity in direction and Anil Mehta’s cinematography. The film’s uninhibited take does not stop there. At one point, both Randeep Hooda and Nandana are shown, lying completely nude, their bodies covered in paint. The song and choreography accompanying the sequence is like poetry in motion, with every single frame, which mesmerizes and hypnotizes you into the world of an artist.
The film begins in today’s world where a dramatic and violent riot disrupts an art auction selling Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings. The story cuts back to 1890s when a similar riot takes place and Raja Ravi Varma (Hooda) is arrested and tried in court for painting a half naked woman, Sugandha (Nandana). More flashbacks take us to Varma’s journey that ends up in the court, shamed and powerless. The film, based on a fictitious Marathi novel by Ranjit Desai, does not claim to be an autobiography. It cleverly uses the artist’s life to make its point on the freedom denied to artists in India, be it Raja Ravi Varma or M F Hussain who paid a heavy price for their freedom of artistic expression.
We see Varma, his character shown in all shades of grey, transform from a long haired playboyish husband of a princess in a village in Kerala to a court artist given the title of “Raja” to a well groomed and suited man in Mumbai. Initially, the film takes a while to be believable in its period settings and old world costumes. But post interval when the story takes a dramatic turn, the exquisitely crafted scenes, the crisp and powerful dialogues, the tight focus on the downfall of a man who made religion accessible to the masses through his printing press, enchants and engages, if not shock with its sensational material.
A particular scene showcasing the making of Dadabhai Phalke, the father of cinema, makes a telling remark, most relevant today…. “cinema…ise soch samajh kar istemaal karna.”
While clearly, the writing, direction, the camera’s sweeping magic, the tight edit and the all encompassing music and lyrics take centre stage, both the main actors, Randeep Hooda and Nandana Sen hold their own in sensuousness and controlled performance. Hooda essays a detached artist deftly,to his feminine and emotional muse played gracefully by Sen. Feyna Wazher as Varma’s devoted fan, is noticeable in her pretty screen presence.
If cinema is a canvas, Ketan Mehta’s Rang Rasiya is an aesthetic and relevant work of art.