Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Thursday, 29 January 2015


A much-awaited preview of a Broadway play is in progress. The main actor and director, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) steps out for a smoke. His nerves are a wreck. On stage, everything has been going really well. Till now. 
Suddenly, the heavy theatre door behind him bangs shut, locking him out, his robe stuck in the door. What follows, is at once an utterly stressful and sad situation, possibly every stage actor’s worst nightmare.
However, according to his rehab return daughter Sam (Emma Stone),it is a dream come true. His most deeply vulnerable plight has earned him a huge viewership on YouTube.
This is just one of the classiest moments of art versus popularity, pure acting versus costume drama, a one man show versus powerful but meaningless comic book graphics. Of an artist trying to be a real superhero for the last time. Only, he has to fly without the Birdman wings.
All throughout, Emmanuel Lubezki’s camera has unobtrusively followed every actor in a lengthy one take, from the crowded exterior of Times Square to the dark interiors of closed Broadway theatre. Most of the film, with its masterly choreographed camerawork and ‘invisible’ edit, gives the illusion of a complete one take shot film. A rhythmic drumbeat score accompanies most of the action inside the dimly lit corridors of the theatre and builds up its doom like mood.
Coming to the story, Riggan has had more than 24 wild, sleepless hours of torment, made worse by Birdman’s vulture voice haunting him and goading him to be the superman he once was on screen. The upcoming Broadway show is his life or death situation. For he is a desperate actor trying to hold on to his once upon a time stardom when he was known for flying in the skies in his bird costume. 
A highly unpredictable and eccentric but talented actor, Mike (Edward Norton) has joined a day before. The guy is capable of anything; from trying to rape an actress live on stage to messing around with the lines to flirting with the director’s daughter. 
Birdman is an exquisitely shot and written comedy which makes wicked and sinister fun of the dark side of Hollywood through the snobbish wing view of Broadway. Co-written, directed and produced by Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu (known for Ammores Perros and Babel and first Mexican nominated for an Oscar for direction), the film is delightfully experimental in its surreal treatment.
The lines are insightful…”why don’t I have any self respect?...’because you’re an actress.” Names like George Clooney and Robert Downey Jr are thrown in, with more than sarcastic innuendoes. After all, they are still heroes on screen, unlike the has-been superhero, Birdman.
Michael Keaton as the anxiety ridden hopeless,lost ex star,simply glides through his performance.ButEdward Norton as the wild and obnoxious actor, is the real scene-stealer.
Watch Birdman for its daring flight into satire,imagination and utter insanity of the mind and filmdom and the fragility of ego.Rightly nominated for nine Oscars, it certainly deserves the ones for direction and cinematography.

Friday, 23 January 2015


Baby tries to be a grown up, slick Hollywood action flick and achieves it with superficial packaging of style much like Akshay’s trim moustache. By usual Bollywood standards, this may be good. (One shall refrain from comparing it with Dabangg mooch).
However, the film remains a half measured effort with moments of realistic action in interesting locales of Nepal and Middle East, nonstop background drone to fill up long silent sequences, superficial dialogues and a sketchy storyline. Yet, Baby comes across as a cleverly packaged portrayal of Indian politics and spies.
That is where Neeraj Pandey, the director of A Wednesday and Special 26,scores.
More so, because Akshay Kumar plays the hero, Ajay, an undercover agent, without gyrating his pelvis. Neither does he fly across buildings and cars in the fight scenes.
Instead, he calmly gets up from his chair in a Chief minister’s office, shuts the door, walks up to the CM’s secretary and gives him a hard, resounding slap. Kumar’s boss (Danny Denzongpa), quietly sips his tea. After all, the secretary (Murli Sharma) has just insulted the patriots who have died for the country.
A few scenes later, Ajay coolly apologizes for it and means it too. At another point, he slaps a Pakistani criminal. This time, he is totally unapologetic and says it’s a habit.
When it comes to a real fight scene, he arrives too late. His partner-in-non crime (Taapsee Pannu), a young, spirited, attractive woman in salwar kameez has just packed in some solid punches and knocked a Pakistani spy unconscious. This scene alone makes Baby worth a dekko.
Ajay is a part of secret agents team who is on an anti terrorist mission and has embarked on what is called, “Operation Baby”. Plenty of Mujahidin and other common terrorist gang names are thrown in. There is a bearded mullah in Kashmir, whose over tight close-ups with riot flames reflected in his eyes and long boring speeches try hard to make the setting and the people real. However, he and other wanted terrorists like Kay Kay Menon and Sushant Singh fail to evoke any fear.
There is an interesting and picturesque build up in the way Ajay and his team (Anupam Kher, Rana Daggubatti) drive into the deserts of Middle East to kill a terrorist. But the climax cops out for the easiest, filmy route that leaves you disappointed.
After all, this Baby is too scared to grow out of the Bollywood one-eyed pretentious look at terrorism. No different from politics. Because, it’s all in the name of Jihad. It just happens to have a catchy title and some cool moves.

Thursday, 22 January 2015


Sitting in the car in silence, the two look at each other coyly. He leans forward to kiss her. She quickly pushes him away and squeaks,”…shaadi ke baad”.
It takes just that much and a couple of months for sweet and innocent looking Dolly (Sonam Kapoor) to trap the thick accented, horny Haryanvi sugar cane farmer, Sonu (Rajkumar Rao)into marriage. At the usual Bollywoodband baaja baraat, Malaika Arora, hotness personified multiple times over, sizzles with item number ..”fashion khatam mujhpe”. Rao, in a most delightful dance debut, doubles the raunchy heat with his electrifying grooves to “hot hot raat, tera mast mast saath”.
Dolly looks on happily and appears later, armed with the most commonly used device done to death for suhaag raat scenes: a glass of milk. Sorry, make that many glasses of milk. As she puts it to her father in law: “main waisi bahu nahin hoon jo keval apne pati ko doodh deti hai, main sabko doodh deti hoon.” Sonu and his family happily guzzle their milk and wake up to a robbed household. Dolly, it turns out, is a con bride.
The modus operandi is simple. With the help of a fake “father” and a “brother” who rope in the right unsuspecting groom, she switches from a Bengali bride to a Parsi bride to a Catholic bride. The weapons are the same: her virginal act and a glass of milk.
This over simplistic idea is a masterstroke in terms of spoofing the classic suhaag raat scene but too unbelievable for the ease with which it succeeds every single time.
Only, she has not expected the cheated grooms (Rao and Varun Sharma) to meet each other and chase her all over again. It is this particular track that keeps up the interest in the otherwise repetitive and rather easy and lazy screenplay. Nothing is a challenge for Dolly, not even when she lands up in jail, caught by another smitten cop (Pulkit Samrat).
Yet, the lack of dramatic conflict, does not take away from the fun filled performances by every actor including Archana Puran Singh as the loud, overbearing Punju mom.
Director, Abhishek Dogra, makes a fine debut with this light and breezy comedy. Sonam Kapoor keeps it sweet and sassy as the unabashed con bride.
Dolly Ki Doli is as smooth and easy flowing as cow’s milk and butter, right till the end. It certainly makes for a decent, light nightcap, served with sugar by Arbaaz Khan Productions.

Thursday, 15 January 2015


His head has a very slight tilt on the right, his smile is endearingly shy and and his eyes glimmer with mischief and brilliance behind those large glasses. This is how you see young Stephen Hawking at 21, as he walks up to his to-be wife, Jane (Felicity Jones), for the first time at a party. A few charming dates later; you notice a very slight change in his feet angle as he spins around with Jane. And just when he is discovering the joy of exploring his theory of time on the blackboard, his hands and knuckles bend ominously.
Soon, he is seen dragging himself down the stairs, a father of two babies. He has also completed his doctorate. Sometimes he slurs so much that his wife, Jane, has to translate. That is one of her simpler chores amongst her more strenuous, nursing efforts.
Stephen has just proved his first theory that Time has a beginning. Only, years later, he comes up with another theory which disproves and contradicts his first theory. By then, he is way past proving his doctors wrong too. At 21, they had given him two years to live after diagnosing a motor neuron disorder, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) that paralyses him over the years. Fortunately, the impairment in body and speech, has not taken away the function of his brilliant, questioning mind, which loves Physics. Hawking is 72 today and has refused the Queen’s medal.
Interestingly, The Theory of Everything, based on Jane’s memoir, “Travelling to Infinity: My life with Stephen”, looks at Hawking’s relationship with his wife as they battle his disease together and try to lead ‘normal’ lives as a couple and parents. Their very British manner and emotional self-control, is touched upon, with gentle humour. The growth and challenges in their relationship culminate in a very deeply poignant moment when Jane tells Hawking, ”I have loved you” and the two weep bitterly, together even in their separation.
 The film, however, refrains from going deep into their differences, the seeds of which are seen in their contrasting ideologies of science and religion. There is a glimpse of the household turning into ménage-a trois, with the entry of choirmaster, Jonathan (Charlie Cox). It’s amazing the way, the director, James Marsh, treats this intrusion with gentle, tender gloves of underwriting. The gradual shift in relationships is, however overlooked with the story’s focus on Hawking’s scientific achievements.
The Theory of Everything is a highly dignified love story with a true, happy ending that transcends all norms in love, science and medicine. As for Hawking’s own work and deserved claim to fame, it might be better to get a copy of his immensely popular book, “A Brief History of Time”.
By the time, the credits appear (in reverse order in keeping with the scientist’s last theory), you recall, that you were not watching Stephen Hawking himself. That was the equally brilliant actor, Eddie Redmayne, recipient of the recent Golden Globe award.

Friday, 9 January 2015


When a film cannot make the most of a fine actor like Manoj Bajpayee as a villain in love, you know it’s doomed even as a B grade film. Boney Kapoor’s home production, Tevar, starring his son, Arjun Kapoor, has its money and muscles all misplaced.
There is a dialogue that describes Arjun’s character, Pintu. It goes something like this…mix up Arnold Schwarzenegger and Salman Khan and you get Pintu. Clearly, Tevar’s agenda is to project the filmmaker’s son as the next action hero. It doesn’t matter that he has more baby fat than action abs in his body. It gets worse when he is teamed with a heroine-girl from Mathura - Radhika (Sonakshi Sinha)who makes the same big eyes in movie after movie. Since they look pretty with glycerin drops,there is not much to complain here.
Since its been decided that Pintu, a good for nothing son of a cop (Raj Babbar) in Agra, plays action action, besides kabaddi kabaddi, one third of the film gets directed by action director, Sham Kaushal. When he is not saying ‘hu tu tu’, he is busy mouthing lines like “kiski moru gardan, kiski toru haddi” and beating up eve teasers. Incidentally, Agra seems to be full of such miscreants.
The next one third of the film is devoted to long boring songs. One includes Radhika’s dance that has the villain, Gajendra Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) smitten. Another song has the young Agra boy and the Mathura girl running from goons. After all, in Pintu’s words, that’s all he is good at: running away.
The rest of the film indulges in cheap old lines and cheaper drama like getting Bajpayee to drop his pants and taking a vow that he will only wear them when he gets his runaway bride. Bajpayee clearly does not quite relish this role as his usual power packed dialogue delivery lacks the punch in Tevar.
Boney Kapoor was probably hoping to repeat the success of South remake, Wanted. But debut director, Amit Ravindernath Sharma, doesn’t add much novelty to this remake of 2003 Telugu film, Okkadu.
Shruti Haasan, who appears for an item song, is the only welcome sight here. She looks both hot and sweet and definitely deserves more than an insipid number in scanty costumes.
Tevar is a bad beginning to 2015.You might be better off watching or playing kabaddi.