Barbers/Barbarians at the gate

September 23, 2008 at 6:13 am (Uncategorized)

There are certain movies which no matter, directed by whom, enacted by whichever cast turn out to be entertaining. For, it is the story which is carrying the entire movie on its shoulders. Barbarians at the gate is one such movie. No matter if you read the story in a novel (the movie is adapted from one) or on page3 of Financial Times (this kinda story deserves a place only on page 3) or in Reader’s digest it is bound to catch your attention.

Now the issue behind this movie was actually given to me as a case study in my MBA class. And let me put it this way the event went on to change Wall street landscape for ever ( much before sub prime became part of our vocabulary).

I dont have much to say about the movie. It is well, how do I put this, OKish. No standout performances, no new filming techniques. The script is crisp and sweet so you don’t lose the grip of the plot. There are a few gem of dialogues thrown in (Ballpark anyone?) which somehow didnt make it to the top 100 quotes list.

Go watch this movie only if you are too lazy to solve a case study and don’t care about your marks only about your knowledge.

Go watch it with: your MBA class

Go watch it for : a business lesson

Rating; Yawwnnnnnnnn

Genre: Drama, Business

Barbarians at the gate

Barbarians at the gate


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A Wednesday

September 17, 2008 at 8:27 am (Uncategorized)

If you remember my first post I had mentioned how I would try and steer clear of Bollywood movies. Going by the count, all my readers ( yeah all 3 of you) would have come to realize how good I must be at keeping my New Year resolutions. Partly this has been due to some really good sensible movies coming out of Bollywood this year (No, Rock On, you don’t count)

A Wednesday is by far the best among all these. A minimalistic budget effort is always an attraction to me ever since the days of Hitchcock. The real essence of the movie is and will always be the story with special effects being merely an added attraction. Of course a perfect mixture of the two makes for an entertaining great movie a la The Dark Knight.

Where Wednesday lacks in technical finesse and big fireworks, it makes up by providing a heart to the story. The trouble would have been attracting the crowds to the theaters but i guess they took care of that by bringing together two stalwarts of Indian Cinema- Anupam Kher and Nasser ud din Shah. Together is well actually the wrong term to use for these two golden age baddies of Indian cinema since they are seen together in the movie only in the last frame (except for split screens)

The movie follows a wednesday when the police station receives a bomb threat call and the terrorist (NS) makes clear his motives by leading the police to a bomb placed in their own backyard. Jimmy Shergill the eternal chocolate hero gives a stellar performance as a no-nonsense tough cop and he is ably backed by this other guy (Kamal Khan look alike) as an honest cop. It was refreshing to see JS carry out this non-stereotypical role with such grace.

The caller wants the release of 4 hardcore terrorists in order to divulge the information about the other bombs’ placement.And oh btw he has enough of technical expertise to outsmart the police (Indeed). The two cops are sent along with the terrorists ostensibly to hand them over to NS and their eventual freedom. Turns out NS actually wanted them killed for their roles in serial blasts in India.

See such a simple plot yet the movie has soul. and the soul is Naseeruddin Shah. It’s been ages since someone gave such an amazing performance in Bollywood history (maybe Amitabh in Black). In a script-backed role, he mixes all ranges of emotions perfectly. The monologue at the end is heart warming and has been delivered from heart.

Anupam Kher on the other hand is a big disappointment. To be fair, his role didn’t have too much maneuverability either. He delivers a bland performance. The 3-D effects are also cartoonish.

But one is given only a few reasons to complain. The ire of common man against the system has been done to death (Ghatak and numerous other movies being standout examples) but while the ire in these movies was motivated by individual grouses, the sheer helplessness of the common man in face of growing threats and the failure of the govt. to respond provides the backdrop for this movie.
Almost apologetic use of F words and abuses lends a common touch to the movie.The movie is kept short and terse and there are no songs for a change. A bit of humor (sometimes self-deprecating) is thrown in for good measure. The movie does use some cliched characters but in the larger picture one can forgive this.

Go watch this movie, any given day of the week and not just wednesday

watch it for : some disturbing questions, Naseerudin Shah

watch it with : Anyone

Genre: Crime, Drama

Rating: Gem



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Be cool (instead of dishing out mindless crap)

September 9, 2008 at 11:33 am (Uncategorized)

If you don’t want a R rating for your movie, you can use the F-word only once. You know what I say, I say fuck that.

After such a gem of a dialogue, be cool just whittles away. and you realize why John Travolta’s career is in a mess these days. The opening scene shows one character narrating an idea for a movie and then getting shot. The rest of the movie is all about how his idea actually comes to fruition. The basic essence of the movie is attempt after attempt on Travolta’s life.

There is a problem with this movie. It is so placid that it hardly evokes any emotions. Not even angry emotions. As a critic you just want this shit to get over and movies like these make you hate your job.

John poaches a singer from another manager and moves into the music industry (besides escaping the assassination attempts) to try and produce a record. Problem – the singer is still under contract with another gangster and John doesn’t have the money. So starts the old game of play one gangster against the other- blacks v/s russians. And organize a concert from Aerosmith and Steve Tyler to raise the money in the meanwhile.

The movie follows the downfall of each of these unscrupulous enemies of Chili who actually end up bumping each other off. The first half sucks and the second half sucks and blows at the same time (Never thought it is physically possible)

The movie makes fun of itself over the course For eg. Travolta laments about how was he ever made to accept a role in a sequel(Be cool is a sequel to Get Shorty). It needn’t have done this. All critics would have had a field day ripping this off. The movie doesn’t have its heart at the right place. Wait, it doesn’t even have a heart.

Uma Thurman is smoking hot. Dwayne Johnson should go back to the wrestling ring. Vaughn is hilarious in his role. The rest are all there and not yet there. Danny de vito who is also a prdoucer for the movie makes a cameo appearance. But the biggest loser from this movie has to be John Travolta. A similar role he reprised in Pulp fiction with such great elan has ZERO screen power in this movie.

The plot is horrendous to say the least. A few cheap laughs inserted here and there are good. The brother in law of sella (daboo) is seriously hilarious.

During the movie, John is asked who might be trying to kill him. He replies that he is in the music business, it could be anybody. Man, if I had a gun it would’ve definitely been me.

Genre: Crime, Comedy
Rating: Give me two hours of my life back

Go watch it with : A dead corpse

Go watch it for : A cure to insomnia

Be Cool

Be Cool

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Snooze On!!!

September 3, 2008 at 8:56 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

How are you supposed to write a review about a movie which lulled you into sleep not once but twice. Bland = Rock on. My friends in IIT with their passion about music are going to kill me after reading this review. You don’t/won’t/can’t understand music and the emotions attached with it. Similar to what I heard about Goal (just replace music with football)
That my friends is the basic flaw of the movie. A movie shouldn’t appeal to a miniscule minority and that is what Rock on does. The basic essence of following your dreams and not giving into herd mentality is not carried across fully by the movie. To be fair the movie does try to be original and not just a scene by scene rip off of Tom Hanks’ That thing you do. The story of disbanding of a rock band and their attempts to regroup fluctuates between the past and the present sometimes too discoherently.

My problem with this movie is that it doesn’t even do justice to the genre of rock music. The lead members have to have bad hair days to qualify for the stereotype look. and the music. well believe me it is hummable and Farhan Akhtar actually surprised me with his pleothra of talent. but rock music. come on. britney spears would’ve been proud singing these songs.

Any good things to write home about. well the direction isn’t too bad and the script tries to delve into the dirty world of Indian music industry. Anu Malik compliments another music director saying what a wonderful “original’ composition. Did he even realize that the dialogue was self-deprecating

The emotional quotient (EQ) of the movie would definitely appeal to a young generation but the intelligent quotient (IQ) of the movie is missing.The story could’ve done with some serious thinking. Farhan Akhtar with his 3 emotions throughout the movie at best is passable. Arjun Rampal seems to be finally improving in the acting department. Luke Kenny (and the other guy) with their weird hairdos play the stereotypical band members.

Well the movie is very low on the entertainment Quotient as well ( ENQ). No hilarity, wit or action. and with the script lacking punch you are bound to snooze at times. The songs might just awaken you but that’s all you can look forward to.

If you have nothing else to do for three hours, go watch this movie. But if sorting your colored socks from the white socks needs to be done, go do that. You would’ve spent your time way better.

Genre: Music, Drama

Rating: Nightmarish

Go watch it with your : better half, band members

Go watch it for: Ummm lemme think, wait there has to be something, ahh the songs probably and arjun rampal in his north eastern facial hair style

The weirdos from Rock On

The weirdos from Rock On

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Annie How(Hall)

September 1, 2008 at 7:00 am (Uncategorized)

My first brush with a Woody Allen production was one of the most horrendous movies I’ve ever seen- Scoop about some journalism shit (God, even the mention of bringing back memories from that movie nauseates me). I had brushed my hands off Woody Allen for ever until I came across Annie Hall. People had been suggesting me to watch it since the time I’ve been bitching about Woody Allen but I was so afraid that they just might be right and I’ll have nothing to bitch about anymore. Unfortunately, I was right.
Ages since I saw a movie which touches you with all its subtlety and sincerity. As the movie starts with a short credits introduction against a black background and no music, you know the movie wants to break the mould. Alvy Singer (Allen) breaks into a long monologue about what life is meant to be. Listen to this “Two fat women at a restaurant are talking. Awww such bad deserts they have. and the other woman replies they serve it in so small portions as well.” Life with all its miseries and misadventures makes you yearn for more.

There is no suspense to the movie. You know you can sit back and enjoy the movie without biting your nails because the end is given out in the beginning itself. Alvy’s character is nervous and confused which is reflected in his opening monologue where he digresses from his original stream of thought . The movie then jumps back to a flashback into the childhood where the technical expertise of Allen actually appears for the first time. Witty and sensitive at the same time.

The plot is simple. Alvy and Annie fall in love and through their journey take us back into their lives. It is a coming of age love story handling some regular issues in a couple’s life. There are no larger than life villains ( come to think of it there are no villains and then again there are no larger than life characters at all). Life with its twists and turns is the real character in this script. Alvy could be your average Joe(Jew)

There is a lot of yacking in the movie. Infact amount of dialogue/running time could be amongst the highest for AH. The thing I want to talk about the most is the new techniques introduced by this movie. Allen has been known for being experimental and brave. See I can be appreciative as well( scoop still remains one of the worst movies ever). The actors often stare straight into the camera away from the other characters and address you directly. There is an abrupt transition from one scene to another whenever there is a change in the time frame. The subtitles are used sometimes to tell us what the characters are really thinking. Imaginative and powerful. people walking on the streets jump in to a) share their thoughts on the events going on b)tell us what is happening with the characters off screen. Animation is used in a scene which I am sure inspired Who framed Roger Rabbit . Split screens with concurrent dialogues about the same stuff is used as a medium to express two different opinions.

But the most interesting technique used was the one where the characters in a flashback go in their past and witness events from their past. In certain instances, they are accompanied by some of their friends well.This allows them to express their feelings from that era and what they were feeling or how they would have wanted to change that particular scene.

In one particular scene, Alvy and Annie stop in the middle of having sex to debate the Kennedy assassination( eerily close to real life). Another outstanding scene is when Alvy doesn’t want to have sex¬† with Annie and he thinks maybe it is because he doesn’t want to be a member of the club which is bad enough to take him in as a member. Witty and realistic dialogue is what we miss in the movies these days where everything has to be over the top.
Alvy as a stand up comedian uses his jokes to convey his feelings about life,relationships even politicians.
I can’t think of another movie where the humor was so subtle ( Johnny Depp in Pirates of Carri bean maybe) Woody seems to have lost the touch over the years though. Wait, I am not going to go on a tirade against Allen (atleast not on the day I’ve watched Annie Hall)

If you want something to keep on happening in a movie, don’t ever go in. This movie is much above that. It gives us a new version of the genre romantic comedy.

I leave you with this gem of two lines where Allen’s 6 year old classmates in a flashback tell what they are doing today

“I used to be a heroin addict. Now I am a methadone addict.”

” I am into leather” -6 year old girl

Genre: Comedy, Romance.

Rating : Gem

Go watch it with: your better half, an intellectual friend

Go watch it for: Wit,Humor, New cinematic techniques, learning what romance is all about, stop bitching about woody allen

Annie Hall

Annie Hall

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