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

Wednesday

Wednesday

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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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Americano

August 30, 2008 at 9:59 am (Uncategorized)

There are times when the sheer beauty of the background takes your breath away. The colours, the contrasts simply intermingle to give you an O experience. Throw in a masterful script and powerful performances and you have a masterpiece at your hands. Unfortunately Americano lacks the last two things though it is visibly very appealing.

The story of our life in the end is not our life, it is our story. This film so young at heart, is set against the backdrop of the Running of Bulls Festival at Pamplona (Fiesta de San Fermin) where three backpackers from the states are spending the last few days of their holidays and meet a beautiful Spanish chiqua and an undercover agent. Before you dismiss this as another slasher film, hold on. It is a completely different genre. The only blood you will see during the movie is a bloody gory bull fighting scene which the director tries to justify. Bull fighting is seen as an ethical issue with PETA organizing a protest outside the venue. There is a beautiful exchange of dialogue where Adela ( the role of Spanish girl played oh so sensually by Leonor Varela) questions whether the American way of killing animals with a gun is above questioning since bull fighting at least gives you an honorable way of going away. She does a brilliant job of making the bull fighting tradition so suggestive and carnal

The actual running of the bulls scene is done brilliantly with handheld cameras and unorthodox angles. It looks dangerous enough for me to never go there. As our hero begins to wonder whether he should go back, Adela takes the three of them to rural Spain where the real difference in culture (skinny dipping shows up). The movie does a good job of presenting the good, the bad and the ugly parts of the Spanish customs. Apparently, if a guy loves a girl he can throw stones on her. Talk about tough love eh.

I connected very deeply with the movie since the central theme of following the beaten path or risking it all on the road less traveled which bugged me a lot during my final days in Europe. But I didnt give in to the temptation. Did our hero do it? go watch the movie,you lazy asses.

Unlike most other movies the second half of Americano is way better than the first half which just seemed some mish mash of good individual scenes. Enjoy this movie for its great music, beautiful cinematography but don’t expect a life changing experience. At the most you’d want to go to Spain to enjoy the beautiful natural scenes (and the chicks of course). Dennis Hopper is in a blink and you miss role. Joshua Jackson is suited for his character with perfection and he plays it with elan.

The movie tells you to do what scares you. Go watch a non mainstream movie. You might end up being pleasantly surprised.

Genre: Romance, Drama

Rating: Yawnnnnnn

Go watch it with: A spanish chick,  as part of your movie club, a tasteful friend

Go watch it for: The view, running bulls scene, end of teen life crisis, lesson in sensuality

Americano

Americano

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O mumbai meri Jaan

August 28, 2008 at 7:00 am (Uncategorized)

Crash in 2004 with its intertwining stories created a new genre of its own and its success has prodded film makers like always to try and copy the formula with varying degrees of success. bollywood can never be far behind,can it? The trend was started by Life in Metro(or something like that) which was a mish-mash of Hollywood movies put together. Copy from one,it is plagiarism. copy from many,it is research.

Mumbai has been the subject of Bollywood movies since the beginning. Bollywood has started thinking out of the box every once in a while. and MMJ is a bold step in the right direction. With no A league stars and a new team as well, it comes out with shining colors specially considering the mindless crap Bollywood dishes day in and out.

The start is very promising with a global perspective thrown in. Zinedine’s infamous head butt is attributed by a perennial Muslim-hater as unjustified. The issue of sensational/unethical journalism is also introduced. But among all the stories the one that stands out is the one played out by the constables who are introduced in a very poignant manner. A woman has been raped by a police man and the constable questions whether being a policeman means that one is no longer subject to the inadequacies of the homo sapiens. The july train bombings form a backdrop for this movie. The bombing scene is done very effectively and the director convinces you that special effects are not necessary to carry your point across. A man traumatized by the incident and another coffee vendor who decides to take revenge on the society by making hoax bomb calls are the other stories.

The director uses irony and chance beautifully in the script- almost Quentin Tarantino style. The journalist, a big supporter of cheap thrills journalism finds the boot on the other foot when she loses her to be hubby in the incident and her channel wants to do a story on that. masterful. Soha Ali Khan comes up with a subtle yet powerful performance. The use of lights in the morgue scene is done with text book perfection.

The constables played by Vijay Maurya and Paresh Rawal (in one of his best performances to date) are the real heroes of the movie. Just like Crash, all the characters are neither black nor white, rather a tinge of gray( the constables take bribe but also honestly try to bring the crooks to the book). The movie starts losing steam with the Madhavan story which could have been cut from the script. but the director apparently wanted to show the IT guy’s perspective as well. Kay Kay Menon in another fiery performance tries to pass judgment on the entire issue by himself before he realises his folly. Irffan Khan brings to life an otherwise mundane character.

Some of the scenes are heartwarming for eg. a muslim listening to Md. Rafi (a muslim) singing “ab tumhare hawale watan saathiyo” but KK says that muslims are listening not out of patriotism but because it was sung by someone in their own community. A US returned friend of Madhavan tries to describe the post 9/11 scenario in US.

Backed by a strong script,brilliant performances and great direction the movie is a treat. The direction is noteworthy and camera work excellent. The idea of focussing the camera on different body parts of the characters fits beautifully with the theme of the movie.

It fails to hold out in the middle and becomes a bit too preachy by the end. The stories, though set against a common background do not criss-cross unlike Crash where all the stories come together in the end. Nevertheless, the movie is a signal that Indian junta is ready for some intelligent film making and not just mindless crap like singh is king.

The movie doesn’t present a solution to the mess around us. It does however remind you that when faced with such challenges, dust yourself off and keep on moving. because “jeena isi ka naam hai”

Go watch this movie, do Bollywood a favor.

Genre: Drama,Crime

Rating: They’ve got something there

Mumbai meri jaan

Mumbai meri jaan

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Bachna ae Deluded Beauties

August 27, 2008 at 8:29 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The peaks of Switzerland, lavish Punjabi weddings, dance and song sequences at the drop of a topi. Yash Raj tries to recreate its magic of yore after having taken a clobbering at the box office over and over again. The tried and tested formula has new jabronees playing the same characters with a bit of a difference.

The movie is about remorse and reconciliation and as a statutory warning do remember to carry your handkerchiefs and be accompanied by your better half or be in a rowdy group who are there for the three hot chicks. The movie starts in the lush green fields of Switzerland where without being apologetic, the DDLJ thing is given a fresh breath of life. Well due credit to the makers foractually returning to an old geographical location but still coming up with some refreshingly new locales. With picture perfect bodies prancing around in snow covered peaks in minimal clothing, the story begins with our hero (18 years old) boasting about his exploits with a girl to his friends only to turn back and find the girl crying her eyes out. Remorseless, the guy moves to Mumbai with his live-in girlfriend. But the first mention of a commitment has him running out of the arrangement with the wrong shoes.

The first half with its witty anecdotes is a breeze. The hero’s sidekick (a modern day version of the transvestite Bobby) is an energetic addition to the mixture. Wearing funny quote t-shirts, he dishes out phenomenal advice to the hero to find a way out of the escapades. The background music is almost like an extra character. Opening the movie with the title song was a cheap trick which did however have the girls (and the guys) swooning.

Anyways, our hero finds the tables turned on him when the girl he loves refuses to marry him. He figures his present state is a result of his deeds from the past (AAaaaaahhhh our future is safe in the hands of such leaders). But Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned (or his husband who knows about her liaison).A wedding sequence, a few songs and 20 Dolce & Gabbana dresses later all is well in paradise as the girls forgive the hero just in time for Cinderella to realize she does need our hero. And they lived (kissed) happily ever after.

After the fare dished out by YRF in the recent past, BAH is a refreshing change. Siddharth Anand has finally reformulated the Yash Raj formula successfully. The star of the movie is definitely Ranbir Kapoor who carries the movie entirely on his shoulders. Minnisha Lamba is cute and cuddly. Bipasha Basu’s legs and cleavage make more of an appearance than her . She plays the second half character of a biyach with elan.However the big disappointment is the hot favourite Deepika Padukone who shone brilliantly in OSO. But when exposed in the movie with long emotional dialogues, she is found wanting. Ms. Padukone it is definitely time to go back to the acting school. The movie drags on a little too long and you almost wish for 2 intermissions. Guess, they could have cut on one song or two. Kunal Kapoor as a Sardar delivers a believable performance. Infact, the entire Amritsar sequence is done in a very non-stereotypical way without cutting down on the entertainment factor(take that, Singh is King)

The lesson is clear. If you are a playa, don’t go out and watch this movie. You are gonna come out depressed. Don’t go with your live in Girlfriend either. She might just ask you to marry her by the end of the movie. Go with your wife/husband and (try to) convince them that you are the best thing that could have happened to them.

Category: Comedy, Romance

Rating:Yawnnnnnnnn

Bachna ae haseeno

Bachna ae haseeno

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The Assignment

August 27, 2008 at 4:08 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

While my fellows at ISB have been busy with their assignments from different courses, I decided to take up an assignment of my own. Listen to this. A guy who is a dead ringer for a feared criminal is implanted by the authorities to get rid of the said criminal. Reminds you of something? DON. well yeah but only if it had Ben Kingsley, Donald Sutherland and Aidan Quinn in it and the said criminal is not a cheesy don but an international threat- “carlos the jackal”

Aaah how I love Hollywood when it comes up with fictionalized versions of true stories. But in this case you have to be impressed with this guy. His real life story is far more interesting than the movie script itself. Wiki

The movie starts with a love making scene which bizarrely ends with a guy using his cigarette butt to squish a spider in his own web. This is immediately followed by a cafe bombing scene which has special effects straight out of…(wait for it) LOVE STORY 2050. Talk about creamy and corny. Much before the days of Osama bin Laden and his croonies, you could walk right into a meeting of foreing ministers and kidnap them and hold them for a ransom. I am not kidding you, this isn’t just a plot of the movie,it did really happen. A bunch of delegates from OPEC in Vienna were kidnapped by the aforementioned Jackal who had been outwitting CIA as well.

The story takes a leap of of 10 years ala our K serials(fortunately none of the characters has a bunch of Grey streaks or suddenly bespectacled) leading to an awesome sequence. We see a guy whom the director wants us to believe is the jackal (and does a convincing job of it) being chased by Mossad. Of course this is our hero who is actually a US navy seal. CIA soon comes after him with a plan to track down Jackal.and the inevitable training session. Unfortunately, this is where the plot loosens its grip. The training session is cheesy and the rationals provided behind the sequences can make you wonder whether you have strolled into lalaland. Our desi Don was never trained for behavior in the sack.Maybe we had very docile Dons in the 70’s.But one of the most powerful sequences is when the guy gets trained from an ex-girlfriend of the Jackal who proclaims ” He could kill you in a second, but instead he makes you come”. Now how didn’t this line make it to the best 100 quotes

This odd triad of Mossad, CIA and the Navy seal do succeed in their plan of turning KGB against the Jackal but a chance encounter at Heathrow throws a spanner in their plans and now the jackal is after the good guy. Our hero,tormented and destabilized, finds out that the CIA operative is using him like a pawn in his personal vendetta but still plays along to protect his family. They convince KGB that jackal is doublecrossing them.Of course the jackal is meant to be clever and outsmarts(outguns) the KGB agents leading to a final showdown between the two lookalikes where in case of mistaken identity the guy ……… let’s not spoil the plot.But apparently the Jackal’s terrorist days are over since KGB has turned against him.

Christian Duguay accounts for some very third rate direction. Ben Kingsley with his Arab accent must be scratching his bald head as to why he signed this movie. Donald Sutherland and Aidan quinn are OK. The weak part is again the plot which fails to hold together even though it is brilliant in patches. It tries to stretch your imagination in certain places.

The mistaken identity theme has been done to death over the years. Hell,even Shakespeare did it.There is hardly any novelty in the plot and insipid performances do not help. The cruelty and barbaric nature of Jackal at least gives you something to hate in the movie. My recommendation would be that saturday evening if you have something better to do,then do it. You might just want 2 hours of your life back.

Genre:Thriller,Crime

Rating:Nightmarish

assignmentposter97

The assignment

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The (F)art of war

August 26, 2008 at 6:07 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

If there is one thing that I would like to take away from this movie, it has to be the long worn out cliche- “Names can be deceptive”. With a name taken from the oft-quoted war strategy text by Sun Tzu (remember Martin Sheen in Wall street), one would have expected atleast some kind of a sensibility to the plot, if not business school strategy classes material. But the moment you see Wesley Snipes on the cover, you know what awaits you.Before he was sent to jail for some tax fraud (if I remember correctly) , Wesley became famous for the Blade trilogy with his garlic shooting machine. But he will always remain the poor man’s version of the black action hero or Will Smith.

The introduction scene is actually not too bad. As the director tantalizingly gives you glimpses of his hero, as he dangles from a multi-storey building you actually take your hand off the eject button. But man, are you in for some disappointment. As the opening scene draws on, you see the defense minister of North korea being given some special treatment by 14-15 year old chicks. Man, talk about axis of evil. So, we realize that our hero is a covert UN agent whose identity does not exist. This one line should be enough to tell you the rest of the plot which is hardly imaginative or creative.

Well, the director does try to be different and throws in some geo-political twist to the plot. China trying to open itself to the world. But again you know that someone is going to throw in a spanner(and if you have seen as many whodunnits as I have, you can actually tell who). There are a few cool chase sequences which ultimately land our hero in trouble, who being officially non-existant cannot be rescued by UN which actually seems to be involved in more murkier things than D company.

There are the usual suspects in the plot like any other action movie- the hero escaping from the clutches of the villains, an audio tape being chased by everyone, car crash, boom boom blasts and since our hero is an afro american he has to play basketball atleast once. Shady nightclubs, drugs, sweat-shops. Special mention for wesley disguised as a Sudanese guy at UN. Hilarious yet believable.

The movie does make a few pertinent points. China’s future (the movie was made in 2000) is an important issue throughout the movie and how people both within and outside China would like to sabotage its growth for their personal benefit. Seeing the movie in the backdrop of the Beijing Olympics actually lends testimony to the director’s fears. But his insistence on dragging Art of War into the context of the movie holds the movie back. The movie also allays to the fact that UN is losing its relevance fast and actually tries to preach that UN must resort to unconventional ways to keep its head above water.

The script is pretty shallow and there seem to have been some last minute improvisations which do not allow a steady flow. However credit is due to Christian Duguay(director) who is probably the only one to come out shining. The production values are the saving grace of the movie and make it tolerable. Wesley,at best is average. Donald Sutherland was completely wasted. Interestingly, Jet Li was to reprise the role played by Snipes. Hmmm, could that have made a difference?

The tagline of the movie is “Do you know who your enemy is?”. I know. It is crappy boring movies who try to use style over substance and fail miserably. Art of war, unfortunately falls in that category.

Genre: Action, Thriller(you got to be kidding me)

Rating: Nightmarish

wesley snipes in art of war

wesley snipes in art of war

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