Saturday, March 28, 2009


Here is an interesting premise of the film. A man named Matthew Poncelet is on a death row wrote a letter to a compassionate nun to meet him in cell. He is no ordinary criminal; he is convicted on charges of killing two kids, raping a girl & stabbed her seventeen times. He proclaims during the meeting with nun that he’s not guilty, it’s his other partner named Vittelo who killed them. By the way Vittelo also claims the same. The state Government & Popular verdict is totally against the favor of Monster Matthew. He’s poor & can’t afford a good lawyer to defense his case. He’s got nobody to trust either except the nun. Who is the possible right guy deserves death & the other who deserves life is a big enigma for empathetic Sister Helen & for the audience who’s watching this flick. It’s insulting to say anything further for the film like this highlighting the theme of redemption based on Holy Bible.

Both Susan Sarandon & Sean Penn steal the show in this film along with gifted directorial craft of actor turned Writer-Director Tim Robbins. Without an iota of doubt this is Susan Sarandon’s most intense & intimate role of a lifetime to prove how fine actress she’s & it’s good that academy took notice of it by giving her well deserved Best actress trophy for her performance. Watch her expressive eyes & you come to realize how much one can act or express without uttering anything with the pair of sight only!!!
Sean Penn is absolutely brilliant actor who knows how to play both hysterics & underplay in a character like this. He also got academy nomination for his powerful performance but its different case that Nicolas Cage won the award for ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ that year. Watch his last confession expressions- “Nobody ever called me a son of God before …” & it makes your heart moves deep inside.
Witness the best ‘I Love You’ scene in the end which made my eyes wet & I’m sure it happens in your case too.

Must watch is an understatement here.
It surely a new & permanent entry in 100 movies you must watch before you die.


VIDESH (2009)

Years ago I’ve read an interesting play written by India’s finest playwright Girish Karnad based on Kannada folk tales named ‘Naga Mandala’. It’s one of the finest drama which told the folktale of an oppressed wife named Rani & her abusive husband. The cruel husband always keeps her locked inside the home whenever he went out. One day she got magical seeds from an old lady to transform her husband sane & loving one. She crushed them & mixed it in milk & served it to her husband but he refused it & throws it outside the window. Outside the window a hungry Cobra drank the milk. The next day as soon as her husband moves out of the house, the cobra transforms into the disguise of her husband came inside the house & became humble towards Rani & started love making to her. Unaware about the transformation of cobra, Rani realized totally opposite, hostile & violent husband when her real husband returns in the evening & starts behaving cruelly. Slowly this becomes routine & on one fine day she realized that she’s pregnant. In the climax in order to prove her innocence & loyalty to her husband, she is supposed to give testimony taking an oath touching King Cobra & as a part of poetic justice she comes out Scot free in the end.

Director Deepa Mehta’s this film represented the sub plot of this cobra transformation mythology based on theme of Indian domestic violence on women. She always tried to highlight the theme of women empowerment against the male dominated family & society but now it’s high time for her to make something different instead of repeating the same subject with heavy tone. Is Deepa making film just to represent herself in Various International Film Festivals or is she making films for the Indian Audience is difficult question to answer.

The film is almost in Punjabi, the English title of the film is ‘Heaven on Earth’. Preity Zinta plays the leading role of Chand, a young bubbly Punjabi bride finds herself in fixed arranged marriage with rough, dry & abusive husband in Canada. Everything is unfamiliar for newly married bride; she tried to settle herself with grace & hope in this distant & different world. But soon rays of hope disappear during their honeymoon. Instead of love she encounters the rough violent husband. She becomes isolated in the hostile home. As her husband is unemployed & good for nothing, she has to start working in a laundry to economically support the extended family. Here she meets a Jamaican Lady named Rosa. She gave her a magical root to transform her husband a loving one. And from here onwards the movie takes a different trajectory based on above mentioned play by Karnad & rest of the film is totally rip off based on the play.

If we keep aside Preity’s underplay acting & the mythological sheshnaag tale aside there’s nothing new to ponder in this film. Director Deepa Mehta is repeating the same record of hackneyed theme portraying unsettling plight of women in man dominated society displaying disturbing domestic violence & atyaachar on poor protagonist Preity. More or less watching this heavy film fails to convey anything out of the box. One also required a pain killer before & after watching film like this.

You are not missing anything if you avoid film like this.


P.S- Writing such a long review of film like this is also in a way a futile exercise & it also didn’t deserve the valuable space like this.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Based on the novel of well known writer P.D. James novel the film is a future story of circa 2027. Human race is near to extinction & no child born since last 18 years. The world is in chaos with the concerning issue of infertility & scientists are working on Human Project. The only miracle is a non immigrant pregnant lady & its mission to protect the lady who’s the only hope to save the human race.

It’s surely one of the well maintained intriguing films I’ve seen from beginning to end without any nonsense subplot. Some of the scoring technical points of the film are- taut screen screenplay & editing, perfect sound editing; brilliant & realistic action sequences & thrill maintained cinematography. Clive Owen has really maintained his character with his best. Julianne Moore has nothing more to represent in her guest appearance kind of role. Michael Caine is always admirable actor & so anything to say about his character is just wasting adjectives.

Indeed a superb future thriller & engaging film & all credit go to Director Alfonso Cuaron. It’s surely a flawless direction & he has done credible justice to the subject. Watch the climactic scene celebrating humanity where all gunning soldiers paved way to the crying child & the mother among gun trotting chaos. It’s like watching literal imagery of Bertrand Russell’s great quote- “In the end only remember the humanity & forget the rest.”

Highly Recommended.

Ratings- 8/10


Considered as one of the finest horror film, the movie totally disappoints me. There’s not a single scene in the film which made me scary for a while, instead it looks like low budget B grade inferior horror movie of yesteryears. Director Wes Craven wanted to convey a logical point about human fear psychosis but it comes way up in the end. If you kill your fear in its own game plan, you can conquer your fear in all contexts, which make it possible to kill a person of dream world in real world.
A girl is facing nightmares & sleep disorder & it has connection with horrible past of a person named Freddy Kruger who killed several kids in the neighborhood. He was burnt alive by the angry parents in boiler room. Now he’s back into the girl’s nightmarish dreams.
The quality of all horror visuals are just below average in quality from today’s standards & Freddy Kruger with his nail sharp fingers looks ridiculous rather than frightening. Its big enigma for me why he was considered as one of the top 100 villains by AFI. I still wonder why film is considered a well made horror till today by many admirers of this genre. A noteworthy thing about the film is that it introduced a finest talented actor Johnny Depp to Hollywood. His role is limited but yeah he seems noticeable in this first film too.

Avoidable on all accounts.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


It’s a refreshing young pair of Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson & the chemistry between them which works in this cool vampire love story. The film is the screen version of best selling novel by the same name.

Bella is suffer-in-silence kind of high school girl & she got fascinated by Edward Cullen who holds a dark secret about his family. Both of them fall in love with each other after some encounter. Bella slowly knows that Edward belongs to vampire clan but her love is just unconditional. Soon Edward introduced her to his family & they accept her too. The thrill begins when a hostile vampire wanted to hunt Bella for his blood thirst.
The film is more sort of immortalizing love between the uncanny love story between vampire & human. As I said earlier its lead pair of gorgeous Kristen Stewart & cold blooded- haunted looking Robert Pattinson & their chemistry which is the most noticeable part of the film; the rest is average. The film is more focused on young romance & targeted on youth audience primarily & it got success too when released in US.

Watch if you in romance or like the theme like this.
No harm in watching once.


Monday, March 23, 2009

HIGH NOON (1952)

Regarded & acclaimed as the greatest & the best B & W western ever made, ‘High Noon’ is without doubt one of the finest example of taut film making by legendary Director Fred Zinnemann. Set within a duration of just 80 minutes, it’s exactly the story of actual 80 minutes tense screen time. I’ve never seen any film maintaining the technicality of time duration with detailing of minutes by minutes. Needless to say the editing is matchless.
On the morning of his wedding day Marshal Will Kane, knows that convicted murderer & his sole enemy Frank Miller will be arriving on the noon train to get his revenge back against Marshal for putting him into prison. Its last day of Kane in the town & nobody in the town willing to help him, even the judge, his fellow colleagues & deputies escaped. Kane has to face the fight alone & its showdown time for him & the final gun battle provides a nail biting climax. I never get so desperate to see the face of villain as in the case of Frank Miller.
There are so many reasons why you must watch this classic western. It’s more about choosing conscience over easy way out & the conflict one faces in action after the things not coming in expected way. Gary Cooper delivers a powerful performance as the law enforcer Marshal Will Kane who sticks to his conscience alone till the end. He got his second Oscar of Best Actor for this film. Grace Kelly looks so youthful & truly a blonde goddess.

Fred Zinneman is one of the technically flawless director. Filmed in classic Black & white frames, the evocative long shots highlight the tension as time slowly slips away.
‘High Noon’ is not just another western, but a morality play that had great political relevance at that time. Watch his meeting scene with old Marshal & you will get my point. The film got four Oscars including Best Actor & Best film editing. Director Fred Zinneman got nominations but didn’t win but the next year (1953) he got his due award of Best Director for ‘From Here To Eternity’. Apart of this two touchstone classics by Zinneman; my all-time personal favorite is ‘The Day of Jackal’ which I regard as the textbook example of thriller film making.

Truly the classic Western of all time.

Ratings- 10/10


Now this is surely the most underrated beautiful love story of the last year. The most wonderful thing about this sweet romantic film is the extraordinary performance of Hollywood’s most underrated but brilliant actor- Joaquin Phoenix. We all have seen his cruel underplay in ‘Gladiator’ & class act of Johnny Cash in ‘Walk the line’ but I think this is the best performance of his till day. Indeed its quite unbelievable to see Phoenix performing in an ordinary role like this & still he has gave all flesh & blood with brilliant intensity to his character. I’ve read in a newspaper couple of days ago that he’s quitting the acting & this would be his last film so far. If that’s true we are definitely missing a great actor.

There’s nothing new in the story of this James Gray directed sensitive romantic film except profoundly moving performances of all three lead cast- Phoenix gave his heart out in acting in his lover’s role as Leonard, Gwyneth Paltrow is not just beautiful actress from outside but from inside too but Vinessa Shaw is a real discovery of the film. As a director James Gray hasn’t given his masterpiece yet but off course I will surely cherish this beautiful romantic drama in long run as one of the most touchy love story with startling performances. Don’t drop it due to its common title, watch it without much expectation & it will work & touch your right chords.

Must Watch for Joaquin Phoenix.
Recommended to all who like to watch a well made dramatic love story.

Ratings- 8/10

Sunday, March 22, 2009

FIRAAQ (2009)

Based on several true stories, news reports & events it’s an unflinching true image of Gujarat during Godhra riots. Movie begins with ugly reality of dead bodies thrown in the pit. Nandita Das in her debut film making made praise worthy effort to show the realistic dark side of riot stricken Gujarat from different perspectives of various characters. Being Gujarati, I must say what she shows in the film is almost mirror image of Ahmedabad during riots & it strikes one as one of the shameful event for the state.

The movie has some splendid veteran actors in cast- Naseer, Raghuvir Yadav, Paresh Raval, Dipti Naval & few promising talents of current Bollywood- Shahana Goswami, Sanjay Suri, Tisca Chopra & everyone has proven their credits. Nandita has portrays many faces of riots through the characters- anger, hate, hope, cowardice, anxiety. Most of the stories deliver the emotional punch on several occasions but it fails to convey the higher message from the film like this. What I do not anticipate in the film is its ending. Its like Nandita started with exploring intensity of viewers but as soon as one moves out from the cinema hall the whole experience looks more or less futile & inconsistent in story telling. Infect most of the stories are stretched unnecessarily in the latter half. But above all the touching projection of small Muslim kid who’s running from one corner to another & witnessing ugly aftermath of riots is really striking one & that’s the best perspective of the film which made a big statement.

Ravi K Chandran is one of the best cinematographer we have & he has amply created the tone of the film with his camera work.
Watch it for the noble intention of Nandita’s directorial debut & to witness the mirror image of Ahmedeabad during riots.

Ratings- 6.5/10

Friday, March 20, 2009


Undoubtedly one of the best horror films ever made. Without any qualms I confess that watching this for the first time is really nerve wrenching experience for me. The original 1974 version is considered as masterpiece of horror which I haven’t seen till day & so it’s difficult for me to say which one is better but if one can see without any bias this one is not bad product at all & It would be surely one of the well made remake. I would definitely love to see the 1973 classic version after watching this. Its surely one of the few well made straight horror film without any nonsense sub plot or crap in between.

On August, 1973 a group of five young people returning from their Mexico trip & they accidentally met a strange women on the road. They gave her a lift but she shockingly shot herself dead inside the car. They tried to call the local sheriff from a strange looking old fellow’s house but hey it’s too late ‘coz they’re into the problem now. The rest you follow is some gruesome incidents. ‘Leatherface’ will surely remain as one of the scariest villain in horror genre. Jessica Biel looks stunning & it’s her character among all leads which draws your attention from beginning to end with her balanced act & Infect she’s the only brave lady who fought bravely till the end against all odds.
To sum up I must say that I like this version & it’s really well made, well cinematographed & well edited film.
Recommended to all horror lovers.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Have you ever heard the name of Melissa Leo? Have you ever seen any of her films?
I am damn sure majority of you will come with the answer- ‘No’. Let me tell you very frankly that even I didn’t know her till I discover her watching this film & guys I must confess that she’s one of the most surprising actress of last year & that’s the reason why her name was there in the Best Actress nomination category. We all are elated with Kate as she got her long due Oscar for ‘The Reader’ but the award was equally deserving one for Melissa Leo.

Written & Directed by Courtney Hunt, ‘Frozen River’ is one of the underrated film of the last year is the story of two ladies struggling with their lives in the freezing land. Melissa is struggling to support her two kids & a house after her husband deserts her with limited savings. In her desperation to get the money for her kids’ education & getting a new home, she makes an unlikely alliance with suspicious looking Mohawk woman who once stole her car. She discovers that she was Illegal Human trafficker & driving Chinese across the ice to US. Now the alliance is a thing to watch in this film because here comes the expressions & performances. The movie is spellbinding thriller but it’s more about the portrait of economical struggle in desperate times. So do not expect a typical Hollywood thrill gimmicks with big names in movie like this. Technically the film is classy & surely creates the environment of chilly ice thrill ride just like Coen Bros. Classic ‘Fargo’ & it’s surely worthy of your one hour & thirty minutes.

Mandatory watch for all those who don’t know Melissa Leo.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

GULAAL (2009)

Hates off to Anurag Kashyap for making such an exploding film; infect it’s a brilliant & powerful statement that he has claimed with this film. Its not exaggeration to say its kind of Indian version of dark Shakespearean tragedy based on seven deadly sins which almost intertwined with one another & erode the humanity from ages for power struggle.

How Politics, Power & Fate transformed the track of a young law student’s career & life. How the nightmare of his severe ragging turned out his joining into regional politics & in its penultimate course turned him a real RDX. Anurag has added many sub plots & macabre characters along with the main plot- a power hungry politician of Rajputana party who claims his reign over Rajput community to fulfill his own whims & fancy Or a cunning half brother-sister of royal blood who can do any sort of evil. It’s one of the brilliantly made political thriller with all intrigue & corrupt faces with the flavor of Royal Rajasthan.

I’ve read that Anurag has written the script of the film much before he made his first released directorial debut ‘Black Friday’ & from the very beginning he had Kay Kay in mind to cast for such a powerful character of Duki Bana & we all know it’s needless to ask about his performance as he is proving his quality work with every next movie & that’s the reason why his name is in the priority list of every passionate cinema makers. But more than the performance of Kay Kay, its all other cast which made me surprised with their acting. I don’t want to waste more adjectives about the fresh casting but watch underdog actors like Deepak Dobriyal, Aditya Srivastava, Piyush Mishra, Jessy Randhava, Raj Singh Chaudhary or newly introducing actress Ayesha Mohan & you would surely agree with me.

After a long time I watched such a hard hitting Hindi film which strikes my senses in all fronts of film making- striking script, punching dialogues & power packed performances, even brilliant soundtracks & lyrics by Piyush Mishra which corresponds the mood & tone of the film. What a powerful lyrics & its satiric tone by Mishra; works like a reminder tribute to the timeless classics penned by greatest lyrics writer Sahir Ludhianvi for Guru Dutt films.

And for all these more or less every credit goes to film maker like Anurag Kashyap who is breaking all the traditional barriers of Indian cinema & dare to make the cinema in which he believes; knowing the risk of failure in this sort of projects.
Bravo Anurag!!! Damn to all so called torch bearers critics & mouth piece of popular cinema. They won’t understand your kind of cinema even in their lifetime but as thinking & passionate audience we are with you.
I would like to appeal that if possible catch the film originally in theatre & do not promote piracy for the director & film like this.

The film is too dark & disturbing but its path breaking cinema of new breed of film maker & so highly recommended.


Sunday, March 15, 2009


In every passionate film lovers life there comes few movies which made one numb & the experience is hard to put in words. Words always fumble & fall short to explain the multiple layers the film maker has created. ‘Synecdoche, New York’ is such an experience for me. Its one of the finest film making debut attempt of the last year by the brilliant screenplay writer Charlie Kaufman; which remains unnoticed by the audience till day.

Its frustratingly dark life story of theatre director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is struggling with his everyday life in both personal & professional corners. In his final attempts to create a ‘Magnum opus’, he creates a life size modal of New York inside a warehouse for his ambitious new play. It’s the second half of the film which made me numb & it’s the heart of the film.

Although the film is hard to follow for everyone due to its perplexing & layered screenplay & hard to understand completely after first viewing. Another big barrier to understand the film is its highlighted artistic tone of the film resembling more like watching Bergman or Fellini film. Its highly literary film & so one has to level the standards of watching film like this & so it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. However, the film will be surely regarded as one of the most strikingly originally written screenplay & the creative liberty taken by Kaufman with the medium. Performance of all ensemble cast is just awesome including one of the topnotch one by Hoffman.

Its really difficult for me to say that whether I really appreciate the film in its true colors or not because this is one of the most challenging film I ever encountered to grasp the conceptual depth in single viewing & here I fully agree with great critic Roger Ebert’s review of the film where he wrote that one has to watch it at least two or three times to know it in details.

Highly recommended for all Charlie Kaufman lovers & the audience who has a high taste & love to experience challenging masterpiece.



How often we witness the film based on the plot of vampire with an enduring love story. Watch this striking film of Sweden & I’m sure it won’t let you down in the art of story telling.
12 year old Oscar is laid back kid & every other classmate tried to bully him. One night he meets a strange neighborhood girl of the same age named Eli. Slowly the companionship grows into romance. It also nurtures the boy to be a strong man but what happens when one fine moment he discovers that she’s vampire who sucks the blood of the people to survive? How much one can let go for the sack of love?

‘Let the right one in’ is the tale which is violent on surface & finely romantic in depth. It depends on you how you like to float with the film like this. The movie got mixed reviews from many viewers but personally I believe that its one of the finest attempt of making a different film with creative blending of two different genres juxtaposed with each other with touchy story telling which will surely stay in memory for a long time.



Saturday, March 14, 2009

WALLED IN (2009)

A pretty young architecture engineer (Mischa Barton) is on the task to demolish Malestrazza Building where 16 victims were entombed in cement inside the walls of building. Even the architect of the building found among the dead, identified by the tenants of the building. The Prime suspect named Thomas Sullivan was a disgruntled factory worker & was a tenant in the building. The building is such a strongly constructed that even solid earthquake was not able to break it.

Although the movie is an average entertainer with thrill & suspense; & you don’t have to apply much of your brain here. Initially the film seems taut n gritty creating some puzzling environment inside the building & introduced few interesting characters too but they no longer last long. A teenage infatuation with the pretty architect & its dire consequences is all it sum up in the end & that’s really sucks.
Mischa Barton not only looks pretty but smart too, & infect she’s the only reason which makes it watch worthy in whatever limited amount.

Ratings- 5.5/10

Friday, March 13, 2009


The whole premise of the film’s plot is just going illogical haywire which doesn’t appeal to me at all from the very beginning. I mean how can you digest the plot which talks about the ghost of somebody who is not yet born & yet started haunting his sister. The afterlife of a twin unborn child who died in his mother’s womb started to haunt young girl. The sub plot which draws upon the myth of a Dybbuk, a kind of spirit wanting to be born so it can transfer to the world of the living. So the next is exorcism with the help of some specialist. But the problem with the film is that almost everything fails to grab your attention in this so called scary flick with its loose plot & below ordinary acting. Add insult to the injury the movie doesn’t have a single solid scary scene which gives you eerie feel.

It’s far better to watch even Ramsay Brothers B grade Hindi horror films than watching pain in the ass like this.

Don’t spoil your leisure watching this crap.

Ratings- 4/10

Thursday, March 12, 2009


The movie begins with wonderful introductory narration about two young American girls who arrive in Barcelona to spend their summer time. The two college close friends have similar opinions & tastes about all matters except the subject of ‘Love’. Well, here comes a Spanish charmer. They meet an interesting stranger & a divorcee painter named Juan Antonio in a restaurant one evening who became host & offered them to spend their weekend with him flying to an unknown place, watching some nice architectural sights, drinking good wine & making love & here lies the heart & fun of this Woody Allen written & directed sweet & light entertainer of last year.

Its nice characterization & the chemistry among all the assembled actors which looks like flowing of sweet melody. Even the dialogues are just fabulous & sarcastically funny ones. Here’s one to savior- “Only unfulfilled love can be romantic.”
Javier Bardem is really a versatile actor & his performance as one of the most cold blooded villain in ‘No country for old men’ made a greater impression to the audience but here he’s playing completely reverse character of romantic bohemian. Both Rebecca Hall & Scarlett Johansson have maintained the two opposites face of women as Vicky & Cristina. Penelope Cruz has not much screen time & she speaks almost Spanish but she’s brilliant actress & she did materialize that on screen & that’s may be the reason why she got Best supporting actress academy award this year.
How far people can go in their inner search of relationships when they feel vacuum deep in their mind is something Allen has portrayed in most artistic way.
Its truly beautiful light film to cherish.
Must watch.

Ratings- 8.5/10


The film is an edge on the seat thriller with the failed plot of Hitler’s assassination known as ‘Operation Valkyrie’. Tom cruise is playing Colonel Stauffenberg who lost his one eye & a hand during the war planned the assassination involving other army officers in this secret mission to save Germany from Hitler’s evil ideology.

Director Bryan Singer has thoroughly maintained the thrill in both the planning & execution of attempting bomb to assassinate Hitler & its ambivalent aftermath which successfully maintained the audience attention from the beginning to end. Tom Cruise has maintained his character with dedication & he looks like a war hero too. Its surely one of his satisfactory performance as German hero. The movie also has two very good supporting performances from Tom Wilkinson & Kenneth Branagh. Technically the film is almost faultless & has some brilliant editing & cinematography too.



ROCKY (1976)

The story of how a common street boxer won against undisputed heavy weight champion Apollo Creed is shown in less than 10 minutes duration on screen boxing ring clash & its only last few deadly jabs of Rocky Balboa in the final round which broke the ribs of Creed & made him an underdog winner.
Rocky is a special because it introduced a new kind of cinematic hero. Despite having horrible voice & dialogue delivery & amateur acting abilities Sylvester Stallone delivered punching characterization of Rocky Balboa- a voice of American dream which aim high & achieved. Its victory of a working class common struggling boxer against champion of the ring & this made it one of the most popular flick of all time & that is the reason why it became biggest box office success of 1976. Made with over all production cost of 1.1 million dollars, it went on to generate more than 100 million dollars.

Well, very few of us know that the original screenplay of the film was written by Stallone himself & it was inspired by a historical boxing match of 1975 which Stallone had witnessed where World heavy weight champion Muhammad Ali was challenged by a common working class boxer Chuck Wepner & he was Ali’s few challenger who knocked him down.
There are two more interesting things about ‘Rocky’-
# In the film, the fight scenes were shot in the reverse order starting with 15th round with both the opponents in heavy make up. As filming continued, the make up was slowly removed till they were at round one. The movie won an Oscar for Best Film Editing because of this technique.
# Stallone was the third actor in the history of Oscars to be nominated for Best Actor & Best Original Screenplay for the same film. The other two people who achieved this feat were Charlie Chaplin( for ‘The Great Dictator’) & Orson Welles(for ‘Citizen Kane’).

Out of its 10 nominations ‘Rocky’ won 3 Academy Awards of Best Picture, Best Director (John G. Avildson) & Best Film Editing.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE (Documentary) (2007)

Winner of the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, ‘Taxi to the dark side’ portrays a disturbing; in depth look of highly questionable interrogation practices used by US military guards on prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq & Guantanamo Bay in the aftermath of 9/11.

Produced, Directed, Written & Narrated by Alex Gibney, the film begins with the tale of young innocent Dilawar who was working as a taxi driver in Afghanistan. After the Special Forces suspected him as Taliban in Bagram, he was interrogated by US soldiers in the most inhuman ways & died within next 5 days. The movie raised a pertinent question of military torture on innocent civilians who have nothing to do with Al Qaeda sponsor global terrorism. With shocking photos, footage, expert commentary & interviews with several soldiers stationed at prisons in Afghanistan & Iraq the documentary also shows that how certain bad apples of US military clearly violated the humanitarian rules outlined in Geneva conventions & treated these prisoners in the most savage ways using severe & cruel inhuman techniques such as sodomising, stripping humiliation, sleep deprivation, electrocute the testicles, ceiling handcuffing & many other atrocities in Bagram, Abu Ghraib prisons. It also shows clearly that how President Bush along with Rumsfeld & Cheney gave unwritten orders to use any means necessary. It’s hard to get evidences against the held detainees & so US forces used harsher & harsher techniques of torture to get their false confession to report their units & made their head held high in front of military. Some of them got medals for it also. It’s sad to know about the utter insanity made by US & allied arm forces backed up by US Government besides the reported fact that only 7 percentages of held detainees were found really guilty. What about their fundamental legal rights of liberty for these other 93 percent held innocent detainees who also became scapegoats & tortured incessantly in the cells.

As on September, 2006 the number of detainees reached 83,000 & out of them less than one percent are found guilty.
Watching this documentary raised certain pertinent questions like-
# Do we call it the loss of American ideals & standards in pursuit of national security? (It occurred in Vietnam & Iraq in the past & still they are pursuing the same blunder.)
# How long does the common civilians has to pay the price for living in the country where Al Qaeda & Taliban are operating?
# How valid is it to interrogate these prisoners debunking all legality & Geneva Convention & torture them in such a way that leads to organ failure or the death in certain cases?
# What about the dignity & morality of human life for an innocent person held as a suspected terrorist without any confirmation?
# How to remove this dark side from the minds of chaos stricken military?

“Torturing people is not the best way to get information. Breaking down the barriers between you & them, getting their confidence is the best way to get it”, admitted retired Judge Advocate General John Hutson. And that’s where I like to corroborate.

Ratings- 9/10

BORN INTO BROTHELS (Documentary) (2004)

‘The men who enter our building are not so good. They are drunk. They come inside shout & swear. The women ask me, “When are you going to join the line?” They say it won’t be long. I worry that I might become like them.”
It’s deeply penetrating confession of 10 year old sweet girl named Puja living in dark underbelly of Kolkota’s Sonagachi Red light area.

This 2005 Oscar winning documentary raised really a shocking question- What is the future of children like10 year old Kochi, Suchitra or beautiful Puja? Will they get education & be something on their own or they will also join the same line their mothers & aunts followed- end up in the streets & be Prostitutes.’ The children really want to learn something, they want to join school & be a good citizen of country but who cares damn about them. They have to write their own destiny in the most adverse circumstances against all odds. As it’s also a disturbing reality of our social system in India that no school will avail the education & boarding facility to the children of sex workers.
It’s almost impossible to photograph in the red light district. Everyone is terrified facing the camera. It’s whole separate society no matter how much you avoid or turned your face down. Watching this documentary is disturbing & equally thought provoking because it raised the question Mira Nair shot in her shocking semi-documentary film ‘Salaam Bombay’.
To make the documentary as realistic as possible the director Zana Briski stayed in brothels handling a workshop with the children of red-light & teaching them photography. Watching brothels from the eyes of children who are the product of the same ugly reality & peep into the lives of them is deeply agonizing & moving life experience. Director Ross Kauffman & Zana Briski have saved this documentary becoming too dark & made it in one of the profound humanitarian way & that’s only possible when you perceive the sensibility among upsetting reality through the eyes of women film maker like Zana Briski. And its not only filming a documentary images but Director’s appreciable humanitarian attempt of getting them find better education which becomes the soul & solution of the subject. She toiled really hard struggling with almost unfunctional Indian Government & other Institutional system to raising fund money back in Manhattan by selling the photographs taken by these children with the help of NGO like Amnesty International or Sotheby’s auction. Zana has set a whole new paradigm into the lives of these children & it’s literally bringing them the HOPE out of their dark corners; whether it’s sending few kids to boarding school or made possible for exceptionally talented Avijit to fly Amsterdam for to attend World Press Photo Exhibition. But its heart wrenching to know that it’s only Kochi who stays at the Sabera School & she’s happy & doing well. She’s the only tree of HOPE that survives.

I specially like to recommend this documentary to all thinking Indians to watch this hopeful mission of education. It's a humble attempt to provide them a chance to know that a world exists outside the red light area. It would be really humanitarian mission if we all do some efforts in whatever limited or individual way we can to save these poor souls & sponsor at least one of them a chance to impart education & provide them a chance of better future.


Monday, March 9, 2009

MAN ON WIRE (Documentary) (2008)

“I started as a young self taught not so much to conquering the universe but as a poet conquering beautiful stages...and I truly believe that to live life on the edge you have to exercise rebellion inside you. You have to refuse to taper yourself to rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself to everyday, every year and every idea as a true challenge & then you are going to live your life on a tight rope.”

I’m not talking about any movie character here; it’s a moving story of one man & his mission which grabbed Best documentary feature Oscar Award this year.
On August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit, a French wire walker has done something which nobody had ever thought upon. He spent 45 minutes walking, dancing, kneeling & lying on a wire he & his buddies strung between the rooftops of twin towers in New York. With usages of various montages & footages the first half of this wonderful documentary tells more about his previous walks, his passions & his friends.

The second half dedicated to his accomplished mission to walk on wire between twin towers (roughly 450 meters highest buildings known as two world trade centers of New York) with the distance of 200 feet distance between the two. Its really an interesting thing to know how this guy with the help of his buddies get into the tower undetected by cops & securities, how they reached at the top of the roof prior to the day of their mission & stayed hiding there till moon appears in the sky. Now here movie appears more thrilling & heart thumping than watching CGI sponsored Hollywood thriller because what you are watching is unimaginable but real. The task of settling the wire between twin towers at night & how they accomplished an impossible task possible the next day is something just amazing. It’s surely once in a lifetime moment for the eyes of all those who witnessed this on that day.

Witness the profound magical moments of this passionate man’s impossible dream through this film & I promise you it surely stays in your head.
What a spell bounding reality of human miracle!!!
Highly Recommended.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

SHOOTER (2007)

During US army mission one out of two sharp shooters was killed & the other left his job.
3 years back American president’s life is at the stake & now army required his sniper skill for motherland again. But it’s part of bloody conspiracy where he became scapegoat & now his own life is in jeopardy.
Mark Wahlberg is not hard core action star but here has shown that he can be one if he gets some strong role. Director Antoine Fuqua best known for his ‘Training Day’ & ‘King Arthur’ scrolled around here making a typical American action film. What is missing in action film like this is- ‘surprise element’. Plot of the film do not shock or thrill us & that’s made it an average Hollywood action film.



In 1983 a serial killer known as ‘Stone man’ terrorized the pavement dwellers of Sion in Mumbai. The case was closed & the killer was never caught. However the same story repeated in 1987 in streets of Kolkota. The case remains unsolved mystery. But was it really a mystery or deliberately hidden case. To know the suspense you have to watch this film.
Kay Kay Menon was suspended cop & he gets an opportunity to get back entry into the police force as he thought that he could solve the case. With the secret aid of his patronizing superior AIG, he takes up the arduous process of tracking this killer down. But the official cop investigator Arbaaz Khan clashes with him again & again. Kay Kay is just near to solve the case but destiny has some other plans & so he co-incidentally messed up himself at the sight of murder & was classified as the killer. Even though he solved the case in the end & it’s shocking & sensitive. But truth remains hidden & it’s in the end when you got the reason.

Reasonably it’s nice attempt of Director Manish Gupta to thrill people by blending reality with pulp fiction. But his lackadaisical approach in treatment makes the film average till the climax. Technically the film falters in many departments & it’s too repetitive in first half. It also requires fair editing on many unwanted scenes too. Once again it’s Kay Kay Menon who scores points in his performance. Arbaaz has nothing much to do as always.

No harm in watching once.


Friday, March 6, 2009

13 B (2009)

My two thumbs up for Director Vikram Kumar who made this gripping thriller. First one for his well written script & second for his crackling & detailing direction. I’ve read that Kumar was keen to work with R Madhvan & had approached him earlier but he rejected his offer & demanded a better script. So Kumar spent two years to come up with the story idea & four to pen down a hardbound script of 13B. Love’s labor was not lost & ultimately Madhvan loved the script & instantly signed the project. The film was then shot in 40 days flat. & Kudos to that brilliant script which makes you hooked in the edge on the seat second half.

So what’s 13 B? Well, it’s a jinx number. A family messed up in their newly purchased flat. The first half is just average which projects focus on several unimaginable incidents in their flat- a lift refuses to function, disfigured images taken by mobile cam, milk splits everyday, nobody can hit a nail in the pooja room & jarring & suspicious television serial which resembles with the lives of the family members. And I thought for a minute- Am I watching some superstitious crap nonsense or what???

But hey, the film bowled me over in the second half. It’s really intriguing & successfully kept the tension rolling for the audience with twists & turns of the story. The revelation of suspense is just awesome. And I ‘m not going to spoil it by revealing anything further.
Madhvan always do selective films & most of the time he comes with bingo performance. He has an expressive face & natural body language which suits his roles perfectly. Watch his expressions of fear in this & you will agree with me. Rest of the players has also played their parts as naturally as possible but I specially like to mention the performance of Deepak Dobriyal, who has acted the role of Ashok in the film. He’s really a revelation. (Remember the actor who was guided by Saif Ali Khan in ‘Omkaara’)
Technically also the film is faultless & successfully enhances the thrilling effect for the audience. The only thing which I would like to edit in the film is cutting of those two songs in the first half.

A Strong recommendation of the week but it’s my humble request to watch it in theatre.
No piracy for this sort of talented & promising director’s film please.

Ratings- 8/10


A 23 year old prostitute was killed on the road. The case has similarity of detail & modus operandi of another case occurred 7 years ago. As if it’s not enough the pattern also depicted the repetition of murders done by famous serial killer- Jack the Ripper hundred years ago & never been caught. Detective Chandler attempted to solve the puzzle but its great rigmarole & everyone seems like a suspect including the suspicious lodger who rented a home in suburb. Chandler is also on suspect list & now his own daughter is at the stake when he compared the patterns with early cases.

It’s well written cat & mouse case & interesting suspense thriller which really remains successful in shifting the suspension of suspicious from one person to another & grabs the audience attention. The movie is a re-adaptation of same book Hitchcock used for his 1927 thriller by the same name. The only things lacking in this modern version is perfect & more technical sound direction required for such a well written script & screenplay & good players who act their roles more precisely.

Recommended to all thrill/suspense lovers.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Have you made a wish list of few things you would like to accomplish before you die?
If not just go & scribble something on apiece of paper or watch this touchy film about the last phase of one’s life. As it is narrated by Morgan Freeman in the film – “There was a survey once. A thousand people were asked if they would like to know in advance the exact date of their death. 96 percent of them said-’No’. I always lean focus on the other 4 percent; I thought it would be liberating knowing how much time you have left to work with.”
When two old guys met each other on the adjacent hospital beds in the last phase of their lives fighting with Cancer, they made a totally out of the box decision to live the rest of their lives with every wish fulfillment on their way till the last breath.

Hollywood’s two legendary actors- Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson united together & bring a movie which makes us think about the subject we all love to skip- Death. It’s the chemistry between Nicholson & Freeman & natural performances of both of these actors which gives the refreshing feel to the subject & theme of the film. Conceptually the idea & intention of the script is honest & beautiful but what follows is slightly improbable & unrealistic i.e. - as both the protagonists starts their journey to accomplish their bucket list. I have seen the condition of cancer patients in their last phase. One of my uncle & my dear cousin sister died in cancer & so I must say it’s next to impossible for the cancer patients who are fighting with it in their last stage. But above all it’s a film & if you keep your rational mind off for a while & just follow the message of the film than it’s surely a wonderful experience which you love to suggest to all of your feiends & every single person who has just few months/days to survive.

It’s surely one of the meaningful & earnest attempt of movie making by Director Rob Reiner. The movie also nicely encapsulated the message that how bringing joy to others lives is significant task a higher individual must accomplish before he die. What a poetic ending with the sound of mountain in its literal sense!!!

Recommended for all sensible cinema lovers.

Monday, March 2, 2009

21 (2008)

A Mathematical prodigy needs a scholarship to get admission in Harward Medical College & the only one way he gets admission is winning the scholarship. Well it’s not an easy task to prove himself. His statistics & logical abilities get noticed by the genius lecturer & with planned team efforts he started winning casino card game Black jack in Las Vegas. So it’s every weekend Boston to LA trip & he’s living two lives- stylish status symbol in LA & normal college student in Boston. Well, the sky is the limit for money & with money one can have more fun than one can imagine. Problem occurs when one messed up being emotional & skips the rules. Well man becomes blind when he sees so much money out of his imagination. Greed is a sin & what better intoxication is there than making money in gambling but hey the overconfident dude forgets one thing that ultimately he has to pay heavy prize in the end.

Jim Sturgess is promising young talent & he’s nicely supported by Kate Bosworth. Kevin Spacey & Laurence Fishburne are always interesting.
In a way movie is an interesting phenomenon for all the youth who wants to make quick money either by hook or crook.

Interesting & refreshingly entertaining.



Based on Best seller Writer Stephen King’s short story the movie is off the hook mystery thriller starring versatile chameleon actor Johnny Depp. He is playing a mystery writer who is haunted by the other writer who alleged him on plagiarism. However Depp claims that he has written story 2 years in a mystery magazine prior to the other author. The author demands a proof & here’s beginning of twist in the tale.
Director & Screenplay writer David Koepp has set the movie in total macabre setting of lonesome writer with great help of genius Depp who is the master of playing weird & idiosyncratic characters with natural aplomb. And that’s what the plus side of the film. Though in a half way through an intelligent viewer guess the suspense but still you don’t get the film lose on any account.

Recommended for all mystery lovers & Johnny Depp fans.



The Punisher-Frank Castle is back in latest avatar & this time he’s mass murdering the one crime family after another. Well he’s also seeking his redemption this time for his guilt. There’s nothing much to ponder about the plot so don’t damn think about the plot & by the way who needs them in kickass one man army kind of grade B action film. The action sequences are better than the first part & this time cool CGI helps to enhance the sharpness of action visual images. The villain Jigsaw’s mutilated & disfigured face & his psychopathic behavior shares the resemblance with the villain of last year- ‘Joker’. It’s just in looks not in acts since it’s matchless to act like great Heath Ledger.
Watch it at your own risk ‘Coz here is nothing to lose & nothing to gain.



Based on Marvel Comics, the film is a typical vengeance flick starring Tom Jane as FBI Agent Frank Castle. He is on his last assignment & it messed up with killing the son of Mafia Don Howard Sant (John Travolta). To seek revenge of his son, Don killed the whole family of Castle when they are sharing family reunion party. Now it’s hero’s turn to seek vengeance & he’s back with loads of action.
It’s one more no brainer Hollywood action flick. So don’t expect thematically sound crime-action combination in it. Tom Jane is promising one here but hey its sheer waste of Travolta. What the hell he’s doing in this sort of cardboard characters. In the second half of the film, the Mafia Don seems like a toothless tiger. Action is just average but some of the scenes looks breathtaking ones & innovative & for that all credit goes to legendary late cinematographer Conrad Hall.
Watch only if you are like hard core action films of Van Damme or Steven Seagle.