Wednesday, March 31, 2010


“Millions of books written on every conceivable subject by all these great minds and in the end, none of them knew anything more about the big questions of life than I do…Maybe the poets are right. Maybe the love is the only answer.”

Once again Woody comes with what he’s best at- a drama of complicated human emotions finding love as final solace. The film centers on tangled relationships between three sisters and the husbands.

Here goes brief characters study:
Frederick (Max Von Sydow) is too old, misfit and cynic artistic husband for charming, gullible & directionless romantic Lee (Barbara Hershey). She’s rekindling romance with her sister Hannah’s hubby Elliott (Michael Caine) who’s long infatuated to her. Hannah (Mia Farrow) is more mature, compassionate, supportive having all ingredients of an ideal woman. And than there’s Holly(Dianne Wiest), the third sister constantly insecure about her duller talents & identity compared to her two graceful lucky sisters; she’s just routine inferiority stricken mediocre becomes final hope for a hypochondriac & puzzled intellectual Mickey (who else than Woody!).

Woody keeps his usual misanthrope self on screen as hypochondriac Mickey struggling with his far fetched medical complications and commenting on philosophers ranging from Socrates to Nietzsche. Watch his leaps seeking spiritual solace in Catholicism or Lord Krishna to bring some hope to his already pessimistic perspective of the world. It ends with positive note where Groucho Marx movie & love becomes his final savior.

Casting is again fine one whether its Michael Caine struggling between his extra marital affair with his wife’s sister and inherent guilt that’s constantly hammering his conscience. Mia, Dianne & Barbara too played their parts so well. There are some wonderful songs personifying every character’s mood. There’s lot of exquisite aestheticism around romance usual for Woody film; so there’s Opera, Bach or sweet poetry of E E Cummings.

The end seems quite flippant and sudden and there’s lot of repetition in situations, types, gags and yet there’s something so delicate about strings of tangled hearts. But unlike his earlier ones, here it’s more positive and a fine feel good film.

Ratings- 8/10

PS- I achieved 500 movie reviews record with this post on blog. Heartily thanks for the readers, commenters for inspiration to improvise me in direct/indirect way. Hope it will soon see 1000 mark too!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ASHES AND DIAMONDS (Polish) (1958)

Regarded as one of the masterpiece of polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, its third film of his famous Anti War Trilogy. The story unfolds the ending day of Second World War in Poland where few young members of Nationalist Resistance Party planning to kill an officer, by mistake killed the innocents. They soon realized the mistake and join the banquet in a hotel where they try to execute their further plan.

Look back in the history of World War, Poland suffered severely among all others. Even after war is over, the political unrest and uncertainty was looming over country and various political parties lead their struggle to power making many young innocent nationalist its victims. Wajda’s brilliant use of deep focus technique keeping characters, objects and background on classic black & white frames. So many scenes are shot brilliantly i.e. - initial machine gun firing, Maciek shooting his target and firecrackers sparkling in the sky or the brilliant ending.

But the great revelation of the film is extremely mind-blowing act by Zbigniew Cybulski as Maciek. He’s young and carefree and supposed to kill the officer but charmed by sudden affection with a bar girl with whom he shared some of the most memorable moments of his life. Now he’s under dilemma to execute plan. He’s disillusioned and yet he’s choiceless, he loves his girlfriend but he also loves his motherland. Sunglass clad Cybulski looks more like today’s Mat Damon. He’s charmer, have style of his own and called ‘James Dean of Europe’. But most prominent part of his act is arresting attitude and body language facing camera. Needless to say he’s the strongest reason next to Wajda why any world cinema lovers must watch this film.

The final scene is strikingly memorable one where brutally shot Cybulski is stumblingly ended up in garbage. Watch his body language, expressions and that confusing sound mixture of laughter, cry and groaning pain…its stamp of powerful act.

Ratings- 10/10

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Precious is sixteen years black skin high school girl of Harlem. She’s too fat and ugly, neither know how to read or write and everybody frequently humiliated her at school. But the biggest abuse lies at the home where her own father raped and made her pregnant for the second time and her physically and verbally violent mother. Life is a real hell for her for this unwanted girl until she joins alternative school. Guided by her new caring teacher, she slowly discovers herself and becomes positive about life.

Precious is too dark, violent and full of hard exploitation but it’s inspirational one for many ill fated abused ones. If Waltz was best evil human character this year, Mo’Nique is one of the worst mothers I’ve ever seen on screen. The last ten minutes of her reveling mind is the scene to watch, the reason enough why she deserves Oscar trophy of best actress. What I do like is the way director & writer explored the whole theme with utmost probability. Like ‘Avatar’, ‘The Blind Side’ or most of the US films, here it’s not white man who uplifts the black protagonist but the teacher of her own race; unusual for Hollywood film. What’s another feat is its out and out feminist film, there’s not a single male character except the only one who’s male nurse in a minor role. Few minus points are its flat narration, loose editing and quite stretching second half.



“Comedy is tragedy plus time.”

Life, relations and human nature’s paradoxical side, perhaps that’s what Woody tried to explore in his films. Compared to his earlier light romantic satirical comedies, it’s darker and bittersweet film having elements of Dostoevskian guilt meeting Sartre or Camus existentialist philosophy wonderfully absorbed into fine plot construction and wonderful performances. It deals with so many themes covering life, death, guilt, love and religion. It’s a dark Shakespearean tragedy meeting a comedy of manners.

A very famous and reputed mid-age ophthalmologist Judah having a secret affair with another woman; she’s stubborn, neurotic and too demanding. Guided by self consciousness he wants to get rid of his infidelity but that’s not easy walk. On the other hand there’s another plot of Clifford Stern, mid age gentleman who’s trying to make a documentary film on radical thinker ended up falling in love with a wrong woman. His attempt to woo her falls flat when his rich and charming brother-in-law finally wins her.

As a writer, director and actor Woody is as great as always… but a performance to watch here is Martin Landau as guilt stricken Judas, quite appropriate biblical naming. Woody frequently paid his homage to cinema he loves and we see lot of movie clues here too. Bergman, Fellini and Groucho Marx are his favorites and here he also used Bergman’s regular cameraman Sven Nykvist to deal themes quite matching with Bergman’s films.

I just love Woody’s relationship with little niece here, frequently taking her to watch classics in cinema halls and advising her with his wisecrackers. Here are two brilliant ones- “Don’t listen to what your school teachers say. Don’t pay attention…just see what they look like and that’s how you’ll know what life will really be like.” Another where he says, “My heart says one thing; my head says something else… very hard to get your head and heart together in life. In my case they are not even friendly.”

The depth of the film lies is its ending where two totally different stories lonely protagonists sharing drink in a secluded corner in party and self scrutinizing their own unheard stories they couldn’t share with anyone. It’s dark and yet delightful and clearly worthy to watch for all Woody fans.


Saturday, March 27, 2010


“Nothing worth knowing is understood with the mind…the brain is the most overrated organ.”

Sometime we messed up missing the most beautiful gifted moments of our lives. It’s not when you got love but when you lost you realized its real worth. As great Ghalib pointed, “Mil jaaye to mitti…kho jaye to sona hai.” Manhattan is another absolutely masterpiece cinema from Woody Allen. Well, I just can’t stop loving this man. He is the only one Hollywood still has making films in what he believes.

It’s an unlikely romance between forty two years divorced old man and seventeen years old high school girl. He’s drifted by one of his friend’s girlfriend. Love needs no logic…it’s subtle, it’s complex & it’s often poignant. It’s not a film about brilliant plot and theme and all that schmuck…it’s watching & probing characters at deeper level with all those inherent, self abiding stupid characteristics which makes and mars any happening relationship. It’s simply not only just a tugging romance but a heartbreaking love story told with much subtleties & sensibilities.

Mary is too confusingly rational and relied much on her brain where exactly she’s repulsive emotionally; Tracy is too young and carried away by the image of old, experienced and intelligent wise man. And behind all his idiosyncrasies, quirks, cynicism & witty repartees, Isaac is self obsessed intellectual loner who ends up messing the most gifted relationship without knowing what exactly he wants. The last ten minutes in the film from recording his confession to desperately running to meet Tracy are truly moving ones…and what an end where kid seems mature and mature seems kiddy!!! What a heart breaking scene! Is it same emotionally vacuumed & helpless Woody who uttered those cheesy one liners throughout the film?

Woody and Diane Keaton’s chemistry again seems topnotch after earlier ‘Annie Hall’. Mariel Hemingway was too young and too naïve to act but watch the scene when Woody breaks her heart telling he loves somebody else; those emotions on her face seem so much genuine. Funny lines runs high even in few heartbreaking and unexpected moments too; watch a scene where pointing at skeleton in rage he’s saying great lines to Yale or a scene where he’s making love with Mary or Tracy.

Watch Woody & Keaton sitting on a park bench under the bridge, driving a car slowly on flyover or simply those planetarium frames…the movie wouldn’t be the same exquisitely ecstatic without Gordon Willis’ B&W cinematography. Other than Coppola, perhaps it’s Woody Allen who exploited his artistic sense. George Gershwin’s background score conducted by Zubin Mehta is equally uplifting the mood of all the moments.

Manhattan is also Woody Allen’s romance with the city of NY. In the very opening shot the voice over says, “He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything…To him, New York means beautiful woman.” Long shots of New York stay on screen for couple of minutes before any character appears on screen. It’s great and memorable opening sequence covered with sixty one classic B&W frames of the city matching perfectly with narrator’s words. Yeah I watched that scene number of times & literally counted all frames even after film is over. Exploring on locations of external parks, streets, bridge or visiting inner city museums, art galleries, cinemas, restaurants Woody just explored the NY and made us felt us the pulse of the city like none other.

I will watch it again & again…because there’s bit of Isaac in me too!!!


Friday, March 26, 2010


“What law says that a woman is better parent simply by virtue of her sex?” – Ted Cramer

K vs. K is moving account of the aftermath of separation and divorce both for parents as well as kid. Director Robert Benton tackled the emotionally charged story without being too melodramatic anywhere. The treatment of the subject was done both sensibly and sentimentally keeping in mind the shifting roles of gender in marriage and family in changing society.

The film starts with a scene where Ted’s wife Joanna leaving home getting fed up with her hubby’s priority over career. She left home and her seven years child Billy on responsibility of his father. Ted’s trial and error to raise his kid keep shifting between his demanding job and kid’s expectations. As soon as he discovered a responsible and loving father inside him, she comes back demanding custody of kid. It’s rough time for Ted who’s fired from job, fighting legal/emotional battle.

This domestic drama becomes special due to natural, identifiable and heart touching performances from all lead actors and simplicity of story telling invoking natural human emotions. Both Dustin Hoffman & Meryl Streep breathe life into their characters here and even child actor Justin Henry gave fine act. However Streep has minor role but she cracks even the stone heart in last scene. The emotional bonding between Hoffman and kid is something to watch here. Hoffman’s opening his heart out in courtroom or the final scene where both he and Streep letting loose their emotions make your eyes wet.

The emotional appeal of the film runs high at Oscars, winning all major five awards of Best Film, Best Direction, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best adapted screenplay sidelining the tough rivals like Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ and Bob Fosse’s ‘All that Jazz’.


PS- Mansoor Khan who gave us wonderful ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’ shamelessly ripped off this film almost scene to scene and line to line in Aamir-Manisha starrer ‘Akele Hum Akele Tum’.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


“You know, even as a kid, I always went for the wrong women. I think that’s my problem. When my mother took me to see ‘Snow White’, everyone fell in love with Snow white. I immediately fell for the Wicked Queen.” – Alvy Singer

Partly autobiographical and partly product of Woody Allen’s wise crack head, ‘Annie Hall’ is a mental and physical journey of stand up comedian & twice divorced Alvy Singer. He takes us to the various episodes of his life, focusing on romance and break up with beautiful Annie Hall. They parted, settled in different cities and careers and love to meet occasionally once in a while even after their parted ways.

What is special about this great Woody Allen acted, scripted, directed film is its wonderful treatment of modern day unsettling romance & uncommitted relationship in totally top-notch humor; dark, sarcastic and funny at the same time. Absurdity of life, relations and love never seems as funny and philosophical like this. Allen’s brilliant non linear narration with monologues, often breaking into others lives, sneaking and commenting on camera addressing directly the audience punctures the narration with his intellectual, pessimistic, witty and philosophical currents constantly. Diane Keaton & Woody Allen’s amazing on and off screen chemistry is the reason why it looks so natural and spontaneous in each frame of the film.

During one of the scene at the book store, he suggested books about death to his girlfriend & said, “I’m obsessed with death, I think it’s a big subject & I’ve pessimistic view of life. I feel that life is divided into horrible and miserable…two categories. The horrible would be like terminal cases, blind people and cripples. I don’t know how they get through life…and the miserable is everyone else. So when you go through life, be thankful that you’re miserable.” It’s classy Woody Allen moment. There are so many such moments throughout the film. Watch the scene where he first meet Annie after the tennis match or when he proposed her ‘I lurve you’ or making love to smoke obsessed Annie in the bed or even that surprising ‘spider in the bathroom’ scene. It’s brilliant in all scenes. Even the ending one where he conveyed wonderful message about struggling modern day relationship between inner desire and actuality of it.

The film was nominated in five Oscars and won in four as Best Film, Best Actress with Woody Allen winning two- Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It was no ordinary feat for Woody Allen nominated for directing, writing and acting for the same film. Before him only Orson Welles had been nominated for three Oscars for same film ‘Citizen Kane’ and ended up winning one for Best screenplay. But Woody is Woody, when his name was announced as winner at Oscar ceremony, he was playing clarinet in local New York pub.

And that’s what sums it up the thing he constantly said in the film paraphrasing Groucho Marx, “I never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” It’s not only the key joke but wonderful life quote fits to any modern day intellectual romantics.



An emotionally tugging and uplifting film based on real story of Michael Oher known as ‘Big Mike’. Mike is homeless black boy, extra large in size and shape and almost reticent towards society. In a spur of moment Leigh Anne helped homeless Mike one chilly winter night. What started as gesture to help Big Mike slowly transforms into almost motherly love for him. She opens up her home & family for Big Mike, providing him personal room, coaching for study and sports like her own little kid and a chance to get uplift in life. Life’s changing for both of them. Mike is poor in study but scores in football. He’s facing many personal and public embarrassments in his road to success but he’s having the most committed mother on earth.

The plot is plain simple and devoid of any major conflicts. Its sentimental tale stuffed with funny and uplifting moments. It wins heart due to its performances than anything else. Sandra Bullock’s winning Oscar trophy for Best Actress surprised me; even the role she played here is not great character study or method act. It’s those natural and real expressions and nobility of her character which wins the heart. Playing simple and touching charcter is demanding job and she accomplished that here. Her chemistry with Quinton Aaron is something to watch here. Even all rest of the supporting cast acted their parts quite naturally, even that smart kid who played SJ; he’s real funny kick amid all emotional baggage.

Charity to lesser fortunate gives you happiness beyond imagination. Watch that priceless smile on the face of Bullock in the final scene…that tells a lot.


Monday, March 22, 2010


Undoubtedly the best Quentin Tarantino film since ‘Pulp Fiction’. Tarantino has twisted the facts and made a gripping tale of Second World War with his own stamp of history. It begins with a chapter of German occupied France and mass murder of a young Shosanna’s Jewish family. She escaped to Paris and becomes a cinema operator. Parallel to her story runs story featuring syndicate of Jewish soldiers known to their enemies as ‘the basterds’. Both plots met compelling climax at cinema house where two plans are ticking to end war and the rule of The Third Reich. But here is a smart man who can turns the table. Could he or could he not!!!

Though having some fine performances including Brad Pitt and young Melanie Laurent, the man to watch here is awesome Christoph Waltz. As suave, sophisticated cold blooded SS Colonel Hans Landa he’s absolutely brilliant here ends as the last year’s best villain. Surely deserves Oscar trophy as Best Supporting actor. Tarantino this time back with fine screenplay and creates a film which remains in memory for long. Though there’s little action but it retains surprising twist; what you expected from QT. The background score is reminds me both great composers Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota’s scores. Though having two and half hours length, it’s a film which you love to see again for QT and Waltz. One of the best of last year’s Hollywood.



Meet Chelsea, an absolutely high class escort girl having rich upper clients like businessman, jewelers and store owners. She’s smart, sophisticated & completely professional focused on her career; knowing exactly how to keep and maintain longtime rapport with clients, living celebrity kind of luxurious lifestyle, getting upscale and making fair new contacts through self marketing on internet.

It’s a personal, independent cinema of Steven Soderbergh and needs patience quite unlikely for common audience. Its out and out talkative film where most of the time characters are chatting, discussing and confessing for long time to static camera which makes it quite bores & makes feel sleepy. But hey in the middle of the film, there’s spark of verbal tussle going too private between the hooker and her more than one year long possessive client and that’s where for the first time we feel the internally compartmentalized and disconnected life she’s living with her pretended identity and real personal self. It’s this pretended image of physical and emotional companionship that her clients are hooked to; like pleasing break from their routine mundane lives and boring family lives. What they need is extra spark that makes them feel they are still young, being loved as they want and taking care by somebody who’s sort of their emotional wash basin. They don’t say it openly but that’s what all reality is!!!

It’s revealing to know that Sasha Grey who played Chelsea is a famous porn star and made more than hundred porn films. Soderbergh not in a single scene showed explicit nudity which makes it clear that he wanted to focus on her natural act and attitude. Watch her personal frustration in one of the scene and she looks damn natural and aesthetic.

Watch it only if you love internalized personal cinema.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Forget ‘Emotional Atyachaar’ of Anurag Kashyap, forget ‘Kaminey’ of Vishal Bhardwaj for a while…the reason is this absolutely groundbreaking film on Indian screen by the man who hits all the nails hard. In a way it’s film where Dibakar Benrjee throws a hand grenade to the audience. It’s revolutionary film for so many reasons- it’s first Indian film completely shot on hand held camera from start to finish and it gives you feel like watching the world of damn reality, absolutely unknown amateur actors who shed all inhibitions of conventional acting, three completely hard hitting stories as per the title suggests and a direction who’s more an auteur handling all this collage of art. Hail Dibakar Benerjee and Hail Ekta Kapoor for bringing this attack on senses.

Reality television, sting operation, casting couch, shopping mall camera footage, real porn clips or MMS scandal; Benerjee has everything on platter and out of that what he created is something totally mind-blowing and experimental screenplay of three stories. What is more praiseworthy is the way he gives you surprising shocks in each of them and unfolds them as you watch another story and its again brilliant intermixing and editing. But what is most difficult thing he accomplished as an Indian filmmaker is the way he dealt with totally naïve ensemble cast and all mind me they all deserves standing ovation for leaving no stones unturned in their raw expressions, bold attitude and hard hitting realistic acts.

Dibakar lampooned & mimicked India’s most loved and admired bollywood romance DDLJ and director Aditya Chopra in his first story with his own stamp in the end part, the second story was completely mind fucking one and one which is completely 360 degree reverse of what we expected; the best in my opinion. Compared to first two, the third one is quit weaker but not average or avoidable. Compared to his early satiric, funny & character oriented ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ and ‘Oye Lucky Lucky Oye’, this one is absolutely acid material and it’s here where Dibakar has hit the head with all his might bewaring us the most commonly available and the most dangerous hand weapon of today’s time-‘camera’. Yes sir, you’re being watched & howdy ya’ feel about it!!!

By all means watch this new change of Indian cinema…it may possible that it makes you left the theatre in the middle or praising the Indian cinema like never before.

Ratings-10/10 (Can’t control it!!!)

Friday, March 19, 2010


One of the absolutely classic, edge on the seat crime films ever made, completely meticulous in all departments of filmmaking. Director Raoul Walsh’s this gripping film noirish thriller is swansong and inspirational model for many gangster films of later generation. But the main reason to watch this by all means is actor James Cagney’s awesome act of criminal Cody Jarrett; undoubtedly his career best. As a cold-blooded psychopathic criminal obsessed to his old mother he’s scene stealer from beginning train robbery sequence to top of the oil refinery climax where he shouted, “I made it to the top of the world, ma!” Cagney is simply unforgettable; I would love to add his entry in great Hollywood criminals.

The film has strong supporting cast whether it’s Margaret Wycherly as Cagney’s old mother, Edmond O’Brien as undercover agent or Virginia Mayo as his double cross girlfriend. The film has some of the classic black & white camera moments of 50s Hollywood enhancing and uplifting the film with some of the great angle, movement and tracking shot selections. Walsh made a film which strikes from the beginning to end without fumbling anywhere and even after sixty years of its making it gives you the feeling of watching an exceptional cinema equal to masterpiece.

Need I rate such a path breaking crime classic!!!

PS- Its mandatory watch for all B&W classic/film noire fans…put it in your priority list of torrent downloading; I guarantee you an absorbing two hours with unavoidable company of great James Cagney.


What’s Ernest Hemingway’s contribution to American literature; Clint Eastwood is to American cinema. There’s lot of similarity between these two artistic giants personality as well as their works. Most prominent is their archetypal characterization and story telling. In both works we see a face of mythical American hero- a brave man with guts & belief of his own, man who follows the set of rules of his own and ultimately a disillusioned hero who’s physically lost but not defeated in terms of his spirit. Though this film isn’t one of the best directed by Eastwood, it’s one of the fine one in deglamorizing the war.

Based on true facts, the film is an epic war story of US marine soldiers who fought bravely the bloody battle of Iwo Jima, more than a turning point of Second World War. US won the war at the cost of 70000 soldiers’ lives. Unlike usual glorifying war films, Eastwood deglorified the myth of war heroes and taps the emotional current of this war tale where the single most emotional truth of warfare is that soldiers may fight for their country but sacrificed their lives for their friends. The film also touched the sensitive topic of how the brave heroes were treated at home once war is over in certain contexts of racial discrimination of struggling Indians who showed their mettle in war. There are so many striking satiric scenes in the film where courage of soldiers was acknowledged with glamorized public farce either by dimwit officers or crap commercialism.

Eastwood films are always topnotch in technical departments. Wonderful screenplay is co-scripted by Paul Haggis where narration is constantly shifting between the war actions & its aftermath, setting and production design are apt to the period & once again brilliant camerawork by Tom Stern.
Initial action sequence where landing at beach US soldiers were massacred with bullets coming from all directions is something absolutely inspired by the brilliant initial sequence of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and why not when Spielberg is the producer. Most of the assemble cast is young and refreshing devoid of any major actor except Barry Piper but its Adam Beach as disillusioned Indian soldier Ira Hayes gave one of the quite moving and restrained performance.

Recommended to all war film lovers.

Ratings -8/10

Monday, March 15, 2010


“If you want to sell them atom bombs, you’ve got to sell them fear.”

A fine British satire on duping, glamorized world of advertisements. It’s free global market where dream merchants are selling their targeted concocted ideas in the form of alluring hopes and an air of satisfaction to manipulated customers. While promoting advertisement of new pimple removing cream, advertising executive Bagley is under dreadful stress. He subconsciously starts realizing the fake hypocrisy of his profession. He’s going berserk at home and office. What’s on mind reflects on body. Surprisingly it’s a boil on his shoulder that is transforming him into an uncontrollable maniac. The boil soon taking shape of human face looks like replica of Bagley himself and starts talking with him; but it’s only him who sees and hears it.

Is it just his hallucinatory stress or something like inherent guilt which drives him wild? Bagley believes that its chemical poison occurred to him due to unhealthy products that he was pushing and selling to cheat the consumers, a psychologist diagnosed it an authoritarian bully voice of his own repressed self driven by the profit mongering greedy world of capitalism. Well, surprising twist is the role reversal where Bagley becomes the boil and the boil becomes his head. Don’t want to spoil it further by saying anything here onwards.

Director Bruce Robinson has finely blended elements of British verbal satire with the punch of American physical comedy. What is interesting is the way he executed bizarre plot of boil with intriguing exercise; can’t possible without the brilliant split personality act by Richard Grant struggling between the voice of his inner conscience and evil boil.

A brilliant modern satire contemporizing the vicious cycle of selling and buying.
Highly Recommended.

Ratings- 9/10

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Martin Scorsese called it the best film of 2009 and one among ten best films of 1990s and well known critic Roger Ebert added its entry in ‘Ten Best Films of the year 2009”; watching it today I fully corroborate with both of them.

One has to keenly wait for next Herzog film but when he delivers it’s just an engaging experience not to be missed. Its edge on the seat film noire kind of thriller which you have to watch for absolutely awesome Nicholas Cage. Without an iota of doubt cage has given one of his career best power packed performance. The only other method acting or film which I would compare with him is Pacino in ‘Scarface’. As a drug addicted, anger on the nose, foul mouth out of control cop investigating homicide case, he just blows your minds off with his intense act & body language. Watch him staring at iguanas or threatening old lady on oxygen (the best one IMO) or creating a scene by breaking up into medical store for his prescribed medicine or raping a woman in parking in the presence of her boyfriend…he’s just one man show here from the very first scene. There are scenes which makes you laugh where one shouldn’t and still I don’t call it black comedy! I scratched my head thinking why he’s not nominated for best actor category in Oscar this year.

Herzog didn’t take much time to enhance the plot & narration; he focused more on feel of dark, seedy life of mean cop from very beginning on the character of Lieutenant Terrence McDonagh. He is the cop out of his reach and gets into serious trouble leading him to self devastation with his inherent rough nature, no second thought act & drug driven fixation. From Freudian interpretation, he’s cop whose id and ego are dominant over his superego. Eva Mendes as hooker girlfriend and Val Kilmer as supporting cop do not have much space where Cage is scene stealer all the way to top.

I haven’t seen Ferrara’s much appreciated ‘Bad Lieutenant’, where Harvey Keitel played the rough cop but I’ll surely catch it soon to compare and analyse.

Ratings- 9/10 (left one for Ferrara’s original)


The first ten minutes into the film, even before the title breaks open just made you feel that what you’re going to see next will surely make your cheer. Coen Brothers’ ‘Raising Arizona’ is a wild & inventive comedy which later becomes formulaic part. Its second film & absolutely contrast to their brilliant debut noir thriller ‘Blood Simple’. Nicholas cage is H.I, notorious store robber for whom prison is like returning home. He falls in love & weds with prison officer Holly Hunter and soon the couple found that she’s infertile. To fulfill honey’s desirable child, he kidnaps one of the quintuplets born to a furniture tycoon. Then starts the ride of fun comes from situational fix and chase till the end…all Coens way.

Most of the fun comes from unusually funny characters and their own idiosyncrasies. The characters are caricaturized like morons or macho man i.e. - biker of hell (seems like Cage’s ‘Ghost Rider’) or those two loudmouth Snope Brothers. Among so many absurdities and improbabilities, the movie is fun to watch due to sarcastic humor, witty dialogues, fast narration and fine performances.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

PANCHAM UNMIXED: Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai... (Documentary) (2009)

Something about Panchamda first-
Since childhood I grow up listening Panchamda’s music and with each passing years loving him more and more than any Indian composers. He is my all-time favorite among all legends. The reason is simple. You don’t need specific time or a peace of mind to pay your ears while listening his music; he made you croon and drool over his tune and rhythm any given moment. Even after decade and half of his demise, he’s most remixed composer in India and emulated endlessly by every rising composers in India including A R Rahman.

So what’s unique about Panchamda’s contribution to Indian film music? It’s the revolution he brought single handedly in Indian popular music with his innovative and experimental approach both in composition and rhythm that changed the whole scenario of Indian film music ‘70s onwards. He’s versatile genius and had range that made any composer envy. The man who gave us westernized cabarets like ‘Piya tu ab to aaja’ and ‘Duniya mein logo ko’, also gave us soothing Indian classical like ‘Raina biti jaaye’ or ‘Biti na bitayi raina’.

No matter how many great film composers came before him or after him but nobody raised the bar of experiments and innovations like him. Like many of his admirers, I completely agreee that Panchamda was way ahead of his time. Without today’s ultramodern synthesizers and digital rhythms he experimented real sound and original rhythms so innovatively. I strongly believe that no other Indian composer has ever experimented percussion or bass guitar such a unique way as Panchamda. With his entry, he changed the whole dynamics of rhythm in film music. There’s so much variety and innovation from western music to Indian semi classical form in each of his composition that, the song itself becomes a musical journey. There’s something so distinct about the way he used every instruments and did experiments with real sound. Which other composer can record all sorts of natural sounds on his Dictaphone to use the natural sounds. Anything and everything that has sound is his inspiration and experiment; whether it’s empty beer bottles or steel utensils. Only true genius can do this.

Watching ‘Pancham Unmixed’-
It’s perhaps the unique and the best gift that Director Brahmanand S Siingh gave to every R D. Burman fans. Its apt title- Unmixed = pure, original; and that’s the reason enough to watch it at least once. The film is absolutely nostalgic and absorbing journey into the world of this great composer. It’s perhaps the first feature length documentary film made on any Indian film composer and that itself is a great tribute to legendary R D Burman lovingly known as ‘Panchamda’ among his colleagues and admirers. The film is having almost two hours duration covering interviews of his near ones and friends including his better half Asha Bhosle, Gulzar, Shammi Kapoor, Manna Dey, Shakti Samanta, Pyarelal, Usha Utthup, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and sharing anecdotes by colleagues and teammates. However I missed the presence of two phenomenon personalities attached to Panchamda’s career- one is Lata Mangeshkar and the other Dev Ananad. Siingh has almost captured the essence and feel of those nostalgic moments without being pretentious anywhere. With all my heart I want to say ‘Big Thanks’ to him. My only complain is length…can’t we have three hours long documentary. Time is always short when it’s Pancham. It was my long boiling dream to write a book titled ‘Panchamnama’, paying tribute to my favorite composer but watching this film I’ve to think hard now.

The later part of the film focuses on frustrating and disturbing moments of Panchamda’s career. It was so sad that many of producers, directors and even music companies almost left, forgot him and turned him down in the last phase of his career. But maestro packed all his punch and gave his final masterstroke in ‘1942: A Love Story’. But before the music of film became raze of the nation and No# 1 chartbuster album of the year, he passed away leaving all his fans to insurmountable lost. For me the most interesting part of the film is the personal commentaries, anecdotes and revealing moments by his great teammates like Manohari Singh, Pt. Ronu Majumdar, Bhanu Gupta, Kersi Lord and many others.

It’s 100% collector’s edition for all Panchamda fans. Along with main documentary film, it also has extra DVD featuring 30 original video songs and a classic hardbound book consists of many rare photographs, insights and anecdotes & a complete filmography of his life. All this comes with quite expensive price of Rs. 999 but it’s absolutely worthy to invest every single pie.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

STRIKER (2010)

The film is centered on the 80’s suburban ghetto life in north-west Mumbai called Malvani. A lower middle class young man starts dreaming big with his skillful fingers to strike the carom board. Carrom is one of the most common indoor games in India and it’s a story deals with a street carrom player who grows amid the co-existing criminal world and how fate trapped him in betting business to gamble his skill and fate to earn his due.

Let me point out some plus points of the film first. Siddharth was fresh & promising in RDB and here too in the most part of films played the role quite confidently, Aditya Pancholi is back after long gap and he’s again impressive as Jaleel; his personality traits suit him in such roles. The film has sharp dialogues and striking lines maintaining Bambaiya street lingo and mood.

But watching it post interval is an exercise to screw your head. In second half, the film starts losing both its aim and touch in such a abrupt and ridiculous way that you suddenly feel that it’s absolutely like a ship sailing without a captain. Director Chandan Arora has literally murdered the subject and treatment of the first half in the jarring, stretching, typically mediocre second half. I simply don’t understand why the hell he ruined the whole experimental concept mixing the theme of Carrom hustling with Mumbai riots???

It is more disappointing to watch such a sad miscarriage of well conceived baby.


Thursday, March 4, 2010


Written by Joel & Ethan and directed by Joel Coen, it’s a razor-sharp debut film by Coen Brothers. It’s brilliantly made edge on the seat crime thriller I’ve seen after a long time. A jealous bar owner hires a killer to kill his wife and his lover. It’s crime to say anything further about the film where plot and screenplay are the real heroes. Coens have built their screenplay around double cross, murder, theft, guilt and chilling twists and we have seen it in many films but Coens have trademark of their own. The way they hooked us to the scene of crime, messing up with the corpse, the atmosphere of gross blood is something so original that you won’t believe it’s their first film. The film uncoils the film noir plot with audacious dark style, dense atmosphere that makes it one of the finest crime films of their career.

The film scores in performance department too where Francis McDormand (a regular in Coens) and lesser known cast like John Getz & M. Emmet Walsh also gave their memorable acts. The film has all so pervasive and explicit violence and chilly twists Coens style but the satirical vein of black humor is missing here. But who cares about it when you have almost perfect and gripping crime thriller on platter.

Highly recommended.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

eXistenZ (1999)

After 17 years of making his brilliant ‘Videodrome’, David Cronenberg made a kind of sequel where television is replaced with semi-organic game pods where jack is inserted into players’ spinal bio-ports to induce all-too-real hallucinations. Even after a long gap Cronenberg is back to his original freaky & weird screenplay writing. His vile & degenerating graphics often seems too irritating for general audience but that’s where his ‘auteur stamp’ lies. I remember few days ago I gave ‘Videodrome’ & ‘Naked Lunch’ to one of my routine horror loving colleague and he all of sudden deny me letting him recommend any films!!!

During launching seminar of new experimental game called ‘eXistenZ’, a game designing goddess Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) was shot by a rival gaming company’s hired man with a strange gun where human teeth are loaded instead of bullets. She gets a help from a marketing trainee guy named Ted (Jude Law) and to help her he also entered into the weird gaming world. Gaming here is a gateway to liberate from daily stereotyped pathetic reality of life to the world of surreal existence. But once you are into the game, one just hates back to reality; now you are stuck to, addicted to virtual reality. Whatever is real seems unreal and boring now. On one hand the whole plot seems quite humbug and on the other I was just thinking about all those PSP and PC game addicted gizmo lovers. The movie is very puzzling one but this time I just hate the end part. It’s more seems like set up to contrive & baffle the viewers unnecessarily with unknown jargons and graphic images. And above all it’s all mixture of his early films like ‘The Fly’, ‘Naked Lunch’ & off course ‘Videodrome’. Performance wise too, the film is so weak. There’re so many loopholes here why it didn’t strike me much.

But excluding this flaws; Cronenberg has again created a world full of unthinkable grotesque horror on screen and he absolutely deserves ‘the master cap of disgusting horror’. Watch the scenes of Trout farm where gamers are ripping apart mutated amphibians and reptiles and eating the dishes full of them, watch the vile gun made by some unspeakable things. Nobody except Cronenberg can imagine, create & show you something so grotesquely distortorting.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

DEAD MAN (1995)

“Some are born to sweet delight…some are born to endless night.”

Written & directed by Jim Jarmusch, ‘Dead Man’ is a journey of an accountant from Cleveland whose name resembles with a great poet William Blake. It’s his journey to death slowly dragging him from artificial machine age to the spiritual lap of nature. You can call this journey a fable, a western, symbolic philosophy, a spiritual, mystic & metaphoric poetry on canvas or simply a modern classic. From beginning to end it sucks you into the world unknown and like any artistically accomplished masterpiece it’s an experience to feel.

The film is so rich in its entire mood of aestheticism and I must say very rare films can do this. Neil Young’s haunting electric guitar score; perhaps the best western score I ever heard after Leone’s dollars trilogy. I will definitely search for its original soundtrack. Blissful black & white cinematography by Robert Muller and mind me every frame is piece of art.

Apart from maverick Johnny Depp as William Black the film also has Robert Mitchum in a special appearance, perhaps his last. But among all I just love the character of that Indian (played by Gary Farmer) who prefers to be called ‘Nobody’ and it’s too interesting to know his journey why he’s called so. Even all the fun moments as well as spiritual ones flourish by the chemistry between him & Depp. For me it’s difficult to get whose real outsider here? Is it William Blake or Nobody? Or both!!! This is my first Jarmusch film and without exaggeration I must say that I’m so desperate to see his other films.

A subtle & beautiful film which I love to watch again…and again…and I’m sure each time it’ll add more sublime pleasure and fine symbolic messages.


Monday, March 1, 2010


“Money won is twice as sweet as money own.”

It’s always show time when a veteran plays a part what he’s best at. Martin Scorsese brought back Paul Newman once again in his great role as ‘Fast Eddie Felson’, pool table hustler and this time he’s an old shark betting on a young, happening talent Tom Cruise. As wise Eddie adviced young kid that it’s both brain and balls that does matter to win the game in long run but the boy has too much of one and not enough of the other. The boy gives him enough spark to re-enter the field after a long gap and in return a kid got a great platform playing with highly professionals.

Unlike other Scorsese films the plot is plain simple, devoid of any complexities, even narration is flat and characters are one dimensional. There’re some finest pool moves and shots and the refreshing chemistry between Cruise & Newman. Though it’s not Scorsese’s best film, it demands attention simply due to legendary Paul Newman. I regard Newman as an icon; equal in the lineage of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood where ‘attitude ain’t retired with age’. Newman got his due with winning Best Actor Oscar for this film, probably he deserved for his early classics like ‘The Hustler’ or ‘Cool Hand Luke’.