Archive for the ‘Classics’ Category

Kalavani – Show stealer!

Kalavani opens Director A.Sargunam‘s Kodambakkam account with Pasanga fame Vimal as the lead and the Poo fame SSKumaran as the composer. As per the title, Kalavani is an awesome Romantic rural comedy with quite a number of interesting and laudable moments. More than anything else, Kalavani launches Sargunam as one of the best writers in India whose mellifluously interwoven screenplay wins the audience’s heart right from the first scene. With a no-wonder story line which almost appears inadequate for a 2:30 hours movie, sargunam has spun his scenario like a shrewd spider. Kalavani does to comedy in Tamil cinema what Paruthi Veeran did to tragedy. Both of them have a similar story thread but with a wild difference.

Kalavani‘s story belongs to antiquity: Boy meets girl, boy forces girl to love, girl loves, girl’s brother comes inbetween, boy wins. Definitely inspired from the likes of Bharathiraja, Kalavani is about Arikki@Arivazhagan (Vimal) a spoiled youth, falling in love with Maheshwari (Oviya), a girl from an enemy village who also happens to be his arch rival Ilango’s (Thirumurugan) sister. To be straight, Arikki wooes and wins Maheshwari resolving the longlasting conflict between the two villages. After a long time we see a movie which is seamlessly interspersed with agriculture, the real backbone of India. Filled with fun and frolic, Kalavani‘s crosswire is on the lighter side of the Tanjore belt villages. Hailing from one such village Sargunam has stuck close to his own life experiences, which makes the movie rooted and very Tamilish.

Going by world standards, Kalavani’s screenplay deserves a place among the world’s most original scripts. Unlike recent comedies which failed to tickle our ribs, Kalavani is loaded with a lot of laughing gas. Vimal’s unblemishing performance as Arikki along with Soori and co is evidently a memorable one for years to come. Ovia, the girl from God’s own country shines throughout, in her reactions more than her actions. Ilavarasu and Saranya play cliched roles of dumb parents but only to superexcellency which almost camouflages the ordinariness of their characterisation. Thirumuurugan, the associate director of this movie handles the antagonist’s role well. His amateurish and doubtful acting adds on to the attitude and body laguage of his character. Kanja Karuppu once again plays a Malvolio, which caters only to the groundlings. But Sargunam, places his characters at the right blocks of his screenplay making sure that everything and anything counts. Throughout the movie, there are a number of unexpected and humorous incidents which wake up the laughing hyena in us. There are too many hilarious scenes in Kalavani to make us go into splits. If you watch it in a crowd, make sure you’ve ample space to roll. Apart from comic scenes, there are a number of surprising and shocking moments in Kalavani to keep us busy. Though a comedy, Kalavani stands firmly on logic and speaks through every single one of its frames. Kalavani‘s biggest strength is the candid portrayal of Tamilnadu’s tradition and what the recent panaromas have done to it.

Dubbing is one of the major flaws of this film. In most of the scenes, the lip movements don’t go well with the audio. Along with poor dubbing, the Tanjore dialect makes it too difficult for the outsiders to comprehend the dialogues. Adding to this, the screenplay is so very naturally crafted that we miss a few subtle plot points landing up in doubt and chaos as we always do in real life. A boon becomes a bane here, demanding very serious attention to every single detail. Things go fine and raise our expectations but leave us disappointed, when Arikki doesn’t do anything new to get his girl in the third act.Though well made, Kalavani is after all one of those picaresque movies which glorify a rogue.  Apart from this, the director sets the stage immaculately before getting his corrupt lead onshow, which justifies every act of this Kalavani.

With a handful of neat numbers and unpredictable BGMs, SSKumaran contributes in a great deal to Kalavani. Raja Mohamed‘s editing is sleek and gimmickless which makes it one of the main fortes of this talkies. Omprakash‘s cinematography scores in slow moving and static shots, rather than in the steadicam shots. With no violence and profanity, Kalavani‘s success once again proves that films with originality and good narration are always ahead of movies with nonsensical technical grandeur and those pointless remakes. Kalavani says, I’ll cheat, lie, bluff and what not, but still you’ll like me!

– Spontic

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Inglourious Basterds– Tarantino’s epic!


Chapter 1

Once upon a time…

Script in the making

Ever since 2001, Tarantino had been talking about the script which one day would be his master piece : “My bunch-of-guys-on-a-mission film. My Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare or Guns of Navarone kind of thing.” Story of Any genre seems to get a new life when Tarantino scripts it into his own. Since Tarantino wanted this to be a spaghetti western movie,the movie has got a unique texture, bizarre tone and simplistic mise-en-scène. In the last ten years, every time there was an interview with Tarantino, there was a question about Inglourious basterds. And now, the movie lives up to its expectations.

Chapter 2

Inglourious synopsis

Tarantino makes it too difficult to write a plot synopsis of the movie. About who shall I say the movie is all about? Is it about the basterds, a group of Jewish-American soldiers under the leadership of Lieutenant Aldo Raine{Brad Pitt} who enter France as civilians to cause maximum damage to the Nazis with a unique stratagem? Or is it about the Nazi Colonel Hans Landa{Christoph Waltz}, the Jew-Hunter who enjoys the culling and killing of the hiding Jews in France? Or is it about the young Jewish girl Shosanna{Mélanie Laurent} who escapes Hans Landa to plan out the massacre of Hitler and Co later? Don’t know. Tarantino takes sides with nobody inside the plot though the story is rooted in anti-Nazism. The titling method is similar to that of the 20th century novelists’: Pick out one of the chapter titles from the book and there we go. But the title is inspired from the 1978 war film Inglourious basterds as Tarantino confesses.The movie is set in 1940s and in the Nazi occupied France. In the classical sense, The Basterds and Shosanna can be looked at as the protagonists who fight their way to a goal: To kill the Nazis while Hans Landa is the Antagonist supposedly preventing them from doing so. Tarantino plays his own game throughout the movie by smashing out the common notions about a movie which runs on a screen. The movie is divided into 5 chapters:

Chapter One: Once Upon a Time … Nazi Occupied France

Chapter Two: Inglorious Basterds

Chapter Three: German Night in Paris

Chapter Four: Operation Kino

Chapter Five: Revenge of the Giant Face

After watching the movie if you think you can summarise it, you are wrong. Go watch the movie again, not to rewrite  but to realise the futility of your attempt.

Chapter 3

Quentinian delight in theatres

This is not only a universal masterpiece in the Tarantinian sense of the word universe but also in the OED meaning of it. The movie’s first scene involving the conversation between Hans Landa and Perrier LaPadite{Denis Menochet} tells it all. Every scene in the movie stands out with its own laurels. Christoph Waltz’s terrorising performance as Hans Landa wakes us all from our naive romantic sleep into the harsh world of reality: Never rely on the goodness of men. Only a very few actors get to perform a role like this one and Waltz has played it beyond perfection. Brad Pitt in the skin of “Aldo the Apache”, scalps and cuts his way out in a grand fashion, as the director wanted him to. He makes us laugh in the places where we are afraid to. Mélanie Laurent, who showcases her ability to range between the innocent cinema owner to the ruthless witch who has the last laugh. The Baseball bat swinging ‘Bear Jew’ played by Producer, Director and writer Eric Roth hits us for a surprising home run. Even the actors who occupy the screen only for a short time do justice to the movie. There are a lot of hidden violence in the movie other than what is shown. For instance watch the Cinderella parody. This is one of the major forties of the movie apart from the flawless acting. Tarantino shows no mercy to the lion or the Lamb so no character is left without his stamp. The slow and steady rise in the tempo of the plot is as good as the good old westerns the movie imitates. Tarantino has successfully blended the history genre with the wild western type in Inglourious Basterds. Though an experimentalist, Tarantino always sets the cash registers ringing at the box office, and this is true with Inglorious Basterds too.

Chapter 4

Operation DeKonstruktion

The elements of spaghetti Western style strips this movie out of the grandiose of historical movies and period films. The set designs and locales also fall short of a proper war movie. Though deliberately done, this hurts at times. The movie explicitly portrays Germans in a bad light. The inset film within the film is actually a satanic parody of the real audience! Although good, Long conversations and monotonous activities contribute to the overall effect, they make the movie dull, once a while. Also Bridget von Hammersmark’s{Diane Kruger} mistake which leads to the denouement appears so silly for a shrewd character.


Victory of the technical faces

Minimalist cinematography, which is one of the characteristic features of a spaghetti western film is well done in this film by ace cinematographer Robert Richardson. The lightings and background colours used in the production design of this movie are amazingly perfect for the film. Even the soundtrack is a mixture of various old western movie tracks. Undoubtedly Inglourious basterds deserves a place among the greatest of war movies. So Tarantino says: There are no heroes only basterds!

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Carlito’s way- Tough and touching!

“I don’t invite this shit. It just comes to me.” These words, uttered by Carlito Brigante the protagonist of this Brian De Palma film happen to be the spine of this gangster story, voiced-over with deaths and disappointments. Al Pacino and Sean Penn don two vital roles in the movie which is screen-written by David Koepp from the Edwin Torres novels(Carlito’s Way and After hours). Although a first look at the film may give us an impression that Palma and Pacino are trying to rejuvenate the ‘Scarface’ but the script has something different to offer.

The Spanish tongued Carlito Brigante{Al Pacino} is released from prison aided by his lawyer friend Dave Kenfield{Sean Penn} after which we hear him say ‘Free atlast!’ He wants his hands to be clean and takes his way into a club owned by one of his old acquaintances, Sasso{(Jorge Porcel} and tries to save money for a better living which he assumes later to be with his girl friend Gail{Penelope Ann Miller}. He turns every possible stone to be within the walls of a good samaritan,but the diablo always comes his way. But without his cognizance his law pal Dave has other plans and other ends. Dave pulls the reluctant Carlito into something which the latter thinks to be an escape plot to free Tony{Frank Minucci} an Italian mob boss from prison. Carlito’s dreams start to blur when he realises that his friend is not a friend. Consequently Carlito gets cracking on to pull the strings…But unlike old times he has got más grande men behind his back giving him pain. The dreams get blurrier than ever and so the story goes…

Certain sequences of the movie demonstrate Brian De Palma’s ability to make his audience feel that he is watching something which is worth every penny he paid for:The pool scene, Dave’s stabbing and the last 20 minutes of the film are worth mentioning. Al Pacino’s cloak is somewhat similar to that of Scarface, but he manages to swipe off those images from our minds as soon as the movie progresses. Sean Penn macrocosmically creates the perfect artistic illusion of a mob lawyer of the late seventies and microcosmically corroborates how a friend could be. Being a period film, the stylistics of this movie reminds us of Scarface and Goodfellas. The painful philosophy that which exists in the voice of narration adds one more dimension to this multifaceted film. Inspite of her early strip teaser impressions in the film, Ann Miller sticks like chocolate to her inwardly moral role of Gail. A closer look would reveal the contrast that the film brings out between Gail and Dave, which adds strength to the lady’s character. For good, the length of the movie doesn’t affect the tempo and tension of the movie. The turning points occur at the right areas of the screenplay and elevates this great movie into a greater one.

The Director is successfull in guising his script’s flaws in intoxicating moments. One of them is this: Why does the dumb and incapable son end up being in the boat when he has a brother who is habile enough to match Carlito?{Which we realise minutes later} Secondly, is he so moronic to give up to a junkie? And finally there are no strong reasons for Tony to depend entirely upon Dave. Apart from this and a few other minor ones, Carlito’s way is limpio.

The mise en scene of the indoors aptly draws up the 70s curtain, while the exteriors showcase Palma’s celluloid skills. Stephen H. Burum‘s cinematography slides seamlessly into Patrick Doyle’s score to develop the tension of the milieu. The costumes, hairstyles and dialogues bring to lime light the amount of research done by the crew. Kristina Boden and Bill Pankow present us a well tailored movie without any glitches. Carlito says ‘Dios está siempre allí, mirándole a través de los ojos del diablo'{God is always there, watching you through the devil’s eyes!}

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Varanam Aayiram- Paradise lost and regained!

Gautham Menon‘s Magnum Opus Varanam Aayiram has come out with a million flying colors. Being a biography, Vaaranam Aayiram blooms in the lines of Aarilirunthu arupathu varai, Autograph and Thavamai Thavamirunthu. As the trailer says, ‘This is not an action film’ but instead a commercially salted Father-son flick. Though Gautham Menon has borrowed a few western colors to deck his epic, Vaaranam Aayiram compels us to say ‘where he picks up doesn’t matter but where he places’.

The plot is worked out by a first person triple layered narrative. Before the narrative starts, we see Krishnan{Surya}, the old man dying out of a throat cancer. The news is passed on to Major Surya{Surya}, who is currently on a rescue operation a few thousand miles and metres away in a military helicopter. Surya meditates on his own experience and what his mother Malini{Simran} and father Krishnan had told him since his childhood. And so it goes… till Surya comes back to perform funeral rites for his father.

To begin with, Vaaranam Aayiram is truly an incensed classic, filled with cross culture references and trends. Gautham has unleashed his full potential in his dream project. May God bless him for his pains in handling the narrative. The first half swims down our throat in full mettled ease while the latter half is the fruit of tree of knowledge. As a complete whole the film is but life, life and nothing but life. For Surya and Simran this innings breaks their own previous records. And about Shamira, she’s the Poet’s ‘Lady Love’, on celluloid. The dialogues are better than any other Gautham Menon film and Romance, flows like ‘sweet Thames’. The second half which contains the more serious side of life,goes on in its own pace and may tire the audience, but the defect lies not with the screen-writer but on the eye and mind of the beholder. The positive energy of this movie is another facet which our society requires to go ahead. In this regard, Vaaranam Aayiram becomes, Gauthams’Autograph’. The Production design and the picturisation of the songs make Varanam Aayiram into ‘thousand hues’. Right from the amorous Backdrops to the intertwining ‘Ilayarajaism’, Vaaranam Aayiram, ‘its a rock song daddy!’

At times we are made to think if its a correct decision to put Surya on the father role, since its too heavy for him in selected areas. In the next place, the movie’s Tamil sensibility is pulled down by the use of English in many important scenes. A few minutes before the ‘Annal mele’ song in Divya Spandana‘s episode are hackneyed and test our patience. Surya’s visit to California may not be justifiable from a few view points. The ‘Aditya’ stratagem seem to spoil the tonality of the movie but the story-telling talents of Gautham saves it at the end.

The Art Director of the movie has sculpturesquely given life to Gautham’s imagination. Rajeevan and Anthony have once again done enthralling work. Harris Jeyaraj‘s hypnotising soundtrack has provided us with a quality musical. Working on a project like vaaranam Aayiram is tough as nails and two thumbs up to Gautham Menon and his crew. Vaaranam Aayiram says “Life is not a bed of roses”

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The shining- On the ‘axe’s’ edge!

Stanley Kubrick demonstrates how horror and terror can be carved on a screen, in his 1980 film The Shining. Based on a novel of the same name by Stephen King ‘The Shining’ proves to be a horror Avant-garde. At the same time it vividly states that blood and gore which are normally used by Horror
movie makers are not at all necessary to produce the ‘Horror’ effect but a plot which pounces on the psyche of the audience. An easy-peasy story, unique characterisation and an off-beat screenplay enable the director to execute a flawless horror program. With a few changes from the original novel, The Shining shines its way to set the cash registers ringing at the box office.

The plot is revealed when Jack Torrance {Jack Nicholson} takes up the job of care taking ‘The Overlook’ hotel which hibernates during the winter and moves to the hotel which is located on an isolated place in Colorado with his wife Wendy{Shelley Duvall} and son Danny{Danny Lloyd}. Jack’s employer tells him that in the winter of 1970, Charles Grady the previous care-taker who stayed in the hotel with his wife and two daughters,

“…ran amok and eh… killed his family with an axe, stacked them neatly in one of the rooms in the West Wing, and then heum… then he put eh both barrels of his shotgun in his mouth.”

But Jack is unperturbed by these words and he replies him that 5 months of peace is what he wants to write a novel. So it goes. The trio takes up the solitude. During the first month the hotel stays as a picture-perfect holiday spot and the family live like a ‘happily ever after family’ in a fairy land. After
a month things start to metamorphasise quickly and the beautiful place turns out to be a butcher’s bungalow when Jack meets new friends in the isolated hotel. The same fate of that of the previous are-taker comes his way. To know what jack thinks and feels, just ‘Shine’!

The ambiguity. The ambiguity of reasons lay the foundation for the enormous fear producing capabilities of this movie. The movie can be interpreted in numerous ways. From Jack’s point of view, a ghost story. From Wendy’s point of view, an expressionistic film. From Danny’s perspective, a
phenomena that cant be explained, may be a hallucination. So the movie reacts on the mind of the audience and refuses them a comfortable seat. Similarly the positioning of the camera itself spells out the word ‘fear’ in this movie. Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd breath life into the characters aptly. But Jack Nicholson dramatic acting and Danny Lloyd’s ‘twin’ performance come on par with each other. The grandeur of the sets and choice of the colors add more terror to this film. The greatness of the movie lies mostly in parts which cant be discussed, because of their ‘suspense’ content. Commendations to the Director and screenwriters{Diane Johnson and Stanley Kubrick}!

The ambiguity. The ambiguity which becomes the biggest forte of the becomes its biggest folly as well. Certain important factor’s such as Jack’s alcoholism and Danny’s ‘Shining’ instinct could have been explained better. In a ‘Poesque’ world a character’s background should be revealed if its a character of the human world while the character’s mind and background should be concealed if he is from the blood mongering animal realm. The movie is stuck inbetween. This may be the reason for Stephen King to say that this movie is not a good adaptation of his novel. But these factors intrude only when we think critically. Otherwise, ‘The Shining’, shines well.

As said earlier, John Alcott’s camera makes the scenes more terrific, especially in the long shots and Helicopter shots. Ray Lovejoy’s editing, which successfully sustains the up tightness is an inevitable aspect of this movie which brings the audience to the edge of their seats. Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind’s music which is used well along with the blowing of the cold winds in Colorado goes in rhythm with the pulse of the audience. So on the whole, this horror film says, ‘They guide me in the dark, reminding my responsibilities. But dark is light and responsibility is REDRUM in their book!’


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Scarface- A flamboyant tragedy!

A year after ‘Blow Out’, Brian De Palma loosely remakes the 1932 film of the same name and this time his script is penned by Oliver Stone. Al Pacino and Steven Bauer play the leads of this passionate but powerful movie. With a historical background, the life of Tony Montana, a ruthless Cuban refugee is narrated to us. The main plot of the movie appears to be modelled on a Greek tragedy, where fate ultimately wins. But if we apply A.C.Bradley’s idea of ‘character is destiny’ the movie seems to be a Shakespearean tragedy. Similar to the life of Tony Montana, the film begins passively, rises steadily, reaches the crisis narrowly and falls into the end mercilessly. But what makes this movie different from other gangster movies is that here we see the values and passions behind the blood stained faces of darklings and drug lords. Graphic sexual language and bloody violence have forced the MPAA to give an ‘R’ for this movie. The Director and Writer can pride their finished product, which has come out like a red pearl from a red sea.

The movie jumps out of the hat with a few archive videos regarding Fidel Castro’s Mariel Boatlift and the migration of Cubans to Florida USA. We are being indoctrinated that 25% of those migrants have criminal records. Tony Montana (Al Pacino) and his close friend Manny Ribera (Steve Bauer) enter the scene when they are enquired by the officials in Florida because of their criminal records. Soon they are thrown into Freedomtown where Cuban refugees without green card live. Very soon Manny pulls Tony into the assassination of Cuban communist Emilio Rebenga, which gets them green cards and opens their gates to America. Tony and Manny start working in a fast food shop, but Tony is seen disgusted about it. Once again Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham) who gave them the ‘kill Rebenga’ project, meets the duo for another drug deal as per which they have to collect cocaine from a Colombian dealer named “Hector the Toad”. In their very first meeting itself, Tony and Omar rub shoulders with each other but Manny puts them off and convinces Tony to take up the task. With a small team Tony and Manny visit Hector, but a few things go bloody wrong. Consequently one of Tony’s friends gets killed but Tony and Manny manage to collect the cocaine after finishing everybody in Hector’s house and take it to Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia), the Big boss of Omar. Frank is impressed by Tony’s frankness and forthright attitude and appoints him and Manny as dealers in his dope business. On the other hand Tony is impressed by Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer), Frank’s girlfriend. Also Tony’s sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and mother (Miriam Colon) are introduced to us when Tony pays a visit to them. Everything in Tony’s life changes when he takes off to Bolivia to meet Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar) a drug Lord as a representative of Frank, along with Omar. Very soon Alex kills Omar for his betraying past but he has something really nice in store for Tony. To know what happened after this, you must take a walk down the lane of Tony Montana.

Tip-top characterisation and performances as sound as a bell make this movie a real classic. Al Pacino has acted as though he has lived next door to the fictional Tony Montana at least for a 100 years in the world of Scarface. His looks, strange body language, Cuban tongue and sniffing style has put him in the forest of undeletable fame. If Al Pacino leaves the screen for a while or if he is mute for a few minutes, we realise how charming and vicious Steve Bauer is. Steve Bauer, right from his first scene amuses us, playing a friend, a womanizer, a felon and a husband. If Al Pacino scores in a single ball like a football player, Steve Bauer amuses us with a number of balls like a juggler. The plot is efficiently modeled on a Greek tragedy except for the fact that a Greek tragic hero comes from a noble family. The Director’s efforts to put even the minuscule elements in style has given him fruits of success. The portrayal of Tony’s other side adds strength to his character and makes it complete unlike a few other stories where the two sides of a man are depicted in an imbalanced manner, dragooning it to be technically incorrect. The tragic flaw of Tony Montana and the fashion in which it causes his downfall are flawless. Tony faces and dissipates the outside conflicts with ease but when a conflict is ignited inside him he faces the ‘perepetia’, recognises his error in a ‘catharsis’ of pity and fear
and ultimately dies. Commendations to the Scarface crew!

The movie’s screenplay falls into a lethargic abyss now and then leaving the audience in darkness. Except the leads other characters fail to impress, but they manage to travel through the story helped by the leads. Despite the fact that this movie is lengthy the story lumbers in the middle disgusting the viewers. The diction of the movie is down to earth but at times it becomes too crude. The Director’s attempt to be original and fresh protects him against all these flaws.

Technically, John A. Alonzo‘s cinematography work lags behind. Certain frames in the movie are shown without any focus and we are pressurised to find out where the hero of the scene is. Similarly Gerald B. Greenbury and David Ray hold responsibility for the dragging screenplay and scenes of the same kind. Giorgio Moroder‘s music adds a mild harmonic flavor to this film. The sound effects of this movie, especially during the gunshots raise it to the level of a Hitchcock movie. On the whole Scarface tells us ” Decisions, deeds or death, they’re all yours!”

– Spontic

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Sexy Beast- Movie Review

Sexy Beast- Sexy as well as skanky!

‘Films or commercials, Whatever you do, do it in style’, seems to be the motto of Jonathan Glazer who has directed this Sexy Beast written by Louis Mellis&David Scinto. We admire this Pocket sized dynamite as soon as we see it, we are awe-struck when its ignited by Ben Kingsley and when once everything is over, we enjoy the warmth of it. Kudos to the writers and the Director. A lot of blood and a few drops of saliva sprayed all over, resulting from the mouthing of unprintable dialogues may make this movie too squeamish to watch for certain people. Title to credits, there is style and sadism in this film drama as per its name. The story begins in the middle of nowhere, probabilities of a thriller and an action movie come rolling in, but the outcome is fresh and different. Surprisingly, action part of this movie is not shouldered by guns or girls but by unique characters and dialogues.

The movie begins with the portrayal of Gary “Gal” Dove (Ray Winstone), a retired criminal known for his safecracking techniques, who now ecstatically lives in a spanish villa with his wife Deedee (Amanda Redman). He is often visited by his friend Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and his wife Jackie (Julianne White). Gal makes the best use of his paradise by cracking jokes, making merry along the poolside and hunting. His paradise is polluted when Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) a callous criminal visits them inorder to enlist Gal in a London bank robbery. Though trembling with fear, Gal lets him know that he is retired and he is happy with what he has. After a hallabullah, Don Logan leaves Gal’s place and takes his seat in the returning flight. Unfortunately for Gal and Company, he is thrown off the flight for smoking. With his rich experience in handling situations and unlocking deadlocks, Don eclipses the officials and comes back to Gal’s villa. This time his intentions are different. He wants to turn up Gal’s toes. When he tries to convert it into action, the movie reaches its prime. To know what happened next, keenly watch sexy beast.

The uniqueness of this movie is that, it creates mixed effects among the audience. A few may like the background of the story and not the story at all. But people with an open-mind and a wide taste may applaud the move for its intensity and class. Every single character walks close to the audience’s idea of such a character, but after a point of time, they fly beyond the audience’s imagination and leaves them baffled. The writers have precisely understood their characters and the director has recreated them on screen by appointing the right cast. Ben Kingsley, in the skin of Don Logan walks tall with his devilish eyes and venomous tongue. He sets the viewer’s pulse on fire everytime he says ‘Fuck’. The writers can be proud of Don Logan, their brainchild who speaks, looks, walks and threatens in a way which is never seen before. Ray Winstone, a big man scores a lot with his looks and body language. Amanda Redman and Julianne white are the perfect choices for their sexy and serious roles and they sustain the weight of their characters till the very end. All the other actors have played and scored as directed by their coach. The most crucial facet of the movie is the narrative technique where a crisis is split into parts and shown amidst the pieces of another crisis. The movie has more than one crisis and the plot moves from one to the other. Also the transition of Gal’s Spanish Villa from a God’s own house to a Godforsaken place and vice versa is amazing. The director’s attempt to give us more of a visual film than one with too much of dialogues, proves to be successful.

The foregrounding of Don Logan’s character at a point of time appears to be a hype rather than a natural one. Also the movie lacks a consistent tone, shifting from one to the other. But from a different perspective, this is a movie with a variety of tones. This movie’s ordinary denoument seems to be the odd man out and it fails to stick to the rules of the movie. For a first bench movie goer, this movie has only a run of the mill story and nothing extraordinary. The director would have tried to make this movie suitable for all.

The soundtrack of this movie played by various artists is amzing. Especially the “Lujon” track by Henry Mancini is stupendous. John Scott & Sam Sneade have given this movie an artistic shape with their scissors. As mentioned earlier, the Director and writers turn this beast a sexy one. So Sexy Beast roars, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, your voice is so sweet, like the dying cadence.”


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Apocalypse now – Tracking down evil


Francis Ford Coppola presents us this dark but glowing crystal ball made from the magic script written by himself along with John Milius and Michael Herr which is produced once again by him. The movie travels through the dense forests of Vietnam [shot in Philippines] and the Vietnam War is the backdrop of the movie. But this one is more of a horror movie than a war movie. The plot structure of the movie influenced largely by the novella, “Heart of Darkness” written by Joseph Conrad. The movie takes the audience by a number of surprises. First if one thinks the story is all about A, its really about Z. Secondly if he assumes it to be a triumph of an Epic hero, it turns out to be a tale of blood and butchery. Above all if one takes this for a weird and wicked movie, he is wrong because this movie very subtly parodies the restlessness and the concept of morality in our society. So whither away all your prejudices before you enter the heart of Darkness.

Captain Benjamin L. Willard{Martin Sheen} who dormantly stays in Saigon with a drowsy numbness is dusted off by the intelligence officers to be sent into the Cambodian jungle to assassinate Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who entered the forest as an authoritative officer but stayed there as a ruthless demon after losing his sanity and abandoning his morality in the process. Willard starts his mission with a patrol boat crew which comprises Chief Phillips{Albert Hall} a navy commander, Lance Johnson{Sam Bottoms} an American Surfer, Chef Hicks{Frederic Forrest} and Mr.Clean{Laurence Fishburne} a 17 year old boy. Captain Willard starts his sail in clear water, encounters perplexing mist and a lot of stuff out of the blue. Is he a sound man at all? Will he withstand the pressure of this ‘bloody’ mission? Will he assassinate his target? Will ‘Will’s” will succeed? To know watch ‘Will’ closely through the dark in “Apocalypse Now”

First of all the movie should be acclaimed for the way the scenes are mounted. Every scene contains the seed of its succeeding one, every incident and narration foreshadows the soul of the movie and at the end of the day, technically the plot structure is almost flawless. Also Coppola takes a free hand in making a serious spoof of the media and entertainment world of that age. He repeatedly attacks the manner in which the butter paper covered cameras reproduced the war as a result of which for some people war and violence became the fashion of that age. The characterisation, particularly of that of Captain Willard, is brought out 3 dimensionally. At the start we get to see a dimension of his mind and attitude and later on the other. While our mind willy-nilly confounds with his two dimensions, the third one is paraded to us solving the jigsaw puzzle. Hats off to the script writers and the Director. The movie alongside the journey through a river takes us into the river like consciousness of the human psyche. Every character is immaculately presented close to the reality. Among the actors Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando rock this whole ship, while every other actor such as Albert Hall, Frederick Forrest, Laurence Fishburne and Dennis who come as a photojournalist do their part. So this movie is an highly artistic sculpture made with blood and flesh enlivened up by the morality versus horror concept.

The movie’s biggest forte i.e. its length becomes its biggest folly as well. Certain scenes trundle in the middle, meddling with our pertinacity. Also the reason for which Captain Willard is freed for a while in the den of Kurtz{ Though the director tries to present a concrete reason} is vague and abstract. Adding to this one needs to be intellectually shrewd enough to understand the state of mind of Colonel Kurtz, which the director employs as a gizmo to attack the civilization and the concept of morality. Other than these distractions, Apocalypse now hits the Bull’s eye.

Among the technical aspects the Music rules the roost. Apart from the apt soundtracks, the songs and music which are played side by side in radios and tapes add verisimilitude to the situation. Two thumbs up for the Carmine Coppola and Francis Ford Coppola duo’s music. Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography almost takes us deep into the jungles of Philippines where the movie was shot. While trying to make a comment on the editor, our mind stands in the middle like a coin due to the length of the movie. But ultimately Gerald B. Greenberg and Walter Murch have done their job. Taking all the aspects into consideration, this one is a must watch movie. Apocalypse Now says ” We walk in the same direction, share the same escapades but the final judgement is different, totally different”

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Rounders(1998)-Movie review

Rounders – A card, two lads and a few thousand dollars!


This time John Dahl comes home with a script on the hush-hush world of underground poker written by David Levien & Brian Koppelman while Ted Demme & Joel Stillerman provide him pecuniary support. Before getting into the description of the sneaky realm of poker, one is expected to be cognizant of the word, Rounder, which means a guy who earns his living out of playing Poker. Though this is not a kind of movie which one can cherish in his memory for a long period of time, this is also not a kind of movie which would fail to fill a page in your good books. The poker cards, poker chips, round tables, few rogues and two smart men do a lot of unputdownable tricks to keep you entertained. In other words the movie is like an ordinary bun dipped in a tasty chocolate that which is the screenplay. The director and the script writers snatch their medals of honour for this reason.

When the diegesis unfurls, we see Mike McDermott (Matt Damon), a law school student, pooling in all his money without the knowledge of his sweetheart Jo{Gretchen Mol} to pull a seat against Teddy KGB (John Malkovich), the Don of clandestine Poker. He bravely confronts the notorious fox, only to add weight to the latter’s purse. As a result of this he gives up playing Poker but only for nine months. After this short span of thrice three months, we get to see a Mike who along with his studies, taking up part time jobs to earn a few extra bucks. The sun again shines over his land of Poker, when he refreshes his comradeship with his old buddy Murphy @ Worm{Edmund Norton} who is a dodgy rounder, known for the tricks under his sleeves. Due to a premonition that Mike is once again roped into the poker arena, Jo walks away from his life, which facilitates Worm to sink Mike deep into the sea of Poker. Both of them showcase a multitude of stratagems to fill up their cauldron of money. But a while later Mike realises that his friend has landed him up in a strange and messy conglomerate of debts and rogues and to save his skin, he has to do something really big. To know what the result of this rush is, watch Mike closely, in the table of ‘Rounders’.

The plot naturally and necessarily revolves around the two characters Mike and Worm. Both Matt Damon and Edmund Norton perfectly pull the strings to call the shots till the very end. Edmund Norton as per his character worm brings out the actions of a nasty and naughty poker player realistically, while Matt Damon blows the horn as a jocund winner and kisses the sand like an aghast loser marvellously. Though the movie has a proper plot, it is propelled only by the characters. Apart from these two levers there are other screws which enable this gadget to function properly, such as John Turturro who appears as an omniscient Joey Knish, Michael Rispoli who wears the motley of Grama, the badmash and John Malkovich, who in the character of Teddy KGB sets the pulse of the protagonist as well as the audience’s on fire with his nasty Russian tongue on the poker table. Adding to these screws we have Martin Landau as Abe Petrovsky, the power switch of this machine. So evidently there are a lot of elements in this movie good enough to make it a trendsetter

Among the flaws, the narrative technique collapses a bit in the middle before coming back to the right track again. From an ordinary theatre goer’s point of view there is no real action at all in the movie, since most of the action go round the Poker table. Also the director takes for granted that every spectator knows the basic rules of Poker, as a result of which one has to pay a great deal of attention to understand the movie better. Taking the scene composition and juxtaposition, a few scenes vanish off the screen before even producing the required effect,dictating the movie as a very light one, without making any long lasting impression, which otherwise the movie could produce. Ultimately the movie would have tasted better, if it had been spiced up a bit, instead of being so bland.

Delving deep into the technical aspects, The cinematographer Jean-Yves Escoffier walks tall with the candle-light tone he has applied to the movie, which blends so perfectly with the Jazzy tunes of Christopher Young. The classic cinematography interwoven with apt music becomes one of the biggest thew of the movie. Scott Chestnut’s editing makes us feel at times that his scissors need a repair, on the same time, the pace with which the movie moves in the latter half makes us to contradict our own previous statement. So this is a kind of movie which you can enjoy leisurely over a hot cup of coffee and some snacks. So Rounders say, “Rule number 1: Things can ameliorate quickly, Jacks can become asses and asses can turn Jacks, Watch out!”

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