posted 03 Mar 2012, 03:20
95.The Iron Lady (Drama) ***
Cast: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent
Direction: Phyllida Lloyd
Duration: 1 hour, 45 min
* A biographical feature on Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century
The early 1980s were difficult times in Britain. Unemployment, recession, trade union strikes, IRA terrorism — those were hard times when Margaret Thatcher became the country's first woman prime minister in 1979. By the time she quit in 1990, the Russians had fondly dubbed her The Iron Lady and Britain had changed irrevocably.
Much of the drama and trauma that the nation underwent during her tenure in the 1980s is glossed over in director Phyllida Lloyd's venture. A few placards in grainy television footages, for instance, isn't enough to capture the famous miner's strike of 1984-85 which was one of the defining events in her career. The movie merely skims the surface of all that Britain underwent; instead it chooses to focus on the personality of Thatcher. There
is no complexity or counterpoint on offer.
Luckily director Lloyd has Meryl Streep in the protagonist's part. Streep's magnetic performance makes up for the script's shallowness. You are simply left marvelling what an actor and her makeup artist can achieve with their work. Streep and her longstanding makeup man J Roy Helland — both earned Oscars for their work in the film — almost make us believe as if we are watching the real Thatcher in action.
Streep not only captures the walk, the gait, the voice and the diction of the former British Prime Minister but also the changes in Thatcher's personality that comes with her growing confidence on the job. The early hesitancy is replaced with authority and arrogance. The sharp physical contrast between Thatcher as Prime Minister and the frail, faltering Thatcher of later years, who keeps talking to her dead husband, is stunning.
But a movie is much more than its actors. The story of a grocer's daughter who tells her would-be husband, "I cannot die washing tea cups," who conquers a men's bastion, who gives the go-ahead to sink the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano during the Falklands war, could easily have been a much more compelling and nuanced narrative.
But Lloyd prefers to rely on the power of the one-liners that Thatcher tossed with abandon like her good friend US President Ronald Reagan — "It is time to put great back in Great Britain," "Yes, the medicine is harsh, but the patient requires it in order to live, "We will all stand on principle or we will not stand at all." It sounds good but it doesn't touch anything deep.
As a movie, The Iron Lady would have been dumped in the category of less-than-satisfying biopics. But Streep and Helland have not only ensured that the movie engages the regular viewer; they have also made it must-watch in every acting workshop; hence an afterlife.
96.Paan Singh Tomar (Drama) ***l/2
Cast: Irrfan, Mahie Gill, Vipin Sharma
Director. Tigmanshu Dhulia
Duration: 2 hours 15 mln
* The real-life story of subedar Paan Singh Tomar, a seven-time national champion athlete and Army jawan who became a dacoit
Sportsmen and outlaws inhabit two different universes. One shines amidst the bright lights of glory, the other haunts the ravines of notoriety. But in director Tigmanshu Dhulia's biopic, Paan Singh Tomar, the two worlds collide. And the result is a rather exquisite blend of drama, humour and tragedy; altogether eminently enjoyable good cinema.
Beginning 1958, Tomar was a seven-time national champion in steeplechase, a gruelling athletic event where participants jump over seven water hazards and 28 hurdles while running a distance of 3,000 metres. Born in the dacoit-infested district of Morena, Tomar was an Army jawan too. He didn't run for pleasure; only for better food that athletes were entitled to. How a simple jawan becomes a feared outlaw is the kernel of the film's story.
Dhulia, who worked with Shekhar Kapur in the seminal Bandit Queen, enters the crevices of the badlands of Chambal river and makes you understand how bandits are born. But he also brings out the camaraderie of the jawans and the gentle humour of a unit are rather well brought out. The beauty of the movie is that it blends the personal with the larger social truths. Tomar may have been running in Tokyo but back home in his village, his family must suffer the same oppression and humiliation as others.
The movie shows how Tomar himself is part of the feudal mindset in his own way He prides in the fact that his uncles are outlaws and he tells his coach not to abuse him. For him, that is unacceptable. The movie illustrates the linkages between land and dacoits—how every affront becomes part of a memory and how every murder becomes a link to another, a never-ending chain.
The movie works because Irrfan makes Paan Singh Tomar come alive as an athlete, as a husband and as a dacoit. This is a flawless performance from a consummate actor. As his wife, Gill comes up with a rare restrained performance. There is humour as well a delicate intensity in the romantic scenes between the two. Dhulia gets great work from the remainder of the cast. The camerawork, especially of the ravines and the river, is excellent.
In a country obsessed with overpaid cricketers, a biopic on a former national champion athlete is reason enough to' celebrate. But Dhulia's film is much more. It is one of superbly crafted film that underlines the linkage of life, sports and society.
It is perhaps a sign of Bollywood maturing that another biopic on a famous athlete is in the making: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, on sprinter Milkha Singh. Till then, let us just relish the pleasure of watching Paan Singh Tomar.
97.London Paris New York (Romance) ***
Cast: Ali Zafar, Aditi Rao Hydari
Direction: Anu Menon
Duration: 1 hour 40 min
* A globetrotting love story, with modern romantic equations and emotions evolving at every stopover.
Does your love change with the character of the city you are in? Do your pheromones trigger a different response when you kiss the same girl in different parts of the world? That's the formula of this three-city, romantic tour called London Paris New York. Reminding us loosely of the Hollywood romance Before Sunrise (starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphi),London Paris New York, is a story of a couple who spend three nights, in three beautiful cities. This sparks a light-hearted romance over crackling conversational chemistry and long walks through the picturesque me. Lalitha Krishnan (Aditi Rao Hydari) are free-spirited, urban adolescents who meet by chance in London. They're instantly drawn to each other. Like most urbane youth on their own, they chat, kiss and vow to meet again in six months. In Lalitha's home city of New York. However, they decide not to pursue a long distance relationship, yet, they can't get over this not-so-fatal attraction. Hence, this mismatched and geographically-crossed couple go their separate transit lounges around the world, to search out each other, only to love and lose each other over and over again. Blame it on the rivers —Thames, Seine and Hudson—for pouring waters over their attraction each time. With a new twist in each city
Ali Zafar is just the charming, almost cocky boy this love story needs. He is lovable, natural and subtly brings that slight cheekiness, sprinkled with boyish humour and attitude. He effortlessly adds dimensions to his character that is expected of his age and time. The casualness, yet confident aplomb with which he approaches his role is impressive. His emotional outburst under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York proves he is capable of much more than serenading you with his strings, songs and smiles.
In her first full-fledged lead role, Aditi Rao Hydari is immensely likeable on-screen, and confidently displays maturity in some moments, f At times, her attempt to draw the I right expression borders on being . forceful, but the awkwardness only
adds to the charm of this girl-next-door and her transition from a girlie-girl into a girl woman. The duo make an affable on-screen pair.
The London-based Tam Brahm, Anu Menon, takes the Director's chair for the first time with a rather simple subject, but manages to make it a non-cliche for some parts. The screenplay (also by Anu Menon) lacks a certain sense of fluency and at times seems disconnected. However, the characters and dialogues (Anu Menon & Ritu Bhatia) are real and unpretentious enough to lure the youth, whether it's the slight reference to sex positions or the bodily chemistry of a lip kiss.
When you have a non-icon for a bound to be spot-on. Ali Zafar's music gives the film its freshness and adds to the lyricism of the love story. London Paris New York is a sweet story that deals with very real emotions. It is urbane, cool and thankfully, not dated. The simplicity of the dialogues makes it enjoyable. It deals with the trials and tribulations of the youth, and the complexities of finding real love. It probably won't move you to tears, but one thing is for sure—after travelling across the globe, this one won't leave you jet-lagged.
98.The Devil Inside (Horror) ** 1/2
Cast: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth
Direction: William Brent Bell
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
* A woman kills three priests during an act of exorcism. Nearly 20 years later, her daughter tries to find out what happened to her while making a film on exorcism.
A Bollywood hit often spawns a legion of poor imitators. It is not too different in Hollywood. Movies such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity have generated a bevy of similar copycat projects where footage found from a handheld camera becomes the film's story The Devil Inside walks the same line.
This is primarily a film on exorcism. In the 1970s global superhit, The Exorcist, priests read out from the Bible to rid a girl of evil. But the priests in The Devil Inside are New Age and tech savvy. They monitor heartbeat and blood pressure. And they record everything on camera. To Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade), the young filmmaker who wants to find out about her mother languishing in a Catholic psychiatric hospital, they say, "You can find out more about her in five minutes of exorcism than three months of class."
This is a movie where expressions like "hierarchy of demons," "multiple demonic possession" and "transference" of spirits are part of regular conversation. And it is all done with a handheld camera, often in dimly lit
rooms, to create the illusion of watching genuine footage of a documentary.
The Devil Inside does not use gimmicks. The scenes of exorcism, where the victims are possessed by demons, do have a strange kind of pull. They seem real and that's what makes them occasionally scary. But overall, the movie fails to engage.
99.Will You Marry Me? (Romance) *l/2
Cast: Rajeev Khandelwal, Shreyas Talpade, Muzamil Ibrahim, Mugdha Godse
Direction: Aditya Datt
Duration: 2 hours 10 mins
* Marriages aren't rocket science, really. Save for the writer's attempts to make it look like a complex, twisted tale of love. But cutting to the chase, this is a story of three boys, two girls, a few songs and one never-ending film.
Little girls dream of marriage from the time they get their first doll sets. For little boys, those very dreams are nightmares. Generalization? Not really But a hardwired trait thaf s genetically built into us. And since boys never really grow up, especially the leading men of Will You Marry Me?—the stereotypes are played out perfectly So much so that they invest crores of rupees in a joint-venture, betting that the 'last bachelor standing' (sic) will win this jackpot. It's a different thing that during the course of the movie, this 'partnership' is forgotten and all the big boys do, is get flirty with bikini-dad babes on beaches and bet on everything from love, stocks to cricket.
Rajveer (Rajeev), Aarav (Shreyas) and Nikhil (Muzamil) are childhood friends who hopelessly try and showcase a Jai-Veeru kind of bro-mance. Nikhil is on the verge of losing his bachelorhood to his sweetheart Anjali (Tripti Parashar), and the rest of the film is all about the series of happenstances in the run-up to the wedding. Ho Hum!
Fifteen minutes into the movie, we're hoping that things will take a turn for the better; but the marriage 'arousal' only goes downwards. Sex sells, alright. But an overdose of crudely used double-meaning phrases, sexual innuendo; and in-bad-taste, out-of-turn slapstick may not necessarily titillate audiences. Even, using the 'F' word in apparent 'fashionable-cool'; or Rajveer calling out 'Hi Sex!' each time he meets his buddies—comes across as immature and corny
Surprisingly the normally dependable Rajeev Khandelwal is the one who disappoints the most. Mainly because one expects more from an actor of his calibre. If he's desperately trying for an image makeover then this film was the wrong start. His fans won't be mighty impressed with Rajeev's 'casual romeo' avatar. Will the deep, intense Rajeev stand up and be counted please. Muzamil is strictly the much needed male eye-candy in this misadventure. Shreyas Talpade is the only one who comfortably displays something more than mere machismo here — performance. His comic timing is good. In the bathroom scene, you see a glimpse of the real Talpade. Pun unintended.
The female eye-candy Mugdha Godse (the bride's best gal-pal) looks good, but has forgotten that this is not Fashion but another movie she's simply ramp-walking on. She looks good but seems lost in this testosterone enterprise. With a weak script to begin with, a story that loses the plot from the word 'Go' and an unmoving narrative, director Aditya V Datt seems to have failed in his 'marriage proposal' to the audience. The attempts to elicit a few laughs by stereo-typifying the gay community is not in good taste. After a while, we begin to gag on the gags. Accept this proposal at your own risk. This is one marriage that's a bad idea.
100.Diary of a Butterfly (Drama) **
Cast: Udita Goswami, Sofia Hayyat, Harsh Chhaya, Rati Agnihotri
Direction: Vinod Mukhi
Duration: 1 hour, 45 min
* A Jaipur girl leaves for Mumbai with a job offer in a fashion house and an ambition to reach the top at any cost. Her mother has asked her to write a daily dairy.
Diary of a Butterfly overflows with hygiene-conscious girls: they are generally showering themselves interminably having a bubble bath with their lovers or just chilling out in bikinis in the swimming pool. And there are these long love-making scenes spiced up with erotic background music. The one between Goswami and her just-arrived-from-Jaipur lover goes on interminably as the camera lingers
erotically close to their bodies as if a soft-porn flick is being shot on the sly These scenes could be the special attraction for this adult-rated movie that has little to recommend itself in terms of a narrative.
Plot, if there is one, centres around Gul (Udita Goswami), an attractive, no-scruples girl with an insatiable hunger for quick success. Playing games and using people as ladders, including her best friends, she ends up with a bungalow and a fast car. But success also has a way of handing out life's lessons.
Diary of a Butterfly seems to be a vehicle of sorts for Goswami. She probably gets more screen time than rest of the cast put together. But this is the sort of vehicle that goes nowhere.
101.Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Drama) ***l/2
Cast: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Max Von Sydow
Direction: Stephen Daldry
Duration: 2 hour 10 min
* A young boy finds a key after his father's death in 9/11. His endeavour to find its lock transforms his life.
A thick, dark smoke hangs over Oskar Schell's (Thomas Horn) young heart since his father Thomas (Tom Hanks) died in the WTQ attack. He bonded with his father and hates his mother. "I wish you were in the building instead of him," Oskar tells his mom. And he feels that the path to redemption could lie in a yellow key that one day he accidentally stumbles upon. The key was kept in an envelope in a blue vase and addressed to someone named Black. And the boy both articulate and sensitive, makes it his mission to find its lock. But in a city of over 400 listed Blacks, that's not easy The movie takes Oskar to different people and places in the city: the Afro-American woman trapped in a bad marriage, the man who can't stop hugging him, the cranky woman who shoos him away Midway in the endeavour, he makes friends with an old man who has stopped speaking by choice. It is an interesting relationship of unequals. Together they scan the city and the travels become a sort of therapy for both.
Fashioned for celluloid from a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close proceeds languidly like food being cooked overnight on slow fire. It is about loss, coping and illumination. Slowly the story of a boy's reconciliation with his self and his mother also becomes a moving tale of a city and everyone who lived through 9/11.
A meaner editor could have trimmed director Stephen Daldry's movie by 10 minutes making it a tighter, neater work. In small roles, Hanks and Bullock are in fine fettle. So is Max Von Sydow in the role of a grandfather. But as the argumentative and intelligent kid, Thomas Horn is the movie's real spine. His journey for the key's lock is both outward and inward. And sometimes it is also magical.