posted 15 Sep 2012, 09:01
184.Barfi! (feel good) ****1/2
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, llearia D'Cruz
Direction: Anurag Basu
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Language: Hindi (mostly silent) (U)
* An almost silent relationship between a deaf-mute and an autistic that speaks volumes about unconditional love.
He was born to a song playing on a Murphy radio, but this . 'Murphy' baby (Ranbir) aka Barfi has a different law. Everything that has to go wrong will go wrong, but not if you brave it with a broad smiley. So 'mute' the high decibel chaos and deafening melodrama around and tune into Barfi ki duniya which is simple, sweet and SILENT! Yet, extreme emotions of love, joy and pain resound — at different 'frequencies'.
In the breathtakingly beautiful Darjeeling of the 70s, Barfi 'bumps into' Shruti (Ileana) and instantly falls in love with her. With wonder-eyes and in part-Chaplin-part-Raj-Kapoor style, he woos her with more 'actions' than words and leaves her speechless. He even wins over her heart, but she walks away with a Bengali babu, only because he 'apparently' has some abilities (of sound and speech, minus emotion) that Barfi isn't blessed with. But don't worry, this Charlie is no bechara, he gives her a wordless, guttural, 'earful', wears his signature smiley and moves on.
Soon he reunites with childhood friend Jhilmil (Priyanka) — autistic and abandoned by her wealthy family to live in a 'special' home. In between haath-rickshaw rides, watching fireflies and gulping putchkas — an endearing and special bond grows between Barfi and Jhilmil. Life takes a turn (sharper than the tram-lines of Kolkata), and the destinies of Barfi, Jhilmil and Shruti mysteriously converge.
Ranbir, in the most challenging performance of his career leaves us 'dumbstruck'. Without use of conventional crutches of cool-catch-phrases, dhamaakedar-dialogue-baazi, bare-bodies, and other'items'; he stuns you in every single frame. Even too much of Barfi isn't enough, damn the diet!
For Priyanka, there's only one word — Bravo! In a role where she needs to under-emote, she does so brilliantly. Without stylish chiffons, she wears awkward frocks, buckle-shoes and buck teeth, discarding the diva image like an old hand-me-down for lesser actresses; delivering an incredible performance. Ileana looks a beautiful Bong bahu, and proves her talent with conviction and confidence in her Bollywood debut.
For a story riddled with disabilities, Barfi is more than ably handled by Anurag Basu. He remarkably immerses you in his world of sounds and verbose silences, recreating Chaplin's antics, stripping two superstars down to basics and sensitively spinning a magical world of unconditional love. The narrative is too non-linear at times, and the pace slows in the second half. That apart, it's truly path-breaking for Bollywood.
Pritam's background score fills the air, lending support to silences, and the lyrics beautifully describe the mute-musings of the characters.
The biggest human disability is we can't find happiness. So go indulge in Barfi It'll leave you 'happy high'!
185.Gone (thriller) ***
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Sunjata, Jennifer Carpenter, Sebastian Stan, Socratis Otto, Emily Wickersham
Direction: Heitor Dhalia
Duration: 1 hour 34 minutes
Language: English (U/A)
* Jill (Amanda Seyfried) has issues of her own to deal with: She is undertaking psychiatric treatment after she was kidnapped, tortured and almost killed. But even before she can get over her past, her present falls apart. This time it's her sister, Molly, who goes missing one fine day. Time for action. But how?
Mamma Mia'. Amanda Seyfried does not skip being on screen even for a single second. Right from the first shot till the last one, you see Amanda running from pillar to post... from cop to neighbour... from strangers to best buddies in order to find her missing sister. Now that's where Gone scores brownie points.
Amanda is convincing as a patient who is yet to get over a traumatic past. She looks aptly helpless as the single girl who drives through the jungles of the cold Portland just to get her sister back. Then she is seen as the do-or-die sister (and victim on the lookout for justice as well) who is all out to take things evil in her stride. No wonder when she finally gives it back to the bad guy, you end up feeling relieved.
Yes, more than the whodunnit and howdunnit, what makes Gone watchable is the very climax when all scores are settled with the bad guy. Precisely the moment when you feel some tension building up. However, all seems lost to the otherwise weak plot.
As for the rest of the characters -including the bad guy — you don't even realize they are even there. Blame it on the script. Or is it due to Amanda calling the shots in every shot? Take your nick....
186.Tarbosaurus 3D (adventure) ***
Cast: Voice of Goo Ja-Hyeong, Lee Hyung Suk, Sin Yong-woo
Direction: Han Sang-Ho
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Language: English (U)
* Spotty has two missions to accomplish: A whole new world to explore and a big, bad guy to avenge. Just one problem: He is just about a year old... and growing!
First, what works for Tarbosaurus 1 3D: Dinosaurs, dinosaurs and more dinosaurs. After all we are talking about the Tarbosaurus that lived some 80 million years ago. So what follows scene after scene is one dinosaur fighting the other... many dinosaurs hunting down a helpless prey. Surely an attention grabber... in 3D!
Next is the desert landscape, all high and dry, captured pretty well... again in 3D. In fact, the parched landscape has all dinosaurs (and perhaps the viewers alike) wanting to shift to green paradise ASAP. But then struggle for survival has never really been that easy, at least not for our little hero, Spotty, (named after all those cute li'l spots on his face).
But before that he sees his folks die before his eyes as he is left alone to deal with the bullies of the jungle. Enough for the EQ (emotional quotient).
Not to miss out are the cute moments when Spotty is seen discovering a whole new world: quicksand for him is like the invisible giant; mammals giving birth rather than laying eggs like his species is wonder-stuff for him; falling for the blue-eyed Tarbosaurus is the best thing that could ever happen to him.
Now for what plays spoilsport: Undoubtedly it's the introduction of the varied creatures (their traits, their breeding habits, their food preferences, hunting styles) that once existed on planet Earth — Velociraptors, Tylosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Grenausarus, Ankylosaurus. Sometimes these even pop up in the middle of scenes that matter.
But then all loopholes are taken care of when Spotty puts on a brave front to battle the big, bad Torosausrus — One Eye. That's when the message is loud and clear: Never give up... Nothing is impossible!
187.Arbitrage (drama) ***
Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling
Direction: Nicholas Jarecki
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
* Robert Miller, a corporate honcho, is desperate to sell his trading empire. But before that a whole lot of issues — personal and corporate — need to be tackled.
The setting is the big, biz world of corporate America. Hence, the plot revolves around green bills, manipulative tycoons, profits and mergers. Add to that Robert Miller (Richard Gere), caught in a trap, courtesy his mistress... and all things 'green' just not working in favour of him, and Arbitrage (like many movies before) puts you face-to-face with what goes on in the world where all that matters is profit and loss.
As for what lies in store for the movie buff, it's definitely the performance. Not that of Susan Sarandon. Sadly, we hardly get to see her — for most of the time she is cornered as the high society wife who might find the ongoing in her husband's life complicated. Of course, the little that we see of her simply reiterates her position in the list of ace Hollywood actors. Next is Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth), who does manage to pull off a decent act. Again, he too loses the grip due to loopholes in the plot. Finally, the onus lies on Richard Gere.
Needless to say he is the winner... out and out. As the father who just can't tell in the 'unbalanced' balance sheet... As the tycoon who cannot be picked up by the law due to his super rich status... As the man who does not want his people to be hurt even as he indulges in financial irregularities and infidelity on the sly... As the man who wants to be richest guy in the cemetery... And as the man whose world revolves around five things only — money, money, money, money and money, Richard Gere is THE reason you might want to watch this one.
188.Special Forces (action) ***
Cast: Diane Kruger, Djimon Hounsou, Benoit Magimel, Denis Menochet, Raphael Personnaz
Direction: Stephane Rybojad
Duration: 1 hour 49 minutes
Language: English (U/A)
* Elsa, a french journalist, is kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Enter the special forces....
If it's the special forces we are talking about, guns and grenades, state-of-the-art technology and out-of-the-box strategies is what we are primarily on the lookout for. Sadly here our men in uniforms are seen falling, faltering and giving up as well. No wonder, the special force, comprising six super officers on a mission to get kidnapped Elsa safely back to her land, end up being killed. Not to say they never try at all. At least the first half sees our men in action. For the rest, over to the story....
Action and the struggle-to-survive (all seen before stuff) aside, there are moments in the movie that do deserve a special mention: the performances by every single cast member that hold your attention till the very end; the state of the nation, the diplomatic statement and reactions, the panic in news agencies when a (war) correspondent is abducted; the camerawork that captures the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan in its extreme form beautifully; the not-so-happening practices being followed in some not-so-fortunate parts of the world—women being sold to the
Taliban; a Muslim woman throwing off her veil just to smile (her idea of who gives a damn) before her public execution; children as young as seven forcibly taken away by the Taliban so that they can return to do the same.
Agreed this was never meant to be a Daniel Pearl and Johanne Sutton real life drama come alive on screen, but what really makes Special Forces a little different is the very opening line of the movie that gives us ample food for thought — The only way to change the world is to change the story
189.Jeena Hai Toh Thok Daal (crime thriller) *
Cast: Ravi Kishen, Yashpal Sharma, Manish Vatsalya, Rahul Kumar, Hazel Crowney, Govind Namdev, Sharat Saxena, Ashwini Kalsekar, Murli Sharma
Direction: Manish Vatsalya
Duration: 2 hours 15 mints
Language: Hindi (A)
* Four Bihari criminals hit Mumbaifor a hit-job. One falls in love with the victim — what explodes?
Straight up — Jeena Hai Toh Thok Daal (JHTTD) is a nightmare. My strongest objection to it is its extreme violence in language. Foul-mouthed films aren't new. Filmmakers often use cussing for shock-value, rude energy and to add believability to scenarios. Godard's done it. Kubrick's done it, on occasion, Anurag Kashyap too. But in JHTTD, expletives are used with a mindboggling frequency that actually makes the film's dialogues totally unbelievable — and unacceptable Chu****, ma-or-behen****? Baby-talk for JHTTD, clearly hoping a thin storyline, weak acting, shaky music and ridiculous situations can be masked by doling gross abuse all over these.
The film is also reprehensible for portraying Biharis in their worst stereotypes. Criminal-minded, sex-starved and abhorrently filthy are apparently only some shades to Biharis — here, gangsters Chandrabhan (Kishen), Atka (Vatsalya), Mahkoo (Sharma) and Bitwa (Kumar). The foursome, making just enough to enjoy item numbers that heave 'Palangtor jawani', get hired by local cop Hanumant Singh (Sharma, usually eye-catching, overshadowed by the squelching abuse here) for a hit-job in Mumbai. Haryanvi arms dealer Rana (Saxena, entirely unconvincing) wishes to take revenge on Mar-atha media mogul Pawar (Namdev-ditto) by having his daughter Srishti (Crowney pleasantly unfettered by any need to act) killed.
The Biharis reach Dadar station—a remarkably uncouth attempt at comedy and Pawar's home where Chandru falls in love with Srishti. Her father, amazingly, sacks the other help and employs the four felons to guard and live with her alone. She prances about wearing a towel and making salad for them, the latter trying to shoot her and repeatedly failing. The frustration grows.
As does the viewer's revulsion to what might've been a passable plot, but gets utterly subsumed by intricately foul swear words. The few snatches of music are welcome not for any quality but the break they give one's ears from the dialogue. Kishen is club-like, both heavy and wooden. Vatsalya presents a creepy performance but is so muddy-mouthed, you don't care. Sharma's hit an unimaginable low while some little comedy is provided unintentionally by Kalsekar, the IG who growls, "If you can't save the innocent, always kill the bastard."
As JHTTD finally closes with more mud, blood, even a possible rape, you're repulsed at this massacre of a movie. Why the star? For the two words which made this film bearable — the end.