Archive | April, 2013

HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971) – ENGLISH

29 Apr
When death meets life, life becomes somewhat happy and sad at the same time.
Harold is a teenage boy obsessed with death so much that he innovates new ways of dying and even shows them to his mom or his friends. He meets Maude, a 79 year old woman at one of the funerals and his life changes significantly that he starts hating death. 
Till the final act Hal Ashby held this up well, and then just when I started liking Harold, he gave up on him and made Harold a simple human like most others. “Maude, please don’t go” Ah, I disliked this part of Harold and thats where this movie fell apart for me. 
It’s a disgusting depiction of death and yet it is very interesting, coz we have rarely seen such a boy who is so much obsessed with death and rarely we have seen a teenage boy falling for a 80 year old woman. Ah, this is a love story of a completely different kind. On one side, his mother is setting up dates with young women and on the other side, he is liking this old woman who lives life to the fullest and does not seem to be giving up on life. 
When he decides to get her into his life by marrying, she reveals that the time is up and says 80 is the perfect age to die and thus guy weeps as if he never was even acquainted and what it feels like dying. Hmm, I would have liked this transition to be more on the slow side rather than a rushed up thing. 
The writing is good and so is the direction and even acting. Ruth Gordon as Maude and Bud Cort as Harold brought something fresh to their characters, you can name that innocence or amateurishness, but it was refreshing. 
Hal Ashby the director who is now considered great did a good job in trying to portray two different attitudes of life and death and marry them in emotions by making the dead learn about life. It would have been a beautiful marriage of course, but what I did not like only is that our protagonist Harold changes what he thrived on his own life.  Technically, I wish the production values, the cinematography were better than shown and all else seems to be right. I liked the sound design though specially for the death scenes.  
I am going with 3/5 for a good film that makes two poles meet and engages them in a relationship.

UNCOMMON DIALOGUES (SHORT PLAYS) – ENGLISH

29 Apr

DRAMANON Presents UNCOMMON DIALOGUES
VENUE : NIFT Auditorium
Date : 10th March 2013

An extract from the brochure provided with the ticket

About the Play : 

Two best friends talk about seeing the thing while two strangers want to end their lives on a ledge. He and She talk about it while a boss discusses outsourcing “it” altogether A businessman finds out what lemonade is worth, another man makes business out of death while a teenager wants to absolved.

MY REVIEW

In brief, UNCOMMON DIALOGUES is a collection of 6 short plays which have nothing in common and yet there is one thing that is similar in each, each one is witty in its own way. You can’t say that they are comical or ironical but while a few of the 6 plays are, a few are not now let me detail each play and review it as I understood them.

ABSOLUTION

Written by William Reynolds and performed by Saurabh Sensharma as “The Father” and Abhishek Krishnan as “Robert D’souza”, this play brings about a question as to what is a sin, what does absolution in true sense means. Can one be absolved of a crime by confessing in front a priest. Is murder a sin, or lying to priest for the fun is a sin. Now, Robert comes to Father and confesses he has killed someone. The Father who has not got any interesting confession in the recent past gets involved in the details of the murder so much that he confesses, his life is a big bore and there is nothing much to do. And then he learns that the kid Robert was just making it up and it was a lie, infuriated by this, he says lying to him is like lying to god and thus it goes forward.

Performed superbly by both the actors, this is one interesting play, that takes its time to get us engaged and then is resolved by the absolution. I loved it and it was a wonderful way to begin the evening

OUTSOURCED

Written by Gary Stowe and performed by Harika Vedula Stephen as “Katherine Landy” and Priyanka Dasgupta as “Paula”, this is one of the most funniest plays of the evening I must say, as it made me laugh more than the above play did and never did I laugh so much in later plays. Now this play is about outsourcing rather, arranging someone to go for the 10th Anniversary date with Katherine’s husband. Paula takes care of all the details in a typical corporate manner, right from what kind of lady she wants to what to do about the “night” after the dinner. So arranging an escort for a dinner is fine but to give room for someone else to even sleep, hmm, something to think about. I can divulge more details of this, but keeping it as a surprise, coz I wat to see it again and make others see this too.

It was detailed and intense, from the pen sound that is made when Katherine says “After foreplay, it’s all”: and the pen sound starts to symbolize what it is all about. So without speaking much, so much was conveyed and just to end by making us know that the husband had also arranged someone for our “Katherine”

The diction and the expressions of Harika were top notch and was superbly supported by Priyanka.

THE ARRANGEMENT

Here we have a kid persuaded by Father into an Arrangement of becoming a man and again a afunny piece of writing this. I am so absorbed to divulge the details but I am restraining myself from doing that.

Wonderfully performed by R.K.Shenoy as Father and Saurabh Sensharma as son and Harika, this one by Neil Simon has an irony of sorts, where the Father too is wooed in doing something he would have done when young and yet holds back. Now, before I say too much. I am shutting myself up and leaving the readers to please see it.

THE DROWNING MAN


This was a less interesting act, compared to all the above acts. This one written by Neil Simon again, who indeed is a master in writing irony superbly. Here too, the irony is revealed, or the double mindedness which leads to something uncalled for is known only after the final act of each play. Though it generally takes by surprise at the end, I was predicting the end as it seemed to be a school time parable stuff than a witty act of play. 
Saurabh Sensharma and Rohit Kumar came to the party and RK Shenoys brief appearance took audience into splits. It’s tough to resist laughs when such humour is sprawled by such a fine actor in Shenoy. It was indeed good, but a tad below other acts.
HE/SHE/IT

A marriage is falling apart between He and She. The reason is simple difference of opinion. Two people talk and again as audience we are compelled to hear and indeed indulge and here have an opinion too. Such is the power of writing combined with compelling performances. This one by Jan Baross is one well written act. It’s an issue that most of us can relate to, though many would not seek to do, what the couple here sought. Yet, it looks interesting to be trying to do something like this. Now what is interesting and what was done, go find it.
Thanks to Harika yet again for doing a wonderful job as She and she was complemented well by Prashant Yerramalli
SEEING THE THING

This came in and made me question as to how really things are, are they how we look at them or are they completely different and it’s our perception after all. The above 5 plays were all that, and could have been interpreted in many more ways having deeper meanings, yet our narrowed view gives us a one dimensional look and that may not be the right thing. This was elaborated by John Cariani (from Almost Maine).

Performed by Priyanka Dasgupta and Saurabh Sensharma, this was the only act which seemed a bit longer than it really was.

Finally, thanks to the whole crew of DRAMANON for having come up with such simplistic backdrops and 2 character acts and proving yet again that if content is right, presentation and performances fall in place making it a must watch rather than a passable watch. Thanks to RK Shenoy, the Dramanon head for giving me such a wonderful evening.

It was night where I saw two bright stars shining high above and they were Harika Vedula and Saurabh Sensharma. 

A 4/5 for the acts put together and I would definitely make a point to watch this few more times and indeed with few more friends. 

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002) – ENGLISH

28 Apr
Steven Spielberg brings up a rather interesting story but makes it his own slow paced drama that is less interesting than it really is.
Inspired by true story of the con man and runaway thief and fraud chequer Frank Abagnale Jr. the story is really interesting in terms of how he disguised himself into so many professions, how many flaws are there in the system. How easy it is to become a pilot, doctor and even a lawyer, how worse are background checks in America and how spineless is FBI too. Now, all this was interesting premise and this is indeed a worth telling tale. Yet, Spielberg made this to a heroic tale of a famous man and how even he has a human side where he loves his parents and wants to be faithful to a girl he loved. 
I didn’t want him to be humane, I would have rather loved if he was lethal and brutal than he is actually shown to be. Tom Hanks here tried to make a fool of himself and I did not like it coz, he failed even failed to make a fool of himself and that’s really sad, coz Tom is a fine actor and his acting did not show up here. The movie belongs to Leonardo DiCaprio who does a fine job and the now superstar who was still a coming up actor in 2002, did show that he had the potential of making it big and his choices have made his career great. Leonardo as Frank comes with all guns blazing for whatever he is asked to do but I just wish his role was more cold blooded and cunning in despising himself and making merry with what goodies he gets. 
The art direction seems to be fine, but soundtrack of Jazz caught my ears and that was some real good music and I loved the soundtrack. Now, cinematography is good too, yet this is over two hour two minute saga that loses steam by the end. I wish it had more pace and not as lethargic as it is. The supporting cast did their job well and Amy Adams was a really cutie pie then and she has come a long way since then.
The writing had been a bit more crisper and the scissors been much more tight would have made this chase a delightful one, in a heist and chase movie, we do not expect drama but this loads of it, the father intervenes and the son-father relationship was not so much to my liking coz it was more of a cliched thing than a fantasy one. The son keeps saying, dad I do this for you, I do that for you, now you and mom be happy. Ah, just cut the crap man.
Oh, did I go too harsh in criticising this movie, yeah I would have coz this is a great film for few but not for me. For me this was kind of routine stuff from a director who made a distinction to himself of making movies or telling stories that are too very engrossing and make us move, be it a ET, Jurassic park or a Schindler’s List. Now, Spielberg got down to this and it was an OK attempt not a great one though.
I am going with a 2/5 for an average movie from a great director and two of the very good actors we have around. This is what your bread and butter is, I need your gold and diamonds.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS (2004) – ENGLISH

28 Apr
One of the finest actors life brought to life by a superb actor.
Peter Sellers, one of the iconic actors and who in his time was one of the finest actors, makes us see his other side of life. Of course, acting is a intricate part of him. Rather, we are made to see Peter Sellers up close and personal by Geoffrey Rush, a fine actor in his own right and after seeing his portrayal of sellers, I am now ranking Rush higher than many of his contemporaries. 
Peter Sellers is portrayed to be eccentric, introvert and fascinated by women he likes. He has by-far stretched to reach out to those he liked rather than loved. And moreover, he is made to be superstitious with hallucinations of a foreteller, coming and telling him what he must be doing next. His relationship with Blake Edwards, with whom he made a series of Pink Panther movies seems to began as letters B E are read out to be initials of his next parter by the foreteller. He believes that and makes another B E (Britt Ekland) as his partner. 
Such interesting things have made this biographical movie it quite an interesting ride and yes Geoffrey Rush made me sit and observe every nuance of his and at times clap for him too. I must say, Rush played Peter Sellers better than anybody could have done. 
Having said about the actor, now I was wondering how on earth did Stephen Hopkins who is an action movie director, courtesy PREDATOR 2, lap this up and did such a fine job. Ah, I must rather credit Roger Lewis who wrote the book, and also Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely for having written a teleplay with same name. 
The other departments did their job pretty well, but I would have loved more had Mr.Sellers passion to what his real thing is was shown, this movie is diabolical in a way coz it shows Sellers as one such Diabolique who just throws away what he loves, from his love to his wife to his passion for movies. 
I saw this movie twice just for the acting of Rush and indeed it’s such an interesting fine film that I would love to see it again with friends some day. I am going with 4/5 for an interesting biography of one of the finest actors ever to be seen. 

FULL METAL JACKET (1987) – ENGLISH

27 Apr
An enigmatic war tale that was trivilaised without proper direction.
Stanley Kubrick the master, shows war on the face yet again. The earlier film where he showed us war as it is, is “Paths of Glory”. He returns to how brutal the training camp shall be to how gruesome and ruthless and merciless war shall be. He sure has a humane touch yet it seems disjointed in this one. 
Based on the trauma of American Soldiers in the Vietnam War, this movie travels from the training camp to the actual battlefield and takes pitstops in between to devise strategies of the war. Walking through the corridors of the camp to the trenches of the war-field the ambience created is perfect and it made me as if I were there. This is a commonality in most Kubrick movies as he takes the audience right to the place where the scene is happening and that’s the reason he is so great. He transposes, translocates and takes the audience into a trance of the movie, where we believe that it is happening for real. He then asks us the question, how do we feel? Ah, I love Kubrick just for this. 
Having said that, this movie fails in terms of keeping the viewer focussed due to the disorientation it goes through. I love Kubrick more than most and yet I found this to be a movie less interesting, though it made me sit for the whole length and just made a vague impression rather than a strong one. 
It is superb technically, but Kubrick made much better war movies than this. I am disappointed does not mean this is bad, this film is no way bad and I rate this 3/5, good one, just not the perfect Kubrick one.