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THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) – ENGLISH

6 Apr
A one time watch is enough to remember this for a life time. It’s an impact film is what I can definitely say. As, this is a suspense-thriller, I cannot  reveal the suspense or anything. Yet, I just want to say that the cold-bloodedness of a character makes it way too obvious and provides an indication of what is going to come across.

Acting is masterful by all, especially by Kevin Spacey who alone rallies the ensemble cast by his stoned face and supreme voice narration.

This is not only a well acted film but also a well written one. The writing is sharp and straight. Undoubtedly it deserves the accolades it received for writing and also Kevin Spacey’s acting.

Overall, a must watch for the lovers of cinema, but if you predict the twist, the I am not sure if you will even like this film.

It’s a good one still and not a great one for me as other aspects of the film technicalities might have been much better. A 3/5 for this.

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UGLY (2014) – HINDI

28 Dec

A terrific film and as per me one of the finest works of Anurag Kashyap.

I am a fan of Anurag Kashyap whom I fondly term as the “Silver lightning of Indian Film Industry”. There are films, there are movies, but only few carry some real stories that is devoid of the commercial norms of the industry. He is a true storyteller and for him cinema carries a reflection of culture. Most of his films have been a reflection of the society and Ugly shows the ugly side of our society. Also, I love him probably because he showcases the unspoken truths of our society. From drugs to lust to greed for money and power, he touches upon the dark subjects and that’s what makes him stand out in the mob of directors.

Also, he fights for what is right, without thinking of the commerce and the monetary aspects. Though this film was showcased world wide way back in 2013, this film got released only now because he did not want the “Cigarette Smoking is Injurious” warning to be put whenever a character is smoking. He dared the government, health ministry for that, yet the film got released with the warning. I only hope that the government heeds and agrees that warning is not needed and is ineffective. I am a quitter of smoking, but I am for the removal of such stupid warnings that compromise with the integrity of story telling. They act as distractions to the cinephile and I being one, do not like them.

Coming to the film Ugly, it’s beautifully captured and brilliantly put.  This one line reviews the film aptly. OK, if I have to decipher the film department by department I would rate Background Music, Cinematography and Screenplay as the best and a cut above the rest of the departments.

Vineet Kumar Singh as Chaitanya stands out for me amidst superlative performances by each and every actor.

This is a thriller that is too real to believe and it disturbs a lot of our corrupt minds that are filled with conventional wisdom and it puts a question straight to that very wisdom. This film does not provide any answers either and that’s where the disgust is created. Yet, it’s for a great cause and I hope films like this are appreciated. I know this film will not make as much money as many brainless movies have made, but it deserves a place above all the rest. This film is like music for film lovers who have heard cacophony for most part of the year. There is still a hope to look at cinema as a means of story telling and not as an industry that makes money.

A 5/5 for a near perfect film, I watched from Kashyap I since “Black Friday” and a hugely debatable and surreal”No Smoking”. Just loved this film and Kashyap still stands firm with his beliefs and has not yet let down in ethics or values and keeps questioning them. Salutes to him for taking all the brickbats all these years despite making wonderful cinema in a hypocritical country like India.

I was only upset that I had to see the film online, as I am not in India, but would love to see in theater again to see how an audience would react to this. Have the audience become truly intelligent or just move on being dumb and falling prey to the commercial muck?

KELLY’S HEROES (1970) – ENGLISH

24 Nov

Meticulous planning and execution leads to a successful treasure.

In life too, if we plan and execute meticulously, we shall end up with a treasure that’s worth more than our own anticipation That’s a life lesson to be learned from this. 
Now, the film is comical and I am surprised that an end to end war film that is devoid of any politics can be so hilarious. I am more so surprised about the dialogues and their delivery. Writing is exceptional but the acting is much more substantial than the writing. Those lines could have been bland, if not expressed well.

Clint Eastwood as Kelly stands out and the other one for me was Donald Sutherland as Sergeant Oddball. These are the most memorable performances of this film.

Technically, this is brilliant, the war seems real and the plot is inspiring in itself. Money drives the soldiers into greed and makes them heroes for their country too. There is an irony that’s worth appreciating in the film.

This film is a proper commercial war film, that has songs, action, emotion, humor and above all war. It ticks off the word go and takes us through interesting turns to a happy destiny. I am all for such interesting bumpy rides and this film was that one.

Thanks to director, Brian G Hutton who made another wonderful film WHERE EAGLES DARE prior to this one.

A 4/5 for one of the most hilarious war films you may ever see.

INTERSTELLAR (2014) – ENGLISH

24 Nov
Its by far one of the most abstruse and absurd sci-fi film from an acclaimed director.
Christopher Nolan, is a director of great potential. His body of work speaks volumes of what he has done and what he has capable of. After all he is also a human being, and I suppose he has forgotten that humans have limitations. This film is illustrious of the limitation, which is that the director does not have an audience that thoroughly understands quantum physics.
I am a big lover of physics and was a faculty of the same for 4 years of my life. Yet, the dialogues were incomprehensible by me. I must admit my in-competencies here as quantum physics, time travel are something not in my sphere of thorough understanding. Yet, I must also admit that this is the first Nolan film, I felt bored. I dozed off briefly after 20 minutes in the film and it never ever happened in a Nolan film for me. 
Now, there are few comparisons I would like to draw with an earlier film of Nolan, that is INCEPTION. If Inception, was also equally incomprehensible in the first go, it made me rush to the theater to decipher what it was all about. While INTERSTELLAR is also incomprehensible in the first viewing, it lacked the drive to push me to see it once again. Indeed, I felt exhausted after a near 170 minutes. 
The performances were superb and Matthew McConaughey has given a terrific performance. He is more a father than an astronomer. Others were all appreciable too. The technicalities were brilliant but those were all on the expected lines, considering the scale of the film. What I am only disappointed is, the screenplay lacked Nolan’s magic. Yet, there are moment of awe and the climax, indeed the final shot was surely my pick as it triggers some thoughts in the brain.
As per me, this is a lacklustre film form a genius of a director. More than anything else, I am just disappointed.
If you want to watch a great sci-fi film, there are many ranging from the 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY to the most recent GRAVITY. If you see this and feel this is great then I would congratulate your feeling. For me this is an exhausting lesson in quantum physics.
Also, a word about the IMAX where I saw this. The IMAX in Hong Kong is way below the quality I admired in Hyderabad, India. The screen seems much smaller, the audio is not upto the quality, the acoustics are not updated as per technology. I miss the IMAX at Hyderabad in these aspects.
A 2/5 for this film, For sure, you may neither love it, nor hate it but surely you cannot ignore it.

GONE GIRL (2014) – ENGLISH

29 Oct
It’s a brilliant film and one of the most cynical films made on marriage.

Marriage is one of the most toughest bonds of human race. To sustain that thread despite all it’s finesse and yet it’s shambles, there is always an inherent fear that a small knife may cut the whole thread. Marriage is one of the finest threads that was ever made, Now to go to any extent in marriage is also possible, but does any sane marriage involve self-murder, no and I can say that’s almost impossible. All married ones beware before you watch this and those anticipating marriage, think again of the one whom you are going to marry. Marriage or rather a relationship with the person we love is going to thought through after seeing this in a theatre, I bet you.

Impossible is nothing for this director David Fincher who has made mind boggling films like FIGHT CLUB. He turns a simple story head on, adds a flavor that’s so spicy that you may love it or hate but you just can’t ignore it. He gives similar treatment to this film. 

You start understanding and decoding the story, it becomes something and then after few minutes if you think you have almost sorted it out, then again it transpires into something else. It’s a tough one to call and I can only say, this is mind boggling stuff. Fincher is one of the few directors who can direct the film in a way that is deeply interesting and yet there are many layers involved into it. 

This is a very layered movie, like an onion as the layers are peeled, we seem to get to the core, but this is something more surprising, the moment we think we got it, we would have lost it. It tests the intelligence of the viewer and that’s how this film has won hearts. 

I can safely say, this is one of the very intelligent movies that has come in recent times. I have not seen much of Rosamund Pike who plays Amy Dunne in this film but she is the true protagonist who drove the story all by herself. Just her portrayal as Amy has made her one of the finest actresses of this year. The rest of the cast has done a good job too.

A 4/5 for a must watch film and I request this has to be seen in theaters, let the naked truth be told brutally if need be. 

CHANDAMAMA KATHALU (2014) – TELUGU

22 Sep
An anthology film that shows a slice of reality in Telugu films, a welcome change.
This film is about multiple stories and many characters and each one has something to offer. Different life styles, indifferent attitudes, there are many things in this film but primarily each one here is driven by hope. Hoping that something will happen and make their lives better. 
Since this is an anthology of many stories, there is tough to derive a protagonist for the film but for me it was the writer. Poignantly, HOPE is what he ends the writing with. My favourite story is the one I related to, that is of Venkateswara Rao (Krishnudu) who is unmarried nearing 30. But I keep myself more in the shoes of the writer and was seeing the world in a similar point of view as his. A writer is one of the best observers of life, he observes, takes it all in, and puts it out adding his own perspective. The better the quality, the better writer you are. But quality being a highly subjective topic it’s tough to judge what is good writing.  So to make it easy, what we like is good and what we do not like is not so good. 
Ok, coming to the film, it has got some really good production qualities. Firstly the ensemble cast is stupendous and the director Praveen Sattaru has to be credited a lot for roping in such a wide range of artists. Though I did not like a few actors, overall it’s a tough job to put many good actors in one and he really did a fine job. 
The taking was different sans commercial elements and some real good writing of dialogues. Yes, most dialogues seem like cliche but they are well placed making it meaningful. The cinematography is commendable and at 2 hours and 20 minutes, the film seems breezy with so many stories. The culmination is debatable for a few, but for most it’s convincing. 
A 3/5 for that rare non-commercial film that has to be appreciated despite it’s flaws. I hope more such films come out in future.

A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) – ENGLISH

21 Sep
It’s a film that began the great march of the sphagetti western cowboy films with a distinct style.
This film is not so great in itself when compared to other films of the same director Sergio Leone and even the actor Clint Eastwood. But it’s instrumental in starting up the legacy of the Western films in a way that was not seen before. The cinemascope view, the stylish and less speaking man with No Name. The precise editing and the landscapes mostly set in New Mexico state or there about in America. The soundtrack that is signature guitar and has some strings and chorus of Ennio Morricone and brought him to Hollywood.
This film was made prior to the great film “The Good The Bad and The Ugly” and this film is great in it’s own right. There were Westerns being made before this film too, but this set a precedent in style which was to inspire many film makers later and still continues to inspire. 
The format of the film as I have read in references follows Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo”. Perhaps, the format was already present but Clint Eastwood certainly took this film to another level. There is lot of curiosity he generated whenever he had the hands on his gun, when he lit a cigar, when he rode the horse. clint Eastwood began a style that shall be there forever in cinema. The walk, the look, the minimal dialogue speaks a lot for itself. 
I loved the music of Ennio Morricone which is a big part of Sergio Leones films and this soundtrack is supreme. This film is only around 100 minutes and I suppose is the shortest of all other Sergio Leone Western films. So the editing is terrific too. 
A 4/5 for this great Western.