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This is a smart movie, made for a dumb audience. The theme is art house, but the treatment is mainstream. I’m sorry, I’m insulting mainstream by calling this movie mainstream, it has been dumbed down that much. I mean, the murders are literally counted out in the end, to give the viewer a recap (in case you fell asleep mid-way). WE CAN COUNT Vishal Bharadwaj!! Arghhhh!

This movie could have been a dark brooding masterpiece. It could have been an abstract work, that allowed the intelligent viewer to make his own inferences and fill in the gaps by imagination. But no! Everything has been literally spelled out, and worse, spelled out again! Worst of all, the movie employs the most cliched reasons to justify the murders of the erring husbands. Not to play spoiler, but to give an example, a “rock star” WILL fall prey to drugs and lie to his wife. Oh jeez, really? It is very easy to predict the reason why Suzanna is going to kill every new husband. That really killed it for me.

I’m not going to go into the details of the plot because it will definitely play spoiler. It will suffice to say that Suzanna is in search of love and every single time she gets married, she finds a reason to kill her new husband. “Unlucky in Love” could have been an equally good title for this movie. Is she a bad person? Are her murders justified? Despite all my ranting and raving, I suggest you watch the movie to find out. There are a few good dialogues and the acting throughout is excellent.

Where this movie falls short is plausibility. Either Bharadwaj could have chosen to make a completely abstract movie requiring all suspension of disbelief. Or he could have made a completely realistic movie with real, relatable characters. Unfortunately, he’s tried to get a mix of both and hasn’t succeeded in getting either. Suzanna’s character is well-etched, but she too confuses at times by arbitrary behavior. Special word of mention for Neil Nitin Mukesh. Finally, he can act! Most people found Irfan Khan’s performance to be the strongest in the movie and I would have to agree with that.

And what the hell is Konkona Sen Sharma doing in a two bit role? Yeah, she’s there.

Note: This post has also been published on http://manasi-idlemusings.blogspot.com

Image courtesy: http://www.koimoi.com/komal-nahta/7-khoon-maaf-saat-khoon-maaf-preview/

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Me: “Have you seen Ghostwriter?”

Friend: “Ghost Rider? Yes I have”

Me: “WRITER! Wriiittterrrr!”

Friend: “…”

Well my friend’s response isn’t really that important. The reason I mention this inane conversation is to emphasize that this movie is completely different from that silly Nicolas Cage movie with a devil’s skull and a burning bike 😛

Oh and of course, its not a horror movie either. To typecast it into a genre, I would say it is a political thriller. And an edgy, intense one at that…

Ewan McGregor plays the character of a nameless ghostwriter, who is employed by Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), a former British Prime Minister to write his memoirs, as the previous ghostwriter commits suicide. Throughout the movie, the scriptwriter has successfully managed to evade the need to name the ghostwriter. Perhaps this was to use irony, as in real life too, ghostwriters are never named with respect to any of their works.

The main protagonist flies down to Lang’s residence on a secluded island to start re-working the memoirs written by his predecessor.  Around the same time, the International Criminal Court accuses Lang of sending suspected terrorists to CIA for torture. Just as the ghostwriter is wondering what he got himself into, he starts finding evidence that his predecessor might have been murdered.

Although the plot sounds like a typical thriller novel, I would give full marks to the movie for its execution. The suspense has been handled well and the twist at the end left me shocked. More than anything else though, as an aspiring journalist, I pretty much fell in love with the protagonist.

He shows a spark of excitement when he comes across something personal about Lang that he can use. The rest of the time though, he is pretty much deadpan and cynical. Even his ingenuity in finding the truth related to his predecessor’s death and about Lang was inspiring.

A well-paced, suspense thriller, that is sure to keep you at the edge of your seat till the very end. Watch this one.

If you’re the kind of person who would rather be called a coward than watch a horror film at 12 in the afternoon (forget about night!), then please don’t watch this movie at night! I started watching it at 1 in the night and towards the end I didn’t know whether to switch off the movie or close my eyes.

Now that I’ve stopped shivering like a little girl, let me tell you more. Black Swan is about a ballet dancer, Nina (Natalie Portman) who wants to be the Swan Queen of a play called Swan Lake. The ballet director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is eager to replace the aging Swan Queen Beth (Winona Ryder) with a new face, but is reluctant to cast Nina. As the story of the ballet Swan Lake goes, a girl is cursed and turns into a White Swan. Only true love can lift the curse. However, the Prince falls in love with her evil twin, the Black Swan. Crushed, the White Swan kills herself and finally finds freedom.

Nina’s precision and technique make her perfect for the role of the White Swan. However, Leroy wants the same person to portray the Black Swan as well and this is where he feels Nina falls short, since the Black Swan is meant to be a carefree, wild seducer. Raised by her over-bearing mother to be a goody-two-shoes daughter, Nina finds it hard to dance with the wild abandon that is required by the character of the Black Swan. An itchy back and constantly bleeding fingers add to the drama and confusion.

Natalie Portman has received several awards for her performance in this movie. And it is well deserved. It is amazing how she switches so effortlessly from being a distraught, dying-to-achieve-perfection woman to a child-like, innocent, momma’s girl. This transition makes it easy to relate to her at so many levels. This movie should also serve as an inspiration to our actors back home. Natalie and Mila Kunis (Nina’s competitor for the role of the Swan Queen) started learning ballet eight months before the shooting started. Obviously, they’ve used body doubles at places, but when you watch the movie, you BELIEVE that they’re real ballet dancers.

Black Swan is all about slaying your own dragons. While you can relate to Nina’s ambition to be the best Swan Queen, you can’t really put yourself in her shoes due to the various psychotic problems she has. This adds to the thrill of the movie, especially since you don’t know what to expect next. Every minute I watched the movie, I was curious about what’s happening to her. Is she crazy? Is she hallucinating? Totally on the edge of my seat!

There are several explicit scenes in the movie, but not once did I feel they were cheesy or unnecessary. They’ve been blended in so well with the storyline that it hardly seems out of place. This is one movie you’ve GOT to watch. Superb exciting, edge-of-the-seat suspense and some really beautiful ballet. Don’t miss it!

Image courtesy: http://alanbobet.blogspot.com/2010/12/movie-reviewblack-swan201012-out-of.html

To say that I love dancing would be an understatement. To say that I dance well would be an overstatement. Let’s just say watching people dance simply gives me a high! Add to that a romantic angle and high stakes and I’m sold! Apart from dancers though, dance movies usually find an audience even with non-dancers. Perhaps, the reason for this is, like in any other movie, the main protagonists of dance movies have a lot at stake (getting kicked out of college, being forced to relocate) and they somehow manage to save the day. The awe-inspiring dance movements take the place of stunts. The main concept being, dance saves the day! I wonder if that would work for any other art form. Singing, maybe. Can a painting save a day? The concept of dance movies isn’t old. In fact, Dirty Dancing is my favourite dance movie.

Although the premise to dance is pretty flimsy, most of the dance sequences in this movie are breathtaking. I wish I dance like that someday! More than dancing though, I like this film for its romance. A film that I purely enjoyed the dance in was Step Up. The first one. There was so much at stake there. The main protagonist’s feeling of being different, not fitting in, merging street dance with ballet, a heady mix of emotion and dance.

The second movie was good too. A wayward child who’d rather cut school and be part of an illegal street dancing troupe, gets admission to a prestigious dance school. Her eventual ouster from the street troupe leads her to form her own street dancing troupe at the college with like-minded individuals who hate being confined to a dance form and just want to express themselves. Along the way she finds love and her reason for dancing.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of all 3 step up movies is that they’ve got a wonderfully choreographed couple dance. I’d rate the one in the second movie to be the best. Somehow I didn’t like the concept of the third movie. Why did the central protagonist want to be a director? What an insult to dancing!

Purely for the passion of dancing and the energy, I’d say Stomp the Yard deserves a mention. As also the innovative choreography. Being a huge fan of couple dancing, I hope a movie is soon made with sexy Latin American dances. So far, its been a disappointment with Shall We Dance and Dirty Dancing 2. Is there any dance movie that I should watch?

Thoughts on dance movies please! Don’t forget to mention your fav 😀

 

Image source: http://noellelynn.wordpress.com/

 

This is one movie that I think everyone has liked and disliked. And the confusion is that, everybody liked and disliked different things about the movie. When I was done watching it, I felt something. Something that was extremely indescribable. So I went online to see if anyone else was able to untangle the mess of emotions that one encounters at the end of this movie. After sifting through a variety of reviews, I came across this one on rhythmmoviejhatkas. I instantly connected when I read this:

Some films can bring about a change; a revolution too (case in point Aamir Khan’s earlier Rang De Basanti) but Dhobi Ghat is not that film. It is a film that will affect you, more so if you are a Bombayite (Mumbaikar, if you prefer!) The characters in this film are believable, not like those just handpicked out of one’s cloud of imagination and put onto the drawing board.

And that is exactly how I felt! I really suggest that you read the entire review, coz not only is it well written, but one of the most well thought out reviews of the movie that I have come across. After staying in Mumbai for about 7 months, I think I’ve pretty much become a Mumbaikar (or Bombayite as Runcil put it). And this well-made film appealed to my sensibility as a Mumbaikar. Each and every character is extremely believable and what’s more, the script has been written in a way that you empathize with all of them, even when they’re being “bad”.

But is it a good film? Is it an awesome film? Will it bring about any change in the way movies are made in Bollywood? Would WE like to see more of such films in Bollywood? Well that’s the discussion I wish to throw open here.. Let’s talk art cinema!

Image source: http://www.newbollywoodmovies.in/2010/10/dhobi-ghat-movie-exclusive-pics/

As Tapshi posted very recently, a lot gets lost in the translation from a novel to a film. With Eclipse, the latest installation of the Twilight movies, raking in millions of dollars in Box Office earnings, not to mention, an award for Kristen Stewart, I thought it would be a cool idea to compare the books and the movie franchise.

The first difference that struck me was, well, Robert Pattinson. It is, of course, impossible to live up to the expectations that Stephanie Myers has built up in her book. I mean, if we go according to the book, Edward is like a living (or dead actually) version of Adonis. However, to give Pattinson credit where its due, he has mastered the surly personality of the brooding vampire.

As I watched the movies in this franchise, I just felt that they got Bella totally wrong. Bella is supposed to be this really immature, whiny, self-absorbed teenager who feels miserable about her life. Somehow, that doesn’t come across in the film. Stewart is extremely restrained, to the point where one can say she isn’t acting at all (not in a good way). I am very glad though, that the scriptwriters gave “teenspeak” dialogues to all the cast members. Myers’ aim was to portray Bella as a Ms. Know It All, so she has used some pretty big words in Bella’s head. But hearing the movie Bella speak like a normal teenager, helps us relate to her better.

The Cullens were pretty apt, but somehow I’m imagined them to be much taller than other people. That’s what reading a book is all about I guess. Good writing gives you a few specific details. You picture that in your head and automatically fill in all the gaps.

The biggest disappointment in the first movie is the lack of setup of the romance between Edward and Bella. However, the second and third movies, make up for this by way of Jacob’s character *drool drool*. The journey from friendship to love between Bella and Jacob has been handled beautifully in the movie. Somewhere, I feel sad that he had to beef up so much at the tender age of 16. But then of course, his acting is so apt that you forget that he is still a kid.

When I finished reading the book I thought, if this is ever made into a movie, will the special effects do it justice? Overall, I would say yes. Especially the scenes in which Jacob transforms into a werewolf. That is just so believable! The wolves are good, but the vampires are tacky. Yellow/red lenses and white makeup.. That’s all they could come up with? A little bit imagination would have helped.

The movies have also taken liberty with a few scenes and the order of events in the main story. This makes it more fun to watch the movie after you’ve read the book, since you can compare. For instance, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the second half was almost completely different since it used the concept of time travel in a unique manner. A few similar tricks have been pulled in all 3 movies. However, they’ve done well to stick to the overall original plot. Most importantly, they quickly realized that the main draw of the movie was the romance and hence New Moon and Eclipse have a lot of well-charted mush in it.

Finally, I would suggest, read the book and then watch the corresponding movie. Each one has its own charm.

“..a fair, independent, and most importantly, transparent film award process that doesn’t only showcase the star power and glamour of ‘Bollywood’ but celebrates the talent and genius of deserving Hindi cinema..” This is the description of the Tweeple Film Awards on its facebook home page. Interesting? I must say so!

Seriously speaking, I’m fed up of watching Bollywood awards functions, where all the awards are so predictable. I mean, Salman Khan wins best actor for Dabangg. Is that a joke? That’s why this Twitter initiative is such a breeze of fresh air. The 30-member jury comprising of well-known critics like Rajeev Masand and Mayank Shekhar surely seems like something to watch out for. The best part is, this jury was selected by Tweeple through a voting process.

The tweetup that took place on 20th January 2011 saw Mumbai’s tweeple count at 50 and founders Somen Mishra and Nikhil Taneja discussing interesting aspects of Twifi. Mostly moderated by Taneja, the meeting gained a special significance since this is the first time a tweetup took place offline. Interested tweeple gave suggestions regarding the categories of awards to be included and the nominees. The tweetup also focused on the immediate future of the awards.

With celebrities like Shreya Ghoshal and Ranvir Shorey endorsing Twifi as the most democratic awards, it is no wonder that #twifi has been trending regularly since the inception of this concept. I missed the first tweetup, but I’m definitely not missing the next one. Watch this space for more on the twifi awards.


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