The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)

US Presidential hopefuls take RVs, Che went on a motorcycle. The point is you need to go on a road trip to become a successful leader of the people

Ee Adutha Kalathu (Recently)

Strange and familiar make an appearance together for the first time in Malayalam cinema and the pair is a hit

Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl

Four feisty ladies, upbeat music and a handsome conman. Anushka gets Ranveer. Bollywood gets Parineeti

Das Boot (The Boat)

Best WWII film ever, in fact the best war film ever. In true German fashion, restraint is applied by shooting the entire movie inside a U-boat

Neelathamara (Blue Lotus)

Blue lotus shares the same stature of blue moon in Malayalam, so do good remakes. This one bucks the trend.

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Jan 30, 2008

Mixed Doubles

A realistic take on an urban middle class marriage after ten years and one child. Realism for me doesn't come from the controversial subject - swinging, but from the natural quality of dialogs and the life portrayed, the actors who fit in to their roles like gloves and the seemingly effortless direction, sets and script.

Konkana Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey has the main roles in the movie as the working everyman and his wife in a ten year old marriage. The man is ready to experiment new things and bring the spark back in to the marriage and the woman is not sure swinging is the way to go about it. The director, Rajat Kapoor also plays an important role in the movie. The situations are very realistic and their treatment as well although the subject might not sit well with the average Indian film-goes, might probably do well with urbanites though.

Jan 21, 2008

Jesus Camp

Jesus! What a camp! Jesus Camp is a documentary about a summer camp for Jesus loving kids run by Pastor Becky Fisher in North Dakota. The camp makes full uses of the idiom - catch' em young. Islam is doing its share by minting suicide bombers, then why not Christians for a less bloody cause like spreading Christianity - that's Ms.Fisher's argument.

For an outsider or some one who has never lived in the US, United States might seem like the mecca of modernism, leading the world, although there have been signs in the recent times of that leadership is being threatened. Under the fast freeways and the fast food, the glamor of Hollywood and the Big Apple there is a lot of United States that is hidden, reminds me of the iceberg analogy and most of it is overwhelmingly Christian. If you listen to the voices from the heartland you'd realize how deep the water of Christianity runs in this country, supposedly a nation of immigrants from the world over.

Jesus Camp gives a glimpse of the deep rooted sympathies of a nation where more than half the people still question evolution and would rather go with intelligent design. And they are recruiting more foot soldiers -the children, in to their ever increasing fold. This is camp where George W.Bush has an aura of a messiah. What a religion want to do with its children is its prerogative, but the picture turns scary when the religion wants to run the nation.

Jan 14, 2008

Children of Men

It is 2027, human race is infertile, no child has been born on earth since almost two decades. Then the miracle happens in the unlikeliest of places and Clive Owen is put in charge to transport this miracle. Clive Owen seems like he has been typecast playing the transporter, the driver, the deliverer etc etc. The first time I saw him was as a driver in one of the BMW shorts. He was Madonna's driver in that short directed by her husband, Guy Ritchie.

Anyway coming back to Children of Men, the germ of the movie is based on the P.D.James's novel of the same name. But there are significant differences in the plot between the movie and the book. I had read the book about a year back and was expecting to see an exact moving, talking, emoting replica on screen, but director Alfonso Cuaron has veered it away to a much broader perspective than a power struggle between two individual(as it was in the book) which turns out to be better.

But there are certain points which gets cloudier as director steers away from the book. For example there is no clear explanation about the reason for their fleeing. The infertility element is transfered from the male to the female to give it a more socio-religious implication? Don't know. Although I read at some places about the film's parallels to the birth of Jesus although unlike in the book the first child born is a girl.

Best thing about the movie is the bonus materials section of its DVD, which is a good documentary in itself cataloging the changes and opinions of the current world. The movie attempts to address a lot of issues - immigrants, capitalism and the demise of world economy, repercussions of humans playing God with the use of technology etc, with one shot(or rather a series of scenes.) I am not sure how much they've succeeded. It is an interesting film for someone to watch in 2007-08. There are a lot of ways the world can go wrong. This gives a glimpse of the future from a place where there is no future to look forward to. It doesn't mean future would be grim, grimy and depressing with a light finally turned on at the end of the tunnel as in the movie, it is just one of the many possible futures, thanks to our(human) excesses.

Jan 12, 2008

Jab We Met

Kareena Kapoor has come a long way as an actress since her first film, Refugee. In her one and only film released in 2007, Kareena stars opposite her then real-life boyfriend, Shahid Kapoor, giving an inspired performance as a Sikh girl from Bhatinda. It is ironical that the real life pair breaks up during the shooting of this film, dubbed as a romantic-comedy.

Jab We Met is all about Kareena. I am totally impressed by her evolution as an actress, this coming from somebody who didn't like her in the first place. Between the two of them, Shahid and Kareena make a hit out an ordinary story line. Credit also goes to the script which is very spontaneous and natural.

When story of the film has a Punjabi background, it translates to finding new cinematic horizons for the term entertainment - that is the usual Bollywood trick which this movie resorts to as well. The success of the director, Imtiaz Ali is in the casting of the lead pair, bringing out the best in them with a neat script in what really is a run-of-the-mill Bollywood storyline. Jab We Met is unadultered Bollywood fare at its comical best, delivered by two wonderful actors.

Jan 10, 2008

The Curse of the Black Pearl

Jack Sparrow couldn't have been so endearing if it was someone else and not Johnny Depp who played the part. I am not a big fan of Johnny Depp, but Captain Jack Sparrow is one hell of a pirate. Looks like Disney had the old trick of two birds with one shot in mind when it made the Pirates movie. Increased revenue from the already existing Pirates of the Caribbean theme park and revenue from the movie.

The first Pirates of the Caribbean theme park was opened in Disneyland(Anaheim,CA) in 1967 - the last attraction that Walt Disney himself oversaw. The refurbished Pirates theme park(after the second movie in the series Dead Man's Chest) features many of movies prominent figures includingJack Sparrow and Capt.Barbossa.

The movie has some really quirky dialogs, delivered by Sparrow or Barbossa. Entertaining to say the least, Keira Knightely provides the feminine power and deservedly, the latest in the series - Pirates of Caribbean: At World's End won the People's Choice awards last weekend.

Jan 7, 2008

Heyy Baby

An out and out Bollywood entertainer. One cannot be expected to make critical reviews of such a movie, so I'll stick to the facts. Guess the year 2007 has been benevolent to the Khan siblings, no, not referring to any actor Khans who infest Indian filmdom, but Farah and Sajid Khan. Heyy Baby is Sajid's directorial debut fared well and his sister Farah's Om Shanti Om was the box office mega scorer of 2007.

Heyy Baby's inspiration comes from the 1987 Hollywood flick, Three Men and a Baby directed by Leonard Nimoy(yeah Spock for the Trekkies), starring Tom Selleck and Ted Danson. If you have the germ of the story it is possible to adapt it for different audiences and cultures. That is what Heyy Baby did in 2007 and Malayalm flick Thooval Sparsam did in 1990. No harm in that, in a hopelessly interconnected world as ours, it is hard not to get 'inspired'.

Heyy Baby has three bachelors, desi and rockin' in Sydney. Three Men and a Baby were holed up in a New York apartment and Thooval Sparsam was set in Cochin. As expected of bachelors, life is all girls and excitement when Heyy Baby starts. The opening song(also happens to be the title track) has some of Bollywood's hottest ladies(all in guest appearances.) Then another girl(this time an infant) arrives and they are taken for a roller-coaster ride of their lives. Akshay Kumar, Fardeen Khan and Ritiesh Desmukh play the three main roles with a supposedly modern version of Vidya Balan.

It is hilarious in parts, entertaining, generally recommended for family consumption.