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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Jun 29, 2010

Snow Cake

Finally Sigourney Weaver is not the headstrong scientist or the alpha female anymore. Snow Cake has her in the role of an autistic woman, an accidental mother and one in the center of a horrible tragedy but unaware of it. She is brilliant, so is Alan Rickman who has the other best role in this movie. It is a British movie by Marc Evans shot entirely in Canada, probably that is why it didn't capture much of US's indie audience attention. An interesting movie could also be considered a window in to the world of autism without being very technical about it.

Jun 18, 2010

Seeta Kalyanam

Seetha Kalyanam or holy (cinematic) wedding (the term owes it origin to the wedding of Sita and Rama in Ramayana) of Jayaram and Jyothika lay in the cans longer than most films awaiting release. When it did finally come out during last Onam(2009) Jyothika had already left movies for a blissful family life, Jayaram – lesser said the better. What ever happened to the tall fresh-faced youth who was presented to us by Padmarajan in Aparan(1988.)

All that said, Seeta Kalyanam is a tad more bearable than Rajasenan’s farce of movie where Jayaram had paired with Urvashi called MadhuChandralekha (2006). In Seeta Kalyanam director T.K.Rajeev Kumar borrows the legendry theme on which Bharjatya School of Movies survives on – multi-day long wedding in a traditional Indian joint family. Since Tamil Brahmin community is perhaps the only community in Kerala where such weddings still take place, we have Jayaram as a Brahmin bride-groom going thru’ these rituals to wed Geetu Mohandas.

Jyothika’s character is Jayaram’s friend from work. They both don’t realize till very end of the wedding celebrations that they love each other. Geetu conveniently has another man in waiting, Indrajith, - a character necessitated for a potential happy ending. A wigless Siddique provides sufficient villainy as is required for a movie taking place in a placid agraharam. Other actors include Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Sukumar, Manorama, Devi Ajith, Baiju, Kalpana, Jagdish, Janardhanan and a host of others.

Jun 16, 2010

Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya

Will You Cross The Skies For Me?
After having seen three Gautham Menon movies so far, I can boil them down to three statements or formulas.

Hero + Heroine1 = First part of the movie

Hero-Heroine1 = Middle portion of the movie

Hero + Heroine2(w/ Heroine1 optional) = Second/final part of the movie.

Proportion of Heroine1: Heroine2 will depend on which part the more box-office worthy heroine plays.

The above formula will be juiced up with music from Harris Jayaraj or A.R.Rehman. The hero, although his story will start in Chennai and thereabouts, will take a B1/B2 visa  to the United States at some point in the movie and will invariably find himself in a major American city with a prominent bridge (which takes all US cities except San Francisco and New York out of contention.)

By now you might have deduced which of Mr.Menon's movies I had the privy of watching. Yes, Vaaranam Aayiram, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu and Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya.

Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya is the least 'filmy' of the three. The positive aspects of the movie for me:

1. Cinematography

All I carry back from the movie is the cool blues and greens, fluid likes of water and traffic, instead of the dusty grimy India that one is used to, here we have a vibrant refreshing country and what is more, it has one of the best shot movie scenes in Kerala's landscape. Shame on you Malayalis, a Tamil film had to cross the ghats and come to Alleppey to do that. Beautiful. 


Natural, off the cuff dialogs go with the age and subject of the movie, so does the snippets of technology like texting. I also like the way they have interspersed dialogs in Malayalam when it is an internal dialog in the girl's family(whose character is that of a Malayali Christian settled in Chennai.)

3. Art direction

Set design, locales - thought of and brilliantly woven together into the fabric of the story

4. Actors

Simbu and Trisha look very much the part and seem to have a good chemistry between them which they don't spoil by their 'acting'. Neat.
What I didn't like was the that the movie started losing its pace in the second half, dragging along at parts. I wanted to fast forward but didn't do it so as not to miss the amazing camera work. A.R.Rehman's music, didn't really click for me this time, maybe it'll grow on me like Yuvvraj(another A.R.R musical I didn't appreciate much in the first place but ended up doing rounds on my music charts.) Overall a good entertainer.

Jun 11, 2010

Swantham Lekhakan (Swa Le)

A newspaper man's life in a land before mobile phones: That is Swa Le in a nutshell. Swa Le stands for Swantham Lekhakan who is the anonymous writer whose words fill up most of the pages in a newspaper since columnists usually cost money and only deal with a few columns in one paid session.

In this movie Dileep dons the role of the hard working, chained to the print-grunge newspaper reporter who is worked to the bone by his bosses, has a pregnant wife(Gopika) to support, lives across a river with no bridge and doesn’t own even a bicycle(But there is a bicycle in the promo stills, did I forget?) It is a not-so-bad Dileep movie considering the toned down version of the actor that is on display.

There are not so veiled references to Kerala's major newspapers and a major literary figure who is shown at the verge of death with the newspaper men keeping vigil in front of his house for 'breaking' news story that might break at any time. Innocent, Ganeshan, Ashokan, Nedumudi Venu, Vijayaraghavan, Salim Kumar Jagathy, K.P.A.C Lalitha and a forgettable Harishree Ashokan forms the supporting cast.

An off tangent observation: Sona Nair as the gynecologist will hereby be instrumental in spreading the false myth in Malayali society that psychological disturbances arising from lack of spousal support during pregnancy will lead to false labor. Can’t blame her, can't blame the script writer either, doctors in Mallu land rarely discuss technical details of the illness with the patient, silencing all discussion with a question, "Who is the doctor, you or me? Then leave the technical details to me, don't bother your little cranium with such heavy stuff."