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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Jul 27, 2010

Summertime

Summertime has Katherine Hepburn as a vacationing spinster in Venice. To me it was charming to see Venice of the 1950s, in the company of Ms.Hepburn as lonely Ms.Jane Hudson. She wonderfully emotes the loneliness, despair and craving for human company while on her dream vacation in the middle of a crowded and colorful city. Venice was all gondolas, piazzas, canals, architecture and alleys then(maybe more so then) as it is now. In the midst of her forlorn vacation(it is never portrayed as such but the heroine's emotions and her conversation convey this idea to the viewer) she meets a Prince Charming(Rossano Brazzi). But as human as the story is Prince Charming's presence in the story is transient and not very fairy-tale-ish. Rossano Brazzi oozes with Italian charm and fits the role perfectly. I loved the ending of the film, so un-cinematic. It is film that has to be ruminated rather than watched, I liked it all the same.

Jul 20, 2010

Paleri Manikyam : Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha (Oru review)

If Paleri Manikyam was a Miss World contestant in a throng composed of recent Malayalam movies, it'll definitely win one or two of those special awards. Ones I have in mind are Miss Personality, Miss World Best National Costume(which in this case will be period costume) and probably Miss World People’s Choice as well.

Now who would win the Miss World title itself is left to debate. If it was in my hands I'd suspend giving the main award altogether until we can secure a time machine and go back to the future to that golden era of Malayalam cinema, the latter half of the 1980s and exhaust all the Miss World Malayalam Cinema awards till AD 2100 when there could be some hope of recovery, because all the current audience(the worst culprits, including me) and the film-makers will be dead by then.

Back to 2009-2010 and Ranjith’s latest offering, Paleri Manikyam : Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha. I am picky so be assured that even in this model of a contemporary malayalam movie I’ll find some flaws. But let us hear the good news first.

As a born-North Malabari I am excited by the trend of Malayalam movie hits moving northward, beyond the Northern edge of the Nila(or Bharatapuzha, M.T’s favorite haunt) and embracing newer writers for their source material. Case in point: Paleri Manikyam, Pazhassi Raja. As Dylan strummed famously, ‘old road is rapidly agin’.


Point # 1+ Original story

By a Malayali writer – T.P.Rajeevan about a in a distinctly Kerala village of the fifties. I read somewhere that Paleri is a real village in Calicut, near Perambra and the case of Manikyam is the first ever recorded murder case in the history of Kerala Police, after it was formed in 1956.

Point # 2+ Art direction

By Murugan Kattakada, the period feel, costumes of the characters and locations reflect the amount of thought and work that had gone into them. Manoj Pillai’s cinematography is also praise-worthy to some extent.

Point #3+: Mammootty.

Although I strongly oppose the reign of M & Ms, there is a reason why Mammootty and Mohanlal are where they are. Mammootty’s multiple roles in this film showcase his range and flexibility as an actor.

Point #4+ Other supporting actors

Like Shwetha Menon, Sreenivasan and the actors who played Velayudhan, younger Sreenivasan and Pokkan.

Point #5+ The director’s restraint

In not giving into the temptation of inserting a few foot-tapping songs.
Now for the Razzies.


Point #1- The script and screenplay

By Ranjith. It sounds too bookish, and explicitly suggestive, which instead of letting the audience decipher, kind of pushes and shoves them onto a path intended for them by the director. I have not read the original novel, so I am not sure whether the blame could be the script writer’s alone.

Point #2— Sarayu Sharma

The character seems out of place, patched on to a script at a later date when director failed to tie up all the ends in the story in a convincing way. Like a Microsoft Windows Service Pack or the iPhone4 rubber band, with a smoking cigeratte propped onto her hand just before someone shouted ‘Action’.

Point #3- The sepia filter

For flash-back scenes. Not sure what could be an alternative, but that’s why I am on this side of the screen, nitpicking on the movie makers.
My overall review: Paleri Manikyam has more stuff going for it than against it, no wonder it was a hit. A welcome drizzle in a season of endless drought. I am not going into an in depth analysis of the story and the characters as many bloggers have gone that way before and carved out a readable path if you care to read.

Jul 19, 2010

La Misma Luna (English title: Under the Same Moon)

It is the ideal mother's day movie, it is my kind of chick flick, it's what the doctor will prescribe when you need a dose of the best medicine to reinstate your faith in humanity,  it's a movie that makes a statement - a very relevant one in the light of United States Govt vs The State of Arizona over the controversial SB1070, it is a fail-safe formulaic movie - the hard working immigrants, families separated by borders, visas and passports, an angel of a kid who'll steal all your hearts with his eyes and his smile and it is not just me who is bowled over by this movie. La Misma Luna had highest opening weekend for any Mexican film for all of 2007.

The boy who plays Carlitos, Adrian Alonso is a perfect catch. Once an actor for this role has been cast the fate of the movie is almost sealed, either he will steal the show or drag it down the drains. Adrian Alonso doesn't just sell the movie to you, he's a pirate of the hearts, making the audience root for the boy with their smiles and tears.

The characters whom he meet on the road, although most of them have only small parts, are remarkable and well developed within the small time frame each of them has been allotted to. Written by Ligiah Villalobos and directed by Patricia Riggen , most of the movie was filmed in Mexico, even the many locations depicted as the US of A(like the US-Mexico border crossing, towns in Arizona etc.) It is a modern day fairytale,with its guaranteed happy ending.


Jul 2, 2010

Loudspeaker

Loud and atrocious and it is a super hit! Praise the Malayali viewers swooning at the acting prowess of Mammootty and sending the cash registers ringing all the way to the bank. I don't blame the film maker, he explicitly stated in the title it is about a bullhorn and if you wholeheartedly bit the bullet, why complain now, right?


The story is about a loud mouthed simpleton(who else but our megastar), who becomes a kidney donar for a rich NRI for money. My problem is I can endure the audio levels, but it is hard to disguise a superstar as a simpleton, even if he tries his level best, the admiring gazes and gestures of idol worship are hard to hide from the body language of other actors and on-lookers. The story as it progresses just adds and abets the icon making process with every detractor falling away one by one in cliched clashes.

 It was interesting to see Sashi Kumar, the former Doordarshan newscaster turned founder President of Asianet, playing the NRI astro-physicist. The role of a non-resident Malayali fits him like a well worn glove. The other surprise was Gracy Singh(she of Lagaan and Munnabhai fame), maybe not enough work for her in Bollywood ?


The child characters in these contemporary Malayalam films makes me want to make sure that my travel or moving plans for the next 20-30 years will stay clear of God's Own Country by a thousand miles. What passes of as smartness in Kerala kids would get them branded as a$$holes in any other part of the world. Why are movies bend on promoting such behavior so that a generation of kids can turn out as morons with an attitude problem?