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 26, 2011

Lovely Bones

Lovely Bones was devastating when I read it long time ago. It made reserve every book written (or about to be published) by Alice Sebold at the library. Not many favorable reviews for the movie though. For one thing, it is more Peter-Jackson than Alice Sebold which I don't mind much. It is like a different take on a same dish even if it came of the same recipe. Those slight differences are exciting to me.

Peter Jackson's Lovely Bones is awash in a perpetual CGI autumn. It is heart wrenching as the book was but somehow the depiction of heaven or the whole concept of it becomes lame when presented visually. In the book it had seemed okay.  But I'd feel the same for any movie that shows the non-existent universe that goes by the name 'heaven', it is not the movie maker's fault. He had to show it in someway without being over the top, for the whole story rides on the premise of main character's musings on earthly going-ons from the celestial beyond.

Actors including Saoirse Ronan, Rose McIver, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon and Rachel Weisz did justice to their parts - big and small. I can turn a bit judgmental of Weisz's mother character but that'd be unbecoming of this blog, so I will stop here. If you need a tear-jerker for a Saturday night without the unnecessary romance thrown-in, Lovely Bones is it.

Jun 22, 2011

Angadi Theru

Angadi Theru is one of those no holds barred movies which wants to do a show-n-tell how unfair life really is. It grabs you and thrusts your face on that gritty reality and lets you go after two and a half hours. It is like a good cry you needed to let all the emotional burdens flow away, it is melancholic yet it releases your mind. In those two hours you’ll live with those characters, identify with them and fight their losing battles.

Angadi Theru is the Salaam Bombay of Chennai. The hopeless, helpless lives of Ranganthan street might not capture a foreign award committee’s attention as easily as a festering red-light district in a third world metropolis, but a discerning audience can find parallels. I have heard that more than half of the movie was shot with hidden camera in actual locations. From the cinematography and the choice of lead actors, who were either making a debut or were only a couple of films old at the making of this movie, that seems totally plausible and it is one of its strengths.

Mahesh, Anjali and Pandi who plays the main characters steal the show. Even others who had small roles are very non-filmish and natural. The film maker has also inserted some documentary-like scenes into the story line which although doesn’t relate to the main story, adds to the knowledge base of the viewer. Now I’d like to see all the previous films of director/writer Vasanthabalan. The best lesson I took away from this movie. Respect. Treat every fellow human being with respect, they deserve it.

Jun 10, 2011

Payyans

Payyans is Malayalam version of dude or chap or lad, depending on your location in the English speaking world. The informal nature of the movie title means that I should go easy on it, for it is not pretending to be His Highness Abdullah or Pazhassi Raja, it is a story of an everyday youth not pretending to be anyone else but himself.

Jayasurya is the Payyans or Josey John - that is the name Payyans go by. As expected of his fashion sense (a weird Mallu mullet?) and carefree ways, his character is another brick in the Great Wall of Engineers of India. Everyone who is literate and is under twenty-five is an engineer or an engineering drop-out in our little sliver of a state of Kerala. Engineering being the gateway degree for any kind of job ranging from vegetable vendors to the President of India and everything in between, it comes as no surprise to the viewers when Payyans finds a cosy spot somewhere in the middle as a radio jockey.

The story is oh-so predictable. **SPOILERS** The moment we see Lal's garlanded high resolution photo on the wall (as Payyan's posthumous father) we are guaranteed a back-from-the-dead twist. Rohini's overly loving and naive mother is similarly assured an early demise for the requisite sentimental edge. Jayasurya is funny and convincing in his acting but he looks older for the purported 23 years Payyans is supposed to have spent on this planet. Anjali, a Tamil-Telugu actress gets to be Payyans' girl friend. As all good Malayali girls are supposed to behave, her character is first intent on murdering Payyans for his eve-teasing, then makes a 180 degree turn, falls for the eve-teaser and afterwards is seen pestering him to marry her.

Suraj Venjaramoodu, the salt of current-day Malayalam cinema curry turns into an Anglo-Indian from Kochi for this movie. Accessorized with subtly colored locks and a cap-wearing Anglo-Indian Dad(Janardhanan), the Nedumangad (Trivandrum) accent he continues to spout could  only be blamed on the geographical proximity of Kochi and Nedumangad, a mere 200 kms.

The movie is a romp, it definitely won't make the 2010-2011 merit list. If you like the actors who play the main characters it is worth a watch.


Jun 7, 2011

Karayilekoru Kadal Dooram

An Ocean to traverse before reaching shore - is the most literal translation of this movie's title. I cannot be more poetic than that because I am still at sea after watching the movie. By the way the official English title is 'A Sea Away to the Shore.' It has one of those Kafka-esque themes that Malayalam movie intelligentsia is obsessed with, where a thoroughly perplexed audience is taken as the sign of movie's complexity and therefore its superior art quotient. BS.

The actors have performed their parts the best they can. Indrajith, Mamta Mohandas, Sarayu, Dhanya Mary, Lakshmi Sharma all try to guide you through the maze, but to no avail. Will Vinod Mankara pleae stand up and own this? Yes, that is our director right there, a national and state award winner for numerous documentaries he directed, he also won the the best directorial debut award with this feature film. Well, in a way you cannot blame the award committee, it is a world better than what is offered by commercial Malayalam cinema these days.

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