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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Apr 18, 2017

Moonlight

Oscars so white –  the street name for 2016 Oscars stuck even if it was hosted by one of the best black comedians ever – Chris Rock. To wash off the guilt of 2016, in 2017 the Academy tried to redeem itself by rewriting its liberal spiel of embrace-all and promote-all and re-branded its diversity image with a few shades of black. These shades of black came in the form of Moonlight and Hidden Figures.

The winner of 2017 Best Picture Oscar Moonlight is a deeply personal story and a semi-autobiographical film from writer Tarrel McCraney. For the first time in the history of Oscars, a Best Picture Oscar went to a movie without a single white actor. Man, the Academy must have felt really really bad about last year. If black people knew about the Academy’s depth of remorse, we would have had a few more new directors and actors from the African American community.

Moonlight - a movie that was in incubation for a decade was adopted from McCraney's play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.” Both director Barry Jenkins and Tarrel McCraney comes from the same Liberty City neighborhood where the young protagonist grow up in. The camera, the screen play and the tight editing works with stellar performers to deliver a  celluloid poem that keeps it real in the gritty urban landscape. This is the ultimate outsider movie, told bloody raw.

I think it also belongs to new (?) genre of movies sprouting up in Hollywood - 21st century American Realism. We have some socially aware film makers turning their cameras and keyboards on to the wrecked backdrop of  middle America, sliding determinedly into poverty, rage and hopelessness. The other recent film that comes to mind belonging to the genre is American Honey, released in the U.S almost at the same time as Moonlight.

As viewers we need all kinds of films - the ones that makes us laugh, the ones that make us cry, the ones that make us deepen our understanding about human condition, Moonlight belongs to the last category.

Apr 17, 2017

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The answer is - inside J.K.Rowling's head. She is an incredible story teller and writer, but I have heard that she is an even more astute business woman. With her Harry Potter series spawning a world wide franchise the lady had to be good with her marbles, otherwise like J.R.R.Tolkien - the other similar genius, the corporations would have reaped in all the benefits (read billions) while she still scrimped to pay her taxes. Good for her, she is what she is.


Watched this movie with the kiddos. With their ages progressing to double digits (or almost) and their combined ages sitting squarely in the late teens I decided it's the right time to introduce them into the world of grown-up movies made out of children's books. They have a lot of experience watching adult comedy spouting from the mouths of their favorite animation film characters. This movie might be rather tame compared to that.


International travelers with strange looking/smelling luggage, which is practically every traveler at the port of entry of a country different from their own, will be able to empathize easily with the fantastic beasts' care taker and the protagonist of the movie - Newt Scamander.  That name itself is an interesting word play. I almost want to say Newt Salamander. Salamander is a lizard and newt is type of salamander. So the name is like lizard squared, whatever.

Back to Scamander, he arrives in New York city in the early 1920s and adds to the mayhem magnet that is New York (with or without wizards and lizards) a suitcase full of fantastic creatures. He has helpers of the no-maj(humans) and the wizard kind and powerful enemies. And the movie on a whole has better pace than some of the early Harry Potter movies (not the first one.) Good for kids who are interested in becoming paleontologists, zoo-keepers, wizards or bakers and watchable for adults of the no-maj kind.

Apr 11, 2017

Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck was born into this role. He did not need to put any extra effort to get into the persona of the out-of-luck down-in-the-dump New England janitor he plays in Manchester by the Sea. Well, it is a good role to be born into, for it won him the best actor Oscar this year. Matt Damon, you almost got your elusive best actor Oscar on this, if only you had dates.

Somehow, I am not feeling Affleck’s tragedy. Can’t get those tears to come even after watching those life-killing losses being inflicted on his character. Maybe because the film cuts in and out of past and present without much warning. Just as you are about to empathize with his wretched life you are yanked away into a different time period. Stylistically the random cuts should not stand in the way of my understanding and empathy for the main character’s depression and despair. 

Or could it be because the original tragedy and the relationships snuffed out by it, which led to this bluesy state of affairs was not given a lot of screen time? Was it because the director, Kenneth Lonergan (who appears in a cameo) didn't want the movie to end up being another tear-jerker but rather a long and drawn out character study of masculine depression?

Hmm… yes maybe that's why I cannot empathize, it is a very masculine movie. I am using the term masculine here as the other gender for feminism.All the main characters are male in a tale about a man dealing with depression the way the men would. Blue-grey New England winter provides the right grim backdrop against which this almost-European movie made by Amazon in Hollywood languidly unravels. 

The only time I could almost figure out the depths of Affleck's loss and his subsequent moodiness (which is 99% of the film) is when Michelle Williams (who plays Affleck's wife and then his ex) breaks down explaining her side of the tragedy. The trouble is actually with me, I am just not man enough to understand this movie.

Apr 10, 2017

Running Shaadi

Tapasee Pannu's star is in the ascendent in Bollywood. The 'North Indian kudi who acts in S.Indian films' is probably an address she is now moving away from. Pink, Running Shaadi, Naam Shabana presents a list of strong female oriented characters that has come the way of Tapasee. Of the three Running Shaadi is the least serious of her roles. Loved the rest of the cast too - Amit Sadh, Arsh Bajwa, Brijendra Kala, everyone fits in with the story.

Playing a wild child to Amit Sadh's more grounded male character, Running Shaadi is the story of friends growing up in small town Northern India. In the land of arranged marriages they start a business of arranging elopements via an online website, which is the title of the movie.

First time director Amit Roy, a cinematographer turned director has delivered an enjoyable little package. And thankfully we have less of the most over-used element in Bollywood, although the entire premise of the film essentially centers around it - the Bollywood shaadi. Have to give it to the director Roy and the writer Navjot Gulati for not falling into the trap of delivering another over-the-top Punjabi wedding masala.

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