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 26, 2017

Take Off

Fiction is often created exploring the far-fetched what-ifs of life. But sometimes life outsmarts fiction, the improbable happens to the everyday human. You, me or our neighbor next door becomes the new story without any intention of being so. Most times these otherwise inconceivable events are not usually pleasant in nature. It stretches the limits of human spirit and makes heroes out of average Joe or Jane. Some of these form the material of 'based on a true event' movies. TakeOff is one such movie.

Based on a real-life rescue mission of Malayali nurses trapped in the war zone of Iraq and taken captive by ISIS in 2014, TakeOff takes it material from their harrowing few days in captivity and a coordinated diplomatic rescue mission that procured their release. The engagement of the audience with the subject is brought by focusing on the life of one of the nurses, called Sameera, inspired from the character of one of the real-life nurses involved and played in the movie by Parvathi Thiruvoth.

The treatment, development and execution of Sameera's character - an independent working woman from a Muslim family, who becomes a divorcee and later marries her coworker, has been done commendably. Shot in actual locations, this is a laudable effort by the movie makers to convey authenticity of the situation, hopefully this will be a trend others will follow.

Also worth noting is the moderation exercised in tugging the heart strings of the audience through a melodramatic script which the original story had immense 'potential' for. The script, direction and acting have worked together to create as faithful an interpretation as possible, except for one part at the end (involving Kunchako's character.) But who does not like a happy ending and you have to considerate to a producer who put in the money and effort to let the crew shoot in real locations. So in the light of ensuring the producer's return on the investment, I, the clueless but haughty reviewer, approve this slight of script.

Parvathy Thiruvoth is a force to reckon in the Malayalam movie industry today.  Kunchako Boban and Fahad Fazil are grounded and mature in their supportive roles and so is Asif Ali, who also gets to put in a few minutes. Great job, director Mahesh Narayan and team Take-Off.

Jul 11, 2017

1971 : Beyond Borders (...and beyond comprehension)

Film makers make films they are passionate about. If a director can create a larger than life character as a flag bearer of this passion and rope in a super star to play it, it will be easier to find a producer sympathetic enough to bet his/her money on this 'passion project.' 1971: Beyond Borders is  the latest installment of Major Ravi's exploration of his primary passion : Indian military and his secondary passion - Lt.Col Mohanlal.

Major Ravi's moral bulletin of all humans being bros, not defined by borders and political, religious or racial interests is a commendable message to propagate through the medium of cinema. As a member of not-his-target audience my grouse is the cliche-laden story, the script that could have benefited from having a script writer, the casual and incorrect use of conversational English and the overwhelming presence of our 'complete' actor Mohanlal.

And what were black people doing as rebels in Georgia? This is one of the former states of the USSR, the nation on the Black Sea coast in Europe that I am talking about. Did Abkazians export troops from Africa to fight their civil war? Anyway who cares about real facts when Mohanlal is about to set the history right for Georgians, Pakistanis, Indians especially Malayalis.

I set out on watching 1971 : Beyond Borders knowing very well that the workings of Major Ravi's brain will be beyond my comprehension and I should not even more for a second nurse the hope that I will like this movie. Nor did I entertain the false illusion that this film while time traveling back to the seventies will give us back the Mohanlal of the eighties. Sad to say, I was not proven wrong in any of these aspects.

Jul 3, 2017

Angamaly Diaries

Ambitious - with 86 new faces, this unconventional movie rocks to the lyrics of Damn It Feels Good to be Gangsta (Geto Boys) whenever I rewind it in my mind. Not that it lacks an offbeat sound track - by Prashant Pillai, it's just that 'thug life' feel it gives.

Another thing it reminds me of is the kinetics and aesthetics of the City of God, not the Malayalam movie, but the Brazilian Cidade de Dues (portguese) by Fernando Meirelles. The spry camera action through Angamaly's narrow crowded streets is reminiscent of the dynamic hand-held scenes through Rio's favelas. Both movies make a feast out the urban grime, grittiness, gutsiness and desperation

Chemban Vinod Jose rises as a writing talent in this movie directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery known for his whimsical creations (ref-Amen.) In the middle of 'team' (gang) rivalries, pig killings, pork recipes in action flavoring the heat and throes of life in Angamlay (a small town near Kochi, Kerala) there is a handsome hero, Pepe (Antony Verghese) and his bevy of girl friends to keep things interesting.