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The Film Fanatic

While recounting to my friend Kanishka about how I had spent the last weekend, I realized that I had seen 13 movies over the last week. Even I was impressed by the number.

Since I had just seen Julie & Julia, I was pretty wowed by the doggedness of Julie Powell to blog about cooking through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I wanted to do something similar, but I didn’t want to do it about cooking – as I am a very random cook. Totally depends on my mood.

During the conversation, it dawned on me to blog about the movies that I had watched during the week. So this post is the beginning of that thought.

The objective is first to catalogue the number of movies that I have seen, and second to opine on them.

I am no movie critic, with ideas on script, cinematography and innovative direction techniques. But I am a viewer. I am a part of the dear audience for whom movies are made. I watch them. I may like or dislike them. And I am certainly qualified to express my opinions on them – even if they are contrary to popular ones.

So some of the movies that I have seen in the past 10 days are:

  1. Coco Avant Chanel Audrey Tautou is unbelievable in this very real portrait of Gabrielle Chanel. From her beginnings to how she became Chanel, this movie did try to decipher the Coco in Chanel. Trying to survive in a culture where women serve a single purpose, unrelenting in her pursuit of achieving fame, Coco did come across as real person with all her flaws including her elaborately concoted background story. So I surely liked this movie, though I did sense the drama in some scenes.
  2. Sherlock Holmes – I watched this the second time round. Well of course I had my drivers – Firstly it’s based on my all time favourite detective – the indefatigable Sherlock Holmes. Then there is Robert Downey Jr. Giving him company (if not competition) is Jude Law. And finally it’s a Guy Ritchie movie. Need I say more? Yes I do. Apparently one critic has commented Mr. Ritchie excels in making cool movies and there is nothing apart in this movie apart from its cool factor. Well Mr. Critic, your point was?
  3. It’s Complicated – If I really wholeheartedly relished a movie after The Family Stone, I think that it would be It’s Complicated. It’s funny without being painful, doesn’t delve in histrionics and is an unabashed statement of how sometimes we need to act, just to be ourselves. John Krasinski’s role is predictable and some of the characters are the caricatures of the ideal All American family – but I still liked the movie. For me, it did have a bottomline.
  4. The Book of Eli – I would not like to waste my time on even writing about this movie.
  5. The 39 Steps – Classic Hitchcock. I watched this with Mo over a glass of Cognac and we marveled together on this milestone movie. Made 80 years ago, this film was way ahead of its time. Snippets from the 39 Steps can still be glimpsed in most movies today. The 39 Steps is about the right man stuck in the wrong story and what he does to get out of it. This movie is the real McCoy with all the intrigue elements that go into making the classic thriller. As Mo said, ‘Bust the villain and get the girl’!
  6. The Transporter – Well I like Jason Statham and I like mindless action movies with cool stunts. This is my Achilles Heel. Period.
  7. The Princess and the Frog – An old school Disney movie after a long long time, without any of the new-age animation styles. Plain Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King type of movie – like Mum’s pancakes! It is the first Disney movie, where we have an African American heroine. Typical Disney script, replete with a larger than life villain, do-gooder bumbling ally, a smart mouth type and a moral in the end – stuff of what dreams are made of. Sigh!
  8. Daybreakers – I think the vampires have made a comeback, since True Blood – and how! I like this new genre of alternate reality vampire movies – not the stupid garlic-and-stake ones. Well this one focuses at a time where humans are harnessed by vampires for blood to a point that the blood supply started running dry. Interesting topic. Treatment though could have been better.
  9. The Blind Side – I loved this movie. There was a great chance of making this a tearjerker of a sob story. The portrayal of the Tuohy family could have been unrealistic. The storytelling could have been flawed – immensely. There were a million things that could have gone wrong. I am glad nothing did.
  10. Fist of Legend – Standard Jet Li. To be watched with butter popcorn and coke.
  11. Up in The Air – A surprisingly real movie, that did touch me in a way I didn’t expect it to. As a rule, I do not like Vera Farmiga. However, I did like her character in this movie. At her penultimate scene, I went wow. The sideline story, highlighting the agony one goes through after being unceremoniously fired, that too by an unknown corporate downsizer contracted to do the job, because your boss did not have the guts to do it face-to-face, is heartbreakingly accurate. You could feel the pain, the despair and the futility across the screen. Even more heartrending was the scene in which the protagonists tested their remote-layoff program – the unknown corporate downsizer firing you via web-cam. New definition of shitty.
  12. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Brilliant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s eponymous book. Gripping and thoroughly pleasurable. Williem Dafoe as Rat, one of the antagonists and Kristofferson, Mr. Fox’s all-rounder nephew who performs yoga as a stress-buster, are the characters to watch out for in the movie. Definitely one for keeps.
  13. Harry Brown – My respect for Michael Caine, as a performer, increases with every movie that I watch. Harry Brown is a hard hitting movie that tries to give us a peek in to way of life of the youth gangs and the mayhem and harassment they cause to innocent locals. Michael Caine is Harry Brown – the quiet old veteran Marine pensioner who goes about minding his own business and is in turn forced to turn into a vigilante after the merciless murder of his best-friend at the hands of the local youths. Old script, sure. But Caine is Caine. Unbeatable.
  14. Julie & Julia – This movie is only about Meryl Streep. Make no mistake. And excel she does as Julia Child. Julie Powell, on the other hand, could have been cut from the script. I did not enjoy her. After watching this movie, and being inspired by Julia Child (she did make cooking look easy), I ambitiously downloaded Mastering the Art of French Cooking and right away decided I wasn’t even going to attempt beyond the section on Omlettes. Stellar casting. Definitely a film for gourmets, or as in my case, individuals who like to think of themselves as gourmets.  One thing I couldn’t help but wonder, Amy Adams, kind of excels in choosing, blend-in-the-wallpaper-type-loser-who–prevails-in-the-end kind of roles. Is it a strategy?
  15. The Young Victoria – Period Drama. Costume Drama. Enjoy the drama.

As I end my list for now (Oh My God!), I can just think that this is only the beginning.

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Rock On!!

Last night on Ritesh’s insistence we finally went for ‘Rock On!!’

 

For my part, I was always intrigued with the casting. I had a vague feeling (with the exception of Prachi Desai) that the casting director had done a good job – and I was right. Desai included, everyone was pitch perfect for his or her parts. However, I wish that I could say the same for the story.

 

The story was mediocre at its best. It did not tug the heartstrings and at the end of the movie, there was simply no sense of achievement. Just some folks lounging at the beach, watching the sun set and drinking champagne. Yes, it definitely failed to create ‘Magik’ with me.

 

It was a well-directed movie with all the right intentions but somewhere the essence was lost. It was ‘Omkara’ all over again but not as bad. The movie did have its own moments – the scene where Desai confronts Akhtar after his birthday bash, where Kohli breaks into his impromptu jig – are some I can remember off hand.

 

Shankar, Ehsan and Loy were Shankar, Ehsan and Loy. The lyrics – well I can only say that I did not have the sensibilities to grasp their true inner meaning. Having said that, I will certainly listen to the numbers an entire week, because frankly speaking, I liked them.

 

Truly speaking this wasn’t ground-breaking cinema. Just your average Joe kind of movie.  It wasn’t fresh as ‘Jab we Met’ or introspective as ‘Taare Zameen Par’. Even if I compare it to movies on bands, bonding, egos – it did not even get near to creating the angst and evoke the feelings that ‘Abhiman’ did. But it was made with a lot of heart and that clearly shows.

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