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Archive for the ‘cinema’ Category

taxi-driver

So after years of hearing praises about Taxidriver. I finally got to see it.

Martin Scorcese’s classic that catapulted Robert de Niro to fame. A movie that is relevant even today.  Travis Bickle[De Niro] is a taxi driver. He drives the taxi in the streets of New York. He is a lonely man who suffers from insomnia. He drives the cab all through the night but he can’t sleep. He visits 24 hour porn theatres but he still can’t sleep. He is disgusted with the city and its people.

He is attracted to Betsy who works in the campaign office of a Presidential candidate-Senator Pallantine. He asks her out on a date. He takes her to a movie-confoundedly to a porn movie. I still don’t get it. Why would a man on his first date take the girl to a porn movie? Is Bickle naive/sex-maniac/crazy? As the movie progresses we realize his frustrations coupled by his service in Vietnam. The movie moves aimlessly till we get to see Iris a twelve-year old prostitute[Jodie Foster].

Travis becomes emotionally attached to the girl and all his suppressed anger erupts when he finds out how Sport uses the naive girl Iris as a prostitute by making her a cocaine-addict. Travis buys a lot of guns and a knife and decides to become the vigilante-one man army and decides to clean New York of its filth and scum.

He shaves his head[mohawk style] and decides to start by assassinating the Presidential candidate. His uneasiness is spotted by the Secret Service agents-and Travis flees the scene. The climax is bloody and violent as Travis goes on a shooting/killing spree and shoots Sport and other runners of the prostitution racket. He is also injured in the shooting spree.

The next scene shows the wall of Bickle’s room full of newspaper clippings proclaiming him to be the hero. We also listen to the contents of a letter from Iris’s father to Bickle. He thanks Bickle for his heroism.

The movie ends with Bickle dropping Betsy home and refusing to accept the fare. The movie is an intense study of the psyche of the American male. Times of war and unstable economic conditions, drug-use the tough seventies, black-white conflict, prostitution-many facets of American life that have been touched upon in the movie. We sympathise with Bickle and secretly wish that he finds true love in Betsy. But in our minds we know that Bickle is a drifter and he can never find calm and inner peace or true love.

Robert de Niro and Jodie Foster shine in this movie. The back ground music is haunting and cinematography simple and effective.

Iconic lines-“You talking to me….” “Flush it out.”[To clean New York]

A powerful movie that leaves a bitter taste in our mouths and a long-lasting impression on our minds.

The biggest upset was when Rocky won the Oscar for best movie in 1977.

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THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

The movie is an adaptation of a short story of the same name written by J Scott Fitzgerald. The movie stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. The story starts in a hospital where a lady on her death-bed asks her daughter to read from a diary. The diary narrates the life and times of Benjamin Button.

Brad Pitt is Benjamin Button. When he is born he is born with the features of an aged person who is about to die. He is abandoned by his rich father and left at the door-step of an old-age home run by an Afro-American couple. The lady takes great care of him and treats him like her son. He mingles with the other aged people in the building who treat him as an old man. They do not know that he is a child. He makes friends with Daisy the grand-daughter of a rich widow. The widow teaches Benjamin to play the piano.

A fascinating transition takes place as Benjamin grows younger with each passing day. He joins a shipping trawlwer, fights in the Second World War, has his romantic misadventures. He sends postcards to Daisy from all the cities that he visits.

Benjamin returns to the old-age home were his father meets him and tells him the truth-‘Benjamin I am your father-Thomas Button.” He continues running the family business of manufacturing buttons, is attracted to Daisy who has become a ballet dancer in New York.

Their paths cross again and after a series of incidents get married. They buy a house have a daughter and seem to enjoy life. Benjamin keeps worrying and says-” I want my daughter to have a father not a playmate.”

He keeps growing younger and sells his company and creates an account/trust for his wife and daughter and leaves his home. He returns many years later as a teenager. His wife in the meanwhile has married another man and runs a dance-school. She is shocked to see Benjamin!

He once again goes. Then one day Daisy receives a phone call and goes to a child-welfare centre. A boy who is extremely incoherent and whose bag contains a letter addressed to her has been found. Daisy realises that this is Benjamin, Benjamin no longer remembers who she is!-“Excuse me, do I know you?”

Daisy takes care of the small boy as her son. She leaves the city and travels to another city as the boy grows younger and younger finally an infant. This is a really touching scene when Daisy realizes the infant has died.

When the girl reaches this part of the story in true cinematic style Daisy[the old lady] if you have not figured that out dies!

The movie is brilliant. Make-up(simply superb).Acting is top-notch and I have a feling Brad Pitt might win the coveted Oscar for Best Actor this year. The sets chronicling the changes in America across three generations is portrayed brilliantly. As usual David Fincher continues to mystify satisfy the audience with his works.

Go watch this movie. Deserves every bit of praise being showered on it and much-much better than the disillusioned, myopic, and Westernised opinion of Slumdog Millionaire.

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Cinemascope-Looking at the movies of 2008

The initial list-“The Top Movies of 2008” had some of the movies that I liked. Once I finished writing that post realized there were lots of other movies that I enjoyed and totally forgot about:

Mithya:

Rajat Kapoor’s movie with Ranvir Shourie, Nasiruddin Shah, Vinay Pathak and Neha Dhupia a story of double identities, amnesia, dons, intrigue, unrequited love and death. The part that I enjoyed most was Ranvir’s Hamlet soliloquy in Hindi.

Eastern Promises:

London, the mob, Russian gangsters, lots of F words, punches and fights, couple of gross scenes and the final fight in the buff. Viggo Mortensen does a great job in David Cronenberg’s violent gangster story.

Kannum Kannum:

A beautiful love story where sacrifice gains a new meaning. Prasanna in a great role. Beautiful cinematography no vulgar comedy or item-songs. A simple story told aesthetically. A pity that the movie was not a big hit.

Raman Thediya Seethai and Pirivvom Sandhippom:

With Cheran in both movies, the first one as an actor and the second one as both actor and doctor both movies were good family entertainers. The first one was the search of a man for a wife the second the problems faced by a city-bred woman coming to terms with a large joint family after marriage. Pasupathy excels as a blind radio jockey in Raman Thediya Seethai.

Alibaba:

Directed by a debutante and starring director Vishnuvardhan’s brother Krishna, this is a really taut thriller. Just think you are a good for nothing thief who lives with his brother and father(also thieves). One day to your surprise you find that there are close to 40 lakhs in your bank account and with every passing day your bank balance keeps increasing. Then the fun starts young girls being raped and killed, a senior police officer being killed, the plot keeps thickening and just when you think that the climax is here, there is another twist. “Saroja” was OK with its thumping music track and Tom and Jerryish antics, but Alibaba really scores on the surprise factor.

Welcome to Sajjanpur:

When India’s most acclaimed and respected director returns after a long gap and returns with a Malgudish comedy you are excited. This movie is a brilliant satire of the life and times of modern northern India the casteism, rogue politics, and development problems, Good performances by all and Shreyas Talpade keeps excelling with each movie. A must watch.

Taken:

I saw this on DVD. This stars Liam Neeson as an ex-CIA agent who works as a security guy along with his friends. He is separated from his wife but is close to his daughter. when his daughter goes on a pleasure trip to Paris and gets kidnapped. He returns to his super spy ways and tracks down his daughter’s kidnappers who run an international prostitition and trafficking ring. Powerful performance by Neeson and good action sequences. Watch this movie when it hits the Indian theatres.

In Bruges:

Two assassins on a sight-seeing trip. A boss who is angry and wants to kill them. A midget who is an actor, a young woman who is a con. Great cinematography and background music. Directed by Martin McDonagh the movie stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes in one of the finest black comedies in recent times.

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The Top Movies of 2008

Wall-E
The Dark Knight
Anjaathe
Subramaniapuram
Taare Zamin Par
Rock On
Thirakadha
Verude oru Bharya

Wall-E-The beautiful presentation of a romance between robots. There is also the representation of the future where our planet is reduced to a gigantic dumpyard.

The Dark Knight-Brilliant performances by Heath Ledger as the sadistic psycopathic killer and Christian Bale as Batman.

Anjaathe-Good script, powerful characterisation, awesome acting by Naren Prasanna, and Ajmal, brilliant background score. A great entertainer.

Subramaniapuram-New director, new team, James Vasantham’s melodious music, Kangal Irundal-the melody of the year, Swathi-best new face of 2008, good acting by Jai and Sasi(also the director). The movie had a huge overdose of violence but the presentation was impeccable with the 80’s era recreated in detail.

Taare Zameen Par-Brilliant in every department. The kid Darsheel steals the show. A fantastic subject and Aamir gives a mellowed performance as an art teacher. Inspiring soudtrack by Shankar, Eshan and Loy.

Rock On-Farhan Akthar’s debut in front of the camera, convincing singing by the lead artistes themselves and Arjun Rampal in a role that showcased his true potential. Peppy songs and the last rock show performance is the highlight of the movie.

Thirakadha-Ranjit strikes back as a great director with this tale based on the Kamal-Srividya relationship. Superb performances by Prithviraj, Priya Mani, and Anil Menon.

Verude oru Bharya-Jayaram’s comeback hit that outdid everyone’s expectations. The tale of a middle class family were the husband shies away from his responsibilities. A great performance by Navya Nair that might win her an award.

Sorry as I did not include Dashavatharam, Twenty:20 and many other blockbusters. At the end of the day it is not about box-office collections it is about matter and substance.

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Hallo

Finally got to see “Hallo” yesterday, albeit on thiruttu dvd. It is still running to packed houses in Kochi, but we Chennaites are “children of a lesser god.” Ever since they demolished Anand theatre life has never been the same, lots of memories, sigh! Those were the days man.

Back to the review.
The movie stars Mohanlal as a drunken lawyer Sivaraman, Parvathy Melton, looks pretty, and dances well, might find success in Malluwood after her disastrous outing in Kollywood. It also has the regular list like Siddique, Jagathy, Jagatheesh, Janardhanan, and others. The basic plot of the story is lifted from the Kim Basinger movie “Cellular.”

Parvathy is the heiress to a huge fortune and is kidnapped by goons hired by some of her relatives. She makes a frantic call and reaches Mohanlal. He comes and rescues her and takes her to his house, where he drinks all the while in memory of his dead lover-Samvritha. Things happen, there are kidnappings, murders, and fights galore.

Then Mohanlal marries Parvathi Melton and settles at her house and tries to unravel the mystery. The directorial duo of Rafi-Mecartin know the pulse of the masses and have given a 100% entertainer. The songs could have been better and the climax is contrived and reminiscent of the C.B.I. movies.

Worth watching for Mohanlal’s drunken act and Parvathi’s eyes and dance.

My rating ***/5.

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Cinema and Suicide

Shoba, Fatafat Jayalakshmi, Silk Smitha, Pratyusha, Monal, Divya Bharathi, Nafisa Joseph, Vaishnavi(TV host)…. the list goes on. All these are actresses who commited suicide. They were young beautiful and earning a decent salary. So what prompted them to take the extreme step.

In the case of Shoba, Balu Mahendra donned the hat of the villain and a sour relationship led to the death of the actress whom I consider to be the greatest that Tamil cinema has ever seen. The small number of films that she acted are cherished by all lovers of Tamil cinema.

SIlk Smitha’s death under suspicious circumstances, is one case that was covered up. I find it hard to believe that a woman who had the entire industry eating out of her hand would take up her own life. She started with a semi-porn film called Layanam, which was directed by Thulaseedas, who later made some simple Malayalam comedies and made quite some money. A Telugu by birth Smitha, acted in all the Southern languages, was the real “Item Bomb” after Helen. She carried herself with grace and was a good dancer. Who killed her? No clue.

In recent years the Monal suicide created a lot of furore. Monal was the sister of former queen bee of Tamil cinema Simran. Monal had acted in Badri and a couple of other movies. She was emotionally linked to the brother of a leading dance choreographer. Family interference and fear prompted her to hang herself to death. She was beautiful in an Oriental sort of a way, I do not know why, but she reminded me of Japanese women.

Divya Bharathi’s death is shrouded in mystery. If she would not have died, our “jhatke vali” Rambha(also titled “Queen of Thighs”) by an overzealous generation of cinema goers would never have made a name for herself. Today Rambha is out of business and relegated to playing second fiddle to Kala Bhavan Mani and dancing in skimpy costumes. Remember Rambha has acted with all the stars in Tamil cinema. Mani is a great actor, but Mani having Rambha as his heroine, well perhaps better than Captain dancing with Malavika.

Nafisa Joseph, beauty queen, VJ, socialite… died because of a failed relationship. Her fiancee was already married and she took her own life in a fit of disappointment.

The last year saw many TV artistes commiting suicide. Notably Vaishnavi a cherubic girl, full of life and joy who hosted a variety of programmes on Sun TV. Her death came as a big shock and heralded the death of a couple of more artistes.

In many cases it is parental pressure to earn more and more. Then it is the need to “oblige” every Tom, Dick and Harry, from producer to director, to hero to villain, to local politician to remain in circulation, that takes its toll on these young actresses.

It is not confirmed but both Khushboo and Roja had attempted suicide. In Khushboo’s case she found solace in Sundar C. who has given her a new lease of life and she is a happy woman now.

In Hollywood Marilyn Monroe, was the example of Plain Jane to Queen of Hearts. Her turbulent relationships and suspicious death are fodder for many movies. Till date no one can say for sure “who killed her?”

We have cases of young actresses fighting against their parents and trying to lead independent lives. Remember Bhanupriya, in recent years Meera Jasmine has faced a lot of problems for her parents, but she has taken all problems in her stride and is a successful actress appeasing both the arthouse critics and the commercial pundits alike.

The last couple of weeks had news of aspiring starlet Preethi Sharma going against her parents and staying in Bombay.

So what is the solution?
There is no direct answer to this question. The actresses need to plan their lives and keep personal life away from professional life. Parents should not pressurise their daughters to earn more and more.

Till then Suicide is a disturbing aspect that will keep raising its ugly head from time to time.

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Pongal Report Card

Aalwar or is it Aazhwar-Flop, thalai waiting for Kireedom.
Pokiri-Superhit-But it is total crap and Vadivelu should be kicked for doing such rubbish on screen(Do you remember his comments on the director of Uyir)
Thamirabharani-This is a decent movie with a good story, script and acting, but the Pokiri effect has hampered its collections. My favourite for this Pongal.

Awaiting Patchai Kili Muthucharam and Unnalae Unnalae.

By the way Pori is OK, nothing great but you can watch it once.

Cheers.

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