Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Funny Movie

I was very excited about Dilwale‬ given that it was bringing the great on-screen couple of Shahrukh Khan and Kajol‬ back together. I was also excited to see Varun Dhawan‬, given that he is one of the most talented actors in the younger generation in my opinion. I also love the soundtrack! I have been listening to the album non-stop ever since it released. However, I was nervous given that I hated Happy New Year and didn't like SRK and director, Rohit Shetty's last collaboration, Chennai Express. And when I read the mixed reviews of the movie, I got even more nervous.
So what did I think of this latest Bollywood release? Well, I didn't hate it. I didn't love it either but I liked it.
The story revolves around Kaali/Raj (SRK) and Meera (Kajol), who both belong to rival Don families. They fall in love but due to a misunderstanding, they are separated. A few years later, their respective siblings, Veer (Dhawan) and Ishita (Kriti Sanon), fall in love and attempt to reunite them.
At least, SRK didn't overact in this one as he did in Chennai Express. He looks good in the scruffy, bearded look. Kajol looks gorgeous! However, I wish we had gotten to see more of her "I am a badass!" moments. Unfortunately, their on-screen pairing in this film was not as magical as it was in DDLJ and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
Dhawan and SRK were great together in emotional scenes. Dhawan also had excellent comedic timing. I wish the romance between Sanon and Dhawan was more developed, even if it was just one more song. There was one song in the album: Premika, which was cut out of the movie and that was disappointing.
Shetty tried to tackle three genres in this flick: romance, comedy and action. He is known for the last two. As such, it is no surprise that the action sequences were good and the movie definitely had a lot of funny moments! However, the romance between both couples seemed rushed. As such, I think Shetty still needs to work on mastering that genre. The film was also visually very beautiful with most of it being shot in Bulgaria.
Overall, Dilwale was definitely cliché but I was still able to enjoy quite a few good laughs! It may not be the best movie ever but it wasn't the worst either.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Relatable Story + A Commendable Performance

When ‪Tamasha first started, I didn't think I was going to like it. However, as the story started to unfold, I realized how good the film actually was.

Written and directed by I‬mtiaz Ali, this movie portrays a story of a man named Ved, played by Ranbir Kapoor‬, who has always loved hearing and telling stories since childhood. However, due to familial pressures, he ends up becoming an engineer. He meets a girl named Tara, played by Deepika Padukone,‬ in Corsica. They fall in love; however, they decide not to reveal each other's true identities. She ultimately finds him in India, where she helps him realize that he is not his true self in real life. This realization shakes up his whole identity as it brings back the repressed frustrations of following familial expectations, which has led to his daily mundane routine in life. How he finally breaks free and is able to follow his dream of becoming a storyteller is what forms the crux of the second half of this flick. 

Just like film critic Anupama Chopra, some may compare this film to 3 Idiots as the concept is similar. However, I think it was still enjoyable and was made quite differently. There were two aspects to the story that made this movie relatable in my opinion. Firstly, quite a few people out there forgo their dreams due to familial expectations. They end up leading miserable lives because they hate their jobs. The moral of the story is not to follow social conventions, create your own story and follow your dreams. Secondly, sometimes, you meet that one person that changes your life completely. That was Tara for Ved. If these reasons are not enough to convince you, I highly recommend this film just to watch Kapoor's commendable performance. How he demonstrates a dual personality when his repressed frustrations are brought to light is indeed remarkable to watch! With this flick, he proves that he is indeed a fine actor.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Big Names Do Not Equal A Good Film

Steve Jobs proves that just because popular Hollywood names such as Aaron Sorkin, Danny Boyle, Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels are attached to a film doesn't necessarily mean the audience will get to enjoy an extraordinary film.

I preferred the 2013 version titled Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher in the main lead because it showed us a series of chronological events in his life and how he became a successful entrepreneur. On the other hand, the 2015 version mainly shows us a series of dialogue exchanges between seven main characters: Jobs, his friend Joanna Hoffman, his ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan and daughter, Lisa, his coworker Andy Hertzfeld, Apple CEO John Sculley and Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak before three major launches of the Macintosh, Next and iMac. Maybe that was intentional but it was not as enjoyable a movie experience as I had hoped.

So I would say, if you are interested in finding out why the arrogant Apple founder makes for a fascinating subject matter for film makers, just watch the 2013 biopic on Netflix.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thought-Provoking Cinema

Don't be fooled by the trailer! If you haven't read the novel with the same name, the trailer for the upcoming release, Room, may not appeal to you. I didn't think it was my cup of tea when I saw the trailer because I have not read the book. However, I had the opportunity to watch a free screening of the film and the trailer does not do it justice at all.

Can you imagine being abducted and locked in a garden shed for several years and being raped by your captor every day? That's what Joy, the main character of Room, had to suffer through. She ends up giving birth to a boy. Her son, Jack, has no perception of the outside world because he has been raised in the shed. When he turns five, she seeks his help to escape. How they both adjust to life after forms the crux of the second half of the story.

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue, who is the also the author of the novel, Room is indeed a thought-provoking film. It will certainly make you appreciate life more as daily problems will seem minute in comparison. A lot of credit goes to Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who gave extremely touching, Oscar-worthy performances as Joy and Jack.Though distressing at times, this movie is a must-watch!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Refreshing Rom-Com

It has been such a long time since I have seen a good romantic comedy, my favorite genre. Even Trainwreck wasn't very satisfying for me. As such, it was very refreshing to finally watch a good rom-com, Sleeping with Other People, starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie as leading characters.

Written and directed by Leslye Headland, this film released by IFC, portrays the story of two dysfunctional characters: Jake and Lainey. Instead of being honest with his girlfriends that he doesn't want to have a long term relationship with them, Jake cheats on them. Lainey is unfaithful to her boyfriends because she is obsessed with an extremely creepy-looking gynecologist, who doesn't respect her and is only using her to cheat on his fiance. Both Jake and Lainey develop a platonic relationship and become best friends while trying to help each other overcome their relationship issues; however, fall in love with each other in the process. 

This movie is being compared heavily to When Harry Met Sally and yes, it does seem like a modern version of the 1989 classic. But so what? I still really enjoyed watching it because it seemed honest and believable as if such characters could exist. Furthermore, the casting of this chick flick was excellent. Sudeikis's films that stand out to me are mostly comedies such as Horrible Bosses, Horrible Bosses 2 and We're The Millers. He indeed has great comedic timing; however, to watch him as a leading man in a romantic film for the first time was refreshing. He was so charming as Jake and an absolute delight to watch! Both Brie and Sudeikis nailed their roles and shared excellent on-screen chemistry. Even the supporting cast especially Jake's friend's character played by Jason Mantzoukas and his wife played by Andrea Savage were very charming on-screen - don't miss their scene during the credits! An honorable mention goes to Adam Scott, who plays the creepy gynecologist. I think he is adorable; however, his look and demeanor in the film were convincingly creepy so hats off to him! 

Overall, I absolutely loved the movie! I definitely want to watch it again and will most likely buy the DVD when it comes out. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Three Hits, One Miss

When you love movies just as much as I do, it is no surprise that I recently watched four movies back to back.

We Are Your Friends

Any movie that is shot in Los Angeles excites me as I am now somewhat familiar with the city. Since We Are Your Friends is about a musician living in the San Fernando Valley in LA with four close friends, I was definitely intrigued. Much to my delight, I quite enjoyed it. 

Directed by Max Joseph (from the MTV show, Catfish, fame), the film mainly revolves around an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) DJ, played by Zac Effron, who gets a big break after a seasoned DJ, played by Wes Bentley, takes him under his wing. In my opinion, the plot was interesting, captivating and well-executed. As expected from a film about music, the soundtrack was really good. 

I think Effron is a good actor who just needs a breakthrough role to really showcase his talent just like Miles Teller was able to do in Whiplash


Directed by Kabir Khan, Phantom is a political thriller based on the book, Mumbai Avengers, written by Hussain Zaidi. The main premise involves a foreign intelligence agency in India that hires an ex-Army officer, played by Saif Ali Khan, to assassinate terrorists involved in the 11/26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. 

Though this film has been subject to controversy because it was banned in Pakistan, I thought it was very well-made. Usually, I prefer Bollywood films with lots of songs and a romantic element. However, despite this movie lacking such elements even with a female lead played by Katrina Kaif, I really liked it. With global terrorism being such a major issue, the story was relevant and moving. 

The Man From U.N.C.L.E

Directed by Guy Ritchie and based on the 1964 TV series with the same name, The Man From U.N.C.L.E had a riveting plot. This spy film showcased how a CIA agent, played by Henry Cavill, and a KGB operative, played by Armie Hammer, work together to bring down a criminal organization in the process of making nuclear weapons. It was funny and sexy just like the leading actors.

She's Funny That Way

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, She's Funny That Way revolves around six characters: an escort/ struggling actress, Broadway director, his wife who is also the leading actress in the play he is directing, the playwright, his girlfriend who is also a therapist and the leading actor of the play. Despite a good cast including Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hyne and Will Forte, this comedy film didn't quite hit the mark for me. It was quirky but wasn't that funny or interesting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Series of Mediocre Films

It seems like Hollywood doesn't have a lot of great films lined up for the latter half of 2015. As such, it comes as no surprise that the last three Hollywood movies I have watched in the theaters have been mediocre at best. Here's why.

Ricki and The Flash

Though I won't be surprised if Meryl Streep is still nominated for an award in some category, let's just say her performance in Ricki and The Flash was not her best. In my opinion, her real life daughter, Mamie Gummer overshadowed her performance with her commendable portrayal of a distraught woman.

Streep plays the character of a rock star who abandoned her family in pursuit of her music career, leaving her kids in the care of her husband played by Kevin Kline. When her daughter, played by Gummer, is going through a tough time because her husband left her for another woman, she returns to mend her strained relationship with her kids.

I feel the writer Diablo Cody spent too much time on having Streep sing than developing the characters and fleshing out the story. Directed by Jonathon Demme, this comedy drama was not as great as Streep's films usually are much to my disappointment. 

American Ultra

Written by Max Landis and directed by Nima Nourizadeh, the main premise of the action comedy, American Ultra, revolves around Jesse Eisenberg. He plays the role of an awkward stoner, who suddenly discovers he has fighting capabilities he didn't know he possessed when people try to attack him. It turns out he is actually a trained CIA agent, who has been deemed a liability by Topher Grace's character. Grace's character has sent orders for him to be killed, whereas Connie Britton's character is trying to save him. It was a bit hard to believe the likeable Grace as an arrogant villain taking undue advantage of his position at the CIA but nonetheless, he made a good attempt in portraying one. The supporting cast included Kristen Stewart, Tony Hale, Bill Pullman and John Leguizamo.

At first, I kept thinking that the movie was a bit weird but as the story developed, I realized how interesting the concept was.  So where did the film fail? Honestly, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Perhaps it was the acting or maybe the casting should have been different. Except for Grace, most actors including Eisenberg, Stewart, Leguizamo and Hale didn't bring anything new to the table and their performances seemed similar to their past ones. Except for Eisenberg's cool action sequences, his performance seemed very similar to his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Hale's character reminded me a lot of the character he plays on the HBO show, Veep. Leguizamo's and Stewart's characters also seemed familiar. If their performances were what was expected of these characters, then perhaps the blame lies on the screenplay or the director for not providing them much potential to showcase a different performance.  

Fantastic Four 

Though almost everyone really hated the reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise directed by Josh Trank, I didn't think it was too bad - perhaps because I had really low expectations. Though the story was interesting, I think the execution was poor. It was not as great as the Fantastic Four with Jessica Alba and Chris Evans.

Miles Teller plays the role of Mr. Fantastic, whereas Michael Jordan plays the role of The Human Torch. Kate Mara portrayed the role of Invisible Woman, whereas Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell portrayed the roles of The Thing and Doctor Doom, respectively. Among all the actors, I believe Teller and Mara are extremely talented based on their performances in Whiplash and the Netflix show, House of Cards, respectively. However, they both looked bored in this film perhaps because the screenplay or the director didn't allow them much potential to showcase their incredible talent. Based on all the rumors surrounding the film, who really knows? Let's hope the next installment is way better!