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“Neerja”… A fine instance of what we might call middle-cinema

Spoilers ahead… Bollywood seems to have taken a shine to planes this year. First, Airlift. Now, Neerja. But that isn’t the only similarity between the films. Both are a new kind of Bollywood movie, closer to Hollywood in terms of tone (refined) and treatment (slick). They get box-office assurance from the star at the centre (Akshay […]

Chris rocked…

… but what about the rest? aka, the award for the show most in need of revamping goes to… I didn’t expect much from the Oscar show. I missed the live telecast, and by the time I sat down for the rerun, I already knew who’d won the big awards. So I was surprised when […]

“Fitoor”… An adaptation that isn’t dismissible, but where’s the heart?

Spoilers ahead… Abhishek Kapoor’s Fitoor is adapted from Great Expectations, and it signals its debt to (and its deviations from) the novel right at the beginning. The film is set in Kashmir, which is described thus: “Jaise jannat kafan ki chaadar odhe so rahi thi.” The shroud, of course, refers to the soft blanket of snow, […]

“Pokkiri Raja”… YAWN!

Spoilers ahead… After the fairly funny Thamizhukku Enn Ondrai Azhuthavum (never mind that it was supposed to be a thriller), director Ramprakash Rayappa returns with a comedy about a man who expels huge gusts of air from a bodily orifice and causes much unpleasantness to others. No. It’s not that. I’m talking about yawning, which, […]

“Pichaikaaran”… A not-bad drama marred by generic writing

Spoilers ahead… The title design is striking. There’s the name of the film, Pichaikaaran, and there’s a crown on top. Sasi’s new film is a riches-to-rags story – but not the kind you think. The reason millionaire Arul (Vijay Anthony) becomes a beggar isn’t because of a bad run at the share market or because […]

Comments, moderation, yada yada…

I hate to lose readers and I’m sorry things have come to this. But I need to say a few things: This blog thing, it’s not a full-time thing — though, of late, it’s begun to feel like one. In the limited time that I have, I try to skim through comments and approve them. (It’s […]

“Sethupathi”… A routine cop movie elevated by awesome masala moments

Spoilers ahead… The first few minutes of Sethupathi, directed by SU Arun Kumar, could be called Kollywood’s atonement for Visaranai. A lone cop swelters under the sun. He ducks into a tea stall for some water, a banana. But he hears a ministerial cavalcade approach and races out, the fruit hastily discarded so that the hand […]

“Miruthan”… A zombie movie that sleepwalks

Spoilers ahead… There’s a reason we don’t really need superhero films in Tamil – our leading men are already superheroes. They defy gravity in the action sequences, slip in and out of several costumes during songs, and possess at least enough X-ray vision to peek into the heroine’s mind and realise she’s really saying ‘yes’ […]

“Jil Jung Juk”… Many amusing bits, but they don’t add up

Spoilers ahead… Deeraj Vaidy’s Jil Jung Juk is the kind of movie where an action scene is set to a hopped-up version of Nee maatale maayanura. The song is Poorvikalyani on acid; the film is everything on acid. Which probably explains Jil’s (Siddharth) peacock-shaded hair, and the predominance of a colour that’s surely the result […]

“Aligarh”… A quiet, moving tale of a man in the shadows

Spoilers ahead… If the public prosecutor (Gauri Balaji) had her way, there wouldn’t be a case at all. As much as her small-town mind struggles to wrap itself around the fact that the defendant – 64-year-old professor, Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras (Manoj Bajpai) – had sex with another man, the bigger issue seems to be that […]

“Aarathu Sinam”… A disappointing serial-killer thriller

Spoilers ahead… The spirit of Shankar possesses this week’s other Tamil release as well, though Aarathu Sinam is more of a serial-killer thriller, a remake of Jeethu Joseph’s Malayalam film Memories. Corpses keep turning up, and Assistant Commissioner Arvind (a lifeless Arulnithi) has to stop the killings. But first, he has to overcome his alcoholism. […]

“Kanithan”… For the most part, a punchy thriller

Spoilers ahead… A few minutes into Kanithan, directed by TN Santhosh, I was ready to check out. We are at the Sky TV office, and Manobala plays the CEO. That says it all. This isn’t about the actor. This is about what he’s asked to do, almost always – you could call it “the Manobala […]

Berlin Diary: Local colour, universal stories

‘Goat’. ‘Little Men’. Ghana’s ‘Thevar Magan’. Plus, a great sight gag about Gérard Depardieu’s weight. The puzzling thing while watching Andrew Neel’s Goat – which is being advertised as a “frightening image of reality on American campuses” (hazing, in other words; or as we call it, ragging) – is that Brad (Ben Schnetzer) gets into […]

Berlin Diary: Sketches of pain

Mapplethorpe. Miles Davis.And an eight-hour epic from Lav Diaz. A photograph about a man in a polyester suit sounds innocent enough until you see what’s peeking out of the suit. And then it becomes a question not just about evaluating art but also your own response to it. Are you intrigued? Offended? Physically sickened? Turned […]

Berlin Diary: Eyeing the exit

Festival fatigue. Thomas Vinterberg’s latest. Plus, the green-card soldiers of ‘Soy Nero’. Festival Fatigue. You won’t find it in the medical books, but it’s a real condition, whose symptoms include (a) the gentle drooping of eyelids some 30 minutes into a movie, (b) the mild panic that you have an hour (or three) to go, […]

Berlin Diary: The complex web of life

Brief notes on ‘24 Weeks’, ‘Being 17’, ‘Death in Sarajevo’, and… ‘The End’. When Astrid (Julia Jentsch) learns she’s going to have a child with Down’s syndrome, she storms out of the doctor’s office. Luckily, her boyfriend Markus (Bjarne Mädel) is a good, strong man. “I’m getting two pieces of Danish. One for you, and […]

Berlin Diary: Two worlds

A powerful, non-hectoring documentary about the refugee crisis. Plus, women in trouble. Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare) must have begun filming much before the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, but the recent events – those stories, those images – make us feel that this isn’t documentary, this is actually live footage. The question before […]

Berlin Diary: Only you

A love story about a gay man and his family. Plus, the love story of a straight man in war. Sometimes, the synopsis in the festival brochure doesn’t tell you the real story. Take the Israeli documentary Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?, directed by the brothers Barak and Tomer Heymann. (The title refers to the […]

Berlin Diary: Myths and genre mash-ups

Art cinema with arty touches. Plus, art cinema with blockbuster touches. And the award for the best opening shot goes to… Denis Côté’s Boris Without Béatrice. A tall, lean, bald man stands in a meadow, looking at… something. And then we see, over the trees beyond, a helicopter. Is it coming to pick him up? […]

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