This Is Not a Movie?
I stumbled upon This Is Not a Movie, when I was scouring the internet for the critically acclaimed Iranian documentary This Is Not a Film.
To take my mind off a 3000 words essay on the propaganda by mass media, which I never began to write despite the deadline date looming, I hit the play button. Maybe, I am least bothered about the essay, and thought I had a silly reason to pass time, and eventually make my assignment more painful to finish.
Nonetheless, This Is Not a Movie is a psychedelic movie, shot in black and white, enhanced by the background score composed by Slash. With just three cast members and the lead actor playing two other characters of himself, This Is Not a Movie has no story or plot but just the main character debating with his two alter egos about existentialism.
It is an hour and 39 minutes full of strong self loathing and self denial where the protagonist thinks he has everything figured out about the world. The story, or whatever the writer chose to call it, is set in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The world is supposedly about to end in 48 hours and Pete, played by Edward Furlong (John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement day), doesn’t want to die without knowing who he really is. He feels he has lived a life based on the decisions made by the system.
He suspects there is a group called the Masters of Propaganda aka MOP working behind the scenes who sell happiness and fear to the world…
After 15 minutes into the movie I lost track of what is happening, and where this drama is headed towards. What starts of as an interesting conversation between Pete and his alter ego loses steam, and a new Pete joins them from a third dimension.
Over the next hour, the third Pete tries to convince the other two Petes that they are characters in a movie; a figment of a writer’s imagination. However, they will buy none of that and dabble endlessly about topics ranging from propaganda, reality, god and existence.
When there appears to be no ending to This Is Not a Film, it changes gears and Pete meets the writer or GOD who gave life to Pete. Well, that is how it ended.
This Is Not a Film has frustratingly tried to answer some questions that it posed for itself and failed miserably at it. I would say it aimed higher and fell short in the end. On a scale of 1 to 10 you’ll find this on the far extreme of Richard Linklater’s Waking Life. I would still say that this belongs to an abstract genre of films that would appeal only to people on the same wavelength as the writer.
Now that I have wasted at least 400 words on this post, I wish I was tripping like Pete in the movie, alright This Is Not a Movie, and my essay would write itself.
Horror honours 2012
2011 saw Insidious take the horror honours and [REC]3 Genesis fall flat after two brilliant prequels. Last year, I did not get to watch as many horror films as I would have wished to, but I did manage to see the ones that scared film critics the most.
Best film of 2012 - Sinister
It is hard to determine which horror genre Sinister best fits into. It is cocktail of found footage, haunted house and serial killer themes. Most of the stories in horror films have been regurgitated time and again, and they simply fail to provide the scares anymore. However, Sinister offers a fresh perspective without straying far from the traditional horror narrative.
A crime novel writer, played by the brilliant Ethan Hawkes, moves into a new house along with his wife and kids to work on a new book he is writing. The book is about a family of four, who were mysteriously hung on a tree by an unknown killer in his backyard.
While moving boxes into his new home he finds a box of Super 8 films with a projector in his attic. The five neatly labelled homemade films show five grisly murders that happened over the last 50 years. With help from a local police man and a university professor who specializes in cults and paganism, he slowly pieces together the puzzle and links all the five killings to an unknown serial killer. But each of the five films show a grainy image of a pale ghostly figure with jet black hair and sinister looking eyes in the background…
Sinister pays homage to many horror films that are today’s cult favourites: The Exorcist, Ring and The Shining.
Writer-director Scott Derrickson slowly builds the tension and manages to keep the viewer interested for most of the film. It is shot in a single location inside a fairly large family home with no immediate neighbours. The film doesn’t aim to mimic a feeling of claustrophobia but it allows enough breathing space for the film’s characters to engage with the plot.
The simple premise and the plot points are a bonus because it doesn’t involve any routine exorcism or the extra gimmicks that we tend to associate with a horror film.
Some scenes are so scary that you will be forced to turn your eyes away from the screen. Coupled with the background score by Christopher Young, it could turn you pale out of fear. He hits the right keynotes and sometimes it feels like the music is more scarier than the film. Young is the Mozart of eerie music!
Three must watch films of 2012
“There are two sides to every lie.”
The tagline sets the tone to this gripping documentary about a Frenchman - wanted by the Interpol - impersonating a missing 14-year-old Texan teenager.
Frederick Bourdin recollects his story, which happened 15 years ago, when he fooled a family and the U.S immigration to believe that he is someone who is nine years younger than him.
Bourdin artfully weaves a bizarre story about how he went missing three years ago in Texas and was later found in Spain. The only drawback to his story is that he does not bear any resemblance to the blue-eyed, blonde Texan boy; worse he cannot lose his French accent.
When Bourdin’s mask finally falls off and his identity is revealed, the story takes a wicked twist. The illusion created so far by the narration shatters and we are set in a free fall, where there is no safety net to catch us. The truth is shocking and too surreal to be real. After the closing credits we are left with more questions than answers.
An ambitious story which was once said to be impossible to film was brought back from the dead by the Wachowski’s. The film struggled to secure funding and was almost abandoned, but Tom Hanks brought things in order and they finally set the cameras rolling.
Cloud Atlas is perhaps the most expensive independent film ever made.
The screenplay moves back and forth between six tightly interwoven stories, where the same set of actors play different characters in different time lines in the same universe.
Every action in the present has a cause and effect in the future, and it is felt across generations after millenniums.
The sheer scale of the project and the ambition itself deserves a golden statue this year.
Killing Them Softly is an encore of 2011’s Drive. Making comparisons between the two is an insult to both films.
But they have certainly carved a niche for themselves, and I expect to see more films this year in this genre.
The film’s razor sharp dialogue cuts through our conscious and the dark humour tickles even the most sensitive mind. The camerawork fascinatingly brings you closer to the action and the photography intensifies the scene further.
Brad Pitt plays a suave hit man who is hired to hunt down two criminals that robbed a card game. Despite all the suaveness, he has his own flaws underneath. He subcontracts the job to another hit man (James Gandolfini). How they track and kill the criminals forms the rest of the story.
It is a shame to see James Gandolfini to be stereotyped as a mobster in every crime drama but there is no one, who could play this role better than him. Ray Liotta plays a small but central role in this plot.
The best scene of the film is captured in ultra slowmo where you can see bullets silently whizzing from Brad Pitt’s gun into his target’s head.
The not-so-amazing Spider-man review
Watching The Amazing Spider-man was like sleepwalking into a multiplex screen and wake up jolted in your seat. You won’t remember how you time traveled 10 years backwards, to watch Spider-man swing across his not-so-friendly-neighbourhood in his old red and blue spandex outfit. You’ll feel like you are reliving those two and half hours of your life once again, but only this time it gets excruciatingly painful to watch it entirely.
The original Spider-man was adapted to the screen so well that the new writers seem to have seamlessly traced the story with a carbon paper for the 2012 audience.
Peter Parker can’t get laid in high school. A Spider humps Parker. Uncle Ben dies preaching about responsibility. The Villain is a madcap scientist. Lather, rinse, repeat. Nothing changes in the reboot except for the cast and crew.
The story has so many loose ends that you could tie them into a long plait. The makers think it is ok to allow Irfan Khan missing from the movie after a brief cameo. And the Mr. Osborne, who Irfan constantly keeps referring to, is a ghost character. Peter Parker’s parents are a new addition to the story, but nobody bothers searching for them after they go missing years ago.
The amount of Batman references are too obvious not to notice. If Jim Gordon had a daughter, then Spider-man doesn’t live too faraway from Gotham City. The city police chief’s daughter is Spidey’s new love interest. They join forces to defeat the villain. The villain - a giant green lizard - chooses Osborne tower to spread his airborne virus which is pretty much similar to Batman Begins ending.
Watching it 3D had its advantages like getting to actually feel what it would be like to jump off rooftops from dizzying heights. The first-person camera view of Spider-man in action is a decent addition to the reboot. However, The Amazing Spider-man manages to fail on all three levels when compared to its predecessors.
Gabbar Singh Review
I can’t remember the last time I have walked out of a multiplex before the end credits had rolled. Today was one of those rare days that forced me towards the exit halfway through the second half.
I don’t blame Pawan Kalyan for his over the top acting, I don’t blame the director, Harish Shankar for the way he handled the script, or the producer for banking on star power than a good story; I blame the audience for sucking up to this brain numbing moving images that they call entertainment.
When there is a demand for such monologic performances that are delivered with loaded dialogues towards other real life characters (Hero Rajashekar), every step taken forward by Tollywood towards meaningful cinema is followed by two steps backwards towards lazy filmaking.
It seems as though only the box office numbers concern the trade analysts, critics, fans, and the entire industry these days. If it is numbers that you are interested in, then I would recommend you to invest your time and money in the Bombay stock exchange.
Walking into a Pawan Kalyan movie with an open mind is like walking into a election polling booth with out deciding on whom to vote for. It is impossible to watch his movies as a neutral, you are either a fan or a villain, for loathing his “Charisma”.
I am a villain like Pawan Kalyan, who likes to call himself as Gabbar Singh in the movie. It would be cruel to deride another villain so I will pick on Harish Shankar, the “hero” of this movie.
You know that the writer has run dry of his crude jokes when he relies on a game of antakshari among the villain’s minions. 10 minutes of lip synced songs will drain out the last drops of your energy after two hours into a failed stand up comedy show.
Harish Shankar manages to fail ‘Gabbar Singh’ on every level, screenplay, story, and direction. Instead of sticking with the original version of Dabangg he chose to alter the script to suit his taste. He left the lead characters in the lurch for long periods of time to allow more screen time for his ‘villain’ to deliver his rudimentary jibes.
He doesn’t concern himself with the minute details, like Kota Srinivas Rao wearing socks and leather sandals despite being a poor drunkard, and failing to mask Pawan Kalyan’s greying hairline in close-up shots.
Harish’s support staff are only as good as this ship’s captain. The art director makes no effort to make the sets look natural. You can clearly see freshly painted shop names in the village market. The fast editing almost manages to give you a epileptic attack more than thrice.
Gabbar Singh is an anorexic version of Dabangg and I would not rate this more than the stars on Pawan’s Khaki shirt.
Premalo Padithe Review
If you commission a painting to celebrate the history of Telugu cinema, would you distort the artist’s vision by adding a wall clock to a courthouse scene set in Maya Bazar? Premalo Padithe has nothing to do with the history of Telugu cinema but it has everything to do with molesting another artist’s vision.
Suresh Kondeti, who bought the dubbing rights for Balaji Sakthivel’s latest tragic love story ‘Vazhakku Enn 18/9’ (Tamil title), has introduced a gamut of anachronisms that it convinced the TOI film critic that the story is entirely set in Chennai. Suresh convinces us that it is actually set in Vizag by using the beach settings from a few scenes, but the story intercuts between a metro ride in Chennai and a movie theater in Hyderabad which makes one lose their way in Suresh’s labyrinth of dystopia.
If one is willing to forgive his blunders, then think again. He added a music video starring himself in a movie that had no songs in the original version, leave alone a 40 something failed dancer, who has no bearing on the story, trying very hard not to injure himself while dancing. I wouldn’t have minded if the ‘item song’ came on at the end credits, but it was forcefully accommodated in the second half, completely screwing up the screenplay and the flow of the movie.
If I were to review the original Balaji Sakthivel’s version of the movie, then it would make my job a lot easier.
Premalo Padithe is a story about four individuals whose lives overlap each others. It is narrated in the POV of two characters who are interrogated by a police officer in both halves of the movie. Balaji Sakthivel successfully marries poverty, love, and the hate that rises from infatuation. A one sided love ending in an ultimate sacrifice for a crime committed by a jilted lover forms the plot.
The entire cast have been very natural in their roles and nobody overshadows other performances. The screenplay was tight but drags a bit in the second half. There has been an over usage of body mount camera in quite a number of scenes when it wasn’t required at all.
Overall, Premalo Padithe was very welcoming in these times when Telugu cinema has been churning out mass numbers that are an assault on the senses than entertain the masses.
21 Jump Street Review
’21 jump street is funny enough to make your face hurt with laughter.’ ~ Mihir Fadnavis
It is not the first time that I have been suckered into watching a movie that was recommended by a critic. And it won’t be the last either.
If you’d take ‘Super Bad’ as the yardstick to measure all the teenage comedies, then 21 jump street would probably squeeze itself between American Pie 4 and American Pie 5.
Super Bad had an equally super fat and super funny Jonah Hill and 21 jump street has a half funny and a half Jonah Hill (lost 40 pounds since then).
The last time I have seen Channing Tatum, before watching 21 jump street, was in the forgettable G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He made ballet dancing in Step Up look easier than his attempt at humour in a R-rated comedy.
21 jump street follows two buddy cops on their first assignment, as they go undercover dressed as high school students, to bust a drug supplier peddling hallucinogens at school.
High school doesn’t particularly bring any happy memories for both as they missed their prom night.
Eight years after passing out of school, they think they know everything they had to know about school but they are in for a surprise. Apparently punching the black-gay kid at school is not cool anymore or driving a mustang that gives seven miles a gallon either. On a mission to infiltrate the dealers and find the drug supplier, they would have to win over the trust of a group of cool kids who drive cars that run on bio-fuel and are in the school’s drama class.
A mix of flat jokes, punctuated with a romance angle between Jonah Hill and Brie Larson, which includes a scene where Jonah and Tatum try to force vomit by sticking their fingers down each others throats, sets the tempo for the rest of the movie.
It has more dick jokes than the number of F words in Martin Sorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’ and it tries very hard to make you laugh that it features Johnny Depp in a cameo role with a tatoo on his dick.
Ice Cube starring as Captain DICKson, is probably the only character in the movie who could make you LOL without trying too hard. Sometimes, you’d wish for him to become ‘XXX’ again and shoot the two leads and end the movie then and there.
21 jump street is like the ‘scary movie’ version of all the buddy cop films that hollywood has been rehashing since the beginning of time. It’s strictly for those who don’t have date on a prom night.
Contagion movie review
They say yawning is contagious, and I actually was yawning when my friend sitting next to me, stretched his arms with a mighty yawn after half through watching ‘Contagion’.
After the initial 20 odd minutes I felt like I was watching a documentary on Discovery, where the actors reenact every scene from an event that happened before, punctuated with some somber background narrative.
Soderberg always manages to pull out a casting coup of sorts since his Oscar winning ‘Traffic’ days. He continued the tradition with the Ocean series. Here we have Matt Damon, Jude Law, Lawrence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow plus others in Contagion trying their best to look good from what little screen time they were given without trying hard to out do each other.
Matt Damon was grossly underused as the “super immune” man whose body could beat any “super bug” and Jude Law as a shoddy blogger was the only saving grace of this 1hr 40 mins movie of an overly stretched story from a simple plot point.
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