of denzel and jamie

When i first watched Denzel Washington in Philadelphia, i was mesmerised. A sensitive story, sensitively performed. Then there were other fabulous performances in The Book of Eli, The Bone Collector, Unstoppable and so on. I really wondered if Hollywood would find a replacement for him, as he grew older. And then along came Jamie Foxx. I loved him in Django Unchained and I loved him in Whitehouse Down, which i watched on TV today. i am not a huge fan of action films, but I love what these guys bring to the screen ( ref. Unstoppable, Whitehouse Down).

Whitehouse Down has an oft used plot of an attack on the whitehouse. It has shades of Irving Wallace’s The Man, and many other ‘president attack’ films. its a well edited film, with very few histrionics from actors. there were few close ups to show us the emotions of the protagonist. there was no protagonist, as a matter of fact. and yet, jamie foxx, in the role of the president ( clearly modeled on obama) stole the show from the nose of the undeniably handsome channing tatum.

the brush of humour in his dialogue delivery made all the difference, and even the comic timing – very subtle but unmissable. i loved the scene where he has to shoot at something,  he pats his coat pocket, fishes out his spectacles, wears them, focuses and shoots. no deliberate flourishes. no overt rolling of the eyes or self-deprecating grimaces. no smart ass dialogue. the camera focused for just a second on the slightly upturned lips of the man who could maintain his balance and humour in the middle of a firing. truly the stuff presidents are made of.

i watched the film for maggie gyllenhall and jamie foxx and i wasn’t disappointed. the handsome channing was the icing on the cake.

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<p>no movie…not zoomed off for dhoom 3 yet!! </p><p>enjoying the Hercule Poirot fest on TV, although it plays havoc with bedtime. Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries, by themselves very good, are taken to a new level with this superb bit of filming.</p><p>great English countryside, well chosen cast, especially David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. He has the mannerisms of the slightly pompous, brilliant detective down pat. from the ‘walk with little mincing steps’, to the superior , confident smile – Suchet’s Poirot is a delight.</p><p>Each story is shown in two parts and that’s just enough to do justice to its plot. no overlong stretching that causes the narrative to break.</p><p>May of the less popular novels are made better in the TV movie.</p><p>DO watch. Zee Cafe, 11pm IST.</p>

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Watched The Hobbit – Desolation of the Smaug and I was desolate…waiting for the movie to end, as were the four noisy teenagers in the row behind mine. 3-D is not my favourite.

However, this above is a ‘feeling’ and not an honest appreciation, so let’s work on that.

SFX- The Hobbit was tops. No doubt the makers had pulled out all the stops and it will be watched the world over by other film-makers for ‘how they did what they did’.

For me, the fire-breathing dragon was just a skinnier, less green version of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. And the entire film, every frame, was much too grey. The lack of colour undermined the spectacular SFX. Yeah, I am sorry, but that’s what it was.

Three hours just to appreciate special effects is too much to expect from an Indian audience fed on melodrama. Indian mythology trains us for a tableau of colourful characters and their interwined lives. This over long fantasy film had no story except the battle of good and evil, light and dark and four different types of species (human in nature, with stylized appearances; the Orcs are evil and therefore ugly, the elves are good and therefore blonde and beautiful) who are trying to reach a mountain where there’s a jewel guarded by the dragon. Nothing else happens; I heard several yawns, the African lady in front of me pulled out her mobile phone and stared at its screen and someone complained – ‘too much action, yaar!’

In the end, the dragon is not slain; it flies away, thus paving the way for a sequel ( please, please, make it better!!).

What the film did do is whet my curiosity about the names; I definitely plan to study the etymology of Orcs, Hobbit and the rest. I also plan to examine the slip between the cup and the lip – what Tolkein intended and what Peter Jackson delivered.

Watch only if a diehard Tolkein or special effects fan.

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Short Shots

Downloaded a short film called “Shorts”, released earlier this year. Had missed it then.

The first attractive thing about it was the cast – Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi, Richa Chaddha – three stars of the Gangs of Wasseypur cast. There were others from GOW, as well;  Shorts is from the Anurag Kashyap stable ( Anurag Kashyap of GOW fame)

The first of the five short films is called Sujata. It’s a common place tale.  A young girl at the mercy of her uncle and aunt is tormented by her cousin, a boy slightly older than her. Little incidents are shown in the past and present – nothing overt, but small suggestions that are very menacing.

For instance, the adults – the uncle and the aunt, and the girl’s parents – are never shown. When Sujata and her cousin are young, the maximum one sees of her mother or aunt is maybe just a part of the sari of a departing figure. The movie happens when ever the children are alone in the house. But the scenes aren’t stretched out, nor are they titillating. For example – when a teenaged Sujata is sleeping one day, the boy sprinkles grains of sugar around her and so a trail of ants finds her; she now has to change and this causes the boy a lot of glee. Her hand is already in a makeshift sling, suggesting that he has probably been violent with her earlier.

As an adult she runs away several times and tries to make a life for herself, he finds her each time -shaming her with his man gaze and extracting her hard-earned money. This last time, she ‘accidentally’ finishes him off.

This story is about the darker side of power. All the stories in Shorts make quick, compelling statements.

Do watch it –  I downloaded from You tube movies using ilivid.

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Of beauty, peace and nostalgia



I plead guilty to watching favourite films whenever they show up on TV again.

One of them is Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. And even though the title ( and Katrina Kaif) says “Carpe Diem!”, I do not seize the day to do something new. Instead I watch the film again.

I simply cannot resist soaking up its beautiful visuals once again or allowing myself to completely drown in Javed Akhtar’s poetry and Farhan Akhtar’s voice. There’s peace and space in this film.

Yesterday I watched it until the senorita song; that song is now part of my DNA just like Rekha’s song in Parineeta and Aishwarya’s song in Guzaarish.

Watching these films is like slipping into conversations with old friends. Sheer delight!

Today, they are showing Silsila; another visual treat, a beautiful poetic film, albeit with the flaws of the eighties’ film-making trends ( logic disappears every now and then). However, I shall record it ( Tata Sky laga dala, life Jhingalala), while I proceed to watch Shahid , and possibly Captain Philips , which are graciously awaiting my attention.

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in lieu of friday fix

Besharam’s cleverly planned pre-Friday release boomeranged. Most people did not like it; I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of young people felt cheated at the meaningless fare. There was a lot of talk about the young Kapoor’s ‘posterior exposure’ (to put it politely) and none seemed too impressed with that either!  Are the Indian audiences evolving? Kudos! However, Ranbir being the vibrant actor that he is, I shall watch the film; but taking a leaf out of his book, will ‘besharam-i’ se, do it ‘saste mein’ at the RSI in a week or two.

Checked out the songs of the said film on Youtube! Let alone foot-tapping, even my toe did not budge.

So spent a lovely 15 minutes last evening watching lovely old romantic hits like ‘likhe jo khat tujhe…’ and ‘o mere dil ke chain.. .’The former, I remember watching as a 5 or 6 year old in Vaughan Club, Delhi Cantt. I hardly knew what I was watching; only the song had made an impact – the beautiful backdrop of unspoilt mountains, those larger than life flickering images, Mohammed Rafi’s divine voice and that exquisite echo-effect ( not enough of a music aficionado to know how that was done)….stayed with me in spite of the forced-rhyme lyrics. The handsome Shashi Kapoor’s inexpert antics make every female heart go pitter-pat and Asha Parekh’s eyes revealed a hundred different emotions.

As for ‘o mere dil ke chain.. .’  – Tanuja’s ‘bolti aankhen’ and sari clad person were far more sensuous than all the Munnis and Sheilas put together. And Rajesh Khanna, who was mostly himself in all his films, actually conveyed passion and ardour with his signature head-shaking.

My Youtube yesteryear melody trip also led me to “yeh jeevan hai…’ from Ghar Ghar ki Kahani(a nuanced representation of Mumbai life of the late 1960s). Kishore Kumar’s consciously mellow rendition gently suggests the magnificent truth contained in the lyrics.

We are so capable of enduring and brilliant music! Musicals like Jhankaar beats and the more recent Rock On, have struck a chord, of course. And a Badtameez Dil is definitely going to be heard at all dance dos from now till the New Year’s Eve! We can expect more of these unforgettable numbers, it appears. Hail to all melody makers!


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Dhishum-dhishum at Elysium

The fresh release may be watched for any or all of the following reasons

–         You adore Matt Damon

–         You want to see Jodie Foster look  a 100 years old

–         You are dying to see a futuristic, Hollywood version of  Indra, the Tiger

–         Your childhood was cruelly bereft of toyguns and mockfights

–         You delight in hearing f—k or f—–g three times in every sentence

–         You are deaf so unnecessary, over loud noises don’t bother you

–         You know some Spanish (or was it?)

–         You are a devotee of VFX and computer generated (CG) imagery

–         You are waiting to say GOTCHA!! to Hollywood

–         You are an urban developer and want to sue the filmmaker for stealing your blueprint of Elysium

–         You like heavy metal versions of everything, including dhishum-dhishum

–         You really have nothing better to do

I am perhaps uncharitable; it has actually got decent reviews and box office collections as well. But Elysium is not my kind of film. Also I didn’t watch it in my fav cinema, that did make a difference. And seriously, so much of the film is post-production that the actors had to barely do anything except don exoskeletons or brandish huge guns with unbelievable gunfire or walk stiffly and sit in a large, antiseptic conference room.

Not a very watchable film, unless for the reasons listed above. However, the imaginative detailing,for instance, the vegetation on Elysium (I understand that came from Beverly Hills), and use of technology redeem it somewhat. And the fact that the team probably had a blast making it!!

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