Movie Review: Murder On The Orient Express (2017)

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Remakes don’t always work. Not merely because the audience was expecting something and got something else but because the original might have captured the entire essence of the movie the first time around and not left much for the remake to work with.

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In my eyes, David Suchet is the perfect Poirot much like Jeremy Brett was the ultimate Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t like Albert Finney as Poirot in the original Murder On The Orient Express movie but the rest of the cast were aces. They brought every character that Christie wrote about, alive on screen.

The new movie released 43 years after the first one manages to capture the snow panoramic views and locales beautifully and in a way which was not as easily done in the former but the characters seem very one dimensional despite the rather exceptional cast present.

However when you have the stalwarts like Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Perkins, Sean Connery and Michael York essaying roles that Michelle Pfeiffer, Kenneth Branagh, Josh Gad try to justice to you find yourself wanting to switch over to the older version even if the cinematography wasn’t as slick as the new one. The one exception was Johnny Depp. That guy can pull off anything, Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, Jack Sparrow and now Rachett.

Bottom line: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if you like the old fashioned whodunits but without the relatively slow paced versions, then maybe this movie might prove to be entertaining. Some of us like an old fashioned…

The Old Fashioned

 

Oh No You Did Not!!

Red and I impose parental controls on TO’s digital media views and mainly their content.

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It’s not so much to keep him away from profanity (he gets a dose of that when I drive) but also to keep him away from concepts that he may not be able to understand and end up getting freaked out about stuff in the process.

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A while back he and 2 of his cute little friends let it slip how they’d sneaked a peek at The Conjuring while playing unsupervised at another friend’s house. I was able to correlate that with a period of being kicked out of my own bed because someone was afraid to sleep alone in their own room. Or even when they did sleep alone, they wrapped themselves up like a mummy and gave me sleepless nights about suffocation and what not!Image result for kids watching horror movies

This morning I was telling Red over coffee that I had weird dreams last night from seeing clips from The Shining and being partly sleep-deprived and suddenly pipes up a voice from behind me, “Oh yeah, that boy with his cycle and those 2 girls who meet him in the hallway and that old guy who gives him icecream and tells him not to go in a room…that movie, right, with all the blood?”

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After internally WTFing with myself liberally I turned around to ask him how he knew about the movie which he did not have the clearance to watch. He told me very casually that he’d watched it at another friend’s house but only a little bit and he wasn’t scared of it at all!

A part of me is happy that he’s choosing good stuff to watch and not getting messed up in his head by watching things like Evil Dead or the Saw movies, but almost 10 may not be the best age to watch someone’s spiral into insanity and attacking their family with an axe. Just saying.

And while my mother let me watch horror movies when I was his age, I can honestly say I was in it for the blood and gore and she was ok with it because she knew it was a phase and I’d outgrow it. She steadily kept her hand over my eyes during the scenes with nudity though. Come to think of it, most Hollywood undead serial killers are such perverts! They wait till a person is “otherwise occupied” and choose that time to cut their heart out. But those days of cozying up with my mom on the couch, hogging on Hershey’s chocolate pudding cups and watching Jason slash through teenage bodies with his chainsaw…oh the nostalgia. Am almost choked up.

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But if this kid thinks he’s going to watch gore before he’s 35 he’s got another thing coming!

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P.S: This blog post and the others like it have been brought to you courtesy of a Macbook Pro that I was given so very thoughtfully for my birthday this year and about which I have not waxed on eloquently enough.

Disclaimer: This is not an Apple sponsored advertisement. More like Red-sponsored.

 

 

Movie Review: Badla

The first thing that strikes you about this movie is that Indian film makers are more than capable of churning out good flicks without the whole song and dance routine that seems to encapsulate Bollywood movies as a genre. Badla (Revenge) is a prime example of that. An adaption of the Spanish movie The Invisible Guest, Badla is fairly well-tuned game of cat and mouse played between Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu. But who’s toying with whom is the question that gets answered all the way in the last scene of the movie. And it’s worth the wait.

Based in London and in and around green but grim parts of England, the locales lend themselves to building up the tension in the movie. For once AB doesn’t have bombastic dialogues and fiery rhetoric that dominates the scene. I for one, like this older avatar of AB. His stock-in-trade character of ‘Vijay’ seemed very hackneyed and cliched and without much depth. Not sure calling him fine wine would do justice to his craft, but it’s great to see an actor embrace so much variety at his age and not get typecast to being a grandfather or only an old guy in his movies.

Taapsee with the stubborn tilt of her chin and non-compromising stance comes across as a woman who’ll fight tooth and nail to prove her innocence. She’s another actor who soaks up the essence of every character she plays. She’s defiant, she’s brash and she’s selfish and yet you don’t end up hating her. She’s quite human.

What could have been better was the entire role Amrita Singh played along with Tanveer Ghani (her husband in the movie). They had zero chemistry and their banter was trite and banal with both they seeming to be reading their lines for an audition rather than doing their final takes. One remembers the fiery Amrita of Chameli ki Shaadi and Aaina and wonders where that spontaneity has gone. Her somber dialogues too, fall flat and her emoting is not what it used to be.

Tony Luke (Arjun) is fairly believable as a self-serving, adulterous husband who’s trying to make the best of a bad situation. But one wonders if someone like Vicky Kaushal might have brought more gravitas to the role or even been perfect for it.

But this is one movie that people should watch because the lapses are very few and they don’t impact the flow of the movie enough to break our attention away from what will happen next. You remain hooked, wondering who’s going to walk away as the winner and who gets to have their Badla in the end. Although truth be told, things begin to present themselves fairly quickly in terms of what’s what. It’s hardly The Mousetrap. The ost is subtle and has hummable songs with AB rapping on the opening song Aukaat.

What is evident is this- more directors like Sujoy Ghosh, Zoya Akhtar, Soojit Sircar, Aditya Dhar (Uri), Anurag Kashyap et al should be making as many movies as they can and travesties like Zero and reboots of Judwaa shouldn’t be allowed. Bad things happen in the world these days, let’s not add to more trauma for the unsuspecting people out there. Make good movies people, like this one!

Rating: 3/5

Movie Review: Luka Chuppi

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What happens when you don’t want to get married but test drive being married by living together? What happens when you get caught being ‘pretend-married’ and have to play out the pretense? What happens when you try to get married for real to make things legit but realize that life is conspiring against you? Luka Chuppi happens. But it doesn’t happen all that well, unfortunately.

Set against the backdrop of militant love jihadis who are hellbent on making sure that every relationship kowtows to societal norms and any deviations are dealt with harshly; Luka Chuppi takes on a rather contrived and elaborate path towards a happily ever after.

Kriti Sanon is a little too well put together to be convincing as a small town girl. Her body language, mannerisms always bring to mind airline attendants who wish you a pleasant flight or people in the hospitality business who smile as they give you your room key and wish you a very pleasant stay. Rather fakeish.

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Kartik Aaryan is a bit more believable but not much. He’s scruffy and has hair (along with Aparshakti Khurana) that’s reminiscent of the scene from There’s Something About Mary.

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Apart from a few genuine laughs sporadically sprinkled here and there, the movie goes from one choreographed mishap to another. The rest of the cast however, is pretty damn good. They’re convincing small towners and never deviate from being in character. Vinay Pathak, Aparshakti Khurana, Pankaj Tripathi, Alka Amin, Atul Shrivastav bring a strong, wholesome and realistic small town flavor to the movie and are the glue that holds things together. Guddu (Aaryan) and Rashmi (Sanon) are effectively the leads but they are far more accurately described as props.

The OST is nothing outstanding either with 2 songs repackaged from an earlier era.

This movie is worth waiting for…till it airs on Netflix on Amazon Prime. It’s no barrel of laughs but is entertaining in its own smallish way.

Rating: 1/5

 

Movie Review: Deep Blue Sea-2

Verdict: Spare yourself. Seriously.

Sharks are beautiful creatures with rows of serrated teeth and soulless eyes that would scare the bejesus out of anyone who saw them up close and personal.

But they are worthy of that respect that comes with fear. They aren’t the Jason or Freddy of the scary creature movie world. They are the Damians and Michael  Meyers who stalk silently and without too much brouhaha. Because brouhaha isn’t classy. It’s massy and doesn’t have enough gravitas.

I have proved again and again I have rather low standards when choosing movies. I’ll usually watch anything once without feeling too snobby about it. But when a movie is so ridiculous that it just makes you want to throw things at your beloved telly, then there’s truly something rotten in the state of Denmark. Note: Author has no idea about the sudden and inexplicable segue into Shakespeare. Let’s put it down to the brain getting scrambled by this movie.

Back to the ranting! I usually screen whatever movie my child wants to see especially if it’s beyond a PG rating. Deep Blue Sea is something he’s not seen yet so I was wary about the part-2 since they usually go OTT trying to get people to like it as much as the previous one. But this installment of the movie is a joke. With baby bull sharks being confused about their sharky heritage and acting like a bunch of piranhas instead. Yech.

The acting is so sub-par that is doesn’t behoove me to mention it at all. With the movie copying the iconic scenes from the 1st movie you are just in a hurry to switch it off and move onto something like White Chicks to restore your faith in creature flicks.

 

So, will TO be allowed to watch this film? NO! If he has to hurt his eyes by watching crap, I’d rather he watched Sharknado. It has the distinction of ‘being so bad it’s actually good’!

Movie Review: Gully Boy

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For everyone who’s been told something’s impossible, unattainable and to get their head out of the clouds because reality bites; Gully Boy is the answer.

Zoya Akhtar’s latest offering takes us deep into Dharavi, without any of the gore and gristle but without adding any glitter either. Ranveer Singh (Murad) shows how deeply he can get under the skin of a character and make it his own. From Simmba to Gully Boy, he peels off layer after layer and shows us how well honed his craft truly is.

Synopsis: Murad, a college-going young man from Dharavi, makes space in his cramped tenement for his mother, younger brother, grandmother and father (Vijay Raaz) and his father’s new, younger wife along with his dreams, hopes and burning desire to be someone. Being a rapper is as alien a concept to the people of Dharavi as are aliens themselves. You either lie and cheat to get ahead or you keep your head down, work hard and join the rat race because money, food in the belly and a roof over your head cancels out having dreams and aspirations over everything else.

His childhood love, Safina (Alia Bhatt),is spirited, unapologetic and unabashedly in love with him and his dreams. Their chemistry is spot on and very real.

How Murad tries toeing the line, doing what is expected out of him and still tries to be true to himself and acknowledge that having a passion is life is not only ok but essential, forms the crux of the movie.

The lingo, the people are all perfectly typecast although there are times when the movie seems to  move slower than one would like. Friendships, loyalty and dreaming the impossible and achieving it are all the takeaways at the end of the reel.

The music: is middling between mediocre to decent. The tunes are catchy, the lyrics are worth pondering on and the acting seamless and without much of histrionics.

One may not like rap as a genre, or even the rappers with their yo-yoing all over the place and hoodie pants, but Gully Boy shows the poets that live within.

Rating: 3/5

 

Movie Review: Kedarnath

This post isn’t advocating that you go and see the movie if you’d much rather not. However, it does stress on the aspect of enjoyment you’d get and the surprise you may feel if you did.

Set in the backdrop of the catastrophic floods that ravaged parts of Uttarakhand back in 2013, this movie has people, communal tensions and the fury of nature playing critical roles without anyone giving an inch to the other. If you have star crossed lovers on one side, you have bigotry on the other and everything getting submerged (excuse the pun) under the torrential flows of water.

Sara Ali Khan- is a surprise. Mainly because so many other young debutantes, barring Alia Bhatt and Anushka Sharma, have failed at being convincing or even realistic. She doesn’t sound like an NRI who just got off the plane and neither does she seem uncomfortable in her own skin. Her body language is spot on when playing a devil may care young girl who flouts societal norms and her ‘in your face’ attitude seems to flow naturally.

She could have gone with more modest attire when playing a girl who’s father is a staunch Hindu priest and one who lives in a town built around religion and myths. But if you have Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla dressing you up for the movies, then the look of a small town girl is probably hard to pull off. She could take a leaf out of Anushka’s book ala Sui Dhaga.

Sushant Singh Rajput as Mansoor is believable as a (pitthoo) guide who lugs the pilgrims up and down the mountains. A lot of Bollywood actors get so used to the urbane, yuppie roles they play that even when they have to go deglam, they can’t get into the skin of the character. Mansoor doesn’t appeal unworldly, far from it, but he does appear to be straight talking and knows who he is. SSR could have avoided the SRK-like posturing towards the fag end of the movie but the scene called for drama and SRK does drama; cliched as it were.

Pooja Gor, Nitish Bharadwaj, Nishant Dahiya, Alka Amin and others round up the cast and bring to life the stronghold that religion has not only on the lives of the people in Kedarnath, but their actions, their thought processes and ultimately what they deem is right or wrong. All these actors with their strong backgrounds in television bring in a whiff of freshness amongst the acting talent that’s been around in Bollywood for a while.

Amit Trivedi’s score for the movie isn’t fantastic but the song Namo Namo certainly is. The visuals are quite breathtaking and made me want to visit the place. Any movie that evokes that kind of a feeling in a viewer must be doing something right.

The images of the lake overflowing, the cloudburst don’t look realistic at all. Even back in the day movies like The Day After Tomorrow was able to make tsunamis and rampant destruction look believable.

But special effects only add to the mix in a movie like this. At the end of the day you still feel bad when the boy and girl fall prey to nature, stigma and society. What remains is a good time that was had, hummable music and lovely visuals!

Rating: 2.5/5