Movie Review: Arjun Reddy

After a long time, 10 years to be precise, I watched a Telugu movie- Arjun Reddy and enjoyed it quite a bit. As a person who doesn’t have too much fluency in the language, scratch that…I can make do if I have to, else I nod my head along to pretty much everything; I didn’t feel like the movie was beyond my reach at all. The only reason that I even ended up watching this movie is because the Lord&Master suddenly announced his wish to watch it and wanted me to come along. That alone was enough to pique my curiosity.

It’s very visceral and quite emphatic; possibly due to being an out-and-out drama and here’s my 2 cents worth:

  • Vijay Deverakonda– total hottie and does justice to the persona of a hot head who always wears his heart on his sleeve and is unapologetic for his emotions, especially when they run wild!
  • Everyone looks so bloody normal, it’s such a refreshing change! The hero doesn’t sport a V or an 8-pack, the lead actress isn’t so-called glam-down…she looks like a normal girl in college. There are no superbikes, no signs of being impossibly wealthy or anything that’s remotely unbelievable. Just normal, whimsical, idiosyncratic and occasionally damaged people.
  • The angst of love- it bites, it rips you apart and it makes you behave with just a touch of madness but the audience laps it up because at some point we’ve all felt a twinge of the same.
  • Rahul Ramakrishna– as Shiva aka the ultimate best friend. His unabashed support, despair and love for his friend forms a mainstay in the movie and despite it being all about the titular character of Arjun, Shiva has a huge role to play and Rahul Ramakrishna does it with aplomb!
  • The music- it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the words, you feel them! The score by Radhan is edgy, it’s soft and it’s imminently hummable. Telisiney Na Nuvvey is stuck in my head although when I try to sing it am sure the words are being mangled horribly! The background score totally works.
  • The supporting cast- the dads on either side; grim, conventional or just biased…are stereotypes to be true but very believable because stereotypes exist for a reason. The grandmother, the friends- everyone fits well barring Kamal Kamaraju as the older brother trying to broker peace and shield his wayward younger brother.
  • The whole energy of the movie- it’s big, it’s dramatic and it’s very unapologetic! And that’s what makes it work.

I’m glad the director decided to use subtitles so people could keep up. There’s only so much you can deduce from body language and nuances alone. But the reason this movie works, despite the running time and at times overly dramatic posturing of the lead character, is due to it feeling real.

The lead actress isn’t a wallflower neither is she very prominent. Except that she is. Even when she doesn’t speak much, or just flits in and out of a scene, her impact on Arjun Reddy is what takes the story ahead. I’d read that Shalini had dubbed all her own lines…commendable given how different the Southern languages are for native Hindi speakers.

At the end of the day, every movie is made to tell a story. It’s made to entertain. And this one does…in spades! Despite all the controversies over the non-issues like liplocks and being tagged as misogynistic. On one hand if Arjun Reddy tells his girlfriend that she should be friends with a fat chick because a pretty girl and a fat girl are an equation that work, he is equally dismissive of a friend’s sister being married off to an NRI who outright objectifies women and demeans them without any provocation.

Everyone who saw this movie, found something they wanted to in it…I was entertained and got good music out of it…not to mention total eye candy! *wink wink* It should be left at that…a story about a brash man who feels deeply, loves deeply and takes on the world and screws up only to get back up again. Nuff said.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

I’m going to lead with: my experience wasn’t wondrous at all.

I have a bad habit of reading the Wiki and IMDB posts thoroughly before watching a movie, rather than just going with the flow where most movies are concerned. When I read that Wonder Woman received critical acclaim as well as mass approval, my curiosity was stoked because my benchmark of superhero movies was done solely by the first Avengers roll out. And that’s a movie I can watch (and do) again and again.

So what can I say about Wonder Woman? Well…those were 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back. *wipes tears surreptitiously* Let’s list it’s less than stellar qualities, shall we?

  • Chris Pine hasn’t been eye-candy material since The Princess Diary days. He’s adequate in this movie. Nuff said.
  • Gal Gadot- I wouldn’t have picked her in the role of a Amazon…she looks too confused about the world around her; constantly! And has a case of botoxy lips which never seem to close…giving her a perpetual perplexed-fish look. That was an alliterative mouthful, wasn’t it?
  • Robin Wright Penn- gone before she could do anything.
  • Zeus&Ares- better depicted in the Percy Jackson series. A washout here.
  • Danny Huston- had more screen time in Wolverine and a better role too.
  • The aura of the guy in the role of the God of War needs to be spot on. David Thewlis…naah…he didn’t do it for me.

The intent here isn’t to trash the movie. It was adequate as a one-off watch. I guess I have issues with it being promoted more as a movie about a woman, made by a woman. Even if it is path breaking in that sense, it’s still boring. And that’s wherein lies the rub! It’s not interesting and I watch all sorts of crap that’s out there even sampling the tripe called the Sharkansas Womens Prison Massacre.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman doesn’t possess enough of a personality to be captivating. Gal Gadot as an actor needs to emote more and look beyond eyebrow twitches in lieu of acting. Give me the Black Widow with the deadpan and her kickass moves.

Rating: 2/5

 

 

Movie Review: The Shallows

I know why this movie got good reviews:

  • Pretty girl wearing bare minimum required to avoid censorship.
  • Gorgeous locales and alluring waters.
  • A creature that everyone loves to hate viz The Great White.
  • The mysterious solitary seagull.
  • No bizarre sharky behavior barring well…being too chomp-chomp-chomp!

Eloquent wasn’t it? But snark aside so many things are based on location, location, location! And of all the shark movies I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen my share is all my saying), this one had the best location of them all!

This movie is minimalistic and has Blake Lively breaking out of Gossip Girl and the yawn-worthy Green Lantern mode; showing that she too can act and not just be a pretty prop on some guy’s arm. And channeling some snark back in…that swim wear of hers had to be glued onto her chest the way it didn’t move no matter what kind of a beating she took in the water. All hail the the new Wonderbra!

The way the shark is dealt with in the end is an interesting twist from the perpetual blowing up that Hollywood does whether it’s JAWS, Deep Blue Sea, Sharknado or even the utterly forgettable Dam Sharks! Almost like they got a good deal on TNT.

I won’t be revisiting this movie the way I did Ghost Shark and Sharknado#1 or even Jaws 3 but as a one time watch it was entertaining and the ending scenes before the credit rolled were lovely with Sia’s Bird Set Free setting the perfect tone. And it made me wish I could surf….sigh.

I’d give it a 3/5.

Movie Review: Dam Sharks

Damn! Is what you’re left to utter because you’re otherwise chortling helplessly at sharks performing gymnastics in a murky lake somewhere in a podunk town when geeks and their asshole-y boss ( Jason London in an unforgivable role)gather for an offsite. Say hello to DAM SHARKS!

Add a small town sheriff, with a customary ornery old guy and a bunch of people who were hired to get killed within a few minutes of the movie starting and you have Syfy’s latest atrocity on the human civilization. And just in case you still wanted to watch it, here’s the spoiler- there are these sharks, we don’t know where they came from. We don’t know why they came. We don’t know where they’re going but they’re killing people  and building a dam with the body parts. *FACEPALM*

Syfy’s fare seldom gets to the “it’s so bad it’s actually good” stage. It’s languishes at “that’s very darn pathetic but am too lazy to change channels and let’s see what the shark’ll do next”.

The actual victims here: the sharks! Jaws made them look menacing, helped tremendously by John Williams’ score; Deep Blue Sea had a few flinch moments and also had Saffron Burrows as eye candy for the men and Thomas Jane similarly for the women. Sharknado was a laugh-a-minute riot with people trying to remember why Tara Reid and Ian Ziering looked kinda familiar to but not enough to spark an instant recollect. But movies like the Sharnado sequels, and this dam(n) one (‘cuse the pun) just relegate these amazing creatures to ridiculous props in a movie which could have also been a bloodbath, scream fest but just turns out to be replete with stony-faced actors, painfully spewing out their dialogues and not much else.

Creature movies don’t *have* to make sense. If it did, Jaws couldn’t have gone beyond the first movie and created vengeful great whites seeking out the Brodys no matter where they roamed in the world. But a creature movie that makes you laugh, totally defeats the purpose and then some!

One of the worst scenes in the movie: a wanna-be Katniss Everdeen who mouths Roy Schneider’s classic line, “Smile you SOB” and then shoots a paintball arrow into a shark causing it to….wait for it….explode!

But I was bored and I often test myself to see what’s the worst I can watch and for how long…today proved to be a watershed day…I can truly watch tripe. Beginning to end. Doesn’t say much about it now does it?

DAM!

Movie Review: Logan

Wolverine. Aged. Not Healing at the speed of light. Dying….oops! Spoiler alert!

Logan is the most extreme addition to the Marvel comic-movie universe till date. I’d say it leaves Deadpool behind solely because there’s just one of Deadpool and there’s more than one individual who bares their claws in this movie. Else Deadpool was slicker, funnier and definitely the better movie.

The reason Logan didn’t work for me personally was due to the action sequences and the overall flow of the movie being repetitive. It has its share of imposed pathos (C’mon, kids being made guinea pigs to create the perfect soldier is any day gasp-worthy vis-a-vis what Logan was originally put through), a long-lost daughter, Professor Xavier being gaga with fleeting moments of lucidity and horror of horrors- Logan turning into Old Man Logan.

Jackman’s make-up is flawless as a person who’s tried hard to stand the test of time and taken a beating every step of the way. With his angry old man demeanor, unkempt beard and displeased air throughout; he resembles a real wolverine in manner more than ever!

The violence is a bit OTT but it fits in well with the dystopian world the director wants to showcase. My interest in this particular franchise started waning from the first standalone Wolverine movie onwards. Nothing can bring back the kick-ass (literally) fun of Logan and Victor’s face-off with Wade on top of the nuclear reactor!

So while I was moderately entertained for a little over 2.5 hours, it’s finally curtains for Wolverine on the big screen and I really hope they don’t try to make reboots of this particular franchise with anyone else. Old man or not, Hugh Jackman IS Wolverine!

Movie Review: Tridev

After a looooooooooong time I turned the telly on last Sunday in a rush thinking I’d missed out on the Oscars and found Tridev was playing.

Released in 1989 and a blockbuster by the yardstick prevalent back in the day; the movie is a laugh and minute even during the scenes which are supposed to be very high on the emotional quotient.

Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Sunny Deol, Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher and a plethora of other chamaktey sitaarey (shining stars) of the era come together to make a 2 hour plus movie which is replete with the all the symbols of the 80s; and therefore was a total trip down nostalgia alley for me.

These are the tropes in the movies of the 80s and early 90s that I remember vividly-

  • Minimum 3-4 outfit changes for the female lead in the course of a song.
  • Each outfit quite outlandish and fairly garish and gaudy.
  • Villains are OTT evil and had to have a trademark evil laughter. Said trademark had to occur with each evil soliloquy.
  • Women are props. Used to pretty up a scene or as lures to get the male lead to come and duke it out with the bad guy. Women also need to sing during their captivity.
  • The police always arrive after everything ends and essentially are clean-up crews.
  • The back-up dancers are drab-faced people who end up dancing either like they are on meth or are stoned and never vary from either of these two extremes.
  • There is *always* love at first sight.
  • Love is expressed via song. At Least twice. First time: Initial expression. Second time: Reiteration.
  • The fight sequence is totally of comic book proportions without the blurbs spelling out the KAPOWS.
  • Each time anyone gets hit, they fly through the air a la The Matrix and the resulting sound effect is LOUD!
  • There is no anti-hero: there is black or white.
  • There is a weird depiction of a jungle tribe replete with loin cloths, tiger-striped clothing and jungle drums.
  • The jungle tribe utters inane stuff like Jinga Lala Boom etc.
  • Party scenes are usually where everyone is standing still like statues and one person moving about tipsy and singing an alcohol-related song.
  • Patriotism is also OTT.
  • The level and diction of the spoken Hindi is far superior than that spoken these days.
  • The music is catchy and unashamedly borrowed (bits and pieces) from dance hits famous overseas.

Since the advance in special effects hadn’t happened to the extent it has nowadays, things looked made-up and really clichéd but still entertained in a way many movies of today don’t.

While I may have laughed at Sunny Deol’s “angst” at finding his dead father, Amrish Puri’s Bhujang-avatar or even Sangeeta Bijlani’s determination to find her dead brother’s killer by becoming a gangster’s moll; the fact remains is that those movies entertain!

Oye oye!

Image courtesy- madaboutmoviez.wordpress.com

 

The Day Of Lurve

I didn’t know about Valentine’s Day till I was in elementary school in the US. It didn’t mean much once I came back to India. Well it still doesn’t mean much because I’ve only celebrated it about a handful times in my adult life.

The husband isn’t the roses (red or otherwise)and candy kinda guy. He does his bit on a daily basis and then some. Anyone who makes me a cup of coffee every morning is aces in my book. Even if he then leaves wet towels on my side of the bed without fail. EVERY DAY.

So over the years these are some of the more interesting V-Days I’ve experienced:

  • Circa early 2000s- a long-stemmed red rose on the eve of V-Day followed by a movie with 2 other couples and a nice, long bike ride to nowhere in particular.
  • Circa early 2000s (again)- a bouquet of flowers which smelt STRONGLY of Charlie because the flower vendor thought the natural smell of the flowers wasn’t powerful enough for such a special day. I spent half an hour sneezing and then tearing the petals off and scattering them all along the road while heading out for a movie with a special someone.The special someone grumbled on the entire ride at the stupidity of the flower guy and it made for a funny anecdote later on.
  • Circa  early 2000s (boy! I haven’t lived since the early 2000s, have I?)- my BFF and I doing a nice girls night out and landing up in the auto of a creepy, fanatical Hindutva- spouting, pink-heart-hating maniac who grumbled and ranted the entire time we were in the auto. Needless to say, we stopped the meter earlier than expected!
  • Circa early 2000s- another girls’ night out with BFF and another friend, recently single; dinner and lots of laughs over Chinese food and some pretty lousy tipping on our side.

Since then 14th February has been a date in the calendar and nowhere else. But that’s fine because if given a choice I wouldn’t know where to go and what to do. Red&I normally factor in a date night when my folks visit or when we want to watch a movie badly enough to park MLM on a good friend’s couch with his faithful iPad for a few hours.

But it’s also nice to look back on those days when the day meant something ‘more’ than the usual routine was in the offing and that it included a dinner, a movie, a well-groomed guy and definitely some marked attention from aforementioned guy; for a few hours.

Oh to be young and single again!

Naaah…

Image courtesy- voices.washingtonpost.com