Movie Review: Shang-Chi and The Legend Of the Ten Rings

We have somehow avoided going to the movie theaters even post our vaccination. It just seems like an uphill task to expect the levels of cleanliness and hygiene I’d be comfortable with in these current circumstances. But OTTs rule and we’ve been able to view quite a few of the new movies sitting at home so we’re not entirely missing out on the fun stuff. One movie TO’s been hankering after is Shangi-Chi and when it showed up on Hotstar, there was no reason to delay watching it at all!

This has to be said before anything else- there wasn’t enough of main stream material about other countries and their cultures in the superhero genre of movies. For most of us it meant watching Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li do their thing and maybe be buddied up with a mainstream Hollywood actor for more visibility but Shang-Chi changes that completely. With a near- completely Asian cast, this movie is fun, entertaining and worth a big bowl of popcorn and nachos and you don’t miss out the other Marvel heavy hitters not being around to rescue it.

I don’t do spoilers much so I won’t do that here either. Suffice to say that there’s a battle between good and evil. There are some people who are very good at martial arts and yes, there are mystical creatures. A few unexpected characters do make appearances here and there but they are neither show stoppers or show stealers.

Watch Shang-Chi with your family for the magic that plays out on the screen, for the fluid dance movement-like martial arts and most importantly because its really a fun watch!

Lockdown Entertainment

I eventually got around to watching a movie during the lockdown. Till now I’ve limited myself to watching series which have episodes so I can take a break in between and not feel like I’m going to miss out on an ongoing thread. I’ve started watching Modern Family from the beginning and usually watch while I’m doing something repetitive like washing dishes or ironing. It works out well for me. Each episode is roughly 40 minutes long and that ensures a good amount of dishes and clothes getting done.

But a movie is a different ball game. With a movie there’s a sense of continuity that has to be maintained else it’s no fun. Of course with some movies there is barely any head or tail to start with or the acting is so OTT or weird that you would willingly get up and leave the room because it’s totally a yawn-worthy affair.

I was bored enough to want to watch something like War, thinking that an action flick would be engaging and it would be chock-full of Bollywood-style drama and be humorous without meaning to. And I was right. I was also wrong. Right because it was funny. But not in a funny ha-ha manner. And I was wrong because it was about as engaging as…well similies are failing me because I was bored just thinking about it.

Bored Monsters Inc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now this movie has garnered a lot of hype and good reviews but it’s hardly as slick as it could have been. I recently saw Special Ops and found it to be quite engrossing. No OTT dialogues. No hissing Hrithik Roshan+Tiger Shroff. I have no idea why those two have to lower their voices to an inaudible register just to express pathos and emotion.

Johnny English - What Is Wrong With You GIF by MikeyMo | Gfycat

Long story short- I didn’t watch it till the end. I think I barely made it past a quarter of it. I moved onto another one called Khandaani Shafakhana. Now this movie wasn’t aces by any means but it was still interesting.

The characters were better etched, the flavor of a small city was captured well and the mindset of our society towards carnal relations was fairly authentically portrayed I felt. What it fell short in capturing was the human element but it also stopped short of becoming a preachy piece on how our thinking needs to change so I called it even. It is one of the VERY few movies where I felt Sonakshi Sinha could actually emote instead of  being a pretty prop in movies like Dabangg.

Of course movies being lengthier and children being little sadistics who like to come and engage their parents in all sorts of inane chatter and activities at the least conducive times; there were four interruptions before Red and I could finally see the whole damn thing all the way through.

Will I be watching anymore movies during this time? Maybe, maybe not. All depends on when the kid sleeps and how much of a glutton for punishment I turn out to be.

 

I Get By With A Little Help From…

Music. Pretty much of all types but I have particular songs earmarked for particular situations or moods rather. There’s a specific song for decompressing. The main reason this song became the anthem for situations where the walls seem to be closing in is because of its lyrics. It’s beyond ridiculous. Utterly ludicrous. And that’s the beauty of it. When situations make you go WTF in caps, bold, underlined with an army of exclamations and question marks after it, a song without a head or tail can make you do a double take and go, “Dang…that’s so weird it’s actually good!”

I also get by with the help of movies. The more senseless the better. See the theme running through this post? I have a few I fall back on- Sharknado, White Girls and a few which aren’t senseless but just good clean fun and laughs like Padosan and Naram Garam and their ilk.

A good friend sitting in a virus hotspot just pinged and told me about tsunamis and earthquakes on top of the lovely days the world has been experiencing. So, find your rhythm and groove. No matter how weird. We could all do with a bit more weird. Feeling bright and shiny is a bit overrated IMHO, weird is the way to go!

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You Are What You Read…

Red reads “interesting” things. He reads fiction, non-fiction and plenty of things that ‘thinking’ people seek out.  Am far more pedestrian and I think I know the answer to that as well…let me just pull up my virtual couch as I hark back to my childhood for the insight.

When I was in 5th grade, our class teacher was very passionate and stringent about our reading habits. And with the baggage that came from being from part of a race that’s been persecuted and vilified throughout history; she exposed us to books which left a lasting reluctance in me seeking out thinks which were a “heavy” read. And I don’t mean tomes necessarily. I mean books which made a 11-year old year child in a foreign country sad, restless and not quite content.

Books, in my family, are a gift for all occasions. Toys will come and go but books will sustain. The kind of books I was given ranged from folk tales, mythologies and even things which helped me do school projects (thank you Barnes&Nobles for your books on the Roman civilization). And for the most part they all had a common thread running through them; they were fun to read or they entertained at some level.

When I read Friedrich, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, The Number on my Grandfather’s Arm or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry I had too much to process for my pre-adolescent brain. Books that were fun to read aka Pippi Longstockings, Anne of Green Gables series, Judy Blume’s works or Harriet the Spy et al were still good to dive into but the somber tone struck by the Holocaust and the stories of racism especially during the Great Depression has made me wary of anything that seems even remotely “serious”. For the same reason I seldom seek out the dramas in movies either. Red runs towards drama and I veer towards stuff that’s the White Chicks ilk.

I am a semi-closeted romance book reader, the HEA notwithstanding. I like reading Regency stuff; having been introduced to Georgette Heyer and her peers by my godmother. The thing with the lighter kind of reading material is you can pick it up, put it down and not go off into raptures or trip into a long, winded thought process and still enjoy it. I need to feel entertained at the end of it all. Not necessarily feel like I came away with more stuff to chew on.

My favorite authors for the past few years have been Jonathan Kellerman, Jana DeLeon, John Sandford, P.J Tracy, Rick Riordan. Their works aren’t creampuff by any stretch of the imagination but they are all aces in the entertainment segment.

So that’s me then…a Regency-romance, police-procedural, mythology-geek, serial-killer book loving mom who is currently giggling through The Adventures of Captain Underpants and groaning through the Geronimo Stilton series. And it’s true now as it was 30 years ago..if I have a chance, I’ll pick up a book or the Kindle over most things and just lose myself in it.

To sum up in the words of the great Stephen King, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 

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Movie Review: Skyscraper

Image result for skyscraper posterWill Sawyer is no John Maclane. And Skycraper is no Die Hard. Image result for finger pointing down gifImage result for we're not worthy gif

But be as that may, it has the potential to be an entertaining movie despite having to live up to the rep of movies of the same ilk having scored BIG at the box office and becoming cult classics. There are mainly 3 things to know about this movie:

  • Dwayne Johnson, for all his histrionics during the WWF days, is understated in his portrayal of a worried dad and an ex-FBI agent. In fact this movie could be re-titled Skyscraper: Where The Rock Gets The Stuffing Knocked Out Of Him. The man gets battered all over getting this family back.
  • Neve Campbell, in a far better turn than in all her Scream avatars, is a military doctor mom who has her shit together. She’s not She-Man but she doesn’t go down without a fight either. Image result for sidney scream gif
  • The Bad Guy- Roland Moller is fine as a cold-blooded Scandinavian extortionist-hitman but he is no Hans Gruber either [ takes a moment to pay a silent tribute to Alan Rickman].

One can’t help but compare similarities with Die Hard- 2 law enforcement guys, both jump of buildings and both get the bad guys in the end…by throwing them off the building of course! Oh yeah…spoiler alert. Sorry.

But where Skyscraper has the backing of a lot of technical stuff bringing the high rise hi jinks to life, Die Hard was the opposite. The main technology used were the 2-way radios the terrorists had and of course the code breaking their resident geek did to get to the bonds in the Nakatomi safe. I mean we all know Bruce Willis didn’t actually jump off a building in this scene, but the low-tech worked overall and that too, tremendously!

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So why am I writing about Skyscraper if this is turning into a reason to binge watch the Die Hard series? Because Skyscraper may make you go “meh” but you won’t leave bored. And you’ll be rooting for The Rock the whole way…and it’s a point in his favor that the man doesn’t keep taking his shirt off to prove his machismo. Salman Khan…are you listening?

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Rating- 1.5 stars

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

 

Movie Review: Rustom

It’s good to watch movies. Good or bad. Gives one an idea about the kind of things film makers are thinking about and if they do have the pulse of their audience. With Rustom they succeeded in breaking out of the run-of-the-mill Bollywood masala grist and yet failed to craft a taut film that makes the movie goer sigh/nod in appreciation.

Based quite obviously on the Nanavati case that rocked the India of the 50s, the movie has a very staged look and feel with the characters not quite coming across as convincing in the roles they are essaying.

Akshay Kumar looks good in uniform. For a man his age he is in fine form physically but is rather wooden. He doesn’t come across as a Parsi at all and wears his uniform throughout the movie without it ever getting creased or dirty even while he’s incarcerated. Full marks to the jail dhobi!

Illeana D’Cruz looks pretty as a picture. Wears simple and elegant sarees and is quite effective as an ornamental prop. She neither carries the weight or punch that the role requires.

Esha Gupta smoulders like a femme fatale would and is by turns slutty and pull of pouty attitude. If attitude was the only requirement that the role had then she aced it and how! Barring that, she too has very little meat in her role and comes across as a spoiled rich socialite and not much else.

Arjan Bajwa is quite well cast. You can feel the smarminess come off him in waves and I can see him getting typecast as a Lothario in future projects.

People like Sachin Khedekar are rather miscast and arereduced to being ranting buffoons who really don’t belong in a biopic; even a loose one.

Anang Desai, Kanwaljeet Singh and Usha Nadkarni in their supporting roles add the necessary flavor and yet, despite it all, the movie leaves you wanting.

It doesn’t end in a manner which satisfies but neither does it disappoint in toto.

A bit of a limbo of a film and yet it’s good to see Khiladi Kumar embrace more roles of this ilk. He’s moved way past his Churake Dil Mera days...