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Category: Movie reviews

Skyfall (Sam Mendes)

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Great movie. Sam Mendes was an unusual choice for a Bond movie considering most of his works have been dramas centred on the human condition with themes like estrangement and familial relationships. So this was always going to be interesting. After all the immediate precedent was such a boring misfire and came from a director not very unlike Mendes. But all these fears vanish as soon as the movie begins with some jaw dropping action sequences set on Turkey’s rooftops and a cross country train. As if this was not enough, Mendes comes up with the one of the finest opening credit sequences ever (Set to some great vocals by Adele) which is an explosion of elegant psychedelia. He has our full attention from thereon and this film hardly ever slips up. It is relentless in its pacing but does not do it at the expense of emotion. Every sequence is finely staged with terrific, terrific (That is not a typo but my inability to really emphasise this as much as I want to) support from Roger Deakins who with his photography surpasses what every compatriot of his has done so far. The climax, shot against a blaze in a desolate Scottish grassland, with people in silhouettes is immensely haunting; so is a cat and mouse sequence set in the garish lights of Shanghai. This is an incredibly aesthetic movie to watch and it is all the more great that Deakins has shot most of the scenes while working with low lighting and in near darkness.

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The story is functional like in all Bond movies but the screenwriting is fantastic in most places. It is the right amount of poker faced seriousness (which for some is also cheesiness. Only at one point does it falter, when Bond looks at M and says “Storm is coming.” But this is again not so much the fault of the writers but simply the popularity of that dialogue from a certain Nolan movie) and cheekiness [At one point Q says to Bond “You were not expecting exploding pens are you.” This movie, like all other ageing franchises, follows the trend of poking fun at its predecessors even while grappling to find relevance for characters that were originally created with a different set of circumstances in mind (Bond for example as the agent having assignments to deal with the Communist enemy)]. It helps that all these dialogues are given to masters of not just this genre but any genre like Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem and last but not the least Daniel Craig himself. Daniel Craig is back in Casino Royale mode – gritty and resurgent – after a brief detour as the psychologically wounded and unhinged Bond of Quantum. The swagger, style and even the dissolute ways are back. Berenice Marlohe won’t be remembered a few years hence but she is competent. Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, who also kicks some ass on the side, is an interesting take on what Fleming had originally written. In fact, the Bond franchise seems to be breaking some of the resolute ideas of Fleming by first having a woman as M, a blonde hero as Bond and, now, a black woman as Moneypenny. Bardem makes for an excellent villain (How can he not?) and people who think they have seen enough of him might still be surprised by the way he plays Silva.

With Skyfall, Mendes successfully gives a new fillip to the franchise which flattered to deceive with the earlier two movies. It also marks the successful transition of Bond from an anti-Communist agent to an anti-terrorism agent, buttressing his and his agency’s relevance in a contemporary world. Skyfall has all the elements of a classic Bond movie and more. It is classy, visually stunning and a fantastic addition to the franchise.

PS: If Roger Deakins doesn’t win an Oscar for this, I would very surprised.

PPS: Best Bond movie? Speaking for myself, yes, this is indeed the best Bond movie.

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Barfi (Anurag Basu)

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Basu, man, take a bow. You deserve it. This is hands down the best Hindi movie of the year. 

Where do I start now? This is such a gorgeous piece of filmmaking that I want to give it a hug. Can you hug a movie? I just did. The greatest thing about this movie, and there are many great things, is the exploitation of the cinematic medium for what it is and stands for. Many directors forget that they have the advantage of a visual medium where they can just show things and emotions; that there is no need to tell. This is what the director and screen writer do here. With the conceit of two disabled protagonists, Basu had his task cut out while making a two and half hour movie but it is also a necessity. And he passes it with flying colours. This is the one of the most visual of films where just the camera narrates.

Another great thing is the central dilemma in the film and how beautifully Basu realises it – the conflict between practical love and pure love. It is one of those universal ideas that screenwriters never tire from, but Barfi is an intelligent and original exploration of it. Basu encapsulates this idea in the form of Shruti (Ileana) and the recurring motif of love & regret seemingly provides the answer. It is also as life affirming and uplifting as a movie about disabled people can be, in times where Bhansali has made a business of milking tears with depressive pieces like Black and Guzaarish. This is not about the triumph of the disabled; this is not about them overcoming their disabilities. It is about them transcending all that – the disability is an immediate presence but also an afterthought – and managing to lead a graceful, normal existence and spreading more love than we can imagine. The irony is supposedly on us; for listening to the head in the matters of the heart and complicating things while Barfi and Jhilmil are blissfully unaware of such choices but lead a happy, glorious existence. That you never think of these two as being less capable than we are is a wonderful quality of this film. Basu also demonstrates this in the umpteen instances where these two communicate (also captured in Neelesh Mishra’s exquisite lines “nazar ki siyahi se likhenge tujhe hazaar chittiyaan, khamosh jhidkiyaan”); through mirrors, through lights, by throwing shoes, through fireflies – practically everything else apart from the physical act of talking becomes a mode of communication.

This movie is also an example of how a movie can create its own mood; take the instance of Barfi’s mother dying during child birth. A director can turn this into a veritable tearjerker. Basu, instead, glosses over it in the cheery Ala Barfi song with some of the most astonishing black humour seen on screen (Radio On Hua, Amma Off Hui, Toota Har Sapna). How a potential fifteen minutes sequence gets condensed into three lines! Then there is the use of troubadours as a narrative element after Life in a Metro; here too they seem to stand witness to this story at important junctures, as if they were chronicling it. There are infinite, little flourishes that add up and make Barfi memorable.

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The performances are uniformly outstanding. Ranbir is the heart and soul of the film; what a great performance this is – purely physical and expressive. He doesn’t talk and he doesn’t need to if he can convey emotion and feeling so well. In his role as Barfi he traverses the entire gamut of emotions and never, for once, falters. Priyanka (Jhilmil) trumps everything she has done so far as an autistic girl; she is impressively restrained. Also extra marks for research on autism. Ileana, for me, was a revelation. As a woman torn between two men she is graceful and sensitive. She is also the most beautiful woman I have seen on screen and her presence lights up every frame. The importance of Shruti to the narrative cannot be overemphasised; although Barfi is the overarching presence in the film it is Shruti that lends emotional heft and credence to the film. In a crucial moment, she has to decide whether she wants Barfi for herself or let go of him, so he can go back to Jhilmil. Basu’s presentation of this conflict is almost oppressive for us, the audience, and Ileana’s reactions in those scenes confirm her talent as an actress. Saurabh Shukla, as the local policeman, balances over the top comedy with bursts of poignancy. Perfect. I am tempted to add Darjeeling and the toy train as the other protagonists; they are that important. This is a movie that reminded me of the charm of small towns again and the places I grew up in. I wonder why Basu set it in Darjeeling because, strangely, it only feels natural that something like this should happen there.

I already love the music by Pritam. It is magnificent and enhances the movie, richly, along with the quirkily dramatic background score.  

Barfi is the most magical thing I have seen on screen.      

PS: Yes, you are right. It has about five minutes of copied scenes.

Tape (Richard Linklater)

Tape is a terrific, smartly textured movie. Linklater just churns out these little gems, one after the other. The movie has shades of McEwan’s lurking unease and constantly escalating tension as a conversation between three high school friends (now adults) progresses. Much of the conversation revolves around an incident from the past that involved the three of them. It takes place in a dingy hotel room giving the movie an oppressive charge but the best thing about the movie is how the characters talk so much but convey so little; leaving much to the interpretation of the viewer. The performances are stunning; Ethan Hawke is always great; Robert Sean Leonard is excellent (Funny how these two also acted in the polar opposite Dead Poets Society) and so is Uma Thurman who takes a while to get into the groove. This is psychological violence at its best. Bravo Linklater!

Tape (Richard Linklater)

Tape is a terrific, smartly textured movie. Linklater just churns out these little gems, one after the other. The movie has shades of McEwan’s lurking unease and constantly escalating tension as a conversation between three high school friends (now adults) progresses. Much of the conversation revolves around an incident from the past that involved the three of them. It takes place in a dingy hotel room giving the movie an oppressive charge but the best thing about the movie is how the characters talk so much but convey so little; leaving much to the interpretation of the viewer. The performances are stunning; Ethan Hawke is always great; Robert Sean Leonard is excellent (Funny how these two also acted in the polar opposite Dead Poets Society) and so is Uma Thurman who takes a while to get into the groove. This is psychological violence at its best. Bravo Linklater!

Laura (Otto Preminger)

This is a brilliant movie. Gene Tierney is so luminous and irresistible as the eponymous character that Preminger’s attempts to pitch her as a vulnerable object of desire can’t but succeed. The storytelling is economical and sparse but the writing is excellent. Perfect noir.

Preminger takes a subject that is laden with inexorable noir movie themes like passion and crime and weaves it with some symbolism and poise. Even for a relatively short runtime (Around 88 minutes) it never feels hurried because it is not so much the unfolding that Preminger is bothered about but the exploration of human desire and longing.

Dammu (Boyapati Seenu)

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For all the good taste in cinema I profess to have, I am still a major fan of commercial cinema and by commercial cinema I mean epic mass movies like Indra, Aadi, Chatrapathi etc; not soft romances and quasi gangster movies . Dammu is a worthy addition to that list. It is essentially a retread of the faction movies of the past, especially Aadi and Indra, when it comes to the storyline. The major reason why movies like Dammu still get made is because a major bloodshed is always good. Revenge feels good. It is cleansing, cathartic and is the best payoff possible in movies.  

Boyapati Seenu, like Rajamouli, chooses his payoffs wisely and milks them fantastically. He knows that the best form of catharsis comes when the hero has to go to war with family pride and honour at stake. It helps if there is a history of violence and the backs are to the wall. Makes it all the more stirring. It is the reason why Gladiator is epic. It is one man taking on an empire to avenge his personal loss. It is the reason why Eden Gardens 2001 was epic. It is two me defying odds and staging an incredible comeback. Fighting for an ideal or ideology can be rousing but a fight for personal reasons almost always surpasses that. Remember Chak De India? It is not so much about the underdogs winning but about Kabir Khan’s redemption; the evisceration of past injustices.

Coming back to Dammu, Boyapati is a canny director. He knows that the first half could be filled with establishing the feud and the characters. The second half is where the action usually is and it is here that all the setup could fizzle out if it is not handled well. So what does he do? He manufactures, what I call, epic mass moments. These are usually the payoff moments where uninhibited heroism crushes down with vengeance and inevitability upon villainy. And the success of the movie is directly proportional to how many genuine epic mass moments the director manages to pack in. All of us like fights but nobody likes a meaningless fight. The stronger the justification the better the fight looks. So, just when you are thinking that the movie is meandering to the obligatory final showdown, Seenu bumps off the hero’s baava (Venu) after spending some time establishing his good natured character.

The best faction movies always horrify through an unexpected tragedy and make the loss feel personal. And then the cathartic hack-a-thon begins.

Dammu has a lot of epic mass moments. Boyapati is the next Rajamouli what with the latter dabbling with offbeat subjects off late. He has the skill to gradually build scenes and deliver the payoffs well. NTR is perfect in the role. If you are a fan of the genre and get thrills like I do from watching solid bloodshed then Dammu is for you. 

The Masters in Paris

Some thoughts on Midnight in Paris, Hugo and the two masters behind them.

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The French are taking over the awards, if not the movies, this year, in some form or the other. Your and my ears have already numbed from all the buzz around the silent movie The Artist. For a silent movie, the din around The Artist is nothing short of deafening. As if that weren’t enough we also have the old masters Messrs Allen & Scorsese (Sounds like a law firm,no?) weave magic onscreen by putting Paris through a time machine.

Some of the renaissance spirit that Allen exquisitely invokes in his warm movie seems to have infected him too for in Midnight in Paris we see vintage Woody. He surely rolls back the years. While his protagonist Gil Pender might yearn for the Paris of the 20s for the writer in him to blossom, Woody doesn’t need to look anywhere for the spark. He still has it in him to write a script that is tender, quirky and nostalgic.     

Another director, who wasn’t quite looking for reinvention but was nevertheless being viewed with scepticism, is Martin Scorsese. There was talk about undeserved recognition for a supposedly watered down remake. There was talk about how he was making middle of the road thrillers now. Both of which I thoroughly liked especially the latter which showed that the master had an delightful feel for psychological themes and atmosphere. All of this he varnishes on Hugo. It is a touching movie with layers of insight. It is a mystery alright but it is also a story about a young boy’s love for his father, his friendships, dreams and movies. Scorsese stages it perfectly and manages to bring the soul of Paris to the Montparnasse railway station. This is like Home Alone for adults that children can also enjoy.

Both movies truly bring out the innocence and joy of movies and truly exploit the cinematic medium for what it is. Pure entertainment with a dash of nostalgia. There is no fuss over the technique employed; Just simple storytelling.

Both the directors invoke the bohemian spirit of Paris, Scorsese less so in Hugo but the place still leaves its indelible mark on the movie. While Woody makes us swoon in the splendour of Paris’ finest streets and buildings,  Scorsese goes a step ahead and builds an entire city within the Montparnasse! The movies are also populated by a rich tapestry of characters. Midnight in Paris is especially delightful when it springs one surprise after the other when the Lost Generation comes alive. Such is the collective brilliance of those souls that Woody just had to embody the character with the right person and give them an air of authenticity (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali especially stand out) – both of which he does marvellously. There is a fine balance that has to be struck while making a movie of this sort. The initial fascination of the viewer as he grapples with the high concept can wane quickly if he realises that the director’s imagination begins and ends there and that the movie is nothing but a guided celebrity tour. But in Woody’s interpretation of the age the characters come alive in flesh and blood. You know he is not just throwing around names to impress you although that cannot be ruled out altogether. The movie has a lovely sepia tint even in the modern day portions which made me wonder if Paris itself is bathed in that kind of an ethereal glow all the time. Owen Wilson is the only disappointment in the whole movie – His part edgy, part excited portrayal making him look slightly juvenile at times. But that you’ll notice only if you can  take your eyes off the absolutely alluring Marion Cotillard!

The best touch in the movie for me was when Pender tells Bunuel the concept for (The Discreet Charm.) The Exterminating Angel. It is meta moments like this that make MIP magical.      

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Scorsese’s setting is more festive than bohemian. There is a certain Christmassy feel to the entire movie. This could be because of two reasons – The amiable set of characters that populate the station be it the florist, the lady with the cute poodle(?), the gentleman trying to woo the lady and even Sacha Cohen’s caricaturish grumpy policeman with his dog. (In fact mans best friends get a lot of screen time in this year’s Oscar nominations. Uggie the dog, Blackie and the cute poodle.) These characters set the tone when the movie begins. The sense of mystery is innocuous, ephemeral and only at the level of children. Adults will realise 20 minutes into the movie that maintaining suspense is the last thing on Scorsese’s mind. Instead he fashions a heart warming movie around the indomitable spirit of a ragamuffin. Along the way he packs in a homage to the auteurs of early cinema like George Melies. There is also redemption and vindication to be had. (This is also the theme that resonates in The Artist which is also about changing circumstances forcing an artist out of his craft and livelihood.) If there is anyone who genuinely deserves to pay homage to old and forgotten masterpieces, it is Scorcese, for his homage mirrors his concern for these movies in real life. The cast is great. I have nothing against precocious kids but they irritate me. Here they play it with the right amount of timidity, resolve and a sense of wonder. Ben Kingsley is fantastic. The unadulterated emotions are sure to touch the audiences hearts. It is a great holiday movie and will possibly be watched by a lot of families on lazy Sunday afternoons or Christmas. It is shot beautifully and is languorous at times. (I was only watching a BRrip on an LCD screen). I can only imagine its gorgeousness on an IMAX 3D screen!

We must be grateful that unlike Coppola, the other great of New Hollywood, Scorsese’s ambition hasn’t lessened over time. I thought that with Shutter Island Scorcese was also taking the path of Coppola – making stylish yet slight B movies. But that, it seems, was just a flash in the pan. He has made a movie that will rejuvenate the much reviled 3D format.

Hugo and Midnight in Paris easily traipse into my all time favourite list. They are movies made with a lot of heart and emotion and showcase two masters at the peak of their genius. I do not know whether these movies deserve awards or not but they surely deserve the love of the viewer.  

(First posted on The Doubt Express at http://thedoubtexpress.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/the-masters-2/.)

A Separation (Asghar Faridi)

Separation_UKI was torn to shreds by the end of this movie. And the more I thought about the innumerable moral complexities that this movie makes us grapple with, the denser it got. It is a masterful, masterful film and I repeat it only because I have no better word to describe it with and no other way to emphasise it. I have decided that any evaluation of the film will have to deal with the questions that the movie so mundanely yet eloquently poses and quite frankly I don’t think I am worthy enough to resolve even one of them. It will only end up spoiling your viewing experience or, even worse, will be the worst attempt at oversimplication ever. Watch it. It is the best movie of the year. One of the very best, absolutely.

PS: And in case you were wondering, I have seen The Tree of Life and Melancholia. That should put things into perspective.

Businessman (Puri Jagannath)

mahesh businessman movie posters (17)Simmering somewhere deep in this movie is Puri Jagannath’s take on moral nihilism and psychopathy. He feeds them like words of wisdom through the conversations between Surya (Mahesh Babu) and Chitra (Kajal). It is all mighty refreshing and I was, in fact, pleasantly surprised to observe that somebody could leaven them so thoughtfully into, what seemed like, everyday conversations between a couple. Furthermore, it is this casual philosophical banter that speaks a lot about Surya’s character in Businessman than any of the masala punch lines and overt acts of heroism. It is the only thing that kept me from dismissing the whole movie as any other regular potboiler. So the first time I heard Surya utter something about morality and war, I was half surprised and half confused. Surely, it couldn’t be. And I wasn’t laughing also which meant the dialogue had some conviction and thought going into it rather than mere words being thrown around. It was plain curiosity. So the next time around I decided to be on the lookout and surely enough, after some scenes that continued to depict the outrageously simple rise of Surya in the underworld, more philosophy followed. There are dialogues on God, on predators, on human nature – All of them providing a refreshing perspective by playing with viewpoints, taking impish digs at man’s conception of morality and, above all, asking searching questions about our innermost thoughts. I do not know whether this infusion of, what people might dismiss as, pop philosophy was a conscious decision, because it surely elevates this movie and gives the protagonist a rarely found depth and dimension. It surely is consistent and substantial.

But you would be wrong if you thought screenwriting is the highpoint of this film. If Puri shows moments of fascinating brilliance in one scene, the very next scene he drops us back into the rut of commercial cinema blending an outlandish plotline with an unconvincing romance. The idea of charting the meteoric rise of a gangster from simple beginnings is not a theme that hasn’t been dealt before in the cinematic medium. There is the ethereal Godfather Part I & II. Then there is Mani Ratnam’s stunning Nayagan that is also set in Mumbai like this film, where perhaps decades later, after people like Velu Naicker and Dawood Ibrahim have been neutralised or eliminated, Surya puts into motion his plan of creating a business of organised crime. It is a very striking concept although you would need a lot of ingenuity and insightful screenwriting to make the gangster’s growth look convincing. And this is precisely where Puri Jagannath fails first.

Mahesh Babu Businessman Movie WallpapersFor a while Puri actually had me hooked with the eerily silent scenes that follow the hero’s arrival in Mumbai (in a second class train). It is Brahmaji’s character that does all the talking while an intense Surya just observes. I haven’t been to Mumbai but this is probably how you react when you land there; calmly take in all the hustle and bustle, experience the sheer cramped feeling that comes from being in dingy slums and claustrophobic local train compartments. It is a hero introduction scene that is, to put it lightly, completely counter-intuitive, anti-expectations and, above all, myth busting (It is a genre rule that very few directors dare to break). There is not a single line uttered that would have sent the, on-your-marks-get-set-go, expectant, first day crowd into raptures (I have noticed that with the first day crowd it is always like launching a rocket into the orbit. Once the first few good dialogues come and the laughter picks up it never abates). Just an uneasy calm before Surya makes his intentions clear – “Main Mumbai sheher ko pishab karwane aaya hoon” (This is precisely the dialogue I was not hoping for, because this I think – and this is what I felt when I saw the trailer also – is the most lackadaisical writing Puri has ever come up with ever. It is not only gross on so many levels but it just kills the mood. Incredibly enough the crowd seemed to share the same sentiment! What more Surya keeps repeating it like it is his “evadu kodthe dimma thirigi mind block” dialogue – which it surely isn’t.) This is followed by a scene where the hero cons a couple of youngsters by posing as a police officer. Believable, but stretching it. A couple of scenes later he walks into the criminal infested Dongri area and picks up a fight with some jobless gangsters. Umm..Well he is the hero, right? But, say what, this guy has too much dookudu in him. Then, after cleverly masterminding a murder in a jail he robs a bank with his newly recruited goondas. That, my friend, was the breaking point and that was when I stopped taking the movie seriously, till of course those pop philosophy interludes popped in.

While watching a movie I always engage in this internal tussle where I analyse the believability of certain sequences. This is of course all subjective but there comes a certain point in a movie when I start assuming unbelievable things to be a given just to enjoy whatever else is left. So I started showing interest in the Surya-Chitra romance angle – which is frequently intruded by this utterly crazy accented chick who is Chitra’s girlfriend. To be fair, the romance is accorded more respect than is usually and works not so much because of any realistic portrayal but because of the lazy humour that Puri injects into the lines. There are the usual misunderstandings, the usual fights etcetera but the banter kept my interest alive. For a movie that had only two tracks, one charting the rise and the other traversing the romance, this was the better one. How I wish the whole movie was made around this! But nevertheless this acts as a relief to the increasingly convoluted proceedings in the other half where Surya has befriended a local Mumbai politician, has outmuscled everyone else to put the guy in the Mayor’s post and is now planning to expand his *cough cough* crime business to other cities. I maybe studying law but it does not need any particular understanding of our statute books to see how many crimes Surya can be booked under. Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner, played by a Nasser who alternates between unintentional comedy and mock seriousness before being bumped off for good, plaintively watches, ruing the fact that Surya is so clever that he has everything covered and cannot be apprehended. This guy must be full of shit or the Mumbai Police Services’ training is a joke. Somebody give him the Indian Penal Code. On the other hand Surya, it is apparent, manages to survive because of the combined inefficiency of the Mumbai Police – the same one that at the beginning of the movie proudly proclaims to have eliminated all the crime syndicates in Mumbai but have now become surprisingly impotent – and the expert use of hostages (He keeps shuffling them to keep the police on their toes it seems. One moment it is the heroine and another moment it is some police officer’s mother. Interestingly enough, the villain is also not averse to this ploy and manages to wrangle the hero into a death-trap with the heroine hostage scenario towards the end.) Ok enough nit-picking!

mahesh businessman movie posters (2)Despite all this, I believe, this movie could have worked much better if it had a much better tone and consistency in writing. Pokiri stretched believability too but the writing was very organic there. Here it vacillates between good, bad and deplorable so much that the good gets lost somewhere leaving only a bad taste. There are lines which fall flat because they try too hard to be punchy and then there are lines that have nothing going for them except for Mahesh Babu’s searing intensity. Also the movie would have grown in stature had they not given the twist explanation to the way the hero behaves. The family angle kills the shades of brilliance that Puri manages to bring to the table through the philosophy of the hero, who is an intriguing island of amorality and hardened cynicism till then. It makes revenge the overbearing justification towards the end which would perhaps go down well with the “family” audiences but does make the movie glib. Further, the rise of Surya need not have been focussed upon so closely. Nayagan cleverly sidestepped the issue by showing a couple of acts that seem to propel Velu Naicker to gangsterdom before cutting to the part where he is an established gangster. This technique would have had a far better persuasive appeal than the micro growth that Puri shows by resorting to outlandish schemes. In the end even the philosophy and ideology that Puri infuses is an indication of confusion. Even though the integration is seamless when it comes to the scenes, it does not all add up in the larger scheme of the things. In this respect, he reminded me of Trivikram’s Jalsa where there is a sub plot involving Pawan’s character’s tryst with Naxalism and the reasons leading up to them. The writing is blooded with such anger and angst that I was completely moved  only to be stunned into disbelief when the same Naxal character coolly merges into the mainstream in comical fashion. It doesn’t “fit”.

The songs are good but have been choreographed and shot lazily. The cinematography is excellent for the most part with the title credits scenes being the pick. Very nicely shot montage of Mumbai. The action scenes are par for the course but nothing stands out.

Puri’s vision is a laudable one, with nearly full marks for the concept. The execution however suffers majorly.

PS: What’s with the blurring of cleavages and thighs in the song sequences? For an A rated movie, our CBFC really needs to grow up and not turn so prudish at the first hint of skin. It is also so selectively and arbitrarily done that there does not even appear to be any method to the madness. Cuss words have also been beeped out regularly. Again, when will the CBFC stop acting as the moral compass for grown up people?                

Sherlock Holmes and the Game of Shadows (Guy Ritchie)

Too tired to write a full fledged review.But here goes what I felt about this rip roaring Ritchie serving –

* Don’t. Don’t expect a purist’s take on Sherlock Holmes. Guy Ritchie is too incorrigible to let go of his stylistic moorings. Here too you have Ritchie style blazing action with the camera zipping around madly. Ritchie makes great use of this technique to explain/recap events quickly for the viewer. There are slo-mo sequences that seem absolutely out of place but this is one director that just refuses to grow up!

* I don’t understand why they even have to call this movie Sherlock Holmes because it has nothing, zilch, nada to do with the iconic detective apart from the name, some characters and the famous address. Holmes is a predominantly Ritchie’esque action character. Nothing more. Nothing less. Hell, they could have called it Downey Jr. and the Game of Shadows and people would have queued up equal fervour.

* Having said that, this movie is great, great fun for the most part. Downey Jr. hits top gear and his one liners, witticisms and tantrums are a joy to behold. This movie is nothing without him. He is probably the only actor who can get away with anything (Even a drag). Such effortless timing. Such rapid fire dialogue that you think somebody will get hurt.

* The movie hurtles from the start with a colourful set of characters and a plot that capably puts Downey Jr. on screen for most of the time. Ritchie’s lines are funnier here as compared to the first one. There is also more enthusiasm and vibrancy to the movie as Holmes’ literally trots across Europe.

* Hans Zimmer’s score is functional for the most part with different bars of discombobulate featuring prominently. But what blew my head was the melange of some quaintly eastern European violin riffs for an action scene that takes place at a club (Noomi Rapace’s place). The action piece was very ordinary but Zimmer elevates it with his propulsive score so much so that it seems stunning. Earworm moment!

*The movie builds on Holmes’ terrific ability to premeditate action sequences. This is taken to ecstatic levels towards the end when Holmes and Moriarty, both consummate at the skill, plan out moves and counter moves without so much as moving a hand. Rollicking stuff.

* Jude Law is surprisingly in great touch. He is not usually an impressive actor but he shows great flair for comedy and shtick here. Noomi Rapace sounds like the exotic gypsy she is, while Stephen Fry is barely tolerable as Mycroft Holmes (The scene where both the brothers attack each other with deductions is imaginatively transformed from prose to screen). Jared Harris as Moriarty is not sinister and intelligent enough. This is not merely the actor’s fault as the rivalry between Holmes and Moriarty is not gestated enough like it is done in books. Irene Adler is cruelly bumped off. The screen won’t be lit anymore by the luminous smile of McAdams. Sad smile 

* This series continues to have incredibly good set design and locations – giving the movie a magnificent period feel. The cinematography is first rate. Editing could have been tighter. There are scenes after the rambunctious first hour which seem to drag for a while.

Ritchie’s new movie is a swashbuckling adventure that is not as “deliciously complicated” as Downey Jr. puts it. But it is delicious and compelling nevertheless.