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The Pursuit of Happyness January 25, 2007

Posted by Priyanka Varma in Biography, drama, LAN, Reviews.
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The Pursuit of HappynessI haven’t watched many movies of Will Smith. But was really impressed by his acting talent in ‘Hitch‘…Will Smith in the cast motivated me to watch ‘The Pursuit of Happyness‘ and I was really stunned by his and his son Jaden Smith‘s performance. Will has given his best performance to date but his real-life son, also his reel-life son, in his debut has acted superbly beyond expectations.

Will Smith is on the road to Oscars as he has been nominated for the ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’ for the movie. I haven’t watched the performances of the other nominees(Nominees for Oscar 2007) but still I personally feel that he should be awarded for his stunning performance. The best part of the movie was exceptional acting by Will, who allows the audience feel every emotion that he goes through, be it sadness, desparation, relief or “happyness“.

The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie inspired by a true story of a homeless single father and his son trying to live their dreams. Will Smith plays Chris Gardener, a salesman struggling to sell bulky scanners to make ends meet for his family. His wife in discontentment splits leaving him and their son Christopher(played by Jaden Smith) to look after themselves. The life becomes difficult – when he loses home, have to sleep in homeless shelters and even in train station bathrooms eventually landing into a non-paying internship in a major stockbroker firm that is very competitive. .With his intelligence and hard work he manages to fulfill his dream of being happy and giving themselves the life they truly deserved, despite all the obstacles.

The storyline doesn’t have anything exceptional – its a rags-to-rich story. The movie basically deals with how people live and survive. Gives an inspiring message – “Follow your dreams with a fierce determination“.

You must watch the movie to admire the perfect performance given by Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith who has also done a natural acting.

Kudos to the performance of the Smiths!!!!

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Pinjar January 23, 2007

Posted by Priyanka Varma in drama, LAN, Reviews.
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Based on the novel by the well-known writer Amrita Pritam, Chandra Prakash Dwivedi‘s debut film shows the true reality of the Partition of India in 1947.

The Partition of India in 1947 has been the most widely-explored themes in Indian Cinema. Many films like Gadar, Hey Ram, 1947 Earth are set against the backdrop of Partition and the communal violence but Pinjar offers slightly different by focusing on the plight of women who were the victims of Partition. Pinjar deals with the practice of abduction of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh women, by the men of religion other than theirs and were forced to marry these men. These girls were not only forced to marry their kidnappers but were also made to change their religion to that of their husband’s. Even if the girls were lucky enough to escape, their family didn’t accept them so as to protect ‘family honour‘.

The protagonist of Pinjar is Puro(Urmila Matondkar), a Hindu girl who is kidnapped by a Muslim man Rashid(Manoj Bajpai), on the eve of her wedding with Ramchand(Sanjay Suri), in order to take revenge of the kidnapping and rape of his aunPinjart by Puro’ s uncle. Puro suceeds in escaping but is rejected by her parents on returning home. While Puro is forced to turn Muslim and married to Rashid, wedding celebrations continues as Trilok(Priyanshu Chatterjee) is married to Ramchand’ sister Lajjo(Sandali Sinha) and Puro’sister Rajjo(Isha Koppikar) to Ramchand’s cousin. Puro’s brother Tilak outraged at the attitude of his parents is the only one who tries to find his sister and longs for her. Meanwhile as Puro struggles with her situation, the partition of India takes place. There is an outbreak of riots which forces Hindus in Pakistan to leave their home and move to India and Muslims in India to move to Pakistan. During this Lajjo gets kidnapped by the Muslim men. The rest of the story concentrates on the meeting of Lajjo and Puro and the still lingering love of Puro for Ramchand. Finally, Puro has to make a difficult choice between a life with her kidnapper or begin a new life with Ramchand and her family back in India.

There are some moments which really are heart-wrenching – when the parents are reluctant to accept their own daughter Puro back assuming that this will taint their honour and leaves her alone, Puro’s desperation to regain her old identity by rubbing the tattoed Muslim name Hamida on her wrist, Lajjo and other members of Puro’s family’s insensitivity.

Urmila Matondkar delivers a good performance as Puro, but at times the emotions seem to be forced. Priyanshu Chatterjee’s character as the concerned brother searching for his sister is well-performed and Sanjay Suri as the idealistic Ramchand offers commitment to his role. Good performances by Lillette Dubey, Sandali Sinha and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. But it is Manoj Bajpai who walks away with the honours for remarkable performance as Rashid. Ishaa Koppikar has nothing much to do.

A must-watch movie but a li’l long in duration with some insignificant scenes like depicting Seema Biswas as a mad woman….

After 60 years of Independence, one tends to forget the pain and the struggle that our forefathers must have gone through. Its the kind of film that really leaves a mark and makes you think about that phase of history and how much people had to suffer. Brings out some lesser-known and unbelievable realities of history………..

The Insider January 18, 2007

Posted by Priyanka Varma in drama, History, LAN, Mood: Thrill me, Reviews.
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“60 Minutes” investigative television newsmagazine on CBS is popular for responsible reporters and producers uncovering the truth before its audience. Many topics center on allegations of wrongdoing and corruption on the part of corporations, politicians, and other public officials. The show has been praised for landmark journalism but also got involved in some controversies. One of the controversies was when it aired an interview with Jeffrey Wigand, ex-VicePresident for R&D dept. of the tobacco company Brown and Williamson(B&W) with altered content and deleting some of the important evidences against B&W.

Michael Mann‘s The Insider is based on this true story. The movie starts with Jeffrey Wigand, played by Russell Crowe, being fired by the CEO of B&W . But before being thrown out he is ordered to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to receive his severance pay and benefits. The Insider60 Minutes ” producer Lowell Bergman, played by Al Pacino comes across Wigand and after too much prodding Wigand tells him that B&W was involved in enhancing the effects of nicotine in cigarettes.

Despite the discontinuance of his severance pay, death threats and attacks on him and his family and breaking marriage, he agrees to go for Mike Wallace, played by Christopher Plummer, interview and reveal the evidences against the tobacco company. Unfortunately, the CBS corporates decide not to air the controversial interview for the fear of being sued by B&W.

The second half of the film shifts from Wigand to Bergman as he fights against CBS to have Wigand’s story heard and made public while Wigand takes the job of a Chemistry teacher in college. Bergman has to struggle alone because Mike Wallace also doesn’t support him.

Russel and Pacino has given a wonderful performance. Wigand is an interesting character who makes the right decisions amidst the troubles he faces. He puts everything at stake to bring out the truth. Pacino as Bergman has proved that he is an excellent actor. Christopher Plummer is also excellent as Mike Wallace.

The movie was a great success because of the good plot, strong cast, superb dialogues and a skilled direction. The film also has a strong message that “Always be with the truth, no matter what the cost “. It also comes out with the message to all smokers and non-smokers that “Smoking can endanger your health“.

And also Hats off to the power of Journalism!!!

Invasion of the Body Snatchers January 17, 2007

Posted by sonnestrahlen in previews.
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The story of the movie is set in a fictional town of Santa Mira. The movie begins with the introduction of the lead actor, whom the government agencies see as a mentally retarded person and detain him. Then, the doctor – Dr. Binnell narrates the story.

 

Dr. Binnell returns from a medical convention after his nurse asks him to urgently come back to his clinic after a large number of patients turn up at his clinic. Most of them accuse their loved ones of being imposters. Soon, the doctor’s love from his past too turns up at his clinic asking him to help her cousin, who accuses her father of being an imposter.

 

A psychiatrist – Dr. Dan Kaufman then informs Dr. Binnell that the cases are nothing but ‘epidemic mass hysteria’. But, Dr. Binnell still has a strange feeling of something going wrong in the town. He then soon discovers a strange body on a pool table at his friend-Jack Belicec’s house, which he thinks has some resemblance with his friend. When Jack falls asleep sitting, the body comes to life and seeing the body coming to life Jack and his wife get frightened and rush to Dr. Binnell’s house. But, when Jack and Dr. Binnell go back to Jack’s house, they find that the body has disappeared, leave behind a blood mark on the table. Then Dr. Binnell finds a similar kind of body in the basement of Becky’s house.  Then slowly the doctor’s realizes that the people of the town are slowly being replaced by some bot kind of things, which evolve from plantlike pods and later take over the person’s memory and life, when he sleeps. But, the movie doesn’t talk about the disposing of bodies of actual people.

 

Dr. Binnell and Becky keep running away from the bots, which he assumes that the aliens have planted on this planet. But, unfortunately Becky too falls prey to the alien’s plot, and gets converted into a bot, whom Dr. Binnell abandon’s and runs to the highway shouting for help, from where he gets detained by the law enforcement authorities. They believe in his story, only when they find a truck full of the plantlike pods.

 

The “bot people” in this film don’t act like the controlled zombies you would expect them to be, except in the group scenes. Taken one by one, they just seem to be bad tempered. Often they act quite human. More consistency for “bot people” behavior would have been an improvement, as well as greater contrast in personalities between those converted and those still alive.

 

The movie being a sci-fi flick still has a love sub plot, which brings several questions to the viewers mind. Why can’t be Becky and Dr. Binnell be shown as happily married couple, rather than being shown as long lost lovers? Also questions like What if the people closest to you were suddenly different. What if they had some secret and evil plan? What if they wanted you to join them, even against your will?

Water makes it to Oscar shortlist January 17, 2007

Posted by Priyanka Varma in film makers, news.
1 comment so far

Canada based Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta‘s “Water” has been selected as the official Canadian entry for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s hit Rang De Basanti was the Indian entry for the category but couldn’t manage.

Water

Starring Lisa Ray, John Abraham, Seema Biswas, “Water” is about the plight of Indian widows during 1930’s. The movie was in lot of controversies before production. The movie was originally supposed to star Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das but the production could not continue in 2000 because of Hindu protests and attacks. Finally it was shot in 2005 in Sri Lanka with a new cast. Our best wishes are with the Water team..

Read our previous story on Water here….

Guru January 16, 2007

Posted by ujj in drama, love stories, Mood: sweet, music review, Reviews.
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Sometime back whenever a very talked about film hit the screens, a small number of us went toGuru watch them with the objective of critical analysis and to look for and note minute technical or edit slips that others would have missed. In effect anything that would give us something to tell the world about the film, something the world will not get to know from other sources. It took a long time and money to realize that by doing so a lot of us were missing the main idea of Cinema. Together with this realization came the idea of a blog and this blog combines the two ideas. Main idea of cinema, which in my opinion is featuring a story in a it appeals to the masses, and frank opinion about a film without getting into jargaon. I say this because some dozens of reviews of Guru do this. They either tell you the plot and period, or get into an absolute microcosmic detail like the camera shots and synchronism.

I will not to do this, cause Ive learnt it the hard way not to. Ill tell you why I think Guru is Abhishek Bachchans best performance so far after Yuva and why in my opinion we will get to see plenty of Aishwarya and Abhishek in years to come (in films I mean). Mani Ratnam may not concur with it but its a fact that Guru is inspired from the life of Dhirubhai Ambani. The parallels are many. First Gurubhai comes from a village in Gujarat, next he goes to Turkey, Gurubhais first love is cloth and then silk and eventually polyster and if that wasnt enough. An unparalleled event in the history of Indian industry, the meeting called by Dhirubhai Ambani in a stadium full of shareholders. For me its enough to consider it an adaptation of his life. The story isnt the best aspect of the film, the script however has a constant pace. It doesnt rush at places and slows down other times, it just maintains its quite a low pace throughout the film. This pace is what makes it important for the dialogues to be great if not extraordinary and that they are indeed.

apne 5 minute diye the, maine sadhe char minute mein hi ye sab khatam kar diya..yahan bhi 30 second ka fayada. ise kehte hain business

main baniya hoon saab, baatein bhi kanjoosi se kharch karta hoon

mujhe na shabd sunayi nahin deta

ek shirt ek pant , ek sala aur ek biwi lekar is sheher main aaya tha aur aaj…

Abhishek Bachchan is something to really look for in the film. There are some who say that besides him theres not much in the film, but to be honest I couldnt imagine putting anyone else in place of Aishwarya in the film. Simply because she didnt get overshadowed by this larger than life image of Gurubhai and didnt end up merely being one of his supporters but rather provided a strong backing that even Gurubhai couldnt have done without. Mithun Chakravorty appears after a long time on screen doing a well suited role of a Bengali newspaper chief editor. Madhavan and Vidya Balan pay cameos but theyr really good too.

Aishwarya Rai makes an entry similar to the one in Roja with the song Barson Re Megha Megha. At that point Dil hai chota sa comes to mind. A R Rehmans music is something I cannot comment upon. Same applies to lyrics of Gulzar and when the powers combine… The last sequence of scenes take place in a courtroom where come cases are registered against Gurubhai. It suddenly reminds us of the last few scenes of Aviator. Abhishek Bachchans acting is at its best at this point. Well to say it in a few words, this film works. Its a little slow but works. Definitely not allowed to miss on the large screen.

Babel January 15, 2007

Posted by Priyanka Varma in drama, LAN, Reviews.
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The Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga has come up with their latest movie Babel after Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Babel has the same intertwining story structure as the previous two, but this time it spans the globe to capture the lives of the families in Morocco, America, Mexico and Tokyo. BabelIt is a film with the settings in different parts of the world, a multicultural cast and the characters speaking Japanese,French,English,Spanish,Berber Arabic and even the Sign Language by a deaf-mute girl.

Babel, which has been nominated for the Golden Globe Award, ties together four parallel stories that are eventually revealed to be linked to one another.

In one story we watch Brad Pitt’s Richard and Cate Blanchett’s Susan, an American couple on a trip to Morocco where Susan gets shot and Richard struggles to save her life stranded in a remote village.US authorities sees this as an act of terrorism. In another, there is a Moroccan kid who shot her carelessly with the hunting rifle given by his father to help keep the jackals away from his herd of goats. In America, we watch the tourist couple’s kids with their immigrant maid, Amelia (Adriana Barraza) getting into danger while returning from her son’s wedding in Mexico. In Japan, the movie shows a 16-year old Japanese deaf and mute Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi), living with her father(Koji Yakusho), coping with the suicide of her mother and loneliness in her life. Broken and desperate for a meaningful relationship she thinks that exploiting her sexuality would get people’s attention towards her. This story also connects to the shot as the Japanese father is connected to the gun that shot Susan.

The filmmakers have succeded in weaving these stories together while exploring the depth of the character and relationships – whether it be of American couple, the Japanese deaf-mute girl with her father or the nanny and the couple’s kids.

If you are mainly interested in Pitt or Blanchett – they only appear intermittently as the film has many other characters and stories. The performance is excellent, from the non-actors to Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael Garcia Bernal. But the performance of the Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi , playing the deaf-mute girl, was amazing and far surpassed Pitt and Blanchett.

A great movie overall but the only complaint is the unnecessary story line that takes place in Japan which seems to be connected with other stories just for the sake of doing. It is a little detracting from the central theme.

Maachis January 12, 2007

Posted by ujj in film makers, Mood: serious, Reviews, Screenings.
3 comments

According to IMDB, this is Gulzars most personal film till date and so it seems. Gulzar, a manMaachis known more popularly for his lyrics, understands and portrays human emotion like noone else, the plot and the dialogues of Maachis seem to highlight this fact. Maachis is the story of the aftermath of the 1984 anti Sikh riots, following the assasination of Indira Gandhi after operation blue star, where young Sikh men and women were taken away by desperate police officials for questioning about the various extremist groups operational in Punjab at the time. One of the important notions displayed, is the irony, in which terrorists are born out of supression of the authorities that exist for protecting them.

Superb acing performances by actors like Chandrachur Singh, Tabu and Om Puri do justice to the brilliant plot which narrates the becoming of a few young men, unhappy with the system, into extremists. Unlike Rang De Basanti, this film actually makes a lot of sense and is much more mature than a group of angry collegians shooting out. Tabu and Om Puri got national awards for this film. Maachis is a typical example of film-noire.

The songs are simply beautiful. Chappa Chappa Charkha Chale and Chod Aye Hum Wo Galiyan are to this day one of the most popular songs, not just in Punjab, but the rest of the country too. Gulzar known for portraying complex emotions into 5 minute songs, has done a great job in making a standard length Hindi film. The film is not the best or the most accurate political description of the 1984 riots aftermath but it doesnt aim to do so. It aims to show the case of families that suffered then and that it accomplishes very well. Its perhaps one of the most simple and yet popular films of the Indian film industry. Should’nt miss an opportunity to watch it, in a group if possible, its one of those films that rise to become universal, its complete effect takes over you, if you’re in a group.

A good year January 8, 2007

Posted by ujj in LAN, love stories, Mood: Need 2 laugh, Mood: sweet, Reviews.
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After having seen the big preview of a good year on Zee Studio lately, I couldnt resist the temptation of watching it and I was not surprised that it was upto my expectations. Though I was sceptical if Ridley Scott, the maker of the first Alien in 1979, could deliver a good love story drama, I was keen to see the duo of Ridley Scott and Russel Crowe in a completely different genre from the Gladiator, and if that wasnt enough, this was Russel Crowe’s next film after the Cinderella Man, the one film I will take the copy of with me to my grave, so in short, I had enough fire in me to be the couch potato for this one. The drop dead crazy gorgeous Marion Cotillard who played Josephine in the Big Fish plays Fanny Chenal (a french women) in this film.

Marion Cottilard and Russel Crowe in A good year (2006).

Max Skinner (Crowe) is a big fish in the trading market has recently discovered that his uncle has left him a chateau and a vineyard in France. In his own words he has grand memories of that place. He goes to his childhood home and plans on selling it. A rather funny encounter with Fanny sets his love hormones working. Fanny runs a small restaurant and it is here Max first asks her out. Things begin to change, an unknown and unheard of relative of Max uncles makes an entry, the caretaker of the vineyard pleads to Max for not selling the vineyard and Fanny falls in love with Max. Now Max has to chose between his life and his career. Ill save the suspense, he choses life, but how he discoveres what life is, is something you should see. Together with the love story, theres enough that goes in the life of other characters, something which we dont see in all love stories.

There are some really witty and memorable dialogues. Fanny on being disturbed by Max in her restaurant says

I am too busy to ignore you.

.. remember this is France, the customer is always wrong.

When young Max and his uncle are playing chess and Max cheats on him. Max’s uncle says to the young Max.

Max, have I told you, why I enjoy making wine so much?

Max replies

You dont make the wine, uncle Henry, that guy Russel does.

Uncle

Youve started to sound like a communist, Max, in France its always the landowner who makes the wine. ..Now then, I enjoy making wine because this sublime nectar, is quite simply incapable of lying.. all the planting, the fermenting, its nothing more than the art of bottling truth.

Its very much like a Bollywood love story filled with background music and coincidences but let me assure you much less melodramatic. Excellent watch for all.

Altered January 6, 2007

Posted by ujj in Dont watch, horror, LAN, Reviews.
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Nothing gets Altered in this film.

altered
(photo courtesy Blogger News )

If you are mortal and have something to do with your time, better not waste it on this film. The single reason why I watched it is that its directed by Eduardo Sanchez, the person behind the Blair Witch Project. looks are deceptive, it seems so is the case with credentials. First of all why would a person like him work on a cliched theme as that of an alien_horror_film (which, as luck would have it,is hardly horror). Agreed its a theme that strikes a cord or two amongst thrill lovers, but then why a story that a thirteen year old kid exposed to the idea of alien abduction will come up with? Why Mr Sanchez? why?
Some scenes are simulating (I hope Im not being generous). The Alien is green and has a large head (remember signs) and has Predatory teeth, so not much work has been done on the Alien as well. In one of the scenes the alien pulls out the intestines of one person! like I said some scenes are simulating, the rest of the film is all gore no thrill. If you like horror films, try out the other films mentioned in this post, dont take up the duty to pay your homage to the death of the spirit of horror in this film and btw nothing gets altered in this film except your point of view about the director.

Life is too short to watch such films but anyways as I did watch it, I might as well tell you a little about the plot. The films starts with three men hunting an alien in the woods. They catch the Alien and take it to a strange house which strangely is in the middle of nowhere. Later we discover that the owner of the house, their friend, was abducted by an alien some years back and after the aliens did whatever they did with him, he was left in the woods. Now why would a man abducted by aliens build a place for himself far from civilization amidst trees and wild animals. While you think about, let me go ahead. One of the three people who caught it has had an old episode with the aliens too. His brother was killed by the aliens and his father thought that it was him who did it so he also has a thing or two against the green thing. He is adamant to kill it but the owner of the creep house warns him that doing this would bring the end of the whole human race ! (may be that alien was the president of the green land some galaxies away). Some rather ordinary things happen and a lot of people get killed.

The most interesting part of the film is its ending which shows you that all this time the owner of the house had the means to kill a large number of aliens in one go. Why he didnt do it in the beginning itself is something Im not delving on.