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The Pursuit of Happyness January 25, 2007

Posted by Priyanka Varma in Biography, drama, LAN, Reviews.

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!!!!


Pinjar January 23, 2007

Posted by Priyanka Varma in drama, LAN, Reviews.

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!!!

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.

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.


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.

(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.

Enemy at the gates December 18, 2006

Posted by ujj in action, LAN, Mood: serious, Reviews.
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Enemy at the gates is one of those films at the end of which either your dead or your alive. Either your truley madly deeply in love or betrayed by your bretheren. Either you’r a young kids dead body hanging on the pole or you’r a mother unaware of her childs death, either way your one of the characters of the film. If theres ever a film that sucks you in, this is bloody well one of them.
Its the true story of Hitlers attack on Stalingrad (1942) during the second world war. Vassili Zytsev is a young man brought up in the ice covered hills of russia, taught shooting by his grandfather. At a time when retreating soldiers were considered as traitors and shot by their own countrymen, Vassili brings in something that motivates the dead spirit of the red army. He brings in hope. He becomes a hero when people desperately need one. He single handedly snipes a large number of Nazi personnels and trains many more to be like him.
An experienced sniper of the Nazi army is called to end the Vassili story. Through some insider information, he knows exactly where hes going to be and waits for him. A battle begins between two sniper rifles and two pairs of eyes that dare not blink. Sounds exciting enough? if not then its my fault. If you’r a war films lover, you ought to see this one to be called one, if not, well its a good time to become one. A must watch for people interested in the red army history, the fact that its a true story make it all the more fantastic. A scene where one sniper can see the other through a mirror is just brilliant. The sets are great and flawless. If youv seen some war films, youd know how foolish editing can destroy a great film. Highly recomended.

technorati tags: enemy at the gates, film review

Waking Life December 18, 2006

Posted by ujj in LAN, Mood: Thrill me, Reviews.
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Just had an awfully horrific dream. Till today I belived that dreams were manifestations conjured by the subconscious. Freudian theories meant nothing more than a mad guys work for oscar (fields medal ..uhm nobel may be). In my dream I remembered a friends advise who said if you want to find out if your dreaming try finding a light switch and try turning off the lights, if they dont turn off, you are dreaming. I tried to do that and realized that I was dreaming, I can fly my way back to home. wait a second I dont know where I live, doesnt matter its a dream I can roam around a bit in a dream.
I met someone who can drop me somewhere, but where. Says he will drop me on the second street on the next block. where is that. dont know, but its somewhere and its going to decide the course of my life. My life. what the heck is my, what is I? why what is so wrong about the concept of individualism. A man says
“the most stupid argument against existence of god is the inability of people to believe in the idea of free will. I mean if God has already decided whats going to happen to us, wheres our free will. They fail to understand that the same argument can be implied to science. If everything is so causal so rationally defined then every decision that we take is a result of somethings, again wheres the free will?”
I see an old man on the top of an electric pole, refuses to come down, doesnt know what hes doing up there but doesnt want to come down. I know, Im still dreaming. Someone walking with me says hes no worse than us hes all action but no theory, wer all theory no action. I am in my bed, I see the time but my digital clocks screwed up. I think Im still dreaming or am I..watch Waking Life, trust me.. itll change the way you dream. I kid you not. Richard Linklaters first rotoscopic genius. Up next A scanner darkly.

technorati tags: rotoscopy, waking life, film review, richard linklater

The Big Lebowski November 4, 2006

Posted by ujj in LAN, Mood: Need 2 laugh, Reviews.

Believe me all “The Dudes” wanna watch this. Our big Lebowski is the most eligible dude to ever hit the big screen. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, the big lebowski is a ..funny.. hilarious.. fall back laughing and break your butt film. Completely different from the earlier works of Coen bros that includes film noir dramas like Fargo . The Dude with Walter and DonnieJeff Bridges plays the dude or the unemployed, bowling, broke, Mr Lebowski. He is mistaken by some men to be some other Mr Lebowski of the same town who happens to be a millionaire. These folks urinate on the dudes rug which in the words of the Dude “really held the room together”. The dude’s friend Walter hates nihilists, its not what he and his freinds fought in the Nam (Vietnam) for. He wants the Dude to get the rug compensated by the real Mr Lebowski and so the Dude tries but finds himself stuck in something thats worse than losing a rug that really held his room together. Just have a look at the screenshot (The Dude on the left), does he look like someone who will let his rug be pissed upon becaue of mistaken identity?

Its like a week in the life of a man who hardly has the time to care about anything other than his drink. Careless, lazy, dumb, bum, lousy undermine his personality, you can do justice to it only by referring him as the Dude, not a dude but The Dude. The Dude infact does not mind being called dude or His Dudeness or El Duderino but hates being called Mr Lebowski or Sir. Theres one instance when hes being interrogated by the real Mr Lebowski about some task that he entrust upon him, the way The Dude replies to his questions reminds me of all those times in college when you want to speak for long but dont have enough to day. He blathers for five minutes when actually he just wants to say that he has some information and “new shit has come to light”. People enjoy watching it, people like me feel like were watching our own stories and how deplorable our life seems to us, but then were justy dudes, Jeff is the Dude.

Jeff Bridges is more known for the film Fearless, a film about a near death experience of a person in a plain crash. A completely diagonal role to the Dude. I wont blather about it any further, Fearless deserves a dedicated review.

DOR October 29, 2006

Posted by Priyanka Varma in LAN.

How far would you go for love?

Nagesh Kukunoor comes with another movie DOR with this unique theme after Hyderabad Blues and Iqbal. Iqbal, his last movie, focused on the politics in sports, the movie DOR focuses on love,loss, friendship and hope.

DOR is a tale of two women from two different worlds – Zeenat(Gul Panag) who depicts an independent and determined woman while Meera(Ayesha Takia) plays an innocent woman who has to follow the strict traditions of a Rajput household. The story is strung in such a way that Zeenat has to make a journey from Himachal Pradesh to Rajasthan in search of Meera to save her love and a strong bond of friendship develops between them.

A wonderful performance by Ayesha Takia. If you have watched her earlier roles, you would be surprised by her acting especially the scene where she opens her husband’s suitcase when it is delivered to her after his death.Gul Panag’s performance is equally good , even though her character is shown mentally and emotionally strong and is less challenging in terms of acting. Not to forget Iqbal..Yes Shreyas Talpade is also in the movie as a funny “behrupiya”. He introduces an element of fun and humour in the movie after Gul Panag meets him on her way to find Meera.

The theme is depicted in an uncomplicated, sensible manner without much glamour but some scenes in the movie like Talpade’s drunken confession of love to Gul Panag and Kukunoor’s appearance as an engineer who is attracted towards Ayesha Takia are somewhat not needed in the movie.

To conclude the movie’s theme is well depicted but is targeted to the niche audience. As the movie is sans glamour, dance numbers, melodrama it would not be appealing to the masses .