Monday, December 22, 2003

hackers, hyderabad, nana poirot, australasian undress and chinese ghosts

After a great opening where the Warners Bros logo is presented with CGI as a flickering computer screen, Swordfish opens with John Travolta saying "You know what the problem with Hollywood is? They make shit. Unbelievable unimaginative shit". That's usually asking for trouble, but mercifully this film does not tank. Instead we open in a fragmented narrative with a cool coffee shop sequence that could easily fit other Travolta ventures like Get Shorty or even Pulp Fiction. Employing swing-and-tilt lenses, Sena sends portions of the frame in and out of focus, directing our attention to the stuff we are required to see. And then drawing on his advertising background, Sena renders a slow-time explosion that is worth every moment of it. Along with the flashback begins the formulaic spiral of the film. As always, real hackers will chuckle at some of the terminology (note the references to the infamous Carnivore program) thrown about. Sena works hard at keeping the adrenaline high, and succeeds for the most part. And there are nice colour tones applied to the print. But the promise of the opening sequence tops. The ending doesn't cop out either (the alternative endings underscore a tough decision). Halle Berry, the famous non-actress, continues to not-act. She was paid an obscene sum of money for performing topless in a scene. Saying that her mammilae are better performers than she is should suffice as an opinion on her acting skills[sic]. Jackman, Travolta and Cheadle take honours. The special features include a commentary by Sena, which offers some insight into the techniques used in filming -- and that leaves us with the true essence of the film: all tech, no soul.

Finally, I get to watch Hyderabad Blues uncut. I still remember a friend at the hostel in COEP telling me he had passes to a preview screening of some movie called Hyderabad Blues. Yes, I declined. Later I kicked myself. Sometimes friends helped. This movie rocks. The ease at which each character seems to talk (and the awkwardness and unpolished delivery work here), the infectious slang, and the catchy riff playing in the background score. Wonder why the ABCD-infestation of sad flicks can't muster enough honesty like this. I must also note the great extent to which I got to see traditional practices in this film: quite surprising and heartening at the same time. Kukunoor has been floundering since this film, but his last film Teen Deewarein restored my hopes.

Tarkieb has Nana Patekar playing a sher-spouting smartass version of Hercule Poirot surrounded by a gala of stars playing red herrings and Tabu playing the murder victim. The plot and the raison da qatl are too terrible for words. You could guess the identity of the killer before NP's character (Jasraj Patel) does. Too many songs. Some cool cult moments: a scene where a suspect is tortured by watching NP play chess with a vicious bug tied to his wrist, before NP ties the bug box around the suspect's neck; NP accepting his assignment and walking out after spouting a couplet (hamaare baad mahaphil me.n afasos bayaa.N hogaa / bahaare.n ham ko Dhuu.NDe.ngii na jaane ham kahaa.N ho.nge); a comedy[sic] sequence mentioning viagra; the existence of the phone number 345678; Tiku Talsania (the desi Captain Hastings) referring to a blind stall owner called Nainsukh(!) as chirkuT; and lines like zyaadaa thop doge apane aap par to ##cartoon## lagoge. Priceless. For everything else, there's ...

Janasheen is a load of crap. Some fellow members of the Jaani Dushman Apprecation Society have proposed this as a worthy ally. I would have to disagree. This film is too polished, and has its meritorious moments. JD lacked both. Feroz Khan is the best thing in this film -- which says a lot. The themes are similar to those that FK tried to address (packaged with skimpy belles, songs, bad ostentatious acting, and locales) in his previous flicks. There are promising elements in the narrative, but there are troubling elements all around: way too many pointless songs (all of them are pointless by the way), unabashed display of skin, skimpy moves and random beachery, a karate instructor called Johnny (Chan) who romances a chimp called Champaakalii. The list is endless. Celina Jaitley continues her climb up the list of non-acting bimbettes (see also: Khel).

A Chinese Ghost Story was a great way to end the weekend (Sunday, actually). Chinese action. Chinese pop songs meshed into the narrative. Wuxia stunts. Chinese ghosts. Evil spirits. Trapped spirits. Hapless clueless heroes. Fast paced sequences. Funny dialogue. And a book of spells written in Sanskrit. My favourite sequence is when the Taoist ghost hunter drinks, sings and dances out his theme song. Priceless. {another review}

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