Sunday, July 20, 2008

short notes for reelers from the past

Ahista Ahista: Shivam Nair's directorial début boasts Imtiaz Ali's second writing credit and a return of Abhay Deol to play a character penned by Ali. Shivam Nair unfortunately can't do what Ali did with Socha Na Tha. Deol's character, Ankush, is a witness-for-hire outside marriage bureaus (which reminds me of Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan playing courtroom witnesses-for-hire in Immaan Dharam). The premise is sound and promising, but the film sports the song-and-dance breaks that destroy any hope for a sober narrative. Soha Ali Khan doesn't quite master her interpretation of Megha Joshi, something that can't escape your attention given that the film sports sequences where the camera lingers on her. The background score is obtrusive and bland, laced with irritating persistent motifs. The pace (no pun intended) is another problem. The problems of speed are nowhere evident than when the end credits begin to roll. We hit the FF button on the remote to speed things up only to find that this only made the film play in normal speed! So much for a title being such a big hint about what was in store.

Sleepaway Camp: [warning: spoilers] This cult classic from the 80s rode on the wave of the success of slasher flicks at the time, in particular the Friday the 13th canon. Director Robert Hiltzik adopts the summer camp device made famous in Sean S. Cunningham's film; he also proves deliciously creative with the deaths (the chef at the camp is viciously scalded by the contents of an overturned cooking vat, a kidtaking a dump dies after the mystery figure tosses a bee hive into the cubicle, a face of a victim is smothered by a pillow while the body is squeezed between the bed and the wall) along with a shower killing that by existence alone is a nod to Psycho. Hiltzik's face is loaded with clichés (kids mouthing obscenities; bullies getting their comeuppance) and bad acting, but has a strong pumping campy heart. The film's claim to fame, however, lies in its "gender-bending" twisted twist (you heard that right) that also takes care of another not uncommon device in films about serial killers -- gender confusion as a motivation for the killings.

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