Sunday, July 26, 2009

a handful of scribbles

Pokiri [December 11, 2006]: With RGV written all over it, this Mahesh Babu vehicle can appeal only to fans of "Prince." The film is so obsessed with style and the coolness of its star (something that, again, is something only the privileged fanatic masses can see) that it ends up being a parody of its excess. The plot has something to do with the land mafia, but it's mostly about the Prince. Those with an eye for feminine eye candy can spend time analysing the oddities of the bone structure and hip dynamics of Ileana D'Cruz. The songs mix Telugu and Hindi and even features Bollywood staple Kunal Ganjawala on one track. One song adds to the list of Listen to the pouring rain rip-offs. There's a villain who's into S and M. There's some sliding on the knees to get past under a rolling spinwheel. There are surreal lines like I may not be perfect but parts of me are awesome and strange subtitles (s*x-straved[sic] vampires). Don't wait for the Hindi remake; watch the original. Be warned: the DVD was designed by the usual gang of morons, so there's a lot of unskippable content. Use something like VLC on your laptop instead of a regular DVD player to reduce your grief.

Enduring Love [December 18, 2006]: The first movie adapting Ian McEwan (The Good Son doesn't count, because there was no source novel) that I saw taught me what an au pair was. The film opens with a death that's shocking because it happens on a clear innocuous day and in a very matter-of-fact way (since I hadn't read the novel, I had the benefit of ignorance as far as the plot was concerned). A sense of Rashomon and emotional confusion take over as the film walks the thin line between drama and thriller. Nice chilling use of God Only Knows and some interesting use of slow motion followed by quick edits and frenzied camera angles and lenses and sped-up film as Joe rushes home when he finds out that Jed is there with Claire. Watch out the book Awakening The Buddha by Lama Surya Das (yes, LSD). Bland font for the end credits, however. The film's confusion of intent prevents it from being either an engaging psychological experience (something really welcome given the earnest performances) or a less unsubtle version of Fatal Attraction.

The Score [September 21, 2006] (aka 317 946 5839): This film will most likely be remembered more for who was in it rather than what they did in it or the plot. It's about a con with none of the surprises being surprises, peppered with the obligatory yet implausible heist sequence, packed with material for actors to riff with and yet not terribly exciting. The prospect of seeing Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando finally work together and of seeing Edward Norton hold his own foil with these two fine sabres doing their thing is not done justice by a film that only works in parts. One wishes that David Mamet had been involved in scripting stuff for Norton and De Niro; I can't think of anyone who could write anything for the colossal and shockingly unpredictable temperamental Brando. Scenes seem to work simply because we find ourselves watching good actors do their stuff, but the material isn't much up to snuff. You can appreciate some good lighting work by Rob Hahn. The film, however, seems to want to succeed more as a by-the-numbers gadget-laden caper than as something that George Roy Hill might have been at ease with. Oh, did I forget to note that Angela Bassett's here too, wasting her time. Get your kicks by spotting Quake III: Arena.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

oil be damned!

Why am I not surprised that someone named Ramnarain Sahu, a Samajwadi party MP, who happens to be the president of the Rashtriya Teli Rathore Chetna Mahasangh, has decided to nurse objections to the use of the word telii in Kaminey's catchiest song. First the naaiis and now the teliis. All Gulzar needs for a hat-trick is to tickle the ire of another occupational sect. I can't resist thinking of maaliis.

[Cross-posted on the Vishal Bhardwaj blog]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

family conceit, bollywood style

The Kapoor sisters have it made. In Kambakkht Ishq, the hideous Kareena Kapoor (whose makeup alone is enough to cause the popularity of eyeshadow to dip) gets to wiggle to a song whose chorus goes bebo mai.n bebo. For the uninitiated, Bebo is her nickname, her petname, what people at home call her, what every fan knows. Perhaps this was a tribute to her elder sister, the sometimes more talented and largely less hideous, Karis[h]ma Kapoor, who strutted to a song that went dekho mai.n huu.N karishmaa in Papi Gudia (the Child's Play ripoff, Charles). Or perhaps it was an ode to kRRiShnaa tuu mai.n karishmaa huu.N from Prem Shakti. Who knows?

Incidentally, unless memory fails me, a sequence in Papi Gudia was a filch not from Child's Play but a sequence from either F/X or F/X 2 -- which reminds me to try and find a copy of these delightful Bryan Brown starrers.

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