Sunday, 27 April 2014

Film Review - Brick Mansions

Tepid Action
Film: Brick Mansions
Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA
Directed by: Camille Delamarre
Duration: 1 hr 30 mins
Rating: * *

Paul Walker’s last completed film (Fast and Furious 7 is in the pipeline) before his untimely death, Brick Mansions has a considerably silly plot co-written by Luc Besson. His films, whether written or directed are mostly action oriented with little or no regard for logic and semblance. Directed by Camille Delamarre who is helming the next installment of Transporter, this is a remake of the French film District 13 (2004) which had some high octane action.

Paul Walker plays Damien and undercover cop who has busted quite a few gangs but his ultimate target remains a mafia boss (RZA) who lives in a ghetto that is segregated from the rest of the city, hence the title of the film.

To take on the bad guys he gets help from a suspect Lino (David Belle, reprising the role from District 13) and there is also a sub plot involving a lethal rocket that might launched on the city. The rocket incidentally reminded me of the ones used by Pralaynath Gendaswamy in Tirangaa (1992)

Even though David Belle’s Parkour skills and agility is impressive, the audience cannot really soak in the action because of the fast cuts. Eventually, it ends up looking like kids playing cops and robbers.

There is no intensity or conviction in the proceedings and the acting is also amateurish at times barring Paul Walker. All the sentimentality in the world not withstanding, Brick  Mansions is a darn silly film. 

Published in The Navhind Times on 27th Apr 2014



Film Review - Revolver Rani

Guns and Poses
Film: Revolver Rani
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Vir Das, Piyush Mishra
Directed by: Sai Kabir
Duration: 2 hrs 5 mins
Rating: * *

Kangana Ranaut was the toast of the town with her extraordinary performance in Queen, so much so, that many people might turn up to watch Revolver Rani purely because of the Queen effect. They will be in for a surprise (not necessarily a pleasant one) to see the actress portray a completely contrasting role in this film. 

The bone of contention would be the characterization; the Rani from Delhi was so believable the same cannot be said about this lady who could join the Expendables because she shoots to kill.  Set in Chambal, Alka (Ranuat) plays the tough woman with a past that is best left behind. Her uncle (Piyush Mishra) lends her a hand to become the leader. Vir Das plays her toyboy who aims to make it to Bollywood but then there are many other usual suspects like corrupt politicians and cops who are on the wrong side of the law.

There are a few nice bits like the shootout and the excited newsreader episode which allows you to indulge in a few laughs. But towards the end it all gets a bit too high handed and the plot is lost.

The heroine’s character is interesting, I don’t think there are many dacoits who aspire to wear clothes from Paris and want to go to Italy as well.

On the acting front, while Piyush Mishra is in his element as usual, Vir Das is a let-down.
Kangana Ranaut strides into her role with confidence and conviction. The same alas cannot be said of Revolver Rani as a film. 

Published in The Navhind Times on 27th Apr 2014

Film Review- Samrat and co.

The Game is afoot

Film: Samrat and co.
Cast: Rajeev Khandelwal, Gopal Dutt
Directed by: Kaushik Ghatak
Duration: 2 hrs 5 mins
Rating: * *

Inspired by Sherlock Holmes (the character and the film) Samrat and co. belongs to the now almost extinct genre in Hindi cinema of who-dun-it. The result is not exhilarating but let’s just say, the other films that I saw this week were worse than this one. Like in life and science, relativity applies to cinema as well.

Dedicated to Arthur Conan Doyle the opening is a blatant rip off of the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes, later on there is inspiration from the t.v. series Sherlock as well. Samrat Tilakdhari (Rajeev Khandelwal) aka STD is a detective who can make deductions like the famed sleuth. His Watson is not in strictly in the traditional fashion, he is more of a comic character in the David Burke rather than Edward Hardwicke mould.

A pretty girl (Madalsa Sharma) comes to him for help; her father’s garden is dying because the gardener had cursed it. Soon, not only the garden, but the father also dies, he is murdered and our Holmes has to solve the mystery as the body count steadily increases.

The problem is that the film cannot find its own footing. There is a bit of this and a bit of that, including an episode inspired by Speed and the finale is clumsy to say the least.  The only reason you sit through it is to find out how the story will untangle but there is no great pay off.

Mysteriously enough, the heroine wears short dresses in Shimla.

Rajeev Khandelwal in the lead role is earnest but doesn’t make a strong impression. Gopal Dutt (The Week That Wasn’t fame) as his sidekick fits the bill.

This desi Holmes is passable; I would rather wait for Byomkesh Bakshi now.

Published in The Navhind Times on 27th Apr 2014

Film Review - Kaanchi

Living In The Past

Film: Kaanchi
Cast: Mishti, Kartik Tiwari, Mithun Chakraborty
Directed by: Subhash Ghai
Duration: 2 hrs 31mins
Rating: * 1 / 2

There was a time when a new Subhash Ghai film was a major event but for a considerable time now, it goes off just as a whimper. Most of the Hindi film directors have not been able to adapt with the changing times and Ghai, once dubbed as the showman is no different.

While there is an attempt to tell a more contemporary story like corruption but then evil politicians in Bollywood films are older than Egyptian mummies. Set in a picturesque village called Koshampa in North India, Binda (Kartik Tiwari) runs some kind of a training school. He is in love with Kaanchi (Mishti) and the feeling is mutual. The mandatory baddies are trying to take over the village lead by a politician called Kakda (Mithun Chakraborty) along with his relative (Rishi Kapoor, paying a heavy price for acting in Karz).  

Kakda’s son (Rishabh Sinha) also likes the girl and when she doesn’t reciprocate, he bumps off her soon-to-be hubby. The to-be bride turns into Tarantino’s The Bride, seeking vengeance against those responsible for her fiancĂ©’s death and she goes all the way to Mumbai and even involves anti-corruption crusaders.

The film provides quite a few unintentional laughs and Ghai’s direction is archaic and time warped, to say the least. The screenplay lacks any sparks and takes comical routes for convenience.

Last year, I visited Alfred theatre in Mumbai, which happens to be one of the oldest theatres in the country. There, they still show films of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000 and interestingly, there is a big audience for those films. Kaanchi, I suspect will do very well there because just about every element is from that era.

Newcomer Mishti looks like a combination of Aishwarya and Rani Mukherjee but on the acting front she still needs to hone her skills. It is a pity to see Rishi Kapoor do such cringe worthy roles, Mithun Chakraborty though has got a marginally better deal.

Subhash Ghai took 6 years between his previous film (Yuvvraaj) and this one. Ideally, he should call it quits now but if not, we are certainly in no hurry to see his next effort.

Published in The Navhind Times on 27th Apr 2014

Film Review - Son of God

Holy Grail

Film: Son of God
Cast: Diogo Morgado, Roma Downey
Directed by: Christopher Spencer
Duration: 2 hrs 18 mins
Rating: * *

To put it plainly, Son of God directed by Christopher Spencer is a mediocre effort in telling the Biblical story. As an effort to spread the Good Word and to depict what is in the Holy Book, it may succeed but as a film it falls flat. There is nothing that you already don’t know and the story telling is quite lackluster. If you are in the mood for a religious dose, it might just work fine.

Based on the television mini series The Bible, the film recounts the life of Jesus Christ (Diogo Morgado), starting from his birth, the three wise men and the Star of Bethlehem. As an adult, people start following Him and we are also introduced to Peter, Mathew, John, Judas and the rest. The restiveness of the religious Jewish leaders, the betrayal by Judas following His arrest, crucifixion and resurrection are all portrayed but with a certain cinematic blandness.

Has the director brought anything new to the table? I am afraid the answer is no. There are many other films (Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel according to St. Matthew is one strongly recommended) that bring out the spirituality much better than this endeavor.

The acting also doesn’t have much to harp about. Diogo Morgado looks a bit too impeccable and acts as if it were a commercial. 

For the faithful this trip might be worth it but the same cannot be said for cinema lovers.

Published in The Navhind Times on 27th Apr 2014