Category Archives: Film / Documentary Reviews

film review : Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Yes, they did make heads turn with the first installment, they managed to make the audiences return for the second part, even the third was eagerly awaited but after watching this one I’m not sure whether fans would allow the makers of Paranormal Activity series take control the next time over. This one seriously lacks a story line and goes pointlessly back in time, where we are made aware of the real reason why sisters Katie and Kristi went through what they did in parts 1 and 2 respectively.

Before both the sisters face horror, Katie gives some videotapes to her sister Kristi in 2005. Through one of the tapes we are taken back to 1988 where Katie and Kristi‘s mother Julie and her boyfriend Dennis are trying to make things work so they can be a happy family. But something tells you that Julie‘s mother Lois (and hence Katie‘s and Kristi‘s grandmother) doesn’t see a worthy man in Dennis. Even the camera doesn’t like Lois‘s face, the old lady is freaky.

So the story begins with the tape being played. In order to investigate the abnormal happenings which have already begun in the house, cameras are placed in classic Paranormal Activity style by Dennis all over the house and there is even a swinging camera this time around. Julie and Dennis try getting in the mood to fuck but these invisible paranormal forces play hindrance. According to the plot the alarming situations have begun. Dennis brings in his friend Randy to watch the footage. This goes on and on with very few scenes that’ll send a chill down your spine.

Kid Kristi talks to this ghost buddy of hers (named Toby) at night, and we are lead to believe that the real reason behind all of this is Toby. The ghost does nothing new in troubling the characters. There is the usual blanket-slipping, body levitating, hair pulling and  dragging by the leg scenes. Towards the end it so happens that Dennis ultimately gets killed, in style. I’ll leave the readers to figure out how and why. Looks like it’s Kristi, Katie, Lois and Toby (the ghost) who live through all this.

Paranormal Activity 3 had it’s moments but then prolonging the plot just to have some link with the first two parts does less justice here, especially when the unique selling proposition is horror (without any kinda bloodshed) which seems less intense. There might be a fourth installment in the future with Toby‘s introduction but next time I’ll avoid being misled by any trailer.

Rating : 3/5


film review : Dhobi Ghat (2011)

Kiran Rao‘s directorial debut portrays certain sections of Mumbai (or, Bombay) in the same light as it is known to us. To do this she takes the help of four characters. Each of them make a connect and a Mumbaikar (or, Bombayite) will definitely find himself/herself in them. Munna (Prateik), Shai (Monica), Arun (Aamir) and Yasmin (Kriti) are the ones being referred to. Their wants and needs are varied, they longings are different, they have some things but that isn’t what gives them wholesome satisfaction. Don’t we all be there at some point or the other?

Shai happens to meet a painter / loner Arun at his show which gets extended to them spending the night together with love making too added to it. This leads to Shai developing strong feelings for Arun as she did sense a chemistry. However, Arun ain’t the relationship type, lives his life like a nomad and keeps changing the place that is called home. This time he ends up in a house on Mohammed Ali Road where he gets hold of some tapes left behind by the previous tenant Yasmin. Begins watching them and we are seen dissolving in the happenings of the tape along with Arun. Munna is a dhobi whose clients include Arun and Shai, is a  king of his own world and his encounters with Shai lead to the disclosure of his dreams, ambitions while he also gets attracted to her.

The woman behind the camera, Kiran Rao works on the details of the characters along with their mannerisms which make us believe that we ain’t the only ones owning the hollowness. Someone else also understands what we go through. The casting seems in place with no complaints for anyone. Many newcomers/actors have been unveiled in the movie and they stand out on their own merit, thanks to the space provided by the script. The obvious highlight of the movie was supposed to be Gustavo Santaolalla‘s score which hasn’t been thrown in enough to talk about.

kiran rao with the cast

How the four characters are dependent on each other even after being completely independent is what Dhobi Ghat is about. The story ends in an incomplete manner much as our lives which can never be complete in the sense of the word. Dhobi Ghat is sans any interruptions with the script taking it’s own time to breathe. While this is not for the regular bollywood buffs as it has a documentary type approach, you might either end up liking the movie or chances are that you might be put off to sleep. Only you can find that out. Dhobi Ghat is definitely worth a try.

Rating : 3.5/5

The last three films reviewed on the blog –

No One Killed Jessica

Break Ke Baad

Guzaarish


film review : Guzaarish (2010)

The opening shot of the movie makes us aware that there is a paraplegic patient being helped by a woman who gets him out of bed, brushes his teeth, feeds him breakfast and puts him on his mobile chair. Paraplegia implies that the patient has a completely paralyzed lower half including his two legs and in the lead character Ethan Mascarenhas‘s (Hrithik) case both his hands are paralyzed too. The patient cannot sense anything which includes passing of the stool too, so s/he is helpless and has to be alive at the expense of someone else taking care of her/him. The only thing that can be done is talking, and that is it.

The woman who is more than a nurse to Ethan as she does practically everything that is expected as well as not expected out of her is played by the ravishing Aishwarya and her character is named Sofia D’Souza. Going through a bad marriage and an abusive one at that she silently has a lot of respect and liking for Ethan as she has been turning his words into actions for fourteen years. And when Ethan – who is now a radio jockey – decides to file a petition in the court for mercy killing naturally it hit her bad. But he is stern on his stand as he does not want himself and others around him to suffer. And given his condition we are forced to believe him.

The petition is filed through his lawyer friend Devyani (Shernaz) who also is taken aback but goes ahead for the sake of his friendship. Two other important characters in Ethan’s life are his doctor Nayak (Suhel) and his student Omar (Aditya). Ethan is a magician and the story juggles between his present and his past where we are taken through his glory days. Omar comes and stays with Ethan with an earnest intention to learn magic and to be like his idol. In between there is love blooming between Ethan and Sofia which although is strongly felt is not made obvious. The film has well-timed unpredictable jokes as well as strong emotional content and scenes that will make you to think.

For a newcomer, Aditya is promising to say the least and he seems very comfortable already. All the other characters have been played to the tee and are seen equally affected by Ethan‘s condition as we are. Monikangana plays EstellaEthan‘s lover in his heydays and is present only for a few minutes here and there. Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee has made Goa look even more full of life. Sanjay Leela Bhansali who is also the music director here has a knack for that grand presentation. His movies never follow the routine and we are made to live through the joys, troubles, tribulations, feelings and emotions of Ethan.

The concept of euthanasia is vital in the story and there are many things about this subject that we come to know through Guzaarish. I cannot imagine this movie without the hunk Hrithik and now a complete performer Aishwarya. Another masterpiece about a magician brought to life by Mr. Bhansali – who is a magician himself.

Rating : 4/5


film review : Aashayein (2010)

A certain breed of film-makers in Bollywood believe in making films solely because it has a good story to tell, a couple of lessons to teach and some social messages to pass. Nagesh Kukunoor would be a proud member of that club and he sure would be satisfied when he has to look around at the kind of movies being made. If Iqbal talked about a deaf and mute boy chasing his dreams to be a apart of Indian cricket squad, Dor brought together two women from different backgrounds and how they emotionally come to each other’s rescue. Sure he has had his share of mistakes but then who does not make mistakes.

Aashayein, although had weak promos, was something I had decided to watch when I first saw the teaser on television. The reason being Kukunoor‘s storytelling and secondly the name of the film. Aashayein translates to hopes and the movie provides loads of it. The film opens with Rahul (John) shown betting on a India vs. New Zealand match putting all of his chick Nafisa‘s (Sonal) savings on the line. This is where we are introduced to his addiction to smoking. A big win and a couple of celebrations later we come to know that Rahul is suffering from cancer that arises due to smoking and has just three months to live. Not being able to bear the fact that his girlfriend has to suffer due to his condition, Rahul packs off to this particular hospice where people basically spend the last moments of their life.

Here Rahul meets other important characters of the film, who have their own problems and issues and the only common thing in all their lives is the fact that they are all dying. Padma (Anaitha) is a seventeen year old girl who is full of hatred and wants to experience love. Parthasarthi (Girish Karnad) is another resident who has lost his voice due to throat cancer and a veteran natural actor that Girish is, he pulls off his role without effort.

Farida Jalal plays the part of an HIV positive woman named Madhu and it is through her character that Kukunoor wishes to clear certain wrong notions to do with AIDS. Govinda (Ashwin Chitale) is a kid who becomes a spiritual savior for Rahul and adds more dimension to his motionless life. The screen is rekindled everytime Rahul interacts with any of these characters who share the hospice with him.

A simple movie like Aashayein that does not boast of a big budget, has lesser known actors, and isn’t noisy is always walloped and rated less by the brainless critics. By the way these are the same critics who chose to praise a trash like My Name is Khan. Anyway, Aashayein is an uncomplicated film and does not bore you. Watch it for its lively moments and make sure you catch the movie before it is forced to leave the theatres. And that is going to happen soon as it has already been declared a flop.

Rating : 3.5/5


documentary review : Until The Light Takes Us (2009)

Rejoice black metalheads! Not many are interested in taking up the black metal scene as a subject on which a documentary/movie can be made, but Until The Light Takes Us is another valuable addition to the short list of black metal documentaries. Released in late-2009, the movie is based in Norway. It has musicians who lived through the early-nineties Norwegian period telling us exactly what happened then. I always repent the fact that I was not present at the right place at the right time. The movie has answered most of the prickly questions that I had accumulated in my mind concerning the scene. And the sources of my answers could not get more authentic.

The opening sequence has Gylve Fenriz (Darkthrone) preparing himself for a shot. And the best part of it is I can already feel the right vibes. The movie traces the entire journey from the roots of Norwegian black metal through the controversies that brought Norway to everyone’s attention back in the early nineties, the reason behind arson, and the truth behind the murder of Euronymous (Mayhem).

from the docu : fenriz

Why this documentary is different from the other documentaries out there? – the movement that we know today as the True Norwegian Black Metal includes a couple of events that we have always been reading about. If I have to summarize the events it would include the church burnings and hatred towards the protectors of cross, Euronymous (Mayhem) opening a records store called Helvete, Dead (Mayhem) committing suicide, the killing of a homosexual man by Faust (Emperor), and Varg murdering Euronymous. Until The Light Takes Us makes the protagonists recall the events. The featured artists are Varg Vikernes (Burzum), Fenriz (Darkthrone), Hellhammer (Mayhem), Abbath (Immortal), Demonaz (Immortal), Garm (Ulver), Frost (Satyricon), Bjarne Melgaard (visual artist).

from the docu : varg

For me this movie is special for a simple reason that Burzum has got maximum footage. We are taken inside the maximum security prison where Varg had been kept until he was released this year. I would want to thank the makers for bringing out the real Varg and most of all his sense of humor. A very pleasant personality his wit makes you want more of him. Moments when you get a chilling doze for your senses include the part where Burzum tells you how it is to stay confined for so long and ofcourse the uncanny silence when he confronts stabbing Euronymous in the skull.

the makers : aaron aites and audrey ewell

The documentary has been well directed by Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell and has a personal touch to it. The production has also been handled by the duo. Norway has been depicted as we know it to be, absolutely enchanting. Background score has to be fine as we are talking black metal here. The song that appears to be the theme track of the movie is The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records by Múm. I remember looking for the track after the movie. Enough said, too much of praise tends to spoil the watch. Buy the movie, download it or just steal but it needs to be watched. Well if black metal is your thing then I bet you already have watched this one.

Rating : 4/5

Check out this article on the Flaming Skull E-Zine here : The Flaming Skull E-Zine : August 2010 issue

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film review : Aisha (2010)

The first thing that strikes you when this movie starts is Sonam Kapoor and the last thing is also Sonam Kapoor. No, I am not complaining because I think she is pretty but just conveying the fact that the script was written keeping her in mind. The movie is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel named Emma which I haven’t read and am not going to read.

The story is about Aisha played by Sonam Kapoor who is from an upper class Delhi-based family and does not need to work. But what she does is matchmaking which is her idea of doing some social service where-in she tries to hook up people she knows and only she feels are compatible with each other. And that is what is the basic plot of Aisha leading her to make some mistakes with a self realization thrown in and finally ofcourse she herself falls in love. So I should have said it is essentially a love story.

Opposite her is Abhay Deol who has come a long way since his bollywood entry. I am a fan since Dev D. Deol also has a small role like everyone else in the film and he does his bit well. Others worth mentioning are Cyrus Sahukar who has a comparatively meaty role, Ira Dubey and Amrita Puri who play Aisha‘s best friend and just another friend respectively, Lisa Haydon, Arunoday Singh and Anand Tiwari.

Although the movie is another usual story of a guy and girl realizing that they are meant to be together there still are certain scenes and dialogues that do their intended job. For me these are the moments that differentiates one love story from the other.

Music becomes the movie’s strength with Amit Trivedi retaining his touch. Dev D did good to a lot of people. I have not heard anything about the director Rajshree Ojha before this.

I would not say that I liked the film but then I would also not say I did not like it, as I (do not) Hate Luv Stories. Aisha is more of a chick-flick which is not really done in Bollywood. But that alone cannot be the reason for watching a movie, nor is the four-star rating given by Nikhat Kazmi in TOI last Friday. Aisha is all style and no story but there is something about the way this movie has been presented and has a fresh look and feel. With no intentions to encourage Anil Kapoor‘s younger daugther Rhea for her debut into film production, I think the movie can be watched once. But in a week or so the movie will be forgotten. Watch it before that happens.

Rating : 3/5

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movie review : Khatta Meetha (2010)

The release of Khatta Meetha makes certain things clear. There is no need of a script, there is no need of actors, music can be anything that can just classify to be called music, background score need not be in sync with what is happening in the scene, direction can be equivalent to a newborn learning how to shit, and the sequences through the movie need not be interlinked. Priyadarshan is on a movie making spree and that could be probably because he needs to meet a certain target before he gives up. But uncle please spare us.

Is he the same film-maker who made Hera Pheri, Hungama, Hulchul? The king of situational comedy gifted with a good sense of cinematic humor makes even proven comics like Johnny Lever and Rajpal Yadav look like fools. Lever does a bizzare role of a driver of a road-roller. And his act in this movie is like a threat to all his previous works. Even Makrand Deshpande has been wasted. Not one moment or part of the movie is worth mentioning. The movie was more like a torture to me and I wish I had carried some cyanide along with me.

need a nose-job

The only face worth remembering on my way back home was that of Urvashi Sharma who has been presented non-glamorously. And if I have not talked about the lead pair, let me make it clear that Trisha has nothing to do in the movie so I really do not know whether she can act or not, and Akshay Kumar irritates you so much that you would rather prefer to call up someone in the middle of the movie and distract yourself. Akshay Kumar has done worse movies though. Remember brain-fucking Chandni Chowk To China?

Khatta Meetha is a noisy lavatory and it does not even do so much as to let you take a peaceful dump. Avoid!

Rating : 1/5

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movie review : Raajneeti (2010)

movie Review : Kites (2010)

movie review : 3 Idiots (2009)


movie review : Raajneeti (2010)

Raajneeti (meaning politics) manages to turn back and kick all the bollywood movies that released this year for telling them the sheer meaning of serious cinema. Prakash Jha has a fabulous record of making films that revolve around politics and this time around its on a bigger scale. Raajneeti is an edge of the seat political thriller, and considering it is a serious genre there are no songs to spoil the flow. The movie is loosely based on Mahabharatha, and infact whatever has been adapted fits well. Power packed performances, a super tight plot, thrilling screenplay and some thought over editing has made the final product worth your time and money.

There is no comparison between movies made under different genres but Prakash Jha weaves all that needs to be included in a film. Rivalry, heartbreak, success, failure, power game, huge rallies presented in a way that is believable. Ajay Devgan, who otherwise plays the best part in all of Jha‘s films plays a comparatively short role in Raajneeti. Everyone from Arjun to Katrina act well, Ranbir once again proves that he is indeed a good actor, Nana Patekar speaks less but controls most of the things, and Manoj Bajpai steals the show. Raajneeti is a must watch bollywood movie of 2010, and it is extremely indulging with a pace that will make the otherwise weighty movie seem like a three hour breeze.

Rating : 4/5

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Sania to wed Shoaib – an introspection


movie review : Kites (2010)

I went for Kites the weekend it released to avoid getting any kind of reactions prior to watching it. Before anything else Kites does not live up to the expectations that I had from the movie but having said that its a good watch. There is no basis for naming it Kites though. The movie has a very usual storyline, with a lot of bollywood masala in it, but it has also been made keeping the western audiences in mind. Main reason for it being the movie’s length which has been shortened to some two hours, and secondly the use of the national language is minimal.

Kites is a story about J (Hrithik) and Linda (Barbara). It is basically a love saga. The movie has a typical villain whose only motive is to make life hell for the lead pair, chasing them wherever they can possibly hide. Hrithik reminds you with every movie why his bollywood entry was unlike anyone else. He steals the scenes with his presence. Good looking, a great sense of style and I need not mention his dancing skills. He possesses all the elements that are needed for a complete performer, be it bollywood or hollywood. Maybe his sixth finger is something extra but that does not come in the way of him delivering his dialogues intensely. Barbara Mori is not just extremely hot but a natural actor too. The chemistry between the two is there, it all depends on how they portray it and they do it well. Kangana Ranaut’s role is very short and she just needs to make sure she is crazy abt J. No, not a joint. The negative role of Tony (Nick Brown) has been played convincingly, so the casting needs to be appreciated.

Behind the camera we have Anurag Basu and I enjoyed his last flick Life in a… Metro. So a talented director and a smart producer (Rakesh Roshan) come together but still the magic is missing. There are some out of the box action sequences though only quite a few were necessary. Music has been done by Rakesh Roshan and he fits the bill. Lyrics are touching at places. Background score is something that worked for me.

Kites has all the ingredients and had it not been hyped so much I would have enjoyed it a little more. And I feel the hype is a major reason for Kites attracting more audiences than it would have got otherwise. I would say watch it for Hrithik, as he has put in a lot. Like I said in the beginning Kites is not bad.

Rating : 3/5

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movie review : Housefull (2010)

Heyy Babyy and now Housefull. Two movies down and Sajid Khan has sealed his identity as a maker of no-brainer comedy flicks, of the type that only he can make.

Plot
Housefull (the title has got nothing to do with the movie) is a story about this loser Aarush (Akshay Kumar) who has bad luck written all over him. The movie opens in someplace named Macau. Aarush somehow lands up in all kinds of problems because of his luck and has nothing going for him. Even his chick dumps him stating his bad luck as a reason. Fed up he decides to go stay with his childhood friend Bob (Reteish) in London, who is married to Hetal (Lara). Here we are introduced to Devika (Jiah) who goes on to marry Aarush, only to realize she had other plans. Very conveniently she ditches the born loser.

Situations lead him to meet Sandy (Deepika) and he finally finds the true love he was looking for. But the catch here is Sandy‘s authoritarian brother Krishna Anna (Arjun) who needs to be convinced before taking the vows. In between all this we have Hetal’s estranged pappa (Boman Irani) flying to London to meet his daughter and son-in-law. All of these characters are intertwined to create a furor of comic confusion, and the climax is to prove that the loser is not afterall a loser.

Performances
Akshay is ever ready to play such roles, comedy being his forte. Reteish does his part well and he should just stick to multistarrers. Lara Dutta is a non-actor and is very irritating. Always ready to shed off her clothes at the drop of a hat, even in Housefull she is there for the same reason. Not that I’m complaining but I ignore her. Deepika is lovable and there is no need for her to act here. Like I said only her presence is enough. No one cares whether Jiah Khan can act or not as she doesn’t let that aspect matter. She knows she is hot and if given a chance she would do the entire movie in a two-piece. Arjun Rampal plays this serious dude taking everyone’s case, and his role does not demand any acting. Boman Irani as the gujarathi pappa gets to your nerves after a while. He has done better comedy. Suresh Menon is wasted in a short role. The surprise element is Chunkey Pandey as Aakhri Pasta. Quite entertaining.

Verdict
Housefull is full of situational comedy and should be watched without any expectations. Music does not seem like a Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy creation, although it is. Dialogues have a lot of Sajid Khan in them and are ordinary. Housefull does not have a story, but it has picturesque locales. Watch the movie if you need a reason to laugh for three hours as an excuse for having nothing else to do.

Rating : 2.5/5

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