Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

My Ratings: 3.8/5.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a secret group of ‘gentlemen’ (manners maketh man) who discretely protects their nation from the wraths of billionaire megalomaniacs and their evil plans. 

Finally a Spy-movie that is a perfect synthesis of action and amusement; a film that scores better than any average Hollywood action flick without submitting itself as just another 007 spoof.

kingsman-poster4When compared with the Bond franchisee (comparison is inevitable), in Kingsman: The Secret Service the super-villain named Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) dutifully reminds us that after all ‘It’s not that kind of a movie.’

The film maintains a superb range of fancy gadgets (remote-activated poison pens, a 50,000 volt electrified sovereign ring, lighters which are hand-granades, bulletproof designer umbrella and so on) and these weapons are concealed under equally fancy bullet-proof designer suits.

And i guess sexy Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) and her dangerous artificial legs compensates the lack of so called ‘Bond-girl’ in the film. 

Colin Firth looks super fit and does some extreme action sequences.

Michael Caine and Mark Strong‘s performance adds weight to the film where as young actor Taron Egerton impresses us all with his athletic accomplishments.    

kingsman-poster3But the character who steals the show is Valentine, the evil mastermind with a lisp – none other than Samuel L. Jackson.     

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a bit over-hyped though but then again lets admit most of the films that are adopted from comic books nowadays are merchandised on an unnecessarily over-the-top popularity level.

Director Matthew Vaughn who previously directed two successful comic book adaptations Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class this time proved himself again as a very entertaining director. 

Forget about reality and plunge into one of the best action-comedies of this year.

Mr.Turner (2014)

Mr.Turner (2014)

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 4/5.

The film Mr.Turner, is a biography based on the life and career of the prominent British painter J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851). 

Nominated for this year’s Oscars and BAFTA in four categories each, the film also competed for the Palme d’Or in the Cannes Film Festival. 

mr-turner-poster2Writer/director Mike Leigh famous for his earlier films like NakedSecrets & LiesVera DrakeHappy-Go-Lucky this time portrayed the life of the eccentric but extremely talented artist, Mr.Turner.

According to Mike Leigh Turner was “a great artist: a radical, revolutionary painter” and he said “I felt there was scope for a film examining the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world”

Actually the film Mr.Turner doesn’t revolve on any particular story of Turner’s life but it’s overall view based on his later life (middle aged) till his death.

The film deals with Turner’s passions and brilliance, his obsessions and madness, his pleasures and insecurities, his family ties and his love lives.

And of course a masterful insight into his paintings.

mr-turner-poster3Timothy Spall gave the best performance of his life and played the character of Mr.Turner to perfection. No wonder he won the best actor at Cannes Film Festival.

All the other actors, especially Paul JessonDorothy Atkinson and Marion Bailey did their very best.

But according to me the real protagonists of this film are the outstanding cinematography by Dick Pope and also Gary Yershon‘s music. A marvelous combination of beautiful visuals perfectly synced with such melody!

A slow paced period film with beautiful costumes and production design; Mr.Turner is a great biography, true to it’s nature and also to the historic painter on whom it’s based on. 

One should attempt to watch films like Mr.Turner with adequate amount of patience and if you are familiar with Turner’s paintings – it helps.

Overall a great accomplishment indeed.

Similar Interest: Loving Vincent Review

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.comwww.impawards.com.

Leviathan (2014)

Leviathan review.

My Ratings: 4/5.

Leviathan is the Official submission of Russia at the Oscars and was nominated among the best five Foreign Language Films of 2014.

Leviathan also won the Golden Globe Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category this year. 

In the Cannes Film Festival Leviathan won the best screenplay award and also competed for the most prestigious Palme d’Or award.

Leviathan-poster1Well, just by the film’s track-record for awards it is evident that Leviathan is a film of exquisite quality.

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev the film portrays the helplessness of the general public in the hands of the corrupted, powerful  political authority.

An ordinary family trying to stay afloat as dangerous ‘Biblical sea monsters’ (that’s what ‘Leviathan’ actually means) in the form of unscrupulous political leaders (the Mayor in this case) plans a deluge that will sweep away the powerless  and the common forever.

Brilliant performances by all the main leads Aleksey SerebryakovElena LyadovaRoman MadyanovVladimir Vdovichenkov

It is interesting to notice how the relations between the characters continuously change as the film progresses and the audience is always left guessing about the unpredictable storyline.

Awesome cinematography by Mikhail Krichman and beautiful musical score by Andrey Dergachev.

A refreshingly honest film that manages to project the much realistic  scenario of today’s corrupted world.

Film enthusiasts, believe me – you don’t want to miss Leviathan.

The Imitation Game (2014)

My Ratings: 4.3/5.

The imitation game is a film based on the life of an unsung war-hero, a genius mathematician and a troubled soul who never got the recognition he deserved – Alan Turing.

imitation-game-poster2Now who is Allan Turing and why is his name almost anonymous for all these years?

Well, according to Winston Churchill Alan Turing made the single greatest contribution in Britain’s war effort.

But unfortunately Alan Turing’s immense contribution wasn’t disclosed and recognized until recently; it was kept a government secret for the last 50 years!

The film The imitation game particularly concentrates on the dramatic episodes of Alan Turing’s life when he tried to crack the infamous German code called the Enigma that eventually brought an end to the dreadful second World War.

Not only did Turing saved millions of lives by stopping the war, he also invented the most important machine of this generation – it’s called the Computer!

(If it interests anybody Codebreaker is another decent TV movie that deals with more of Alan Turing’s personal life).

imitation-game-poster3Anyways, back to The imitation game, the film directed by Morten Tyldum is a well executed drama based on the book ‘Alan Turing: The Enigma’ written by Andrew Hodges.

Shot to fame as the brainy detective Sherlock Homes in the popular TV series SherlockBenedict Cumberbatch this time plays Alan Turing – one of the most intelligent mathematicians the world have ever produced. And a great performance indeed.

Time magazine ranked Benedict Cumberbatch‘s portrayal of Turing as #1 in its “Best Performances” list of 2014.

Keira Knightley also did a marvelous job playing a fellow mathematician who understood Alan and did care for him. 

imitation-game-poster1After Atonement (2007) Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley came together again for The Imitation Game and for good.

Great original score by Alexandre Desplat and superb editing by William Goldenberg.

Nominated for the Oscars in Eight categories and winning for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Graham Moore), The imitation game is one of the best biographies made last year.

A combination of history and good cinema, a film that respects one of the greatest minds of all times – a perfect salute to the genius Alan Turing.

Wild (2014)

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

“If your Nerve, deny you – Go above your Nerve” – EMILY DICKINSON and Cheryl Strayed.

A woman solo-hikes 1,100 miles in the Wild in order to redeem her past; an adventure, a wish, a challenge accepted only in the hope of a better future.

With zero experience on hiking and with the heaviest backpack ever, Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) climbs up the Pacific Crest Trail accompanied only with her determination and childhood memories, especially of her Mom (Laura Dern).

wild-poster2Wild is actually based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir by the name ‘Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, the film brilliantly emphasizes on the bonding between human solitude and natural wilderness; it’s underlines the need for us to be one with nature in order to revive ourselves, a journey of self realization.

It is said that Reese Witherspoon had to compete with actresses like  Jennifer LawrenceScarlett Johansson and Emma Watson before she finally bagged the role. And she did look the part.

Oscar nominations for both Reese Witherspoon (Actress in a Leading Role) and Laura Dern (Actress in a Supporting Role) performances and so well deserved nominations.

Awesome editing by Martin Pensa and Jean-Marc Vallée, a lot of flashback memories put in but the film seams to travel back and forth effortlessly.

Though it’s a story of adventure but Wild is a relatively slow paced film, shown entirely from the perspective of a woman – it’s about her conflicts, her fear, her insecurities and her achievements.

A genuine story told in style.

If you are up for nature, adventure and real emotions, then this film is for you.

Badlapur (2015)

My Ratings: 3.8/5.

“Revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold.” – a quote from the book/film The Godfather. And then “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” – the famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi.

Badlapur is a film that tries to establish a balance between the above two quotes; a movie that thrives on the concept of revenge but also condemns it in the process.

badlapur-poster4Within the first ten minutes of the film a bank gets looted, two bandits on the chase and two innocent hostages loose their lives. One of the thugs get caught but the other one runs away with the money!

Raghav looses his wife and son (both were hostages) and it shatters his life.

And hence the mood is set for a perfect revenge thriller.

Badlapur revolves basically around the two main characters and their goals in life – firstly Varun Dhawan (Raghav) and his thirst for retribution and secondly the gangster who gets caught Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Liak) and his unending desire for freedom, money and his long-lost love Jhimli (Huma Qureshi).

A film that burns in the flames of Violence and Vengeance.

badlapur-poster1A hammer used as a weapon (i guess this is an inspiration from the South Korean action flicks); make no mistake Badlapur is a hard-core, realistic action film where even the letters on an innocent scrabble board-game spells “revenge”.

Superb acting by all, specially Nawazuddin Siddiqui, his simplicity while delivering dialogues is outstanding. Even Varun Dhawan did give his best, his matured look with the beard and all looks very promising indeed.  

Huma Qureshi, Divya Dutta, Yami Gautam, Radhika Apte all played their parts pretty well.

Edgy editing by Pooja Ladha Surti and good casting choices by Mukesh Chhabra.

Sriram Raghavan is back; if you have enjoyed his earlier films like Ek Hasina Thi and Johnny Gaddaar i am sure you will like his latest Badlapur as well.

So go watch it.

St.Vincent (2014)

My Ratings: 3.7/5.

Honestly i was a bit hesitant to watch St.Vincent because some of the recent Hollywood comedies (the likes of Dumb and Dumber To and 22 Jump Street) were too much of slaps and sticks for me.

But St.Vincent is refreshingly good and funny, exactly as it’s trailer promises it to be. Even better.

ST-VINCENT-Poster1The man who never fails to entertain us with his superb acting ability and brilliant comic timing, responsible for amazing films like Groundhog DayGhostbustersLost in TranslationBroken Flowers – everyone’s favorite Bill Murray is back and this time has become St.Vincent.

A young boy named Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and his mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) comes to a new neighborhood and guess who’s their neighbor – an old, lonely, irresponsible and selfish guy named Vincent (Bill Murray).

Oliver soon befriends his grumpy, drunk old neighbor who sort of becomes a father-figure to him and as expected gives Oliver the worst set of parental advice possible (drinking, betting on horses, going to strip clubs, moves to break a fellow student’s nose and so on).

But then again Vincent and Oliver’s odd but deep friendship is the spine of the film. The chemistry between them is superbly maintained throughout the film, never too dramatic, just enough dose of emotions to keep it real and witty.

st.vincent-poster3Writer/director Theodore Melfi has done a great job and Laura Rosenthal deserves a special mention for the awesome casting.

Another surprise element in St.Vincent is Naomi Watts and her excellent performance as Daka, a Russian ‘lady of the night’.

Both the story line and the ending is pretty predictable though, but the little comic situations played in-between such talented actors amuses us and makes the film a pleasant watch.

A bit under-rated i guess, St.Vincent comes as a perfect lighthearted comedy, a good combination of emotions and humor punched with a message!

A must watch for Bill Murray fans.

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight – the ultimate Romantic Trilogy.

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight – the ultimate Romantic Trilogy.

written by: Souranath Banerjee.

It was June 16, 1994. On a train traveling from Budapest, a beautiful French girl Celine (Julie Delpy) meets Jesse (Ethan Hawke), a young handsome American traveller and soon enough they fall in love!

They got to spend one evening together in Vienna before Jesse took his flight back home. Celine and Jesse had each other’s company till Before Sunrise. So they decided to walk around the city and talk.

before-sunrise-poster1And this mystical romantic evening shared between Celine and Jesse is known as Before Sunrise, one of the best love stories ever made and the first of Richard Linklater‘s famous “Before” trilogy.

After Before Sunrise (1995) their followed Before Sunset (2004) and then Before Midnight (2013) in exact nine year intervals. 

In Before Sunset Celine and Jesse meet in Paris where they re-connect with each other and take a positive decision over their feelings.

And the third installment Before Midnight happens in Greece which portrays the sweet-bitter consequences that eventually follows each and every love story.

The extraordinary chemistry between Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke gets more and more enticing in each of these sequels.

It is interesting to note that on the two sequels, the director and both the lead actors have received equal screenwriting credits!

Richard Linklater, the master of experimental film making (Boyhood being another one of his ingenious projects recently released) has shot the two characters Celine and Jesse over a period of two decades to capture their evolving maturity as they age.

I guess François Truffaut was the only other director who followed a particular screen character named Antoine Doinel for a stretch of five films and over a period of 20 years. It was played by Jean-Pierre Léaud and the five films are collectively called ‘The adventures of Antoine Doinel’.

Coming back to the ‘Before’ trilogy, in all the three films the performance level of the two lead actors are simply outstanding.

In the words of the director himself ‘It’s a tribute to Ethan and Julie how well rehearsed and what good actors they are. It’s the kind of acting they don’t really give awards to because people accept it as real. It’s kind of like the apes at the  beginning of 2001 – they didn’t win best costume because they thought they were real. People think we just turn on a camera and we catch these dialogues.

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight – these films are not so called ‘mainstream’ cinema; they neither have loud comic sequences or CG dream worlds as backdrops, nor they have any eye-popping sex scenes to look forward.

And yet these films are the most critically acclaimed love stories of our times. A must watch for people who appreciate true love.

If St.Valentine was alive i bet the ‘Before’ trilogy would definitely be among his top ten list!

Roy (2015)

My Ratings: 0.5/5.

An interesting fresh choice of actors, a handful of catchy songs and a decent film trailer – who would have known that the result will be a waste of almost 2 and 1/2 hours of my life.

Roy-Poster1Roy will probably be the most hyped disappointment of this year.

Unfortunately within the very first fifteen minutes you get the sense that you have being lured into something unexpectedly boring but till then it’s too late. For the next two hours you are trapped like a bird in a dark cage with a single source of uncomfortable, harsh light that doesn’t let you sleep.

The supposed-to-be dynamic star cast Ranbir KapoorJacqueline Fernandez, and Arjun Rampal tries to act out their parts but without a proper script it’s always tough.

Roy-PosterKabir (Arjun Rampal playing the lead role) is a hotshot writer/director struggling to write his own film script, a playboy who falls in love with another film director Ayesha (Jacqueline Fernandez). 

Ranbir Kapoor though having relatively lesser screen space manages to achieve the difficult task of having not a single expression on his face throughout the film. (I think he should choose his scripts more wisely in future).

For debutant director/writer Vikramjit Singh it evidently didn’t work out this time, but i guess there is always a next time.

Ordinary editing and camera and below average dialogues.

Amal Mallik though deserves a mention for the soulful music of Roy, the only positive aspect in the film.

I won’t personally recommend Roy to anybody.  Watch it at your own risk.

Birdman (2014)

My Ratings: 4/5.

Alejandro González Iñárritu is a name associated with some of the best cinemas made in the last two decades; a director responsible for such unique films like Amores Perros21 GramsBabelBiutiful and now his latest accomplishment – Birdman.

Already won several awards including Golden Globe and BAFTA, Birdman is being nominated in 9 categories for this year’s Oscars!

birdman-poster3The film is based on this once-famous actor Riggan (Michael Keaton) who is still remembered as the popular superhero character ‘Birdman’ he played in the past. Now on one hand he is desperately trying to find his stand as an actor in the broadways, and on the other he is having a tough time controlling his ego and maintaining his family ties.

Clever casting as Michael Keaton in his real life has played such an iconic superhero character himself (in the films Batman and Batman Returns). And his acting in Birdman is truly superlative – i think it’s his performance of a life time.

Even the supporting cast Edward NortonNaomi WattsZach GalifianakisEmma Stone and others are magical in front of the camera.

But then, the speciality of Birdman lies in how the film is shot and executed.  

The whole film is edited to look like one continuous shot. Hats off to the director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki who made the camera move such effortlessly and make it invisible even in the mirrors!

An effort to make a film look continuous (almost in real time), I doubt if any body has attempted such a tremendous feat since after the year 1948 when Alfred Hitchcock made history with his film Rope where he ingeniously cut the whole film in only 10 shots!

birdman-poster1Another special mention is the music of Birdman, the drum score by Antonio Sanchez is simply inseparable from the film; the rhythm and pace of the drum beats perfectly sync with the movements and emotions of the characters. A masterpiece indeed. 

Iñárritu through his dark comedy has managed to explore many important issues of our present age – the values of family bondings, the necessity to control our ego, the importance of propaganda in social media, the role of critics and also the eternal question of our human existence and the true meaning behind it.

After watching Birdman one has to admit that beyond the superficial good/bad remarks the film has a certain deeper impact on the audience – an exclusive experience completely different from any other films recently seen.

So as a quote says in the film Birdman – “Have a real experience!” . Please go watch it.