2016 Oscar Winners leaping ahead!

2016 Oscar Winners leaped ahead! 

written by Souranath Banerjee

It is that time of the year when decisions are made and a few extraordinary artists take the leap ahead with the golden statues shining in their hands.

Pic-12Yes, the time for the 2016 Oscar winners!

The competition was exceptionally tough this year (just like any other year), and though we always like to say that everyone nominated are all winners but then sadly, only some people actually win.

Here are the movies that ruled the Oscar stage yesterday and a flashback of all these films for a quick recap.

Spotlight (Won 2 awards)

Category: Best Picture and Original Screenplay (Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy)

spotlight-poster2My Ratings: 4.4/5. 

‘Since All the President’s Men in 1976, I think this film here, Spotlight, has taken the theme of ‘reporters unveiling a conspiracy theory’ to a new height of extraordinary.’

‘Written and directed by Tom McCarthy (his directional debut The Station Agent is one of my all time favorite), and here also, he has done a tremendous job. The pace and the overall effect of the film is so intense that it gives you the feel of a classic thriller. ‘

 

The Revenant (won 3 awards)

Category: Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Director (Alejandro Inarritu) and for Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki)

revenant-poster2My Ratings: 4.4/5.

‘there is an immense amount of expectation for Mr. Iñárritu’s latest film The Revenant, and then again, when the ever-impressive Leonardo DiCaprio is in the lead, tagging with him all that debate about – can this be finally Leonardo’s Oscar moment or not?’

‘the film is shot by ace cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who has already won two Oscars for his brilliant camera work in films Birdman and Gravity.’

 

Mad Max: Fury Road (won 6 awards)

Category: Best Editing (Margaret Sixel), Best Sound Mixing (Chris Jenkins, Greg Rudloff and Ben Osmo), Best Sound editing (Mark Mangini and David White), Best Production Design (Colin Gibson), Best Costume Design (Jenny Beavan) and Best Make Up and hair Styling (Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin).

mad-max-poster6My Ratings: 4.1/5.

‘A two hours non-stop action extravaganza, a roller coaster ride of brutal excitement, insane adrenaline rush and high-octane drama.’

‘a super-fast editing by Margaret Sixel and Jason Ballantine perfectly complements the mood of the film.’

‘Minimal use of dialogues, quick introduction of characters and real horrific violence – Mad Max: Fury Road is a treat for action genre lovers. Undoubtedly the best action flick of recent times.’

 

Room

Category: Best Actress (Brie Larson)

room-poster1My Ratings: 4.4/5.

‘Specially Brie Larson who as the protective mother, dealing with her certitudes and also her vulnerabilities has given one of the best performances I have seen in a long time!’

‘Essentially it’s a thriller that involves the account of a daring attempt to slip away from the clutches of a ruthless kidnapper but on a deeper note the film is a complex sensitive drama and an expert dissection of human psychology.’

 

The Big Short 

Category: Best Adopted Screenplay (Charles Randolph and Adam McKay)

big-short-poster2My Ratings: 4/5.

‘Based on the book with the same name by financial journalist Michael Lewis, co-writer and director Adam McKay has been successful in adding enough humor to dilute the financial jargon and make the film coherent for everybody.’

‘focuses on a group of people who noticed and predicted the devastating financial crisis well ahead and even profited from it!’

 

The Danish Girl

Category: Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander)

danish-girl-poster1My Ratings: 3.8/5.

Only such powerful acting could hold the film together with enough distinction.

‘to an utter surprise to his wife Gerda, Einar has a sudden urge to change his sexual orientation and reveals that he actually wants to be Lili in her real life; he claims that he seems to be a women trapped in a man’s body!’

 

Bridge of Spies

Category: Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance)

bridge-of-spies-poster1My Ratings: 3.8/5.

‘Bridge of Spies is actually a biopic on American insurance-attorney James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks)’

‘Firstly, he had to defend a captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) in the American court of justice and then, he was recruited by the CIA and sent to the-then hostile Germany (Berlin being partitioned) to negotiate a spy-exchange mission between the two rival countries – America and Russia.’

 

Ex Machina

Category: Best Visual Effects (Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett)

ex-machina-poster3My Ratings: 4/5.

‘But the real winner in this 1 hour 48 min futuristic drama is the brilliant use of visual effects. The amazing special effects give the film it’s much necessary believability.’

‘A bit slow paced maybe, and mostly dialogue based but in spite of not being personally a fan of Sci Fi movies, i find it pretty impressive.’

 

Spectre

Category: Best Original song (Song: Writing’s On The Wall, music and lyric: Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith)

spectre-poster6My Ratings: 3/5.

‘Though music by Thomas Newman is as usual effective and blends well with Hoyte Van Hoytema‘s cinematography.’

‘Spectre starts with a thrilling helicopter sequence in Mexico that promises a power pact film but unfortunately, by the end of it’s almost two and a half hours run time, the film struggles to keep you entertained.’

 

Inside Out

Category: Best Animated Feature Film (Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera)

Inside-Out-Poster2My Ratings: 4.5/5.

‘This 94 min film gives the children their beloved world of funny characters and colorful fantasy but at the same time it offers enough scope for serious thoughts (and admiration) for the grown-ups.’

‘Superb voice overs by a variety of talented artists. Animation quality at it’s best but again that is kind of expected from a Pixar feature. But the best part of Inside Out is its concept – so brilliantly innovative!’

 

Bear Story – Animated Short Film (Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala)

The Hateful Eight – Original Score (Ennio Morricone)

Stutterer – Live Action Short Film (Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage)

Pic-11Amy – Best Documentary – Feature (Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees)

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – Best Documentary – Short Subject (Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy)

Son of Saul – Best foreign language film (Country: Hungary; Directed by László Nemes)

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comoscar.go.com.

Aligarh (2015)

Aligarh review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A cinema not just about gay rights, it’s about humanity. 

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

On the night of 8 February 2010, two men forced their way into a house in Aligarh where two adult people were having consensual sex. These hired goons who later claimed to be from a TV channel, took pictures and videos while illegally invading the privacy of aligarh-poster-1someone’s bedroom, and in the process humiliating and even beating up the residents.

It was the house of Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, and he was ambushed by these local TV-channel camera crew while having sex with a rickshaw puller; gay sex to be specific.

And effectively the very next day, the 64 year old professor Dr. Siras, specializing in Marathi literature and also the head of the Department of Modern Indian Languages at Aligarh Muslim University, was suspended from his post because of his illicit misconduct resulting to such a scandal.

Fortunately such an act of atrocity, discrimination and injustice was noticed and denounced by those few, who still believe in terms like justice and equality. With the help of efficient lawyers a case was filed against the University and eventually the verdict was in favor of Dr. Siras. But probably, the man was too heart broken to enjoy his victory.

aligarh-poster-3The film Aligarh is a sincere account of Dr. Siras’s life; a calm and composed man by nature, a poet who won the literary award by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad in 2002. He loved to listen to Lata Mangeshkar songs with a few many drinks at night till he gets drunk.

And Manoj Bajpayee as Dr. Siras has given the performance of a lifetime. Such emotions in his eyes, the way he talks in a slow intellectual manner, his overall body language, even the way he moves his feet enjoying the song ‘Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha’ in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice – pure brilliance! 

Rajkummar Rao surely did support Bajpayee very well, the young reporter’s role was rewardless yet so important from the film’s perspective. Ashish VidyarthiSumit GulatiDilnaz Irani all were at their best. 

Almost 2 hours of screen time, slow paced, long single takes,  aligarh-poster-2emotional and brutally honest; the sheer authenticity and conviction of storytelling is enough to make this biopic a special one.

And exceptionally well directed by Hansal Mehta (this is even better than Mehta’s earlier two triumphs Shahid and City Lights).  

Based on the last two months of a man who was the victim of the university campus politics, framed by his own colleagues out of utter jealousy, a man whose life was turned upside down just because he was a homosexual.

‘I spent two decades here. I love my University. I have always loved it and will continue to do so no matter what. But I wonder if they have stopped loving me because I am gay’

Dr. Siras was a man who loved his life and expected to be loved back.

The film Aligarh has managed to keep alive his sentiments, it has the same poetic feel that so resembles Dr. Siras’s nature.

Poster courtesy:  www.bollywoodmdb.comwww.goldposter.com

The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant review

The basic storyline seems pretty ordinary though, but the execution is simply exceptional from all perspectives of filmmaking. 

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 4.4/5.

Alejandro González Iñárritu claimed the Oscar last year in the ‘Best Achievement in Directing‘ category for his film Birdman, and winning the ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year‘ and ‘Best Original Screenplay‘ awards as well!

So not surprisingly, there is an immense amount of expectation for revenant-poster1Mr. Iñárritu’s latest film The Revenant, and then again, when the ever-impressive Leonardo DiCaprio is in the lead, tagging with him all that debate about – can this be finally Leonardo’s Oscar moment or not?

And on top of that, the film is shot by ace cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who has already won two Oscars for his brilliant camera work in films Birdman and Gravity. He should have also won for two of his previous films The Tree of Life and Children of Men but again that’s another debate for another time.

So coming back to The Revenant, a thrilling revenge saga dated way revenant-poster2back in 1823, a dangerous time for the American fur traders and trappers who not only had to survive the treacherous climate but also the Indians for whom they were guests not particularly welcomed.

‘I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I’d done it already.’

Leonardo DiCaprio playing the part of Hugh Glass (the film is inspired by his real life endeavors), who was a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition, an explorer in the true sense of the word, a survivor who came back from dead and most importantly, a man with vengeance on his mind.

‘He’s afraid. He knows how far I came to find him.’

And Tom Hardy on the other hand, playing the intense yet crooked character of John Fitzgerald, who in a way was the real reason of Hugh Glass’s will to survive!

Superlative performances by both DiCaprio (through minimal use of revenant-poster3dialogues) and Tom Hardy; and aptly supported by the likes of Kristoffer JonerLukas HaasDomhnall GleesonWill Poulter and Forrest Goodluck.

Composers Ryuichi Sakamot and Carsten Nicolai does justice to the stunning visuals and Stephen Mirrione does a fair job with the edit.

Often vicious and violent (specially the bear attack scene), The Revenant was shot in twelve different locations and three different countries, chronologically for as long as 80 days and that too almost entirely using natural light!

A 2 hours and 36 minutes of cinematic bliss not to be missed under any circumstances.

P.S. – For the record, Leonardo sleeping in an actual gutted carcass of a horse is not true, the carcass was a prosthetic one. Though Leo did eat a bison liver for real to capture the authenticity of that shot!

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

The Wrong Man and Ek Ruka Hua Faisla: Two most important films we should watch right now!

With ‘The Wrong Man’ Alfred Hitchcock had tried to serve a different dish to his audiences. Sadly, he failed. The king of suspense was expected to tell only mysteries and thriller through his films. The film has suddenly come into relevance for me. While watching the whole JNU episode in which the police picked Kanhaiya Kumar from JNU campus and people engulfed by nationalism called him a traitor without a single question springing in their mind, I began to picture some scenes from ‘The Wrong Man’. Those scenes in which Manny played by the legendary Henry Fonda is picked up by the police mistakingly.

Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in "The wrong Man"- Bollywoodirect

Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in “The wrong Man”

It happens when Manny goes to his bank to apply for a loan and the bank employee finds Manny’s face and dressing matching with a criminal who attacked her some months back. In fear, she yells at him. All the other employees come to her and the police is called. The next moment, Manny finds himself in a jail.

He tries to convince the police, the woman bank employee who had put the blame and the other employees of the bank that he is not a criminal. But nobody tries to believe him. In everyone’s perspective, he is a villain, a criminal.

Perspective! Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Wrong Man’ was all about perspective. The film questions on yours and mine perspective in looking at things. Was it your perspective which believed that Manny was a criminal or was it someone else’s? That someone else could be anyone. It could be a gang on social media, your neighbour or may be the news anchor who is shouting enormously on the screen.

One woman finds Manny a criminal and Manny becomes a criminal the next second. Without any second thought, any rethinking, everyone has reached the conclusion.

At JNU, they picked up the wrong man. In spite of getting after those who are alleged defaulters, police picked up Kanhaiya Kumar- the man who wanted to stop his loved university from getting defamed unnecessarily. Nationalism was at work over there but in the wrong direction.

The only difference between the ‘The Wrong Man’ and the present JNU scenario is the intention behind putting the blame. In the film, the woman mistakingly sends Manny to jail. At JNU, it was not a mistake but an intentional game plan. But let’s not get into it. The bigger questions are – why are we in so much hurry in declaring judgements? Do we know that because of our impulsiveness, someone is taking advantage for their politics?

Are we ready debate on an issue before reaching a conclusion? And this question brings me to other favorite film – Basu Chatterjee’s Ek Ruka Hua Faisala. This film was a copy of Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men. The tagline of the film in itself is a lesson. It says ‘Life in their hands, death in their minds’. Relate the tagline with the present scenario where everyone is after Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid (even if he is a traitor, let’s prove he is the one and not be depended upon some video clips and media to prove his guilt). Relate the tagline to the group of lawyers who attacked the journalists inside Patiala House Court. Relate the line with the plethora of social media comments which read ‘Kill the traitors’.

A scene from Ek Ruka Hua Faisla

A scene from Ek Ruka Hua Faisla

Now let’s come back to the film. Ek Ruka Hua Faisla involves the greats of the hindi film industry- KK Raina, Annu Kapoor, Pankaj Kapoor coming together in one film. The film is about a boy who allegedly has killed his father. The court has left the right to take the final call of the case on 12 men only after discussing all the aspects of the case. The 12 men are locked in a room to discuss.

Even before the start of the discussion, 11 of them have already made their mind – the kid is guilty. He should be sent to jail. All the witnesses are against him. There is a strong list of evidences against him. There is no question why he should be set free. The kid is a danger to the society, they said. All the men in the room share the same opinion except one.

Juror No. 8 played by KK Raina, stands and says, “I want to debate. I am not saying the Kid is not guilty but I dare to disagree that he is guilty. The court has given us the responsibility to take a very important decision and we ought to take it seriously.”

Juror No 8 is what all we need to be. Debate. Think. Rethink. Because even the truth needs a debate.

Written By – Shubham Pandey

Featured article from Bollywoodirect.

The Big Short (2015)

The Big Short review

written by Souranath Banerjee

“Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.”

My Ratings: 4/5.

Christian Bale,  Steve Carell,  Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt are all in the same movie and if that is not reason enough for you to watch this big-short-poster3film, then I must add that The Big Short is pretty well made too.

With the backdrop of the sudden U.S mortgage crisis in around mid 2000 which eventually dented the entire world economy, the film though particularly focuses on a group of people who noticed and predicted the devastating financial crisis well ahead and even profited from it!

An eccentric loner and fund-manager Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale), the smooth and classy trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), the loud and edgy money-manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell), and the cynical ex-trader Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) who helped the two big-short-poster2young investors Charlie Gellar and Jamie Shipley (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock) – however unbelievable it may seem, but these are the only few people in the entire world who knew enough to bet against the American economy!

“Tell me the difference between stupid and illegal and I’ll have my wife’s brother arrested.”

Well, this is one of the many funny onelinners by Ryan Gosling but if taken on a serious note, such a fatal housing market calamity and the resulting financial meltdown was only possible because all the major banks at the time in US really didn’t care much about the difference between stupidity and being illegal!

Based on the book with the same name by financial journalist Michael Lewis, co-writer and director Adam McKay has been successful in adding enough humor to dilute the financial jargon and make the film coherent for everybody.

big-short-poster1The cameos of sizzling Margot Robbie and sultry Selena Gomez explaining the difficult parts of finance certainly helps.

Unique editing style by Hank Corwin by juxtaposing popular images and youtube videos/music videos of the time along with the parallel storytelling of each individual character.

The Big Short does makes us remember Martin Scorsese‘s recent feature ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘, not only due to the fact that it was also a movie related to wall-street/banking/finance but specially because of the often deliberate ‘breaking of the Fourth Wall’ by many characters throughout the film.

Overall an entertainer that demands your patience.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.comingsoon.net

The Danish Girl (2015)

The Danish Girl review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Only such powerful acting could hold the film together with enough distinction.   

My Ratings: 3.8/5.

Tom Hooper, who earlier directed films like The King’s Speech (2010) and Les Misérables (2012) has recently come up with his latest – a biopic named The Danish Girl.

danish-girl-poster3Loosely based on the lives of Danish couple Einar and Gerda Wegener, but essentially the film is inspired by the real story of Einar Wegener’s transformation into Lili Elbe, undergoing a sex reassignment surgery to physically transform from a man to a woman (one of the first in the history of sex-change operations).

The experiences of such a radical and innovative journey as a transgender pioneer is well documented in Lili Elbe’s autobiography “Man into Woman” which was published in 1933, an inspiration to the transgender movement till date.

The Danish Girl starts of by introducing us to the Wegener couple, both young artists with a pretty regular love life but soon things take a turn when Einar develops a fascination for the delicate ladies danish-girl-poster1garments and cosmetics and fancies himself as a girl, playfully dressing himself up as Lili (a fictitious character).

And soon enough, to an utter surprise to his wife Gerda, Einar has a sudden urge to change his sexual orientation and reveals that he actually wants to be Lili in her real life; he claims that he seems to be a women trapped in a man’s body!

So many years back then, such a concept was indeed a novelty and was of course resisted and condemned by many but Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe was one lucky person to finally had her wish fulfilled. But then again she had to pay a heavy price for her sexual freedom.

danish-girl-poster4Honestly for me, if it wasn’t because of the brilliance of the actors like Eddie Redmayne (Oscar winner for The Theory of Everything)Alicia Vikander (popular for her part in Ex Machina) and Matthias Schoenaerts (famous for his role in Rust and Bone), the film would not have been half as interesting as it is now; and so the casting director Nina Gold also needs a special mention here.

And thanks to cinematographer Danny Cohen for the overall look and feel of the film.

The Danish Girl is an important tale that needs to be told but somehow 2 hours of screen time made it a bit too lengthy compared to its content material.

Though surely worth a watch.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight review

written by Souranath Banerjee

‘They knew and they let it happen! It could’ve been you, it could’ve been me, it could’ve been any of us.’

My Ratings: 4.4/5.

Nowadays very few films have the potential to get under your skin and offend you, get you all rattled and ruffled up, even frustrated and most essentially furious over some series of events that you believe was so unjust.

Since All the President’s Men in 1976, I think this film here, Spotlight, has taken the theme of ‘reporters unveiling a conspiracy theory’ to a new height of extraordinary.

spotlight-poster3Though I probably shall restrict from using the term ‘conspiracy theory‘ in context to the subject matter of this film simply because though the monstrous scandal of child molestation by countless archbishops within the so called ‘protection’ of the Catholic Church and their influential friends was something well covered up but not entirely unknown to the people in general.

Oh yes! It was known for years.

Very well known to the Catholic Church officials up to the highest levels, known to the cops and the lawyers, and was also familiar to the parents and family and neighbors of the abused victims but none of them (these ‘Good Germans’) did anything to stop this never-ending racket of rape and sexual harassment of innumerable helpless minors.

spotlight-poster1Until a group of four special-force journalists of the Boston Globe newspaper collectively known as the ‘spotlight’ started digging into this matter with the request of their new Jewish editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber).

Fortunately the spotlight team consisted of some of the most courageous and sincere journalists of the time – Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) and they did an extensive investigation and finally came up with the story printed on the front page of The Boston Globe in January 2002 that shook the entire Catholic Church and people’s belief on it down to the core.

The paper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for its brilliance in investigative journalism, a celebration of the ‘freedom of press‘.

spotlight-poster2Written and directed by Tom McCarthy (his directional debut The Station Agent is one of my all time favorite), and here also, he has done a tremendous job. The pace and the overall effect of the film is so intense that it gives you the feel of a classic thriller. 

Exceptional acting qualities displayed all around, not to forget Stanley TucciNeal HuffJohn SlatteryBilly Crudup and the voice of Richard Jenkins supported the main cast with great conviction.

I guess the scenes where the victims (survivors) narrates their past tragic moments of being molested by the priests are the most painful ones in the film but nevertheless, the most shocking scene that really gives you the chills must be the one where Sacha Pfeiffer manages to get a brief interview of one of the aged priest accused of molestation, who casually admits of fooling around with many kids at his time!

Spotlight is a film of great importance, very well made and unfortunately based on true events.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

Neerja (2016)

Neerja review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A biopic that speaks of bravery, of courage, of Neerja Bhanot!

My Ratings: 4.1/5.

‘Let me do my duty as you are doing yours’ – a line told by a purser (air hostess) of Pan Am Flight 73 to a group of armed terrorists who had highjacked the airline at the time, while she wanted to provide water to all the terrified passengers!

Neerja-poster3How many people have the nerve to stay calm in front of some extremist gunmen and have the audacity to ask to let her serve the people and eventually save 359 lives by sacrificing her own?

Well, Neerja Bhanot had it in her and that’s why though she is no more among us but her legacy still inspires millions across the world.

22 year old Neerja was just like any another girl of her age, originally from Chandigarh but settled in Mumbai with her two caring brothers, a motivating father and a typical over protective mother – a perfectly bonded Know-Neerja2Indian family. By profession she was an air-hostess who loved her job, and also a part time model. She was young, she was vibrant, she was a Rajesh Khanna fan; she was enjoying her life, she was in love.

And unfortunately on 5 September 1986 she was in that fateful Pan Am flight boarded to fly USA from India via Karachi where it was hijacked by some terrorists who were backed by Abu Nidal Organization (Libya).

Directed by Ram Madhvani, the biopic Neerja, highlights the Neerja-poster4particular events of that tragic day, how a young girl almost singlehandedly managed to stop the flight from taking off which spoiled the highjaker’s plans and eventually saved many lives by displaying exceptional valor and heroism.

Interestingly at the very beginning of the film, there is a dialogue reference from the film Anand (1971), a past Bollywood classic where the jovial, spirited protagonist dies in the end. This is probably an indirect hint to the audience, a message that foretells the fate of the bubbly and cheerful leading lady Neerja herself.

Sonam Kapoor brilliantly portraying the role of Neerja Bhanot, her performance being to the point and natural, I guess she has finally proved all her critics wrong about her acting capabilities.

Neerja-poster1Also supported by great performances of Shabana Azmi (as Neerja’s mother Rama Bhanot) and Yogendra Tikku (as Neerja’s father Harish Bhanot). Even the terrorists and the crowd in the flight, the allover level of performance was spot on and most essentially believable.

The cinematography by Mitesh Mirchandani needs a special mention because it gives the film the much needed realistic feel.

Know-Neerja3Neerja Bhanot (1963 – 1986) as we all know did sacrifice her life while shielding three children from the bullets of the assassins.

The film Neerja is undoubtedly well made and does justice to one of the youngest brave-heart of India, but more essentially it helps Neerja’s valiant story reach more people than ever.

A salute to the youngest recipient of the Ashoka Chakra Award.

Poster courtesy: www.bollywoodmdb.comunimotions.com

Room (2015)

Room review

written by Souranath Banerjee

An exceptional tale of mother-child bonding, an emotional whirlpool.

My Ratings: 4.4/5.

There are movies that defy against the notion of being made just for entertainment, there are films which shatter the general norms of popular cinema and become something extraordinary. And in the process, they set an example just as the film Room did last year.

Based on Irish-Canadian writer Emma Donoghue‘s popular novel by the same name, who is also the screenwriter for the film, the brilliance of Room is difficult to be tagged into one particular genre.

room-poster2Essentially it’s a thriller that involves the account of a daring attempt to slip away from the clutches of a ruthless kidnapper but on a deeper note the film is a complex sensitive drama and an expert dissection of human psychology.

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, Room is evidently treated in two distinctively different halves.

The first half till the intermission deals with a mother Ma (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who are being kidnapped inside a garden shed (the room) by a psychopath called Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) and then of course, the planning and execution of their valiant escape. 

And then the second part which takes the film to another level of brilliance, actually deals with the emotional turmoil that they had to go through even after they are so called ‘safe’. And by ‘they’ it’s not only the mother and her son but also their near-family included.

Acting wise everybody is a winner.

room-poster1Specially Brie Larson who as the protective mother, dealing with her certitudes and also her vulnerabilities has given one of the best performances I have seen in a long time!

And then of course, young Jacob Tremblay, such effortless way he delivers his dialogues, his bond with the room, and then his body language when exposed to the world, his unconditional ability to love others – that boy just nailed it.

And superbly supported by Joan AllenMatt Gordon and not to forget the cameo by William H. Macy.

May be inspired by similar real life kidnapping cases of Jaycee Lee Dugard and Amanda Berry or may be the film is completely a work of fiction as the author claims, but one thing is certain – Room is one rare piece of cinema that promises to stay with you for a long time.

Highly recommended. Run.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Straight Outta Compton review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Another take on reality but from a fresh perspective altogether. 

My Ratings: 4/5.

Remember F. Gary Gray, the guy who did the The Italian Job (I mean who directed it), and this time he has come up with the highest-grossing musical biopic ever in the history of Hollywood – Straight Outta Compton.

This is the unique true story of the pioneers of gansta rap, an Straight-Outta-Compton-poster4American hip hop group from Compton (California), who shot to fame around the mid 80s and called themselves N.W.A – Niggaz Wit Attitudes!

Their rap music was famous for its explicit lyrics about drug, crime and women, and also for their hatred of the police system. Thus one of their most controversial songs was ‘Fuck tha police‘. And such was the popularity of that lyrics that FBI send a special letter warning N.W.A not to perform that song in public, which fortunately attracted more publicity to the group!

The core members of N.W.A were legendary rap artists Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren. And the film Straight Outta Straight-Outta-Compton-poster3Compton (which was also the name of their debut studio album) showed how N.W.A started off, they formed their group and teamed up with their manager Jerry Heller, their huge success, and then their internal rivalry regarding contracts, and eventually their break up in around 1991. The film ended with the AIDS-related death of Eazy-E in 1995.

A well documented biopic of all these musicians, well enacted by O’Shea Jackson Jr. (who played his father Ice Cube in the film),  Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre),  Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E), Neil Brown Jr. (DJ Yella), Aldis Hodge (MC Ren) and of course Paul Giamatti as the sly manager Jerry Heller.

Straight-Outta-Compton-poster5But Straight Outta Compton is not only a film about music.

It portrays the overall social scenario of that time in US where some black musicians trying to rap their way up was definitely not considered as art or them as artists. It was the time when the young colored people had to endure unnecessary police harassment on numerous occasions; it was the time of the infamous 1992 Los Angeles riots AKA (Rodney King riots).

An essay of the social life of the 80s America, seen through the eyes of some young black kids who wanted to create music. And they did.

A hip hop fan or not, this film is surely worth a watch.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com