Tag Archives: cold war

Red Sparrow (2018)

Red Sparrow Review

written by Anu Gopinath

Red Sparrow: ‘The Cold War did not end, it merely shattered into a thousand pieces.’

My Ratings: 2/5

Red sparrow, the latest offering from Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton tells the story of the post cold war era espionage but can only be deemed as a feeble attempt at the spy thriller genre and is
not fit to hold a candle to the classics like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Red Sparrow tries too hard to be a part of that genre but the problem is… it falls flat on its face!

The film depicts the story of a Russian prima ballerina Dominica Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) who gets entangled in the spy games of the state and is forced to become a ‘red sparrow’ and eventually tells the story of her revenge and redemption.

In paper, the movie looked to have everything going for it and director Francis Lawrence tries too hard to delve into the life of the protagonist but given the limited running time of the movie, he could neither give a proper character definition for Jennifer Lawrence nor could he establish an emotional connect for the character with the audience. In his desperate attempts to successfully make the
transformation to the movie from a novel written by Jason Matthews, the director forgot the perennial rule of filmmaking. Red-SparrowIronically it’s the same golden rule that a spy lives by and that a filmmaker should never forget … “Nothing ever goes according to the plan!”.

Jennifer Lawrence shoulders the movie with her innate talent of getting into the skin of any character she plays. However same cannot be said about the multitude of talents that goes wasted namely, Charlotte Rampling and Mary-Louise Parker.

Joel Edgerton huffs and puffs through a role which hardly requires him to do anything more than a mere supporting role and it’s a shame to see such a brilliant talent with a horde of potential being thrown in to dumps of a pretty average cinema!

Jeremy Irons commands the screen presence in any and every scene he is in but is completely undone by the lack of screen time and lousy writing.

Red-SparrowIt’s the brilliance of the technical team that keeps the movie intriguing, interesting and afloat. The cinematography by Jo Willems is one of the best works I have seen in recent times. Added to that, a stunning background score by James Newton Howard successfully recreates the blanket of eerie, gloomy and mysterious atmosphere that is remnant of the cold war era Soviet Russia and the Russian federation that came into being since its fall.

Despite its 143min long running time, the movie fails to capture the attention of audience and one fails to empathise or sympathise with the lead characters . The emotional discord between the audience and movie is quite evident!

For once now, when I kick back with a glass of vodka, I can only Red-Sparrowsquirm and sigh hard at the state of spy thrillers and the movies that has come to pass as the spy thrillers and can only get nostalgic about movies like North by Northwest  or Manchurian candidate which redefined this genre and cinema.

All the flicker of hope that was rekindled with the release of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy about the resurgence of this genre has been doused !

One can only raise his glass of drink in despair and give good wishes the condition of the spy-genre that has been laid to waste. “NAZDAROVYE!”

Similar Interest: Best Conspiracy Thrillers ever made

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Trumbo (2015)

Trumbo review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A rare biography that is bold enough to name the right names. 

My Ratings: 4.1/5.

Occasionally, some justice can be served by simply letting everyone know of the past injustice.

Trumbo, is not only an entertaining film by itself, but also a brilliant portrayal of the historic event of ‘Hollywood blacklist’; the shameful McCarthy era of government injustice, documented and represented with great passion and precision.

Based on the life of two-times Academy Award Winner, American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo, the film takes us to the mid1940s America, when cold-war was at its peak and communism was a direct threat.

It was the time when employment was denied to many talented American entertainment professionals because of their political beliefs; just because they were suspected Communist sympathizers or members of the Communist Party.

And thus, the Hollywood Ten‘, a group of ten most acclaimed writers and directors of Hollywood (including Dalton Trumbo) were cited for contempt of Congress, and were not only declined from their jobs and respectable positions but also sentenced to prison without committing a single crime.

With Hedda Hopper (one of America’s most famous gossip trumbo-poster2columnist) and John Wayne (one of America’s most celebrated actor) in the forefront, the Motion Picture Association of America mistrusted and mistreated some of the most talented writers of the time.

A terrible injustice that cannot be undone.

But Dalton Trumbo was a man not to be silenced. As one of the poster of the film proudly say “When they tried to silence him, he made the world listen”. A devoted family man and an exceptional writer, though blacklisted he kept on writing remarkable screenplays one after another, without using his own name!

The film manages to capture both Trumbo’s genius and his never-give-up attitude perfectly.

Great direction by Jay Roach (was a fan of his comedy films as well), but the film’s real strength is Bryan Cranston (yes, the guy trumbo-poster3from Breaking Bad) who has given a superlative performance.

And then of course there are the likes of Helen MirrenDiane LaneMichael Stuhlbarg and David Maldonado to steer the film to the success it deserves.

Trumbo is a film that is unapologetically true to its content and tells a story that desperately needs to be told.

Though 2 hours screen-time seems a tad lengthy for the film but yet, a must watch biography for all you film lovers.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Pawn Sacrifice (2014)

Pawn Sacrifice review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

United States or the Soviet Union? Bobby Fischer or Boris Spassky? – the cold war was at it’s peak!

Tensed boxing biopics like Raging Bull or high speed Formula One racing movies similar to Rush or the fast baseball films like The Pride of the Yankees or even those fantastic movies on the lives of athletes and runners like Chariots of Fire – sports biopics are always fun to watch because they are so full of adrenaline.

But then, how much energy and drama can be squeezed into a sport biopic based on the most calm and tranquil game ever played in the world – that is CHESS ?

pawn-sacrifice-poster1Well, Edward Zwick (famous for films like The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond and Defiance) took up the challenge and believe it or not he manages to make a highly thrilling and captivating chess-film – his latest release Pawn Sacrifice.

A biopic on chess world champion Bobby Fischer played superbly by Tobey Maguire

Now this is not Tobey’s first sport biopic (remember the famous Jockey Red Pollard in Seabiscuit); but in Pawn Sacrifice he has shown a different level of maturity and perfectly portrayed the silent madness of the paranoid genius.  

Bobby Fisher, considered to be the best chess player till date was indeed a troubled soul but aren’t insanity the price you pay for being a genius?  

pawn-sacrifice-posterIn 1972, Bobby Fischer faced the then world champion Boris Spassky (from Russia) in the greatest match ever played in the history of chess!

On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness.

Liev Schreiber perfectly fits the role of Spassky while Peter Sarsgaard, (the father figure) along with Michael Stuhlbarg (the manager) tries their best to cope up with Bobby’s madness and make him play his best game.

Pawn Sacrifice is a skillful film that cleverly brings out the subtle characteristics of Bobby Fisher as an individual; his arrogance, his fears, his childish demands, his mood swings and above all his genius.

You don’t need to know chess to relish the film, although a bit of basic chess knowledge will make you feel more comfortable.  

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com