Tag Archives: film review

A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet place Review

written by Anu Gopinath

A Quiet Place Review: John Krasinski, a terribly underrated actor with an abundance of potential comes off age and finally shows the world what he’s capable of!

My Ratings: 3.5

Though touted to be a horror thriller, A Quiet Place plays in to the hearts of the audience with its gripping tale of love, bereavement and forgiveness!

The young actor that is Millicent Simmonds, is an absolute
revelation and her acting prowess make us reminisce quiet fondly of
one brilliant Abigail Breslin swooping the world off its feet in M. Night Shyamalan‘s Signs.

The movie starts on an ominous note and the first quarter of an hour is well spent on explaining the storyline and ground rules of the plot. Now with the plot line set, Krasinski, in a move that can only be deemed ‘audacious’, thrusts the prodigal talent of Ms. Simmonds
into the limelight and boy, doesn’t she deliver! And that’s where Krasinski, the director shines!

A-Quiet-PlaceHe along with Emily Blunt, quite brilliantly plays the parents who are holding on to their loved ones at the times of adversity, coming in terms with the heartbreak of their lost child and giving hope to their progenies when they have the luxury of keeping none for themselves!

The young Ms. Simmonds carries the movie on her little shoulders depicting the heart break of an young girl who has to come in terms
with untimely and cruel death of her brother, the suppressed
laments of a deaf girl who blames herself for his untimely death and
the resultant isolation from her dad and ultimately, the stark
realisation and the defiant acceptance of her responsibility to save her younger brothers and her mother from the aliens!

Brilliant cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen, a simple plot and credit goes to Marco Beltrami for the clever use of A-Quiet-Placebackground score or even the lack of it; the suspense plays well into the minds of the audience and keeps them engaged through out.

Though not exceptional by any measure, the success of the movie is in the vision of the young director John Krasinski to create a decent thriller devoid of any gimmicks and instead tell it though the pains and heartbreak of a grieving family – and that is what makes this movie a must watch flick of the year.

It’s not everyday that the world gets to see a prodigal talent unravelling its various layers and it took 16 long hard years since Abigail Breslin and a very underrated actor /director, to see the birth of one!

N it’s been worth the wait!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Loveless – BEST OF 19TH MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2017!

Loveless (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

Loveless Review: Cold and toxic, a disintegration of marriage metaphorically portraying an entire nation’s predicament!  

My Ratings: 4.4/5

A bitter divorce is never an easy experience for any couple but certainly the real victims are always the children. The most traumatic realisation a child has to cope with is that neither his parents wants custody of him, that he is just an unwanted baggage, a burden, that he is a mere glitch in their ugly adult world.

And that is exactly what happens to 12-year-old young Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), the terrible hard-hitting feeling of being loveless.

On one side Alyosha’s father (Aleksey Rozin) is having an affair with a younger woman who is pregnant with his child and on the other hand his harsh-speaking mother (Maryana Spivak) is passionately in love with a wealthy older man. On the verge of a nasty divorce the parents indulge themselves into a spate of brutal outbursts completely oblivious of the child who eventually decides to vanish from their lives for good.

Where is he gone? Has something happened to him? A kid cannot just disappear like that?

lovelessBut then writer/director Andrey Zvyagintsev (of Leviathan fame) along with writer Oleg Negin uses this tragic event to serve a bigger purpose, to narrate and critique the conditions in contemporary Russia, a country where everyone is desperately looking for – a lost loveless kid or may be it is simply Love that they are searching for?

Here we are talking about one nation (though I personally think it is a worldwide problem) where Happiness has become a piece of merchandise that can be negotiated and bought at a price while the value of Family-stability been reduced to a sign of status symbol. Where emotions and duty take the second seat while greed, ego and lust for a better-life gets the priority.

Absolute brilliance in the acting department – especially Maryana Spivak and Aleksey Rozin really make you hate and even sympathise lovelesswith them to a certain extent. The secondary characters Natalya PotapovaMarina Vasileva and Anna Gulyarenko also have such strong impact on the story and the audience.

But the best part is Mikhail Krichman‘s unique cinematography, the long takes and the subtle tracking of the camera brilliantly adds to the sentiments of the characters and the overall feel of the movie.

The music by Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine is spot on and cleverly used only when it is actually required.

Official submission from Russia in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film‘ category at the 2018 Oscars. This is undoubtedly one of the best cinema of last year; very rarely does one film achieves a feat of representing a country and the psychology of its inhabitance with such savage precision and success.

Go watch it!

Similar interest: Leviathan Review

Similar Interest: Best Russian Classic Comedy Films

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Call Me by Your Name – BEST OF 19TH MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2017!

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

Call Me by Your Name Review: Intoxicatingly romantic, intensely erotic and definitely the best ‘Coming-of-age love story’ of our time! 

My Ratings: 4.3/5

‘Sexual awakening’ is a tried and tested theme and some brilliant movies in the past like Moonlight and Blue Is the Warmest Color have portrayed the typical indecisiveness of the young curious mind in the most engaging and cinematic ways possible.

But then Call Me by Your Name though delving with the similar adolescent dilemma hits the audience as the fresh morning air and takes away our breath by the sheer beauty and subtleness of the story and its charming characters!

Set in early 1980, surrounded by the dreamy countryside of Northern Italy, stands a picturesque villa in the midst of lush green valleys, fruit orchards and blue lagoons, and there blooms an illicit love story – an irresistible chemistry between a seventeen year old boy and a man in his mid twenties that finally oozes into one of the most emotionally captivating relationships painted on celluloid!

‘Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.’ 

Elio (Timothée Chalamet) the young son of an archeology professor meets Oliver (Armie Hammer), a handsome American graduate student, who visits as an intern for the summer – and those six weeks Call-Me-by-Your-Nameof summer changes their lives forever. Especially Elio’s as the story is being told mostly from his perspective – not only does he discover love but he also reinvents himself.

Now the genius of director Luca Guadagnino (famous for the films I Am Love and A Bigger Splash) is not only in unfolding passion in the most lucid and eloquent manner (almost as if in slow motion) but also for treating the characters with electric erotism and yet never being carried away to the extent of indelicacy.

Never objectifying the central characters, never categorising their desires (both the leading men are shown with relationships with women as well), titillating but always with an uncanny sense of Call-Me-by-Your-Namespontaneous sophistication – both James Ivory (writer) and Luca Guadagnino (director) have adopted André Aciman‘s novel and made it into something very special and ageless!

And kudos to the exceptional performances by Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet – they have managed to perfectly portray the volatility of their relationship. And a special mention to Michael Stuhlbarg specially for his brilliant father-son dialogue delivery towards the end of the movie. Classic!

Poetic, alluring and ageless, as beautiful as the nude Greek male torsos that keep appearing in the film at regular intervals – probably the symbol for the eternal signature of love and passion.

Certainly one of the best films of the year!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

MOTHER! – BEST OF 19TH MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2017!

Mother! (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

Mother! Review: What on earth is happening and why doesn’t God do anything to stop these talented directors from going rogue in the name of symbolism? – there goes your cryptic God-Mother Earth theory!

My Ratings: 3.5/5

Mother! is one of the most talked about film of this year with extreme reviews from both the audience and the critics, extreme positives and extreme negatives!

Then the poster says ‘The most controversial movie in decades’ and you think why are these people trying to sell a Darren Aronofsky film by just hi-lighting on its controversiality aspect? Not as a brilliant horror film, or as a superb thriller or mystery or drama – but simply as ‘most controversial’. And then you watch the film and realise that the poor marketing people didn’t have much of a choice!

The story of a woman (Jennifer Lawrence), who wants to be a mother and eventually becomes one with the help of HIM (her partner Javier Bardem).  But in between, a number of guests appear at their house, all uninvited (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer to start with) and from there the film plunges into sheer catastrophe portrayed through a series of unimaginably horrific experiences that – let me see how to put it without giving away much details – that Mother!-Reviewtakes away all her fun of being a mother!

Now it’s difficult to merely narrate the plot of a movie like Mother! without wrapping it up into various symbolic metaphors. It is so uniquely chaotic and absurd for the real world (hopefully a caricature of the real world itself) that even while watching the film you constantly look for some allegorical inklings and eventually when you connect to the Biblical symbolisms which at certain points are pretty much on your face  – you finally feel at home and buckle up to absorb the rest of the gore and insanity!

Acting wise pretty decent performances by all, specially the supporting characters Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are terrific! Bardem though given much less screen time makes his presence felt and Jennifer Lawrence – her naivety and helplessness somehow reflects the anxiety of the audience – it’s like ‘why is this happening to me’ and this feeling doesn’t leave you till the very end of the film!

The one thing I really appreciate is the cinematography of Matthew Libatique that creates a certain earthy Mother!-Reviewmood that is essential for the movie. The repeated close-up shots of the Mother character makes us feel what she is going through, we desperately try to relate with her inner turmoils.

I have been a big fan of director Darren Aronofsky‘s previous works – the likes of Requiem for a DreamThe WrestlerBlack Swan and Pi and they are all psychologically disturbing to certain extents but for me his latest film is a bit too deliberate an attempt to create uneasiness – it’s like forcefully pushing a certain riddle/cipher through the audience’s throat than actually trying to create quality Cinema! 

A film that you may like or dislike but certainly it will make you think and discuss and figure out what the hell did you just watch! May be Mother! was destined to be neither good nor bad but simply controversial. Fair enough!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

A Fantastic Woman – Best Of 19th Mumbai Film Festival 2017!

A Fantastic Woman (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

A Fantastic Woman Review: Love is an empty word without respect but the real question is how much disrespect can one endure for the sake of his/her love?

My Ratings: 4/5

A Fantastic Woman originally titled as Una Mujer Fantástica is a film directed by Sebastián Lelioone of the most prominent figures of the post-dictatorship Chilean cinema. And his latest is this years’s official submission from Chile at the 90th Annual Academy Awards for the Foreign Language Film Award!

The idea of a man who chooses to become a woman, to live and die as a woman and wishes to be loved and treated like one is something that often people cannot accept without a certain hint of prejudice. And this is the touching story of a trans-woman named Marina, a young night club singer who aspires in this brutal society to live her life with as much dignity as any other human being.

She is in relationship with an older man named Orlando (Francisco Reyes). They are happy and in love but again that doesn’t guarantee that their romantic liaison will be wholeheartedly accepted and/or respected by others, especially by Orlando’s direct family (his ex-wife and a prick of a son).

And thus after the sudden demise of Orlando, Marina has to go through a series of humiliating and degrading events that made her A Fantastic Womanfight for her self respect, her pride and also for the rights for her lost love.

Daniela Vega who is a trans-woman in real life played the central character in the film with surprising efficiency. Most of her inner strength is expressed through her eyes – a brave soul with immense determination and yet so emotionally vulnerable, ready to face all the odds for the one who she loved so dearly!

And very intelligent storytelling by director Sebastián Lelio as he keeps the film very real, not once opting for any overdramatic cliches and providing just enough information to keep the viewers hooked through the otherwise pretty straightforward linear script.

Certainly the best transgender drama of recent times; this is the story of a woman who doesn’t allow anybody to dictate terms in her life, a woman of integrity, bold yet compassionate, sensual yet devoted – yes, she is indeed a fantastic woman!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Simran Review

Simran Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Simran Review: Kangana Ranaut is a hit but that doesn’t mean Simran (the movie) shares the same fate.

My Ratings: 3.6/5

The Bombshell Bandit: In mid 2014 a young girl of Indian origin wearing a wig and over-sized sunglasses, and pretending to be wiredSimran-Review with bombs went on a five-week crime spree robbing four banks across three U.S. states (Arizona, California, and Utah), until finally she was arrested and taken into custody. Her name was Sandeep Kaur, who was a nurse by profession, a gambler by avocation and a bank robber out of desperation!

Now, in the movie Simran the character of this daring girl played by Kangana Ranaut has got a new identity, being called Praful Patel, her profession also altered to a housekeeping-lady and then with plenty of obvious dramatics tossed in – we are finally introduced to this bizarre tale of the lipstick bandit (yup, bandit-name modified too).

Directed by acclaimed Hansal Mehta, written by Apurva Asrani (and may be Kangana Ranaut too!) the film Simran is a women-centric movie perfectly balanced on the petite but confident and able Simran-Reviewshoulders of the lead actress, none other than three times National award winner Kangana Ranaut!

And this time (again) she is remarkable to watch, her transformation to a typical NRI Gujarati girl enjoying her independent Amreeki lifestyle is simply flawless. Her zeal for life, her intensity to fight back, her yearning to live life to the fullest and most importantly her flaws and deficits – is what makes the film worth watching (that too no comparison with her performance as Rani from Queen).

But then the real question creeps in – does the other characters or even the script of Simran match up to her brilliance? Honestly no!

Often a movie gets stuck midway in-between a sensitive drama and a commercial comedy flick and unfortunately that’s exactly what has happened in this case.

Stereotypical characters, certain forced dramatic dialogues, the abrupt unnecessary need of comic reliefs with funny background Simran-Reviewscores – such absurdities takes away the film far from what could have been an incredibly emotional film.

Sohum Shah as the potential husband was decent, surely far better than the ever-fuming dad Hiten Shah or any other secondary characters.

The songs in the film doesn’t make much impact neither does any particular set of visuals, overall a decent flick that seems to be made purely to promote the sheer brilliance of one lead actor.

If only the movie Simran could have emphasized more on the reality of the true emotions – the anguish, the torment and the helplessness of the characters rather than awkwardly trying to please the Bollywood crowd with a happy end.

If only films like Dancer in the Dark (2000) were made in our country, not necessarily dark or tragic to that extent but at least true to its intent and content. I wish …

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com, Simran Facebook Page.

Trapped (2017)

Trapped Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Up above the sky so high, invisible to the world, you cry, whisper and sigh!   

My Ratings: 4.1/5

When was the last time you were in a spot where there was no food and water – like literally – ultimate survival crisis – and you have to hunt animals for food and go ‘Morarji-Desai’ for your drink?

I know what you will say – that such extreme situations are only for the celluloid; like the shipwrecked Tom Hanks in Cast Away, marooned in an island with no company other than the mute round-faced Wilson; then there was this young James Franco who accidentally put his leg in-between some boulders and sat stuck Trapped-Poster-5alone for 127 Hours. I think WALL·E also did a decent job, forlorned up in the space – but then, he didn’t get much hungry or thirsty, if you know what I mean!

Now what if someone gets ‘trapped’ in an apartment, an ordinary flat in a multystored and otherwise uninhabited building, right in the middle of the concrete urban jungle (say around Mumbai’s Prabhadevi area); cooped up for days, without food, water, phone or electricity, entirely cut off from the outer world – with a birds-eye view of the entire city but still invisible to everyone!

This is exactly what happened to Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao), when he by a twist of fate gets locked inside an apartment in a high-rise, without any hope of ever getting rescued!

Trapped-Poster-1And the most scary part in the film comes from the sensation that it can actually happen to any of us so called ‘city-people’ out here!

Salute to the writers Amit Joshi and Hardik Mehta for such a brilliant idea and script. And then what a marvellous ‘jugalbandhi’ from director Vikramaditya Motwane and performer Rajkummar Rao!

National Award winning actor Rajkummar Rao was outstanding in the film. The combination of Rao’s boy-next-door looks and his brilliant portrayal of someone desperate for survival is what makes the film so real.

And for director Mr.Motwane, with only one character to tell his story, that too pinned in one location, he still managed to successfully Trapped-Poster-3grasp the attention of the audience till the very end!

Another very interesting human psychology portrayed in the film is that, when someone is in the brink of possible extinction, it is the general human tendency to discover an unfamiliar longing for some of the most banal things in their lives.

For example in the film, Shaurya trapped for days, often hallucinating from stress and malnourishment, never desired or yearned for anything particularly unique or remarkable. Rather he wished to relive those regular day to day events; his journey to the office in those overcrowded Mumbai local trains packed with sweaty co-passengers, those crammed up buses with irritating conductors, a simple plate of pav-bhaji with a dash of butter on top – in the time of an inevitable Trapped-Poster-4catastrophe the most ordinary things from our life become so special and desirable!

Geetanjali Thapa, in the short role as the love of Shaurya’s life was commendable, though honestly I thought her character wasn’t really required in the film other than the simple incentive for Shaurya to hunt for a place.

Siddharth Diwan‘s cinematography makes the film look very real while Nitin Baid‘s editing keeps it crisp and to the point. Alokananda Dasgupta‘s music works well, very subtle and used only when required. 

I just thank God, Shaurya has musophobia (fear of rats) and not vertigo (fear of heights), or else, it would have all gone down pretty worse!

Poster courtesy: www.moviescut.com

Elle (2016) – BEST OF 18TH JIO MAMI MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2016!

Elle review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

If a rape victim desires to return to the act itself, then the next time, does she still remain a victim?

My Ratings: 4/5

Quality erotic thrillers are hard to find but then Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven often comes to our rescue.

elle-reviewHis latest French thriller Elle was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and also has already won the Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language and the lead Isabelle Huppert won for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama!  

The film starts with a disturbing rape scene that makes the audience uncomfortable enough but then the alarming normality maintained by the ‘victim’ as she continues to perform her daily routine becomes even more disturbing. Why doesn’t she complain about her violation? How can she be so inert about her abuse? Does she know the attacker or will she track him down?

Multiple relations and several interesting plot lines crisscross their paths, and one has to admire the Dutch director’s subtle use of comedy throughout the movie, but then again, the erotic undercurrent is what makes the film so special!

elle-reviewAnd of course Isabelle Huppert‘s brilliant performance!

Actually “Elle” means “She” and so the whole film is seen from the perspective of the central character Michèle and Isabelle Huppert simply owns the part. Her beautiful, sexy looks, her cold and courageous character, her raw animal desires and her level of supreme confidence – no doubt she is the spine of this film.

Though according to me the ending of the film doesn’t justify her character at all but then again a performance to cherish for sure.

Based on the novel “Oh…” by Philippe Djian, I think the best compliment for this film would be that it feels very much like a Michael Haneke film, a lighter version may be with a hint of comedy in it!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

La La Land (2016)

La La Land review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A Classic is born and it will make you sing and fall in love all over again!

My Ratings: 4.3/5

The original 1953 20th Century Fox logo reappears on the big la- la-land-posterscreen and makes it seem even bigger, and then the magic begins!

Yes, the resurrection of the old Hollywood charm, that feeling when the white shoes start tapping in rhythm and the dialogues metamorphose into soothing songs – the sheer magic of experiencing a musical, an odd combination of a modern classic!

And you are lost in the darkness of the theatre, well suspended on your disbeliefs, wondering in a world so full of love and dulcet melodies, absorbed in the sheer beauty of brilliantly choreographed, colourful, talking Cinema!

“How are you gonna be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist? You hold onto the past, but jazz is about the future.”

Director Damien Chazelle‘s love for Jazz was pretty evident in his previous film Whiplash but this time he makes a more definite statement – a desperate effort to save Jazz!

And thus he join hands with Ryan Gosling who learns to play piano like a professional just for this film, and then Gosling’s chemistry la- la-land-poster1with Emma Stone (undoubtedly one of the best actresses at present) is just so sublime! When they dance looking at each other’s eyes – that’s a major part of the ‘magic’ in the film that I was talking about earlier!

Long song and dance sequences masterfully choreographed that takes Justin Hurwitz‘s music to another level; great camera work and colour play by Linus Sandgren and crisp editing by Tom Cross. But again along with superlative directional capabilities thanks to Damien Chazelle‘s brilliantly written love story!

Recommended only for those who adore Jazz, Musicals, Ryan GoslingEmma StoneDamien Chazelle and powerful Cinema!

P.S – Oscar winner J.K. Simmons makes a guest appearance where he seems to hate good music!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Rather than labelling it as an ‘anti-war film’ let’s say it is an emotional tale of war and the warriors! 

My Ratings: 3.9/5

Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonBrokeback MountainLust, CautionLife of Pi – there is one man who is behind all these masterpieces, the acclaimed Chinese director Ang Lee!

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk reviewAnd it’s a war film! Well, actually a more sophisticated version of a war movie where the aftermath of the battle takes up the centre stage.

Based on the novel by Ben Fountain and screenplay by Jean-Christophe Castelli, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk essentially revolves around 19-year-old Billy Lynn, a war hero, retuning home from Iraq on a victory tour with his entire squad (the survivors of the gruesome war). 

His memories and flashbacks of the battlefield, his personal heroic efforts and the lives lost in the combat – these are the crux of the film, put across through a superbly knitted nonlinear storyline.

Through John Toll‘s brilliant visuals and Tim Squyres innovative back and forth editing, no doubt Ang Lee has told his story in style!

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk reviewBut then again the performances make the 1h 53min film such a delight to watch; especially debutant Joe Alwyn who played Billy Lynn was incredibly natural!

Then of course we have brilliant actors like Garrett HedlundSteve MartinChris TuckerKristen StewartVin DieselBeau Knapp among others who have perfectly balanced the film. 

The only thing that bothered me was that it was a bit too vocal, like every emotion was spoken out in elaborate sentences loud and clear for the audience!

Then again Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is definitely a Cinema worth your time, highly emotional and also a cinematic achievement since it is the first film to be shot at 120 frame rate!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.