Tag Archives: film review

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Salesman (2016) – Best of 18th JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2016!

The Salesman review

written by Souranath Banerjee

 A Cinema that tends to alter the definition of ‘Justice’! 

My Ratings: 4.3/5

Is Cinema only a medium for entertainment? As a filmmaker how much social responsibility one is ready to accept? How successful is a film in depicting a certain time, an era, a place and its people and their circumstances? How close is it to reality?

Surprisingly enough a few filmmakers still reflects on these aspects of Cinema and takes upon the burden to create something that represents a particular culture and also the people bound by it.

Asghar Farhadi is one such filmmaker, who in his films not only portrays his country Iran in the true light but also delves in such depths of human psychology that the characters in his films become The Salesman reviewalive and their problems unique yet genuine and tangible for the whole world!

After making a brilliant film like A Separation (for which he won an Oscar) it’s difficult to create something at per or even better, but Asghar Farhadi has accomplished that impossible! The acclaimed Iranian writer/director who has given such amazing movies like About EllyFireworks Wednesday and The Past is ready to woo us with his latest – The Salesman; original title – Forushande.

A simple plot to start with – soon after the couple Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) gets shifted to a new neighbourhood Rana gets assaulted by a mysterious stranger. She doesn’t have enough courage to go to the police, and neither does her husband. But Emad being a man with his ego and pride wants justice and desperately looks for the stranger responsible for turning their lives upside down. And finally … ok, you better now watch the movie!

But by the end of the film I am sure you will question the real meaning of ‘Justice being served’.

Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ is being intelligently used as a backdrop of The Salesman, a unique way to create a layer of The Salesman reviewadditional drama on the current plot.

Even there is reference of another famous play – ‘Cow’ by Gholam Hossein Saedi. “How does a man become a cow?” – “gradually”. This dialogues have a profound inner meaning on the characters in the film.

Even the status and obligations of women in Iran is being interpreted in such subtle yet profound manners throughout the film.

An exceptional team effort where every department of filmmaking comes together and creates something magical. Winner of ‘best actor’ and ‘best screenplay’ award at Cannes 2016 and according to me the ‘best actress’ award was also very much deserving.

In a way a satire that too on a very serious note on the current Iranian social structure, The Salesman is an Iranian Cinema that will soon be termed as a classic. Watch it!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com.

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The Neon Demon Review

The Neon Demon Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Blinding colour contrasts, a beautiful world so filled with blood and gory!   

My Ratings: 3.9/5

When you are watching a Nicolas Winding Refn film, be it the slick and classy Ryan Gosling starrer Drive (2011) or Tom Hardy‘s loud and insane performance in and as Bronson (2008); there is always something to expect, something quite out of the ordinary.

neon-demon-posterAnd even in his latest movie The Neon Demon, Mr.Refn haven’t let us down for sure.

This time he presents the unique story of ‘beauty’ and then he introduces the ‘beast’ as well, portraying the dementia and delirium that lurks behind the glitz and glamour of the fashion world!

16 year old Jesse (Elle Fanning), new to Los Angeles fashion circuit quickly manages to climb the ropes to become one of the top models making her competitors jealous and insecure. And they will do anything to get back in the game, to compete with Jesse’s spark and youth!

And before you realise, the film The Neon Demon changes from a story of a pretty vulnerable girl looking for stardom to something unimaginably horrific – often surreal but almost always effectively neon-demon-poster1disturbing.

Acting performances are top notch, specially for young Elle Fanning and Jena Malone, whose transformations in the film are simply brilliant!

Even Christina HendricksBella HeathcoteAbbey LeeDesmond Harrington demands attention. Even if you see Keanu Reeves in the film – stay calm.

Natasha Braier must be credited for the brilliance of the colour, tone and ambiance of the whole film – the feel of a brutal fantasy, a savage dream from which there is no waking up!

The Neon Demon essentially revolves around the idea of human obsession with natural beauty. Unique style and treatment, disturbingly beautiful, but then again not recommended for everybody.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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The Wailing (2016)

The Wailing Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A bit too long for a horror film and yet, it still manages to grip you by the fear! 

My Ratings: 4/5

There was a soaring anticipation for this latest horror flick made by the acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Hong-jin Na who had earlier given us a couple of brilliant movies like The Chaser and The Yellow Sea!  

the-wailing-poster1And I must say The Wailing (original title Goksung) surely lives up to our expectations!

In a remote village a series of unnatural deaths perplex both the villagers and the police.

Jong-Goo (Do Won Kwak), a police man soon suspects something beyond ordinary logic and reasoning; may be the rumours of a demonic stranger who have started residing near the village has to do something with all these grotesque murders. Or may be not!

Essentially a Korean folk lore and a mix of various religious beliefs and rituals, The Wailing creates a world so puzzling and disturbing the-wailing-posterthat we keep seeking for the answers till the very end frames of the film.

Visually pleasing or rather unsettling; dark images, often pretty violent and savage perfect for the mood of the film – thanks to Kyung-pyo Hong‘s cinematography.

And such brilliant acting – very believable performances by Do Won KwakJun Kunimura,  Jung-min Hwang, specially the little girl Hwan-hee Kim was superb in the film.

A must watch suspense-horror that reveals itself when you least expect it!    

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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Swiss Army Man (2016)

Swiss Army Man Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A bit over-glorified but then again, certainly the most eccentric film of this year! 

My Ratings: 3.6/5

Some films have pretty weird storylines (in Hollywood standard) but a rare few can really define the word ‘weird’ in its true context, and Swiss Army Man is one such film.

A young man named Hank (Paul Dano) gets stranded in an island all alone – yup, exactly like Tom Hanks in Cast Away but instead of a swiss-army-man-posterfloating Volleyball named Wilson, Hank gets a farting dead-body named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe)!

A dead-body who soon starts talking!

But then again, Manny is not just any ordinary talking-dead-body.

He is an unique multipurpose friendly-body who farts away on water like a speed-boat, his penis can be used as a compass, his fingers for lighting fire, his vomit as pure drinking water and he can also spit out things with superhuman velocity!

Didn’t I tell you in the beginning that this would be a very weird 1hr 37 min journey?

And so, Manny the super talented dead-body gets very friendly with Hank and tries his best to make Hank survive and return to swiss-army-man-poster1humanity or what we in general refer to as the ‘normal’!

Being a satire on our current society, writer/director duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert through their over the top loud gags and often pretty gross comic situations does manage to give us some deep imbedded messages through their film Swiss Army Man

Acting is superb, specially of Daniel Radcliffe as the dead body!

Imaginative, often really humorous and even cinematic, overall, Swiss Army Man is a film that embraces the absurdity and irrationality around us and makes us question and redefine our current social scenario (to some extent).

A decent one time watch if you can survive the repetitive dead-farts till the end!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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The Accountant (2016)

The Accountant Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A math genius who can also kick asses big time as and when required!

My Ratings: 3.8/5

Ben Affleck is back, not exactly as ‘Batman’ but then with pretty much similar life goals to achieve – saving the weak and punishing the evil! 

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is THE accountant who works for the world’s most dangerous criminal organisations, maintaining their ledgers and straightening out their accounts.

Too many secrets to handle, he soon gets involved into a conspiracy that makes him the target. Now, when hunted by a group of ruthless accountant-posterkillers his primary goal is to save himself (which seems to be a problem too easy to handle for him) but then (to complicate things) he chooses to save the life of a junior accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), an innocent girl, a victim in this dangerous racket.

The whole film revolves around this Christian Wolff’s character, who as a kid had a certain form of autism but still under his father’s strict guidance does manage to turn himself into nothing less than a superhero – a math wizard by default and also a trained warrior in all forms of combat!

Directed by Gavin O’Connor (of Warrior fame), overall The Accountant is a very well made film, subtle and surprisingly sensitive accountant-poster1inspite of being essentially an action flick. 

The supporting cast J.K. SimmonsJon BernthalCynthia Addai-RobinsonRobert C. Treveiler and John Lithgow all have managed to convincingly hold their grounds.

But the ending, by which I mean the climax of the film could have been much better if it had been a bit less dramatic – too Bollywoodish!

Other than that I somehow feel that the film is pretty similar to the ‘Solomon Grundy poem‘ (repeatedly recited by the main character as a chanting to calm himself down), where a series of events unfold in quick succession (almost on a daily basis), a tad repetitive but with a quick definite conclusion!

Definitely worth a watch for Ben Affleck’s super cool performance!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Everybody Wants Some!! review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Philosophical, often hilarious, and otherwise pretty much Dazed and Confused!    

My Ratings: 4/5

Movies generally follow a pattern to create enough drama that eventually leads to a theatrical climax, following a conclusion that ultimately resolves all related confusions whatsoever.

But again, there are a few films that are structured exactly like a piece of life – small day to day incidents and dialogues wrapped with genuine emotions, with surprisingly non dramatic endings, more everybody-wants-some-poster1inclined to portray a realistic overview of life.

Everybody Wants Some!! is one such film, rare and ingenious!

The groovy 80s is the setup – the trendy rock and roll music, the colourful disco lit parties, youth dressed in the-then fashionable outfits, classic hairdos and stylised moustaches; and in the midst of all we have a team of young Texas college baseball jocks enjoying their moments to the fullest!

Essentially though, it’s the story of Jake (Blake Jenner), a surprisingly cool and composed freshman pitcher who steers his way through various new experiences that includes getting along with the other baseball jocks (his frat mates) and also finding love with beautiful Beverly (Zoey Deutch).

Be it BoyhoodSchool of Rock or the “Before” trilogy, when you watch a Richard Linklater movie, you never give enough credit to the actors because they look so natural – it’s like they don’t seem to act at all!

Tyler Hoechlin,  Ryan GuzmanWyatt RussellGlen PowellTemple BakerJ. Quinton JohnsonWill Brittain every one of them have put their best and made their presence felt in the film. 

everybody-wants-some-poster2Overall Everybody Wants Some!! is more focused around the ‘male bonding’ part, where a group of crazy, irresponsible, drunk, high and almost always looking for sex type of  youngsters (highly competitive as well), who share the same space and create new experiences of their own!

Crisp combination of Shane F. Kelly‘s cinematography, period-look costumes by Kari Perkins and Sandra Adair‘s editing gives the film the authenticity and edge it deserves.

A continuation to either Linklater’s previous film Dazed and Confused (1993) or may be even a follow up of Boyhood (2014) – but even as a separate individual film Everybody Wants Some!! has all the right reasons to be on every cinema-lover’s favourite list.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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Parched (2015)

Parched review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Self-empowerment of rural women  – Parched instantly reminded me of Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala!  

My Ratings: 4/5.

Seldom issue based films (especially in Bollywood) suffer from striking a balance between telling a story that is both entertaining as well as didactic.

And that is exactly where Leena Yadav‘s remarkable film Parched comes out as a winner!

parched-posterDealing with four rural female characters in the lead – Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), Lajjo (Radhika Apte), Bijli (Surveen Chawla) and Janaki (Lehar Khan) and then of course their struggle in a male-dominating society being the core of the film, Parched has done an incredible job in charming the audience, mostly through it’s unapologetic dialogues (thanks to Supratik Sen) that ranges from being real, straightforward to vulgar!   

The film through each of its feminine-character’s remarkable journeys efficiently tackles so many women-oriented social issues like domestic violence, sexual harassment, education, child marriage, dowry, status of the widows, choice of asserting her sexual preferences, fertility prejudices, prostitution, even the importance of rural small-scale businesses and then of course the independence of women on the whole!

parched-poster2

Such powerful acting by everyone in the film but electrifying Radhika Apte surely leads the pack.

Tannishtha Chatterjee also plays a very mature part, probably the most difficult one in the film. Even Surveen Chawla as the prostitute/dancer makes her mark. Riddhi Sen as the young egoistic male, and then Adil Hussain and Sumeet Vyas – all did justice to their roles.

Through the lenses of ace cinematographer Russell Carpenter and the appropriate melodious music by Hitesh Sonik, Parched has definitely managed to tell a fascinating story, most importantly parched-poster1something very different and genuine.

The backdrop being Rajasthan, and essentially dealing with strong women characters, Parched instantly reminded me of Ketan Mehta‘s epic film Mirch Masala (1987).

But i guess the real success of a film like Parched will be when the women of rural India can get to watch it and enjoy as much as the urban multiplex audience did!

Totally worth your time and money.

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

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