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Loving Vincent – Best Of 19th Mumbai Film Festival 2017!

Loving Vincent (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

Loving Vincent Review: Only on a few rare occasions when the visuals of a film enthrall you to such an extent that you gaily forgive the banality of the storyline! 

My Ratings: 4/5

Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature using oils on canvas!

A team of total 125 classically trained professional artists created 65,000 frames that finally resulted into 853 different oil paintings, each of them hand-painted using Van Gogh’s iconic style and technique!

Loving-Vincent-reviewAnd the result is irresistibly disarming; watching your favorite Van Gogh masterpieces coming to life in front of your very eyes is more like a dream (that you didn’t know you always had in your subconscious) coming true!

The plot concerns with an unopened letter from Vincent Van Gogh (the artist’s final letter) for his brother Theo, that needs to be delivered by a not so keen young man named Armand Roulin. Armand finds his traveling to Auvers-sure-Oise for the sake of this one-year-old-letter utterly pointless since he soon comes to know that both Vincent and Theo are dead!

But then once arriving at the village where Van Gogh used to reside till his last day, knowing the place and the people, Armand becomes fascinated by the life and death of the troubled Dutch painter! Did he really shot himself as most of them are convinced or was he murdered?

Overall decent acting performances by Douglas Booth, Eleanor TomlinsonSaoirse RonanJerome FlynnHelen McCroryChris O’Dowd and Robert Gulaczyk (who played Van Gogh) but then honestly neither the actors nor the storyline of Loving Vincent will keep you engrossed till the end. What does is the remarkable dedication of directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman and their team who over a period of 10 years have managed to breath life into some of the most popular paintings by the acclaimed impressionist of the 19th century!   

Well complemented by Clint Mansell‘s soulful music, 120 of Vincent Van Gogh’s finest works have been integrated into this amazing film!

Loving-Vincent-reviewFirstly the actors performed the whole movie in-front of the green-screen, their action turned into black outlines which was then projected into the artist’s painting-boards where they painted the full scenes using Van Gogh’s paintings as references. These paintings then photographed and put in-sequence, and then edited to create the final magic!

Probably the slowest form of film-making but I must say it certainly is the most satisfying visual experience ever!

If you are a fan of Cinema, a fan of Art, a fan of Van Gogh, or a combination of any of these three – you better go watch Loving Vincent!

Similar Interest: Mr.Turner (2014) Review

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.

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don’t Breathe review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Rejoice all you thriller-junkies out there, this ruthless claustrophobic film promises not to give you much of a breathing space, so don’t you dare – breathe!

My Ratings: 4.1/5

Remember the edgy climax scene from the 1991 Oscar winning film The Silence of the Lambs where FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) in pursuit of Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) gets inside this spooky basement where there is complete darkness – well, check out the scene below and refresh your memories.

And now imagine something this intense and nerve-wrecking, such acute tension boiling up scene after scene throughout the entire length of a film till the very end-titles!

Yes, that’s exactly what writer/director Fede Alvarez (of the latest dont-breathe-review-poster3Evil Dead fame) have managed to deliver and that too in an unique stylised fashion. Along with co-writer Rodo Sayagues the script of Don’t Breathe simply races forward keeping the audiences successfully uncomfortable in the darkness (still breathing i guess).

Three friends, regular small-time crooks, Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) plan to rob a blind man’s house but then of course things doesn’t turn out the way they have planned (to put it in a mild way).

Believable acting by each and every one but Stephen Lang as the helpless blind man with negligible dialogues is definitely worth a dont-breathe-review-poster2special mention.

Great camera work by Pedro Luque, the camera moves around the house effortlessly pointing out objects and props-to-be-used-in-future that enhances the anticipation of the viewers, and that too well punctuated by appropriate use of neurotic music by Roque Baños.

But the spine of the film is probably it’s water-tight editing; crisp and swift, never letting the momentum fall, and for that thanks to Eric L. BeasonLouise Ford and Gardner Gould.

Don’t breathe is a film that you were waiting for. Go watch it and you will thank me later!

Poster courtesy: http://www.impawards.com

San Andreas (2015)

San Andreas film review.

My Ratings: 3.5/5.

San Andreas staring Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino is the latest ‘disaster flick’ in town.

A deadly combination of earthquake, tsunami and VFX; our mother-earth opening up and swallowing it’s children, skyscrapers tumbling down without the slightest hesitation, gigantic waves sweeping away the secondary characters, cities wrecked, people slaughtered.

san-andreas-poster2Directed by Brad Peyton San Andreas is the perfect picture of havoc and destruction and we, the audience are thrilled by it.

Actually such ‘disaster’ films give us the satisfaction of experiencing a carnage without actually being a part of it; one feels the relief of being safe and acknowledges the somewhat unconscious gratification of leading a comfortable life.

But then again, these catastrophic films always tend to follow a few common plot points for success and San Andreas is no exception. For example:

1. Preference of muscles over emotions: A protective husband, an emotional father, a loving and caring man who can do anything for his family when put in crisis – that’s all fine but do you have enough muscles?

In order to rescue your family-members in time of such epic natural adversities, you must cast people who are ‘Rock’ solid in the muscle department (who better than Dwayne Johnson). I personally feel sorry for all those real-life fathers who wish to protect their children but doesn’t go to the gym that often!

2. A love story in the midst of all the danger: A smart/sexy girl gets stuck, desperately needs help and eventually gets rescued by her super-daddy (of course). But before all that drama, she has to fall in love with a guy (who generally is the helpful-decent type) and their sweet love story will give the audience the much needed breathing space from all the tension and destruction around. Alexandra Daddario is the perfect young, sexy girl in trouble and Hugo Johnstone-Burt becomes the dependable chap to fall for.  

3. The geeky narrator: There will be this guy (generally some professor or computer expert by profession) whose role is to predict the intensity of the disaster and keep on repeating how epic and dangerous the situation can get; basically scaring the shit out of the audience. In San Andreas we have Paul Giamatti doing exactly that. He also takes great catches when small children are thrown at him!

san-andreas-poster34. A selfish guy who is really selfish: Have to have a character who will be a complete contrast to the protagonist. He will only think of himself and even deliberately put other’s lives in danger; basically an asshole. These characters elevate the intensity of the selfless acts and gestures put together by our Hero. Ioan Gruffudd is that guy who gets to take the blame in San Andreas.

5. The VFX becomes a primary character: The use of visual effects in almost each and every shot has become a necessity for such modern-day ‘disaster’ film’s success. The realistic feel of danger and calamity can only be experienced with the help of such super-detailed effects punched with loud background music (chance of a mild headache after the show). And then the 3D glasses enhance the experience further.

Stereotyped may be, logical may not be, but at the end of the day San Andreas (which is actually the name of a earthquake-porne fault line that runs through California) is exactly the film that it promises to be. Tension, action, effects and a racy story line – overall a good entertainer.

If you like this genre, you will definitely like San Andreas.

Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015)

Tanu Weds Manu Returns review.

My Ratings: 3.8/5. (i hope i don’t have to change my ratings in the future).

Whenever a sequel comes up of some successful RomCom, invariably it proves to be unworthy of it’s preceder. But Tanu Weds Manu Returns is probably the exception that proves this rule!

Tanu Weds Manu Returns may be not as subtle or emotional as Tanu Weds Manu (2011) but when it comes to pure entertainment it’s spot on target. 

tanu-weds-manu-returns-poster3And this time it’s an all and all show for Kangana Ranaut. With a double role (playing the sexy Tanu and the tomboyish Datto) Kangana Ranaut yet again shows that she is currently THE best actress in Bollywood. Extraordinary performance – her body language, her accent and the matured way she handles two completely different characters is highly creditable. 

Madhavan (Manu), though eclipsed by Kangana’s brilliance still holds the ground as an actor and plays an important part in balancing out the overall madness. 

Jimmy Shergill (marriage isn’t everybody’s game after all), Eijaz Khan (the Sardar in Dandiya custume), Swara Bhaskar (the best friend with a secret), Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub (the lawyer lover-boy) and Rajesh Sharma (the savior Uncle) – all perfectly fits into their characters.

But Deepak Dobriyal needs a special mention. His over-enthusiastic and hilarious performance adds an unique comic flavor to the film. 

tanu-weds-manu-returns-poster1Decent cinematography by Chirantan Das and the credit for the music goes to Krsna Solo and Rdb; specially the chartbuster song ‘Banno tera Swagger’ is definitely a dance number.

Even the beautiful song ‘Ja Ja Ja Ja Bewafa’ sung by Geeta Dutt in 1954 in the film Aar Paar is played in the background – nicely used for emotional effect.

Directed by Aanand Rai and written by Himanshu Sharma Tanu Weds Manu Returns guarantees a smile on the audiences face as they leave the theaters. And believe me that’s a huge achievement. 

Cheeky dialogues, hilarious situations, peppy songs and brilliant acting; no wonder Tanu Weds Manu Returns is this year’s most successful Bollywood film till date.

Queen (2014)

Queen is undoubtedly the most refreshing and well-made cinema I have recently seen. And the credit goes to Vikas Bahl (the director) and Kangana Ranaut (the queen herself).

An overview:

A hard-core feminist film.

An ideal chauvinist, hypocrite and selfish character (Vijay) is taken as a desi male representative (Rajkumar Rao perfectly slips into this role) who happily makes a bastard of himself from the very beginning of the film, just to make sure that our total sympathy goes for Rani (the innocent female victim).

From then on the film is about Rani’s journey, her struggle to blot out her past and achieve a certain level of self-confidence, her thrills in the roads of Paris and Amsterdam, making multi-ethnic friends, getting drunk and dancing on Bollywood remixes, indulging the firangs to have spicy panipuris – she does it all and in the process she rediscovers herself.

Now all this would have been much less entertaining and believable without the brilliance of Kangana Ranaut.

She is one of the very few Indian actresses of our times who is actually evolving, getting better in every film. From her early days of ‘Gangster’, ‘Woh Lamhe’ and ‘Life in a Metro’ (though she was pretty good in these films as well) Kangana has immensely matured as an actress as we see her in her later films ‘Fashion’, ‘Tanu weds Manu’, ‘Krrish 3’ and now certainly her best performance till date as Rani in the film ‘Queen’.

As the story goes:

Happy faces, loud music, semi-choreographed dance-steps – Rani’s pre-wedding celebrations have started. But the festivity gets abruptly curtailed when her fiancé Vijay takes the sudden decision to call off their wedding just a day before the ceremony. His excuse is simple yet dogmatic – according to Vijay his life has changed a lot since he went to London for business purpose and he is sure that Rani wouldn’t be able to adjust with him in the foreign land.

Now the heartbroken, conservative, middleclass Rani is left with nothing except her tears and her honeymoon tickets to Paris. After coming out of the initial shock Rani tells her family members (her parents, her chubby brother Chintu and her surprisingly modern granny) that she still wants to go to her honeymoon … alone.

With a touch of comedy perfectly blended with Rani’s innocence the film leaps into the foreign lands where after a short period of uncertainty Rani seems to meet all the right people and making friends out of everybody.

First was Vijayalakshmi, played by sultry Lisa Haydon who can be seen as the perfect alter ego of Rani. In Paris this sexy, ‘mixed Hindi French Spanish’ girl teaches Rani to enjoy the ultra-modern feminine life, to try fashionable clothes, to get drunk without a reason, to kiss boys ‘lip-to-lip’, take off the bra before going to the dance floor and also to keep a condom handy for the night.

Rani is thrilled and now on her way to Amsterdam.

There she has to share her room with three unknown boys Alexander, Taka and Tim (a white, an Asian and a black – a perfectly stereotype ethnic fusion) who eventually become her best buddies. And of course Marcello the cook who dares Rani to prove her theory that the Indians are the best kissers in the world. And how she proves it … my God … Rani’s first ‘lip to lip’ kiss!

Now there lies the success of the director Vikas Bahl as well as Kangana, they have successfully maintained the innocence of Rani’s character throughout the film even if she gets drunk and accuses her fiancé (without any proof though) of having sex with other girls in London, then she herself shares room with unknown boys (a sin in traditional Indian culture) and even kisses a sexy Italian man to prove her point.

Though Vijay suddenly u-turned his way to Amsterdam in search of Rani and tells her how sorry he is, how much he misses her and loves her and again wants to marry her, Rani this time played her cards not innocently but wisely. With her newly gained confidence and experience in life she knows exactly what to do with her selfish fiancé and how.

Music and Camera and Edit:

Amit Trivedi’s music once again takes us through a fantastic spectrum of emotions. Especially the song ‘London Thumakda’ is a true dance number from which you can’t escape.

Siddharth Diwan and Bobby Singh did a superb job with the camera; the sudden slow motions in high emotional situations are very well captured.

And the editors of the film are Abhijit Kokate, Karen Williams and none other than Anurag Kashyap (his first as an editor). And yes they have done a great job.

And finally:

Especial mention of the hilarious scene in an adult shop in Amsterdam where Kangana doesn’t have the slightest clue that the items she is looking at (even planning to buy for her family) are actually sex-toys and other kinky stuff.

Very innovatively as the film ends and the titles come up, Rani puts the pictures and videos of her entire journey on facebook where the number of likes and comments keeps multiplying.

In this part we see a picture of Vijay with the picture-name ‘kutta’ written and the likes and comments rises up speedily. The last touch of supreme feminism I guess.

Overall loved it, very entertaining and again an awesome performance by the lead actress. Watch it if you haven’t yet … you won’t regret it. Full paisa-wasul.