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Sacred Games ( TV Series)

Sacred Games Review

written by Anu Gopinath

The series takes a dark undertone from the word go and it’s highly appreciative of the directive duo for discussing the subjects of sex and violence with such level of authority!

My Ratings: 4/5

Long has been the content driven cinema taken a backseat and was pulled into the eroding deluge of memories of a lost generation who
revelled in their Bajaj and bell bottoms! Long has been the pride of Sacred-GamesIndian cinema taken a beating when the world was presented with the narcissistic, megalomaniacal and voyeuristic version of our life and cinema. The same pride that we earned and the respect that we commanded from the world cinema, which took eons of pain and hard work to achieve but still demanded the sacrifices of the lifetime of works of some of the greatest auteurs of Indian cinema like Satyajit RayGuru Dutt, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and company!

And when I completed watching the new web series Scared Games starring “the content “ in the lead, it is with absolute relief and pride that I can say, that all hopes are not lost for Indian Cinema!

Directed by two of the brilliant visionaries of contemporary cinema, Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, the first Indian Netflix Original TV Series – Sacred Games tells us the story of the intertwined lives of a mafia don nearing the twilight of his life and the struggles of an honest cop trying to do right amidst a corrupt system. The series bears the rare stamp of authenticity and manages Sacred-Gamesto hit all the right tones in its adaptation of the Novel of the same name written by Vikram Chandra.

The series hinges on the story of the rise and fall of gangster Gaitonde, played brilliantly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and how his life is intertwined with life of the honest cop, Sartaj Singh performed by Saif Ali Khan.

The TV series takes a dark undertone from the word go and it’s highly appreciative of the directive duo for discussing the subjects of sex and violence with such authority that was seldom seen in Indian cinema and has to be considered as one of their masterstrokes. The story deals with religious terrorism with a brilliant screenplay which has a heavy dose of bloodshed, sex, gore and violence and the end product which is devoid of any unwanted transgressions by the censor board, makes it a compelling watch.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the gangster with such elan and composure of an artist who is in control of his creation, taking his Sacred-Gamesown time to paint the shades of white when in love, dark when he’s avenging his enemies and grey, when keeping his comrades in line.

Saif Ali Khan has finally found his calling and he’s absolutely brilliant as the inspector Sartaj Singh and to his credit, underplays his role of a cop who is constantly being harassed, degraded and kicked around by his corrupt seniors. He in no way comes across as a conventional hero who fights the villains single handedly and saves the day. But he is our below average common man who is scared and thinks a hundred times before taking a step, an under performing overweight policeman who has a conscience, a simpleton who runs towards the warm embraces of his mother when things get too tough for him. And he absolutely delivers the goods with an astounding performance and
Sacred-Gamesfinally is given the platform to display his talents – the same talent which we had a few of the fleeting glimpses in the brilliant Omkara and Ek Hasina Thi. The Nawab is back and how!

But, when brilliance of Nawazuddin Siddiqui is always expected and Saif’s performance is worthy of appreciation, it’s the work of the supporting cast that completely steals the show and is what makes this series apart! Such is the depth and brilliance of their acting that one has the feeling of sitting in an Opera House and has been accorded the rare honour of seeing the brilliant performances of one sopran after the other, with each trying to outplay the other with the performances of their lifetime.

Sacred-GamesSpecial mention should go to Jitendra Joshi who was an absolute hoot as the constable Katekar, Rajshri Deshpande as Subhadra, Kubra Sait as Kukko, and then Neeraj Kabi and Geetanjali Thapa. Each and every single one of them gave a performance worthy of an ovation and carries the story on their shoulders and keeps the story moving.

Radhika Apte, the crown jewel of parallel cinema is surprisingly left with a role that is not as meaty compared to her colleagues but the woman holds her fort whenever pitted against the brilliance of Saif and the cast.

Superbly written by Varun GroverVasant Nath and Smita Singh, cool camera work and brilliant editing compounded with unique storytelling and absolutely mind blowing background score by Rachita Arora and Alokananda Dasgupta makes this thriller an Sacred-Gamesedge of the seat affair. Not to forget the perfect casting by Mukesh Chhabra Sacred Games is probably the best thing to have come out of Bollywood since Gangs of Wesseypur!

Sacred Games is, by no means over and with the serious talents of the likes of Pankaj Tripathi waiting in the wings and with a plot line left at an interesting juncture, one can expect a cracker of a second season in the cards!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com, Sacred Games Facebook page

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

written by Anu Gopinath

“The difference between a great artist and an ordinary one is the ability of the former to know when to stop” – Sherlock Holmes.

My Ratings: 1.5/5

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom review: Gone are those days when heart wrenching stories were told through the medium of cinema and timeless classics told the Jurassic-World-Fallen-Kingdompoignant tales of love, heartbreak and injustice.

Cinema was once the medium of common man through which he expressed his frustrations against injustice, his lament for his long lost love and his youthful exuberance of his triumphs. But while sitting through the tiring 2 hours of the latest installment of Jurassic Park, one cant help but wonder about the futility of the rigmarole that is “sequels”.

A movie riddled with scientific inaccuracies and mindless special effects, has the two main characters reprising their roles of the previous installment and gives a below par performance Jurassic-World-Fallen-Kingdomwhich makes the film a painful watch.

It is high time Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard give a long review of their resume and decide whether the characters they have done till now do justice to their abundant talent. With absolutely nothing new to offer the film huffs and puffs through its entirety with a wafer-thin storyline and below par special effects.

An almost non-existent storyline which borrows heavily from the first two installments, the director J.A. Bayona even dares to touch the controversial topic of human cloning in a desperate effort to hold the attention of the audience – but fails spectacularly!!!

The timeless classic that is Jurassic Park (1993) has stood the test of
time and it was the touch of the finest auteurs of world cinema that Jurassic-World-Fallen-Kingdommade this movie what it is today – Steven Spielberg.

Its unique storyline, spell binding special effects and amazing background score struck the right chord with the audience and yet it is the same traits that become the new installment’s undoing.

It’s with a heavy heart that I am writing the obituary of a grand cinema franchise which not only did redefine the genre but also became a benchmark to which future sci-fi flicks would be weighed, measured and judged!!

If only men knew when to walk away …  if only …

Similar Interest: Jurassic World review

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Deadpool 2 Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Deadpool 2 Review: If you like quirky insolently funny kind of comedy blended with extreme gore – this is your game!

My ratings: 4/5

11 years in the making, the first Deadpool film emerged in 2016, Canadian actor Ryan Reynoldspet-project that went on to become an unexpectedly Marvel-ous success of the year! The film was made out of $58 million (only) and went on to collect a whooping $783 deadpool-2million worldwide – the highest grossing Superhero-movie with an
R-rating!
The trailers created such hype and immense fan-following that the producers announced its sequel Deadpool 2 just 3 days before even the first film hit the theaters!

And finally the wait is over, the second installment is hot out of the oven and it is no less inappropriately funny (often to the point of vulgarity), addictively raunchy and disrespectfully sarcastic than the first one. Guaranteed boost in violence, swearings, racist jokes, sexually awkward moments and self-referential super-hero-world wisecracks!

You all better get ready for the lizard-skinned Wade Wilson who managed to gain extraordinary healing powers from an accident and got transformed into this cool superhero Deadpool; and mark my words – this time he is determined to take down all the baddies of the world!

‘You’re no hero. You’re just a clown, dressed up like a sex toy.’ Ouch!

deadpool-2Like any other superhero from either DC or the Marvel universes Deadpool also has certain set of responsibilities (mostly self-imposed though) and by the end of the movie he goes through enough comic sufferings to achieve the impossible (well almost).

But the real question that needs our attention is that this buffoon of a superhero who every now and then breaks the fourth-wall and chat up the audience just to deliver another smart one-liner – will he be able to commit to a dream from a loved one and sacrifice his life if necessary to save an innocent?

Superb comic-timing by Ryan Reynolds – definitely his foul sense of humor is the core of this franchise! Not to forget Colossusdeadpool-2DopinderBlind Al and Deadpool’s girlfriend Vanessa who continued to be at their very best in this sequel too.    

Introduction of director David Leitch (who replaced Tim Miller) and also the introduction of a whole bunch of new characters – the one-eyed villain from the future Cable played by Josh Brolin, the most ‘lucky’ new recruit in the ‘X-Force’ team Domino played by Zazie Beetz and Julian Dennison as the kid who has problems in controlling his superpowers. Awesome cool performances all around! 

And guess who plays the Vanisher? Hint: The same guy was supposed to play Cable – but didn’t. 

deadpool-2Overall a highly entertaining film that turns out to be exactly what it promised to be!

And let’s face it, when grotesquely violent action-sequences (like a guy being shredded into pieces in a huge grinder, another one literally torn into half from his belly, and hundreds of chopped heads and limbs flying around the screen most of the time) make you heartily chuckle, eat your popcorn with a smile and wait for the next gag – then the writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds must have done something right!

Wade Wilson is undoubtedly the funniest superhero in a costume and lucky for us he is kinda immortal, which means never-ending franchises. Wink. Wink.

‘Tell me they got that in slow-motion’ Absolutely hilarious!

P.S: Still wondering about Stan Lee’s cameo – couldn’t find him anywhere in the film!

Similar Interest: Deadpool review

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

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

Tomb Raider (2018)

Tomb Raider Review

written by Anu Gopinath

Tomb Raider: Rome was not built in a day and no superhero paid heed to their true calling without going through the tests of life and making the ultimate sacrifice!

My Ratings: 2.5/5

The movie franchise that sky rocketed Angelina Jolie to her stardom reboots with Alicia Vikander playing the title character! In all Tomb-Raiderfairness the movies with Jolie in the lead had her already established as the well known adventurer and told the story of one of her many adventures. But director Roar Uthaug has delved too deep into the storyline for this reboot which concentrates on the early life of Lara Croft and tells the story of making of the legendary adventurer. And that’s where the movie scores!

Vying for throne left vacant by Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix Trilogy) and Angelina Jolie – it is no less than a herculian task but Alicia Vikander shoulders the responsibility with an amazing ease and panache that screams volumes of her talent.

And her claims to the throne is truly justified as she backs it up with the stunning portrayal of a woman who is in the cusp of being elevated into the greatness, yet riddled with insecurities and self doubts. Her punches are misplaced, her arrows miss the targets and her bouts, tapped out!

She absolutely delivers the goods by portraying the vulnerability of a lost child, the strength of a daughter whose father makes the Tomb-Raiderultimate sacrifice and inevitably, the acceptance of her true calling!

This time the film Tomb Rider goes deep into the earlier life of Lara Croft and examines her relationship with her father, played brilliantly by Dominic West, thus establishing the reasons and sacrifices that made Lara Croft who she is and whom eventually the world have come to know.

But though the movie starts on a promising note, it soon loose its way due to lack of a strong storyline or for that matter, a strong villain character! And this ultimately becomes the movie’s undoing!

The visual effects is at par with the best in business but lack of action or the scarcity of it and a weak supporting cast drags Tomb-Raiderthe movie down like dead weight. The world is yet to see the talent that Walton Goggins is and though an accomplished actor, he by no means could shoulder the responsibilities that comes with playing the negative character of a Tomb Raider franchise. And that’s where Angelina Jolie movies score higher!

With Wonder Woman laying the foundations and ultimately setting a bench mark for how an origin movie should be told, Tomb Rider falls desperately short of expectations though there are a few highs that the audience can take home with!

Is Tomb Rider a good origin-movie? Yes! Is it a good movie? Debatable! It’s a question only time and a great sequel will answer!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

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

The Rage – a Psychological Thriller (Short Film)

The Rage – a Psychological Thriller (Short Film)

The Rage is a psychological thriller that explores the relationship between sex, anger and violence. Take an atmospheric trip into the life of Oscar as he deals with his rage and the decision it drives him to make.

Directed by Alrik Bursell, starring Oakland California actors, L. Jeffrey Moore, Sophia LaPaglia and Gretta Sosine, The Rage challenges our understanding of sex and violence, and the passion that can come out of anger.

There is nudity and violence in the film so it’s totally NSFW.

Writer/Producer/Star – L. Jeffrey Moore

https://www.ljeffreymoore.com

The Rage is a fictional diary of my thoughts in my personal life as both a father and a black man dealing with a wide myriad of things. I wrote this knowing that not everyone would like it or want to see it, and honestly I’m fine with that. Art isn’t necessarily made to be liked the-rageby all audiences. Art is an expression of the human experience and should not be afraid to push boundaries, The Rage is no different.

The film started as the simple yet complex thought of a man, put in a situation where his role as a husband and “provider” are questioned, and the toll it can take on him.

Writer/Producer/Director – Alrik Bursell

http://www.bursellproductions.com/the-rage

When Jeff first brought the The Rage to the table I saw that this was a story I related to, not only as a man but as a person having gone through a tough relationship. We wanted to translate into a film that the-ragehad no voice over and no dialogue. Given the intense graphic material, I knew I wanted to keep it raw in translating it into a film and that we wanted to make a statement through the story. What Jeff and I came up with was a metaphor using the sex and violence to deliver a message as the story unfolds.

Like Jeff said, this film won’t make everyone happy, but I hope it will get every person who watches it talking and open up discussions about violence, sex and anger, so we can help keep all of our the-rageemotions in check.

We did a kickstarter to raise about a third of the budget for the film, the other two thirds was paid out of pocket.

Here is more information about the podcast, we had our star Sophia LaPaglia on this weeks episode to talk about nudity in film and we are going to have Jeff on next week to talk about making polarizing films.
We’ve been making this podcast for almost three years now and it’s just a forum for indie filmmakers to talk about their struggles making their films. My co-host Timothy Plain pulled this quote from the-rageone of our episodes of me describing what the podcast is.

“Who am I to even have a podcast? Why is my opinion more valid than anyone else? In some ways it’s not, but that’s also kind of the point. We’re just two examples of people making movies in our own ways. We’re not any more special than any other filmmaker. There’s nothing about us that makes us any different or unique. We’re just doing it. And I think that’s the point, just go out and do it, make your movies. And these are the struggles that we face and this is how we’re trying to overcome them.”

Poster courtesy: Alrik Bursell and his production team.

Oscar Nominations 2018 Best Picture – what’s your call?

Oscar Nominations 2018 Best Picture – what’s your call?

written by Souranath Banerjee

Oscar Nominations 2018 Best Picture: Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel (for the second time), on this March 4th evening we have a date with our beloved movies from 2017 – the nominations for the Oscars – The 90th Academy Awards ceremony traditionally presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

After last year’s La La Land hiccup and Moonlight‘s sudden triumph speculating this year’s Best Picture has certainly become more difficult a task but have to admit the fun remains the same, even more!

In total nine nominations for Best Picture and I have listed them according to my order of liking, in a way keeping my favourite one in the number 1 spot. You all do your own homework, predict, guess and wonder, and let’s see who can hit the bull’s eye!

9. Darkest Hour

A historical biography directed by Joe Wright which in total has six Oscar nominations this year!

The film revolves around the early days of World War II when Churchill was appointed the British Prime Minister and showed immense character that changed history forever.

Gary Oldman is undoubtedly an actor par excellence and his performance as Winston Churchill is awe-inspiring (every chance of winning the Male Leading Role). But I am real doubtful about the movie winning big this year.

8. Dunkirk

Directed by Christopher Nolan and brilliant music by Hans Zimmer (will probably win the for his Original Score).

Another film about World War II portraying the tensed war-front drama when soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France were at the mercy of the German Army.

In total eight nominations, though there are no acting or writing nominations and I think the movie won’t run till the end round of this year’s Oscar race.

7. The Post

The epic battle between the press and the government, a dangerous mission taken up by female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to unmask a massive coverup.

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks together, that too directed by Steven Spielberg – this movie seems to be the perfect Oscar recipe but yet for me this is not really the Best Picture of last year.

6. Lady Bird

A delightful coming of age story of an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl and her chemistry between her friends and relatives – especially the love-hate relationship with her mother.

Directed by Greta Gerwig and brilliantly performed by Saoirse Ronan this is one film I absolutely enjoyed watching but still am not so sure about its Oscar win.

5. Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson collaborates with none other than Daniel Day-Lewis (supposed to be his last movie as an actor).

Superbly artistic, a visual treat that portrays the early world of fashion through the romance between a renowned dressmaker and his muse – a beautiful and determined young girl.

But then again the movie winning the Oscar – a bit doubtful scenario.

4. Get Out

An African-American guy meets his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend but things are not exactly what it seems to be. There lies some dark dangerous secrets that changes his life forever.

Now a low budget horror thriller gets nominated in the Best picture category – well, that’s a first!

Jordan Peele‘s direction and Daniel Kaluuya acting are spot on; though honestly to me the film apparently doesn’t look like a tough competition as an Oscar contender but you never know, unpredictability is the name of the game!

3. Call Me by Your Name

A summertime gay romance between a 17-year-old boy and a twenty-something man who has visited Italy as the young boy’s father’s research assistant.

(Click for Review)

A beautifully shot film directed by Luca Guadagnino and superb performances by Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. Though not nominated in the direction, cinematography or editing categories it is a tough aim for the big spot but then if the movie snatches the Oscar I would  say it totally deserved it.

2. The Shape of Water

An incredible love-story between a mute lady-janitor and an amphibious creature that being held captive at a top secret research facility.

With 13 nominations, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and a superb performance by Sally Hawkins this visually stunning movie probably has the highest bets for the award. My favourite too. Fingers crossed!

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three billboards asking for justice – a mother’s unique way of challenging the authorities who failed to capture her daughter’s murder.

Directed by Martin McDonagh and a powerhouse of brilliant acting from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell (sure will get awards for Female Leading Role or/and Supporting Male Role).

With total seven nominations, brilliantly written and shot with great precision – this is my most favourite film of last year and I hope this film gets its due i.e the Oscar of course!

Similar Interest: Best of 2017 you may have missed!

Similar Interest: Best of World Cinema 2017

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Judi Dench – the greatest Bond woman of all time!

Judi Dench – the greatest Bond woman of all time!

written by Anu Gopinath

The life of an assassin, going for his kill in the name of his Queen and his country, is riddled with the insecurities and fears of a man nearing the end of the tunnel and finding himself obsolete in the new Judi-Denchworld of drones and gadgets.

The one that kept James Bond sane (other than his Walther PPK of course) was the sturdy hands of a woman who went toe to toe with Bond – to unleash him to the world and then sheath him in the confines of Booze, women and the cold walls of MI6 at her whim, when found surplus for her needs and plans.

Long gone were the days of Connerys and Moores and the bond series was left stagnant for a significant period of time begging for resurrection when, MGM in all its wisdom chose to relaunch the series with Pierce Brosnan and later with Daniel Craig in the lead. The choice like any other came with its own controversies but the Judi-Denchwisdom of its choice left the world in their gasps, when in came to the land of men guns and bullets, a woman, as the head of MI6 who will ever hold the crown of being the “the only woman who ever bought the secret agent to his knees”. DAME Judie Dench.

So the board was set. The hunt was afoot. Short in stature but abundant in talent, Judie Dench curved a niche for herself in the hearts of the fans and critics alike when she hunted down the enemies of state with the eye and cold heart of a hunter who killed for her Country and savoured the last moments of her prey with such nonchalance that will put even Dr.Hannibal Lecter to shame.

In a movie series where women character had practically nothing to speak of other than being the eye candy (with only Eva Green in 2006 Casino Royale being an exception), Judi Dench rode in with such authoritarian aura that she traded punch for punch, wit for wit, barb for barb with her adversaries as well as her top assassin to come out on top and each and every single time she found herself and her organisation on the ropes. And innumerable times she outshone her colleagues with such wit and charm that Brosnan and Craig humbly stepped back for her to take the centre stage.

Such was her acting prowess that she made the character of M a lasting symbol of reason and justice. Her forthrightness in Judi-Denchsupporting her top assassin even at the face of her worst rival, her ironclad judgement where she orders to even shoot him for the
greater good of saving many made her one of the most awe inspiring characters that cinema ever gifted to the world!

Starting her term as M in Goldeneye (1995) along side Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench owned the role to such extend that it gave a new dimension to the character of M and in turn helped Brosnan in sharing the load of expectations that came naturally with the role of the most suave secret agent ever to have graced over the silver screen.

Bond movies reaped the benefits of her charisma and methodical acting and it was a fitting tribute and recognition to Judi Dench’s talent and contribution that her character was the only one which survived the reboot when MGM gave us the most manly bond in Daniel Craig.

Judi-DenchDaniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond showed his vulnerable side of being a human who is steadfast and arrogant to the point of self destruction with her playing the perfect foil to her brash assassin guiding him when needed, reprimanding him when required and unleashing him when cornered.

Judi Dench brought her own style and perspective into the character of M that bond series would never be the same again. Perhaps it was fitting tribute to her achievements that her swan song as M was destined to be played out under the respectable eyes of some of the thespians of world cinema – Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem!

And when she finally walked away, she did so with her head held high having given the world a mere glimpse of the multitude of her talent and her name shall ever be etched in the lores of the cinema as GREATEST BOND WOMAN OF ALL TIME!

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