So I recently watched: Tumbbad, Article 15, Hot Fuzz

Of course, it is unfair and lazy to write my reviews of 3 movies in one blog post as a movie reviews writer, but I am not a movie reviews writer and I just want to get past this writer’s block so it is what it is. Also, I am writing all of these together because I am going to discuss Cinematography of all these 3 together.

Article 15

Article 15
https://www.ewanmulligan.com/#/article-15/

I once wrote off Ayushmann Khurrana as a Roadie. I am not going to take it back yet but I am impressed. Not only by the movie he chooses but also his drastic shift of tone in the recently released movie ‘Article 15’.

The movie is based on caste-provoked-hate-crimes (remember Budaun?) and how an honest new police officer deals with it when everyone else wants to ignore the heinous crime just because trying to solve it might upset the balance and status quo of the society. There have been several Hindi movies on similar narratives but this one stands out. It deals with the biases we all have, but we ignore them like nothing, head-on. It not only tries to shake that upper caste nonchalance and ignorance that we have now progressed and we view everything from an urbanite spectacle, but it also is a fine example of filmmaking. I was sincerely impressed by the fact that the screenplay kept on becoming more interesting the more I watched it. And to top it all, the cinematography was both beautiful and yet scary. It was also philosophical obviously that in order to clean the menace, one has to do the dirty work.

Although, it reminded me of the first season of True Detective but it is a movie to which I was hooked from start till it finished. It was an experience which made me think of my own place in the society and the privilege we take granted for. Well done!

Tumbbad

tumbbad
Via Prime Video / Eros Now

Tumbbad is like nothing you have ever seen in a Hindi movie. I can certainly vouch for that. I had watched this movie last year and I liked it so much that I haven’t rewatched it again, what an irony! It is probably because it is amazingly scary and beautifully weird.

The story shows a range of time from 1918s to 1940s. It is about man’s greed and the lengths one can go to in order to fulfill it. Except for the glaring CGI work at the very climax of the movie, it is an achievement to make such a movie, I felt. The production design, the haunting music, the scale and grandeur, and the performances are all top-notch.

I could have written more about it but it has been more than 6 months since I watched it but I can still not forget the wonderful imagery this movie portrayed. Each shot has been meticulously designed and planned. It is a pity that not many have watched this yet.

Hot Fuzz

Llyod Stas Poster for Hot Fuzz
http://collider.com/edgar-wright-posters-lloyd-stas/

You must have also come across a movie which you enjoy like anything and want to discuss that with some friends who have same taste as you in the movies but then you don’t discuss it with anyone and just feel sad because your friends don’t have the same taste as yours and also they don’t get it the way you do. Sigh, me too!

I watched ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ a few days back and was happily surprised that something like this can exist. Then I read about its director Edgar Wright and thought of watching some more movies of his.

So I recently watched ‘Hot Fuzz’ and what a fun ride it was. Without going into the details of the story, I would just comment about the editing of this movie. Brilliant! The distinctive cuts, the music, the parody, and the overall visual comedy had me in splits. I am going to watch the rest of the movies of Edgar Wright soon, is all.

A word about Cinematography

Since I am a man of not so simple tastes, ahem, I think I am not impressed by a few things which others might do. Same way, they might not get impressed with things which I find very interesting. One of the things like that is movie cinematography. Movies mean different to everyone, we all know that. So, for me, Cinematography: the camera placement, the editing, the subtext matters a lot.

In all of the movie I wrote about in the paras before, Cinematography is a thing which carved its own niche into my mind. Article 15 shows the same grim, dark and scary wide shots of a rustic Village scene multiple times in which the protagonist has to immerse himself into in the movie to cleanse it otherwise his own surroundings keep getting dirtier, representing our myopic view of thinking about our own lives and only dealing with things when we are affected by it. Tumbbad shows grunge from a close-up which shows how greed can turn anyone into a devil. Totally contrasting to the previous two, the editing of Hot Fuzz shows how to make a serious matter funny while adding music to it to transform into something else.

There are so many movies around. Only a few of them make you think about that particular scene and the intention of the director behind them. I like those ones.

So I recently watched ‘Mission Mangal’

I distinctly remember this. I was in a bus travelling towards my office and while it took a U-Turn in front of ISRO office on Outer Ring Road towards Marathahalli, Bengaluru, somewhere far away Mangalyaan was getting inserted into the Mars orbit. I was following the news on Twitter and the event just happened. The Bus completed the U-turn and the ISRO HQ remained as calm as it has always been, as if nothing happened. No fanfare, no bursting of crackers like Diwali or post-elections scene outside political parties offices, not even a single soul but the guards visible from outside. That’s ISRO for you. I looked around me, and nobody was bothered to share my happiness as they were busy in their phones or were dozing off. I sighed and continued with reading more about the news.

That was 2014. ISRO has done a lot since then. They do use Social Media now but still only those who are interested follow. But for the first time, someone has brought them on to a medium which nobody in India can ignore. Yeah, the movies.

So, I recently watched Mission Mangal and felt happy. Neither the movie was mind blowing, nor it was a bore, neither it was 100% scientifically accurate, nor it was completely filmy. It was just a feel good movie with an appropriate amount of stuff which could make your heart fill with joy when you realise that ISRO was able to do this near impossible feat so nonchalantly. Of course, this is just a fictional tale of how the mission came to be. But it surely reignited the feeling of pride that we live among such geniuses of humans who are so good at their job that one can only wish them more successes.

I had brushed it off when they had announced that such a movie is being even made. But I got interested in it lately when the reviews came in and it paid off. I won’t go into the details of the movie as that’s irrelevant. I am rather happy that such a movie was made. There’s a scene in the movie which showed the reminiscences of actors’ childhood times of becoming scientists. That did me. And I believe that’s what have been the intention of making such a movie. Apart from earning money and all.

If even one out of 100 can get inspired from such movies which show human’s scientific prowess while they deal with life’s daily chores, the job is done.

Hoping to see more such initiatives which can rekindle the childhood dream in you.

So I recently watched: Avengers Endgame

Goosebumps!

Rarely it happens that I am this excited to watch a movie. But the hype was spilling over the brim and the wait had become way too much longer. I watched the movie on Tuesday after it had already earned billions of dollars at the BO. And then when you hear, the once dreaded and termed forgettable, Avengers Theme Music… BOOM!

I have in fact watched only 16 of 22 movies (73%) of all the MCU movies. But I have followed them with much more excitement since last 2-3 years. That is also due to the utter disappointment caused by DCEU even if Wonder Woman and Shazam were good. But MCU movies have made a place of their own in terms of sheer entertainment value they have provided. The cameos by Stan the man Lee to top them all.

There have been several very popular videos on how Avengers (or MCU movies) are not much memorable, their video doesn’t have any definite color grading which makes them like a TV movie, or not much emotional connect, or not having much depth and so on. But nobody would have anticipated as to what 22 MCU movies over a period of 12 years would culminate to. Amazing!

This sort of fest-like-hype has not really happened for any movie I know of. When probably the only ‘Universe’ kind of movie franchise, Star Wars had its Episode 1 getting released in the late 90s, the Internet hadn’t flourished that much. So the younger generation (worldwide) had not experienced the hype which generates nowadays due to the bombardment of information from all directions.

I am not going to review the movie because my excitement will overrule my judgement. But I liked it very much. It has everything one could ask for, and more. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Endgame. I might watch it again in IMAX.

So I recently watched: Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

bandersnatch

bandersnatch

So I recently watched: Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

Bandersnatch is probably a first of its kind Interactive Movie, like a computer game, in which the viewer can choose the actions of the protagonist and some other characters by choosing from 2 options. That choice changes the outcome of the scene and it could lead to a different movie ending if you had chosen something else. It has been made in such a way that based on your choices, it can go from a sad morbid ending, to totally whacky scenes, and to a slightly different sad morbid ending, to something which might not make sense at all.

Although the premise of the movie is not as interesting as other Black Mirror episodes, it is certainly a movie from the future. The mere concept of allowing viewers to choose the actions, couldn’t have been possible with traditional TV or Movie experience. Netflix and other streaming services allow it to work and full credits to Netflix for bringing this up. It might set a trend of more such movies, I hope.

Black Mirror, in general, has always come up with something which makes us rethink the way technology has been moving ahead and how much dependence we have got over it. Bandersnatch uses this concept in a novel way and it even indulges us in making the viewers think about their own choices. As I said, the story of this particular movie isn’t very intriguing but I wonder how much of an effort they must have put behind it. I finished one ending and before I could click to go to credits, it gave me another choice and like a rabbit hole, I kept on going on and on for another 30 minutes. This movie was originally supposed to be 1 hour 30 minutes but you can surely keep it going for some more time. I am sure, others would experience the same curiosity. You may keep exploring more endings on Reddit and you might never give up. If you have time, of course.

Well, the minimal poster I made above represents the choices flowchart.

I wonder if there are actually any books which make the readers do the same. As in, say at page 50, one character has a choice. The author would have written there if the character makes choice A, directly jump to page 78 or if the choice is B, ignore the pages 51 to 81 and start reading 82 onwards. Now, that would be really mind-boggling.

Moral of the story remains the same, in life too, we make choices and most of the times, the outcomes end up being different. Since we cannot change the past, we have to live with it. But there are still some choices, we can go back to. Again, that depends on what you choose at that point in time.

Happy decision making!

 

So I recently watched: Mukkabaaz and Hidden Figures

If someone asks, although no one would ask, that why am I writing reviews of these 2 movies together, then the answer would be: I am doing so because:

  1. I watched them back to back.
  2. Both tell exactly the same story of underdogs defeating the system and excelling. Although, both movies are kind of filmy. I will explain this below.

Since the movies were both released in 2017 and a lot of time has passed since l will try to summarize their stories below.

In Mukkabaaz, a bright talent, Shravan Singh played by Vineet Kumar Singh, in boxing is at the center stage. He is fighting the system, the federation, the society, his own family and a ‘red-eyed’ District Federation Chief Bhagwan Das Mishra Jimmy Shergill. Shravan messes with the boss of the federation that leads to an all-out war of egos that follows Shravan with his slow but steady rise in the boxing career. Although, it still is a love story at its heart amidst a political-social-sports drama.

In Hidden Figures, the story revolves around 3 genius ladies working at NASA in the early 1960s. Although the movie is based on real people, they fictionalize their stories to an extent to make it more feel-good underdogs story. The underdogs here are brilliant minded American African women who are trying to break many society and stereotypical shackles and helping NASA put men into space before the Soviets do it.

Basically, both the movies feature underdogs who overcome the environment around them and succeed. The hardships they face are pretty realistic like getting into caste debate overlooking the talent when it comes to Mukkabaaz or segregation from coffee mugs to toilets for African American and to top that women African Americans. Despite all the bad happening around the lives of the protagonists, eventually, they succeed, sometimes by fate and sometimes by their sheer hard work and relentlessness in getting what they want.

Although I liked both of these movies, in the end, I was left slightly underwhelmed by their filmy treatment. I mean, they tend to end happily and some things feel contrived. For example, Jimmy Shergill’s character has got nothing else to do but just to satisfy his ego he keeps on pestering Shravan Singh. In Hidden Figures, there are times when some of the white men and women still appear the good guys / and girls just bound by the society. But they still make you entertained and ponder for a while about the times there were and the times there still are. Human society has always been champions of classifying people based on some criteria or the other, all the time. South Park once captured it brilliantly when they said when all religion systems are done and dusted in future, people will still be fighting over the names of their atheistic organizations.

Will there be a time when we will move beyond a person’s background, ethnicity, color, gender and just see everyone on their merit? Well, I am pretty sure it won’t happen in my lifetime. Till then you will have to keep punching the system until you can fly your rockets.

Featured Pic Credits:

  1. Photo by Ryan Tang on Unsplash
  2. Photo by Bill Jelen on Unsplash
Burping Queens

So I recently watched: Tumhari Sulu, Lipstick Under My Burkha and Padmavat

Hello, it’s me!

The guy who promised to post on this blog daily and if not, at least regularly. But I have failed to deliver on my promises, like the Governments. Well, my life in the past few weeks has been really interesting which would actually make me in write so much more content than I would have done as usual. But mostly, it would be grim stuff. I would still write it, just to get it out of my system but not today. Today, I am going to post some movie reviews, which should have been posted 2 months ago. Nevertheless, assume that Women’s Day is around the corner and take the post below with a pinch of salt.

Women’s Day is around the corner. The day when skies will be pink again. The day when women can walk with pride, wearing their favorite sarees. The day when they will be given rose and chocolate, as a consolation to make them feel happy or as a guilt to just make them forget about rest of the days. The day when there will be talks, seminars, panel discussions, all chaired by men as to how can we improve lives of womenfolk. TL, DR; the day when women will be one more time fooled into being happy for a day.

I am pretty sure, I must have mentioned on this blog previously, that International Men’s Day and World Toilet Day occur on the same date. And when I tried to check this site, http://www.internationalmensday.com, I ended up on an error page. So, basically, there’s no International Men’s Day in the first place. Ironic, isn’t it.

Anyways my rant is futile. I saw 3 movies which are usually called as Women Oriented Movies. As if the movies in which an angry male beats everyone single-handedly is called a Man Oriented Movie.

So I watched Vidya Balan’s Tumhari Sulu, ensemble cast Lipstick Under My Burkha and recently Karni Sena’s Padmavat.

All the above 3 are ordered in the manner I liked them. From most to least.

Tumhari Sulu

Tumhari Sulu Poster

Tumhari Sulu Poster

In a yet another display of pure acting and versatility, Vidya Balan hits it out of the ground. Tumhari Sulu is a very simple story of a housewife who is not very bright academically as her sisters but has a knack for doing silly mimicry and voice modulations just for keeping her family cheerful. She plays a generally happy person who believes in herself. Being at home all day, she listens to Radio every time and duly participates and even wins in the contests they offer. By chance, she then gets a chance to be an RJ for a night show which she accepts happily. Although, this decision has left her husband (who is struggling to keep his job intact due to his new boss) with mixed reactions and her family clearly irked. Think about it, who will ‘allow’ their house-wife wives to host a radio show at night? The movie keeps the tone realistic and shows how this unusual attempt of a woman to just have a job she could do leaves her with her family in shatters when their kid elopes and husband. Rest of the movie deals with the reality check that how difficult it becomes for a woman to keep a job she likes and can do but faces so many hurdles because what she does is ‘unusual’.

Overall, I liked this movie and I will give it a thumping thumbs up.

‘Ban Ja Tu Meri Rani’ by Guru Randhawa has become one of my favorite songs of time when everything is a remix.

Lipstick…

LUMB

LUMB

Although this movie is technically a well made dark comedy, it makes you feel slightly weird in your mouth when it ends, as if, you have applied bright red Lipstick on your lips and you are not able to handle it. Initially you flaunt it, later you cannot stop licking it, and eventually, you are not able to take it away from your tongue.

This is one of those movies in which there are 3-4 movies in itself. All of them deal with the pressure womenfolk deal with on an ongoing basis. Some of the pressure is pretty obvious like husband not allowing her wife to work and deliberately impregnating her regularly because… well because he can. Or pressure like not able to wear what one likes. But also the unspoken but very much there, the societal pressure of not being able to just be, for example, a woman in her 50s to not have a fantasy about a character she is reading in a pulp fiction book or in simpler words not able to love again.

All the cast do justice to their roles but stand out performances are clearly by Ratna Pathak Shah and Konkana Sharma Sen (excuse me if I forgot to add another surname).

This movie makes anyone (but mostly a man like me) feel helpless. I am sensitive to all of these issues but I cannot really change it. Maybe I can change it locally to people around me but it would take a mammoth effort to actually make it work. It would mean me sacrificing a lot of things which I take granted for. Time shall tell!

Padmavat

Karni Sena protesting against the release of Padmavati

Karni Sena protesting against the release of Padmavati

Well, the protests against this movie were more interesting than the movie itself. Me even saying that protests were totally uncalled for would be trying to douse a fire with kerosene. I have anyways said this.

Yes, valence electron Ranveer Singh did a fab job as Khilji but what was the intention of the movie, is totally beyond me. Maybe they should have shot a really good scene between him and his slave played by Jim Sarbh. Honestly, that would have made a much more interesting love story than the highly glamorized usual palatial location royal slow-motion romantic drama between the queen and the king who have laughable Rajasthani accents. This movie is totally avoidable and we should have listened to Karni Sena. They knew that it was a time waste and an assault on our sentiments! Having said that, I really liked the filmy climax. I mean I was actually moved by the fire in Deepika’s eyes because that was the only instance she got something to do in the movie.

To conclude, I would say that till we stop using the term “women-centric” or “women-oriented” movies, we would never be able to do justice to half of the world population. Having a female lead just to sing and dance and show sympathy to the Hero should have ended decades ago. Sadly it is still on. Despite having loads of common sense, there is still a women’s day. Maybe someday, if not today.

As Prabhu Deva rightly said,

“Bhalai kabhi aurton ki, kranti ke bina nahi hogi…”

black-panther-poster

So I recently watched: Black Panther

Wakanda Forever

Generally, I absolutely love the movies where Villains beats the hell out of the Hero. Villains which question the Hero to think a lot about hero’s own existence. Villains who are so good that they make Hero look like a lucky chump. In a nutshell, I personally like movies where the Villain is a character on which writers have paid a good amount of attention, almost as much as they have paid on the Hero.

So I recently watched: Black Panther. And I liked it!

It was surely worth the hype. As it has been said several times, the best part about all Marvel Heroes is their own imperfections. T’Challa, the king of Wakanda, the Superhero Black Panther is ideal in his own right but might not be the best fit in the evil world. How he deals with his fate and the world around him is the crux of the story.

Without going into any spoiler-y detail, I will list the parts I liked the movie:

  • Super Strong Villain

I had loved the scenes where Bane breaks Batman’s back. I had loved the scenes where Joker makes Batman feel helpless, several times, in several movies. You get it right? Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger here is a villain with a purpose, which you almost relate to pretty well. Although, the means he uses to achieve the purpose makes him the villain. But his performance and all his screen time made me want to see more of him.

  • Super Strong Female Characters

A movie where the Superhero, the Avenger is saved on multiple occasions by genuinely amazing female warriors is a feat in itself. Not only saved but also supported technologically by female scientists. Not only supported but encouraged from time to time by females. This made me wonder, why Black Panther is not a woman in first place. (We shall wait for Captain Marvel for this)

  • Politics

One important point about this movie is the politics in it. This politics about the treatment of Blacks at the hands of the Imperialistic powers has not only been relevant when the comics originated but even now, will make this movie even more memorable. One of the funniest scenes involves a comic treatment to one side-character-white-guy (good old Martin Freeman) had me in splits. Time and again, the words, the era, and the politics of hatred/superiority is mentioned which never seems over the top but very much relatable. This also makes the Villain Killmonger a grey area bad-guy instead of a genuinely evil person. Wakanda is something which could have been of any country which wouldn’t have been conquered and looted for centuries.

  • Music & Costumes & Backdrop

Africa’s best was showcased with proper detailing. I don’t have much to say about it apart from it being very impressive.

Some parts which could have been much better:

  • Forgettable Action Scenes

Technically, we all go to Superhero movies for seeing action. This had lots of action but none of the scenes stood out.

  • Less Screen Time for Killmonger

I seriously felt that there could have been more of Killmonger beating Black Panther for more number of instances.

To summarize, Black Panther movie was a movie which left me wanting for more. I might not be the biggest fan of the character himself, but I liked the movie and the background behind Wakanda as a whole. I hope we get to more of this in coming movies.