Movie Madness

May 8th, 2006

Last week – or rather, the weekend starting Friday before last – was a mad movie weekend. Not as mad as some that I’ve had before – I remember one time I watched six movies in a single day and then added another three the next, but that’s another story!

Coming back to the mad movie weekend recently, A and I watched a range of movies, and finally didn’t end up seeing the movie that we had planned to watch finally!

It started off with us watching Gangster with a few of A’s colleagues. Of course, the plan was to go watch Darna Zaroori Hai, but due to a lack of planning and co-ordination, all the tickets were sold out (I guess most people forgot that it was opening night!).

I went into the movie with trepidation considering that I quite dislike one of the two heroes of the movie, Emraan Hashmi, otherwise known as the Serial Kisser of Bollywood! I really can’t figure out why he’s considered so great. In any case, the other male star Shiney Ahuja, I really like, so it wasn’t like I didn’t want to watch the movie at all.

And I was pleasantly surprised at the movie. Remember this is a commercial Hindi movie, so those of you who can’t handle the style will not like the movie; but for those of you who can – well, be prepared for a interesting, but not great flick.

A young bargirl in Mumbai has a gangster fall in love with her and take her away from her horrid life. But he is hunted by the cops and his former criminal associates and has to send her off to Seoul after a young boy they adopted is shot by the cops. Being a *good* guy (inspite of his criminal tendencies), he hasn’t slept with her because they’re not married yet. In Seoul, all alone and getting drunk every night, she meets the other guy (Emraan), who takes care of her and seduces her at the same time. I won’t let out any more otherwise I’ll give away the ending.

While Kangana as the girl was good in bits, she has a funny way of speaking, so I found that a bit distracting. Emraan Hashmi was his usual self, if you’ve seen any of his other movies, you’ll know what I mean. But Shiney truly carried the movie. He was brilliant in almost every single scene.

The movie was a decent thriller with good music especially compared to the crap coming out of Bollywood nowadays. The camera-work up close was odd considering there were too many close-ups of the actors noses for some reason!

Not a great recommendation, but watch it if you have some time on your hands and nothing better to do.

Neither A nor I felt like stirring out to watch a movie in the theatre the next day. So we decided to do pick up something to watch at home. After not watching some of the Oscar movies before, we took a plunge and picked up both Walk the Line and Brokeback Mountain.

First up was Brokeback. When Ang Lee’s previous movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came out, both of us were hugely underwhelmed. I really couldn’t see what the hype was about. And this time too, I was prepared for disappointment. Unfortunately, some of my fears were not unfounded.

Let me start off by saying – Yes, this is a brave movie. Yes, we need more movies like this. Yes, congrats and all that. BUT(t?) it is not a great MOVIE by any means. I am sorry, but Heath Ledger cannot act. Mumbling your lines doesn’t make you a mid-western cowboy. And where is his passion for Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhall)? It’s supposed to be a romance for god’s sake. What about the chemistry (rather lack of it)? I’ve seen more chemistry between men on Will and Grace for god’s sake! I thought it wasn’t supposed to be about two men who f**k just because they aren’t getting any with the women. But the first time they do it, it seems just like that.

I am really glad that the Oscar went to Crash. As a work of movie making, it’s far far better than Brokeback. I understand that movies talking about uncomfortable topics are necessary, but one needs to make a good movie as well. Remember Philadelphia? It talks about homosexuality, AIDS, racism – you name it. And it was a brilliantly made, brilliantly acted movie.

Watch Brokeback, if nothing else, for the visual beauty. And for Jake – he was good, but let down by his partner!

Walk the Line, on the other hand, is a really good movie. The story of Johnny Cash well told. I hadn’t expected much from the movie and wasn’t sure why Reese Witherspoon won best actress. But after watching the movie, I can understand. Understatedly made, with really good performances from Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese as June Carter.

Watch the movie – it’s really one of the best movies of the last year.

The next day, we again planned to watch DZH, this time with A’s mom and brother, but he didn’t want to watch it, so we switched to Mistress of Spices. A had read the book, and I had skimmed through it, so we knew the plot. Don’t bother reading the book, it’s not worth it. Of course, the reviews of the movie weren’t great either, so we didn’t have any high expectations of the movie.

Unfortunately our fears were not unfounded. Aishwarya Rai cannot act to save her life. The few roles where she was better than a mannequin were those with really great directors (in Raincoat, Devdas and Chokher Bali) and even there she was limited. Dylan McDermott was better, but there was no chemistry between the two of them. Some reviewers have harped on the inane conversations between Aishwarya and the spices in her spice shop, but seem to forget that these conversations are there in the original text (and are just as inane)!

The movie is so bad that I won’t waste any time telling you the plot – just imagine a watered down version of Chocolat. There are just too many things wrong with the movie. The director for some reason seemed to have insisted on the voice-overs being spoken extra slowly in order to make everyone sound short of intelligence. He also doesn’t seem to know much about India – while he sets the opening scenes very obviously in Kerala, the younger version of Aishwarya screams ‘Mummy’ and ‘Papa’ when her parents are attacked by thugs!

The only real redeeming factors about the movie are visual. The spice shop is beautifully created and Santosh Sivan’s cinematography is stunning.

Don’t watch the movie except as a visual treat. In fact, just turn off the sound and play a nice blues cd in the background. It might be far more worthwhile thatway!

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