Palm Springs (2020) Movie Review: Old Fashioned Love in the New Age

Haven’t most of us wondered how lovely it would be if we could go back to an immediate past and in the process getting to alter something that we had done or got into earlier? Imagine if that were to happen and you end up making a difference to the event in the past. Now hang on, even before you manage to start rejoicing, you see the same thing happen again and again. You are transported into the recent past repeatedly, leaving you clueless of what is happening to you. Now is the pandemic making me go crazy? Or am I probably watching way too many sci-fi movies of late (now this is definitely true) and hence dreaming of a time machine? Oh! No, its nothing like that, though I wouldn’t say no to getting access to a time machine.

But after watching Max Barbakow’s Palm Springs (directorial debut) it is difficult not to allow one’s thoughts to flow in such a direction. Having had its World Premiere at Sundance last year, the film went on to find a digital release on Hulu as well as a release in select drive-in cinemas in the U.S in July 2020. Winning a lot of critical acclaim, I was a bit intrigued about the film as not many rom-com’s of late have have received so much appreciation. On November 9 (the year is never referred to) in Palm Springs we get to attend Tala (Camila Mendes) and Abe’s (Tyler Hoechlin) destination wedding. In attendance at the wedding among others are Nyles (Adam Sandberg), his girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner) and Tala’s elder sister Sarah (Cristin Miloti). Nyles and Sarah get friendly and just as they are about to get intimate, Nyles is attacked by someone and gets injured. In an attempt to save himself Nyles crawls into a cave, followed by Sarah out of concern for him, despite his warning to stay away from the cave.

Sarah is sucked into a vortex, wakes up soon and finds herself back in the same day (November 9) and sees the same things happening to her again. On confronting Nyles whom she believes to be responsible for this, Sarah gets to know that she has now got stuck in an infinite time loop of sorts along with him. Yes, this isn’t the first-time loop-based movie, be it the iconic Groundhog Day or the more recent Edge of Tomorrow, this is a plot device that has been comfortably used by Hollywood filmmakers across various genres. Thus, it is to the credit of Max Barbakow and his co-writer Andy Siara that the writing has enough meat in it to keep the audience entertained all the way. Yes somewhere in between as we see a desperate Sarah and a casual Nyles go through various situations in trying to live the day differently, there’s this feeling of oh! what else is possible. But the film ensures that this just remains a passing thought in our minds (if at all) and not something that becomes a concern in any manner.

The proceedings are certainly spunky, the situations that Nyles and Sarah find themselves in are funny and inventive. The film makes light of the sci-fi aspect, for example the way reference to heavy duty subjects like quantum physics and general relativity is shown in a casual manner. Credit certainly to both Adam Sandberg and Cristin Miloti for the way they play Nyles and Sarah with an easygoing style and complimenting each other. Having spent so much time in the time loop it is not a surprise that Nyles would be bored or indifferent to the situation and Adam Sandberg brings out these traits in Nyles in an assured manner. Sarah on the other hand on realizing the situation that she is stuck in, doesn’t want to accept the situation and is desperate to break out, leading to various situations, hilarious and engrossing at the same time. Cristin Miloti brings out the necessary vulnerability and heft to the character.

The supporting cast is also effective, especially J.K.Simmons who has a blast portraying Roy and his scenes with Nyles are certainly a highlight. The arid locations of Palm Springs and the wild outdoors soon add a lot of depth to the proceedings, nearly assuming the status of a character. Eventually it is no surprise to find yourself looking at Sarah and Nyles’ time loop from an internal viewpoint (as perceived) and that by itself is a victory for the film, certainly no mean feat that Max Barbakow and his team have managed to achieve. The film is not just one with a heart, it is all about literally letting your heart celebrate the vagaries of love in an unexpected fashion.

With Hollywood films warming up to the scenario of theatrical release in India once again and with a steady flow of American films being seen in India (despite cinemas in Maharashtra and Kerala still remaining closed), over the last few weeks, it is good to see a small but largely entertaining film like Palm Springs also making its way to cinemas in India (released on 24th September). Contemplating a weekend movie date? Well now you know what to do.

The Flight Attendant (2021) Season 1 Review: It’s a first class murder mystery

The life of air hostesses or flight attendants has always been of interest. From reel life in movies like Garam Masala and Anjaam to real life where Monica Bedi was spotted and offered a film, their jet setting life has enamored quite a lot of people. But no one has actually got down to understanding their daily routine and how they beat jetlag, as they change flights and move from city to city. The series based on booky by same name authored by Chris Bohjalian, tries to throw some light on this profession.

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Nobody (2021) Movie Review: Bob Odenkirk On A Death Wish

I was channel surfing on a boring day, not sure what I wanted to watch, my eyes fell on “Nobody”. There was Bob Odenkirk, probably lying on the ground, and many fists landing on his contorted face. Images of Saul Goodman from “Better Call Saul” & “Breaking Bad”, who usually got roughed up or picked up by gang members, started popping out of my memory. I had never seen Bob in a movie before, so I felt, this was as good a time as any, to watch a full fledged movie of Bob Odenkirk.

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Sherni (2021) Movie Review: Man vs. Wild

Right in the middle of the movie, Nangia, played by Neeraj Kabi, delivers a lecture in a seminar on how development and environment does not go hand in hand. Hence, we should strive for a balance, where both can coexist, exclaims Nangia.

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Friends: The Reunion (2021): A Candyfloss Get-together

It has been 20 years since I graduated from high school. We wanted to have a reunion of few close buddies who are still in touch. The last such reunion we had was in 2019, when a pal from Canada and another from Australia were visiting India during the year-end holiday. Of course, soon Corona virus hit us and we all were trapped in our homes.

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Short Film ‘Infected 2030’: Fear & Loathing in the Pandemic

As the title suggests, the movie is set in the future 2030 AD, where people are struggling with a virus for which there is still no cure. The short film starts with a couple, in a high rise in Mumbai, overlooking the Worli Sealink, where the wife Shivika is lying infected in the bed, while hubby Manik does the daily chores and takes care of her.

It’s a very depressing tale where the couple has zero interaction, as Manik places the breakfast on her side table and just leaves, while Shivika is cooped up in the room that’s covered with plastic sheets, from wall to wall. It probably means that, the plastic is disposed off every few days, and fresh ones placed, so that the doors, walls, windows and ceilings remain clean. That itself paints a grim picture of how life would be, if we are not able to find a cure for the current pandemic which has clenched the entire globe.Continue reading “Short Film ‘Infected 2030’: Fear & Loathing in the Pandemic”

Bandra Film Festival’s latest set ‘The Quirky Collection’ includes Renee Sen’s debut film Suttabaazi

Also watch Shabana Azmi’s A Decent Arrangement and Fried Fish, Chicken Soup And A Premier Show directed by Mamta Murthy in this category.

Sushmita Sen’s daughter Renee Sen, who made her acting debut in January 2021 with Kabeer Khurana’s short film Suttabaazi, is excited to see her film getting a lot of praise. The film will be screened at the Bandra Film Festivals Youtube Channel on 2nd June 2021. The 14 mins short film will be showcased under the ‘Quirky’ category. The film revolves around a 19-year-old social media star stuck at home with online classes and nagging parents in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The only respite is Diya’s (Renee’s) newly acquired habit of smoking on the sly. Apart from Renee Sen, the film also stars Komal Chhabria and Rahul Vohra. 

Talking about her debut film and BFF Renee said,  “I am so happy with all the love this poignant short film has received. We shot this during the last lockdown, I am glad to see so many platforms acknowledging our hard work and showcasing the film. Bandra Film Festival is said to have a good  line up of films and I feel  humbled to be a part of this film festival. Suttabaazi will always be special to me, I enjoyed every bit of playing Diya. The film has taught me a lot, both at personal and professional levels. No matter what the situation is – whether it’s a good day or there are mess ups on the set — I have to be able to give the perfect shot, it has made me a lot more goal oriented. Working on this film has been very fulfilling. I am very happy it happened.”

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Aakrosh(1980): The Anger of the Voiceless

India is facing a challenge, we do not have vaccines, the Government is busy building a palace for Prime Minister Modi, while Indians all over the country are dying due to lack of oxygen, beds and vaccines. The Government is not paying heed to it has made this crisis worse and has hit the middle class and cities. This makes me wonder, what about people who do not have access to technology? How do they air their grievances? The prologue is related to the theme of the movie Aakrosh. What do the voiceless do when they are failed by the very system which is supposed to protect them?

Aakrosh begins as a legal thriller where we see Lahanya (Om Puri) being accused of murdering his wife and the film directly does not answer the question for a major part of the film. The film is not interested in the crime or condemning it, but more interested in how of it and not the why of it. 

Then we have Dusane (Amrish Puri) who is from the Tribal community but has been assimilated into the upper class society because of the position he holds. He knows he is a part of the society and shares the table with bigwigs because of his position. He is sure that he may be welcomed socially, but will never be a part of the upper caste club. 

Then we have Bhaskar Kulkarni (Naseeruddin Shah) a rookie lawyer whose father has groomed Dusane and is an idealistic who is navigating the world of caste, politics, and justice. The film is mostly depicted through the viewpoint of this protagonist 

At first, he is more concerned about his career and how it will affect his career as a lawyer. He is frustrated by what he thinks is a lack of cooperation by his client. He is met with silence everywhere he goes, he thinks that it is their arrogance or ungratefulness on how these people cannot work with this great system. What he does not know is the system is just to give a moral and legal cloak for those who are in power and can oppress those who do not have a voice. 

Bhaskar is an interesting protagonist. He is not someone who is trying to change the system, his belief in the system is intact. You cannot fault him, for the person he is. And because of the genetic advantage of being born in a certain caste, he does not have to face discrimination in his life. When he discovers the gutter of corruption and greed, he is shaken and scared at first. He gets to fight the system in his way only to be greeted with disillusionment. 

Nothing is black and white in this Govind Nihalani directorial debut where he is aided by the genius Vijay Tendulkar. This is not a film that gives any comfort. It is a film that causes you discomfort and makes you think that we all are part of the system and in a way, we also play an active part in this action. 

Om Puri as Lahanya delivers one of the finest performances in his career. The anger which comes due to helplessness is solely conveyed through his eyes, and way he cries at the end of the movie is so haunting. Om went on to do another angry man role with panache in Nihalani’s next Ardh Satya

Smita Patil‘s role sadly doesn’t have much scope to offer and it is sad she is just used as an ornamental piece in the film. 

Amrish Puri cast in a role that is a far cry from his usual Bollywood roles reminds me why he is such a good actor. Naseeruddin Shah as a young lawyer is a delight to watch. But to think of a him as a Marathi Brahmin guy requires suspension of disbelief. 

Govind has cast Marathi actors for non-important roles, but surprisingly for lead roles he went with a non-Marathi cast who do not look or talk like Marathis. Not that I am holding a grouse against him for this, but casting Marathi actors in key roles would have helped the film a lot.

That aside, Aakrosh is one of the best films to come out of India. Do give it a try. 

The film is streaming on Amazon Prime India and Hotstar (in a censored version)

 

Karnan (2021) Movie Review: The Missing C Factor

I remember watching Fandry in a packed theatre and the audience laughing at the character and his mishaps, but then came the gut-wrenching climax and the audience went numb because it exposed them. I cannot remember such a stunning silence after a movie, here I thought was a director who has failed but then he has done a much bigger job as he had shown us the mirror. 

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