Joy (2015) Movie Review: A Little Joy

In a scene somewhere towards the middle of Joy, Jennifer Lawrence is thrust on a stage, in front of a camera to sell a self-wringing mop she invented. It is a moment of liberation, literally and figuratively; as Jennifer encapsulates the realisation her character has that this is her moment in the sun. This is possibly the only chance she has to rid herself of the routine mundane and often stressful life she lead and enter a world of success; her chance at a fairy tale ending. It is this sense of redemption and empowerment that drives Joy though as a satisfying experience despite the flaws.Continue reading “Joy (2015) Movie Review: A Little Joy”

American Hustle (2013) Movie Review: Screwball Fun, Scorsese Style

Language : English | Running Time : 138 Minutes | Director : David O. Russell

Two con artists, lovers – Irving Rosenfeld(Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser(Amy Adams), when finally coming to terms about what they feel and what has been imposed on them have a moment together in a room and Sydney Prosser says “We’ve got to get one over all these guys”. For a caper movie, there’s nothing better than having a con being pulled with exquisite brilliance after such a proclamation. If pulled in a style that’s closely associated with Martin Scorsese, it only ends up becoming an exciting experience. The third film in what I call the reincarnation of David O.RussellAmerican Hustle has a cast which is a pot-pourri of actors from his two brilliant previous films – The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook and a story loosely based on the ABSCAM sting from the late 70s.Continue reading “American Hustle (2013) Movie Review: Screwball Fun, Scorsese Style”

Grudge Match: Trailer

Grudge Match PosterDirector Peter Segal noted for films like 50 First Dates, Anger Management, The Longest Yard etc has attempted a sports comedy now with Grudge Match. In the process he brings iconic actors Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone together for only the second time ever (they had worked together in Copland earlier). Continue reading “Grudge Match: Trailer”

Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio: Is DiCaprio the successor to Robert De Niro for the master filmmaker?

Martin Scorsese once famously remarked that it was Robert De Niro who recommended him to work with Leonardo DiCaprio.

“I just did this thing called This Boy’s Life with this kid named Leo DiCaprio. He’s really good. You should work with him some day.” – De NiroContinue reading “Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio: Is DiCaprio the successor to Robert De Niro for the master filmmaker?”

Silver Linings Playbook Movie Review

First things first, Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely the first reason why one must watch this movie. That girl is pretty, she is smart, is immensely talented and oh boy is she is a smoking hottie! And yes for women there is Bradley Cooper. (Yawn)Continue reading “Silver Linings Playbook Movie Review”

Inaugural Ceremony and Opening Film ( Silver Linings Playbook )- 14th Mumbai Film Festival

It was a lovely evening at NCPA a few hours ago as the 14th Mumbai Film Festival got off to a rousing start with the vivacious Sridevi performing the ceremonial tradition of lighting a lamp along with Shyam Benegal, Chairman and Trustees of Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) which included Ashutosh Gowariker, Jaya Bachchan and Ramesh Sippy.

Tina Ambani conferred acclaimed director, producer, writer and actor from the People’s Republic of China Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers, Hero, Curse of The Golden Flower, Raise the Red Lantern) the Lifetime achievement Award for Foreign Film Personalities.

“I have always believed that cinema is a bridge between cultures”, said Yimou upon receiving the honor, “I thank MAMI for appreciating my efforts and acknowledging my small contribution towards cinema”, he signed off with utmost modesty.

The Opening Function also saw the introduction and felicitation of the jury members of International Competition, India Gold 2012, Celebrate Age and Dimensions Mumbai.  “We look forward to another year of bringing superlative global cinema to our patrons and promoting budding talent at the festival”, commented Mr. Srinivasan Narayanan, Festival Director, 14th Mumbai Film Festival on the occasion.

The function continued with Actor Anil Kapoor calling on stage Anupam Kher, whose critically acclaimed comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook kick started the cinematic reverie for this 8 day long festival. The film is directed by David O Russell and stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro etc. The evening was made even more special as Bradley Cooper’s special message was played out in which he regretted his absence and wished luck for film’s India premiere.

Speaking on the occasion Anupam Kher said, “I have always endeavored to make films with passion and I am glad to have been provided with an opportunity to work with such amazing co-actors”

The 14th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival is scheduled from the 18th – 25th October, 2012 at National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) & Inox, Nariman Point, Liberty Cinemas, Marine Lines as the main festival venues and Cinemax, Andheri and Cinemax Sion as the satellite venues.

About the Opening Film- Silver Linings Playbook

Based on the book by the same name written by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook is written and directed by David O Russel. Pat Solitano ( Bradley Cooper ) is a troubled soul after having a failed marriage and staying in a neural health facility for some time. He’s still living under the hope that he will get re-united soon with his estranged wife, Nikki ( Brea Bee ). Pat has a really interesting family which includes his parents ( Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver ) and things start changing when he comes in contact with Tiffany ( Jennifer Lawrence ) who is a troubled soul herself.

Through football, dance, music and much more the drama unfolds slowly ( you might take time to get hooked to it initially ) but then ensures that it grips you for sure. A quirky rom-com, this one works and works quite well. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence live their roles and share a wonderful chemistry as well. The supporting cast also includes Chris Tucker and Anupam Kher ( he has a fairly interesting role over here ) and the film which had its World Premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is getting its theatrical release in the U.S on 21st November.Hopefully it should see an India release too soon, so people here’s a film to look forward to.

Redefining Cinema The 'Tarantino' Way

Quentin Tarantino – the name  represents machismo, style & loads of attitude. And a good deal of the same can be found in the strongly etched out female protagonists in his films. They are tough, sexy, sassy, smart and hard as nails . Who will stop at nothing before they get what they want. They definitely aren’t what they look like. An aura and an element of mysticism surrounds them. There is always a hidden agenda which they have and which makes them enter potentially dangerous situations willingly. And these traits or nuances make these characters so memorable. Be it Pam Grier as Jackie Brown, Lucy Liu as O-ren Ishii(Kill Bill Vol-I)Uma Thurman as The Bride or Melanie Laurentz as Shosanna Dreyfuss(Inglorious Basterds).

His films have some great characters who despite having a short screen time make a lasting impression. Their performances  add a lot of sheen to the proceedings.

Case in point being Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz(Til Schweiger) in Inglourious Basterds. The way his character is introduced is superb. Especially the narration of his flashback.

“The reason for Hugo Stiglitz’s celebrity among German soldiers is simple.
As a German-enlisted man, he killed 13 Gestapo officers.
Instead of putting him up against a wall, the High Command decided to send him back to Berlin to be made an example of.
Needless to say, once the Basterds heard about him, he never got there.

Stiglitz may not have a very big role but the way his character is introduced and presented, it stays in your mind long after the film has ended. Other such characters that come to my mind are Gogo Yubari the crazy assassin hired by Lucy Liu in Kill Bill or Chris Tucker as Beaumont Livingston in Jackie Brown.

The protagonists in Tarantino’s films are more than often involved in shady deals or business. Be It Samuel L Jackson in Pulp fiction or Jackie BrownHarvey KeitelMichael Madsen etc in Reservoir Dogs. Even if they are gainfully employed, they are often engaged in achieving a particular sinister mission. Like Brad Pitt and the basterds in Inglorious Basterds.

Morality has never been a point of conflict in Tarantino’s films. There is never a sense of dilemma in the protagonists mind regarding right and wrong. The protagonists in Tarantino’ s film are most of the times amoral. They go about doing the job because that’s what they are supposed to do without thinking about the consequences of their actions. For instance, Lt Aldo Raine(Brad Pitt) in Inglourious Basterds is concerned with one thing only ‘Killin Nazis‘. That is his way of extracting revenge from the Germans for the atrocities committed by the Germans on the Jews. There is no argument on whether the means justifies the ends or not, neither in the protagonists minds nor that of the audience.

There is just the hunter and the hunted on two opposite sides. The viewer is also therefore spared from endless sermonizing on the clash between good and bad unlike many other films. The protagonist is always concerned with achieving his/her mission , morals be damned.

More than often the protagonists get involved in some crazy mishaps leading to some unexpected but funny situations. Like the trigger pulling incident of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.

Music plays a very important role in Tarantino’s films. The way he integrates music into the proceedings is simply exemplary. The way Tarantino uses Background Music or retro songs to shoot or build up a scene is orgasmic.

Take for instance the famous ear chopping scene in Reservoir dogs featuring Michael Madsen. When Madsen ties the cop to a chair and thereafter turns on the radio, there is a nice retro song playing on the radio. Thereafter, Madsen coolly swings to the song while he chops the ear of the cop with a razor. And all you can hear is helpless grunts by the cop, helplessly trying to fight off a maniacal Madsen. The way the song is used in depicting the scene gives you goose bumps. Notice that Tarantino doesn’t use any BGM apart from the above mentioned song in the scene. This gives it an even more chilling effect. Trust someone like Tarantino to use music for executing scenes so uniquely yet effectively.

Kill Bill is one film which very well displays his brilliant sense of music. The whistle tune played by Elle driver while she goes to kill The Bride in the hospital  changes from being sweet sounding to absolutely menacing in a spur of a second. The theme music playing in the background when The Bride and O-Ren Ishii are heading for a lethal confrontation creates an excitement amongst the viewer indicating that there is a lot of action that is waiting to happen.

Even the action in Tarantino’s’ films is brief but very well staged & executed. Be it the shootout scene at the bar in Inglourious Basterds or the clash between the bride and a dozen odd henchmen of Lucy Liu in Kill Bill. Or the fight between Vernita Green and The Bride in Kill Bill. The action scenes are very quick , they don’t last for much long yet it is very effective and gets the desired reaction from the audience.

Dialogues are the mainstay of any Tarantino enterprise. Tarantino effectively uses dialogues for some specific purposes : to carry the story forward or to establish that though his protagonists are engaged in unscrupulous activities yet they are very normal and ordinary human beings. Or to establish the presence of a certain character. Like the opening scene in Reservoir dogs, the thugs (led by Harvey Keitel ) are planning a robbery yet they find all the time in the world to engage in a trivial discussion on Madonna’s song “About A Virgin”. Or be it the conversations between Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. Or the iconic scene in which Jackson threatens the business associates of Marcellus Wallace .

The iconic scene of Samuel L Jackson

Or sample some of the lines of Samuel L Jackson from Jackie Brown

“I’m serious as a heart attack.”
“My ass may be dumb, but I ain’t no dumbass.”
“Somebody with a grudge blew Beaumont’s brains out…
Oh, shit.That shit rhymes…Blew Beaumont’s brains out…”

The way Tarantino builds up a scene and ends it  is also remarkable. He takes his own sweet time to build a scene and ends it quickly even before you can say “Whoa”. Like the bar shootout scene in Inglorious Basterds. Or the scene towards the climax in Jackie Brown between Louis Garra (Robert De Niro) and Melanie (Bridget Fonda). While exchanging the bag, Garra knows that there was some goof up and he has misplaced his car keys. All the while, he is being constantly taunted by Melanie for misplacing his keys. Initially Garra tries to ignore her while frantically searching for his car keys. But when he cant bear her taunts any longer he simply shoots her leaving her dead and leaves the spot calmly. The way the scene begins and ends is simply amazing.

However, the greatest strength of Tarantino is that he manages to extract uniformly spectacular performances from his actors. I mean, have we ever heard any actor putting up a mediocre show in any of his films ? Hell no. Be it Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, John Travolta in Pulp Fiction or Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, most of the performances in his films turn out to be iconic and truly memorable. He also has a thing for re-inventing icons or stars of yesteryear’s. Such as Pam Grier with Jackie Brown or the late David Carradine in Kill Bill.

Gary Oldman in True Romance
Samuel L Jackson in Jackie Brown

The looks which the characters sport in his films are indeed different and go a long way in adding to the overall feel of the characters. The looks sported by the actors convey a lot about the characters. For instance Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown adds to the overall menace which the character exudes. Or be it Gary Oldman as Drexl the pimp in True Romance ( the movie which was written by Tarantino). Oldman plays a loathsome pimp in the movie and the way in which he has been styled adds to the overall creep factor of the character.

Come to think of it, a Tarantino film is like an experience . There’s so much you can observe and enjoy in his films. And most of the times you end up asking for more. With every viewing, the film gets all the more enjoyable.

Quentin Tarantino can be truly be called as ‘an auteur’ or ‘a maverick film maker’ . He has in more ways than one redefined various genres with his uber cool movies which often has a unique storytelling pattern. Be it the heist flick genre with Reservoir Dogs. Be it the gangster movie genre with an uber cool Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. Be it the action movie genre with Kill Bill. Or be it the war movie genre with Inglourious Basterds.

And now with his next venture Django Unchained which stars Jamie Foxx & Leonardo Dicaprio amongst others, it seems Tarantino is all set to redefine the Western movie genre. As the trailer is due to be released soon, all the Tarantino bhakts are eagerly awaiting Django Unchained to see what it has to offer for us.

Some know him as God, you may call him Marty.

In a world where the superstars or actors pull-in the crowd, how many directors manage to do the same?  How many directors command a bigger pedestal than the cast of the movie? Not many, I guess.

During the Academy awards, one name was invoked more often than anybody else’s name. Martin Scorsese. After giving us 22 movies, 13 documentaries, many commercials and  just 1 Oscar, the 70 year old Marty, as he is fondly called, gave us HUGO.

Whether it is gritty and violent like MEAN STREETS, TAXI DRIVER or poignantly romantic like ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, or satirical like THE KING OF COMEDY, AFTER HOURS or just plain stylish like AVIATOR, GOODFELLAS, Marty‘s uniquely versatile vision has made him one of cinema’s most acclaimed directors.

As a young kid, bought up in the little Italy section of Manhattan, he decided to “Make movies about what really happens”. In hindsight, you will know that Marty does not only make movies, but also is a great movie fan with an insatiable appetite to watch, discuss and enjoy cinema. His inspiration for making movies came from his own childhood which was spent in the Bronx. By his own admission, he said that the biggest research he did for making Mean Streets, his first major release, was his life. He would watch people in the gritty neighborhood go about their life and business and just poured his experiences in the movies that have made him the man he is today.

40 years after he made his first major Hollywood movie, his balance sheet looks balanced. He is one of the few directors today who have received both critical and box office acclaim. Of course, like anybody, he did go through a lean patch in the late 70s and early 80s when none of the studios supported him after box office disasters like New York, New York and The King of Comedy. His professional life dipped further when studios did not accept The Last Temptation of Christ, as it was deemed too radical.  All the while, he lived in Los Angeles, learning the mechanics of how large cities function. It was this knowledge that he put to use, to bounce back. He moved back to New York to set his professional career on track.

The second part of his career is the part where-in he came into his own. He belted out movies like The Last Temptation of Christ (he made Universal studios to produce the movie), Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Casino and Kundan before ending the millennium on a high. Post 2000, having juiced DeNiro with some fine performances his association with Leonardo Dicaprio began. The noughties saw Scorsese shed his Mafia fixation and dabble into big budget set piece movies. Scorsese and Dicaprio would collaborate to give us movies like Gangs of New York (a script that he had been wanting to make for 20 years, with DeNiro in the lead), Aviator, Departed (the movie that won him the most coveted Oscar, finally), and finally Shutter Island.

While all of us love the overall feel of his films, he should be credited for all the factors and innovations that he bought to cinema.

Known as the “king of tracking shot”, he is known for his lengthy takes. Most of his movies start and end with 2-3 minute scenes, which is a mean feet.  Other contributions like bringing the “New York vernacular” talk in movies like Mean Street, Goodfellas, color treatment in movies like Aviator, Gangs of New York, and now re-interpretation of how 3D can bolster a film’s beauty without intruding on the story  only add to his folklore.

Having been fed on movies by Howard Hawks, Billy Wilder, Sidney Lumet, he was adamant about learning from them and developing his own unique style of film making. He was mainly influenced by these greats, because, they did not bend down in front of the Hollywood studio system and got their creative vision on screen.

When not giving in to the big studios or simply battling it out with them, he vented out his creative genius into making documentaries , music videos (the Rolling Stones concert and Micheal Jackson shows were legendary) and restoration of old-movies.

His style of movie-making combined a rough and gritty attention to the everyday life of the urban jungle with a monumental visual sensibility. In one of his most acclaimed films, Taxi Driver 91976), he focused on the particulars of an individual and his obsessions. Starring Robert DeNiro (with whom Scorsese has had one of the most celebrated collaborative relationships in American cinema), Taxi Driver elevates the obscure specifics of a disturbed life with greatest drama.

Through movies like Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino, Departed, he has shown us the engaging world and power structure of Mafia. He bought together, style and theoretical content with great flair. Scorsese often focused on a theme that has permeated nearly everyone of his movies – the plight of the desperate and out-of-control individual. Often unsympathetic, his characters display a crazed violence that mimics the repressive social structures in which they live. Almost all his movies are engaging and social commentaries.

Martin Scorsese is the most important living American filmmaker – one whose relentless search for the furthest emotional reaches of his genre have led him to the center of the American ( and global) psyche.

In an era where careers are measured in months rather than years, Marty has served us for close to 45 years. In Hollywood, that is no lesser than a battlefield, he has battled it out with studios, stars and himself.

But all this has not resulted in a burn-out. At the age of 68, he set out to make a 3D movie. For a man who has always believed in old-school film making, and who has never tasted massive box office success (his most successful film was Shutter Island, that grossed $ 300 million worldwide), he adapted to the rigors of a new technique of film making. He has achieved three things that very, very few filmmakers achieve in life – (1) Enough money to make movies and documentaries that interest him, (2) enough freedom to make the movies in the way he wants to make them, (3) Enough acclaim and appreciation (not in the way of awards , though) from his peers and fans.

His lack of recognition from the Academy awards actually adds to rather than detracts from his reputation: after all, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Cubrick were also all denied Oscars.

Just like a 3 minute show reel of a lifetime’s work cannot do justice to a man or his body of work, this is just a sincerely written piece of tribute to a man who has worked his lifetime to entertain us. I raise a toast to Marty, the movie fan, who also makes movies.


The teaser trailer of one of the most anticipated movie of 2012 is out. Red Lights has the legend Robert De Niro, here he plays a role of psychic , by the name of Simon Silver.Continue reading “FIRST LOOK-RED LIGHTS”