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Old 11-09-2019, 11:40 AM   #1201
bhaskar1981 bhaskar1981 is offline
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Originally Posted by ravenus View Post
Hoping one of the streaming channels will show this with subs for a revisit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItcQ...ature=youtu.be
This is available on Amazon Prime now, as is Asuran. I've yet to catch either though!
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Old 11-09-2019, 03:05 PM   #1202
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The Irishman

9.5/10

I was hoping to like this, Scorsese has been hit and miss for me (although never less than interesting) since the 90s but this is a masterwork and amongst his best 5 films.

And it all felt so effortless which is the true sign of its greatness. My friend thought it was about 2 hrs until he realised that we walked out of the cinema some 4 hrs later (20 min of ads).

If you can see this at a cinema, I would seriously recommend you see it that way.

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Old 11-10-2019, 03:37 AM   #1203
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Now that I have slept on it, a slightly longer take:

There is a lot going on here, it’s a deconstruction of sorts of the very myths that Scorsese, De Niro, Pesci and Pacino themselves created about American mobs and gangsters but it goes about it in a much quieter Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (a clear touchstone) manner/tone than anything from the last 30 years, and lacks the swaggery tone of something like his own Goodfellas.

But it is also a mini history of late 20th Century America, as filtered through the unrealiable (and delusional) filter of men that thought they were more important than they probably were in the scheme of things. As an example, it’s worth paying attention to the details that DeNiro’s Frank Sheehan can recall in specific detail in his voiceover, and the details he either chooses to skip over or mumble his way through because they are not as ‘important’ to his version of the story worth telling.

The whole thing is layered with staggering detail, each part cast and performed perfectly, and constructed so beautifully that you can’t but help to just go along for the ride. Rodrigo Prieto’s work is absolutely sublime and well worth seeing in cinema if possible. But the biggest behind the scenes plus, as it has been in his best works, is Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing. This has to be the Best Oscar for editing this year, it’s an absolute masterclass on how to keep something so labyrinthine moving along, managing also not to lose the viewer’s track of the multitude of eras, characters and relationships that the film goes through.

As for the de-ageing aspect, the best compliment I have is that after a couple of initial scenes where it looked off and noticeable, I stopped noticing it. But I think a lot of that has to do with how engaging the film was rather than the quality of the de-ageing improving. But it definitely did not feel any more distracting than regular makeup to me.

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Old 11-30-2019, 04:53 PM   #1204
ravenus ravenus is offline
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I went to catch a matinee show of Knives Out (KO). The auto rickshaw ride to the cinema was pleasurable for two reasons: one, the sparse vehicular traffic at 9am, and secondly, the driver was tuned into a radio channel belting out zesty Kishore Kumar songs (Don, Bombay to Goa). Once at the cinema I took in a cup of cappuccino and settled down to the film.

KO will have the highest resonance for fans of the Agatha Christie style of mystery (the queen of crime herself is referenced in a scene where one character is watching a Spanish dub of a Miss Marple film), one that involves lavish trappings, a large cast of characters most with something to hide and a massively contrived set of circumstances engineering the crime and its solution. The large cast here is comprised of various members of the Thrombey family, whose patriarch and benevolent tyrant Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer, 90 and still going) is found with a slit throat and a knife in his hand. Is is suicide? Is it murder? Or is it...? Almost everyone in the family had reason to fear or dislike the old man, and what about the devoted young nurse who was with him till the end? In comes the sleuth with the eccentric manners and funny accent to solve the crime. Sounds like a typical Poirot story doesn't it? Only here, he's a Mr. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and he speaks in the most labored and inconsistent Texan drawl. Seriously Craig's diction here is as bad as Deepika Padukone's Tamil diction in Chennai Express. It might be a sort of wink at the several instances of exaggerated foreign accents seen in detective movies of yore but it's more distracting than amusing, and really Craig is the wrong sort of actor to pull it off. Every time he opened his mouth he took me out of the movie.

On the other hand, there's some fun to be had with the suspects: Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Ana de Armas...they all bring flavor to their parts. Chris is especially notable - after his being noble Capt America for so long, one had forgotten how good he could be at playing a**hole. His first major scene, a little before the halfway mark, where he takes potshots at his family had me in splits, and significantly raised my interest levels. The rest of the film doesn't quite live up to those expectations, being predictable, and awkward in tone (unlike Sidney Lumet's film of Murder on the Orient Express, which masterfully straddled serious crime and cheeky humor). But it can still be described as decent timepass entertainment, especially for fans of the vintage detective stories.

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Old 12-01-2019, 01:31 AM   #1205
nitin nitin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenus View Post
I went to catch a matinee show of Knives Out (KO). The auto rickshaw ride to the cinema was pleasurable for two reasons: one, the sparse vehicular traffic at 9am, and secondly, the driver was tuned into a radio channel belting out zesty Kishore Kumar songs (Don, Bombay to Goa). Once at the cinema I took in a cup of cappuccino and settled down to the film.

KO will have the highest resonance for fans of the Agatha Christie style of mystery (the queen of crime herself is referenced in a scene where one character is watching a Spanish dub of a Miss Marple film), one that involves lavish trappings, a large cast of characters most with something to hide and a massively contrived set of circumstances engineering the crime and its solution. The large cast here is comprised of various members of the Thrombey family, whose patriarch and benevolent tyrant Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer, 90 and still going) is found with a slit throat and a knife in his hand. Is is suicide? Is it murder? Or is it...? Almost everyone in the family had reason to fear or dislike the old man, and what about the devoted young nurse who was with him till the end? In comes the sleuth with the eccentric manners and funny accent to solve the crime. Sounds like a typical Poirot story doesn't it? Only here, he's a Mr. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and he speaks in the most labored and inconsistent Texan drawl. Seriously Craig's diction here is as bad as Deepika Padukone's Tamil diction in Chennai Express. It might be a sort of wink at the several instances of exaggerated foreign accents seen in detective movies of yore but it's more distracting than amusing, and really Craig is the wrong sort of actor to pull it off. Every time he opened his mouth he took me out of the movie.

On the other hand, there's some fun to be had with the suspects: Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Ana de Armas...they all bring flavor to their parts. Chris is especially notable - after his being noble Capt America for so long, one had forgotten how good he could be at playing a**hole. His first major scene, a little before the halfway mark, where he takes potshots at his family had me in splits, and significantly raised my interest levels. The rest of the film doesn't quite live up to those expectations, being predictable, and awkward in tone (unlike Sidney Lumet's film of Murder on the Orient Express, which masterfully straddled serious crime and cheeky humor). But it can still be described as decent timepass entertainment, especially for fans of the vintage detective stories.

Seeing it Wednesday, will chime in once I have seen it.
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Old 12-04-2019, 01:43 PM   #1206
nitin nitin is offline
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Knives Out

5.5-6/10

This was...ok I guess.

I found it pretty uninteresting overall as it is a movie largely concerned with plot machinations and not any interesting character interaction or depth. The characterisation throughout is at the very basic level needed to serve the plot machinations. Which would be fine but there is a also an air of smug satisfaction in the script when it really isn’t as smart or clever as it thinks it is. Convoluted in parts yes, subverting genre tropes in others yes, intricately plotted (to an extent) yes, but it never did anything that really surprised me or thrilled me or made me really feel anything.

Ana De Armas is definitely the MVP though so hopefully more good things happen for her out of this being a success.
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:30 AM   #1207
kaykaysud kaykaysud is offline
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Unlike his previous flicks - the stoner romcom Honey Bee, its sequel Honey Bee 2 and the underrated psychological thriller Hi, I'm Tony - director Jean Paul Lal a.k.a Lal Jr has exercised remarkable restraint in his latest, which also happens to be his most commercial film - Driving Licence.





Fan had promised us a fun look at the dynamics of the typical Superstar-Fan relationship, but what we saw was the said dynamics - and especially, the fun factor - getting somewhat lost in a hot mess, thanks to the OTT VFX showcases and certain questionable plot mechanics. Thankfully, nothing like that happens here. Lal Jr and the scenarist Sachy keeps the film a lot more grounded, packed with relatable characters and scenarios.

Prithviraj (who also co-produced the film) plays Hareendran, the superstar who also happens to be crazy about cars and is currently on a winning streak, much to the chagrin of his rival star Bhadran, who has resorted to voodoo and black magic to thwart Hari's BO reign. And among Hari's countless fans stands Kuruvilla - played by a superb Suraj Venjaramoodu, playing his age post his much-acclaimed turn as an octagenarian in Android Kunjappan Ver. 5.25 - a Motor Vehicle Inspector whose biggest dream is to have a photo clicked with his idol someday. As fate would have it, Hari discovers that his titular McGuffin - The Driving Licence - has been lost, and since the stakes are high for him, the super-fan Kuruvila is called in to have a new one issued quickly. Unfortunately, some unforeseen factors come into play, bruising the two men's egos and making them sworn enemies. The rest of the film deals with how the ego clash worsens and is taken advantage of, eventually resulting in a tense battle of wits in the unlikeliest of venues.

First of all, it's quite the big relief to see Prithviraj, post a slew of very serious and dark thrillers, back in his relaxed and cool self as Hareendran, and yet, he manages to bring out the darker shades of his character without having to switch over to his all too familiar brood mode. Suraj Venjaramoodu brings the best year in his career so far to a thunderous end as the scorned fan MVI Kuruvilla, merging both his comic and vulnerable personas in equal measures and even managing to overshadow his co-lead in key moments. The supporting players too are great, most notable being Suresh Krishna as the rival superstar Bhadran - a composite spoof of the Mollywood biggies - who thrives on fan support and has little in terms of talent, an equally riotous Saiju Kurup as Hari's politician buddy Johnny, Mia channeling her inner Urvashi as the nagging braggart wife of Kuruvilla, Deepti Sati in an unexpectedly endearing turn as Hari's wife, Lalu Alex as the pissed-off producer of Hari's ongoing project and Nandu as Hari's driver who literally, is relegated to the backseat. And there is Adhish, the child actor delivering a genuinely touching performance as Kuruvilla's son
[Show spoiler]who is terrified seeing his hero suddenly labelled a villain by the society
.

Throughout its modestly long runtime of 135 mins, DL keeps moving at a rather fast pace, only stopping occasionally for the much-needed emotional moments. Also keeping the film riveting is the background score by composer duo Yakzen & Neha, whose two songs are well-positioned as the opening credits track and the fan fantasy song, which happens to be the calm before the storm. Speaking of the credits, it was a surprise to see each and every specialty camera (GoPro, Sony A7SII, DJI Mavic, Phantom... etc) and its operators credited prominently in the (hilariously OTT) opening credits reel and yes, the cinematographer keeps the film visually engaging with the aid of all these throughout the film. All said, keeping with the grounded nature of the story being told,
[Show spoiler]the film ends on a kinda sorta "shaggy dog" note, and the emotional resolution of the star-fan conflict might seem a little underwhelming for some,
but that does not detract from the overall quality of the film.

Trailer:




Fan fantasy song from the film:



.

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Old 01-12-2020, 06:06 PM   #1208
ravenus ravenus is offline
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Another populist film about an important issue - which means lots of background music and boring songs, and soft-footing in the script. Chhapaak is still fairly alright as these things go, similar to last year's Uyare. Thanks to excellent prosthetic work and quiet underplaying, Deepika Padukone is mostly convincing as an acid attack survivor who reclaims her life...far less so as the lower middle-class public school educated dilli-waali she is supposed to be.

The flashback to "before the attack" that we get towards the end is both needless and gauche.

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Old 01-14-2020, 04:21 AM   #1209
kaykaysud kaykaysud is offline
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Thumbs up Your sleepless nights are coming...!!!

When writer-director Midhun Manuel Thomas - whose previous film, the football-themed romcom Argentina Fans Kattoorkkadavu sank without a trace - announced his next project, dubbed his first in the thriller genre, people sat up and took notice not only because of the top-notch technicians mentioned in the poster, but also due to the fact that the guy had been making only comedies (like Aadu, its sequel and Alamaara) till then. And months later came the trailer, which had the hype machine cranked up from zero all the way to 100 in no time...

Trailer:



… and surprisingly, the film, Anjaam Pathiraa (The Fifth Midnight), released the last friday, not only lives up to the hype, but even manages to surpass it at times. Having already been acclaimed as one of the best thrillers to have come out in recent times, the film is also inching towards being the first bona fide malayalam blockbuster of the new decade. I watched it yesterday at PVR Cinemas, Kochi in Screen 6, their only hall equipped with Dolby Atmos.



The plot follows Anwar Hussain, a clinical psychologist who aspires to specialize in criminology, and his involvement in the hunt for a serial cop-killer. However, despite his deductions turning out true, the killer happens to be several steps ahead of him in the game, and the reputation of the entire police force is at stake. And there are those bronze statues of Lady Justice, but sans the blindfolds, which may be the only clues that can lead our heroes to their solution before The Fifth Midnight arrives.

Despite sticking to a rather familiar template, the film gets one hooked and on the seat's edge right till the very end, thanks to the very taut screenplay and the bevy of talents both in front of and behind the camera. In what can be termed as a very drastic U-turn from his usual brand of goofy, free-flowing, feel-good comedies, Midhun has crafted a very dark, disturbing and yet, gripping neo-noir mystery that moves at a breakneck pace, taking breathers only for the essential character beats. Time is wasted neither for a song nor a subplot, and there are several important blink-and-you-miss-it moments peppered throughout. And even within the trappings of the genre and the aforementioned template, the filmmaker commendably brings in a few clever twists in terms of storytelling itself by touching upon sensitive topics like depression, dark web and a few others, mentions of which will amount to massive spoilers. Surprisingly, there are a few genuinely funny moments scattered throughout, thanks to a couple of characters and a few situations, most notable being a light jab at the "Save the Date" trend amidst a very tense scene. The film may be rated UA by the CBFC, but can turn out a bit too scary to young viewers.

Post Kumbalangi Nights, Shyju Khalid seems to have become the go-to guy to film Kochi's nights, and this time, he trains his camera on the city itself, bathing his characters in oppressive shadows - and at times, total darkness, followed by a deadly red light - and uses drones to great effect at several junctures. Gokul Das' art direction perfectly complements the cinematography. And no matter how good the visuals are, it's the editing that makes or breaks a thriller, and Saiju Sreedharan passes the test with flying colours. Adding to the eeriness is the ominous score by Sushin Shyam, which keeps lurking in the background, ready for the right moments to make the pounce. Major props to Vishnu Govind-Sree Shankar duo for designing the complex, morbid soundscape and to M R Rajakrishnan for the terrifyingly effective Dolby Atmos mix. At times, one may get the feeling that the sound and score departments are indulged in a healthy competition throughout the film's duration, which is a good thing here.

Anjaam Pathiraa features a very solid ensemble cast, headlined by Kunchacko Boban who underplays Anwar Hussain to perfection. This is one character who starts off confident in his deductive skills, only to find himself miserably outwitted by a far smarter foe, and the actor convincingly portrays the character's eventual burnout and frustration. Another such character is Catherine, the Deputy Police Commissioner who takes charge of the investigation and gets to face the heat once shit inevitably starts hitting the fan, and Unnimaya Prasad is excellent in the very first feature-length role in her career. Sreenath Bhasi is a hoot as Andrews, the hacker who reluctantly joins the team, but becomes dead set on beating the hidden enemy at his own game, once he too gets outsmarted. And he gets the best one liners too. Jinu Joseph shines in his second feature-length character - the first being the despicable Ivan in Iyobinte Pusthakam - the laid-back, exhausted Assistant Commisioner Anil, Anwar's close friend who also happens to be a part of the team. Several familiar faces make crucial cameo appearances over the course of the film, most notable being an incredibly moving Jaffer Idukki, and a creepily calm Indrans who plays Ripper Ravi, an imprisoned serial killer whom Anwar interviews for his criminology thesis at the start of the film.

And as the final shot smashed to black and the end credits began rolling, the hall erupted with thunderous applause.

.

UPDATE: As shown in the pre-credits thanks reel, the digital partner for this film is SunNXT, and the director himself has confirmed that it will not be released on Prime or Netflix. Moreover, this film is best enjoyed in cinemas, and I'm pretty sure it will soon get released outside Kerala as well. And the video rights have been acquired by AP International, so let's hope for a BD release once the theatrical run is done.

.

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Old 01-14-2020, 01:13 PM   #1210
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1917

3.5-4/10

This is basically TwitchTv: the movie. And it is as boring as that sounds (sorry if you like TwitchTv).

All of the various award noms are incomprehensible (even the technical ones as while I am sure the one shot visuals were a technical obstacle course, this is far from the best cinematography of the year) but getting one for screenplay is outrageous!
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Old 01-19-2020, 11:59 AM   #1211
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I thought 1917 was good fun, technically well done, giving the impression of having been achieved as one long tracking shot (Roger Deakins again? At 70, he must be the hardest working guy in Hollywood today). It's a gimmick of course, but the camera never goes shaky and often avoids the cliche shot. The entire second half has the quality of a dream sequence (I kept expecting the character to have an
[Show spoiler]Incident at Owl Creek
moment). The script is like that of a video game and characters have no real depth, but except towards the very end, I didn't feel the film overstayed its welcome.

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Old 01-22-2020, 08:07 AM   #1212
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenus View Post
I thought 1917 was good fun, technically well done, giving the impression of having been achieved as one long tracking shot (Roger Deakins again? At 70, he must be the hardest working guy in Hollywood today). It's a gimmick of course, but the camera never goes shaky and often avoids the cliche shot. The entire second half has the quality of a dream sequence (I kept expecting the character to have an
[Show spoiler]Incident at Owl Creek
moment). The script is like that of a video game and characters have no real depth, but except towards the very end, I didn't feel the film overstayed its welcome.

Watched 1917 the day before yesterday in a packed hall, which was a surprise, considering the fact that it was a weekday morning show. But the biggest surprise came during the end credits - there were claps all around when Sam Mendes' and Roger Deakins' names came on screen.

Barring a few fleeting CGI props which blocked the view - stopping short of screaming "IT'S A CUT!" - the faux one-shot (
[Show spoiler]two-shot actually, since there is a hard cut to black that happens mid-film, inadvertently giving way for a convenient 15-min intermission in Indian cinemas
) presentation was a smooth and immersive experience. However, the immersion does get broken intermittently, thanks to the CBFC-mandated mutes for all the f- and b-words spoken. Oh, and there’s that dreaded translucent “Smoking Kills” warning plastered on the bottom right corner throughout the runtime. Wonder whether CBFC has taken the smoke rising from burning buildings into account too.

While the characters (
[Show spoiler]except, maybe, Col. Mackenzie played by Cumberbatch
) are kinda one-note, there were certain moments that managed to affect me viscerally and/or emotionally. Though Deakins himself runs the whole show, the production design and the sound departments are no slouches, and Thomas Newman’s score elevates those said moments. And while the first half – the trek across No Man’s Land - looks drab and dreary, the film attains the signature Deakins look post-intermission with the guy going for the kill with his lighting techniques.

Contrary to my expectations, the theatrical experience was fairly good, though the audio was limited to Dolby 7.1. And though nothing of this sort happened in the cinema, a lot of mobile phones popped up and flashed at the start when the title appeared on screen, possibly for the owners to brag on their Insta/Whatsapp statuses.

.
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Old 01-22-2020, 11:40 AM   #1213
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Clearly worked for you guys, but to me it felt like watching my friend play CoD all those years ago.
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Old 01-22-2020, 01:01 PM   #1214
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitin View Post
Clearly worked for you guys, but to me it felt like watching my friend play CoD all those years ago.
TBH, I've enjoyed watching friends play Resident Evil and Dark Souls and other games I'm too lazy to take the trouble to overcome the difficulty curve
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:27 AM   #1215
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TBH, I've enjoyed watching friends play Resident Evil and Dark Souls and other games I'm too lazy to take the trouble to overcome the difficulty curve
Ah well there you go, I haven’t played games for years but I never liked seeing others play, especially FPS shooter type games.
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Old 02-03-2020, 12:17 PM   #1216
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In the weekend I re-watched the brilliant Korean satire Parasite which is now being shown in Indian cinemas with English subtitles. I'd first seen it last July while on vacation in Singapore and I enjoyed it as much the second time around. From what I recall no scene in the film has been censored or mutilated (apart from the occasional smoking disclaimer) and I heartily recommend all those interested in great idea-driven movies to check it out at their nearby big screen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenus View Post
Parasite: The latest from maverick Korean director Bong Joon Ho won the prestigious Palme d'Or award for the best film at the Cannes film festival. This is a crafty black comedy that satirizes the conflict arising from the gap between the haves and the have-nots. A poor family plots and schemes for all its members to enter into service into a super-rich household, including displacing their existing servants with some sneaky manoeuvring. While initially the film makes the poor family seem like vultures preying on the gullible rich folks, the film eventually reveals greater nuance and depth for all its characters. Of course like with a lot of satire, there is a strong element of exaggeration and some may find the climax hard to swallow, but this is an engaging and idea-packed film worth sitting through. Saw this with a group of friends and we were frequently in splits from the film's sharp humor.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:11 PM   #1217
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The Lighthouse

7.5/10

This was pretty enjoyable and moody but it also felt overly self conscious and emotionally distant at the same time. Thankfully the humour throughout steps up when there is not much else of substance going on, although personally I would have preferred for it to be either more serious or more darkly humorous.

Polanski’s Cul De Sac was something that I kept thinking of throughout, not for any particular reason but there were some similarities with the power dynamics, the endless waiting for something that never arrives and the isolated setting.

Eggers is building to something great though, The Witch was good, this was very good, intrigued to see what he has next.
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:20 AM   #1218
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Watched this one yesterday at PVR Kochi, Screen 6 – Atmos.



Trailer:



Fresh off the success of Driving Licence which he wrote, Sachy reunites with Prithviraj for his sophomore directorial venture AK: Ayyappanum Koshiyum (Ayyappan & Koshy). Also in the lead is Biju Menon, with whom both Sachy and Prithvi had worked with in the former’s debut directorial, the Lakshadweep-set Anarkali. However, unlike Anarkali where the two played friends, AK has them having their sights trained at each other’s throats.

The film begins with a very drunk Koshi Kurian (Prithviraj), getting arrested at Attappadi, a liquor-free zone, en route to Ooty. And the SHO who registers the arrest happens to be SI Ayyappan Nair (Biju Menon), who is due for retirement in another year and having a spotless service record. The former pledges vengeance against the latter, and what gets started as the result of a petty temper tantrum thrown by an entitled a-hole, soon snowballs into a much bigger affair with significant sociopolitical impacts, thanks to the machinations of Kurian John (Director-actor Ranjith, who co-produced the film), the ex-politician Dad of Koshy who considers himself an apex predator with an unquestionable right to devour the less privileged. And yes, apart from being the entitled brat, the retired soldier Koshy also happens to be an overgrown man-child with major daddy issues that prevent him from doing what’s right. Ayyappan, on the other hand, is the dutiful cop who forever remains respectful towards the system (
[Show spoiler]even when he is under suspension
), but has to wake up the dormant monster -
[Show spoiler]he used to be a murderous vigilante before donning khaki
- within him when push has finally come to shove.

Like Driving Licence, AK too focuses on the two leads and their never-ending attempts to one-up each other. However, what primarily sets the two films poles apart are the motives and the milieu. In DL, the setting is completely urban, and the tussle is nothing more than a battle of bruised egos caused due to communication gap and misunderstanding. On the other hand, AK’s geography is as rural as it gets, and of course, it is Koshy who, purely out of jealousy and spite, sparks the fire. What truly makes AK superior to DL though, is that it is a very politically charged affair and does touch upon quite a few sensitive topics – the choice of location itself, for starters - without shoving those down the audience’s throats. And AK would perhaps be the very first film where the ages-old feudal anti-hero vs the cop cliché gets flipped: for a change, the cop here is heroic and rational (and so are his colleagues), and the anti-hero – essentially, Prithviraj reprising his character from Thanthonni – happens to be downright villainous, that is until certain realizations start dawning upon him.

Even though it’s 170 minutes long, the film whizzes by without a moment of lag, thanks to the engaging performances and the evenly paced editing, courtesy of the veteran Ranjan Abraham. Also crucial to the thrills and the chills is the thumping background score by Jakes Bejoy, who fuses Attappadi’s native tribal beats with sparse studio arrangements. He imbues the same sensibility to his three songs – placed appropriately – in the film.The cinematography by now-three-film-old Sudeep Elamon effortlessly captures the beauty and rawness of the locality as well as the people. The big climactic brawl is as brutally realistic as it should be (but within the limits of ‘U’ rating), considering the fact that this is where the almost 3-hour long build up leads the audience to. And after Anjaam Pathiraa, the Sound Factor guys Sree Shankar and Vishnu Govind go for the kill with yet another cracker of a Dolby Atmos mix.

Apart from the two sparring leads, AK also boasts of a bevy of strong supporting players in the cast. Anil Nedumangad, who had already proven his mettle as the despicable baddie in Kammattipaadam, gets to shine here as CI Sathish, Ayyappan’s immediate superior who, while being supportive of Ayyappan, tries his best to contain the very explosive situations arising out of the tiff. And so do the other actors playing Ayyappan’s subordinates, with special mention to the ones who play Jessie and Sujith. Ranjith looks mean as hell playing Kurian John, but his performance comes across as a little bit theatrical, with unwanted emphasis on dramatic pauses in dialogues. While Anna Rajan is okay as Koshy’s docile wife, it is Gauri Nanda who makes quite an impact as Kannamma, Ayyappan’s much younger wife, hailing from a tribal family and rebellious enough to be branded a Maoist. Also making an impression is Ramesh Kottayam as Kumaran, Koshy’s fiercely loyal driver, who secretly loathes the guy’s wayward ways. However, the film could have opted for someone else to portray the DYSP character.

And onto AK themselves: Prithviraj hasn’t shied away from portraying baddies in the past, and here too, he plays what essentially is the villain of the story. However, in what seems to be a brutal deconstruction of his bygone “massy” roles, he manages to make the punchline-spouting Koshy gradually reduce himself into a punchline, by turning him vulnerable, and having his defenses stripped off in the course of the film. On the other hand, Biju Menon deftly underplays Ayyappan, the affable cop eventually made hostile by the circumstances (and Koshy), who prefers brute force to mere words. Majority of the film has the duo facing off each other, contributing to the film's biggest gasps as well as laughs.

.

Last edited by kaykaysud; 02-18-2020 at 01:08 AM.
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Old 02-17-2020, 11:22 AM   #1219
ravenus ravenus is offline
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^Great review. I'll keep this on the watch-list.
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Old 02-21-2020, 10:39 AM   #1220
kaykaysud kaykaysud is offline
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Watched this one yesterday…



Let me state the very obvious: Fahadh Faasil is a frickin’ chameleon. And the actor gets his finest hour in the form of Trance, director Anwar Rasheed’s long-gestating project written by debutant Vincent Vadakkan. The film itself deserves kudos for tackling a very controversial subject – as evidenced by CBFC’s now-bypassed mandate to cut around 17 minutes – and is bound to create ripples in the days to come.

Kicking off on a rather low note in Kanyakumari, the film follows Viju Prasad, a motivational trainer struggling to make ends meet, yet persistent in dreaming big. However, after a shocking turn of events, he relocates to Mumbai, where he gets to meet two shady business tycoons. The duo offer him a chance to make it big, and thus the atheistic Viju Prasad becomes Pastor Joshua Carlton, the Miracle Worker capable of healing any ailment – be it fever or cancer – with the power of prayers (as well as Hollywood-grade theatrics). Of course, the “patients” happen to be professionally trained actors, strategically planted in the thousands-strong crowds for the pastor to pick and “heal”. And yes, within the blink of an eye, Pastor JC – pun very much intended, and alluded to within the film - forms a cult of his own across the globe, amassing billions along the way. But, as with every other shady deal, the faith-healing business too involves the devil himself, and thus begins Viju’s descent into paranoia.

As seen above, Viju Prasad a.k.a Joshua Carlton is there, front and center, throughout the film, and watching Fahadh perform as this very complex character, one can’t help but be transfixed, lost in… the trance. The actor gets his own Scarface here - with cocaine replaced by a much deadlier drug: religion - but unlike the consistently LOUUUD Pacino, he opts for a very layered, physical performance that ranges all the way from the subtle to the gallery-pleasing (yet keeping the loudness in check). Quoting one of the film’s characters: “If you call this acting, then this fella deserves the biggest of all the awards.”

And coming to Anwar Rasheed himself: anyone who has watched only his commercial potboilers – Rajamanikyam, Chotta Mumbai, Annan Thambi and of course, Ustad Hotel – would be in for quite a few shocks with this one, as he operates entirely out of his perceived comfort zone here. Unlike those previous films, Trance doesn’t aim to please the crowds with broad comedy, “mass” elements or feel-good drama, instead opting for visual storytelling and a matter-of-fact tone to explore the psyche of its protagonist. Yes, the film clocks in a bit too long at 170 minutes and the post-interval block does briefly test one’s patience, but the way he deftly keeps his target audience engaged for the most part is commendable, especially considering the fact that there was no bound script in place. By the way, those who have watched his shorts – the anthology segments Bridge (from Kerala Café) and Aami (from 5 Sundarikal) – wouldn’t be as surprised, since Trance is indeed a feature-length extension of the storytelling style used in those.

Coming to the cast, Trance boasts of a terrific supporting ensemble, complete with numerous familiar faces making cameo appearances. Apart from Fahadh himself, the only character who is present throughout the film would be Avarachan, the ruthless mentor to Viju Prasad and later, the scheming manager to Pastor JC, and Dileesh Pothen has all the right notes hit for this very puzzling character. Nazriya, a.k.a. Mrs. Fahadh appears post interval as the hard-drinking pothead Esther Lopez, obviously a far cry from the bubbly girls she has portrayed till date. However, the character, despite the actress’ spirited performance, seems shoehorned in, and does serve as a speedbreaker in the narrative when it briefly shifts to her POV. Gautham Menon makes an assured debut in Malayalam as Solomon, the primary antagonist, along with Chemban Vinod who plays Isaac, his partner. Vinayakan, Sreenath Bhasi and Soubin Shahir play memorable characters who, despite their limited presence, significantly impact the narrative at several junctures.

Stepping away from the director’s chair and back into solely wielding the camera after a long time, cinematographer Amal Neerad holds his horses and initially opts for a muted and earthy tone, only to gradually replace it with his trademark neon-lit style before going all-out psychedelic, just as Pastor JC’s evolution is complete. The various lighting, framing and lensing choices he makes throughout the film are bold and hitherto unseen, at least in Malayalam cinema. Adding to the richness is Resul Pookutty’s all-encompassing and occasionally disorienting sound design, best experienced in its original Dolby Atmos mix. Jackson Vijayan’s songs mostly serve as part of the score, though ”Jaalame” is used brilliantly as the backdrop for Pastor JC’s stage debut. Sushin Shyam and Jackson Vijayan team up to lend further grandeur to the trance, in the form of their astounding background score. The film’s edited by Praveen Prabhakar in sync with its theme, though the film starts dragging quite a bit post the intermission. Last but not the least, those massive sermon sequences deserve special mention, for they are incredibly complex to pull off sans any hitch, and everyone involved - the director, the DP, the sound man, the stunt coordinator (!), the lead and of course, the appropriately hysterical junior artistes - should take a bow for achieving the impossible.

All said and done, Anwar Rasheed and his team deserve credit for going for an uncompromisingly experimental and satirical take on a gravely serious subject, and for extracting what happens to be the career-best performance from its much-celebrated leading man. Even more kudos for Mr. Rasheed for pouring his own money to bring his passion project to fruition, considering its very polarizing subject and treatment.

.

Last edited by kaykaysud; Today at 02:09 AM.
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