What To Watch On Netflix Instant – Edition #22

Wolf Of Wall Street [HD]- The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Based (loosely, I assume) on Wall Street conman Jordan Belfort, this is a 3 hour long ride, featuring lots of over-the-top sexual situations and Leonardo DiCaprio in his most in-your-face role ever, in that order. This is a highly dramatized version of events, and I imagine director Scorsese threw in the uncalled for graphic nudity gratis.

Even with all the “diversions”, and the length of the film, this is a fast-paced, witty entertainer; I did not notice the hours go by. Leo DiCaprio is magnificent. As is the rest of the cast.

With A Friend Like Harry- With a Friend Like Harry (“Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien”, France, 2000)

Michel and Harry apparently went to school together, although Michel doesn’t remember Harry quite as well as Harry does him. When they meet quite by accident, Harry wangles an invitation to family-man Michel’s home.

When there, Harry encourages Michel to take up his school-time hobby of writing, assuring him that he had real talent. Then Harry proceeds to be the best friend he possibly can.

This was creepy, suspenseful and unpredictable.

Honeymoon Travels Pvt.ltd- Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. (India, 2007)

Six newly married couple do the touristy thing, choosing to be cooped up in a bus en route to lovely Goa. On the journey they get to know each other, and we get to know them. They are a quirky lot, each with a different backstory, all quite interestingly told and richly detailed. I loved the subtle humor and the quirk.

Reema Kagti, who also directed the recent Talaash, guides the talented star cast with a firm hand. Full review here.

A Simple Plan- A Simple Plan (USA, 1999)

Brothers Hank and Jacob, and Jacob’s friend Lou come across a crashed plane in the snowy wilderness. The plane contains about 4 million in cash.

The strait-laced Hank wants to turn in the money to the authorities, but greed sways them soon enough. As they strategize and plan on how to keep the money and the plane a secret, they involve Hank’s pregnant wife Sarah. Things start to go haywire pretty soon, as the not-too-bright Jacob, and loudmouth Lou can’t keep it together.

This was a superb, suspenseful watch.

It's a Girl- It’s a girl (Documentary, USA, 2012)

This hour long documentary focusses on gendercide, specifically the killing of baby girls and fetuses in India and China, due to the culture of son preference. The film looks at the causes of this socially sanctioned practice, and there are many – dowry, financial drain, laxly enforced laws and “traditional” culture.

Millions of girls are now “missing” because they were simply aborted, were killed after birth, or just died due to neglect and poor care. This is a hard to watch film at times, but an important one, because it tells of the problem. And that is a first, important step.

Posted in All Netflix, bollywood, crime, documentary, drama, english, french, Hindi movies on Netflix, hollywood, humor, lists, mini-reviews, Netflix Recommendations, quirky, social issues, suspense, women | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Tevar (January 9th, 2015)

Manoj Bajpayee graces the screen again as a “gunda” in Tevar. Arjun Kapoor stars as the macho young hero, and Sonakshi Sinha is a woman on the run.

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Movie Review : Daawat-e-Ishq (2014)

Daawat-e-Ishq Hindi DVD Stg: Aditya Roy Kapur, Parineeti Chopra (Bollywood/film/Cinema)
Rating : Good (3.5/5)
Genre : Romance
Year : 2014
Running time : 2 hours 15 minutes
Director : Habib Faisal
Cast : Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Anupam Kher

Gulrez Qadir aka Gullu (Chopra) is tired of the marriage market, and of the outrageous dowries demanded by the parents of eligible grooms, while the grooms sit spinelessly by. She decides to take matters into her own hands and comes up with a harebrained scheme to cuckold these dowry demanders. It is a pity then that the first person to walk into her neatly set trap might be the man of her dreams.

Frankly I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, because it didn’t do too well on release. And it seemed kinda wishy-washy, and suffered from low wattage star power. So I am pleasantly surprised to report that this is a decent film. Habib Faisal, who gave us the lovely Do Dooni Char, directs this too. Parineeti has proved that she is here for the long haul, but I am always surprised to see Aditya in lead roles delivering hits; I kind of see him as another Kunal Kapoor, interesting, yet not charismatic enough to anchor a film.

Here Chopra is her effervescent self. Kapoor is in his scruffiest avatar yet as Tariq Haider, all surma-eyed and tradesman-like, quite different from his suave city boy roles. Anupam Kher plays Gullu’s hapless dad. The film is set in the lovely city of Hyderabad, and Gullu and her dad have long conversations in Hyderabadi Hindi.

The film starts off with a good anti-dowry message, and we see the smart Gullu sending prospective greedy in-laws packing. And it seems like Faisal knows what he is doing because the characters are well-drawn, there is humor and everything’s kinda good-natured. However somewhere along the way, this film gets a little too contrived, and the plot-line a little too shaky. Some songs appear forced in.

The romance angle works because Parineeti and Aditya share good chemistry and make a charming pair. And since this is basically a romance, the film turns out all right, although this is a bit of downer coming from Habib Faisal. Faisal’s film’s stories are about everyday people and seem natural. One has come to expect organically growing story lines from him, but DEI throws us for a loop with it’s outlandish plot twist. With this film it appears that Faisal is underscoring the “commercial” aspect, to the film’s detriment.

To sum up, this is a pleasant watch. I only hope Faisal ups his game with his next venture.

Kidwise : Clean. As family-friendly as Bollywood gets these days.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, directors, family-friendly, humor, rating-G, romance, social issues, watchable | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : PK (releases December 19th 2014)

Via UTV, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani comes “PK”. Fingers crossed for this one.

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Movie Review : Happy Ending (2014)

Happy Ending Hindi Audio CD
Rating : Good (3.5/5)
Genre : Romantic Comedy
Year : 2014
Running time : 2 hours 15 minutes
Director : Krishna D.K. , Raj Nidimoru
Cast : Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D’Cruz, Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shourie, Govinda, Preity Zinta

This film comes from the directors of “Shor in the City”, so expectations are high. But then the same duo also made “Go Goa Gone”. Ergo, expectations are tempered.

Los Angeles based author Yudi’s (Khan) life isn’t going as expected. His last book is on the bargain rack, and he has no new ideas for the next one. So, when aging film star Armaan decides to make a “romedy” and Yudi is approached to write the script, he happily agrees. On the personal front, after wading through a sea of casual girlfriends, Yudi has finally found the one. Unfortunately, she doesn’t think the same. Are Yudi’s personal and professional lives destined to hit rock bottom?

Happy Ending is built around a large cast of interesting characters. All these characters, except maybe author Aanchal (Ileana), are a little kooky in their own right. Yudi has a hairy, pot-bellied alter-ego “Yogi”, who shuffles around in sweatshirts and speaks in a Haryanvi accent – which was hilarious. Yudi’s best friend Montu (Shourie), whenever we see him, is feverishly trying to escape his wife and household duties. Yudi’s ex-girl-friend Vishakha is needy and clingy, and a tad stalk-erish, and Kalki was magnificent as her. Ex-girlfiend Divya Dawson (Preity), now married and mother of two, inflicts herself and her progeny on Yudi when she pleases. Armaan (Govinda) has a giant ego, and his youthfully-dressed secretary makes sure everyone is appropriately respectful to Armaanji.

All the actors do very well, but special mentions go out to Govinda, Ranveer and Kalki. Govinda is a giant trip as Armaan, and even though his role has very little impact on the story, I’m glad that they had him – he adds his own little zany spark to the film. Ranveer is fabulous as the almost rabid, freedom-seeking married man envious of his best friend’s single life. His role milks the oppressed-modern-man stereotype to the hilt. And Kalki is quite funny (as only Kalki can be) as the always-smiling, possessive ex-girl-friend who won’t take no for an answer.

Irreverent humor is the highlight of this curious film. While Happy Ending is about Yudi and his crazy life in general, it eventually boils down to a love-story. Khan and D’Cruz share really good chemistry, and while I’m getting a little tired of Khan in yet another city-boy Casanova-ish avatar, D’Cruz is another story altogether. She sparkles with a natural charm, and this film works to a great extent because of her.

Happy Ending is not just another love story, of which Bollywood has many. I’m glad that the directors built us a romantic comedy from the ground up, complete with a believable yet zany cast of characters. Much fun is had when one kooky character meets another. The dialogs are spot-on, and laced with wit and sarcasm. So, it is kind of a bummer that with all this to its credit, Happy Ending falls short of the magnificence that should have rightfully been its. And for that we have the laggardly screenplay to blame.

The director duo have written the screenplay, which twiddles its thumbs for too long. There’s the beginning and the ending, and a whole lot of nothing happening in between. This gets almost boring towards the middle of the film, but thankfully Happy Ending recovers to finish respectably. This is a good watch if you are looking for something a little hatke.

Kidwise : Although this contains some mildly adult situations, Happy Ending is non-scarring; no cringing required.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, comedy, directors, goofy, humor, quirky, rating-PG13, romance | 1 Comment

Movie Review : Kill Dil (2014)

Kill Dil Hindi Audio CD (Ranveer Singh, Ali Zafar, Govinda, Praneeti Chopra)(2014 New Bollywood Movie)Rating : Intolerable (1/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2014
Running time : 2 hours 25 minutes
Director : Shaad Ali
Cast : Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra, Ali Zafar, Govinda

Did I say director Shaad Ali had a good track record? Well, scratch that! With Kill Dil, Shaad Ali wades neck-deep into out-there masala movie making, and we are none the better for it.

The story is as filmi as it gets. Two orphans, Dev (Singh) and Tutu (Zafar) adopted by Bhaiyaji, grow up to work for him as assassins. Until of course, one of them falls in love with a high-end social worker (Parineeti), whatever that is. Voila! Rebellion! Blah-blah-blah!

If you have watched Ali’s earlier films, you know that he has a great love for the OTT, sing-song dramatic tableau, preferably with accompanying naach-gaana. And while this gaana-bajana has its place in commercial Hindi cinema, Ali takes it to ridiculous heights here – the entire first half seemed to consist entirely of these overdone song sequences, with a pitiable amount of dialog. There is precious little story here, and that is bogged down by hammy dialogs and equally atrocious acting. It is like a staged play – we know it and they know it.

I’m assuming that this film did not have a screenplay, because it tottered from here to there without rhyme or reason. One moment there was a dance at a disco, and the next Dev and Tutu were in the thick of a shoot-out. There seemed to be no flow, almost as if the movie was not one whole but a collection of montages featuring the same characters. Yes, there was a gradual progression of events, but the way the film skittered, it felt like it was being made by someone with the attention span of a two-year old.

It is clear from his past ventures that Ali cared two hoots for realism in cinema, but here he gives up every pretense to it. Orphan hit-men Dev and Tutu live in a barsaati with Clint Eastwood-ian influences. Indeed; it boggles the imagination and scars the soul. I am not sure if this “barsaati” had a kitchen or a bathroom, but what it did have was bunk beds and a picture wall with large sized posters of the two in funky poses. Ranveer Singh looks impossibly young without any facial hair, while Zafar probably looks the nicest I’ve seen him yet – he actually might have found his niche as bearded second fiddle.

If that was not enough, plump Parineeti plays that rare creature – a Page 3, disco-going, convertible-driving social worker. But wait, the cup runneth over because Govinda stars as Bhaiyaji. The Original Mountain of Blubber (henceforth referred to as OMOB) plays the eccentric Bhaiyaji with the requisite number of pelvic thrusts – a role truly tailor-made for him.

Shaad Ali might have meant this to be some kind of poetic, Western-inspired love story – it did have Gulzar’s voice reciting some couplets in the background. In the foreground though, we had Parineeti (in a skin-tight gown) and Ranveer going at it, lip-first. So much for poetry! The romance itself was pretty thanda. Dev and Disha were in love, but I couldn’t see why. I didn’t care for it or for either of them.

This film for all it’s out-there jokes and one-liners was lacking in charisma. Ranveer Singh has appeared in one bromance too many, and his youthful, I-can-do-anything antics are getting repetitive and tiresome. Kill Dil might have been a spoof, but it was an incongruous, discordant spoof, plumped up with frivolous filmi fat. Slimmer – a lot slimmer, and with a glimmer of a story this might have worked.

Kidwise : Lots of gun violence. Women in slinky, low-cut clothes. Lovemaking. Some raunchy jokes.

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Movie Preview : Happy Ending (21st November 2014)

From the team that brought you the excellent “Shor In The City”, “99″ and the not so excellent “Go Goa Gone”, comes another (hopefully) hatke film. For starters, it has Govinda . . . And if you are still reading, it also has Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D’Cruz, Preity Zinta, Ranvir Shourie, Kalki Koechlin and Kareena Kapoor. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, directors, humor, Previews | Leave a comment