Movie Preview : The Martian (releases October 2nd 2015)

The Martian courtesy

The Martian courtesy

If you are a reader of my Book Blog, “Review Room”, you already know that I LOVED “The Martian”, and that it dethroned Ender’s Game as my favorite sci-fi book of all time. Combine that with the fact that I cannot think of anyone better than Matt Damon to play Mark Watney, and this becomes a film I cannot wait for. I wish it were releasing sooner.

There is one Indian character in the book, Mars Mission Director Venkat Kapoor. Rumor has it that in the film they have changed the original “Venkat Kapoor” to “Vincent Kapoor”, and that Irrfan Khan was initially approached to play this role, but he declined because he was shooting for Piku at the time. Kapoor is now being played by Chwiwetel Ejiofor, because apparently Ridley Scott couldn’t find another Indian actor to play this Indian character. The mind boggles, and is so very annoyed.

In the book, Venkat Kapoor is Hindu, but can’t say whether author Andy Weir intended him to be a 1st Gen Indian American (an immigrant) or 2nd Gen (son of immigrants).

Posted in 2015, book to film, hollywood, Previews, sci-fi | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Drishyam (2015)

Rating : 3.7/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2015
Running time : 2 hours 43 minutes
Director : Jeethu Joseph
Cast : Ajay Devgan, Shriya Saran, Tabu, Rajat Kapoor
Kidwise Rating: PG-13

Drishyam is a remake of a Malayalam film, and even though in Hindi, feels drenched in Southie-Movie culture. The location is a small Goan village. The protagonist Vijay Salgaonkar (Devgn), a 4th class fail, self-made man is a cable TV operator, who may or may not reach home in the evening depending on whether he gets too engrossed in watching movies in the office. His wife (Saran) thinks it all par for the course, and appears perky and bright and smiling, dressed in saris, forever cooking in the kitchen. She depends on him to be the bread-winner, the one to take her on shopping trips to Panjim, and essentially the lord and master. Vijay is that, although, it appears, a just and loving one.

When Vijay’s teenage daughter gets into a situation with a boy, she calls in reinforcements, i.e.; her mother, because daddy is in the office watching movies, and has the phone off the hook. Mom and daughter, essentially abject and powerless, aren’t able to resolve the situation and Vijay must step in at the last moment. The boy goes missing, and soon Vijay and his family are being hounded by the police for answers, because as it turns out, the troublesome boy was the spoilt son of IG Police Meera Deshmukh (Tabu).

The first half of the film builds up slowly, with many of the qualities, especially pertaining to showing docile, powerless women, and omnipotent men, which set my teeth on edge. The second half is where Drishyam actually shines. The narrative is tight and Drishyam actually turns into an engrossing, tension-filled crime drama. It dwells upon the fine distinction between right and wrong, and shows a mirror to corrupt society, with its gender-insensitivity and weak justice system.

Ajay Devgn is one-dimensional as Vijay; there are no fine nuances to his family-man character that I could detect. His protagonist would have been a lot more interesting had we been privy to his inner struggle, which we weren’t. Shriya Saran I didn’t particularly care for either, although she played good-little-wifey to the hilt (which was probably what the director wanted). Tabu is great as always, but her character appears to veer between emotional mom and hard-hearted policewoman rather sharply – not her fault though, I think, the director’s. I actually liked Rajat Kapoor the best here, because of the way he inhabits the character he portrays, the father of the missing boy, yes, but also a decent human being.

I actually did like the film. My rating is not all that high though because there is an element of distaste, stemming from the fact that the film’s story revolves around a woman’s perceived honor in patriarchal Indian society, and the protagonist is an adherent of that regressive culture. It is not that other societies are not patriarchal, but combine Drishyam’s portrayal of abjectly powerless women literally on their knees, with its portrayal of young men powerfully drunk on liberal societal “boys-will-be-boys” sanction, and the film’s acceptance of the skewed status-quo (via the hero’s thought process), and it makes me want to retch.

This is still a decent film, so if you are on the fence, do watch it.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, drama, rating-PG13, remake, social issues, suspense | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : All Is Well (releases 21st August 2015)

All Is Well is directed by Umesh Shukla, who also directed OMG. Now I wasn’t too impressed with OMG, but All Is Well looks pretty interesting, so here’s hoping. Also, what’s with Shukla and the titular pithy aphorisms? One theory : he’s eaten too many fortune cookies.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, Previews | Leave a comment

Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation

MI:Rogue Nation is the 5th in the MI series, and you’d think that it would get hackneyed and jaded, but amazingly it doesn’t. Tom Cruise looks older of course, but he is still in fine fettle as an action hero. He apparently has done one of the hair-raising (ha!) sequences, no stunt double, where he is clinging on to a plane which is taking off. That is quite a feat although it does flatten Cruise’s springy hair most unflatteringly. If you have ever wondered what Cruise would look like if he were bald, you can now see your answer.

The film itself was engrossing, thrilling and held interest. In the seat next to mine, I could hear my husband shake his head, guffaw a little, and tsk-tsk at every out there, hammy scene, but he didn’t enjoy it any less. And neither will you.

Two scenes which stick in my head post-watch are the remarkably well-done motorcycle chase, and the underwater, code-breaking sequence. Rebecca Ferguson plays Ilsa Faust, a disavowed MI-6 agent who knows quite a lot about the Syndicate “Rogue Nation”. She’s got some meaty action sequences and does them spectacularly. It is another matter that she must kick and slam and punch while dressed in either a sexy, hi-cut gown or clingy clothing, and high heels.

This 5th Mission Impossible is rated PG-13, and is mostly that. I’m old school in that I am sometimes amazed at the films which end up being PG-13, despite the sexuality and nudity they contain. Not this one though. The kids watched it with us, and barring one bare female back, I didn’t find anything really outré.

A very good action entertainer this one.

Posted in 2015, action, hollywood, rating-PG13, recommended, thriller | 1 Comment

What To Watch On Netflix Instant: Edition #26

A Series Edition this time – here are 5 recent Netflix Series I enjoyed:

Episode 1 (English Subtitled)Witnesses (“Les témoins”, France, 2014)

This is a very atmospheric mystery-thriller series with two detectives in a small, sleepy, coastal French town trying to find the perpetrators of a bizarre crime.

Both the leads are fantastic – Thierry Lhermitte plays Chief of Police Paul Maisonneuve and Marie Dompnier plays detective Sandra Winckler. Once you start the first episode, it is hard not to binge through the entire season.

North and South (BBC)North and South (UK, 2004)

If you like historical period dramas no one makes them better than the BBC/Masterpiece Theatre. Also if you are an Elizabeth Gaskell fan, then this one is right up your alley. Netflix also has another Gaskell drama “Wives and Daughters” which I’d recommended in my last TV series recommendation post.

Anyway, North and South is a romance between feisty Margaret Hale and scruffy mill owner John Thornton. Margaret is a vicar’s daughter who’s been forced to move her home from the genteel south to an industrial mill town Milton, and she is adapting to the change in her surroundings. The hateful Thornton doesn’t make things any easier.

Episode OneBroadChurch (UK, 2013)

This is another mystery series featuring two detectives – one female and one male, investigating a crime in a small, sleepy British town (both featuring steep cliffs, amazingly; cliffs are probably dramatic camera fodder) but this is very different from Witnesses.

Not as spine-chilling, Broadchurch is still quite fantastic – great, well-etched characters and solid mystery to investigate. Again, hard to not binge.

Orange Is the New Black: Season 1Orange Is The New Black (US, 2013)

When this Netflix original series released it got so much positive press, that I always kept meaning to watch it. The premise seemed to be a little out there, especially because it was touted as “humorous”. It features Piper Chapman, a 30-something woman who is convicted of a decade old crime and sentenced to 15 months in prison. She enters prison tearfully leaving fiancé Larry, who promises to not watch “Mad Men” without her.

Prison life leaves her breathless, in a not-good way.

OITNB is very good, humorous, draws you in, although it can be a little hammy at times. Also this has pretty strong language/nudity/sexuality and lots of it, so it is only for mature audiences.

Episode OneThe Bletchley Circle (UK, 2012)

A group of women, who had earlier worked together at Bletchley Park during the World War, come together to track down a serial killer.

Beautifully done, and a must-watch if you favor atmospheric dramas with strong female leads.

Posted in 2015, All Netflix, comedy, crime, drama, english, humor, Netflix Recommendations, outstanding, recommended, romance, suspense, thriller, UK, WhaTWON, women | 1 Comment

Movie Preview : Drishyam (31st July 2015)

Ajay Devgan, Tabu and Rajat Kapoor. Shows promise.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, crime, drama, Previews | Leave a comment

Jurassic World and The Minions

No, this is not a formal review. And no, I am not watching Bajrangi Bhaijaan. For now. Let’s see how the old will-power holds up.

I remember watching the first Jurassic Park. How long ago that was! The time when all my hair was naturally jet-black. Not that it isn’t now :-) but you know, one does get nostalgic. And I was over-hearing a co-worker deliver this spiel on how the makers of JP are really milking it, because truly, and I agree, the storyline does remain the same (no, duh!). There are always dinosaurs and they always run amuck. Chaos happens, but the well-built hero makes it all all right as the clueless, high-heeled heroine runs around and wrings her hands ineffectually. It’s like the zombie movies, because those always have zombies. Zombies go wild. Enter hero, heroine. All OK. End of movie.

Yes, I still saw it, because the husband wanted to and the kids wanted to. In 3D IMAX. The eyes started to glaze over somewhere after the halfway point. So yeah, not quite a recommendation – watch it for the amazing effects, if you care about that sort of a thing.

The Minions I wanted to watch because the minions are goofy, and the laughter is infectious. I thought the trailer fantastic, and the movie is all right only because the minions themselves are just so cute. The story was a spindly little thing full of holes, so I will admit to the pace being slow and draggy and being a little bored. There’s Sandra Bullock as the evil villainess and Jon Hamm as her husband, and they were quite all right.

I remember watching the first Ice Age and enjoying myself thoroughly – it was such a smart, funny movie. The Minions, the cuteness notwithstanding, is so far below that quality of film. I am disappointed. I hope they continue to make Minion movies, but they make them  much, much better.

Posted in 2015, animation, english, family-friendly, goofy, rating-G, sci-fi | 2 Comments