Hitchcock (2012) – A review

Hitchcock – Poster

I GOT TO SEE HITCHCOCK! Wow, I just cant express how happy that made me. It was such an enthralling experience. Perhaps, its movies like this that makes my favorite activity of watching movies turn into a passion sort-of like addiction. Ever since I had seen the trailer, I was mad about this film. I would have done anything to get a glimpse of this picture and luckily my prayers turned out true on January 30, 2012!

Frankly speaking, I have seen 3 movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock himself, namely Vertigo, Rear Window & North by Northwest (I have his Notorious lined up next to be watched, among his creations). So, I was aware of who the man Hitchcock was and what he had accomplished in his time. But I hadn’t got a chance to see his Psycho and therefore I wasn’t aware much about that movie and the story about its making. This movie is about that period of Alfred Hitchcock’s life when he was making Psycho. And my god, what a ride that was! It was an amazing story in itself. I am wondering why did it take so long for Hollywood to tell this story in form of a film? It should have been done long ago. Even the book, from which the movie was adopted, was there with us since 12 years. Anyways, I am just glad that this story was finally told and we were able to relive that story all over again.

The movie tells so many amazing facts that several Hitchcock fans might not know of. The character of Alfred Hitchcock is crafted with superb attention to details and is implemented with perfection by the great Anthony Hopkins. I would have never been able to imagine Hopkins playing Hitchcock. But when I saw him on the screen, I was completely convinced with the way he delivered it. Perhaps it was a great transformation by makeup artists as well. In the trailers I couldn’t recognize that it was Anthony Hopkins. But it was undoubtedly a superb performance at the end. I liked it so much that I would put it in the 2nd spot of best roles this year, after Daniel Day Lewis’ Lincoln. It was sheer joy watching Hopkins play Hitchcock. Hitchcock is one artist we all admire, the artist who was so captivated and intrigued by his work that he had fantasies about his characters. His involvement was so profound that he would be able to bring those things to life that other people couldn’t imagine even on their best days. And Hopkins delivered something that was at par with the name Hitchcock. Perfect accent! Perfect dialogue delivery! Perfect impersonation! Hats off to you sir!

The other thing that impressed me apart from Hitchcock’s character and Hopkins’ portrayal is Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Alma Reville, Alfred Hitchcock’s wife and soul mate for life. Her character was one of the most beautifully written female characters I’ve come across in films this year. It had such grace, poise, and a unique charm. She was subtle but had her firm voice of her own. She was completely aware of what she was doing and what sort of relationships she was surrounded with, but yet she was brave, strong and took steps to explore her boundaries and make her identity. And even in doing so, she never got arrogant and lost her modesty. She exactly knew what it was being Alfred Hitchcock’s wife and she played it absolutely perfectly. Any other woman in her place would have broken down, crumbled and would have left the man. But she didn’t, and thus, she was rewarded by the best words which she long to hear for years from her husband, when Alfred Hitchcock says, ‘I will never be able to find a Hitchcock blonde, as beautiful as you!’ She was a real woman! I love women who are real and true. No drama, no hypocrisy, you feel you can talk to her and it would make you feel good. Ah, I am a fan! A mad fan! I wish I could find a real life woman like her in my life someday.

Coming to Helen Mirren’s performance playing this wonderful woman, it was absolute splendor. She is a genius and I can’t think of anyone else who would have done it better than her. Sorry Meryl, not even you, not this time. I love you Helen Mirren for this performance of yours. She completely deserved her nominations to Golden Globes, Bafta, & SAG awards.

There were other great aspects to the movie as well apart from Hopkins and Mirren’s performances. But these two were almost the all-consuming factors and so it was almost impossible for Scarlett Johansson or Jessica Biel or anyone else to make a profound impression. Though I mush say that Scarlett Johansson has done a wonderful job in the shower scene. She delivered great expressions there and for a moment anyone would think that she is really terrified and not acting. But apart from that, the leading pair ruled every scene and they pulled the whole movie on their shoulders.

It is currently released only in a few theaters. It’s being prepared to release in several other theaters soon. All Hitchcock fans and hard-core movie lovers would completely enjoy this movie. It would be an amazing experience for you all. For other casual movie watchers, especially here in Asia where hardly 3 out of 10 youngsters would have watched Hitchcock movies would know him, it wont be an appealing movie. It would be just another movie for you guys. But personally for me, I am going to treasure this for life. It was a superb film!

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Game Change (2012) – A review

Game Change – Poster

For tonight, I had to choose between 2 movies, Game Change and Hitchcock. I was very much leaning towards choosing Hitchcock but finally went for Game Change. The film is about the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign of the Republican Party. I have recently been attracted to United States politics and films and TV series related to it. I have certainly loved watching political dramas way more than other contemporary genres. I can very clearly remember when I recently watched movies like The Ides Of March, Frost/Nixon last year and Spielberg’s Lincoln this year. Though, I know, Lincoln was not exactly a political drama, it was a biopic, but it was so American, if you know what I mean.

Anyways, coming back to Game Change, I had not followed the 2008 campaign when it happened, as I was in college back then and we were just informed casually by our local media that Obama won because he is cool and McCain lost because he wasn’t that cool. So, that was it for me and others back then. But now, since I have grown up and understand things, I was eager to know what exactly went down in McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. So, I start the movie and its action packed right from the first minute. The drama is properly maintained and the story runs in steady pace. The tension, the pressure, and the gravity of the matter are depicted with utter brilliance.

A few years ago, I had seen a Canadian mini-series called Trojan Horse which dealt with US Presidential elections and thus I had an idea of how the picture is when the actual campaigning is going on and then later on I learnt about presidential debates, and other events that occur prior to the elections. I liked the whole process. Also, last year, a series called Newsroom written by Aaron Sorkin educated me a lot about the Republican Party. So, today when I watched Game Change, I could understand every single detail, all terminologies, and the actual scale of risks that are taken by those people. Thus, in my opinion, the film was perfectly balanced and wasn’t made with any intentions to defame Sarah Palin or prove her wrong or anything. Nor did it want to portray John McCain in any wrong manner. It was simply a film about a Republican campaign and politics in general. The talk that campaign managers have at the bar prior to the Election Day in the film says the heart of the message. One of them says, ‘People do want to elect someone like Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson, but unfortunately its not how it works anymore. Obama and Palin are stars and that’s why they click.’ The quote isn’t perfect but it more or less said the same thing. And that’s what the film said. So, I don’t understand why would John McCain and Sarah Palin in their real lives would say that events described in the film are false and inaccurate, when their own campaign chief Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, chief of Palin’s staff admitted that the movie was highly credible and it captured the spirit and emotion of the campaign.

Whatever their reason might be, personally speaking I found the movie authentic and legitimate and I loved watching it as a political drama. The performances delivered by Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin, Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt & Ed Harris as John McCain, were perfect and brilliant. Moore did deserve all the nominations and awards that she received for her performance. I think even Harrelson should have been duly appreciated for his commendable job.

Some of the facts that I came to know in the movie were quite astonishing and to some extent horrific. For example when Palin was being prepared for her one-on-one press interviews, especially regarding foreign policy and the fact that she though Iraq war was due to the 9/11 attacks. I was surprised. But when I came to know the results of the interview, I appreciated the hard work put up by that woman. She really did put up a good fight indeed. After the movie was over, I browsed some C-SPAN videos of actual GOP convention & Vice-Presidential debate on YouTube to see what actually Palin said, and I was surprised again to see the real version. She seemed very confident & perfectly on spot. If that’s what was going on behind the curtains in the Republican campaign, then I must say they had a very good campaign in the end. As we often say that a good book can never turn into a good movie, so I would say for actual events turned into films (Though Social Network and certain other films are an exception). It was a ten-week campaign turned into a 2-hour movie so it did miss out several essential things but it didn’t miss out what was really important. It surely captured the overall spirit of that campaign.

I simply loved the film. Do watch it, if you share the same taste of movies as I mentioned above.

Inkaar (2012) – A review

Inkaar – Poster

After seeing the promos for this movie, I was quite impressed with it and had a lot of expectations with it. I don’t know why but this flick had a different vibe to it then other movies that I’ve seen earlier, like, Disclosure (1994), Crash (2004) or Akshay Kumar’s Aitraaz which were heavily focused on sexual harassment. I felt this one would have some edge to it that would set itself apart from others. Maybe it was because of the very fresh leading pair starring Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh and the story focused on a complicated relationship manifested in a corporate backdrop.

And it sure didn’t disappoint me throughout! I am not saying it was a blockbuster or I felt changed after watching it or something, but it was presented in a very good way and my expectations felt quenched. I did get my money’s worth. When I saw Arjun and Chitrangada together on screen, I was convinced that there couldn’t be a better pair for these roles. It was a perfect cast! I can’t seem to get any other alternatives that would have been fit for Arjun’s role. Actors like Hrithik, Ranbir, Saif, Akshay Kumar, etc. seem too refined and overtly-big imaged stars for this role and I’m sure you’d have not liked Shahid, Imran, Ranvir, John, or other youngsters as a CEO of an advertisement agency for over a decade. Plus, Arjun’s body language has that sense of victim syndrome, which makes him perfect to portray a character accused of sexual harassment. Also, it had been more than 2 years since ‘We are family’ where Arjun last got a chance to act in a solo-hero movie, so this would have been big for him and he would deliver his best. While, on the other hand, Chitrangada is on her very successful 2nd innings in this industry. But somehow, her movies until now weren’t quite hitting the perfect spot. I missed watching her ‘Yeh Saali Zindagi’ and in Desi Boyz she didn’t have to do anything else except looking pretty. A lot of people, including me, were in thoughts and asking whether she will plunge herself in completely commercial movies or will we get a glimpse of the Smita Patil lookalike talent which we witnessed in ‘Hazaaro Khwaishein Aisi’. Well, here we got a mixture of both. Chitrangada had previously worked with director Sudhir Mishra twice in Hazaaro Khwaishein Aisi & Yeh Saali Zindagi so this wouldn’t have been new for her. Both of them delivered their parts well and thus the film came out well on the whole.

Another delight of the film was its music. I enjoyed what Shantanu Moitra did for this film. I am a big fan of Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics and songs and I loved 3 major songs from the film. Darmiyan and Zindagi ka karobar blend perfectly in the progressing storyline and compliment the presentation, thus helping in elevating the ambience of the film. I am glad that they were sensible enough not to go for any item numbers or dance numbers and paralyze the flow of the story. This is the result of sensible people making a movie and caring for what they make regardless of how its outcome would be commercially. I know, Inkaar would only last till Race 2 doesn’t burn it down. Arjun Rampal has never been able to carry a movie on his own they didn’t have Vidya Balan in the cast, nor did they have a killer script, so it all of us knew that this wasn’t going to be a big hit. On the top of that, the movie wasn’t released overseas. So, this wiped its chances of earning from there as well. Despite knowing all this, they cared to make a good movie, and I appreciate them for this.

The dialogues are fresh and catchy, and they need to be. The subject of the movie requires the dialogues to be bold and strong. The story is also innovative in its own way. It is more than just sexual harassment. It’s a corporate drama with an edge. I am glad this story was made in a movie and this part of our society was addressed to. It needs to be addressed badly what type of culture goes on in corporate offices today. There are lots of unquestioned, unanswered things going on around us where we work. It feels sometimes that all of that is becoming a major part of our lives without we consciously trying to acknowledge its existence around us. The story though, is bit of a cracker as the movie approaches its climax and is about to end. No one would have expected that Arjun Rampal’s character would be in love with the very woman who had accused him. But I guess that’s the heart of the film. The director wants us to focus on the confusing office relationships and the politics that goes on among fellow-colleagues. In our professional lives, we come across several such scenarios wherein relationships get strained due to external factors and complex circumstances. Rahul & Maya’s relationship was something like that. Before it could blossom into something beautiful, other people contaminate their relationship and both of them are left with prejudice at their ends. Thus their feelings remain suppressed and are never able to surface. Complex thing to digest but still better off to end the film on that note since they didn’t have any room for the classic happy-ever-after Bollywood ending. One more thing I felt was that Kanwaljit Singh’s character as Rahul’s father, could have been written better and shown to have a better effect on Rahul’s character. They have tried, but it couldn’t connect the dots and you don’t feel the connection.

On the whole, it’s an average film for a weekend, certainly better option than Mumbai Mirror. I was very disappointed watching Broken City as well, so this served as a delight to me. I hope you find it entertaining as well.

Dear John (2010) – A review

 

After watching ‘The Vow’ recently in the theater, I was tempted to watch more of Channing Tatum in romantic flicks. I was starting to expect more out of him and I started to think that he could be an amazing actor for serious romantic films. Just then, a friend of mine gave me a DVD of Dear John and WOW! It was an amazing film. I wonder how I missed this movie for so long.

The story of the movie is basically adapted from a novel of same name written by Nicholas Sparks and I have not been able to read any of his works but I have watched 3 movies adapted from his novels, namely ‘A walk to remember’,  ‘The Notebook’ & ‘The last song’ and the first two of them are among my all time favorites. So, I was expecting a very good romantic movie out of Dear John. Critics and reviewers have often criticized works of Sparks saying that they are way too emotional and sentimental. They say that he desperately writes characters that would make young girls weep. That’s true to some extent but I don’t find it entirely true. His characters do have some depth and an essence of reality. I know, those of you who have ‘The lucky one’ in mind won’t agree with these words of mine. But speaking of Dear John, I found the character of John Tyree very real and heartfelt.

John’s relationship with his father is the part that touched me the most. It was captured with great poise and the director Lasse Hallstorm did perfect justice to it. I could feel as if I was reading the book. It is very close to the heart and it grips you around it, and the major credit for that spellbinding effect goes to the actors Channing Tatum and Richard Jenkins. I’ve always admired Jenkins as an amazing actor; Tatum too was equally impressive alongside him. Both of them together can make you forget the world around you and take you along with them on an emotional ride like never before.

The romance between John and Savannah is equally wonderful and stays the USP of the film. The on-screen chemistry between Channing and Amanda is really wonderful and picturesque. I found it better than it was with Rachael McAdams in ‘The Vow’. So, has Tatum degraded as an actor or was he actually less comfortable co-staring alongside McAdams than Seyfried remains to be seen. I would go with the latter option though. The romance is real and warm. You feel connected and convinced. When the letters start, you’d expect the story to get stagnant and monotonous but it doesn’t. On the contrary it turns out to be the main storytelling and character-expanding medium. Excellent work! The letters are amazing. It does look a bit old-fashioned long distance relationship between a soldier and his beloved but I find it extremely beautiful and romantic. I am still passionate about old-fashioned romance and letters are still one of my favorite modes of expressing one’s feelings. So, full marks there from my end.

The only part of the story where I feel less convinced is when Savannah decides to marry the single father, who is her neighbor, because he is dying and has no one after his son. I think that the part where Savannah starts getting second thoughts to where the relationship is headed, is not portrayed with enough importance. I am assuming that it would be explained aptly in the novel but the director didn’t have that luxury. But still it is not that ugly and pathetic. It is still fine and doesn’t ruin everything. The last letter that Savannah writes to John, after Tim passes away, is a home run and seals the victory. You end up being completely moved as the ending credits start rolling. If you’re a person who loves sentimental movies and if you can connect yourself with the story being told, trust me, Dear John will make your eyes wet. It is an emotional odyssey that you’d not want to miss. It doesn’t have the romance of The Notebook or Titanic that will make your knees weak, but it’s the entire story, the characters, and the presentation that will make you take a dive in the ocean of tranquility. You’ll feel liberated and enriched. I feel sad that I missed it for this long. I highly recommend it to all of you, who have missed it so far like me, and who believe in whatever I said here. Awesome experience!

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