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Showing posts from December, 2012

mini-review marathon: the new-ish Hindi films, part 2

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Shanghai
If  you asked after the first half hour of Shanghai whether I thought it lived up to the very high bar Dibarkar Banerjee has set for himself with his previous three films, I'd most likely have said no. But now that I've seen the entire film, I am as impressed with his body of work as ever. I say that even though Shanghai is not as much "Beth's typically preferred kind of movie" as his previous films, which I find much less consistently dark and depressing—though the horrible moments of Love Sex aur Dhokha are among the most despairing I've seen in Indian cinema—and I missed Dibakar's loose and silly side. Of course, that would have been wildly out of place in this story, save a few flashes of tension- or desperation-derived absurdity scattered throughout the muck and shadows.
I'm having trouble separating out the threads of Shanghai into an organized discussion. They are so brilliantly composed and interrelated, both in the story and in the por…

mini-review marathon: the new-ish Hindi films

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It's one of those spells of spending more time seeing films than thinking and writing about them. To address the imbalance, there will be a series of short reviews on the last dozen or so things I've seen that didn't get written about elsewhere, grouped into the user-friendly, subjective, and highly unscientific  categories of new-ish Hindi films, prime vintage Hindi films (that's late 60s through early 80s, if you're new around here), and old-ish Bengali films (Soumitra and Uttam at or near their peaks).

Today's features: Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl, Talaash, Barfi!, Cocktail, and Aiyyaa. The last of these is not, in fact, "mini."

Ladies vs Ricky Bahl
I enjoyed this while watching it, but a month later I hardly remember it. For a movie with multiple major female characters and a hero who doesn't get as much screen time as heroes generally do, I maybe unfairly wanted more GIRL POWER! from this movie. Filmi Geek discusses the niggling "Oh but wait,…

Dabangg 2

When I was a Brownie scout, we played a game called "Strut Miss Lizzie." People pair off and form two lines facing one another, with the pair at the top of the lines strutting—preening, hopping, grooving, moving in whatever ridiculous way she chooses—through the aisle made by the rest of the participants, and then when she finishes her partner imitates her. As each pair takes their turn, the rest of the players clap and sing a repetitive yet catchy little ditty that goes "Strut Miss Lizzie, strut Miss Lizzie, strut Miss Lizzie, all the day long. Here comes another one, just like the other one, here comes another one, all the way home."

You see where I'm going with this?

Dabangg 2 is no more and no less than a copy that is not as crackling or creative as the original. I love the first Dabangg (writeup here), much to my surprise, but somehow this one just did not have the same strut despite trying very hard to have exactly the same strut (summarized with perfect …

Heroine: Are You F*cking Kidding Me with This Sh*t?

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What angers me most about Heroine, like Fashion before it, is that Madhur Bhandarkar expects us to buy into the idea of these almost manically ambitious women who will sacrifice all aspects of their well-being for success in their career yet they behave as though they know absolutely nothing about their chosen industries. If you pay any attention even to stereotypes about the Bombay film industry at all, you already know far more about it via gossip blogs and Filmfare interviews than the lead of this film seems to. I just cannot believe that someone who's been in enough films to be getting non-newcomer awards, as Mahi does, or to have spent some time as a top heroine, which Mahi is implied to be, would be surprised by the situations she finds herself in. "Journalists" are only interested in the gossip about you, not in your actual work? NO. The "edgy," "arty," award-winning Bengali filmmaker's project doesn't get released? GASP. Your hero co-…

Khudito Pashan

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Fair warning: even if this movie is recommended for a wider audience than just Soumitra Chatterjee enthusiasts (aka sonpapdis*), this blog post might not be.

Trolling the internet for Soumitra Chatterjee films, as fangirls are wont to do, Indie Quill found Khudito Pashan, adapted from Tagore's short story, and we leapt upon it immediately. We were in love with it from the get-go as a disembodied, echoing voice shouts "Run away! Run away! It's all a lie!"** Seriously, that's the first thing that happens after the censor certificate. BRILLIANT! If that weren't enough, in the first few minutes it also gives gives up an angsty Soumitra in a suit jacket and trousers, an abandoned Mughal palace,
horses, ghosts,
guns, whooshing wind, flickering lanterns, and an overall sense of doom. "I feel like I already know the contents of this house," says Soumitra (I have no idea what his character's name actually is because everyone else just calls him huzoor a…