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Showing posts from 2014

Sulemani Keeda

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Great Expectations indeed. My not-wholly-positive reaction to this film is partly an issue of my own expectation management. I realllllly wanted to like it;  as its director-writer Amit Masurkar has pointed out , movies about movies pay little attention to writers, even though various industry types like to give lip service to the importance of story and there'd be nothing to produce, act in, or promote if there weren't scripts. How could a small, non-YRF-type film made about struggling film writers be less than hilarious and pointed? Unfortunately, this is a film full of male assholes being assholes and then whining about how hard it is to succeed in a male-dominated world. DO SHUT UP. It's another instance of the young, relatively privileged male experience being assumed universal and apparently without any acknowledgment of other perspectives (which is how I felt about the otherwise adorable  Big Hero 6  too, incidentally). Whether this is realistic to the world

PK: if only its teeth were as mighty as its ears

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For every point I want to raise about PK , a counterbalance also presents itself. Maybe that explains the runtime. Anushka Sharma and Sushant Singh Rajput's romance is sickly-sweet, yet in the gloss is clear evidence of their physical relationship. A kitten and a puppy are unnecessarily manipulative, but Anushka's crumpling face in moments of disappointment and loss feels bang-on. A devout father's decades of obedience to his guru are shaken too easily, but his revelation leads to satisfyingly improved parenting. There is only one real woman of importance—again, for no necessary reason—and another exists solely to provide the hero with a tool he needs to navigate earth, but the heroine does get to talk about work with a female friend and relies on her for success on the job. Sanjay Dutt's character is homophobic in a way that indicates he has no concept of actual homosexuality (we've all seen men hold hands on the streets in India, writers), but he's otherwis

mini reviews

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≤ 100 words each on the weird (even for me) assortment of films I've seen in the last two months. Gotta get the writing motor going again. Lukochuri 1958 Kishore Kumar has a double role as twins in this Bengali film about the sisters they love, twin-related mix-ups (surprise), parental approval, and the world of Bombay filmmaking. There are other good performers too (like Mala Sinha), but it's 100% his film. The best moments are the digs at the film industry and this brilliant, loony song that the non-industry Kishore does while impersonating his singer brother, making a point about the lack of quality in today's films and music. And lest you forget this is a Bengali film, the eyes of RabTag are upon thee even in Bombay! Thana Theke Aschi 1965 I don't know how to say anything about this story of death, interrogation, and knowledge without spoiling it, so just know that you should reserve judgement of it until the very last frame. Atmosphere!

spy vs spy: Ankhen (1968) and Kulla Agent 000 (1972)

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Life is very good indeed when coincidence hands you two top-notch prime-vintage spy films. Life is even better when you happen to have an academic paper called "Bodies, Bollywood, and Bond: the Evolving Image of Secret Agents in Hindi  Spy Thrillers Inspired by the 007 Franchise" (by Krzysztof Lipka-Chudzik)* that includes a taxonomy and chronology of Bollywood spies, among other interesting discussions. There's absolutely no reason to compare these two films other than I wanted to say "spy vs spy" in the title of this post, but now that I've made that choice I'm going to stick with it. Maybe I can file this under public service and hope that the list of characteristics will help you decide which one to watch first, because believe me, you're gonna want to watch them. In the aforementioned academic paper, there's a discussion of a technicality that points out that that many of the Indian movies most of us think of as "spy movies" are

a fan can dream

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Everyone's talking about Aseem Chhabra's  "Is it too much to now expect Shahrukh Khan to do a good film?"  Here's what I think. I wish the title said "to do more roles that challenge his acting skills" instead of "good film," but I understand why titles are the way they are.  I too wish he would do more films that challenge his acting skills. The films praised in the piece— Chak De , Swades (and I'd add Paheli )—are among my favorites, not just of his but from anyone in Bollywood.  Shahrukh in a Vishal Bhardwaj film MUST HAPPEN PLEASE OH PLEASE. Or maybe even better, a Dibakar Banerjee film.   It seems to me Shahrukh has experimented in cinema lately—(only?) within the broader category of "mass entertainer," sometimes even as producer. Don 2 was him playing with being a villain again after all this time (though in a flagrantly villain-centric film). Chennai Express  was his attempt to see if he could find a flavor of s

Teen Bhubaner Pare

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Along with Saat Pake Bandha  and Pratham Kadam Phool , Teen Bhubaner Pare  makes a trilogy of 1960s films with Soumitra Chatterjee about a young couple who should have paid more attention to the red flags that popped up before they married. Saat Pake Bandha is the best of these films, combining the most interesting script with the most complex performances, and it's also the strongest statement about the risks of committing to someone with whom you do not share understanding and support (or even attempts at those things). Pratham Kadam Phool  is the weakest: a snobby, unrealistic heroine with a suspicious, mama's boy hero and an uneasy final scene that indicates no real resolution of the problems in their relationship. Teen Bhubaner Pare  is the story of Montu (formal name: Subir) (Soumitra Chatterjee) and Saroshi (Tanuja), who live on the same street but represent opposite sides of the tracks. His family is struggling, especially his next closest brother, and when not at