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The Great Gatsby


My previous post had started out as a review for The Great Gatsby, but it didn’t quite reach that level. Here’s what I really wanted to say:

 

The movie is a brilliant adaptation of the book, which is no easy feat for any movie. The book itself is not an easy read. I haven’t lived in the 1920’s, or in New York, so understanding the vibe of the novel was a bit hard the first time I read it many years ago. But I can tell you, the movie is exactly how I pictured the book while reading it. You should still read the book for the story though, a love story in any setting is not hard to comprehend. You can understand Jay Gatsby’s endless optimism to repeat the past and make his life with Daisy. You can understand Tom Buchanan’s inability to let go of his current lifestyle.. and you can even understand Daisy Buchanan’s cowardice, who ends up being less brave than what she (and the audience) thought she could be. This story has no hero, no heroine, no villain.. it has 3 bad role models in fact. And the 3 main actors in this movie show this point perfectly, especially Dicaprio. His face will always be Gatsby’s face now.. he’s done it that well. Tobey Maguire was never a favorite actor of mine, and his role in the movie I thought was just passable.. can’t help criticizing, I just don’t like him (and since it’s my blog I guess I’m allowed to be unfair ūüôā ). There’s a lot of talk about the hip-hop music that was used in this movie, and not swing or jazz that was actually around in that era. I was surprised with the songs initially, but all in all it didn’t distract from the plot.

In the movie all makes sense. At the theater, I was surprised to hear the audience that ooh-ed and aah-ed with the movie, collectively enraptured by the drama. The movie is not as contemporary as the reviews say, it still played out like an olden movie to me. All in all it’s an elaborate and entertaining drama. ¬†I definitely enjoyed the movie, and I hope you will give it a try and see for yourself too :).

great-gastby

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Is it good?


Review on Avatar, watched in 2D.

No. Uh huh. Nope. Absolutely not.

Before we proceed any further and I justify this biased stance of mine, I’d like to put forth a disclaimer. A lot of my friends have watched it, enjoyed the movie, and have watched it twice as well. There must be something(s) that I overlooked that made the movie enjoyable. So definitely do go watch and form your opinions. This is just me getting out all that I had wanted to say.. and didn’t have the heart to with my friends.

The plot of Avatar is fairly known by now. This is my first point of complaint. A complete lack of originality, value or simple sense¬†in the plot that struck as me as obtusely cliched. Why would I bother so much with this though? Why not let it be.. it’s just a movie after all? I don’t know. Maybe I expected something much more from a movie that claims so much. Maybe I’m just super critical. Wait, there’s no maybe in the second point :P. Anyway.. plot was cliched. Villain was villain, and though villain had all the cool gadgets he is still bad without question. The hero when a man is your typical patriotic soldier, all for serving his commander’s order.. and while an ‘avatar’ is all for¬†mother earth and Gaya gig. Something repulsive in that itself if you ask me. Now I would be an environmentalist if not for bring in grad school, and¬†I appreciate nature a lot. But the whole “I was blind before.. but¬†I fell in love with a forest” routine did not fool me. You have the super smart scientist¬†¬†¬†(but who cannot handle a pippette); who understands the broader goal, is headbutting against¬†a management that’s singularly profit minded. The aliens were as aliens would be, even down to the jealous boyfriend-to-be of our heroine. No character was dealt with any amount of conviction, depth or significance.

The dialogues were not memorable. Throughout the movie I had a feeling that I’ve heard this kinda lines many times before. So, plot and dialogues get a no-go from me. Next comes the effects and¬†gadgets. I watched it in 2D.. so I really cant comment on the effect. The big machines that can walk and are extremely dextrous didnt impress me, and neither did the flying reptiles come across as anything else. So, lets leave it at that. All these points are very biased, and I know that I’m not as displeased with all this as much as with the fact that the movie just irritated me. It seemed arrogant, even obnoxious, the way they showed the military being total brutes, the scientist being all aware and the aliens being oh-so-pure.

And what was the point of it all? What was the crux of the movie?? What did the director hope to show us.. these awesome effects, but is that it? I guess I’ve overthought this. Trying to find the meaning of life in a film meant to be enjoyed for its animations. And that’s where my review fails as compared to other, more positive¬†reviews. But is it a good movie? Would I want you guys to go to the theatre and experience this for 3 hours?

No comments :P.

So, District 9


District 9http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1136608/

Regular alien-human flick or something more? More. Backed by some good direction and fine acting by Sharlto Copley as ‘Wikus’, the movie makes for very good utilisation of the 2 hrs. The plotline must’ve leaked by now, but still: An alien ship that got stranded on earth, and its inhabitants restricted in District 9 with¬† a beaurocratic MNU (multi-nations united) controlling them. Right from the first lines of the movie “..and the world was surprised¬†that the alien ship¬†chose to land not in New York or DC but on top of¬†Johannesburg.” the¬†¬†movie promises to be different. There is of course, the usual amount of gore, humans being blown up and awesome-impossible armaments.. but that just adds to the enjoyment.

What¬†I liked best about the movie was the humour with which it was directed. A lot of subtle sarcasm while¬†describing the working of the so called¬†MNU that attempts to make fair and legal all interactions¬†with the aliens, the use of the racial term ‘prawns’, the human-rights cry for liberation of aliens, the scam involving¬†illegal arms and weapon technology, and poor wikus trapped in a .. everything seems to be a pun on the current state of affairs. I would suggest not delving too deep into these hints, and enjoying the movie for what its intended. The film also had some good cinematography, with some very good scenes showing the city. Another reason¬†I liked this movie is because I watched it with a total lack of expectations.. something this review and others may not allow you to do. Try nevertheless, and enjoy the sensitively yet lightly made District 9.

Revolutionary Road


My favourite part of watching a movie with friends is getting to talk about it later. To discuss it, ridicule it.. see what smart comments others have to say for it and then profess your own impressions. Some movies are worth it. Unfortunately, I didnt get to do any of that after watching Revolutionary Road, and thus am forced into refuge here.

*www.imdb.com

Its a good¬†movie. As in, the actors acted as good actors do and¬†the plot evolved as good plots do. Technically speaking, the direction seemed too… artsy. Staged and dramatic almost. (Frankly, on a friday evening I’d rather not watch another movie about middle class mediocrity and mundaneness). But there are some bits that stand out… some dialogues that make so much sense. The ‘crazy’ son of the Wheeler’s agent, who questions why everything must be like it is. April’s enthusiasm in doing something rash, in wanting to live and not just exist. Frank’s emotions on facing something larger than himself. Good themes the story portrays there.

If this was a book, and it probably is, i’d much rather read it. I think i prefer my cinema to be (without sounding cheeky) more visual in its ideas. Well, they do portray america in the 1950’s really well.. looks like i have no words for its criticism. Watch it and let me know if you have any.

Happy Valentine’s folks :)


Bandini (1963)


Directed by Bimal Roy, Bandini is the story of Kalyani¬†(Nutan)¬†imprisoned in a prison and the story thereof. Being a movie of the¬†Black and White era, I shall not attempt a review as that requires some amount of knowledge in that field.¬†I’ll merely state my opinions about the movie.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056850/#comment

bandini

Bandini.. as the title for this film is very apt. The protagonist is a prisoner of destiny, a prisoner of the soceity and her own choices. The scenes are mostly of a pre-independence jail, a small village, and a few frames around the river. The movie is backed by very good cinematography, and many scenes are so masterfully done.. bringing out irony or sincerety so subtly. 

The songs are outstanding (S D Burman classics). Every one of them, except the freedom fighter one, which has some charm of its own. The youthful ‘Mora gora ang le lei’ is perhaps the most famous. There’s a song ‘Ab ke baras, bhej bhaiya ko babul…’ that another prisoner sings while toiling on the chakki and eyeing the world outside. Simply touching. The most wistful of em al is ‘O re majhi’ that tunes throughout the movie and forms the backdrop in the climax.

One scene that struck out, not because it was exceptional¬†but because it was out of thread, was when¬†some ‘inquilabi aatankvadis’ were served the death sentence in the same prison where Kalyani is imprisoned. Inquilabi aatankvadis :). The cry Vande Mataram is not far behind.. and does strike a chord as the fighters walk to the gallows. I feel the song that followed was not called for, and the scene would have had more of an impact¬†using understatement.

Most striking of all is the ‘Sab theek hai!’ that the watchman shouts across the¬†movie, as Kalyani is imprisoned, as she refuses parole, as she has to leave jail finally and as she’s faced with a choice. Irony packed in a punch. Sab theek hai.

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Do watch it. Not when you have friends over and want to watch a good movie. Watch it some sunday afternoon, when you’re not harried and can appreciate a story written in another time.

A Class Divided


When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, many thought his movement on Civil Rights had suffered a great setback. One teacher in Riceville, Iowa knew that King’s death cannot be explained in any other way to her 3rd grade students unless they understand what it means to be¬†Discriminated. The following link is of one of¬†the most requested programs in FRONTLINE’s history, a documentary by William Peters called A Class Divided.¬†

Jane Elliot is the teacher who developed this blue-eyed/brown-eyed¬†exercise. I was surprised while watching¬† it, that such an elegant experiment could change perception in kids so easily. It’s also very harsh on the kids, and I’m not sure the agony was worth their learning. More interesting was the final part of the documentary “How Adults React”. Discrimination, sadly, is present everywhere. In India, in the US or anywhere else. There must be¬†something so flawed in the human nature that it can accept¬†playing a part in discrimination. Is it because we are so diverse? But even then, why do we resent it? Its good to know that this exercise helped so many people understand and be above this feeling. There’s still a chance for us.

To wrap up, one of Jane Elliot’s quote: “We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.”

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