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Sep 262014
 



Hollywood A-lister Denzel Washington has often whined that Indian cabbies don’t stop for him in New York City.

After sitting through Denzel’s new movie Equalizer in quiet fury this evening, I decided the whiner was not going to win any sympathy from me.

Folks, Equalizer works very hard to match the Bollywood junk that Indian directors shovel our way ad nauseam.

Based on a three-decade-old TV series, Equalizer is the dreadful handiwork of director Antoine Fuqua (of Training Day fame, the movie that got Denzel his Best Actor Oscar).

Not Worth It

Equalizer is a one-man show – Denzel, Denzel and more Denzel.

Denzel as a middle-aged employee of a large home improvement store (think Home Depot), Denzel reading Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea late night at a 24-hour diner, Denzel motivating his co-worker to get a job as security guard, Denzel making small talk with a young Russian hooker Yelena (Chloë Grace Moretz) at the diner, Denzel making mincement of the Russian Mafia in Boston and Denzel bringing down a dreaded criminal oligarch in Moscow.

All of it tiresome! Totally. Continue reading »

Sep 212014
 

Impeccably written, beautifully enacted, frequently funny and charmingly photographed, Le Week-End (2013) is an absolute treat.

British director Roger Michell directed this delightful film based on the story by Hanif Kureshi (of My Beautiful Laundrette and the Buddha of Suburbia fame).

How I stumbled upon this gem I can’t recollect now but I’m glad I did.

It’s one of the many unfair tragedies of life that Le Week-End never got a wide release and grossed little at the box office!

Life – No Fun

Life is anything but fun for the vast, nameless majority for whom a new dawn yields no joy but brings forth only fresh pain (job issues, money problems, children trouble, marital infidelity, health crises etc). Continue reading »

Aug 272014
 

All your friends try to kill you? – Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko)

Eventually.The November Man (Pierce Brosnan)
Source – The November Man

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief during the closing credits of the new Hollywood spy thriller November Man.

Names like Sriram Das, Raj Brinder Singh, Vishal Rungta, Ankur Rungta whizzed by.

WTF was that!

Where did this desi swarm spring from?

Hey, didn’t I just watch a Hollywood film (directed by Roger Donaldson with screenplay by Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek).

I rushed home, to Google.

Eureka!

Of the countless action films these fading eyes have swooned over the last few decades (James Bond, Jason Bourne, Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Iron Man, Lucy, Kickass etc), I now declare unequivocally that my favorite is the new Hollywood film The November Man (Pierce ‘James Bond‘ Brosnan, Olga ‘Bond girl‘ Kurylenko).

Why? Why November Man?

Because it’s a Hollywood action film produced by Indians (along with Beau St. Clair and Pierce Brosnan). :)

Oh, No. Not by that C-grade businessman Anil Ambani or that brain dead mass of steroid pulp a.k.a. Uday Chopra.

OK, I can sense your impatient angst boiling over.

Let me explain the “Indian” part of November Man before you Chutiyas start wetting your langots and panties in impotent rage.

Sriram Das of Das Films (Santa Monica, California) is co-producer of The November Man.

Sriram Das - November ManSriram Das – Co-Producer

A Harvard and Yale alumnus, 36-year-old Das (born in NYC) has produced seven films and has another seven in the pipeline.

Above Average

Honey, who gives a rat’s ass about Sriram Das or Gobar Gas.

Tell me ’bout the movie.

And what do you have to say about the ‘other’ critics who have savaged the film (35% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Well, it should come as no surprise to you schmucks that the only critic I’ve ever found competent or taken seriously is I, Me and Myself.

In my movie lexicon, action films are seldom great.

With rare exceptions like The Dark Knight Returns, they usually fall on the spectrum between bad to above average.

November Man falls in the class of Above-Average Hollywood films.

Based on Bill Granger’s novel There Are No Spies, the film is a spy thriller set in Belgrade with guns blazing, cars zipping on narrow European streets, a dashing ‘decent’ hero (Pierce Brosnan), a sexy babe (Olga Kurylenko), double-crossing CIA agents and, of course, the rotten Russian bastards. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 

By Naveen

Günther: “Why do we do what we do?
Martha: “To keep the world safe. Isn’t that a good enough reason?”

This Philip Seymour Hoffman (Günther Bachmann), Rachel McAdams (Annabel Richter), Willem Dafoe (Tommy), Robin Wright (Martha) and Grigoriy Dobrygin (Isa Karpov) starrer is directed by Anton Corbijn and based on John le Carré book of the same name.

Extensively shot in Hamburg, this movie triggered in me some lovely memories as it was the first city I visited outside India. Ah… the visuals at Reeperbahn! ;-)

Story

The complex story/plot which takes a while to unravel is set in Hamburg (Germany) where the September 11 attacks were planned. The German intelligence community is on a perennial high alert to avoid such an incident again.

Günther runs a secret spy network. His network is monitoring the activities and transactions of a Muslim philanthropist Faisal Abdullah, who he suspects has a bad side – Of being a terrorist sympathizer. Continue reading »

Aug 082014
 

Asking for a discount doesn’t mean I’m poor. It means I’m thrifty.
– Om Puri’s character Papa in The Hundred Foot Journey

Filmed in Mumbai (a short-bit) and France, The Hundred Foot Journey is visual splendor.

Linus Sandgren’s photography – of rural France, Indian and French food, the markets, the cast etc – is like a bewitching painting that leaves you in thrall to its beauty.

Plus the movie features two acting legends Om Puri and Helen Mirren in key roles.

With so much going for it and all the talk about Indian spices, Murgh Masala, Tandoori Goat and the like, you’d think this English film with a strong underlying ‘Indian‘ content would be a spicy treat for a desi palate like mine.

Alas, because of a limp story the Hundred Foot Journey turned out to be an unsatisfactory repast.

Sure, the movie has a few good moments (mostly centering around Om Puri and Helen Mirren) but the overall effect is of an uninspiring feel-good film with a banal ending.

The Dreamworks-Reliance Entertainment production is directed by Lasse Hallström based on the eponymous novel by Richard C. Morais.

Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah and Farzana Dua Elahe are other key members of the cast.

Yesteryear Bollywood ‘actress’ Juhi Chawla has a small role (Thank God).

A Smorgasbord

So what’s the movie about? Continue reading »

Jul 252014
 

To my jaded, cynical and seen-it-all eyes, most movies seem like garbage.

Thank God for the new Hollywood film Lucy from French director Luc Besson (also writer of the film).

In a rarity, I derived 150% value from my $11.25 ticket this evening.

A visually appealing, high octane thriller featuring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and Choi Min-sik, Lucy had me breathless at the end.

Luc Besson is a respected film-maker involved in production, writing and direction. Leon – The Professional (director), Wasabi (writer and producer) and Tell No One (producer) are some of the Besson films I’ve seen previously.

Brain Use

For the full 82-minutes, there was not a single second when I felt bored or my mind wandered. Continue reading »