Sunday, 2 July 2017

A Death in the Gunj (2017)

In 1979, an extended family gets together at a sleepy village home of McCluskieganj, owned by their own family seniors, OP Bakshi and Anupama Bakshi (Om Puri and Tanuja). 

The group: Married couple Nandu and Bonnie (Gulshan Devaiah and Tillotama Shome) with their little daughter Tani (Arya Sharma). 
The boisterous alpha male Vikram (Ranvir Shorey), the 'soon-to-go' to Australia, Brain (Jim Sarbh), flirty, sensuous Mimi (Kalki Koechlin) are all there. 
But even in this varied group, the young, fragile, troubled Shutu (Vikram Massey) stands out for the audience, while he is sidetracked by his relatives. This is Shutu's story and through him a penetrating magnifying glass on bullying, introverts, human nature, meekness, and isolation.            

Actress Konkana Sen Sharma's directorial debut A Death in the Gunj is a little gem of a movie, with a slow, drawn out simmering, haunting quality. 

This is no Agatha Christie-like murder mystery, as the title may suggest. A death is promised in the first scene itself. The film deftly cuts through seven days leading to a tragedy. Just like life, you don't know what to expect.  

Sharma triumphs in lingering over the geography and the characters. The wonderful cast seems less made of actors and more of real people. 

Konkana Sen Sharma succeeds in great understatements, revealing only what is required, leaving much unsaid and thus engaging us continuously. Her approach fits into building up a powerful drama. 

Undoubtedly one of the films of the year, go catch A Death in the Gunj, available for legal viewing on an online streaming service. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

Despicable​ Me 3 (2017)

Riding on tried and tested elements from the earlier parts, comic good vs bad premise (dance fight!), twin brother bonding, minions and little girl cuteness, Despicable Me 3 keeps the laughs and sniggers (snigger, snigger!) coming from time to time. 

There is no central bonding force here, but more of episodic scenes, instead of a rollicking main story. Some grating stuff, no particular flow, humour is the superhero here. 

Still, the animation works for its bright-lit proceedings, bubblegum attire, an 80's style (irritating at times) villain and candy-cute kiddy stuff. The minions especially light up sections. A passable, fun watch.

You rate our movie not so good? 

The Mummy (2017)

An ambitious Egyptian queen-to-be goes on a family murdering spree to ascend the throne. For her sins, she is mummified alive and sunk in a mercury-filled grave. Centuries later, she is unwittingly released by treasure hunter/ US Army personnel Nick (Tom Cruise, chirpy at 55) to wreck havoc. We are soon caught in a swirl of curses, evil, an ancient dagger, mummy victims,  and immortality talk. Sounds familiar? 

A friend made a valid point prior to the morning show of The Mummy. We are still viewing the same movies that we used to watch in our childhood. The more movies we watch, the more they remain the same? 

Somewhere, somehow, Hollywood is so embroiled in sequels and prequels, that more commercial movies are resembling extended, tiresome TV episodes now. 

The Mummy stands out as the most unnecessary remake in recent times. The reboot does score in eerie atmospherics and some stunning special effects where it lacks oh so badly in the story.  

Russell Crowe's Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde turns are a miss, while Sofia Boutella as Mummy/Ahmanet is great casting. So is a lively Annabelle Wallis as the female lead. But the lack of creative spunk and freshness lets them all down.

Apart from the stunning plane crash sequence, the proceedings attain a predictable quality. Finally, The Mummy entertains thanks to its art direction and cast, but don't expect anything new.

Fresh ideas, please.

The terrific plane crash sequence, the only exceptional take away from the film. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Wonder Woman (2017)

Directed by noted female director Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman ends up as a largely underwhelming, if not a disappointing origins movie. Jenkins brings in sensitivity, friendship, love, sacrifice, and loss, but not a fast-paced, throbbing with adventure superheroine movie I longed for. 

The DC franchise can take heart for their prize casting though. 

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, her persona, diction, mannerisms spot on. You may well believe that Wonder Woman is actually around, alive and breathing. Such is Gadot's screen impact. Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and Ewen Bremner make a good supporting cast.  

There is an expansive, admirable anti-war theme that blunts possibilities of mad escapist comic book elements, a pity. The 'naive heroine in the city' episode is funny, the motley 'Saving Private Ryan' kind of bonding during World War I, mildly adorable. 

But the much-awaited, scattered action is hardly thrilling, even when the Greek God of War is involved. A dull, cold bad guy negates all fun. 3D is merely present and seldom used to awe effect.

Wonder Woman ends up as just about satisfying on the big screen. 

Hopefully, the forthcoming Justice League movie will bring in the action and team play dynamics together for high-octane entertainment.