Monday, 26 September 2016

Boyhood (2014)

[**** stars / *****] 

2002: Six-year-old Mason and his elder sister Samantha are raised by their single mother Olivia in Texas. 

2005: Mason now lives in Houston with his family, stepfather, their two children.

2008: The real father, Mason Sr. talks to Mason and a 'now with boyfriend' Samantha about contraception. Yes, that kind of talk will take a long way coming to India.Meanwhile, Olivia escapes an abusive second marriage and files for divorce. 

2012: Mason has already experienced drugs, alcohol, love, and heartbreak. A budding photographer, he is at the crossroads of life as a teenager. 

Boyhood review 
Boyhood's crux is not the much-advertised byline '12 years in the making'. 

It is director Richard Linklater's ode to life's ordinariness, how life just quietly passes by, but for some upheavals, intermittent chaos and adventures while you are at it. A gentle nod to childhood, parenting and that strong tradition we call family.  

Unlike Linklater's Before Trilogy (where I loved that nothing overtly plot-altering is happening), after a point you want things to get moving here. 

Scenes like a drunken abusive father, a cowering wife, an alcoholic taking his children on a dangerous, infuriated car ride, add necessary zing to an otherwise linear tale.

But Linklater's making his signature moments here. 

Among steady conversations, free-flowing monologues, bad haircuts, first girlfriend and a touching cathartic mother moment, Boyhood shines in what it reveals in passing, and not always necessarily in dialogue. This is where it kept me riveted.  

The last bit of conversation and how it loops back to the entire film is an incredible editing moment, applause for editor Sandra Adair. 

If you end up loving Boyhood, don't miss Linklater's Before Sunrise (1995) and for dramatic contrast, the rock'n'roll infused, cute school comedy School of Rock (2003).    

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Suicide Squad (2016)

[** stars / *****] 

Suicide Squad is the latest comic-books-to-film-adaptation casualty. Following events after Superman's death from the disappointing DC-Zack Synder venture, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), the same multi-starer vs story problems plague Suicide Squad. 

A superb anti-hero crime-fighting team premise is strangled by lazy (snore!) screenplay writing. Character introductions are mandatory, assembly-line stuff. 

Antagonists are 'whatever', no-purpose world destroyers. Somebody always has to make a world-destructing appearance that superheroes make their reputation. 

There is some crackle in the humor and backtalk, that soon dies a non-exploding death. Glimpses of inspired performances are badly let down by the biggest cinema villain ever: Non-existent story. 

Jared Leto's rocking Joker interpretation barely gets screen space. Margot Robbie gives her best performance yet as the crazy Harley Quinn, Will Smith tries resurrecting a flimsily built hitman role.The rest are all good, but movie making buffoonery can't be carried around for long.      

Suicide Squad review 
We have seen too much of VFX in the last two decades, thanks to the superhero and fantasy film flood. If anything awes cinema-goers timelessly, it is story and treatment. Suicide Squad shockingly lacks both, its first half barely standing and to call the latter part 'a drag' is grossly understating it. 

What works in comic books doesn't always translate to film, a reoccurring event at cinema screens lately. Suicide Squad is guaranteed to leave you in shreds.

Final Word 
Box-office collections have nothing to do with cinematic quality. Ever.  

Happy Bhag Jayegi (2016)

[**1/2 stars / *****] 

Attuned to the spirit and tone of last year's contrived yet very very funny Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015), Happy Bhag Jayegi isn't half as funny and not too bad either.

Amritsar's runaway bride Happy (Diana Penty, competent) jumps into wrong flower truck and gets transported across the border to Pakistan. 

Getting her back to India, reuniting her with her lover (Ali Fazal, one-tone), saving her from the rowdy small town goon cum groom (Jimmy Shergill, reprising rejected groom act, in great form), and not falling for her - falls into Pakistan's young dad-repressed politician Bilal's hands (Abhay Deol, confident, self-assured turn). 

Pakistani actors, (incidentally father and daughter in real life) Javed Sheikh (nice one) and Momal Sheikh (gorgeous, decent act) add charm to the cast. Piyush Mishra makes a sketchily written role his own by sheer brilliance, and deserves special mention.   

Happy Bhag Jayegi review
Co-produced by Tanu Weds Manu Returns director Anand L. Rai, well-directed by Mudassar Aziz, Happy Bhag Jayegi is saved by its performances and intermittent, genuinely funny one-liners, a drag when it goes into uninspired soap-opera emotions. Aziz, also the film's writer has a flair of lines, but treads tired, trodden territory often.

But there is promise in Aziz, until he makes a better film, this is an OK watch.