"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Movie Review - Kong: Skull Island

At one point in Kong: Skull Island, Brie Larson's character Mason, right before a critical mission, says, 'This is a bad idea'. The second film in Warner Bros.' MonsterVerse series sounds like a good idea on paper but something's gotten lost with its execution. The largest ape in movie history, Kong, is back but is his heart in it? I doubt it. This Kong is fatigued but yet he will soldier on to save those who need him.

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong: Skull Island wastes no time in getting the action started and assembling the team that will take on Kong. John Goodman plays Bill Randa at whose insistence this treacherous adventure is undertaken, Samuel L. Jackson as Colonel Packard is the military escort for this mission, anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad, an experienced tracker, are quickly introduced one by one.

They head into uncharted waters to an undiscovered island for a so-called geological survey. Within minutes of arriving at the South Pacific island, they bomb the pristine, lush green surroundings disturbing the peace and ecosystems. It's no surprise then that Kong comes out pissed as hell. I wouldn't blame him.

With Kong angry as an enraged mama bear, their numbers begin to dwindle and they are scattered across, the team later regroup and decide to get off the island. But not Colonel Packard, he has taken Kong's attack personally and decides to make it his mission to make Kong pay. Skull Island is a mysterious locale, with giant insects and animals (if you can call some of them that). The island is protected by Kong, who is regarded by the elusive tribe who lives on the island there as their god. 

We discover all this later as John C Reilly's Hank Marlow enters the story. He's the comic relief and a welcome one at that. His plane was shot down in 1944 on the island and he's been stuck there for nearly three decades. The world has moved on from the second world war to the Vietnam war, which has only just ended.

But showing that the humans have learnt nothing from decades of fighting, the interfering group of inconsiderate humans drop in and decide to play god, upending the decades old balance of the island. I suppose there is an indirect anti-war message in there somewhere but it's hard to see in between the violence and unnamed deaths of the peripheral characters.

Back in 2004, Peter Jackson paid homage to the monster movies of the 1930s with his own King Kong bringing startling emotion to the character through mo-cap genius Andy Serkis. Enough time had passed to warrant a film made on the legendary character. Jackson's King Kong remains in recent memory for many cinegoers, including me.

Here, Kong seems weary and going through the motions. The script does the movie no favours and besides Goodman, Jackson and the delightful John C Reilly, recent Oscar winner Brie Larson and the dishy Tom Hiddleston are completely wasted here.

The only saving grace of Kong: Skull Island are the stunning island scenes and the larger-than-life action scene. Watch at your own peril!

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts; Story by John Gatins; Screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly; Director of Photography by Larry Fong; Edited by Richard Pearson; Music by Henry Jackman.

Running Time: 118 minutes


Thursday, February 2, 2017

First look: Sandra Bullock gets her crew together for Ocean's 8

The spinoff to Ocean's 11 named Ocean's 8 has a release date, an awesome all-female cast and a brand new image out this week. Directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games), this new film will follow in the grand tradition of the previous films with 'the heist of the century' set in New York City.

Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean who assembles the perfect crew to pull off said heist at the annual Met Gala. The crew consists of Cate Blanchett (as Lou), Anne Hathaway (as Daphne Kluger), Rihanna (as Nine Ball), Helena Bonham Carter (as Rose), Sarah Paulson (as Tammy), Mindy Kaling (as Amita) and Awkwafina (as Constance). The squad is seen in the first ever look from the film riding the NYC subway to the Gala, maybe?

A summer release by Warner Bros., Ocean's 8 hits theaters on June 8, 2018. The gals seem ready, are you?

Vanity Fair's 2017 Hollywood cover

Photo: Annie Liebovitz/Vanity Fair
The annual Vanity Fair cover featuring the powerful, talented 'wonder women' of Hollywood was released last week and it is GORGEOUS! With recent Oscar nominees Emma Stone (La La Land), Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Ruth Negga (Loving), the cover showcases the current generation of actresses working in the business now. Some of them like sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning have grown up right in front of our eyes. Others like Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams and Janelle Monae have given formidable performances in Queen of Katwe, Arrival and Hidden Figures respectively last year. Also part of the group are Aja Naomi King (The Birth of a Nation), Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New Trailer: Disney's Moana

Disney's newest magical adventure Moana introduces us to its first Polynesian heroine. This Thanksgiving, Moana (voice of newcomer Auli'i Cravalho) chances upon the legendary demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) on her way to journey across the seas and fulfil her destiny once and for all.

Already I'm reminded of the wonderfully charming and uplifting Whale Rider (2002) in which Keisha Castle-Hughes first burst onto screens. In this teaser trailer, we don't get much out of Moana, but Maui sure seems like a real go-getter. The film is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker with music composed by recent Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa'i. Moana releases in theatres on 23 June, 2016.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Blast from the Past: Ferris Bueller's Day Off

One way to start feeling really old, at least for me, is when news websites start putting up anniversaries of movies. Has it been that long I wonder? But yes, those movie milestones were a key part of your life growing up and it's really nostalgic to look back.

(Source: Tumblr)
On June 11, 1986, a charming little film about a high-school student, directed by John Hughes, opened and launched a star. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the ultimate love letter to Chicago. As the irrepressible Ferris, Matthew Broderick, stole the show as he planned the best day off from school. Many a student has tried to follow in his footsteps, including me, and failed, because let's face it, we can try to be like Ferris, but we can't really be Ferris.

I'm not going to say much about the plot (spoiler alert: it's so much fun!) but the cast, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey, etc, pretty much nail it! Special mention of the hilarious Jeffrey Jones, as the beleaguered principal who just wants to make sure Ferris gets caught. Make sure you watch all the way until the end credits.

Directed byJohn Hughes
Produced byJohn Hughes
Tom Jacobson
Written byJohn Hughes
Music byIra Newborn
Arthur Baker
John Robie
CinematographyTak Fujimoto
Edited byPaul Hirsch

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Movie Review: Thithi

Last year at the Mumbai Film Festival, I saw amazing films both from international and Indian cinema. One of those Indian films happened to be Raam Reddy's Thithi, a stunningly complex and layered film on death, loss and familial relationships. Showing the travails of ordinary village life tied to the rituals of life and death, Thithi is a powerful film, made richer with the wonderful characters in it.

The most extraordinary thing about Thithi is that it is the first feature by Reddy. He scripted the film along with Eregowda, who based the film and its characters on the experiences from his own village. The film utilizes first-time actors, whose natural and effortless performances are the key to its likability.

Thithi opens with the death of the 101-year-old 'Century' Gowda, a colourful character if ever there was one. His death impacts three generations down the line; Century's son Gaddappa, Gaddappa's son Thamanna and Thamanna's son, Abhi. Each man has different reactions to the death of the patriarch in the family.

Gaddappa lives off the land and has long rid himself of attachments, human and objects. Thamanna is too concerned with his public image and taking forward the family name, while Abhi is a happy-go-lucky but useless young man, chasing after a shepherd girl, whose nomadic family has camped near their village.

It falls upon Thamanna organizes the 'thithi' for his grandfather, although he is more than happy to take up the mantle of head of family. Thamanna is also after the family land which he believes belongs to him. He forges fake documents to obtain it as his father Gaddappa maintains his Zen-like approach to the unfurling events around him which all come to a head at the all-important funeral celebration to honor Century Gowda.

Thithi recently won the National Film Award for Best Feature in Kannada and is about to get a nationwide release on June 3rd. I laughed (a lot), I was moved and charmed by the writing and depth of this film. Big kudos to Raam Reddy and Eregowda to bringing this slice of life to the big screen. Try and catch if it you can if it's playing near you. Thithi is a treasure!

Directed by Raam Reddy; Written by Eregowda; Co-written by Raam Reddy; Cinematography by Doron Tempert; Edited by John Zimmerman and Raam Reddy.

Running time: 120 minutes


Friday, April 22, 2016

Trailer Time: The Magnificent Seven, The Girl on the Train, Jason Bourne and The Founder

Lots of trailers out this week, showing us what's in store for the rest of the year. Let's start with the reboot of one of the greatest Westerns in cinema.


The wild, wild west is back with Antoine Fuqua's remake of the classic The Magnificent Seven! With his Training Day star Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier teaming up to go up against Peter Sarsgaard's baddie, the first teaser shows us how the assembling of the band of outlaws and heroes coming together to save a town. There will be much debate on whether a reboot or remake like this is needed after the previous masterpieces with Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954) and the 1960 version with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, but casting Washington in the lead is welcome addition, for sure. The Magnificent Seven releases on September 23, 2016.

Right on the heels of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl came Paula Hawkins's psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train. The best-selling novel is being turned into a film which releases on October 7, 2016 with Emily Blunt as the titular girl who thinks she witnessed a murder from the train. Along with co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Haley Bennett and Alison Janney, the movie focuses on Rachel (Emily Blunt) and quest to separate fact from fiction. The first teaser looks fantastic, great choice with Kanye West's Heartless playing over it. However, I am disappointed that the filmmakers decided to change the setting of the novel from U.K. to America. It's missing something essential in the change, I believe. The Girl on the Train is directed by Tate Taylor.

The spy who just won't go away, Matt Damon returns back to the franchise with Jason Bourne. This time, original director Paul Greengrass too is on board to helm this latest film. The first teaser has everyone's favourite amnesiac making his presence known, yet again. I don't know why they keep getting surprised that he returns. You created a super spy, now deal with it. Julia Stiles seems to be the only returning cast member from the previous films, while newly minted Oscar winner Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones join the cast to hunt down Jason Bourne. The film is in theaters on July 29.

Michael Keaton, who's on an all-time professional high with the last two Oscar Best Picture wins under his belt, steps into the shoes of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. But as the first trailer begins to unveil, can he rightly be considered the founder of the fast food franchise, when the idea and the conception was someone else's? The Founder co-stars Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch and B.J. Novak and is directed by John Lee Hancock. It releases August 5, 2016.
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