Sunday, April 29, 2012

Movies, movies...

Over the recent years, Marathi cinema, has put up some interesting examples of middle of the road sensible cinema, like Gabhricha Paus, Jogwaa, Valu, Harishchandrachi Factory, Deool etc. Khel Mandala [Viju Mane] not one of them. The plot has Dasu, a hereditary puppeteer trying to make a living in big bad Mumbai, finding an abandoned child that is blind and deaf/mute. He raises her in expected Samaritan fashion, and uses her as part of his act, controlling her moments by strings like a puppet. You would imagine that a story like this would involve some melodrama and tear-jerking and it wasn't that I walked into it blind-folded, but the film, at least whatever I saw of it, has little other than cliché and crudely wrought sentiment. Oh yes, I walked out of it halfway. I didn't expect to, I even spent an ill-advised hundred bucks on samosas and coffee at the interval mark, but when early on in the second half Dasu starts having romance song fantasies about the journalist girl who appears sympathetic to his cause, I had an undeniable feeling of having better things to do with my time than sit through this claptrap. Till that point the film was like Mehmood's Kunwara Baap, without the bizarreness that gave its predecessor a morbid curiosity value. I predict the following things to happen later in the film:
  1. Dasu gets complete KLPD over his imagined romance, and the journalist pairs up with her rival who runs competing stories about Dasu's “exploitation” of the child to steal her thunder
  2. The handicapped child is adopted by the rich childless housewife that bonds with her.
  3. Dasu dies of cancer / in a riot in protracted dialog-spewing fashion.
In case any of you see it in full, let me know by how much I miss the mark.

The Avengers [Joss Whedon] last night was pretty much what I expected it to be, a watchable disposable popcorn film (though I didn't have any popcorn). The story is ass, and you have to “marvel” at the need to go through three origin films to culminate in something that essentially comes from a randomized plot generator machine. What mainly works in the film's favor is Joss Whedon's penchant for witty dialog and character interplay – this ain't quite Firefly but it's a decent diversion. The most pleasant surprise comes from Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / The Hulk. What Ruffalo / Whedon achieve here is make Banner interesting enough that you're not just waiting for him to go big and green. I didn't care for Tom Hiddleston's Loki in the Thor film and I don't particularly care for him as the main adversary here – he has too much of a mousy clerk air to really fill the boots of a mischievous God. After a shaky and schizophrenic first third, the dialog and action pick up sufficiently for the film to serve its purpose. The climax is a lot of computer generated imagery and stuntwork put together. I'm sure a lot of skill and hard work went into it but I'm not blown away mainly because the film rarely gives a sense of its lead characters being in any real danger. A classic adventure film, predictability notwithstanding, will attempt to give you some *gulp* moments in its good v/s evil battles. Here, no one seems to be breaking much of a sweat, they're so busy being cool. Anyway, if you like action-oriented comic book movies, you'll definitely find something to like here, just don't expect to find the Holy Grail.

Saw Singham [Rohit Shetty] today with my mum. Having heard so much about the visual quality of the blu-ray I really, really wanted to like this film – if it had been anywhere as entertaining like Dabangg was, I would have definitely bought the BD. But that was not the case. While both these films fit squarely in the masala movie bracket, the difference is that Dabangg took care to see that the script was tight and constantly entertaining – the quirky father-son / brother relation, the attitude of the lead characters, punchy dialog, good pace and humor etc. In Singham everything between the fight scenes drags tremendously. Ajay Devgan (or Devgn or whatever the hell he wants to call himself) has a chiseled physique and he may be better at action but his persona is so dour I don't feel any liking for his character, and in a film like this that's a fatal flaw. Prakash Raj does his usual campy act and he's good but this same role was done with more humor and chutzpah in Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap. Looks like I won't be buying the BD because I can't imagine wanting to see this film ever again.

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