Archive for English

Birdman

birdman-poster

Given that you have a bunch of Oscar nominated films releasing together, it’s tedious to keep track of the one which stands out. While all other nominees are either biographies or dramas, Birdman excels as a dark comedy with some spectacular performances.

It’s very difficult to write about director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. A Hollywood actor once famous for playing fictional ‘Birdman’ character is trying to establish himself on Broadway; but he is still haunted and tormented by the voice of Birdman, and the story showcases how this conflict affects his Broadway career. While González Iñárritu brings out the best from the entire cast, the screenplay is spectacular and makes the movie a treat to watch. The way the entire film flows seamlessly while giving an impression that it’s all a single shot is brilliantly done. This is how good it gets on script, screenplay and direction front.

Michael Keaton is superb as the struggling actor. He gets into the skin of the character, and his performance is the best I’ve seen this year (thus far). Edward Norton comes up with an equally spectacular act and actually outshines Keaton in some episodes. Emma Stone is perfect in her brief appearance, and so are Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough and Zach Galifianakis. The film is an absolute treat in terms of performances.

Music by Antonio Sánchez is haunting and very effective. Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki and editing by Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione are excellent. Again, the way the film flows as a single shot thanks to perfect screenplay, editing and cinematography is worth mention.

Is it worth your time and money?: While all the Oscar nominees are excellent films, Birdman happens to be the clear winner for me. It’s a perfect example of the script, director, actors and technical teams all coming together to churn out a work of art. Don’t miss it!!

Worth mention: The performances and the illusion that entire film is a single shot.

Acting: 9.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 9.5/10
Technical Aspects: 9/10

Verdict: 9.5/10

The Theory of Everything

Theory of Everything Poster

It is not often that you have two biopics releasing together – both British (one about a mathematician and other a physicist), both nominated for the Oscars. While The Imitation Game is a dramatized thriller about Alan Turing and his achievements, The Theory of Everything is a drama about Stephen Hawking’s personal life.

Based upon the book written by Jane Wilde (Hawking’s first wife), the movie happens to be more about the couple’s relationship rather than the physicists achievements. It starts of with a young Hawking meeting Jane a little before he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and continues with their struggles as a married couple, while Hawking pursued research on quantum mechanics through deteriorating health conditions. While the love story is  well picturized, director James Marsh could not maintain the same zeal for the rest of the story. Beyond a point, the relationship between the couple seemed artificial. The screenplay is neat, but only if the story had much more substance to offer. Even worse, it doesn’t even connect with you emotionally.

Eddie Redmayne is brilliant as Hawking. He resembles Hawking in looks, and portrays the medical condition to perfection. While he has not much to say, he conveys a lot through his facial expressions. Felicity Jones puts up an equally good performance as Jane. David Thewlis and Charlie Cox are good.

Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson is alright. Editing by Jinx Godfrey and cinematography by Benoit Delhomme are good. I actually liked the way the some scenes were presented in retro nostalgic frames.

Is it worth your time and money??: When you compare with the other British biopic, The Theory of Everything lacks enough substance to keep you engrossed for it’s more of a drama than a biopic. While worth a watch for the performances, it really has nothing new to offer.

Acting: 9.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 7.5/10

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

After a long wait, The Imitation Game has finally released in India. Having read some raving reviews about the movie, I walked in with high expectations. While it did live up to most, I somehow felt something was amiss.

Scripted by Graham Moore, The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing, the mathematician who helped the allies win the Second World War using the Turing Machine (Christopher/Bombe). The script has been modified enough to help director Morten Tydlum make the movie gripping; enough drama has been infused into this biopic to make it interesting. However, I felt that there could have been more emotional content. While direction is good, adding a little more substance to the film would have made it better. Nevertheless, the best part of the movie however is its seamless screenplay which runs through three different time periods. Be it the 1940’s or the 1950’s, every frame is stitched together perfectly.

The movie is near perfect thanks to a brilliant act by Benedict Cumberbatch. His performances in a couple of episodes, when he confesses to his fiancée, and when he’s struggling to solve a Crossword puzzle, are superb. Special shout to Alex Lawther who enacts young Turing’s life to the ‘T’. Keira Knightley is perfect as Joan Clarke. The rest of the cast put up credible performances.

Music by Alexandre Desplat is good, but something more haunting would have been perfect. Editing by William Goldenberg is neat while cinematography by Oscar Faura is excellent.

Is it worth your time and money??: It might not be a perfect biopic for it lacks enough emotional quotient, but Benedict Cumberbatch adds so much life to the movie that you can’t afford to miss it. Forget homosexuality and everything else, The Imitation Game is a beautiful story of a man who helped save close to 18 million lives. Must watch.

Acting: 9.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 9/10

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit -The Battle of the Five Armies

While the first instalment, An Unexpected Journey, of the series wasn’t great, the second part, The Desolation of Smaug, was a better movie. While I was hoping for an excellent end to the series (like the third movie in the LOR series), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ended up being more like the first movie – ordinary.

The movie continues from where it left off, with Smaug attacking Lake Town. The Dragon Slayer saves the day and the town, but the battle has just began with every army converging and fighting for the Lonely Mountain. This battle seemed a little too long and at times artificial. Nevetheless, things pic up towards the latter half with Thorin’s battle against Azog and Legolas fighting Blog piquing your interest. Direction by Peter Jackson is neat but the screenplay wasn’t as interesting as the second film.

On acting front, this movie provides every character to showcase their talent and almost everyone performs to their best. Ian McKellen does a good job as expected, while Luke Evans is impressive. Evangeline Lilly still looked odd as Tauriel but comes up with a decent act. The Hobbit (Martin Freeman) puts up a fine performance.

Music and background score by Howard Shore is alright, and so is editing by Jabez Olssen. While the graphics still seemed artificial at times, they were better than the previous two films. Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is pretty good.

Is it worth your time and money??: While not as engrossing as The Desolation of SmaugThe Battle of the Five Armies is a decent watch. Let’s hope it all ends here.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 8/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

hunger-games-3-mockingjay

The first movie of the franchise The Hunger Games set the context, and the second movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire doubled the expectations thanks to some amazing action sequences and great performances from it’s leads. Come the third movie, the expectations were high, but unfortunately, while the acting still stands out, the movie doesn’t!

Scripted by Danny Strong and Peter Craig, and directed by Francis Lawrence, the problem with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is it’s snail paced narration. Right from the word go, almost all the scenes seemed a drag and some of them were in fact repetitive. There’s enough emotion, with Jennifer Lawrence putting up a great act, but there nothing on the action front to substantiate the expectations of a Hunger Games movie. The slow screenplay plays a big time spoil sport.

Music by James Newton Howard is decent, with pretty good sound mixing and design. Cinematography by Jo Willems is alright while editing by Mark Yoshikawa could have been better. It probably would have been best if the producers didn’t break the third book of the instalment into two parts.

Is it worth your time and money??: Compared to the first two films of the series, this one is more or less a bore. But that doesn’t mean you can skip it, especially if you’re following the series. So unless you happen to be a fan, wait for the DVD.

Worth mention: Jennifer Lawrence is close to brilliant on acting front.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6.5/10
Technical Aspects: 7.5/10

Verdict: 7/10

John Wick

John Wick

Keanu Reeves is an actor with great talent. Be it Speed or The Matrix, he’s had this ability to emote with the straightest face possible. And his performance in John Wick is no different.

Directed by debutant Chad Stahelski, John Wick is a simple revenge action thriller. In all honesty, the storyline is plain vanilla. But Chad does a great job thanks to some amazing screenplay. The sleek shots are fun to watch on-screen, and though the movie is very predictable, it keeps you engrossed till the end.

Keanu is great in the title role, and totally lives up to the expectations created in the first few minutes of the movie. Michael Nyqvist is perfect as the antagonist who knows he’s gonna lose everything fighting John Wick. Willem Dafoe and others are alright.

Music and background score by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard is pretty neat. The sound effects were really good. Editing by Elísabet Ronalds and cinematography by Jonathan Sela are both effective.

Is it worth your time and money??: John Wick is a sleek and stylish thriller with some good acting and crisp screenplay. If you like action films, then this one is a must watch.

Worth mention: The build up to John Wick’s character, simply superb!

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8/10

Big Hero 6

big-hero-6

You’ve watched superheroes save the day in The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. While Big Hero 6 comes from the same studio which gave us these blockbusters (Marvel), it’s very different from them. While the former two build on action, Big Hero 6 is a cute little movie with its heart at the right place.

Is it worth your time and money??: Absolutely! It’s probably the cutest movie you’ll watch this year. It’s perfect not just for the kids, but families can enjoy it too. Don’t miss it 🙂

Worth mention: The animation and the bonding between Baymax and Hiro. Baymax is the cutest robot ever!

Acting: 9/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 9/10

Verdict: 9/10

Interstellar

interstellar-poster

Christopher Nolan you beauty! Where do you get your ideas from, seriously? While everyone else is stuck making movies on Earth, Moon or about Aliens, this guy actually has the audacity to picture interstellar travel. Man, take a bow!

If Inception was beyond your reach, wait till you watch this one. In the distant future, where Earth is almost dead, our protagonist leads a mission to find a habitable planet beyond the Solar System while leaving his young kids behind. Whether he is able to save his family and the human race from extinction is the million dollar question. Scripted and directed by Nolan, the movie is pretty complicated for there’s science and fiction amalgamated together. It starts of terribly slow and it’s not until the first landing that it gets interesting. Nevertheless, Nolan succeeds in setting up a larger than life epic with some intense drama. Direction is absolutely spot on and screenplay is perfect, if only he had a stronger script. The run time could have been trimmed, but again, you’re talking about 100 years in less than 3 hours. From Memento to Interstellar, Christopher Nolan has come a long way, challenging himself with every film and setting the bar higher. What next?

If you thought this movie is all about Nolan, you’re mistaken. Matthew McConaughey is exceptional in the lead role and carries the entire movie on his shoulders. His performance in the scene where he watches his kids messages is outstanding. Anne Hathaway is decent. Jessica Chastain is pretty good, and so is Matt Damon in his brief appearance.

Music by Hans Zimmer is excellent. His score in the scene where the spaceship docks with Endurance is remarkable. Editing by Lee Smith is neat. However, few of the initial scenes could have been trimmed. Cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema is again, beyond praise. The IMAX visuals were magnificent (and I wouldn’t mind watching movie again just for the visuals). Technically, the movie is a treat!

Is it worth your time and money??: Interstellar is not your regular weekend stress-buster movie. It’s one which makes you rattle your brain to make sense (and it still might not). While not a perfect movie on script front, its sheer magnificence makes it a must watch for any movie lover. Add to that some great acting and music, and you have a winner.

Do stay away if you don’t like intense movies which require a lot of thinking and understanding!

Worth mention: Sheer grandeur of the movie. The IMAX scenes were out-of-the-world good!

Acting: 9/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 9/10

Verdict: 9.5/10

Fury

Fury-2014-Movie-Poster

Is it worth your time and money??: While it’s not a brilliant war film, Fury is a decent entertainer. Plus points are exceptional acting, especially by Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman, and spectacular cinematography. On the downside, the movie is too long and the screenplay could have been better. Give it a shot if you have nothing else to do!

Worth mention: Great visuals.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 7.5/10

Gone Girl

gone girl

David Fincher has been known to make different kinda movies. Ben Affleck is an actor you can’t get enough of. Them working on an adaptation of a best-selling novel results in one the weirdest movies I’ve ever watched.

The movie starts off as a mystery; a man is in search of his wife who disappeared from their house. It soon turns into a drama about marital issues. Then it turns into a thriller where you’re expecting something unexpected to happen the very next moment. And then, it end so weirdly that you’re left in awe, with mouth wide open, literally. I haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s novel, but boy, that was one hell of a story. David Fincher does a great job of putting it on-screen with just about perfect direction. Add to that some excellent screenplay by Flynn, and the movie is perfect to watch.

Ben Affleck is great as the carefree husband. He has put on a lot of weight for the role and it felt as if the character was written for him; he was that good. Rosamund Pike is absolutely brilliant as his wife, and is actually better than Affleck. Neil Patrick Harris appears briefly as an obsessed boyfriend and is good. Carrie Coon is decent while Kim Dickens comes up with a good act.

Music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is haunting yet very subtle. Editing by Kirk Baxter is perfect, and cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth is good. Again, no qualms on technical front.

Is it worth your time and money??: Gone Girl is a weird good film. The problem here isn’t with the acting, direction or screenplay, it’s with the ending for you either like it or you don’t. Of the 150 odd minutes, you’re at the edge of your seat for almost 125. What happens in the next 15-20 minutes is a gamble you ought to take. It all depends on how you handle it. 😀

Worth mention: The weird ending!

Acting: 9/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

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