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The Constant Gardener



I caught this movie recently, after a friend of mine “highly” recommended it to me … and I’m glad that I caught it.

This is one more addition to African Centric movies – though this is of a different nature.

The last african centric movie that I had watched was Hotel Rwanda, which to be frank, was brilliant.

These movies paint a very sad picture of Africa, and honestly, even India, with the gzillion problems that we face everyday, seems like heaven compared to what some people out there go through.

Some parts of Africa, are really, really bad – which results in the more well to do countries treating them like expendable guinea pigs – a premise on which the Constant Gardener is based on.

I’ve heard that the promos of the movie are very misleading and you’ll be better if you’ve missed them completely – and if you have not, don’t go according to what they say.

But a movie very well worth watching for its underlying base.

BTW .. the movie has Rachel Weisz (Mummy, Runaway Jury) who is brilliant and won the best supporting actress for her role in the movie.

Also has Ralph Fiennes (Schlinders List, Maid in Manhattan, The Prince of Egypt) who is equally brilliant.

A definite watch.

My review on the film : Here

The Constant Gardener

It’s like it’s a marriage of convenience and all it produces are dead offspring.
Beginnings …
This year, coincidently, or otherwise, I have seen many movies which are based on real life, heart wrenching stuff – the Constant Gardener being one of them.
I haven’t seen any promos of the film (it was recommended to me by a friend), but I’ve heard that the promos are misleading which would spoil the film for you if you take it as a murder mystery.
The movie is NOT really an edge of the seat murder mystery and it does not even have its ’’adrenaline moments’’, but for what its worth, it is a very well made movie.
The people
The movie stars Ralph Fiennes (Schlinders List, Maid in Manhattan, The Prince of Egypt) as an English High commission Diplomat who is posted in Kenya and Rachel Weisz (Mummy, Runaway Jury, Constantine) as his wife.
Both of them being the very talented actors they are, do complete justice to their roles.
In fact, Rachel Weisz won best supporting actress for her role in this film at the Oscars this year.
The movie is actually based on a novel by the same name by John le Carre’ and is directed by Fernando Meirelles who is also the director of the very critically acclaimed film : City of God.
The movie …
The overall movie plays extremely slow but is nevertheless intriguing and keeps you glued to your seat.
The story from the synopsis (no, this will not at all spoil the movie for you) is that the wife of a British Diplomat gets murdered in Kenya and he decides to get to the bottom of this.
In doing so, he uncovers many hidden secrets, relating to industrial corruption and how big companies take advantage of third world countries.
Like I said, the movie plays a bit slow throughout and you have to pay attention to the dialogues to actually get engrossed into the movie.
The movie is shot and edited in such a way, that you get a third person perspective of the film. Like something is happening on screen – but you are not involved in it.
This goes on till just before the movie ends – and in those last five minutes, you are sucked into the movie and begin to empathize with all the characters.
In such, the cinematography and the editing are very nicely done.
Most of the movie is shot in Africa – and we are shown than bad, barren side of Africa throughout the movie – the dying refugees, bandits, barren rocky deserts, etc.
Musings …
The movie takes a shot at the pharmaceutical companies around the world and how they use third world countries to their advantage by treating their people as expendable guinea pigs.
The movie is quite depressing at parts and makes you realise that everything is not right with the world and greed, corruption and power result in utter inhuman practices.
If you’re one of those people who care about the world, the environment and liked movies which deal with such issues, you will love this film.
In conclusion …
The original score of the movie is hauntingly beautiful and helps you connect with the film.
The film was nominated for the oscars in four categories including editing, derived screenplay, original score and supporting actress — which Rachel Weisz won.
For the two hours and ten minutes that you will spend watching this movie, its well worth the time.

Rang De Basanti

Prologue
By the time this review goes online, it would be the 170th review of Rang De Basanti in approximately what has been 6 weeks since the movie hit the Indian Screens.
Already lots of good reviews have been written on the movie, which inform you about the nitty gritties of the entire film … so I won’t be going into that.
Instead, I will take a different route and talk about the experiences that I went through while I sat in the theatres for 3 hours today.
Some General Musings
For starters, Rang De Basanti is a pretty experimental movie to me … it’s not your normal, everyday bollywood paisa vasool movie. Not that I see so many bollywood movies, but still …
Today was approximately the 6th week since the movie has been released (and so I was told) – and there I was, sitting in the 3rd row from the screen for a saturday morning 10 o’ clock show.
The movie was to go houseful in the next 5 minutes before the movie started.
The running time of the movie is about 180 minutes – and I went through a series of emotions while watching the movie. The movie is essentially divided into two parts – the one before the interval and the one after.
The production values of the movie is very very good for a bollywood movie – brilliant acting (then again, all Amir Khan movies have brilliant acting), great cinematography and non obstructive songs (for most parts of the movies anyways)
Everyone acted brilliantly, including Madhavan who plays a good cameo.
I was particularly very impressed by Alice Patten (who plays Sue) and her efforts with Hindi which at the beginning sound corny (Maa Ki Aankh??) but you get used to within the first 10 minutes of her arriving in India.
Not to undermine the soundtrack – which was experimental too – and I loved it.
It was well synchronized with the story running and helped in elevating the momentum of the entire movie.
The first part
The initial one and a half hours of the movie deals with the character building (which is so very very important for any movie) of all the characters and is very fun and enjoyable to watch.
We’re introduced to each of the characters and the camraderie that they share amongst them. All this is kept very real, and I as a student (at approximately their ages) was able to empathize with them at once.
Though not generally a comedy, I was in splits at most of the dialogues which were nothing but inline chatter amongst the characters.
The main cast is not introduced till the first 20 minutes, but it was nevertheless very enjoyable.
The Second Part
This is the place where the movie takes a ninety degree turn and the entire emotional balance of the movie swings the other way.
Things get serious all of a sudden and you’re taken through a torrent of emotions ranging from joy, sorrow, fear, hatred, patriotism, etc.
The parallels drawn between the documentary being made – and the lives of the friends (though a bit cliched) was brilliantly done and stands out in the movie.
After thoughts
This movie actually makes you ’’think’’ and whatever hype it has received, is not over the top. Even after a hundred people telling me that the movie was brilliant and my brother spilling the ending, I still loved the movie.
About 3 weeks ago, people I didn’t know would come up to me and say ’’Rang De Basanti dekhi kya?’’ followed by ’’Go watch it’’
The movie has everything in it and as an experience, its well worth the 3 hours of your life that you will spend at the halls.
At the end, it does evoke a sense of patriotism and makes you ponder on things that happen and the government cover ups and whether anything would change in India, if at all …
Maybe a generation is awakening … and its a good thing.
And as a footnote, welcome to the world of intelligent, realistic (well almost) Indian movies. First Dombivli Fast .. and now this …
Things are starting to look good.

Hotel Rwanda

I caught this movie at the Pune International Film Festival just yesterday.

The movie hall which was showing it, was a good 45 minutes drive from our places, but by the end of the movie, everyone was happy that we took the trip.
Hotel Rwanda is a movie which takes us through a true story of a Paul Rusesabagina – who is the house manager of a Four Star hotel and houses more than thousand tutsi refugees in his hotel to save them from the Hutu Militia.
Let me further explain.
The story is from 1994 – when Rwanda was torn up between 2 opposing camps – the Tutsis and the Hutus.
The Hutus take over the country and start killing all Tutsi people – especially the children to stop the next generation of the Tutsis.
’’The movie depicts the very enigmatic nature of Africa and its countries – which can be both, extremely beautiful as well as extremely violent at the same time.
The movie plays around the incident when the entire world turned a blind eye on the thousands of refugees during one of the worst atrocrities in the african history.
When the entire world turned the other way during the mass genocides and slayings of africans, Paul stood up and played his part in saving thousands of people from definite extermination.
The lead role of Paul Rusesabagina is played by Don Cheadle who does stunning work which lets you empathize with the main protagonist without any effort.
The other main characters are played by Xolani Mali as the policeman, Sophie Okonedo as Paul’s wife, Nick Nolte as the UN Colonel Oliver, Joaquin Phoenix as a member of International Press.
All of them gel well together, play their part to the T and as a result are able to bring to you the very disturbing pictures of the struggle taking place and how the world reacts to these things.
The cinematography and the editing of the movie was extremely well done and no one moved a bit during the entire length of the movie – which at 2 hours is a bit long for an English film.
Surprisingly, even without showing a lot of gore and violence, the director is able to capture the essence of every situation and transport us to that place.
The movie overall is extremely well done – and I am sure will be there in one of your ’’best movies made’’ list once you have seen it.
It had been nominated for 3 oscars including best actor in lead role, best actress in supporting role and best screenplay.
In the end, Hotel Rwanda is an extremely hard hitting, powerful movie which one needs to see to really know what goes on behind the superficial news that we see now and then – and what people actually go through.

Dombivli Fast

I caught this movie, at the Pune International Film Festival (which was my second good movie of the day) – and very worth the effort of waiting an hour and a half in front of the doors for the movie to start.
In five minutes, the hall was jam packed – with no one being able to get in because of the number of people sitting on the floors and standing by the doors to catch the movie.
Dombivli Fast is a marathi movie which revolves around the life of a middle class man – Madhav Apte (played by Sandeep Kulkarni) who is a pretty stubborn man and has a very ’’No compromising on my principles’’ attitude.
The starting of the movie depicts the redundancy of his everyday life with him doing the same things day after day after day …
Madhav Apte has never bribed anyone in his life and has never accepted any bribes himself. He is a very straight forward guy who has lived his life so far on his principles and is hell bent on continuing to do the same.
He sees the rampant corruption around him, the apathy of people and how everyone has the ’’chalta hai’’ attitude.
Everytime he tries to intervene or do something, he is stopped by one of his friends or colleagues who tell him to ’’forget it and move on’’.
Throughout his life, he is taunted by his wife, friends and neighbours on his uncompromising attitude, and how the ’’real’’ world does not work that way.
Finally, one day, he flips – the constant taunts and the drudgery of his everyday routine playing a major part in it.
What happens next when he flips, is what the movie is all about.
The supporting cast did a pretty awesome job and their acting was pretty much flawless. Kudos to Sandesh Jadhav who plays the cop and Shilpa Tulaskar who plays his wife.
The director of the movie is Nishikant Kamat and he’s also done a fabulous job of shaping the movie in the way it was done.
For a Indian movie, this one had some surprisingly, good production which put it on par with the other movies being shown at the film festival.
I personally felt, that a little bit more time should have been spent in character building – due to which it takes sometime to empathize with the main protagonist.
Due to this, the movie seems to drag a bit towards the middle, but the ending of the film is awesome and justifies for any other little flaw that the movie might have had.
Once the movie got over in the over crowded hall, the exit doors were empty.
Everyone, including the people who were sitting on the walk-ways were just .. sitting.
No one spoke for quite sometime.
The movie depicts how every person should think, but also at the same time, sticks to the sad reality of how the outcome might turn up.

King Kong

Note: A lot of details in my review have not been given out, because I don’t want to spoil the many surprises the movie has to offer
Prologue
Just came back about 20 mins ago after catching the preview show of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and thought that I’d pen down my thoughts on it.
To be honest, I had no idea of what the movie was going to be about.
Over the years, I had developed a kind of a subconscious image of the movie King Kong being about a big Gorilla and a human girl he falls for.
I have not seen the earlier movies – there were about 4 of them made according to IMDB, so I don’t really quite know how much this stuck to the originals, but here goes anyways…
The Review
The film starts with a very vintage look – I guess it has too…
It is set about sometime in the 1930s during the Great Depression of the United States (which actually lasted from 1929 – 1940)
The first half an hour of the movie takes us through the New York of the depressions – with thousands of people homeless, out of work, or going out of work.
The cinematography is impeccable.
Here, we are introduced to Jack Black who is sort of an obsessed movie maker who intends to make the next greatest adventure flick ever.
We are also introduced here to the very lovely Naomi Watts, who is an out of work actress and trying hard to make ends meet.
The other leading actor in the movie (besides King Kong himself) is the very suave Adrien Brody, who is also supposed to be the hero of the movie.
The first hour of the movie, as many people would tell is quite slow, but it was very interesting nevertheless.
The cinematography was a Peter Jackson true to life and you could really tell the directors focus to detail.
Even though the entire city was computer graphics, it was very realistic.
The second part of the movie is where the action actually picks up and this lasts for about the one hour and fifteen minutes.
The entire cast, reaches the shore of a ’’to be believed’’ lost island and that’s when the real fun actually begins.
In this part, we are introduced to King Kong and also every other possible creature which has managed to survive through the centuries.
Here the computer graphics are at their best, with action packed chase sequences every five minutes – leaving you pretty much breathless and at the edge of your seat.
There are actually a LOT of chase sequences, but they improve on the ’’adrenaline rush factor’’ with every sequence …
During the second half, which is shot entirely on the island, the scenery is nice but sometimes, things get pretty gory – these guys have not edited out quite a lot of content – and mind you, some parts got pretty squeamish.
You’ll also notice a lot of threads from the ’’Return of the King’’ battle sequences which are very noticeable.
This brings us to the last part of the movie, which again goes back to the city and hence goes into the emotional – drama track.
Though there is a King Kong rummaging through the city sequence, it was not as exciting as the island sequences.
I liked the overall acting of the cast and I think Jackson got the casting pretty much spot on.
Jack Black plays the looney director to perfection till the end, Adrien Brody also is good and Naomi Watts is stunning throughout the movie.
They all play their parts spot on – true to life.
Though, at many places, I found the supporting actors to be mediocre.
The plot of the movie is that there is no plot.
Sadly, there is hardly any story in the movie, and if I had to tell you the story, I could have done it in 5 – 10 lines.
But it is pretty much on the lines of the original movies – I am sure.
The background scores were pretty decent and kept up the pace of the movie at proper places. Though there was nothing outstanding about it (like as in Gladiator or Lord of the Rings)
The Computer Graphics were top notch. No question about it.
You’ll probably get your money’s worth just in the graphics quota.
Lastly, the cinematography is as good as it gets in any movie.
I did not find any flaws at all … and I was really impressed by it.
Ending Notes
At 3 hours 7 minutes, the movie does get pretty long, but it is worth it.
Some parts, in my opinion, could have done with some snipping – and the movie would be best at about 2 hours 45 mins or so.
I think what Peter Jackson has done here, is to take an old movie and do things which were never before possible.
This is apparent in all the action sequences and the amount of detail given to so many things.
After the ’’Return of the King’’, I did find this a touch disappointing, but the second hour almost made up for it.
Though at parts the movie becomes mind numbingly brilliant, there will be parts which go to the level of some B grade movies and make you cringe (this is mostly to do with the supporting actors) or maybe these parts were necessary in keeping with the original King Kongs.
However, many things lose touch with reality (which is kind of acceptable because it is a King Kong) movie.
But I sincerely believe, that the movie could have done with a fewer cliché’s.
In the end, it turned out to be one cliché after another…
All in all, a very nicely made movie with a very nice cast to boast and a lot of effort put in it.
Definitely worth your hundred bucks.

The Island

Just came from watching the movie … and thought I’d add my two cents …
I won’t go into what the movie is all about, because it will spoil it for you …
The theme of the movie is not apparent immediately … and takes till sometime before the interval to sink in …
Me giving a hint will spoil it for you …
Instead, I’ll talk about the other aspects of the movie and the reasons why you would want to watch it in the first place …
The Movie Starts
The first thing that hits you when the movie starts is that it is slick … slick, slick, slick …
Futuristic technology, a lot of reflecting surfaces, lots of ’show off’ camera angles …
The fast paced ’Italian Job’ kinda music … the works …
The overall theme feels like a mix of Italian Job, I Robot, a lot like Minority Report … and some places like National Treasure …
There is nothing that hasn’t been done before …
The concept …
The concept that the movie plays around with is, very, very interesting … and as you will later realise, makes about 50% of the reason you should watch this movie …
This is a Sci-fi, all out action movie … and if you’re a sci fi fan, you should probably check it out …
Cast and crew
The movie is directed by Michael Bay … the same guy who did Pearl Harbour …
The similarity is obvious … coz this movie too, turns into a masala Hindi movie by the time it ends …
It could have ended a lot, lot better … but sadly, ending feels like a cliched masala Bollywood flick, only with a lot more gizmos going on and a lot of jazz …
The leading actor is Ewan McGregor who does a decent job … but the other 45% reason for going for the flick is because of Scarlett Johansson …
Who, I must admit … doesn’t do much except play a very lost, confused girl … but looks absolutely stunning while playing the part …
Yup … I’d give it 45% of the reason for watching this movie …
The rest of the cast do justice to their role …
The bad guy (Sean Bean) plays your regular bad guy …
Djimon Hounsou ( also Constantine ), does his part well … and so does Steve Buscemi who also played supporting roles in Desperado and Armageddon …
Cinematography
As I had said before … the movie plays slick … and I reckon, its a bit too slick for its own good …
The director just goes into this ’show off’ mode and the entire movie is just cuts and swishes and chase cams … which could be done without …
At the end, you just get sick of them … and whine everytime another helicopter fly by scene happens …
There is a lot of running and chase scenes with shaky camera angles … which seems to be the defacto standard nowadays …
Music
The music is so so …
Nothing very great … and gets somewhat loud at times …
You can sense gladiator kinda theme at places …
Action Sequences
This is an action movie … and there are tonnes of sequences …
Many of them very well done …
But all of them lack that adrenaline rush … no edge of the seat action here …
USP
The unique selling points of this entire flick are, as I said before … the concept and Scarlett Johansson …
If you’re a sci fi fan … this movie is probably worth your 50 bucks …
Enjoy 🙂

Batman Begins

Riddle me This, Riddle me That …
Whose afraid of the Big Black Bat ?

Remember these lines ?
They were by ’’The Riddler’’ from Batman Forever which starred
Val Kilmer, Jim Carry and the gang …
Did you see that movie … or more likely … the Circus ?
Superhero movies have come of age …
Okay, okay, so the only other decent superhero flick was ’’Spiderman 2’’ and Sam Raimi needs to be complimented on the fantastic job !
Batman is one of my favourite characters, and also the most abused by Hollywood.
All the previous batman movies are, in my view, plain disasters …
The plots were highly thin and you did not know whether to laugh or cry or squirm.
I actually preferred the cartoon batman on Cartoon Network to the other movies …
Then, Cristopher Nolan comes along, and gives us a kick-ass of a movie.
A batman movie.
How a batman movie should be.
… dark …
Batman Begins takes us on the journey, of how Batman came to be …
It traces his childhood and then into his young adult life, educating us on how the Bruce Wayne – Batman persona came to be …
The main reason why I liked the movie is that it is true to the Batman genre …
Its very dark …
The cinematography is excellent and very well thought off.
This is the first Batman movie, which you can actually go to the movie for the story.
It has a pretty thick plotline which draws you into the movie and you are left wanting for more …
Even 2 hours and 15 mins doesn’t seem enough.
Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne ( and Batman ) and does a superb job while at it.
He pulls the ’’I don’t give a damn … and I can kick your ass’’ attitude very well throughout the movie as Batman … and then sobers down to the debonair, rich playboy Bruce Wayne without effort.
Michael Caine is the ever faithful Alfred and has done justice to his role, even though it is not a very big one …
The movie also has Morgan Freeman, who actually does not need anything to be said about him … His acting was as usual, quite flawless …
Another cast member, whom I was very impressed by was Cillian Murphy who plays the Asylum doctor and does an excellent job.
His cold, calculated demeanor fits the character very well …
Katie Holmes plays Bruce Wayne’s love interest … but her role in the movie is quite small …
No Batman movie is complete without the Special Effects and this movie was no exception.
Though, unlike it’s predecessor’s, all the effects in the movie were subtle … and you could not actually make them out … but you knew that they were there …
The music in the movie gelled perfectly with the theme.
Actually, for most part of the movie, you’ll notice the music playing in the background.
The music accentuates the drama and the tension in the movie and will help in getting you to the edge of your seat on many occasions.
Umm … so this is it, I guess.
If you are a batman fan you’ll love the movie … heck, you’ll even love it if you’re not a fan …
Not a movie to be missed …

Spiderman 2

Finally got to catch Spidey 2 today …
Had been wanting to do so since the day it released … but was waiting for the ticket prices to drop at INOX … imagine paying 130 bucks even for the morning show …
Anyways, a month later, it did drop, and I did get to see the movie …
I had watched Spiderman 1 at home on a crappy VCD print … probably why I did not like the movie that much …
But I did like Spiderman over other superhero movies … batman is very dark and superman … well … just flies around …
What made Spiderman different for me from the other super heroes is his diffent style of transportation … his swinging abilities … look very cool and also the fact that Tobey Macguire fits the bill to play the teenage guy next door very well …
He has his own share of problems … like every one of us … and we can identify with him the best …
In both the movies, Aunt May(Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben were played very sincere to their characters … and Kirsten Dunst, who plays MJ, atleast according to me was very mediocre …
This leaves us with Harry Osborne (James Franco) who was pretty good in the second movie atleast …
As compared to Seabiscuit, I found Tobey Macguire was very good in this movie and was more convincing … maybe for the fact that I could identify with his character initially in the movie, when his life is as bad as it can get …
The emotions … for being responsible for his uncle’s death were also very well portrayed …
The CG in the movie is one of the best that I have seen ever …
Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina) acted well, looked believable, and his arms integrated quite seemlessly …
The action sequences are very intense … kept me on the edge of my seat …
Many of my friends found the movie slow … as compared to the first movie …
What they missed out, I feel, is the connection … the emotions being portrayed …
The movie definitely has a better story line and is more topsy turvy …
I found, the fact that Spiderman gets stripped off his mask … naked to the whole world … too brilliant … It added to the story and made you stick to your seat …
Hadn’t this been there, there wouldn’t have been much of a difference between the two movies …
Now, c’mon … all the other superheroes have their own secret identities … I found this particular part very smart …
This movie has its share of technical snags … which I would not like to enumerate in case you haven’t seen the movie yet … but the movie, as a whole, more than makes up for it …
The entire series, I feel has gone the LOTR way …
The fellowship was good … Two towers better and the Return of the King simply blew my mind …
One of the few movies which improve with time …
Spidey 2 has done it this time … Waiting to watch what Spidey 3 would have in store …
Until then, we have I, Robot, Village and Shrek 2 to go …
Go Spidey !