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Date night is one of those movies which you pick up on a “nothing else to do” night, expecting pretty much the expected stuff and fun; for that kind of anticipation, Date night turns out to be pretty amiable and charming. Date night is a crazy fun-filled, thrilling one night story, full of pleasant surprises and queer turn of events.

Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire (Tina Fey) Foster are a boring committed new-jersey couple whose life revolves around their family and kids. This is a couple which really cares for one another – Phil reading and attending book reviews for wife’s interest and Claire taking absolute care of house-hold. They do not have any getaway from the mundane daily chores except for the weekly, wait for it, Date night, which also is a monotonous job of going to the same restaurant and having the same order. This doesn’t bother them until one of their close friends decides to split-up on account of how spark had died out of their lives and they had become just “excellent room-mates”.

Worried by the fact and determined to rekindle the spark, Claire breaks the dullness by dressing herself up for the next date night, to which Phil responds by taking her to a trendy over-crowded and up-class restaurant in Manhattan. With no hopes of getting a table, Phil spots the right opportunity when another party of two, Tripplehorns, with prior reservation turns no-show. As Phil and Claire sit and enjoy their meal and have a time of their lives, they are escorted out by two hefty guys who they mistakenly take as hotel staff. Well, they are not the only one mistaken coz they themselves have been picked up as “Tripplehorns” for retrieving a mysterious “flash drive”.

As Phil and Claire escape the hoodlum’s e captivity and report the matter to the police, they spot the same goons at the
police office. Bewildered and confused by the whole episode, as they struggle to find a safe exit, the only conceivable solution to them seems to find the real Tripplehorns and obtain the flash drive from them.  The rest of it is pretty much the same as they do unauthorized break-ins, meet a topless hunk, bump cars, get into under-water crash, dress up kinky and do some really funny dance.

Of course it has a happy ending. However, it’s not the end but the characters that brings forth the charm-factor in the movie. Steve and Tina are hell of actors to be cast in this role. I remember Steve from superb performance in The 40 year old virgin which makes me laugh every time and off course Tina from the recent 30 rock. You even notice some pleasant cameo appearances from James Franco, Mila Kunis, William Fichtner and Mark Ruffalo.

The comedy scenes are not “roll over the floor” type funny, but good enough to inculcate an amusing atmosphere. Nothing looks over-played. The chemistry between the husband and wife is portrayed well. How wives never trust their husbands with anything and how they feel over-worked all the times. Don’t we women wish to be left absolutely alone sometimes and don’t we lighten up in the company of a charming man. The comic lines are well-timed and well written. Not to forget the weird pole-cum-stage dance; this has definitely made it to my list of Top 10 amateur dance scenes (If such a list exists!).

All in all, it’s a good performance in a well-wrapped story to entertain you. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. At least I wasn’t.

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As much as I enjoyed the movie, I am a little embarrassed to admit I did not follow the movie through and through. As the credits begin to roll down on the black screen, my mind was still struggling to recapitulate the gist of the movie. I somehow felt let-down by the ending of this superbly intricate and involving drama. On some level I desired something more from the climax, on another I can’t think of an appropriate ending on my own.

Sam Mendes’ directorial Debut, American beauty portrays the life and challenges of an American household and the dark side of the culture where your outward projection matters the most. He achieves the desired effect through a number of characters as they interact with each other and face internal conflicts. American Beauty is a character-dominant and dialogue driven movie, these elements forming the heart and soul of the film.

We have 42 yr old Lester Burnham played by Kevin Spacey whose only high time of the day is when he jerks off in his shower. His wife Carolyn (Annette Burnham) and his daughter Jane (Thora Birch) despise him and treat him as non-existent. Carolyn spends all her efforts and energy in creating and portraying a thriving and up-class image, whereas Jane is a usual girl passing through the teenage phase with fear and uncertainties, who finds herself utterly unattractive and loathes her parents and their constant bickering. Their just arrived neighbors are Col. Fitts of US Marine corps who lives his life by rules and disciplines, his lifeless wife who lives like a vegetable and their teenage son Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) who lives under strict scrutiny of his father, works as a drug-dealer and loves to film everything that he finds appealing and beautiful.

As Lester’s lackluster life gets even more disastrous on account of being fired and as he fights to take a decision, he meets Jane’s teenage friend Angela (Mena Suvari) who plays the Lolita in Lester’s sex-starved life.  With Angela as the catalyst, Lester begins to bring a series of small and then major changes in his life and his life-style. Lester quits his job along with a hefty settlement on the threat of blackmailing, takes a job with least responsibilities at a burger joint, begins to work-out to get back into good physique and shape, makes a manly arrival on his home-front and he actually begins to enjoy his life alone.

As Carolyn strives to present an image of success and perfection, she meets somebody just like her and falls for him, leading to an affair. Ricky and Jane, two damaged and deserted teenagers find solace in each other’s company and plan to flee in order to start a new life. Col. Fitts, too scared to express his true-self, lives a double-faced life and Angela, too scared to be ordinary, pretends to be someone she is not.

As all these characters with their complex nature and problems intertwine, we witness their quest for beauty and happiness in their lives and their final outcomes in the face of adverse situations.

American beauty is a beautiful depiction of the impact of the societal norms on humans and their relations. How Jane becomes a damaged child because of non-attentive parents and how Ricky makes devious arrangements to escape his father’s vigilant eyes. How Angela becomes an element of desire for Lester and how he comes out of his fanciful thoughts. The movie gives us some of the most thought-provoking one-lines for the audience – “Never underestimate the power of denial” “It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself.” are a few to mention.

Along with the complexity that the movie showcases, it has as much element of humor (though dark !!!)  in the screenplay through its well-played and well-timed dialogues.  At no time, the movie becomes too serious or grim for the audience to enjoy it. Kevin Spacey is actually at his best with his humorous lines and amazing acting. Neither can you neglect any other character and their performance in the film.

I do not intend to be a spoiler here but I can’t resist from saying that the ending of the movie is what intrigued as well as disappointed me the most. Why did the movie end like this? What exactly is the director’s message behind such end? And the fact that I feel I am the only one asking these questions, definitely means I have missed some critical aspect of the movie. Add to that, why did the colonel kill Lester? Probably he saw the video made by his son, or he blamed him for his son’s behavior, more so he believed him to be a pedophile or probably because Lester learned the truth about the colonel. Add to that, I am sure I missed something in this movie that others did not.

A winner of 5 Oscars (Best actor in leading role – Kevin Spacey, Best cinematographer, Best Director –Sam Mendes, Best picture and best screenplay) and various other awards, the movie is definitely a must watch for its satirical, dark comedy wrapped screenplay and the perfect well-selected cast. Having said that, do I call it a flawless piece of work? Well, I doubt that….

It is a cinemagoer’s honor to watch the masterpieces created by legendary directors. Sitting with a couple of friends, a discussion started around Hitchcock and his world-renowned film-making techniques. This is when I realized, being as crazy a movie-lover as I claim to be, it is actually embarrassing to not have seen his work. I had a couple of his movies lying with me for a long while. I finally declared to myself: it’s high time; and decided to pick up one of those movies for after-dinner watch, which brings me to today’s movie review.

Though Family plot makes its mark as this celebrity’s last work, I will always remember Family Plot as my introduction to the world of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. Apparently, it seems to be a wrong choice on my behalf to select this movie to get the beginner’s flavor of Hitchcock’s intense work. Whereas Hitchcock is known for the high-intensity mystery based drama along with use of mood setting and grasping sound and camera work, Family plot while following the basic premise of crime and mystery, borders on humor and contains the elements of comedy to a good enough extent.

Family plot is the plot of two couples whose lives intersect in a suspense based yet fun filled setting. Blanche Tyler (Barbara Harris) is a fraudulent psychic reader, whose livelihood is based on other’s quest for the unknown. While Blanche uses all possible techniques like voice-makeover, possessed over and generic monologues, prompting the clients to reveal their hidden secret and drop some hints, George Lumley (Bruce Dern), a cab driver and his accomplice does all the dirty work of developing the leads. One such case comes their way when an old-rich lady seeks their help for locating her disowned nephew, in order to make him the heir to her property and put her guilt to piece. Eyeing a fortune-hunt and opportunity to make a huge cut, Blanche puts George to put the jigsaw pieces together and find a probable match.

Around the same time, we follow one of the many kidnappings where precious jewels are demanded as ransom. Here, the strings are pulled by a jewellery retailer Adamson (William Dewane) while her pretty girlfriend Fran (Karen Black) plays the careful negotiator in disguise for all such deals.

As George begins his research to spot this to-be wealthy guy and give him the good news, he himself gets tracked and
traced for his inquisitiveness. All his work leads to digging a very dark and horrendous past of Adamson. As Adamson gets the news of the sleuthing activities, he devises his own strategy to get rid of trouble-maker. Finally, Blanche and Adamson come face to face, neither aware of the other’s intentions. Is truth revealed in this strange encounter or it becomes even more bizarre? Does George succeed in saving Blanche from this criminal’s grasp or does he also fall prey to Adamson’s plans?

 

The movie is a crime based thriller with a full serving of comedy. It is difficult for me to write anything about Hitchcock’s work in general based on this movie as it does not exemplify his regular work, but I can still appreciate his commendable way of creating superior-work. Family plot presents a strange but welcome deviation from Hitchcock’s regular modus operandi as well regular grim thrillers. That being said, the movie instills the grounds of a crime thriller very efficiently and keeps you involved throughout. Most charming character would invariably be that of Barbara Harris with all his tantrums and psychic dramas. Notwithstanding critic’s comments on the treatment of this movie, I will not hesitate even for a second to give good ratings to this light-hearted thriller. I enjoyed it thoroughly and so would you.

Once upon a time, an imaginative guy mulled “What if there are creatures on other planets who decide to come to Planet earth someday”; and thus was born an absolutely new genre of Alien movies where creatures from the far invaded and harassed us. Not long after that, an even more ingenious person contemplated “What if one of those aliens gets left behind on earth while the others head back home”. Just a thought; and we get introduced to the most friendly and cute alien ever.

Materialized  from a one-line idea and inspired from “his-highness” Steven Spielberg’s childhood imaginary friend, E.T. sets an epitome of how beautifully creative you can be. For its well-written and brilliantly executed script, this movie definitely makes it to my list of Top 10 alien movies, though many hesitate to put E.T. under the exceptional alien category for its atypical theme and script. The fact that 20 yrs later when the movie was re-released with modification and deleted scenes, it received as over-whelming a response as the first release is sufficient enough to appreciate the greatness of this movie.

So here we have a single mother (Dee Wallace) to 3 kids – 9-10 yr old Elliot (Henry Thomas), 3-4 yrs old Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and the eldest one Michael (Robert MacNaughton). Just like any other family with kids, the house is a complete mess and the kids constantly trouble and pester each other. On one cold night, Elliot, on observing some commotion in the backyard, heads there to find the source of disturbance. Instead what he sees is a weird-looking creature, a stranded alien abandoned by the mother-ship. Intrigued by the creature and laughed at by his mother and elder brother, Elliot decides to visit that creature again the next night with a goody box to lure him. Elliot successfully befriends this creature and smuggles him to his room without anybody’s knowledge. While this weird creature creates a ruckus in-house out of his own inquisitiveness and wanders around stealthily, Elliot’s siblings get to know about his in-house presence, include him in their group as a companion and start calling him “E.T”. They introduce E.T. to the human world, human accessories and English language, which he grasps pretty fast. But E.T. has a strange way of communicating. He expresses himself through Elliot in telepathic ways.

In the mean time, scientists and researchers observe the recent UFO activity and begin their investigation on the same. E.T along with the help of the kids puts together a signaling device for “E.T-> Home-> Phone”.  As amazed and amused as they are, Elliot and the kids decide to send E.T. to his home sound and safe, and find the most opportune time for this at Halloween. This is where their plan begins to falter and the scientists become aware of the aliens whereabouts and begin their operation. Do the kids succeed in ensuring E.T’s safe departure or does he become another tool for scientific research. We he present another joy-ride for kids or will he harm Elliot by expressing through him.

You truly should watch this truly amazing movie to enjoy E.T’s journey and interactions on our home planet. It’s a constant struggle for me to pen-down my favorite scene in the movie. It could be that scene where ET begins to follow another kid who is dressed as alien for Halloween, or it could be the scene where Gertie dresses him up as a girl and teaches him english words and object names; or the fake grief by Elliot and others for saving E.T. There were so many moments in the movie when I was just smiling to myself and nothing in particular. It brings you upfront with the joy and innocence of being a kid.

 

There are certain scenes which were omitted from the movie as director Spielberg believed them to be on too much fantasy based premise for the audience to accept. To mention is the scene where the kids fly in the sky while riding cycles. To me even those scenes were as entertaining as all, and formed a natural part of the screenplay.

The kids are so adorable and well-suited for the script, and so is the E.T. And how do we forget our own Drew Barrymore who is so delightful and charming in the movie. Everything from the visual effects to the voice-makeover for E.T. (The voice for E.T. was given by an old lady who smoked packets of cigarette daily, hence giving her the required hoarseness)has been done to such a perfection, that it’s impossible to find a wrong shot or inappropriate moment in the movie.

No wonder that the movie was nominated for 9 Oscars and won 4 titles (best sound effects, best visual effects, best original score and best sound) along with multiple other nominations and awards. However, it did not bag the award for best director or best film.

The film has a number of remakes including our own spiced-up bollywood version of the movie by the title Koi Mil Gaya (starring Hritik Roshan and Preity Zinta). If you are aware of any other remakes of this classic movie, drop in a line here.

And isn’t it true!!! All big accomplishments and events are creation of dreams that somebody somewhere dared to dream about, whether it be real or reel life. And don’t we wonder always, where the quest of our dreams takes us and what do we finally conquer? Dreamgirls is one such story of dreams, ambition, stardom, glamour, love, friendship, betrayal, triumph and loss. It is a story of 3 dreamy girls and their conflicts and standoffs with life as they encounter and enter different phases in life.

For those who haven’t seen the inspiration behind this musical, Dreamgirls comes across as a pleasant and enjoyable ride. For those who have seen the original version, I am sure it instills a sense of nostalgia.

After claiming its success as a Broadway Musical back in 1981, 25 years later, Dreamgirls makes a foray into Hollywood to showcase its caliber, and I must say that the motto is well achieved. Off course, the credit goes to Director Bill Condon of the Chicago and Gods and Monsters fame, and the talented cast and crew. The movie is set in the 60s when black singers are neither entertained nor encouraged by the white crowd and their songs were either remixed or polished up for them. The movie brings forth the gruesome reality where real talent is substituted for mass-appeal.

A trio of 3 black female singers that goes by the name of “Dreamettes” tries their luck in various singing competitions – the stunning and sensuous Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles), the hefty and power-voiced lead singer Effie White(Jennifer Hudson) and tiny and peppy Lorell Robinson(Anika Noni Rose). Spotted in one such event by another dreamer – car-salesman Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx) who aspires to be music mogul, the dreamettes are offered an opportunity to perform alongside singing sensation -James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy), with the promise of a stand-alone break later.

Curtis resorts to all tactics from corruption to manipulation to ensure the group’s success. As the three girls begin to bask in the glory of their small yet significant success, Effie gets into a romantic relation with Curtis, Lorell gets into a “behind the scene” relation with Early, and Deena seems to be just enjoying her on-screen presence when their fate begins to shine. On one opportune day, the dreamettes as “The Dreams”, get their big break, but with a catch – Effie, the lead is passed off for the pretty Deena who has a more chic and superficial voice. No body, not even her own brother, with the hopes of making big as a song writer stands up for Effie and ultimately Effie gets replaced by a substitute.

As time passes, Curtis becomes a successful and manipulative record company owner, Deena gets married to Curtis and becomes a hot and desired star, with multiple Hollywood offers yet controlled by Curtis, Lorell gets deeply involved with James Early, and Effie is lost into the darkness of poverty and non-existence with Curtis’s illegitimate child – a young girl “Magic”. Even as Effie sings in small Jazz bars to make ends meet, Curtis gets more dominant and aggressive in controlling business, causing a sense of discomfort among all. Finally, Effie gets a golden chance to make a solo break into the music industry with a specially written song. Even as her solo album begins to make a buzz, Curtis tries to kill it before it becomes a sensation.  But this time, Effie decides not to accept her fate but to fight her battle.

With excellent songs and melodious background scores, this movie is a musical in true sense. Contrary to the mediocre popularity that the songs of this movie achieved, I found them a true joy-ride; right from the peppy “Move Move” to melodious “We’re dream girls” and the “Farewell performance” to the soulful “Listen” and “Patience” and the powerful “I am telling you I am not going”.  The movie also boasts of a very talented and well-selected star-cast for all the roles, and not to forget our debut artist Jennifer Hudson (of American Idol fame)and her excellent performance.

The movie truly deserves the 2 Oscars (Best achievement in sound mixing, and Jennifer Hudson for best actress in supporting role) that it won, not to mention countless other awards and nominations for the movie. For the excellent music and well-performed roles, the movie is definitely worth a watch.

I had a tough time believing that Changeling is inspired from a true story. As soon as I finished watching the movie, I immediately began a secondary research on its content. From what I gathered, I found it a pretty close depiction of the reality. Changeling has all the elements of a suspense thriller, drama and emotions in absolutely the right amount, and yet it’s not fiction. All the elements in the movie get woven so intricately and delicately that makes you challenge its origin.

Changeling is the story of a woman and her un-deterred resolution to stand against the system for justice. First “A might heart” and then this movie, Angelina Jolie definitely seems to be revamping her image as the tomb-raider and I can’t deny that she is doing a great job at that.

The story takes us back to Los Angeles in 1928 when LAPD ruled like a dictator, crime-rate reached an all-time high, media and newspapers question every move made by the federal agencies and common public was nothing but mute spectators. This is the time when Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single mother to a 9 yr old boy (Walter Collins) and a hard-working & dedicated employee at the telegraph company does it all to maintain a balance in her personal and professional life; on one such day, when Christine gets home after her shift, she finds her son missing and untraceable. After neglecting the case for a while, desperation to establish a positive public image encourages LAPD to picks this up as the right opportunity to do some damage control by tracking down this lost boy. As lucky as they could be, they succeed in their endeavor to locate Walter, and decide to bring him home under all media-frenzy and attention. Ignoring all the fanfare, as Christine waits to be united with his son, she realizes, to her absolute horror, that the boy in front of her eyes is an impostor, or so she feels. Afraid that the whole episode might turn upside down and cause them negative publicity, police persuades Christine about the boy’s identity and so does the boy. In her deluded state, Christine takes the boy home, but with every passing moment she is more convinced about the boy’s mistaken identity. As Christine struggles to take her case ahead, she gets supported by Rev. Gustav (John Malkovich), a popular radio preacher who fights against the LAPD. Christine gets thrown in the mental asylum for her display of audacity and undergoes physical and mental humiliation, where she learns that most of the patients in that ward are admitted on account of similar reasons as hers.

As Christine struggles in the asylum, around the same time, somewhere around US Canada border, a juvenile gets picked for illegal trespassing and is taken into police custody. What look like a simple illegal entry across US borders has a horrifying story behind it and as the terrifying story unravels, we come face to face with one of the most outrageous murder massacres in history, known as “The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders”, named after the chicken farm where the heinous crime was committed.

Once the reality is revealed to the common public, Christine and many other victims are freed out of the asylum with the help of Rev. Gustav. As Christine struggles to get hold of the reality, she decides to stand against all the injustice done to her and move the whole system. We witness court-showdowns, a psychotic killer’s capital punishment, the LAPD’s shameful state and a grief-stricken mother’s never-ending search for his son.

Years pass-by and Christine continues the search for her missing son. The year is 1935 and Christine is working late in the office when she receives a strange phone call from another victim of the massacre. What Christine hears and sees probably becomes an inspiration for her for a lifetime. It touches my heart that a woman has forever been in search for her most-prized possession and secretly I want her optimism to be awarded.

Yes it’s a woman oriented movie, which by itself gives it a huge shot at success. Yes it has Angelina Jolie, who, surprisingly, does a good job at playing a grief-stricken mother from yelling to howling, desperation to rage. But still it’s not “any other movie” for me. Clint Eastwood definitely deserves credit for some excellent direction work. The star-cast is superb, with each character playing its part just flawless, be it the lunatic murderer or the corrupt police officer. The colors and theme are just appropriate to set the mood for that era and the movie, though based on a slow pace, keeps you wondering “What’s next”. However, there are certain scenes that increase the tension and then break it without delivering the expected; that makes you wonder at the necessity of certain long and dragging scenes, one such to mention is the scene where the murderer is being hanged.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t come as a surprise at all that the movie was nominated for 3 Oscars for art direction, cinematography and lead role actress.  For the brilliant art-work, acting and direction, and the terrifying tales from the past, this movie definitely deserves to be watched.

As I watch yet another sequel, my mind is bogged down to one thought only. What a sequel is for, basically? My guess is – it’s an attempt to take the story ahead where the character graduates and moves through different phases of life, like in Godfather, Batman etc; sometimes, it might use the same characters for a different storyline coz the audience loved the chemistry between the characters like Hangover, or it might just be a repetition of the original script because the director, for some reason, believes that the audience just wants to see the ditto, as in Hostel and Descent. But most of all, I have come to the conclusion, it’s an attempt to reap benefits of one successful blockbuster and carry it forward. There’s no guaranteed success for the same movie with a distinct and different name and it might not appeal to as many audience as adding “2” to a pre-existing movie title would.

As I watch Basic Instinct 2, I can vouch for the director’s desperation to create huge numbers and high success for a lame and lousy script. I might have missed this movie for sure had it not been for the “guilty pleasure” aura that surrounds basic instinct and for the sensuous and steamy chemistry between Catherine Trammel (Sharon Stone) and Detective Nick(Michael Douglas).

15 years later since the original movie, if for nothing else but for the audacity displayed in the original movie, Sharon Stone is still retained as the rich and controversial novelist Catherine Tramell who gets a high by living on the edge. The movie starts with Catherine and a sports star moving in a speeding car and doing “the thing”, we are here to watch. An uncontrollable car in an underwater crash leads to the death of the sports-star and voila! Our pretty heroine gets in trouble again.

In order to assess her mental state and gauge her threat levels for herself and others, Catherine is sent to criminal psychiatrist Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey) for a psychological evaluation. Michael, himself is going through a rough phase of life – a divorce underway, his wife having an affair with a reporter and the guilt of the murder committed by an accused whom he gave a clean chit. As with Basic Instinct 1, our pretty Catherine knows it all and uses it aptly to manipulate this guy. Michael presents a shady analysis good enough to let her go free, but Catherine can’t let Michael go. For some mysterious reason, she wants to make him her shrink and reveal her body and soul (literally!). As the vague and absurd sessions continue, since Sharon is already old enough not to do a steamy sequel performance, our Michael is turned-on enough to take on any and every girl in the movie and in the end, Catherine too. As Michael is drawn to her sexual and intriguing demeanor, a series of odd murders begin to take place.

As the movie goes on to create a sense of heightened drama and reveals the mystery – Boy do you feel any sense of awe or shock. Neither the script nor the climax manages to develop and maintain the expected sense of a passionate mystery and you are actually glad when the movie comes to an end. Back in 1992, when Basic Instinct was among the first ones to venture into this arena, to 2006, when there is nothing extra-ordinary about any such theme, the script here is too weak to stand on its own and definitely needs the crutches of a sequel tag for creating a buzz. The movie showcases sex-scenes and erotic dialogues without any heat and passion. Sharon appears too old to create that shady and dark image as the original movie and actually gives a low-graded image to the character. Michael too is not able to deliver much in terms of performance. It doesn’t come as a surprise at all that the movie got nominated for 7 Razzies in 2007 and won 4 of them – for worst actress (Sharon stone), worst picture, worst sequel and worst screenplay.

After creating a hullaballoo for her performance in the earlier movie to getting a “worst actress” razzie for this movie, Sharon really must be thinking about her basic instinct for picking up this movie.

“A beautiful Mind” presents an engaging, captivating, well-crafted screen-play and true life account of a Nobel Laureate, a brilliant mathematician and an erratic paranoid schizophrenic – Professor. John Nash.

The story begins with a rude and conceited Princeton student John (Russell Crowe) who is too aware of his gifted mind and too engrossed in accomplishing something out of the world. His teachers ignore him for his attitude and he has no friends in the college but his prodigal (so he calls!) roommate Charles (Paul Bettany).

So at the time when all his class-mates are busy preparing mundane thesis on all-common subjects, John decides to carry a research paper on one of the most absurd topics  – a thesis on the foundations of game theory,  which lies forgotten for a long time.

John becomes a sought-after mathematical wizard for his aptitude to break codes and life-engaging, real-time situations in no time; but nothing on earth happens to quench John’s thirst for doing the extra-ordinary and his only refuge lies in his college roommate Charles. Once he just happens to be returning from a confidential assignment at Pentagon, and that is when he gets approached by an incognito Agent William Parcher (Ed Harris) from CIA for doing some highly-classified cryptographical work for the government, which he readily accepts. Employed as a teaching faculty at the MIT University and immersed in the under-cover work, John ignores his scheduled classes and insults his students. This continues till one particularly challenged student dares to rise up and tries to involve John in to the regular events of the society. Alicia (Jeniffer Connelly), John’s student, immediately develops a liking for him and they both fall in love, followed by marriage and a baby boy. As much as John loves his family, he desperately fails to keep his personal and professional life distinct and the latter begins to interfere with the former, leading to life threatening situation for his loved once.

As John struggles to make the right choice for himself, what unfolds is both dramatic and unbelievable for him, his friends and his family. As we move ahead, we witness a man who struggles at the loss of his lifetime identity and feels embarrassed for his inability to perform simple tasks, a wife who gets scared and terrified while dealing with a life-long situation and yet refuses to leave his husband’s side in the hour of need and we witness friends who truly want to help his friend get back on his feet in his life and receive the honor he truly deserves.

As John learns to respect human relations, and learns to become part of social behavior, we witness John becoming one of the most profound personalities in the history of mathematics who formulated one of the most break-through theories.

Based loosely on the book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar, A beautiful mind is truly the story of a beautiful mind that is gifted in the most extra-ordinary way for the best and the worst, a mind that creates and solves the most mystical equations and solutions and in the end, learns to live with the reality and fiction that becomes an inseparable part of his life.  There are certainly no doubts that the movie bagged 4 Oscars in 2002, for Best picture, Best director (Ron Howard) and best actress in supporting role (Jennifer Connelly), and best screenplay (Akiva Goldsman). However, you tend to wonder how and why Russell Crowe missed it despite his brilliant depiction and involvement in the character.

My personal favorites are the scene when John sits in the university cafeteria and everyone around comes over and offers him their pens on the table as a symbol of respect and gratitude; and of course the beautiful speech that he renders at his award ceremony, which I can read/see again and again:

“I’ve always believed in numbers and the equations and logics that lead to reason.

But after a lifetime of such pursuits, I ask, “What truly is logic? Who decides reason?”

My quest has taken me through the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional — and back.

And I have made the most important discovery of my career, the most important discovery of my life: It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reasons can be found.

I’m only here tonight because of you [his wife, Alicia].

You are the reason I am. You are all my reasons. ”

17 again is a sweet adorable movie on the very common hollywood theme of shift on your age-line. Its cliché,its predictable and it definitely reminds you of many in the line of swap theme like Big, Freaky Friday, 13 going on 30; yet its engaging, funny and charming.

So here director Burr Steers brings a 17 yr old teenager Mike O’Donnell (Zac Efron), a high-school basketball star who aspires to make it big in the sports arena along with college scholarship but decides to give it up all and settle down with his high-school sweetheart Scarlett on learning about her expectant condition.

20 years later, life is not all roses for Mike (Mathew Perry); his married life is on the verge of a split and his teenage kids, Maggie and Alex, have no affinity towards him. Add to that is the professional discontent of a mundane, no returns dead-end job and of course the ever-existing frustration and regret of having given up his biggest dream.

But fate decides to give Mike a second chance to relive his dreams by transforming him into a 17 yr old magically. So Mike gets admission to high-school with the help of his nerd friend Ned (Thomas Lennon), where his kids study as well, and starts his journey towards fulfilment of his even cherished dream. As Mike moves ahead in his newly found teenage life and struggles to find the underlying reason for his transformation, he gets an opportunity to get close to his wife and gets a chance to help his kids make right decision in high-school. Treating this as the  “spirit guide’s agenda” for transformation, Mike begins to invest all his time and effort in reviving his broken relationship with his family. Things go smooth for a while untill misunderstandings begin to crop up and Mike fails to convey his feelings on account of a mis-represented identity.

The movie has nothing new to present in terms of story-line and screenplay but it’s definitely entertaining enough to watch through with the teen heart-throb Zac Efron playing the lead. The misunderstandings, the jealousy, the romance between young Mike and adult Scarlett (Leslie Mann), and how do we not mention Ned trying to woo the school-principle. The movie presents a good blend of comedy and romance with nothing bein over-done. Zac plays a strong enough lead  for his character, as do the other actors.

As I pen down a brief all-ordinary review for this superficial movie, a deep thought strikes my mind. I seriously think of the times when I want to reduce weight and fit back into those beautiful revealing tang-tops and halter that lay low in my closet.  But as I begin to drop weight all I am worried about my new pair of jeans which keeps on sliding down my waist and gives a gross look. Yes, even I want to be 17 again, but I know for sure what I have today is also a moment to enjoy and rejuvenate rather than crib about the missed opportunities.

Well, getting back to the synopsis – It’s definitely not ground-breaking cinema and is a no-no for serious cinema-goers, but it’s definitely worth a watch for some light mind-less entertainment, with family and friends.

Eat Pray Love (2010)

Eat Pray Love is a classic example of what happens to a lot of bestseller-inspired movies. Somewhere in the onscreen transformation the crux is under-communicated and the impact is lost. So we end up watching an unstructured, loose-ended and uninteresting movie.

Eat Pray Love is the story of a woman and her quest for peace, love, her own identity and above all God.

Married yet alone, settled but sad, resolute but fickle-minded, Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts), a successful writer, finds herself in a mid-life crisis. To find out what future holds for her, she visits a fortune-teller in Bali. Ketut, a timid and old guy, narrates her past and predicts her future. He foretells her two marriages, her loss of everything in life, its comeback and her second visit to Bali to meet him again.

As Liz is back in New York, she finds the predictions to be coming true. She decides to end marriage with her 8-years beau Stephen, who loves her dearly and is not ready to part ways with her. Out of her marriage and a bitter divorce, and into an affair with David (James Franco), a struggling actor, Liz is introduced to Guru Gita – a spiritual leader, by David. Realizing lack of passion and enthusiasm in her second relationship as well, Liz desperately wants to break the monotony of her life from one man to another, and come out of the downward spiral of her life. Intuitively, she decides to go on a purposeless and fancy visit to Italy, India and then Bali.

So here we see a divorced single women, going on a backpack vacation with all her savings, staying in rented accommodations, meeting new people, making friends, learning their culture, teaching them hers and appreciating the beauty of life. She learns the importance to self-nourishment, praying and meditation, and finally finding true love.

In Italy, she learns Italian, adores their cuisine and stuffs herself with food and learns the “art of doing nothing”. She visits places, draws parallels to her life, and struggles to find a word that describes her. In India, she visits Guru Gita’s ashram and tries to find peace and contentment through meditation, selfless devotions and prayers. But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot forget her past, and cannot forgive herself for having broken her relations.

And finally she goes back to Bali to meet Ketut where she eventually finds her balance. She meets a guy and falls for her, but fears to be in a relationship again.

Eat pray love tries to present a philosophical view to life, but gets really dull and uninteresting. The movie continues at the same pace, with no “up and down” moments. The idea of rejuvenation and revival in Liz’s life does not get reflected as it should have been. The insipid thoughts and philosophical content provides distraction from the movie and looks deliberately embedded. To add to all that,  the movie continues for a long two and a half hour, leaving to exasperated and tired.

You might need to be really having a downhill life journey to appreciate the movie. Still better, you can read the book. Eat Pray Love is a “sit watch forget” movie.