Category: Real2Reel


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.

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“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. ”

Philadelphia (1993)

Directed by Jonathan Demme, the winner of Academy award 1992 for “The Silence of the Lambs”, what sets “Philadelphia” in a different league is that it is the first commercial Hollywood movie to touch the then taboo subject of homosexuality and AIDS. Set-up in the 80-90s, when AIDS was the disease of the untouchables and the society was homophobic; Philadelphia handles both the issues with subtlety yet authority.

At the centre of the plot is Andrew Beckett aka Andy (Tom Hanks), an excellent lawyer at the prestigious Wheeler Firm in Philadelphia. Andy leaves no stone unturned in his efforts to conceal two major things about his personal life: one – he is a homosexual and two – he is suffering from AIDS. Just when he is being promoted by the firm to handle a big and important client, one of the partner notices a lesion on his face, particular to AIDS patients. Immediately after, Andy gets fired by the company on account of charges of incompetency, deliberately setup against him. Andy now wants to sue his employers against charges of discrimination.  After being refused by several firms for representation, Andy meets Joe Millers (Denzel Washington), who also on first meeting refuses him but later changes his mind after a chance encounter with him in a library. Six months later, the trial begins, causing a media furore for having two scandalous issues, at its core. With not much evidence in his favour, and his debilitating medical conditions, Andy doubts if he will be there to see the end of the trial. Just after he is being rushed to the hospital from the courtroom, the jury comes out with an expected but surprisingly tough verdict.

The emotions in the movie are just played to the right part, with not being overdone at any moment. You love the movie just from the onset with the Bruce Sprinsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia”.  The casualness with which Andy says “I have got AIDS” is amazing. Andy’s family, friends and Antonio Banderas as Miguel, Andy’s homosexual partner play their small but significance part well.

 Miller’s withdrawal from Andy after knowing his medical condition speaks about the mental disposition of the general public towards AIDS, so does the librarians insistence to Andy for using a private research room and the Wheeler firm partners comments “Andy brought AIDS to our office and to our men’s room”. Also the public humour and humiliation that Miller faces for defending and supporting a homosexual speaks of the biased and demeaning attitude towards this subject. His courtroom outburst at homosexuality speaks for itself.

The script comes with a lot of decent punches and good quotes. You can’t help noticing Miller’s “Explain it to me like a two-year old…..”, his public image as the “TV guy”, and his strong change of opinion towards homosexuals. Andy’s “It’s exciting being part of justice being done”, his depiction of the opera and his honesty in the courtroom impresses you tremendously. So does his delivery as the wasting and dying patient. It comes as no surprise that Tom Hanks won the Oscars for “The Best Actor in Leading Role” 1994.

In today’s scenario, the movie might give the impression of being clichéd and mundane but back then it was definitely a trendsetter.  

For those of you who don’t know – The movie is inspired by the story of Geoffrey Bowers, an attorney who sued his employer “Baker and McKenzie” for his dismissal in 1987.

For Bollywood Lovers – Bollywood movie “Phir Milenge” (Starring: Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Abhishek Bachchan) seems to be inspired from this movie though with a slightly different treatment. Another Bollywood movie “My brother.. Nikhil” (Starring: Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla) discusses AIDS and homosexuality together.