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28 Weeks Later (2007)

28 weeks later is for a certain class of audience – Audience with affinity towards bloodshed, brutal bloodshed and some raw violence. Fortunately for me, it doesn’t get as bad as Hostel, so I can atleast watch the whole movie. Nevertheless the movie grasps your attention and keeps you involved till the end.
A deadly “rage” virus has attacked Britain, and is spreading exponentially, turning everyone in contact with infected into a flesh eating killer.
The movie starts with a handful of survivors in a closed dark house – Don (Robert Carlyle) and Alice (Catherine McCormack), along with few others in hiding. Immediately after, group of Hannibals like creatures attacks the occupants. In a state of fit, Don runs to save himself, leaving behind his wife, screaming for help.
28 weeks later (this is where the movie begins), US army takes command of the situation, removes the deadly virus, quarantines some area and creates District 1 in London for re-population, with all amenities (even a pub!!). Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton), Don and Alice’s children, are brought back to District 1 and reunited with their father. Life seems to be settling down for everyone, until Tammy and Andy decide to go on a casual visit to their old house, only to find their mother-Alice still alive, and help her get rescued. Alice shows miraculous immunity to virus despite being an infection carrier. This makes her a valuable resource for research to develop a vaccine. As Scarlet (Rose Byrne), the chief medical officer discusses her special case with the army chief in command, Don, unaware of her infected condition, decides to meet her.
Well, here-on the script doesn’t seem to stop. Don gets infected, spreads it like a wild-fire, the condition gets out of control and the US army decides to exterminate the whole population. The only hope for Scarlet-the doctor, is to save Don’s children, who she believes, might be carrying their mother’s immune genes. Scarlet and Doyle – a sniper, take responsibility to save the kids. The camera goes from one deserted area to another, from one mode to another, until the kids are the only survivors left.
The film attempts to touch certain behavioral and humane issues like Don’s guilty secret of having left his wife, ironical display of US army’s strategies to deal with exigencies. Notably, this is the exact time of US Army’s presence in Iraq. But soon enough, the movie lost in the crazy zombie mess. Not much fan of the “zombie” genre, I hardly find the movie entertaining. But I would still call it a decent zombie movie, if not good. The movie presents a good plot, with a good preview of the plot, to the shaky cam scenes and the night-mode shots. The film for sure, makes London look like a deserted and abandoned land.
Everything being said, the movie is a sequel to the Danny Boyle’s horror hit “28 days later”. Though directed by Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, the movie follows pretty much the same premises but lacks the compassion. If you liked 28 days later, you can give this movie a watch, with not so high expectations.

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My Boss’s Daughter (2003)

As I finish watching this movie, my mind forces me to question everything with respect to the movie – even the relevance of the name; it could have been named anything on this earth from squeaking owl to a dumbass employee. I find out later its original name was “The Guests”.Coming from David Zucker, the director of “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun”, I suppose the movie tries to be funny; rather it makes you flinch as the story proceeds from one gross to another intolerable sequence of scenes.

Tom Stansfield (Ashton Kutcher), a low profile employee in the research department of a publishing firm wants to make a switch to creative department. The only problem is his tyrant boss Jack Taylor (Terence Stamp), whom neither any of his employees nor his own kids have the guts to speak openly to. An eccentric and perfectionist, Jack’s only love is his pet bird – an owl. Jack has a daughter Lisa (Tara Reid), who works in the same company and as is obvious from the name, Tom has some mushy-mushy feelings for her. Lisa requests Tom to house-sit the bird while her daddy is out on a meeting and she is out to a party, which Tom construes as an invitation to a party with her. Naturally the first thing to happen in Tom’s supervision would be a mishap with the bird. Here, the bird escapes; and as Tom performs his duty to impress his boss, bizarre incidents happen and un-called, uninvited people enter the house and use it as per their wishes and desire. Our poor Tom struggles and toggles from one emergency to another disaster trying to bring back the house to normal. Of course, he manages to impress his boss’s daughter even as the house is falling down to pieces. The tormenting continues for a never-ending duration  – a man urinating all over the house, a woman with a blood dripping head wound and it just goes on and on. I believe long after the audience has no patience to watch further, to give them the notion of happy ending, the strenuous father-daughter relation is resolved, Tom makes it to the creative team and yes, he wins Lisa’s heart.

The movie makes embarrassing and disgusting attempts to make the audience laugh. Not one scene in the movie is pleasant enough to make you even smile, let alone chuckle. The movie scores on nothing at all ranging from music, acting, script and most importantly romance or humor. It made me feel terrible actually. The only thing good in the movie is Ashton Kutcher’s smile that lasts for 5 seconds, not to forget Carmen Electra’s wet tee shot; but that doesn’t increase the movie’s worth at all. I am not at all surprised that the movie was nominated for 3 Razzies in 2004 – Worst Actor, worst screen couple and worst supporting actress. What’s astounding is the fact that as big a disaster as this movie is, some other movies managed to win these spots.

My suggestion: Don’t waste even a moment on this 80 minutes flick. Just shove it away.

For those who don’t know – “My Boss’s daughter” was made way back in 2001 and was released in 2003 only when Ashton Kutcher became a public sensation and a well-known name, courtesy his affair with Demi Moore, so as to make some box-office revenues.

Basic Instinct 1 (1992)

What distinguishes this movie from the other similar run-of-the-mill stuff is its distinct timing. Released in 1992, Basic Instinct was first of the kind to venture into the bold and daring world of exposure and exploitation. From suspense to drama to every minute speculation and of course passion, this movie has all that it promises. So if you are looking for more, you will be disappointed. What starts as an investigation of a brutal murder case runs superficially into an attempt to uncover a psychotic killer. Of course it is senseless and shallow with fake characters, but it delivers to its guarantee of sensual performances by top rated stars.

A former rock-n-roll star has been ruthlessly murdered during sex and found in a compromising position in his house at night. The murder weapon – ice-pick. The prime suspect – his girlfriend/sex-partner Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), a filthy-rich seductive writer, whose leisure time activity is to have sex. At the centre of the investigating team is Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), who has a notorious record for having taken a few too many innocent lives. Nick is under constant behavioural and psychological evaluation by the police-appointed psychiatrist Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn) who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. As the investigation proceeds, the murder traces its genesis to a novel written by Catherine, highlighting uncanny similarity to the murder case under scrutiny. This makes Catherine either the perfect suspect (using the novel as the alibi) or the perfect victim (she would not be dumb to write a book and then commit a crime on the same line of thought). Nick is convinced of Catherine’s criminal intentions. Catherine’s past connection with deaths and murderers convinces him all the more. Catherine’s current work on a novel about a detective who falls for a wrong woman and dies, her collection of old newspaper containing articles on Nick, her thorough knowledge of his personal and professional life, and obviously her sexual charm do nothing but cause Nick to fall for her desperately. A couple more murders and a series of sensuous and passionate scenes lead to a climax (pun intended) where all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fit-in to reveal the mystery murderer.

The script has some of the most bold scenes and dialogues of all times. Catherine’s “crossing over” the legs became one of the most talked about scenes in the history of Hollywood. Her shady character comes alive with her impactful one-liners throughout the movie. “You gonna charge me for smoking”, “You know I don’t wear underwears”, “I only f***ed him” are a few to mention. To add to that are the dark characters of Roxy and Hazel Dobkins, Catherine’s girlfriends with criminal records of their own.

All in all, the movie successfully establishes a fast-pace passion thriller with not a single slag moment. Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone present a sizzling duo, with talked about forever scenes, not to forget Jeanne Tripplehorn as the good yet manipulating and deceptive doctor.

With the series of sexually explicit content that followed Basic Instinct, it would appear to be just another cheap thriller, but back then it was a trendsetter of its kind; no doubt it earned huge box office profits. My suggestion – Like it or hate it, but you got to watch this discussed, debated and ever remembered flick.

For Bollywood Lovers – Bollywood movie Chocolate (Starring: Anil Kapoor, Tanushree Dutta) makes a lame and disastrous attempt to copy the famous and “talked about” Sharone Stone shots.

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.

Unbreakable (2000)

All of Shyamalan’s movies have a distinct psychological suspense tone. The audience finds it impossible to predict the next turn in the script until the very climax of the movie. This movie exhibits his same flavour for cinema. It is the story of two individuals at the extreme ends of the same spectrum, with an element of supernatural.

On one end is Elijah Price (Samuel Jackson) who is born with multiple fractures (the very first shot of the movie) and suffers from osteogenetic condition which makes his bones brittle and genetically susceptible to fractures. Being stuck to hospital beds for a third of his life, he finds salvage into the world of comic books and is a high-end collector and seller of vintage comic books. Hugely inspired by comics, Elijah is searching for the person on the extreme end of his condition, one is unbreakable. On the other end is David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who lives his life as low-profile security personnel. He has never been sick in his life or being injured; But he does not know that about himself yet.

The movie starts with David in a train which gets derailed and meets a catastrophic crash, leaving behind no survivors other than David who has miraculously escaped the tragedy, even without a scratch. This makes David a tabloid celebrity instantly. This brings him into Elijah’s attention, who makes David aware of his supernatural impulse, which he denies immediately. Trying to rebuild his broken marriage with his wife Audrey (Robin Wright) and convincing his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) about him being a natural being, David takes a long time (read the rest of the movie!!) to discover and confirm this fact about himself. He also becomes aware of his weakness being water (remember every hero has a weakness!!). He recognises his special instincts to read other people’s life history or recent events by being in physical contact with them. Using his special powers, he goes on to become an under-cover hero (Batman style) and save people in danger. Once he establishes his gifted powers, he becomes friends with Elijah, only to find the darker side of him.  

At no instance does the movie get slow to boredom. It makes your mind tick all the time about what will happen next. But the climax lets you down completely. I felt it leaves you wanting for more. The camera work is excellent and beautiful. One of my favourites is the train shot of the conversation between David and a female agent through the gap between the immediately front row. The use of the comic book to establish the age-old concept of villain and hero is also different and unique. Of course there is sure as hell expected cameo from Shyamalan as the probable drug seller frisked by David. Overall a good movie with a different perspective on superheroes, though after watching “The Sixth Sense”, you always feel, there could have been something better.

12 Angry Men (1957)

Sometimes when you sit down for an old time movie, you are not very sure what to expect coz you doubt its relevance to the contemporary world. That’s not the case with this movie. 12 Angry Men is undoubtedly one of the most amazing movies of all times.

It’s the story of 12 diverse men, who are brought together as the jury for a murder trial of an adolescent boy in a low-class locality of the town. The case appears to be absolutely open-and-shut, with all the evidences against the accused.  It’s an extremely hot day; every jury member wants to be done with his responsibility as the juror at the earliest and exit the scene. All the jury members vote in favour of the accused being guilty, except one Mr. Davis, Juror No.8 (Henry Fonda) on account of his reasonable doubt. His conviction for not sending an innocent man to the electric chair manages to change everybody’s disposition towards the case, slowly but persistently. They sit together in the closed room and discuss all the aspects of the case from various angles, bringing in their perspective on various issues and even doing mock-demonstration to view the possibilities. It brings to limelight the differences among the jurors in terms of their personality, biases, socio-culture, decision making, ignorance and indifference. After a series of discussion, debate, verbal assaults and threatening, the jury finally reaches a verdict, a verdict based on sound reasoning and logic rather than on the views presented in the court.

It is just amazing how the whole movie, being shot in one room, manages to grip you throughout. The narration of the whole murder trial, as well its evidences and witnesses from the jurors itself, rather than through the court proceedings is so succinct and clear, without anything being shown in first person. All the actors, despite not be introduced by their names, and addressed just by their number make a distinct mark on you in terms of their characteristics. I also love the ending of the movie, with the verdict being presented from the juror’s viewpoint, with no explanation whatsoever about the reality of the case.

The movie portrays the flaws in the judicial system which forcibly assigns a reluctant  lawyer to a case who sees no fame, no money in cases like this, where jurors just want to superficially fulfil their duty and where a slum-dwelling adolescent is subjected to prejudices, just to name a few.

My advice to you – don’t miss this classic drama. It’s worth the 95 minutes it runs for.

It’s surprising that the movie did not win any academy awards despite having 3 nominations, with no nomination for Henry Fonda for his lead role. But then these three awards went to another must watch classics of those times, whose review will shortly follow.  

For those of you who don’t know – The movie is inspired from a teleplay by Reginald Rose who acted as one of the co-producers of the movie.

When you come for a Rob Schneider movie, you definitely know what you are in for: senseless comedy and “The Animal” offers you just that. The thing with such movies is that they always have scenes which make you laugh aloud, but is it enough to place the movie in the category of superb comedies? Well, I guess not.

Marvin (Rob Schneider), a big time loser works as a clerk in the police department and wants to fulfil his father’s lifelong dream of being a cop. The events take a turn around when he meets a freak accident (the freakiest i ever saw on-screen) and an insane scientist-cum-doctor puts him back together by inserting animal parts in his body. This establishes animal powers inside his body raising him to the stature of a super-cop but, along come his fair share of troubles caused by his animal urges, mainly hunger and sexual desire, all taking over him at the wrong times. The problems get aggravated when he fears that his animal urges might interfere with his lady-love Rianna (Colleen Haskel) an animal lover, and he becomes notorious as a man-beast for killing cows and hunters at night. The climax of this comedy movie builds up for a few seconds and simply fizzes down.

From sniffing down drugs down a man’s butt to doing stunts dolphin-like, to humping a mail box, to seducing a goat in heat, to beating a horse in race, and to fighting an ape, Rob Schneider does it all animal style. Some of the scenes are stupidly funny to make you laugh and some end at being a little gross. Thankfully, the movie does not stretch beyond its limit and end when you think you had too much of this animal stuff going around. I would call it a harmless 80 minute entertainment (remember it could have been worse!!) to spend your time and have some good laughs without any stress on your brain.

I don’t know how many of you feel that way but Guy Torry as Miles, the guy who suffers from reverse-racism is pretty funny.

For those of you who don’t know – “The Animal” is one of the movies for which Rob Schneider was nominated for “Worst Actor of the Decade” Razzies Award at the Golden Raspberry Awards in 2010.

Signs (2002)

I wish I could say “Here’s one more masterpiece by Manoj Night Shyamalan”; sadly it’s not. It’s not even close to one. Surely it gives you spine chills at times but it does not maintain them throughout. What starts as a sci-fi thriller, actually turns out about the deep-rooted issue of trust and believe on your life incidents rather than about extraterrestrials.

Graham (Mel Gibson), a priest, is deeply shaken to question his profound faith on God when his wife dies in a road accident, causing him to abandon his roll as a reverend. He is left with two kids, a son and a daughter, to be taken care of, with his brother Merril (Joaquin Phoenix) – a baseball player with good as well as bad records, to help him survive the hardship. His 10-11 year old son Morgan (Rory Culkin) suffers from asthma, and his 4-5 year old daughter, Bo (Abigail Breslin) has a thing about water wherein she leaves glasses of water at every corner of the house throughout the movie.

The movie starts with the emergence of crop signs in Graham’s field as well as across the continents, leading the audience in believing it to be the main theme of the movie. The movie then rambles on about the possibilities at hand from pranksters to hostile aliens about to invade the planet who poison the humans through some secretions. In between the eerie atmosphere, the director introduces all the plot members, describing their characteristics and weaknesses. Finally the aliens start to make appearances through UFOs with the crop signs being their landmarks. The family hides in the attic, where hysteria causes the son to have an asthma attack which he leaves him in a critical condition. After a night spent in the attic, the radio announces the alien’s departure from the planet, spreading a sigh of relief. But when the family comes out of the hiding, exhausted yet happy, they see that an alien is still in their house and has captured Morgan.

Now here’s the climax of the movie, “The Signs” as to say; the signs that existed throughout their existence help the family to fight this crisis, establishing the fact that there are no coincidences in life and that everything happens for a reason. This incident establishes Graham’s faith back in God, making him believe that everything happens for a reason, everything is a Sign, and the movie ends with Graham starting back his services to the church.

Surely, the movie has a great story but the execution gets a little tedious. I understand that subject like the one in hand need a slow treatment but the movie gets to the point of boredom and certain scenes absolutely draw yawns from the audience. The good background score establishes the eerie environment but fails to heighten it. The introduction of the characters in the storyline gets too obvious rather than implicit. The acting by all the actors is commendable with the expected cameo by Shyamalan as Ray Reddy, the man who kills Graham’s wife. The movie won a lot of awards and accolades at several ceremonies.

The movie is a yes from my side. But watch it when you are in the mood for some slow and deliberate thriller and enjoy the build up patiently.

For those of you who don’t know – Scary movie 3 is hugely inspired from this movie.