Tag Archive: Movie review


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.

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.