Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lingaa (2014)

Rajnikanth's sixth film of the 21st century is an unsurprising disappointment. A loosely plotted film which generously borrows tropes from the actor's previous films, KS Ravikumar's "Lingaa" tirelessly references works from the actor's illustrious past without building anything original of its own that would stand the test of time and be worthy of being looked back at. The writing is dated and lazy, and the general sentiment of the film seems to be embroiled in old values, completely out of touch with times. Other than clearly being a hastily made cash-grab, it is a failure on multiple levels, with none of the contributors coming through to make this film the special event of the year that it was supposed to be. It's frankly insulting to fans of Rajnikanth and to the superstar himself, who is let down on all fronts.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Madras (2014)

This article is intended for people who have seen Pa. Ranjith’s Madras.

Set in Vyaasarpadi, "Madras" tells the story of the residents of housing board apartments who are caught up in a turf war between two political parties. In an expository prologue, a narrator establishes the film's primary conflict - whoever controls a particular wall of an unfortunately located apartment gets to establish themselves as the stronger of the two parties, thus cementing political success. Disregarding the nitty-gritty logistics, on a baser level, the issue boils down to show of power, the wall holding the key to all the problems for the stakeholders. It's a simple, yet potent and compelling premise that ever pivots around this sevuru. Painted on the wall is the face of a dead man whose son Kannan is a member of the incumbent political party. Hidden behind a huge mustache, always lit up in the dark, ever appearing to be in a smile mocking the people caught up in this senseless mayhem. It's a territory war saga that has trickled down generations, destroying too many families, taking too many lives, with a ceasefire offering only temporary solace.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam (2014)

The most admirable aspect of "Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam" is that it is not a product of some industry newbie, but a filmmaker who has clocked a little over three decades. In its intentions, "Kathai Thiraikathai.." can be looked at as a less subtle companion piece to "Jigarthanda". While the latter was a pissed off condemnation of the system, this film is an understanding acknowledgment of problems in Tamil cinema. Director R. Parthiepan doesn't preach, and the attitude is anything but holier-than-thou. It's a film with a bit of everything; ideas are tossed all around to see what sticks. And when a film is about nothing, it is, intentionally or otherwise, about everything. It's a story of a filmmaker suffering writer's block; about his deteriorating marriage; a meta movie within movie; a high concept science fiction and even a murder mystery. As intended, the plotting appears arbitrary, but is, in fact, always deliberate, ever in an attempt to make a bigger point.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Jigarthanda (2014)

It's always delightful when young filmmakers show ambition in technique. One of the earliest scenes in "Jigarthanda" is a long take which, although only runs for less than half a minute, is nevertheless a pleasant sight. It follows a young man as he makes his way onto the stage of a reality television show about film-making. The buildup he gets will have you believe otherwise, but the young man, one of the four contestants on the show, is a tongue-tied nervous wreck waiting for the jury to announce their verdict about his short film. A highbrow film director calls it a "kuppa padam". A lowbrow film producer, who wears his heart on his sleeve and his dislike for the director on his face, calls it the "bestu padam". Chaos ensues and the young filmmaker somehow lands a one film deal with the producer to make a blood-curdling gangster film. So off goes our hero Karthik Subramani (Siddharth) in search of a story to Madurai, the land of barotta-mutton chuka, jigarthanda and crime. He picks his subject: Sethu (Simhaa), a gangster at the top of his game. And then he observes.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Godzilla (2014)

This article is intended for people who have seen Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla.

The "Transformers" franchise created a space for Robots vs Robots movies and "Pacific Rim" attempted something similar for the Robots vs Monsters sub-genre. With Gareth Edwards' fantastic "Godzilla", we are back to where we started: Monsters fighting Monsters; the resulting film is majestic and awe inspiring.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cuckoo (2014)

Have you ever noticed how your jaw starts to hurt a bit after you cry a lot? Well, that's exactly what happened to me as I watched director Raja Murugan's phenomenal debut "Cuckoo". It reveals to us a world of people who have been living right in front of our eyes for all this time. While I believe no human should ever be bereft of any of the five traditional senses, there's something particularly cruel about blindness. We all must have noticed how visually impaired men and women come together and live as a family. They marry either because it makes sense from a financial point of view or just because they are in love. This is one such love story where the possibility of love happening at first sight is nonexistent. And what a love story it is!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Carrie (2013)

One of the biggest issues with Kimberley Peirce's film adaptation of Stephen King's "Carrie" is that it appears to be assuming that everyone watching the film has read the book or watched Brian De Palma's 1976 film. Right from the opening scene where Julianne Moore's Margaret is seen writhing in pain, oblivious to the fact that she is in labour, the film comes across as too eager to get to the parts which are now considered iconic. Often, when a major character is to be introduced, the camera slows down and some character off screen utters their full name loud and clear. Carry White. Sue Snell. Tommy Ross. Chris Hargensen. Yeah. That's the quality of writing you can expect from this film.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Veeram (2014)

How seriously can you take a film that tries to milk sentiment out of its star's salt and pepper look? The answer is: not very seriously. No matter how you see it, director Siva's "Veeram" is an awfully trite movie. It is absurdly predictable and throws cliches at us two at a time. I'd like to say there's a method to its madness but that would be far from true. Yet there's something about it that keeps it from being completely useless.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Jilla (2014)

Director R. T. Neason's "Jilla" reduces Mohanlal into being a narcissistic caricature with a God complex who converses only in punch dialogues. His Sivan is a feared Don in Madurai who makes his victims perform a version of seppuku where they are supposed to slit their throat instead. He adopts his driver's son after the boy's father gets killed by a policeman. The son Sakthi (Vijay) grows up into a classic porikki, becoming Sivan's right hand man. They are pretty much the same kind of unsympathetic people like Simmakkal Ravi, the villain in "Pandianadu". But the film glorifies them and tries to lend them some dignity when there is none to be deserved.