movies, Review

The Fencer – movie review

The Fencer is a a simple feel good cute movie, where everything works – the acting, the setting, the visuals, the sound, the story, the music. And yet the only reason I don’t feel like giving it anything more than 7 on 10 is because – well it is such a risk-free movie. You would know it when you watch it. To those wondering what the movie is about, the trailer should do the job. To those who have seen Shahrukh’s Chak de India (and loved it – which I guess should include everyone, because how can you not love Chak de??), this one is basically the Russian version of Chak De India (produced by Finland), with far lesser drama (different style of telling a story if you may; nothing against more drama) and with the women hockey team replaced by a team of cute kids who are learning a new sport. And Marta, love you – you were awesome (you would know what I am talking about once you have seen The Fencer – it’s definitely recommended).

PS: I saw this movie as part of the International Film Festival of India. The producer was happy to announce that Finland had selected The Fencer for Oscar submission.

movies, Review

Moor (2015) movie review

I might not have seen many Pakistani movies, but this one, from a production and aesthetics point of view was as good as any big budget movie – from India, Europe or Hollywood. I saw it yesterday as part of the International Film Festival of India, in Goa and for the first 10 to 15 minutes, I was like, WTF – is this really a movie from Pakistan? Such stunning visuals, such impactful sound-track…. And the music, mind-blowing!

But here’s the thing, by the time the movie ended, I was sure I could not rate it more than 6.5 on 10. :( As a movie the story didn’t lead up to anything great at all. I think the writer made the story-telling more complex than was needed (for an otherwise simple straightforward story about corruption and honesty). Also – there were too many different colour tones, which didn’t feel right at times. The effect was jarring. There was this weird lack of coherency in story-telling that made me uneasy several times, after first half hour. Though I must add that the movie never slipped away totally. It kept coming back to being watchable and enjoyable (without distraction).

Some actors were good but there were many average and some below-averages ones too – which was a major turn off (the first dialogue scene itself was so fake). There were few actors (including the lead actor) who worked perfectly well when they didn’t speak much, but didn’t look convincing many a times when they had dialogues – they looked and felt like theatre artists. Must add here that the lead actor and the actress were stunning to look at. Really really good looking. On this note, let me also mention that the main villain was a look-alike of Kulbhushan Kharbanda. Just FYI.

As a summary, I would say that in spite of some super strong aspects (cinematography, sound, music, overall context and some good actors), Moor kept getting randomly over-dramatic (in an abstract fashion) every 15 minutes – till the very end. It almost felt like two different people had made two kinds of movies and then they had been put together by an editor. One director would let emotions carry forward the story, another would make characters speak to each other in a randomly dramatic fashion. So essentially, this was good attempt at being a great movie but IMHO could not get there!

movies, Review

Much Loved (2015) movie review

This movie is about the life of prostitutes in Morocco. Every fifteen minutes, someone fucks someone. And there are some amazing things about it. The movie, by sheer means of visual storytelling, conveys how prostitutes can be loved, raped and abused, just like anyone else, even when all the three actions, on a physical level, are just sexual acts. You also get to see prostitution as just any job. You see the challenges with this particular job – the boycott by family members and neighbours, feeling of loss of power with powerful clients / police etc. This movie offers a fine, realistic glimpse of the life of prostitutes in Morocco, portraying a very neutral look at their lives. You relate to them on many levels (good days at work, bad days at work, cracking jokes with friends, finding support and solace in friends in times of despair etc.). All the actors are great and look and feel authentic (except the few Europeans – who looked very caricaturish).

Above are the things that I liked, but there are issues with the movie too. There are passages which feel either repetitive or longer than they need to be. As a feature length movie, it falters many a times in the ‘pace’ department. It just keeps randomly slowing down, now and then and that’s some major turn off, for a movie that otherwise has so much visual stimuli to turn you on, quite literally.

PS: I saw Much Loved last night in Goa as part of the International Film Festival of India.

movies, Review

Flocken movie review

This Swedish movie revolves around a school girl and is set in a small village where she lives with her mother and sister. I saw the movie in Goa today, as part of the International Film Festival of India. The director Beata Gårdeler was present to introduce the movie at the festival, but weirdly, the organizations did not care to arrange for any Q&A after the movie got over.

Flocken is a powerful movie where everyone has acted brilliantly. The movie starts off with a neutral (or rather happy) feel to it, and then as it progresses, you can see things getting darker and darker. By the time it ends, you are left with a depressing feeling. You want to enter the story and make things right for yourself. You feel outright bad for the girl (who is dealing with getting raped by her classmate; and very few people believe her). Surprisingly, no one is shown as a clear villain in the movie. Everyone’s point of view is presented in subtle ways (and more so, in cinematic ways – by use of visuals more than dialogues). Overall, this is an example of fine cinema. One might not like how the movie ends, but one cannot ignore the consistent gripping impact the movie has on the audience. Good job Beata!

movies, Review

Bebe Tiger (Young Tiger) Movie Review

Bebe Tiger is one of those indie fiction movies that have a very documentary movie feel to them. I saw this French movie yesterday in Goa (India) as part of the International Film Festival of India. It’s about the life of a young refugee in France (from Punjab, India). Another movie around refugees that I had seen just few weeks ago was a movie called Dheepan (both these movies are doing their rounds in film festivals and are yet to release commercially). Both the movies are essentially about bringing out the day to day lives of these refugees and yet, they generate such different emotions. Personally, I liked Bebe Tiger better. It was more subtle and the focus on plot was minimal.

Because I don’t like to talk too much about the plot in my movie reviews, let me just focus on the things that left an overall impact on me as a member of the audience (so that those who haven’t yet seen it, can decide if they want to see the movie or not).

Bebe Tiger is a fast moving movie. Almost feels like an editor’s movie. Because the focus is not too much on the plot, the fast edit actually helps keep the pace just right. I also loved the acting by everyone (and the lead actor did total justice to the role). The visual language throughout the movie is very consistent. And I think that is the only real problem with the movie. Nothing really happens. Things happen of course, but they are too mild to distract you from the idea that what the film-maker really cares about is for you to feel how Many (the young refugee from India) feels on a day to day basis in France. And so, though I liked the movie, it left me with a slightly hollow feeling of something amiss (had the exact same feeling after seeing another indie movie – Mina Walking).

Bottomline – definitely a good movie but so much potential to be better.

movies, Review

Unbranded – movie review

I saw this documentary movie in the recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival. I don’t think it is a festival-worthy movie. There are a lot of great images but the overall story is extremely hollow and boring for most part. The donkey was the star though (amidst all the horses). I think if someone can make a 15 minute short about this story, retaining all the stunning visuals and the donkey part – it would make for a pretty recommendable watch. The feature length documentary is not recommended.