Beauty in Space, Passengers Review

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Passengers Courtesy Collider

Passengers Courtesy Collider

Jennifer Lawrence has the beauty but so does Chris Pratt. These two “Passengers” are the only ones awake in the starship Avalon. Engineer Jim Preston takes a very long time before deciding to wake up Aurora Lane and making her think it was by mistake, but he was just lonely.

Passengers has been written by Jon Spaihts who has also co-written Prometheus and his wave of mysterious story unfolds over a bar table. Director Morten Tyldum who last did The Imitation Game is in excellent form with Passengers, but more credit should go to the Production Design team of Guy Hendrix. He brought life into this space adventure and while he may have lost out on the Oscar, he made up with the Art Directors Guild Awards.

Passengers is an interesting modern dilemma, where if we were to actually accomplish and set forth on a journey to a new planet, what can happen? When all else fails, what counts most? In this situation Jim longs for human contact and Aurora is furious when she finds out the truth, naturally because they both have to face the fact that they will die. Their only Agony Aunt is the android bar tender Arthur played by Michael Sheen.

If you want a love story with a scientific twist, then go for this film. There is a likely sequel, especially with the ending being open-ended.

Lost in the River of Passion, Mirzya Film Review

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Mirzya Photo

When Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra announced that he is making a film based on the tragic love story of Mirza-Sahiba and launching Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan Kapoor, the excitement was high. Things got more interesting when the trailer was released and the voice of Daler Mehndi took the expectations to another level, that songs will be good.

But things did not turn out so rosy in the end.

Mirzya is a modern tale but fails to make a spin. Childhood friends Monish and Suchitra are inseparable but one morning of not doing homework results in Monish killing the teacher and running away from the town. Suchitra grows up to be a fine Shakespearean lady, since her father who is a Royal guard (Art Malik) and returns home to marry the Prince Karan (Anuj Choudhry).

The marriage is obviously not meant to be because Suchitra meets Adil, her horse riding instructor and she soon discovers he is her Monish.

Rakeysh has tried his best to tell a story and the cinematography by Pawel Dyllus is smooth but they both cannot save this train headed for collision. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is interesting but they did not come up with any song that could hit the charts, even the low budget film Jugni had more memorable songs.

The narration by the late great actor Om Puri, who has a brief role keeps you alert with his powerful voice and poetry written by Gulzar.

If Rakeysh was using choreography to depict this love story, it provided an arty relief but he should have let his hero and heroine dance. A love story where the main couple does not express their love through their body language is incomplete.

Saiyami Kher is not impactful and she will have a struggle in getting a next big hit. Harshvardhan Kapoor was too downplayed and he will also need more movies to showcase his capability. Otherwise he will be another Imran Khan. Actually Prince Karan, played by Anuj showed far more grit as the jealous lover.

Mirzya is a visual treat but not a movie, it is a sightseeing experience.


The American Crime Story v O.J. Made In America Review

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The case of O.J. Simpson gripped the USA and then spread worldwide that the most recent example can be related to Oscar Pistorius in South Africa.

Both men faced the accusation of killing their wives.

The American Crime Story kicked off with the first case being The People v. O.J. Simpson and the stellar star cast including John Travolta, Cuba Gooding Jnr, David Schwimmer, Sarah Paulson and Courtney B Vance is excellent. These are very talented actors and they deliver par excellence.

O.J. Made in America is an ESPN documentary and captures his life from childhood to his current imprisonment. The style and direction are commendable.

It is most interesting to watch the American Crime Story first and then this Oscar nominated documentary O.J. Made In America, it will help put the context to the star team that were dealing with this case.

Both are a must watch.


Grief Has No Age, Manchester By The Sea Review

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This town is beautiful, this town is stunning, this town is happy, until…

Manchester By The Sea is an emotional turmoil between brothers and a son. This family drama has been written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan.

With a big star cast including Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler the expectations were high and fortunately have been fulfilled.

Lee (Casey Affleck) is caught off guard when one night his house goes up in flames and his children die, and his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) walks out on him. Lee’s brother Joseph (Kyle Chandler) has been diagnosed with a coronary disease and remains his only support. Things change when he suddenly passes away and makes Lee the guardian to his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee has to decide what to do and how to cope by coming back to the same town that took his life away almost literally.

The Oscar Nominations include: Best Direction, Writing (Screenplay), Actor in Leading Role (Casey Affleck), Supporting Role both Lucas and Michelle.

All the above are fine, but really do not see the point of nominating Michelle. Does a woman have to always go through tragedy to be nominated?

Manchester By The Sea belongs to Casey Affleck, his best scene was when he is sorting out the plumbing issue and there is a confused and angry housewife arguing with him.







Down on His Knees, Fifty Shades Darker Review

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Fifty Shades Darker

After the mega crazy of the 50 Shades books written by E.L. James there was no doubt the films were going to either make or break this breathless story.

Fifty Shades of Grey was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and she did a super job to introduce the characters of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.

But Director James Foley for Fifty Shades Darker, has taken the story a notch higher and congratulations to him for doing the last part of the trilogy Fifty Shades Freed.

James has recently shot exciting episodes of the TV Series including House of Cards and Billions and is the absolute perfect choice for this Fifty Shades series.

His presentation of the film in a classy, sophisticated and vulnerable style win you over. The film belongs to Christian Grey, sitting on his knees asking Ana to marry him. Grey is laid back in style but makes up for emotions bursting through his eyes and strength in his arms when he plays with Ana. Ana is bubbly but mature and restrained, she knows what she wants and is not afraid to go for it. Of course we knew all these things by reading in the book, but they are delight to see up on the silver screen. The pace maybe slow, but that is where James’s magic comes, he is no hurry, he does not magnify or glorify any moment or act, he is passionate about the love story and if you had not read the book, you would have fallen in love with this romantic story.

Jamie Dornan is strong and vulnerable, while Grey’s character may haunt him, but after this performance he has proved that he is an incredible actor who can step into any character and make you believe.

Dakota Johnson may have issues getting future roles because she is always going to be lovely Ana, she will need a very dramatic graph, somewhat like Kristen Stewart’s filmography to step out and make her own mark as an actress.

The winner of the film is also the amazing soundtrack managed by Dana Sano. She has collected hits from Zayn Malik, Taylor Swift but also from Kygo, Sia and Frances.

From iTunes Apple:

“Dana Sano, GRAMMY®-nominated music supervisor of Fifty Shades of Grey, sheds light on picking songs for the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker:
“We wanted to find classic, quality, and timeless songs. Similar to Fifty Shades of Grey, we only pursued new and original music for Darker and it was important that every song on the soundtrack also be in the film. In the story, Christian and Ana have a complicated relationship so the soundtrack organically reflects that. As with the first film and soundtrack, there is something for everyone and it honors the diversity of the fans, audiences, and musical tastes. For me, the standout sleeper tracks are by Toulouse, The-Dream, Frances, and Halsey.”

The two pieces by Soundtrack Music Director Danny Elfman include On His Knees and Making It Real and they are beautiful too.

Fifty Shades Darker is a now a film and not the submissive-dominant story. It has moved on. Make it yours, be mine…





He’s Watching You, Snowden Review

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Snowden Courtesy Position Papers

Edward Snowden is a traitor for some and a hero for some. The biggest leak since Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, Snowden caused more damage or not?

SNOWDEN has been directed by Oliver Stone who is known for the Michael Douglas starrer Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Anthony Hopkins in and as Nixon. Thus, his track record to tackle controversial and political work is not new. But his presentation of Snowden was definitely new.

If you want to know the back story, the everyday challenges, the relationship dilemma and the boy who became a man and then a fugitive then you need to watch this film.

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is known for his good looks especially in the film Don Jon and then stepped into big shoes of being Robert Lincoln in Lincoln and when he played the real life tight rope challenger Philippe Petit in The Walk he proved his prowess. That is until you see SNOWDEN, Joseph is at an Oscar performance with this role.

Supporting him is Shailene Woodley as Lindsay Mills (Snowden’s girlfriend) and Rhys Ifans as Corbin O’Brian (CIA).

Snowden is a must watch because while it looks like a documentary and a fictitious Hollywood drama, it is real, it happened and he is still stuck in Moscow.

Bold & Beautiful, Parched Review

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Parched Courtesy MensXP

In 2005 a young lady Director Leena Yadav made an experimental obsessive love story between an author Shaukat Vashisth (Sanjay Dutt), his wife Antara (Aishwarya Rai) and the young college teacher Yash (Zayed Khan), the film Shabd. It did not perform well at the box office and Leena showed her talent in picking up difficult subjects.

Now in 2016 she brought Parched, a story about three women in Rajasthan India struggling with early childhood marriage, being barren and a dancing girl. Leena made an excellent choice of her cast with Tannishtha Chatterjee as Rani, Radhika Apte as Lajjo and Surveen Chawla as Bijli.

This highly acclaimed film at the Toronto Film Festival will not receive much box office earnings in India or much critical praise due to its subject, the backward community that still persists deep in Rajasthan India.

There are two things that are new here, the first being excellent Cinematography by Russell Carpenter, who incidentally won the same award for Titanic. He does not dwell on the personal reactions of the actor, they do not own the screen, they are a part of the story.

Leena has had a similar approach. The three women are well aware of the injustice they are facing but they are not rallying around like activists. This is different and how it all works out or not for them is worth the watch.

Tannishtha Chatterjee is a superb international actress and while Radhika Apte is well known for her Rabindranath Tagore series and other art films, she does not fail to make you feel the pain as the barren woman Lajjo. Surveen has done her best performance here, this Hate Story girl is convincing as their friend Bijli who is a dancing girl.

The ladies rock!

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