Saturday, October 11, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - A good Guy-Chick-Flick

Now who says guys don’t watch chick flicks. In fact there are enough of them to support the emergence of a new genre of movies within chick flicks that I have been sensing lately. The Guy-Chick-Flick or the Gick-Flick. Its different from a regular Guy Flick for the lack of overt action, guns, chase scenes, blood, machoism, sportsman spirit etc. These movies are about a guy’s perspective of a romantic relationship. Oh yes!... you’ll be surprised. Guys do have a perspective to romantic relationships and its not always sexual. Well.. may be almost.. but .. uhmm.. ok.. lets leave that point aside!

"Jude Apatow" seems to be one of the key names in the development of this genre. If you liked '40 year old virgin', 'Superbad’ and 'Knocked up', then you’ll like ’Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ for sure. If you didn’t like them too much, and were left with a feeling of wanting something more out of it, I guess FSM is the one which provides that "something more".

The story is about a TV serial music composer being dumped by his celebrity TV serial actress (called Sarah Marshall) in the begining of the movie.

The rest of the movie is about how he goes through the break up phase, wanting to forget her and still not wanting to forget her. Bumping into her, bumping into another girl, getting to know the new guy in her life etc etc.

Simple plot. And hilarious execution. The movie beautifully treads the fine line of creating comedy out of the sadness of a person without ending up mocking anything or belittling anyone, while retaining the genuine feelings that a breakup can and does bring to a person.
You will laugh through the movie for it has some fantastic moments of the trademark "lack of clarity" that a dumped person ("dumpee’) has, about whether to move on, or to wait and try to get the "dumper" back!

The music is a fantastic surprise package that adds to the humor. Yes! it does. For eg. read the following super hilarious lyrics of the song "Inside of you" that is being sung by Sarah Marshall’s new rockstar boy friend in order to serenade her in front of a hawai dinner time crowd. Mind you, this is being sung with all pink romantic seriousness! --

Oh these ancient skies
I’ve had these wandering eyes
but you took me by surprise
when you let me inside of you.
Inside of you, Inside of you
There’s got to be
Some part of me, Inside of you
Inside of you, I could cross this desert plane
Inside of you, I can hear you scream my name
Inside of you, while the stars unfold
I’ve crossed me heart and I’ve crossed the world
And I need you here and I need to be, Inside of you.
Now the flowers bloom
I feel you creep into my room
And if this should be our tune
I’ll die here inside of you.
And the world explodes
I’ve never been down this road
Teach me how to glow
While I’m moving, Inside of you.
Through and through
And through and through
There’s so much more than just a screw, Inside of you.(How Profound!)
And I was blizzard blind
Felt like I’ve lost me mind
But you’ve treated me so kind
I don’t know what to do.

I was laughing my head off throughout this song. (I told you. Its a GUY-CHICK-FLICK :))

And then the movie gets brilliantly artistic with a Dracula Puppet Musical. Even this number has a very high entetainment value. The Dracula song wonderfuly captures the deeply moving and humorously distraught emotions of a man dumped by his lover. I love the way it has been sung and well.. here are the lyrics again -

It’s getting kind of hard to believe things are going to be better.
I’ve been drowning too long to believe that the tide’s going to turn.
And I’ve been living too hard to believe things are going to get easier now.
I’m still trying to shake off the pain from the lessons I’ve learned.
And if I see Van Helsing I swear to the Lord I will slay him. AH-HAH-HAH-HAH!
He’d take it from me, but I swear I won’t let it be so. AH-HAH-HAH-HAH!
Blood will run down his face when he is decapitated. AH!
His head on my mantle is how I will let this one know: How much I love you.
I can’t.

The acting is more than believable and the humor is in as good a taste as it can be in a Guy-Chick-Flick. I would go as far to say that even most girls (Indian I am talking here.) will love it! Except that there are some relatively prolonged male nude scenes (2 to be precise) in the movie and I don’t think they either add to the movie or take away from it in anyway.

Strongly recommended for anyone going through a break up ;)

Recommended for others who just want to watch a good comedy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gone With The Wind... Still Going.

Almost everyone has heard of it even if they have not seen it. Its timeless and we all know its a classic, so there isn't much point questioning, analysing or supporting it.
When talking about a film like Gone With The Wind, the only worthwhile point that deserves attention is, how entertaining is it today? How engaging is the drama when plucked out of its era and placed in front of people who weren't even born when the idea was concieved.
Year 1939 was quiet a while ago. Times have changed, styles have evolved, technology has achieved further finesse and taste and mindset of the audience has possibly seen a 360 degree shift into a totally new dimension.
So, is this piece of classic fable-ish cinema still as engaging as it was 70 years ago?

The answere is an emphatic yes.
Gone With The Wind is a terrific entertainment package that will titillate and entertain the 2020 techie as easily as the 1940 grandpa. For the writers seeking to perfect their art, here is an example of a script line that exploits the simplest way to keep the audience engrossed. Continuous ups and downs. Its simple, and its been done almost to perfection.

The story is about being human and its about a better tomorrow, always. Its cocky yet charming, its immoral yet respectable, and its tragic yet full of life, hope and effervescence.
Although one may also call it a highly evolved chick flick of its era, and those who don’t love romance movies will not really dig it much, theres a strong male element in the movie that keeps it a fairly unisex consumption commodity.
It has a fable like feel and is set in a semi imaginary era and backdrop. The main story is about a girl called Scarlette O Hara, playes to perfection by Vivien Leigh, who embodies and gives a grand meaning to the phrase "complexity of women". Life attempts to tame Scarlette throughout the film, but she has a spirit that makes her bounce back everytime she is cornered. Her character grows beautifully from someone you may hate to someone you will love.
Never tamed by life but finally tamed by Rhett Butler, Scarlette’s story doesn’t end even after the movie ends. Rhett is an amazing character, full of male ego, chivalry, shrewdness and parental affection and has been performed powerfully by Clark Gable.
Only a Rhett could love a Scarlette and be loved in turn.

Also, as the movie is very strongly driven by the story, we must spare a moment for the author, Margaret Mitchelle, on whose book this movie is based. I have not read the book, but I am sure the detailed character sketch would have helped the film makers and actors a lot.

The movie is long but never boring. So be ready with enough chips, drinks and other goodies before you sit down to relish this wonderful piece of timeless cinema.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mithya - The Illusion Of A Great Film

When, by the time of end-credits, you have already begun to appreciate a film for the kind of cinema it has been, rather than for the feeling and the emotions it generated in you, you know something is wrong.

Mithya is a good movie. But couldn’t possibly achieve its potential. It could have been great, but has ended up being just a "good attempt". The biggest concern with Mithya is its lack of focus. And this doesn’t let the film touch any emotional chord with the viewer significantly. Isn't that essentially why films are made?

The last conversation of the film, between the boat guys who throw Sonam’s body into the river, seem to be an attempt to capture the essence of the movie.
"love story thi kya?"
"sad... very sad"
They sound like an afterthought by the director. It seems the director wanted to explain, after all, what exactly was he trying to make!

This brilliant piece of acting by Ranvir, remains way short of greatness as a film, because none of the subplots are built strongly enough. One's gut doesn't end up relating to any of the aspects of VK’s life. You neither feel strongly for his struggle as an actor, nor for his love for Sonam, or his small little good son act, or his relationship with Raje’s wife and family, or him being a better father to Raje’s children, or his success as an actor in acting out Raje in real life!!
All these were great touch-points and none of them could dig deep. The movie could have made you drop dead in grief when VK was killed, but you just sigh an admittedly honest "nice film", rather than an emphatic "Oh! damn!!!".
The cliched hindi film twists (double role, memory loss etc) don’t help the film’s cause either. Neither do they successfully "dark spoof" (if such a phrase exists!:)) the originals, nor do they add a punch.

As far as the genre is concerned, its clearly black comedy! Mithya tries to mock at all aspects of this illusory life.
The Bheja Fry Model of low production value doesn’t hurt the film much.

If you like watching the new brave genre of Bollywood, Mithya is one of the braver ones. (Not as brave as 'No Smoking' though. That was downright brash and almost conceited!)

Mithya is a must watch for Ranvir fans. Vinay fans will be disappointed. Black comedy suckers will go home with that wierd feeling an undertaker gets when he watches a dead body get up and run away to the next graveyard, leaving him high and dry.

I was kidding about the the undertaker thing!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Deconstructing Harry: A Master Artist's Mind

"Deconstructing Harry" is a deceptively autobiographical movie written and directed by Woody Allen. Its HILLLARIOUS to the core. Yes its profane and vulgar, but tell me one person who didn't laugh at least once, while watching a porn flick. No, this isn't a porn flick.

Woody Allen is known as much for his humor as for his quirks. DH is one of the most brashly honest piece of work by Woody, and I am sure it's one of the under rated ones too. For me, next on the card are 'Play it Again Sam', 'Radio Days', and 'Annie Hall'.
The backdrop of the story is that of a self proclaimed spiritually and morally bankrupt writer facing a writer's block. And if you relate to the character even an ounce, you'd most probably be embarrassed of yourself while you laugh at yourself.
I must confess I could see quiet a handful of myself in Harry/Woody! Now, although thats not very important, but it sure is embarrassing.

Heres what this character is like -
- 60+ and still a boy
- loves his son but can't understand marriage
- doesn't believe in God but is sure of Satan
- believes in physics, black holes and sexual encounters of all kinds
- obnoxious freely hopelessly honest chain lover
- doesn't like being lonely, can't keep wives
- irritatingly argumentative while defending himself
- genuinely innocent while defending himself
- can't understand women
- can't live without women
- flirt, liar, cheat... for people in general
- truthful, honest, fair in his own weird unreal way

A few good thing that I could pick were -
- doesn't like tradition, thinks of all human kind as ONE
- honest to himself
- funny
- actually innocent (Nah.. I am just being good to him)

A major part of the movie is shot like a documentary, with sharp visible cuts. While this may make it look real'istic', but can also be irritating for some. But I like the fact that Woody explores such cinematic nuances.

Woody's treatment of love, marriage, children, sexuality and religion is not necessarily incisive but is surely humorous. I suggest you pick it up if you want to watch a weird satirical comedy that gives you a peek into a strange master artist's psychology.