Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

September 7, 2012

Ranbir Kapoor on turning 30, playing deaf-mute, and making films he believes in

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:40 pm

In this interview, Ranbir Kapoor talks about the challenges involved in playing a deaf-mute character in Barfi. The actor, who will turn 30 this year, also reveals what film he last saw that he wished he was in.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

That’s (not) the spirit!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:38 pm

September 07, 2012

Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Bipasha Basu, Esha Gupta, Mohan Kapur, Manish Choudhary

Director: Vikram Bhatt

It’s hard to tell which of the two leading ladies in Raaz 3 is more severely humiliated by director Vikram Bhatt – Esha Gupta, whose character runs stark naked into a party when cockroaches crawl into her dress, or Bipasha Basu who must have sex with an evil spirit, his body covered in creepy leeches.

Surprisingly low in thrills, this third installment in the horror-movie franchise stars Bipasha as a fading film star who becomes determined to sabotage a rival actress (Esha) when the newcomer is poised to upstage her. Pledging allegiance to the dark side, Bipasha enlists the help of a spirit who shows her the way ahead. In the throes of passion, the determined diva manipulates her director boyfriend (Emraan Hashmi) into signing up for her sinister plan. Tch, tch…the things you can get a guy to commit to in bed!

Filmed in 3D but barely justifying the technology, Raaz 3 is visually flat. Bhatt employs all the usual horror-movie tropes like creaking doors, fog-filled frames, and a macabre background score…and yet the film is about as scary as a six-year-old wearing a Frankenstein mask.

To be honest, Raaz 3 has more laugh-out-loud moments than jump-in-your-seat jolts. At one point during a poignant revelation, Esha Gupta delivers this classic gem: “Bachcha aur kutta sirf pyaar ka bhookha hota hai.” In another scene, while trying desperately to calm down a hysterical woman who’s just seen a ghost, Emraan Hashmi resorts to his ever-reliable formula – he shoves his tongue down her throat!

The first half of Raaz 3 has a few inspired bits, particularly Bipasha’s chilling encounter with the spirit who empowers her to carry out her sabotage, and Emraan’s moral dilemma over participating in Bipasha’s conspiracy to destroy an innocent rival. Post intermission, however, the film nosedives into a morass of clichés including godmen and aatmas and the spirit world, and by this point you couldn’t care less what happens to these people.

It doesn’t help that the acting is laughable, particularly by the two ladies, while Emraan Hashmi just tries to keep a straight face through this nonsense. Raaz 3, unlike the director’s last film, Dangerous Ishq, isn’t even so bad that it makes you laugh…this is just dull, lazy filmmaking.

I’m going with two out of five for Vikram Bhatt’s Raaz 3. The only thing that’s truly frightening is knowing that a fourth Raaz film is inevitably on its way.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Roman holiday

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:36 pm

September 07, 2012

Cast: Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Alison Pill

Director: Woody Allen

Woody Allen’s new film, To Rome With Love isn’t nearly as inventive or as fascinating as last year’s Midnight in Paris, but it is nevertheless a light, frothy confection that you’ll have trouble hating.

Continuing his love affair with Europe’s great metropolises, this new film is set in the gorgeous Italian capital, and follows four separate storylines that have nothing to do with each other. In one, Jesse Eisenberg plays an aspiring architect cheating on his girlfriend (Greta Gerwig) with her messed-up best friend (Ellen Page), even as Alec Baldwin, playing presumably an older version of Eisenberg, keeps popping up to caution him not to fall for that pseudo-intellectual vixen. Another story centers on Roberto Benigni, playing an average middle-class local who becomes famous overnight for no apparent reason. Photographers and news crews follow him everywhere, stunning models throw themselves at him, and every seemingly insignificant detail of his life – from what he ate for breakfast, to how he trims his hair – assumes national importance.

Less interesting than these is a third story, in which a newly married Italian couple gets separated accidentally. The wife finds herself swept away by the charms of a famous movie star, while the husband must pass off a high-end hooker (Penelope Cruz) as his new bride to snooty relatives. The fourth story, and easily the most enjoyable of the lot, stars the filmmaker himself as a retired opera director who spots an opportunity to reclaim professional glory when he discovers an undertaker who has a voice to rival Pavarotti’s – but only in the shower.

Alternating between whimsical and charming, To Rome With Love is inconsistent, and feels lazy at times. The track involving Roberto Benigni is decidedly underdeveloped, and there’s a farcical element to the storyline involving the newlywed couple that doesn’t fit easily with the other more subtle tracks. But there’s enough to like here too. Jesse Eisenberg does the whole neurotic thing very well, and Alec Baldwin is terrific as the wise American architect doling out words of wisdom. Woody Allen shoots Rome with a loving eye, giving it a similar eye-watering, travel-brochure feel that Paris and Barcelona received in his recent films. And despite its occasionally meandering nature, the film’s two overarching themes – sexual temptation and the lure of instant celebrity – are adequately explored in the four tracks.

At 76, the filmmaker still delivers an enjoyable enough film, even if it isn’t one of his best. I’m going with three out of five for Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love. Good, but never great.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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