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

June 14, 2013

Amy Adams on being destined to play Lois Lane

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 11:47 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, recorded in Los Angeles, 4-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams talks about playing Lois Lane in Man of Steel. The actress explains why Lois isn’t a damsel in distress this time, and how she plays an important role in the shaping of Superman.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Kevin Costner & Diane Lane on playing the Kents in ‘Man of Steel’

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 11:46 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, recorded in Los Angeles, Hollywood stars Kevin Costner and Diane Lane talk about playing Superman’s Earth parents Jonathan and Martha Kent in Man of Steel. The stars reveal what appealed to them when these parts were offered to them, and share their opinion on Henry Cavill who plays the new superhero.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Shortcut Romeos

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:45 pm

June 14, 2013

Cast: Pulkit Samrat, Varun Sharma, Manjot Singh, Ali Fazal, Richa Chadda, Pankaj Tripathi

Director: Mrighdeep Singh Lamba

Four slackers in Delhi seeking fast cash make a deal with a ruthless don. But when things go wrong, as they inevitably do, they must pay the price for it. That familiar premise gets a fresh coat of paint in Fukrey, with co-writer and director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba putting a new spin on some old clichés. Yet, while individual scenes inspire laughs, the film doesn’t quite fly because there are too many gags and not enough plot.

Hunny (Pulkit Samrat) and Choocha (Varun Sharma) badly want to get into college so they can ditch classes and ogle girls. Lali (Manjot Singh) is fed up of working at his father’s eatery, desperate to “migrate” from his correspondence course to a campus. Meanwhile, brooding musician Zafar (Ali Fazal) sports a guitar and a permanently sad face, with neither aspirations nor inspiration in sight.

They’re interesting protagonists, but the makers invest too heavily in them and not enough in the story, taking almost an hour before introducing the film’s most delicious character, a tough-talking crime boss in high heels, Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadda), who bankrolls the boys’ harebrained plan to crack an underground lottery.

Unlike the far superior Delhi Belly, the writing in Fukrey is never consistent. There are laughs to be had in the verbal sparring between Hunny and Choocha, and a running joke involving Lali being robbed each time he parks outside a gurdwara is sheer genius. Although many scenes work on the strength of sharp dialogue and spot-on performances, they don’t always fit cohesively in the film’s narrative thread. The solemn interludes with Zafar stick out like a sore thumb, and the anti-drug message in the end is just pat. Similarly, Hunny’s romantic track with a simple girl from the neighborhood feels gratuitous at best.

A tighter script and more screen time for the excellent Pankaj Tripathi, as enterprising campus security guard Panditji, might have helped turn this moderately entertaining film into a rollicking good caper. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Michael Shannon on not playing General Zod as a typical villain

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 11:45 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, recorded in Los Angeles, Michael Shannon talks about his role as General Zod in the new Superman film, Man of Steel. The actor reveals why he didn’t approach the part as a typical villain, and shares his thoughts on Henry Cavill as the new superhero.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Why so serious?

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 11:40 pm

June 14, 2013

Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne

Director: Zack Snyder

What I missed more than anything else in Man of Steel is the old-school humor and charm of the 1978 Superman film, starring Christopher Reeve, that many of us grew up watching. The new reboot, directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan, is a mostly somber affair – which shouldn’t really be surprising if you think about it, given that neither is known for his lightness of touch. Both, in fact, take their comic book culture very seriously. So don’t expect a quick dash into the phone booth, or a cat that needs rescuing from a tree. No! Our hero doesn’t even put on the suit until well over an hour into the movie.

The film’s overlong prologue sees Superman’s father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) face off against General Zod (Michael Shannon) on Krypton. Their planet is on the verge of destruction, and Jor-El dispatches his infant son Kal-El to Earth, narrowly avoiding the clutches of Zod, who vows revenge even as he takes Jor-El’s life. Far from dazzling us with its Avatar like beasts and otherworldly production design, this early sequence is weighed down by some incoherent babble about a Kryptonian codex.

The next time we meet our protagonist, he’s a grown man. Clark Kent, played with admirable earnestness by Henry Cavill, is first seen making a rescue from a flaming oil rig at sea. What follow are a handful of moving flashbacks to his troubled childhood and his adolescent years where he struggles to come to terms with his special powers, even as his adoptive father (Kevin Costner) advises him to keep a lid on them because he believes the world isn’t ready for it.

Back in the present day, Clark is a drifter whose powers prove hard to hide, because people invariably get themselves into trouble, and he can’t stop himself from helping them. It doesn’t take long for Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) to discover his secret. But before she can go public with her story, along comes Zod with a cunning plan to turn Earth into the new Krypton. That’s the cue for a roughly 40-minute action finale in which Superman and Zod have a go at each other, virtually crumbling an entire city, and turning you deaf in the process.

What anchors this noisy, humorless film are some terrific performances by its cast. Russell Crowe plays Jor-El like the ghost of Hamlet’s father, showing up every now and then to dispense valuable life lessons to his grown-up son. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Clark’s Earth parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, bring warmth and depth to the story. Meanwhile, Amy Adams is a very different Lois Lane to the Margot Kidder version, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who can hardly be fooled by thick-rimmed glasses and a side parting. Her Lois is Superman’s emotional equivalent, and Adams brings both heart and smarts to the part.

As Superman’s nemesis, Michael Shannon makes a credible Zod, his motives rooted in the real and the relatable, rather than just being another villain with a plan to take over the world. Playing Superman himself, although he’s never once referred to by that name in this film, Henry Cavill brings his chiseled good looks and an inherent charisma to the role. Cavill isn’t required to flex his comic chops here (perhaps in the sequel?) but he doesn’t once trip as the brooding lost boy.

Man of Steel leans more towards Nolan’s angsty Dark Knight movies than Marvel’s playful Avengers. Yet it doesn’t have the great ideas of that Batman trilogy. What it does have – despite all its shortcomings – is genuine awe and wonder in the bits where Superman takes flight. For those portions, for the charming new leading man, and some solid special effects, it’s worth a watch.

I’m going with three out of five for Man of Steel. A little fun, a little lightness couldn’t have hurt.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

June 8, 2013

Sonam Kapoor & Dhanush on the difference between stalking and romance

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 12:17 am

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Raanjhnaa stars Sonam Kapoor and (Kolaveri Di sensation) Dhanush discuss Bollywood’s tendency to pass off stalking as romance. The actors explain how they prepared themselves to play 14-year-olds in the movie, and their impressions of each other when they first met.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

June 7, 2013

Will Smith on the conflict between parent and producer

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:50 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand recorded in Cancun (Mexico), Will Smith talks about the conflict between parent and producer while making After Earth with his 14-year-old son Jaden. The actor also reveals how director M Night Shyamalan and him arrived at a common vision for the film despite their drastically different personalities and interests.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Jaden Smith on staying grounded in Hollywood

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:48 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand recorded in Cancun (Mexico), 14-year-old Jaden Smith talks about his working relationship with his actor father Will Smith on After Earth, and about how he stays grounded in an industry that can be a hard place for young artistes.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

M Night Shyamalan on making a movie in India soon

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:46 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand recorded in Cancun (Mexico), director M Night Shyamalan reveals how After Earth came about after a birthday phone call he received from Will Smith. The filmmaker also discusses the heat he faced for some of his previous films, and the possibility of making a movie in India soon.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Monkey business

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:43 pm

June 07, 2013

Cast: Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Annu Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Neha Sharma, Kristina Akheeva, Johnny Lever, Sucheta Khanna

Director: Sangeeth Sivan

It’s not even a key moment in the film, but the image of Dharmendra and an orangutan riding a scooter, swaying joyously to the tune of Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge, is a fair representation of the standard of comedy in Yamla Pagla Deewana 2. This intentionally harebrained sequel sees the Deols reprise their characters from the 2011 hit, but the laughs are fewer this time around because the novelty’s worn off and a strong sense of déjà vu hangs over the film.

Posing as a baba on the ghaats of Benares, con artist Dharam (Dharmendra), with the help of his son Gajodhar (Bobby Deol), fools unsuspecting disciples into parting with their riches. When they encounter wealthy London businessman Sir Yograj Khanna (Annu Kapoor), the father-son duo pose as millionaires themselves, and hatch a plan to wed Gajodhar with the rich man’s daughter (Neha Sharma). But their operation is nearly derailed by Dharam’s older son Paramveer (Sunny Deol), who is shocked to discover that his dad and his brother are still up to their old tricks.

The film’s potpourri of mad characters includes a self-obsessed villain named Dudeji (Anupam Kher) and his pair of costume-coordinated sidekicks (Johnny Lever and Sucheta Khanna). There’s also that previously mentioned orangutan, named Einstein, who develops a fondness for alcohol courtesy of Dharam, which in turn brings out the artist in him. Such is the puerile writing that in one of the film’s low points, Dharam recruits a female orangutan, dressed in a hot pink mini skirt and matching push-up bra, to seduce Einstein so he might be inspired to paint again.

To be fair, not all the humor is as tasteless, although it is consistently low-IQ. There are a few laughs to be had, particularly in the film’s first half via Dharmendra, who’s clearly having a good time delivering some cheeky lines and a handful of nudge-wink in-jokes. Sunny Deol, for his part, repeats the same ol’ shtick – he can vanquish an army of weapon-wielding ninjas but he can’t so much as confess his love for a girl. Bobby Deol nicely complements his father in the comic scenes, but his Salman Khan-fan routine is uninspired.

Directed by Sangeeth Sivan, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 isn’t all bad, but at 2 hours and 35 minutes it’s overlong and repetitive, and doesn’t offer anything particularly original or inventive in terms of comedy. I’m going with two out of five. It’s a pity the jokes run out faster than your popcorn does.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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