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

December 4, 2020

Good Boy Bad Boy review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:50 pm

May 11, 2007

Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Tusshar Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Isha Sharvani, Tanushree Dutta

Director: Ashwini Chaudhary

Last week I said in my review of Spider-Man 3 that as bad as some Hollywood films are, they can never be as bad as some Bollywood films. And I know that a lot of you found that comment snooty because you wrote in to say so.

Well, to everyone who doesn’t agree with that statement of mine, I have just four words to say: Good Boy, Bad Boy.

Yes, I’m talking about this week’s other Bollywood release, and if you are brave enough, do go and watch this film because I think it’ll help you understand exactly why Hindi cinema is far from perfect.

While on the one hand we take such big leaps with films like Rang De BasantiLage Raho Munnabhai andOmkara, let’s not forget that we’re also going two steps behind with every Shakalaka Boom Boom andGood Boy Bad Boy.

Now where do I start with the faults in Good Boy Bad Boy, it’s exactly one of those movies that should never have been made because it’s such a senseless, mindless, objectionable film that’s a waste of your money, the filmmaker’s resources and everybody’s time.

Let me just give you an idea of its insane plot: Tusshar Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi play two very different kinds of students in the same college. While Tusshar is studious and bright, Emraan is more of the loafer variety who spends most of his time flirting with pretty young girls and hanging out with his no-good friends.

Now the new principal, Paresh Rawal, orders that students be grouped together in classes based on their aptitude and their grades. And as luck would have it, because of a careless error on the part of a college peon, Tusshar and Emraan’s divisions get swapped.

So Emraan finds a seat in a class full of bright students and Tusshar lands a seat in a class full of duffers.

The film’s about how these two rise to the challenges that are thrown at them and how they eventually overcome their weaknesses to prove that determination and hard work conquers all.

I’ve seen several amateurish films, but none have come this close to creative bankruptcy as Good Boy Bad Boy. In fact, I still cannot believe the film’s been directed by Ashwini Chaudhary who gave us that sensitive film Dhoop about an elderly couple dealing with the untimely death of their young son.

I honestly don’t believe that the same person made Good Boy Bad Boy because this film is clichéd and old-fashioned and it reeks of indifference towards the audience.

From beginning to end, the entire film is predictable because its structured like one of those bad campus films of the mid-eighties. Every single character is a stereotype and the dialogue is just so stupid that you want to wring the writer’s neck for putting down such words on paper.

This film would have been outdated even 15 years ago, I can’t believe they made it today. Which is why I wonder if anyone actually saw the film after it was completed because had anyone with even half a brain actually seen this film, they might have at least tried to do something about it – like throw the print into the sea, or burn it.

Tusshar Kapoor who’s usually quite earnest, seems uninspired and bored and in all honesty you can’t really blame him. As for Emraan Hashmi, who looks like he’s borrowed his costumes from a street-side pimp, I have to ask, what’s with the orange hair and the unkempt stubble?

His acting – I’m not even going to go there, I’ve seen dead bodies that show more expressions than he does!

The leading ladies of this film aren’t much better – Isha Sharvani is just plain dull, but Tanushree Dutta really needs to cover those thunder thighs and concentrate on her dialogue delivery instead.

The only person I pity here is Paresh Rawal who I cannot believe survived the shooting of the entire film. What is he doing in this film, someone please tell me?

If there was such a thing as a negative rating, I’d have reserved it specially for a film like this, but since we don’t have a negative rating, we’ll go with the plain and simple zero out of five for Ashwini Chaudhary’s Good Boy Bad Boy.

It’s an ordeal worse than having your nose hair plucked out one by one. If you watch it and you come out alive, then you’ve survived a tornado.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Superman Returns review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:50 pm

Jun 30, 2006

Cast: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey

Director: Bryan Singer

First Krrish, now this week Superman Returns, it’s the season of superheroes.

Now, I grew up on Superman and I think a lot of us did, and honestly I speak for a whole generation when I say that I wanted to be Superman when I grew up – I mean, he was this cool guy with all these superpowers, most exciting, of course the fact that he could fly.

You know, in my opinion, the two biggest challenges that lie ahead for this new Superman film is – firstly, can any actor replace Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, and secondly, after so many years of technological advances, are we still going to be excited watching Superman fly?

Now the thing about Superman Returns is that it’s a sort of continuation to the first Superman film that was made way back in 1978.

This story starts five years after that one left off. So in this film Superman finally returns to earth after looking for remnants of his lost planet, Krypton.

His alter ego Clark Kent gets his old job back at the Daily Planet, but so much has changed in these years. Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane has moved on – she now has a son, and she’s engaged to another man.

Also, Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor is back, and this time he’s managed to get his hands on some Kryptonite and he’s determined to take over the world using that.

Let’s go back to the two challenges that I spoke of earlier. Can any actor replace Christopher Reeve? To a whole generation, to many generations actually, Christopher Reeve was Superman.

You know unlike Batman or Spiderman who have masks that hide their faces, Superman you recognise from his face. And that face, for many of us, will always be Christopher Reeve.

But, to give credit where it’s due, Brandon Routh, the actor who plays Superman in this new film, is such a dead ringer for Reeve, that you almost don’t miss the original actor at all. If there’s anything lacking in Routh’s performance then it’s that slight touch of humour that Christopher Reeve brought to the role, especially when he was playing Clark Kent.

Routh plays Superman very earnestly and that’s not a bad thing, but it would’ve been nice if he just brought that sense of fun to the part every once in a while.

Now, the other challenge. I remember being spellbound as a little kid when Superman just thrust himself off the ground and sailed into the sky. But that was nearly 28 years ago, and since then, we’ve seen Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, just about every special effects spectacle you can think of. So how does director Bryan Singer make that moment special even now, so many years later? Well, he tries.

Your jaw may not drop when Superman takes to the skies, but I can assure you that his first big adventure in this film – rescuing an aircraft full of passengers from nose-diving into a baseball stadium – is sure to set your pulse racing.

And then, there’s that other scene in which Superman takes Lois Lane on a romantic night flight in his arms with the twinkling lights of the city serving as a backdrop. It’s a beautiful scene, a nod to the original film actually, but the chemistry between Routh and actress Kate Bosworth who’s playing Lois Lane, is so tepid, so weak that half the excitement of that moment is lost, and that scene just seems too long and too much of an unnecessary indulgence.

And now, the stuff that really hurt me. You have to understand, as a child the reason you got sucked into Superman’s world is because you wanted to believe in a hero. You wanted to believe that good guys could fly. You wanted to believe that this man was special. That he could do anything.

Going in to watch Superman Returns with that mindset, you’re more than just a little disappointed when you discover that director Bryan Singer has attempted to make him a little more human, a little more fallible, a little more like you and me. And that’s my biggest problem with this film.

Without giving away too much, let me just say that I don’t want to see my Superman weak. I don’t want to see him fail, I don’t want to see him being rescued by mortals. I don’t want him to be like you and me. Even Superman’s confrontation scene with Lex Luthor is a letdown because it’s over before you even know it.

Superman Returns is not a bad film if you go in with an open mind, in fact there’s much to admire. You’ll thoroughly enjoy set pieces like the scene where Superman is sprayed with a volley of bullets including one that hits him in the eye.

Of the actors, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor is suitably camp, but still a few notches below the inimitable Gene Hackman who immortalised the role in the first film. The big casting goof-up is Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane – she’s dull and lacks any enthusiasm whatsoever, delivering a performance that can be best described as bland.

But Routh and his magnetic presence is what pretty much holds the picture together. For old fans like myself, just the familiarity of the theme music over the opening credits is enough to settle you in your seat.

So director Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns is good, but just a few rungs below great. But it absolutely deserves a watch. For the young, and the young-at-heart because everybody needs a superhero.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

World Trade Center review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:48 pm

Nov 03, 2006

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena

Director: Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone’s film World Trade Center, as is made very clear from the title, directly addresses the terrible events of that fateful day in history. Interestingly enough, Stone’s film is a far more intimate story than the title might suggest. It’s the true story of two police officers who for more than 24 hours were trapped under the debris of the collapsed towers.

Now, for most of us who’ve come to expect controversy and a political statement from Stone, you’ll be surprised to note that World Trade Center really has no political agenda.

In fact, it’s possibly one of Stone’s most uplifting films as it celebrates the triumph of the human spirit and focuses on hope, humanity and determination.

Now, if you honestly ask me, I think that’s exactly what the problem with this film is – it’s too much of a sanitised, Hollywood-ised story, a feel-good drama, where it could easily have been a far more grittier, a more disturbing film like United 93.

Despite very inspired performances from Nicolas Cage and particularly Michael Pena who play the two police officers at the heart of this story, I think World Trade Center is just an average film, nowhere close to some of Stone’s previous films like JFK and Born on the Fourth of July.

Everyone likes a happy ending, I know. But from Oliver Stone, the least you expect is something provocative. Sadly, this film is far from provocative.

That’s an average rating for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center – it’s noble and well-intended, yes but it’s also not the stuff that dreams are made of.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

The Departed review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:47 pm

Nov 03, 2006

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon

Director: Martin Scorsese

The other big Hollywood release at the cinemas this week is the new Martin Scorsese movie The Departed, which is really a sensational picture.

As I’ve been telling you on this show for the past few weeks, the plot is entirely faithful to the original source material – the Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs.

An undercover cop played by Leonardo DiCaprio is sent to infiltrate the Boston mafia run by kingpin Jack Nicholson. But at the other end, Nicholson’s got his own guy, Matt Damon planted inside the Police department so that he’s always kept updated on all the investigations the police is making against him.

The drama really kicks in when both moles begin to fear that their cover is going to be blown.

I think it’s important right off the bat to admit that I’m more than just marginally disappointed that a director of Scorsese’s caliber and talent chose to do a remake. But having said that, I also think The Departed is the perfect example of how to do a remake in the first place.

Where Infernal Affairs was really a fantastic film whose main highlight was the sensational Hong Kong action, Scorsese’s Departed is a rich character drama.

Scorsese doesn’t let his arrogance get in the way by reconstructing the plot because let’s face it – the plot is superb. Instead, he concentrates on beefing up his characters and on giving them some real edge.

As a result, the leads in The Departed deliver some of their finest performances ever. Jack Nicholson is really the heart and soul of this film, leaving his imprint on virtually every scene that he’s in.

And Leonardo DiCaprio shows such intensity playing a young man who’s agonising over the disappearance of his real identity.

I’m going to say it again – I’m a little heartbroken that the man who gave us such gems as Goodfellas and Mean Streets spent maybe a year of his life working on a scene-by-scene remake.

But the great thing about The Departed is that you can see Scorsese’s stamp all over it – particularly in the shocking violent scenes that are all raw and in-your-face, never once sanitised.

So, that’s two thumbs up for Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Here’s how to do a remake. Farhan Akhtar, are you listening?

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

The Dark Knight review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:47 pm

Jul 18, 2008

Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gylenhaal, Michael Caine

Director: Christopher Nolan

Watching The Dark Knight on a big screen is an experience comparable to few other pleasures one can think of immediately. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt this satisfied coming out of a film. What’s genius about director Christopher Nolan’s latest Batman installment is that it’s not only a spectacular comic-book movie, but also one with an intellectual heart. It’s not all chases and explosions and action scenes — although there’s lots of that — it’s also a really smart film about characters with edge and a plot that actually seems to make sense.

Christian Bale slips into the batsuit once again to play the Caped Crusader who thinks of hanging up his boots when he becomes impressed with District Attorney Harvey Dent’s crime-fighting resolve. But when clown-faced psychopath The Joker shows up, Batman realises retirement is a long time away.

In addition to new characters like Harvey Dent (played superbly by Aaron Eckhart, by the way), all significant characters from Nolan’s previous film Batman Begins return for this new adventure. Police lieutenant Jim Gordon (played by Gary Oldman), Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler Alfred (played by Michael Caine), Wayne’s go-to guy for fancy gizmos Lucius Fox (played by Morgan Freeman) and assistant DA and Wayne’s love interest Rachel Dawes (played this time by Maggie Gylenhaal) are all back and have respectable roles to play here, but The Dark Knight is ultimately about Batman and The Joker. It’s a much darker film than any of the previous Batman movies, and it goes into directions that few comic-book films have taken before. Much of that edginess comes from The Joker and his sinister plans. Not merely content at killing his enemies, The Joker chooses to psychologically torment his rivals by forcing them to question what they stand for.

Inheriting the character completely, delivering a text-book performance that is hard to forget even days after you’ve watched the film, the late Heath Ledger IS The Joker. The greasy hair, the make up-smeared face, the red scar of a grin, the tongue snaking out of his lips, and that sloshy voice – not only is this Joker a complete contrast from Jack Nicholson’s largely comic take on the same role in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film, but Heath Ledger as The Joker is undoubtedly the finest, most menacing villain in any comic-book movie yet.

For those interested purely in the spectacle value of the film, there’s enough to keep you excited. Cars explode, jails and hospitals are blown up, bombs are put in people’s mouths, even left in their stomachs. There are some fantastic chase sequences, and there’s one particularly jaw-dropping scene in which a massive truck flips in the air like an Olympic diver. There’s also the Batmobile which transforms itself into an armored tank and even a turbo motorcycle.

Naturally all this means it’s a long film — 2 hours and 32 minutes to be precise — but it’s unlikely that you’ll complain because you’re sucked into the drama pretty early on. Allowing Ledger and The Joker to steal this film from under his nose, Christian Bale as Batman takes a backseat during this ride. But Nolan gives him that one magnificent scene which makes up for whatever complaints Batman might otherwise have. In this scene, we see Batman leaping off a Gotham skyscraper, swooping down into the night, his bat wings rustling in the air as he descends on the city he’s here to protect. It’s one of the most fantastic scenes you’ve seen in film for a long, long time. And this is a fantastic film.

I’m going with four out of five and two big thumbs up for The Dark Knight — go with a big bucket of popcorn and prepare to have a great time. It’s for the pleasure of watching films like this that reclining seats and giant screens were invented.

Casino Royale review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:46 pm

Nov 17, 2006

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench

Director: Martin Campbell

Does Daniel Craig succeed in making Bond cool again? The answer to that is yes, yes, yes he does.

Having seen the film earlier this week, I can safely tell you it’s the Bond film to beat most Bond films.

Daniel Craig plays 007 the way he’s meant to – as a charming yet cold-hearted man on a mission.

Casino Royale kicks in with a breathless chase through a building site, a scene that’s so fantastic that little else in the film really matches up to it.

Of course the reason this film really works is because for the first time ever while watching a Bond film, you feel like this guy is actually a vulnerable fellow and not an unflinching superhero.

He’s beaten black and blue, he’s attacked viciously, he’s poisoned, his testicles are whacked, even his heart gets broken.

To put it simply, Casino Royale is one hell of an action film, it’s a nail-biting roller-coaster ride that you absolutely must not miss.

It is two and a half hours long, which under normal circumstances is just inexcusable, but believe me, Daniel Craig is so good as Bond, you’ll forgive the film its length.

So that’s two thumbs up and four out of five for director Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale in which Daniel Craig proves that he’s earned his license to kill.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Cheeni Kum review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:46 pm

May 25, 2007

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Tabu, Paresh Rawal

Director: R Balakrishnan

In ad-man R Balki’s debut feature film Cheeni Kum, Amitabh Bachchan plays a chef and the owner of the finest Indian restaurant in London.

He starts off on the wrong foot with Tabu, a tourist from India and a patron at his restaurant one night, but over the course of many dates, the couple decides to get married.

Bachchan, whose character in the film’s named Buddhadev Gupta is 64, while Tabu’s character is 34.

Naturally that’s bound to raise a few eyebrows, especially those of Tabu’s dad, played by Paresh Rawal who reacts rather dramatically to say the least.

But can you blame him, the boy her daughter’s brought home to marry is six years older than he is!

First things first, I think it’s great that someone decided to make a film with food as a backdrop.

Hindi movies have rarely used food and chefs and restaurants as themes, and it’s a pity because food is something that everyone loves so you know you’ve got everyone’s attention from the start.

To digress just a little bit, you must watch one of Ang Lee’s earliest films – Eat Drink Man Woman which is a beautiful film about how a father uses food to keep his family together.

Getting back to Cheeni Kum, I like the manner in which the director establishes his characters right up front, without wasting any time.

We get right away that Buddha is a man who takes great pride in his profession, his restaurant is pretty much his life, and he doesn’t compromise on anything when it comes to the quality of the food he serves.

We also understand that in Tabu, he’s met his match. She’s warm and friendly, yes, but she’s also opinionated and she knows how to put him in his place.

The director also easily establishes the relationship Buddha shares with his mum, the feisty and quick-witted Zohra Sehgal with whom he’s constantly but affectionately bickering.

I think I can also understand and appreciate the relationship the director sets up between Buddha and his six-year-old neighbour, the only female who seems to truly understand him.

Now the thing is, this track could have been clever and engaging, but it doesn’t quite end up that way because the child actor in that role is irritating and precocious and I don’t know about you but I don’t take easily to kids who behave like adults – kids should be kids.

My other problem with Cheeni Kum is the character of Paresh Rawal who comes off as such a cliché, which in all honesty may not have been so difficult to digest in another film.

But in a picture like this where every other character seems broad-minded and unconventional, did we really need Paresh to be such an old-school Bollywood stereotype?

I have both bouquets and brickbats for the film’s dialogue which is at first hilarious, because it’s clever and full of smart one-liners, but have you heard that phrase – too much of a good thing?

Well, what happens eventually is that the director and the writers fall so much in love with their own clever lines that they completely overdo it.

Every single character utters only these sharp repartees, and as a result, every single character sounds the same. Now that’s not how all people speak, so by the end of the film the dialogue begins to get on your nerves.

Yet there are some scenes in the film that are priceless – like that scene in which Tabu comes over to the restaurant for Buddha’s birthday cake-cutting.

Or then that genius scene in the park when she asks him to run to the other end and then tells him why.

To some extent even that scene in which Buddha stops at the chemist before his date with Tabu. These are the few moments in Cheeni Kum that you will take back with you.

It’s really in the film’s second half that you finally throw your hands up in exasperation. Paresh Rawal’s age jokes are humorous to begin with, but when he cracks twenty of them in five minutes, they’re just not funny anymore.

The worst however, is still to come – the satyagraha. That’s an absolutely stupid idea and it’s stretched out unnecessarily, much like Buddha’s lecture to Paresh Rawal in the end.

The impression I get is that the director started off with an interesting idea, a concept, but he just didn’t know what to do with it after a while, he had no idea how to tie it all up.

And therein lies the truth actually, that Cheeni Kum is not so much a film as it is an interesting concept. For it to be a complete film, it needed a tight screenplay which is sorely missing here.

Just when you think the film’s finally coming to an end, you have that embarrassing scene at the Qutub which is really the final blow.

I can’t understand why nobody associated with this film had the good sense to point out that the screenplay’s such a mess.

At the end when you’re leaving the cinema, while you appreciate the effort to tell a new story, you have to ask – where is the story?

The biggest problem with Cheeni Kum is after all, that there is no plot. And yet the director drags it on for so, so long. A film like this – weak on script, strong on treatment – might have stood some chance if it was much shorter, but this one just never seems to end!

It’s the chemistry between Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu that is unquestionably the film’s saving grace. Both fantastic actors, they rise above the fractured script and they seize your attention every time they’re on screen.

A mention also has to be made of Krishna Bhatt, the actor who plays Colgate, the buck-toothed waiter at Buddha’s restaurant – he’s absolutely spot-on with his timing and he’s one of the few real reasons to laugh in Cheeni Kum.

I won’t completely write-off the film because I do think some entertainment can be taken from it’s first half, but clearly this is one of those films that could have been so much more.

So I’ll go with two out of five for R Balki’s Cheeni Kum, it’s an average entertainer at best. If you’re a die-hard Bachchan fan, do give it a shot because he doesn’t disappoint. How you wish the film didn’t either!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Prom Night review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:45 pm

Jul 25, 2008

Cast: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup

Director: Nelson McCormick

Teenage slasher film Prom Night which checks into cinemas this weekend, is such a stupid horror film that it makes I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequels seem like Shakespeare in comparison. Usually the intrigue value in slasher films comes from the fact that the killer is never who one expects it to be. There’s always some twist near the end, always something that catches you by surprise. If you ask me, the basic premise of Prom Night is all wrong to begin with.

The film stars Brittany Snow as Donna, a girl whose family is killed by a teacher who’s obsessed with her. The teacher’s packed off to a psychiatric hospital far, far away, but just when she’s getting her life back in order, trying to put her past behind her, the teacher breaks out — oh, and he does it just in time for her senior prom.

Few slasher films are as dumb as this one because few films offer nothing — absolutely nothing — in terms of interesting characters, sensible dialogue, and real thrills. There’s no real motivation or explanation provided for why the killer goes around bumping off all of Donna’s friends, and to be honest I can’t seem to understand why this prom is made out to be such a big deal for Donna and her friends when they barely seem to want to spend any time on the dance floor, choosing instead to squabble with their boyfriends most of the evening.

Prom Night is such a lame film, I can’t believe nobody involved in making this film just vomited on the script and chucked it into the shredding machine after they finished reading it. It’s meant to be a remake of the 1980 original starring Jamie Lee Curtis and trust me that was a lousy film, but this one plumbs new depths of mediocrity.

Brittany Snow has no charm and no presence at all, and as a result you don’t really care if she gets killed or not. All you really know is, if she’s got to die can they make it quick cos I don’t think I can take another minute of this trash. Jonathan Schaech plays the killer teacher and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other actor who can hold on to the exact same dumb expression for an entire film. He doesn’t look like a teacher, and he certainly doesn’t look like a psychopath. He looks more like a poor schmuck who’s embarrassed to death to be in this film but needs the job so he can pay the rent.

Slasher films aren’t a terribly intelligent film genre, but every now and then something really good will come along. Like “Scream” which is as clever a teenage slasher film as they come. Prom Night, on the other hand, is so pathetic it doesn’t even get its obligatory killing scenes right. They’re not visceral, they’re not gory, they’re not even of the turn-your-face-sickening kind.

I’m going with one out of five and a thumbs down for Prom Night — I wouldn’t recommend it even if you have nothing better to do. Clean your cupboard or wash your car, but don’t bother with this one, you’ll thank me for my advice.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

The Last King of Scotland review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:45 pm

Mar 02, 2007

Cast: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson

Director: Kevin Macdonald

This weekend make a trip to the multiplex to catch a screening of The Last King of Scotland, an engrossing political thriller centred around the relationship between Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and his personal physician Dr Nicholas Garrigan. Now it’s a fictional story, but it’s remarkably well told and superbly acted.

Essentially the film tracks Garrigan’s story — a young Scottish doctor who shows up in Uganda on a whim, partly to do good and partly to have a good time. He’s handpicked by Amin to serve him personally, and Garrigan seems blind initially to his employer’s evil ways. By the time he realises what he’s got himself into, it’s a little too late.

The best thing about this film is undoubtedly the performances by its two protagonists. James McAvoy plays Garrigan with wide-eyed enthusiasm, and he’s got real charm, in fact the young actor is so enigmatic, you can understand exactly why someone like Amin would trust him with his life. Of course the performance that blows your mind is Forest Whitaker’s.

He plays Amin as a charismatic and fun-loving chap, but then he becomes another person when you see rage in his eyes. Don’t forget this is a man responsible for some 300,000 deaths. I’ve been saying all along it’s a carefully modulated performance, the way Whitaker transforms himself to suit the moment. It’s an Oscar well-deserved.

The film itself doesn’t lose grip and although it’s not the stuff dreams are made of, it’s two hours well-spent. Watch it for Whitaker, this is what acting is all about. Don’t miss The Last King of Scotland, it’s a highly engaging watch.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

The Pursuit of Happyness review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:44 pm

Mar 09, 2007

Cast: Will Smith, Jaden Smith

Director: Gabriele Muccino

One of the most inspiring movies you’ll find at the multiplex this week is the new Will Smith starrer The Pursuit of Happyness, which is the only Will Smith film that’s made me weep.

Come to think of it, that’s not true. I also wept through Wild Wild West, but that was for another reason – that film was unbearable.

Anyways, The Pursuit of Happyness is not your typical Will Smith film because it’s not about aliens or killer robots or fast-talking cops. It’s not about one guy saving the world. No, it’s none of those things.

It is in fact, the true-life story of Chris Gardener, a struggling salesman in 1980s San Francisco who’s determined to give his son a good life.

Now career-wise Chris is going nowhere, his wife’s just walked out on him, he doesn’t have a roof over his head and he barely has enough money to feed his son.

But Chris has hope and he has a never-say-die spirit, which, if you’ve watched enough films you’d know is enough to see you through the hardest times.

On one hand, The Pursuit of Happyness is an underdog story, the story of courage in the face of all odds. On the other hand it’s a potrait of fatherhood, a very relatable, a very agonising story of a man struggling to be a good father, a man desperate not to let his son down.

There are scenes in this film that’ll drive you to tears. Like that scene in which Chris and his son are forced to spend a night in a tube-station restroom. Or the scene in which Chris is left to pay the taxi fare for a ride he cannot afford. Those are the moments that touch and break your heart.

You know, this film wouldn’t be half the film it is if it wasn’t for the remarkable performance by Will Smith who plays Chris Gardener straight from the heart.

It’s not one of those studied, scripted performances, it’s a character that he’s clearly understood and become, and that’s why he’s able to deliver such a natural, spontaneous and heartfelt performance.

I’m not surprised Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar for this film. I also have to put in a word here for Jaden Smith, Will Smith’s real-life son who plays Chris’ son in the film.

For a child actor, for one who’s performing in front of the camera for the first time, Jaden comes across as very confident and very comfortable and although that could have something to do with the fact that he’s working with his dad, you cannot discount the fact that he plays his part so naturally you just want to hug the little one and tell him that everything’s going to be okay.

I’m going to go with three out of five and a recommendation not to miss The Pursuit of Happyness, it’s an inspiring film that’ll reaffirm your faith in hard work and courage.

Of course, if you’ve been wondering why they’ve spelt Happyness with a ‘y’, then you’re just going to have to find out from watching the film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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