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

May 13, 2011

Gimme Moore!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:15 pm

May 13, 2011

Cast: Russell Brand, Greta Gerwig, Helen Mirren, Jessica Garner

Director: Jason Winer

After delivering an inspired performance as an oversexed British rock-star in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Russell Brand couldn’t muster up the same charm in Get Him To The Greek, that wildly uneven comedy about the same debauched musician. His latest film, Arthur now suggests he might be a one-hit wonder after all.

Brand steps into the shoes of the late Dudley Moore in this embarrassingly unfunny remake of that 1981 screwball comedy about the misadventures of a drunk billionaire playboy. The remake focuses largely on the rom-com angle of this story, in which our childish protagonist is under pressure from his mother to get married or risk losing his inheritance. Doesn’t help that the bride to be is a scheming corporate go-getter (played by Jennifer Garner) who doesn’t even like him, but is happy to along with it so she can marry into all that wealth. Arthur agrees to give in to his mother’s wishes, until he becomes conflicted when he falls in love with a free-spirited New York tour guide (played by Greta Gerwig).

The best thing about the original film was the banter between Dudley Moore’s Arthur and John Gielgud as his snarky butler Hobson. In fact, Hobson’s very purpose in that film was to be hilariously rude to the spoilt brat he was looking over. In the new film, Helen Mirren is Arthur’s nanny Hobson, and she softens the character considerably. In fact she’s a maternal figure to Arthur and their interaction is much warmer and also a lot less funny.

The film doesn’t work on any level. The romance between Brand and Gerwig is entirely unconvincing; and although Brand brings his trademark eccentricity to the part of Arthur, it’s a limp, bland performance. In the original film Dudley Moore played Arthur as a lovable idiot, but Brand just comes across as a complete idiot, his antics never qualifying as charming.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Arthur. I’m sure you have better things to do with your time than waste it on this pointless film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

May 7, 2011

Juhi Chawla on her favorite role recently

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 2:41 am

In this interview, Bollywood’s finest comic actress Juhi Chawla talks candidly about her favorite role recently, and reveals who she modeled that character after.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

May 6, 2011

Teen spirit

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:32 pm

May 06, 2011

Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Tahaa Shah, Pushtiie Shakti, Archana Puran Singh

Director: Bumpy

There’s a reason why so many kids enjoy watching those American teen comedies. It has a certain aspiration value, or a ‘fantasy value’ if you like. Who wouldn’t want their lives to be straight out of an American Pie movie?

Luv Ka The End, produced under the new youth movies banner of Yash Raj Films, is modeled closely after those popular American teen flicks, but it doesn’t have the inherent coolness that makes it as much fun. Aside from a few cosmetic changes, Luv Ka The End is a fairly faithful rip-off of John Tucker Must Die. In that film, three young girls hatch an elaborate plan to get even with the high-school jock who’s been secretly dating all three of them. In this desi version, Shraddha Kapoor plays the upset teenager who gathers her two best friends with whom she plots to bring down her boyfriend when she discovers that he’s planned to deflower her so he can raise his profile on an online website for spoilt little rich kids.

Sleazy, homophobic and intrinsically amateurish in its humor, this film fails because it’s trying too hard to be cool, while hitting all the wrong notes along the way. The characters – as they tend to be in films like these – are all genre stereotypes. You have the stud, the princess, the nerd, the himbo, the girl-next-door, the fat best friend, even the embarrassing parent. Problem is the makers of this film don’t even develop these characters on the most basic level; most of them are just introduced and then forgotten for the rest of the film.

Like its very protagonists, this is a vapid, vacuous film that seems intended for similarly shallow youngsters who’re still amused by such tired comic devices as itching powder and laxatives. Directed by debutant Bumpy, whose name serves the added purpose of describing his storytelling style, Luv Ka The End has only a handful of nice moments, and just one single character worth remembering – the heroine’s feisty, overweight best friend who feels like the only real thing in this ridiculously over-cooked film.

I’m going with two out of five for Luv Ka The End. Give me one of those American teen comedies any day!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

High spirits

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:25 pm

May 06, 2011

Cast: Mahaakshay, Tia Bajpai, Arif Zakaria, Achint Kaur, Mohan Kapur

Director: Vikram Bhatt

How do you not laugh when the horror film you’re meant to be watching, unexpectedly turns into a comedy? Haunted, directed by Vikram Bhatt in 3D no less, is about a young man (played by Mimoh Chakraborty, now rechristened Mahaakshay) who comes to learn that the sprawling home he’s been put in charge of, has spirits running around inside for the last 80 years or so.

Turns out a horny piano teacher (played by Arif Zakaria) tried to get cozy with an unwilling female student (played by newcomer Tia Bajpai) who killed him in the process. Borrowing a page out of The Entity his spirit then proceeded to return and rape the girl repeatedly, till she killed herself a few days later. Decades on, the spirit of the teacher continues to rape the spirit of that girl in our hero’s home, which explains all that screaming and shrieking. Wait, there’s more: Our hero who by now has oddly fallen for this girl (or her spirit, more precisely!), makes a trip back into the past so he can change the poor girl’s destiny.

If you’re willing to overlook the consistently wooden performances and the ridiculous dialogue in this film, there is fun to be had here. Like that scene after our hero has gone back into the past, when he’s showing the young lady some cool dance moves and some nifty cell-phone tricks. There’s something endearing about characters so cheerfully dumb that they’d sit outside in the dark and amuse themselves when they know there’s a spirit out there hungry to rape one of them. I wanted to scream out aloud: “Woman, you’re about to get raped! And it’s not even like you don’t know it’s going to happen! Get inside!”

To be fair, Bhatt sets up an ominous mood and uses special effects impressively. There are some particularly well-executed scenes in which a dead caretaker character (played by Achint Kaur) wreaks much havoc like leaping out of a forest to attack the protagonists, and walking sideways down a tree to scare the living daylights out of them.

For the most part Bhatt exploits the 3D to make things jump out at you, and while it’s not as much as fun as the last Final Destination movie, there are moments that will make you leap in your seat.

I’m going with two out of five for director Vikram Bhatt’s Haunted. You’ll be laughing hard for hours after you’ve watched this film. Not what you expect from horror, is it?

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Blame it on Rio

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 11:10 pm

May 06, 2011

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson

Director: Justin Lin

Fast Five, the fifth installment in the franchise that began with 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, brings back its original stars Vin Diesel as fearless car-thief Dom Toretto, and Paul Walker as cop-gone-rogue Brian O’Conner. The action’s moved to Rio de Janiero though, where our heroes assemble a team of their former associates to bring down the city’s most corrupt businessman, while also trying to evade a tenacious FBI agent played by Dwayne Johnson.

The movie hits the ground running with a thrilling opening scene in which O’Conner and his girlfriend Mia (played by Jordana Brewster) free Dom from an impending jail sentence by speeding recklessly into a hulking prison bus that goes crashing in the desert. From then on, it’s wall-to-wall action including rooftop chase scenes, a fantastic set-piece involving the theft of three custom-made sports cars from a moving train, and a preposterous-but-highly entertaining climatic heist in which Dom and Brian drive their muscle-cars through the streets of Rio dragging a massive vault that crashes and destroys everything in its way.

To refuel this franchise that was showing signs of strain in its last outing, the makers of Fast Five have broadened the appeal of this series by delivering a wholesome action movie instead of restricting themselves to the cops-versus-street-racers premise of previous films. Believe it or not there is more emphasis on the characters and their situation, than on the shiny automobiles that used to be the real stars earlier. The dialogue, unfortunately, is just as pithy and the acting remains one-note. Those robots in Transformers are more expressive than the cast of this movie.

In all fairness though, who’s looking for anything other than high-adrenalin action here? The stunts are crazy and often jaw-dropping, the slums of Rio lend a gritty edge to the visual landscape of this film, and there’s even a hint of sexist humor like in that scene in which a female member of Dom’s team secures their rival’s fingerprints in a most ingenious manner.

It’s loud and dumb, but also undeniably good fun. I’m going with three out of five for Fast Five. Like junk food it’s a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed, then quickly forgotten.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Animal behavior

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 11:03 pm

May 06, 2011

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook

Director: Francis Lawrence

Robert Pattinson, who became an overnight heartthrob when he played that pasty-faced vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight movies, is summoned to flex his acting chops in Water for Elephants. Beautifully mounted but lacking emotional depth, this epic-sized drama sees Pattinson play a young veterinary student named Jacob who loses his parents during the Depression, following which he hops on a train that belongs to a traveling circus, and finds a life among the performers and animals.

The circus is owned by the sadistic August Rosenbluth (played by Christoph Waltz), who has little compassion for the men or beasts that earn him his livelihood. His young wife Marlena (played by Reese Witherspoon) is the star showgirl, a bareback horse-rider who finds a kindred spirit in Jacob. When August acquires an elephant to be Marlena’s new ride, Jacob is given the task of training the lazy pachyderm. Inevitably, Jacob and Marlena fall in love, and August is less than pleased.

Despite its old-fashioned charm that comes no doubt from the realistic sets and handsome photography, Water for Elephants feels too timid, too bland for a film that’s essentially the story of a forbidden romance. Pattinson continues to brood in soft focus, and even the usually dependable Witherspoon seems to have lost some of her spirit under those big eyelashes and perfect curls. The movie doesn’t fly because there’s barely any hint of sexual longing between its leads, and because the romance itself takes forever to kick in.

Of the cast it’s only Christoph Waltz who gets under the skin of his character, playing August as an unsympathetic, ruthless man who comes off as a milder cousin of that Nazi brute he won an Oscar for playing in Inglourious Basterds. The scenes with Rosie the elephant are warm and endearing, but that Bollywood-like twist in which the animal saves the day is a tad too much, even in a melodramatic film like this!

Worth a look purely for its immaculate period design, this is a long, tiring film that lumbers along much like poor Rosie herself. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for Water for Elephants. It’s glossy and rich, but what’s missing is soul.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

« Newer Posts

Powered by WordPress