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

September 16, 2011


Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:31 pm

September 16, 2011

Cast: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Warrior is an intense fight movie about two estranged brothers who face off against each other in the final round of a brutal, mixed martial-arts tournament. Joel Edgerton (from last year’s acclaimed Australian hit Animal Kingdom) stars as Brendan Conlon, a high school physics teacher and ex-fighter who gets back into the ring to earn money so he can protect his wife and kids and save his home from being repossessed by the bank. Inception‘s Tom Hardy is Tommy, a disturbed soldier who has returned from the Iraq war under mysterious circumstances, and who becomes a YouTube sensation when he knocks out a big deal professional fighter in his local gym.

The two brothers were once close, but they haven’t seen each other in 14 years. The only thing they have in common now, apart from their ruthless fighting skills, is a bitter hatred for their father Paddy (played by Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic whose drinking tore the family apart.

Charting what is essentially a journey of redemption against the backdrop of extreme physical action, Warrior has a familiar, predictable feel to it, even if mixed-martial arts may be a relatively new sport. The film gives equal time to the two parallel stories of the brothers, but it’s Brendan who is the more readily likeable of the two. Tommy, meanwhile, is a raging ball of fury who is tough to like at first, but you root for him too when you realize he’s hurting inside.

By the time the action shifts to the climatic tournament in Atlantic City, the script begins to strain under the weight of all the clichés. You know exactly what’s going to happen here, but director Gavin O’Connor succeeds in delivering intense, thrilling fight scenes that divert your attention from the script lapses. It’s a surprisingly moving film that your heart warms up to when you realize you don’t want either of the two fighters to lose the final match. Solid acting from Nick Nolte and Joel Edgerton, and a knockout performance from Tom Hardy ensure that this is a film you won’t easily forget.

I’m going with three out of five for Warrior. Even if you’re not a big fan of sports movies, you’ll be drawn in by the characters and their emotional journey.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Mixes pleasure and pain

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:28 pm

September 16, 2011

Cast: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, Analeigh Tipton

Directors: Glenn Ficara & John Requa

Crazy Stupid Love is a funny and touching film with characters so likeable, it’s hard to judge them even when they do foolish things. The plot swings into action when happily married Cal (Steve Carell), discovers that his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) has cheated on him with a colleague, and wants a divorce. Moping about in a bar, he catches the attention of smooth player Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who takes him under his wing and gives him a cool makeover. The confident new Cal gets lucky with a nympho schoolteacher (Marisa Tomei), but his heart still yearns for his wife, who has started dating that co-worker she slept with (Kevin Bacon).

Jacob, meanwhile, who walks out of the bar with a different woman every night, finds himself seriously smitten by Hannah (Emma Stone), a lawyer-in-training and possibly the only girl who isn’t instantly floored by his charm. In other news, Cal and Emily’s young son has a crush on his teenage babysitter, who is herself crushing on a much older man.

Disguised as a breezy rom-com, Crazy Stupid Love is in fact a smart film that offers surprisingly perceptive insights into adult pain. At the same time it manages to remain consistently funny, thanks to sharp performances by its two male leads. Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling deliver big laughs as men who couldn’t be more different, and yet seem to have the same gooey interior. Emma Stone is a pleasant revelation, and her scenes with Gosling are some of the film’s cutest – including the one in which she demands R-rated sex from him.

The film’s criss-crossing subplots come together in a predictable fashion, and there are times the story feels too stretched for its own good. The tone shifts regularly between serious and funny, but the transitions aren’t always seamless. Yet, Crazy Stupid Love is a film that benefits enormously from its talented, delicious cast whose very presence makes it worth watching. In a relatively small role, Marisa Tomei is a joy to watch, and she steals every scene she’s in.

I’m going with three out of five for Crazy Stupid Love. Like the real thing itself, it mixes pain with pleasure. What’s not to like?

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Julianne Moore on ‘Crazy Stupid Love’

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 5:20 pm

In this interview recorded in New York, Hollywood actress Julianne Moore talks about the similarity in the themes of her two films: Crazy Stupid Love and The Kids Are All Right. She talks about working with Steve Carell, and also reveals the craziest stupidest thing she’s done in love.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 15, 2011

Steve Carell on his new film, ‘Crazy Stupid Love’

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 12:51 am

In this interview recorded in New York in July 2011, Hollywood actor Steve Carell talks about his new film Crazy Stupid Love in which he plays a man who must start over after his marriage falls apart. Carell talks about his chemistry with Julianne Moore, and about working with Ryan Gosling.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 10, 2011

Shahid Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor on ‘Mausam’

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 2:14 am

In this interview, Mausam co-stars Shahid Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor explain what drew them to Pankaj Kapoor’s sweeping love story, and also make some friendly jibes at each other.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Wedding crashers

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 12:18 am

September 09, 2011

Cast: Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ali Zafar, Parikshit Sahni, Kanwaljeet Singh

Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Despite its over-familiar premise, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan packs a light tone and some easy laughs, before the weight from all its clichés causes it to topple over like a house of cards.

Kush (played by Imran Khan) is an assistant director in Bollywood films, whose London-based brother Luv (played by Tere Bin Laden’s Ali Zafar) assigns him the job of finding him a suitable bride when he breaks up with his long-term girlfriend. With his mother by his side, Kush visits the homes of a half-dozen prospective brides – each a worse stereotype than the last – before they zero in on Katrina Kaif’s character Dimple, the seemingly perfect daughter of a Delhi diplomat.

Kush, who had met Dimple five years ago while in college, remembers her as the rebellious rocker who was taken away by the cops when she staged an impromptu concert for thousands. Still a free-spirited livewire, Dimple is looking to settle down now, and Kush and his family thinks she’ll be perfect for Luv.

Directed by first-timer Ali Abbas Zafar, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan starts off breezily, with enough comic moments to keep you engaged. There’s an amusing scene in which Dimple subjects Luv to a Koffee With Karan-style rapidfire interview on Skype, and another sequence in which she distracts Kush while riding pillion on his scooter. But it’s when the film introduces its conflict at intermission point that everything begins to go downhill.

The tiring and predictable second half is basically a string of elaborate set-ups to call off the wedding. Given that it’s a Yash Raj Films’ production, you shouldn’t be surprised by all the self-referencing to previous in-house hits. Say hello also to every wedding-movie cliché — like best friends and mentally challenged siblings who help the hero win his girl, extended families who bond over jalebis and bhaang, and the jealous ex who shows up just in time to stake her claim.

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan is redeemed to a large extent by the charismatic presence of Katrina Kaif, who is easily the star of this show. Offering an uninhibited and winning performance as the mad but endearing Dimple, she makes you forget many of the film’s flaws. Imran Khan brings that boyish charm to his part, playing your next-door nice-guy with unmistakable sincerity; he makes Kush a hero to root for. Now if only they could muster up some sizzling chemistry! Ali Zafar, on the other hand, hams it up like there’s no tomorrow, and fails on account of trying too hard.

The film doesn’t always work because it relies too heavily on silly stereotypes and clichés, and because you can see exactly where it’s going from the moment you settle into your seat. I’m going with two out of five for director Ali Abbas Zafar’s Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. Aside from a few enjoyable moments, this film recycles so much that you’ve already seen before.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

A bug’s life

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 12:04 am

September 09, 2011

Cast: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lawrence Fishburne, Jude Law

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion opens with a blank screen and the sound of a woman coughing. That woman is Gwyneth Paltrow, sitting at the airport bar in Chicago, on a layover from Hong Kong to Minnesota. It’s evident from her coughing and her voice when she answers a call on her cell phone that she’s caught something. We watch as she hands over her credit card to a bartender, who swipes the card, punches numbers on the till, and moves a few glasses around at the bar. Whatever Paltrow’s got has just been passed on.

At home in Minnesota the following day, she is visibly sick. Her husband Matt Damon watches helplessly as she convulses and falls to the floor, and soon after is declared dead. For all practical purposes she’s the first fatality of a lethal virus that is spreading across the world rapidly. Her young son becomes the second.

Contagion is a horror movie where the fear is palpable, and Soderbergh treats it with the pace of a thriller. Even as the virus travels from person to person, city to city, health officials race to find a vaccine, while also trying to control the flow of information, lest the public panic. Pretty soon entire cities are being quarantined, banks and offices are raided, and there’s rioting in food queues.

Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard star as medical professionals who must display courage and grace even under intense public pressure, and Jude Law stars as a paranoid blogger convinced that the government and pharmaceutical companies are conspiring to hide the truth.

On one level Contagion works as a riveting cautionary tale – it’s impossible not to come out shaken after a screening, convinced that something like this could so easily happen in the real world. On another level this is a story about crises of conscience – how far will you go to protect the ones you love? If you’re a top health official and you have an inside knowledge of what’s happening, do you share what you know with those you care for?

Soderbegh, whose flair for sustaining multiple storylines earned him an Oscar for Traffic, employs a similar narrative to tell this freakishly frightening story of great urgency. In the film’s final and possibly most chilling scene, the director shows us how the virus might actually have started.

I’m going with three and a half out of five for Contagion. Prepare to be rattled by this brilliant, brutal film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 9, 2011

No pants, no passion

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 11:58 pm

September 09, 2011

Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman

Director: Will Gluck

Friends With Benefits is a smug little film that thinks it’s smarter than your standard, sappy rom-com. It makes fun of the genre, takes digs at Katherine Heigl and Nora Ephron, and even shows its characters watching the kind of schmaltzy romance on TV that it claims to be better than. But turns out Friends With Benefits is in fact a standard, sappy rom-com that’s just as predictable as all the others out there.

The film stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as naïve singletons who explore the possibility of remaining friends while they’re…umm…reaping the benefits. It’s a worn-out premise, last seen in the Ashton Kutcher-Natalie Portman rom-com No Strings Attached, which was a funnier film, and whose charming leads had better chemistry.

Here, Timberlake stars as Dylan, an LA-based art director who moves to Manhattan when Kunis’ character, an East Coast headhunter named Jamie, places him at GQ magazine. While showing him around the city and introducing him to such New York attractions as flash mobs, Jamie and Dylan become fast friends. When they realize they’re both recovering from recent break-ups and have sworn off romantic relationships, the young good-lookers enter into an arrangement to have sex with no commitment.

No prizes for guessing what happens next in this formulaic film that resorts to the same clichés and conventions that it snarkily disses. So you have Woody Harrelson as Dylan’s wise, gay friend who dishes out valuable man-woman relationship advice, and Patricia Clarkson as Jamie’s bohemian mom who giggles when she walks in on her daughter having sex with her friend. In all fairness, it’s Harrelson and Clarkson who provide the occasional laughs in this mostly forgettable film that gets progressively cheesier by the time they bring out Richard Jenkins as Dylan’s Alzheimer’s afflicted dad.

Despite its raunchy set-up, Friends With Benefits is a familiar, sickeningly gooey date-movie that never rises above its wobbly script. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis look a million bucks (both with and without their clothes on!), and they strike up a warn chemistry. But Timberlake has a cocky presence that betrays that leading man charisma needed to carry the film.

In the end, it’s strictly average entertainment if you have nothing better to do. I’m going with two out of five for Friends With Benefits. Watch it if you must.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis on ‘Friends With Benefits’

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 1:33 am

In this interview, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis talk about filming those naughty bedroom scenes in their new romantic comedy, Friends With Benefits.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 2, 2011

Imran & Katrina respond to criticism that they can’t act

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 11:22 pm

In this interview, Imran Khan and Katrina Kaif talk about their new romantic-comedy Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, and also respond to the constant criticism that they can’t act.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

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