Movie: 13 [Tzameti] (2005)

Language: French

Director: Géla Babluani

Genre: Thriller / Drama

Rating: 7 /10

Tzameti

One of the better things that I didn’t do with Tzameti, fortunately, was…read up on it (as I usually do), before I went in to see it. All I knew about it was that it was French, has reaped many an award, and that it had a run time of 90 odd minutes. What I didn’t know was its writer/director Gela Babluani was just 26 years old when he made the film, it was done so on a shoestring budget (he got his own bro to act…and got it right with George Babluani) and that it was his debut film. Over the years, watching many a films, have made me realize that I had a thing for debutants…I would have begun to see movie with an elevated sense of respect, had I known that beforehand…

The very first set of questions that hits one:
1) What does Tzameti mean?
2) Why was it made in black & white?

The first one is google-able…13 in Norwegian is what it stand for.
The second is not so easy to find…everything from low budget to film noir inspirations to a clinical treatment has been attributed to the use of B&W. I thought it was deliberate…perhaps to take the focus off the extreme blood and gore that forms an integral part of this and let the script take centrestage, or simply…to be different. But I see that there is something going on with the French rediscovering B&W, with French animation industry forking out Renaissance, acting as a reiteration. But, what B&W did end up doing for Tzameti was something that even the best of colors and FX could not have done…make the film extra dark, gloomy and effective with reference to the script. This was one director…who knew exactly how to deal with the script ;)!

13 Tzameti

What stands out, and makes Tzameti Tzameti…is the plot. Nail biting…makes you sit upright in your seat and say….WTF :O!!! Through the initial 30 odd minutes of the film…one thinks, “Hell…where’s the thriller in this Thriller movie?” And then it happens…the thrill…the chill and the reason for all those myriad awards. A get-rich-quick scheme gone horrendously awry is the basic theme of the film. The entire thing explodes in one instance, your jaw drops, hits the floor and then the film slips into its aftermath. Here’s where the movie failed according to me…while the ‘well-left-alone’ aftermath was what hit it big with some critics. I have always been driven by good scripts…and to me Tzameti was just a good plot. There was no sustenance that was provided to that initial Wow effect…and the story eventually dwindled to predictability.

I had a post movie discussion with a friend of movie, who is a great movie freak in himself and he was evidently enamored by the Babluanis and Tzameti. When I told him about the lacking gratifying feel of the film as a whole, I came in for some good natured sarcasm, for the fact that I didn’t appreciate the movie as it was  I got told off by saying that, “ You would have preferred a Brad Pitt.” What he didn’t understand was that I never had no problem with the actors…I had no problems even with the film…I just thought that somewhere along the way Gela could have sat a little longer with his script, and concocted a well construed finale, which needn’t have been a twist…but something more palpable than a half-hearted revenge!

All said and done…a good movie…and a grand debut!!!

300 Movie Poster

Movie: 300 (2007)

Language: English

Director: Zack Snyder

Genre: Action / Drama

Rating: 8.5 / 10

300 the movie

Two words………….oooooooooooooh yeah!!! This one was made for the Cornea, Pupil and Iris! Visuals my friend visuals…that was all there was to it…one of the finest pieces of art, if you ask me! You take a handful of men…put a green screen behind them…tell them to act…the result is seldom 300! So then what made it … the answer is passion! Zack Snyder…did a not-so-spectacular Dawn Of The Dead, then he reads Frank Miller’s 300…and says this is gonna be it! And on seeing Sin City, he knew exactly how it was to be pulled off! He takes over a warehouse…and filmed it all there! There was just one outdoor scene…if you have seen the movie…you will reflect the surprise. It was digital godliness at work!

Why did I not give it a 10/10…well…the answer is the storyline. It might be inspired from true event…but to me a commercial movie has to have a story! People might argue that it was not a story in the first place…it was a war account…fair enough…I admit so, but there were times when the comic book melodrama peeped through, and I felt Bollywoodised! Another low point for me was the narrative…given the dark and gloomy feel of the movie as such, I would have preferred a voice over that showcased the emotive heights of the Spartan story. I felt the narrative was shallow and pedantic, to put it in the Peter Griffin perspective.

The plusses- The direction, the technicality, the colors, the action sequences…everything that a computer could possibly do to make celluloid seem like canvas has been done! The OST is killller…I dunno what Spartan music was like…but it contributors Nine-Inch-Nails sure sound Spartan enough! Extreme mixes amidst war sceneces multiple the effectiveness ten folds. Next in line…the actors! Lesser known…but intense. Every actor was a true Spartan, when it came to acting. Gerard Butler and Lena Headley were in true sense royal! And last but not the least, what I savored the most…the screenplay! Witty, emphatic and powerful…the best reason to go catch this …after the visuals of course 🙂

300 movie still

The Prestige

Movie Name: The Prestige (2006)

Language: English

Director: Christopher Nolan

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Rating: 8/10

Bale And JackmanThe drama starts much more before the movie does! Take Chris Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins …anyone???), then add to it Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Michael Caine and spice it up with Scarlett Johansson…and we have all the settings for a must-sell extravaganza. One can blindly trust Chris to come up with a screenplay that will blow your head off, and one is not left unsatisfied here too. The story is about magic…and what better than magicians to direct and act in the movie 

You see two men who give it all in the game of one-upmanship and end up losing more than what they bargained for. There is no hero…there are no villains…it’s a story that depicts the extent of man’s selfishness and its beauty. Complex … yes…atleast the psyche that it portrays. But then what’s a script, if it didn’t have twists n turns and characters like no other. Jackman and Bale constructs two people very much same and very different at the same time…and all this set against sleights of hand, and twists of the mind. If one reads it deep enough … one can say that the movie is not restricted to magic…but a take on humanity per se. Every thing shown is as bad as it gets in the real world, and tricks people play…to live…to survive.

The movie doesn’t leave any loose ends…even when it comes to the way the tricks are created and ends up as something that ‘The Illusionist’ should have been. Must watch…especially for some great performances, a screenplay that is sur’realistic’, a plot to kill for and …of course Scarlett Johansson…christtt…she is just 22 !!!

The Illusionist

Movie Name: The Illusionist (2006)

Language: English

Director: Neil Burger

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Rating: 6/10

This was a much awaited movie for me! It’s seldom that good things happen two at a go…and here it was…Ed Norton (my fave actor) and the beautiful realm of magic and illusion, coming together for duration of 100 odd minutes. It is even rarer…that someone actually manage to get Ed Norton “totally wasted” in a movie. 🙁 !!!

The movie had all the condiments to make it a super-duper hit…I would say that bad casting ruined it.  Norton didn’t look like the illusionist…he had this ‘gosh-these-pants-are-tight’ expression throughout the movie. For a guy who gave us Primal Fear and American History X…this was a raw deal. Come on…there are standards to meet. I hate to admit that Ed Norton acted bad…and hence the blame on casting :P!  He was so very wooden and lacked the charisma associated with illusionist…and add to the list of bad casting…Mr. Paul Giamatti! He failed to live upto the role of Inspector Uhl, and botched up the characterization …he slides ‘Sideways’:). The movie has a storyline that’s way too predictable and the best illusions are left without an explanation and hence fail to notch points on the ‘reality’ aspect of the illusions

The movie is worth a watch simply for the superb special efforts. The effects cover up for most of everything…even the lack of a definite story line to a certain extent. Ed Norton fans…go easy…it’s just an illusion afterall!

The Host
Movie Name: The Host (2006)

Language: Korean

Director: Joon-ho Bong

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Rating: 7.5/10

This was a movie that my brother had got me and as of the moment I had gotten to know that it was one of those chemical-induced-mutated-creature film, I had a feeling of total aversion to spend about 1.5 hrs of the same shit that Godzilla and the likes put me through a few years ago. But my bro convinced me by saying that it was one of the most top grossing movies in Korea this year…and given my liking for Korean films, I settled in admist uncomfortable squirms!

The Host20 minutes odd into the movie…I was like…SWEET MOTHER OF GOD!!! The creature is …well…mutated, but amazingly realistic. By the end of the movie I was sure that such a thing existed in Korea. It tends to get a bit melodramatic at times, but totally worth it! Also look out for the political satire that the director tends to convey to the audience…there is a definite well rooted under current that becomes evident to observers, as the story progresses. Joon-ho Bong and his fave hero Kang-ho song team up yet again to deliver this fine film . One of their earlier ventures that I happened to see was ‘Memories Of A Murder’, which also had a decent story line.

As of any other classy Korean film that I had happened to catch … this one too holds water with respect to their trademark perfectionism. These guys know what to show and how to catch the viewers unaware. Predictability is something that never happens too often in their movies. The way they work their cameras …is pure art in motion, and they would go to any extent just to get the ‘right’ scene. ‘Gwoemul’ (the Korean name), is as surprising as it sounds…I thought I would never hear myself say this about another ‘mutation’ flick…but yeah….WATCH IT!!!

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Movie Name: Dombivli Fast (2005)

Language: Marathi

Director: Nishikant Kamat

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Rating: 9/10

Ever so once in a while, comes a movie, that makes you think about stuff that you already know…yet it manages to create a kind of disbelief at the sheer starkness of the entire thing. Dombivli fast blazes the tracks and races on, through your auricles and ventricles, before coming to a sordid halt deep within your cerebral cortex. It is a marvelous journey about values, integrity, pain and anger, seen through the eyes of a commonplace middleclass family. The opening scene that borders on paranoia, is but a truth that a majority of Mumbaikars experience day in-day out.

This was a directorial debut that denoted not just a great film, but a beautiful yet powerful script as well. The screenplay evoked sentiments bordering on the extremes within the viewers. I watched it with my entire family and every single one of us had a few tear drops streaming down our faces. Madhav Apte, the protagonist, is shown as a forthright and a no –nonsense man, who tries to do a tightrope between work and home, with the Dombivli-Churchgate bound fast train as the connector, between the two. Madhav Apte’s letter to God…was the most profound and awe inspiring moment in the entire film. The conviction with which he delivers it, may have empowered many a viewers to question everything that goes about them. All in all this is a movie with a very purposeful script, powerful screenplay, beautiful camera work, and excellent use of lighting, that renders a very rich texture to the whole film. Watch this for two men – Nishikant Kamat and Sandeep Kulkarni, the face behind Madhav Apte

Omen II

Movie Name: Damien: Omen 2 (1978)

Language: English

Director: Don Taylor

Genre: Horror

Rating: 6/10

What we see is that the power-house of Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, replaced by William Holden and Lee Grant, Don Taylor takes over the direction chores from Richard Donner, and David Seltzer’s creation finds another chapter in the hands of Harvey Bernhard. What we get, at the end of it all is a sequel, that all but fades away in comparison to the original. Had this not been a sequel, it might have been a decent movie in itself…but the Omen and Damien, had a legacy to live up to and they failed. The story continues, from where it left of and leaves you midway to the actual finale. It comes through to most as but a filler to the eventuality of all that’s ‘The Omen’! To reiterate, it’s shot well, cast well and scripted reasonably well too…but it just doesn’t live up to IT.

Omen IITrust me, all it takes, is a beautiful face…to scare the shit out of you. I began to see this movie, thinking how in the world could they replace Harvey Stephens as the face that terrorized the living hell outta people the world over…and then comes running in Jonathan Scott-Taylor, the teen Damien. The terror element dipped considerably! Scott-Taylor was good…but not quite Damien that Stephens engraved into our minds. But nevertheless, there are a few scenes that has been well done…erm…the crow scene especially! Two things went against this movie…the extreme surprise/terror that a brand new concept like the ‘Devil’s Son’ that Omen 1 got to evoke and 2 the story line being the bridge between the beginning and the end. It’s worth a watch…just to get a peek preview as to how one of the greatest horror stories of all time would end!

Perfect Blue

Movie Name: Perfect Blue (1998)

Language: Japanese

Director: Satoshi Kon

Genre: Animation Thriller

Rating: 8/10

If you think animation is just for kids, think again…‘cause here is an art of a movie that will make you see the darker side of colours, inks and pencil markings. If like me, you ended up with a few unanswered questions, at the end of the movie, don’t be surprised to read what others had to say about this piece of celluloid…comparisons range from calling it a ‘Disney meets Hitchcock’ to Lynch and the likes. Satoshi Kon has excelled to the point of making the animation so real to life that momentarily you cease to see the distinction between the two. It’s amazing to see the depth of characters that these myriad sketches portray to you, and the intensity of emotions that they capture in a two-dimensional format. For more than an hour into the movie, you are still trying to comprehend what is it that is actual, and what’s the story within the story. Complex, intriguing and true-to-Japanese-liking…gory! (Not much compared to others…this one just has an ‘animated’ awl going through ‘animated’ eyes :P!)

Perfect BlueThe flipside…Multiple Personality Disorder…the most glorified of all medical complications, strikes yet again! Any more of it…and I guess…I will get a split! I have to say that the screenplay, in spite of this, hold water, to the extent of promising a nail biting finish. The revelation at the end of the movie comes through as very novel and …a crazzzzzzy manner. It’s a mind bender in all the true senses. Watchout for the scenes with the fishes …it’s simple, effective and horrifying in a very aesthetic sense. Also keep an eye open for the beautiful and graceful alter ego, that skips and hops about…exactly the same way your mind would. And like me, if you didn’t understand as to why is it called ‘Perfect Blue’ … the Japanese tagline is the cue!

The color of illusion is Perfect Blue!!!

The Verdict

Movie Name: The Verdict (1982)

Language: English

Director: Sidney Lumet

Genre: Court Room Drama

Rating: 7.5/10

Superlative acting…that was the first thing that hit me the moment I began watching the movie. Paul Newman totally gets into the skin of the character to perform a stellar role. Prior to this movie, pardon my lack of knowledge, but the truth be told, I had never heard of Sidney Lumet and had never seen a Paul Newman movie. So it was like a shot in the dark, when I sat down to watch this film, the only help being a recommendation from an uncle of mine. And to say the least…I have to admit that my uncle has a good taste in movies :D! There was one face that struck me throughout the movie…and that was of Charlotte Rampling…and like the protagonist says in the movie, “My God…you are beautiful!!!” She gives a beautifully bitter performance ;)!

the verdictThe story revolves around the case between a hospital and a patient who had to pay a dear price due to the negligence of respected docs. I admit…there’s nothing new in here, as far as the backbone of the story goes…but it’s the people who make the script stand up and be noticed. The movie invokes emotions that are honest to heart. Look out for the lack of ‘heavy-duty’ or ‘imposing’ back ground score and simplistic camera work. (1982 …yes I know…maybe it wasn’t all that intentional: P!) Have to commend on the screenplay…good, powerful and non-melodramatic dialogues…but nevertheless in sync with the usual court-roomish lingo! A little while into the movie, I felt that the director got it majorly wrong with the chemistry between the lead characters, because of the speed with which they end up in bed…but I guess it all made sense afterall!! All in all…a very good film…worth a watch!

being cyrus

Movie Name: Being Cyrus (2005)

Language: English (Indian)

Director: Homi Adajania

Genre: Thriller/Drama

Rating: 7.5/10

I have been wanting to see this movie, the first instance it hit the theatres…but fate had other ideas. It was after a 6 odd month long wait that I finally got to see it. It’s a grand feeling, when you see a movie like that, and realize that …dude that’s been made by an Indian. By that, I ain’t undermining the Indian greats…I am simply happy for the fact that commercial Indian cinema is trying new stuff, and that there are producers out there, who have the courage to put their faith and money in a debutante director for a ‘different’ movie. Homi has done a commendable with his first attempt with the camera, but see it from an Indian audience perspective…and one might see that he has done a tad too much at one go! And hence the widely proclaimed label …Pretentious! What the hell do they mean by pretentious anyway…to me it reads…shit I can’t do those things that this guy has…so lemme term it- pretentious…sour grapes, if you ask me! A few glimpses of immaturity comes with the much clichéd use of quotations and usages…but then they are subliminal, once the strong characterizations take over the screen. The black n white snapshots that depict the psyche of the protagonist is smoothly done.

The movie is dark…visually as well as cerebrally, a story well told and depicted. The plot revolves around the niche Indian Parsi community, and is true to their generally alienated and secluded outlook. Homi does well to cast characters that fit the bill, and invoke the reactions the script demanded. I know that it’s a matter of little thought, a movie which has cast of the likes of Nasir, Dimple, Boman etc. could fall flat…but then…Bollywood is capable of anything! (For eg: Om Puri…in Don!!! He was more wasted there…than Jimi Hendrix on his deathbed! ). The story is decently intriguing, and ends up creating a few question marks, halfway through film. Not exactly a ‘super-brainer’ of a script, but a good one, amazing…if you consider this a ‘Bollywood’ film! Simone singh turns out cuter than I imagined :P!

And finally…three top reasons to watch this movie- Saif………..Ali………Khan!