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Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008)
A Good Romantic Comedy and one of the Season's Better Films!
A gentle, unpretentious and well-written romantic comedy which presents a fresh and different perspective on a very old question: can a girl and a boy be the best of friends without the relationship ever tipping over into romance territory? Jaane Tu does'nt seem to think so and to be honest the movie does not even play fair by making at least one title character's choice for a better half a totally unlikable cad to clear the stage for the hero and heroine to get together again.
Abbas Tyrewala knows the milieu in which the story transpires very well and it shows in his screenplay and dialogues. There are some very funny scenes such as the scene where the heroine's parents meet the hero with a marriage proposal(he thinks its a job interview). Some nice quirky touches such as the three rites of passage that every Rathore must fulfill in order to qualify as a man or the hero's current squeeze who manages to turn the ordinary and the mundane into something magical add spice to the proceedings. The quirky touches are sometimes underlined by a dose of hard reality such as the unhappy home where the girl comes from as a result of which she retreats into a world of fantasy and imagination.
Some of the quirky touches and subplots (such as the strained relationship between Genelia and her brother further symbolized in her liking for cats and his liking for rats!) are simply there as adornments and bear no functional relationship to the story whatsoever. Fortunately they don't look out of place and actually help the viewing experience go down well.
Acting across the board is very good and both Imran Khan and Genelia D'Souza are just about adequate. No one outshines the other. Paresh Rawal is underused as a police inspector because his comic potential (so evident in Hera Pheri and even Awara Pagal Dewana) is not at all exploited by the director. Naaseruddin Shah gets to have a bit of fun as a ghost-on-the-wall(inspired by Hum Paanch) and his interactions with Rathna Pathak Shah (his wife in real life) are bound to produce giggles if not outright guffaws from the audience. Arbaaz and Sohail Khan deserve special mention for their comedic act as the hero's long-lost uncles. Jayant Kripalani and Anuradha Patel as Aditi's parents make no special impact whatsoever.
Overall, the movie does not do anything daring or different with the question it deals with but at least it respects its audiences intelligence and does not force-feed ridiculous situations and characters down its throats. In the barren cinematic wasteland that has been the summer of 2008, something this well-written and directed that is a cut above the ordinary is always welcome.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The Best Disney Cartoon Movie Ever Made!
Words fail me as I try to express my feelings about Beauty and the Beast, the best cartoon movie ever made! Praise is all that I can find for it and anything that I or any fan writes about it simply cannot do justice to this tour-de-force of top-class animation and elegant story-telling.
Beauty and the Beast marks one of the first and best uses of digital animation for the range of human emotions that it captures. Even today, there is no sequence as memorable as the ballroom sequence where Belle and the Beast dance to the strains of the title tune. Speaking of tunes, no mention of this movie's artistic merits is ever complete without a mention of the songs. The lyrics written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman are absolutely poetic (Tale as old as time/Song as old as rhyme) and the voicing of the songs by Angela Lansbury, Celine Dion, Peabo Bryson and others is simply incredible!The two best song sequences in the movie are 'Be My Guest' and 'Tale as old as time'.
The script is excellent taking the old but fairly well-known fable and developing it into something modern yet touching and poignant. The new innovations of the scriptwriters to the original story such as putting a feminist touch on Belle, the development of the relationship between Belle and the Beast, the talking cutlery are fully fleshed out and have been integrated into the pace, moving the story forward and never slowing it down.
The characters are sharply developed. Belle is a vibrant bookish girl who lives in a world of fairy tales, yet dearly loves her wacky but likable inventor father. Also it is worth mentioning that she is shown to have an individualistic bent of mind who sees the handsome but shallow Gaston for what he is and spurns his advances. She has the spunk to wear the type of clothes and act the way she wants unlike the other dumb village girls.At first she fears the Beast, but when he saves her she appreciates him and finds the prince within the Beast. She is intelligent, compassionate and has a mind of her own. She's also very outspoken and courageous as is evidenced by her opting to take her father's place in the Beast's castle and in her tirade of reason against the Beast when he rebukes her for putting herself into danger by trying to run away from the castle. With her strong personality, she makes a terrific role model for young girls everywhere. Long before Titanic, this was the first successful attempt at female empowerment. The Beast is a fierce ape-like creature whose short temper stems from his frustration at being unable to find true love. Gaston the narcissistic village champion who thinks that brawns are more important than brains is ridiculed by the movie and eventually exposed as its villain. Even minor supporting characters such as the clock, the lamp and the teapot are fleshed out and will enchant both kids and adults alike.
I actually started crying during the movie's finale when the Beast dies after the struggle with Gaston and my sorrow was turned into joy when the curse is broken and the Beast gets transformed into a handsome prince. The transformation effects are simply mind-blowing (for a cartoon movie!).
Some eighteen years after its release this movie only gets better with time. Cynics who normally dismiss cartoons and G-rated fare should see this movie and experience a change of heart. If this movie does not move them, then they should go admit themselves into a morgue!
Fight Club (1999)
Artistically audacious, brilliant craftsmanship and visually surreal _ also one of the most dangerous and spiritually ambiguous films ever made
What can I say about Fight Club? Technically it is one of the most well-crafted movies ever made with brilliant direction, superb acting, bravura cinematography and terrific editing. Music by the Dust Brothers maintains the overall surreal ambiance of the passages to which they are set (see the scoring of the segment where the Fight Clubbers try to pick fights with innocent people for a good example) and the writing and characterization are far more insightful than the average shocker. Every character is developed well enough for us to either identify with them or at least understand them. There is a lot of unusually ingenious creativity evident in certain scenes such as the IKEA catalog scene, the opening zoom through a brain sequence, the support group scenes, the use of a subjective voice over and non linear chronology.
That's where the pluses end. Now for the minuses. The movie depicts men in their 20s and 30s who regain their masculinity by beating up/getting beaten up by other men. Once they regain their masculinity, they rebel against society by destroying the capitalistic /consumeristic society that has enslaved them for so long. That entails carrying out destructive and loathsome acts of vandalism against society. If you want to re attain your masculinity even if it means killing yourself, then go hurt yourself. Why terrorize innocent people in society who don't share your concerns and probably wont feel the same way you do? Splicing porn stills into children's films and spiking food with bodily fluids might seem downright funny to some, but it is simply vile, repellent and morally repugnant. Some people will even find making soap out of human fat positively revolting. Yet the cleverness with which all this is lensed will make some people want to imitate some of these pranks.
Many of the dangerous ideas may actually sound deep and thought-provoking but some of them are just inversions of the Truth. For instance, all true Christians know that our corporate, materialistic world sells us a lie when it says we need our favorite McDonald meal to be happy or we aren't somebody if we don't have a good bank balance or the latest car. Fight Club knows this truth and perverts it. It also perverts the beautiful ideal of masculinity suggesting that if you do not have scars or injuries from dangerous beatings, you are not man enough. At least movies like Die Hard and the LOTR series celebrated masculinity in the proper moral context, with the protagonists flexing their muscles to protect and defend innocent people.
An argument could be successfully constructed that this movie doesn't glorify its violence and nihilism rather it is a deconstruction of it as evidenced by the hero's futile attempts near the end to stop the mass destruction from taking place. The subtlety of the movie's last-act rebuttal to its anarchistic themes completely escaped me as I felt that this movie was nothing more than an apologetic for its one evil character's nihilistic philosophies.
The eerily prescient image of the credit card buildings collapsing serves as a tight ruler slap to the wrists of all those who cheered during the destruction scenes of Independence Day and Armageddon. I never cheered during all those pyrotechnics so clearly I am not among the members of the audience this sharp satirical barb is aimed at.
I am looking for the movie or movies that correctly satirize capitalism, materialism and the feminization of masculinity in developed societies, but Fight Club is not that film. I still remember finishing the screening of this film, feeling equal parts amazed and horrified. Amazed to see so much creativity in one single film and horrified at the possible real-world implications of what I had just seen.
My rating:***** out of **********.
Artistic Value:***** out of *****. Moral/Spiritual Value: 0 out of *****.
Halla Bol (2008)
Halla Bol stinks!
A complete waste of time
Halla Bol is a complete waste of time. The script and dialogues are poorly written, the direction is lacklustre and the acting borders on hammy.This movie was clearly aiming for the Rang De Basanti crowd but it falls far short of the mark because it does not have even one of the elements that made RDB connect with its audience_great script, terrific acting, good direction and a powerful social message that was never preached but shown.
Compared to that near-masterpiece, Halla Bol takes a step backwards by resorting to scenes such as the hero taking a leak on the villain's Persian rug and the hero's mentor staring down bullets in a truck no less! All of this might have been acceptable in the 80s when there was a downturn in movie quality and bad movies like DivyaShakti and Phool Aur Kaante became big hits, but movie-making has become_should have become_more subtle and thoughtful of late.
Rajkumar Santoshi is a capable director and I appreciate that he wants to give a social message in every movie he makes but maybe he simply does not know how to do it! He resorts to sermonizing without a care as to the audience's intelligence in understanding what he is trying to say. Maybe he should just concentrate on entertainment and leave the social messages to the Rakeysh Mehras and Aamir Khans.
Even if you don't agree with everything I say, you will agree that throughout the screening you will be thinking that Rang De Basanti was much much better and Mr.Santoshi should have left the industry-bashing to Om Shanti Om. Industry-bashing? That's right!!Santoshi has depicted the industry as a place of back-biting, bitching and the casting couch which the hero happily indulges in with a starlet curiously named Sania. There are some people who will think that these portions show the real face of the industry. Don't believe everything you see!
All in all, raise your voice against movies like this and don't spend your hard-earned money on this bomb.
* out of ****.