Tag Archive: Hollywood


Sohini Dey

Film: Fast And Furious 5
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster
Rating: Average

Fast And Furious 5, the fifth film in the series is a no holds barred action entertainment, full of every masala from hot girls, hotter cars, goofy humour, elaborate chase sequences and ricochetting bullets to camaraderie and family bonding, all in the right proportion.  The lack of an engrossing plot has been compensated by spectacular visuals of car chases and crashes in this Justin Lin directed film which sees a re-union of all the stars from previous films in the same series. After Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is rescued from police custody by his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and her ex-FBI agent lover Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), they decide to plunder the corrupt businessman Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) whose path they have crossed. To pull off a $100 million heist, they round up a team of sleek and stylish criminals who, in between chalking out the plan and rehearsing it keep the quotient of entertainment high by prattling enthusiastically. Obstacles to the task are two. For one, Reyes has locked his wealth up in a safe in the police station and secondly, DSS special agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who is equivalent to an entire police force, is after Dom and his gang.
The stunts performed are entertaining no doubt, with some heart-in-your-mouth moments, but seem too convenient to be plausible. Take for instance the final chase scene where Dom’s and Brian’s cars drag the humongous safe along crowded roads manoeuvring the safe itself to smash enemy cars into smithereens. But you know it’s an action film and you know how it will end, so after a point of time you stop worrying about the truth value of whatever’s shown on the giant silver screen. Somehow you don’t even mind the predictability of it all and lie back and enjoy.
Everybody plays their parts well. Malleability is not a trait Diesel’s face is famous for, but in a film that requires him to display only three emotions at the most, and a lot of his rippling muscles, he is perfect. The same holds for Dwayne Johnson. But the physical and behavioural similarities between the two in the form of a chiseled body, shiny bald pate and steely determination make the chaser and the chased two sides of the same coin.
Apart from the unexplained bit about Vince’s betrayal and return, there are a couple of questions the film raises — Is the huskiness of a mafia lord like corrupt businessman’s voice an acquired trait or a pre-requisite for the role? Is the impending birth of a child in the family the only incident that can swerve criminals by choice off the path of crime?

 

 

The latest Coke ad, with the classic track, Aaj Ki Raat… has caught the imagination of Gen-Y

 

Ashok Chatterjee

Retro ads are gaining popularity with the Indian marketing gurus. Songs from the 1970s and 1980s are making a comeback in Indian commercials. Vintage is special. Success of Akshay Kumar with his printed shirt and big collars in Action Replayy and Ajay Devgn in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai are enough evidence of the retro making a big comeback in our lives. Advertising is known to capture the pulse of the people. So, the numbers Jata Kahan Hai deewane for the Coca Cola ad, Aaj Pehali Tarikh Hai for the Cadbury Dairy milk chocolate ad or Genelia D’Souza’s New Fanta ad surely grab eyeballs. The latest Coke ad, with the retro number, Aaj Ki Raat… has caught the imagination of gen-next.
The advertisers are not only scoring high with the catchy songs but also leaving no stones unturned in recreating the perfect look and feel. Take for example the Vivel Deo ad, which shows a boy and a girl playing badminton in whites, recreating the song, Dhal Gaya Din, from the Jeetendra-Leena Chandravarkar starrer Humjoli or the Himalaya Face Wash ad where the girl dresses up in retro style or even the Biskfarm cookies ad, where a strong retro concept of patriarchal society comes across with the famous dialogue ‘Pran nath, aap kya kha rahe ho?’.
Shah Rukh Khan has also changed his looks for Dish TV advertisement. He is seen as a 75-years-old man in the ad. He looks cool with a stick.
The ads of the late 70s or 80s still have their brand recall. It is hard to forget the Bajaj bulb ad with the jingle, Jab main chota ladka tha, badi shararat karta tha. Meri chori pakdi jati, Jab roshan hota Bajaj — now, there lies the charm. When ad agencies create ads, their goal is to make a commercial that is catchy and memorable. The use of jingles is to make it linger in your head and remind you of the product.
Another television commercial, which is still fresh in our memories, is the Vicks ki goli lo khich khich door karo number. The ad caught on with the audience so much that it led to a rise in sales of Vicks cough drops. If these were the ‘funny’ ads on TV, the classic Raymonds ad which showed the ‘complete man’ still rings in our head. Advertisers feel the same old magic can be recreated with the new products as well. As ad-man Prahlad Kakkar explains, “I’ve been observing this trend for some time now. It all started with the Close-up toothpaste ad, followed by Fevicol ads and the Cadbury ads. The retro theme breaks the clutter. But if the theme is used in abundance, then it becomes a clutter in itself,” he says.
“In advertising, we have been neglecting the Silvers (the silver jubilee club). Since a healthy 35 per cent of the elderly are the target audience, these retro ads not only make the elderly nostalgic but also get the youngsters notice it. We must always remember the moot point of selling a product is to hook the viewers. And these ads are doing it fine,” Kakkar adds.
But senior account executive, Versus Communications, Rahul Mehra, who also is the manager of music band, Insomnia, begs to differ. He says, “Corporate houses are trying to woo the youth. The IT industry has altered the audience base for products. Youngsters, just out of college are earning high salaries these days, working in BPOs. They constitute a major segment of the Indian population. And this population still loves to listen to ABBA and the Final Countdown for entertainment.”
If Jumping Jack Jeetendra once ruled the popularity charts, today Imran Khan is ruling the roost. The latest Coke shadow ad, features the Break Ke Baad hero Imran doing funny act with the classic Aaj Ki Raat playing in the background. No surprises, it is the most downloaded ad today. The song takes you back to the 1973 film, Anamika.
Talking about the success of the jingles, music composer and audio producer, Drono Acharya, says, “One of the major reasons for the success of these songs is the melody. But the advertisements can go wrong if they make mockery of these golden classics.”
Bollywood singer, Kailash Kher, who has many popular jingles under his belt, refuses to believe that retro is the latest craze for ad filmmakers. “I cannot endorse the view. In order to be different, some advertisers go back to the past for inspiration. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t,” says Kher. 
The person behind successful ad campaigns like the Kamasutra condoms and Emami Fair & Handsome, Alyque Padamsee sums up the phenomenon. He says, “It is just a fad. Agencies copy any success formula. The industry is full of copycats. If one retro-themed ad clicks with the audience, everyone follow suit. Personally, I want to be original,” he clarifies.
Fad or not, retro ads surely have got everyone talking.

 

 

Sudipta Dey

 

 
Film: The Tourist
Cast: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Rating: Good

What would you expect from a romantic thriller that has two most popular actors of all time as the lead, an Academy award winning director and Paris, Italy and Venice as the backdrop?
The Tourist has Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp pitted against each other, where the former plays an under-cover agent (again) and the latter is a Maths teacher from Wisconsin, an average Joe.
The plot revolves around Jolie’s character, Elise, who is apparently chasing her former lover, who also happens to be an elusive gangster, Alexander Pearce. On his instructions sent through a letter, she picks up a random tourist who looks somewhat like him to evade Interpole, and that’s when the real story begins.
The film revolves around the same plot that we have seen in many such films about mistaken identities (like the more recent Knight And Day). Jolie, like most of her films, has the action-seeking streak in her, and Depp is the victim of circumstances.
The plot has nothing great to it. It has a lot of flaws, that could have been avoided. But the massive starcast makes up for it. Apart from the two American superstars — Jolie and Depp, the film has Paul Bettany as Inspector John Acheson chasing the duo, Timothy Dalton as the Chief Inspector Jones who only appears in phases, Rufus Sewell as the mysterious man who claims to be Alexander Pearce on the insistence of an unknown man.
British actor Paul Bettany, who is more popularly known for his characters in The Beautiful Mind, A Knight’s Tale and Da Vinci Code, has done a decent job as the frustrated inspector chasing Pearce for over two years. His character could have had more meat, if the director (who has also co-written the film) paid a bit more attention to characterisation, something which is expected from a director who won the best foreign film in 2007 for Lives of Other.
Though the film has a mixed starcast, it has a distinct European romantic vibe to it, with most of the beauty lent by the picturesque setting of Venice and Paris.
Jolie looks simply gorgeous is her diva avatar, as she is seen mostly in gorgeous designer dresses throughout the film unlike in her other action films. Depp is his usual suave self.
The script should have given more time to make the love angle between Jolie and Depp a bit more convincing. There are a few witty dialogues exchanged between the two, which are crisp and at times funny, but those could only be credited to Jolie and Depp’s acting prowess.
If you don’t pay too much attention to the story and script, the film is worth a watch, specially for the actors and the beautifully captured Venice, the city of lovers.

 

 

Sudipta Dey

Film: Tron Legacy
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Rate: Good

Back in 1982, when the original Steven Lisberger directed Tron released, it gave an engrossing insight to what goes on inside a computer. The sequal Tron Legacy takes it a step forward and shows how computer generated programmes can build an army to take over the real world. The filmmakers have utilised the three decades well as the sequel is a better, graphically enhanced version.
Jeff Bridges reprises his role of Kevin Flynn, a man once known as the world’s leading videogame and technology developer. The film starts with his disappearance in 1985. Sam Flynn, (Garrett Hedlund) now a rebellious 27-year-old, is still haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father Kevin. When Sam investigates a strange signal supposedly coming from Kevin, he finds himself pulled into a digital Grid. There he meets his father, who has been held captive there by Clu, (Bridges) Kevin’s alter ego.
The Grid, a digitally modified set with laser beams running across, gives an imagery of a computer chip. There are a couple of brilliant shots in the film. The fluid camera movements often give a 360 degree view, adding to the 3D effect. Yes, the whole film is shot in 3D, which transports the audience into the computer generated world of the Grid. 
The film has a not-to-be-missed action sequence which adapts the original film’s cat-and-mouse light-cycle chase.
The film’s plot is interesting and the actors have done their bit. Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges is the only one who looks convincing. He has essayed diametrically opposite characters with elan. Garrett Hedlund, with his boyish charm is a treat to watch. Michael Sheen, who appeares for a short while, deserves a mention for his portrayal of Castor and Zues. The British actor should have had more screen time.
There are a few flaws in the script which decrease the believablity quotient. The aged Kevin Flynn utters lines like “You’re messing with my Zen thing, man…”. Sam develops a strange romantic connection with Quorra (Wilde) a digital warrior, who later travels back with Sam to the real world.
The film spends considerable time in explaining its history. It oscillates between high-speed action scenes and overtly serious interaction between the father-son duo. At two hours and five minutes, the film is a treat for sci-fi film buffs and video-game lovers. Can’t say the same for all cinegoers.

Film: Due Date
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Manoghan
Director: Todd Phillips
Rate: Good

Sudipta Dey
In this festive season one wouldn’t want to spend much time on a serious, thought-provoking film. A light, entertaining film will be more suitable and Todd Philips’s (director of Hangover) Due Date gives you just that.  If you expect it to be another Hangover you will be disappointed. The story is a little weak and the comedy lacks the punch it had in Hangover. But nevertheless, the dialogues are smart and Due Date has its own rewards.
Robert Downey Junior and Zach Galifianakis make an interesting pair. Downey plays a meticulous architect Peter Highman who needs to get to LA to be with his wife as she delivers their first child. On the other hand, Zach is the complete opposite. An effeminate wannabe actor Ethan Tremblay, who wants to get to Hollywood to become a successful actor. With a curious turn of events, they become partners and embark on a road trip.
If you just look around you, you will find that life abounds in comedy. Following this simple logic, Phillips finds comedy in every tragedy that the pair encounter. Zach here again plays the junkie, and the reason for all adventure that follows en route. They end up breaking every law (probably 60), get beaten up, locked up. Their car gets wrecked and they encounter every possible mishap that you would want to avoid on a road trip.
The unlikely couple develop a bond after facing tough situations together, which might otherwise seem a bit puerile. Downey suits the character perfectly, and Zach is an absolute delight. Watching him would make you hate him completely, but there are moments when you would relate to him as well.
The script could have been better, but it still manages a few laughs. “I’m sorry we drank your father…” and the repartee, “At least he tasted good!” is the winner, I think. “What are you? a girl or somethin’…” would give a good laugh.
The soundtracks deserves a special mention. Though it is a cliché to use a Floyd for the part when they were smoking pot, but it definitely adds another dimension to the scene. Everyone has their own playlist for a road trip, mostly consisting country music or blues. You probably would not ignore the music.
The film ends well, with not a scratch on Ethan but Peter ends up with three fractured ribs,
broken hand, stitches in his armpit. It ends with the same dream it began with — a bear
eating the umbilical cord of his wife.
Anyways, the film is a mindless entertainer, a good one for those who are takers of American comedy. It’s worth a watch.

Film: Eat, Pray, Love
Cast: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Billy Crydup
Director: Ryan Murphy
Rating: Good
 

Shauli Chakraborty
True to its title, the film is definitely about eating, praying and loving. After her divorce and a quick relationship on the rebound, Liz (Julia Roberts) finds herself losing the ability to feel and sets out on a quest to rediscover balance in her life.
The rest of the movie is about her journey, what she discovers along the way and the realisation that ruins can lead to transformation. Her first stop is Italy whose language and culture influences her deeply and begins the healing process inside.
Some scenes shot in Naples and other small eateries are memorable. Like the one where a hairstylist is surprised at Liz’s zest for the Italian language and says she will never learn the language without using her hands. This is followed by a couple of scenes that show people on the streets conforming to the observation. There is another scene where Liz digs into a plateful of spaghetti and rediscovers her appetite. Spaghetti has never looked this sexy before.
After Italy she goes to India and decides to live in an ashram. But here too peace eludes her. She finds a friend and critic in Richard Jenkins and confesses she still misses her boyfriend. Richard snaps back, “Miss him then! Send him a gift whenever you see something that reminds you of him. After that, drop it!” Rushita Singh as Tulsi fails to impress. She plays a typical 16-years-old Indian girl who is being forced into wedlock. Her dialogue delivery is pathetic and emotive abilities better left unsaid.
The next stop for Liz is Bali where she meets her guru and rediscovers love and life. This is where the crux of the movie lies. It is here she deducts what she calls the physics of the quest. There is one dialogue that hits you hard. When her guru tells her to smile Liz exclaims, “I can do that. Its easy.” “No its not,” replies the medicine man from Bali, adding, “Not when you have to smile with your heart, with your brain and even with your liver.”
Javier Bardem as Felipe is suave and impressive. If Julia Roberts is your primary reason to watch the film then Javier Bardem should be your second. Such actors, my dear, are a rare breed these days. He has one beautiful line, “Sometimes to find that balance in life you have to lose all your balance!”
In terms of technique and cinematography the film is brilliant. Director Ryan Murphy sure has lived up to the book. It’s a great movie with some philosophy thrown in — at all the right places.

REVIEW: Gekko never sleeps

Shauli Chakraborty
Film: Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps
Director: Oliver Stone
Cast: Micahel Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Frank Lagella
Rating: Very Good

What is a moral hazard?” asks one of Gordon Gekko’s (Michael Douglas) admirers as she lines up for his autograph on a copy of his book Greed Is Good. That is also the time when  Jacob (Shia LaBeouf), the guy who is dating his daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan), hurries in with some crucial information. Gekko smiles at both and replies, “Moral hazard is when somebody takes all your money and is not accountable for it.” A line that haunts you throughout the movie and even after.
Gordon Gekko is back—with a bang! The unrelenting Wall Street legend who simply cannot stay away from trouble is more like a creature in the dark, waiting to strike at the first opportunity. He is manupilative, wicked and ungrateful. But this time Gekko has a heart. Not that he likes it, but something that he cannot keep buried anymore.
The film begins with Gekko stepping out of jail after serving a sentence of 8 years. Later he remarks, “Jail is the best thing that happened to me. It set me thinking about my life.” Once out, he is looking for two things — to resurrect his career and set things straight with daughter Winnie. Jacob too is out for revenge after his mentor is forced to commit suicide by the Wall Street bullies. He strikes a deal with Gekko where the latter would advise him on the markets and he would try to convince Winnie to forgive her father. When Jacob suggests a family dinner as a first step towards the much-needed reconciliation Gekko quips, “At my age I’ll settle for anything.” This is quality Gekko in his younger days, dare not bare. Here he manages to win few hearts, breaks them with unabashed arrogance only to make a comeback later. The film is more of Gekko’s journey to the realisation that, “Time is more important than money.”
Both Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan put in restrained and mature performances. They look good as a couple and complement each other totally. Josh Brolin and Frank Lagella make recession-hit Wall Street politics more credible. This time too director Oliver Stone has hit the bull’s eye and the film is sure to go a long way. Allan Loeb’s screenplay has sketched every character with surgeon-like precision. Another important feature is the camerawork. Wall Street never looked this sinster before and with recession as a backdrop the omnipresent lens of Rodrigo Preito is the king of all it surveys. The camera works wonders when it zooms in on Jacob’s office at the beginning of the film and later, when Gekko meets Jacob at a water park to discuss money. The scene when Gekko welcomes Jacob to his rented apartment that has no walls is a masterpiece. Once in a while we come across films like Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps. Even rare are instances when each character artiste is at his best. Go make yourself part of history.

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