Sunday, 25 September 2016

Boyhood (2014)

In 2002, Mason, a six year-old boy and his elder sister Samantha are raised by their single mother Olivia in Texas. Year 2005. Mason now lives in Houston with his family, stepfather, their two children.

Year 2008. The real father, Mason Sr. talks to Mason and a 'now with boyfriend' Samantha about contraception. Yes, that kind of talk will take a long way coming to India.Meanwhile Olivia escapes an abusive second marriage and files for divorce. Year 2012, Mason has already experienced drugs, alcohol, love and heartbreak. A budding photographer, at the crossroads of life as a teenager. 

Boyhood's crux is not the much advertised byline '12 years in the making'. It is director Richard Linklater's latest ode to life's ordinariness, how it sometimes just quietly passes by, but for some upheavals, intermittent chaos and adventures while you are at it. A gentle ode to childhood, parenting and that strong tradition we call family.  

Unlike Linklater's Before Trilogy (where I loved that nothing overtly plot-altering is happening), after a point you want things to get moving here. Scenes, like a drunken abusive father looks down at a cowering wife; an alcoholic taking his children on a dangerous, infuriated car ride, add necessary zing to an otherwise linear tale.

But Linklater's making his signature moments here. Among steady conversations, free flowing monologues, bad haircut, first girlfriend and a touching cathartic mother moment, Boyhood shines in what it reveals in passing, and not necessarily in dialogue. This is where it kept me riveted, throughout.  

I wouldn't have thought more of Boyhood, but for its last bit of conversation and how it loops back to the entire film. The enigma of the final scene, that perfect last cut (applause for editor Sandra Adair); makes this little more than a one-time watch. There's more to its deceptive quietness. For light drama/coming of age movie fans, this is a treat.

If you end up loving Boyhood, don't miss Linklater's Before Sunrise (1995) and for dramatic contrast, the rock'n'roll infused, cute comedy School of Rock (2003).    

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad is the latest comic-books-to-film-adaptation casualty. Following events post Superman's death from the disappointing DC-Zack Synder venture, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), the same multi-starer vs story problems plague Suicide Squad. 

A superb anti-hero super-criminals crime-fighting team premise is strangled by lazy, deep snoring screenplay writing. Character introductions are mandatory, assembly-line stuff. Antagonists are 'whatever', no-purpose world destroyers. Somebody always has to make a world-destructing appearance that superheroes make their reputation. 

There is some crackle in the humour and backtalk, that soon dies a non-exploding death. Glimpses of inspired performances are badly let down by the biggest cinema villain ever: Non-existent story. 

Jared Leto's rocking Joker interpretation barely gets screen space. Margot Robbie gives her best performance yet as the crazy Harley Quinn,Will Smith tries resurrecting a foolishly built hitman role.The rest are all good, but movie making buffoonery can't be carried around for long.      

We have seen too much of VFX in the last two decades, thanks to the superhero and fantasy film flood. If anything awes cinema-goers timelessly, it is story and treatment. Suicide Squad shockingly lacks both, its first half barely standing and to call the latter part 'a drag' is grossly understating it. 

What works in comic books doesn't always translate to film, a reoccurring event at cinema screens lately. Suicide Squad is guaranteed to leave you in shreds.

Final Word 
Box-office collections have nothing to do with cinematic quality. Ever.  

Happy Bhag Jayegi (2016)

Attuned to the spirit and tone of last year's contrived yet very very funny Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015), Happy Bhag Jayegi isn't half as funny and not too bad either.

Amritsar runaway bride Happy (Diana Penty, competent) jumps into wrong flower truck and gets transported across the border to Pakistan. 

Getting her back to India, reuniting her with her lover (Ali Fazal, one-tone), saving her from the rowdy small town goon cum groom (Jimmy Shergill, reprising rejected groom act, is in great form), and not falling for her - falls into Pakistan's young dad-repressed politician Bilal's hands (Abhay Deol, confident, self-assured turn). 

Pakistani actors, (incidentally father and daughter in real life) Javed Sheikh (nice one) and Momal Sheikh (gorgeous, decent act) add charm to the cast. Piyush Mishra makes a sketchily written role his own by sheer brilliance, and deserves special mention.   

Co-produced by Tanu Weds Manu Returns director Anand L. Rai, well-directed by Mudassar Aziz, Happy Bhag Jayegi is saved by its performances and intermittent, genuinely funny one-liners, a drag when it goes into uninspired soap-opera emotions. Aziz, also the film's writer has a flair of lines, but treads tired, trodden territory often.

But there is promise in Aziz, until he makes a better film, this is an OK watch.