Archive for the ‘Film Reviews’ Category


400,000 Men Couldn’t Get Home, So Home Came For Them


The message from hell descending from the clouds. The sea waves escorting back the dead bodies. The civilian boats rescuing the freezing fate-less soldiers. Casualties outnumbering the survivors. Hark! the bombers are approaching and releasing your death certificates. Realize! the fuel is getting low! So decide either you drop your plane to the sea or shoot your rival pilot.

There is panic everywhere, there is sonic everywhere. There is no amount of food, there is no hope for good. More than 300 thousand soldiers are trapped on the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk in an uncanny weather. France has fallen to the Germans and their troops are to reach the site anytime. But the Commander is hoping that they all will be back – Home.

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan‘s latest project, a war film whose storyline and characters are fictional in nature but relies on the rich historical accuracy based on the historic evacuation of the Allied forces during World War II. Nolan has touched the new dimensions of the filmmaking of war films. For ages, the filmmakers have strived in convincing the audience by making ‘lengthy’ war films but Nolan’s warfare drama runs for only 106 minutes and proves that it is just a matter of speaking the story in the most formidable manner. Nolan proves that to make a successful war film, a coherent presentation plays a major part, not the length of the script.

 

 


“I’d rather fight waves than dive-bombers.”


The story is divided into three divergent segments of land, water, and air. There is a stupendous balance in all the three segments with the land story definitely being more of a blood boiler. Thousands of the soldiers standing, sitting, lying in the queue on the sands of the beach await their fate and hope for deliverance. When I say lying on the beach, few are the dead bodies.

War films are acutely loud and noisy. But here there is no massive bullet-firing in the whole film, no earth-shattering blasts or powerful destructions. The grip of the plot is kept at loose ends. Dunkirk’s script is build on intensity. More than killing, the film is about saving the lives and rendering a valuable service for the people stuck in the battle.

Yes, the nature of this war-subject is saving more than killing but like I wrote above that it is the intensity, the incredible screenplay of bringing things into either an argument or a question mark. The sequences and consequences of numerous scenes drop the emotions displaying the significance and tragic life conclusions like a boatman losing his son, a soldier dropping his helmet and walking towards the sea waves, a pilot watching his plane burnt etc.


“He’s shell-shocked, George. He’s not himself. He might never be himself again.”


Angel of death knocks the door everywhere and it is not a matter of bombs but other critical things like an oiled human body trying to wash himself in haste before it catches the fire on the water or a young soldier making an unsuccessful attempt to catch the ladder of the boat before fainting into the water.

Another impressive factor of the film is the target age-group of the troops portrayal. Mostly in the film are extremely young men. The impact is hard but I like the way the young skins are put to test in the biggest scare of their lives. There were two such scenes shot on the boys giving a fascinating look on the labor and patience during the war times. One was when the two young soldiers witness a helpless gashed soldier on the stretcher. Both heed each other’s possible signal and prepare to lift the heavy stretcher miles towards the boat running and staring the other dead bodies on the beach. The other scene is when the German troops shot at the trawler for target practice where the young soldiers are hiding and no one has the courage of volunteering to release from the boat.

The film is blessed with an ensemble cast whose characters are equally divided in all the three segments. The beauty of the screenplay is that there is no main character. All the characters support each other in their segment i.e., the character of the boatman, Mr Dawson, played by Mark Rylance is indeed the lead character on the sea but his sons, Peter and George, have decent onscreen appearance subjected towards the gallantry. Rylance piloted his character boat every day and listened to the audio recordings at the Imperial War Museum. Cillian Murphy plays the rescued soldier who suffers the psychological impact of the war. Being short in the role, his mental acting performance was exceptional. To improve his character, Murphy read about the psychological trauma the soldier endured.


“Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?”


Tom Hardy is the RAF pilot playing the major role flying in the clouds but his fellow RAF pilot, Collins played by Jack Lowden, is not to be considered underrated. On land, Kenneth Branagh is the commander, loosely based on Admiral William Tennant, but also attached to him is James D’Arcy as Colonel Winnant. But the weight of the characters is equal keeping in mind that the former’s character is verbal as compared to the latter’s character being physical.

Among the young soldiers, the character of Tommy played by Fionn Whitehead was impressive than Alex played by Harry Styles. In fact, Fionn’s performance was indeed the most impressive one who surely had the most minutes throughout the film. Fionn’s character Tommy was named after the slang term Tommy which was commonly used for the ordinary British soldiers. When Nolan auditioned Harry Styles, he was not acquainted with his immense popularity.

 Audience pointed Hardy’s contribution to the film as best but he was just a pilot flying the plane in the whole film. It was actually not Hardy’s performance but the character to be counted as the most valuable one.


“How hard is it to find a dead Englishman on Dunkirk beach, for God’s sake?”


Musical department? Hans Zimmer to Nolan is what John Williams to Spielberg. Easily the most powerful director-musician combo after the latter. And here Zimmer has gifted the audience with just another masterpiece in music. The sound of the watch ticking (often played at the start of the trailer) was actually Nolan’s own pocket watch synthesized by Zimmer. Also to his credit is including Edward Elgar‘s most famous variation ‘Nimrod’ from his Enigma Variations in the film’s dramatic theme. Sound mixing is excellent. The roar of a falling enemy aircraft from the sky will haunt you.

Dunkirk is supreme at almost every technical department. Nolan’s screenplay is superbly balanced with Lee Smith‘s editing. The timing of the segments’ stories kept changing ahead and behind to show from other character’s point of view and it is indeed the beauty of editing which makes Dunkirk attract the audience understand the depth of the story from different angles. Hoyte van Hoytema‘s cinematography is sublime. I loved the aerial plane attacking shots.

Christopher Nolan keeps experimenting a new genre and develops his directional methods and ways of telling the stories. His direction is frank, polar and strict to the subject. In first half an hour, the presentation of the film is concentrating on the happenings at the beach, in the air, and at the sea with very remote dialogues. With the help of a phenomenal film editing, Nolan has crafted his Nolanistic method of depicting the heightened realism and giving the viewers a chance to see his artistry like resurrecting for a reason.

Dunkirk is so superior film that in a premiere the Dunkirk veterans wept and expressed if they time traveled back in Dunkirk. The veterans approved the realism and precise presentation of the war. Many critics have declared Dunkirk to be Nolan’s best work to date. It truly is a difficult question with more arguments than announcing the conclusion. Between his Inception, The Dark Knight, Interstellar, and Dunkirk, it seems impossible to pick the best and ignore the rest.

In my opinion, Dunkirk is the greatest war film ever made and will be remembered for ages. The greatest in a sense that the subject has been addressed and crafted in the most excellent form and has to be included in an elite list of the greatest war films like Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan.

Ratings: 9.5/10


“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. and even if this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

 

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If War For The Planet Of The Apes is the ultimate conclusion then it is easily one of the greatest film trilogies ever made. Caesar, the leading ape, has gone through a lot of pains and hardships to protect his fellow apes in the two previous parts, “Rise” and “Dawn“. Now the “War” in the continuity is the final showdown of the survival of the apes led by the old Caesar against a rogue faction Alpha-Omega led by the ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson).

The common factor between all the three parts is the dependency of survival of the creatures on the shoulders of the humans who are considered by the apes the worst of its kind, who believes are the one who destroys and fight against each other and the apes have to pay the price. And it is somehow unfortunately true. Animals, involve or not, are the victims who painfully die in the war or battle started by us humans.

And that is what I genuinely liked about this final part that the film showed a very ugly naked truth about the existing political scenario. Despite being a film focused on the animal survival, the film shows an intolerable fascist army who are here to bring an end to their kind. Begins a depressing state of torturing their kind under the American flag with the beginning of the anthem, that is an agonizing pain and misery on the apes to be watched. The apes become slaves of the army just like us humans are to the technology.

“War” is a dystopia alarming the rise of the revolt. Spectacular provocation is that there is no woman in the whole movie but a young mute girl for a reason. Secondly, the whole casting is white. I am confused if showing a rogue and fascist white army against the apes was intentional.

Besides, the film is just a remarkable human-animal story mentally projecting and testing Caesar’s behavior and relation towards good and bad humans once again like the previous two films. Director, Matt Reeves, has brilliantly completed Caesar’s life phases with emotions and drama. The trilogy is a complete life-story and understanding of a real ape and consequences of living in a cruel world.

The musical score, visual effects, film and sound editing has made this film live in a special place. Andy Serkis has many unforgettable contributions to the cinema and Caesar is his another masterpiece. “War” is a superior show in all the departments.

RATINGS: 9/10

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Aamir Khan‘s Dangal has collected over ₹1,500 crore and is becoming the highest-grossing Indian film but when I watched the film after a six-months wait, I found the film wasn’t worth even ₹1.50 crore. 
Dangal is about a man, once a national wrestling champion, who gives up his career due to the shortage of money but sees his dream of winning Gold medal coming true in his daughters, Geeta (played by Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita (played by Sanya Malhotra). Being based on Indian wrestling family of Phogat, Dangal is a huge insult in the name of the real-life facts accuracy. In short, it is heavily fictionalized with more than 80% of the story dramatized. I have collected a few points which I found from various media sources.
 
1) According to the authorized biography of Mahavir Singh Phogat, Akhada, it was his wife Daya, who was disappointed that the first child wasn’t a boy.
 
2) The coach is depicted as villainous who is dummy enough to give wrong techniques every time he trains Geeta; whereas the real coach has claimed that only mechanism was changed, not the techniques.
 
3) Geeta losing first-round tournaments globally is completely wrong. The film shows her winning her first Gold medal in international competition in the Commonwealth game whereas she did win a gold medal a year before in Jalandhar.
 
4) Geeta didn’t cut her hair before the Commonwealth games. The video of the final game shows Geeta with long hair.
 
5) Aamir getting locked before the final fight is very incorrect. As per the biography mentioned above, Mahavir did watch the final.
 
6) The final game wasn’t that competitive; in fact, it was a one-sided two-round victory by Geeta with the score 3-0, 8-0.
 
Even besides the factual accuracies, the director Nitesh Tiwari, who is heavily praised and accoladed for his direction, has made the silliest of mistakes as few examples below:
 
1) The referee changes between the scenes in young Mahavir’s early fight. Can you believe it?
 
2) When Mahavir moves Patiala for six months, he is financially low but minutes later he owns a scooter and even books a whole theater to watch the DVD of his daughter’s fight? *claps*
 
3) Mahavir gets locked and not a single security guy bothers to watch the series of unfortunate events happening in such an international competition?
 
Performances? Yes, performances were the first rate but let me talk about Aamir Khan. He finally won a Filmfare Award in 16 years but the question is, what was so challenging about this role? Body transformation does count when the acting is judged but you will watch Aamir’s fatty character in the whole film as the young muscular phase of his role hardly is on the screen for 15 minutes.
 
If I judge his performance as a standout from two different criteria, which is 1) best performances of the year 2016, and 2) Amir’s best performances in the last 15 years, this role is still nowhere. So Filmfare yet again made a blunder in awarding it to a wrong individual.
 
Film’s technical aspects are not convincing at all. A running time of 160 minutes does not justify at all due to lengthy fight sequences and unnecessary songs.
 
Dangal is a one-timer and can be watched on a repeat mode for the sake of entertainment.
Ratings: 4/10
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Manchester By The Sea is a mosaic, a poetry, a philosophy of emotions blended with a series of tragic and distress events. To be very honest, the story is ordinary but the screenplay is a luminary. A janitor in Quincy, Casey Affleck, has passed some tragic moments and while he is still struggling, fate calls for another mournful news from Manchester-by-the-Sea of the passing of his brother, Kyle Chandler. With the passing, the lawyer reads the will and informs Casey that the deceased has made him the guardian of his nephew Lucas Hedges which came as a surprise.

At a slow but decent pace, the director Kenneth Lonergan is the author and a humble storyteller who mumbles the human behaviors involved in a single blink. He is smart enough to bring the humor out when the timing of a minor incident bestows. He is a traveler of groaning age who shows how that aging man shelters the false hopes of parenting in someone’s place. He presents the core character in a way that is pale to relationships but strives to necessitate what has been broken and burnt from the fire. The director simply brings the magic and music from the silence of shriek audible enough to understand the destruction of his heart. Us viewers have to observe the happenings in the film and feel sorry for him.

Like Fences, which speaks about the humans who are ready to lose or break someone, the outcome of this film is easily the gem of a drama. There are two dramatic sequences which burn and melts you. One, when Casey describes the haunting past to the police officers and later unsuccessfully attempts suicide on the spot. And two, when Casey meets his ex-wife Michelle Williams years after the divorce on the street.

Another excellency of the screenplay is the ‘Understanding’ between the ages and emotions involved between the two. The uncle-nephew chemistry is marvelous. There are an annoyance and a fury in the communication between them which downpours the sweat of ego or chutzpah, not mentally accepting each other at all.

All the actors involved in the project have performed very well but it is Casey who does the talking and deserves a standing ovation. I haven’t watched Casey’s films enough in the past to adjudge his performance as the best to date but the character he went on to play here is the true salvation and modus operandi. Manchester By The Sea is the aftermath of the death in the family. If life is an art exhibition, then this masterpiece is one of the most speaking pictures with the darkest and honest color of shades which, to the viewers, is widely acceptable.

Ratings: 8.7/10

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Fences was a play written by August Wilson back in 1983 which, years later, won Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2010, Kenny Leon directed the broadway based on the book with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as the leading cast. The book became a source of cinematic adaptation with the very same actors repeating their roles.
 
The film is set in Pittsburgh of the 1950s. It is about a man who wanted to become a baseball player when he was young but couldn’t due to his color. So now he discourages his son to follow the same path.
Fences will be remembered amongst one of the most brilliant films with the most ordinary story. There is simply nothing special or new in the story to watch. What makes this film look great and worth watching is due to almost all the technical aspects besides the story. A gritty drama directed by Denzel Washington and magnificent performances by himself as Troy and Viola Davis as his wife, Rose. I fail to understand why wasn’t Viola nominated in the Oscar for this film in the leading role rather than supporting role. But wherever is she nominated, she is the showstopper.
 
This is my first experience to watch Viola in a well-defined role as her role was pretty short as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad, plus I have never watched her in How To Get Away With Murder. What is top-notch about her role in the film is her ‘Hurt’ aspect as Troy’s wife. Soon when Denzel reveals some news to her shock, she is different than you have been watching her in the first half of the film. She then drops your jaws and till she has expressed her severe melancholy to her husband, your eyes are about to get wet. She makes you feel what hurts and disappoints her as a loyal wife and a mother. In short, a stupendous accomplishment.

 
Denzel/Viola onscreen chemistry as the old couples is phenomenal. They share few outstanding scenes, an even father-son rigid relation is a stunning sketch which grows your nerves. Besides them, all the actors involved maintains a rich display of supporting characters which make you sit and watch. Like Troy’s brother, Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson) is at a corner but a very attention-seeking character who is mentally unfit and often gets in trouble in the neighborhood. Then both the sons of the Troy are entirely different individuals who have a few verbal exchange and disturbed relation with father due to choosing different careers which father Troy never wished. Troy’s friend Bono (Stephen Henderson) has a different command, a loyal friend who understands Troy’s stance towards his wife and kids, and ideology to life. Denzel as the director is supreme in character detailing. The placement of all the characters is perfect.
 
Fences without violence is a brutal violence in silence. Your ears will listen to the whispers, the cries behind a failed state of an honest individual who roared only when his color became an unbegged penny. A sublime sad film.
Ratings: 8/10
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M Cream is indiehippie road trippie of two youngsters who are a traggic signal in a hopeless route leading towards chaos. It is a journey leading towards the clouds of heaven.
 
Figaro is a non-conformist and a rebel without a cause who tries to fix the puzzles of his existence after his conservative parents have begun shaping his future. Jay is a voice of revolution and anti-establishment student. Along with them, two more friends join the road trip in pursuit of a mythical drug called M Cream to Himachal Pradesh.
 
The trip is not just a trip but an opportunity for the travellers to dig the philosophical roots of life who questions the caricature of individuality, zodiacs of hope, gashes of rebellion, and cursing religions on the chessboard. Somehow Figs (Figaro) and Jay match their identities and together figures out why peace cannot overtake the corrupted powers when their strive towards a cause goes all in vain in the upheaval.
 
The major aspect of this particular travel film is that the director enchants the Figs-Jay chemistry with the smart blending of literary affection and emotional gravitation. The catchy parts of the film are the conversations between any of the two. In terse, marvellous dialogues! The excessive use of high-quality Urdu and English vocabulary multiplying with joint smoking makes sense.
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M Cream is a convincing hippie film which encourages the generation of the millennials by ignoring the chaos in the surrounding and breath the alfresco to enjoy freedom. The director emphasises on the use of drugs and alcohol, and play a fair game of love and sex.
 
Many scenes are exceptional and turn your brain into building a theory. There is a scene where Figs being religiously discouraged argues with a man who is strict to principles of faith. Both have strong points and the liberal viewers are the best judges. In some other scene, Figs-Jay meets a French journalist-come-activist who fights for the villagers whose land will be seized to build a resort in the name of development. Her struggle for the cause is what leads to pave way for the peace seekers.
 
In technicality, M Cream is superior. Film editing, screenplay and cinematography are brilliant. Imaad Shah as Figaro is very impressive and Ira Dubey as Jay is average. Yes, the film is a little slow in pace to the script but maintains a decent storytelling. Music score by Studio Fuzz is ear soothing.
 
M Cream is a wonderful project. In last, what I can say is that sometimes being a rebel is so romantic.
 
Ratings: 8.2/10
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Doctor Strange is just another comedy film from the showcase of Marvel Cinematic Universe, produced with the purpose of expanding the universe by bringing its viewers to the circus for mere entertainment. The production studio makes sure that the definition of entertainment from the vocabulary of a Disney-led universe should be:
a) Just another superhero trying to be funny/silly and performing slapsticks for the sake of applauses from the critics and viewers
b) and the filmmaker’s uncontrollable masturbation over the silver-age pages of the Lee/Ditko comics.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE FILM?

Erm, ‘almost’ everything. Disagreeing with comics accuracy is the biggest sin.
 
1) Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange looks the best screen test ever but in camera reel, the actor is not well defined with the character detail. First thing first, BC’s building American accent doesn’t fit with the character. He would rather have spoken in the usual way he does. Secondly, the stiffness of the pain-and-gain is beyond average from the turn of the frame from ego to hero. The third is the nature bound character which urges him to act like a monkey fed with peanuts, some silly slapsticks and lame humour adding nothing to the story but for your haha’s’ in the circus show.
 
2) Tilda Swinton, alright you are one of the best British actors in the cinema, but the makers completely lost their mind in selecting her for the role of Ancient One. First of all, AO is a very elder male character and second, he is of an Asian origin from the fictional Himalayan land of Kamar-Taj (based on Tibet). I believe in diversity but why on earth you want to change the fundamentals? This is not the first time MCU has banged a character.
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3) Wong played by Wong is more than a librarian. In comics, he was Strange’s loyal servant, but in the film, he is his teacher. 
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4) Baron Mordo played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is a ridiculous portrayal in the film. Mordo helps Strange in fighting against Kaecilius whereas, in comics, Mordo to Strange is what Luthor to Superman. Mordo is counted among Strange’s greatest villains and here in one scene, he helps the doctor inform the wifi password.
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5) The main antagonist is Kaecilius in the film played by Mads Mikkelsen. The irony is that he was a henchman to Mordo in the comics who used to deliver messages and hence proved that MCU is still weak in bringing the best of villains in the films (besides Loki). In comics, he isn’t a major name in the list of Strange’s strangest villains but…
 
6) The Cloak to Strange in the comics is the Genie to Aladdin. The cloak acts what the master wishes but in the film, the cloak is seen responding to the others. Why? Just for *thinking* entertainment?
 
7) Dr Christine Palmer, played by Rachel McAdams, to my knowledge wasn’t a love interest to Strange in comics. Forget love interest, she wasn’t even a doctor but a nurse. This character is very similar to Claire Temple (played by Rosario Dawson in the Netflix shows based on the Defenders).
 
8) The fate of the AO is completely different from the comics.
 
9) The film lacks a critical grip of focusing on his training. As Strange focuses on slapsticks in the basic training, AO polishes him in mere 18 months as compared to 14 years in the comics.

IS THERE ANYTHING TO PRAISE IN THE FILM?

Yes, the only plus, in fact, the biggest plus of the whole film is the visual effects. There is no limit in mastering a remarkable creativity and has a very good inspiration from Nolan‘s Inception. Both the mid-credit and post-credit scenes are potential messages to what MCU are up to in the future.

 
Doctor Strange overall is just another circus show with popcorns and peanuts in your hands.
 
Ratings: 4.5/10
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