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Film Review: Being The Ricardos (2021)

Before I begin writing my points about Aaron Sorkin‘s latest, let me tell you about the sitcom ‘I Love Lucy‘ on which this film is based. I Love Lucy was an American sitcom of the 1950s that starred real-life couples Desi Arnaz and one of the biggest television stars Lucille Ball. They were the first interracial couple to be depicted in the American sitcom. During the run, the couples were expecting a baby and after convincing the show’s big bosses, Ball appeared pregnant and gave the audience real-feel as she became the first-ever woman to appear pregnant on television. I Love Lucy was also the first to be shot on 35mm. The show was also the trendsetter of holiday specials when it released the Christmas episode. All I am trying to inform the readers is that I Love Lucy was way ahead of its time and set many records. By records, it makes me realize that I Love Lucy was also the first sitcom to top the Nielsen ratings.

So this show has its significance but more than that, there were issues, controversies, and incidents that occurred during the progress of this show. There were personal and professional relations that were jeopardized during the production. The wave of McCarthyism reached their shores and found a communist in Lucille Ball. So Aaron Sorkin’s Being The Ricardos highlights those moments during the shooting of the sitcom. The film highlights behind-the-scenes and excessive heated and verbal confrontations behind writing a sitcom America was ever super crazy about.

Being historically accurate on most of the occasions, the film’s unusual lie throughout the screentime is that all those events occurred in one week. Sorkin did admit but I am not sure why he decided to present the story this way and that too by mentioning the days. Lucille Ball’s children, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz, who are the executive producers, admitted that there were a few fabricated scenes but overall the director did justice with their mother.

NICOLE KIDMAN and JAVIER BARDEM star in BEING THE RICARDOS Photo: GLEN WILSON © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

I think Being The Ricardos is more character-driven than excellent screenwriting. Due to very limited writing on a run for more than two hours, Aaron Sorkin made use of the talented actors to play their quality part. And there are many scenes that buy the attention of the audience and help us understand how difficult it is to go through the process of writing and making the scenes funny. Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz doesn’t really look like a match but is a little older. But in any capacity, can Javier Bardem play a role that will not make us praise? JK Simmons is such a terrific actor and those who have observed him can clearly get my point that he executes his roles quite differently. His physical and facial performance in this supporting role distinguishes him from the past performances and maybe there is a chance he can get nominated for the Best Supporting Actor. And I wonder what took Aaron Sorkin so long to consider sitting on the director’s chair? Why was he never directing for so many decades?

Being The Ricardos is majorly about Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and my oh my, what a powerful performance she has displayed. I feel she is in hot contention for winning the Best Actress award in the Oscar. There are so many scenes where the audience will contemplate her acting. An absolute blend of physical, facial, and verbal performance to remember. Notice when she runs 500 yards to Desi and gives her the breaking news in her raspy voice. Or when she breaks down in the producer’s office when he suggests voicing for the radio, you can feel a lump in your neck. Those were close to perfection. A few minutes later, she has an argument over a scene with the executive producer, the scene intensifies when they are in disagreement about the flower scene and you can observe the spark of physical and facial brilliance in Nicole the way she begins to convince him. Nicole Kidman in this film is stupendously incredible. She was a terrific choice and the outstanding makeup made her resemble her.

Being The Ricardos is a magnificent remembrance about the making of one of the greatest American television shows that have compelling screenwriting and imposing performances.

Ratings: 8.7/10

Film Review: The Tender Bar (2021)

The Tender Bar is a kind of film that has thoughtful elements of good and bad choices, regrets and lucks, learning and yearning, and goes deep to understand why life always entreats you to move on. This film is a subtle approach for a coming-of-age film to fix the equation of a generational attitude towards learning. With a credible narration, remarkable scenes, powerful dialogues, and an astonishing screenplay by William Monahan, The Tender Bar beautifully reflects on our own life and somewhere do we see ourselves there and agreeing with most of the points most of the major characters speak.

The Tender Bar also reflects on a disturbing childhood and we all audience can relate to the incidents happening in the film. The detailing of this film is done with meticulous care, even the shorter portions have your memories boxed somewhere like the elders smoking or using curse words in front of a child, grandpa farting, parents threatening, mama persuading to join the ranks of a certain institution, a conversation with a fellow passenger on the train, etc.

The Tender Bar bites to harsh realities and also hints you to some people who will always be truly yours, your guide, a parental figure under whose guidance you learn a lot of deal. The film is about accomplishing your targets, fulfilling your dreams, falling in love for the first time. The film is about keeping your mom happy after what she has been through.

The technicalities of this film are just excellent. Brilliant direction by George Clooney and he must get the deserving nomination for the Best Director in the Oscar, really fitting soundtracks, and magnificent performances by Lily Rabe, Tye Sheridan, and Ben Affleck. The latter definitely deserves a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Good to see Ben Affleck back in shape.

The Tender Bar is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning writer J. R. Moehringer‘s memoir of the same name easily the best coming-of-age film I have watched since Call Me By Your Name.

Ratings: 8.7/10

Film Review: Sardar Udham (2021)

The name Sardar Udham is significant for all reasons that shaped the movement for independence from the British Raj. A tragic event that ignited millions of Indians and encouraged them to oppose British Imperialism. Shoojit Sircar‘s latest is a tribute to the national hero who stood for his people and avenged by assassinating Michael O’Dwyer in London, the man who appointed Reginald Dyer to supervise the ever-haunting Jallianwala Massacre.

I refuse to believe that this is an Indian film. I do not claim that Indian or Hindi-language films are that bad but the production of films like this still does not exist. The technical aspects of this film are extremely rich and carefully detailed. Excellent direction and stunning cinematography on many occasions.

Direction and camera work play a vital role if the screenwriting is to be justified, and this film is an example of an absolute masterpiece. Being lengthy is a problem that I will reason later but some portions need time investment and that demand is accomplished in the film. You may say that the time spent on Udham eating at her cousin’s place, his quest for O’Dwyer’s whereabouts, or speaking about freedom alone in the park were needless but I think Shoojit gave such minutes to build a thought about his character that meant a lot on all these occasions.

Vicky Kaushal‘s leading role will neither be criticized nor be pointed for objection because this, for me, will be remembered as one of the best performances in Hindi cinema for this new decade. You feel pain when his portrayal agonizes. There is much discomfort to watch his rage and hatred for British Imperialism and he has perfected that genuity you want to watch in the films about Indian freedom against the British. His tense courtroom scene of justification and in a lengthy struggle of saving many lives after the massacre are the best examples of Vicky’s notable performance.

Another factor that tops Sardar Udham is toning down the stereotypical elements of jingoism and giving rich feelings of sacrifices and excruciating pains of the British cruelty. No larger-than-life action sequences, no cosmetic dialogues. British portrayal and periodic productional set-up are so apt. The chosen actors for the British portrayal have done a fine job. Also, a superb background score by Shantanu Moitra made the mood to the audience.

Being a supporter of global diversity, I have a cordial affection for the name he used during his time in jail, Ram Mohammad Singh Azad. This name has been valued in the film that indicates the unification of the nation for freedom.

I have confusion about historical accuracy because the life of the freedom fighters was either a mystery or detailed with exaggeration. In some places, the readers won’t find strong pieces of evidence or authentic lead in their lives. Take the case of the Jallianwala Massacre; the film shows Udham to arrive late at the scene whereas one book ‘The Trial of Udham Singh’ claims that he was present during the firing. Whereas in other internet sources, there is no agreement on what official stats are about the casualties and survivors from that incident.

Also, there is no evidence of his love interest as shown in the film portrayed by Banita Sandhu. Was it necessary? Of course not. His involvement with Ghadar Party is also missing.

Minus? I’ll say the length of the film. It may be slow-burn to some extent but I am okay with the way the story moved with Udham’s character. The flow was acceptable. But I think the aftermath of the massacre was way too long. I understand the significance of the horror that still haunts millions of Sikhs worldwide but picturizing Udham and other fellows taking the severely injured victims from one place to the other for 20 minutes is overstretched. I actually thought maybe Shoojit stretched that scene so that Udham may eventually locate the body of his love interest but even that was not the case. The obvious ending could have been better.

I must mention the portrayal of the Jallianwala Massacre that was kept on wait after two hours well spent on developing the story and Udham’s character in entirety. Praising a massacre scene would make me foolish or call it great. So choosing my words carefully, I should write this way that the intensity and provocation of that bloodshed were extremely detailed. This scene was deliberately shot violent. The graphic detailing of this three-minute scene full of gunshots and painful cries was more savage than what Lord Attenborough showed in Gandhi. It was a scene that boiled the emotions and broke the hearts. Udham’s commentary about his fury for this incident all this time made his case.

Sardar Udham is an accomplishment in the Indian cinema that distinguishes the filmmaking of freedom-themed nationalist films from most of the others. Sardar Udham may not need to check the historical accuracy whether Udham was there or not. Maybe it is the directional artistry or some kind of representational theory that has been applied to demand an apology from the British government that India is yet to officially receive even after 100 years.

Sardar Udham is the ‘other’ side of a freedom fighter story that hardly any director wishes to direct. This film is about the crime for which the innocents had to pay that was demanding to the British to leave their country once and for all. Sardar Udham is not a film but a reminder to the present generation about what and how their great-great-grandparents suffered in the name of imperialism. Thank you, Shoojit Sircar.

Ratings: 9.2/10