Tag Archives: Hollywood

Film Review: Manchester By The Sea (2016)

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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Film Review: The Birth Of A Nation (2016)

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The Birth Of A Nation is a salvage of the fates of Black American community in the chapters of slavery from the American history. The Birth Of A Nation is the reminder of the bondages, brutalities and the tortures, and the vengeance which falls rebel to them and deaf to the manipulated ears.

This perhaps is the second black slavery film in last few years (the other being Twelve Years A Slave). But my honest opinion is that this not only betters Twelve Years A Slave but in my opinion is ‘perhaps’ the best film of 2016 so far.

The darkest of the subjectivity is the naked eyes of Nat Turner witnessing the cry of freedom in despair whose soul is imprisoned and the least the poor slave can do is drop or hold some tears, the scenes are heart-shattering but remarkable picturising. Another object of protest is the use of the Bible among the whites and the blacks. The understanding of the holy book playing the cruel game of offending the slaves; and the rage and revenge committed through the read has a severe impact.

With all the cruelty in the display, the film missed the tricky part of not showing the rape scene of Nat’s wife. The brutal beating which began a birth of the rebellion in Nat’s heart was much of a demand which secluded the luxury of the torture to be like icing on the cake but missed.

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The violence of the revolt was the arrival of omen on the establishment; as per the records in the history books, the black rebels even went on to kill white women and children but fair enough to limit the graphic violence. If the excellence of filmmaking had enough potential to grow on the viewers, the last attack on Jerusalem gives you the best Oh Boy! moment with a highly impressive camera work. This ultimate face-off is another ingredient of the artistry in the making of this film. Conclusions are painful but the final 15-minutes especially the fate of Nat Turner are jaw-dropping technical finishers.

I would like to pass my huge compliments to Nate Parker for this very important project for which he wrote the screenplay and directed to the utmost effort. Also did he finance the film and played the titular role of Nat Turner. All the performances were appealing; camera work and film editing were far superior.

Keeping the controversy that bombed their box office result aside, The Birth Of A Nation is a spectacular film enriched with the most dynamic presentation of pain and loss dreaming towards the freedom in agony. It is a cinematic brilliance.

Rating: 9.2/10

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Film Review: Marathon Man (1976)

 

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I wonder how much Marathon Man speaks William Goldman‘s novel of the same name but in any case, this suspense/thriller film was a crazy contribution to the American cinema in many ways. I liked the direction of film (John Schlesinger) which was straight to subject, mixing and bringing complexity in characters of Doc (Roy Scheider) the CIA guy and big B of the marathon man (Dustin Hoffman), and Elsa (Marthe Keller) the gf of Babe, the marathon man.

First hour of the film was generally growing concerns to know a possible crime scene at some stage and that was the beauty of film-making, the director exactly was spot on. Again my same concern in every film i.e., character development and that was another home run by the director. First hour of Dustin Hoffman’s central character was much of supporting role till the murder of Doc. And from the murder, Babe was the anchor of the ship.

Another impression was the antagonist, in fact a cruel antagonist. The film was mostly remembered for the role of Dr. Christian Szell, a Nazi war criminal played by Laurence Olivier. He played a marvelous villain and thanks to him that due to that unforgettable torturing scene, viewers had to think twice before paying a visit to the dentist. His repeated dialogue “Is it safe?” itself was cruel and annoying but was to play our nerves in few seconds. This role earned the legend his only Academy nomination for Best ‘Supporting’ Actor.

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The great British actor gave his heart out in displaying a spectacular performance. This is the film when he was in treatment of cancer and the case was so serious that he took this role to leave a large sum of earned money to his family. He had to shoot the scenes every day with heavy doses of painkillers which later affected his memory. He lived another 13 years after a successful operation.

The then 38 y.o. Hoffman lost 13 pounds for the role to shape himself as a graduate student. The bathtub scene of his drowning was real as he himself requested to water him as long as possible to offer a realistic view. An interesting trivia confirmed that the guy who played Dr. Szell’s brother whose car was involved in oil-truck collision in opening-scene was, in real, a survivor of Hindenburg Disaster.

One major difference between the novel and film was unfortunately the conclusion. Sources said that Hoffman was unhappy whereas Goldman used the word ‘shit’ to the interviewer to mark his opinion for the conclusion. In the film, Babe moved Szell on gunpoint to the pump-room and forced him to swallow the diamonds whereas in the novel, Babe lead Szell to the Central Park and fired multiple shots on him.

Marathon Man was a brilliant storyteller which explored Nazi war criminals staging appearances in remaining old years of their lives and handling/mishandling of CIA. It was and is a perfect treat for Hoffman or Olivier fans to watch their magic.

Ratings: 8.2/10

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Film Review: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

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Dreams rot in jealousy and fraction of life freeze with idiocy. Two tamed sisters in one roof with a peculiar understanding live a rough and rigid life. Blanche Hudson is on a permanent wheelchair and her sister Jane Hudson, once a child stage performer under the name Baby Jane, has health and mental issues loyal with liquor.

Baby Jane is now a forgotten name and out of any limelight and she clearly blames Blanche that she ruined her career. Then Jane in fury hit her car on Blanche taking her legs forever. Bounding her life within a room, Jane’s behavior towards Blanche goes worse and mentally tortures her by many ways.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is a psychological thriller directed by Robert Aldrich and based on Henry Farrell‘s novel of the same name and enjoys a cult status among moviegoers. The biggest reason of this movie’s immense popularity was bringing two of the greatest darlings of Hollywood’s golden era in same frame who never shared the screen together – Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

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The legacy behind uniting two wonderful actresses burdens a major fact that the names were, are and will always remain Hollywood’s most notorious feud. In their careers, both ladies carried tremendous hatred for each other for many reasons and the same level of respect was maintained in the making of movie.

There is one intense scene where Jane (Davis) beats Blanche (Crawford) after Blanche forces to drop herself from wheelchair to the ground floor to call the doc and asks for help by reporting Jane’s mental problems. Crawford was concerned that Davis would actually hurt her, and asked for a body double. There was one close up however that a double could not be used for. When this was filmed, Davis did clip Crawford’s head – Crawford screamed, and filming stopped. “I barely touched her” said unapologetic Davis. Others claimed that she left Crawford in need of stitches.

Another scene is a sweet revenge by Crawford over Davis. There is a scene when Jane has to lift Blanche from her bed towards the door. Crawford knew that Davis had suffered back problems in the past, so she drops her weight in the hands of Davis to make her feel worse. When the filming was finished, Davis was screaming in agony, and Crawford strolled back to her dressing room.

That is not enough! Bette Davis was nominated for Best Actress in Oscars for the role but that night in the Academy Awards function, she lost the award to Anne Bancroft for The Miracle Worker. In Anne’s absence, it was none other than Crawford to accept the award on her behalf in front of Davis. Some have claimed, Crawford pushed Davis while walking towards the stage and said “Step aside; I have an award to accept!”

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Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is a smashed pumpkin caused by a running vehicle. A genuine psychoanalysis of hatred among the kins. It is not only Davis-Crawford show, the whole movie is also a story-teller to the generations. Before WHTBJ happened, the careers of both legendary actresses were waning and both in the same weak timeline were in need of a successful movie. Another great aspect of the movie is the description of downfall in fates or shall I say instant karma. How the success has its last goodbye on you and you make unsuccessful attempts of winning the same limelight but in reality you are faking and fading yourself. Bette Davis as Baby Jane displays amazing portrayal of emotions. Her performance in last 30 minutes will break you.

On the other hand, Crawford as Blanche is the perfect patient on wheelchair who understands and translates her desperation in performance. The most critical portion of her superior performance is when she lifts herself from the wheelchair and strives to walk down the ladder to chase the telephone.

WHTBJ was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Actress to Better Davis and winning for Best Costume Design. It indeed is insane movie but worth a name for inclusion in the list when it comes to picking best movies of the sixties. Unforgettable Davis-Crawford show!!

Movie Ratings: 8.2/10

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Movie Review: The Revenant (2015)

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Ok first gold diggings in Grasberg!

Did grizzly bear folked Mr. Hugh DiCaprio???

 A big NO. The real event propels you that Hugh Glass, the leading character of the movie played by Leonardo DiCaprio, was attacked by a female bear.

Now why did I begin my review this way??? Because many of us were actually concerned that we will watch sex-scene between Baloo and Mowgli but the rumor was awful.

Now what makes the movie special? I would rather replace the word ‘special’ with superior. The answer is EVERYTHING!!! Consider DiCaprio/Hardy performances, AGI’s direction, fighting sequences, cinematography, costume designing, bear attack, Frontiers vs Native Americans and many more. The movie is superlative.

The only concern pushing towards minus is its accuracy, the accuracy of Hugh Glass’ legacy, the accuracy of bear attack, the accuracy of Glass’ survival, the accuracy of attack by Native Americans on the expeditions team. There has been a lot of confusion over the legacy of the story. There are not a lot of authentic sources to prove what part of story is true or false. Most specifically the tragic bear attack which was witnessed by no buddy but the victim himself.

Let me reflect and justify my very first line of this review. A huge focus in the movie has been on antagonist John Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy killing Hugh Glass’ son Hawk, which leads him to revenge upon survival attempt. The whole movie grows on his miracle survival from a likely death so that he finishes him. Sadly the core of the story is pure fiction. Forget Fitz killing his son, there is no proof that Hugh Glass had any child. Hawk being of mixed-race is an invalid question or typing error. Glass’ marriage with Native-American woman also has doubts because historic details are still unsure if Hugh Glass really was once captured by Pawnees where he found her, loved and married.

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So if there is no evidence of Hawk being Hugh Glass’ son then with simple understanding there is no revenge on Fitz for killing his son. In fact the legacy is that when Glass received mortal wounds after bear attacks, expedition leader Captain Andrew Henry, played by Domhnall Gleeson in movie, pays two men to stay behind the soon-to-be-dead body of Hugh Glass until his death to give him a Christian burial. To add the spice, movie further shows Hawk volunteering the payee leading to his murder by agitated Fitz.

Some scenes agreeable with the facts are;

  • Hugh Glass was a fur trapper and the bear attack occurred near the banks of the Grand River of South Dakota. He did come across two bear cubs until big momma had her say. The female grizzly bear did break his leg and punctured his throat.
  • Hugh Glass was indeed dropped behind to die by the two men, Fitz and young Jim Bridger, played by Will Poulter due to the harsh fact that he wasn’t breathing his last for several days. Further confirmation is that both guys placed him in a grave, collected his weapons and off they go.

Further diggings confirm that the Native Americans depicted in the movie are the tribe of North Dakota, Arikara who suffered a high rate of fatalities from smallpox epidemics resulting in drastic fall in their population back in 18th century. Years later they moved between South and North of Dakota.

Enough of history!!! Now let me strive to focus on the movie….

What makes Hollywood cinematic industry so special than the others??? No not that Hollywood belongs to the United States. Actually, Hollywood introduces you to people from different diversities and backgrounds that cook and bring their ingredients in their kitchens to display a delicious food and bring a change in taste for the consumers. Now ‘The Revenant’ shows United States of the early 19th century and the story is based on a frontier legend who met his sorry fate after attack launched by Native Americans. And this movie is directed by a guy who has lived all his life in Mexico. Some great minds present great movies in great ways.

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Alejandro González Iñárritu was the first Mexican-born director to have won Best Director in Cannes Films Festival for Babel. Years later he became only third director after John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath 1940, How Green Was My Valley 1941) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives 1949, All About Eve 1950) to win back to back Academy Awards (Birdman 2014, The Revenant 2015), and the first since 1950.

AGI had a splendid vision to present The Revenant and is obvious in his powerful direction. Many scenes are eye-opener like I am repeatedly mentioning attack on the expeditions team by Native Americans and Hugh Glass many phases of survival. But the best among all is the bear attack which will easily shut you up. This scene is built on your nerves. The human abuse is shot in a way that you would feel if the beast is skinning you.

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I must say the VFX team has done magnificent choreography of this attack. It is not only that the viewer has a look at this brutal beating; the whole animal behavior is carefully read. Watch step by step, the way cubs are made feel unprotected, the way momma bear responds and attacks the gunman, the way the beatings begin i.e., stepping over and throwing all mighty weight on Glass, grabbing by mouth and swinging, then throwing on ground and gashing him. This shows the bear-behavior was carefully studied by all the involved makers.

The ‘sympathy’ factor for both human and animal is challenged because the attack scene has two consecutive parts connected in one-shot frame. First the mother bear attacks with understanding that gunman will kill the cubs and leaves later. But then the gunman tries to survive by shooting at mother bear and turning the other face of coin with sympathy where mother bear and gunman becomes villainous in their ways concluding with animal killing while trying to save her cubs. One of the best dramatic scenes I have watched in recent years!!!

One of the most remarkable aspects of the movie is that the whole movie is shot in natural light without the use of CGI which made the life of working crew worse than hell as some parts of shooting in Canada met unexpected fall in temperature to -25C. During the times when Canada met shortage of snow, the whole shooting was in fact shifted to Argentina. This showed life-and-death commitment to present ‘REALISM’ in the picture for which they crossed most of the limits.

The director himself stated in one interview to prefer natural light over CGI this way, “Everybody was frozen, the equipment was breaking; to get the camera from one place to another was a nightmare. If we ended up in green screen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.”

There is no dispute after hard sacrifice in the beauty of making this movie. When the viewers watch this in one frame, the presentation is natural and folking brilliant. Like Birdman, we will again watch some spectacular lengthy one-shot scenes confirming AGI directional class.

Besides deserving award-winning direction, the whole movie is also build on two powerful performances. Tom Hardy’s character of Fitzgerald is foxy and full of rage who opposes Glass’ advice to abandon the vessel and march on foot after Native Americans’ attack. He digs reasons to oppose him and watch for a better moment to kill him. I would say Glass/Fitz are the bestest combination of plus and minus whose characters are made to oppose each other. Despite many inaccuracies in the movie, Hardy’s character gives reasons of bringing balance between the two. Being in limelight of his career, Tom Hardy has another well-reputed performance in his CV. Due to much change in locations and shooting dates, Tom Hardy left a well-fitted Suicide Squad role of Rick Flag character to complete The Revenant without delay.

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Leonardo DiCaprio ended his long-curse in Oscar functions by finally winning an Academy Award for Best Actor for his leading role in the movie. He has many marvelous performances to his acting credits and easily is one of the greatest actors of his generation to have worked with many great directors like Scorsese, Spielberg, Tarantino, Nolan, Eastwood, Mendes, Scott, Allen, Boyle and Cameron which is quite rare in any filmography.

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Keeping his whole acting career under scrutiny, it is easy to pick this role as the toughest of all the roles he has done in the past. The portrayal is highly physical than his dialogues. All judgment is based on his survival mode where he drops himself into icy water, eating raw bison liver (LDC is vegetarian btw) and sleeping in horse carcass. He even wore that bear skin in most of the scenes which was real and brought from a park department in Canada. More to a misery, the skin weighted over 100 pounds. And while attempting all such dares, he maintained his acting stance. Full marks to his performance.

The Revenant is the answer to the finest filmmaking. Decades later, critics will easily pick this movie among the best things happened in cinematic industry. I would like to congrats the whole crew for the perfect and deserving outcome. Also I would like to pay my special thanks to the readers who reached here reading a whole lengthy review till the conclusion. Perhaps some special movies deserve a lot of writing.

Ratings: 9.2/10

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Movie Review: Bridge of Spies (2015)

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Bridge Of Spies is one of the most terrific historical drama I have seen in last few years. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by the Coen brothers, the movie is somehow based on James B.Donovan’s book “Strangers on a Bridge“. James B.Donovan was an American insurance lawyer, who after his experience of Nuremberg Trials in 1945 (also mentioned in the movie) was asked by US Govt to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

Now who was Rudolf Abel? Shortly speaking, Abel was born in UK to Russian émigré parents, which means born to the couples living in political exile. He served Soviet military and fought against Nazis in WWII. After the war, he lived as spy in US where years later he was caught by FBI. The director began his part in the movie from here and I think that was a good decision.

The movie has two phases blended splendidly. One is Donovan/Abel phase and the other is Powers/Pryor phase. The other phase is story of two Americans. Francis Gary Powers was American pilot whose CIA spy plane was shot down by the Soviets in 1960 and Frederic Pryor, a graduate student, was caught by East German police without any charge a year later, who was studying there since 1959.

Spielberg offers sharp visual historic presentation of the famous exchange occurred in Glienicke Bridge. The famous exchange scene has been shot at very same historic site. The dare and gallantry of James B.Donovan is well explained, his wit saved Abel’s hugely expected hanging sentence into a 30-year imprisonment which turned into nationwide massive shock.

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When it comes to tell history, the most important aspect to the viewers and readers is ‘deep intensity’. Spielberg successfully sketches deep realistic intensity hitting your head hard, specially at two different scenes. One is the court scene when the judge declares Abel’s punishment to 30 years instead of hanging, next 5 minutes are the peak of boiling points. The other scene is Donovan witnessing Berlin Wall shooting, facial expressions of Tom Hanks who plays Donovan here are priceless.

Bridge of Spies is committed with 90% historical accuracy with slight alterations i.e., all critical points under the incidents happened and presented in the movie are true. Spielberg’s frequent collaborator John Williams did join to compose movie’s score but left for Thomas Newman due to health issues but Newman justified his musical presence and didn’t make us miss John’s score. Production and costume designs were super-excellent, one simply cannot expect an error in these two departments as Speilberg has been veteran of many many historic movies.

Pace is slow but adaptable. Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel is a showstopper who deservingly won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. Overall, Bridge of Spies is a decent history digging movie from a very important time-zone of the 20th century.

Ratings: 8.8/10

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Movie Review – Whiplash (2014)

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Curtains raise and the show begins with no silly nonsense or boring beginning. Two main characters are remotely defined. One is first-year Jazz student Andrew who is hugely inspired from the legendary Jazz drummer, Buddy Rich, and wants to make his name as a Jazz drummer like him. The other character is Dr. Terence Fletcher, who is very stern and abusive Jazz instructor at Shaffer. In microseconds, he judge the music player and promote/demote him.

As the characters are potentially well described in first 15 minutes, the next is creating a charisma in student-teacher bond. With above intros of the core characters, it is merely understood what to expect but let the bargaining of your choice be settled in the classroom where they share a bravura for your best moments of watching a high-class drama.

Let me assure you, no sweat will dry, no bandage will stop blood, no sound will go mute. You will remain attentive till the end. Your ears will have an orgasm when Andrew will be all set to perform on a big stage in the final act.

When you make a drama movie based on music or a movie based on a life of a musician, the most important element is sheer MADNESS. You have to make the viewer crazy from every inch of presentation specially the character’s relation with the instrument he/she marries. That potential is also watched when lil Buddy and smashing teacher cross all the limits to produce one legitimate and accepted sound of a beat. When the music is played, LOVE is to feel every inch of its beat that drives you to other level. Insanity is must and if you are addicted to music, then ‘Whiplash’ is an absolute marijuana.

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Whiplash is a hardcore musical drama written and directed by 30-year-old Damien Chazelle. Movie is inspired from director’s real life experience. Damien is the real-life Andrew who struggled to make it as a Jazz drummer in high school at Princeton High School.

The director gives full justice with Jazz music and remembers legendary Buddy Rich on a higher note. It is very sophomore effort of Damien Chazelle to revitalize the genre of drama and give music a new meaning to life with psychological intensity. It will hit you hard specially those who made music their path but failed or gave up. 

Why Whiplash has marvelous creation of intensity? The major reason is the burning heart and boiled rage of filmmaker towards its being a rel-life story-line which inspires him to present originality and give freshness of characters as part of his life. 

Miles Teller and J.K.Simmons have played the characters Andrew Neiman and Dr. Terence Fletcher respectively. I must admit both have given equal respect to the roles they played and have done a terrific job. I am trying to understand why Miles Teller wasn’t nominated for ‘Best Actor’ in recently concluded Academy Awards. This actor at least deserved the nomination. 

The other side of coin, J.K.Simmons, has presented or shall I say augmented a supreme skill of acting. I doubt if he even was acting or what? How can anyone be so natural? His presentation of pedagogy is a silent whisper. He looks devil but teaches gospel. Superb body language and remarkable portraying of a highly demanding music teacher who will offend you to any level but make you a perfect music player. I will not rate him less than 9.8/10 if I am asked to judge his acting on rating scale. 

You are an ass if you reject this masterpiece. No doubt, one of best pictures of 2014. 

Ratings: 8.7/10

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