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June 10, 2017

Movie: Django Unchained (2012)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:33 pm

imageI realize why so many men are Quentin Tarantino fans. This man has a style, pizzaz, and a way of making the movies stand out.

 

Take Kill Bill, one of his earlier films. The movie may be just totally commercial (though stylish) but the dialogs were great. Especially where Bill talks to his ex wife about superheroes and how Superman is very different from all other superheroes. Nice.

 

This movie is audacious in its breadth. Look at the very opening scene where Dr. King Schultz (played with great skill by Christopher Waltz, who played the Nazi general in another of Quentin’s memorable works, The Inglorious Bastards and who seems to have become one of the repeat favourites of  Quentin) meet the slaves being brought along a forest and enquires about Django. Nice. How he deals with the Speck brothers is amazing. He even pays for Django, making him technically a free man.

 

Given that it is the slave trading South, the way he shocks people by treating Django (Jamie Foxx) is amazing. Scene after scene we find Django being paraded as an equal nonchalantly by Dr Schulz. The bewilderment of the people is amazing. You slowly learn that Dr Schulz is no dentist but is in fact a bounty hunter. He teaches Django the tricks of his trade.

 

He learns that Django was separated from his wife who was sold as a slave in another plantation and that they both speak German, his mother tongue. He takes Django under his wing, teaching him the tricks of the trade.

 

The scene is the saloon where, during segregated days, Schulz walking calmly with Django to a saloon and ordering a drink is priceless. Then he simply shoots the sheriff who comes to enquire, and proves that he is within his rights to do so – the reason is brilliant and by this time, you are hooked helplessly into the movie like you are in most Quentin movies.

 

What is the name of the wife? Broomhilda. No, I am not kidding, another example of the nerd humour that Quentin spontaneously displays in his movies.

 

Then there is a great scene where three evil brothers attempt to whip a slave girl for breaking eggs and Django takes care of them all. Again Schulz provides evidence to prove that what they did was legal. Incensed the people don Ku Klux type of masks (with hilarious dialogs) and go to kill these two strangers who appear to be camped outside town on their carriage with disastrous results.

 

Then starts the most brilliant sequence. He takes Django to the slave plantation whose owner is the evil Calvin Candie (another Quentin favourite, Leonardo DeCaprio) and the brilliant black assistant Steve (an amazingly memorable and different role by Samuel L Jackson).

 

Steve is suspicious of the nigger who behaves like a white man and blows their cover to Calvin. Calvin raises the price and when Schulz pays up, he insists that he shake hands or else the whole deal is off. Amazing turns and you are shocked to see how a big character like Leonardo dies.

 

The story goes into a typical Quentin crescendo and we lose a few characters we love and some that we loathe. I do not want to give up the ending. It is definitely worth seeing. A beautiful movie!

I will give it a 8/10

– – Krishna

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May 28, 2015

Movie : Avengers – The Age of Ultron (2015)


imageThe first Avengers that came out in 2012 was very good. As a sequel, this thing is confusing and, frankly, a letdown. They have tried too hard and it kind of leaves you over saturated with the plot, dialogs, and even special effects.

The trailers are phenomenal and Ultron in the trailers comes out awesome. I could not wait to see the movie, especially when rating websites gave it really high rating. Well, I do not seem to see what they see, but I came away very disappointed.

The Ultron story is based on the comic book story that came out as a series long ago, They have made changes in this movie because in the comic book for example, Ultron takes over Iron Man’s suit with him still inside it and the movie is different.

The story is simple. Ultron is an experiment by a Central European scientist (a fictitious country called Sokovia) named Strucker. He also has other mutant creations like the brother and sister duo of Quicksilver (who can move faster than the eye can see) and Scarlet Witch who can manipulate minds, even those of superheroes.

The usual assortment of Avengers goes to stop him and discovers Ultron’s code and Iron Man (Stark) wants to see how to control it and use it for good. But Ultron, being sentient, defeats Stark’s  Artificial Intelligence program JARVIS and takes over Iron Man’s whole lab. And makes copies of itself using machine parts. Very cool visual.

They fight to conquer it but it seems to be out of control, spreading to the Internet and being able to replicate at will all over the place.

Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans and others are there, as are the additions Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch for instance. Samuel L Jackson also makes an appearance in his usual role of Nick Fury. But the magic is missing. Read on.

And then it gets weirder. First of all, even this story is weird. The gadgetry goes overboard first. All over the place they have halographic screens that they move across thin air like the previous movies. Second, to show that JARVIS is defeated, they show Ultron as a blue network in air, JARVIS as the orange network and the blue “eats” orange. I know the director has to do something so that the audience knows what is going on, but this comes across as kind of tacky.

The dialogs are insipid. Their fighting, running, and then, incredibly having a quarrel among themselves and figuring out how idyllic life in a small town (Hawkeye’s private life) can be.

The human angle, right? But does not come across as natural. Is it me or does even Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow) comes across as tired or jaded?

Also you know how the Iron Man in the original movie kicked ass and just dominated the superhero club? How he had the best lines to himself? Here he comes and goes, as listlessly as the others have become.

And when Ultron, with all that invincible power decides that he “want to get into a human body” you wonder ‘Why? What is in it for you?’. No proper explanation. How can you conquer him? Give a human body to JARVIS of course!

Oh brother! All in all a confusing jumble and you come out of it with your head spinning, slightly bored at times, and with a great feeling of let down.

The visuals are good, as always. The humour is there in places, and they all try to wisecrack in the midst of disaster, but the spark that we found in the first movie seems to be surely missing in this one.

I will say a  4/10

– – Krishna

March 21, 2015

Movie: Kingsman The Secret Service (2014)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 7:40 pm

imageA great entertainer, and a different movie from everything else that has come. I can only describe it as British style mixed with half James Bond and half Mission Impossible. The James bond stuff comes in the comical angle where the characters do not seem to take themselves very seriously at all, right in the midst of doing superhuman feats. But there is no chasing of skirts in this movie, it is all prim and proper, and very “Shall we do it the right way, then, chaps?” kind of stuff. I know that the British also love double entendre moments, like in the Carry On Series but this one is a more serious British face that the story shows. Of course, you already know that this is also an adaptation from a comic book story, right?

The first surprise is Colin Firth. He has taken a wildly different role from anything else that he has done and what happens to him is shocking in its suddenness. Very interesting.

The second surprise is Samuel L Jackson. What an interesting character! Thoroughly evil with a lisp to boot. Does a wonderful job of the character he has been given and is fully entertaining. Just wonderful to watch, right until the end.

The very improbable storyline exists, a la James Bond. Moving satellites to align with people, mass hypnosis of the entire population of earth to do the evil man’s bidding (no parochial ambition here; like all of the villains of James Bond films – or like Dr Evil, if you want another example – the plan is always global). At every moment, like a Hollywood cartoon adaptation, you see everything in graphics in front of the computer (the evil man’s and also the good Kingsman team which has infiltrated the computer thanks to our young hero) without having to worry about bandwidth, reach or even camera angles of all those remote cameras. But such is the stuff of the exaggerated lore of Kingsmen.

Story? Well. Harry is part of Kingsman secret team and when the team is interrogating a terrorist they caught, he looks up, revealing a grenade in his mouth. Harry’s life is saved by another partner Lee, who covers the terrorist with his body, sacrificing himself. Harry gives Lee’s wife the sad news when he returns to England, and also gives his phone number to her asking her to call if she needs any help. He offers her Lee’s Medal of Valour, which she bitterly rejects. He gives it in the hands of the young son Gary aka “Eggsy”.

The son of Lee, Gary grows up as a bitter, wayward boy and isnearly turning into a petty criminal. His mom has a new boyfriend who is physically abusive.

In the meanwhile in a chalet in Argentina, a group of mafia like thugs have a prisoner, the scientist Professor James Arnold. An interesting tidbit is that the actor playing this scientist, a bit role here, is Mark Hamill, the same man who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars series!  These thugs are vanquished by a single Kingsman Lancelot (yeah?), who nurses a martini while doing it – stylish or what? At the end, there is another knock at the door. Lancelot notices that it is a girl and opens the door only to be sliced in half. (Don’t ask. Okay I will tell you. The girl has a metal leg like the Olympian running prosthetics but it can turn into deadly sharp knives). The scientist is “escorted” under force by her employer, the tech millionaire Richmond Valentine, who cannot stand to see any violence or blood and talks with a charming lisp. (Yes, our own Samuel L Jackson in a delightful role).

When Eggsy gets into trouble with the police (after a brilliant car speeding scene reminding one of Mission Impossible) he calls the number in the back of the medal and utters the catch phrase and miraculously released from custody right away. Harry meets him and also takes care of a number of thugs with just his umbrella in another delightful scene.

When home life turns ugly thanks to his mom’s new boyfriend, Eggy approaches Harry and asks to be a candidate for Kingsman. He competes with a team and loses narrowly to a girl and fails to make the cut. He loses because he refuses to shoot the puppy he had been given and trained for months whereas the girl did that.

When Harry is lost – I will not give the details; but it involves Harry stumbling into the world domination/ annihilation plan of Valentine and therefore having to pay the ultimate prize – Eggsy realizes that it is now all up to him to stop Valentine.

The rest of the movie follows predictable but hugely enjoyable plot, where ultimately the terror network is vanquished, but not before a satellite of the evil empire is disabled, and the evil empire reacts by activating Plan B, which is to take over one of NASA’s own satellite as a replacement and move on with the plan for world chaos, with a huge timer ticking conveniently to show how many minutes are left for that to happen.

Oh, and Michael Caine also appears in a brief role.

Great movie, even if in a very comic book style. Let us say a 7/10

– – Krishna

October 2, 2014

Movie: Oldboy (2013)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:53 pm

imagesInspired by the Korean cult classic, this movie is different. It starts off very badly like a C grade movie. They want to depict Josh Doucette (Josh Brolin) as a devil may care playboy, hard smoking, hard drinking, skirt chasing, wife cheating bad man. Then one day, he gets kidnapped and wakes up in a prison cell with a creepy porter’s picture on the wall.

And the movie gets a lot more interesting after that. In fact initially, even the acting by Josh sucks and the dialogs suck more. Finally, after he wakes up, he starts seeing TV (and we with him, realize that many years have passed). He decides to quit smoking and bulk up. The television is his only mode of information. In it he sees everything – politics, cartoons,  discussions, his daughter Mia growing  up, his wife dying in a home invasion gone wrong; he watches Mia participate in competitions and win prizes and cries copiously. He gets food shoved through a hole in the door and his supplies given but never meets anyone. He is watched regularly through videos and when he turns unruly in the beginning, is gassed unconscious and subject to grooming against his will. He despairs of ever leaving and thinks he is going to die in that cell. So he starts pouring his heart out to his daughter Mia in a stack of letters that grow into a pile.

 

Then you get a shock. The man who is watching him is our own Samuel L Jackson. With a ridiculous looking blond Mohawk but really it is he! He is Chaney a gangster. But why is he holding Josh prisoner? What did Josh do to him? At this point there is no clue.

 

The movie really takes off now and you are dying of curiosity to find out who did this to him and why. He finally figures out a way to escape and even makes his escape through the roof but is captured and brought back. No punishment, nothing. Back in the room, with the escape avenue closed, and with no human contact except the TV again. He struggles to keep his sanity.

 

When twenty years is past, he is suddenly freed. As mysteriously as he was taken, he is let out. He is gassed and when he comes to, he finds himself on the streets, a free man. He vows to find who held him prisoner, and decides to find out. He is obsessed with finding out who did this to him. He is left with the stack of letters he wrote to Mia, and also a cell phone with his daughter’s picture and, ominously, a count down. He is desperate to find her.

 

He meets Marie (Elizabeth Olsen) who tries to help him. By sheer perseverance and some interesting detective work involving Chinese food, he manages to track down Chaney and tortures him, only to find that Chaney is a thug for hire and has a lot of people held prisoner in the facility where he was, for money. Before he can learn the identity of kidnapper, he is overwhelmed by Chaney’s bodyguards who manage to enter and gets badly beaten up and loses consciousness. He is mysteriously restored back to the place where he stays when he comes to.

 

Chaney finds him and now kidnaps both him and Marie, and they try to rape her and torture him when a phone call comes from someone named Adrian. Adrian asks that Chaney let them go and pays a ton of money to Chaney. You wonder why and the puzzle deepens.

How it all unravels and how you find out why he was kept a prisoner and why he was released is the rest of the story. A brilliant twist at the end makes you gasp. It is very unexpected.

 

There are a few things I found in the movie that I did not like at all. First, the acting, especially in the beginning, sucks. The first few scenes even feel amateurish. It gets better and better if you have the patience to continue watching.  Second, the whole plot is explained away fairly satisfactorily at the end, and you can buy that line of argument as logical. Not realistic, mind you, but at least plausible, given this is a Hollywood movie. How it ends is also very good. But it is all told suddenly at the end. No clues from the beginning, nothing to indicate what it could even be, but suddenly everything is sprung on you.

There are even childish scenes such as “If you can figure out why I did this to you within seven (was it?) days, I will pay you a fortune and kill myself in front of you” offer to him by the man responsible for it all. What?

 

But for all that, a very entertaining movie, and a very satisfying watch at the end.

 

I will award it a 7/10

 

  • – Krishna

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