A Round-Up Of My TV Show Recommendations


A Round-Up Of My TV Show Recommendations

Blandings2

So the newest season of Game of thrones has started off as expected – John Snow has been brought back to life which was pretty much anticipated and eagerly awaited for, the only question being how he would he resurrected from the dead. Episode 2 has revealed that his spirit had escaped into his direwolf Snow as his body was being stabbed multiple times and from there it returned back to his human body when the Red Woman, Melisandre the sorceress of the Light-cult, worked her magic on his wounds. The other character, the only other character we sympathize with and hope to see survive the Game Of Thrones, Daenerys is well on her way to acquiring her promised bridal gift- the entire dothraki nation to rally behind her cause. Just to recall, Khal Drogo, he who was prophesied to be the father of the stallion which rules the world and hence always fucked daenerys from behind (like a stallion?), had promised the use of the dothraki hordes against the westeros as a marriage gift to daenerys to regain her throne, but as he unfortunately dropped off dead and daenerys couldn’t hold on to what was left of the khals army she had to go and recruit eunuch warriors and mercenaries who all proved inadequate to the upcoming campaign against the might of the seven kingdoms across the dothraki sea to finally put a Targaryen on the throne.

Another interesting show I regularly watch, the latest season (season 3) of Penny Dreadful has got off to a kick-ass beginning as well. Count Dracula, the main villain is back on the show after disappearing for most of last season leaving the field open to minor witches and monsters and he has finally hooked up with Renfield, his future nemesis Dr. Seward’s confidential secretary. And Adam, the Frankenstein’s monster at last lives up to his name by twisting off the head of a ten year old child before walking back to england all the way from the arctic where he was marooned on a sunken ship bound in the ice field, at the end of last season. And the protagonist of the show Miss. Ives played by the delectable Eva Green, has at last got out of the stupor of a broken heart and is out and about, ready to face up all the evils of the night which haunt 1880’s London, most of whom she has had sex with in the previous two seasons. All in all the show promises to send more than a few heartbeats racing (and i don’t mean just in the horror sense) this season as well.

pennydreadful

I have also finished watching the entire season 1 of the latest BBC adaptation of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I have to admit that I cant wait too long for season 2 to start. The TV show has added a new interpretation to the traditional story by making sure that although played by the same character, Robert Jekyll’s alter ego Hyde is shown in a delightful new avatar of understated villainy instead of the usual over the top villainous antics we are used to seeing in previous adaptations. The show again has ended in a flaming season finale and we cant wait long enough to see Robert Jekyll get up and show his other side in season 2.

JekyllHyde

Dickensian

Dickensian season 1 has ended in BBC one, leaving a half hour void in my night time TV schedule. For those not familiar with the series it is an adaptation of all the Charles dickens novels in an amalgamation where all the various characters interact with one another in un-looked for ways. We are shown the beginnings of Miss. Havisham’s hatred for men with the love affair which caused it ( from Great Expectations) along with the death of Jacob Marley and the coming into fortune of his sole partner Ebenezer Scrooge ( from A Christmas Carol) and Fagin and gang, the likes of the Artful Dodger, Bill Sikes and Nancy (of Oliver Twist) who are suspected of killing Marley on behalf of Scrooge – all in all an interesting mish mash of characters and situations all intertwined together.

So to fill up my half an hour nostalgia tv show slot I have recently started binge-watching Blanding’s, the show based on the P.G. Wodehouse novels of the same name. The antics of the Earl of Emsworth and his price pig the Empress of Blandings have been hilariously brought alive on TV for the first time. Throw in Aunt Connie, Emsworth’s sister and Freddie Threepwood his son and an assortment of wodehousian favorite characters like Sir Roderick Glossop, who keep dropping in and out of the show, you have a crackerjack of a comedy masterpiece crammed inside half an hour. Highly recommended for a last show before bed night time slot to leave you with a pleasant smile on your face as you sleep.

death-comes-to-pemberley

The last show i want to talk about is the BBC adaptation of the sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice novel -Death Comes To Pemberley. The book which was a gripping whodunit murder mystery solved by Elizabeth Bennet of the Pride book had me salivating at the opportunity of watching a TV adaptation. And it didnt disappoint as it stuck pretty much to the template of the book. But if there was one thing which soured my pleasure of the TV adaptation it was the casting. Every character was aptly cast except for the lead one, the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. If you remember reading Pride and Prejudice you would remember that Miss Elizabeth Bennet was a saucy little beauty who made not only the proud Mr.Darcy fall madly in love, but also carries on a brief fling with the much experienced ( in a ladies way) man about town – George Wickham the eventual villain of the novel. But the tv show has erred erroneously in casting an ugly old hag has elizabeth bennet. Granted its been a few years since her wedding and she is now the mother of a five year old child, but i cant help thinking that elizabeth would still be a milf oozing sexuality and not such an ugly old has been especially after remembering Keira Knightley in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. God only knows what the makers were thinking when they cast the characters. Maybe they were looking to make it on a low budget and this waas all they could afford to hire? I leave it to you dear readers.

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Film Review – Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice -3D


Film Review – Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice -3D

batman vs superman

With great expectations come great disappointments…i dunno who said that and I am guessing its not Tobey Maguire from the first spider-man movie but it aptly fits the film I am going to be reviewing this week. Batman Vs Superman – Dawn of Justice has been in the works for almost a couple of years and has aroused great expectations from all film aficionado’s. And not only because of the interesting premise- the clash between two do-gooders, two superheros, but also because of the interesting cast choice- Ben Affleck as the batman. Now there were a lot of detractors who prophesied that casting an over the hill actor like Affleck in a role requiring a macho acting star was going to have a disappointing end and they have been proved right. Ben affleck does indeed look completely out of place as the suave Bruce Wayne but considering the storyline features a washed out version of batman who has been fighting crime- unsuccessful at that- for twenty years, Ben Affleck with his negligible screen presence fits the role of an afterthought superhero. Unfortunately he gets more screen time than the more popular superman character played by henry cavil. Which contributes a lot to the overall disappointment of the film.

The storyline is simple – batman feels superman is reckless and is not worried about collateral damage to the hundreds of civilians (dead civilians) who get caught in between when superman is fighting super-villains. On the other side of the equation superman is worried that batman is a lone vigilante who doesn’t care about law or justice and simply hunts down criminals as a vendetta. So superman wants to bring batman to justice while batman simply wants to kill off superman to remove any alien threat to the planet. And just when you think the movie gets interesting and the two heroes face off for a showdown the plot  borrows from countless Indian movies which utilize the “mother sentiment” to have a dramatic turning point.

In this instance it is a dying superman who is critically weakened by batman’s kryptonite bullets shouting his mother’s name- Martha, which coincidentally is also batman’s dead mothers name, which means ultimately that batman doesn’t kill him but embraces him as a brother. At least they stopped with that. Any more clichéd and they could have released it as a straight Tamil movie. Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane who is a reporter discovers that the whole showdown was orchestrated by Jesse Eisenberg who plays a young Lex Luthor and the two superheros join hands to find Luther who has by now found himself a convenient super-beast made from alien DNA. The climax involves a motley group of beaten down metahumans like superman and the wonder woman joined by a lone normal human batman in battling the  creature. Ultimately superman makes the supreme sacrifice of killing the creature with a kryptonian weapon and in the process killing himself off.

Director Zack Snyder who made the eminently watchable 300 has badly erred in making the farce of a superhero movie which cannot hold the audience’s interest beyond the first few minutes. An interesting plot goes haywire in execution .

Verdict- watch for the TV premiere.

 

Star Wars- The Force Awakens (2015) – Film Review.


Star Wars- The Force Awakens (2015) – Film Review

Director:  J.J. Abrams   Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford.

star-wars-the-force-awakens-quad-poster

The new Star Wars movie, the J.J.Abrams directed latest installment of the Star Wars franchise raised a lot of new hopes but ultimately failed to measure up to standards. Leastwise to my standards. I believe that the excessive hype pre-release raised up expectation to such a fever pitch that the resultant movie on screen turned out to be an anti-climatic finish. Anyway the duty of a good reviewer is take the good with the bad and thankfully in this instance its not all bad, but good in patches. The best scene of this movie comes a half an hour after the movie begins when Harrison Ford playing Han Solo enters with Chewbacca inside his old Correlian freighter The Millenium Falcon. Till then the movie is all yawn worthy and suddenly with Han Solo’s entry the screenplay picks up or it seems so due to Harrison Fords imposing screen presence. And that shows up the biggest Achilles heel of this movie- casting disaster. Casting relatively unknown actors in important starring roles is a welcome step, but only if they have the acting chops to pull it off. In this case they dont. I am not sure why with such a big budget film they too the risk of it all imploding spectacularly with such a casting disaster and I can only think of two reasons- either there was a pressure on the producers to be politically correct by casting an african american and a woman as the main protagonists in complete antithesis of the usual hollywood white anglosaxon male domination or they believed that with the power of the star wars franchise actors didnt matter and anybody, any  robot faced cipher could just coast along in a crucial part and people would still be cheering in the theatres with the memories of the original trilogies making them view everything in a nostalgic haze.

Anyway to get back to the story, the film opens with the exact same scene as the original star wars- an important secret, a secret vital to the success of the rebel alliance, is hidden inside a droid named BB-8 – a cute adaptation from the hit movie Wall-E (in tribute?) and the droid’s owner is captured by the First Order, the evil successor of the old Sith Empire. The droid is rescued by a spare parts scavenger called Rey who then teams up with a reformed storm trooper called Fen, a character who channels his inner Chris Rock (and fails pathetically to) in an effort to play the comic side kick to Rey’s warrior woman. Together they end up escaping in an old abandoned spaceship which turns out to be the iconic Millenium Falcon and in search of which Han solo soon turns up. From then on its a Harrison Ford show as he takes over the search for the missing Luke Skywalker the last of the Jedi who alone can defeat the evil First Order and its dark side adherents. The film ends on a poignant note, with Han Solo’s death at his son Ben Solo’s hand, for Ben solo is the new Sith apprentice to the Chairman of the First Order. And Luke Skywalker is discovered standing amidst the ruins of the deserted Jedi temple as the credits roll promising more films to come in the future.

Director Abrams does a fair job by not going overboard with special effects but keeping the CGI scenes at the same level of technicality as the original trilogy which somehow makes it all believable. And by giving the best lines of the movie to the old pair of Han Solo and Princess Leia he shows he knows the pulse of the audience and satisfies the fan boys. Now if only he had stuck his foot down with the studio and the casting director what seems to be a fair movie would have become a good movie. A good storyline, excellent special effects let down by bad acting is what we feel as we the movie ends.

Our verdict- just passable and worth a single watch. Or better wait for the DVD.

Crimson Peak- Film Review


 Crimson Peak

[Directed by : Guillermo del Toro  Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain ]

crimson-peak

Guillermo Del Toro along with Alfonso Cuaron and Roberto Rodriguez remains my favorite directors far more than crowd pleaser like say a Christopher Nolan or a Steven Spielberg or even a Quentin Tarantino. I have made my view clear, more times than I can count on this blog, that I dislike too clever by half film making like Nolan does and just don’t get the point of trying the audiences patience in the name of re-inventing genres. If you want to reinvent genres there is no better example than and you can quote me on this, the new sherlock Holmes series directed by Guy Ritchie. For a guy who made something like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to go onto make Sherlock Holmes is the definitive example of reinvention. Anyway tongue-in-cheek aside, Del Toro’s latest Gothic thriller Crimson Peak sticks to all the tropes of a successful goth mystery and makes a eminently watchable movie. There are no surprises here, no multiple climaxes with multiple viewpoints,no characters spoofing off dark, angst-ridden dialogues, in fact there is nothing that is out of place in a clichéd goth movie and yet, and yet, the movie hits the sweet spot of a perfect goth-genre thriller. Much of the credit for this should go to the perfect casting – especially the hero, Tom Hiddleston, the actor last seen smiling sinisterly as Thor’s brother Loki in the mindless froth that was Thor-2, a series killer of a movie if ever there was one. What a fine character actor like Tom Hiddleston was doing in such a movie like Thor makes the mind baffle, but maybe being in such a froth helps refine the acting chops I guess. In the way of, if I can be Loki for a couple of films, then the paycheck means I can act to my hearts content in better and more meaningful movies for the rest of my life.

Anyway to get back to the movie, crimson peak starts off as a conventional ghost film but set in 1887.  A young girl Edith Cushing, played later on by the fragile looking Mia Wasikowska, goes to her mothers funeral and later that night she gets a visit from the just buried mother. The revenant warns her to beware of crimson peak but does not offer any further detailed explanations before disappearing. Cue to twenty years or so later and the little girl is now all grown up and is a serious aspiring writer. On one of her numerous attempts to get the manuscript of, get this, ghost stories she has written published, she runs into an impoverished aristocrat from England, Sir Thomas Sharpe, who is on a funding raising tour of new york to finance his recent invention of an automatic clay mining engine. Naturally he charms the skirts of the heroine who despite the stern warnings of her father proceeds to fall head over heels in love with the dark brooding hero played by Tom Hiddleston who makes his noble poverty despite his baronetcy his major attracting point besides dancing the waltz like a pro. The fly in the ointment- the heroines father is soon dispatched off by a mysterious hand and the couple now united in matrimony fly back to the ancestral seat of the baronet, called naturally, wait for it, Crimson Peak.

Thrown in an old creaking mansion half exposed to the elements, a senile half crazy retainer of the family who seems to know a lot of buried secrets, an always snowing weather which sets the scene for premeditated crime and a brooding spinster sister of the hero, played with panache by Jessica Chastain, who show signs of too much possessiveness, read, psycho-level possessiveness and you have the perfect atmosphere for a kick ass gothic noir thriller. Not to mention, ghost after ghost after ghost who keep appearing to the heroine alone begging her to flee the mansion before she gets chopped up like them and you have the right build up to the climax. The last half is when it all comes together when the heroine investigates and finds out the gore filled past of her husband and the basement filled with the dead bodies of his previous wives. As she is about to become the latest occupant of the basement she is saved by her longtime beau and once rejected suitor who has expressly traveled down from America to expose the sisterinlaw as the murderess of her father and who in turn almost becomes the latest casualty.  The end is a bloody girl on girl action when the heroine Edith faces off against her sister in law Lucille Sharpe, for the right to sleep with her husband who happens, just happens, to come in the middle of the two ladies and gets conveniently killed.

Now it woudnt be far for me to give any more spoilers away and I suggest you watch the movie when and if it releases in india or get your hands on a DVD if you happen to visit Ritchie Street, like I did. Happy watching.

 

Hindi Film “Tamasha” – A Review


[Movie Review – Tamasha starring Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Dir- Imtiaz Ali]

Tamasha

Why do we travel?  Seriously why? Do we travel just to see more of the world? Or do we travel to find out more about ourselves? I would say the second was more true for me. Atleast on the evidence of my most recent trip abroad. I am sure everyone of us knows first hand that every single trip is different- every time we leave the comforts of our home to go off and slum somewhere  we are challenging ourselves to forsake all the comforts we are used to. But some trips do more than that, they push you to the limit, they redefine what challenging is to your own mind, take you to such extremes that you never thought existed and demand that you give more than you ever thought possible. Such trips re-define yourself to your own eyes. A trip like that shows you what you can be if you weren’t what you are right now.

There i was in the middle of the Indian ocean , well at least on a tiny part of it, wearing a mask and snorkel and peering about underwater starring at rocks and tiny little fish darting around and all i could think of right then was why the hell am i spending all this time with these rocks, while i could be comfortably spending some time with a vodka on the rocks. That was a moment of revelation for me and all the way back on the boat to the shore i was promising myself that never again would i go for a vacation which involves any action, except to lie on a beach somewhere with a drink in my hand- that is my kinda vacation. Its these epiphanies which travel brings out in us and holds a mirror to our true selves like nothing else does and the least  we can do is to at least  hold on to these memories even if we dont do anything else with them in our lives.  But sometimes some people do- they take these lessons and make them work in their lives. They re-invent themselves and start a new life post the trip.

Like in the movie Tamasha starring ranbir kapoor and deepika padukone which i  started out to actually review here on the blog before i got sidetracked into  my own reminiscences. There is a ten minute sequence at the start of the movie where the hero and heroine – strangers to each other who meet by accident  at a corsican resort and become acquaintances- decide to live out their fantasies for the ten days they stay there on vacation and instead of living their own true lives they take on the persona’s of their favorite film stars.

The rest of the movie is about showing the boringly routine real life of these two characters- especially ranbir kapoor who is trapped in an everyday corporate job with an overbearing evil boss and an extraordinarily demanding father who insists on responsibility before anything else. Crushed under the weight of his mundane existence he runs into the heroine again after a gap of a few years and she tells him that his everyday life is a mask while his real self was the one she met on vacation.  That flips him and he turns violent with her- for of course, if you have spent years in denial and self repression, to be shown the truth of it all is maddening to say the least and acceptance is very very hard and almost impossible to get over the self delusion.

The rest of the movie is about how the hero casts aside the mantle of being responsible and goes back to his real carefree self and in the process rekindling the romance with the heroine which ends in the alls well that ends well genre favored of our directors. But although the ending is as cliched as they come, the middle half of the movie where ranbir kapoor shows all the angst of a sensitive soul crushed under family and societal responsibilities is as outstanding a piece of cinema as i have watched all year long.  Tamasha gives a lot of lessons in a jolly tamasha way. Its  worth a watch and a re-watch. Highly recommended.

MatterTv Film Review- Evannuku Thannilla Condom


 இவனுக்கு தன்னியில கண்டம்…..திரை விமர்சனம்

download

எப்போதும் விமர்சனம் எழுதியே பழக்கபட்ட எனக்கு இம்முறை ஒரு ஆடியோ விமர்சனம் விமர்சனம் பண்ணலாம்னு தோனிச்சு. அதான் ஒரு புது முயற்சியாக இருக்கட்டுமேன்னு இம்முறை இந்த படத்த என் சொந்த குரல்ல (கரகரப்புக்கு மன்னிக்கவும் –தொண்டை கட்டிக்குச்சு) ஒரு ஆடியோ விமர்சனம் செஞ்சுருக்கேன். கேட்டு ரசியுங்கள். அப்படியே உங்க பொன்னான கருத்துக்களயும் சொல்லுங்க.

இதை சவுண்ட்களெட்(Sound-cloud)‘ள்ள கேட்க்க – கிளிக் செய்யவும்:

https://soundcloud.com/ganesh-puttu/bztcd95czhbj

Katthi Vs Tropic Thunder…Which Is The Real Spoof On The Audience?


Katthi Vs Tropic Thunder…Which Is The Real Spoof On The Audience?

Kathi

So last weekend I spent watching two movies back to back- the Tamil film kathhi starring actor Vijay and the English film Tropic Thunder starring Ben stiller. The reason I watched them one after the other immediately is because they both run on a single topic- the second one being a spoof on the first. And the theme if you haven’t guessed it by now is “action stars Oscar aspirations”. Now I know that’s a mouthful but nevertheless that’s the theme of this post. Now we all know – in fact its never been a secret – that be it Hollywood, Bollywood or Kollywood- some big stars – action stars especially often have unfulfilled fantasies of turning thespians and giving in the performance of their lives- acting chops wise- to earn the adulation of carping critics and be recognized winners of the best actor awards rather than the most popular actor awards. This fever (or madness) more or less affects almost all big stars at one time or the other in their career- be it Schwarzenegger with his Kindergarten Cop, Stallone with any of his non-Rocky movies, Statham with his non-Transporter movies and even Jackie Chan with the Jaden smith starring Karate Kid.

What these stars seem not to realize is that the audiences come to watch their films precisely because they have a well defined sensibility of giving what the audience wants and not to watch pure acting or method acting or the ten hankies were drenched with tears kinda acting. And when the star becomes too trippy for his own good and forgets the audience and decides to satisfy only his critics he ends up doing a disaster movie of epic proportions which falls flat between two stools satisfying neither – the audience nor the critics. After all if the star had movable facial muscles he wouldn’t be doing slam-bang action movies right from the start of his career would he? Audiences know the stars limits – their acting talents or lack thereof and still turn up to watch their movies for other things and so it’s quite tragic when the stars themselves don’t know their limitations or forget it in their ego-filled trips and choose awards over their audiences.

tropic thunder

This aspect of the ego-trips stars take to end up in disaster is showcased in one of the greatest spoof-movies Hollywood made- Tropic Thunder where Ben Stiller spoofs this Oscar mania in a movie-within- a movie called “Simple Jack” wherein he tries to show off his acting abilities to get that elusive Oscar award which is nevertheless denied to him for being , wait for it, too realistic a portrayal of retard…and as Robert Downey Jr advises him in a pivotal scene in the movie- never go full retard man, they don’t like it-  which advice is apt for all these action stars- never go full actor man- they don’t like it. This extreme limits to which actors go to be recognized by critics and peers as a, well an “actor” in inverted caps is what lifts Tropic Thunder from your average spoof movie into far higher realms. Every time you watch the film you get to see layers and layers peeled off the hides of action stars who want “respectablity”. The movie ends very poignantly with a message- “know yourself man, know who you are and stay true to yourself”. Which advice is eminently applicable to actor vijay and director murugadoss and the entire katthi team.

When you go to watch a vijay movie you have certain expectations- the bare basic expectation of being entertained for the next two hours being the most primary one. But with Katthi the actor or maybe the director has forgotten this basic commandment and moved into award territory. They have taken a worthwhile issue and using a faulty screenplay which sags and drags for a large part of the movie and a wholly cinematic ending involving the hero fighting 50 bad guys etc have managed to shake the audience faith in the vijay “genre” formula. I am not saying that vijay shoudnt act in such films- after all as an individual its his right to decide the movies he is gonna make but as a member of the pay for tickets and watch in theatre public, I for one will hesitate to watch a vijay movie in the future without reading all the reviews- because now I know that it may or not be a typical vijay movie and can even be a preachy- social issues-artsy movie starring vijay as one of the characters.

This dimnishing of the stars “star valsue” for want of a better term is what saddens me as a vijay fan and and as a fan of potboiler mass masala movies. If even vijay can compromise for the critics sake what hope is there for the average movie fan like me who expects and demands a non-intellectual “no-issues only entertainment” movie with the mandatory 3 duets and 4 fights screenplay? Or maybe I should just stick to watching Telugu movies henceforth- at least Mahesh Babu and Pawan Kalyan will never betray their fans like this. Or wait for the next Ben Stiller movie with bated breath – for there’s an actor who knows himself.