tonymontana’s viewings

C U Soon:

Comparisons with the brilliant Searching are inevitable, although not sure if it can also be compared to the much-less-serious and much-more-fun Modern Family. The novelty had probably worn off by the time C U Soon arrived, but there’s no less challenge when you’re attempting something of this kind, the biggest of it being capturing the interest of your viewers. This film does that rather well, and when you have actors like Farhad Faasil (chameleon-like versatility), the journey is no less than fascinating.

This is also a story about a missing girl (just like in Searching), but that’s where the similarities end. Involves a serious and pertinent issue (revealing it would be a spoiler), and the makers have done a good job with some beautiful writing to back it up. Many works of Malayalam cinema have succeeded with their rootedness while Hindi cinema is trailing behind, even with some of their finer works.

American Gangster:

Crowe and Denzel Washington are show-stealers, and it’s a treat to watch them in full form in the confrontation scene towards the end, but maybe I saw it at a time gangster cinema as a genre has nothing new to end except the age-old rise and fall of empries, ultimate arrest and retribution. Wolf of Wall Street has done it afterward, so have Irishman and Gangster Squad. Still well made and entertaining.
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Watched Silence on Netflix. Some observations:

A very provocative film, and Christians may find a lot if scenes pretty uncomfortable to watch. Some of these might be stomach churning and bring a lump to the throat even for those who don’t practice a particular faith. Not because of the graphic violence but for the emotional torture they entail.

The film speaks of two priests who visit Japan in the 17th century in search of another priest who has been captured and held in the country for missionary work and the harrowing events that follow. The film raises a lot of pertinent questions about faith, humanity, belief, and worship.

Not sure if this had caused a controversy, but still, the sensitive topic of religion has been handled rather well from the master himself. Even when he is not directing crime epics, Scorsese showcases his mastery over films like Silence, Last Temptation of the Christ, and Hugo, genres far removed from his regular fares.

The acting is particularly strong, and Garfield does rather well as a priest whose faith is questioned over and over again in the most difficult and adverse of times. I’d recommend this one strongly. Probably not one of Scorsese’s popular films to a global audience (was a box office bomb), but a great watch, nevertheless.
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True Grit:

I loved this film, and would rate it a tad better than No Country for Old men. Learnt this was based on a book that had a 1969 adaptation too. This has a leisurely pace with the classic Coens stamp (guess they’re also one of the modern generation filmmakers with an equal fascination for the westerns like QT) and the regulars Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges : two actors I sometimes have a hard time differentiating. Plenty of scope for the actors to dig in. Bridges was fantastic and so was Damon, but the girl took my breath away with a rather convincing and confident act.

Also a rather satisfying revenge story in a ride full of potholes and loopholes. But some great cinematic moments interspersed : such a technically accomplished film and the badlands as well as vast stretches of prairies captured with flair. Full marks for the cinematography. And wistful, melancholic quality about it. The brothers are certainly in no rush or race to convince us about their POV. Well, at least this one had a better and a more emotional finale that fills you with a sense of despair at the very end, and how you wish the characters could have met after not seeing one another for decades. Unlike say, the NCFOM ending that left you frustrated and dry.
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Borat Subsequent Moviefilm:

One of the highlights in the Borat movies are the catchy titles: already setting you in the mood for some irreverent fun. Like a certain South Park and Monty Python, you’re in for a treat if you know what you’re getting into and if your sense of humour is as twisted as the lead character. There is no shock value this time around, though, for you’ve grown used to Sacha Baron Cohen playing a range of ignorant chatacters and embarrassing people across political divides and races. It’s all become predictable, and the fun goes missing.

Where it scores, however, is in creating a poignant relationship between a highly regressive father and his daughter who’s happy going along with whatever he says. Moments of sentimentality between these two shows how pure love can exist even in cultures far removed and unrelatable for our sensibilities.

Hence, it is the ‘heart’ of the film that overshadows its mockunentary nature. But you’ve got to give it to Sacha Baron, to continue being gutsy and forcing us to introspect through his deranged antics what is exactly wrong with the world, even at a time it’s in the hands of the intolerant and morally bankrupt.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borat_Subsequent_Moviefilm
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Rebecca (2020)

This was a fine watch, with the elements of gothic horror/thriller intact. The major credit for the atmospherics, effects, and visuals goes to Daphne Du Maurier for bringing to life those immortal characters and the hypnotic place called Manderley. Rebecca still speaks to us through her silences, her legend, and the impact she left on people around.

To not show the titular character on screen lends adds to the mystery and the enigma, but I still wish they had done something about the ending. The film (and even the book) runs in a post-climactic phase for a good period of time. The actual motivations of Rebecca make her a rather interesting person, and for this reason alone the film should have delved more into that aspect of her personality instead of merely having two lines about what ‘drove’ her actions. Instead, it becomes all about Maxim and his new wife and their tryst with the law by the end. Even the iconic character of Mrs. Danvers, the chilling old spinster of the house, doesn’t come across as convincing or someone whose actions are relatable in any sense.

The positives: The cinematography and setup, for even if this is not the world Du Maurier may have conjured, it comes pretty close. The expanses, the lawns, the beautiful old frames and library, the shore, the cottage on the beach . . .
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A revisit: Ek Hasina Thi

What a film. Seriously, what a film! I don’t remember when I watched it last, and remember liking it a lot. But discovering the finer aspects of it, I realised this had some of the most well-edited fight sequences of its time. It also moves at a brazen pace, with a no-nonsense approach. This isn’t the most original of scripts but if anything, it reminds us of Raghavan’s fascination with the typical, revenge-seeking Sidney Sheldon heroine after she ends up on the other side of the law.

I think time has been kinder to the film, and it wouldn’t have been so without the scintillating performance of Saif and zurmila. The former, especially, understands the basic grammar of a thriller film pretty film. He uses on screen dashing persona to great effect, and is so totally at ease with playing the antagonist that his performance gels with the film, in fact, complements it rather well.

Also a reminder how most factory products (RGV’s) had such rocking BGM. This and Ab Tak Chappan come to mind as they were two of the best ‘indie’ films of their times. Both Shimit Amin and Raghavan moved on to make some very good films. This was the kick-start they needed to their careers. Wonder what would have happened to such fine talents had they not been discovered by RGV.

Bohot Hua Sammaan: The second half comes on its own, after a meandering first half that cashes on the small town humour and mentality. The comic book, pop culture-like format is interesting to watch, but gets tepid after a while. All, in all, it’s a fine film that entertains you by the end. Sanjay Mishra is as solid as ever, and Ram Kapoor’s vile and unpredictable turn as a ex-commando sociopath is rather delicious.

Giny Weds Sunny: Another film that ‘celebrates’ Punjabiness and the Delhi culture, but the stereotypes are becoming irritating and frustrating to watch. Good to watch Vikrant Massey, a fine actor otherwise more suited to realistic and experimental cinema, shaking a leg here. He is a fine dancer. Yami Gautam looks gorgeous and acts well but that’s where the positives end. The film is charming enough in it’s initial hour but it just goes nowhere in the second half (a very, very basic plot that offers nothing new). Boring!

American Murder: The surprise of the week for me. Yes, murder, crime and conspiracies are the favourite topics to delve into, but it still shocked me. A very, very disturbing crime, and what was most unsettling about this was the remorselessness of the killer, even when they admitted to doing the ghastly act.

10 Responses to “tonymontana’s viewings”

  1. Thanks for the collection Tony/Jay/Munna.

    EK HASINA THI truly is a remarkable film and Saif really played the grey, metrosexual guy superbly. He is truly cut-out to play those kind of roles. However, in recent years, he has been at the most average and his acts are becoming very, very predictable when he plays the role of a villain or a grey character. His worst was in OMKARA; it was a sham of a performance — the entire shock-value being the ‘prince’ of royalty using MC BC galore. For me, it was Kareena, followed by Devgan, who were memorable – of course, one can’t forget Deepak Dobriyal, ever.

    Like

    • tonymontana Says:

      Thanks An Jo.

      I will differ with you on Omkara, but not on why it’s not a sham. Said wasn’t known for rustic roles, and kind of set a precedent for other A listers to move out of their comfort zone and try something of that sort (sure, we’d had Aamir playing the tapori in Rangeela/Ghulam), but not in a milieu far removed from the conventions of commercial cinema. And Saif did all that without going overboard. The act was spot on, and I m not only talking about his rustic language or getup, but it was also an intelligent and measured performance.

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  2. Though eclipsed critically and commercially by a much better film, Rajkumar Santoshi’s masterpiece, Khakee, EHT is a white-knuckle thriller, for sure. I loved it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the note on REBECCA Tony. I am not sure I want to watch the modern version being the oldie I am but might try.

    It is one of my FAVORITE novels by Maurier and one of the favorite films of Hitchcock. It’s been a long, long time but I still remember being stunned by Alfred’s picturizing of the novel in black & white; and remember, when we talk of Kamal Haasan using ‘dissolving’ scenes versus ‘transformative’ scenes In Mahanadi , Hitchcock bloody hell did it in 1940!!

    Just look at the trailer here and you can see –

    https://www.criterion.com/films/680-rebecca

    Urge all to see the black and white version by Alfred…

    Like

  4. tonymontana Says:

    Thank you AnJo
    The Hitchcock one is still held in high regard. This one was bound to fall short. Haven’t watched it in one go, but saw snippets of it on YouTube. loved Hitchcock’s vision of the classic novel for its time. Especially the opening frame, the camera following the driveway leading up to Manderley as the voice-over takes over.

    Like

  5. Commented in recommendation thread:

    True Grit (new one) – remake of old movie with same name. Liked it. The young girl reminded me of Lyanna Mormont of GoT.

    Like

    • tonymontana Says:

      Thanks munna

      Yes, The regular masala tropes. The guilty man walking away scot free, the weaker sex, (in this case, a child), seeking help from a man with personal issues and them going along an adventure of their own. But this again proves how much a scope a film has to develop these characters, attain brilliance, and even entertain despite some of the clichés.

      Django Unchained comes to mind, too

      A bit late to be discussing the film but had only seen it in bits when it came out a decade ago (Gosh, how time flies). Glad I managed to finish this one

      Like

      • TRUE GRIT is a fine, fine remake of John Wayne’s TRUE GRIT. (1962). The new one has fine performances from Bridges, Brolin, and Steinfeld. It is difficult to re-capture the spirit and style of a Wayne film, but the Coen brothers have done a great job.

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  6. Thanks Tony for recommending this to everyone. I might have written a note when I saw this and recommended here. Need to watch it again then!


    I will add that ‘missionary work‘ is nothing but an euphemism for religious conversion clubbed with, and actually intending to end with, political and geographical control. With the latter two, the former becomes easier to spread. Both the monotheistic religions believe strongly in conversion; one took a subtle turn citing missionary work after the crusades, while the other continued to believe in persecution as a standard way of conversion and occupation.


    I remember watching ‘Silence‘ in the theater when it released. I obviously watched it on the first day thanks to Marty and was swept away. Of course, I cannot watch scenes of torture and graphic violence, and Marty is one who never shies away from showing violence at its most graphic. It’s the tumultuous emotional journey of Garfield that’s the hall-mark of this film. He finely brings out in his performance the emotional churning of a soul that’s being drained heavily with what he witnesses versus what he feels. The physical violence is always shown as an external agent, cinematically shot from a distance that manifests itself in cries of torture and pain, and breaking-of-will more than breaking-of-bones.


    This didn’t do well at the box-office of course due to the seriousness of the topic at hand. But I remember being stunned when the movie ended. I had to watch it a second time and watched it the very next day! And I was even more shocked to realize that the movie is just 20 or 25 minutes short of the 3-hour mark but I never felt it, even on 2nd viewing!


    If not as powerful as his other master-piece, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ‘, ‘Silence’ is at par with the former. With a deceiving title, ‘Silence‘ is a loud cry of the never-ending between the human and God.

    Like

    • tonymontana Says:

      Thanks for sharing your views, AJ. Glad you have similar thoughts on this.

      I agree with your views about missionary work with ulterior motives of ultimate political and geographic control. This is a double-edged sword. While the uncompromising priest is here seen as a figure of sympathy, there was one strong scene involving ‘The Inquisitor’ where he compares missionary work to a barren wife.

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