Annabelle, why you be so creepy?

annabelle creation

She strikes again! The creepy doll that is a potent scare fest material for the sleepless nights that you might have had after watching her in the previous films, is back!! And this time, she is just a treat for anyone who is a horror genre fan. Annabelle: Creation, the latest addition to the Conjuring Universe (yeah it is a thing now!) that tells the story of the doll’s origin, possession and transit through the years, has all the essential elements of sending chills down your spine. There are jump scares, there are throwbacks, there is atmospheric eeriness and yes there are long long close up shots of that doll. Oh and before I forget, there are mid and post credit scenes. Yeah well now every movie wants us to go through those endless credits. (Fun game idea in the end– Aha! Did you see what I did there?!)

So, there are a lot of jump scares in the first half. If you are more of a lightweight around horror movies, then you would be crapping your pants throughout. However, the second half has more weight. It has the backstory, the plot has some character development especially between the two main girls and yes it finally reveals the origins of the doll that has been haunting you for a long time now. The atmospherics of the movie leverage the period set up to the fullest and brings about the same impact as The Conjuring movies. In addition to that, the movie uses two things quite aptly- sound design and cinematography. The music adds layers to the effectiveness and is close to what solid background did for The Shining. When the movie is not jump scaring you, it is playing with you through shadows, imagery and camera angles. And that is all that is needed to make it a good watch.

This is a definite valuable addition to the universe that James Wan is aiming to create (like I said; everybody wants to be Marvel; CASH GRABBERS!). It is everything that the first Annabelle wasn’t. And even though it works as an enjoyable standalone movie, it connects aspects of other entries in the series quite well. It leads to the events of the first Annabelle movie, Valak (the demon from Conjuring 2) makes a special appearance and teases the upcoming spin off- Nun and we get to see the actual Raggedy Ann doll that the Annabelle series is based on. (#TriviaTime The real Annabelle doll that resides in a glass chamber at Ed and Lorraine Warren’s museum is not the porcelain doll that the movie features but a Rag Doll. Look at this innocent looking doll and then think of all the creepy stories around it. Just look at it!!!)

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Now those are all good things but there is an essential problem with this formulaic approach too. The problem, which has greater impact if you are a horror movie fan, is that you almost know what is going to happen in most of the scenes. The crippled is going to be the most affected, the demon is going to vomit some black goo and possess, there are going to 3-4 girls who will just be there to scream (shriek), etc. etc. but that in no way takes away from how entertaining Annabelle: Creation is. All in all, the movie is a must watch for anyone who enjoys classic scary horror movies that keep you at the edge of your seats. If you are looking for subtle imagery, a thick storyline, immense character development then this might disappoint you. It is not as good as the first Conjuring but comes real close. I have to give a shout out to the director of this one- David Sandberg, who also directed Lights Out, for an amazing job done.

Hits- Jump Scares, Direction, Sound Score, Cinematography
Misses- Formulaic, change in the doll’s appearance from the earlier movies (which might only be a thing for an ardent follower)

Oh yeah, the fun game- so in any movie which is heavy on VFX and special effects- get your friends to locate Indian names in the crew list. It is fun and makes you wonder why these talented people are not working for Indian studios that suck at special effects.

Jab SRK met Imtiaz!

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Now this one is in little bit of a fix. Is it a SRK film or an Imtiaz film? Because the lens that you are going to see it with will essentially change the way you feel about this movie. If you see it as a SRK film, it is no different- it is super plush movie with exotic locations, punjabi male lead, a charmer, a the sure shot lady-winner who also breaks into song and dance in a jiffy. If you see it as an Imtiaz film- it is very very different. You have now been used to maybe getting a stir in your soul by watching his cinema, you might expect a lot of layered writing, lot of soul searching and characters evolving from one phase to another at a life-unsettling pace. That is the basic conundrum of this highly anticipated movie- Jab Harry Met Sejal.

There is no story really. The ring that is lost is merely a metaphor throughout the movie which defines what each character is seeking. Sejal might be seeking a way out of her situation, might be seeking an adventure, an experience which amazes her because wo waisi aurat hai hi nahin. Harry, on the other hand, is this broken womaniser who is trying to find that one soul which fixes his own- the key to his lock, the other half of his heart, the anchor to his life. They are bound to fall in love, they are bound to show each other what they have been missing in life, they are bound to have the best chemistry that they have ever experienced. But what assures that is their journey. It is a film about moments, about subtle thoughts, maybe scenarios which shock you- when you realise that you can feel something which you might not in your ‘normal-daily-all is fine-in denial, borderline fake routine life’. The problem however is that this is too inconsistent. The problem is not that there is no cohesive story. The problem is that the screenplay does not bind the journey- the inner one- in one coherent narrative.

The first half is too jovial, impractical maybe, fun and the second one comes with a strong (mis)understanding that the audience has understood the characters’ arcs. It’s not all bad, it only becomes bad when you start expecting too much out of the movie. This is an Imtiaz film but the fact that a 50+ year old, with lots of make up on his face (and post production VFX according to my conspiracy theory) is a superstar who is hard to tame. Anushka on the other hand is more disappointing because of what she does with the character. The accent is inconsistent and irritating at times, the acting is as bewildered as in any other Anushka film and the biggest problem of all is that we are not able to connect with her. You cannot possibly go on watching the film without judging her intentions at some point. She is a self proclaimed selfish girl who will just walk away once she find the ring and that is one thing that stays with the character. That is her flaw- but the actual hidden intention behind it- her self exploration, validation of being layak and finding what is missing in her engagement- is never really exposed.

The music is just fine, a couple of songs are sheer misfits (including my jam song- Beech Beech mein) and the locations are amazing. So all in all- it can be watched once if you dont want to delve very deep into the inner workings of the characters. The writing is layered and will touch you but those moments are rare in the entire film, which is a boo-boo!

SRK is fine but he needs to lose that one expression of frowning eyebrows and that made up deep macho voice. I am happy that he is finally breaking away from that SRK stereotype of ‘oh I will lech, be dirty, be a womaniser but will never compromise a woman’s modesty’. If you love a woman so much, just kiss her. And good you are now- and less awkwardly than what you did in Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

All in all- watch it ONCE and then maybe watch the second half once more on TV!

Hits- Acting, How it is shot, Music (some of it)
Misses- Screenplay, Too plain a storyline, Incoherence

(Picture Credits- Wikicommons)

Let’s talk about Dunkirk, shall we?!

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I should start this with a disclaimer that this is in no way a review but only a perspective on what I thought of the movie that is being credited as one of the best war films of all times- Dunkirk. First and foremost, you see how cinema has the power of bringing out chapters from history that half the world did not have a clue about? You do? Yes? Yes. Such is the enigma of movies- you get exposed to stories from parts of the world you have no connection to, parts of society that do not impact you at all but to all of that strikes a connect with the humanity in us at so many different levels. Dunkirk is based on the real life Dunkirk evacuation during World War II and is almost a documentary-style representation of the events from three different perspectives- the land, sea and air.

The film does not talk too much. That might be unsettling for a lot of people but the beauty of it is that it almost nullifies the need to present the audience with redundant exposition. It’s a war, there are soldiers, they are fighting for their survival, it is what it is and there is no need to have patriotic dialogues in-between the action to drive the point home. The situation in itself is inspiring. The civilians who contributed to the evacuation are enough to show what it meant for them at that point and in the film of course. The audience is transported to this world of vast water body, unending horizon, constricted boats, stuffed cockpits, a constantly thrilling background score by Hans Zimmer- all at the same time. It is an experience in itself.

But that’s it. If you are into war films like Border and LOC Kargil then this might not be the best bet for you. There is no “Suno jaane wale…laut ke aana” or “Sandese aate hain…”, there is no drama, there is no ‘story’ and there is no cathartic THE END! (If you consider finally seeing Tom Hardy’s face in a beautifully shot scene near the end, then maybe yes.) And if you thought oh poor Tom getting no limelight, the film does not indulge Harry Styles at all either. Watch this one for the sheer scale and expertise of the makers. You are bound to wonder how they shot some of the scenes for sure. And if you are a Christopher Nolan fan, then this is pure gold for you. You know his style, you know how he makes his cinema and you know what not to expect from him. And he will still amaze you. Watch it at an IMAX theatre if you can.

And if you are really looking for a loophole in the movie- this smiling extra fail might interest you a little-

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Hits- Scale, Direction, Technical Expertise, Authentic set up, Background Score
Misses- Disconnect with characters, Drama

(Picture Credits- Wikicommons)

Because MOM is always right!

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I know this might be a little late but considering there is still a lot of buzz around the movie and after all it’s about MAA, why not! So let’s see- what do we have here?! Take a yesteryear star looking for a comeback after every 3-4 years, some talent from the neighbor country, a buffed up dude to play the chichora launda, a nerve wracking background score and yes a tragedy which would instill all levels of heroism in an otherwise meek mother figure- rape in this case. Once you have all this, blend it into the most predictable and stereotypical screenplay and BAM! you have a movie like MOM.

But then wait. That’s not the end of it. There is a reason why films like this work at some level. Because it has the universal mother-offspring connect, because it shakes you up a little everytime you see something tragic onscreen and at some level you are still keen to see those yesteryear stars performing their hearts out in a film which is basically hanging on their shoulders. It still has impact and that is exactly what Mom is able to do.

Sridevi does not miss a beat. She is on point with her portrayal of a mother who is trying to build a connect with her stepdaughter, who later in the story goes through the turmoil of being blamed for the tragedy and who shines as the woman driven only by the sheer angst of avenging her daughter. Two things that you should just let go are Sridevi’s dialogue delivery and the necessary failure of the ‘system’ in such movies. Adding brilliantly to the star cast is Nawazuddin and Akshaye Khanna (who in my opinion is really a missed opportunity for Bollywood, oh damn that man has some serious acting chops!) The Pakistani actors playing the daughter (Sajal Ali) and husband (Adnan Siddiqui) are capable actors and will not let the energy drop down.

There are some interesting plot developments where you will be slightly pleased and then there are many which are as predictable as what you are having for lunch (Yes, you are having exactly what the maid packed for you so don’t be all cool and think oh we will order something. That is not going to take you far!). But overall the movie does not dip your interest or lose you anywhere- which is enough, right? And if you are watching it with your mommy dear then obviously you will feel that eventual streak of love for her. So at that moment, just HUG HER!

Hits- Sridevi, Nawaz, Akshaye
Misses- Predictable Plot, Too convenient a resolution, Bad special hill station special effects

(Picture Credits- Wikicommons)

Dear Mr. Jagga Jasoos, are you happy with what you did there?

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“OMG It is so long!” While those words might be the most flattering in some situations, they are definitely not as pleasant in all. Trust a person who has just been through the imaginative playing of the comic book written by Anurag Basu (and many others who are not credited but have influenced his work- TinTin anyone?!). If that description does not work for you, the movie Jagga Jasoos can literally be taglined as Barfi on steroids! You know while making this film, apparently there were so many points in time when Ranbir Kapoor just wanted to quit because it was too much time and energy that went in the process. You will not only empathise with him but will also feel the same at many junctures. India’s first (debatable) musical, Jagga Jasoos is made with good intentions for sure but experiencing this movie will feel like a love affair where the lover keeps telling you they love you dearly but that translates into nothing, nada, jackshit! Lip service can only take you so far.

Ranbir Kapoor is good. But isn’t he a good actor? But isn’t he also playing the same guy again and again in different scenarios? But still isn’t he good? He is. He is definitely the best thing about the movie; there is no doubt about that. Saswata Chatterjee, the man who played the bad guy in Kahani (remember the train scene?), plays the father- the centre point of the story and does such an amazing job. But that’s it. That’s all. If you have to have to take other aspects into consideration, then you might like the musical component of the movie initially and might enjoy watching the scenery at some points. But very soon, you will start searching for a storyline. And after a lot of searching, you will find a wafer-thin plot with a (social) message here and there. Last one hour of the almost three hours long movie was just another level of ridiculousness. In a South Delhi girl’s words- Anything was happening only!

Except for Ullu ka Pathha and Galti se Mistake, there is no song that stays with you. But yes the choreography by Shiamak is quite a feast to watch. And once you are finally done with everything in the film, there is a hint at a sequel. Seriously?! Please don’t even consider it. I might get hated for this one because this movie is definitely the one that is capable of dividing the families into halves fighting pro and against but those were my thoughts just after watching the movie. I expected at least a smile to cover my face through most of the movie and Jagga did not even do that for me. Maybe it’s the length of the movie, maybe it is those over saturated colors, or maybe it is that ridiculousness I talk about in the name of keeping it fantastical. It’s the overall package which is not likely to work.

Are you wondering why I didn’t even mention Katrina Kaif? Haha! Wonder about it, AGAIN!

Hits- Ranbir Kapoor, Some camera work, Father-son chemistry
Misses- Length, Banality, Plot, Lack of smile inducing charm

(Picture Credit: Wikicommons)

 

This ‘Baby’ sure can ‘Drive’!

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Every peace-loving movie goer, at some point in life, has to undergo the deeply disturbing times of watching a film with a yapper! It’s a not so rare breed of movie watchers who just cannot keep shut. They have a comment, a oh! a ye kya hai! on every scene. Well, we all have one or a couple of such ‘friends’ and we have to live with that. But why do I bring this here? I bring it here because something unusual happened. Something that I have personally never experienced. The yapper was shut. Throughout the movie (Pfft! That is not possible. Let’s ballpark it at 80% of the movie, which is a LOT!). And this movie did it. Baby Driver- a title that not a lot of people recognised, that is so unassuming but is such a brilliant piece of entertainment.

Revolving around the central character called Baby (I would not disclose the real name- yes you do get to know that at the end), the movie is about a brilliant driver who helps gangs to escape from their crime scenes. He is stuck in this shit hole for a reason. He has a condition in his eardrums which creates a constant buzz in his ears- because of which he listens to music at almost all times. And that’s how it is a pseduo musical with a genuine heart. You would not guess what is going to happen the next or at least how it will unfold. You will not be burdened with some sad back story. You will have a smile on your face throughout; obviously when you are not gasping! There are moments that you would not expect in this one. 

Music adds heart but the camerawork takes you deep in this world. Where there is thrill in skillfully crafted car chase sequences and where there is just romance in the air. You have this marvellous piece by Edgar Wright rated at a near 100% on Rotten Tomatoes because of the brilliant star cast. From Ansel Elgort to Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Fox, etc. everyone is ON POINT. There is Lily James too but is slightly far off from the point in question. 

I have a feeling that this would be a title like La La Land- one that slowly grows on people and gains a cult following. A definite watch if you like cinema that is not too hard on the soul but also is not frivolous. 

Hits- Performances, Direction, Music, Camerawork, Charm
Misses- slightly less fluid tone change from the first half to the second

Picture Credits- Wikipedia

Let’s talk about a death in the gunj!

Do you ever feel like you are reading a novel while you are actually watching a movie? That is the exact experience that A Death in the Gunj going to give your senses. It is slow, immersive and layered. It is going to give you characters which are fully fleshed out, with their individual quirks and their interactions with each other which define their relations. I mean even the maid in the movie has a personality. Set in 1979, the movie is a flashback of a week’s time with a family vacationing around New Years celebrations. 

You are also introduced to Shutu (His name is Shyamal but then when have we settled on calling Bengali characters with their actual names!) He is this subdued being in the family with no real implication in anybody’s life. He is loved but not admired. He is acknowledged but not respected. And most of all he is not understood. He is bullied, made fun of and the worst- he is treated like a kid. It’s his journey at the end of the day and you accompany him on this ride. You connect with him because you can see yourself in him and more so because Vikrant Massey, the actor who plays him, is just pure amazeballs!

If Lootera had better acting, Finding Fanny was less star studded and Kapoor & Sons was not from Dharma- they would be A Death in the Gunj. However, I do have to admit that the trailer seemed more fast paced and hence might be a mismatch for some of the people. You need to be patient to enjoy this one and once you invest in the characters and what drives them- you will enjoy the journey. 

I do have to give it to Konkana for making such subtle progressive undertones to the movie. It is a world where eating a cake offered to a grave is just frisked away. It is a world where an afternoon of a couple going at it is nothing unnatural. It is a world where desires are expressed and acted upon. 

It is not a movie for people who like them flashy and song-ey! It is for people who are inclined to invest. It’s an experience. 

Hits- Vikrant Massey, Konkana Sen Sharma’s direction, Simple yet effective plot

Misses- The Indian Accent!