Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Skeleton Twins (2014)

Director: Craig Johnson
Writers:  Craig Johnson, Mark Heyman
Cast:       Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell

Having both coincidentally cheated death on the same day, estranged twins are reunited with the possibility of mending their relationship and their lives.

Film deals with things like depression, child rape etc with a humorous tinge to it. It starts off well and remains interesting till the details about their past are all but revealed through snippets of information. The scenes of sibling bonding get tiresome towards the end and I found the humor to be too saccharine for my liking. I prefer it to be lot darker when it comes to this kind of subject matter like in Noah Baumbach's 'Greenberg'. But in this package it might be accessible for the mainstream audience and explains the considerable success it had grossing $5 million on a $1 million budget. The performances are good and the filmmakers were supposed to be inspired from the works of Alexander Payne. I really rate Alexander Payne as a director and Sideways is my favorite film of his, but I have got to say that apart from dealing with depression and self-loathing characters, I don't think there is much in common with his works in this film and the humor is totally different.

Overall it is a decent enough watch but one that you would forget about in no time. The flashback scenes were really annoying. I got the film from those end of the year best film lists as I am trying to watch all the possible candidates that I can get my hands on to make my own list,before 2015 kicks in. This film definitely won't make it.

Rating: 2.5/5

Le Week-End (2013)

Director: Roger Michell
Writer:    Hanif Kureishi
Cast:       Lindsay Duncan, Jim Broadbent, Jeff Goldblum

An old British couple returns to Paris many years after their honeymoon there in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage. They have been married for thirty years and the husband is increasingly getting dependent on his wife for comfort while she is actually quite sick of him. 

Film is I guess what the fifth installment of Richard Linklater's Before series would look like. Or you could say that it is the 'Before Midnight' one for really old and close to retirement couple. You don't normally get films handling lost love in a very long relationship. You either get one of them where it is about grief and coping with death of the significant other like 'About Schmidt' or one about the process of death itself like Michael Haneke's 'Amour'. The husband (Jim Broadbent) in Le Week-End is a Philosophy professor and a Cambridge graduate. He is not as successful/famous as he thought he would be in his younger days. Being attuned with Philosophy he is mostly sanguine about his situation and there isn't much of bitterness on the surface. His wife (Lindsay Duncan) is a biology teacher who has aged rather gracefully. She wants to retire and pursue activities that interests her more at this ripe old age. You get a feeling that the power distance in the relationship got inverted over the course of their relationship, even though one would presume that it is not much of an issue in the Western parts of the world. In Paris, they meet a successful but vain author friend (Jeff Goldblum) of the husband who invites them to a party hosted by him on the occasion of his latest book's launch. Things come to a head during the party but ultimately resulting in the rejuvenation that they were looking for.

Overall it is a great watch where the conversations between them are really interesting and much of it has not got anything to do with a plot per se. It is always nice to see the famous dance scene from Jean Luc Godard's 'Bande a Part' getting replicated on screen in a French diner. Got to say this one doesn't have much in common with Jean Luc Godard's 'Weekedn' despite the sameness of the title. I haven't seen any other film from the director's filmography which includes 'Notting Hill' and I have no intention of watching that.

Rating: 4/5 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pride (2014)

Director: Matthew Warchus
Writer:    Stephen Beresford
Cast:       Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Paddy Considine

U.K. Gay activists work to help the miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984 in Thatcher ruled Britain. Initially their help was viewed with apprehension but they gradually muster up support in a Welsh village who accept their contribution. 

It is another one of those feel good activist kind of film and the first half of it is quite filled with all those cliches. Thatcher has been a figure of hatred in many parts of UK and the Liverpool fans forum that I frequent had plenty of people with saved up champagne bottles to be opened when she finally kicked the bucket. 'Maggie Maggie Maggie-Die Die Die' is also a favorite chant for many football supporters from different parts of the country. Hatred towards her is not restricted to the mining towns since the economic reforms and privatization that she introduced laid waste many different cities that are not London in the United Kingdom. It was natural for the gay rights activists in London to show their solidarity towards another group, the miners, who were also getting targeted by the establishment. I found the level of prejudice against the LGBT community in the 80s UK to be quite surprising. Despite its cliches (a character that gets a full arc over the course of film with a coming of age element, village community singing songs in a cinematic fashion etc) it manages to well you up towards the end and when a film manages to do that you gotta say it is pretty good. Mark Kermode has Pride as his best film from 2014. I think he is a bit prone to have a bias towards little films from UK and we can forgive him for that. 

Overall it is a good one time 'feel good' watch. 'Brassed off' is another good film that deals with the struggles of mining community. Pride is much more about Gay Rights than miners. After the events shown in the film, the Labour Party in UK managed to pass a resolution to include LGBT rights in their manifesto and the vote from the mineworkers proved to be decisive. It is horrendous that in US the film got an R certificate which says much about that fucked up country considering it is a developed one. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

The Guest (2014)

Director: Adam Wingard
Writer:    Simon Barrett
Cast:       Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe

A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of of accidental deaths seems to be connected to his presence.

The film starts off in a very 'Hesher' like fashion with the soldier (Dan Stevens) standing up for the various members of family in difficult situations. He wins over their trust but we kind of know where it is heading with the film's tagline being: 'Be careful who you let in'. In the last third of the film it goes all apeshit crazy culminating with the scene inside Halloween maze and misleading foot-marks, a very overt reference to 'The Shining'. It also got 'Drive' like music to boot and a very 80s horror thrillers' vibe from which it is inspired. The character of soldier is played by Dan Stevens in a very Ryan Gosling like manner.

Overall it is very good watch if you can appreciate its craziness and you will end up with the last line from the film uttered by Maika Monroe-'What the fuck!!!'.  Still there is a very cheap feel to it and I wish they used darkness a lot more giving it a more creepy look. A little bit more sexual tension could have also helped. Maybe it was intentional from their part to take the subversive approach to genre conventions. It was also good to see Daniels from 'The Wire' (Lance Reddick) in it playing a not so different role. It is always good to see actors from 'The Wire' popping up in things. I haven't seen any other films from the director who seems to be a sort of horror specialist. The Guest is more of a thriller than horror.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kış Uykusu (Winter Sleep) (2014)

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Writers:  Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan
Cast:       Haluk Bilginer, Meliza Sozen, Demet Akbag
Language: Turkish

Aydin, a former actor, runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal with whom he has a stormy relationship and his sister Necla who is suffering from her recent divorce. In winter as the snow begins to fall, the hotel turns into a shelter but also an inescapable place that fuels their animosities...

Fuck me, that was an intense watch! Even though Aydin is only an actor by trade, he carries himself like an intellectual writing essays for the local newspaper on diverse range of topics. The name Aydin in Turkish means intellectual. He has got a sidekick, Hidayet, to take care of his hotel business as well as collecting rents from his tenants. Nihal is sort of a trophy wife for him and she spends her time organizing philanthropic activities. According to her, Aydin is a selfish and cynical hypocrite.Necla is a slacker kind of person who is of the opinion that hard thinking is an activity in itself. When she complains about getting bored in rural Anatolia, Aydin quips that boredom is a luxury. I can relate a lot to the siblings in the film and Nihal is the sort of person whom I despise. I have almost always found charity to be a selfish act that people indulge in to feel better about themselves and that is exactly what Nihal is doing. All three characters at various points in the film get brutally honest about each other and these are played out in a set-piece fashion with long verbal back and forth. Film is about 195 minutes long but the original cut ran for 270 minutes. 

I am a big fan of Nuri Bilge Ceylan and his earlier works had much in common with Michelangelo Antonioni's films. His last film 'Once upon a time in Anatolia' was a departure from that but with Winter Sleep he is coming back to familiar territory. That said this film is a bit dialog heavy whereas Antonioni relied more on gestures than speech. Ceylan's 'Climates' also dealt with marital crisis and Winter Sleep could be seen as a progression from there. It also featured some scenes from winter Anatolia. Overall it is a great watch despite the run time of more than three hours.  Each frame is picture perfect and interior scenes with kindling fire and lights are exquisitely done. In the closing credits there was a dedication to Anton Chekhov, whose work inspired Ceylan for making this film. Haluk Bilginer expertly plays the character of Aydin whom unravels over the course of the film. The power relation between him and his wife is not too dissimilar from the one between him and his tenants.  I was also reminded of Richard Linklater's 'Before Midnight' while watching this. 

Winter Sleep won Palme d'Or at Cannes but was excluded by the Academy awards from its final five in the foreign films category. Similarity in theme with last year's winner 'La grande belleza' might have worked against it. No genuine film fans should give a fuck about Oscars anyway. It will certainly be up there in my top films from 2014, but Boyhood still occupies the top spot. Yet to watch 'Leviathan' and 'Birdman'.

Rating: 5/5 

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Drop (2014)

Director: Michael R. Roskam
Writer:    Dennis Lehane
Cast:       Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini

Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood's past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living- no matter the cost.

The film is adapted from Dennis Lehane's 2009 short story 'Animal Rescue'. His previous work that have been adapted to screen include 'Mystic River' and 'Gone Baby Gone', of which I found the former to be very overrated while the latter was really great. Both of those films were directed by actor-turned directors which is something I am not a fan of. That said I have spotted a trend, in a not so scientific manner, that shittier the actor better he would do as a director (Think Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck). The director of 'The Drop', Michael R. Roskam, had previously made the Belgian film 'Rundskop' (Bullhead) about which I have heard good things and is apparently a very hard film to watch. 

The name for the film comes from the idea that the dirty money in the city is dropped each night at a designated mob owned bar which is chosen for the night in a random fashion. So the idea is if you know which one is the drop bar for the night it could be robbed pissing off some very dangerous people. The bar at the center of the film is 'Cousin Marv's' which used to be owned by well- Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) but is now mob owned with Marv acting like a pseudo owner. His cousin Bob (Tom Hardy) is 'just' the bartender who doesn't want to get himself too involved with the shady side of the bar. But Marv has other ideas leaving them in a precarious position. Meanwhile Bob finds an injured dog in a trash can of a girl and he adopts the dog like a kid and the girl becomes sort of a girlfriend. Both girl and the dog have a psycho connection whom also start meddling with Bob's life. The overall setup is fairly low key without any stylization whatsoever. I think it helps that it is adapted from a short story and not a novel since it gives a lot more freedom to the director. Going by the cast one would expect some excellent performances and that is what you get with plenty of nuances in them. It is James Gandolfini's last feature film and the way he speaks in this film is very Tony Soprano like. I could see some of the mannerisms from 'Peaky Blinders' creeping in to Tom Hardy's performance. There is no big twist without warning in the film and the expositions are done very well with allusions to what happened in the past sprinkled all over the film trusting the viewer to piece them all together. 

Overall it is great solid watch with some very good performances. It is good to see that Tom Hardy has not gone all Hollywood on us after his involvement in couple of Nolan films. He has done some great little independent kind of works in 'The Drop', 'Locke', 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and 'Peaky Blinders'. He has been getting criticisms for his accents lately but I never found it to be problematic. He is gonna be in the upcoming 'Mad Max' film which should be interesting even though I haven't seen the previous installments. 

Rating: 4/5

Monday, December 22, 2014

P.K. (2014)

Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Writers:  Rajkumar Hirani, Abhijit Doshi
Cast:       Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sanjay Dutt, Boman Irani
Language: Hindi

An alien in the city asks questions no one has asked before (that is a bit of exaggeration). Known only by his initials, P.K's innocent questions and childlike curiosity will take him on a journey of love, laughter and letting-go. 

Rajkumar Hirani has directed only four films so far, including this one, and all of them have been huge successes commercially and critically. I found 'Munna Bhai M.B.B.S' to be a very good film when I watched it some nine years back. Its sequel 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai was an above average film with very good use of fantasy elements involving Gandhi.  '3 Idiots' occupied the spot for all time highest grosser in Bollywood for a long time and from whatever bits and pieces that I have seen of it, that was an atrocious film. So I was not very much interested to see his latest one, P.K, but it has received very favorable reviews that praises  it for its anti-religion sentiment, which is quite apt for the Modi-India times that we live in. 

The film starts off in the wrong foot with a silly love story between an Indian girl and a Pakistani boy in Bruges, of course after the Terminator like introduction of Aamir Khan. The film picks up when the story is back in India with the girl now being a TV reporter whose curiosity is piqued by P.K's mannerisms and search for God in order to get back to his native planet. The film again flusters as it enters the last act with the love story angle thrown in and an excruciating to watch TV showdown between P.K and the antagonist God Man. What I am trying to say is that if you take away the beginning and ending, you've got a very decent film built on a very relevant idea regarding the contradictions involved with religious faith. Most of its faults lies with it trying to be a mainstream Bollywood film having very avoidable song sequences and reeking with over-sentimentality. They could have easily made a very good film out of this by cutting down the flab and keeping it under two hours.

So far I don't think there have been any protests by religious crazies regarding its content. Maybe it helps if you are criticizing all of them together. Or its mainstreamness  and commercial success is stopping people from taking pitchforks. As Boman Irani's character says, if you address these matters with extreme seriousness you will end up with 'Shool' stab wounds in your buttocks, and the way to go is asking questions that seems silly but for which they don't have a proper answer. Despite the flaws of the film, it is good that it is doing well since it is much better than most of the shitfests that come out of Bollywood and the message that it carries is very relevant.

Rating: 2.5/5

Friday, December 19, 2014

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Directors: Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Writers:    Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Cast:        Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh

Follow the lives of Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jermaine Clement)- three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life's obstacles-like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood in Wellington, New Zealand. 

It can be called a horror comedy mockumentary film with minimal involvement from the ones wielding camera. At the start of the film, the centuries old vampires are little out of touch with the 21st century. Since they cannot see themselves in the mirror they have to rely on drawings while dressing up. When they inadvertently converts one of their victims into a vampire, the recent vampire with the help of his computer expert human friend introduces them into the cutting edge technologies like camera, phones, Skype and internet (to do their dark bidding on eBay) . The initial good feeling is replaced by disillusionment as the  amateurishness of the recent vampire leads them into some trouble. The plot is  wafer thin but the humor works well for it to make it a great watch. It also helps that over the course of the film they explain various aspects in which vampires differ from us humans and this would serve us very well when we watch other vampire films. I am not a huge fan of the genre but we are at a stage where the big shitty Twilight franchise is over and we are getting some very good vampire films from very good directors. 'Only Lovers Left Alive' from Jim Jarmusch is among my favorites of this year and 'Let the right one in' is another good one from yesteryear's. All three represent three takes on the genre and all of them are great.

Jermaine Clement of the director duo was involved with the TV series 'Flight of the Conchords' which I have not seen. I think this is the first film I have seen set in New Zealand (LoTR does not count). Andrew Dominik is from New Zealand and is a favorite director of mine but i don't think any of the films that I have seen from him is set there (Chopper is the only real candidate but that was set in Australia). 

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann (The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) (2013)

Director: Felix Herngren
Writers:  Felix Herngren, Hans Ingemansson, Jonas Jonasson (Novel)
Cast:       Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg
Language: Swedish, English

Dynamite expert Allan Karlsson's life, and the unlikely events following his escape from the old folk's home on his 100th birthday.

It is an adaptation of Jonas Jonasson's best selling novel of the same 'extraordinarily long' name. It is a bit like 'Forrest Gump', but without the cheap sentimentality and shitty one-liners like-"Life is like a box of chocolates. Well, shove it up your arse". The film starts off very small but gradually become bigger and bigger as it reveals that Allan, with his illustrious propensity to blow things up, had met,over the course of his lifetime people like Franco, Truman, Stalin and Reagan. I guess it was common for Swedish people to  be fond of dynamite since Alfred Nobel was also a Swede. The two stories of Allan's lifetime running up to old age and his escapades after fleeing the old age home runs in parallel. The narration was done in English in the print that I saw. The present story line is dotted with bumbling characters and Allan's version of history is also like that. It was great to see Alan Ford reprising a role that is not too different from the one he played in Guy Ritchie's 'Snatch'. Robert Gustafsson is also excellent in the role as Allan and he had to start applying prosthetics at 2 A.M on days when he was acting as the 100 year old Allan.

Overall it is a very good watch but I don't think it can be called a great film. I guess I want some more professionalism from the bad guys and there are just a bit too many coincidences. From the information I have, Harry S.Truman found out about the bomb only after he became the President of US but in the film he is seen drinking with Allan at the site of Manhattan Project. Well, that is just a minor quibble. Film was a huge success getting screened in more than 40 countries and grossing over $50 million, the highest for a Swedish film. There is talk of a possible sequel.

Rating: 3.5/5    

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Director: James Gunn
Writers:  James Gunn, Nicola Perlman, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Cast:       Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana

A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of Universe. They are led by Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt), abducted from Earth in 1988 as a kid, who is fond of dancing to the 70s music he has got in his Sony Walkman. 

What makes GoG a good watch is its sense of humor, mocking fun at the genre itself as well as playing on the fact that Quill thinks that things he knew in 88 are super cool. There are plenty of references to Kevin Bacon as a hero and the character models himself on Han Solo. The first 20-30 minutes are pretty boring with lots of exposition scenes that just look like it, explaining who the characters are and their motivations. By the end of it we know that they need to get a ball before the big villain gets to it and destroy some shitty planet called Xander. I don't know if it is the case that I consciously look for expositions to call out on them, but they are irksome in GoG. There  is one scene where one character turns off the artificial gravity which saves them from getting shot, and then there is the Saldana character saying:' He just turned the artificial gravity off everywhere except where we are standing'. We can fucking see that and if that is aimed for kids, they can see that he connected some wires and that is all they need. Apart from the expositions I also didn't care much for the action scenes since most of it is CGI and I couldn't care less about them. Watching it one a big screen might have made it better. The film is at its best when the characters are having banter. It might have worked better if they mixed the humor with bat shit crazy instead of melodrama in some scenes. There is a cameo from Benicio Del Toro whom I suspect will play a bigger role in the sequels. I will take a wait and watch approach when they come in.

Overall it is good watch but I might have liked it more if I had seen it at the cinemas. I saw 'Godzilla' on a big screen and I guess I enjoyed it more than I should have. But then again, the coolest thing about that film was the flair jumping scene which was more about the director's skills than CGI. 

Rating: 3/5  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gone Girl (2014)

Director: David Fincher
Writer:    Gillian Flynn
Cast:       Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Kim Dickens

With his wife's (Rosamund Pike) disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man (Ben Affleck) sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent. It doesn't help him the fact that their marriage was in doldrums and he is kind of not unhappy with his wife gone.

Film is an adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel of the same name and she herself wrote the screenplay for the film. Ben Affleck seems to be a hate target these days with him being cast as Batman (I couldn't care less about that) and that would have helped this film since his smugness causes hatred towards him from the media circus who judge him based on his appearance. I had an inkling about the twist which comes half way through the film based on things people posted on FB and all that. So I am not sure whether we were supposed to suspect Ben Affleck's character during the first half but I didn't anyway. It is a very entertaining watch with several twists and turns thrown in with plenty of black humor but I don't think it will be one for repeat viewing. The whole thing about anniversary present with clues and an associated treasure hunt might have been alright in the novel but in the film it looks very silly. The husband and wife are supposed to be some sort of intellectuals with a background in writing and that part is also not very convincing in the film. Still it is a very entertaining watch with a very perverse ending where both of them kind of agree to profit from all the shenanigans. 

It is what you expect from David Fincher these days- a slick one where he adapts things that should be very challenging to edit together with coherence (Zodiac, Social Network). Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) was involved with the soundtrack. Rosamund Pike is getting some high profile roles these days (Jack Reacher) and she was also involved in Edgar Wright's 'World's End'.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tusk (2014)

Director: Kevin Smith
Writer:   Kevin Smith
Cast:      Michael Parks, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osmont

When a podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe (Michael Parks), his best friend and fellow podcaster Teddy (Haely Joel Osmont) and girlfriend Allison (Genesis Rodriguez) team with an ex-cop (Johnny Depp) to look for him.

I saw the film carrying an annoying bout of cold and am not sue whether it was because of that, I thought John Hurt was playing Howard Hoe, instead of Michael Parks, and Steve Coogan was playing the Quebec cop Guy Lapointe, instead of Johnny Depp. The film didn't help much in that regard by having Guy Lapointe playing Guy Lapointe in the closing credits and I assumed it was some famous French actor. The film began as an adaptation of a story said on Kevin Smith's podcast-'Smodcast'. It was based on an ad by a guy on Gumtree (British Craiglist-lite) who offered living conditions free of charge on the condition that the lodger will dress as a 'Walrus'. Smith then tweeted people to tweet #WalrusYes if they want the film to be made or else #WalrusNo. That is the background story to it. It is the first in Kevin Smith's planned trilogy of horror films set in Canada. Tusk is Smith channeling his inner Cronenberg and Coen Brothers and the result is a very enjoyable comedy-horror film. There was one point when I was thinking that the dialog have a very Coen feel to it, there was this Big Lebowski reference thrown in. The role played by Johnny Depp was initially offered to Tarantino, who turned it down citing that he has not interest in acting anymore, and am glad he did that because this is the best we have seen Depp in a long time, even though I didn't realize it was him until afterwards. It is also interesting to read the history of The Beatles' song 'I am the Walrus.

This was Smith's first feature film since 'Red State' and unlike that one, which he chose to do independent distribution with Q&A, Tusk got a limited release. It is much better than Red State and is Kevin Smith's best effort since 'Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back'. There are plenty of references to stories discussed in Smodcast for regular listeners, which I am not. It was good to see Haley Joel Osmont (Sixth Sense, A.I) back and the film is a great watch but as always, not recommended for everyone. 

Rating: 4/5 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Obvious Child (2014)

Director: Gillian Robespierre
Writer:    Gillian Robespierre
Cast:       Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann

A twenty something comedienne's unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront the realities of independent womanhood for the first time. Film can be best described as an 'Abortion Rom-Com' and I don't think I have seen any other films belonging to this genre yet. In films like 'Knocked Up' and 'Juno', the unplanned pregnancy never leads to abortion, and in US the A-Word is a huge debate point even during Presidential elections. So it is good on Gillian Robespierre to tackle the subject in a matter of fact way with the decision itself being not even debated. 

The great thing about the film is that it doesn't act like an 'Issue' based one. The characters look like just ordinary people which is very good for the story and Abortion is dealt as if it is just something that is part of life for many of the independent women in developed world. I don't know whether the A-list stars in Hollywood would sign up for a story like this anyway, which is really sad when you think of all the liberal issues that they are ready to tackle. But not having any very well known stars works very well for this film. Couple in question seems like not made for each other but the film ends with a question of whether they will carry on regardless. The question for her was not whether to have abortion or not but whether to inform the other guy, who was a stranger to her, about it or not.

Overall it is a very good one time watch. Gillian Robespierre had earlier made a short film with the same name and this one marked her directorial debut for a feature length film. It was send to Sundance film festival through Kickstarter which paved the way for its theatrical release.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Palo Alto (2013)

Director: Gia Coppola
Writers:  James Franco, Gia Coppola
Cast:       Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, James Franco

Palo Alto is famous as the happening place in Silicon Valley but this film has got nothing to do with Tech start-ups. It is about four teenagers whom you may stereotype as class virgin-April (Emma Roberts), class slut-Emily (Zoe Levin), dreamy artist-Teddy (Jack Kilmer) and an impulsive live-wire-Fred (Nat Wolff). April and Teddy have crush on each other which they haven't got a chance to communicate yet and the film doesn't have much of a plot and is a mood-piece, like Sofia Coppola's 'Lost In Translation'. If you liked that film like I did, you might enjoy Palo Alto.

So it is another one from the Coppola clan getting into film business. Gia Coppola is Francis Ford Coppola's grand daughter and the film is adapted from James Franco's collection of short stories called 'Palo Alto'. Emma Roberts is niece of Julia Roberts and Jack Kilmer is son  of Val Kilmer. You may very well prejudge that the film is an exercise in nepotism, but it is a very good watch if you are into films that is more about mood than plot. I will always take this over shit like 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' which got near universal acclaim. There is a coming of age element to all the four characters and it is quite subtle. James Franco plays the sympathetic football coach who has a thing for the girls whom he coaches. I don't know whether his real life Instagram related shenanigans had anything to do with promotion of this film but I suspect not. You cannot say for sure after Joaquin Phoenix's year long weird behavior for making 'that' documentary.

Gia Coppola's aunt, Sofia Coppola, also made her directorial debut with another teenage characters driven film called 'Virgin Suicide' but I found Palo Alto to be much better than that. Sofia had made another such film in 'Bling Ring' last year which I tried to watch but lasted only ten minutes or so. I guess it is similar to Spring Breakers, which also I didn't like because of the cringe inducing characters, but the entire point of those films would be the horribleness of its characters. Some people might say the same about the characters in Palo Alto but I found it to be very good but it might not be up everyone's alley.

Rating: 3.5/5  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Starred Up (2013)

Director: David Mackenzie
Writer:    Jonathan Asser
Cast:       Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend

A troubled and explosively violent teenager (Jack O'Connell) is transferred to an adult prison which also happens to occupy his father (Ben Mendelsohn). They didn't have much of a relationship before their meeting in prison and the father is trying to look out for him, even though he is a stranger to him by most measures. The son can take care of himself and the interference from father doesn't do either of them any good.

The title term 'Starred Up'  is used to describe the early transfer of a criminal from a Young Offender Institution to an adult prison. The protagonist is what he is partly because of the shitty parenting that he had. When he ends up in prison he gets more of the same although by the end of the film he develops a sort of relation with his father. That can be seen as a positive but it is at a cost. It can also be seen as a teenage drama where the parent doesn't know what his child wants. Great thing about the kid character is that it doesn't go into extremes like most films do when it comes to a violent character like this. He is behaving like a very angry teenager. But it is not without reason since he is trying to cope in a new environment where his anger issues is not doing him any favors. He ends up in a group of inmates who are handled by a social worker/researcher. There he finds people who are more extreme than him which basically puts him in his place. The whole 'Nurture' aspect of it displayed by the researcher is contrasted with the 'Nature' way of dealing things by the administration. This is a very cliched aspect in almost all the prison dramas but you cannot fault that because prison is somewhere you cannot ignore 'Nature Vs Nurture' debate.

The performances are excellent and it is good to see Ben Mendelsohn again (Animal Kingdom, Killing Them Softly). It has to be said that there is not much variety in the roles that he is getting but he has been excellent in playing these foul mouthed nearly deranged individuals. The film is based on the screenwriter Jonathan Asser's experience as a therapist in a prison. I haven't seen any other British prison dramas except for Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Bronson' which I didn't like. 

Rating: 4/5   

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Peaky Blinders (TV Series) (Series- 1&2 )

Creator: Steven Knight
Cast:      Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Sam Neill, Tom Hardy, Annabelle Wallis

A gangster family epic set in 1919 Birmingham, England and centered on a gang who sew razor blades in the peaks of their caps, and their fierce boss Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), who means to move up the world. At the face of it, it is an age old story that has been done to death in numerous mob films but I guess the setting of post World War One England and the stylized way it is shot (brutal with some great soundtrack) makes it quite unique. I haven't seen Boardwalk Empire, save for the first episode, and that would be the one with which it is going to get compared. For me, am quite sick of American mob stories and this British one makes for a very welcome change.

The Peaky Blinders are a bunch of Brummie brothers who are all suffering from PTSD after WW1. We are reminded so many times in the series that they were in fucking France in case you forgot. The times are interesting in Britain with the kingdom declaring war on  many enemies within itself-the communists, the Irish who are looking for independence and normal garden variety gangster kind. The gangster activity they are mainly running is illegal gambling activities along with their protection business. The series one involves them getting foothold in Birmingham and the second one have them entering London. First series was built up with bit more subtlety compared to second. But it was a lot more sure about its identity in the second series as I sat there smiling enjoying the sometimes cartoonish but always stylistic portrayal. The use of contemporary soundtrack like the ones from Arctic Monkeys can be quite risky in a period drama like this, but I enjoyed it. We have seen that recently in 'Django Unchained' and 'The Great Gatsby' and I don't mind the anachronism. If you are indeed going for stylishness, then why not? 

They managed to get Tom Hardy play a Jewish mobster/baker in the second series and he is great. He had starred recently in Steven Knight's feature film 'Locke' which was also excellent. The scene in last episode of  the series where Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy are doing an unconventional negotiation was particularly great. Another highlight of the season was:'Read Daily Mail, it will broaden your mind'. Even I got that joke, probably because of me being obsessed with LFC. Peaky Blinders was produced by BBC and in US it was distributed through Netflix. Series 3 has been commissioned and I think the British TV practice of having just 6 episodes every year is just about right since it is better to be left wanting more. The name Peaky Blinders is derived from a historic subculture that was there during those times and not necessarily from a single gangster group. The opening credits song Nick Cave's 'Red Right Hand' is also excellent giving a True Detective vibe to it.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tim's Vermeer (2013)

Director: Teller
Writers:   Penn Jillette, Teller
Features: Tim Jenison, Philip Steadman, David Hockney

Inventor Tim Jenison is seeking to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, in order to test the theory that he painted with the help of optical devices.

Details about Vermeer's life are little known and there is no evidence of him getting any formal training in painting. Apart from the works that he produced, there are no remains of any trial works and his paintings don't have sketch marks or lines that are common in most of the paintings since the painters try to get the geometry right first. These points along with Vermeer's photo-realistic paintings have led to some contending that he used optics to get the paintings done though none have reproduced such a device till Tim Jenison looked into it. He finds out that he could involve a concave mirror and a comparator mirror allowing easy matching of color values. He proceeds to replicate the room that Vermeer painted for his 'The Music Lesson' and paint the same thing again using his technique. The result is what you have in the film's title-'Tim' Vermeer'. It took him almost a year to replicate the room and over four months to do the painting. The documentary is filmed over five years from 2008 to 2013.

Many of the art critics are repulsed by the idea that Vermeer could have been using mechanical aid to do his painting which according to them would have made him more of an inventor than an artist. The documentary makers contend that it is their problem to do the segregation as artist and technologist when one can be both at the same time. As for me, I am not really into paintings but I can understand why people appreciate it. Before the invention of photography it was indeed a remarkable skill to reproduce imagery on a canvas. The importance of Modern Art, which is supposed to evoke something in the viewer-whose interpretation can be very subjective, is more apparent now since replications can be easily done by machines. 

As for the documentary film, it was a great watch. I am really very poor when it comes to painting and don't have the patience to even trace stuff. I appreciate art (films can be works of art) but am not into paintings as of now, maybe I will have a rethink when I visit Kochi Biennale which starts on December 12th and will run for three and half months. Lets see.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Two Faces of January (2014)

Director: Hossein Amini
Writers:  Hossein Amini, Patricia Highsmith
Cast:       Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Issac, Kirsten Dunst

A thriller centered on a con artist, his wife and a stranger (a minor con) who flee Athens after one of them is caught up in the death of a private detective.

Film marks the directorial debut of Hossein Amini, who was involved with the writing of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive'. It is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel with the same name that was published in 1964. It has got a great cast and is magnificently shot on locations in Greece and Turkey. Being a very old school film with unspoken tension between the characters, it is no surprise that it didn't too well at the box office. The story takes unexpected turns throughout without having a big reveal at the end. The character Rydal (Oscar Issac) comes into contact with the couple basically because of him being curious about Chester (Viggo Mortensen) who looks like his now dead father, with whom he had an uneasy relationship. Rydal is an American tour guide, who is looking to fleece his customers, like all your guides do I guess. Chester reads that in him and it is kind of made clear that he sees a younger version of him in Rydal. Both of them don't trust each other and Chester is insecure about his wife, who has taken a liking to Rydal. The circumstances forces all of them together and dependent on each other. What is great about the film is that the nature of feelings between Rydal and Colette (Kirsten Dunst) is not made very clear to the audience and we are very well looking into it with similar suspicions that Chester has. I really didn't buy the father-son vibe (teenage angst kind) that is supposed to be going on though. 

Overall it is great watch with some great performances. Oscar Issac was also excellent in 'Inside Llewyn Davis'. Am glad that Viggo Mortensen told Peter Jackson to fuck off when asked to be in 'Hobbit Trilogy'. I saw the film after it being included in Empire's top 50 films of 2014.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Babadook (2014)

Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer:    Jennifer Kent
Cast:       Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall

A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battle with the son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

The husband died in a car accident while he was taking his pregnant wife to give birth to their son. Now the son is seven years old and she has not coped with her loss yet. The child is a difficult one and the reason for his behavior could be his mother's troubles. When the film starts off, the problems with the child is more apparent and as it goes on we realize that the more serious patient is the mother. The whole Babadook thing is something that is happening in both of their minds and represents the darkness that they are dealing with. The question in the film is will they come out okay at the end of it, successfully dealing with the cloud that is hanging over their lives feeding off each other. What is remarkable is that we start off hating both the characters, which could be a recipe for disaster in a horror film, but as the film goes on we start caring for them sympathizing with what they have gone through in their lives. Film also highlights the helplessness that surrounds Western family system where you don't have the support structure that is common in the Indian Joint Family system. What you in stead get is the community services/social workers who might deal with such delicate situations with tremendous suspicion and limited understanding. I am not advocating one system over the other since both presents itself with unique set of problems.

I am not really a fan of Horror these days because I don't have much time for ones that deal with overt super-naturalism like most of them do. In what has been a good year for Australian film industry, I have been hearing about 'The Babadook' in the usual places but was not arsed about it because of it being described as a Horror film. I finally took the plunge after reading William Feiedkin and Edgar Wright waxing lyrical about it on twitter. After watching it, I would class the film more as a Psychological thriller than horror and unsurprisingly enough, it was thoroughly a enjoyable / disturbing watch. Unlike most horror films, there is no casualties at the end and the ending is very hopeful even though it is a precarious one. Film reminded me of 'Sixth Sense', 'Stoker', 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' and of course 'The Shining', all of which I enjoyed thoroughly. I saw 'The Exorcist' when I was very young (11 years old dude) and am not sure whether there was any subtext to it apart from being a genre film. I guess I have to watch it again since everyone rates it so highly, and I suspect like this film it also has a motherhood/parenting subtext to it.

It is Jennifer Kent's feature length film debut after having made this story into a short film called 'Monster'. Funding for the film was primarily provided by 'Screen Australia' and SAFC and part of it was raised on Kickstarter. It is getting very good reviews from the critics but if you go by the IMDB score, general audience is not embracing it that much. Since am not a fan of the genre I don't know whether they will enjoy it as much as I did. Guess some people will be also put off by the Australian accent which is sad. 

Rating: 4.5/5   

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Predestination (2014)

Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Writers:    Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig, Robert A, Heinlein
Cast:         Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor

The life of a time-travelling Temporal agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

It is another one of those thrillers with time travel as theme with a twist of Inception thrown in. To pick holes in its plot is a futile exercise since time travel films are anyway rife with 'Bootstrap Paradox'. So best way to judge the film will be whether you were immersed in it throughout and whether you want to watch it again. It did both of those for me and therefore I reckon it is a great film. The cast is great and the directors who are known as 'The Spierig Brothers' look promising. It is another good Australian film in an year which looks like a great one for Aussie Cinema. 

Let me see if I have got a hang of the plot. If you are planning to watch it, I would recommend so, don't read ahead. We learn over the course of the film that time travel was invented by an organization in 1981 and you can travel 53 years on either side of the year zero, 1981. It is used to send Temporal agents to the past in order prevent crimes and Ethan Hawke is one of those. There is a a terrorist called Fizzle Bomber on the loose in late 60s and early 70s with his biggest operation happening in 1975. Ethan Hawke is assigned to do prevent the fizzle bomber. First scene of the film has someone getting burned while handling the bomb and someone else is also intervening on the proceeding and the bomb goes off. My initial impression was that the man who got burned was the agent and he is given facial reconstructive surgery. Then it cuts to Ethan Hawke who is given another go and he goes back to 1970 as a bartender and meets a writer who tells him his/her life story. After the story is over Hawke prompts him to join the organization and before that he takes him back to 1963 where he meets his past, which is a she, and proceed to have sex with her conceiving a baby. The baby is stolen by Ethan Hawke who goes back to 1945 and put it in the orphanage and it grows up to be the girl from 1963. So far- the writer, the girl and the baby are same people. So the writer fucks with himself/herself giving birth to herself/himself who is taken back to continue the cycle. Then Ethan Hawke makes one more attempt at stopping the bomber and it turns out that the burned man was indeed the bomber (first scene). He again goes back in time and reaches 1975 where his time travel machine was supposed to decommission, and it does not, and he pieces together clues to find out that the bomber is another older version of him and he kills him. It turns out that the writer, girl, baby, Ethan Hawke and bomber are all one and the same. I don't know whether it made any sense to you but the million dollar question is what is the purpose of all this and whether there was any real fuck ups they are trying to fix. At the end of it, what exactly he is trying to fix is not clear. Maybe the girl is fucked by different versions of herself and the point of the story is whether she ends up bitter after it. Since the bomber had long hair, Ethan Hawke must have thought it was she who was the bomber but in fact it was another version of him. But that doesn't make any sense since she is anyway gonna have sex change operation. It is a clusterfuck. I know what happened in the sense that all of them are the same person but the motivations are not clear. I guess I will watch it again but I don't think all of it will become clear. Maybe it was just a cerebral experience in terms of figuring out the plot and nothing much more to it.

Film is based on Robert A. Heinlein's short story "—All You Zombies—".To sum up it is great watch, rehashing the Looper theme but it goes several iterations further. Cast is great but I don't know whether it will remain great on further viewings. Whether you enjoy it or not will very much depend on how arsed you are about plot making any sense. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Gambler (1974)

Director: Karel Reisz
Writer:    James Toback
Cast:       James Caan, Paul Sorvino, Lauren Hutton

Alex Freed is a literature professor. He has the gambling addiction. When he has lost all his money, he borrows from his girlfriend, then his mother and finally some bad guy that starts chasing him. Despite all this he cannot stop gambling.

Film is semi-autobiographical based on James Toback who also was a professor with gambling problem. It is also seen as a loose adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's short story 'The Gambler'. One would expect a thrilling humorous film if you go by the title in similar lines to 'The Sting'. It is anything but. It reminded me of 'The Hustler', which was also a very serious film that I also went in thinking it would be a light one. It is a serious look at Gambling addiction  and posits that the addicts are people who look for prospects of losing to give them the fix of uncertainty associated with it. Freed himself says that he let go off bets that he knows has a high chance of winning in favor of longer odds one that would give him the necessary fix of uncertainty and pain. If that is not clear enough for the audience, you have got the end sequence of him behaving in a destructive manner at a non-gambling scenario when his gambling debts are on the clear. The film plays with the audience expectations giving them a protagonist who doesn't give them anything to root for and when the debts are cleared, we are also as uncomfortable as him since it ended up corrupting him. 

I don't know how credible this portrayal is for gambling addicts as a whole but at least it was like that for James Toback, who wrote the screenplay. It is getting remade by Rupert Wyatt (Mark Wahlberg as lead) after a Scorsese-DiCaprio remake project fell through. James Caan starring 'The Gambler' is a great watch with it being an adult look at gambling addiction without any glorification.

Rating: 4/5

St. Vincent (2014)

Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer:    Theodore Melfi
Cast:       Bill Murray, Jaeden Lierberher, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts

A young boy whose parents have just divorced finds an unlikely friends and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door. Bill Murray plays more or less himself in the film, like George Clooney in Gravity, and Naomi Watts is his Russian hooker friend.

It is a formulaic feel good film with a great cast. Bill Murray, the kid and his mother are great in their roles and Naomi Watts is alright. It is filled with some great one-liners and the performance of the kid is particularly great as you get what you expect from Murray. It loses  its steam towards the end but is nevertheless a very good watch. 

Bill Murray is someone who is famous for being very inaccessible for the filmmakers to get him act in a film unless you are Wes Anderson. So you can pretty much guarantee that the film he picks will be interesting on some level. Naomi Watts must have picked this one to get a chance to share some screen time with Bill Murray.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thief (1981)

Director: Michael Mann
Writers:  Frank Hohimer, Michael Mann
Cast:       James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky, James Belushi

Becoming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safe-cracker agrees to do a job for the mafia, who have other plans for him.

A thief doing one last job before retirement scenario has been done to death in cinema and if you trace the lineage, maybe you will conclude that Michael Mann's feature film debut 'Thief' to be the big daddy. Mann worked five years in television drama before making this film and you can see many of his trademarks already in there-meticulous attention to detail, groundbreaking soundtracks, exquisite night cinematography. All the tools that are shown being used to commit the robbery are real ones and the actors were trained to do it. I think the only other film I have seen James Caan in is Godfather, and he himself rates Thief along with the former as his best performances. His mannerisms are quite similar in both and maybe it is characteristic to him. Soundtrack for the film was done by Tangerine Dreams, who also did Risky Business which I saw quite recently.

While watching Thief, you will realize how much it influenced Ryan Gosling starrer 'Drive'. Both Caan and Gosling portrays characters who are basically very similar even though they both give it very different identities due to their mannerisms. The famous dinner scene monologue lays bare the character in Thief and it very well explains his motivation behind the actions he take at the end. Apart from James Caan's great central performance, you also get some great performances in very small roles-his fatherly prison friend, his bar man, an Asian waiter who is there in only one scene etc. One part in Michael Mann's collateral that I thought was very corny was Jamie Foxx's stupid post card. Well, it turns out that it was a homage to Thief which also had a central character motivating himself with something like that. Now I cannot wait to re-watch 'Heat' to pick up other references he might have placed in it. 

It is a difficult film to describe as it is very experiential and is a must watch Neo-Noir genre classic. Up there with Micheal Mann's best who occupies a unique place i Hollywood being a genre onto himself. If you go by decades I have always considered 80s to be the weakest for English language films. I might have to reconsider that position as I catch up with some 80s classics and Thief certainly classifies as one.

Rating: 5/5  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

JFK (1991)

Director: Oliver Stone
Writers:  Oliver Stone, Zachary Sklar
Cast:       Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones

A New Orleans DA discovers there's is more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.  He disputes the Warren Commission's lone assassin theory and contends that multiple shooters were involved which by default makes it an act of conspiracy. 

Am not a big fan of Oliver Stone. Platoon was great while I found the rest of the films that I have seen of his to be average (Scarface, Natural Born Killers & Any Given Sunday). I am also not a big fan of 'Conspiracy Theories' because I don't think it is quite possible to keep a lid on what they accused to be conspiratorial involving a large number of people. So I was really not that inclined to watch JFK but I think the situation in US is such that it is not a stretch to believe that such an assassination to be carried out involving people occupying the highest of its intelligence community. I have been listening to Dan Carlin's 'Hardcore History' podcast lately and there was this one episode in which he discussed the cases of World leaders being under the influence of things they were taking which might have affected their decision making. He cites Napoleon, Hitler and Kennedy as some examples of people who were administered a lot of drugs by their doctors that won't be acceptable  these days. Kennedy's case is unique because his medical records, that were declassified recently, offers us access to see whether he could have been under the influence while we cannot say anything for sure about the older leaders. Kennedy was taking a lot of steroids and other stuff from a doctor whose license was revoked years later for doing the same for different pop stars. That reminded me of a theory which said that CIA assassinated him basically because his decision making was very impulsive and that he almost started a nuclear war. So it is suffice to say that I was kind of primed to watch this film.

The film won praise for its editing and it was very important for it to make sense to the audience with the use of flashbacks, reenactments and what not especially with its running time of close to three and half hours (Director's cut). Still I found the first half of the film, which basically is an investigation into who Lee Oswald was, to be quite boring with  an average script. Still it is essential for it to be there for you to buy the conspiracy theory that the film is advocating in its second half. Kennedy, in his time as US President with decisions on Cuba, Soviet Union, CIA oversight (through McNamara) etc, could have been assassinated for various different reasons and the film points the fingers at US intelligence community and Defense Department with their motive being Kennedy's decision to withdraw from Vietnam. Post war US being a War machine which looks for it in all places so that the various businesses could line their pockets from it is a  position that has been strengthened due to Dubya and his neo-cons' excursions in Iraq. I found the second half of the film, which went into answering 'Whydunnit', to be more interesting but I don't know whether it was because I watched the film over two days. 

Many can argue about the veracity of what Oliver Stone is claiming but all have to admit that it is great film-making. His attitude was that against what he claims to be a fictional myth like Warren Commission's version of the event should be a counter-myth from his side. At the end of the film it states that all the documents connecting to the event will be declassified by late 2020s only but after the release of the film JFK act was passed which led to the formation of Assassination Records Review made (ARRB) because of which  declassification will occur as early as 2017. Films don't matter, eh?

Obvious parallels could be made with Costa Gavras' 'Z' and Kurosawa's 'Rashomon'. Stone himslef said that Z was more of an influence with it also featuring a political assassination in a fascist state. Oliver Stone, himself a Vietnam war veteran, has made plenty of Vietnam war films and JFK can also be considered to be one of them. As for the question of believing the conspiracy theory surrounding JFK assassination- am inclined to buy it. JFK is certainly Oliver Stone's best film.

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lucy (2014)

Director: Luc Besson
Writer:    Luc Besson
Cast:       Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Luc Besson said that Lucy will be part Leon, part Inception and part 2001: A Space Odyssey. Well, it is all that without any of their seriousness. The scientific theory of 'Humans only using 10% of their brains and what if they use more of it?' scenario is not very credible but don't let that fact prevent you from enjoying the film. The same thing was used in 'Limitless' where also it was some drug that enhances the brain usage. In that film the story was more about how the protagonist was using it for his own gains while Lucy finds herself to be less of a human with her increased capabilities and is not motivated by things like greed. She decides to put it for a good cause by getting in contact with a professor (Morgan Freeman) who did some theories based on the central premise. In that regards it will remind one of 'Transcendence'. Anyway when you consider the three big sci-fis that came out this year-Transcendence, Lucy and Interstellar, Lucy was the most fun basically because it didn't take itself too seriously. It was the second most expensive French production and was a big box office success grossing close to $460 million, which is remarkable considering that it was a female led R-rated film.

The film has a definite B-grade and Grindhouse vibe to it which actually made it more enjoyable. The car chase scene in particular was very cheesy like one you would find in a Bollywood film. Some of the visuals used for the 2001 like sequence was great. Luc Besson did some great work in the early part of his career (The Big Blue, Subway and Leon) after which he has remained primarily in the cheesy action genre mainly serving as executive producer for franchises like Transporter and Taken. His turn as director for something like Lucy which mixes the sensibility of the action genre with his own sensibilities from the earlier part of his career, turns out to be really enjoyable mish mash of a film.

Rating: 3/5