Archive for May, 2014

Million Dollar Arm

When ‘City Of Joy’ came out, there was a lot of talk about how Hollywood showed India as a slum dump. In it’s defence, the novel on which the movie was based was about the time spent by a man from the 1st world in abject poverty in the most depraved part of an Indian city. Then came ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. The name itself has ‘slum’ in it. So the western world again after a couple of decades was treated with the spectacle of India, the land of the poor. I admit, ‘rags to riches’ sells better.But ‘Million Dollar Arms’ has no excuse. When JB Bernstein who drives a porche and lives in a multi-million dollar bachelor pad in upscale LA decides to set up office in Mumbai and is ready to give away $100000 as prize money, it was in the heart of a slum. A place where it stinks of garbage, A/C breaks down, his neighbours are all below poverty line, and he even gets diarrhea from the food. Stereotype much? He even shows via Skype where he was living to his neighbour back in LA. When he finds the boys and flies back to LA, we are treated with an aerial shot of skyscrapers, freeways, fast cars ; all the grandeur and glory of United States of America. Not a good start.
But here is the deal. If a movie can rope you in (in this case a super pissed me) slowly but surely as it unfolds in spite of it’s cliches, faux pas and predictability, it has done something right. John Hamm’s journey from a man who’s idea of commitment was directly proportional to amount of $$ to be gained, to the father figure of two scared, homesick boys who’s sparkling dreams to make it big in America was getting hazy and dim by the hour, was measured, with the right dollop of emotion and humour. Unlike the baseballs, Hamm seamlessly portrays a self centered businessman and an endearing father figure/older brother. He is the highlight of the movie no doubt. His charm is almost tangible. A R Rahman’s music score blends beautifully with the flow of the movie although it’s not clear to me why he ended the movie with a south Indian song when Hamm operated out of Mumbai and the boys were from Lucknow.It’s an uplifting movie about dreams, hopes, perseverance and the realization of the impossible. And I am officially a John Hamm fan.


Amazing Spiderman 2

The Amazing Spider Man 2 1280x1024 Wallpaper # 1
 There was a time when the French used to have 12 course meals. The 7th course called the Releve or Rest course was a breather before the remaining 5 courses.
AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 felt exactly like French dinner but without the breather. It brought a lot of exotic things to the table but as you meander through the courses trying to savour the taste of each,every new plot wipes away all flavour and memory of the last till (after a few false alarms) you finally finish your meal feeling really full but having no idea with what.
The cooking – he is no French chef but probably a wannabe from south Texas. So you get a distinct hint of how it should be but that’s about it. It lacked sophistication, charm, presentation and most importantly, harmony. The jump from one plot to the next was disjointed, jittery and felt like weekly episodes of a tv series.
Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield may have on and off screen chemistry but their love life is supposed to be the sub plot and spiderman’s heroic acts should have been the main course. Looked like someone forgot to mention that to the director.
The comic reliefs in the previous Spiderman movies came from cute and sensitive comedy of error sequences woven into his life. Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker was insecure, unassuming, socially awkward; a walking disaster. Andrew Garfield’ s Spiderman is streetsmart, dashing, sure (except when it comes to his love life) and spits out one liners like a late night talk show host while facing his enemy.
By the end of the movie if you feel Electrode was cooler than Spiderman, it’s saying something. If there ever was a classic example of what wonders a lot of smart marketing and hype can do to a very hackaneyed product, Amazing Spiderman 2 is it

LANDED: TOGETHER IN CANADA (A WorldPride Affiliate Event)


The LGBT community have been fighting for their basic rights, dignity, acknowledgement and acceptance in society; and they have been fighting for decades. It feels like, as soon as one hurdle is over come, another plants itself in our path. The more recent problems however, are more political than social.

When DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) was signed into law by then president Bill Clinton, a whole new series of hurdles sprung up in front of the LGBT community living in the United States. The laws got complex, convoluted and beyond rational reasoning. The few states at the beginning who legalised same-sex marriage like Massachusetts, those marriages were still not recognised by the Federal government or by other states. As a result, the couples could not file for federal tax returns and benefits together or entitled for federal grants. Along with these, another guillotine hovered over the heads for the bi-national same-sex couples. Immigration and citizenship being under the purview of the federal government and they not recognizing same-sex marriage, the foreign national in a bi-national couple has no legal right to apply for a green card even if they are legally married in their individual state and were in danger of being torn away from their partners and deported.

Read here about the harrowing impact of DOMA on bi-national couple.

To avoid being separated from their partner, a large group of bi-national same-sex couples immigrated to Canada where their union was recognized.

In RBC sponsored Emerging Artist Project, photographer Sarah Foy created a collage of such bi-national couples who have immigrated to Canada from the United States. Along with the visual, there is an audio track of these couples documenting the trials and tribunals they faced while trying to settle in a brand new country, away from their family and friends and starting from scratch.

People may argue that hundreds of people immigrate to other countries, so what’s the big deal. The big deal is more psychological. In most cases, if not all, people who immigrate to a foreign country, they do it because they want to, so they are prepared mentally for the unknown. But in the cases of these couples, they are forced to. And that makes all the difference. Not to mention the feeling of being unrecognized, rejected and uncared for by their own country.

Landed: Together in Canada as a title, aptly captures the essence. It’s a compelling artwork which tells the stories of LGBT individuals landing in the US, falling in love with an American and moving to Canada to be together.


Gallery Open: May 24th – June 29th 2014

Venue: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Over the years, we have seen lots of multi-million dollar movies with huge star caste and they felt as if all efforts had been spent into gathering top actors and little into the actual story or character development, resulting into hollow storyline, one dimensional half backed caricature of characters with blink and you miss screen times.
And then there is X-Men: Days of Future Past. Although it has all the ingredients to be an epic disaster of a film with the creme de la creme of Hollywood actors and a very complex storyline, it turned out to be storytelling at it’s best.
Brian Singer and Michael Vaughn’s expert narrative is a party for your senses. It builds up to a crescendo and explodes into a visually spectacular and emotionally charged climax that leaves you breathless but still yearning for more.
Inspite of the brilliant starcast from both old and the new X-Men movies Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Ellen Page, Halley Berry, Michael Fassbender and Peter Dinklage, the one that reigns supreme is James McAvoy. Charles’s vulnerability, pain, hopelessness, dejection and betrayal permeates your mind (it’s his special power after all) and takes you on an emotional roller- coaster ride providing the right amount of laughter and tear. His love/hate relationship with Erik is powerful, funny (at times) and heartbreaking. Charles’s struggle with the others to reconcile with the fact that they are different and to learn to love themselves for who they are and how they look even if they don’t conform to the norms of the society is heartfelt and genuine. JLaw as Raven/Mystique is splendid. You will love her for her vulnerability, get frustrated by her stubbornness and cheer for not destroying the future and ofcourse for saving Logan.
In my opinion, Days of Future Past is by far the best installment in the X-Men saga.
Oh! By the way, sit through the casting in the end and you will be in for a surprise.

I, Frankenstein


I have lost count, how many times mankind has been on the verge of annihilation by natural, supernatural, or extra-terrestrial forces, but each time it has become progressively more spectacular than the last.
I, Frankenstein is no different. Fast paced, architectural grandeur, visual splendor, crisp editing (1hr 35mins), the movie hits all the secondary notes right. Acting??? Not so much.
But then again, one doesn’t expect Oscar worthy performances in a movie about demons and gargoyals. Every character is very one dimensional.
I respect Bill Nighy, but chick suited demon head — he is not scary enough.
For a Tuesday special 5$ deal, it’s worth a watch.
If People’s Magazine existed 200 years ago, it might have voted Aaron Echart The Sexiest Dead-man Alive. After watching this movie, no one will ever say about a hideous man “He looks like Frankestein.”

Love Punch

Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall. A mindless, feel good, total time pass comedy. It was not a true story which is a welcome change because it seemed true stories were the flavour of this years TIFF. Brosnan and Thompson are a divorced couple who one day find themselves stripped off their life’s savings by a French company who took over the company Brosnan had been working for all his life and shut it down. With all his pension gone, company’s shares hitting rock bottom, their desperation to take back what was rightfully their’s take them to Paris to confront the young new owner. Being unceremoniously thrown out of the office worked as a catalyst to their plan of stealing a huge rock (diamond ) which the owner had bought for 1.5 million $ as gift for his gorgeous would be wife on wedding day. And this becomes the premise of a hilarious British comedy.
Brosnan was charismatic ( when is he not ), the lovely Ms.Thompson was superb, her comic timing bang on and this was my first time seeing Timothy Spall as anything else but Peter Petigrew. If you want just a feel good movie, which will make you laugh and leave a smile on your lips while you exit the theatre, this is the one.


The movie I had been looking forward to all festival and crossing my fingers and toes too so that I get to watch it, was KILL YOUR DARLINGS. Based on Beat Generation ( A group of post World War II American writers Allen Ginsberg, William S Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr and not really a part of the Beat Generation but still essentially a part of their individual lives David Kammerer.) A gripping taut murder mystery, where there were no real mystery as such, as the movie opens with the scene which tells the audience who murdered who. The rest of the movie is a flashback of how the guys first met and what led to the murder. The movie had enough potential to slack and drag and go off track, but in his directorial debut, John Krokidas does a remarkable job, and of course a huge portion of the credit goes to the editor for the crisp and edgy editing. Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Grinsberg is stupendous ( a very courageous undertaking ), Ben Foster as William S Burroughs, Michael C Hall as Kammerer fit the roles as a snug pair of gloves but Dane DeHaan probably was tailor made for his role as Lucien Carr, for his golden good looks and it is not difficult for the audience to understand why a professor ( Kammerer ) twice his age, Ginsberg ( his classmate in Columbia University ) and Kerouac ( college jock with a beautiful girlfriend ) were head over heels in love/lust over him.

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