19 Aug 2017

James Bond News: Bond 25: Daniel Craig Returns


Daniel Craig, the actor who has played Bond with an edgy, authentic rough and tough scrub, is set to star in his fifth James Bond movie. This was confirmed recently by Craig on a late night show, according to 007.com, the official James Bond website. The movie is presently tentatively titled Bond 25.

Full Circle for Daniel Craig
Craig has come full circle since his first Bond movie Casino Royale (2006). In fact, Craig was hit with widespread public criticism when he was first selected to play the flamboyant British spy. There was even an website called saynotodanielcraig.com to protest against Craig's casting. But over the years, Daniel Craig has proven his mettle, though the films have been largely underwhelming, except for Skyfall (2012).
 
Bond 25 Release Dates
The evergreen, smooth-talking, playboy spy will return to the big screen in 2019. The US release is set for November 8, 2019. Binding to tradition, the UK, and other countries will get earlier release dates.This will be the 25th official film of the Bond franchise. This is not counting, of course, the only unofficial 1983 Bond movie Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery.

Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, collaborators on previous Bond productions including the four movies starring Daniel Craig, return to the helm again. Meanwhile, cheers and let's sip our martini at a beach side of an exotic foreign locale, waiting for Eva Green to turn up, or sip...Ursula Andress.

18 Aug 2017

Movie Review: Bareilly Ki Barfi: Sweet, Satisfying, Romantic Comedy


Bitti Mishra (Kriti Sanon) is the unabated, small-town tomboy, a sly Bareilly electricity board employee, break dancer, occasional smoker and drinker, and part-comprehending viewer of English movies. Her parents (Pankaj Tripathi and Seema Bhargava) are introduced by the off-putting narration as 'not normal' (The old world Hindi novel-like narration is redundant and unnecessary). Unlike typical Indian small-town parents, they don't impose themselves on Bitti.

When the unconventional, free-spirited Bitti gets repeatedly rejected by prospective grooms, she dejectedly decides to leave town. At the railway station book stall, she stumbles upon a novel called 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' by Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkummar Rao). The female lead is (surprise!surprise!) exactly like Bitti. Mystified, Bitti cancels her fleeing plans, desirous to meet this mysterious writer. Enter Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana).

Love Triangle With Laughs  
Despite the far off echoes of the Sanjay Dutt-Salman Khan-Madhuri Dixit love triangle Saajan (1991), Bareilly Ki Barfi has a now familiar semi-rural authentic zeal, color, clean humor and occasional zing.

Midway, there are clear hints as to how it will go. A lesser director would have delivered this cold and dull. But director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari takes sufficient clever diversions to keep us guessing in this sweet, funny film.


Rajkummar Rao Towers Over the Cast 
Kriti Sanon has matured into a good actor, far cry from her dull-faced Hindi debut Heropanti (2014). Ayushmann Khurrana is competent, dependable and sporty, adding ample conviction to his tortured, selfish lover role. The Chirag-Pritam interactions showcase great male lead chemistry.    

Pankaj Tripathi, so hilariously brilliant in the director's previous release Nil Battey Sannata (2016) is in his element here. It is Rajkummar Rao's innocent sari salesman and induced-tough guy act that is stand out terrific. Rao battles the character's uneven turns, to create a compelling, laugh-out-loud meek, good-hearted part.    

Sweet Minus Bite  
Bareilly Ki Barfi sticks to its conventional romantic comedy journey, takes its time to crackle, makes us laugh loud and ends tad predictable, without that necessary elevated bite.

For its fluent editing, performances, genre-faithful writing, and assured direction, Bareilly Ki Barfi is a good (*** out of ***** stars) bet at the cinemas this week. It is not a laugh riot, but balanced and intelligently made.  

15 Aug 2017

The Best Movies of 2017: As on August 15, 2017

Based on what I have seen in the theaters so far, the best movies of 2017 as on August 15, 2017 are as follows. 
It has been a memorable time at the movie theaters. I have consciously attended single screens, multiplexes, and alleged IMAX theaters to savor movies (more than ever before) on 70mm this calendar year. 
A Death in the Gunj 
Konkana Sen Sharma’s debut directorial is an haunting ode to nostalgia, introverts, bullying and human fragility.
Dunkirk
Nolan scores with a minimalist, non-linear, bloodless and sharply edited war movie that digs out a new genre for itself. A war classic in the making.
Lipstick Under My Burkha
Funny, bold, revolutionary, relevant as hell, path-breaking. A serious contender to the TOP THREE BOOM BOX FILMS OF THE YEAR title. A big bear hug to all women who want to live their lives, just like men do and not be sorry for it. Hear, hear. 
Logan
A mind-blowing smoking hot X-Men movie that goes against the norm, has gruesome violence, well-coordinated action set-pieces, nice sci-fi mumbo-jumbo to explain the merciless plot. A script that pushes the envelope to mark an important curve in the Wolverine story. Thank you, Hugh Jackman. Thank you steel claws.

Spider-Man: Homecoming 
A refreshing contemporary teenage update, a great commercial punch to take Peter Parker back to school again. The clumsiest, error-prone, raw, clueless Spider-Man ever. This is not great cinema, but the many irreverent, comic touches and quips make this a version just right for the random WhatsApp-indulgent audience.
Moving On: Every film screening has its share of memorable moments. Startling cell phone ringtones, snores, sniggers, ex-colleagues, near-deserted spooky auditoriums, accompanying friends have added to the conversation, laughter, exasperation, and drama. 
Not a dull moment at the cinemas, despite piracy, streaming services, torrent and pen drives. May the big screen live on. Amen!