30 Dec 2013

The Dark Knight: Select Posters


26 Dec 2013

Movie Review: Argo : Tense Thriller

Iran, 1979 - a time of repression and hostility, certainly not a time to be featured on tourism brochures. CIA agent Tony Mendez finds himself in Iran in order to save six US Embassy employees under the guise of producer, for a sci-fi film Argo, a film that exists only on paper. Time is running out and Mendez must act fast to gain confidence of the six people, already shattered by their self-imposed 70-day seclusion at the Canadian ambassador's house. 

The denizens of Iran come off a little less hostile than the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.The depiction of the country is harrowing and suits well in to US paranoia. How much of it is true is but a matter of cinematic liberty and political flavour. Just like his tight 2010 heist movie The Town, Ben Affleck directs with detachment and control, even as he plays one of the main protagonists. 

Why Argo won the Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars and why did Michelle Obama have to announce it from The White House makes a prominent appendix to the movie's DVD afterlife. In a way, Argo was a potential mob instigator for walloping support against the present Iranian government. Fanning crowd frenzy is ironically, a phenomenon featured prominently in the movie.  

Finally, Argo is a well made Hollywood thriller based on true events and in a treatment that exaggerates the tense situation adroitly. Worth watching, not a classic but quite good.

If you want an insider's view in to the Iran of 1979 and beyond, the wonderful graphic novel memoir Persepolis and to a trimmed extent - its movie adaptation, would help.  

23 Dec 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (3D): Induced action mars story

Let us call it the kamasutra syndrome.That, just like the addition of the word 'kamasutra' in a film title weighs in sex scenes, so has the inclusion of 3D lead to catastrophic flippancy in screenplay.  Which is a pity, for JRR Tolkein's The Hobbit is a gem of a book (380 odd pages) - complete, strong and intensely delicious fantasy.  

Then there is the matter of fusing The Hobbit movies as a prequel to the LOTR films, leading to unnecessary u turns in to Sauron's resurgence, all adding on to the three hour running time. This is a band of film reel elastic that needed much trimming. Two three hour parts would have easily done it.The screenplay's deviations and additions (female interest, Legolas returns) to the original story has sprung no pleasant surprises yet.     

2D, where is thee? 
Watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug made me yearn for the good old days of 2D storytelling. After all Peter Jackson showcased his path breaking, often subtly plagiarized Lord of the Rings trilogy in this simpler format.In contrast, The Desolation of Smaug reeks of choosing trite video game action (the barrel chase sequence; anything goes) over story under the weight of showcasing upgraded 3D. Prolonged face offs, though at many times impressive (Smaug as impressive as the director's Gollum and King Kong), numb the storytelling.

Plus points 
Jackson's genius lies in character build up and the action design. Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is the main attraction here and the saving grace.The uncanny aesthetic sense in special effects shines through again.The performances are all spot on, the Howard Shore music is a bit too familiar now.

On a whole, The Desolation of Smaug is an entertaining action fantasy with many great moments.Those looking for memorable lingering episodes, locations and characters from the book - forget it. Beorn, Mirkwood, Lake Town are all causalities.

Yet, Peter Jackson still has a standard and this one is certainly worth a watch. If only the director hadn't treated the tale as a light, children's yarn, leading to cinematic mitigation of the 'watch and forget' kind.             

Watch out for    
Bilbo stumbling over hills of gold and a dragon's body unraveling amongst it all.