18 May 2014

Fading Gigolo: Man, Woman, Money? Love?

A seller of rare books (Woody Allen) is down on business, until a revelation of need from his affluent dermatologist (Sharon Stone) leads him to offer his flower-arranging friend (John Turturro) a career as a gigolo. Things go well, as Allen plays pimp to Turturro, trying to fish in needy women. Then the gigolo falls in love.

Fading Gigolo has a flimsy premise in its midst and would have been pretty much a no show but for the chemistry and humour its cast generates. Woody Allen in a film not directed by him is good match for John Turturro, the film's director and main protagonist. The lonely women roles by Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara and Vanessa Paradis are part of the film's winning moments, as is Allen's legendary monologue bumbling wit . Turturro is an unlikely dark horse, he exudes vulnerability and eagerness for life, it is certainly a self-casting that works.

The Jewish background works incidentally as a comic statement on societal rules, it is otherwise a half-baked afterthought. The climax is unreasonably conclusive and tepid, a saving grace is the final Allen-Turturro scene, unexpected and warm to a degree. In fact, with some daft screenplay, the film could have explored the story further from where it ends. 

Finally, Fading Gigolo is a adult comedy that doesn't rise to great heights, but keeps it relevant and light with some sparkling moments, enough to exit the theatre with a satisfied air.   

8 May 2014

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Kiddie Stuff, Exasperating Letdown

I didn't know whether I felt old or young, reminiscing, almost yearning for Sam Raimi's impressively entertaining and balanced Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004) while watching the latest Spidey movie.

Story, Kind Of
Spider-Man/Peter Parker arrives at his graduation day, fighting off a truck driving villain like it were a joke. Since the redux has sent him back to college, and damn real young near awkward teenage years, some of the superficial dialogue is forgiven. But not so for the airy way of dealing with villains, friends, aunts, danger and death.

Everything seems out of an average book for young readers, a mild Mills & Boons mingled with tragedy.  As for the Jamie Foxx / Electro track of a lonely man seeking attention is a flimsy statement on alienation and narcissism. The bulky backstory is a contrived device for bringing back the green goblin, rather than meaning something or anything at all.

Barely there, but for the budget
It is all a pity, for Andrew Garfield makes the wisecracking geek hero contemporary. The chemistry with real-life partner Emma Stone is sparkling. But that's it. No other saviors here, the fight scenes are big-budget decorations at most, the movie's crutches.         

Just to Give You an Idea...
There is not one uplifting moment in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There is lot of bubblegum like chewing in the crawling running time, miserly humour, and no hint of either menace or danger. Even a main character dying seems like a Archies greeting card torn apart. No life to it, no connection, something distant, plastic and blurred. 

I was caught between watching a Cartoon Network hourly in live action and a dwarfed TV series. And the exasperation! Stepping out of the theater almost wanting to do all the things Spider-Man didn't do in the movie. Pass Tobey Maguire a web. Bring Sam Raimi in here (We forgive him Spider-Man 3, totally). Invent the film-making time machine please!      

Ripley's Believe It or Not
New Yorkers assemble to watch a villain (Rhino) machine-gunning the city as if it won't harm them, like its daily entertainment. Among them, a kid in a Spider-Man suit runs up before the Rhino in an intended symbolic gesture. Then the real Spider-Man arrives and makes light conversation with the kid. The villain conveniently waits, no action, no taking advantage. Yawn.

6 May 2014

Citylights (2014) Trailer

I usually don't play trailers on this blog, this is a first, because just a few seconds of acting got me, and it doesn't usually get through in a trailer.

All it took was a three-second frame of Rajkummar Rao asking for work on Mumbai's merciless streets between 1.00 and 1.05. Just that little clip told me of a man drowsy from walking on the streets, and of one who is too straight and unaware to fit into the city's guile. Just for that little awe moment, this trailer.