Gateway


I have been following this really awesome show on Sony PIX for a few weeks now. Yup, its very similar to the show 'On the Lot' that was on Star World and which was produced by Spielberg.

This one is called Gateway and it is a reality show contest for directors where the winner will get to a direct a Hollywood film produced by our very own Ashok Amritraj of Hyde Park Entertainment. And now, they are even calling for scripts. Aspiring scriptwriters may submit their scripts on gateway.rediff.com

The show is refreshing and wonderful. The jury consisting of regular jurors Ashok Amritraj, Anurag Basu( Director: Murder, Gangster, Life in a Metro) and Rajat Kapoor (Director: Mithya) is absolutely objective, helpful and professional. They always have a guest juror and some of the past ones have been Nagesh Kukunoor, Ketan Mehta, Sudhir Mishra etc. They started with 18 contestants and had series of team tasks as well as individual tasks. These tasks ranged from scriptwriting, storyboarding, shooting, script selling to short film-making.

Based on the performance there were four finalists. Last week Aman Sachdeva got eliminated leaving Bejoy Nambiar as one of the final two. Today (Sony PIX 10:00 PM Indian time, Sunday) Prshant Rasially and Vikram Bhatti , former team-mates in the team exercises will be up for judging based on a 10 minute film that they have made.

An awesome show with some great tips from the jurors, lots of lessons in film-making for many aspirants (and maybe some of our so called renowned film-makers as well!)

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Tashan


What a let down this one was ! What's happening to Yash Raj Films ? After some great ones like Chak De last year, they come out with a blooper of a movie called Tashan. Supposed to mean style, this movie as a whole lacks any of it.

The movie is nowhere close to the trailers and promos that ran. The trailer is worth more money that the movie itself and the only three things worth something in the movie are Akshay Kumar (as usual now a days it seems), Kareena Kapoor in new form-fitting Bikini and some good music.

The movie promised to be an awesome action movie. Well it has action, but sparse and unimpressive. The John Woo style action zips by that you blink and miss it. The small town hangover of Bunty aur Babli and Jhoom barabar Jhoom still lasts and ensures this movie sinks beyond repair, with flashback tales of small town backgrounds and charatcerization.

Anil Kapoor as Bhaiyaji, a don in Mumbai from UP who wants to learn English irritates you with repeated mumbling of broken English, Saif Ali Khan as Jimmy, a call center exec and an English coach is absolutely wasted. Kareena Kapoor as Pooja, who is not what she seems and is more or a less a prop and looks fabulous in her size zero bikini. Askhay Kumar as Bachchan Pandey, a goon from the banks of the Ganges with superhuman strength is the only one who shines purely because of his own efforts, timing, confidence and sheer screen presence. Direction/Story by Vijay Krishna Acharya simply does not exist. It appears as though a series of sequences were shot and then hastily put together. Absolute trash of a story which takes you all over India in the search for 25 crores which Jimmy and Pooja steal from Bhaiyaji and then Pooja steals from Jimmy and disappears (and they thought that's unpredictable ?). Bachchan Pandey is called in to track Pooja and then the money down. So you get a view of some exotic locales in Ladakh, Kerala and you get an item number in the desert too.

Absolute bloopers all through. Pooja hides money all over the country and the people hiding it don't take any ? Bhaiyaji is captured in his so called kingdom and gets away from the car with hardly any effort. These and many more big holes in the story/script.

Don't worry about the story. There isn't any. And the Saif-Kareena chemistry (since they are a couple in real life last I heard) simply isn't there. The music, her body and even Akshay Kumar just cannot save this disappointing let-down of a movie from Yash Raj films. they desperately need some new script writers. Maybe they should watch the TV Show Gateway ?

Sir mein dard bhaari, na Kareena ki body, na Akshay ki adakari, bachaye iss story/direction ke galathi ko, yehi to hain iss picture ka Tashan. (A heavy headache, neither Kareena's body nor Askhay's acting can save the mistake of story/direction, that is the style of the film called Tashan)

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3:10 to Yuma


Westerns are back ! Absolutely thrilled to have watched this one. Who doesn't love a lovely western flick ? And this movie just doesn't let you down

3:10 to Yuma has all the classic western elements and a superb cast with Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster and directed by James Mangold (of Walk the Line fame), the story of Outlaws, gunslingers and the eternal Good vs Evil is once again immortalised in cinematic glory.

Christian Bale (according to me one of the most under rated actors in Hollywood) plays a rancher Dan Evans who lost one leg in the war and is now struggling to save his ranch from the local landlord, feed his family and live up to his son's expectations. He soon gets a chance to do all of that and more when a famed and much wanted outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is caught and the railroad company (from which Ben robs quite a lot) offers 200 dollars to Dan if he escorts Ben Wade and puts him on the 3:10 train to Yuma.

Ben Wade is coolly confident that he will never set foot on the train, he will either escape or he will be rescued by his faithful and psychotic gang member Charlie Prince (Ben foster). Dan Evans on the other hand is fully determined to make sure Ben in put on the 3:10, to save his ranch, his family and more importantly be a man in his son's eyes. There begins a beautiful tale of wits, action and relationships.

The horses, the clothing, the dust, the boots....all the western elements shine through in glory.Will the hard and cold blooded Ben Wade see the error of his ways or will he have his way through force or bribery ? Will Dan Evans fulfill his mission and not give in to the bribery of Ben Wade, will he save his family and more importantly will his son see in his father a man and a hero who stands up for what he must do ?

3:10 to Yuma is a beautiful tale that will answer all these questions and will leave you strangely involved especially with the climax. While some would say predictable, what matters is the manner of storytelling which reminds you of all the Louis L'Amour westerns you read as a kid (if you did) and will remind you of the Clint Eastwood westerns.

Brilliant performances take this movie to an unforgettable level and this will be one of the best modern day westerns ever made. I am now watching another one - 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford' and after 3:10 to Yuma, my expectations are sure high up there.

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Meet the Spartans


Its a spoof. What can you expect from a spoof ? Lots of slapstick comedy, lots of caricaturing of popular stars, films and personalities ? Lots of cheap, crass, gross jokes and lots of sexual references ?

Meet the Spartans gives you all that and more. It gives you a lot of spoofs rolled into one, like any other spoof movie. Primarily the movie focuses on the movie 300 and that's why the tag line is 'Bigger the hit, harder they fall'.

Starring Sean Maguire as King Leonidas and Carmen Electra as Queen Margo, you have a series of characters right from Britney Spears to Tom Cruise to Ugly Betty to Ryan Seacrest to Paula Abdul appearing. Of course Leonidas for a spartan he is is born with a beard and is considered normal !

Cannot say much about this spoof except that like any other spoof, leave your thinking hat behind and just watch it. One of the painful parts if that the Spartans keep breaking into song and dance too often. One of the hilarious parts is when Xerxes, the God king of the Persians appears and the voice over says- Xerxes, the God king who looks very similar to the naked fat man in Borat, for the actor is the same !

Is the spoof good ? Well... NO. It gets a little too one sided and boring after a while but then if spoofs were classy and intelligent, who would watch them right ?

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U me aur Hum



A romantic cruise, a sharp womaniser, a bubbly cute woman, lots of music and dance. These are the key elements of the 1st half of Ajay Devgan's directorial debut U, me aur Hum.

The promos were clear that this was a romantic movie (the greatest journey is the distance between two people..) and right from the title screen you are treated to an overdose of romance, right from romantic sayings and proverbs on love appearing written in the sky as clouds etc

A new born baby, Alzheimer's, friends with troubled marriages, a doting husband-these are the key elements of the 2nd half of the film. My overall 'view' of the film is that it sucks ! Big time !
Not because the movie itself is boring, insensitive and long but the movie could have been so much more better if some time could have been spent on the story and script. The movie has done fairly well at the box office. According to Boxofficeindia.com the movies has grossed over 18 crores INR (USD 4.5 Millions) in about 3 weeks.

You get to watch the movie in mostly flashbacks as a tale being told by a man to a woman , supposedly a stranger in a restaurant, in order to win a bet with his son. You the man is Ajay (Ajay Devgan) and the woman is Piya (Kajol). The tale is one of a whirlwind romance on a cruise, some bits of comic incidents thrown in courtesy the loyal friends of Ajay culminating in a so very romantic marriage.

When all seems to be well and hunky dory, Piya is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and then begins the saga of a doting husband taking care of his wife who no longer recognizes him. There are many moral questions asked such as would you relegate your loved one to a care home for they no longer can take care of themselves ? Sadly, the movie shows no impact on these issues and they tend to be frivolous side dishes to the main dish featuring Ajay and Piya.

There are a couple of sequences which are extremely powerful and if the entire script was in the same league, this movie could have been far more powerful. The scenes where Piya forgets her home address, the scene where she is distracted by a lizard on the wall while her baby is in the bath tub are all arresting visuals, but then the movie is just too long and too focused on the dramatics of the husband, the wife and patient rather than on the story itself. The film could have been far more romantic if it had not tried to show too many things and just focused on one aspect.

The sidekicks played by Karan Khanna, Divya Dutta, Summet and Isha do not provide much relief either and only add to the pain you feel.

Watch it, if you really must. The music is no great deal except for a song or two. Better luck next time Ajay, focus on the script is all I can say ( I paid money for the ticket you know !). I wish the distance between me and the movie was the greatest journey ever!

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No Country for Old Men


Easily one of the classier movies I saw recently. Did the Cohen brothers deserve an Oscar for it and the 3 other Oscars it got ? Well... I don't know and frankly I don't care. I shall leave that to the intellectuals to debate. I am just a movie watcher.

Directed and written by Joel Cohen and Nathan Coel based on a Novel by Cormac mcCarthy the film features some of the best performances on screen by a stellar cast featuring Tommy Lee Jobnes, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Woody Harelson in a cameo. The tale is an awesome tale of changing times, greed, survival and desperation.

Josh Brolin plays Llewlyn Moses, a hunter who stumbles upon a drug related shootout, the drug consignment and 2 million dollars in cash. All that money and the promise of a better life sets off a chain of events that leads to many murders, mayhem and loss of law in this small town of Texas whose Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy lee Jones)believes the world is changing but still holds faith in the Bible.

Javier Bardem puts in an astonishing performance(and an Oscar winning one) as Anton Chigurh, an assassin for hire who murders in the strangest way possible, with a spring loaded metal rod triggered by a pressurized can of gas. The moment Javier comes on screen you sit back for he epitomises toughness and just basically cold-blooddedness. He's on the trail of the 2 million and on his trail is the DEA man Carson wells (Woody Harelson), but Anton leaves no trail or witnesses behind.

The hunter becomes the hunted and finds means and ways of survival with his survival instincts honed by fear and the desire of getting away with the 2 million. The assassin will not rest, nor tire of the chase. Will the law which is in a way startled by the ruthlessness of the crimes, the cold blooded assassinations catch up with them at all ? It is a country where the nimble footed quarry can get away but if the hunter is even more agile, nimble footed and psychopathic, will the chase ever end ?

Absolutely brilliant movie. Brilliant for its characterisation, brilliant for its casting and performance and brilliant for the way the makers have treated the story. The story appears to unfold in a lazy manner. You don't have the fast paced camera shots or jangling background score, it's just a story being told but then death like it does, appears suddenly and you realise this tale is no simple one, you better keep your eyes open !

Watch it ! Watch it !

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One Missed Call


A stranger Calls, The Ring and many other suspense/horror flicks usually remade from Japanese hits have caught our imagination or bored us to death at some point or the other.

One Missed Call is a bit of a mix of The Ring and Final Destination with a 'missed call' thrown in. No wonder the tag line says-What will it sound like when you die ?, for in this tale when you are about to die you receive a missed voice call and you get to hear yourself dieing along with the date and time ! And then from the victim's phone, a missed call goes out to the next victim ! Wow ! that's quite some story huh ? Directed by Eric Valette and based on a Japanese flick and novel, One Missed Call stars Edward Burns and Shannyn Sossamon. Edward Burns plays the police detective whose sister dies under mysterious circumstances and Shannyn plays the college students who notices a pattern to all the deaths happening around her.

There's also this little girl who is rescued from a burning hospital, who doesn't say a word but is somehow connected to the sinister happenings. That's The Ring angle for you ! And the deaths happen as pre-destined, in horrific manner. That's Final Destination for you .

The tale just doesn't have enough in it to hold you in horror. It becomes increasingly predictable as the story unfolds and you are left with a feeling of Deja Vu. Horror/Suspense film makers of today have a challenge should I say scriptwriters since we are exposed to so much of horror that 'horror' by itself doesn't seem to horrify us.

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Jumper


You are here one moment. The next moment you are on the Eiffel tower in Paris and the next you are in a place you see in a photograph. That's jumper for you.

Jumpers are a class of very few special beings with powers of teleportation. And yes, hunted by those who have sworn to kill them they live in hiding and fear. As the tag line says - Anywhere is possible.

Better than I expected it to be the movie is the tale of David Rice, a kid who discovers his powers when escaping from his drunken father's rage and looking at the photo of his long lost mother. He grows up on his own to become a young teen(Hayden Chritensen) and soon discovers that he can control his powers and of course live every teen's deepest fantasy...yup, of robbing a bank and getting away with it! He lives a life of worldwide travel, comfortable riches and also goes back to his hometown to meet his childhood crush Millie (Rachel Bilson).

But then, there's an ominous looking Roland(Samuel L Jackson) who's now hot on his trail and he has a machine that actually allows Roland to follow the jumper's trail. Will David escape and survive ? Will David get the affection of Millie ? What's David's mother got to do with all this ? Are there more Jumpers ?

Watch this movie, now only on DVD or on TV for its no longer running in the multiplexes in India, to know all this and have a quite afternoon of entertainment. Mind you, the star cast puts in an only average performance and the action is not so great but the scenes atop the Sphinx and the Pyramids are quite amusing.

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