Tagged: Movie Reviews

“Fracture” the movie


I watched this movie from 2007 just recently and liked the flow of events combined with what my wife described as the success of Anthony Hopkins as always, with “the expected outcome” resembling his previous movies. I am sure you now recognize my badly worded English sentence, and am sorry for that construction.

Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling deliver excellent performances in this movie, which is about a crime of passion which landed in trial with the immediate expectation that the perpetrator would be convicted due to the nature of the “open and shut” case with serious evidence. But it was not to be……..the movie leads you through some unexpected twists during the trial which the district attorney’s office eventually loses. Totally unexpected.

Movies like “Fracture” educate the audience on legal matters. In this case, a reasonable jury member drawn from the public would have rejected the same murder charge being applied to the defendant for the second time (recall the “Double Jeopardy” principle). However, if for the same crime, a different charge is brought froward with appropriate evidence to go by, then the principle does not apply, and the defendant can be prosecuted again.

Of course, in the movie there are several coincidences which work out for the benefit of the story line – like for example, the murderer expects that his wife’s lover would turn up to investigate the crime at his home (which is too much of a coincidence), but the guy does turn up and witnesses the outcome of the crime – his lover lying in a pool of blood which makes him lose control. The other key thing is that the assistant DA (Ryan Gosling) notices the switch of mobile phones with his co-investigator, and then looks at the photo of the murder weapon which is of the same make as the one owned by the police officer who turns up at the murder scene. So, the thought of switching guns enters his mind, again too much of chance, when this should have been assessed right after the crime.

But then, this is just a movie and so things have to happen to perpetuate the story line, and that is exactly what happened. Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching the movie just for Anthony Hopkins’s inscrutable performance and Ryan Gosling’s smiling face which is trying to discern that inscrutability of Anthony Hopkins!

Good movie, and since there is no violence can be watched with the family. I am sure your family member are going to seek your wisdom as to what is happening in the movie, and I am sure you will keep it to yourself. I suggest you relish this movie with a glass of wine (may not be enough of course), but then if you wish to think through, I would strongly recommend wine!!

Enjoy the movie and enjoy your wine, have a good finale to the weekend, mates,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

19th March 2017

 

 

3.4 Movies in one sitting


Which is not unusual, right?

I was on a fairly long flight (from X to Y of course) couple of days ago. Managed to see 3.4 movies during the flight time (40% of the last movie which translated to around 50 minutes). The balance 0.6 portion of the last movie I just finished seeing on my laptop at home.

While each one of these movies deserve a “movie review”, I am kind of bit lazy to write 4 blog posts, one on each. I decided to write one post, which is not exactly a review of all these movies. My random selection of movies from the flight entertainment system turned out to be rather good, as I recounted the same to my wife.

Here is the list of the movies from the latest selection available on Singapore Airlines Inflight Entertainment System:

  1. The Girl on the Train – a mystery thriller drama
  2. Inferno – thriller based on religious conspiracies
  3. Keeping up with the Joneses – espionage action comedy
  4. The Accountant – accounting crime thriller

In my opinion, “The Girl on the Train” receives the top marks amongst these 4 random movie selections, followed by “The Accountant”. The “Inferno” gets the third place.

I liked the acting of Rachel (Emily Blunt) in “The Girl on the Train” – her sad and forlorn countenance enhanced her vulnerability as the alcoholic who has been disowned by her husband for her alcoholism and violent behaviour. I sympathized with her condition, and worried that she was going to get hurt, though I felt she was on the wrong. But things turned out differently later in the movie, and I was happy see her redemption. I did not guess that the murderer of Megan (Haley Bennett) was Tom (Justin Theroux), who was Rachel’s husband. The profiling of the psychiatrist, Dr Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez) as a Middle Eastern man was not the right thing to do, leading to suspicion on him as the potential killer. Racial and ethnic profiling need to be curtailed unless the story is a true one based on real life.

“The Accountant” was a good financial crime thriller and I liked the acting of Ben Affleck, who is the main actor. He comes as an autistic person with super human killer capabilities, not just in high end analytical maths, but also in high end killing. The movie does not tie the lose ends well, and connects autism with some super special skill, which may not be the case in real life (with one out of 68 kids in the U.S. being autistic). However, I enjoyed watching the standard Hollywood crime thriller action.

The “Inferno” is not a great movie like its predecessors from Dan Brown heritage. I am getting tired of seeing the run around cathedrals and tombs of Rome and Istanbul. Tom Hanks acts well, and there are some good surprises in the movie. It is surely watchable, no doubt. However, the series is getting tired and probably should be retired. Connecting a religious thriller with bio-terrorism and World Health Organization is laughable.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is just an action comedy, the likes of which I have seen many a time. Nothing much in it, except that it is a good time killer. And, you can laugh at it for a while.

Have a good weekend folks,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

25th February 2017

 

 

SPLIT the movie


I went to the cinema to see this psychological horror-thriller movie recently, because my wife said that this will be a good one since the director is the famous Night Shyamalan of “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs” fame. I said fine and went along – the mistake I made was that I did not look up on the movie’s storyline and reviews. So, it was a total surprise, and shock to see what truly turned out to be a horror movie with unexpected twists and some gory scenes.

To start with, the movie (like many Hollywood horror and crime movies) reminded me that there are many deranged, mentally unstable and psychologically challenged folks around us (not just in the U.S., but it will appear that their existence seems to be predominantly in the Western world, and especially in the U.S.). Coincidentally, I read just yesterday that the U.S. Congress overturned a previously passed bill which will restrict mentally disturbed folks to obtain guns (which means that the U.S. Congress now says that it is absolutely all right for mental patients to buy guns without any further checks and roam around cities, doing whatever they wish).

It is no wonder directors and story tellers get ideas from the real world happenings in these so-called advanced societies. The main reason why a person gets into a mentally disturbed state or into a multiple-personality disorder state is because of parental abuse, or because a close relative abused the person during his or her younger years – well, this situation is not restricted to advanced countries, it also happens in other countries. However the key difference is that the legal system in advanced societies treat these patients rather kindly (probably because there is advanced psychological, psychiatric and medical help available) and let these folks back into society, while in developing countries, there is apparently more caution exercised especially when there is a criminal angle. When there is a clear case for suspecting that a person is abnormal, and has tendencies to inflict crime on unsuspecting people around him/her, then a restraint is absolutely necessary, weighing the society’s safety to be more important than the individual’s.

Coming back to SPLIT, the movie, the key thing which stands out is the eerie cinematography and the direction. Of course, James McAvoy has delivered a stunning performance as the person who has multiple personalities which dominate him at different times. I will be remiss if I don’t mention the amazingly talented Anya Taylor-Joy, who is one of the three young girls abducted. The mind games she plays against James McAvoy in the movie are thrilling, and her vulnerable demeanour adds tension to what is already an environment filled with unexpected turns and twists.

Betty Buckley comes as Dr Fletcher, who is the psycho-therapist for our patient. She is fabulous in putting together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and realizes that there is something wrong with her multiple-personality patient. I expected her to go with some police assistance to the home of the patient, but she doesn’t, adding further to the thrill and tension. I also expected her to survive, but she…………

Well, at the end, I would say that Night Shyamalan has laid out his plans for a sequel, as the “beast” survives, not caught by the police. SPLIT is an absolutely thrilling movie which challenges our understanding of complex mentally challenged patients, and how an otherwise normal individual can be completely taken over by another damaging and harmful persona. Such patients pose a huge challenge to society, and need to be handled carefully by the medical community – they cannot just mingle with the rest of the society until the time they are cured, but then the cure could be an illusion as we saw in this movie.

Now I realize how difficult it would be for the person concerned to be in and out of multiple personalities, and even more so how hugely challenging it would be for the psychologists/psychiatrists to decipher the problems of such patients and then render the appropriate treatment on an ongoing basis.

An amazing thriller, but hold the arm rests tightly.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

18th February 2017

Winter in Wartime


This is an amazing Second World War Movie from Holland.

I continue to be fascinated by the heroism of young men (in this case a very young 13 year old boy) depicted in real life against the German Nazis. Whenever I happen to chance upon a good wartime movie, I have grabbed it and watched it non-stop. There is no other way to experience the worst catastrophe which befell the twentieth century.

“Winter in Wartime” is one such movie. Powerfully directed by Dutch director Martin Koolhoven and acted fabulously by Martijn Lakemeier as the young boy, the movie shows how such a young person matures during difficult war times faster than he would during normal times. I loved the acting by Martijn, who has delivered a phenomenal performance – I almost thought that the movie is for “real” and the happenings are true-to-life in all aspects of movie direction.

When Martijn’s father was dragged by the Nazis and shot dead by them in the town square, Martijn is shown running towards the place at a great speed, and the emotions and the anguish that he depicts on his face are something that the movie viewers will instantaneously perceive. I almost wept when Martijn just arrives at the town square and the bullets from the heartless Nazis hit his father’s chest and he falls down dead. The agony of a child is unbearable and I should commend the director for this fabulous piece of cinematography.

But, I think – why and how could Germans be so bad, vengeful, reckless and heartless? How can they be so ungodly? What made them into sheer animals who could take others’ lives – even those who were not fighting against them? After all, Holland was occupied territory and the Nazis were just governing the same ensuring that any resistance could be foiled. How can a nation like Germany allow its soldiers to murder (not kill in a battlefield) not only the innocent citizens of its own country, but of other occupied countries?

Nazis showed no respect for human life.

And, I also wonder what converts people into turncoats? In the movie, “uncle Ben” is shown as a good person, a guy who works for the underground resistance, but ultimately turns out to be a Nazi collaborator who could have potentially stopped the murder of Martijn’s dad by the Nazis. If extreme situations under war time can apply extreme pressures upon the human soul, may be it becomes weak and not able to take the pressure, and agrees to give up one’s own family and friends. I cannot believe that this can be the case, but apparently such situations have happened in Nazi occupied countries. People save their skin (for the moment), acting as informers on their own family and friends. How ridiculous can that be?

The movie also shows that how Europe has suffered during the wars, and how scars remain even to this day. The movie was released in 2008, a full 63 years after the end of the Second World War, but still resonated with Europeans, especially with the Dutch.

The war’s harsh realities hit Martijn quite hard and he also discovers that he should not be trusting everyone around him. The induction of the bad qualities of adulthood at the age of 13 are clearly demonstrated in the direction and acting. While I keep thinking about bigger issues involving the inhuman actions of the Nazis, and trying to “feel” what the indefensible people those days must have felt, the movie still manages to leave an indelible impression on me of a young boy whose normal growth into adulthood was accelerated by the war in a very unusual manner causing deep scars in him.

Do we “feel” the impact of this historical scar caused by Nazis and Nazi Germany? Can we ever even get close to the happenings of Second World War which caused so much untold sufferings to normal human beings at the hand of a cruel dictator and a country without a soul? Only people who suffered those days can tell. We are only seeing the movies and writing about the same.

I hope such a situation never arises again on this planet.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

22nd January 2017

Muhteşem Yüzyıl – “Magnificent Century”


I am currently watching Episode 34 of Season 1 of Muhteşem Yüzyıl or the Magnificent Century on NetFlix – a Turkish TV Serial about the Ottoman Empire, specifically, Sultan Suleyman Khan or Suleyman the Magnificent.

It is an interesting and intriguing story about the exploits of the Sultan Suleyman, who was the most successful Ottoman Sultan ever. Apart from his conquests and council meetings, the coverage is largely centred around “palace intrigue” = what happens in his palace amongst members of his harem and members of his immediate family. Rather absorbing and sometimes thrilling. The story resembles Hindu Mythological Epics in several ways, but the storylines are very different. I realized that every major dynasty or empire would have some great guys like Sultan Suleyman, whose story of empire-building becomes the basis of future TV Serials!

The more of the serial I see, the more I am impressed by the wide variety of skills displayed by the Sultan – he is a skilled jewel maker, for instance and makes very special jewels for his wives and sister. He is a complete package of an individual – an accomplished warrior, a military strategist par excellence, a nation builder, an architect of palaces and mosques, an encouraging patron of the arts and literature as well as music. There are very few kings who were like him – he was also a Sultan who was particular about rendering justice and was always inclined to measure the responses and feedback from his subjects during anonymous trips to the city bazaar. He also encouraged talent when he found it even in non-Turkish people, like in his Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha, who was just his Concierge before earning the complete trust of the Sultan and replaced established Pashas who were vying for the Grand Vizier post of the Ottoman Empire.

It is truly amazing to see the rivalries amongst contenders for Sultan’s attention. The whole Topkapi Sarayi (the Sultan’s primary palace) seems to be filled with such rivalries and treachery, with the maids-of-honour playing some key roles. One can also witness the corrosive influence of communication-peddling of the wrong type, inflaming people to take some vicious action. Surely, none of these happenings are unnatural at all – in fact, one should expect such things in any dynasty of yesteryears.

Of course, people learn from such treachery and today’s politicking has come about from such palace intrigue. We all know political dynasties continue, though being challenged in many countries. However, dynasties have a longish rule and a habit of returning to power, as we often see in the Indian political scene.

I am fascinated by the Ottoman dynasty – I do not recall having studied about it in my secondary school History textbooks. I never bothered to learn about it till I chanced upon this TV Serial, and then I wondered how come I missed such a fabulous storyline. Here is the story of a valiant Sultan who challenged most of Southern Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt and Persia. This serial has provoked me to read up more stuff on the Ottoman dynasty and its historical significance and influence, and I am truly amazed about it. Especially about Sultan Selim Khan (Suleyman’s father) and Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.

There are four Seasons to be seen, so there will be a big number of Episodes, like the Mahabaratha or Ramayana. I believe one can learn a lot about Political Science and Human Behaviour from such stories. Not much has changed ever since, and new chapters in these two disciplines continue to dazzle today’s world. We will witness more of such real-time, online Episodes in the coming months, and I won’t be surprised if CBS or NBC come up with “Donald Trump – the Outlier as President” Serial in the next couple of years. And, we will all be seeing that Serial for sure.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

25th December 2016

 

Riphagen – The Untouchable


This is more than a movie review.

This movie is set during World War II – the most fascinating time of the 20th Century in terms of remaking this world, and also its most shocking time in terms of the massacre of innocent civilians (mostly Jews) in the hands of the Nazis.

A really suspenseful movie, this was also the first Dutch movie that I have seen. Andries Riphagen was a real-life Dutch gangster who sold hiding Jews to the Germans who would then send them to the gas chambers in Poland. He was a smooth talking and slick looking man who persuaded Jews to part with their valuables and properties in return for safe passage to London via Antwerp which never happened. He double-crossed all of them, and every one of these poor Jews was murdered by the German Nazi machinery. Riphagen worked closely with the German secret police (SD), and his German superiors demanded results, and Riphagen acted mercilessly.

It is an excellent movie which displays human greed more than anything else. Since the movie centers on Riphagen more than anyone else, I am not going to comment further on Nazis. While gangsters everywhere are the same (Riphagen was called Al Capone of Denmark) in terms of their behaviour and greed for money, in this sorry episode of the real Riphagen (this is a true life story), Riphagen broke his conscience, and sent hundreds of Jews to their extermination from the face of this earth, while trying to enjoy their hard-earned money and jewelry and property. If it is just stealing and cheating people out of their possessions during hard times (like the World War), it may be acceptable to human conscience. But then, if Riphagen remorselessly and shamelessly plundered innocent peoples’ belongings promising to return them to the very same people after the end of the World War, knowing full well they would not be there to claim their possessions, then that kind of behaviour depicts a demonic and very evil one, and Riphagen was a very evil and a completely soul-less man.

As is always the case, I was affected by such human movies, as was the case with my wife.

We both always wonder how such human beings could have walked this very same earth, breathed the very same air, be amongst the very same people, yet found it easy and conscience-free while murdering innocent Jews. The world can never forget the atrocities of Nazis, and the world should never forget people like Riphagen who escaped from the last Dutch police officer to have ever come near him, and took refuge in Argentina, that great hiding place of Nazis for over six decades. He escaped from Denmark/Belgium in 1945 and the Dutch Police issued his arrest warrant in 1988! He was already dead by 1973!!

Such is the world we live in. If anyone thinks that there are no such people anymore, that anyone is living in a delusion and probably hiding in a monastery in the Himalayas. There are evil people and evil countries. Without naming them, you know who these people and countries are, so I am not making an effort to do so…….the World in general is a peaceful place but for these folks and whole countries who have been indoctrinated for many decades.

Can this world be ever pure? Well, that is a topic for another time and another blog. Enjoy your weekend, and see this movie “Riphagen – The Untouchable”. Excellent low budget movie, very well directed, very well acted.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

23rd October 2016

 

The Powerful PINK Movie


This is a riveting film from Bollywood which will keep you transfixed for some 136 minutes of powerful drama.

This movie is not a thriller – it is very impactful real-life drama from a male-dominated society which views women with a different lens as compared to men. Towards the latter half of the movie there are some very powerful courtroom questioning of the accused and the victim (roles reversed actually) and also some of the witnesses. Amitabh Bachchan delivers an excellent performance, though initially his role and contribution were difficult to comprehend.

I am not reviewing this movie per se, but I thought it would be best if I share some of my views on the lessons of this movie. This is almost a real movie, some of it based on the December 2012 rape of an innocent girl on a moving bus in that infamous city of Delhi. Most of it is, however, based on what happens in women’s lives on a routine basis when they simply go about their lives. They are harassed at every turn of their daily lives. They are teased and winked about all over a major city, when they have to use public transportation – they have no choice of course. They are molested by touching by hardcore and immoral youth and other adult men, who make use of every available opportunity to do so.

The PINK movie would make you avoid the city of Delhi, but things happen in all Indian cities and rural areas. As I was thinking hard about this movie and its impact, I sometimes felt ashamed to be of Indian origin (though such things happen in many countries, but Indians have made it a regular affair) – I do not wish to hide this fact (of being ashamed of the status of Indian society and the unacceptable behaviour of Indian men towards women).

Delving deeper into my psyche, I started questioning the usefulness of Indian heritage and culture, which almost every Indian claims to be of superior value to mankind in general. I know I was entering a vague frame of mind sometimes, but as I thought through the matter of why Indian males have a superiority complex and why Indian women have long been subjugated, it became crystal clear that the Indian society and its morals need to be questioned. The corruption of the male mind and the intervention of political power have combined to create a caustic and toxic situation, in which females are considered OK to be teased, touched, molested and raped whenever convenient and appropriate. The result is that both powerful individuals (powered by their wealth, position and political/mafia power in society) and poor folks from rural areas, have gotten into their minds that molesting women is fair play and it is unlikely they will ever be challenged or punished. This goes with the implicit connivance of a corrupt society which is loose on morals while proclaiming allegiance to swamijis, gurus and gods; and, also stating that women are like the gods of the society.

When educated people like us turn a blind eye towards atrocities against women in society, the society further weakens as it takes our behaviour as approval of what is going on. We cause grievous injury to an already fragile fabric. The bad boys gain the upper hand, and continue to dominate. All this spirals into a cataclysm of irretrievable status for women in India from which they could never recover.

The manner in which law enforcement officers behave in India is shameful as portrayed in the PINK movie which is apparently the usual way in which things do happen. Police has to be the guardian of women, children and the downtrodden, but they are not. The manner in which the Police Officer crumbles in the courtroom under intense questioning of what is a fake FIR (First Information Report, which is the report of an incident filed with the Police Station) demonstrates the weak mental make-up of policemen in general, the influence of the politicians who intervene illegally, and the repercussions that police behaviour has on the society.

As more women become breadwinners of their families, and more women become assertive, we can and should expect them to rise up against the injustice of the society which is a corrupt and unjust society anyway. I would not say “no” to women being allowed to carry self-protective devices (especially in Delhi and much of North India) to combat unrelenting abuse and molest attempts by immoral men. Society conniving or not, time has come for Indian women to send a strong message via multiple fronts, one of these being the Court of Law.

As parents, it has become extremely critical to educate our children, especially the boys, about the equal value and importance of womenfolk in society. Boys should not grow up into adults who are already mentally corrupted and biased against women. We should collectively ensure that. We should also hire more women than men in corporate jobs, and that could change the minds of men. Many corporations are learning now that management balance and diversity leads to a higher quality engagement with all stakeholders.

In a nutshell, PINK is a powerful movie with valuable lessons for society. It is a must-see movie for the entire family, despite some unpalatable dialogues.

See it ! You will see how powerful it is !!

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

24th September 2016