Nov 23, 2009

Kerala Cafe review - kathakalati sadaram

Director Renjith who conceived this idea of making 10 short films which get grounded by a coffee shop in a railway station called Kerala Cafe, has given a mammoth task to his friends, the 10 directors. It's a nice concept more than a nice film. The message is loud and clear as each story tries to send out a clear picture of nuances of life thereby taking us in a roller coaster ride through the cross section of the world we live.

I will list out the ones I thought were superlative efforts and will leave the average ones.

Movie no: 2 - Island Express - This train starts moving on an unconventional note and unrelated characters in Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Sukumari, Rahman and Raju who all convey to pay homage to their loved ones. But less we know that these were the left-overs of the biggest rail accident Kerala has ever witnessed - the 1988 Peruman tragedy. The more we get into the skin of the characters, the more we like them. The last scene where Prithvi tells her girlfriend pointing to a disintegrated Raju "he was the one who drove the train that day" is touching.

Movie no: 5 - Happy Journey - After an eternity, I could see the vintage Jagathy on screen and tell you what, it's worth 200 bucks. He's characterized as a middle aged 'flirt of the town' who tries to have a crack on a gal seated next to him in the KSRTC bus from Ernakulam to Calicut. As the story goes on, he finds the gal too strong and mysterious to be on top thus learning a strong lesson. For Jagathy's performance, the Kerala Cafe hits half-way on a high note.

Movie no: 8 - Bridge - I was taken back when I read the name of the director of this masterclass, Anwar Rasheed. The film talks about two families in parallel, one where an angry father throws away his son's pet cat into the bemire streets of cochin and the other were Salim Kumar leaves his mentally challenged mother into the streets because he couldn't take care of her anymore. Do I need to explain more? It's a classy take on defection.

Movie no: 9 – Makal – Revathy who directed this flick has penned the story as well. Though the story moves on predictable lines, it’s still worth a watch for some breathtaking visuals captured by ace cameraman Madhu Ambat and some stellar performances, especially from the kid who plays the makal character. Yes, we have seen movies like Mahanadi which were more gripping but laudable is the effort put.

Movie no: 10 – Puramkazhchakal – We are in the Idukki-Munnar route. Here we have one protagonist in Sreenivasan, who’s shown as an epitome of failed love who constantly thinks about her ex though with a lump in his throat and the second one in Mammootty who’s mysterious and tough earning a lot of irk from the people in the bus. We wonder where it’s heading before the last shot which is the most riveting and unexpected end to a cinema I have seen in a long time. And suddenly, I felt like going back and rehash the events in the bus which is excactly what the director wanted me to do.

The verdict: A pat on the back of director Renjith for coming up with an interesting concept which we haven’t seen in movies down south. Ther eare flaws obviously in the form of the other 5 films but still, Kerala CafĂ© succeeds in keeping the audien glued to the screen till the credits roll. I found myself applauding in the end which is very unlike me J. Reason – it’s a winner all the way!

Sep 8, 2009

Spa review: It's been long 490 days

Yes yes yes!

Finally the podium celebration looked all the more lively, champagne tasted all the more better, the winner seemed all the more deserving. Kimi Raikkonen won his 18th F1 race in his career at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. His last victory was at the Catalunya back in April 2008, so it's been 490 days since I had a solid reason to smile after a race. Additionally, what makes this win the sweetest of his four victories in Spa is the fact that he did it with the 3rd best car on the grid. Yeah, bring more of the Alonso-to-replace-shit!

Roll on the dice didn't really fall into Kimi's hands on saturday when he qualified 6th well behind the surprising pole sitter Fisichella of Force India. Starting on the dirty side, things were further complicated when Barrichello's engine went into an anti-stall right when the lights went. Kimi avoided him but ran wide at La Source cutting it and on to the run off area but managed to squeeze past the likes of Heidfeld and Trulli before emerging 3rd at Eau Rouge. Then came the excitement. He picked up the slipstream of Kubica and went past him with the aid of KERS across the long straight. He was second. The move looked matter-of-fact kind, that's Raikkonen! Back in the middle of the grid, there were incidents involving Algeusuari, Grosjean, Button and Lewis. All four retired the debris of the aftermath lead to the deployment of safety car.

It was a long SC stint as Kimi though a bit heavier than Fisichella who was leading, had to warm his tyres and brakes to ensure he's close enough onto the run to Eau Rouge when the SC goes in. What followed the SC period sent a chill down my spine. Kimi this time made it look all the more easy but more importantly, he was leading the race after lap 4. I wanted to scream "fuck you antis, he's here to stay". Post quali weights suggested Kimi was 2 laps heavier than Fisichella but all calculations went haywire as it turned out since Mercedez engine saves more fuel than Ferrari and hence better mileage. So both of the drivers came together for the first as well as the second pitstop, clearly sending a lot of nerves for us fans watching the action on the TV sets. Ferrari did well to ensure Kimi was ahead of Fisi after both the stops. Soft tyres worked brilliantly well but it was the KERS coupled with never-melting Ice magic that prevented Fisi from making a move with the faster car.

Vettel meanwhile was on a different strategy alltogether avoiding all the mayhem which happened at the back of the grid earlier in the race. He leapfrogged Kubica for the 3rd and final podium place. Meanwhile our man held the roaring Force India behind and claimed his triumph just 0.9 secs ahead. Forza!!! The story of the race apart from Kimi's 4th victory was that Force India got their first point of the season thanks to an ever unshakaeble Fisichella who stood virile against all odds. The updates which they had brought from Valencia worked wonders in the dense shuddery forests of Spa. From the looks of it, they are not gonna stop developing their challenger for the rest of the season. Monza cometh!

Finally, it's been a pleasure to write a review after Kimi's fantastic win. He's special at Spa which is considered to be a drivers' citadel. Kimi obviously would be bullish if asked about the 'secret' of winning here but fellow Raikkos know it better than anyone else

Kimi's the KING of SPA

Jul 27, 2009

Kimi just put the hammer down: Hungary review

The Hungarian GP was a mixed bag for any F1 buff, some shocking events and some maginificent wheel-to-wheel racing. For a moment, I was lost in the fruitful memories and the GP names then read Spa 04, Suzuka 05, Magny 02 but with a reality check, I got the name as Hungaroring 2009. Yes, Kimi's back to the goody goody times, back to his vintage best, back to his own self.

Talking about the race, Ferrari went through a bit of trauma on the back of Felipe Massa's disturbing crash on Saturday qualifiers which send him unconscious and caused a concussion. A metal piece from Barrichello's Brawn went flying in the air and landed on Massa's visor. Luckily the thing didn't go through the visor but caused a heavy impact above the left eye of the Ferrari driver who then rammed into the tyre barriers out of any control. Massa is right now sedated after a successful skull surgery to make his recovery gradual and safe. Because the incident occurred on qualifiers, it meant no reserve driver could have replaced Massa for Sunday's race.

And Raikkonen was Ferrari's sole contention who had an average quali, ended up on the 4th row of the grid. The start was nothing short of superlatives when Raikkonen with the aid of KERS, went past Rosberg (1) and Kovailainen(2), then slid across to the middle of the track with a heavy lounge on the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton before going past Vettel in turn1 (3) and up into 4th position. In the process, he had a moment with Vettel when he was forced to turn into the Redbull driver by Webber from the left which frankly is not Kimi's mistake. The pole sitter Fernando Alonso was on fumes but was also loosing time to Lewis who already got past Webber. Alonso pitted and with that went the glimmer of chances out of the window.

Meanwhile, Lewis, Webber and Raikkonen put up a series opf good laps and Alonso's bad pitstop only meant he emerged with a broken wheel. Later he lost his front right tyre causing a havoc in the pits cos just a week back, Henry Surtees lost his life in an F2 race when a tyre from his contender's car hit his head and ofcourse Massa's incident was on the back of everyone's head. Alonso retired and the fight was left to the trio. Raikkonen n Webber pitted together but rub of the green went in Raikkonen's favor for a change. Webber had a delay and was released just in front of the roaring Ferrari but couldn't get past it. This meant Raikkonen was second behind Lewis who was yet to pit. Redbull deserved a sanction there.

From then on each of them were on a race of their own, Raikkonen trying to prevent Glock from passing him, using KERS effectively, Lewis building up a handy lead over the Ferrari and Webber standing virile against Rosberg n co. Nothing dramatic occurred and with a seventh fastest car on the grid, Kimi Raikkonen took 2nd behind Lewis and ahead of Webber. His best result of the season by a country mile thanks to the fantastic start and some serene drive towards the end. Ferrari send a huge tribute to Massa with their best result of the season. McLaren were back to the winning ways thanks to a good performance from Lewis who didn't had any first lap incident to his credit, again for a change. Meanwhile, Brawns lost ground as they struggled to get heat on the hard compounds. Vettel retired which meant Webber had the last laugh with 6 precious points.

This championship now takes an U-turn with McLaren n Ferrari taking points off both Redbull n Brawn and more is instore when F1 head to Valencia next month for the European GP.

Jul 3, 2009

MohanLal and Blessy strike gold: Bramaram Review

Watching Blessy's latest offering, Bramaram is indeed a privilege for any movie goer as it turns out to be Mohanlal's finest performance off late. After Thanmatra when the actor-director due come together again to strike gold, I have to say their efforts are paid off.

It's just like watching any painfully powerful and contentful movie from Bharatan or Padmarajan. Lalettan is at his majestic best post interval. Infact, only his character moves through our memory lane long after the film is done. A revenge saga set in the cliches of a central kerala village through the chaos of coimbatore city, Bramaram travels a long way. I don't want to reveal even a single bit of the story as the least said, the better it's to witness this cinematic masterstroke.

Bhoomika and Lekshmi do walk-in roles but it's the newcomer Suresh Menon who springs a surprise with a top notch performance. Infact, his role is the only one that is even comparable to Lal's screentime in the whole movie. Blessy utilises the legend's charisma and screen presence to the core as it turns out to be a delight to see the Lal of late 80s and 90s, salvaging a renaissance and potrays acting brilliance at ease.

I really hope Bramaram will be seen and appreciated by the families. I care less for the mass audience, some of them who think that Bramaram is close to parallel cinema.

Yeah right???

Let's just say that Bramaram better become a hit now rather than earning a cult classic image ala Thoovanathumbikal, some 15-20 yrs down the line. The fundamental problem of Malayalee audience.......

4 stars easily

May 25, 2009

Race 6 Monaco: Ferrari resurgence

It’s nice to see them grab some good points despite the fact that the title dream is all but over.

Kimi had a good race but could have been better had Ferrari boys kept it simple in the last pitstop. He qualified well, outpacing his lighter teammate but was unlucky not to start with super soft for short stint. If that’s the case, he would have defended 2nd against Barrri. Also, Kimi said he was "happily disappointed" after the race which just summed up what kindov mental state he's in. Massa too had a steady race, almost always challenging Kimi for the podium, finishing just 2 secs off the other scarlet.

Button looks like a champion in waiting. I don’t know from where on earth he comes up with such jaw dropping pace everytime in Q3. He’s matured in driving and is consistent too. Rubens is a branded no:2 who can’t help but to just stare in disbelief.

Lewis-I-won’t-crack-Hamilton got a taste of the darker side of Monaco. With a potential podium McLaren, all he could manage yesterday was 7 positions, 5 of which due to others’ retirements. Pity! Kovalainen would be sacked before the end of the season, so would Nelson.

Next-up is Turkey, where Ferrari’s KERS and aerodynamic efficiency, might just make the difference. Kimi will be up for it, so will Massa but the question is can Ferrari get rid of shambolic errors once and for all?

Mar 23, 2009

Review: Defiance

After two mammoth hits in Last Samurai n Blood Diamond, director Edward Zwick is back with a war epic titled "Defiance" starring the new bond, Daniel Craig. The movie is about the Jewish Bielski brothers Tuvia (Craig), Zus, Asael n Aron who flee to the shuddery forest vowing to avenge their parent's death in the hands of Germans. During holocaust, the Jews were exploited by the Germans and what happened in Poland was no different. Though initially, the brothers decide to help as many Jews as possible by taking leadership in organising refugee camps, Zus gradually begin to dislike this idea knowing that winter was fast approaching n it will only endanger their own lives by helping others. He involves in a spat with Tuvia and leaves the camp to join a Soviet Partisans group who inturn fight against the Germans.

Tuvia though choose to stay in the camp with the other jews. They move their camp whenever they are discovered by the Germans and used to supply food to the Soviet Partisans group in exchange of protection. In the end when the German airbombers attack the Jewish camp, the Soviet group abandon them thereby earning rage from Zus who inturn goes and helps his brother. The movie ends with scrren text saying, the Jews survived for another 2 years under the serene leadership of Bielski brothers with a total of 1200 souls.

This is one of those films u desperately want to like from the word go because of it's background n clichy sets. But after a spellbinding 45 mins, the film settles to a slackened pace thereby losing momentum. Daniel Craig is a revelation to say the least. The best scene in the movie is when Craig commands to his fellow descendants "And listen, pregnancies are forbidden! We can't take care of the needs of infants" with a slight grin on his face, he hits the bullseye. Also the standout scene where he gets involved in a brawl with his brother. The confrontation scenes are picturised with ounces of reality check. Since this is a true story, there's not much to comment about it's credibility apart from the fact that Jews speak to themselves in English rather than Polish. Infact, Polish is never mouthed in a movie set in Poland :) (Zus speaks in Russian to the Soviet group) The second 30 mins is a torture where screenplay goes haywire, the director too unsure of "what next". Cinematography is excellent, so is the background score.

A film not for the mass, Defiance is bold but not very beautiful.

Verdict: Hot not hottest

Mar 4, 2009

For the Casanovva......

I needed to start my 09 bull with a bang and there I go, with our very own Lalettan's intro dialogue excerpt from the upcoming Rosshan Andrews flick 'Casanovva'. Don't laugh at the title. Casanovva is named after a man (womeniser) who lived in Italy years ago, the one who won the heart of many women. I'm struggling to open the socring, let alone many :). I have heard two peppy numbers from the movie, one is ofcourse the intro and the other one, a trendy slick rap number with a mix of semi-classical here n there. Go through the intro first and u can't help but fall for it. I'm sorry it's in Malayalam :P
"Njan Casanova! Pranayichu theerathavan ennartham

Swantham peralla, Veena pera :)
Inneleyum mazha peythirunnu
Inneleyum udayasthamayangal undayirunnu pakshe.......
avayonnum entethayirunnilla
enikku vendiyayirunnilla kaaranam.....
innale njaan pranayam arinjurinnilla
inneppozho ennilunarnna pranayathiloode njaanariyunnu
MAZHAKKU AVALUDE GHANDHAMANU, surya reshmikal avalude sparshanamanu

Vridhane 16karanakkunna asurane polum swapnam kaanan padippikkunna PRANAYAM
Aa bhashayil samsarichu thudangumbol oro divasavum nerathe thudangatte ennu aashichu pokunnu
pakalukal avasanikkathirikkatte ennu prarthichu pokunnu
ethu jeevachalathinum manassilakunna bhasha
ettavum valiya prarthana.......

......I LOVE YOU Njaan ninne snehikkunnu"

The point Lalettan is trying to make here is 'love can prevent someone from committing a sin, love changes one's own self, love is a superlative feeling'

Enough is enough. I can't wait to hit the theatres when Casanovva releases cos I am in love.......