To hell and back
Director: Francis Lawrence Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LeBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Gavin Rossdale.
John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is a New Age whisky-drinking, chain-smoking exorcist with angst. Once upon a time, he tried to commit suicide. Now in search of atonement, he slays demons and devils. Like James Bond, someone supplies him with state-of-the-art gadgets, a flame spitting shotgun for one, to do the job. And, like Feluda, he has a sidekick, who unlike Topshe, has a penchant for wisecracks.
Constantine also can see what most of us cannot. He can see angels and demons masquerading as human beings. Just as desperate-to-be-kissed Los Angeles cop Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), whose twin sister has committed suicide. Slowly, the two discover that the forces of Evil are plotting to take over the world. But the supernatural yarn, however trite it is, is never told with unself-conscious fun and without apology. Constantine neither has the creative originality of an Exorcist, nor the simple-minded crassness of, say, The Mummy. It is just a wannabe heavyweight occult mumbo-jumbo tale where the director plays second fiddle to the special effects team.
Indeed, the film's special effects ' and its shot-in-sunset photography ' are mindboggling. The on-screen Hell almost scorches you with its heat. And the fight scene between Keanu and a beastly demon on a rain-swept night is a tribute to the film's computer wizards. But technology, however classy it is, cannot be a substitute for a decent script. And it is reassuring to see that B-grade Hollywood has the same flawed mentality as B-grade Bollywood.
Constantine is for adults who find comics too taxing. In the movie, Keanu goes to hell and comes back unscathed. It is a similar two-hour journey for the audience. Only they come out worse. And, sadly, even heroine Rachel never gets to kiss her man. Such desires are more easily fulfilled in Bollywood these days.
Out of step
Shall We Dance'
Director: Peter Chelsom Cast: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci
Actually, the question director Peter Chelsom should have asked seriously is, 'Shall we make this film'. And given the number of people who asked, 'Shall we leave ' during the film,the answer is no.
Successful but unhappy lawyer Richard Gere who signs up for dancing lessons because his job is monotonous and his family doesn't have time for him. In dancing class, he meets a host of characters, each with his/her own problems, and together, they learn to deal with their problems and live life to the fullest. It could have been a heart-warming story of learning to celebrate life, no matter what. Instead it is a trying two hours of inane and pretentious dialogues, cliched one-liners, forced humour and poorly etched characters. Even the choreography and music are disappointing, especially coming from the makers of Chicago.
JLo outdoes herself in imitating a wall. Susan Sarandon is wasted and looks disinterested. Richard Gere is himself. But it's Stanley Tucci who delivers a genuinely funny performance. Finally, the answer to the cardinal question, 'Shall we watch this film', is a resounding no.
Til theke taal
Director: Debashis Bhuian Cast: Tapas Paul, Rimjhim Gupta, Debraj Roy, Lily Chakraborty, Anuradha Roy, Mitali Chakraborty, Sunil Mukherjee
One wonders what that 'A' sign in the film poster actually stands for. Amateurish' May also be Apathetic or Anaemic. Guesses are on as yet another Mondo Meyer Upakhayan turns out to be just another mondo chhabir upakhyan.
Debashis Bhuian, a la Virender Sehwag, has hit 'why' and 'how' factors of his movie out of the ground. Tapas, the rich film distributor, looks comically grumpy and absolutely clueless about the way he has to serially love, reject and re-love Rimjhim, a high-profile city tart, eventually becoming a painter in an oddball flash-forward. Rimjhim, with her frighteningly pompous 'rose' philosophy, scrapes through compared to Kareena's Chameli and Neha Dhupia in Julie in the recent past, but veterans like Debraj and Lily remain sad casualties of this ready-cure-for-insomnia yarn.
Bhuian's lenswork, though lazy, is not as hopeless as his script capturing, for instance, the starry glitter of streetlamps of the nocturnal Park Street. But the hyped V. Balsara music cannot quite remedy the blight set off by grotesquely incorporated songs and a particularly atrocious music video sequence.