Director: Peyton Reed Cast: Vince Vaughan, Jennifer Aniston 6/10
Was this a catharsis for Jennifer’s very public divorce' She puts in a strong performance, constrained yet powerful. The fights, the expectations, the inevitable disappointments, the one-upmanship, the ego clashes, the heartbreaks, the last-ditch attempts and eventually the breakup — all very real-life stuff. So whoever thinks The Breakup is a comedy could go back wiping a tear and thinking how similar this was to one’s own life.
The film starts from where the usual romantic comedies end. Jennifer and Vince are happily married. Reed’s treatment of opening the film with the first encounter between the two protagonists and then going into flashback mode of their whirlwind romance through snapshots and credit titles, fast-paces the film. It gives the audience a feeling of bonhomie, too. So they laugh through the deconstruction of the marriage — who is to clean up after the guests, a pool table or a coffee table for the living space, a ballet or a rock programme in the evening' And amid the fights are the friends, siding, advising, egging them on as they grow further apart. But when the funny fights turn ugly, the film slips into a sombre mood. And Jennifer sums up to say, “You know there is actually enough space here to have a pool table.” By then, its too late!
Director: Abhishek Chaddha Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Nagma, Ravi Kissen 3/10
The producer of Ganga, Deepak Sawant, was Amitabh Bachchan’s makeup man. So that explains what Amitabh is doing in this film where, for the most part, all he has to do is talk to the portrait of his dead wife. No prizes for guessing that the portrait is that of Hema Malini (yes, that’s all there is to her much hyped ‘role’ in the film).
Sawant should know that Amitabh alone cannot give a boost to his Bhojpuri dreams, especially as he has no idea how to tap his potential.
Nagma should be happy, though. She gets to not just sing and dance and fight, but also to fly off to the streets of London to sell litti! And make a lot of moolah out of it, too, which is also what is drawing her to more films from this region. Not that she has an option.
Neither here nor there
Director: Gil Kenan Cast: Steve Buscemi, Nick Canon, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Catherine ’Hara, Kathleen Turner, Fred Williams 3/10
Superbly insignificant and mediocre, Monster House is an animation horror film aiming at adolescents in the audience rather than infants. As the young hero confesses in the film, “I am having lots and lots of puberty”.
In spite of having some superb animation the plot lacks originality and the treatment, freshness. Only the relationship between the owner of the monster house opposite the street and his long dead ‘giantess’ wife Constance provides some human interest to the story and that too for 10 minutes.The children in the audience looked superbly unimpressed; unfortunately it is not the technical knowledge that woos them but the overall performance.
Monster House falls in a state of inbetween limbo; the animation is too subtle (except when dealing with the house itself) for children, and the plot is too boring for adults or even the targeted ‘callous youth’.
Director: Martin Scorsese Cast: Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg 7/10
It’s vintage Scorsese, it seems. After a misfired Gangs of New York and a well-crafted but staid-by-Scorsese-standards Aviator, the master director is back with The Departed, all guns blazing, and literally. Revered for his flicks such as Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and Casino, Scorsese’s latest has all the ingredients of a classic caper — drug-running, cold-blooded gangsters who execute even women Nazi-style by shooting them in the back of their heads, potty-mouthed cops whose fists fly quicker than bullets, and blood — fresh and dried. Fresh when blood trickles down like tears from just-killed men’s faces, dried when it clots like frozen rivulets on corpses. Blood oozes, gurgles, spurts and sometimes has time to dry. That’s a Scorsese film for you — bloody and gut-wrenchingly gory — take it or leave it.
And believe it or not, it’s a remake of an Asian film or an ‘adaptation’ as Scorsese would like to describe it. Andrew Lau’s Infernal Affairs is the source, with the plot intact but characters enhanced. But most moviegoers wouldn’t have heard of the film, let alone seen it. So, it’s not a problem with this crime drama, set in the mean streets of south Boston teeming with Irish-Americans.
The conflict of interest is set within the first 10 minutes of the film — between Matt, a mole raised in childhood and planted in the police department by a butcher of a mob boss, Jack, and Leonardo, a young man haunted by his criminal past, who infiltrates the gang. They must find each other to survive.
The ensemble cast is amazing. Each character is well fleshed out and is given enough time to grow. Post-viewing, Scorsese’s films are remembered more for their characters than their plots. If Robert De Niro’s Oscar said it all in Taxi Driver, this one belongs to Leonardo DiCaprio and him alone. Has he grown overnight' Seems so. From the fluffy young man in Titanic to a beach boy in Beach, he looks delectably older and mature. He gives a powerhouse performance as the undercover agent sickened and revolted by the interminable bloodletting. After all, competing with twice Oscar winner Jack Nicholson is no mean thing.