Just Watched: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I think I might have just found my film of the year gone by with this wonderful adaptation of John Le-Carre’s spy thriller set in the 60s, during the Cold War. The whole film is like a symphony with every piece at the right place, layered beautifully, with a not too dramatic background score like most spy thrillers and some rousing performances. This is not just a typical spy film, filled with jaw-dropping stunt sequences. This is a story of deception in the upper echelons of British intelligence where every scene holds significance, making it extremely important for the viewer to pay attention for the entire duration of the film.
Comparisons to the TV adaptation starring Alec Guinness are inevitable, but I’m sure this is the best that could be done for a feature film. Gary Oldman has delivered what, according to me, might be the most powerful performance of the year. Controlled, nonchalant and with an amazing zen-like demeanour even during crisis, he plays the lead, George Smiley to utter perfection. After having watched him in supporting roles for quite a while now, it’s refreshing to see him take center-stage here. It’s not just him though, for he’s ably supported by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch, who post-Sherlock is on quite a high, and Tom Hardy, the man who is having quite some time after Inception with Warrior and then The Dark Knight Rises up next, he’s the next big thing to look for in the coming year for sure. John Hurt and Mark Strong are barely there, but leave their mark. Performance wise, the only star who didn’t quite leave a mark was Colin Firth, from whom I think I ended up expecting a little too much, but at the end of the day, I’m not complaining.
If this is the sign of things to come in 2012, then I can’t wait a bit. Gary Oldman better get a Best Actor nod at the Oscars this year for this. He surely deserves at least that much. Oh, and I think I can actually forgive a certain Rohit Tiwari for spoiling this film for me months ago, though I’m still a tad miffed. Moreover, the Mamidipudi brothers are surprisingly good film company- Vishnu always was, and with Vallabh now, I’m in safe hands.
Personal Rating: 9.0/10
The cover of the first issue of RAVE, which came out in October, last year. RAVE is the newsletter of the University’s Student Activities Committee (SAC).
The picture used for the design has been taken by me, on the Nagoa Beach, in Diu, and the designing has been done by Hitesh. The actual photograph can be found here. Both of us are on the three-member editorial board of the newsletter, the third member being Asmita.
We’ll be coming out with our second issue soon. Hope it is better than the first.
The theme of the first issue was Inception, which should explain the presence of the “One Simple Idea” line on top. Yes, the film did have that big an impact on all of us. The issue can be read online here, and downloaded here.
Just Watched: Black Swan
There are times you are forced to watch a DVD screener of a film despite the fact that you are a sucker for good quality prints, and if the film you watch like this is something that has been brilliantly made, you start cursing yourself inside your head, to no avail.
Something similar happened to me when I watched a screener of Black Swan two months back, only because Arko insisted I had to. I just wasn’t able to watch it at a stretch because of the fact that the print wasn’t as clear as I would like it to be. Obviously, I would have loved to watch it on the big screen but that wasn’t possible then, and then we have the wonderful Indian Censor Board which simply doesn’t understand how aesthetic sensibilities work. So when the film was released in Ahmedabad multiplexes right after Natalie Portman won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her fantastic performance, Arko and I had to make a run for Ahmedabad with Rohan (Thomas) and at the end of the film there was only one thing to agree upon – you haven’t seen anything unless you have seen it on the big screen, censorship notwithstanding.
Darren Aronofsky has been one of the three most enigmatic filmmakers in the modern era for me, the other two being Wes Anderson and a certain Christopher Nolan. With Black Swan, Aronofsky creates a world of strange horrors which are bound to make you feel claustrophobic and, worse, schizophrenic. Therein, however, lays the beauty of this film. Based on the famous ballet Swan Lake by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, this film about the extreme emotions of a ballet dancer under stress is without a doubt one of the very best films to have come out last year. Natalie Portman is superb as the troubled Nina and honestly I don’t think any other performance deserved the Oscar this time. I can say this confidently despite having seen only one of the other films nominated in this category. Mila Kunis is wonderful too in a rather restrained role. It’s a pity that she didn’t get a best Supporting Actress nomination. Vincent Cassel is very good too and so is Winona Ryder, who, thankfully, retains most of her usual grace. Barbara Hershey is almost terrifying as Nina’s mother, and that is a compliment of sorts. Raising her daughter the way she does in the film is very scary considering the lengths she goes to ensure that her daughter becomes nothing but the very best. The music by Clint Mansell is brilliant. Too bad that he didn’t garner an Oscar nod as he had attempted to make radical changes to Tchaikovsky’s original ballet. Oh, well.
Aronfosky has, once again, managed to come up with yet another masterpiece with this ode to the passion for perfection. Gujju audiences need to use their heads though, and that isn’t something I am hoping to see in the near future. Looks like the applause after Inception (Click here for my post after watching Inception) only happens once in a very long time. Till then, we can all continue to aspire to be perfect, as long as we are able to set the limits.
Personal Rating: 9.0/10
Just Watched: 7 Khoon Maaf
It is a known fact that I am a big fan of the films Vishal Bhardwaj makes and he has never really disappointed me. He almost did so this time though, almost. Here, we have what can be called the weakest of the films he has made till date and there’s good reason for that. For once, you aren’t really drawn into the world that the film’s script creates and all you get to take back are some gritty performances. Full points to his music though, for that’s something else that works wonders.
The film tells the story of Susanna (played by Priyanka Chopra) who goes on to kill her seven husbands. With a premise like this, I expected the film to be a masterpiece of sorts, but the final product isn’t so; what we have here is great cinema that could have been much better than it was. Priyanka Chopra is surprisingly good as she ages but then again, I feel that her role has been overrated by many. Only showing a complicated character through the ages doesn’t make a performance an excellent one; it takes much more. But I guess she deserves the credit for what we get to see in this film.
For me, it was the husbands that delivered some really fine performances. Neil Nitin Mukesh is superb in his role as Susanna’s first husband- a crippled army officer with a wounded pride. John Abraham is very annoying as the drug-addicted rockstar. Irrfan Khan is fantastic as the sado-masochistic poet husband. In fact, for me, the story arc with him is the most interesting because of the way in which it was effectively handled. Aleksandr Dyachenko is pretty good as the charming fourth husband. Annu Kapoor is someone who has very less dialogue, but his expressions more than make up for it. Brilliant stuff, this. Naseeruddin Shah as the Bengali doctor is very good and I just can’t forget what Da (Vishnu Sharma) said when his story was on during the film- “Why does she kill him?,” he asks, and when I ask him to tell me, he says, “Because he’s a Bong!” Makes sense, but sadly not outside GNLU. Vivaan Shah, Naseer’s son in real-life gives in a wonderful performance as the guy who Susanna took care of since his childhood. Konkona Sen Sharma is pretty effective in her cameo too, and so is Usha Uthup, who plays Susanna’s maid for most of the film’s duration.
There’s nothing really wrong with this film. It is technically brilliant too. Sadly, it doesn’t hold your attention the way a Vishal Bhardwaj film should. It still is a must watch for it is undoubtedly his bravest work. Reminds me of what I read somewhere, Ek film maaf.
Personal Rating: 8.1/10