Feb 26, 2009

Zen and the art of reviewing movies

Last year, when I was reading the book 'Thinking about movies', the phrase 'There is nothing called a bad movie' caught my attention and stayed for a long time. Most of us are aware that movie-making is a tedious process that involves the working of hundreds of hands and minds over a period of several months to years. I have also heard that 'one must watch a movie shooting' to understand how difficult it is, so that one will a) think twice before branding a movie rubbish, b) watch it only in theaters, in considerate of the hundreds of families that rely on the film business, c) learn to look at the movie in a perspective different than that of a layman.
Having said all that, does it mean that just because a movie has been made, it should deserve our unanimous acclaim? Obviously NO! Over 80% movies end up as flops, which is a verdict by the people who have seen that it is not recommended. A layman's movie review will be through word-of-mouth, which is very powerful in this age of superconnectivity between the people. When the movie is reviewed in the media, though, the review itself is open to debates and discussions.
As a side-track, lemme just say my two cents about blog-reviewing: In the blogs, it is a tricky thing. If a blogger rubbishes a movie and someone refutes it, the blogger, IMHO, has to provide a 'suitable' explanation. Now, how 'suitable' the response is, depends on the personality and mood of the blogger in question. Some reviewers are arrogant - they simply say 'this is my blog, I can write whatever I wish, you agree to what I say or if not just shut your mouth and leave'. I would say that, if it is the prerogative of the blogger on his post, the same can be said about an open 'Comments' section. Of course the blogger has the right to moderate/edit/delete the comments, but they cant question a commenter 'how dare you oppose my review?'
Another etiquette about reviewing is to do so without any spoilers, or to put a warning note if any spoiler is present. Sometimes it is unavoidable to discuss an aspect of the movie without the mention of an important scene. Also, a good review is one which highlights the strengths and weaknesses of a movie quite explicitly. Watching different genres of movies made in different parts of the world and at different periods, and analyzing the movies would help the reviewing a lot. Moreover, it is better to have an idea of the intelligence level of the director white sitting to watch a movie or to review one. That would prevent one from over-analyzing it or missing the director's touch. Much of my thoughts arose during the discussion in the previous post. ;)
Now, when a person as experienced as Suhasini chooses to review a film, that review itself deserves a review. An example is from her last week's review of Naan kadavul. I honestly dont know if she reads the blogs, including this, but I found a lot of specific terms that were discussed here in my post and the comments thereof. After praising the movie like there is no end, she said that the movie is not without its flaws, but pointing out at the flaws would prevent the good film-makers from creating 'such good' movies in the future. That remark took me by surprise totally. I felt that she was better off not mentioning about the presence of flaws rather than simply mentioning and not explaining what they are.
My philosophy is very simple: While watching it, I see if I like the movie or not. If the movie in its entirety or in parts doesnt appeal to me, I put it down in words as to why I didn't like it. Like every human, I am biased towards certain people. That bias might make me to watch it in the first place, or to interpret some things in a particular way. Whatever it be, I welcome any criticism for my review. Only I dont want it to be vague like someone in the previous review commented, but to be more specific to the details.

Feb 23, 2009

Feb 7, 2009

Naan KadavuL - Give a miss

This is the first Bala movie that I watched in theater. With or without expectations, this movie sucks. I felt like I was watching a movie on the physically handicapped who are exploited and forced into begging. Arya's role in the movie is just a tad more than a guest one. The story appears disjointed, with the story of the suffering handicapped people and Arya's segment connected only by a bare thread of the location.

After witnessing the depressing story of the 'begging industry of India' in 'Slumdog Millionaire', we get to watch it much more elaborately in this movie. I felt that it was definitely overdone, with Bala's famous liking for morbidity going way too far. Beyond a point, their sufferings made me feel sick. The scene involving 'the man with the scary face' could have been handled quite differently. The closing minutes of the movie have some badly edited scenes and the climax appears to be rushed. The only positive aspects of the movie are the performances by Arya and Pooja.

The climatic one-to-one fight between the protagonist and the antagonist appeared to be very amateurish and cinematic to me. The latter knows the fate of the three people who went to attack the former, but still he goes against Arya bare-handed and single-handedly. Pooja's migration from the hill cave to a church and then to the hands of the villain is not explained; especially the last one could have been avoided, saving a lot of pain. The climax was quite undigestible since it reflected the pessimistic mindset of the director.

The technical aspects of the movie are quite good. Music is OK. The long scene in the police station involving look-alikes of MGR, Sivaji and Rajni was quite unnecessary, what with an overdose of such artists in various TV programs, except for a few seconds of an unhappening twist that is to follow. I found one aspect very ironic. Jeyamohan, who is the dialog-writer for this movie, had strongly condemned Sivaji's style of acting in his blog exactly a year ago. In the police station, someone tells the Sivaji-lookalike that he wishes that Sivaji had taught what acting is, to the contemporary actors. Jeyamohan has even removed that attacking post from his blog.

Back to the movie - the only thing that connects this movie with Bala's earlier ones is that he portrays (again) a dark side of the society. Whereas the previous ones had some humanity in them, here it is all dark and violent. True, the guy and his assistant who are in charge of the temple beggars have some soft corner for them. Other than that, it is hard to explain why Arya is shown attacking some people in Varanasi and why he is angry in the movie all the time. And, Arya appears to be too muscular and fleshy for someone who hardly eats any food and is shown surviving only on Ganja.

You might like it if you are a hardcore Bala fan.