La La Land

Twenty Four hours is hardly a long enough period to let a film settle in and develop any sort of retrospect, but I think the absolute control over my mind La La Land so many absolutely joyous (and some heart wrenching) scenes from that movie have had for that time makes it safe to say that I absolutely adore this movie.

I am illiterate in the Hollywood musicals of yore, even less acquainted with Chazelle’s French influences in making this movie (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rocheforte) so I can’t say anything about how well the movie lived up to its marketing that claimed to take one back to the 50s. But what I can say is that with its absolutely infectious music and the brilliant chemistry between its two leads, this musical might just have a long shelf life.

This movie speaks volumes to me on a personal level as someone who wants to enter showbiz and even before taking the plunge faces questions about the “security” of it all. La La Land might very well have been one of those movies that pushes you to take that leap of faith and trust in yourself. It very well was. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) lands a major deal playing and touring around the world with a band. He even starts his own club ending any dilemma he might have had about being a sell-out because he didn’t pursue his “original dream”. Mia (Emma Stone) becomes a big movie star, the kind she could only have dreamed of during her career as a barista, she goes to Paris after landing a big movie (well who wouldn’t give her a movie after the brilliant “Audition”). But that end came like the pinch of reality that awakens you from a dream. A beautiful dream at that. The movie spends most of its run time showing its characters in that dreamy state of trance that the title refers to, but through the ending, Damien Chazelle goes on to show the harsh realities that so many Mias and Sebastians in La La Land (L.A.) face, slogging for years on end without getting a breakout role, going on to show that we don’t always get what we want.

Day Dream in Blue

Hey guys!

So I haven’t been posting too much for quite some time, but that’s because I’ve been working on making some films instead of simply watching in critiquing those made by others.

I wanted to this short-film that I co-wrote here, I’d really love to hear from you guys and get some feedback.

 

You can contact me regarding the film via email at ayuj321@gmail.com .

Room: One of my Favorite Films of Last Year

The one thing that happens to you when you finally shut down your screen after the final credits of Room have rolled, is that you realize the world is the same, but somewhere deep inside you, somewhere, where it matters, probably the most; somewhere you have changed.

Lenny Abrahamson’s share in Room is arguably just as much as screenwriter (and the writer of the original novel) Emma Donoghue’s is. For although Emma Donoghue has written a tale, so profoundly moving, in a way that seems more powerful on the page, than it does on screen; a complaint that most fans have when their favourite book’s adaptation is announced; Lenny with his distinct vision and brilliant handling of actors and frame composition ensures that hardly any charm of the novel is lost in this translation.

Of course, the Director of Photography, Danny Cohen too framed his shots in such a manner to always evoke that sense of claustrophobia, the desire to escape and implanted it subconsciously in the minds of the viewer. The palette of colours ranging from the almost depressing, yet on retrospect a sort of warm, blue-ness in the phase of the movie in Room itself. The bright white which is almost too much for your eyes to bear showing the blinding nature of the outside world, when they escape and are in the hospital makes for some food for thought.

But perhaps the most standout elements of this film, are the performances. The acting is so unique and powerful, the leads, Brie Larson and young Jacob Tremblay make you feel each ebb and flow in their characters and their outlooks towards life, the world and each other. Brie Larson can be seen in a number of minor roles throughout her career (one of my favourites being her small appearance in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) but none, leaving aside this particular role that won her the Oscar, was more beautifully portrayed than the one in Short Term 12. Jacob Tremblay is a very young actor, at this stage, but he definitely shows great promise and hopefully shall continue on this track and unlike most stars who attain fame at a young age, I hope he shall not fall into ruin.

Emma Donoghue’s script, much like the novel the film is based upon is a work of art, that deserves much more accolade than it has and is one of my personal favourite scripts and hopefully she shall continue to deliver brilliant scripts while working on profound and uniquely presented novels at the same time.

Room in an experience, a transformative one, one that you must undergo. I believe I have changed upon seeing this film and hopefully you shall too. One begins to question this world, after seeing this film. What would it be like, if you weren’t born into the middle of it? What if (much like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) you were born in the darkness, away from the “light” of the world? Would your view of this light, have been much more different? Cynical, perhaps? One shall never know, but to question is the best we can do. Room provokes you to question.

A Re-View of Whiplash

I first saw Whiplash, not too long before the Oscars where it shone as the beacon of Indie Cinema, defeating fellow low-budget film Boyhood at both, the box-office and the most famous award ceremony in the world, if not the most prestigious. What probably helped it, was a story that was easier to relate to, even if the worst a terrible teacher had done to you was ask you to stand out of class, or probably give you a bad grade. The struggle against an oppressive force is something basic human instinct responds to and related to and that is what most of us did with Whiplash. That is, of course, to take nothing away from the brilliant technical and artistic achievements of the film itself.

The one aspect of the film that comes to mind, quite rightfully, as soon as its name is uttered is not the composition referred to in the title and several times throughout the movie. Rather, J.K. Simmons. This one man powerhouse completely stole the show and destroyed and decimated the emotions of the protagonist and the audience alike. Using Damien Chazelle’s brilliant’s script’s perfect lines to burn down all of Andrew Neiman’s (played quite wonderfully by Miles Teller) emotional balance. His voice un-relenting and the sarcastic barbs hitting hard, right where they’re supposed to. Simmons’ egomaniacal, lunatic of a character is what drives this film and provides the burst of adrenaline in what would otherwise have been an almost lackluster movie.

The brilliant sound-track too stands out, it’s definitely not something for the hardcore Jazz Fans for some of whom this entire film might feel stupid. But for the un-initiated like myself, it’s a great soundtrack and definitely one you can revisit multiple times.

Damien Chazelle has surely and securely announced that he’s in this business for real and hopefully his upcoming film (La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) will only help further his reputation as a brilliant writer and director and hopefully he’ll continue to be one of the shining stars of American Independent Cinema.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

One of the most noticeable aspects of Sergio Leone’s trend-setting, awe-inspiring and simply iconic spaghetti western, is how the world for both us and the characters themselves, is limited by the four walls of the frame. And it is in these 4 walls, that one of the greatest films of all time is crafted.

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Although the movie runs for almost 180 minutes (3 hours), its plot is quite simple at the very basic. However the detours that the characters end up taking from the normal story arc is what lends the movie some of its grandeur and the characters most of their purpose.
The film, has very little dialogue, with the titular “The Good”, Clint Eastwood having almost no lines at all. “The Ugly”, on the other hand, played by a brilliant Eli Wallach in his career defining role, is some one who almost refuses to stay shut. It is a different thing, of course, that his dialogue is something you look forward to. Lee van Cleef delivers a menacing performance in his short, yet integral role as “The Bad”. Coming back to the point, the film has very little dialogue, with the camera doing most of the work. No better example of this can be found, than the climatic scene with a three way Mexican Stand-off that begins with the titular three taking their positions in a long shot and then in a series of close ups, the emotions upon each of their faces, without a single line of dialogue, no distraction from the tension of the scene, other than Ennio Morricone’s music, which is almost inseperable from the Western genre and especially the spaghetti Western. Morricone is to The Dollars Trilogy, what John Williams was and is (now that it’s been resurrected) to Star Wars.

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Leone has use the magic of music and that of the camera to craft a masterpiece that was, is and shall continue to be imitated, not necessarily as a whole, but its scenes, all of them brilliant in their own right.

The Force Has Awoken

100% No spoilers. Guaranteed. Tread Freely.

The question surrounding, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for about a year prior to its release was, would J.J. Abrams be able to do what the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas himself failed to do a decade and a half ago? Would the movie itself be able to live up to the hype and the crazy marketing campaign surrounding it? And of course, could the new cast be as loved as our heroes from the galaxy far, far away? To my immense satisfaction, all of these questions were answered, and boy, were they answered in style!

About the movie itself, no spoilers, but its similarities, to Episode 4: A New Hope, are extremely uncanny. Right from the opening crawl, with John Williams now classic, beloved score. A piece of brilliant music that’s been around since 1977, but never termed as over-used, never called clichéd. A piece of music that is now in its third generation and is still as much “music” to your ears as the first time you were introduced to it.

The only major problem with the movie, was that it failed to take any risks. Probably it’d learnt enough not to do so from the Prequel Trilogy, but there is a desperate need for something new to be done, and to be executed with a panache, and of course without the wall to wall CGI, for the audience to love it.

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Anyways, enough of the negatives, now it’s time for the positives. There’s a lot of new characters, and considering I haven’t read/ seen any of the comics or TV Shows or well anything that could’ve come out related to Star Wars except of  the 6 (now 7) movies, I have absolutely NO CLUE as to who they are, or could be or which expanded Star Wars universe property or character they could be related to. But of course, I trust Lucas and Kasdan enough to know that I won’t need to follow any of the aforementioned expanded universe properties to find out, neither will any of the enjoyment that I experience be reduced. So the people who’re bringing those awesome characters to life, the actors also do a really great job, notably Daisy Ridley who, it seems, is going to be the best thing about the new trilogy and John Boyega whose character and acting is something I’m looking forward to, come 2017. Oscar Isaac has a small role, but that seems totally Oscar Isaac these days with him being a part of everything here and there, but he does a good job. And of course, if there’s any award for the Best Droid in the Universe, just hand it to BB-8 already.

The musical score, two words, John Williams. Need I say more? Okay I will, check the end of the article for links to his music and if you don’t already you will experience the power of his music (Along with the festive season, this being the Awards season, I must add, this year it’s going to go down the wire between John Williams here and Ennio Morricone for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s latest western, The H8ful Eight). The Production Design only adds to the allure of the movies, after the forgettable all-CGI of the Prequel Trilogy. The 2-time Oscar Winning Production Designer, Rick Carter, is definitely a strong contender to add to that tally this year.

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After this movie, it looks like Lawrence Kasdan’s been infused with a new breath of life, and it’s definitely a the right time with him set to pen the upcoming Star Wars movies and some of the spin offs as well. Although he hadn’t given anything great, since Raiders of the Lost Ark, in 1981, it seems he’s making a return to the quality of his heyday. About J.J. Abrams, all I can say is, with people threatening to christen you Jar Jar Abrams if you fail to deliver something awesome, you will deliver something awesome. That threat, is more threatening that almost anything you can imagine, upon the face of planet Earth and trust me, it worked. I think it’s safe now to say that just hand anything that’s dying to Abrams and he’ll bring it back to life. Though therein lies the problem, people now seem to believe he’s just some sort of phony with no individual sense of creativity. Anyways, that story is for another day.

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Yes indeed Chewie, we’re home…

Right now, go rush to your nearest theatre and experience the spectacle for yourself. Even if you have a bootlegged copy downloaded, don’t ruin it for yourself. You might thing, “So What? Disney’s making big bucks anyways! Star Wars is earning tens of millions every day, how will my money make a difference?”. But honestly, it’s not about that, it’s about going out there and seeing it on the biggest screen you can with people shouting and hooting and every awesome scene, every throwback moment to the 70s and the 80s (and trust me, there’s just about enough of them to make you go crazy over it too) and the sound immersing you. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Go see the greatest, the grandest the most mind blowing-ly awesome fan film ever made!

PS. Of course, as promised John Williams’ Best Music, well at least a part of it, feel free to explore more and more as you’re hooked on to it.

Short Term 12

In my wait to see Room, the movie for which the lead actress in both Room and the movie which I’ll be talking about today, Short Term 12, Brie Larson has garnered some major award buzz this year, I found out about Short Term 12, which is this gem of a movie, that I believe is really under-noticed and leaves you feeling warm inside.

At the very basic, Short Term 12 is a story about a home for at-risk teens. But, writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton infuses humane, interesting, deep and disturbed characters who with their own individual stories which come together to form one beautiful story. Linking the characters by the problems that they face and their fear of the past making them run from their future.

Cretton ensures that you don’t get bored with endless technicalities about the rules and the drama and fuss over them, with some brilliant, entertaining and funny dialogue.

Although a bit predictable, but in a movie like this, it isn’t about knowing the story or what happens next but just seeing it unfold on screen with the eccentricities and in ways that is what transforms this would-be-sob-fest-drama into something entertaining, that does what is needed most, gets the message across without being too preachy.

It’s the actors though who truly do  justice to moments of joy and brilliance that this film delivers. Brie Larson in the role that had generated its fair share of Oscar buzz but couldn’t get her to the position where she is this year. Keith Stanfield gives a career making performance in his debut feature, with probably one of the movie’s most powerful moments being delivered by him through a rap song. Kaitlyn Dever’s performance too is something to look out for. With John Gallagher Jr., Stephanie Beatriz and Rami Malek filling in some supporting roles, this movie deserves to be seen.

See Short Term 12, and you’ll love it. It might not be epic, it might not be a “masterpiece” but you’ll love it.