Movies to look out for this week

London Dreams [IMDB]

The story revolves around two childhood friends Arjun and Munnu who find a way to get from a small village in India to Wembley as Rock stars, having overcome their personalities

Cast: Salman Khan, Ajay Devgan, Asin, Rannvijay Singh
Direction: Vipul Shah

Aladin [IMDB]

A modern day take on the age-old story of Aladin and his magic lamp

Cast: Amitabh Bachhan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Jaqueline Fernandes
Direction: Sujoy Ghosh

Whiteout [IMDB]

U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko tracks a killer in Antarctica, as the sun is about to set for six months.

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Tom Skerritt

Direction: Dominic Sena

This Is It [IMDB]

A compilation of interviews, rehearsals and backstage footage of Michael Jackson as he prepared for his series of sold-out shows in London

Cast: Michael Jackson

Direction: Kenny Ortega
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Movies to look out for this week

Julie & Julia [IMDB]

Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book

Cast: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams

Direction: Nora Ephron

G-Force [IMDB]

A specially trained squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world

Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Nicholas Cage (voice), Penélope Cruz (voice), Steve Buscemi (voice)
Direction: Hoyt Yeatman

Shorts [IMDB]

A young boy's discovery of a colorful, wish-granting rock causes chaos in the suburban town of Black Falls when jealous kids and scheming adults alike set out to get their hands on it.

Cast: Jimmy Bennett, Jake Short

Direction: Robert Rodriguez

Fruit & Nut

A weird comedy about a bumbling clerk Jolly Maker who sets out to rescue his kidnapped colleague Monica, only to find himself face to face with a crazy ex-Maharaja.

Cast: Boman Irani, Cyrus Broacha, Dia Mirza, Mahesh Manjrekar
Direction: Kunal Vijaykar
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Movies to look out for this week

Blue [IMDB]

250ft below the sea lies a fabled treasure, guarded by sharks. Aarav, Sagar and Sam – three men with differing motives try their luck at the treasure - but they have to battle much more than just sharks

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Zayed Khan, Lara Dutta, Katrina Kaif
Direction: Anthony DeSouza

All The Best [IMDB]

Two friends are compelled to swap their spouses to live up a lie for the sake of money.

Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, Bipasha Basu, Mugdha Ghodse
Direction: Rohit Shetty

Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna [IMDB]

Three people, each having different aspirations from life, are caught in a tangle of emotions. There’s a husband and wife with love eroding from their life. And there’s a single, happy-go-lucky dude who falls in love with the wife.

Cast: Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Kareena Kapoor
Direction: Prem Soni
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Thankfully, from now onto the end of the year, there are good big-budget Hindi movies bunched up for release on every weekend. Hollywood hasn’t been scrimping on the big budget movies exactly, but they have been really disappointing so far. But if the last 2-3 weeks are any indication, we can look forward to getting some “good” Hollywood movies as well. In the last 3 weeks, I have seen Away We Go, Orphan, Up, Inglourious Basterds, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Surrogates. And all of them have been great movies !! And even after watching so many movies, I missed some pretty good ones like Vicky Christina Barcelona, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, My Sister’s Keeper, Taking Woodstock and The Duchess.

Unfortunately, some work pressure and a little ill-timed fever has meant that I couldn’t write reviews for all of them. I will try to clear the backlog as much as I can.
I chose Surrogates now because this movie impacted me more than the others – in a similar way that District 9 did – in that it made science fiction plausible. The scenario painted in the movie 15 years from now feels rather believable and that’s what made me like this movie a lot to begin with.

The Plot
Scientists make a breakthrough in prosthetics – they manage to tap into brain signals to control movements of artificial limbs for the disabled. Soon, its possible to control a full humanoid robot with your brain and people start to use their surrogates – as these robots are called – to go about their daily lives while they remain at home. It results in significant cut down in crime and there hasn’t been a single murder in years - till now, when someone murders two surrogates. FBI agent Greer (Bruce Willis) has to venture into the real world for the first time in years and finds out that there is much more than what meets the eye

The Good
The realism of the scenario of people using surrogates is the one which makes this movie a great watch. If you think about it, it just makes a lot of sense to let a robot do all your activities while you physically lie on a couch with a visor on your eyes. And you can make your surrogate resemble yourself, yet have the muscular physique or a size zero figure (as your inclination might be). Ofcourse, you can also avoid the stench of sweat in public transport, communicable diseases, muggings and all other unpleasant things. And as can be expected – there are small groups of dissenters who abhor the idea of using surrogates. They are confined to ‘reservations’ in all the major cities, which resemble the ghettos you might see today.

The story itself is a good whodunit for the first part but the identity of the villain is a let down. But the twist regarding The Prophet is awesome though. With such an interesting premise, it would seem the makers didn’t think the entire story through with the same intensity. They could have made the story delve more into the effects of living your life like a video game – because even if your surrogate is destroyed, it doesn’t harm you at all and you can just buy one off the shelf and continue your life.

Ofcourse, there is Bruce Willis – when he is there, you expect some action - and he kicks ass as usual. But this is not a full-on-action Bruce Willis regular. There are just two chase sequences and the first one is rather enjoyable.

The Bad
Greer’s relationship with his wife is supposed to be a sideplot which tries to portray the complications arising out of dependence on surrogates. But it fails miserably and the makers never quite explain why he cant just walk into her room and yank her visor off !!

But most importantly, right at the very end, after the villain has been unmasked and everything is saved, the makers take a very childish stand in dealing with the surrogates phenomena. After such a though provoking premise and first half, the ending was just too banal. You know this could have been such a great movie if someone rewrote the last 20 min of the movie. And its for that Surrogates gets just a 3 star.

3 star
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Movies to look out for this week

Acid Factory [IMDB]

5 guys wake up inside a sealed acid factory with temporary amnesia - two of them tied up, the rest free. What they do next is for you to find out

Cast: Dino Morea, Aftab Shivdasani, Fardeen Khan, Dia Mirza, Manoj Bajpai, Irfan Khan
Direction: Suparn Verma

Surrogates [IMDB]

Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop (Willis) is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates

Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell
Direction: Jonathan Mostow

The Time Traveler's Wife [IMDB]

A romantic drama about a Chicago librarian with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage.

Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Alex Ferris

Direction: Robert Schwentke

The Duchess [IMDB]

A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life

Cast: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell

Direction: Saul Dibb

Taking Woodstock [IMDB]

From Oscar-winning director Ang Lee, a new comedy inspired by the true story of Elliot Tiber and his family, who inadvertently played a pivotal role in making the famed Woodstock Festival into the happening that it was.

Cast: Demetri Martin, Henry Goodman, Imelda Staunton

Direction: Ang Lee
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Inglourious Basterds

Why don’t hindi movies come up with supercool names like “Inglourious Basterds” ? The name itself promises so much – evil men, lot of wickedness ….
(Though its never quite explained why the bastards are called Inglourious – or why they are spelled in that way)

Maybe its lesser directors who bother about tying all ends neatly in their movies - Tarantino and his ilk just make up really wicked crazily cool movies – and leave us enraptured. Havent heard anyone complain so far about lack of background story for Lt. Aldo Raine or his men – or anyone for that matter. Most of it is certainly his style of moviemaking – moving from cut to cut with big jumps in the story. And to be honest – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Inglorious Basterds in one hell of a gripping movie.

The movie has two main plots – first is Lt. Aldo Raine , an American officer who parachutes into German occupied France, with a chosen group of Jewish subordinates – to wage guerrilla warfare and terrorize the Nazi soldiers with their brutality. The second is Shosanna Dreyfuss, a French Jew whose family was wiped out by the SS Colonel Hans Landa, nicknamed ‘Jew Hunter’ and who in living in Paris under a new identity. Then there are substantial sideplots - German movie star Bridget von Hammersmark, who is a British agent, Lt. Archie Hicox, a German-speaking English commando sent into France to execute Operation Kino and Pvt. Frederick Zoller, a Nazi war hero who is acting himself in the celluloid version of his feat.

Each of these stories are introduced separately, and each of them are intriguing on their own. The first sequence especially, is an awesome indicator of what is to come. It’s a excruciatingly polite conversation between Colonel Hans Landa and a French farmer in his house – which slowly but surely, tightens the screw on the farmer without him realizing where the conversation was going. There is no violence – just the subtly menacing Hans Landa, played brilliantly by Christopher Waltz (won Best Actor at Cannes this year)

And this intensely thrilling conversation style appears once more in the pub cellar full of Nazis. This one’s tension is so mindblowing, everyone in the hall was squirming in their seats !!

The climax is the premiere of the latest German propaganda movie called Nation’s Pride – where all these characters converge, some unknowing to each other. And its only during this stage that the screenplay slips just a wee bit – and you start muttering ‘c’mon do it’. But then it does happen and it takes your breath away with this audacity – you just didn’t see it coming !!

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Wake Up Sid

Growing up in a middle class family, you are constantly badgered to make up your mind about your career and then expected to work towards it. From where I come, most kids follow their fathers’ footsteps and join up for engineering – irrespective of whether they have the aptitude for it or not. And most do ok in life – grabbing a software job, frequenting Bangalore’s numerous pubs, till they (or parents) find a girl and get married - generally accepting life for what it is.

Ofcourse, none of us had the luxury of not doing anything – nothing at all – because our dads didn’t have a whole lot of money. But just imagine if they did – wouldn’t you also not bother too much about what you want to do in life ? If there was an option just to go on long drives, eat out, holiday, party - without bothering about the credit card bill ? Not to mention, no horrible boss and/or a shitty job – sounds really good, right ?

Well if wishes were horses … Nevertheless its still good fun to indulge in this fantasy, which goes around by the name of Wake Up Sid. You can immerse yourselves in this fantasy land where you have a cool SUV to drive, every gadget you can think of, a no-limits credit card, great friends and a certain roguish boyish charm. Ranbir Kapoor fits into this role as a hand in a glove – as a lazy confused young man who just doesn’t see the point of being all grown-up. He is happy as he is – bunking college, partying every night and tiptoeing back into the house at daybreak. Daresay, he does it much better than Hrithik in Lakshya !!

During one such party, Sid meets Aisha (Konkona) who has just arrived in Mumbai hoping to be a journalist. Even though she is much older to him, they like each other’s company and soon become friends. He helps her find and settle into a studio apartment – carrying on with his usual life otherwise.

However life delivers a kick to his cojones when college ends – resulting in a huge fight with dad and Sid walks out of his house in a huff. Having no other option, Sid bunks up with Aisha. Living in the small studio apartment with her, Sid starts understanding facets of life that he had so far refused to look at – and discovers what he wants to do in life. And along that, he discovers love as well.

I am sure most of you would have guessed the story anyway – it was never a big secret. However, execution is top notch and Ranbir Kapoor makes Sid very believable – and very lovable. Konkona is as usual superb at playing Aisha – and looks much more groomed than normal, thanks to Karan Johar's fashion tips. Anupam Kher doesn’t have to try too hard for his scenes and the friends come across as very genuine. The only weak character is Sid’s mom played by Ratna Pathak Shah – her broken English can be quite grating on the nerves.

Script-wise, there was two weak points. A small one is Aisha’s flat makeover. How can a middle class girl without a job in Bombay afford to refurbish a down-in-the-dumps flat completely (painting it etc) ? The other one is the climax scene – it seemed quite contrived and didn’t fit in well with the very natural screenplay otherwise. The movie has a very real worldly feel to it – even though it’s a Karan Johar production – because its shot entirely in Bombay and you can spot numerous familiar locales. And because there are no dream sequence songs shot in Greece or Switzerland or people living in huge mansions.

Overall, a good watchable film with two great performances by Ranbir and Konkona.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the 100th review I have put up !!
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Movies to look out for this week

Wake Up Sid [IMDB]

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rahul Khanna

Direction: Ayan Mukherjee

Inglorious Basterds [IMDB]

Cast: Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz

Direction: Quentin Tarantino

Cloudy With A Chance of Meat Balls [IMDB]

Cast: Bill Hader (voice), Anna Faris (voice), James Caan (voice)

Direction: Phil Lord & Chris Miller

Do Knot Disturb [IMDB]

Cast: Govinda, Ritesh Deshmukh, Lara Dutta, Sushmita Sen, Ranvir Shorey

Direction: David Dhawan

My Sister's Keeper [IMDB]

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Sofia Vassilieva, Abigail Breslin

Direction: Nick Cassavetes
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