Movie Reviews, Commentary & More

Harry Potter 5 - One Minute Complaint

The magic found in the books, not the spells or potions but the way the story unfolds, is devastatingly missing in the movies. The movies so far are at best a fair adaptation with a somewhat understandbale storyline and at worst, like this one, are rushed & choppy. Harry Potter is the only character who is considered for screen development with Dolores Umbridge & Hermione Granger coming in at distant second and third places. Like diamonds in the rough, there are a few scenes that work; but taken as a whole, the movie seems like it has been written, directed & edited by a pampered child - comfortably twisting characters and plotlines, huge holes in character portrayals and cuts from one scene to the next with no smooth transition in-between. If this piece of writing is insipid, blame it one the movie for dulling my senses.

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Mini Reviews

Pink Panther
I haven't seen the original Peter Sellers' versions. But it definitely can't have been as bad as the new Steve Martin's portrayal - there's no wit, no slapstick, no punch. An inane supposedly funny story about how a French police inspector, Jacques Closeau, solves a murder case. This movie is like Hollywood insulting the French comedy genre.

Two very good character developments make this watchable: the vacousness of an out-of-work Hollywood actor (Ben Affleck) and that of a private investigator (Adrien Brody) who has forgotten his life. The screenplay isn't gripping & the supporting cast ain't great (except for Diane Lane). The dialogues are reflective of the Hollywood lifestyle: "I sleep with her because she makes me feel young", says the actor when he ditches his elderly girl friend for an immature aimless girl. Partly interesting.

Breaking & Entering
Minghella, who adapted & directed the immensely likable war romance 'The English Patient' comes up with a contrived screenplay here. So, the viewer never fully feels for any of the characters or rues about the themes dealt in the movie: love, family, fidelity, crime, immigrants, etc. If only had they gone the extra mile, rewritten some parts of the screenplay, gone for a retake of some of the intimate scenes, worked on more meaningful camera angles...

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Mini Reviews

An Inconvenient Truth
The title of this documentary is just about perfect. It's really discomforting for us to forego some of the daily pleasures which we've come to take for granted. The temperature of our planet has been accelerating due to mis-managed industries & a lack of political will. If we allow this to continue, Al Gore says, the results could be alarming, very well within our lifetime. The message is very clear: for a cleaner, safer & healthier future, we need to evaluate our lifestyle. Watch this important documentary with your family & then discuss about it.

Notes on a Scandal
Deliciously acted by two delicious actresses. Well, delicious, after all, may not be the right word to describe a drama involving improper sex. But when Judi Dench & Cate Blanchett deliver their lines with exquisite naturalism and contort their faces that absolutely matches their characters, one can't ask for more. A simple story about a mis-aligned friendship, loneliness, betrayal and immaturity based on a novel by Zoe Heller is very well written & directed.

The Queen
This is a movie about the interactions between No.10, Downing Street & Buckingham Palace in the aftermath of Diana's death. While the queen thinks of it as a personal tragedy and wishes to keep her feelings to herself, the whole country drowns moaning and wants the queen to join them, which forces the newly elected Tony Blair to pressurize the monarchy. Brilliant acting by Helen Mirren as the queen; subtle directorial touches by Stephen Frears make it a good watch.

Andrei Rublev
I'm doing an injustice by writing a mini-review of this visual masterpiece. Andrei Tarkovski's tale of the 15th century painter Andrei Rublev is epic in it's scope - both visually & thematically. Although many chapters digress from what initially appears to be the subject & some of the metaphors about the artiste's views are very abstract, I enjoyed watching it. Some time later, I'll try to honor it with a complete review.

40-Year Old Virgin
Andy has a clean social life (read the title again). When his friends come to know his state, they try to help him. After some good-bad drama, the movie has a happy ending. Steve Carrell is picture-perfect in the lead role & the supporting cast isn't bad either. Sometimes slapstick, sometimes raunchy - some lines work, some scenes click. This is a semi-comedy which I recommend for insomniacs.