It would be easy to accuse Hollywood of making another massive cash grab by revisiting Ridley Scott’s sci-fi cult classic ‘Blade Runner’. 35 years after the original in 1982, what other reason would there be for going back to that unique world? Turns out that it’s the one that made the most sense – to tell a great story helmed by a masterful storyteller.
Denis Villeneuve is fast approaching the upper echelons of modern-day directors, and his vision here is so well-defined and executed that it wouldn’t be a far stretch to say he has already arrived. This is not just a love-letter from a fan; Villeneuve displays his confidence in picking up such a beloved story, builds on it, and throws us some more polarizing plot points that would be argued over in the years to come. He also skillfully combines the key elements of filmmaking – the most obvious one being the absolutely stunning cinematography by Roger Deakins, who has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards so far and makes a no-brainer case for his 14th here. The soundtrack was another vital element in the original that was pathbreaking, and maestro Hans Zimmer does justice to those iconic themes by Vangelis.
Villeneuve also has a talented ensemble to work with – Ryan Gosling has hardly featured in a bad role so far, and his work here is also stellar. There are smaller roles played by Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright and Mackenzie Davis that manage to become memorable. Ana de Armas, in particular, seems to be an actress to watch out for, while Jared Leto is predictably unsettling. Reviving another beloved character he is known for – Harrison Ford is completely invested in this role and his chemistry with Gosling is essential to some key plot points that make ‘Blade Runner 2049’ even more significant as a sequel. In fact, it goes a step further to enhance the original, making all the questions raised there even more relevant. This justifies an elongated runtime that would get tedious if it wasn’t so gorgeous to look at. Admittedly, this will completely go over your head if you haven’t watched the original but if you liked it, you simply cannot afford to miss ‘Blade Runner 2049’.
Bruce Lee’s life is fascinating. To pack it all in a ninety minute film is a challenge for any filmmaker. That’s why George Nolfi chose to focus on one legendary fight that may or may not have happened in Bruce Lee’s life. Also, the movie is a work of fiction, so don’t expect to see the trivia that you may know about one of the greatest fighters of all time.
Lee, an arrogant a fight instructor in San Francisco believes that kung fu should be taught to whoever wants to learn it. His adversary is the Shaolin monk Wong Jack Man, who has to leave his country and work in America for some reason. Man believes kung fu should only be taught to Asians, as it’s a cultural heritage which may be hijacked (which eventually happened). Lee’s student Steve (Billy Magnussen) manages to arrange a fight between the two. How that showdown turns out is what the movie is all about.
What’s evident at the start is that the film doesn’t focus on Bruce Lee as it should. It instead focuses more on Steve’s character as a wandering sixties flower child and his love interest Xiulan (Qu Jingjing) who is being groomed to work at a brothel. Fans of Lee would of course want to see their icon recreated and actually fight. But that is not what makes up the film. Majorly, everything works to make possible the epic showdown between Man and Lee. However, they payback in that scene ends up disappointing you. Also, the film is more about Man trying to tame Lee and how the latter learns things about himself. That knowledge changes Lee for good which is how the ‘Dragon’ we see in films is born.
Philip Ng as Bruce Lee is well cast. The early swagger and the transformation later are portrayed quite well. Xia Yu as the disgraced Shaolin monk is top form, both acting and fighting wise. One can’t say that he is not a trained fighter like Philip. Billy Magnussen as Steve gets a lot of screen time and plays his part well, although he is the weakest link in the chain because his character is written that way.
For a bit of kung fu nostalgia, do check it out. Although don’t expect an out and out action film here.
In 2014, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ surprised everyone with an audacious screenplay, visceral action and a completely self-aware premise. It went on to become a sleeper hit that begged for a sequel. But does the follow-up meet everyone’s expectations? It’s certainly no easy task to recapture that lightning-in-a-bottle success, but ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ certainly tries to up the ante, keeping the same tongue-in-cheek humour intact, along with gritty action and a cast of well-known names. Its problem stems from the fact that it doesn’t know exactly when to pull back, in an excessive effort to surpass its predecessor.
The story is one that we’re all quite familiar with – a psychotic villain holds the world, or at least the US, hostage in an absolutely preposterous manner. Our heroes need to save the day, but the odds are stacked against them when their resources are taken away. In order to make it even more challenging, t
hey need to earn the trust of their new allies, and again that’s a two-way street. Throw in some crazy bad guys and we have a neat little package. But ‘The Golden Circle’ still has some tricks up its sleeve. Since action is the primary focus, there’s some nifty editing and camerawork that makes it much easier to follow, reminiscent of the insane chapel sequence in the ‘The Secret Service’. In the acting department, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Pedro Pascal and Julianne Moore are all effective in their respective roles, but it’s a missed opportunity by not saving Colin Firth’s return as a shocking surprise. On the other hand, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges feel underutilized – undoubtedly being reserved for the next entry in this franchise.
This also means there’s a lot of fluff this time around which could have been done away with, to make it a leaner, meaner screenplay. But the cast, and director Matthew Vaughn seem to have had a lot of fun making this movie and that essence translates well on screen too. As long as you don’t expect it to be a genre-defying blockbuster, get comfortable and enjoy ‘The Golden Circle’ for what it’s worth. If nothing else, check it out for Elton John playing an extremely colorful version of himself – and that’s saying something!
Director Doug Liman’s tragicomedy takes a unique and playful look at Seal’s dangerous but fascinating under the table dealings with the CIA and drug cartels in the 70s and 80s. How he led a double life and smoothly juggled the various nefarious activities forms the story. Interestingly, he was well aware that he is merely a puppet of the American government and a pawn in the grand scheme of things. Nonetheless, he chose to make hay while the sun shines.
While the subject itself evokes intrigue, credit must go to Liman for giving that satirical twist to an otherwise intense crime thriller. However, given the subject at hand and its socio-political undertones, it’s impossible to capture it all in a film that runs for a little less than two hours. What you thus get is a hurried recap of Seal’s antics. You hope to explore how Seal covered his tracks but that isn’t substantially explained.
What then keeps you hooked despite the shortcomings is Tom Cruise’s classic charm (trademark aviators, et al) coupled with some clever humour. Just like Seal, Cruise manages to ‘deliver’. In a career spanning over three decades, the quintessential movie star proves his mettle as an actor once again as he essays Seal’s naive recklessness, moral ambiguity and hide and seek with danger, in an earnest manner. Given Cruise’s penchant for being drawn to commercially viable entertainers that reduced him to ‘running in the movies since 1981’ (as his Twitter bio rightly says); American Made comes as a breath of fresh air.
This is a fascinating story told in a fascinating way. Much recommended for those who crave to see Tom Cruise in films beyond the formulaic but entertaining Mission Impossible series, forgettable Jack Reacher installments and that awful Mummy reboot.
Wah re aie Hindustani….
Aapno ko hi thukraya,
Aapno ko hi rulaya.
Wah re aie Hindustani,
Tu aapno ko hi nahi pehcan paya ?
Aapno ko hi daga diya,
Aapno ko hi zhootlaya,
Wah re aie Hindustani,
Tu aapno ko hi nahi pehcan paya ?
Teri har aawaz kuyn thi aapno k virodh mein,
Tere har kadum kyun the aapno k virodh mein.
Samza kar bhi na samza,
Jeet kar bhi hai hara.
Aapno se hi tu ladhkar jeeta,
lekin itithas gava hai ,
tu hara ,tu hara ,tu hara …
zara puch aapni Bharat mata se,
muzhe mere bhaiyoon k bare mein kyun nahi bataya ?
Jine ke ghar jala kar tu khub tha hasa.
Tere khilaf aawar utha rahe hai wo ,jinko tu na pehchan paya ?
Aapne hi the jo, tune achut unhe bataya ?
Kaisa Hindustani hai tu ?
Tune aapno ko hi mara ?
Itna hi yaad rakha har dharm sikhata hai pyaar ki bhasha,
tu yahi baat samz ja, Hamare Bharat mata ki tuzh se itni hi hai aasha.
– Sumit Ranaware
22 Vows (English):
1) I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh nor shall I worship them.
2)I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna who are believed to be incarnation of God nor shall I worship them.
3) I shall have no faith in ‘Gauri’, Ganapati and other Gods and Goddesses of Hindus nor shall I worship them.
4) I do not believe in the incarnation of God.
5) I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda.
7) I shall not perform ‘Shraddha’ nor shall I give ‘Pind-daan’.
8) I shall not act in a manner violating the principles and teachings of the Buddha.
9) I shall not allow any ceremonies to be performed by Brahmins.
10) I shall believe in the equality of man.
11) I shall endeavour to establish equality.
12) I shall follow the ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ of the Buddha.
13) I shall follow the ‘Paramitas’ prescribed by the Buddha.
14) I shall have compassion and loving kindness for all living beings and protect them.
15) I shall not steal.
16) I shall not tell lies.
17) I shall not commit carnal sins.
18) I shall not take intoxicants like liquor, drugs etc.
19) I shall endeavour to follow the noble eightfold path and practise compassion and loving kindness in every day life.
20) I renounce Hinduism which is harmful for humanity and impedes the advancement and development of humanity because it is based on inequality, and adopt Buddhism as my religion.
21) I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true religion.
I believe that I am having a re-birth.
22. I solemnly declare and affirm that I shall hereafter lead my life according to the principles and teachings of the Buddha and his Dhamma.