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Posts Tagged ‘Saroja vs Judgment Night’

Hangover: The cinematic equivalent of taking a huge hit of LSD and watching a fat dude slip and fall on a banana peel. Ironically, Mike Tyson knocking the fuck out of the tubby Zach Galifianakis qualifies as the only funny moment in the film.

Al-GoreKnowing: Despite Nicholas Cage’s presence, the film is bearable for about an hour. And then they mess it all up by promoting the subjective fear of global warming. It seemed as though the film was trying to emulate Manoj Shyamalan’s Happening and become that late night movie to which Al Gore probably jerks off to. Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and Ninth Gate also suffered from the same problem – no, Gore didn’t get turned on by them, it’s just that they were perfectly reasonable ideas that ended up being pale caricatures by the time we had a reason to give a shit about their characters. It also doesn’t help that the acting was really really bad. Cage, like Tom Hanks and Tom Berenger, is wooden as oak and under the impression that a pretending to have constipation is method acting. Rose Byrne is gloriously bad, as well…if only someone told her that a concocting a hundred variations of the “what’s that putrid smell?” look conveys neither fear nor paranoia. If only Roger Ebert didn’t give this four stars. If only I knew.

Kalloori: Director Balaji Shakthivel should be commended for keeping the melodrama down to a necessary minimum. Lord knows that few Indian directors tone it down for the benefit of subtlety and grace. Being loud is very much a South Indian attribute and to portray that in films can be construed as taking the easy way out. How easy would it have been to give one of these characters a glaring archetypal trait or a standout physical abnormality and beat the same to death by referencing it for the sake of comedy/tragedy/whatever? How many more people would have enjoyed Kalloori if it had some bloated comedian spewing socialist comedy? Or how about if they had shown the wrongdoers in Kalloori being brought to justice? A lot of things that could have been done to muddle up this re-telling of the obviously tragic bus-burning incident of Coimbatore were daftly avoided by everyone concerned. With the exception of one or two unnecessary song and dance sequences, I felt that the film was almost perfect in the way it nurtured the central characters.

kalluri_mTamanna (Shobana) and Akil (Muthu) taunt us with such quiet restraint. They could have gone all giggly and light-headed on us; instead they convincingly plow through the tragic irony that ends up epitomizing their characters. The supporting cast adds to the realism, as well, with their complete nonchalance for the camera that seldom zooms into their faces. In fact I don’t remember one other character’s name other than the two lead characters and well, that’s just life isn’t it? Most of the people we pretend to care about mean jack shit in our grand scheme of things and what only matters is the sequence of events they might possibly set in motion to either make our lives better or truly fuck it up. Director Balaji Shakthivel knows this. Cinematographer Chezhiyan knows this and all the actors and actresses, as well. A rare moment for recent Tamil cinema.

pollathavanPollathavan: Hype has turned Dhanush into Kollywood’s sad little anomaly. People have always believed that he was capable of things that so naturally seem to elude him on-screen. For instance, comic timing and charisma. He is so far away from being someone who can entertain the masses with brevity in thought (like his post- Moondru Mugam era father-in-law so easily did) that I almost pity him for considering the journey. I mean, look at the way this man cries on your television screen. Seriously, take any film that he has acted in and skip to the scenes in which he expresses sadness…it is friggin hilarious. I do believe Catherine Zeta Jones has met her match. It is dam near impossible to misconstrue his annoying overconfidence for talent unless you pay zero attention to the finer details. Even in his debut (Thulluvadho Ilamai), the final scene (apparently, it made grown men cry) featured the diminutive Dhanush rocking a B-grade porno mustache as comfortably as a redneck would a leather jacket at a Prince concert. As far as Pollathavan is concerned, thankfully it is not a remake of V Srinivasan’s 1980 Rajinikanth-thriller of the same name…but it is a far scarier proposition; it is a modernized version of Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thieves, which was in fact was a novel written by the Italian painter Luigi Bartolini. Surprisingly, Vetri Maaran’s version has many great things going for it.

Dhanush’s dad is yet another brilliant character essay by Malayalee actor Murali. The villain and his drug-addled psychotic brother are over-the-top but for once with good reason, as are the fight sequences and the Karunas-inspired comedy. The camerawork during the seedier moments of the film is pretty fucking great too. Most importantly, Dhanush’s presence does not bother you at all. Another landmark in Tamil cinema.

Judgement nightSaroja vs Judgment Night: A few months ago, I wrote this post on Saroja saying that director Venkat Prabhu seems to have been tremendously influenced by Guy Ritchie films. A lot of the quicker-than-a-blink editing used to keep the ambience wry and sudden seemed familiar from films such Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the tremendously average Revolver. Even worse was my misconception that Prabhu had written an original barnstormer of an urban adventure. Unfortunately, Saroja is an almost identical remake of Judgment Night with only the kidnapping drama conspicuous by its absence in the original buuuuut…after watching Judgment Night, I had a gut feeling that the he had a firmer grasp on irony than Hopkins ever did (or ever intended), as was evidenced by the humour with which he treats the cowardly nature of the protagonists. In the English version, Stephen Dorff‘s fear and insecurities act as a balance to Cuba Gooding‘s violent braggadocio and Emilio Estévez‘s sense of morality, and we, the audience, are almost told to judge these characters based on their traits. In Saroja, I guess the director’s intention was just for us to point our fingers at the characters and laugh as loud as we can.

If ever I had one bone to pick, it would be this…director Prabhu has apparently stayed away from putting his own spin on Jeremy Piven’s character (Ray Cochran) from Judgment Night, which is sort of confusing. I can only imagine the insane levels of awesomeness Saroja would have gone through if someone like Karthik Kumar had played Piven’s character. Then again the director could have willfully left out the best part of Judgment Night only to showcase his own originality. Bah who do you trust anyway? Some non-conformist, talented director who can save Kollywood from its recent slump and whose bloodline was singularly responsible for shaping music in Tamil cinema? Or a mean-spirited critic who hasn’t made a single film in his life, much less a short film?

What? Seriously?

Read also

Srikanth’s fantastic review of Om Darbadar on Seventh Art

I can safely say that the Venkat Prabhu‘s version was leaps and bounds better. I had a gut feeling that the he had a firmer grasp on irony than Hopkins ever did (or ever intended), as was evidenced by the humour with which he treats the cowardly nature of the protagonists. In the English version, Stephen Dorff‘s fear and insecurities act as a balance to Cuba Gooding‘s violent braggadocio and Emilio Estévez‘s sense of morality, and we, the audience, are almost told to judge these characters based on their traits. In Saroja, I guess the director’s intention was just for us to point our fingers at the characters and laugh as loud as we can.
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