The director fails to capture the stifling, terrorizing claustrophobia of the coach, making it look all very simple and straight-forward. Even the top shots inside the carriages that he shoots are more distracting, taking an almost detached view of the goings-on below, you wondering what to make of all the heads you see. With the result, the breathtaking scenery is memorable, the mystery less so. Is that why the denouement, weak by any detective movie standards, takes place outside the train - all the passengers lined up on chairs, as if guests of honor at a valedictory event – instead of inside of the dining car, where the tension in the book and the 1974 movie was unbearable?
As the protagonist on the qui vive, Isabelle Huppert is the movie’s stunning lighthouse, plunging you into her character’s darkest and deepest desire, while using her binoculars; or when she realizes who the rapist is, and walks a razor-edge line between fantasy and a terrifying roleplay. Huppert is why Elle is the crepuscular triumph it is. You want to give her a cinematic salute for this brave-heart-stopping performance. She trapezes with such strength, whipping out a searing act, exploiting and being exploited at the same time. She’s fiery, all fire as she burns with desire, and then all ice as she plots her revenge.
Every passing interview, Holden and Tench change too – their strengthening bond suddenly frayed, as Holden discovers an almost devious delight in manipulating his interviewees with empathy and sympathy, both at first forced, but as they go deeper, the line between analyzing them to joining them in verbal jousts that speak their language, shattering the sanitized questionnaire into shreds; straining the team’s tenuous ties to the point of breakdown. And in a brilliant turn, as Holden gets manipulative and pushes the boundaries of ‘accepted procedure’ he gets better and abrasive, even.
Lucknow Central’s biggest problem is that director Tiwari and co-writer Aseem Arora try to straddle too many tracks – combining Prison Break with Happy New Year to make another The Shawshank Redemption. Except for the music competition, every story and subplot traces its genesis back to this all-time cinematic classic that’ll forever continue to warmly generate life’s lessons even as it ponders over human nature and failings via Morgan Freeman’s soothingly powerful voice.
The spark and fire generator is Kangana Ranaut, who comes through all shining and emotional armor. Her act as the thieving Praful is nothing short of brilliant. The first time she robs a counter and races away in her car, her expression betrays the sheer shock she feels running through her being, stunned by her own audacity. And then, she configures her expression into a magnificent dissolve of triumph and thrill, realizing that she can get away with it.
Director Ashim Ahluwalia’s Daddy unwaveringly and unequivocally fails on all counts, leaving you stunned at the enterprise and its unhappy achievement. Which is a bit of a surprise, really. For, based on Mumbai’s underworld gangster, Arun Gawli, you’d have thought the man’s life story and his rise and fall would have automatically made for some spiffy and crackling material onscreen.
There’s a scene in Patriots Day where Veronica (Khandi Alexander, the only scene she’s in for the length of the movie) from the High-Value Interrogation Group, is interrogating Katherine Russell (Melissa Benoist), wife of terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze), who along with younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff) set off bombs in Boston and has … Continue reading ‘Patriots Day’ review: The Terror and the Terrible
Here’s a question that if you answer correctly, will immediately qualify you for an interview with India’s top-secret agency - it (the agency, not the question) is beyond the purview of all the listed, government-sanctioned ones, ostensibly craftier and more effective than all the armed forces put together. Ready? Here goes: You’ve caught the only … Continue reading ‘Naam Shabana’ review: Tap (to) see the Power
The camera follows Jayaraman (Mohanlal), panning his walk in slow motion, as he passes the dead body, and then, in the crowd, you see the killer’s visage, a child in his arms, a lady next to him. You do a double take, but Jayaraman passes him by, even though he’s had a deadly scuffle with … Continue reading ‘Oppam’ review: An Apartment, Complex
When Sunny Leone began her moves to the rebooted – yes, we don’t call it plagiarism anymore – version of Kalyanji-Anandji’s throbbing chartbuster, Laila O Laila from Qurbani, the chair in the cinema hall next to me began rocking. Fearing the worst, I looked out of the corner of my eye, and through the limited, … Continue reading ‘Raees’ review: More –OH than Aah