Reading Time: 6 minutesDirectors Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane whip up a fantastic first season for Netflix’s original content debut in India. Dividing the story-telling into two tracks, they add layers of conflicted and murderous characters who clash and collide, sparking off intense drama and hard-to-look-from away scenes. The action’s intense, the notes are grungy and the suspense an undercurrent to the main arc: the boiling cauldron of religion, politics, and power. Add to it an all-round superlative cast and an anxious background score, and you have a bloody winner.
Reading Time: 4 minutesIn “Raazi”, director Meghna Gulzar creates a compelling conflict of emotions that rise far above the thrills, thanks in no small part to Alia Bhatt’s powerhouse of a performance.
Reading Time: 3 minutesDirector Hansal Mehta makes a bewilderingly staccato and dawdling movie about a terrorist; and it’s up to actor Rajkummar Rao to do the heavy lifting and mesmerize you.
Reading Time: 5 minutesDirector Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski paint the screen with tones of tension, shades of noir, and ratchet up the heartbeat that much more. But the best lighting and atmospherics is when Getty is onscreen, the shades dark, temporally lonely, and enveloped in an impermeable wrap of green-bags and isolation. Actor Christopher Plummer lends an air of imperiousness that’s impenetrable and sometimes unfathomable – and you know he’s hiding an uneasy past all through for his character. That somehow, tragically, also justifies his own manic obsessiveness with money, estate, paintings, and deals.
Reading Time: 5 minutesThe 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?
Reading Time: 4 minutesAs 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.
Reading Time: 6 minutesEvery 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.
Reading Time: 4 minutesLucknow 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.
Reading Time: 4 minutesThe 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.
Reading Time: 4 minutesDirector 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.