The new Wes Anderson, and the new David Dhawan- what’s your poison this spring?
Let’s face it- we are not nature people. We will dance around in the blissful arms of spring for precisely 15 minutes before retreating to our smartphones or laptop screens. We will smell the flowers and exclaim in joy once, and then head to the nearest dhaba to smell pav bhaji soaking in Amul Butter (RIP New Sardar).
Unfortunately for us, the next three months are a cinematic wasteland. Between the IPL and the Elections and the interminable summer holidays of those brats in our building- it’s like no producer wants to release his film for us. There is some respite though- not all of it on the Indian screen, but we know where you can find the rest. So, on days when the outdoors just won’t do it for you, watch:
1. The Bollywood Movie Which Looks Better Than It Has Any Right To Be- Main Tera Hero
The funny thing about nostalgia? Sajid Khan and Rohit Shetty’s comedies make you look back at David Dhawan’s Govinda comedic potboilers with something akin to fondness. Whatever else one thinks of those films, no one can deny just how much fun everyone involved seemed to be having. And his latest- Main Tera Hero- looks like it might be kind-of, sort-of fun too. With everyone else wanting to be an Actor with a capital ‘A’, there is something refreshing about a young ‘un who just wants to ‘entertain’ like Varun Dhawan does. And between you and me, we’ve been humming “Palat!” to ourselves on loop for the last two weeks.
It also warms the hardened cockles of our heart to see an older actress (Nargis Fakhri) paired opposite a young man known primarily for his body. Score 1 for us Older Women!
Release Date: April 4, 2014
2. The International Blockbuster Types- Noah
Our relative lack of excitement about Captain America: Winter’s Soldier Revenges Against The Avengers Of The Universe World and the umpteenth instalment of Spiderman is not because we are women, but because we are sick to our gills of superhero franchises. Everyone is a tortured cape-wearing existentially-funked-out hunk all summer long- and we’ve had just about enough of it! But we can’t help be a bit excited about Noah.
Some of it is our long-term allegiance to the director Darren Aronofsky. Each of his movies teeter between insanity and genius with such temerity, that we can’t quite make up our mind whether we only love them or absolutely adore them.Then there is our residual affection for grumpy Australian Russell Crowe. And the burning desire to see how an agnostic director treats a Biblical tale of fire and brimstone and environmental foreboding!
News from the pre-production and early reviews has hovered between ‘dire’ and ‘so-bad-its-good’ . We are almost 100% confident that the movie will be a train wreck, but we can’t wait to find out for ourselves!
Release Date: 28th March, 2014
3. The Talky Art House Fave: Asghar Farhadi- The Past
Some people like special effects, others cinematography. We are all about the conversations. And no one does conversation as beautifully as Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi. His award winning ‘A Separation’ was the kind of adult movie that neither Hollywood nor Bollywood make any more. Grown ups walk themselves into and out of tangled relationships, betrayals and messy histories, with the help of conversations basted in tensions and marinated in shared recriminations. The actresses are all beautiful and effortlessly glamorous as only Persian and Levantine women can be, and the men brood and simmer with pent-up emotions.
Farhadi’s latest looks at a crumbling marriage, a new relationship , and the children who are the casualty of their own and their parents’ passions with rare sensitivity. It appears as part of PVR’s Director’s Rare in your town this Spring.
Release Date: The movie was supposed to release as part of PVR Director’s Rare in February 2014, so hopefully soon.
4. The Documentary from Last Year You Haven’t Seen Yet: The Act of Killing
Between the Civil War in Syria, the coup in Crimea and the eventual erosion of the promise of the Arab Spring; of late we’ve found ourselves thinking a lot about the nature of fundamentalism. This masterful documentary looks at the anti-communism purge of 1965-66 in Indonesia (in which nearly half a million people lost their lives) with an incredibly unique perspective.
By directly confronting the perpetrators of these ‘acts of killing’ and forcing them to feel what the victims must have felt, the director Joshua Oppenheimer violates the code of documentarians in more ways than one. And while some critics have dismissed the film as a gimmick, it is a gimmick that shone a light on a lesser-known chapter of world history, and we can’t be more grateful for it.
Release Date: Available on DVD
5. The Movie We are Rooting For: Samrat and Co.
From Aamir to Soundtrack to Table 29, the parts never quite make the whole in a Rajeev Khandelwal movie, do they? There is a desire to do something different there, a ripped-from-DVDs kind of exciting B-movie aesthetic, but none of these films is as entertaining on the screen as it sounds on paper. We are hoping that Samrat and Co. changes that. We love a good detective yarn as much as anyone else (and this one looks like its ripped from the RDJ Sherlock Holmes version by way of the Moffat version), and Indian cinema is sorely lacking in franchise tentpoles (sorry Shahrukh, we don’t want to see RaTwo). A two hour movie, with a passably decent mystery and a good sense of the locales may be just the kind of entertainment to savour between non-stop IPL matches.
Releases Date: 1st May 2014
6. The Performances from Last Year You Need to Catch up on DVD: Frances Ha/Short Term 12
Frances: I’m so embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet.
Unfortunately for us desis, the cinemas here don’t see the sense in bringing the best movies from across the pond (and then across another pond) over to us unless they make big money or win big awards. But for the two most finely nuanced female performances from last year, get ye to the DVD store and rent Frances Ha and Short Term 12
In Frances Ha, Great Gerwig essays the rootlessness of your 20s and 30s with such tenderness that you want her for your best friend/little sister right away.
And in Short Term 12, Brie Larsson plays the caretaker of a foster-care centre with a fragility that belies her strong centre. Her character Grace, struggles to take care of the at-risk teenagers in her charge, and nurse her own soul at the same time. There is something so unaffected about her performance that she forces you to feel every single emotion that Grace does for a harrowing 100 minutes, and still leave the screening oddly inflated.
7. The Recent American Release that has us salivating: The Grand Budapest Hotel
We completely understand if you don’t like Wes Anderson- his special brand of DIY whimsy is not to everyone’s taste. But if you are one of his acolytes (and both the MBRB girls are); then this is THE cinematic event of the year. Every single silver screen man we’ve ever loved from Ralph Fiennes to Mathieu Amalric to Jude Law to Bill Murray to Willem Defoe (don’t judge) puts in an appearance, in a story which sounds delightfully loopy and touching at the same time. It doesn’t matter what the weather, we will traipse along to the theatre for this one.