Formulaic yet Surprising: MOANA (2016)

moanaWell, I must say I approached the film with the old misgivings and contempt I’ve specially reserved for Disney (and of that kind) products. The change of setting, though, is welcome. The bodies of the characters broke stereotypes yet crafted new ones. For a start, the protagonist looked healthy. And the delineation of the hair, achieving milestones ever since Brave, was dazzling here. The deranged rooster as sidekick is hilarious, and especially so since I knew one of its kind, unbelievably daft and unfathomable. The story of the young adult girl having a ‘dream’ and pursuing it no matter what her father says or any stick-in-the-mud detractors might say, and finally achieving success and glory — same-old theme — is predictably boring.

That is, until Maui aka Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson started to sing “You’re Welcome”. The quirky animation, the genius of the “animated” tattoos (the only hand drawn animation in the film, ref. Wikipedia), and the cheeky suavity of the lyrics, found me actually, unconsciously enjoying it. I soon retained my composure, however, and was back at nit-picking, when alas! Continue reading

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O Menino E O Mundo(2013) – A Musical Bildungsroman

the_boy_and_the_world_-_p_-_2014.jpg_0Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo, 2013) directed by Brazilian animator Alê Abreu tells the bittersweet story of a little boy who goes in search of his missing father from the idyllic village of naive, simplistic childhood to bustling towns of growth, progress and knowledge. The music elevates the whole narrative to a whole new level, with its instrumental and folk touches.  The drawings are mostly minimalist, created so as to look like a child’s drawings splattered with a wild but intelligent sense of colour. Continue reading

Strictly Unfunny – FUNNY GAMES (1997)

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One of the weirdest movies I have ever watched. The serial murdering adventures of two harmless looking young men, taking place around the sparsely populated picturesque vicinity of a lake.

While the first three quarters are suspenseful, eerily slow paced, the final quarter where Anna gets recaptured by the killers and the funny games continue till even the killers themselves feel bored, and everyone in the family is killed off one by one, and the killers engage in yet another  predicted funny game on the neighbours, throws all harmony of the film off the table. There’s even a trick prospective ending, in which Anna shoots one of the killers, which would have been too good to be true.
Continue reading

MELANCHOLIA (2011) – A Hymn to Depression

melancholia.jpegWe are all going to die soon. So throw away your dumb rituals, your make-beliefs, your unfulfilling career race, your pretenses of aesthetic refinement and classiness. Embrace the despondent wait. Be like Justine. Lose control of your life. So that when the time comes you won’t be caught unawares. You will have known it was going to happen anyway. You can say then, “Because I know things. I know what the answer of the lottery is, I know that there is no god out there, I know that humans are all alone on a despicable planet, the only one in the universe that contains life, and that if it is destroyed nobody cares because nobody is there to care or know about it.” It’s like having the upper hand over surprises, like you know your friends are secretly plotting a surprise birthday party, and when they yell surprise, you think “yayyyy, whatever”.

Lars von Trier’s second film Continue reading

Idealism and its Aftermaths – ZOOTOPIA (2016)

Zootopia.jpgIt appears that I’m simply against animated film produced by mainstream, popular animation studios. So I found it hard to ignore the hardened prejudice that gloated maliciously at the premise of American-Dream-turned-sour-but-yet-somehow-managed-to-save-face-due-to-the-individualism-of-the-hardworking-underdog, or precisely, the hardworking bunny rabbit. While the story was one of empowerment and social mobility, and therefore, the same-old, I was delighted at the meta-generic Godfather spoof and the Sloth bureaucracy. The Fox is charming and suave, basically the same-old Flynn Rider, with an adorable suave shrewdness, bad only due to circumstances, and not incorrigible; the Bunny whats-her-name naïve and optimistic like those rote female protagonists representing a better future and converting the beast into prince–in this case, good cop. Continue reading

Munnariyippu (2014) – “Fair is foul,” or A Warning against Nagging

Munnariyippu“So from that spring whence comfort seem’d to come
Discomfort swells”

(Spoilers ahead)

The film is both spoiled and saved by the near-farcical ending which is near-farcical simply because the surprise end was out of the jack-jumping-box for me–and if it has been able to flabbergast me, me who is considered rather talented when it comes to predicting ‘surprises,’ then there is no saying about the average audience out there.  Somehow, I had taken it for granted that Raghavan the protagonist was not a criminal. After all, Mammooty would’t be acting in such a heinous role as that of a criminal unsmart enough to get caught, imprisoned, and more appallingly still, to live out out his years in obscurity. Had the role been played by someone less known and therefore less typified, you would have given him the benefit of doubt and so, the ending would not have been as grotesque, so to say.

Raaghavan turns out to be neither victim nor armchair philosopher, but a “man of his word,” a man ruthless (or brave, according to how you choose to look at it) enough to practice his idiosyncratic philosophy of freedom. In a fundamental sense, this freedom is the freedom away from nagging people, Continue reading