21 October, 2014

Short Reviews – 9.79

It’s a sporting event that is etched into many minds. I remember watching it, and the scandal that resulted even today, more than two decades after it happened. 9.79 is a look at all the participants that took part in one of the most controversial track-and-field events of the last century; the 100 meters dash at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

The race that brought the consumption of performance enhancing drugs into the limelight as Ben Johnson, the winner, was found positive for taking them has gone down as a turning point in the history of sports. It is amongst one of the first few instances where consumption of banned substances in sports was talked about around the world in such detail. But, the documentary doesn’t simply stop at the scandal, rather through interviews it digs deeper into the psyche of the runners to uncover a world of back stabbings, conspiracies, steroid use, and as a result it leaves an astringent picture of sports in the minds of the many fans that enjoy it. Furthermore, the documentary also stands proof of the determination athletes have in order to achieve their goals and the pressures, both mental and physical, they endure to fulfill their dreams of being at the top of their league.  

9.79, the time it took Ben Johnson to run the 100 meter dash, is a brilliant well researched documentary as it never judges the main “accused” nor the other participants, but instead presents everyone’s side of the story with equal depth and investigation. Unfortunately it doesn’t help the loss of faith in the sanctity of the sports that one ends up with as each passing year sees more and more cases of some form of “corruption” talking place in the various sporting events around the world.  

Rating 4/5

20 October, 2014

Short Reviews - Supermen of Malegaon

If you ever want to see the power cinema holds on the people that are involved in it, then Supermen of Malegaon is the documentary for you. It is equally about the love and passion that these film makers and actors have towards the “big screen” and the extents they go to with determination in order to live up to their dreams.

Supermen of Malegaon is a beautiful look at the small town indie-film culture in India. In a country where cinema is the primary mode of entertainment and where people are crazy about films, be it to watch or make them, this documentary takes a light hearted look at a group of passionate folks who just want to make films; films that play out in villages and small cities that are as entertaining as they are relevant to the surrounding regions. While money might be a major hindrance for these amateur cinephiles, it is also the catalyst that ignites their ingenuity as they go about making the most of what they have to present their audience with some spectacular results. It is this very fact that makes these home grown films, which might lack substance, full of heart, hope, and personality.

While the documentary tackles the culture of small time film makers, it is the people who make these films that form the core of this story. These people who try to stay within the bounds of religion, society, and personal beliefs yet continue to explore, experiment, and experience the art of film making for the joy it brings to them and to the people who eventually see their films. Their journey from the initial stages to the completion of the film is in turn both hilarious and heartwarming and their personalities are so grounded that the audience can’t help but root for them to succeed.  

Supermen of Malegaon is a must see documentary for anyone who has the remotest interest in films and especially film making, but also to those that want to see the power of human spirit in action. Sadly it is too short; if only we could stay in the world of these rebel film makers a little longer.     

Rating 4/5

19 October, 2014

Short Reviews - Primal Fear

Even though his name doesn’t appear on the poster, Primal Fear is Edward Norton’s best role ever (along with American History X), and the same was also acknowledged with an Oscar nomination for this breakthrough supporting role performance.

A psychological thriller Primal Fear is, being a murder mystery and an investigative piece, completely overshadowed by Norton’s act of the stuttering altar boy, Aaron, convicted of murdering a priest. As a result, this courtroom drama sees Richard Gere’s Martin Vail take on the case of this helpless culprit in the hope to benefit his own reputation, but what results is a cat and mouse game of deception, lies, hidden secrets, and the realization that truth is far from what is in front of our eyes.

Norton’s performance further benefits from the fact that the film is very basic in its execution and even with stars like Laura Linney, Frances McDormand, and Richard Gere it is extremely unassuming. Add to that the twists and turns that the investigation presents at regular intervals, and we get a tightly packed edge of the seat drama that keeps the audience guessing till the end credits.         

A chilling and entertaining thriller with an ending that is at par with that of The Usual Suspects or Seven, Primal Fear is one of those sometimes underrated film gems that is as compelling now as it was almost two decade ago when it released.

Rating 5/5

14 October, 2014

WIN! One of Two Film Based Books

Competition time folks, and this time I am giving away TWO film based books to two lucky winners (one each). 

All you have to do, to be in for a chance of winning the below mentioned books is follow the blog via email or by clicking the Follow/Join the Site button on the right (Please note that following on Bloglovin does not count) and if you are on twitter, you can get brownie points by following @raghavmodi. While following the blog is essential, the twitter aspect is just an added bonus for you and for me.

Once you have done the above, please remember to comment below stating that you are taking part and also how is it that you are following the blog (email or on Blogger) so that I can check just before I pick the winner on October 31st, 2014.

In case you already follow my blog, first I would like to thank you, and then inform you that since you have already done the impossible, now you simply have to comment and tell me how is it that you follow the blog?
If you participate, you get to win one of the following two books

Talking Cinema by Bhawana Somaaya (Click on link for review)

Going to the Movies by Syd Field

Although it won’t make any difference but Ticker is also on Facebook and I have a nice little Instagram account as well so have a look at it. I always appreciate a follow with the promise that I shall not spam your timeline.

Now for some other T&Cs
This competition is valid in India only
The prizes will be delivered to an Indian address.
Incomplete entries will not be considered.
The final decision lies with the blog owner.
No cash alternatives will be given.
The prize will be sent via post and we are not accountable for late/lost/damaged/stolen prizes.
The prize cannot be substituted or refunded.
Only one entry per household will be considered.
Competition ends on Friday 31st October 2014 at midnight.
Winner will be contacted via Twitter or by a mention on the blog post. If you do not contact back within a week, a new winner will be selected.

Tokarev (Rage)

It’s easy to start watching Tokarev, also released as Rage, with many preconceived notions. Its primary premise of a father trying to find the kidnappers of his daughter is reminiscent of Taken. Moreover, the revenge drama that it eventually leads into has also been done to death. But, sometimes it’s good not to judge a movie based on such notions. Tokarev might seem “familiar” initially, and it does have a few clich├ęd characters, but stick with it till the end and you are bound to be pleasantly surprised.

When ex-criminal turned good guy Paul Maguire’s (Nicolas Cage) daughter is kidnapped and then later killed (not a spoiler), he with the help of his old-time associates goes on a rage (hence the alternate name of the film I presume) induced hunt for the culprits. What we get as a result is slow disintegration of Cage’s character into his old self as his past catches up on him. It is this very breakdown, thankfully not sugar coated, which at one stage involves Cage’s wide eyed screaming mental trademark persona that keeps the story interesting.

Unfortunately, Cage has the only good character in the film. Most of the supporting characters, which includes Danny Glover, give wooden performances which aren’t helped much by the cringe worthy dialogues. Once again here the story comes to the rescue of the film. While watching the film it all seems by the book and predictable, but once all the cards are on the table during the climax, it is only then that the red-herrings come into notice and when you look at the picture on the whole, it manages to mix genres such as revenge, redemption, action, drama, mystery, suspense, and a social message quite well into a one and a half hour tightly wound package.

The action involving numerous gun fights, hand to hand combat, and car chases is diverse and excluding the shaky-cam at times is quite exceptional. Furthermore, even though some of the artistic shots that pop up during the film (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you do watch it) might seem out of place, they manage to break down the intensity of the action and slow down the film a little which in the end works well.

Tokarev, and I much prefer this title over Rage, is a revenge drama on the surface but at heart it presents an interesting look in the psyche of human nature wrapped up into a heavy cloth of guns and ammunition.  

Rating 3.5/5

DVD Information;
Title:   Tokarev (Blu-Ray)
Running Time: 134 minutes
Release Date: 22nd September
Certificate: 15
Language: English
Audio: Stereo 2.0, Dolby 5:1