Tag: review

I finished reading the second book in The Rabbi Small Mysteries series, Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry. Though I enjoyed this story, the overall experience was a bit dampened by the political subplots and unnecessary chatters.

Sure, every discussion that Rabbi was involved in was, though repetitive, refreshing; it was a welcome lesson on Jewish traditions and values. However, unlike the first book in the series, the mystery and the rabbi didn’t feel like the core of this one.

A good quick read, nonetheless.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I recently watched Free Solo, 1917 and Greyhound. Here are my thoughts.

Free Solo

This was such a thrilling documentary. I have rarely used that adjective for a documentary. But this one is so very different. I cannot fathom someone’s possession for their passion can blind them to the risks rather conspicuous to the rest. I was aware of the free soloing as a form of climbing. What took me by surprise was the level of planning that goes into the preparation. In hindsight, it was foolish of me to think that wasn’t the case, that the act was spontaneous.


I can’t think of a better way to captures the immediacy of war than how Sam Mendes does with 1917. The single-take narration grips one right from the beginning and never lets off even for a moment. I was with the characters throughout their journey, feeling their anxiety, their pain. I entered every new terrain, turned every dark corner equally uneasy. What Mendes and his cinematographer Roger Deakins manage to achieve is absolute brilliance. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was left gasping by the end. A cinematic masterpiece.


Another war flick that, sure, aimed to be different. A fast-paced action thriller about battleships is not very common. However, the economical 75 minutes of the runtime itself felt too long. The fights felt repetitive and with no other thread to hold the plot together, it was easy to skip over. Tom Hanks sells the character though. However, I am tired now of seeing him play the perfect guy. He needs to play some grey characters now, someone with a few flaws.

Bonus – Quarantine Special

I also finally watched the Quarantine special episode of Mythic Quest. This is the best show on Apple TV+, period. And this special episode was exactly what I needed now — an understanding of what I and most of us are going through in current times. What’s commendable is that it does so without giving up on the hilarity. As the episode came to the climax, it had me jumping with momentary joy. With my eyes full of happy, hopeful tears and my fists clenched, [spoiler alert] I joined Ian to shout out loud “Fuck you Coronavirus”.

I recently finished reading Suspect by Robert Crais. I enjoyed this book, almost most of it. However it is, by no means, a great book.

The story is too formulaic. The mystery is predictable. Most of the characters are not built well. Every plot twist” can be seen chapters ahead. Even the narration is too simplistic. It is linear with the problems introduced in a chapter and solved right in the next one. There is simply no tension.

However, the overall book is a breezy read. No part gets boring. I especially liked the parts where it was just about Scott and Maggie, the German Shepherd. I usually do not enjoy the subplots involving pets. They are overdone most often, made too dramatic. That’s not the case here. The bonding between them is developed really well. You care for both. And that’s where lies the strength of the novel. I just wish it was backed by a nice crime mystery.

I attempted to watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch today. Netflix managed to solve a lot many technical challenges — it is a well-done interactive film. I think first of its kind. But boy, did it suck as a film. The format just did not click for me — the film worked neither as a science fiction nor as a horror.

To be frank, I am a bit disappointed in this genre of films. There has been so much talk about these choose-your-own-adventure or multiple endings movies/shows. But I find the whole concept a bit distracting. Every time, I was made to choose any aspect playing on the screen, I was pulled out of the flow of the movie. I doubt this interactive form will work for many.

Call me old school. But I want to be driven, I want to view the story from the director’s perspective. I like to see what he or she wants to show me, keeping my mind completely open. I do not want to play a game while I am watching a movie. Because if I do want to, well, I will play a game in the first place.

Sure, this was a good experiment to explore this concept of letting viewers drive the narrative of the film. And although I question its feasibility, I also believe this is just a start. There’s soon going to be lot many such experiments with VR too. Whatever the makers believe, I am sure I would hate that form.

I wish makers spend their efforts on the story, on the screenplay, on all the other aspects that make a movie brilliant. I will any day choose a linear, single ending drama or a thriller that a director has complete control over than a broken, nonsensical story that I can control every aspect of.

Bhai: Vyakti Ki Valli – Celebration of a life

I recently watched Bhai: Vyakti Ki Valli, a movie I was very eagerly waiting for quite some time now. It is a biopic of a person that I adore, an iconic Marathi writer and a humorist, a brilliant theater artist and an adept musician, a person who inspired me to start writing. That person is Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, lovingly called Pu. La.” or Bhai” in the region I am from.

Narrating the life of this towering personality is not a small feat given the sheer number of stream of art he was passionate about. He is a well-known and a well-respected person amongst Maharashtrians of all age. It is through his writing, through the careful study of human nature around him that he taught many what the real happiness is. So it is only just that I was so curious to learn more about this master, through especially the first of this two-part biopic that focuses on his early life.

It was wonderful to know more about this simple person and was refreshing to see the Maharashtra of early 1900. In a way, I thought the people, the society that Bhai dwelt in was a lot more liberal, more open than what we see today. It was pleasing to watch the strong women with definite opinions, the simple marriage or even the relationship that Bhai’s wife and his mother share. The finale with a mind-blowing rendition of Hindustani classical music through a couple of well-known songs was sheer magic on screen – left me with goose bumps down my arms. It is Marathi culture on display. It instantly transported me back to my childhood days when these songs were our morning alarms. Boy, how much do I yearn for the simple life of yesteryears?

No doubt then that it was a brilliant watch for me, and my family. Even my friends share my experience. But all of us already know a lot about the person and the people around him. The list of characters, from the real-life like Bhimsen Joshi or Kumar Gandarva and from Bhai’s imagination like Anna or Namu Parit, that walk the screen are well itched in us Marathi people’s memories. But that may not be the case for people not from this state.

I wish this movie was an equally well-made biography, not just a celebration of the life of this beloved man. I wish the characters were allowed to grow, introduced at the very least. I wish we learned more about the relationship Bhai shared with these characters. I wish this could have been that one movie I would recommend every friend of mine to watch so that they knew what gem of a person Pu. La. was. But, alas.

First thing I did once I was back from the theater was to listen to couple of Pu. La.’s story-telling acts. It was heart-warming for me to see many aged couples who could barely walk taking all the effort to come down to the theater with their family and laughing their hearts out. May be they had spent their golden years together watching Bhai live and now they want to re-live those days. So yes, the movie did leave many, including me, nostalgic. May be that was the win the makers were going for.

Thoughts on movie making (and reviewing)

Just finished watching “The Negotiator”. A tense drama between two negotiators that was . Well at least for three-fourth of the movie. After which I think the director fell prey for the behaviour which I am seeing a lot recently. However I have no intention here to post a review about the movie.


Actually these days I have lost belief that reviews actually hold any credibility. Not just do I find them monetarily inspired, but they are also dependent on many external factors. This makes it practically impossible for two viewers to watch a movie with same frame of mind and same expectations.

Well not to forget the reviews themselves rig their own viewpoint on the moviegoers. So a Taran Adarsh might make each Yash Raj Film an extreme must watch while Masand makes the same one the extreme bore of all time. Two thumps down he would scream. However what the movie ends up being is not any of those.

Not just is this case true for the actual critics whose bread and butter is film reviewing. Even friends that unwelcomely review a movie for me, make it difficult for me to watch any. One likes any movie he watches, another says “ah Bollywood sucks”.

So hardly is it possible for me to decide which movie to watch based on anyone’s comments. Ironically the most of the movies that I have loved recently are the ones where I had no clue about their plot or performances. So no reviews for me I say.

Anyway back to the pit that most of the directors fall in. I call it the “lets-make-it-goody-goody” pit. See when you have made a strong impression on audience by throwing at them what they least expected, you don’t take an unwanted faltu turn saying “Hehe buddy, there I fooled you.”

One most cliche scene I would like to mention. In a movie with 2 heroes, one kills other at the most unthinkable stage. Only is it revealed momentarily after that both were together in this and no one’s killed. That was part of the bigger plan. Villain is caught and yippie, everything is goody-goody.

Well, screw you Mr. Goody G. Goody. You could have made the movie hell lot better by killing that god damn hero, and making this gaddar friend fly away with villain and all the money. Why is there a mental block to show “achhe ki jeet aur bure ki haar” (good wins bad leans)? Well not that this is how the real world behaves, is it?

Anyway even extreme wonderful movies like The Departed could not dodge this pit. Only thing I can say is it takes guts to end movie with not so “goody-goody” a situation. I remember one movie which managed to do that. The Mist. I still fell saddened when I remember the ending there. Hats off to you Mr. Frank Darabont the director. You had managed to give a most unthinkable horror an horror movie can give its audience. Extreme unthinkable.

Image Credit: darpantheatregroup