The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)

US Presidential hopefuls take RVs, Che went on a motorcycle. The point is you need to go on a road trip to become a successful leader of the people

Ee Adutha Kalathu (Recently)

Strange and familiar make an appearance together for the first time in Malayalam cinema and the pair is a hit

Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl

Four feisty ladies, upbeat music and a handsome conman. Anushka gets Ranveer. Bollywood gets Parineeti

Das Boot (The Boat)

Best WWII film ever, in fact the best war film ever. In true German fashion, restraint is applied by shooting the entire movie inside a U-boat

Neelathamara (Blue Lotus)

Blue lotus shares the same stature of blue moon in Malayalam, so do good remakes. This one bucks the trend.

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Sep 9, 2017

CIA - Comrade in America movie review

Comrade in America (CIA) is a feather-light film drifting across borders, told through stories and lives it flits through on its way to the destination - a defined terminal point in a present day utopia (this promised land's promise is highly debatable these days, the film recognizes that.)


For Dulqar Salman, playing the protagonist - a young communist Aji Mathew, it is love that shines as a beacon on a distant shore. He scorns the idea of visas, distances and border walls in a way only foolish and impulsive twenty somethings in love can. It only seems natural that being a bona-fide communist Aji should have routine midnight conversations about his love life with his three trusted, official mentors - Marx, Lenin and Che (pretty good lookalikes for a Malayalam movie.)


If you can look beyond the foolhardiness of the central character and forgive Amal Neerad, the director for building a movie around such an inane cause, the film in fact is enjoyable with its sprightly dialogs, interesting vistas, well crafted side characters and informative like a memoir documentary.

Kudos to the director and team in attempting a subject - U.S (southern) border crossing in an Indian regional language film. It is also the first film, international or otherwise, that I have watched recently, dedicated to all refugees from all over the world. With refugee crisis holding center stage in the news I am sure there will be more and there should be more, but glad to have seen it first in a Malayalam movie.

The film rides on the star power of Dulqar Salman with good support from Siddique, Dileesh Pothan, Soubin Shahir, Parvathy, Jinu Joseph and new comer Karthika Murali. The only character that felt out of place was the Malayali girl with an unconvincing story who turns up in the U.S-Mexican border crossing group, named Pallavi played by Chandini Sreedharan - not to reflect adversely on Chandini's acting skills. Pallavi's grand father might have been the Malayali who had that tea-shop on the Moon when Armstrong made the giant leap for mankind and was (tricked into) thinking he was the first man on the Moon. Then again I can understand the director and writer's justification of allowing our handsome, charismatic hero an incidental female crutch, if the movie had to be a commercial success 😊 - which it was.

Sep 8, 2017

Achayans


Achayans is a loud movie - both literally and figuratively with a multi-star cast headed by Jayaram. To keep things interesting beyond the antics of the four Achayans (informal usage to reference a group of Malayali Christian men) made up of Jayaram, Unni Mukundan, Adil Ibrahim and Sanju Sivaram, the movie also tries its hand at being a crime thriller. 

The 'crime' excuse is used to bring in Prakash Raj as the newest avatar of astute South Indian detective. Brainiac cops in South Indian movies usually make their entries, exits and other perambulatory exercises to the background roar of Vedic chants while fingering their sacred thread (worn diagonally across the torso.) The thread-fingering is to reinforce the notion of the intelligent "Brahmin", the most intelligent and venerated of all castes - therefore excellent detective material, in case the audience were tone-deaf and missed out on the suggestive accompaniment of decibel shattering Sanskrit howling.
Another issue I have with Kannan Thamarakkulam (director of this 'epic') is the extreme distortion of his lead female characters.  The world of women in Thamarakkulam's head is a house of mirrors. Every time he needs inspiration for a female lead, he peers into this carnival attraction in his head and comes out with gruesome caricatures of women reflected on its mirrored walls. Achayan's has Amala Paul's Reetha Fernandez - a closet lesbian(?) caricatured to literal perfection with an askew wig, ill fitting jeans and operating in a perpetual pissed-off mode as dictated by the script and director's understanding of the said category of women.
Now that I think about it, the entire movie is a burlesque platitude, a rehash of rehashes. There are not many moderate characters nor is there anything new, but there is a pleasant surprise - Jayaram. In this melee of over-acting and contrived ruckus, this improved version of Jayaram comfortably sporting his natural grey hair and exuding confidence without overdoing it, offer tiny breaks when we audience can ease off on our hyperventilation.

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