New Delhi: There is an avalanche of new releases in theatres this week, including three Oscar-nominated films vying for attention.
Romantic comedy Running Shaadi, starring Amit Sadh and Taapsee Pannu and directed by Amit Roy, falls prey to the curse of the second half, says Firstpost. The plot is new and fresh but not entertaining throughout. It may have worked as a short story or film but doesn’t as a full-length feature. The last-minute decision to drop the “.com” from the title results in much blurring and beeping which makes the film seem shabby. Read more
War film The Ghazi Attack (Ghazi in Telugu), directed by Sankalp Reddy and starring Rana Daggubati, Taapsee Pannu and Kay Kay Menon, could have been an engrossing crisis-at-sea drama but the film is so busy slaying Pakistanis that it loses sight of its core strengths, says The Indian Express. There are stories within stories and among other things, the film’s lead protagonists make fun of, and then decide to ignore, higher-ups over decisions such as attacking enemy ships that could start a war. Read more
Irada, directed by Aparnaa Singh and starring Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi, falters because of its amateur writing and execution, says The Times of India. Drawing inspiration from Hollywood thriller Erin Brockovich, the film talks of environmental hazards but unlike the Hollywood film that managed to raise a red flag warning us of how pharmaceutical companies are playing with innocent lives, Irada barely scratches the surface. Read more
For Hollywood fans, American neo-noir thriller John Wick: Chapter 2, directed by Chad Stahelski and starring Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne and Riccardo Scamarcio, comes to India this week. In comparison to the first part, the sequel ups the conceptual abstraction, says A.V Club. Lavishly expanding on the first film’s comic-book-esque internal mythology and its sense of the absurd, it’s less of a pure genre movie than its predecessor—more gothic, more narratively stylized, its superlative stuntwork sometimes taking a back seat to visual gags and vignettes of deadpan comedy. Read more
Biographical drama Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi and starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe, is irresistibly uplifting, says The Guardian. Although it looks like a movie machine-tooled to ride the wave of #OscarsSoWhite backlash, its actual ambitions seem far more modest: to entertain a lot, to educate a bit and to cheerlead pretty much constantly. The performances are uniformly winning when they need to be and hissable when they don’t. There are scenes in which kids say the funniest things, bullies receive their comeuppance, hunky men propose in the cutest ways and we get impassioned monologues happy to sacrifice plausibility for whoopability. Read more
Computer animated superhero comedy The Lego Batman Movie, directed by Chris McKay and starring the voices of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes, is the best Batman film in years, says Empire magazine. This is the third time Batman has featured in a major cinematic release in the past 11 months. And, if anything, with the release of The Lego Batman Movie, those films have reversed the prevailing wisdom: dark and moody is bad, comedic and silly is good. Whether or not we deserve it is irrelevant—this is the Batman movie we needed right now. And it delivers. Read more
Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins and starring Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe and Ashton Sanders, is both a disarmingly, at times almost unbearably personal film and an urgent social document, a hard look at American reality and a poem written in light, music and vivid human faces, says The New York Times. The film dwells on the dignity, beauty and terrible vulnerability of black bodies, on the existential and physical matter of black lives. But Jenkins does not generalize. He empathizes. Every moment is infused with what the poet Hart Crane called “infinite consanguinity”, the mysterious bond that links us with one another and that only an alert and sensitive artistic imagination can make visible. From first shot to last, Moonlight is about as beautiful a movie as you are ever likely to see. Read more
Martin Scorsese’s historical drama Silence, starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano and Ciarán Hinds, is a taxing film that will not only hold up to multiple viewings, but practically demands them, says Variety magazine. Scorsese brings an arresting visual sense to the project, what little music Silence does contain is featured so faintly as to be almost subliminal, leaving ample room for engaged audiences to personalize the viewing experience, while frustrating those grasping for clues as to the precise emotional reaction Scorsese intends. That’s a risky move, as is the dramatic way he breaks the silence in the end. Those who put their faith in Scorsese may find it challenged as never before by his long-gestating passion project. Read more
Several releases this week haven’t elicited any reviews yet. These include Tamil film Pagadi Aattam, Telugu movie Vajralu Kavala Nayana, Malayalam musical thriller Kambhoji, Kannada romantic drama Srinivasa Kalyana, Marathi movies Journey Premachi and Gaon Thor Pudhari Chor and Gujarati films Carry On Kesar and Duniyadari.