New Delhi: The Oscar festival continues in India this week, along with one big Bollywood release for company.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s war drama Rangoon, starring Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut, sails smoothly as long its hero and heroine are allowed to just be, and there is no rush to fast-forward to the next plot device, says India Today. It is in the second half, when Bhardwaj and his team pull up their socks to tie all loose ends and ensure that all three protagonists find poetic justice, regardless of how laborious that pursuit might look on screen, that Rangoon slowly bends and breaks its back under the pressure of his narrative ambitions. Bhardwaj, caught with the duty to serve two movies in one (an old-school romance and a war thriller), doesn’t really do a Casablanca though he does give Rangoon his best shot.
Bhardwaj, whose repertoire includes truly fine works like Maqbool, Omkara and Haider delivers, but not entirely, says The Times Of India. Some frames just hang, some scenes feel tedious. In his attempt to pack in too much on war, love and deceit, the maker ends up with some haphazard division of war scenes versus love games, leaving the viewer muddled.
Also Read | Rangoon Movie Review
Romantic drama Wedding Anniversary, directed by Shekhar S. Jha and starring Nana Patekar and Mahie Gill, is a throwback to the worst of 1970s films, the ones in which characters delivered themselves of soliloquies and metaphysical treatises that were meant to impress audiences but ultimately bored them to tears, says Scroll.in. The idea of a novelist doubling up as a life coach and muse is better suited to the stage than the big screen. Though a play would have been just as deeply pretentious, it might at least have addressed Jha’s inability to enliven what is essentially a two-hander.
For Hollywood fans, Garth Davis’ Oscar-nominated drama Lion, starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman, comes to India this week. The true story of a foundling Indian boy who locates his mother years later via Google Maps is given the treatment it deserves in this intelligent, heartfelt film, says The Guardian. Screenwriter Luke Davies and first-time feature director Garth Davis respond to the incredible situation with a heartfelt film, combining intelligent attention to detail with a necessary sense of their story’s simplicity and strength. Dev Patel brings his A-game to the leading role, newcomer Sunny Pawar is wonderful as his character’s younger self and Nicole Kidman gives a very decent performance as the adoptive mother.
Biographical drama Jackie, directed by Pablo Larraín and starring Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup and John Hurt, is a daring, many-levelled portrait of history’s favourite First Lady, says Variety magazine. Provocative and entirely unsentimental in the speculative voice given to its subject’s most private thoughts on marriage, faith and self-image, and galvanized by Natalie Portman’s complex, meticulously shaded work in the lead, Jackie may alienate viewers expecting a more conventionally sympathetic slab of filmed history. But in his first English-language project, Chilean director Larraín’s status as the most daring and prodigious political filmmaker of his generation remains undimmed.
Also Read | Film Review: ‘Jackie’
Manoj M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological thriller-horror film Split, starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy and Betty Buckley, is deliriously entertaining, says A.V Club. At last, Shyamalan has decided to let his freak flag fly, and made the sort of unapologetic B-movie one always suspected he had pent up inside of him; it swerves from dark comedy to 1970s-esque psycho-horror as the irresistibly preposterous script struggles for attention against a delirious lead performance by James McAvoy. Split is funnier, campier and more freewheeling than anything its writer-director has done—slightly overlong, but reminiscent of Brian De Palma films like The Fury and Femme Fatale in its refusal to be boring.
In the south, Tamil film Kanavu Variyam, directed by and starring Arun Chidambaram, is an amateurish docudrama on decentralization that urges people to follow organic farming for a better future, says sify.com. Though Chidambaram’s intentions are laudable, his bumbling execution is a spoiler. A weak script that lacks subtlety and nuance, makes this one a bore ultimately.
Telugu action film Winner, directed by Gopichand Malineni and starring Sai Dharam Tej and Rakul Preet Singh, keeps you engaged and entertained throughout, says pressks.com. The performances are convincing and direction is smart enough to keep the commercial quotient high.
Malayalam film Aby, directed by Srikant Murali and starring Vineeth Sreenivasan, Aju Varghese and Suraj Venjaramoodu, can be enjoyed by all age groups, thanks to its simple plot, says manoramaonline.com. The story in itself may not be novel but it is the narration and the treatment which deserve applause. The film is also technically sound and the performances touch your heart.
Also Read | Aby movie review: dreaming with the soul
Kannada action film Hebbuli, directed by S. Krishna and featuring Sudeep and V. Ravichandran, is a treat for Sudeep fans and has its moments but there are too many loopholes in the story, says The Indian Express. After an opening scene that captures attention, the film loses grip and becomes a regular actioner. The performances are convincing but variation in what the male lead is known for is completely missing.
Also Read | Hebbuli movie review: Strictly for Sudeep fans
Several releases this week haven’t elicited any reviews yet. These include Russian neo-noir superhero film Guardians-Superheroes, Hindi movie 9 O’ Clock, Tamil film Muthuraamalingam, Tamil political thriller Yaman and Punjabi movie Sargi.