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Sridevi in a still from ‘Mom’
Sridevi in a still from ‘Mom’

‘Mom’, ‘Spider-Man’ highlights of the week

Ashwni Dhir's comedy Guest iin London, starring Paresh Rawal and Tanvi Azmi,, is the other notable release this week

New Delhi: The theatre shutdown in Tamil Nadu to protest the local tax in addition to goods and services tax (GST) has resulted in a week-long delay for Tamil film releases scheduled for this Friday, even though the strike has been called off now. Meanwhile, a couple of other regional, Hindi and Hollywood offerings show promise.

Sridevi-starrer Mom, directed by Ravi Udyawar, is relevant, riveting and oddly rousing despite its grim theme, says NDTV Movies. It plays out along largely foreseeable, if disquieting, lines, but Mom doesn’t strictly fall into the category of a conventional rape-and-revenge drama. The ambivalence at the core of the film places it a cut above the average Bollywood retribution drama. The movie has other assets, too, not the least of which is the outstanding quality of the performances that first-time director Udyawar extracts from his cast. Sridevi, magnificently expressive as the titular figure, is a treat to watch. Add to that cinematographer Anay Goswamy’s adroit lensing and lighting, and you have a film that is consistently compelling.

While Sridevi and Nawazuddin Siddiqui deliver excellent performances, the plot of Mom is too feeble, says Firstpost. A mother taking revenge against the rapists of her step daughter would have made for a meaty plot if we were in 2005. The film can be underwhelming in parts but is intensely gripping on the whole. Plus, it’s exciting to see Siddiqui and Sridevi together, sharing extraordinary screen space.

Ashwni Dhir’s comedy Guest iin London, starring Paresh Rawal, Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Kharbanda and Tanvi Azmi, goes against everything the movie industry has been trying to accomplish in the recent past, says The Times Of India. It spends 2 hours and 18 minutes hitting out at the kind of experimental storytelling, fresh writing and gender balance that the industry has been striving towards. Like its titular protagonist, this is a burden no one should have to bear.

For the Hollywood fans, American superhero film Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts and starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau and Donald Glover, comes to India this week. Variety magazine says the movie is just distinctive enough, in concept and execution, to connect and become a sizeable hit coming after the two Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films, which were the definition of super-forgettable competence. If so, it could prove a key transitional film in the greater cinematic universe of comic-book movies. Homecoming tells its audience: This kid isn’t quite super—he’s just like you. Ant-Man did the same thing, but we’ve never seen a character as mythical as Spider-Man portrayed in such a user-friendly, sanded-down, After School Special way.

The Hollywood Reporter is less impressed, saying there’s a kind of overeager cluelessness displayed in this occasionally exciting but often frustrating film, which seems to think the iconic character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko will appeal more to tech-addicted teens if only his costume has as many gizmos baked into it as Iron Man’s. Though it doesn’t approach the abominations of recent DC movies, which seem intent on making those initials stand not for “Detective Comics" but “Douchebag Corrosiveness," it represents a creative misstep for the studio—albeit one likely to ride fanboy enthusiasm to much better receipts than those enjoyed by Amazing Spider-Man, the recent incarnation starring Andrew Garfield.

In the south, Telugu romantic film Ninnu Kori, starring Nani and Niveda Thomas and directed by Siva Nirvana, is an emotional, fun-filled entertainer that should appeal to both the classes and masses, says The execution remains undistracted from the main plot and there are barely any boring stretches.

Telugu action drama Agent Bhairava, starring Keerthy Suresh and Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar and directed by Bharathan, is an experimental commercial drama that just about passes the mark, says The film rides on star power and should appeal strictly to Suresh and Vijay fans.

Kannada drama Ondu Motteya Kathe, starring Raj B. Shetty and Shailashree and directed by Shetty himself, is exactly the kind of comedy the trailer promised, with laugh-out-loud lines and scenes, says Film Companion. The comedy isn’t hammered home, with poke-in-the-ribs background music. It’s sweet, understated—even a tad melancholic, like a Hollywood indie movie. Slowly, the film moves towards a genre that could be called an anti-rom-com: despite the finding-a-mate hilarity, there’s an undertow of genuine sadness. You know you’re being manipulated but you tear up anyway.

Several releases this week haven’t elicited any reviews yet. These include Malayalam film Tiyaan, Kannada romantic actioner Kolar, Kannada romantic comedy Hombanna, Marathi film Conditions Apply-Ati Lagu, Punjabi movie Krazzy Tabbar and Gujarati film Rok Tok.

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