The Midnight Matinee Review – The Midnight Matinee is an anthology of shorts released in 2017. The movie is presented in a format of 5 short films which has some interesting twist at the end.
The movie’s presentation kept me curious and engaged throughout. The entire presentation had a feeling of walking into a hall to enjoy variety entertainment. Each of the short films had thrilling moments and a very interesting end. The common theme seemed to be horror. I usually do not like run of the mill horror movies that has a horror for the sake of it. The Midnight Matinee had cleverly used the element of horror without creating a cloying effect.
In an old school theatrical style, every movie starts with a textual introduction and a sort of moral and sarcastic ending. This adds a new layer to the storytelling. In a pure Hitchcock kind of style, the suspense and thrills are created out of most common circumstances rather than bringing in some out of the world sequences. The first movie Open Sea is entirely taken in a found footage style of movie making. The ending makes it totally worth it. Having short bursts of stories gives less room to guess the ending which makes it an interesting watch.
Kudos to the writer, director and producer Justin Doescher and his team for experimenting a new way of story telling.
High Points: Theatre style presentation, Surprise twist at the end of the tale, the element of suspense and thrills.
Low Points: For folks who are not fans of found footage kind of treatment would not enjoy all the short films in this.
Overall The Midnight Matinee is a treat for all independent movie lovers. It stands out from the crowd for its unique style of presentation and the difference in treatment of the script. You would find it hard selecting which of the shorts you liked the most. The movie is available on Amazon Prime. Don’t miss it.
The Salesman Review – The Salesman is an Iranian drama released in 2016. The couple Emad and Rana move into a new apartment after their current apartment building collapses. Some unforeseen events happen that change their lives forever.
The movie has won the Academy Award for foreign film category for 2016. Director Asghar Farhadi creates a very emotional drama drawing parallels to the “Death of the Salesman” play by Arthur Miller which the couple is enacting in the theater. The screenplay keeps you guessing until the end. The movie is quite engaging and there is never a dull moment. The climax as it unfolds explores the struggle between anger and forgiveness.
Shahab Hosseini’s performance is a standout in the entire drama. In particular, the way he has performed during the climax portion is impeccable. His performance is ably supported by Taraneh Alidoosti. Her looks convey more powerful emotions. Unlike some run of the mill thrillers where an action is thrilling here the way the characters react to a particular situation causes the thrill.
After such a powerful climax I felt bit hanging in the ending as it was open ended. I couldn’t immediately connect the interpretation that the director wanted us to have. However only later I got the emotional conflict portion between anger and forgiveness. You might be able to draw a different interpretation. If you do share it in the comments section. Although this is a well-made movie, I wasn’t sure if this is path breaking to win an academy award compared to the other nominations we had in that category.
High Points: A very engaging screenplay, The performance of the lead actors, the powerful climax and the conflict drawn between anger and forgiveness.
Low Points: If you haven’t read or watched the play “Death of a Salesman” you would find it hard to understand the parallels. The ending leaves you hanging for you to decide the conclusion.
Overall The Salesman is an excellent thriller drama and stands apart from the run of the mill thrillers. You would enjoy this more if you have watched the play by Arthur Miller. The climax being open ended may not connect with everyone.
Worth a Watch
The Accountant Review – The Accountant is an American thriller released in 2016. Christian Wolfe is a mathematical genius who works to resolve financial deceptions in major criminal organizations. Christian is pursued by Raymond King, the director of financial crime from the treasury department.
The lead role is the one tailor-made for Ben Affleck and he does a very good job. The movie is intense from the start and it does have some cleverly placed lighter moments in between. The movie also has a strong statement against how the society treats kids with autism. There is a gang in Rotten tomatoes who are a victim of favoritism and rate down some good movies. The Accountant is one such movie which suffers this criticism. The movie is much better than those critics have rated it.
The characterization of Christian Wolfe has been crafted well and is an interesting one to watch. It connects well with the audience throughout. J.K Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Anna Kendrick and John Bernthal have supported well. The editing is a great strength to the movie that deals with different timelines run in parallel. The most enjoyable sequence is the climax when things are uncovered and his interaction with “The Assasin”. This is not a movie where the climax reveals everything but throughout the movie, there are many revelations planted.
High Points: The Script and the characterization of Ben Affleck, The interaction between Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick, The interaction between Ben Affleck and John Bernthal, the climax.
Low Points: There is no moral line to the whole story of what is good and what is evil. So few of the audience who are searching for it would be disappointed.
Overall, The Accountant is yet another Ben Affleck movie that would be worth a visit to the theaters. Don’t worry about the negative critic reviews you would enjoy watching this one for sure.
Worth a Watch
Papanasam Review – Papanasam is a Tamil thriller drama released in 2015. This is remake of Malayalam movie Drishyam. The movie revolves around the middle class family of Suyambulingam, his wife and their two daughters. They lead a typical life that has both happy as well as challenging moments around petty things. Overnight they go through a situation that threatens to change their lives forever. What was the situation and did they manage to overcome it is the plot of Papanasam.
Director Jeethu Joseph and Kamal Hassan should be appreciated for remaking the movie in Tamil. Many a times the remakes of a super hit falls into the trap of making it bigger and dramatic thereby loosing the essence of the movie. Papanasam does not fall into the trap and maintains the essence of the story and also adapting it very well to the nativity of Tamil Nadu very well. Kamal’s performance is outstanding and is on par with Mohanlal’s performance in Drishyam. He has performed the role with such ease. The scene, in which he boasts about himself to his wife, creates pun intended statements in the teashop, breaks down at the key moment his performance shines.
There are few changes done to the screenplay as compared to the original still they don’t spoil the story. Kalabavan Mani has performed his role very well as a ruthless inspector. Gouthami has come onto the screen after so many years, it is definitely refreshing to watch her on screen. You might have heard people refer to Japanese movie Suspect X to be similar to this one, but both are very different movies.
High Points: Screenplay of the movie, Kamal Hassan’s performance, Essence of the original maintained, very appealing story line
Low Points: Not much to say as low points although the length of the movie could have been kept within 2.5 hours.
Overall Papanasam is a very well made thriller. Even if you have watched Drishyam it is still entertaining to see this one as well.
PS: SPOILER AHEAD – On a funny note I wonder why the police didn’t catch the fact that the family couldn’t have watched Anjaan on August 2nd as it released only on August 15th 🙂
Mother Review – Mother aka Madeo is a South Korean crime mystery released in 2009. A mother has to find the killer of a girl murdered in the neighborhood to save her son from being convicted for the murder.
The premise is very interesting and is set in a small town in South Korea. Director Bong Joon-ho yet again comes up with a brilliant script with full of suspense and mystery around a crime after his Memories of Murder. A mother’s love towards her son is universal. How far a mother would go in order to save her son when all the odds are pointing against him is a very interesting plot line. The screenplay is very intense and starts getting gripping once the mother start her journey of finding the killer. The opening shot of the movie itself is a brilliant one and keeps you interested till the end. Kim Hye-ja has performed the role very well and is the backbone of the movie.
The scene in which she is trying to hide in one of the suspect’s house to take an evidence of crime and the attitude in her walks is simply amazing. The entire scene is very gripping. She can turn her expression from anger to guilt to love in seconds. The suspense is maintained till the end of the movie and the ending is just brilliant. I had a very long reflection process after watching this movie. It was quiet overwhelming for me to see the ending anything I speak about it I would give the movie away.
High Points: The screenplay of the movie, acting performance by Kim Hye-ja, gripping moments, background score
Low Points: There are no much low points. I felt the script was bit longer for its content.
Overall the movie is brilliant and is very different from the movie you would have seen. Watch it for the unique script and power packed performance by Kim Hye-ja. This is a must watch for all suspense thriller fans.
Athithi – is a Tamil suspense thriller released in 2014. Madhiazhagan, Vasuki and their kid lead a very happy life. One day they give lift to an unknown person in their car and things take an unusual turn. They learn their daughter is being held hostage and they are held hostage in their car and are forced to do things the stranger demands.
The movie is mostly engaging in parts and the plot promises to be an edge of the seat thriller. The premise for the whole story is a very promising one and when the story reaches its main premise you would find this to be a very engaging movie and would demand your attention. However the situations leading to the main plot is not buildup well. Due to this what could have been a very engaging movie falls short. The buildup of characters is disconnected to the main plot. There have been deliberate attempts to distract the audience from finding out the motive. In the end as it is not related they seem to be out of place for the story. During the abduction episode in many places the real panic, fear and hurry is not seen with the characters which is not a natural reaction. The scene in which Nanda has to leave a suitcase in the bus stand within 20 minutes, the whole sequence is very relaxed and does not thrill. The comedy portion and songs in the movie is a wholesome distraction to the genre of the movie. Director Bharhathan has tried to stuff in messages against the economic differences in the society which is not needed. The movie needed a bold ending to create an impact but ends up with an average ending.
Overall this one is definitely engaging in parts and can be watched at home if you have nothing else to watch.
Wait for DVD/TV – for a promising premise
3 Days to Kill – is a French American action thriller released in 2014.The movie is about an experienced CIA agent who discovers he is going to live only for few months and wants to patch up with his wife and daughter but gets involved in a high pressure CIA assignment.
The movie has a tone of Taken. However the plot and the subject it deals with are different of a CIA agent balancing between work and life. Kevin Costner has played the role of experienced CIA agent and his performance of balancing act between a talented CIA agent and wanna be family man attending to his teenage daughter and wife. The movie sticks to this theme, the conflicts around it and moves along. The movie is not an out and out gripping thriller like Taken. If you are expecting Taken you would be disappointed but if you are able to appreciate the subject this one deals with you would enjoy the movie. Give it a shot.