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Friday, March 18, 2011

Christopher Nolan - So far, so bloody awesome!

     When Chris started playing with his father's Super 8 camera at the age of 7, no one from his friends or family had the slightest idea of what this kid had in store for his future. Neither did any of his classmates when he was studying English literature at University College London and making short films pursuing his passion.

But, that kid Chris went on to make his passion as his profession and since then has entertained millions of people worldwide and made studios earn billions with his movies.

Here, we take a look at his career so far and peek at his brilliant work.
  • Doodlebug

     Doddlebug was a short film shot in black and white with duration less than 3 mins.But, Nolan packs so much in this short film that it amazes the viewer. It depicts Jeremy Theobald as someone who looks petrified and in search of a bug relentlessly or so it seems. The background score increases the intensity of the visuals and grips the viewer to ponder about what the charcter is trying to do. The climax leaves one thinking and that as a filmmaker becomes Nolan's hallmark!

Did you know ? : This short film has only one character that is played by Jeremy Theobald.

  • Following

     Nolan reunites with Jeremy Theobald to attempt his first full length feature film. Its again an intense story revolving around a writer who has this strange habit of following random people and basing his work on his obervations. In one such 'following' act of his, the writer gets into a situation where he has to interact with the stranger he was following. The story then takes the writer and stranger(who is a burglar) into interesting twists and turns culminating into a very gripping climax.

Nolan tries the non-linear narration style here and makes it work brilliantly. Suspense grabs lot more attention with this unpredictable way of story telling. Nolan shot this movie as well in black and white which adds a certain eerie feeling to the proceedings.

Did you know ? : Principal photography of this film took over one year. Because all cast and crew members had other full-time jobs they were only able to film on Saturdays about 15 minutes of footage until photography had been completed.
  • Memento

     There have been numerous movies done in non-linear narrative style and each film offers something new to the audience. Memento remains an epitome in such unconventional story telling approach. This movie is arguably one of the most complex to dissect and digest as an average movie-goer but very much an appealing and likeable at that. As one of the most audacious screenplay ever attempted , this movie oozes confidence in every shot and engages the viewer in every twist and turn of the story.

Based on a story of a cold blooded revenge by a man whos dealing with memory loss condition, this movie heavily relies on the performance of Guy Pearce and he excels like an ace. Chris Nolan puts in a commendable effort in managing all the unconventional facets with ridiculous ease and style.

Most of the indian movie watchers would identify this movie as the one that 'inspired' the hugely famous Ghajini movies made in Tamil and then in Hindi.

Did you know ? : The medical condition experienced by Leonard(Guy Pearce) in this film is a real condition called Anterograde Amnesia - the inability to form new memories after damage to the hippocampus. During the 1950s, doctors treated some forms of epilepsy by removing parts of the temporal lobe, resulting in the same memory problems.

  • Insomnia

     This movie had everything going for it. Al Pacino and Robin Williams in the main cast with a script that Nolan firmly believed in. Based on whatever I've read about this movie over the years, this one has to be the least appreciated Nolan movie.

Personally, I think that there was nothing wrong with this movie and it was a very well made one.Its a remake of a Norwegian film of the same name.The story deals with 2 detectives who are sent to an Alaskan town to investigate the murder of a 17 year old girl. Al Pacino and Martin Donowan play the roles of these detectives who have to trace the smart murderer who hasn't left many clues behind.

Al Pacino suffers from Insomnia in this town where sun doesn't set, making him lose control over his mind at times and appear unstable! This is where the story adopts the psychological thriller path and departs from being a regular cat and mouse chase. Robin Williams gives a brilliant performance and matches Pacino every bit.

Pacino overcomes the Insomnia and his personal/proffessional conflicts to try and trace the murderer and in the process enthralls the viewer. Nolan has to be commended for the way he has treated this story and added an extra dimension with his detailed portrayal of main characters and their conflicts.

Did you know ? : The only film of his to date where Christopher Nolan had no hand in writing the script.

  • Batman Begins

Batman was always the least liked superhero by me of whatever little superhero cartoons/comics I caught up before getting into my 20s. I was in favour of more flashy superheroes like Spidey and Superman. So, I paid little attention when this movie released and was more excited about Spidey movies.

It was just before the release of 'The Dark Knight' that I thought of watching this movie and boy was I happy I did. This movie underplays the 'super'ness of Batman so much and tries to make it all look as real as possible. Bale who was selected by Nolan based on his performance in American Psycho looks every inch of Bruce Wayne/Caped crusader. Nolan who has confessed that it was the story behind Bruce wayne turning into Batman that pushed him to make this movie comes up with pitch perfect screenplay and gives a whole new dimension to this superhero. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Liam Neeson form the inspiring supporting cast. This movie kicked off the franchise reboot in a big way and set up the stage for bigger things.

Did you know ? : During filming of the scene where Batman is being towed by a train through the streets of Gotham, so much steam was used that it would "rain" on the cast and crew for several minutes after each take.

  • The Prestige

Undoubtedly, my most favourite Nolan movie so far!!

Nolan bases this movie on the story of a stirring rivalry between two magicians who make humungous effort to outdo each other at every possible attempt. The rivalry gets bitter with their personal and proffessional lives getting intetwined with each other. The story eventually boils down to efforts put in by one magician to try and break the trick of the other.And then his attempt to do something bigger. All this ending with a great climax that leaves the viewer awestruck!

Bale and Jackman do brilliant jobs taking the centre stage and do total justice to the rivetting screenplay by Nolan brothers. Its a very imaginative and interesting screenplay (based on Christopher Priest novel) which gets beautifully complimented by stunning camera work. The rest of main cast consists of Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson(ooooh) and Rebecca Hall who deliver great performances as well.

As I keep repeating it, the screenplay has a major role to play here and Nolan ensures that things portrayed remain as real as possible making justice to the theme of magic. This movie is truly master class and is really a mark of an intelligent movie maker.

Did you know ? : The main characters' initials spell ABRA (Alfred Borden Robert Angier), as in Abracadabra, a common word used by magicians.

  • The Dark Knight

Like all his other movies, this one was also based on a fine screenplay aided by brilliant background score.But, for me it will be just one thing that'll primarily flash in front of my eyes when I think of this movie, HEATH LEDGER!

Nolan was destined to make this movie. He was always destined to cast Heath Ledger as the Joker and give him the one of the best roles of his lifetime.

I had no words to say soon after I got out of the movie theatre. Heath Ledger was all over my mind. His version of Joker vastly different from Jack Nicholson's version had created an impact beyond belief! Every scene that had Ledger in it was a scorcher. His eyes, the face paint, body language, dialgoue delivery and his evil laugh were all just perfect. He made Batman look spineless at times and made audience root for him instead of the caped crusader!

Ledger managed to take the movie from 'Level : Above average' to 'Level : Brilliant' all by himself and rest of the cast had to just be awesome selves to try and match Ledger. It was one helluva cast consisting of usual suspects Bale,Caine and Oldman with additions to the cast like Morgan Freeman and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

May be Nolan would have had Joker as part of the the last movie of the Batman Trilogy if Ledger was still alive or may be he wouldn't have. But, this one movie cemented Ledger's place amongst the best actors ever!
Did you know ? : In preparation for his role as The Joker, Heath Ledger hid away in a motel room for about six weeks. During this extended stay of seclusion, Ledger delved deep into the psychology of the character. He devoted himself to developing The Joker's every tic, namely the voice and that sadistic-sounding laugh (for the voice, Ledger's goal was to create a tone that didn't echo the work Jack Nicholson did in his 1989 performance as the Joker). Ledger's interpretation of The Joker's appearance was primarily based off of the chaotic, disheveled look of punk rocker Sid Vicious combined with the psychotic mannerisms of Malcolm McDowell's character, Alex De Large, from A Clockwork Orange (1971).

  • Inception
People say the Warner Bros let Nolan make this movie as a token of appreciation for his Batman movies. True or not, I don't really care.

Inception is one of those rare movies that start with a feeling of “Are you frikkin kidding me ?” and end with “Holy mother of GOD!!”. Its an added responsibility on the viewer to pull his dropped jaw back to its original position and start thinking of his schedule in next 7-10 days so that he can take some time out to catch the movie again.

Inception had everything going for it. New story, brilliant performances, eye catchy and justified graphics that are ably handled perfectly by Mr.Nolan with ridiculous ease.

Did you know ?  : Nolan rejected producer’s suggestion of making this movie in 3D.


Nolan has proved his merits over and over again with utmost efficiency. We can hardly wait to watch his future projects and will keenly wait for his movie to hit the theatres.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kempegowda - Remade and well made!

     Sudeep takes up another remake project to don both actor’s and director’s hats and with it the cynicism of people who are against remakes.

It’s a totally different point of discussion about how correct it is to make more and more remakes and not give chances to local writing talent. I won’t dwell much into that although I’ve equally balanced opinion about this matter and happy to appreciate good movies irrespective of what their origin is.

Coming back to Kempegowda, it’s a remake of a popular tamil movie Singam that had super actor Surya playing the lead role and created a character that was loved by the masses.
So, Sudeep had a daunting task of recreating the same level of intensity and I must say that he succeeds with great style. He had a very good story to build upon and he makes minute changes to screenplay and retains almost 95% of the original. He has chopped off a few extended comedy scenes and that has definitely given tighter narration.

The dialogues are the main highlight of the movie and make the audience ask for more and more as the story unfolds. Comedy by Sharan is top notch and gives plenty of laughs but goes off track in few scenes seeming unnecessary.
Best part of this movie is the casting of Ravishankar. He was so far known to industry insiders as Saikumar’s brother and a popular dubbing artist having lent his voice to more than 3000 movies. But now, he will be firmly known as Ravishankar , the brilliant actor who has matched Sudeep in every scene that they face each other. Its funny and sad at the same time that there have been many uninspiring and hollow actors to have got ample opportunities so far and someone like Ravishankar had to wait this long. Hopefully, he’ll be well noted for this role and will be given many more challenging roles suiting his immense talent.

If there is one aspect in which this movie scores well over its tamil original then it has to the technical department. The camera work by S.Krishna is brilliant and stresses on the fact that there are beautiful locations in India that are to be shot well instead of making frequent trips to phoren locations. The editing is slick and the background score is not overtly loud or unnecessarily subtle. The fights are directed well and there are ample opportunities for front seaters to deafen others in theatres with their whistles.

I’ve to make a special mention about the music by Arjun that sounds fresh and suitable. The title song is thankfully used in the background and adds great effect to the scenes.  Elementary street fest song ‘Hungama’ is average even with around 400 extras used to give the festive effect. Both the romantic songs are well written, sung and composed. I still feel odd in the way romantic songs are placed at totally strange points of the narration. Anyways, one song that grabs your attention is the ‘Hale Radio’ which has catchy sets by Arun Sagar and lyrics by Yograj Bhat with vocals by Sudeep and Shamita Malnad.

The lead actress’s role is played by Ragini Dwivedi who is sweet and cute but needs to take few more acting classes if she wants to be more than a glamour doll and an eye candy in her movies. I wish her luck as she can build on this performance and expect bigger and better roles.

The supporting cast consisting of Girish Karnad, Ashok, Chitra Shenoy , Tara and others is above average and do not really disappoint in limited scenes that they have.

So, does this movie boast of no shortcomings at all? Not really, screenplay could have been tighter and more meat could have been added to Ravishankar’s character to make him look like a bigger evil than what is shown. The movie takes a while to reach the point of altercations between Sudeep and Ravishankar which at times seems like too much of a build-up. It could have been more engaging with more screen time after the altercations start. Also, It would have been interesting to see the things unfold if Sudeep had added more stuff that wasn’t present in the original.

On the whole, this movie has a good repeat value and does total justice to the expectations people had out of this.

For me, more than this movie alone, what makes me happier is the new wave in Kannada cinema where in all aspects of film making are being given equal respect. In last year or so, we have witnessed few technically better movies like Aptha Rakshaka, Manasaare, Pancharangi, Jackie and Super (I haven’t watched Mylaari yet but have heard good words about it). All this new wavy feeling started with Mungaaru Male few years ago but had died down in between. Its heartening to see the movie makers stressing more on these mighty factors that can actually make the movie more appealing to all the sections of the audience rather than just trying to impress B and C centres. I agree that those are major collection centres but then movies have to evolve and progress to avoid monotony and stagnancy so that every moviegoer has something to look forward to.