Carnage

Appallingly Good

Carnage; Pic Source: Wikipedia

Following a verbal dispute in Brooklyn Bridge Park, 11-year-old Zachary Cowan armed with carrying a stick strikes another 11-year-old boy, Ethan Longstreet in the face*. As responsible and involved parents who see the larger picture, the Longstreets invite the Cowans to their apartment to discuss the fight between the boys. Both sets of parents try to discuss the issue in a civilised manner for the benefit of their children. The Cowans get to the door and thank their hosts who invite them back again for coffee. You know they shouldn’t go back but they do… These are the first five minutes of Roman Polanski’s brilliant black comedy, Carnage, based on a play, God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza.

Carnage is nothing but pure display of acting, writing and directorial prowess. Adapted for screen by Reza and Polanski, the film peels away the layers of civility and etiquette that the four characters display in the first five minutes. Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly) appear happy and perfectly average couple who love each other and take extra interest in their children’s education. Michael has a hardware business and Penelope is a writer who is working a book on Darfur. On the other hand, the CowansNancy (Kate Winslet), a real estate agent and Alan (Cristoph Waltz), a lawyer seem financially more successful but with a strained relationship. Over the next 74-minutes the polite conversation turns venomous and they all display some shocking behaviour.

The four leading actors deliver stellar performance that is expected of artistes of their calibre. Cristoph Waltz however shines as a workaholic and rude man, whose phone keeps buzzing, annoying not only the other three on-screen but the audience that’s watching as well. Kate Winslet brings out maniacal energy on screen and shocks the most with her actions. The other characters who only appear as phone voices also add a lot of flavour, including Michael’s ailing mother and Alan’s work associate, Walter. Then there is a bottle of whisky, a bunch of yellow tulips, some art books, an apple & pear cobbler, a hamster and a hair dryer.

Carnage is an excellent film that shows how superficial and fake people tend to become with not only strangers but also their loved ones. As the film’s tagline says, it is ‘a comedy of no manners’ that spells utter mayhem, chaos and massacre in a brilliant cinematic way.

Do not miss it.

– Shrey Khetarpal

*The first line in this post is almost similar to the film’s opening lines.

 

Good Night Good Morning

Love, heartbreak & a phone call…

Good Night Good Morning; Source: Wikipedia

“I used to believe in love or Santa, but then you grow up…” says Moira. “What’s Christmas without Santa?” asks Turiya. Sudhish Kamath’s (director, producer) Good Night Good Morning is not your usual film but is more like a piece of conversation you become a part of; except you stay silent and just watch the lead pair talk. It is romantic, heart breaking, funny and a refreshingly entertaining film that reminds you of Richard Linklater’s beautiful films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Despite the plot similarity, where two perfect strangers start talking and fall in love, Kamath’s film is quite different in treatment.

Good Night Good Morning (GNGM) is smartly written (Kamath & Shilpa Rathnam) and holds your attention through its eighty-one minute run time. The starkness of black and white frames, the split screens and the wonderful use of music make the film even more interesting and engaging. It opens with the shots of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square, New York and quickly moves to the setting that stays throughout – a hotel room with a single woman in transit and four drunken men driving from NYC to Philadelphia. The rest of the film follows the all-night phone conversation between the girl, Moira and one of the four guys, Turiya. In a film that only has two people talking, you require actors who can make it look effortless and GNGM’s stars, Seema Rahmani and Manu Narayan excel in their parts.

Coming back to the clever writing, GNGM delves into many issues and questions that plague modern relationships; some in a serious way and some in a light-hearted manner. If you’ve ever fallen in love or have been in a relationship, you’re bound to find something personal there.

Not the usual Bollywood or even Hollywood fare, GNGM is an excellent film that transcends boundaries and is truly international cinema; kudos to PVR Director’s Rare, for giving it a mainstream release in January this year. The film is no longer running in the theatres but you can watch it on DVD; it is available at leading stores and online.

– Shrey Khetarpal

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu

Average is Good…

Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: Wikipedia

“Average is good”, says Riana Braganza (Kareena Kapoor) to Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) and that line sums up the film for me. Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is not a brilliantly made film, nor is it bad. It is average and average in a good way. The film manages to entertain but not delight; people wear good clothes, look good and deal with day to day issues of life, except they deal with it by getting drunk and getting married in Las Vegas!

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (EMAET) is not like What Happens in Vegas, except the getting drunk and marrying a stranger part. It is also not like 500 Days of Summer, except the day-wise narrative style (linear here though). It is also not like Jab We Met, except the full of life female lead who teaches the guy how to live… EMAET is all this strung together in an interesting screenplay (Shakun Batra, Ayesha Devitre) and a refreshing treatment for a Hindi film.

Rahul is a young architect who works in a leading firm in Las Vegas; despite staying in one of the most exciting cities in the world, he leads a dull life. Riana on the other hand likes to live life on her own terms; she is a hairstylist by profession and a serial dater. Both of them meet one day, get drunk and married. As expected, cupid strikes while they help and sort out each other… this is where the director does something different (and makes the film interesting) by taking the road less travelled.

The film’s supporting cast entertains the most… Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah and Kareena’s family members (whose names I do not know) are brilliant. I am usually not very impressed with Imran’s acting skills but he does well in this film as a tedious guy with parent issues. Kareena is good but I am surprised with how much more attention the director has showered on Imran as compared to her. Amit Trivedi’s music goes well with the film but nothing memorable. EMAET looks good, thanks to the cinematography by David Mac Donald, production design (read great looking houses and locations) by Shashank Tere and fabulous clothes by Manish Malhotra and Shiraz Siddique.

The film works on the rom-com meter and has some fun moments. It is short and crisp with under two-hours running time that keeps it from dragging. Go watch it for some light entertainment…

– Shrey Khetarpal