Thank you for smoking – Merchants of Death

Thank You For Smoking

Thank You For Smoking takes a funny look at the lives of spin doctors, the truth they almost filter, the corporations that rest on their shoulders and the people the tackle on their everyday lives. It’s certainly not great flick that one should raise up and give a Two thumbs way way up !! but it certainly provides enough thought and laughter on a Tuesday evening.

The spin doctors or the lobbyists as they are lovingly called, manage to be a firewall between the government and the corporations. In this process they also get burnt by the public angst. These guys talk their way through even the toughest of trials and save the corporations billions of dollars every year. Now if you couldn’t make any sense of the previous statements, watch Thank You For Smoking. If you do, watch Thank You For Smoking.

Nick Naylor[Aaron Eckhart], the charming gentleman with a broad smile, is a lobbyist for tobacco. In short, he proves to be middleman between the cigarette companies and the public / government. His life is like standing on a landmine, from tackling the anti-smoking debates on a television show to arguing for pro-smoking in jury courts without giving the slightest of a doubt that he is for against anti-smoking. He dines with the Merchants of Death [MOD], a group of lobbyists who are in a league of their own. MOD consists of a lady lobbyist for alcohol, Nick Naylor for cigarettes and another gentleman for firearms. Not just that but he has a kid son who manages to dramatically change the way Nick thinks himself in general. Nick is ready to accept people calling him by names from Profiteer to a Pimp to blood sucker. Gracious performance by Aaron who carries the entire movie on him.

Nick’s bed talk on lobbying tips & tricks to Heather [Katie Holmes], an aspiring journalist of The Washington Probe, starts the fun. The aftermath forms the rest of this 90 minute movie. TYFS moves along with funny dialogues and some interesting situations along way that lead to an expected climax.

As expected, not a single person smokes in the film except for the Captain[Robert Duvall] who holds a cigar on his hospital bed. The titles roll with the cast names printed on vintage cigarette boxes reminding us of the 70’s. Other than that and the funny arguments [some of which are ture] there is not much on pro-smoking advices. In fact its all black humor, starting from the 15 year old guy on the morning show who was traced of lung cancer to the Marlboro model who accepts bribe to reduce his old-age cigarette bashings.

The writing is razor sharp with some funny quotes sprinkled all along. Made me think, when Nick Naylor tells his son, “You are never wrong, when you argue right”. Jason Reitman as the writer and director of this movie, based on the book by Christopher Buckley, does a great job in making the best out of the screenplay. From the very idea of Space Smoking to the message, Smoking is Cool !! which Hollywood sends to the world, Jason makes enough satire on the industry he comes from and that’s exciting.

If you are bored with sitcoms and reality shows on cable, this film is a great escapade.

Savadichuduvaen !!

Chithiram Pesuthadi

Savadichuduvaen. He repeats and repeats and repeats that one would think the protagonist’s characterization is a mock by the director. It may not be. Though the story works at various levels, the movie as a whole fails to impress. Chithiram Pesuthadi is full of good ideas that are badly executed. Like Azhagiya Theeye, it’s very earnest but thats it. Nothing more.

And what’s with re-releasing of this movie ? Oscar Ravichandran probably wants to be potrayed as the savior of tamil cinema. Looks like the very very mediocre ghaana, Vaala Meenukkum is a massive hit back in Tamil Nadu as one could see several people dancing to it during the success meet.

Sunil aka Narain could have played a role in a Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s film but he doesn’t shine too much with his acting skills. Sometimes his facial expressions are more pronounced and confuse the heck out of a viewer. It’s even more funny that Rediff’s Shobha Warrier calls him as Tamil cinema’s next big thing. She could take some time-off before she writes S J Surya is the next Kamal Hassan of Kollywood. Couple of duets were truly mesmerizing and the theme music reminds me of a Mani Ratnam film. Though being an inspired theme, it aligns to the ‘once-more’ category.

Myshkin, the director has some neat ideas but due to various reasons, he wasn’t able to pull them all together. The editing was pathetic. To cut a shot a the right frame is an exercise in style. One particular scene happens in the living room of the heroine’s house. There are 5-6 people sitting in that room talking indistinctly. Once they complete talking, the camera slowly pans around the room. As everyone moves away from the scene, the camera cuts to a close-up of the blind woman, pauses for a couple of seconds and then the shot is cut. If you could visualise this scene, you would expect that there is a something related to the blind woman and hence we see a close-up of her. Me too. But unfortunately, nothing happens after that. Was that extra shot present to confuse the viewer or was it an editing loophole ?. There are also rapid editing cuts. I assume the director uses this to increase the pace of the screenplay. Good idea but bad execution.

Maybe with this success Myskhin come up with a better script and make some dabbu to rope a better team, next time around.

March of the Penguins

march of the penguins
[Pic – Aaton]

One word. Rocks. Ofcourse, Antartica has ice rocks and glaciers but this is about the Emperor Penguins. Most of us who know penguins only as symbols of Linux, would have a mind shift after watching this dazzling flick.

Luc Jacquet, the director and his crew spent around a year in the icy antartica to shoot this film, March of the Penguins, which chronicles a part of penguins’ lifecycle. At the end of this hearty flick, not only would one fall in love with the penguin bird but also appreciate the risks taken by the crew, during the shoot. Though we all sub-consciously agree that this world has evolved and it’s all about survival of the fittest, its tough to envison how emperor penguins evolved and survived the worst winters of the earth. Writer Ashokamitran once said, A flourishing life is one which is made up of small sacrifices. If one would agree with this, penguins nearly sacrifice their lives for their kids by sheltering them from the winter winds. Father Penguins go more than 4 months without food as they are busy keeping their kids warm. The unique role reversal of penguins is also shot and documented very convincingly.

The reason I am so damn thrilled is also because of the impeccable narration that fits the moving images. Morgan Freeman, my most favorite hollywooder, not only reads the script but also emotes it with his voice, so damn well. He gives life and soul with every stress and pause. Also, the add-on short film, Mens and Penguins which details the making of the film, is also a must watch. If you haven’t watched, do watch atleast for the sheer effort of film-making. Do watch. Do watch.

P.S – If this one gets dubbed in Tamil, an apt title, Thavamai Thavamirundhu.

The Lusty Lady !!

one_night_at_mccool's

I have no clue, why Michael Douglas wanted to produce, One Night at McCool’s. It had nothing significant to it except it indirectly scans intentions behind people’s every action. In a Aayitha Ezhuthu-like screenplay, the point of view of story shifts between three people. All these three people are at various levels of the society and cross each other’s life by letching at a sexy girl. While it a good timepass on tuesday evening, it didn’t come together very well at the end. Especially people shooting and killing themselves for a sexy chick was just hype at extreme level.

Liv Tyler‘s ravishing beauty is where the movie rests and she cake-walks through the vamp role. Still, she isn’t the same natural beauty as we saw in Armageddon. Alicia Silverstone would have also made a good fit for this role. Michael Douglas does nothing but smoking on-screen(which is banned in India !!). Watch it for some silly fun on a boring evening.

Kung Fu Hustle

Not much to talk about the film. Didn’t generally like it except for parts. With a Quentin Torrentino like start, I grabbed a bag of chips by my side but by the time it completed, I let out a deep breath. The focus of the story keeps changing and if you didn’t know who Stephen Chow was, you would be scratching your head to spot the protagonist. First it seemed like the yuppy hair-cutter. Then it was those 3 sudden heroes in the village. Finally, it seemed like the landloards before the real hero emerges. Oh !! yeah it’s fun but then it can turn into irritation as the movie proceeds. BTW, I knew who Stephen Chow was, atleast 2 years back.

Kung Fu Hustle is stylish and has an attitude but hasn’t coherently been brought together. With a story like this Stephen Chow’s expected humor isn’t sparkling. Blame it on the not-so-interesting situations and expected twists at the end. I prefer watching Shaolin Soccer again !!

If you enjoy Stephen Chow’s Kaathulla Poo stunts, you’ve got to enjoy Rajinikanth and Vijay doing their idiosyncratic dishum dishum. Both are derived from the theory magical realism. In fact, the Kung Fu fighters forgetting the force of gravity is a nerve tickling comedy-time than Vijay’s Sivakasi stunt.