Netflix – My New IMAX

I love Cinema. Cinema is education and emancipation in the same terrain.

Big screen cinema is what I live for. But in the last 18 months, I see it differently.

You call it priorities or indulgence, big screen doesn’t woo me any more.

Streaming is the new moolah in the streets of movie goons these days.

It has it all – Movies, TV Series, Documentaries and some good content for kids.

I confess, am hooked on to Netflix. Totally, completely.

Local cable operators, private set top boxes and channel based content is all gone for a toss, big time.

Cinema halls don’t look inviting anymore, when I know that a ‘Narcos’ or a ‘Marseille’ is waiting to provide all the goosebumps I need tonight.

That compels me to mention how Netflix has kept me busy over the last few months.

My applause could be yours, so please post your comments if any of these enthralled you as much as it did to me. I am listing the toppers only, the complete list might consume you.

Narcos

It tops the category in ‘Netflix Originals’ and remains my personal favourite, head over heels.

Never has been a Drug Mafia’s life been so provocatively captured and produced on screen. Some outstanding performances from lead actors, enviable location shots and some heart pounding sequences makes ‘Narcos’ a blockbuster product.

All 3 series are available in Netflix, gearing up for the fourth in 2018.

1922

I am not a huge admirer of Stephen King, particularly for his approach towards insanity and the subsequent strangulated ways. That said, ‘The Shining’ is one of my most watched films and I don’t think I will ever get over it. ‘1922’ is a close shave to mortality, or may be even immortality. The very thought of killing someone is a sin and sends shivers down your spine, worst if that person happens to be your wife.

The story of a man saddled between his overtly ambitious wife and a nubile son, 1922 takes you on a ride you will never want to go.

The fanatical desire of a man to kill his disinterested wife and protect his son for a prosperous future takes an ugly turn and ends with the demise of the glorious clan – humanity.

I won’t say it is a must watch but if it’s your genre, then go for the kill.

The Sinner

It started off as another run-a-bloc story till it turned me upside down.

A riveting thriller which tells the story of a woman who withstood agony, pain and submission to unravel her own identity. Showing off combination of subtle and powerfully etched characters, this original series will keep you in the edge of your seat, for sometime to come.

Streaming in Netflix.

Diana

The charming princess of people and the most coveted jewel in the British crown, or rather the opposite of it.

The story of Princess Diana is a fairytale one. From her wedding to Prince Charles to that fateful night in Paris, she was an enigma and an angel to this world.

‘Diana’ propels this image and takes a tumultuous look in to her personal life. Quintessentially, this was a bold attempt to crash in to the curious life of one of the most watched individuals in history during those times.

Though controversial and panned by British media for obvious reasons, Naomi Watts delivered the performance of her life as the adored Princess. If there is one reason to watch this docu-drama, it is her.

Streaming in Netflix now.

Full Metal Jacket

I have a penchant for war drama and epics. Not for the blood, but for the passion and madness to protect something which is so universal and vicious in its existence.

‘Full Metal Jacket’ stands out for execution. Discipline can sometimes get to your nerves, it can take you places if you survive the initial hell.

With the Master at work, Kubrick’s trademark exploits remain stunning. And remember, this film was shot a long time ago.

The blood stains, the fireworks, dilapidated locations, edgy characters and the oath of a marine.

By all means, FMJ is a must watch. Remember, it’s a Stanley Kubrick film.

Streaming now in Netflix.

Suburra – Blood on Rome

Another mafia series rolling up your sleeve is interesting. This time, in Rome.

Shot extensively in the streets of Rome, ‘Suburra’ provides a stunning account of the politics and organized crime which treads a web of deceit, corruption and greed inside the Vatican.

Gobbled characters, the struggle for power and nepotism with an overdose of lust, propaganda and extermination is a perfect foil to fuel your inner sanctum.

Come, watch the blood flow in the streets of Rome.

Streaming in Netflix now.

குரங்கு பொம்மை

A local goon trying to wear a gangster’s hat, an old man with loyal submissions and a caring family, a devil in the shape of a man. If the ensemble cast is stitched with these characters, what do you expect? Perhaps, a tepid, outclassed flick. Oops! You will be surprised. It turns out to be a little stunner.

Such scripts have few takers, especially in desperate days when everyone is donning the ‘niche’ title to create the ‘most wanted’ magic on screen. But the ones who eventually make it out of the archives are the ones that keeps our cinema alive. Yes, honestly. Yes, truly. If you ask me, Superstars don’t make Cinema. They bestowed upon for a curiously different reason. Films like ‘Kurangu Bommai’ make the cut to retrieve cinema from the clutches of foregone parody.

Goon is a gangster but human. The devil who looks like man is the real animal of this film. It’s really the deluge of human needs and the gory extent he ranters himself to meet his desires is the real torment of this mini thriller.

The cast. All of them were affable and superb. Stuck to their lines and impeccable expressions from the lead actors (there are actually 3 of them) are believable and insane. I loved watching ‘Bharathiraja’ on screen, as an actor. I was always sure about the actor in him, many years back. This time, he is the nemesis and the protagonist, in a disjointed way.

Tamil cinema, I love you for such films of pure tenacity and dodged thrills.

Trivia: குரங்கு பொம்மை in English is ‘Monkey Doll’.

Has Apple Dis-Evolved?

I am not sure, but am quite certain. A company and the co founder who were once emphatically accused of ambushing other products are in a wave of jilted revolution. If I can say that.

Even though Apple is a super power and Steve Jobs’s DNA is the foundation of this company. But it is clearly visible that the ecosystem of the company has changed. Well, we call it adaptability in modern, naive terms. But I wonder, how Apple would have shaped up if Steve was still alive. Not the other Steve (chuckles).

Jobs once said, the most beautiful instruments ever produced in this world are our ‘fingers’. But Apple does promote a stylus these days – not saying they vigorously propagate it, but just saying. He was against big screen iPhones – makers like Nokia and Samsung were torched in his keynotes. I hold a Plus in my hand as I pen down these words. iPad was never going to

Make it beyond 9.7”. We now have an almost 13” Pro looming over us. The once spectacularly announced Shuffle and Nano have been relegated to in- shelf status, I am being nice by saying they are not obsolete. I have a gut feeling, the touch will soon be a product of the past though we might still have consumers who like to substitute the iPhone for a cheaper alternative. I would say, it is a poor man’s iPhone.

Mac Mini exists but then, they are like the crocodiles in the zoo. They are visible when everything around is dead and silent. Apple TV is trying to unleash rejuvenation but they are doing it in a painful pace. 2017 is late.

Next week, we might see 3 iPhones. The third one – not sure what it is touted to be but it marks the 10th year anniversary of the iconic phone. More surprises, design changes and iOS 11. But, revolutionary. I don’t think so. In fact, this was Steve Jobs’ favourite word that made the WWDC’s a rage in those days.

Different Pods are making their debut. Air Pods, Home Pods, and of course, the Watch. Never been a big admirer of the watch though.

I won’t give the WWDC a miss next week, but my memories of an Apple Keynote will never be the same again.

Taramani – Redemption

A ‘run of the mill’ Tamil film is the usual order of the day, but for films like ‘Taramani’ who try to lend a magic hand beyond furnished boundaries.

Don’t literally sit on the title and wane about the correlation. I think correlation lies in the subject, not in the title. In fact, Harry Potter did not make any sense to me till my little sister and the more intelligent sibling taught me the ropes to understand the finer nuances of a novel and it’s biological adaptation.

Coming back to Taramani. Yes, the title has few connected dots to the name of the suburban railway station it is named after, but that’s it. It rather throws light on the vanity of our relationships we practice in our urban lives. Director Ram juggles, protrudes, yells and mingles the eccentricities of human nature. Needless to quip, our lives are a bi product of our desires and foolish needs. And our growing attitudes towards leading life and judging people around by dress rehearsals is another precarious feather in our pervert hat.

Losing love, procuring another one before losing it for sheer stupid reasons of male ego, treating a lady like a substance. ‘Taramani’ deals with sensitive ethos, few of them very real and very inconvenient to have a conversation on. For instance, seldom does a girl talk about her gay husband to an absolute stranger, even if the stranger happens to be overtly receptive. You can, but generally you won’t.

With a screechy script, relevant narration to some irrelevant depictions, some fresh cinematography and stellar performances from the lead actors, ‘Taramani’ is a watchable film.

But ‘Taramani’ tells me an important story – the railway station will live on forever, like our dreams, filth and caricatures.

Haraamkhor – Gutsy and Wretched

Yes. We have this society in us which possesses dark shades. Lives a simple life, appears to be noble, exploits women and their helplessness with élan. And yet, survive like worms and disappear to come back with evil. For a change, this protagonist doesn’t live enough. But it every story is fortunate enough, not every human being is planted with sanity.

‘Haraamkhor’ is a devilish tale of human beings who swear and die in a society very far from our urban excellence and glory. And, we have no clue till something like the the episodes in ‘Haraamkhor’ hit us. I don’t think it’s the question of culture or honor here, it’s about being a human and not being one. Sadly, we live with such creatures around who take advantage of innocence, insecurity and feminism to get there tails wagging. And, they do it shamelessly.

I think I will shower some unanimous praise on Nawazuddin Siddiqui, again. I don’t think anyone else will have the audacity and darkness to play such characters on screen. If you think ‘Raman Raghav’ was fetish enough, watch ‘Haraamkhor’. Nothing loud about it but equally menacing and scary. A thumping pat on the back for the director who chose to make a film on disdainful taste. I take a bow for the Kashyap stable who try to stand out with such films that shed light on such invisible yet mainstream holes in our revered clan.

Truly, wretched it is.

Udta Punjab – High & Fallen

At a time of floundering commercial cinema making the means out of creativity, films like ‘Udta Punjab’ come as a neat surprise. Overwhelming, I would say. Scary and blemish-less.

‘Udta Punjab’ comes from the stable of Phantom films, and no prizes for guessing the creative minds behind the making of this dark, raunchy, spine chilling saga of the drug menace that has consumed an entire state.

‘Udta Punjab’ is the Punjab you and I will never dare to visit. It is the Punjab of our nightmares, the insanity behind the tradition of a beautiful state that it upholds in the eyes of public media.
If you grossly remember history, Punjab has been the eye of the storm in the past. Be it during the emergency in 70s or the infamous ‘Operation Blue Star’, Punjab has been a tepid travesty. Substance abuse is just another blip in a sea of huge political quick sand.

Coming back to the film, the narrative and cast is exemplary. In fact, I don’t think anyone else could have filled the shoes of Tommy Singh and Mary Jane other than Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. Shahid is a brilliant artist and UP is another cap is his illustrious feather. Alia Bhatt has shown glimpses worthy enough of being spoken in the same breath as her father. The scene wherein she helplessly emotes and divulges her agony to an equally ravaged Tommy Singh is a paranoid stealer. One heck of a scene it is, I would say one of it’s kind in Indian cinema.

Kareena Kapoor has very little to do in this crime drama but holds her space in a well deserved cameo. The way she is killed by Balli while trying to stop him from fleeing her rehab is well shot. In fact, am equally fond of the scene where 2 youngsters claim to be Tommy’ fan and signify their inspiration by falling prey to drugs. It’s a pitiably powerful seen that even jolted the conscience of a stray celebrity like Tommy Singh.

Though it’s a Phantom production and inevitable names will have their classic intervention. But Abhishek Chaubey has been impressive. I did not see anything debonair from him since Ishqiya (not the sequel please) but Udta Punjab certainly brings him back in style.

‘Udta Punjab’ has an uncanny resemblance to one of my all time adorable favorites, ‘Goodfellas’. Don’t jump the gun yet, no pun intended but it isn’t a straight shot unless you know what I am talking about.

Kaatru Veliyidai – Different Terrain

Sometimes, our love stories don’t need bad guys to create a rift and separate 2 made-for-each other souls. Our nubile minds are just enough and too good to create miseries for self inundated human beings.’KV’ is a bi-product of such individuals who live and smurf themselves with their ego to destroy superlatives.

Love, lust, sex or marriage – we all live in a volcano of emotions that’s ruled by ego – tiny, small, big. It’s available in all sizes and is devoid of caste and religion. It just resides, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. It depends on how we use our ego – to create or to destroy. Ourselves, sometimes everyone else who is around us. It is celebrated with a cacophony and mourned with anguish. Mani Ratnam’s film deals with such familiar yet anonymous components of human life. Not commercially, but in his own way. What better way to make 2 people fall in love amidst war? Classy patriotism.

‘KV’ begins with the carnage of Kargill and ends with a household whimper. No surprises here, and all ends well. But the journey of love, togetherness, ego, separation, pain and ecstasy are bundled up in a dramatic deluge of thrills and bore. It is inspired by true events – I don’t remember seeing this tag line in a Mani Ratnam film since’Bombay’ in 1995 but we were not that explicit way back then with such catch phrases. Times have changed, so has cinema. Mani Ratnam has forged in to a fascinating collaboration – romance amidst tumultuous waters. It works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The thrill moments – Mani and his cameramen are made for life. Ravi Verman’s exploits in ‘KV’ takes us to another planet. Right from the start – the credits that overlap the blood of Kargill war, the snow laden mountains that look like sleeping in your lap every now and then, the dust laden camps – all look like pieces of divine particles put together to etch an epic love story. Aditi Rao Hydari gives a refreshing performance as the leading lady, I hope the pretty face moves ahead after this memorable stint with Madras Talkies. Karthi as the flamboyant Air Force officer and an eccentric individual does justice, often handsome and often unpredictable. The last 20 minutes of the film is a stunner – the high voltage chase scene in a jigsaw puzzle-like roadway and a riveting background score by AR Rahman will just take your breath away. Absolute brilliance. Plus, ARR’s songs are already a chart buster. I am on a rewind for the past couple of days with ‘Nallai Allai’ and ‘Tango Kelaayo’. Just hooked!

The dull moments – ‘KV’ isn’t your commercial wannabe, and it had to be quite pacy to get attached with the audience. It does but not consistent enough. Mani Ratnam’s definition of romance in itself is a bit unconventional, but it isn’t as ravishing as we expect it to be in his kind of urban love. The could-have -been better editing is compounded by ordinary dialogues which makes few sections of the movie stoppable. The story isn’t iconic, and all his usual suspects appear inadvertently – Srinagar, snow, closed door dialogues, Red Cross to name a few.

Comparison trivia – I don’t want to but irresistible me! It has few similarities with his own films – ‘Roja’ and ‘Alaipayuthey’. Some uncanny resemblances with ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Pearl Harbor’ too.

Mani Ratnam isn’t the kind of filmmaker anymore whose films will set the cash registers ringing. But his films possess class, and technically way above the rest. There is something about his films that I rave about, I like his kind of cinema. Few notches high, the ground below still looks clean. That’s ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’ in a nutshell.

Crime beholds crime. @msksmiles

There is this animal in all of us that gains momentum in sensitive and reluctant moments. Sporadic and violent. Voracious and fierce. We all have break even points, some  much earlier than we conspire and few that follows an aftermath. But we always seek a nemesis for redemption. A partner in crime. An orchid in a rose palette. A reason for our coral existence. The reason to survive through means unknown.

Our deficiencies often out power and defeat us in the battle of goodness and sanity. We kill ourselves to bring the insides out, and the soul becomes the most dreaded object of ulterior motives. Vulnerable and exuding massive energy of culpable destruction.

Raman Raghav 2.0.

Picture Source: Google Images

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