Tag Archives: Freida Pinto

Immortals (2011, Tarsem Singh)

The best thing about Immortals is probably Stephen Dorff. He gives the most consistent performance and has something akin to a reasonable character arc. No one else in the film has that courtesy.

The film, which has the Greek gods reluctantly influencing the life of mortals, makes a big deal out of freewill and the ability for people to develop. Luke Evans–as the worst Zeus outside of a car commercial–wants mortal Henry Cavill to rise to lead his people. Of course, these people are a little unclear. The script’s not just awful in terms of dialogue and character–evil villain Mickey Rourke has more moments of tenderness than anyone else in the picture, which is intention and utterly misguided–it’s also moronic in terms of plotting. There are useless characters (Joseph Morgan in a terrible performance as a traitor) and useless plot twists.

Of course, director Singh doesn’t do much good either. He concentrates on the physical beauty of the film (whether a oil slicked, shirtless Cavill or Freida Pinto–whose eye shadow never comes off–as his love interest) because it’s Greek gods, right? Things should be beautiful. Only not a lot of them are physical. It’s all CG and it’s okay CG but it’s clear these actors aren’t moving in these spaces.

Maybe if Singh could direct action or if he could direct for spectacle (he goes in way too close). Or if Trevor Morris’s score brought some grandeur.

Immortals is a terrible big, little movie.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Tarsem Singh; written by Charley Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides; director of photography, Brendan Galvin; edited by Wyatt Jones, Stuart Levy and David Rosenbloom; music by Trevor Morris; production designer, Tom Foden; produced by Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton and Ryan Kavanaugh; released by Relativity Media.

Starring Henry Cavill (Theseus), Mickey Rourke (King Hyperion), Stephen Dorff (Stavros), Freida Pinto (Phaedra), Luke Evans (Zeus), John Hurt (Old Man), Joseph Morgan (Lysander), Anne Day-Jones (Aethra), Greg Bryk (The Monk) and Isabel Lucas (Athena).


RELATED

Advertisements

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010, Woody Allen)

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is an unexpected surprise. Allen mixes a very black comedy with this light, almost absurd relationship comedy. But he never goes too dark.

I’m trying to think of a example but will undoubtedly fail to explain. Anthony Hopkins marries his call girl, played by Lucy Punch. Funny situation. This marriage ruins Hopkins. It’s not quite a “just desserts” situation because Hopkins isn’t a terrible guy. No one, with one exception, really gets a deserved comeuppance. Instead, they just navigate these incredibly frustrating, dumb situations they’ve put themselves in….

Allen almost loses it all at the end–he’s using narration (from Zak Orth, who does a fine job) and it doesn’t feel quite right–but then he saves it. This save is immediately following another scene where he could have perfectly ended the film. But the save is better.

Every single performance in Stranger is outstanding, but Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin can do these types of roles. It’s Antonio Banderas who really surprised me. He’s this perfect Woody Allen leading man (even though he’s in a supporting role here). Seeing him bluster and think and speechless… it’s just fantastic.

Gemma Jones is the other principal cast member (she’s Hopkins’s ex-wife, they’re Watts’s parents, she’s married to Brolin). Allen treats her comically, until he establishes it’s her world and everyone else is living in it.

There’s some nice minor performances from Pauline Collins and Philip Glenister.

I expected something decent, but Stranger‘s great.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Written and directed by Woody Allen; director of photography, Vilmos Zsigmond; edited by Alisa Lepselter; production designer, Jim Clay; produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Jaume Roures; released by Sony Pictures Classics.

Starring Josh Brolin (Roy), Naomi Watts (Sally), Gemma Jones (Helena), Anthony Hopkins (Alfie), Lucy Punch (Charmaine), Antonio Banderas (Greg), Freida Pinto (Dia), Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Jonathan), Pauline Collins (Cristal), Anna Friel (Iris), Ewen Bremner (Henry Strangler) and Zak Orth (Narrator).


RELATED

Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Danny Boyle)

With Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle hasn’t just finally made his grand romance (something he’s wanted to do since A Life Less Ordinary–this time without the “acting” stylings of Miss Cameron Diaz), or given cinema its first great mainstream romance in nine years, he’s also made the best adaptation of a Charles Dickens novel (even if it’s a novel Dickens never actually wrote). I haven’t read Slumdog‘s source novel, so I don’t know if the Dickens references originated there or if screenwriter Simon Beaufoy contributed them. For whatever reason (lack of reference to them on the novel’s wikipedia page and author’s website), I’m going to attribute these inclusions to Beaufoy.

The result–a modern day, pop culture Dickensian something or other. Boyle uses the story’s Indian setting to confound the viewer–I wonder how it plays to Indians and those familiar with the culture–because there’s such a disconnect between the main character’s youth and the modern story. But Boyle also uses a fractured narrative to further confuse the viewer. This structure turns Slumdog into a police investigation from the viewer’s perspective–he or she is going in without the necessary information, which is the norm, but the protagonist is the suspect. As the film opened and the structure presented itself, I got worried–extremely fearful, actually–of a Usual Suspects twist at the end.

At some point, that fear went away. Maybe it was the multi-layered narrative and my developing trust in Boyle. As a filmmaker, Boyle manages to earn a huge amount of trust with every project (well, post-Beach) and then, on his next project, cash it all in and start over.

And Slumdog Millionaire starts accruing early on. Once the structure’s clear–adult protagonist Dev Patel being questioned by Irrfan Khan about winning “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” with flashbacks to his youth–Boyle gets extremely playful. All of the flashbacks are about the young version of Patel, played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, and his brother Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail (at the furthest back flashback). Here’s where Slumdog whacks the (presumably) Western viewer with a cricket bat. Slumdog‘s presentation of India–from a Western director and a Western studio… I can’t believe anyone signed the filming permits. It’s an unending horror. The respites the viewer gets are usually due to–with the occasional humorous aside–returning to the present. Boyle smartly (big shock) opens with one of the funniest scenes in the film, which takes gross-out humor to the pages of The New Yorker.

The film quickly develops into a fated romance between Patel and, in the present, Freida Pinto. Because Patel is so centrally the lead, there’s a real connection between him and the actors playing his younger selfs (Khedekar and Tanay Chheda–Boyle’s transition from flashback period to flashback period is singular). Slumdog revolves around him. And if it isn’t revolving around him, it’s around his brother–Ismail has the flashiest flashback period, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala (I guess he’s pretty flashy too) plays him in the middle and Madhur Mittal as the adult. If it weren’t for Pinto, Mittal would have the hardest role in the film, due to his character’s arc. But Pinto–she’s got to be flawless in every scene. As a kid, she’s played by Rubiana Ali, who earns all the viewer’s regard. Ali does a great job, but she’s a precocious kid. It’s a little easier than showing up for one shot and having to be the end all, be all of a two hour motion picture, which Pinto does. Even harder for Pinto is when she finally becomes a big character–she can’t have a false move, because the viewer has to believe in Patel’s devotion to her… otherwise it doesn’t work. And Pinto makes it work.

As for Boyle, his direction is amazing. It deserves a lot more attention than I could give it here and a lot more recognition. Slumdog‘s music is essential (from A.R. Rahman), perfectly integrated with Boyle’s sensibilities. To sum up Boyle’s direction… during the first flashback–Slumdog‘s use of subtitles is ingenious (I hope they keep it for the DVD), sorry, tangent–I wondered how Boyle looked at the script for the sequence and somehow came up with what I was watching. I couldn’t imagine how his brain processed the script, how he imagined the shots. He’s an exceptional director.

The film’s relationship with the viewer is where I’ll exit (and where the film exits too). Slumdog Millionaire has a first person narrator who isn’t on screen. It’s the film itself.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Danny Boyle; co-directed by Loveleen Tandan; screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, based on a novel by Vikas Swarup; director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantel; edited by Chris Dickens; music by A.R. Rahman; production designer, Mark Digby; produced by Christian Colson; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Starring Dev Patel, Tanay Chheda and Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (Jamal), Freida Pinto, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar and Rubiana Ali (Latika), Madhur Mittal, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail (Salim), Anil Kapoor (Prem) and Irrfan Khan (Police Inspector).


RELATED