The Glass Castle

No matter how much we wish and sometimes talk ourselves into believing our families are perfect there are bound to be struggles we are trying to overcome. For some the extremes are highly pronounced with the good times being better than one can imagine and the worst times being worse than you’d wish upon your enemy.

This is a story of a family that precariously lives within that spectrum of extreme love and extreme neglect. A family that inspires and inhibits its members at the same time for sometimes remarkable beauty comes with deep imperfections.

The Walls are a family of father, mother, four children living the hippie life. There is no money but there is an abundance of love – except on days the alcoholic father drowns himself in his addiction and leaves his children hungry. With the mother slowly losing it too one of the elder sisters, Jeannette,  becomes the de facto caretaker of her younger siblings. A particularly chilling evidence of it is when the youngest sibling, Maureen, wakes up her sister in the middle of the night because none of them have had food for three days. The only thing left in the house is a bowl of butter and some sugar which Jeannette stirs up and feeds the little one.

As the children grow up they slowly start leaving home to become independent but deep down the love for their parents and the knowledge that their father’s neglect was not his intent but the result of his addiction they try to stay in touch and take care of each other. When Jeannette, the daughter closest to her father becomes an accomplished journalist and gets engaged to a successful banker in NYC the chasm between her and her parents inevitably widens but she can’t let the burden of that break the strings of her heart firmly connected to her family. The drama culminates in a beautiful ending that’s testimony of Jeanette’s strength and her undying love for the people that she depends on as much as they do on her.

Be warned: This movie will leave you sobbing and hurting but it’s beauty will stay with you for years to come. (10/10)

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Tiger Zinda Hai

Tiger kabh marega? … was the thought looming over my mind as I was exiting the movie theatre at 1am in the morning. I can understand why the audience erupts into whistles and cries (the happy kind) when Salman Khan takes over the screen – shirtless – and out of nowhere procures a kalashnikov to singe-handedly finish the whole Syrian army troupe on the scene. But somewhere deep inside, where I lock up my brain before I embark to watch a Salman Khan movie, my logic is rebelling and letting out suppressed cries of pain. I know movies are meant for entertainment yada yada but after being spoiled with quality action thrillers like Baby and Airlift this Tiger business doesn’t measure up more than a meek meow.

For the first time ever I felt Katrina did a half-decent job. Guess why? She didn’t need to speak much. She was fully consumed by fierce-fully slaying Syrian goons. Quite the power packed sight.

Now if you have to – like me – see every movie whether it’s worth it or not by all means drive yourself over to the next theatre but if this is not a vice for you stay at home and spend the time doing something wiser. (3/10)

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Half Girlfriend

I have never read anything from Chetan Bhagat but if this is how he writes stories I don’t really regret it. Or was it just Mohit Suri who made the story look terrible?

Saving grace is that no great actors were harmed in the making of this film. They took terrible actors like Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor to begin with. Phew.

Clearly, there was a social message to this story, one that left me with a knot in my throat during the later half of the movie but the terrible acting and predictability of everything else made this a laughing stock. Extra big grin for someone’s creativity to superimpose a damn Snap filter on someone’s body with Bill Gates’ face. Come on!

Whoever understands the concept of a “Half” Girlfriend please enlighten the rest of us. (1/10)

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Ittefaq

One ticket – Two stories

This mystery thriller is a remake of the 1969 movie starring Rajesh Khanna and Nanda. I haven’t seen the original but this is an entertaining watch with a good storyline that has reveals lined up as the movie progresses. Most of it takes place inside the apartment of Maya, a bored housewife indulging in an affair that adds interesting twists to the plot.

Akshaye Khanna’s acting chops are to watch out for. He’s found his genre and I hope to see him doing more of what he does so well.

Abhay Chopra tried to please too many audiences at once and introduced humor that simply has no place in a thriller. Do one thing and do it well, sir!

Good one time watch but no sit-at-the-edge-of-your-seat experience. (7/10)

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Tumhari Sulu

#MainKarSaktiHai

Every housewife is more – some of them far more – than just a housewife. While women in the workforce get to play out their personalities with a legit tag of a working woman, the ones working in their homes are often ‘discounted’ as bhenjis. Here comes Vidya Balan to show you that personality trumps title and ambition trumps education!

Never have I seen a non-body-conforming Bollywood actress carry herself with so much confidence on the silver screen. A housewife, married to a sales manager and with a 11 year old boy facing peer pressure she is living a middle class life. Her twin sisters rub in their success every so often on their visits and tell her what’s right and wrong for her but she doesn’t let herself be belittled and goes on to become a RJ for a borderline raunchy late night radio show. With her unique people skills she shows the owners of the radio show that a saree-clad bhenji has more to offer than meets the eye. She takes the vulgar out of the show and is fully enjoying her work when the typical Indian husband surfaces in her otherwise loving husband. The loss of authority in his job and the happiness of his wife in her job don’t sit well with him so she leaves her job for 5 minutes to join it back in a jiffy as soon as she finds him a tiffinwaala job with the radio channel. Yeah, the last 5 minutes of the movie were just as confusing as my previous sentence. Not sure what happened there and why all of a sudden she decides to rejoin when she just handed in her resignation – but maybe someone else can explain that to me.

Fabulous acting by Vidya Balan and Manav Kaur. Totally not important to this review but I have a thing for men with strong jawlines. 😉 (6/10)

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Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana

Ah, these little gems of cinema shining through brightly amongst the behemoths of big budget movies of Bollywood! With a tiny production budget of 9 crore rupees this movie does what many 100+ crore ones can’t – engage the viewer until the end. I watched this movie from 10 pm – 1am on a weekday night and didn’t regret the ensuing lack of sleep even a tiny bit.

The story of an arranged, then canceled and re-arranged marriage in a small town in India it felt like this story could have been your next door neighbor’s. So realistic, so down-to-earth and simple despite it’s complex topic.

Rajkumar Rao is a powerhouse of acting! It boils my blood when I see stars being treated as deities when they have zero acting chops and then there’s someone like Rajkumar who is one of the finest actors we have in the country and yet he only gets roles by lesser known producers and directors. Oh well, their loss I say. I would blindly go watch a movie starring Rajkumar Rao vs a certain star referred to by a three letter acronym.

I had never seen Kriti Kharbanda’s work before but was equally thrilled to see an actress who not only looks cute but also has the acting skills to match Rajkumar Rao’s. What fantastic casting!

Had it not been for the somewhat dramatic ending and the sudden change of heart of the groom’s family in the end this one would have gotten a full ten. Even with a 9/10 it gets a must watch recommendation!

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Mubarakan

It’s borderline harmful to have to watch Arjun Kapoor not only once but twice in a movie. Big daddy money at work at its best. I know not to be superficial but hey Bollywood is Bollywood. If you can’t act, at least look good. </politicalincorrectness>

Think of this as the classier, most tasteful version of a Sajid Khan movie. Many loud characters, convoluted story, senselessness…but Anil Kapoor, Ratna Pathak and Pavan Malhotra were the saving grace. Athiya Shetty causes visual dissonance in my head. I just cannot get Sunil Shetty out of my head when I see the lower half of her face. A trick to make it less obvious would be to avoid wearing magenta lipsticks…just sayin’. Nice settings, classy Indian clothing and tolerable songs rounded it up to a 5/10.

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