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Perfume (Telugu)
Cast: Che Nag, Prachi Thaker, Abhinaya, Bushan, Rayala Harischandra, Meer, and Krishna Teja
Director: JD Swamy
Producers: J Sudhakar, Shiva B, Rajeev Kumar B, and Srinivas Lavuri
Music: Ajay Arasada
Runtime: 2 hours 20 minutes


Killers Of The Flower Moon: A Hugely Disturbing Story Of American Colonialism

This Martin Scorsese’s directorial might look too long but the end results are hugely satisfying

Killers of The Flower Moon (English)                4 out of 5

Starcast: Leonardo Di Caprio, Robert De Niro, Lilly Gladstone and others

Direction and screenplay: Martin Scorsese

Additional screenplay: Eric Roth

Based on: Killers of The Flower Moon by David Grann

Producers: Martin Scorsese, Bradley Thomas and others

Production Companies: Appain Way Productions, Apple Studios Imperative Entertainment and others

Running time: 3 hours and 26 minutes

Genre: Crime drama

For those who are not aware Killers of The Flower Moon is based on a 2017 novel written by David Grann. The book and the movie is a recreation of the real life killings of Osage community who were in peaceful co-existence with white people. What drove these murders was immense greed of the white Americans. These crimes began after oil was discovered in their lands and Osages began to live a life of wealth.

Director Martin Scorsese and his technical team transports us to the 1920’s so much so that we feel we are actually living with Osages and their experiences.

Killers of The Flower Moon is mostly narrated from the perspective of two white men Ernest Buckhart (Leonardo Di Caprio) and William ‘Billy’ Hale (Robert De Niro). It is a story of how this uncle and nephew duo along with their extended kith and Klan plan to usurp the wealth of the Osages. They do this by marrying the daughter of the head of the Osage community and plotting the murders of her family members.

Robert De Niro, the veteran actor as expected delivers a master class in acting.

Killers of The Flower Moon is a film that grips you from the start. Martin Scorsese along with his technical team transports us to the 1920’s so much so that we feel we are actually living with Osages and their experiences. We feel immense pain to know how a particular community was targeted just because they had mineral rights over their land and became rich with the oil found there. 

Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography is a major plus for the film. He does a brilliant job in capturing the visual tapestry and also the horror of the events through his lens.

Lily Gladstone more than holds her own opposite both Leonardo and Robert De Niro

The film is essentially dark in nature but having said that there are also moments which bring a smile to the viewers face. Most of these can be seen in the track between Leonardo Di Caprio and Mollie (Lily Gladstone) the woman he falls in love with. The way he flirts with her and their interactions in some parts of the first half are genuinely fun to watch.

There is no denying that Ernest (Leonardo) is a major accomplice to his uncle in this horror but his love for Mollie is also genuine and we do see flashes of regret from him.

Leonardo Di Caprio delivers a fantastic performance

Leonardo Di Caprio delivers a fantastic performance in portraying the complexities of his character. Lily Gladstone more than holds her own opposite both Leonardo and Robert De Niro. The actress does an exceptional job in essaying the inner strength of Mollie. There are scenes where we see Mollie fighting to get justice for her killed family members while suffering with ill health.

Robert De Niro’s character looks like he is doing a lot for the Osage community but deep down is a loathsome monster. The veteran actor as expected delivers a master class in acting; whether it is the scenes of showing mock concern for the killings or the ones where he terrorises Ernest with just a slight shift in his voice.

Of course in the end both of them are caught and put in jail for some years. Millie divorces him and marries another man from her community.

The film is an important reminder of American Colonisation at its worst and what the insanity of greed can do to fellow human beings.

Barbie: Not just a doll

It is an entertaining film with perfect mix of style and substance. Greta Gerwing gives a feministic touch to the good old Barbie

Barbie (English)                    

Starcast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Ariana Greenlatt and others

Director and writer: Greta Gerwig

Additional writer: Noah Baumbach

Based on: Barbie by Mattel

Producers: Robbie Greener, Tom Ackerley and others

 Music directors: Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt

Production companies: Mattel films, Heyday films and others

Genre: Fantasy comedy/drama

Running time: 1 hour and 54 minutes

Greta Gerwing created a strong niche for herself with the film Little Women (2019). This novel was adopted by several filmmakers but Greta brought her own distinct stamp. While staying true to the original she managed to bring a contemporary touch.

Ryan Gosling as the most important ken

Now she is back with the film Barbie based on the Barbie fashion dolls. Barbie is set in a fantasy land where everything is utopian. Greta uses this fantasy set up to explore different themes like patriarchy, capitalism, consumerism etc. Earlier also there were television films about Barbie fashion dolls but this one is very different from those.

Some of the Barbies in the Barbie land are just beautiful beings while others are writers, scientists etc. Though it is a matriarchal society there are kens (men) also in this world. Among them the most important ken is played by Ryan Gosling. Among the Barbies the central Barbie is played by Margot Robbie. She falls under the beautiful category. Ryan Gosling’s character aspires to be her boyfriend but she prefers only female friendships.

Things take a turn when Margot Robbie’s Barbie starts thinking about philosophical things like mortality. This leads to many thoughts and she is unable to go about her routine. The magic is gone. She goes to an elderly Barbie who tells her that she must travel to the real world to cure her affliction. Initially she is reluctant to go but later she decides to go. Ryan Gosling follows her without her knowledge. Later she comes to know and accepts him after some hesitation.

What follows is a journey of self discovery and how this trip to the real world turns out to be a life changing experience. For the first time she realises that she is being hated by the human world for her beauty specifications.

One of the best things about the film Barbie is how Greta Gerwing sets up this tale. She immerses the viewers into this fantasy land with brilliant support from costumes, art and set design along with cinematography. The viewers truly feel transported into the Barbie world.

Margot Robbie effortlessly switches from a beautiful doll to a woman of substance

Another aspect that stands out in Barbie is how Greta strikes the perfect balance between entertainment and message. There are many comic moments that leave you in splits. Most of these come from Ryan Gosling. His character goes through a wide arc from comic to emotional and the actor doesn’t miss a single beat. The best part of his performance is his absolute lack of vanity.

Among the characters in the real world the ones that stand out are America Ferrera as Gloria and the teenage daughter (Ariana Greenblatt). Mother and daughter have a strained relationship which changes at different stages. The scenes between them are poignantly written. They become a huge pillar of support for Barbie at a critical juncture. America Ferrera has some impactful dialogues. For example there is a scene where she gives a passionate speech about the contradictory nature of our society. She takes several digs at patriarchy where women are expected to do everything perfectly.

Will Ferrel as ///gloria’s boss

The aspect of consumerism has also come out well through the character of Will Ferrel who plays Gloria’s boss and the head of Mattel Company. It is the company that manufactures Barbies.

Margot Robbie is the perfect choice for the central character as she effortlessly switches from a beautiful doll to a woman of substance. She prefers to be a complete human being with all the imperfections rather than just being a beautiful doll.

The musical numbers of Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyaat are a delight to watch because of their unique staging.

Barbie is worth a watch for not just the kids but to all age groups.

Avatar – The Way Of Water: A Visual Stunner That Is Equal Parts Exhilarating And Exhausting

Offers enough fodder for mind and heart.                                                                              

 Avatar: The Way of Water (English)

  • Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, and Cliff Curtis
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Producers: James Cameron and Jon Landau
  • Music: Simon Franglen
  • Runtime: 3 hours 12 minutes

Movie sequels are a tricky act. They don’t always fare well. And when you’ve got a sequel hitting theatres 13 years after the original, you better say a Hail Mary… Unless you’re James Cameron!

It’s safe to say that he did a great job not letting the buzz around Avatar: The Way of Water die for over a decade. But where he really hit the nail on the head – and probably the only place – is with the visual effects. The underwater sequences are simply breathtaking and are further enhanced by the advances in 3D technology. The sequel, however, doesn’t completely match the emotional highs of the first part, but one can say that there is still enough for the audience to take home.

Going back to the beginning

Before going into Avatar 2‘s plot, let’s do a quick recap of Avatar. It takes us along on a US Armed Forces mission to an Earth-sized moon in orbit around a massive star. This new world, Pandora, is a rich source of minerals. While Pandora doesn’t pose a threat to Earth, military officials are sent to attack and conquer it. (Wakanda Forever, anyone?) Pandora is inhabited by the Na’vi – blue-skinned, golden-eyed sapient extraterrestrial humanoids. Since Pandora doesn’t have an oxygen-rich atmosphere like Earth, humans visiting Pandora use Na’vi lookalikes – called avatars – whose mind is controlled by them.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a young paraplegic Marine who is recruited for the mission because his genes match that of his dead identical twin, who was an original member of the mission. However, things quickly change when Jack starts interacting with the Na’vi and begins to understand their culture. He also falls in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Eventually, Jack turns into a full-fledged Na’vi.

A major plot point of Avatar was about protecting the ecosystem through the Na’vi. The US Armed Forces, on the other hand, represented corporate greed.

Is it a story worth telling?

Avatar: The Way of Water begins by establishing Jack and Neytiri’s family – them and their four children, all living peacefully. However, the happiness doesn’t last long as humans – General Frances Ardmore (Edie Falco) and Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) [yup, him again!] – return to Pandora. And, obviously, they are hell-bent on destroying Jack and his family. Left with no other choice, Jack and his family leave his adopted home and seek refuge with the Metkayina – an oceanic Na’vi clan. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out whether Jack and his family find a place with this new clan. And, more importantly, how they face the new challenges thrown their way.

It has its best moments

It takes some time for the plot of Avatar 2 to really kick in. Scenes establishing Jack as a family man could have been shorter and to the point, perhaps. Things take a turn for the better when the focus shifts to the Metkayina clan. The portions of the movie where Jack and his family are seen adjusting to the ways of the water give the film some of its best moments. The social commentary in Avatar 2 isn’t as strong as the first one, but there are still some pertinent issues that the director raises. Chief among them is humanity’s attitude towards other life forms. There is a disturbing scene involving the killing of a highly intelligent and emotional sea creature to further drive the point home.

Cinematography chops to die for

Russell Carpenter’s cinematography is easily one of the biggest highlights of the film. The cinematographer did a splendid job of capturing not just the scenic beauty but also the breathtaking action scenes that take place in the water. The action department also deserves a mention here. The fight scenes are exhilarating and I guarantee you that, on more than one occasion, the audience will break out into cheers and applause.

On the flip side, the editing is a tad loose and there are far too many scenes that see a drop in interest.

Another hiccup with Avatar 2 is its portrayal of the children — particularly Jack’s sons. There is nothing unique that the director brings to the table in their depiction. It is strictly surface-level.

Sam & Zoe at their best

Needless to say, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are easily the best of the lot.

Sam is brilliant as the protector of the family, in contrast to his role in the first movie as an amateur who is struggling to learn the ways of the Na’vi. He brings in both physicality and emotional depth.

Zoe Saldana is her fiery self and does a swell job of bringing out the emotions of a protective yet petrified mother.

In all, Avatar: The Way of Water lacks the brevity of Avatar but there is enough fodder for the mind and heart.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: A Nostalgia Ride With Plenty Of Heartwarming Moments

Harry Potter books are a franchise in itself. No one expected much from the first Harry Potter book but it was a huge success upon its release. It connected with not just children but also adults. The characters of Harry, Ron and Hermione were firmly etched in the minds of the readers. The subsequent books made the characters and also the world of Hogwarts immensely popular. Through her writings JK Rowling made the readers root for these underdogs. You wanted them to win against Lord Voldermort. Along with the three protagonists another very important character was that of Neville Longbottom. Initially it looked like a character for laughs but as the story expanded there were more shades to Neville.

Not surprisingly the seven books were made into movies. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint became over night stars. Emma went on to act in films like 2019’s Little Women. On the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter the cast and the crew come together to relive their memories of making these seven films.It is difficult to fit in all these stories and experiences in a documentary film but directors Casey Peterson and Joe Pearlman deliver a reunion which will be liked by all Potter fans.

The highlight of this documentary film is the revelations shared by the three main actors. We see how much they have grown along with the franchise. They perfectly articulate the challenges that the each film gave and how they had to portray emotions beyond their age.Another highlight is the exchanges between the directors and the cast. The directors who appear are Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates. These five men had directed Harry Potter movies at different stages. I particularly liked the one between Daniel Radcliffe and Chris.

Add to that there is also a lot of behind the scene action. These moments work as a cherry on the cake. The sets, the auditions etc will make you emotional.

Finally, the inclusion of the supporting cast also works wonderfully. The moments shared by the men who played Sirius Black, Lucius Malfoy and Dobby in particular are impressive. It is a pleasure to see them talk about what they felt about playing these characters.The one thing which was missing though is a fresh interview of JK Rowling. There is footage of an old one but it would have been nice if there was a new one too.

All said and done, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary is the perfect nostalgia ride for those who have grown up on Harry Potter.

Cinderella 2021: A Vibrant Take On An Old Fairytale

Just like 2019’s Aladdin which updated the old story by giving it a feminist touch through Naomi Scott’s character, here too director Cannon brings in certain freshness; to the often told story. The new aspect being the aspirations of the protagonist Ella played by Cabello. Ella is looking to become a dressmaker and love is not something that she is looking at. Apart from the Ella’s character the feministic streak can be seen in the Prince’s sister one too. The climax gives a pleasant surprise which for obvious reasons cannot be revealed here. There have been many adoptions of the fairy tale but since I haven’t seen all the focus here is purely on this one.

The story of Cindrella 2021 is set in a tiny village that is very much old fashioned and doesn’t allow womenfolk to be in business. As Ella chases her dreams of becoming a dressmaker her path crosses with that of Prince Nobert (Nicholas Galitzine). Prince Nobert is struggling with his own problems, in his case it is not knowing whether he wants to become the future king or not.

The smartest about this movie is how the director uses the musical element to turn the fairy tale into a jukebox material. There are a barrage of songs for every situation, sometimes it gets tiring but there are still wonderful to watch thanks to the cinematographer Henry Braham for how he pictuarizes them. The dances are also quite good to watch. It also helps all the actors seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves; these include not just the leads.  

Another big strength of this musical is how Cannon portrays the aspirations of Ella. It has been done in such a way that many girls will be able to connect with it. Cabello is throughouly charming and makes you root for her.

The love story with the prince feels hurried but it has got its share of moments. My favourite scene of the leads is when Prince Nobert opens up about his insecurities and says that he wanted to be a king during his childhood but now he isn’t too sure.

Another striking character is that of the sister (Tallulah Grieve). She is someone who has more of an inclination to ascend the throne however there is an impediment which is being born as a girl. Her scenes are less but they still make an impact.

Given that it is a fairy tale it is given that the issues would be sorted without much fuss. Here too the villager’s attitude changes so fast that you wonder why they weren’t solved years ago. But this is a kind of a film where you have to go with the flow.