Kaante

kaante

Let’s go crazy Bollywood style!

I think someone yelled the above after watching Reservoir Dogs. If you’ve seen Reservoir Dogs I just spoiled Kaante for you.

Kaante is weird and not helped by some dodgy subtitle work on the version I saw. Basically six crim types get thrown together in lock up and devise a way of getting back at the cops by robbing the ‘American Bank’ (imaginative). Because this is a remake of Reservoir Dogs there was the same array of characters, Mr Crazy (torture guy), Mr Full of Himself, Mr Aged and Respected, Mr Undercover Cop and Mr Tough Guy. It couldn’t be more by the book (Quentin Tarantino’s book that is).

I’m not sure if this was made as an outright version of Reservoir Dogs but the story is EXACTLY the same. However, while being surprisingly badly acted especially by Mr Crazy Guy it is also full of Bollywood musical numbers! Can an Indian film be made without musical numbers? I wish they could because I probably would have liked this better without singing and dancing. The first time it happened I was actually a little shocked as it was so out of the blue compared to the serious gritty kind of atmosphere Kaante was trying to develop up until that point.

The main characters even did a number which was especially weird because they were planning a bank robbery. Imagine Ocean’s Eleven with George Clooney and Brad Pitt suddenly starting to sing over the plans of the casino vault followed by highly choreographed dancing. Not good. It really ruined any flow the film had and certainly destroyed the trying to be ‘gritty’ atmosphere of the non-dancey scenes.

The only woman of note was the pole dancer girlfriend of Mr Tough Guy (he really did it all for love) and I’m pretty sure she was only in it so she could sing a number. Seeing an Indian woman portray a pole dancer in a Bollywood film was odd as it was meant to be kind of seedy/gritty but really it was very nice. She was nicely dressed and she danced nicely (not your usual pole dancing scene in an action film). Another thing that ruined any kind of crim movie atmosphere from developing. It would be better to have no pole dancing, I’m fine with that.

Kaante seemed to be directed by somebody who had previously only done music videos. The lighting was odd, apparently LA is always bathed in a yellow glow, a very yellow glow, in fact a fluorescent yellow glow. I think the director was probably going for seedy sepia toned noir but ended up with unpleasant Crayola toned  jaune (yes, I googled it, French for yellow). The editing was choppy, with jumpy repetition and slo mo over use. It would be fine for a four minute music video and that’s about all.

I think the icing on the cake for the whole movie watching experience is that Kaante runs for two and a half hours (it took me three sessions to get through it). Apparently Bollywood movie directors don’t cut out content for musical inclusions.

Even so, after all the above, it is the best Bollywood film I have ever seen. That’s really not saying much at all.

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The Guard

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So the other night I’m watching TV and The Guard comes on and as it’s on my movie list I thought ‘just watch it’. Who cares about doing things in order anyway? Not me apparently. Plus it was on a channel that drops out and doesn’t record properly so, yeh, decision made. I have no idea what number it is on the list because its quite a few pages in (yes, pages) and I’ve counted that list once and I don’t intend to count it again without good reason. Maybe if someone threatened me with a piece of processed chicken (I’m allergic) at processed meat point, maybe then I’d count it again. Maybe.

So The Guard is an actually excellent film that contains most of my “that’s an excellent film” requirements. There’s funny, touching, mysterious, bad guys, good guys, in-between guys, sad, and … action!! The only thing missing is female characters. Two prostitutes and a wife do not make a Bechdel Test passing film. Damn. Admittedly the film did play on the ‘it’s still a man’s world out here in the Irish sticks’ a lot, so I won’t dwell on the Bechdel Test.

At times I found the Irish accent a little hard to understand but it didn’t ruin the film. (Having a whole pile of Irish DNA does not, unsurprisingly, make the accent easy to understand.)

The star of the piece is the grumpy garda (Irish Gaelic for cop – sort of) (Brendan Gleeson – glorious) and the straight man to grumpy garda’s wit is the American CIA agent, so straight it hurts Don Cheadle (glorious). The two are teamed up to find an international drug smuggling operation working through an out of the way port in Faraway, Ireland (not the town’s name at all).

Grumpy garda is grumpy and has his own offbeat ways of doing things. CIA agent is not and does not, he plays by the rules. This sounds like a classic set up, and it is, but grumpy garda is so understandable and strangely likeable (all down to the gloriousness of Brendan Gleeson I am sure) that I ended up wanting them to like each other and learn from each other and get the bad guys. Their interactions are very honest and at times hilarious while making me feel like I may have inadvertently learnt something by the end of their conversation. Nothing pans out quite as I expected and I like that.

Grumpy garda is a fully developed character and that kind of development is unusual for a film. There’s just not enough time in general. I felt like I knew him at the end and I wanted him to make it through all the baddies and the failed stings and the grumpiness of his everyday life. He is naughty and old and fat and lonely and jaded and he knows it and he doesn’t care. Yet he cares about others in his grumpy way (especially his Mum, bless his cotton socks).

The baddies were a bit of a let down as they were just super mean but they were drug dealers so why be so ‘kill everyone’ bad? I think they could have been a bit more subtle and their characters a little more developed. Being a gun for hire does not necessarily make you Mr Kill Everyone And It Makes Sense Because I’m Being Paid By The Boss. Basically they are classic baddies that you don’t care about because they are bad and they deserve badness.

Also, there is a gunfight and a big explosion. Action in an independent film that also has feeling and learnings, woah! Glorious!

Bubba Ho-Tep

from imdb

‘The King vs the King of the Dead’ – Yeah!

Bubba Ho-Tep is a very cool little film. Who knew Elvis impersonating an Elvis impersonator (or is he?) could be so charming?

This film kind of feels like it started out as a short film concept that got expanded to feature length because there was a lot of fun to be had. There is a noir-ish feel throughout which gives it a quirkiness especially considering the whole thing is set in a nursing home in Texas and the main characters are two old fellas who may or may not be delusional.

The story is very silly with a cursed Egyptian mummy being involved in a train accident and ending up in the swamp behind the nursing home. The mummy dubbed “Bubba Ho-Tep” by our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) decides to munch on the souls of the old folks. (I wrote ‘soles’ in that sentence the first time, not the same thing at all. Disturbing really.)  When the old folks start dropping like flies nobody really notices because they’re old.

Our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) realises something is up and with the aid of JFK (or is he? well, no, he’s not) goes on the hunt for BHT. (JFK is now an African American man, the CIA dyed him black so nobody would know he was still alive, and he has a sand bag for a brain because everyone knows JFKs brain went missing – apparently it’s quite hard to formulate a plan with a sand bag for a brain, fair enough I say.)

This movie is hilarious in parts with our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) using a walking frame throughout, will he or won’t he use the bedpan, aargh the suspense!, and JFK thoroughly charging his wheelchair for a nights’ hunting. These two are possibly the nicest old folks ever. Our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) frets about his breakup with Priscilla and wonders how LisaMarie is doing without her Dad in her life.

There's an action figure! With walker of course!

There’s an action figure! With walker of course!

The backstory of the Elvis ‘is he or isn’t he’ mystery is told in flashback and I’m pretty convinced the King’s not dead (or am I?)… It all makes sense when you think about it (or does it?).

While the macguffin of this story is fighting a mummy, the delight is seeing these two guys reminisce about their past and finding their mojo through the hunt. It is impossible not to like our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?).

There’s a mummy but this ain’t no horror film it’s definitely all about the laughs. If Bubba Ho-Tep was made now it would be directed by Wes Anderson. It’s that kind of film. I’m glad this one was on the list. I obviously had good taste in movies that day.

Also our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) is played by Bruce Campbell. Woot!

Thank you very much.