After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex noir mystery set in multiracial London. It's a stylishly made film, anchored by another superbly involving performance by Riz Ahmed. But its low budget shows in the way it strains to obscure secrets in blurry flashbacks, using intriguing characters to create a lot of atmosphere while neglecting to properly tell the story.
It's set in London's northwest inner-suburbs, where Tommy (Ahmed) grew up. He lives with his feisty but ill father (Roshan Seth) and works as a private detective. His latest client is the high-class hooker Melody (Cush Jumbo), who is concerned because one of her colleagues has gone missing. As he looks for her, Tommy discovers the dead body of a prominent businessman who has a link to his childhood friend Haafiz (James Floyd), now a high-flying property developer. And things are getting increasingly messy, with American spies prowling around and a local Muslim brotherhood entangled in the case. Tommy hires a sparky neighbour (Damson Idris) to help him, and then he runs into his childhood sweetheart Shelley (Billie Piper), who brings up emotions he thought he'd left behind.
All of this is intercut with blurred flashbacks of Tommy, Haafiz and Shelley when they were 17 years old. This stirs in some intriguing emotions, even if the scenes feel like a distraction since they take so long to reveal their secrets and never quite connect with the central mystery. Travis keeps the tone warm and dense, with dark colours, emotive faces and Tommy's probing voiceover, all of which creates a vivid sense of atmosphere. On the other hand, the plot merely gets more knotted as it goes along, bringing in more people and themes. So even if the story never quite ties up all of its lose ends, at least it's a fascinating portrayal of the ethnic mix in most London neighbourhoods.
Continue reading: City Of Tiny Lights Review
Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed) is an experienced private detective living in London, whose past comes rushing back with the return of his long-lost girlfriend Shelley (Billie Piper). But that's the least of his troubles. He's called in by an escort named Melody (Cush Jumbo) following the disappearance of her Russian flatmate after the latter had left for an appointment with a client. She's willing to pay whatever cost Tommy has in mind to get her friend back, a friend who was last seen in CCTV footage arriving at a hotel in Paddington. So where better to start looking? He also enlists the help of an unlikely friend to go undercover. However, it soon becomes clear that this is a lot bigger than he first thought; he's being threatened by suits as he gets closer to uncovering the dark underworld of London's social politics. There's a disturbing religious undertone to this case, which leads Tommy unwittingly into a world of violence and terrorism.
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When her father loses his livelihood in a traffic accident, Trishna (Pinto) needs to support her family in Rajasthan. So she takes a job offered by flirty tourist Jay (Ahmed), who works at his father's hotel in Jaipur. When Jay pushes their relationship further, Trishna runs home. But Jay finds her and talks her into moving with him to Mumbai, where they can live together while he pursues his dream of being a film producer. And as he becomes more distant, Trishna wonders if she's made a terrible mistake.
Continue reading: Trishna Review
Taking place a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, Doom is the first movie chronologically in the trilogy. That means no Nazis, and unfortunately that means the stakes are at an all-time low. Indy isn't out to save the world this time; he's just saving a small Indian village... and his own ass, of course. There's also no Jewish/Christian mythology to deal with, which makes for an interesting change of pace but lowers the stakes and the intrigue considerably. Instead we have some magic rocks, some enslaved and starving kids, and an ancient cult quietly sacrificing people in an underground pool of lava. Hell, if Indy hadn't stumbled upon the scene, no one would have ever been the wiser.
Continue reading: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Review
Capturing an indelible image of everyday life in the teeming, sweaty streets of urban Bombay, circa 1971, "Such a Long Journey" is lightly humorous fable about a modest, honorable and frustrated family man caught in a more complicated and less satisfying life than he ever imagined.
He's estranged from his cynical, strong-headed son over the boy's choice against attending technical college. He's praying for the retreat of his young daughter's malaria. He's stuck in the middle of a civic power struggle over the planned demolition of the wall that provides precious tranquillity to the courtyard of his clamorous apartment building -- the weather-beaten hulk of an imperial-era mansion.
This reticent, bank clerk named Gustad (Roshan Seth) hardly needs anything else on his plate when a long-absent friend -- who claims to be a spy in the war against Pakistan -- asks him to help laundering a large sum of (possibly embezzled) money through his bank.
Continue reading: Such A Long Journey Review
"Monsoon Wedding" could be seen as Bollywood's answer to "Father of the Bride," but such a comparison would be selling short this choice culture clash comedy-drama.
Said clash is an internal one, however, between the modernized, Westernized everyday lives of an upper middle-class New Delhi family and their Punjabi rituals and traditions that include the arranged marriage at hand.
Beautiful, stunningly blue-eyed young Aditi (Indian pop singer Vasundhara Das) has agreed to the match made by her parents because she's become bewildered by her mixed-up life and wants to force herself to take a direction. This is easier said than done, since even the night before the wedding she's still being led to temptation by a lover she's trying to leave behind -- a married, egocentric and manipulative TV talk show host.
Continue reading: Monsoon Wedding Review
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