Friday, June 17, 2005

2 New Reviews

2 new reviews(6.2, Amudhe) are online at bbreviews. A word of caution - if you do plan see either of these movies after reading my review, please do not read any of the other online reviews before you watch the movie. Both these rely on some nice twists and surprises and many of those are given away in the few reviews I read(thankfully, after I saw the movies).

Now, a question for regular readers of bbreviews...

The two English film reviewers I read regularly are James Berardinelli and Roger Ebert. While I read all their reviews since I enjoy their writing, I have occasionally rented some movies that I otherwise did not plan to see, solely on the basis of their recommendations.

So my question is... Have any of you seen a movie you otherwise would not have seen because of my review? Were you satisfied or did you regret it? Or do you visit the site just to read the reviews and stick to your self-made list of movies you want to see? Would you now rent Amudhe if you see it at the video store? This is just something I've been curious about. So you can be brutally honest :-)

I'm off to see Anniyan now... Ta-ta :-)

25 Comments:

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous ram said...

hv been an avid fan of bbreviews since the fall of '99...

since u and i appreciate (and more importantly dislike) the same kinds of movies, I take your recommendation b4 I rent movies...of course, u know me- I have some strong prejudices so I mite have a diff. take but thaz besides the point...yes, i do take quite a lot of ur reccos...but here's the thing: i like ur reviews of bad movies than ur reviews of the good ones coz u tend to get into a "Satyaraj mode" dismissing them with caustic comments!

BTW, how much of "world cinema" do you appreciate?! ;)

someone else commented earlier abt this-- u dont describe heroines too well...u always say that someone's cute...or pretty...come on man...get some more varnanais of america...Annee wont mind!

 
At 3:38 PM, Anonymous * said...

Hi bb,
couple of days back i mailed you a list of 6 reviews in your site with bad links, did you get them? if not give me the correct email.

Yup, there are many many movies I'd love to rent after reading your review but I invariably spend my life in places where there's no tamil rental store :(
:)
-Prabhu

 
At 4:03 PM, Anonymous GP said...

Balaji, I have been reading ur reviews for the last 3 years or so.. I like ur reviews bcos ur way of putting up both the +s and -s is really good.. And, our frequencies match pretty well.. one place we differ is in village-based movies..

I am a big time movie buff so I decide to watch some movies when I hear them being made.. And, until before i decided to write my own reviews, I used to read all reviews wherever I see.. Since u are in US, urs would come bit late.. so, before reading urs, I would have known whether the movie is good or bad.. I havent seen ur reviews deviating much from others, so it doesnt affect my decisions..

 
At 6:22 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

I've been a fan of your movie reviews for several years just like everyone... And what you have to say about the movies mean a lot to me.

Either I catch a movie after I read your review, or after I watch a movie I go hunting for the review in your site and see if some of the thoughts meshed.

=)

 
At 6:39 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

I just finished reading the reviews...

I liked 6.2 better than Amudhe =P... Amudhe didnt sit quite well with me cuz those 2 came off as really stupid and insensitive, and selfish people... The ending did leave me all surprised and I was liek WHAT?????

As for 6.2, I got kinda meh after the twist was reveale... and the typical revenge thing was just blah.. Some little things in the movie were nice though...

--Malayalam flick Kauravar-- is that the one with mammootty... he was a dada and such and such in the movie? later on he stays with a police officer adn his 3 daughters? I think they dubbed that movie into Tamizh, and called it "Sathirihai vamsam"... That was a good movie by the way.

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger bhuvan said...

I'd say I never would've seen KAADHAL, if it hadn't been for your review. So that was a plus.

But then, I would never have seen crap like PRIYAMANA THOZHI or PARTHIBAN KANAVU, if it wasn't for your positive reviews. So that's a minus.

When I feel the inclination to watch a (new) Tamil film - which I don't feel all too often, I always check back with your site, if you've given it a favourable review.

Sometimes you praise mediocre movies too much (AYUTHA EZHUTHU, PERAZHAGAN), sometimes you underestimate more 'daring' movies (BOYS, NEW), but then everyone has his own taste, so two people can't always agree.

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

I'm going to have to agree with Asokan on the part about "Boys."

Balaji: I was actually pleasantly surprised that you criticized Boys so much. So many of the people I know, have mentioned that a lot of guys (when they were college students) behaved and spoke in almost the same manner as what Shankar had shown in the film.

****DIGRESSION AHEAD**************

I personally found it very difficult that so many critics (including Vikatan with their very insulting one line review!) have either grown so old or have lost grip with reality for criticizing Boys... I'm not a great supporter of overdosing of vulgarity/sex in movies.. but I refuse to believe that showing them in a film is wrong or discussing them liberally is taboo either. Excuse me, but aren't we the generation who grew up watching "Nethu Raathiri Yammaa" with Silk Smitha and Kamal rolling on top of each other.. all in the name of commercial cinema. (Gosh, I'm beginning to sound like SJ Suryah defending himself in a Kumudam interview for making the kind of films that he has made so far!)

I guess, it's rather unfortunate that Tamils in general have a huge double standard when it comes to how they treat SJ Suryah and how they treat Shankar.

People say that Suryah made Vaali and Kushi (which had sex as its base) therefore, it was okay for him to make New. Whereas look at Shankar.. he has made "FAMILY" FILMS...

When did Shankar start making FAMILY FILMS anyway?.. What was so 'family' about Gentleman (with its large doses of blood & gore and barrels of double meaning dialogues)? The only film that is a clear exception is Jeans.. which is a totally pure Family film.. You won't find any room for double meaning dialogues and zero violence.. You could have taken your kids to the theater and actually sat through it without squirming.. Neither Kaadhalan, Indian, Mudhalvan can be termed "Family" material either.. So, when Shankar made Boys, everyone was up in arms.. They said that "HE" of all people should not have made that film!
Can someone explain to me why?.. If the film had been given an "A" certificate (instead of a U/A Certificate), would everyone have been more forgiving?..

********END OF DIGRESSION*********

So, Balaji, I enjoy almost all your reviews.. But do disagree on how strong you have been on a few films.. BOYS was clearly on top of that list..

By the way, Asokan.. you might have been the only person on this planet (that I know of!), who thought Parthiban Kanavu was CRAP!.. If we go by your standard alone, god help tamil cinema! ;-)

 
At 3:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vannakam Balaji..Your reviews are the best. Please keep it up!

Nandri,

Sriram

 
At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Gopi said...

Balaji, I like Berardinelli's reviews of Hollywood movies for the same reason I like your reviews of Tamil movies: thoughtful and fair wording plus an uncanny ability to make insightful references (could be something to do with the fact that both you and James are Software Engineers). I am not drawn to Ebert's reviews. 'nuff said.

 
At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Gopi said...

To answer your questions:

1) Yes.
2) Mostly satisfied. I didn't agree when you said Bhoomika does not look good enough to fall in love at first sight in your review of Rojakootam :)
3) Have never made up my mind on this.
4) Yes. Plus Madhumita is..um..er..never mind (sheepish grin).

 
At 7:55 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

As an aside to the main topic:

Hmm..I had a slight hunch that you might be a Berardinelli reader based on your writing style and star rating sytem ;-)
Ebert is more lenient of the two I feel and they also often give conflicting reviews. But interesting to read different takes on the film

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger ioiio said...

first time, Im reading this.. So Cant say..

Anyway I watch almost 90% of movies that hits the theaters..

 
At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Prakash said...

I usually hear about good movies and Kamal/Rajini/Shankar/Mani Ratnam/etc movies anyway. So I'll read your reviews, but make my own decisions.

Sometimes I am in a mood to watch just any Tamil movie, but there aren't any good ones left. So I'll use your site to pick the best of the (mediocre) rest. Have had mixed luck. Sometimes, I'll wonder why the movie got a decent review e.g. Vaanavil, Natpukkaga. But most times, I am expecting an ok film, and get it.

'Anandha Mazhai' is an example of a movie that I enjoyed a lot, and wouldn't have seen otherwise.

 
At 9:21 PM, Anonymous F e r r a r i said...

Anniyan review pls :-)

 
At 2:25 AM, Blogger bhuvan said...

Yo Sandya,
I haven't met anyone else either who didn't like PARTHIBAN KANAVU, but then, I hardly ever agree with someone when it comes to the ever-increasingly low quality of Tamil films (KAADHAL was a happy accident, afterall) - I still think Tamil cinema has never been better than in the period from the late 80s to the early 90s, but I guess I might be a bit biased there, cause I grew up around that time and watched absolutely anything without much reflection.

My biggest beef with Tamil movies, I guess, is the lack of creativity on the director's part (there ARE exceptions like K.S. Ravikumar, but way too many hacks), the often very labored and boring screenplays (how often do we have to suffer through yet another Romeo+Juliet-scenario?!?) and the clueless pacing which stretches a ridiculously thin premise over three hours with digressions like comedy, action, romance etc. without sticking to the plot!

The lack of consistency in Tamil films really upsets me, and that's why I am thrilled by movies like THAVANIK KANAVUGAL, MUTHU and CHINNA THAMBI who all have a well structured plot, well placed songs and unifiying themes - hell, even the comedy parts don't take you out of the movie, since everything's beautifully incorporated. And even BOYS had enough frank subtext about the conflicted cultural melting pot the Indian Youth live in to be quite intriguing beneath all the visual and aural razzle-dazzle.

With most run-of-the-mill Tamil films that ain't the case: wild mood swings, stupid, illogical stories and some cheap-ass moral.

Granted, PARTHIBAN KANAVU tried to be different by being a bit more subdued than other movies and even had pretty good songs, but I just never bought the storyline (NOT talking to your future wife before marriage, at least ONCE?! - that might be normal in a village setting, but this was set in modern India) and how the characters acted (the hero was such a wimp and the two heroines completely clich├ęd: the obedient housewife and the free-spirited girl).

Being different doesn't make a film automatically good - this belief I often encounter in Balaji reviews who rewards a movie often for being original, even if it doesn't work at all (cf. AYUTHA EZHUTHU, SETHU) - you have to keep the audience's interest throughout (hell, even Cheran's AUTOGRAPH which had a strong first third became boring in the last third)! Once Tamil cinema manages to do this with more ease, we can talk about it entering world cinema.

Just look at Bollywood. They make the same crap over there, but sometimes they deliver a masterpiece like LAGAAN which combines all the staples of Indian cinema to one wholesome piece. And even we get lucky sometimes: BOMBAY, ALAI PAYUTHEY etc.

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger Rajesh said...

Balaji,

Well, here is the deal! I have an enormous collection of tamil DVDs. I've been collecting them since, well, 2001 I think.

What you should know is that more than 90 percent of my movies exist in the collection due to your reviews. I like the way you have an "Archive" section for older movies that are categorized with separate variables. I still use the "star" system to buy older movies that you've given atleast 2.5 stars to.

I frequent this site for Indian movie and DVD lovers called "zulm.net." It is a quality site mainly based on forums with discussions of quality in DVDS. It seems that your reputation precedes you on this site as well. I thought you should know.

I pretty much agree with you reviews most of the time. The only exceptions I could think of is the review you gave of the movie "Manmathan" and "M. Kumaran s/o Mahalakshmi." While the story and concept were good, I thought the execution of the film was very poor. Some specifics included but were not limited to the constant rehash of Jyothika's rape dreams for example. Most of the movie, I could not watch with my family and most tamil movies are not like that. This movie was especially vulgar in that sense I thought. I sincerely think that the movie deserved more like 1.5 or a maximum of 2. I prefer 1.5.

The other exception was your review of "M. Kumaran..." I thought that the switch of the movie after the interval portion gave it fresh fuel. While it was nothing new, it was a great commercial entertainer. It was also a movie that could be watched with the family and enjoyed. I would give this movie 2.5 stars.

This is just my honest opinion because I respect your reviews very much. Basically, unless you do not give the movie at least 2 stars, I will not buy it, bottom line. So it should be interesting that I invested hundreds of dollars based on your decisions, and I must say that they were on the mark atleast 95% of the time. The above exceptions are minor quibbles.

I really feel like I should start a blog of my own. So I have the audacity to ask you if my writing is good enough for that! :D

Take care, and keep up the good work.

Raj

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

thanx for the feedback guys... felt good reading the responses :-)

ram, not much into world cinema. i have enjoyed the little i've seen of it but don't really go out(or put it on the queue!) and rent them cos i pick movies my wife and i can both watch she's defly not into world cinema!

prabhu, yes i did get the email. amazed at the amt of work that would've taken. will try to fix them in the next update.

merino, i've differed from quite a few people on this exact issue. the 2 did come off as all that and more but that didnt stop me from liking the movie. i accepted them for who they are and then moved forward.
yep, thats 'kauravar'. vishnu vardhan played the cop.

 
At 7:15 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sandhya, i think i talked about 'boys' on the comments for a previous post too. personally, my complaint wasnt that shankar did something like that. i would've taken offense whoever had directed 'boys'.
let me go into a li'l detail on my issue with 'boys'. i was not turned off by the scenes with the prostitute or the hints at some of the more private activities of guys or the naughty dialogs among the guys and gals. i was fine with all that. but i did have a problem with shankar showcasing the boys' actions with middle-aged women who were unaware of the perverted intentions of the boys. allow me to get a li'l sentimental here but one of those women could be my mom or sister!
one of the common arguments i hear is that shankar simply showed what is happening. i am not naive and do know that this happens out there. but that doesnt mean shankar has to showcase it in detailed fashion to the point of glorifying it. what was his intention? giving pointers to those who didnt indulge in this stuff? show them that it was pleasurable and wouldn't get them in trouble??
i mean, we have had many movies where the women r felt up or harassed. but in those cases, the guys who did it were the bad guys; guys who got beat up by the hero. we were supposed to dislike them. but here the ones who did that r the heroes of the film. guys we r supposed to like and sympathise with. that gave off the impression that shankar was validating their actions.
i guess my point is that i won't be offended by sexy, vulgar or even double meaning stuff as long as it is consensual or if not, there is some indication that it is wrong or not acceptable. that was my biggest problem with 'boys'. btw, i enjoyed the innuendos in 'new'. my dissatisfaction with the movie was due to totally different aspects as i pointed out in my review.

 
At 7:38 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

gopi, u remember something i said in the 'rojakootam' review?! looks like that hit a soft spot :-)

vijay, not sure about the star rating system. but the review format, website interface, etc. r definitely inspired by berardinelli :-)

prakash, good to know :-)

ferrari, done!

asokan, have u watched 'chinna thambi' or 'thavani kanavugal' after u first watched them when u were growing up? just wondering whether your defense of them is based on just good memories associated with them rather than the content of the movie itself. there r so many movies I remember liking from those times(when what I was looking for in a movie was completely different) but just didn't get when i saw recently.
as for PK, what u call wimp i called idealistic :-) and yes, the characters were cliched. but it was the way they were utilized in the screenplay that impressed me.
and i beg to disagree with the original part. yes, i do like original movies more than recycled fare. but the movie does have to work for me to reward it. both 'aaydha ezhuthu' and 'sethu' worked for me, the latter much more than the former.
and there's another commenter here who dislikes lagaan with a passion. just goes to show how intensely personal watching a movie is :-)

rajesh, gosh thats a lot of pressure! but thanks :-)
will check out zulm.net as soon as i finish typing this up. an ego boost is always a good thing :-)
and since i dont think i should be judging your writing, lemme just say that if you feel u should blog, just go right ahead. write interesting stuff and they will come :-)

 
At 10:35 PM, Blogger skanda said...

I have been going through ur Review site for the last 6 years..urs is one of the rare good english reviews of tamil movies. i dont consider Sify a good tamil review site considering the fact that they are biased at times. Balaji..i dont understand why did u leave out the reviews for movies like "king", "thulavathu illamai" and "Engal Enna"? it is puzzling..

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger bladehawk1404 said...

Being an avid movie fan of all types, i read many reviews and look at what people have to say. I NEVER read a review and then watch the movie. People write what they think and it doesn't make any diffrence to me. I agree fully with you sandya, Boys was a superb film. A line from the Kaadhalan song Urvasi Urvasi that sums up what Boys are regardless of good or bad guys .... 'anngalil raman kedayathe'.

 
At 11:19 PM, Blogger Zero said...

Balaji,
I wonder how people independently zero in on the same reviewers somehow, with google being the sole commonality as a pathfinder.
I too read Ebert (major weightage) and Berardinelli (and mostly only them) for Hollywood (and non-hollywood foreign movies too) movie reviews, just like you and many others I ve met in the cyberspace. Am more startled, in case of Berardinelli, as he is kinda indie writer.

 
At 5:36 AM, Blogger bhuvan said...

Yeah, of course, in the end it's all personal. And yeah, I HAVE seen most of the movies from my childhood again and some I found to be lacking (NALLAVANUKKU NALLAVAN, MANNAN, UZHAIPPAZHI) and others to be just as or even greater (THAVANIK KANAVUGAL, CHINNA THAMBI)...

 
At 7:04 AM, Anonymous rekhs said...

Bb i know this is belated..but i think ur reviews r candid solid and eyeopeners..and most often i agree with u except when u start raving abt rajini:);)
"He has taken extreme care about his appearance, looking both younger and brighter and is always seen in great outfits...."
He wears a yucky MAROOOON lipstick and had plastic surgery done to his mouth and looks so NOT YOUNG!!
ok beauty def is in the eye of the beholder!!
but i saw AA only cos of yr review and i agree with yr comments except
i thot the thee pidikka song was NOT choreographed well..and totally unnecessary!
on the whole i enjoy ur reviews..
and u def make my day:)

 
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