Monday, July 12, 2010

The Namesake movie

The Namesake
Dir.: Mira Nair
Cast: Kal Penn (Gogol/Nikhil), Tabu (Ashima), Irrfan Khan (Ashoke), Jacinda Berret (Maxine), Sahira Nair (Sonia)
Script: Sooni Taraporevala
Year: 2007
Length: 2hrs. 2 min
Verdict: SEE IT
Rating: PG-13 (Hmmm... A borderline PG-13. There's some stuff, but not too much)
Faithfulness Scale: 68% (Not too much missing, but not completely faithful)

Really good adaptation! Like the scale shows, not INCREDIBLY faithful text-wise, but spirit-wise, it's a completely faithful adaptation. Plus, all the important scenes are there, which is a plus! :)
First of all, the movie is GORGEOUS. All those sweeping shots of Calcutta and New York just completely took me by surprise. So, I do give Mira Nair credit for that. It might look like the scenes from a travel documentary, but they are better than that. And I'm sorry everybody who thought Girl With a Pearl Earring was great, but the movie actually makes Calcutta an attractive place to visit! 
Besides that, everyone did great in their roles. Kal Penn was amazing as Gogol/Nikhil (he's not as good as you can't imagine anyone else in the role, but he's still really good). MY only problem with him, is that he's not really good to play a teenager. He sort of plays it off as dumb (Maybe he missed playing Harold in Harold and Kumar or something.) But other than that, when he played Gogol age 20-25, he did give Gogol a great emotional range. Irrfran Kahn and Tabu are wonderful playing the parents, and the supporting roles were good too. What's most important in the acting is that they stayed true to the spirit of the book, which is really important if you're not going to make it completely faithful. All the actors are very touching in these roles which what made them all work for me. 
I acutally preferred the way the movie started out; with the parents in India, meeting each other for the first time, the accident, and the aftermath of moviing to America. The book was told in flashbacks, which I really enjoyed, but sometimes seemed too long and take up too much room. With the flashbacks told first, it started off on the right pace in chronological order, without the need to replay them througouht the movie. Which is a good thing, because, this movie is WAAAY too long at 2hrs and 2min. It had to shave off at least 30 minutes. It's nice to see Indian lifestyles vrs. the American lifestyle, but the scenes just go on too long. However, this is a really faithful adaptation, it will please fans, it will touch people, and it's a good-hearted adaptation. I LOVED it!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Perks of a Wallflower movie coming up!

I guess by now Stephen Chabosky's Perks of Being a Wallflower is starting to become a classic in the world of books (and yes I do not know how many of you read or planned to read this book.) So it wasn't very surprising that now they're making a movie! And yes, Logan Lerman

(you know... Percy Jackson) and Harry Potter movie fans (yep this gal),

you WILL be pleased!

"Emma Watson and Logan Lerman are in negotiations for the two lead roles in John Malkovich’s adaptation of the novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Filmstage shares:

Stephen Chbosky, author of the same-titled novel published in 1999, will be directing from his own script with Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich and Russell Smith producing.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower tells the story of a shy, unpopular teen who assumes the alias “Charlie”, who narrates his life and the happenings of his high school through a series of letters to an anonymous person. The book caused some controversy amongst parents who disliked its frank treatment of some heavy issues including suicide, drugs, and sex. It will be interesting to see how these issues are dealt with in the film and whether they will be just as controversial on screen."
Well, it seems like one depressing book. However, like I said before, Watson DID grow as an actress in the HP movies, and certainly better than the likes of Vanessa Hudgens and Miley Cyrus who seem to be taking over the book adaptation movie world lately. It's now official that Logan Lerman is going star. I have not seen him in Percy Jackson although I did hear that he was pretty good. Plus, all I got to say to John Malkovich: BRING IT ON!! He already made a bad choice to star in Eragon, let's see how he fare with this! :)

The Namesake is as good as it's reputation

The Namesake
By: Jhumpa Lahiri
Setting: India, New England and New York, 1968-1999
Format: 291 pgs.
Verdict: READ IT
Rated: PG-13 (You know, adults doing adult things. Nothing graphic though!)

The Namesake is everything you'd hear it being; touching, warm and all those delicious words. However, it dosen't have a REAL conflict, a REAL suspensful plot. It's just the story about Gogol Ganguli, the son of Bengali immigrants who moved to America a year after their arranged marriage. Gogol has been named after his father's favorite author, Nikolai Gogol, because his great-grandmother couldn't fufill the job of naming her great-grandson. At first, Gogol dosen't mind his name. That is, until his teen year until he really starts to find it annoying because, who in the world would want to be named Gogol right? As Gogol matures and grows, goes to college, gets into relationships and marries, he casts off the name for Nikhil, his original birth name. The whole book goes through Gogol's maturity and thirty years of his life, and we're riding along on his journey of being accepted into American society as a new person. 
Now of course, that's nothing incredibly exciting, and this is one of those books that could have been a terrible one if the execution is not properly done. But the thing is, this book is so well written, the characters so well sketched out, that it eventually was a sucess. Ashima, the mother, was the only one who got on my nerves sometimes, because in the beginning she whines and complains all the time. But she really becomes a real person on the page. I found myself relating a lot to Gogol/Nikhil, and caring for him, which is a must when you write a book like this. There is not one single character that I didn't like and didn't relate to, which is nice to see for a change. 
Like always, there ARE love stories in this book. All of them very interesting. Each of Gogol/Nikhil's girlfriends are different (besides the fact that they all read and like to travel. Another reason why these characters as so relatable.) In that case, it's really hard to see who he will end up with or if he ends up with any of them. And each of them have different outcomes, so when I thought it was going to end one way, it didn't end the way I expected. Like life. :)
The writing in this book is the second best writing I've ever read in my life. It's part of what makes you hold on to the story when you have a plot such as this one. The writing style gives the book this mood that kept me holding on as the characters warm my heart. It's maybe not the BEST book I've ever read, but it is probably one of the best book I've read this year. READ IT. You'll be pleasantly surprised like I was. :)  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Alice in Wonderland (late... :/) movie review

Alice In Wonderland
Dir: Tim Burton
Cast: Mia Wasikowska (Alice), Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter), Helena Boham Carter (Red Queen), Anne Hathaway (White Queen), Crispin Glover (Knave of Hearts), Micheal Sheen (White Rabbit), Alan Rickman (Caterpillar), Steven Frye (Cheshire Cat)
Script: Linda Woolverton
Length: 1 hr. 49 min.
Verdict: SEE
Rating: PG (Agree with this one. There is a battle scene and a few scary scenes here and there.)

I'm a big Alice fan. I own I own countless of Alice books and movies, and I'm really intrigued by the whole story of how Alice was written and all. And I do know that this version of Alice In Wonderland is worth it. First of all, the movie looks amazing. The whole set captures Wonderland just right with a mix of danger and creepiness but still keeping it fun and playful and, most of all, curious.
The movie basically begins when Alice Kingsley the now-grownup cute Alice, (?Mia Waskikowska? is perfect for Alice if not a little too pale, though that's probably thanks to make-up) is just deciding on a fiancee until she sees the white rabbit and then: well, you know what happens. Once she's in Wonderland the people and creatures have eagerly awaited her return. For the evil Red Queen, Iracebeth (played deliciously with a rather enormous head by Helena Boham Carter) has taken over Wonderland and has become the female version of Stalin. So it's Alice's job to go to the White Queen, Iracebeth's younger sister (Anne Hathaway is adorable here!) and ultimately fight the dreaded Jabberwocky with the help of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp is perfectly cast here), a bloodhound (Timothy Spall), Blue the caterpillar (Alan Rickman also perfectly cast) among others.
WHAT??? This isn't the normal Alice in Wonderland storyline? WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO??? While it's true I didn't care much for the "good-vrs.-evil" story-line we've seen so many times in movies that's been better executed, I didn't mind much. In fact, for a movie like this, why the hell does story matter? Burton remains faithful to the world, to the characters, to the mood and to the theme and that's all what matters. And he truly does succeed.
I LOVED Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. He IS the Mad Hatter. I don't see how they would have casted anyone else. Depp captures the creepy wierd aspect while still maintaining a level of sweetness and fun. Helena Boham Carter again is pefect for her role as the evil Red Queen (which I guess is a combination of the Queen of Hearts AND the Red Queen.) She's evil, but she also has a sense of humor, contrasting her sister, the White Queen who cannot hurt a single thing, not even waving away a butterfly (???) and who's kind of light headed, but she's still smart and certainly a lot nicer than her sister. I liked Anne Hathaway, she put her own stamp on the part, which I really enjoyed quite a bit.
Only problem, and I did mention this before, I wished the movie had some other plot line we've seen before. Not the "it's Alice's destiny to fight the Red Queen and save Aaaaall of Wonderland!!!" Really Tim Burton? You're so creative, can't you be even MORE creative with the plot of this movie? It did kind of ruined the movie for me, I wished Burton could come up with a more original plot and ending.
But, you know what saved it? That's right folks, can't believe I'm saying this, but the special effects, the costumes, and Wonderland itself is what saved the whole thing. This Wonderland is just beautifully done and recreated. I think out of all the Wonderlands that I've seen in movie history, this one's the best BY FAR! Not only does it look incredibly beautiful and colorful, it was faithful to the book, so the world looks daunting, charming and magical, but it also had quite a bit of darkness in it, which I appreciated as an Alice fan. And adding this great cast in this setting, I got into this world, and it never let me go, until Alice ultimately leaves Wonderland.
Overall, a bit underwhelming (curse you hype!) but it's still very enjoyable, I seriously recomend SEEing it!

Kiddie-tron: Well, it IS PG. It deserves its rating. Like I said, nothing too shabby, but there is a major battle scene, in which something's head gets cut off, and it might be a bit too scary for really young kids. But overall, it is a kid's movie, so you should be A-OK if you have kids. 

Alice in Wonderland is now out on Blu-Ray and DVD
The Red Queen: I need a pig here!
[Live pig is slid under her feet]
The Red Queen: I love a warm pig belly for my aching feet.

The Mad Hatter: What a regrettably large head you have. I would very much like to hat it. I used to hat The White Queen, you know. Her head was so small.
The Red Queen: It's tiny. It's a pimple of a head.

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
[Alice checks Hatter's temperature]
Alice Kingsley: I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.