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Monday, July 10, 2000


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Movie reviews


East Is East

Although narrated in a humorous vein, East Is East (directed by Damien O' Donnell) can, at times, be a sad and dreary look at the goings-on of the Khan parivaar. Uplifting performances by all of its principal cast make it an absolute must-see.

Om Puri, in what may be best described as his finest part till date, moulds himself perfectly for the role of George Khan. He masters the accent, assumes the character, and emerges super-successful. Linda Bassett as the wife who is torn between her love for her husband and the right of her children to make their own decisions, lends him able support, as do all of the six characters who play their children.

A smart, funny, sometimes sad portrayal of a dysfunctional British family, East Is East is a worthy follow-up to such previous gems from Britain as The Full Monty and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.

Don't miss this film for anything in the world. Not even if you have to attend a marriage in the family -- not even if it is your own marriage!

Kandukondain Kandukondain

Normally, you won't find reviews of regional films in this column, but when you have something as wonderful as this one, you just have to bend the rules.

Director Rajiv Menon -- whose debut film, Minsara Kanavu (dubbed into Hindi as Sapnay), was splendidly shot, but lacked deeper substance -- is back with his second Tamil feature which is the story of a family of four women who show that they can fight the odds and come out successful.

Tabu, in the role of the older sister who is plagued with bad luck ever since she was a little girl, delivers one of her best performances till date. An absolute natural in front of the camera, Tabu is a delight to watch, thanks to the refreshing honesty she brings to her part.

Aishwarya Rai plays Tabu's younger sibling, a dreamer at heart, whose hopes come crashing down when she discovers she's been cheated by her lover. Attacking her role with just the perfect dollop of innocence, Aishwarya does full justice to her part, and matches up perfectly to Tabu.

Mammooty takes on the small but substantial role of Aishwarya's silent suffering admirer, a former army officer who decides to give up his vices when he meets the girl who he thinks will change his life forever. Ajith, as Tabu's struggling film-maker boyfriend is sincere and lovable. Your heart goes out to him, and before long you are rooting for his success. Almost every supporting character pitches in an impressive performance, thus making Kandukondain Kandukondain a wonderful watch.

Menon, himself a qualified cinematographer who has to his credit the breathtaking camerawork of Mani Ratnam's Bombay, hands over this film's cinematography to (former assistant) Ravi Chandran, who, in turn, gives the movie a lush feel, and creates some eye-popping landscapes which are easily the film's strongest assets.

A R Rahman's music score just adds to the already impressive canvas. The foot-tapping Yenna Solla ogirai (rendered commendably by Shankar Mahadevan), and the very danceable Smiyai are just two of the gems that this soundtrack has to offer.

A progressive film encouraging female independence, yet staying a warm family tale in essence, Kandukondain Kandukondain is the kind of film every intelligent movie-goer ought not to miss. English sub-titles in no way prove an obstacle. Don't wait -- just rush for your tickets!

Three To Tango

Before everything else, we'd just like to say that we've had enough of these gay-centric romantic comedies that Hollywood has been dishing out of late. Barring the genuinely entertaining Julia Roberts-Rupert Everett starrer, My Best Friend's Wedding, little else succeeds in making you chuckle. The Birdcage was just about okay, but the same can't be said about The Object Of My Affection and even of the new Madonna movie, The Next Best Thing, both of which are so un-funny that you almost want to cringe.

Unfortunately, despite a gorgeous cast that includes TV actors Matthew Perry (Friends), Neve Campbell (Party of Five) and Dylan McDermott (The Practice), this film fails to leave you rolling in the aisles with laughter.

It's the story of two struggling architects: Oscar Novak (Perry) and Peter Steinberg (Oliver Platt) who are absolutely desperate to land a major contract from Charles Newman (McDermott). Courtesy a misunderstanding, Newman ends up assuming that Novak is gay, and thus entrusts him with the responsibility of keeping an eye on his free-spirited girlfriend Amy (Campbell). Novak wants the contract so bad that he agrees to the job, but finds himself in a tight spot when he falls for the woman he's supposed to look after.

Not an entirely original plot, Three To Tango doesn't exactly boast top of the line direction (by Damon Santostefano) either. Of the main actors, Oliver Platt is as usual his dependable self, bringing to the film its only few truly funny moments. McDermott does a decent job but can't rise above the shoddy script. Neve Campbell displays those occasional sparks of brilliance, but seems a little miscast in the role of this utterly desirable showstopper. Meanwhile, Matthew Perry reminds you so much of his character, Chandler, from that popular sitcom, that on occasions you actually feel you're transported into the world of Friends.

However, the film has a fairly time-pass quality to it, and might even prove to be enjoyable for those who don't normally complain about wafer-thin plots and okey-dokey performances.

Go see it if you don't get tickets to any better movie this weekend!

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

   

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