By Vijay Kumar
September 7, 2010
Browsing through NetFlix’s online streaming collection is not unlike those late Friday nights spent browsing through the movie maze in your local video store. The search for that perfect movie is often tricky. Sometimes you have to deal with a fuming partner and/or a melting tub of ice-cream in the car. The pressure is compounded by a listless, unhelpful store clerk in some cases. This column aims to be that clerk for NetFlix Instant Watch – maybe just a little less listless and little more helpful. This is what I waded through recently – at NetFlix.
Went Looking For… Believe it or not, I sometimes do have a predetermined playlist while browsing for movie titles. Generally, there is a week between my adding them to the playlist and actually watching them. The movies under “Went Looking For…” are typically the movies that I had slotted as “Ended up with…” the previous week.
The Dead Pool
As far as thrillers go, The Dead Pool doesn’t score high in the charts for plot and execution. The movie gains credit as the last (thus far) in the line of Dirt Harry adventures.
The Dead Pool also brings together eclectic talents in Clint Eastwood, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey and Patricia Clarkson. Between the year of its release (1988) and 2010, the group’s individual careers have taken different paths. Interestingly enough, 2010 seems to be as good a year as any to reunite any of these actors with Eastwood probably taking directing credits.
The plot is not as well defined as the other Dirty Harry movies. The focus is more on the characters. Or should I say character? It is initially a study of acceptance between Officer Harry Callaghan and his new partner, a Chinese American. It proceeds on to a guarded romance between Harry and a television reporter. There is also the mutual lack of respect between Harry and Liam Neeson’s character that provides some sparks. Neeson plays a horror movie auteur, profiting from the serial murders that Harry is investigating. The sheen goes off once the murderer is revealed but the sequences preceding that are quite gripping - mainly the Bullit-like car chase sequence in the streets of San Francisco.
The Dead Pool probably lost some of the built-in audience for Dirty Harry movies as it was released almost five years after the previous installment, Sudden Impact, which incidentally is the top grosser among Dirty Harry movies. At the box office it made roughly $30 million, half as much as Sudden Impact.
The Ramayana and Mahabharatha are two Indian (read Hindu) epics that have proven to be the source of many a modern tale. Raajneeti (Politics) draws heavy inspiration from the latter with its story of warring cousins set in the political milieu of Central India. The stand out feature is the star cast (one of the largest assembled), complimenting the personalities of the characters they’ve undertaken - none more so than Manoj Bajpai and Ajay Devgan, who play the scorned scion and the illegitimate heir with great conviction. Unlike many other adaptations, Director Prakash Jha’s version of Mahabharatha does not paint a good vs. evil story. All the male protagonists are in a dark shade of grey hustling towards attaining upper hand in the lead up to a state election. Jha has found his niche in movies set against a political backdrop and has paired up with Devgan with great regularity. Here he has been able to rope in thespians Nana Patekar, Devgan, Bajpai, Naseerudin Shah (in a very brief cameo) as well as new trendsetters such as Arjun Rampal, Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif. Parallels can be drawn between the Rampal and Kapoor characters with that of Sonny and Michael Carleone. As the body counts starts to increase there is a sudden lack of focus in the narrative. However, this is overcome handsomely in the overall picture.
Raajneeti has been by far the highest grossing movie for 2010 (at least the first half) in Bollywood. The cast, the fast paced narration, the subtitles and a rather familiar storyline should make it a worthwhile venture for Bollywood followers on NetFlix.