Archive for category Movie Reviews
Good Newwz is yet another beautiful comedy coming out of Bollywood, after a series of lovely recent comedies, including #LukaChuppi #SkyIsPink and #ZoyaFactor . Current genre of Bollywood films depict real issues facing Indian society, in a light-hearted manner.
In Good Newwz, two couples are trying to get pregnant, with some professional medical help. Deepti (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Varun Batra (Akshay Kumar) are upscale, high-flying married couple, engaged in their respective careers, while trying to conceive a baby, after 7 years of marriage. Meanwhile, Honey Batra (Diljit Dosanjh) and his wife Monika (Klara Advani) are “the Batras from Chandigarh” and are trying to get pregnant, after 6 years of marriage, numerous tries to conceive, and a couple of miscarriages. Both couples soon find out they are “happily pregnant” —— or are they?
Director Raj Mehta maintains a tight pace, keeps preaching and emotional drama lighthearted and to a minimum, and presents the challenging situation, as naturally as possible. It’s a beautiful movie. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie 4.6.
Director Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel “Little Women” is a heart warming story of tender ties of sisterhood. The story weaves in and out of past and present events in the lives of four March sisters, passionate and fiercely independent Jo March (Saoirse Ronan), wise and practical eldest sister, Meg March (Emma Watson), tender, shy and deeply caring, Beth March (Eliza Scanlen), and artistic one with a flair for dramatics, Amy March (Florence Pugh). This talented cast is further enhanced with Laura Dern as infinitely patient, wise and loving, Marmee, Timothee Chalamet as Laurie, their neighbor, and Meryl Streep as deliciously sharp and judgmental, Aunt March.
Alcott herself was a fascinating woman who served as a nurse during the Civil War, survived typhoid fever, took lessons from Henry David Thoreau, was an abolitionist and feminst and remained unmarried and was committed to her writing throughout her life. In LIttle Women, she raises questions pertinent to women’s rights and society’s expectations of how women should live their lives. Her characters raise these issues in a candid and forthright manner. Gerwig’s masterful adaptation of this timeless classic is not only bold but beautiful; it’s not just a story of life and death, but story of life, energy and hope; not just a story of adapting to change but staying true to one’s mission. Previously having seen the theater version (http://bit.ly/2QqNTNN), I recently saw the entire television adaptation series of Little Women, on PBS. It was a treat to see this beautiful movie on the silver screen, while the characters were so fresh in my mind. (Image courtesy Lydia Wang’s article on Entertainment).
Heroines in Little Women don’t hesitate to have big dreams and voice big ideas as in “I’d be respected, if I didn’t feel loved”; and “girls have to go into the world and make up their own minds about things”. Gerwig has injected freshness and vitality and love into this timeless classic. Last 30 minutes of the film is just priceless. As you settle into the rhythm of life of March household, you are so uniquely drawn into their home that when it ends, you feel you are walking away from a family, you’re certain to meet again soon.
It was so nourishing to my soul, today it was just what I needed. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie 4.8.
Producer Adam McKay’s VICE explores the epic story about how a bureaucratic Washington insider, Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), quietly rises to become the most powerful man in the world as Vice-President to George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell), reshaping the country and the globe with far reaching and long lasting impact to future generations. VICE is a film that matches McKay’s wildly original “The Big Short” about three years back.
While VICE is both angry and informative like it’s predecessor “The Big Short”, unlike the predecessor, VICE does not share implementable insights for ordinary folks. VICE has opened to some mixed reviews and so I will mention and acquiese to the criticisms first. At times VICE feels disjointed as it jumps between time periods, interspersed with wacky methaphors. It also becomes apparent very early that McKay’s concern with telling Cheney’s story or the story of the country and the world that Cheney impacted, pales in comparison to McKay’s anger towards us, the audience. We, the citizens are reproached for having greater interest in entertainment than in the affairs of the government, things that “really” matter. This is where he begins the story and that is where he ends and given what is happening in the country today, I would forgive McKay for blaming the citizens.
In VICE, McKay has a formidable challenge. As the film shows Cheney’s rise to power, it also weaves in years’ of political history of the country. The forces that shaped the climate and allowed Cheney to consolidate his power, began long before Cheney came on the political scene in any serious manner. In fact, McKay traces the conservative forces shaping the political climate in the country, all the way to 1980s. And as he goes through Reagan and Senior G.H.W. Bush years, Cheney is shown to be going through his own transformation. At first, a good for nothing “dirtbag”, aided and supported by his ambitions wife, Lynne (Amy Adams), Cheney focus on amassing power and fortune. It is from Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), Cheney got earlier lessons in looking at Washington as a ruthless, zero sum political place where winners displace losers and policy takes a backseat to power.
Cheney began his political career as an intern to a Congressman and then worked his way into the White House during Nixon and Ford administrations. He served as Secretary of Defense to George H.W. Bush. He was out of the political scene during Clinton years, when he assumed the role of Chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company. In 2000, Cheney was chosen by George W. Bush, as his running mate and has been cited as the most powerful Vice President in American history. McKay telling the story of how Cheney rises to this level and then consolidates his power is nothing short of amazing. Using the fly fishing metaphor, McKay shows how Cheney put a small hook and then gradually draws in his prey. Even as he dies several times, mostly politically, but also endures several heart attacks, Cheney comes back, with more powerful lessons on consolidating power, strongly aligned to the brand of conservatism that seems only to consume, even if it destroys future generations.
Latching on to an obscure theory, propelled by some conservative judges like (Scalia), and made popular by the conservative media, Cheney finds panacea to all political challenges that stand in his way of consolidating his power, in Unitary Executive Theory. Rooted in Article Two of the US Constitution, the theory vests “the executive power” of the United States in the President. Though broadly accepted, it is assumed to be circumscribed by some boundaries of strength and scope. In the aftermath of 9/11, Cheney took advantage of the public anger and sentiment to “do something” and vastly expanded the strength and scope of the power of the President. By his own agreement with the President, Cheney then had the unilateral power that he used for wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the enhanced interrogation techniques that included waterboarding, among other things. Cheney is said to have said, “We need to think in a new way about these low-probability, high-impact events; If there’s even a 1 percent chance that WMD have landed in the hands of the terrorists, we need to treat it as a certainty”. He masterminded the pressure on naysayers in the Bush Cabinet, including Condoleezza Rice (LisaGay Hamilton) and Colin Powell (Tyler Perry). Despite no clear evidence of WMD, Powell was pressured to give a speech in the UN regarding strong evidence of WMD which he later described as his most painful moment of his political career.
Despite the fact that none of the 9/11 terrorists came from Iraq, the United State’s war on Iraq eventually cost 189,000 direct war deaths, nearly 5000 deaths of U.S. service personnel, in addition to 32,000+ troops coming back with injuries, not including PTSD. US spent over $1.7 Trillion in this war. Nearly, 134,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives in this war and 655,000 people who have died in Iraq since the invasion that would not have died if the invasion had not occurred.
So what did we gain from the Iraq war? Who gained from the war, if not the Iraqi civilians or the American citizens?
Contractors, primarily Halliburton company has reaped over $140 billion from US invasion of Iraq. In the end, the movie will leave you feeling both deeply sad and angry. Cheney’s brand of conservatism, his generation of mostly while males, stole from the future to enrich themselves. (Certainly not saying that all while men are evil and in fact it is with the support of dedicated men and women, white and black, that our country will always face the challenges head-on and after the challenges, will always emerge better and stronger). The cascading impact of actions of Cheney, Rumsfeld and others, very likely threw the country into a deep recession and eventually impacted lives of several future generations. AND HERE IS WHERE I HAVE A MESSAGE FOR MCKAY. Not it is not the concern with entertainment that keeps the citizens busy and unconcerned with what goes on. It is not even boredom with tiresome facts that are not revealed all at once. It is our preoccupation with making ends meet, with getting two square meals on the table for the families, that keeps us so woefully unprepared for devilish machinations of our elected leaders.
VICE is a not-to-miss movie of this holiday season. The film has received several Golden Globe awards and numerous nominations. It is great entertainment along with powerful history lesson for free. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie as 4.9.
The Hate U Give is a movie based on Angie Thomas’s award-winning book about the experience of Starr Carter, a black teen who witnesses the fatal police shooting of a close friend. Directed by George Tillman Jr. and written by Audrey Wells, the movie tells the story of race and racism, powerfully and without putting people into well defined buckets. It does not encapsulate “one black experience” of police suspicion and brutality towards black people, in a single story, and it does not summarize “one white reaction”, with a single story. Instead, in telling the story of a young black teenager against the backdrop of police suspicion of black people, father preparing his black children with stern lectures on how to behave during inevitable police stops; against the backdrop of white privilege, upward mobility, gang wars, poverty, and drugs, the movie offers a powerful portrayal of what it often means to grow up black in America.
Not all black people have a single story and not all grow up in poverty or in gang infested neighborhoods, or in dysfunctional homes. And yet, society often notices the color of the skin, before noticing the individual person, in that skin. Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is a black teen. After a brief brush with criminal justice system and bad influence, her father (Russell Hornsby) owns and operates a store in a largely black neighborhood. It is on account of her mother’s (Regina Hall) determination, persistence, and relentless focus on education, and mom’s determination to change the circumstances and preempt the dysfunctionality in her family from affecting her children, that Starr’s future looks bright. Starr and her two brothers (Dominque Fishback and Lamar Johnson) attend the affluent, predominantly white prep school, and for a while appear to be completely shielded from the experiences of other black people around them.However, an unfortunate incident puts the family right in the center of it all. One evening, Starr is driven home from a party in her neighborhood, by her childhood friend, Khalil (Algee Smith). On the way home, they are stopped by a white police officer and unarmed Khalil is shot without any prominent reason. As the city erupts in riots, Starr has her own soul searching to do. Her friend Khalil is maligned because he was involved in drug peddling as he was taking care of his family while his mother was going through cancer treatments.
Amandla Stenberg is fantastic as Starr. This movie is immensely powerful because it focuses on the individual story of a young teen so well that it is through her experience, that we get a peek into the ignorance of some of her white friends as well as the openness of others. It is through her experience, that we learn, that it is not just a single major trauma of seeing a friend killed by gangs or by cops, that a young person is scarred. Instead, it is also the exhausting seeping of energy, drop by drop by drop. As an upwardly mobile person, Starr feels the pressure to hide her “blackness” from her non black peers, and her acquired “whiteness” from her black friends. Being half a person at any give time and living half the truth in each circumstance, takes an enormous toll and builds upon all the other traumas. It is through her experience that we learn how society has created two separate worlds, where even black cops are suspicious of black folks. In the end, this is a film about how one girl finds her own voice and opens the door to living a more authentic life. Not that it will be easy. But finally Starr finds the freedom to be her complete self, regardless of the context in which she interacts.
This is one of the best films of the year. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the film 4.9.
Rangmunch screened the film, “The Journey To Her Smile” at ICC, Milpitas, CA by playwright, producer and director, Suchita Phule. This film was screened in Jakarta’s famous festival, the International Film Festival for Women, and was most recently screened at Cannes Film Festival, to great accolades.
The film focuses on girls’ and women’s abuse in India. Young middle class couple, Revati and Aditya Deshmukh (Girija Oak and Aastad Kale), with their 5 year old daughter, Anaya were living a picture perfect life, before calamity struck. Mother, Revati Deshmukh (Girija Oak) says, “our little world was filled with small joys”. After eight years of marriage, spark was not only alive but was constantly lit between the young couple, and little Anaya was the center of their life.
But Revati’s world falls apart one day. Unable to express her deep anguish and feelings of guilt, Revati is hovering on the edge of a psychological disorder. As a husband and father, protector of the family and Revati’s soulmate, Aditya feels helpless. Aditya tries his best to help get Revati’s and his family’s life back on track. Meanwhile Revati’s own struggle on this path is — The Journey To Her Smile.
India has recently gained notoriety as one of the most dangerous places for women and girls. It bears repeating that little girls are often victims of horrendous and lewd behavior from men. And sometimes little girls are victims of rape by old men, as indicated by recent case of #ChennaiHorror where a young girl was raped for several months by 22 men, some as old as 60. But while the world reverberates in shock at such news, sometimes victim gets some needed help, but we rarely pay attention to family members who have a difficult journey of their own to mend their broken hearts, to pick up the pieces, to move on, to proclaim their own smiles back, and thus their control over their lives back. Sometimes, a victim herself may be able to move on, but a family member, often a mother, may sink deeper into the anguish.
Suchita Phule has done absolutely fabulous job in what began as a short film and ended up as a full length feature film, in depicting the far reaching impact of abuse that goes beyond the victim who is directly targeted by the perpetrators. Girija Oak plays her role, part bubbly joyous young wife and mother, and part her melancholy woman role, with great aplomb. Flecked with sadness and steel, desperation and determination, she makes her difficult journey to claim her smile back, because in the end, “no one else can do it for you, you have to stand up for yourself and move on”. Kudos to Rungmunch (www.rungmunch.org) Theater with a Cause and organizers Smita Karhade and Madhav Karhade for organizing this fabulous screening and for supporting quality live theater and film events in the bay area; because story-telling has a power to change the world.
Also sharing link to my little poem here http://bit.ly/WyY4zf
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports, Movie Reviews on May 23, 2018
Directed by Meghna Gulzar, Razi is a spy thriller mixed with personal relationship drama. It is a fictitious adaptation of Harinder Sikka’s “Calling Sehmat”, a novel he was inspired to write after he tracked the woman who spied on Pakistan, during the 1971, Indo Pak war.
Sehmat (incredible Aliya Bhatt) was born to a Kashimiri Muslim father Idayat Khan (Rajit Kapur) and a Hindu mother Tej (Soni Razdan). From her parents from an early age, Sehmat not only imbibed the lessons of patriotism towards her mother nation India, but was also a devoted daughter and felt compelled to continue in her father’s legacy of intelligence gathering for India. She was unaware of the vital role her father had played in establishing a spy network and gaining trusted close relationship within Pakistani military’s inner circle. When she learned of her father’s activities, at the same time, she and her mother also learned about his illness and how it remained upto Sehmat to help her mother country and take her father’s place in the spy network.
Sehmat is young, determined, devotedly patriotic and unafraid to take on the challenges. Alia Bhat truly shines in her role and does full and complete justice to her character. She is at an age where she may be as yet unable to comprehend the deep and devastating impact of what she was about to do on herself and others, embedding herself with the enemy in a much deeper way than her father. Also other characters including her Pakistani husband Iqbal Syed (Vicky Kaushal) and father in law Brigadier Syed (Shishir Sharma) are fantastic and give a memorable performance to make this a gripping film.
My dissatisfaction is not with superb performance of the cast and Gulzar’s direction to bring the story to life. It is undeniable that the indispensable information received from a young woman, at great risk to her own life, helped India save lives, and ultimately control seas around both sides of Pakistan and save INS Vikrant, that was Indian pride. In the end, Indian Navy’s superiority on the seas allowed a naval blockade that was vital and led to the liberation of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
So why does the storyline and Sehmat’s role and character as they are portrayed gnaw at me? Here are all the reasons. This is a conflicting film and I have conflicting perspectives. See below.
- First of all, I cannot come to terms that her own father enabled his innocent young daughter to put herself in such perilous harm and that her mother would not put up a strong fight against it. As Sikka himself had once said in an interview, “I am yet to fathom how Sehmat’s father, a rich businessman in Kashmir then, could push his daughter to do such a dangerous thing”. Remember it was not the same goal as gaining independence and throwing the enemy out of the country, this was done to gain military superiority in a war.
- Secondly, I feel this is a human story with multiple perspectives but this is not primarily a patriotism story. This movie is different from movies like Chak De! India, Bhag Milkha Bhag, Lagaan, Mary Kom etc. where we don’t know anything about characters on the other side. In this movie, we see characters on the Pakistani side and learn about them and are touched by their own dedication for their country and their extreme kindness to Sehmat. Once a director does that then there is a responsibility to make it a human story where audience walks away with compassion for all, not just for one side. After all everyone was doing what was best for their country.
- Crucially, while intelligence gathering is a significant mission for any country, it is one thing to establish some trusted relationships to get the intelligence from. The complexity of this business of trust building and then crushing is goes up when it is between two trusted friends but it multiples when a person gets involved in an intimate relationship, gains access and lives within the family and spies on the members who shower the individual with infinite kindness and love. The best dialog I liked was a simple one. When General Syed learned of his own daughter-in-law’s role, he was berating her and his son said one simple sentence that whatever she did, she was doing for her country. If he can try to understand her, we have the same responsibility to feel empathy for them.
- And that brings me to my most important point. While as an Indian, I am proud and grateful for Sehmat’s role in the war, as a character in the movie, it is the character of her husband Iqbal Syed that I admire most. He was infinitely kind to her, respectful to her, was mindful of the different circumstance she grew up in, made efforts to make her feel at home, tried to understand her ties to her birth place and understood that she could be hurt if anything negative was mentioned about her birth place. He was a patriotic man who was also a good husband and son to his parents. Sehmat, on the other hand, like a snake, destroyed the lives and happiness of those most kind and closest to her and yet at the end, she audaciously engaged in a tirade accusing her mentor of doing unscrupulous things while beseeching him to take her back to India, before she became like them. Really? Her character had already proven to be worse.
- Lastly, this is infact a human story with great significance. And anyone who is put in a position or chooses to do what Sehmat did, does take an enormous toll. In real life, she suffered from severe PTSD.
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports, Movie Reviews on May 10, 2018
In the movie “October”, there are no head spinning dance moves or villain trying to seduce the heroine or evil mother-in-law fomenting trouble. Without any over dramatization, Juhi Chaturvedi’s writing and Shoojit Sircar’s direction has created a masterpiece about love and humanity that isn’t cognitively complex but on the contrary, it’s simplicity stirs your soul.
Dan (Varun Dhawan), a hotel management student is an intern at a top notch hotel. While his batch mates are serious about their careers, Dan seems to be fumbling his way through. He certainly has no passion for his chosen career, shows little focus and dedication and plays many pranks that constantly gets him in trouble with his superiors. His batch mates try and cover for him but also tire of it and lecture him to shape up. Dan has simply not found his life’s purpose.
In a freak accident, one of his colleagues, Shiuli (Banita Sandhu) falls from the height of 30 feet and lands up at the hospital, in a coma. To the writer and director’s enormous credit, nothing that happens is overly dramatized. There isn’t overly complicated medical diagnosis, doctors are kind and humane, recovery progresses slowly. Banita Sandhu has given a fantastic performance as a comatose patient, from blank and stoic stares to gradual eye movements to emerging into consciousness with just few simple words, over a period of weeks and months.
But it is Dan’s reaction to the sudden incident that the story centers around. For some unknown reason, Dan is deeply affected by his colleague’s medical emergency. His involvement in her medical care and his soul stirring emotional journey, the gentle development of his character and characters of those around him including Shiuli’s mother, Vidya Iyer (incredibly well played by Gitanjali Rao), as well as that of the doctor and the nurse treating Shiuli and many of her friends is all seamless and graceful.
There is a short scene that tugs at your heartstrings where Dan’s mother (Rachica Oswal) visits Shiuli and there meets her mother, Vidya. This short scene is a tribute to mothers, who never give up, no matter how challenging the journey. Dan’s mother is not happy with Dan lacking career focus, wasting his fees that the the family has scrambled to pay, but despite noting his failures, she does not get judgemental about her son or give up on her son. Dan’s mother wants to continue to be a part of his life and understand for herself what moves him. And then there is Shiuli’s incredible mother who refuses to give up on her comatose daughter, despite many pressures of being a sole breadwinner and single parent to three children. Despite her life turning upside down by overwhelming medical emergency of her daughter, she finds solace and grace to be a pillar of strength and security for her two other children. She understands that life will always go on, if not for her own joy, at least for their sake, for their future.
This is a beautiful, gentle, graceful movie about love and humanity, and on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it a 4.8.
Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, 2017 Bollywood film, “Lipstick Under My Burkha” gives an intimate, powerful glimpse into the lives of four women; Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) draped in burkha at home, helps her parents in sewing burkhas, but outside she does a quick identity change and steps into her jeans and sings Led Zeppelin songs; Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma) lives the story of a submissive wife with her chauvinistic husband at home and excels at her secret job as a saleswoman during the day, Leela (Aahana Kumra) works as a beautician and finds solace in sex, and Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah) is the respected Buaji to her family but in the lonely hours of the night, dreams of men and has clandestine phone sex.
Stories of these women unfold in the midst of a background narrative of Rozi, a fictional heroine in one of the racy romance novels that Buaji hides in her religious tomes and reads in her spare time. These four women live their lives on the the thin line between reality and dreams. They have to routinely lie, cheat and steal to rob few moments of joy from their unbearable lives.
Their stories are poignant and touching and at the same time, ordinary. For the most part, Indian society exhibits a great deal of hipocrisy. While hipocrisy in Indian society extends to practices and observances around religious rituals, behavior around elders, and observance of class and caste, most prominent and often shocking hipocritical norms and double standards are observed in expectations and prescribed rules of behavior specific to each gender. While a man lusting after a younger woman or having an affair outside his marriage may be looked down upon, it is considered much less severe than if a woman may have committed these offences; and how a society punishes a woman for the same offense if often far more harsh. Similarly, while most boys and men have freedom to wear clothes they choose, and have wide degrees of professional freedom, it is simply not so for women.
This movie offers a window into the lives of ordinary women who strike deals with societal restrictions on a daily basis with alternating periods of acquiescing to the norms and restrictions and determinedly enjoying periods of bliss when they can. But the beauty in this movie is that it is also poignant in where this journey ends for these women, in the movie. While it is unclear how life will eventually unfold for each of these women, these ostracized women come together as comrades; they talk, laugh, and read and discuss Rozi’s fictional story. What is abundantly clear is that it is not the system that will change to accommodate them. The change will have to come from them and from their greater understanding and support of each other; that change only begins with dreams but it will take enormous commitment and courage on the path to greater fulfillment of the promise.
As Rihana reads last few pages of Rozi’s story, she comments
ye story bhi juth bolti hai, hamari life kharab ka deti hai
Translation: this fictional story also tells us lies
and Usha responds ……………
juth bolti hai shayad sapne dekhne ki himmat deti hai
Translation: It tells lies but gives us courage to dream
And narration continues……….
Khidki ki salakhe ab rozi ko rok nahi sakti. Rozi ne bar savare, aansu ponche aur chokhat ke bahar kud padi. pinjde me bandh sapno ki chabi akhir rozi ke dil ke andar hi thi.
Translation: Bars on the window can’t stop Rozi any more. Rozi combs her hair, dries her tears and jumps out. Photo of dreams locked inside the cage was after all inside Rozi’s heart.
Sometimes dream is a genie that is hard to push back in a bottle. As Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, “I have a dream” that started the process of change in the American society. Dreams help us imagine the possibilities and pave the path for courage and commitment required to change what has been until then normal. This is a beautiful movie and on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being excellent), I rate it 4.8. This review is slightly late for women’s day but still in the window of women’s history month :). Wishing all warrior women who drive the change on a daily basis and all courageous men who dare to dream of fair and inclusive society, a very happy women’s month.
Based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier, the film “Molly’s Game”, directed by Aaron Sorkin gives an intriguing insight in the the high stakes game of poker played almost exclusively by men with deep pockets. Jessica Chastain gives a superb performance, as Molly, the “Poker Princess” who ran underground poker games in upscale locations and found innovative ways to attract high rolling men, Hollywood celebrities, athletes and ultimately mobsters.
Molly was an extremely successful athlete who suffered a back problem requiring surgery and insertion of a plate to hold her spine straight. She was advised to not ski competitively. But she was driven and would not quit that easily. Molly got back in the game and was well on her way to Olympics level participation when she suffered a terrible accident on the slopes that shattered young athlete’s dreams for competitive sports. Unable to ski and unhappy with her father, she left home. She shifted her focus to law school but then postponed it and moved to Los Angeles saying, “I wanted to be young for a while in warm weather”. That small detour from her goal of law school, took her down a path she had not imagined. Homeless and jobless, she first got to crash on her friend’s couch, got a job to make ends meet and then got an after hours second job that propelled her into the world of gambling.
By all accounts, the film is faithful to its subject, Molly Bloom. Her rise among the high net worth world mostly occupied by men, and her subsequent fall when FBI came knocking on the door are mere milestones in her journey. The film offers much more, including her getting beat up by the mob, her attorney’s (Idris Elba) strategy to negotiate with the FBI so she is not required to spend days in prison, Molly’s adamant refusal to cut any deals that would compromise the men who played at her tables; all of these seem like intriguing milestones. And then there is a small segment of her conversation with her psychologist father (Kevin Costner), that is both heart wrenching and heart warming and may define her future journey. Let’s just say, Molly’s journey begins with the help of her high achieving father with high expectations of her and her siblings, and Molly’s journey takes a definite transformational turn with short three question therapy session with her father (Kevin Costner).
Molly’s game is a fast paced drama with a fascinating peek into the high stakes word of private gambling and insight into how one incredibly brave and smart young woman’s life went off course from her goals, not once, not twice, but three times and journey may just be starting for next promising stage of her life. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the film as 4.7. Yes, I loved it.
Film “All the Money in the World”, written by David Scrapa, based on John Pearson’s book, and directed by Ridley Scott follows true story of kidnapping of 16 year old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) who is heir to the Getty fortune, and his mother Gail’s (Michelle Williams) desperate attempts to facilitate his release mostly by trying to convince his billionaire grandfather Getty Sr. (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom.
At the time of the kidnapping, Getty Sr. was the richest man in the world. He had managed to amass his vast fortune through some savvy investments in oil rich real estate, and through founding of his company, Getty Oil. His estimated fortune was about $1.2B ($9.05B in 2017) and at the time of his death, his fortune was estimated to be $6B (equivalent to $18.06B in 2017). The ransom demands for release of his grandson bearing his name was $17M, a fraction of his vast fortune.
Getty Sr. refused to meet the ransom demand and frustrated kidnappers reduced the demand to $3M. Grandpa Getty’s response was that were he to meet any demands of the kidnappers, his 14 other grandchildren could also be kidnapped. Getty’s humming and hawing to pay what was a miniscule amount for him, in order to procure the release of his grandson, forms the crux of the drama that unfolds.
As the kidnappers become increasingly unpredictable, Gail makes desperate attempts, with the help of her attorney, J. Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to get Getty Sr to release money for the kidnappers. Earlier, Gail had written off Getty money while divorcing her druggist husband, in order to keep custody of her three young children. Now one of her child’s life was hanging in the balance, and she has no resources to meet the demands.
Getty Senior appears to be incapable of empathy. Clearly it isn’t about his love of money or greed alone that explains his strange behavior. It is something deeper than greed. It is his lack of ability to relate with people on any level other than on a cognitive level. He feels more at home in his museum like palace among his collection of arts and artifacts, than with his family or any other people.
Senior Getty’s continuing refusal to part with what is for him tiniest amount of money, to save not just any life but life of his own grandson, while repugnant, is also fascinating. It gives a peek into the old man’s psyche that is powered by amassing wealth and artifacts, and from making good deals. In her role as Gail, Williams has beautifully shown tactical restraint in dealing with her father-in-law. It takes extreme suffering and agony of his family, before Getty is able to part with the smallest drop from his vast fortune.
Getty had also installed a pay phone in his palace to keep his staff and guests from using telephones in the palace. In real life, another similar instance (where a grandchild needed money) had also occurred. At the age of 99 (in 2013) Getty’s fifth wife published her memoir in which she mentioned how her husband had scolded her for spending money too freely in the 1950s on the treatment of their six year old son who had become blind from a brain tumor and later died at the age of 12. Such is the strong devotion to money for Getty Sr. Everything is a negotiation and presents a deal making opportunity and he refuses to acquiesce until the terms are right and pain and suffering don’t count..
It is a fascinating movie and on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie as 4.5