Pulling It Off
Film: Logan Lucky, Cast: Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Directed by: Steven Soderbergh, Duration: 1 hr 57 mins, Rating: * * * 1 / 2
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Logan Lucky is a charming little heist films that involves thrills, laughs and chuckles. Soderbergh, having helmed Oceans Eleven franchise, is no stranger to heist films and knows how to push the right buttons. Take his framing and shots for example, they are impeccable and seamless, you always wonder how he is going to cut to the next shot and he doesn’t disappoint. Incidentally, Soderbergh is the cinematographer of his own films but goes by the name of Peter Andrews and edits his own films under the name of Mary Ann Bernard.
The genre of heist films comes either in the serious variety like the French noir or the light weight ones, mostly from Hollywood. Logan Lucky has a mix of both but leaning more towards the latter.
The Logan’s, Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Adam Driver) are two unsuspecting brothers who make plans to pull off this grand heist during the NASCAR race. Before that, we are given a background of the characters – Jimmy, has a limp, an estranged wife and a little daughter whom he loves dearly. Clyde, usually has a dead pan expression and his one arm is missing. There is another Logan on the scene, their sister Mellie Logan (Riley Keough) who is also their partner in crime. But the Logan’s need more help to pull off such a daring robbery – they rope in Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, in a comic role) a bomb expert, who is currently in jail. Not only do they have to get him out of jail to commit the heist, he also has to get back in prison on time once the deed is done. They also need his two brothers, Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish Bang (Jack Quaid) and the stage is all set.
There are enough twists and turns in the story plus humour is always around the corner – more over the pace is even and the proceedings never get high handed, keeping you in good cheer. A prison scene involving the Game of Thrones is a complete hoot. The last part of the film stretches out unexpectedly but that is not a major grievance.
On the acting front, Daniel Craig is a big surprise – he is terrific with his sense of timing and expressions not forgetting the accent. Few years ago, Soderbergh wanted to quit films and pursue other interests. Film lovers should be glad that he didn’t, as there is still plenty of fuel in his film making tank as Lucky Logan amply proves it.
Gangs of Mumbai
Film: Daddy, Cast: Arjun Rampal, Nishikant Kamat, Aishwarya Rajesh, Directed by: Ashim Ahluwalia, Duration: 2 hrs 15 mins, Rating: * * 1 / 2
Based on the life of gangster Arun Gawli, who is currently serving a prison term, Daddy tells us the story from his point of view as to how the events unfolded making him the king of Dagdi Chawl. Directed by Ashim Ahluwalia of Miss Lovely (2012) fame, this gang war drama gets the essence of the period absolutely right – the costumes, hair -do and the feel of that period (mid 80’s onwards) is charming but the screenplay doesn’t hit all the right notes.
To start with the film is made with support from the Gawli family so there is a clear tilt towards him – there is also justification as to how he got drawn into the world of crime and that he had no choice. There was no need for that, leave it to the audience, if at all he was justified in doing what he did. The story telling is also ‘clinical’ to some degree, say unlike Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday or Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya.
But all elements put together, Daddy keeps you interested. Arjun Rampal plays the lead role of Arun Gawli, who started his career committing small time crimes and extorting money. Using the gun was not something he was comfortable with, till, well, he had to use it. Along with his to other friends, Babu and Rama (which gives them the acronym BRA) his might and power got a boost when he took on Maqsood another name for Dawood or he-who-must-not-be-named in Hindi films.
Nishikant Kamat plays a cop hot on the heels of the gangster while Aishwarya Rajesh plays the dons wife who stands by him. The story keeps cutting back and forth, and add to it, there is a voice over which doesn’t really add a lot.
Because of the lopsided narrative, you don’t feel for any of the characters, at best, you can just watch the events unfold. The shootouts, chases are well executed and the grittiness is well evident on the screen.
Of the cast, Arjun Rampal with his limited acting abilities does well in his portrayal of Gawli. There is an uncanny resemblance between the two, especially in the second half, where the gangster wears his all familiar topi and white Kurtas. The supporting actors are aptly cast.
Daddy has a few things going for and against it, none of them overwhelmingly.
Scare borough Fare
Film: It, Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Directed by: Andy Muschietti, Duration: 2 hrs, Rating: * * * 1 / 2
Based on the popular novel by Stephen King, It is an adaptation with the screenplay co-written by Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, True Detective). Director Andy Muschietti has some solid material on hand and the film doesn’t disappoint. Most of the horror fare these days revolve around possessed dolls or haunted houses and both those themes have been done to death. It plays with the psyche and tries to create terror by other means which is a refreshing change in the genre. There have been other films recently like Babadook and It Follows (both 2014) which rose above the average horror film and It is also in the same league.
The book was released in 1986 and the film is set a few years later – a time when the boy band phenomenon had just started and New Kids on The Block had become an instant rage. A bunch of kids, from different backgrounds and childhood experiences are friends and they face something common – a clown who appears and scares them out of their wits.
The gang of friends is led by Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) whose brother disappears in a stunning opening sequence of the film. The others also have their own demons to exorcise, including an abusive father and a dominating mother. If that is not all, a bunch of bullies also harass the kids adding to the melee. Beverly (an impressive Sophia Lillis) is the only girl among the teenage friends and one particular scene involving her and the kitchen sink in her room is superbly executed.
One grievance against the film is that it is overstretched and we have only seen half of it yet in the form of chapter one, the sequel is to follow later. At two hours running time, it could have easily been one film instead of splitting it in two.
Some of the scenes are macabre, but they are portrayed in a manner which goes well with the whole story and it is not shown purely for shock value as sometimes horror films tend to. The issues of teenage children- loneliness, isolation, identity are smartly integrated in the screenplay.
All in all, It makes the mark as far as good films in the genre are concerned.