Cashback – Time Freezing

Cashback is a little British film released few years ago. It was originally a short film nominate for the Oscars, which it didnt win. The film was expanded later to make a full fledged romantic comedy by the director Sean Ellis retaining the same caste and literally adding backstories, flashbacks, character stories to enhance the plot.

The film is about a budding artist Ben Willis who undergoes a painful breakup with his girlfriend and just cannot stop thinking about her. He keeps thinking about it and just loses sleep at night. He simply cannot sleep and then decided to use the extra night hours by working at a supermarket. There he encounters various characters and meets Sharon. He realizes how time means different things to different people.  How everybody just plays the time and does their own thing to pass time. How his colleagues fool around the supermarket and boss does inane things and Sharon doesn’t look at the time so that it passes faster. He begins to admire Sharon but his mind still cannot concentrate on his work and just meanders along. In this he develops the ability to freeze time or he imagines to freeze time where he can then just walk around people who have paused, especially beautiful women, admire them, strip them and paint them.  He begins to start enjoying his time-freezing act and then he begins to like Sharon more and more and begins to ‘not remember’ his ex and then finally when they kiss, a bit awkwardly, he finally connects more with her and then  he sleeps for the first time in weeks. There is of course that misunderstanding and getting back the lost love, like a standard rom-com. By the end the two leads are shown to be together having frozen time and enjoying the romance.

In between the film has lot of side-stories about various colleagues of Ben and his past and his earlier crushes and his slightly mental boss and his casanova friend. But mostly its about Ben. His voice over throughout the film makes it special and interesting. His ability to freeze time is a dream of every person I guess. As we say ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and the director shows this superbly when he introduces Sharon as just an ordinary girl whom you wouldnt give a second look and then slowly she beings to appear more and more beautiful and glamorous in the film as Ben falls for her and begins to like her. The movie is entirely from Ben’s eyes and what he sees and feels. Its about how he deals with lost love and finding love.

The film is a light romantic comedy and although it involves time freezing, it isn’t a science fiction. But the film is a different kind of romantic comedy then what we see dished out regularly from the Hollywood. The film has lots of nudity and foul language but it is advised to watch the unrated film to truly understand that the nudity shown in the movie is not for the sake of erotica but is shown as an artist’s viewpoint on his subjects. Only an artist can admire true beauty of a woman. The film is technically brilliant too and is beautifully shot, especially the scenes in which time and characters freeze and Ben moves around. The movie is a visual delight and also the soothing voice over gives it a warm feeling.

The actors are not well known but Sean Biggerstaff does a wonderful job as Ben Willis and Emilia Fox as Sharon is quite adapt too. Michelle Ryan as Suzie is shrill and doesn’t have much role but to shout and create confusion. Other supporting actors are nice and believable too.

My Ratings – 8/10 –  Watch it for the beautiful and different take on romantic comedy genre. The director is one to watch out for.

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Why Oscars were big fail ?

Oscars are an annual party to reward the best of the Hollywood cinema. It is a glitzy affair featuring biggest of stars and Hollywood big shots walking down the red carpet. The nominations itself are much hyped about a month back and then the actual award ceremony is one of the biggest event ever and highly covered by television networks.

This year the Academy decided to take a chance by giving the prestigious job of hosting to two young stars James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Both big stars in their own way as Oscars wanted to attract the ‘younger demographic’ as they say. But the efforts of James Franco and Anne Hathaway fell largely flat, their jokes were simply amateurish, the drama was like a school play and they were generally off-key. They were so unbearable at times that moment Billy Crystal or Oprah Winfrey came on stage people were hoping that they would take over the hosting. The line ‘Sajid Khan would have done a better job’ says it all.

The ceremony itself felt long and boring with nothing exciting happening for long period of time. Most of the awards were a no-contest and were almost decided long back. There were hardly any surprises there too and whatever surprises were there, they were more like a shock. The Box office successes are very rarely rewarded by the Oscars and mostly the drams and tragedies win the bigger prizes and this year the case remained the same. ‘Inception’ , people’s favorite and box office conquerer was largely ignored in bigger categories and it was awarded the technical awards mostly to compensate for that. Most people expected ‘The Social Network’ to win one of the bigger award that of best film or best actor or best director but it didn’t win any of those. Toy story 3 was suppose to win the best animated film award even before the nominations were announced.

Thus there were hardly anything worth looking forward to. There were no controversies either, with the trouble brewing in the Arab world we expected lot more Political statements as well from the nominated big-wigs and winners but there were hardly any interesting speeches. There was no wardrobe-malfunction either  🙂

All in all it was a dull and boring award ceremony. Hopefully next year we’ll have better hosts and more deserving films would win.

Black Swan – Intense Viewing !!

I had heard a lot about ‘Black Swan’ the film by Darren Arfonsky starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. I had heard that it was about ballet dancing and had brilliant acting mostly on part of Portman. I managed to procure the movie.

The movie is an ode to the world of Ballet dancing and ballet dancers. It shows the intense struggle and hard work the ballet dancers go through to achieve the perfect swirl ,the perfect step all in quest of getting the perfect ovation from the crowd.

The story is about a fictional New York Ballet Troupe and its leading stars. Natalie Portman plays Nina the perfect dancer. Butthe Ballet Director played by Vincent Cassel thinks that although she has mastered the steps of ballet she doesnt feel them, she had to learn to let it go and enjoy the feeling from within. The ballet is about the White Swan/ Black Swan where Nina is perfect as the virginal pure and dedicated White Swan but she has yet to master the flirtatious, seductive dance of the Black Swan. Mila Kunis plays Lily who is at ease with her dance and her life and her sexuality and is perfectly suitable for the Black Swan’s character.  Natalie Portman’s Nina is like that because of her own psychological trappings and a dominating mother and her single point obsession of becoming the swan queen. She hallucinates at times and the black swan within her is struggling to come out of her. The movie is about how Natalie Portman struggles with her own self and her fears and barriers created by her own mind to achieve the perfect dance, the dance of a black swan. She sacrifices her own self, her own white swan body in doing so.

The movie can be described as a psychological horror as well apart from a perfect story of discovering the inner self set in an intense world of Ballet Dancing. The dancing, the music and choreography is perfect and you actually enjoy the swirls and furls of ballet dancing while watching it, this coming from a non-dancer is a big statement. Natalie Portman is not only just beautiful but also brilliant in her intense portrayl of the role and is a sure shot for the Oscar Award for the Best Actress. Mila Kunis is her opposite is also wonderful so is Vincent Cassel as the ballet director. Winona Ryder as the ageing Beth is almost not noticed. The film is all about intense acting from Natalie and her ballet skills.

My knowledge of films and its deep metaphors is restricted and I would not be able to comment any further on this film however I would surely recommend this film to lovers of serious cinema, serious acting and especially for people interested in the world of ballet dancing.

My Ratings : 8/10 – For serious cinema lovers and fans of Ballet and Natalie Portman only

Blind Side is a good Tackle

‘The Blind Side’ did for Sandra Bullock, what Erin Brockovich did to Julia Roberts, it won her an Academy Award. The movie is a sports dram adapted from the book by the same name and is a story of Micheal Oher, the offensive tackle for NFL team Baltimore Ravens. The story follows the life of ‘Big Mike’, as he is called, from the streets of  Memphis, Tennessee who is then adopted by Leigh Anne Tuohy, played in the film by Sandra Bullock. He is admitted to Christian School and then guided to become a leading college football prospect. Her family treats him as one of their own and they hire a tutor to improve his academic performance so that he can qualify for Football Scholarship. He opts for University of Mississippi and shown to enter the college football arena. The film ends with him being selected by the Baltimore Ravnens in the NFL draft 2009 as their Offensive Tackle. He is also shown to be graduating from the college.

This story is a rags-to-riches story set in the sports world and specifically American College Football and NFL.Real life stories with sports background are always special to read about and see on screen. The movie has lot of Football action which are fun to see. The film overall is a decent watch and people who love sports dramas and American version of football will surely appreciate the film.

The movie was initially offered to Julia Roberts, who turned down the role and Sandra Bullock grabbed it by both hands. Acting by Sandra Bullock is top notch and also by Quinton Aaron who plays Micheal Oher in the film, although I personally dont think that Sandra Bullock deserved an Oscar for this role. Her role as the caring ‘mother’ and guardian of Big Mike was not much complex and quite a straight forward to handle.

The movie is surely one of the better sports drama to come out of Hollywood in recent times.

My Ratings: 6/10 –  Do watch it for the nice sports dram, fast football action and decent acting.