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instinct There are a lot of movies out there which fall under the celebrated category of “underrated” Hollywood flicks and Instinct is supposedly one such movie. Directed by John Turteltaub, the man behind the national treasure movies, Instinct stars Anthon Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. Released in 1999, this movie didn’t rake in much at the box office and understandably so, did little to move the critics. I just watched the movie for the 2nd time and felt a need to describe the sense of watching a classic example of an underrated movie.

What makes this movie rank mediocre amongst audiences is clearly the story line. A normal human being (Anthony Hopkins) is obsessed with his study of apes and eventually becomes a part of their herd. He is brought back within human confines but ends up in a detention center for the mentally disabled. A rookie psychiatrist is quickly drawn into this ape man and is determined to reach through to him and set him free. Now the story seems out of a run-of-the-mill fiction factory, but what makes me watch it is the clichéd dialogue that strangely seems to work for me

The undertones of the story that try hard to tip the surface were clearly visible as I begin to dig deep and forget the technical aspects of movie making. The direction is quite second-rate but the intent and the broader subjects that the story hinges on is an appealing aspect of the film. So by now one can unearth the reason for an underrated movie’s existence; it is simply because of a single aspect of the movie that’s overpowering the rest. While in most cases it is the underlying theme of a story (like in instinct), it can vary from camera work to theme tracks where they play a dominant role than the rest in a movie.

Another important observation which argues from the converse side of things is the success of cerebral movies like say a Fountain or a Donnie Darko. These movies, though possessing undertones of lateral meanings, are successful amidst fans and critics because they are deeply rooted in their themes. Any sort of deviation from the theme could have been disastrous for such movies. Instinct on the other hand failed because of this very deviation where in an attempt to reprieve his audiences from a profound story, the director mellowed the characterization with external elements (actors).

Now to refute my own argument and introducing another side of the coin, this is the audience itself, the ultimate judge! Now one ought to clearly understand that a vast audience with huge diversity is not the right judge of a movie and neither is a small group of critics. As cinema assumes different meanings in people’s life’s, the success or failure is highly subjective amongst the masses and only breaks that norm amidst fan boys and redundant movie buffs. And hence the creation of a language that introduces the terms “underrated”, “overrated” and ”gay” et al.

Finally to end on a rather interesting note, I believe that directors making intelligent cinema have the capacity to influence their viewers and change them. While instinct with all the possibility failed in doing so, there are movies out there that are meant to make a difference. The name Micheal Gondry might not seem right to be placed under such a category as change makers, but his innovative direction and his depiction of emotions with sweet surrealism is sure to make a generation of his viewers smart, creative and sensitive. Check out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, Human Nature, Adaptation all written by Charlie Kaufman. Peace!

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Two week hiatus. Not good. But things at the cinema, very good! We got to check out several movies these two weeks and most were good. Kung Fu Panda came to hyderabad finally. It was in IMAX and as a result several people missed out on the great laughs. Its been a long time since I have heard people in a theatre laugh out so heartily during a movie. Next up was phoonk..RGV phoonked on us. We felt cheated. He promised one of his best horror movies ever and we rushed to watch it first day first show. He went laughing to the bank to collect his rip off money. One thing we forgot to mention was the good acting by the girl in the movie.

Last weekend we finally got to see WALL-E and the long long wait has come to an end( only 2 months actually but seemed like ages to me). I am so in love with this movie and definitely am going to watch it again soon! They say it is a contender for a best picture nomination and I have my fingers crossed. Rock On! seemed to be promising and had immediately got very positive reviews. The amazing Farhan Akthar is now acting and singing besides being one of the best directors in India. What else has this man hidden up his sleeve? So we had to check that out too and we werent disappointed. Something rare for a Hindi movie in the recent past.

We had a good recording session and reviews were short and crisp considering the number of movies in hand. This week other than the usual Poll of the Week(#4) and Movie Vault we have introduced a new segment which shall be a regular on the show. It is called Quick Review(QR). It is where we review a movie which needs to be talked about for its merits or (mostly) its demerits and yet hasnt much to be talked about.

Thankfully the episode is not very long inspite of the 4 reviews. Do download it from here and let us know what you think. You can here from the browser directly from here. You can now subscribe to “too much cinema podcast” via itunes by clicking on the subscribe via reader link in the column on the right.

Happy listening and let us know ur views.

The thing with criticism is you need to be judgemental. You need to dissect things even when it might not be necessary. Sometimes the whole point of having to review something gets in the way. Its difficult to know to be convinced or annoyed, joyous or mournful, disconnected or living the tale when you try to judge things and evaluate them. Sometimes I frankly have nothing to say and some other times an overwhelming amount all of which I am not able to capture in any one sitting. Criticism is hard work and for someone who likes to carefully choose what he says it is harder. It sometimes spoils the bottom-line of watching a movie, to have some fun and to be engulfed in a new learning or adventure. That is where it hurts to objectify things you love. However I criticise because I love it so much and take in that every single frame a filmmaker has for me. Celluloid can spell magic like no other medium. I wish to be enthralled and hence I demand. When something falls short I am caustic and when something thrills me I am reverent.

After I watch any movie I reflect upon it. I analyse what I have seen, how I have felt and how the whole thing came off. This is something lot of us do. I have done it all my life and this happens regardless of me planning a review on it. Maybe that was the reason I started reviewing movies since the work was already being half done.

My mind makes out casts out of whatever material it has seen and tries to fit the remaining in one or some of them. Some movies don’t fit into any and are truly exhilarating in experience. Not all of the “mis”fits are ground breaking or appealing. They just are different and may lie anywhere on the whole field of rating. And there again I work hard to break those casts and see each as it can be. Sometimes those casts are basically what movies are all about. Well the point I am trying to make is that criticism can be tricky business and takes in lot of effort to not go wrong. However we tend to once in a while and that should be OK .

Some movies I give more respect than they deserve and some other greater wrath. It may be due to various reasons and this trait is not unique to me. Movie watching is a very personal experience and everyone is moved differently. Most often the movement is in the same direction but seldom in the intensity. Someone who is here reading this is one who loves this medium and everything to do with it. We are brothers in arms and we know that different movies rub us differently doesnt mean that we perceive Cinema differently just that we have different points of view. In Cinema we find everything!

p.s: In the previous episode I had given Namesake a 8 and Khuda ke liye a 7. After a revisit, passage of time and listening to Chaitanya’s several valid points I Interchange the numbers and now genuinely like Khuda ke Liye more than Namesake.

After our deliberations on these two movies pre, during and post recording, we finally have Khuda Ke Liye and The Namesake up on the Blog. Two movies closer to home with one from our neighbour Pakistan and the other being Mira Nair’s adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s book by the same name. We found ourselves discussing and digressing over to various issues during recording but that’s all been edited and the file shrunk to the minimum possible size.

Please post your comments on these movies and the blog. Follow us on gtalk, twitter and stay informed.

You can download the podcast from here Episode 4

Or you could listen to the podcast directly from here

Go to the ‘Next week’ tab for the coming movie reviews from us and enter the new poll on the blog.

Thats all folks!

Long long ago there was a guy who was born in Pondicherry and moved along with his parents to Philadelphia. He dint turn out to be a doctor like everyone in the family but made movies. First there were mediocre ones and then came somethign which stunned the world; The Sixth Sense. M Night Shyamalan then drew comparisons with all time greats. He shifted gears and made a movie called Unbreakable. Yes! There was such a movie before Signs and Village and ancient times to the world which now know him as a degenerate film-maker due to his Lady in the water and Happening. We talk about the Unbreakable and how it is a vastly underrated piece of extraordinary movie making.

We also peek into the future and see what interesting movies are up for release in the US in this month and the next. We know that they might not be coming here anytime soon. It is for a little vanity on our part to say “we told you” so when something goes on to be a big hit or a win an oscar.

from left to right row 1: Burn After reading, Tropic Thunder

row 2:  Vicky Christina Barcelona and Pineapple Express

Quite different set from what we saw earlier in the year and yet are enticing. We have no poll this week and we hope listeners will vote in the previous two polls which are still open. There is a provision to comment at the poll site to facilitate discussion of the topic. Do vote and comment.

We have shorter episode this time round and you can download it from here -> Episode 3

To listen to it as streaming audio click here. You can also subscribe through Itunes by clicking on the link below which say subscribe in a reader.

Footnotes:

Sound is still patchy. I hope to get better at it soon. The difference in voice modulation is obviously due to recording different segments at different times.

correction: Somewhere in the Unbreakable review I say villains wear dark clothing. I meant to say ‘bright’ clothing as in orange and yellow and a noticeable blue.

Brendan Frasier is back, older but definitely not wiser. The Mummy:Tomb of the Dragon Emperor hit the screens all over the world this Friday and we were there to catch the action. The response has been lukewarm with audiences still reeling over you know what. Also on this episode is Brad Bird’s Ratatouille, Pixar’s 8th full length feature film. We start a new segment called Movie Vault where me and Chaitanya dig up from our archives and recommend a movie for you. Check out the various tabs on the top of this page for more insight.

The file size this time round is half the last time though the episode is roughly as long. You can find this week’s episode at Episode 2: Eastern Mummy and Gourmet Rat

For those who still want more of Ratatouille and think we havent gone bonkers as we talk about the philosophy and core of this ‘rat’ movie we have an extended episode which can be downloaded here. The best part about it is the unedited complete version of the awesome Anton Ego speech at the end of it

The links for web listening are here for Episode 2 and E2 extra

You can then listen to the podcast on your computer or transfer onto a cd or mp3 player like any other music.

Do write in at or leave a voice mail at toomuchcinema@gmail.com .

Footnotes:

We learn this week that though podcast thing gets better by practise it is not really an easy job and we apologise for the patchy sound at some places.

Btw a podcast can be paused and then played whenever we want 😛 . We are really sorry that we cant shorten the length considerably lower than what it is now as long as we have the content.

There was a problem with the feed and people are not able to hear the main episode while subscribing through feed or itunes. Only the Ratatouille extra is streaming. So here I put the links for the main episode again.

Download from here and listen through streaming here.

P.S: Yep now the feeds work perfectly.