Hollywood Bowl #3: jOBS, Pain and Gain, Trance, Liberal Arts

After a two week lull at the cinemas, you’d expect more of a strike back by Hollywood this weekend. But studios still stayed clear of releasing a big movie this weekend, even as Chennai Express piled on more money in three weeks than Rohit Shetty has spent on car explosions in his lifetime… which is a LOT.

Ashton Kutcher’s indie film, jOBS, was released with much fanfare, though, but India’s surprising interest in Kutcher didn’t stop it from being the movie that Apple fanboys would be glad that Steve Jobs isn’t here to see. Because, let’s be honest, even if Ashton Kutcher was like the long-lost twin of Steve Jobs, he could never be Steve Jobs. Because he is Ashton Kutcher. And that’s probably why Kutcher’s also produced the film: because no sane man would’ve ever cast that dude from classics like Dude, Where’s My Car!, Guess Who, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, in a biopic of the world’s greatest tech idol.

jOBS, the movie, fails at its most basic level, because it is clearly just a story of Kutcher trying to be Jobs. And where Kutcher does try his heartfelt best to rise to the occasion, the script puts him in his place, just like Jobs did to everyone else, because he was mean and because that’s all the film tells us. Pirates of the Silicon Valley still remains the best Steve Jobs movie but that may soon change when Aaron Sorkin finally finishes writing his version of Jobs’ life. (Please let them cast Noah Wyle for it, please!)

Priyanka Chopra’s voice starred in animation flick Planes this weekend but, and I’ve been waiting to use this pun ever since I saw it, the film doesn’t take take off. The Hollywood film to watch this week is Kick-Ass 2 and you can read my review here (please put link). Indie maverick Q’s (of Gandu fame) ‘Tagore on an acid trip’ film Tasher Desh has also released, and it’s a must watch if only to see Q annihilating the rules of Indian cinema film-by-film.

DVD Roundup

I like Michael Bay. No, he is not Hollywood’s Sajid Khan, because Khan, in his life, won’t be able to come up with a kickass action comedy like Bad Boys, let alone a mega-budget film franchise like Transformers that is valued at the same amount of money as the continent of Africa. Bay makes the most popcorn of popcorn films and those films have Megan Fox or some sweet, sweet action, so I genuinely have no grudges from him.  And when, every once a while, he makes a film like Pain and Gain, I like him even more.

Pain and Gain is Bay’s first attempt at a black comedy and it’s a damn good one at that. Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie took pay cuts along with Bay to make this low-budget crime-comedy about three bodybuilders who kidnap a rich businessman to extort his money, but obviously, things go wrong. The film is based on a true story and it is well-acted, absurd, hilarious, dark – almost bordering on noir… almost! – and consistently interesting. Check it out and for once, you may not have to leave your brains behind.

A film where you’d definitely need your brains is Danny Boyle’s indie psychological thriller, Trance, starring the very talented James McAvoy, the very fetching Rosario Dawson and the very married to Monica Bellucci Vincent Cassel. A mind-bender on the lines of a trademark Christopher Nolan puzzle, Trance may not be the best in the genre but it’s fascinating for what it is: one of the best contemporary British directors’ take on mind-benders. Oh, and did I mention that Dawson reprises Alexander here?

I have plugged this film before in one of my columns but since the DVD of the film released this year, I will plug it again: Josh Radnor is awesome. Mary Elizabeth Olsen is awesome. And Liberal Arts is awesome. If you thought that How I Met Your Mother’s Ted Mosby is Radnor’s swan song, you have not see his directorial debut, Happythankyoumoreplease. And you certainly have not seen the brilliant Liberal Arts, which is as good an indie rites-of-passage comedy drama, as any before. Watch it.

Trailer Roundup

LOTS of very interesting trailers this week, but the one I’m most excited about is About Time, Richard Curtis’ third film as a director after Pirate Radio and the best romantic comedy of all time, Love Actually. The writer behind Black Adder, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and basically, Hugh Grant’s entire career, is back with a romcom about a time-travelling man in love, so this movie is going to be fantastic (all the more since Curtis claims this may be his last).

The Coen Brothers are not interested in slowing down as writer-directors, although the same cannot be said about their films, which consistently remain slower than ever. Inside Llewyn Davis also seems to be a slow film about a slow folk singer-songwriter (Drive’s Oscar Isaac) in the 1960s, the slowest decade in USA’s slow-moving academy of the time. So obviously, the film’s going to be great!

The best looking trailer of the week’s award goes to the PG trailer of James McAvoy’s next film, Filth, directed by Scottish director Jon S Baird (of little-known gem, Cass fame). The film could not *be* any more Scottish (read: awesome) with sex, drugs and a rock-n-roll trailer, and they’ve managed all that in a PG trailer! There’s also Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii, a trailer that may best be described as Dante’s Peak-meets-Gladiator, or the trailer where we find out that Jon Snow (Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington) has abs.

But the trailer I found most interesting this week is Mark ‘The Hulk’ Ruffalo’s Thanks for Sharing. A comedy drama about sex-addicts (see what I mean?) with a cast that includes Gwyneth Paltrow (looking STUNNING), Tim Robbins, Josh Gad and Joely Richardson, this one looks like an indie ‘smash’ hit (yes, that was an Avengers pun). There’s also the teaser trailer of Stranger, JJ Abrams ‘Mystery’ Project, and since we have no clue what it’s about or that Abrams was ever making such a movie, it meets all criterion for interesting too.

In other trailers, there’s Divergent, which is basically The Hunger Games with Shailene Woodey (The Descendants) and which will probably make just as much money. +1, a Groundhog Day gone wrong thriller set in a college party (yes I came up with that), looks quite neat and so does The Grandmaster, a movie about Bruce Lee’s master, that is presented by Martin Scorsese. Finally, there’s The Book Thief, starring Geoffrey Rush, and All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, my favourite indie director Jonathan Levine’s horror debut. Check em’ out

BATMAN

The internet exploded when Ben Affleck was announced as Batman, who, according to news, may be signed on for as many as 13 movies (though the real number may be close to 12). Personally, I think it’s a great idea. He’s the guy behind Argo, The Town and Gone Baby Gone, and I think he deserves a chance to wash away the sins of Daredevil. Also, what if Ashton Kutcher bought the Batman franchise and then played him himself? Yes, it could’ve been worse!

What do you think of Affleck as Batman? Who should’ve played him instead? (I still think Michael Fassbender was the best bet)

 

Note: This column first appeared on Firstpost.com on August 29, 2013

Link: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/hollywood-bowl-ashton-kutcher-is-not-steve-jobs-and-richard-curtis-is-back-1069001.html
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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