About Shah Shahid

Cinephile. Bollywood Connoisseur. Editor in Chief at http://www.indianscreen.com & http://www.blankpagebeatdown.com. Host of Split Screen Podcast (@splitscreen_pod). Member of the Twitterati @theshahshahid. Diagnosed w ADH-- look a dust bunny!

Trailer Talk with Shah: THE DETAILS – 2012

I like Tobey Maguire. And I like that he’s stuck around after the horrible-ness that was SPIDERMAN 3. This time around, he does one of those black dram-ody films with THE DETAILS.

‘The Trailer doesn’t give us much, other than a guy with issues who apparently is a respected doctor among his peers, however, also cheats on his wife. Multiple times.

One of those times happens with be with Ray Liotta’s wife, who then blackmails him for it. On top of it all, it seems like Maguire’s character is also dealing with a raccoon infestation.

The Trailer for THE DETAILS then kind of spirals into this edited mish mash of repeating scenes and loud dialogue, maybe meant as Maguire’s frustration with trying to deal with everything? Not really sure.

It’s kind of disorientating, and doesn’t really give us much insight into the story. Elizabeth Banks plays Tobey Maguire’s wife in THE DETAILS, but she’s barely seen in the Trailer.

The scenes meant to be funny, come off as jarring and shrill. As much as I want to like this movie, the Trailer makes it very difficult to do so.

THE DETAILS might be a rental for me, long after it releases in Theatre’s on November 2nd, 2012

Are you going to catch THE DETAILS as see what former Spiderman is up to? Let me know in the comments below.

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Ramblin’ Reviews by Shah: 50/50 – 2011

Ah media marketing… the ruiner of perceptions of films. I’ve harped on and on about how the way that certain trailers are edited together for mass appeal during the marketing of a film… KILL any chance that movie would have. This was the case with a certain film I watched recently… 50/50.

50/50 is about an uptight and somewhat awkward Adam, played by the always awesome Joseph Gordon Levitt. This guy coasts through life without anyone really paying much attention to him, including his own girlfriend. However, one fine day he’s faced with the news that he has cancer. The story is of how he comes to terms with this life altering situation, and the not so familiar stages that he goes through in the process.

The way 50/50 was marketed however, was by being touted as being from ‘the same guys who brought you SUPERBAD’. That right off the bat sets the completely contradictory tone, as 50/50 has in no way shape or form, ANY similarities with SUPERBAD. The Promos of the movie made it seem very slapstick and the routine Seth Rogen comedy. It was anything but.

In society, we’re taught to immediately feel pity and sympathy for someone who is terminally ill. 50/50 shows another side of the coin, where the patient themselves might have hope and be indifferent to their condition, however the negative and apologetic reaction of others make it more difficult to deal with. Adam’s frustration at constantly being told to ‘accept’ his condition further fuels his anger.

There are amazingly high moments of the subtlest form of humor in 50/50. But the entire film is a lighthearted look at some other ways of dealing with cancer. There are no dramatic, high strung teary moments; no philosophical lessons to be learned, no spiritual revelations, no bonds which get stronger due to the situation… it’s a hard look at the random-ness of life, and the frustration behind it.

The writing and performances of 50/50 are kind of stagnant and sporadic, despite all of them being great in their individual aspects. Seth Rogen does exactly what he does best, which is be the “f word” spouting friend who talks sense, in the most ridiculous way possible.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is, as always amazing. He’s able to do the ‘awkward guy’ role a lot easier than the other stuff. Adam’s cancer further exasperates his socially inept persona, but eventually he goes through other emotions that help him deal. Anna Kendrick as the professionally inept, rookie grief counselor whose counseling actually make Adam feel worse… is awesome. Kendrick brings her natural sweetness and caution-ness to the role, causing great chemistry between herself and Gordon-Levitt.

However, all put together, seem out of place. Rogen trying to be there for a cancer stricken awkward friend… seems out of place. Gordon-Levitt, complete with shaved head from chemo trying to pick up girls at a club using his cancer as a pick up line… is off putting. I’m all for inappropriate humour, but this just wasn’t… anything

50/50 is not a great movie. I say this because, of its inconsistent tone. The parts that you think will be hilarious, end up being awkward, but not in a funny way. The serious moments drag. There’s not enough of the light heartedness. This inconsistency also prevents one from enjoying the film in its entirety. And like I said earlier, the expectations going into this movie, heavily corrupt the experience.

However, 50/50 is still a decent film, especially enjoyable to see Joseph Gordon Levitt & Seth Rogen together, in probably one of the best light hearted and easy going films dealing with Cancer. And to top it all off… it’s a true story. I leave you with, what I think is THE BEST Trailer for any movie based on a true story!

Trailer Talk with Shah: EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN (TODOS TENEMOS UN PLAN) – 2012

I’m not into much foreign language films, other than Bollywood, but Vigo Mortensen’s Spanish language film, EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN, seems pretty damn awesome.

The Trailer shows us a good life of a guy who’s just frustrated and wants nothing to do with it anymore. Then his identical twin brother shows up, and proposes something devious. This brother obviously seems like a shady character, brandishing a gun and the likes. The two switch identities, and the good brother then goes into the shady one’s life, and gets caught up in what seems to be a whirlwind of criminal activities.

The Trailer for EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN is pretty damn effective in every aspect. There are ample doses of mystery and intrigue, enough to make one want to watch the movie itself. Mortensen as usual is in fine form, and seems to be the one carrying this film, as I know no one else in the movie.

EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN looks pretty damn good, and might be a rare instance where I watch a movie purely with Subtitles.

How do you feel about watching a movie in another language, with Subtitles alone? Let me know in the comments below.

Ramblin’ Reviews by Shah: SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN – 2012

I was so looking forward to this trend of new age spins on old school Fairytales. It’d be cool to see such fantastical stories being told with the technology of today. Or so I thought. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNSTMAN was a very cool concept with some missteps which ended in a whole shit load of sucky.

The opening volley of this new concept, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNSTMAN is obviously based on the classic story of “Snow White & The Seven Dwarves.” The story is tweaked here and there to provide more of an action adventure feel, and the introduction of a new character.

The story of SNOW WHITE… is about how a treacherous Queen has usurped a kingdom with magic. Thriving on the beauty of other girls, the Queen is an evil witch who reigns with terror and death. Hidden away in her prison tower, is the daughter of the original King, alive due to her insane beauty, which seems to be the source of all life in the Magical Kingdom. Due to a twist of Fate, the Princess escapes and is lost to the Queen’s forces.

In the search of the princess, the Queen, seeks an expert tracker to bring her back. Enter the titular ‘Huntsman’. Who seeks the princess, but ends up becoming her protector, as she makes her way to the rebel forces loyal to her, so she can incite a coup and take back her kingdom. Thus reinstating life and beauty and perfect meadows and all that good stuff. An innovative concept added to the Snow White story that I don’t believe was present in the original. Somehow during this original and fresh take, things gets convoluted and messed up along the way.

Kristen Stewart might be remembered as playing that pale ass, whiny bitch that had an excessive hair gel fetish from those TWILIGHT movies. She plays Snow White in this one. One word: miscast. Stewart cannot act for the life of her. Her range of emotions goes from blank, to looking like she’s breathing. So to put her in a role that requires us to feel sympathy for and be rooting for her character renders the entire point of the story, completely moot. The only apropos casting of Stewart as Snow White, is the fact that she really is that damn pale skinned.

Charlize Theron is a powerhouse actor in any role you put her in. She’s solidified herself in performances like MONSTER and put herself the A-list of actresses. She’s no different in this movie. Theron’s performance as the evil Queen is awesome. Bar none. Her chops are on full display as she contorts and twists her entire psyche into a role of utter psychological grotesque-ness. But there’s a fuck up with this too. It’s too fucked up.

Hear me out. Throughout the film, we see Theron’s Queen as being this eternally angry and desperate woman, ruling her kingdom with fear and mystical powers. But even in her private moments, the Queen seems like she’s in constant pain. Never once does she seem to actually like being Queen, despite trying so hard to stay being Queen. Every scene is filled with her yelling, or in anguish or pining for something. It makes no sense. I was almost more compelled to feel sorry for the Queen, rather than Snow white. This inexplicable layer to the Queen, made it seem like there was more to her than just being an ‘evil bitch’, but there wasn’t, so it made no sense.

The plot doesn’t serve the story that well either. There is another original take on the whole ‘true love’s kiss’ awakening her from her slumber, but it’s SO subtle that I fear most audiences would miss it. The last act plays out clumsily with the ‘siege’ on the Queen’s castle neither epic, nor awesome.

Chris Hemsworth is pretty good as the Huntsman, but his significance to the story disappears after the 1st act. The rest is just filler material. If I had to pick one draw back to SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNSTMAN, it would most definitely have to be Kristen Stewart. I neither felt, cared nor gave a shit about anything she was trying to do through out the film. Which makes the crucial scene of her dramatically rallying soldiers behind her cause… completely ineffective.

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN was an innovative concept of modernizing a fairytale classic, but the modernization suffered from errors and missteps along the way, which rendered the entire experience completely unwatchable. It’s not even a fun or entertaining movie.

Trailer Talk with Shah: ARGO – 2012

I don’t think much of Ben Affleck as an actor. As a Director however, he is one of my favorites despite being only 2 films old. His 3rd film is an amazing True Story (so they say) produced by George Clooney, ARGO. Downside: He’s acting in this as well.

The Trailer for ARGO is crafted very well as it makes a movie that might otherwise seem boring and stupid, very exciting and incredibly interesting.

The premise of the story is: the US Embassy in Iran back in the 1970’s (I assume ‘cuz of the long sideburns Bryan Cranston is sporting) was seized by Terrorists, causing 6 US citizens to flee in fear of death. Due to the political instability, the US couldn’t send in troops to rescue them.

Enter Ben Affleck’s character who comes up with a plan of going into rescue them, under the guise of being a Canadian Film crew who are in Iran to shoot a science fiction film called “Argo”.

The Trailer builds up perfectly, as they premise is clearly identified, there’s OCEAN’S ELEVEN type of yuppie cool music playing in the background as Affleck and crew go about Hollywood to find people willing to support them in their con to save lives.

The cast is funny and boasts of great veterans like John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston supporting Affleck. The mix of charming wit and intensely electric dramatic scenes makes the Trailer for ARGO awesome, and a movie worth waiting for.

ARGO is on my ‘must watch’ movies list of this year, and I will be waiting for baited breath for its release on October 12th, 2012.

What do you think of Ben Affleck as a Director?? Let me know in comments below.

Ramblin’ Reviews by Shah: BLUE VALENTINE – 2010

So there are the typical love stories about flowers and gummy bears with warm feelings and charming witty-ness and yaayy! And then there are the stories that are reality; examples of temporary euphoria, emotional apprehension, flawed personalities, previous baggage and the harshness that is life. Should those stories be any less portrayed in films? BLUE VALENTINE says ‘no’.

Starring my favorite actors of Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams, BLUE VALENTINE is a small, touching, and, at times, horrible love story about two people who fell victim to circumstance, rose out of it beautifully and got in their own way. A very small story about a chance encounter leading a young couple down a whirlwind relationship that doesn’t go exactly how they expect.

They’re initially young with dreams fueled by the exuberance of being in love. However the future is different, and they might be happy, but they’re constantly dealing with the fact that they settled for the life they have.

It’s no secret that Gosling is one of my favorite actors. I’m even told that I might have a man-crush on him. But even if that’s true, it’s justifiably so. Gosling can probably become one the best actors of his generation. Contrary to his typical pretty boy look, Gosling plays a pathetic husband and father with receding hairline with no goals or ambitions in life, just going through it a day at a time. And he destroys the role. It’s a brutally honest portrayal of a man muddling through life, and trying to be happy. His lack of self worth affects his relationship with his wife, which makes up the core of the story.

Michelle Williams doesn’t do a lot of films, but man when she does, she really blows minds. Playing a wife who is constantly reminded of her youthful errors, which is further exasperated by the fact that her husband doesn’t share her regrets, is painful to watch. It’s the role of a lifetime, and deservingly so, considered it garnered her an Oscar Nomination.

BLUE VALENTINE is not for the faint of heart. There are excruciatingly painful moments that will literally cause the audience to hold their breath in anticipation of the scene to play itself out. Surprisingly though, at the same time, there are moments of pure laugh out loud hilarity; not to meant to be so, but it’s quite subtle. I wonder how effective those moments are for people that haven’t been in relationships that have caused healthy fights.

Director Derek Cianfrance stems from a Documentary background, and it shows throughout BLUE VALENTINE. The underplayed drama, explosive chemistry between the characters… are all toned down, not an ounce of melodrama, further enhancing the extreme serious-ness of that scene.  It’s like watching your neighbors fighting in front of you… you’re not sure if or when you should intervene, or even make them aware that you’re there. BLUE VALENTINE is able to invoke those ‘stop everything you’re doing until this is over’ reactions that very few films are capable of.

Sure, an explosive action or Sci-Fi film with breathtaking visuals can be exciting as hell… but it’s hard to replicate that with a story about relationships. Cianfrance does so seamlessly.

Following a back and forth from present to past using flashbacks, we get to experience the highs and lows of this couple, who are at a crossroads. The best thing about BLUE VALENTINE has to be it’s ambiguous ending.

It’s a painfully horrible story to watch due to its intense realism about a couple that’s struggling to continue to be in love with one another, BLUE VALENTINE is a serious story, with intense performances and realism that is unparalleled in this genre so far.

Rambling Reviews by Shah: YOUNG ADULT – 2009

I love Jason Reitman movies. I’ve been a fan from his 1st, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, to his last, UP IN THE AIR. Therefore, I was looking forward to YOUNG ADULT, with an actor I like a lot as well, Charlize Theron. However, this was probably Reitman’s worst movie to date!

YOUNG ADULT features the story of a neurotic, emotionally stunted ghostwriter of a semi-popular teen series of Young Adult books. The story follows her realization at how empty her life is, and by deciding on re kindling her flame with her small town high school sweetheart. The kicker: He’s happily married with a newborn.  Yea, she’s not too smart.

Charlize Theron gives a pretty unique performance as a 37-year-old woman, who still acts like a teenager, and shows the emotional capacity of the characters she writes. Which, is probably the best thing about this movie.

After returning to the small town that she hates, Theron’s Mavis reconnects with her high school sweetheart. The black humor comes into play as she accidentally meets Patton Oswalt’s Matt, another acquaintance from High School, who she develops a quick friendship with, simply because he’s the only one she knows in her hated hometown. Matt’s straight faced reactions to Mavis’ plan of ‘hooking’ up with her married father of an ex, is brilliant. It’s even funnier when his constant harping on about the ridiculous-ness of her plan, has no effect whatsoever on her.

Now, I have to say how freakin’ awesome it is that one of the famous geeks actually gets a leading role in a movie, NOT about Sci-Fi or a parody of Sci-Fi. And yes, after Theron, Oswalt is the next ‘lead’. Patton Oswalt basically plays himself as a wise cracking, self-deprecating fatty, who provides the voice of reason to Mavis’s incomprehensibly retarded plan.

The movie paces itself pretty well, kind of slow in parts. The humor, typical of Reitman stuff, is present, but doesn’t have much effect this time around. Apparently, Mavis was the typical high school bitch, who left town first chance she got. Upon her return, she makes no attempt to hide her contempt for the town and former school-mates, as she tries to woo her married ex, with typical high school techniques; one of which was by randomly reminding him of their sexual history, during casual conversations in public. Awkward? Yes, it was… painfully so, yet side splittingly hilarious at the same time.

Unlike other people who grow and mature after High School, Mavis has stayed the same, and is oblivious to how other’s feel and has no… let’s say common sense of emotions or how to behave in society. Charlize Theron’s performance is probably the best thing about YOUNG ADULT, as the story kind of dies somewhere along the line.

Initially, YOUNG ADULT seems like the clichéd story about a character that’s a dick, realizing the error of their ways, and turning into a human being. I wish that this initial theory was how the film panned out, because the reality was far less satisfying. The shock value of Mavis’ reprehensible actions were hilarious at first, but when there was no ultimate resolution to her character or her situation, it left me feeling robbed.

YOUNG ADULT is a great look at how people evolve over time, through one of the best basis of measurements: high school. However, at the end, YOUNG ADULT really did nothing with its story, with no closure to the main character, no solid supporting character to ground her despite Oswalt’s brilliant performance, and ultimately no ending that went anywhere.