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Blog posts October 2018

What Is Wrong With Bollywood?

Bollywood is like that middle-aged annoying lady who goes to kitty parties and often compares her lifestyle with that of other ladies in the group; prides upon the fact that she is somehow above them and appreciates the youngsters while secretly making unpopular comments and narcissist attempts at restoring her older glory. The problem with B-town is not the empty-shelled actors and actresses who are better equipped to be a model or a fashion icon but that they are hiding behind their well-established Godfather guardian trying very hard to act and the media who encourage cheap tricks played by these movie zealots who get down to the lowest levels to promote their upcoming movies which don’t last even three days at the theatres. What comes naturally to these supposedly entitled brats is pulling out tantrums, gushing over Hollywood singers or worse self-promoting themselves by involving in a high-profile scandal to grab to limelight which will bring them in front of the news-hungry paparazzi. Below are five things that is absolutely ridiculously wrong with the infamous Bollywood.

Fashion vs Acting

Agreed that there is a close connection between fashion and Bollywood. Most of the B- town beauties are chosen from Miss India, Miss World list and the likes. As their leading ladies, movie makers need actresses with long dainty legs, surgical smiles and very less acting. In fact, fluency in the Hindi language and the ability to deliver a dialogue is just too unnecessary for today’s actress because it often gets dubbed. It is an added advantage if the main lead is a Khan; any Khan will do for that matter.

Nepotism

If half the leading actors and actresses are from the modelling industry, the other half are the children or nephews and niece of yesteryear’s stars. Some have the audacity to complain that it was rather too difficult for them to take a step in to mainstream cinema while riding in daddy’s luxury cars and managing dates with the movie directors which apparently clashed with their foreign vacations. ‘Are my diamond shoes too heavy!?’

Stereotypical Garam Masala

An orphan boy, a socially awkward teenage girl, a love story between rich and poor family prodigy, bling- bling dance numbers occurring at random point of time, foreign locations for romantic songs, unnecessary melodramatic scenes and overly spiced intimate scenes; haven’t we seen it all! The climax scene ending at a railway station from the 90s has been replaced with airport meetings because there is lot of money in Bollywood, so why not!

Following a Trend

A very famous TV series which set the world record for highest viewed series has given way to epic movies in Bollywood which are following a certain trend that is a dead giveaway of the original series. Apparently, in Bollywood, there is no shame in copying the most obvious of the trend that is a sure shot way of minting money, leads to very low quality in terms of the screenplay which is imperfect even from the perfectionists. They call it inspiration. We have seen a series of historical movies come and go for a few years which hit the box office list and made millions. Aren’t the viewer’s aware from where it is copied? Come on Dude! It is not the 60s anymore.

Private vs Personal

Rather than the movies, it is the personal life of actors and actresses that are in the media now-a-days rather than the upcoming movies. All of a sudden when an actor is in for a trial for a crime that can get him jailed for a long time, there comes news of his charity work, his upcoming movies that portray him as a lover of the country, the savior of the poor, the holy man dancing in front of a powerful deity showcasing his love for another culture than his. While a famous 1-year-old is having a play date with another celebrity toddler, they are working hard to show off their baby fat so that the sidetracked parent’s career sees some limelight. While the cheap flicks, the way too unnecessary hype for a change in a haircut or a probable breakup of a young couple makes news, the highly talented actor’s movies don’t even get released because of insufficient budget and not enough permissions.

All in all, a lot of factors influence the progress of Bollywood. It is not the directors, the actors or media alone who are responsible at the low quality of movies that are getting released each year. If we have to increase the quality of movies, the stereotypical aspects have to fall apart and make way for fresh talent so that Indian cinema can flourish.

-An Editorial by Anusha Shanbhag
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A Closer Look at The Shining: A Masterpiece!

Heeere's Johnny! appals a horrifying and maniacal Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson in one of the most memorable scenes in film history, also in one of the more influential, inspiring and the best Horror Movies of all time, The Shining (1980). Directed by the Legendary Filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick, the film seems to follow a simple narrative of the Torrance's moving into the aesthetic spectacle known as the Overlook Hotel as Jack Torrance is the newly appointed caretaker for the entire season of winter. With nobody else around, things start to go downhill for the Torrance's, as Jack's psyche quickly begins to deteriorate and eventually becomes a horrifying threat to both Wendy (his wife) and Danny (his son).

When I say the most influential film of all time, The Shining and director Stanley Kubrick inspired generations of filmmakers and movies for a wide variety of different reasons. Firstly, the visual marvel of the Steadicam. Invented by Garrett Brown, The Shining is the first Horror film to use the Steadicam throughout the runtime and is one of the first generation films to utilize the format alongside movies like Bound for Glory (1976) and Marathon Man (1976). The fluid tracking shots and the seamless panorama that Kubrick created using Steadicam captivated not only the viewer, but also gave the movie a chilling feel from beginning to end. 

The Shining is also notoriously famous for its ominous background score which basically is an amalgamation of vexatious sounds and no rhythm or tune whatsoever. It only surges up the disconcerting vibe and creates an unsettling atmosphere, that Kubrick intentionally wanted to create even for his cast and crew on set. Sound Mixing and Editing is also yet another significant aspect of the film, particularly noticed when Danny strolls through the meticulously designed hallways of the Overlook Hotel. The sooth-calming sound of the carpeted floors and the irritating sound when he rides on his tricycle on the hardwood floor is so-well mixed and edited, which also displays the incredible attention-to-detail that Stanley Kubrick showcased in this Horror Classic.

Adding to all the technical efforts were the story and the performances. Despite the fact that the base storyline is conventional, the screenplay written by Kubrick is complex to the core. The dialogue and certain clues or messages that Stanley direct towards branches out tons of questions, be it the ending and other character cameos inside and out. Jack Nicholson's terrifying performance is one of the best, and the most talked about in his illustrious career so far. His dialogue delivery, demented body language (especially during that staircase scene with Wendy) cements the fact that we're dealing with a fickle psychotic character on-screen. Shelley Duvall's character is the one that we (as an audience member) can root for in the midst of this madness, and she portrays her fragile petrified character flawlessly as we can see the appalling look on her face in company with Danny Lloyd, who is another standout of the film.

Overall, The Shining is a masterpiece of a film from top to bottom and brilliantly displays the incredible ability of the genius that is Stanley Kubrick. A Horror Classic which will remain remembered for generations to come.

-An Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Top 5 Best Classic Horror Movies of All Time

Before we conclude this year's Halloween Special, how about we go back 30, 40 or even 50 years back to take a closer look on some of the Best Classic Horror Movies? Nevertheless, I'm sure that we missed out on quite a few Classics, and we hope that someday we get to do a Part 2 and talk about all the other films. So, presenting the Top 5 Best Classic Horror Movies of All Time.

Related - Top 5 Horror Movies of 2017 and 2018Top 5 Recent Scary Movies to Watch This Halloween


5. The Thing (1982)

Director - John Carpenter
Starring - Kurt Russell, Keith David and Wilford Brimley

Set in the frigid weather of Antartica, The Thing tells the story of a group of American Government researchers who were stranded within a trepidation of an extra-terrestrial entity which is causing conflict and taking over the world with it's ungodly and imitation abilities. Presented with its dreadful gory scenes, the special effects in this films were outstanding. From the imagination to the creation and the execution, the gruesome hair-raising scenes in this film gave me chills and honestly that's what made this film so special.

Carpenter's ability to capture both beautiful and petrifying shots must be appreciated alongside with the film's remarkably written screenplay. The compacted tension between the characters and the importance of their decision making was explained masterfully and kept the movie moving without any intervals. Overall, The Thing was one-of-a-kind and gave me those nightmarish shudders very often. I'm guessing that we'll never see a movie like this again and I'm happy that I took the time to sit and marvel the brilliance on-screen.


4. The Exorcist (1973)

Director - William Friedkin
Starring - Linda Blair and Jason Miller

A tale of exorcism that is loosely based on actual events, The Exorcist revolves around the demonic possession of a young girl and the purging of this demon through an exorcism performed by two priests. The Exorcist is a tense narrative of good versus evil where the paranormal aspects of the film is grounded in biblical faith. The contrast between good and evil is depicted perfectly through the opposing forces of religious faith and paranormal vengeance. The staircase spider walk is possibly one of the most iconic terrifying scenes in cinematic horror history and it straight up assaults the viewer with its powerful shocking visuals. The special effects used in this film is a sledgehammer to the head where it elevates the film to a higher level of frightening. An in-your-face horror storytelling, The Exorcist is a finely crafted tale of spirituality.


3. Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Director - Georges Franju
Starring - Édith Scob, Alida Valli and Pierre Brasseur

A surgeon causes an accident which leaves his daughter disfigured, and he embarks on a mission to give her a new face. Georges Franju’s Eyes without a Face is vastly disturbing and poetic. A film on human experiments and facial transplants, this movie deals in themes of morality, insanity, superficiality of appearance and identity. The director attempts to give his own take on these themes with a film that is more arthouse than commercial filmmaking. Unlike the rest of the films in this list, Eyes without a Face does not have a solid story. This movie is chilling for its haunting but brilliant cinematography and bone-chilling scores. Eyes Without a Face plays on anxiety and fear. The audience will be able to empathize with the obsessive actions of the protagonist at first. Driven by guilt and paternal love, the protagonist becomes a monster and his insanity takes a toll on the viewer’s stomach for graphic terror. Vulgar, shocking and expressive, Eyes without a Face is a melange of horror and metaphorical poetry.

2. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Director - Roman Polanski
Starring - Mia Farrow, Ruth Gordon and John Cassavetes

Roman Polanski’s adaption of the novel with the same name resulted in a horror movie that is ominous and grisly all at the same time. Rosemary’s Baby kickstarted the trend of films that centred around the belief in the occult. A psychological thriller that revolves around a fearful pregnant woman, Rosemary’s Baby deals with important themes such as rape and paranoia. The very relevant themes presented to the viewer is accented by the acting of Mia Farrow, who plunges us into her world where we share her doubts and mistrusts. The devil is truly in the details with this one. Polanski’s leads us down a spiral staircase of dread where the scares from the film come from the slow-burning extrication of Rosemary’s mental state and where the audience are afraid to draw a line between hallucinations and the paranormal. A diabolical milestone of cinematic horror, Rosemary’s Baby is the synonym word for creepy.

1. Psycho (1960)

Director - Alfred Hitchcock
Starring - Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and John Gavin

It’s hard to have a list of classic horror films and not have Hitchcock’s Psycho rank-fluctuate among the top 3 spots. Arguably one of the most celebrated and horrifying cinematic classics of all time, Psycho is laden with histrionic realism and shocking visuals. Psycho’s horror lies in how it captures the audience as the camera’s point-of-view. The viewer is always left reeling from the peril of being slain themselves because of how immersive the film’s camerawork is. As the story builds steadily to its chilling climax, being forced to challenge Norman Bates directly gives a claustrophobic effect to the viewer and that itself is the payoff. Watch out for the sensational shower scene and the stair-murder as it jumps out as one the most arresting segments in the film and it is the very experience of seeing them unfold before your eyes that demonstrates how frighteningly clever Hitchcock is. A horror masterpiece that has stood the test of time, Psycho, is unnerving till this day.
 
-A Top 5 List by Team JFMF
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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Review: Lackluster!

Starring – Kiernan Shipka
Developed by – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Genre – Supernatural / Horror
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Fancied as a contemporary by-product of the Supernatural Horror genre, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the 2014 comic book of the same name bustles around our protagonist, Sabrina Spellman, and her ardent gang of friends in Greendale, an aesthetically appealing fictional precinct.

Raised in a witch environed household, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka), half-witch and half-mortal is your joyous, happy-go-lucky student in Baxter High who is a bit adamant about her upcoming dark-baptism event coming to pass on her 16th Birthday. On the day of the ritual, Sabrina's concerns increase twofold when she finds out that in exchange of few royalties and distinctions included in the dark-baptism package, she has to sacrifice her freedom, leave her friends, and dedicate herself to the Dark Lord, the King of Hell (also referred as the "Goat Guy"). Sabrina terminates the ritual and questions the barbaric tendencies and the nonsensical rules of the Path of Night and in turn, faces serious repercussions which extend the narrative.

Rationalization

Justifying the main title, every episode in this ten-part extravaganza is a chilling adventure, whether it's starting a women-support group called WICCA at school or fighting satanic witches, the stakes increase, with the episode count, as things begin to go downhill for Sabrina and friends. Also based on a contempo comic-book, this Netflix Original also follow similar traits to a conventional Superhero as far as the good vs evil aspect and whatnot. But, as the narrative advances from one episode to another, the pacing becomes an issue, and after the fifth episode (which I consider as the road bump), the storyline goes south and suffers a steady decline in terms of keeping the viewer interested. The subplots of Sabrina's friends, be it Roz's eye disorder, Susie's relationship with her family members, Harvey's affection towards his brother was either disinteresting or even mundane to go through every time. Although it appeared cute, lovely and interesting initially, the entire romantic angle between Sabrina and her boyfriend felt exaggerated, and a bit off too much when "I'll do anything for Harvey" narrative purposefully becomes the focal part of the series.

As far as the characters go, the most compelling one is, in fact, between Sabrina and her aunties Hilda and Zelda (played by Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto) and her charming cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), who bestows an unusual love-hate relationship dynamic between each other. The fun, love and emotion were knit splendidly throughout the runtime within these four characters, as it makes them so much more relatable and enjoyable. Additionally, the supporting cast including Wardwell (Michelle Gomez), Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) and her sisters, Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle), had their moments and shared significant screen time to compliment the plot.

When it comes to horror elements, the ghosts/witches were neither scary nor campy to watch. The show never maintained that unsettling nature, but it's rather spooky most of the time. The set and production design including the misty dark nights, houses brimmed with creepers, the colour patterns, the chic costumes, alluring art and interiors, everything made the vista look vibrant, exquisite and chilling on-screen. The background score also pretty much commemorated the vibe of the show in addition to the peppy likeable soundtrack. Cinematography also deserves some special recognition here, as every shot was so-well lit and captured on top of the uncanny and odd out-of-focus that they resorted to making the scene much more intriguing.

Conclusion

Nonetheless, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina had its moments initially in the first two or three episodes before dwindling down into the unholy pit of boredom. It is certainly a tough show to get through even when you vaguely concentrate on what's happening while scrolling down your Twitter feed or even if you're a fan of the franchise or the comic books. Watch at your own risk!

Rating - 2/5 | Grade - C

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Image via Netflix

Image via Netflix

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Throwback Thursday: Unnai Pol Oruvan [Review]

Verdict - "Fantastic!" | Rating - 5/5

Unnai Pol Oruvan (2009) is one of those films where once you’re done watching it, you’ll prolly sit up and wonder out aloud why there aren’t more films like this? A police commissioner gets an anonymous phone call from a caller who claims to have planted many bombs around a city. In exchange for information about the bombs, he demands four high-level militants to be released from custody. The entire film rests on the heavy dialogues between Kamal Hassan and Mohanlal and it was very interesting to see how there was an equal power to both their words. No one had the drop on the other and it felt like a fast-paced tennis match.

The theme of the movie is to explore the common man’s angst. There’s a lot of truth in the intellectual battle between the two, and much of it has to do with how numb society has become towards extreme crimes. Kamal Hassan’s monologue towards the end of the film is bone-chilling and it deserves a standing ovation. Performance-wise, Mohanlal was excellent in his role as the commissioner. His aura was powerful and there was never any doubt on his capabilities as a lawman. Kamal Hassan has a huge role and he hit it out of the Ballpark. There are alot of clever dialogues from him that he pulls off with ease. The film talks about harsh realities that are happening all across the world but what it takes a stand for are the harsher penalties that should be employed as solutions. Fighting fire with Fire. As a concept, while it may not be ethically or morally feasible in reality, works well in this film. Just like the audience that was seated around me, I found myself reflecting and deep in thought.

-An Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
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The Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now

With countless titles available on Netflix, it sometimes takes a few minutes or maybe forever to pick a worthy movie to watch until your girlfriend tiredly falls asleep on the couch. With nearly twenty movie categories, it is for a fact tough to navigate through the giant catalogue. So, we here at the National JFMF HQ decided to cruise through the library and accumulated a bunch of Horror Movies that you should not miss watching. You're welcome!

Related - Top 5 Horror Movies of 2017 and 2018Top 5 Recent Scary Movies to Watch This Halloween


Gerald's Game

Director - Mike Flanagan
Starring - Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood

Written and directed by Mike Flanagan ('Oculus' and 'Ouija: Origin of Evil' fame), Gerald's Game is a psychological horror film based on Stephen King's 1992 novel of the same name and stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood in the lead roles. The narrative involves a middle-aged couple striving to keep their marriage together as they take a weekend off to spend quality time together at their deserted vacation home.

Involving only three or four characters at best and encompassed within a limited setting, the tightly written script by Jeff Howard and Mike Flanagan is the film's strong suit here. The interactions and the dialogue between the characters, the emotional connotations, the self-discovery aspects develop an interesting character study of Jessie, played by Carla Gugino, who does an impeccable job showcasing the pain, anguish and adversity that her character had to go through while remaining handcuffed to the bedpost. Overall, Gerald's Game is a riveting thriller of a film carried by some splendid performances, first-class writing, and a topnotch directorial job by Flanagan. Don't miss it!


Annihilation

Director - Alex Garland
Starring - Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac

Directed by one of the best directors working right now, Alex Garland, Annihilation was shot beautifully. Everything from the production design, cinematography, and CGI looked exquisite and is a true cinematic experience. The direction by Garland was exceptional, but, the film is a slow-burn, it's filled with social commentary, creepy imagery, and exciting subplots which makes it special and also very confusing.

Overall, Annihilation is not your conventional science-fiction flick, it has quite a lot to unpack with no coherent ending and will pretty much baffle your brain with alternate theories and social commentary. On the contrary, it is a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, masterfully directed and gorgeous looking film that you should not miss if you're up for a discrete science-fiction drama.


Apostle

Director - Gareth Evans
Starring - Dan Stevens and Lucy Boynton

A period horror film, Apostle (2018), a Netflix production, revolves around Thomas Richardson, a former missionary set on rescuing his sister who has been kidnaped and held ransom by a religious cult. Following the concept of tense and creepy atmospheric films like The Invitation and The Innocents, Apostle, is an intense yet steady descent into terror.

It is pleasing to see how horror film directors are slowly learning to let slide cheap thrills and horrible jump scares in favour for slow-building storylines and unsettling dread. While he has contributed to the anthology horror film 'VHS 2' in 2013, this is director Gareth Evan’s first attempt at a full-length horror feature. Having carved a name for himself through violent martial arts epics like 'The Raid' films, Evans has retained his signature choreographic style and penchant for blood while venturing into dark horror territory. It has a ruthless storyline and has a masterful way of narrating its story. It is very transparent and wants you to understand that there is something around the corner that will scream at you in time to come. There is mastery in its execution, but the extremities of the content as well as the jerkiness in the tone might be off-putting to some.


The Ritual

Director - David Bruckner
Starring - Rafe Spall and Arsher Ali

Starring Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton in the lead roles, The Ritual is a horror film directed by David Bruckner (V/H/S fame) and follows the perilous hike of four middle-aged men to the King's Trail in Northern Sweden. After paying respects to their recently deceased friend, the lads take a different route on their way back into a dense forest where eerie things start to appear.

When it comes to the technical aspects, this movie was breathtaking. The grand extravagant panorama of Northern Sweden was captured masterfully and was an absolute treat to the eye. The sound design, sound mixing, and the ominous background score complimented the camera work as the film felt like an experience which should not be missed. Overall, The Ritual is one of the best Horror / Thriller films on Netflix, watch it on a big screen with the volume rocked up to the maximum.


1922

Director - Zak Hilditch
Starring - Thomas Jane

Based on another novella of the same name by Stephen King, 1922 is a character study of Wilfred James (played by Thomas Jane), a typical corn-field farmer who prides himself by saying that "A man's pride was a man's land". Soon after few altercations with his wife, Wilfred convinces his son, Henry, to accompany him in murdering his mother as the film moves along with few nightmarish consequences. 

Extending the point I made before, this movie is a character study and enhances the concepts of Karma, foolishness, intolerance and guiltiness masterfully. The three or four characters in the film were all written and utilized appropriately by director Zak Hilditch, primarily, the lead character of Wilfred, who undergoes massive trauma and regrets almost everything happened in the year 1922 in his otherwise happy family life. Overall, 1922 is a horrific psychological drama filled in with profound meanings of different aspects about life. A top priority if you're a movie fan.


-A Just Stream Editorial by Team JFMF
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Making a Murderer Part 2 Review: Compelling!

Director – Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos
Genre – True Crime Documentary
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

[The opinions expressed in this article are entirely mine and were not endorsed by any political organization or person.]

Introduction: Acclaimed as one of the best documentaries in recent years, Making a Murderer, a Netflix Orginal is an inspiration behind quite a few Netflix shows like 'Wild Wild Country' and even mockumentaries like 'American Vandal'. The series follows the unfortunate journey of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, both convicted and behind-bars for a crime they didn't 'allegedly' commit. In Part 2, the story takes fresh new turns when a distinguished and a celebrated lawyer, Kathleen Zellner introduces herself as the new attorney of Mr Avery. On the other hand, the series also explores Brendan's advocates' progress to get Mr Dassey out of prison as a result of a coerced confession.

Rationalization: Triumphing over multiple awards and nominations, the writer-director duo Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos once again showcase their extraordinary filmmaking talent by detailing the entire ten-year journey from 2007 till 2018 precisely, decoding every misstep from the 2007 trial and by striking with the right of emotions between Avery and his family and also between Dassey and his parents. Kathleen Zellner, the show's brand-new addition, is a breath of fresh air as the whole ten-hour programme primarily involves her unravelling new pieces of evidence which are not only credible but also displays the fact how poorly handled the 2007 trial was. Laura Nirider and her defence team on the other hand also fill in important roles throughout the runtime, as their journey of getting the poor son-of-a-gun out of the way is equally fascinating to watch.

Conclusion: Overall, Making a Murderer Part 2 is a worthy successor and lives up to the standards of making a ten-hour narrative a compelling observation. They're only a handful of shows which make me emotional and Making a Murderer successfully overawed me by making me feel about these real-life human beings and the anguish that they had to go through every day restricted in a secluded world. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, this is the best thing on Netflix right now, and if you're one of those 'binge-watchers' who hasn't had the chance to check it out, please do immediately.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Daredevil Season 3 Review: Super Thrilling!

Starring – Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll and Vincent D'Onofrio
Director – Various
Genre – Comic Book / Superhero
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Terming the improvements of the storyline and the brutality, Daredevil Season 3 has managed to satisfy expectations. With the release of Wilson Fisk from prison, hell breaks lose putting our hero vigilante on the verge of death yet again. With the sudden cancellation of 'Iron Fist', Daredevil had a lot to live up to. But fortunately, Season 3 has successfully brought back the light on Marvel.

Charlie Cox and Elden Henson deliver impeccable performances making their respective characters much more relatable and iconic while Deborah Ann Woll is the best supporting character I've ever seen. The action sequences and lighting have to be the most appreciated in my opinion, although its emotions and some character drama that makes this season much more thrilling than its predecessors. With series like 'The Punisher', 'Jessica Jones' and 'Daredevil', Marvel holds its crown for directing the best superhero action and Season 3 is just another cherry on top.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW
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Namaste England - Honest Movie Review

[This Movie Review was first posted on Anurag's The Filmy Basti]

Director Vipul Shah’s second offering in the ‘Namaste’ franchise, Namaste England, is a baffling example of reputed names coming together to create an extremely insipid and nauseating fare. Writer Ritesh Shah, who has written movies like 'Pink', 'Chef' and 'Raid', has co-written this incoherent and disjoined story of Punjab flying to London. Casting director Honey Trehan, whose previous work boasts of casting strong ensembles in movies like 'Kaminey', 'Fukrey' and 'Talvar', casts the most disinterested bunch of actors who make Arjun Kapoor’s performance seem Oscar worthy! Even director Vipul Shah’s passable filmography highlights his not so great skills, but some of his previous movies were bearable thanks to its leading cast. Sadly, even they let him down here.

An ambitious Punjabi girl, Jasmeet (played by Parineeti Chopra), aspires to be a jewelry designer but is oppressed by her patriarchal family. She uses her bunch of friends and boyfriend, Param (played by Arjun Kapoor), to get out of her house and work. Upon finding of their daughter’s deceit, they decide to get her married to Param. Due to the ridiculous turn of events, she convinces Param to relocate to London (though she could have relocated to Delhi, Chennai or Timbuktu and it would have made no difference). Now, do not even try looking for logic here because there isn’t any. So, due to yet another ridiculous subplot, Param cannot get a visa and hence, a desperate Jasmeet leaves him and flies to London. Just when you think good riddance, the makers remind you that you are just halfway through this excruciating emotionless saga.

Their lack of conviction or common sense is evidently visible in almost every sequence. Param and Jasmeet exchange besotted looks from Dussera to Diwali to Holi, but Param says, ’Punjab mein pyaar toh doosro ki shaadiyo mein hi hota hai’. So, out of the blue, there is a wedding. How? Don’t ask! A rich, elite, supposed seductress meets a ‘Gabru Punjabi Munda’ and decides the next minute to marry him. How? Don’t ask! A guy sharing a dingy shanty in London and shown to be living in the bathroom there, steps out in perfectly gelled hair and tuxedos, sweeping rich girls off their feet. How? Don’t even ask!! The makers seem to have answered all these with just one phrase – Who cares?! Vipul Shah repeats the same tropes from 'Namaste London' – a smart girl, a lovelorn naïve guy, a patriotic monologue in London and a sad song by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan! But, his poor directorial skills in 'Namaste London' were overshadowed by good performances by the ensemble, especially Katrina Kaif. It remains Katrina Kaif’s only memorable performance as an actor and reprising the same Jasmeet, Parineeti Chopra makes this a poor caricature. While Katrina’s Jasmeet was flawed and shrewd, she still evoked some empathy and connect. Parineeti makes a shoddy caricature of Jasmeet, with a below average performance and awful dialogue delivery in emotional scenes. It is probably her worst performance till date.

Arjun Kapoor does not have a great filmography to boast of, and he adds yet another poorly acted role to the list. Akshay Kumar had a naughty and lustful swag to his character in Namaste London. Here, Arjun repeatedly says ‘Tumhe dekhke mere dil mein aisi aisi feelings aa rahi hai ki kuch ho jaega’ and you still find it hard to believe. The love story between the leads is so poorly developed in the first 10 minutes of the movie, that the audiences do not connect with them at all. There is no sympathy evoked for his difficult journey to London, travelling through half the world. As I mentioned earlier, the rest of the cast is a bunch of novices who have no weight in their characters nor have any acting chops. Aditya Seal and Dijana Dejanovic as the lead’s partners in London look good but get poorly written characters with no scope to perform. As if the main plot was not tiring enough, there are useless subplots talking about illegal immigrants, dark side of patriarchy and over-the-top nationalism – none of them required in the central story line!

A movie that lacks a tight script, good dialogues, abled craft of filmmaking and captivating performances deserves not to be rated at all. At a time when small budget movies are pushing the boundaries with innovative content, this is a major let down. With nothing really working in the movie, except may be the clothes that the leads wear, I do not think it deserves anything on a scale of 1 to 5.

My Rating – 0/5 | Grade - B+ (A Disaster Piece!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Anurag Rao (@The Filmy Basti!)

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Badhaai Ho - Honest Movie Review

[This Movie Review was first posted on Anurag's The Filmy Basti]

You know you are in for a good ride when a movie opens in a middle-class household, with a bickering mother-in-law and subtle humor over daily household chores. In ‘Badhaai Ho’, debutante director Amit Ravindernath Sharma and his writers Shantanu Srivastava, Akshat Ghildial and Jyoti Kapoor create a funny and believable canvas filled with real characters that are stuck in a supposedly embarrassing, yet hilarious situation – when the middle-aged couple of the family get pregnant!

Verdict - "A Delectable Fare!"

A young boy from a middle-class family, Nakul Kaushik (played by Ayushmann Khurrana), has a perfect life. A doting family, an understanding girlfriend and a high-flying career. His life seemingly crumbles down when he discovers his middle-aged parents (played by Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta) are expecting a child, 25 years after he was born! What ensues is hilarious ride of children feeling contempt for their parents and the society adding insult to injury. Adding to their woes is the matriarch of the family, Dadi (played by Surekha Sikri), whose taunts leave you in splits. His colleague and girlfriend, Renee (played by Sanya Malhotra) bears the brunt of this commotion and so does her elite IAS mother (played by Sheeba Chaddha).

Firstly, full points to the art director and costume designers for authentically setting up a typical middle-class household, replete with women of the neighborhood bonding over Tambola after a Satsang, crockery neatly stacked in a glass cupboard and the drawing room doubling up as the room for the granny in the house. The makers do not take time in setting up the theme and quickly get to the point, which reflects in the crisp runtime of the movie as well. Director Amit Sharma beautifully exploits his cinematographer, Sanu Varghese, to create frames that come alive on screen. The congested and tiny house becomes the vibrant epicenter of this hysterical entertainer, only because of the brilliant shots. These frames are further lifted by the witty writing by Akshat Ghildial, where humour is mostly understated. Some of the best examples of the brilliant writing are the hilarious scenes where an awkward Gajraj Rao breaks the news at home and the one where Dadi, played stupendously by Surekha Sikri, rebukes her daughter and elder daughter-in-law at a wedding. Also, it was good to see an organic progression of the story, sans major melodrama. The taboo surrounding an elderly couple conceiving a child, despite having a son of marriageable age, is normalized delicately without being over the top.

As is the case with any such content-driven movies, it is the actors who bring these character to life! Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta are perfectly cast as the embarrassed couple, never letting their characters slip into farcical shame. Ayushmann Khurrana, who has become a flagbearer of sorts for this kind of cinema, is in top form and uses his charm and comic timing in equal measures. Supporting him well in a relatively smaller part is Sanya Malhotra and her mother, Sheeba Chaddha, who provide ample support to the narrative. Surekha Sikri as Dadi, is hilarious and one of the most endearing characters for a granny written in Hindi cinema in recent times. Also, it was fun to watch all the characters speak in chaste western UP dialect, adding another dimension to their characters.

Over the last few years, content-driven stories from the small towns or inspired by the middle-class folks have fancied filmmakers in Bollywood. Badhaai Ho takes a similar route as ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’ and picks a taboo topic. With a similar plot as Steve Martin’s 1995 comedy, ‘Father of the Bride 2’, Badhaai Ho uses a topic perceived as embarrassing and injects comedy in right measures, to create a delectable fare.

My Rating – 3.5/5 | Grade - B+ (A Perefect Weekend Pick!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Anurag Rao (@The Filmy Basti!)

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Vada Chennai - Honest Movie Review

‘Jeikurom’o Illaiyo...Modhala Sanda Seiyanum!’ opines Anbu when he earns the enmity of other gangsters. Vada Chennai is the result when you bring together two National Award Winners for a film once again. It is intense, rugged and sticks true to its nature. Vada Chennai is the tale of two gangsters Guna (Samuthirakani) and Senthil (Kishore) who run their illegal business along the coastal line area of North Chennai and how the life of Anbu (Dhanush) interweaves with theirs in such a manner as not to be easily separated. 

Verdict - “Raw! Gritty! Authentic!

Now, the story isn’t completely about Anbu and his life with the gangsters. Instead, the character of Dhanush is entangled into the main plot and it is not a hero-centric film as the story and the other characters play a pivotal role. Vetrimaaran, who is known for his screenplay and also won a National Award had composed the film with much competence as the characters are neatly sketched and every scene was crucial in building the movie. I loved the way the story took time to construct itself onscreen, running on its own pace and most importantly there isn’t any mind-numbing ridiculous songs or clichéd romantic scenes to disrupt the flow. The narrative of the film was in such a way that if something happens on screen, like a murder, it was explained later on in the film without a plot hole. So, there is a steady search for answers for the audience as they weren’t foreseeable. 

The cast of the film was a perfect selection, be it Samuthirakani or Kishore or Daniel Balaji, Vetrimaran has roped in the ‘Best’ for the movie. Andrea Jeremiah unsurprisingly steals the show, yet another vital character and she's impressive as always. The impact she created when uttering the dialogue ‘Enna Patha Thevdiya Mari Iruka?’ is enormous. But, the stand out characters for me was Rajan played by the ace-director Ameer. His character had an emotional narrative which was very interesting to watch.

On an interesting note, I found a similarity and contrast in concept between Vada Chennai and Pa. Ranjith’s ‘Kaala’. First, let me tell you about the similarity, which was, both the films are primarily or basically is about the discrimination of downtrodden and the politicians’ aim of removing them from their own place. Kaala Seth (Rajni) from Kaala and Rajan (Ameer) from Vada Chennai voices for the people, stand against the government and fight for their rights. The contrast in concept which I mentioned is the way both characters fight for their land. What Kaala said that the people from slums are not what Vada Chennai is. Maybe, the timeline in which both movies are set in might answer the contrariness. 

Vetrimaaran seems to not compromise in anything for making the film utterly realistic. They even went for ‘Adults Only’ certification from the censor board without muting the unparliamentary words which was a bold attempt cause that made the film more native. Another pillar to the already astonishing film was Santhosh Narayanan (SaNa) and his pulsating background score. As I mentioned earlier, there weren't dance numbers or a hero introduction song which films of this genre generally tend to have. Instead, the songs blended well with the scenes. SaNa did know when to use the background score, thereby elevating the film on a tremendous level. 

A movie without a flaw? I would dare to say, Vada Chennai is undoubtedly the best movie of 2018. All the fans of ‘Pudhupettai’, who were asking for its sequel, Dhanush is back again but as Anbu. Congregated with a gripping narrative, intriguing characters, impressive performances and overall some masterful storytelling this movie is Cinematic Brilliance.

My Rating – 4.5/5 | Grade – A+ (Don’t Dare to Miss It!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)
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Throwback Thursday: Halloween 1978 [Review]

Verdict - "Mundane!" | Rating - 2.75/5

Directed by one of the most influential filmmakers of Hollywood, John Carpenter, Halloween 1978 stars Jamie Lee Curtis in the lead role, and the story revolves around a deranged psychotic serial killer Michael Myers as he terrifies a quiet neighbourhood of Haddonfield, Illinois with his violent killing spree.

Admired as one of the Best Horror / Slasher Movies of all time, Halloween, in my opinion, is overrated and doesn't stand the test of time. For a viewer (like me) who are watching the movie for the first time in 2018, it didn't hold up for me unlike other Classic Movies like 'The Shining' or 'The Exorcist'. I agree that it's hemmed in with a simple storyline, setting and a villain who is straightforward, which brings me to the drawback of the film. It is not psychological, methodical or convoluted and deals with an intelligible concept which for the most part is mundane to watch.

But, the film's strength is its antagonist, Michael Myers, who looks like a psychomaniac that I don't want anywhere near my surroundings. His bone-chilling stare, effortless slow-walk and the quietness surrounding him was was nerve-racking to watch. John Carpenter tremendously captures the eerieness of Myers with his slow tracking shots and thrilling background score, and Jamie Lee Curtis as his counterpart does a decent enough job to keep the movie moving.

Nevertheless, Halloween 1978 didn't work for me as an overall movie, the character of Michael Myers is fascinating, the background music and the filmmaking techniques were impressive, and that's about it. Let's see if the new 2018 film works!

-An Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Apostle Review: Ruthless! Terrifying!

Starring – Dan Stevens and Kristine Froseth
Director – Gareth Evans
Genre – Period Horror
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

A period horror film, Apostle (2018), a Netflix production, revolves around Thomas Richardson, a former missionary set on rescuing his sister who has been kidnaped and held ransom by a religious cult. Following the concept of tense and creepy atmospheric films like The Invitation and The Innocents, Apostle, is an intense yet steady descent into terror.

It is pleasing to see how horror film directors are slowly learning to let slide cheap thrills and horrible jump scares in favour for slow-building storylines and unsettling dread. While he has contributed to the anthology horror film 'VHS 2' in 2013, this is director Gareth Evan’s first attempt at a full-length horror feature. Having carved a name for himself through violent martial arts epics like 'The Raid' films, Evans has retained his signature choreographic style and penchant for blood while venturing into dark horror territory. There is a distinctive mood of desperation set as the tone of the film throughout. Right from the get go, the audience will be able to feel how the environment presented to you feels wrong but magnetic at the same time. The camera-work deserves a round of applause here as scenes of chaos and intensity are shot at angles that really adds on the frenzy.

The performance by the lead cast were phenomenal. Dan Stevens plays the lead protagonist; Thomas and he gives a brooding shade to his character. He treads the fine line between subtlety and theatrics, giving the audience best of the both that suits the nature of the period the film is set in. Michael Sheen plays the charismatic cult leader, Malcolm, and it is brilliant. Sheen’s acting prowess is pronounced with his body language and smouldering screen presence and he delivers an extraordinary performance. The cast of the film were well-chosen and not a single character put a foot wrong. I believe that it is the mark of a good director to bring out the best in his actors and Apostle stands as a testament to just that.

If you’re a fan of the director’s previous works, you’d be sure to anticipate the trail of blood and organs he leaves progressively in every film. Apostle is yet another chapter in which the director has attempted to show how else a body can be taken apart and mutilated. Unnerving and brutal at its best, the film is gory and for the weak-stomach, it can be nauseating. The film touches on themes of power, religion, sin, freedom, cults and faith and it is very ambitious in its approach to explore all of them. Apostle takes it time to introduce the characters as well as the story where the first half of the story plays out like a mystery. The second half becomes an intense roller-coaster where the audience are then splattered and slaughtered with the true horror. There are sudden shifts in tone that seem very choppy and you’re not given enough time to digest what just took place before you’re hit with the next intense scene.

Apostle has a ruthless storyline and has a masterful way of narrating its story. It is very transparent and wants you to understand that there is something around the corner that will scream at you in time to come. There is mastery in its execution, but the extremities of the content as well as the jerkiness in the tone might be off-putting to some.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
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Top 5 Recent Scary Movies to Watch This Halloween

With Halloween 2018 right around the corner, we here at the National JFMF headquarters thought it would be a noble idea to recommend you guys few (not great) but decent Horror Movies to watch this weekend. As we already posted the 'Top 5 Horror Movies of 2017 and 2018', discussing few high-profile scary films wasn't such a bad idea after all. So, here we go!

5. Leigh Whannell's - "Insidious: Chapter 3" | Rating - 3/5

Starring - Dermot Mulroney, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye

Typically, when a movie reaches the third instalment, a major bummer is usually expected. Things get repetitive, tame and lifeless. For this reason, my expectations were pretty low for this movie as I felt sceptical before entering the movie theatre. But, Insidious 3 was surprisingly better and superlative. Writer-Director, Leigh Whannel's impressive screenplay and his approach to craft a petrifying scary scene without any false jump scares is commendable. Insidious 3 was a startling experience and didn't take an asinine advantage of silly jump scares.

4. M. Night Shyamalan's - "The Visit" | Rating - 3/5

Starring - Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould and Kathryn Hahn.

After making a series of awful movies, people were uncertain when it came to M. Night Shyamalan, most of them thought that there is nothing left in him to contribute, and that helped this film a lot. Story-wise, this movie had nothing new to offer except for the little plot twist in the end. But, on a filmmaking standpoint, Shyamalan maintained that bizarre vibe in each place very well, they're a couple of jump-scares that were well shot and the comedic element in the entire movie was completely hysterical. Overall, The Visit is certainly better than I expected it to be, it was funny, scary and overall an enjoyable movie. A complete surprise!

3. James Wan's - "The Conjuring 2" | Rating - 3.5/5

Starring - Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson 

A tactful James Wan venture which was termed scarier than its prequel, Conjuring 2 was admittedly a level setter for future horror movies. Though the real story of the Enfield poltergeist is much more interesting than the movie, the film was successful in receiving positive reviews from critics and grossed over $320 million worldwide. The story revolves around a single mother raising four kids in North London who experiences the torture of Bill Wilkins who is controlled by the demonic spirit Valak. The actors including Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and Madison Wolfe have performed extraordinarily and the frequent creepy scenes keep you on your toes the whole time. In simpler words, an ideal film for this Halloween.

2. David F. Sandberg's - "Lights Out" | Rating - 4/5

Starring - Teresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman

When was the last time you heard your heart beating super fast? This film will get on your nerves and I'm not even exaggerating. The plotline seems simple and quite ordinary on the outside but the constant jump scares and the haunting background music gets to you real easy. The film received positive reviews as well and was a box office success, grossing $148 million against a budget of $4.9 million. Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello are expressive and effective in their performances while the cinematography and music are appreciable. The Diana spirit which appears only in the dark makes each scene more thrilling and gets you gulping tensely in the first 15 minutes itself. Its better than many popular horror movies and surely is worth a watch.

1. David Robert Mitchell's - "It Follows" | Rating - 4/5

Starring - Maika Monroe

Correlating to the trend that is emerging in this contemporary era. It Follows never pursued the hackneyed route with ridiculous jump scares, indolent narration, and insipid direction. The retro narrative style was reminiscent of the 80's horror movies and the director brilliantly used the technical aspects like cinematography and background music to build up the tension in every peculiar and significant scene. Altogether, It Follows enthralled me throughout the runtime and achieved a tremendous standard in the horror movie genre. It had that eerie inexplicable vibe circled around it and is most definitely worth a watch.

-A Top 5 List by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW and Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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The Haunting of Hill House Review: Gold-Standard TV Horror

Starring – Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino and Elizabeth Reaser
Director – Mike Flanagan
Genre – Horror / Thriller
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Why do we watch horror movies? Do we want to test the range of our emotional content? Do we want to vicariously face our fears through the safety net of a screen? For many of us, Horror films are a small shot of adrenaline that courses through our veins. We are willing to endure the terror to experience the relief we get at the end of it. In that way, this is not my first and nor will it be my last rodeo. From 'The Exorcist' to 'American Horror Stories', I’ve had my fair share of horror flicks. So, it is with much certainty and great pleasure that I say that “The Haunting of Hill House (2018)” on Netflix, is one of the best television horror series in recent times and it is not to be missed. Based on a novel of the same name, The Haunting of Hill House revolves around a broken family that comes together to confront the disturbing and horrific memories of their old place and the events that drove them from it. 

Rationalization: Directed by Mike Flanagan, this modern reimagining of the novel is a firecracker. Stirring and atmospheric, we are treated to an intense observation of the family to fully understand the effects of grief and trauma. The pace of the series is intentionally slow, but it is measured for perfection. Weaving between past and present, Flanagan allows us to fully understand the seven Crain family members and the trauma they experienced by overlapping several timelines together. We understand how certain events have affected the Crain Family individually even after many years and why it is so important to come back to the old House to confront their fears. Family, Tragedy, Grief, Mental Health are some of the themes that the series has explored in such exultant fashion.

Beneath the horrors and the ghosts that the series promise, there is an actual story of an estranged family that hasn’t spoken to one another in years and are struggling with their own personal addictions and depressions. They are on the verge of succumbing to a fate that has plagued their family in the past and they must come together as one to oppose this. The narrative of this character-driven plot blurs the line between the supernatural and the psychosomatical. The House itself is evil and when you follow the crumb trails that lead you to its neat climax, you’ll be kicking yourself for not seeing the blatant clues that the director has been throwing in your face the whole time.

However, while there are supernatural beings providing the haunting, Grief is the ‘ghost’ that the director has dressed up for this series and that is where the actual scares really are. It is important for me as the viewer to be able to relate to the frights that the film or the television series offer, and Haunting of Hill House is just that. The Hill House exists as a metaphor for the destructive capacity of mental illness and it has taught me that No Ghosts is as scary as the ones that plague your mind. The series is well-acted and complex in its narration and has utilized great wide shots to create some of the best suspense scenes ever. The constant manipulation of the dark background space as well as lights and shadows show us how important camera work is to film making.

Conclusion: The Haunting of Hill House is realistic and it’s slow-building format has approached the complexities of making an effective horror story impeccably. Nerve-Racking, Hair-Raising and Thought-Provoking, The Haunting of Hill House is Gold-Standard Television Horror.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
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A Star Is Born - Honest Movie Review

Directed and starring alongside Pop Megastar Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper's directorial debut A Star Is Born is a modern-day retelling of the 1937 film of the same name and co-stars notable and elite performers like Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay alongside a promising young talent Anthony Ramos.

Verdict - "A Beautiful and a Tear-Jerking Story!"

The story of the film narrates the journey of Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), a beloved superstar singer but a reckless alcoholic and a drug addict. Maine runs across Ally (Lady Gaga), a day job worker and a discouraged singer, at a drag bar where he sees her perform and fells in love with her incredible singing talent. After exchanging a conversation with her in person, Maine recruits her into his band, and eventually, Ally receives multiple offers to record her first album and experiences success across every aspect. In the midst of her glory and fame, Jackson, on the other hand, deteriorates from raging alcoholism which affects their healthy relationship romantically and professionally.

Having already been told three times before in 1937, 54 and 76, the story of this A Star Is Born is, for the most part, predictable, but Cooper along with his co-screenwriters Eric Roth and Will Fetters does a decent enough job to keep the movie fresh and captivating. But, at times, the plot tries to wane in the background, thanks to the electrifying chemistry between the two main leads. And that brings me to the primary and the most intriguing aspect of the film, the alluring scenes between Cooper and Gaga. The movie never tries to fortake anything away from both the characters as their lengthy yet very compelling moments of love, anger and affection are what makes it feel poignant and very much sentimental.

Now, making the characters relatable is a task, but Cooper takes it up a notch by making his hard to connect dipsomaniac character engaging. His role felt authentic and pitiful, everything from his deep-toned voice, messy look to his wrinkled clothes made me feel sorry for the man, and Cooper gives his career-best performance as a disgruntled dwindling rockstar. Accompanied by his stellar acting display is Lady Gaga who gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the innocent yet supremely-talented singer, caring girlfriend and overall an inspiring individual. As a real-life singer/songwriter (who might have a similar path to stardom as Ally), Gaga impresses not only with her astounding singing talent but also with her phenomenal acting ability which surprised everybody in the audience. She gives an equally valiant performance as Cooper and will no doubt be a frontrunner for the Best Actress category.

Furthermore, Bradley Cooper, who fills five different roles in the film as the actor, director, screenwriter, guitarist and singer, does a heroic job by putting together a movie with marvellous skill and perfection. Crafting subtle changes to an already told story, Cooper made it seem all seamless by making the film follow a consistent tone throughout its runtime. Moreover, the music and the songs all through were breathtaking to watch and listen as it felt like I'm sitting in a concert with Gaga and Cooper, kudos to the sound mixing department there.

Overall, A Star Is Born tells a beautiful and a tear-jerking story of a polar opposite couple in the most convincing way possible. The chemistry and the scenes between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were the most riveting parts of the film along with their dominating performances. I teared up a couple of times watching this movie, and that doesn't happen very often.

My Rating - 3.75/5 | Grade - B+ (Highly Entertaining!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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First Man - Honest Movie Review

Directed by the Youngest Academy Award-Winning Director Damien Chazelle, First Man stars Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy in the lead roles and chronicles the inspiring yet complex journey of the First Man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong. The storyline gets underway in the year 1961 and takes us through the eight-year journey of Neil Armstrong till the Apollo 11 mission. It delves into the personal life of Armstrong, him dealing with the loss of his young child, getting promoted from a test pilot to the Mission Commander, and his complicated relationship with his wife, friends and family.

Verdict - "A Heart-Stirring Theatre Experience!"

Damien Chazelle is without a doubt, the main star of the film. Right from the opening scene, Chazelle locks you in with his incredible ability to make you feel that you're right there sitting next to Armstrong in his hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft. The most captivating aspect that Chazelle stands by throughout the runtime is not sugar coating the film. He doesn't display the epicness of space-travel as we saw in movies like 'Apollo 13' or 'Gravity' nor does he use extravagant shots of the Moon or the Earth to make us believe that it's all happiness and joy comprised in travelling to the ether. His unique filmmaking style helps the movie to feel much raw as every scene including the spaceships felt real, brutal and visceral accompanied by some extraordinary camera work by Cinematographer Linus Sandgren who uses the shaky cam gimmick in the right away and gave the movie more of a documentary look than a space drama.

But the only drawback of the film lies within the protagonist's character which slows down the pace a bit. Neil Armstrong is a very professional, stubborn and has his separate ways of dealing with his family problems or the passing of his young daughter. That might not be relatable or engaging to the audience member as we do not see Armstrong getting disturbed emotionally with his past experiences nor having a healthy conversation with his concerned wife. However, it is what it is, and as I stated before, Chazelle doesn't try to get you sympathetically connected to his focal characters. He makes it very clear that it's not an easy journey for anyone involved and sacrifices were over it.

Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy's performances were yet another plus point for the movie. Gosling, similar to his previous outings in 'Blade Runner 2049' or 'Drive' is a silent murmuring guy, but he had a wide range of emotions to go through from anguish, aggravation and self-confidence. Foy, on the other hand, did her part exceptionally well as the stern mother of two kids and the fretful wife of Armstrong. Her character clocked up a substantial chunk of the storyline, and it never felt mundane to watch.

Overall, First Man is unlike any space movie I've ever seen before. It's harsh, emotional, gut-wrenching and the most realistic take in this genre. Everything from Chazelle's remarkable direction, breathtaking camera work, soothing background music and the performances from the lead actors worked and is most definitely a heart-stirring theatre experience.

My Rating - 4/5 | Grade - A (The Best One Around!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava - Honest Movie Review

While writing this review of director Trvikram Srinivas’s latest outing ‘Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava’ (ASVR), I chanced upon his Wikipedia page. The introduction says, “Regarded as the "wizard of words" Trivikram's craft is known for its high dose of comedy, fast-paced repartee, farcical situations, escapist themes, and comedy thriller plot lines involving action, emotion, courtship, family and marriage.” Except for the farcical situations, he lets down his audiences on every other aspect.

Set against the backdrop of two warring villages in Rayalaseema, ASVR is the story of Veera Raghava Reddy (played by Junior NTR) spearheading his clans fight against Basi Reddy (played by Jagapathi Babu). They call this ‘Aidu rupayala godava’ (5 rupees fight) and hand it over to their progeny, who find it easier to stick swords into each other than solve this dispute for once. But Veera Raghava Reddy, moved by his grandmother’s (played by Supriya Pathak) rants, decides to take on his opponents with non-violence. Now, this is a novel idea, where unlike the usual mass entertainers, the male protagonist is not shown as the macho and masculine savior. A comical version of this theme was seen in S.S Rajamouli’s 'Marayada Ramanna', where the protagonist does not fight against a bunch of goons.  Trivikram uses his trademark dialogues with rhyme and rhythm, to act as a weapon that Veera Raghava uses to win over his opponents, apart from the generous use of daggers and swords. To trigger his change and affect his conscience, a haughty, arrogant and bubbly Aravinda (played by Pooja Hegde) enters the scene. She casually drops her pearls of wisdom, which Veera Raghava picks up to pave his plan of action ahead. Again, instead of just being the arm-candy or add glamor, this role had a great potential. More recently, Anushka Sharma played a similar support and trigger to the male lead, as Mamta in ‘Sui Dhaaga’. But, again, the writing lets down the character of Aravinda. Despite being the titular role, Aravinda is reduced to just being a caricature, with no weight.

It would be a sin to look for logic in a mass entertainer and we Telugu audiences love them for the lack of it. But, Matala Mantrikudu Trivikram overburdens his audiences with heavy dialogues, filled with puns, alliteration and rhyme. There is a scene where the lead characters converse at a café and I cannot imagine any normal couple conversing in the language that they use. Like in his previous dud, 'Agnyathavaasi', Trivikram overdoes the same trademark dialogues to the extent that it becomes a painful bore! The mood of the movie is set in a very gritty and serious space like Trivikram’s blockbuster ‘Athadu’ or the more recent action drama ‘Rangasthalam’. But, ASVR is not engaging or gripping like either of them. The lack of depth in the characters, along with the over-bearing dialogues, clubbed with a run time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, seem like an extremely tiresome experience.

The only saving grace here are the performances. Almost every actor cast in the main and supporting roles, gets the Rayalaseema accent on point. While most of the supporting actors are decent in their roles, a praise-worthy performance comes from Jagapathi Babu, as the main antagonist. Playing a rugged and rustic version of his character from Rangasthalam, Jagapathi Babu uses his menacing eyes and evil face to create a gruesome villain and delivers well. Pooja Hegde, apart from looking pretty and complimenting Junior NTR well, gets some cute moments amid choppy dialogue delivery. Sunil, making a comeback as the sidekick, is utterly wasted, as he neither gets to do comedy nor drama. But, it is Junior NTR, who plays Veera Raghava with such conviction, that you try to remain invested in this otherwise insipid tale. Being able to pull off a mass character with élan is no mean feat, and he is charismatic at that. Using a calm and restrained demeanor, reminiscent of Mahesh Babu from Athadu, his hard-work and efforts are clearly visible in his performance. Unfortunately, he is let down by poor writing, screenplay and dialogues.

From ‘Nuvve Kavali’ to as recently as ‘A Aa’, Trivikram has always been known for his brilliant dialogues, with some of the finest gems in movies like ‘Nuvvu Naaku Nachavu’, ‘Manmadhudu’ and ‘Jalsa’. Watching ASVR reminded me of Srinu Vaitla’s ‘Aagadu’ – another director known for his witty one-liners, who bored his audiences to death with an overdose of bland dialogues. Not sure if it is Trivikram’s complacency or lack of vision, but ASVR looked like a tale from a tired and disinterested story-teller. Trust me, I seem as disinterested in writing this review as he seemed to be while making this movie.

My Rating – 2/5 | Grade - C (Meh! Probably a Rental!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Anurag Rao (@The Filmy Basti!)

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Top 5 Creepy Horror Movie Facts That You Need To Know

[The following article is not for the faint of heart, it might contain specifics about death, murder and exorcism. Please proceed with caution.]

Whether you believe in paranormal or not, horror movies are always and will remain a major part of childhood and adulthood for many different reasons. Be it the excitement, fear or fun, watching these films is an experience that no one ever wants to miss. However, they're many bone-chilling facts and inspirations behind the movies that we love and I've carefully selected few best ones especially for you guys. Here we go!

1. The Exorcist is Real

Based on a novel by William Peter Blatty, the real story of The Exorcist stemmed from real-life incidents of a boy named 'Roland Doe'. In early January 1949, shortly after his beloved Aunt Harriet’s death, Ronald began to experience scratching sounds and water dripping from the floors and walls of his room. In addition to that, the most outlandish thing is that his mattress would move mysteriously. Ronald's family consulted doctors, psychiatrists, and their local Lutheran ministers which resulted in a myriad of unexplained events.

Additionally, the production of the film didn't go as planned either, a baby got injured by a motorcycle, people from the crew unfortunately died, and a baffling fire accident horrified the entire crew out of nowhere and left only Regan MacNeil’s (Linda Blair) room intact. These incidents made the team believe that the set might be cursed.

2. Ripper Behind the Scream

Daniel Harold Rolling aka 'The Gainesville Ripper' who mercilessly murdered five college students in Gainesville, Florida over four days is the inspiration behind 'Scream (1996)' directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson.

The incidents initiated in August 1990 when Daniel Harold Rolling first broke into 17-year-olds Christina Powell and Sonja Larson's apartment. Surprisingly, none of The University of Florida students or security didn’t hear Rolling enter the building. First, he found Christina Powell asleep on a couch downstairs and left her alone. He then quietly went upstairs to Sonja Larson's room, taped her mouth, held her wrists behind her back and let loose a series of violent blows with a knife.

He then went downstairs to Powell, and she sadly experienced the same violent conduct as her roommate Larson, in addition to being raped. Powell was barraged face-first onto the ground, and Rolling stabbed her five times in the back.

The next day, things took a horrific turn, when Rolling murdered an 18-year-old Christa Hoyt by cutting off her head and sat her up in bed. 23-year-olds Tracy Paules and Manuel Taboada were also destined with the same fate as Police mentioned were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The series of horrific college murders by Rolling horrified the community and later became the inspiration behind the cult-classic.

3. The Real Deal of 'The Conjuring 2'

Similar to the events in The Conjuring 2, the Hodgson family in Enfield, London were haunted by a creepy old man's spirit named Bill. Bill did, in fact, die in the recliner chair due to a brain haemorrhage. A rare disturbing video is still available on YouTube where Janet speaks with a deep voice as Bill. Additionally, inexplicable knocks on the walls, things moving and the police officer reporting that she saw a chair move opposite to her was all real. Images of Janet 'levitating' were also captured and the most interesting part is that the role the Warrens played a much smaller role in the Enfield Poltergeist case as opposed to what was shown in the film. They're simply one of the many paranormal investigators who visited the family during these horrific times.

4. Annabelle: The Notorious

In real life, the Annabelle doll is gifted by a mother to her daughter and the owners had no satanic cult relations and never ever tried to cast away the notorious doll as opposed to what we saw in the film. But, they're several reports from the owners describing that the doll moved from one room to another without any help and real blood was found on the doll's head and chest. After performing a seance, the medium detailed that the evil spirit possessing the doll belongs to Annabelle Higgins, who had died at the age of seven and her body was buried under the victim's apartment. Ed and Lorraine Warren disconfirmed the statements and affirmed that the little girl died in a motorcycle accident outside the apartment building.

Warrens also recount messages like 'Help Us' would appear on a paper with a childish handwriting around the owners' home. Warrens also claim that the evil doll also took the life of a young lad who visited their possessed Occult Museum years later and got into a mysterious motorcycle accident after taunting the doll.

5. An Absolute 'Psycho'

During the production of 1960 classic horror movie Psycho, a horrendous incident took place as one of Janet Leigh's body double was murdered on the set brutally. It was later revealed that one of the handymen working on the production slaughtered her to impress directed Alfred Hitchcock.

Sources (Thanks) - All Thats Interesting, Factinate, news.com.au, Buzzfeed, TV Over Mind, Buzzfeed.

-A Top 5 List by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Little Things S2 Review: Sweet-Tempered and Engaging

Starring – Dhruv Sehgal and Mithila Palkar
Genre – Comedy/Romance
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Have you had one of those moments when you keep talking about buying something too much and when you actually buy it, you realise that it's not something as great as you were talking about? Well, Little Things Season 1 was something which was extremely well received by the audience and evidently, the expectations for the second season were sky high. But all these hopes may have ruined an otherwise uncomplicated yet beautiful love story. 

People were maybe asking for all these improvements and modifications from it that they forgot to recognise the message and the innocent love depicted in the entire web series. The second season focuses on more sensitive issues of a relationship like ego, self-doubt and emotional dependency, unlike the first season which was more about honesty, fun and communication. 

Rationalization: Nevertheless, there are scenes where you have surprising twists and which explain more about the two main characters individually but I guess it was responsible for laying a stronger base to their relationship. Dhruv and Mithila are a really cute pair to watch on screen and their chemistry makes the situations in the plot much more relatable and comprehensible. There are a few new characters inspired from all our lives and relationships and it's easy to identify the depth and intensity of the script even when it looks like a facile and simple screenplay. The climax is the best part and the tiny anecdotes from each episode are rebound to make your heart warm. 

Conclusion: Overall, the entire season is sweet-tempered and engaging with forming another list of #RelationshipGoals, and if you watch it with no expectations and an open mind, you are definitely going to enjoy it.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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