December 26th, 2016


Movie Critique 2016 – 08/24/2016: Safe Haven

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars:  3.5 / 5
Recommendation: You want romance, ghosts and evil; all in one package - you will get in this Nicholas Sparks movie.

Safe Haven is a 2013 American romantic drama thriller based on the 2010 Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. The movie stars Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel and Cobie Smulders in the lead roles. I have read the book but had never watched the movie till now. The book had a different feel to it as opposed to the movie - and both felt absolutely right.

The plot begins with a frightened woman fleeing from her apartment with a bundle and a bloody knife. She takes refuge at her neighbors but later she is at a bus stop in Boston, MA buying a ticket to Atlanta, GA with cops at her heels. The bus she takes stops at a small town South Port, North Carolina which she finds peace and calm, making her to take an impromptu decision to stay back instead of continuing. Introducing herself as Katie (portrayed by Julianne Hough) she takes a job as a waitress, buys a rustic home in the woods, makes friends with her neighbor Jo (portrayed by Cobie Smulders) and starts settling in despite the nightmares she has. She makes friends with Alex Wheatley (portrayed by Josh Duhamel), a widowed father of two - Josh and Lexie. And they fall in love eventually.

A parallel plot of the Boston PD is trying to locate the same woman calling herself as Katie now. The detective assigned to the case, Kevin Tierney (portrayed by David Lyons) is hell-bent on searching for her. What is the dark secret that Katie holds? Why is the Boston PD looking for her? Who has been killed? Will Alex and Katie take their relationship further? Who was Katie fleeing from? What is the story of Jo?

Julianne Hough seems much younger for her role but she had played the part very well. It's interesting to see her outside a dance floor for a  change - well you would know what I mean if you have watched Dancing With The Stars TV Show. Josh Duhamel's son in the movie is named Josh - interesting by play.

Another well-made movie based on a book that charmed me both ways. Although I do always wish for Nicholas Sparks to expand his horizons on geography though One way or the other he always ends up in North Carolina.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) There are slight differences between the novel and the movie:
a. I don’t remember Alex's son Josh being indifferent towards Katie in the book, but he is depicted thus in the movie.
b. The scene where Josh falls into river and Alex runs for rescue comes later in the movie than it is shown in the book.
c. The final scene between Kevin, Alex and Katie / Erin is modified for the film too.
2) Mike Pniewski portrays the role of Lieutenant Robinson, boss to Kevin Tierney and I remember him from many of his similar roles.
3) Julianne Hough's role reads a book on navigation, something I would not have pegged her role to pick and read.


Movie Critique 2016 – 08/25/2016: Sri Krishnavataram (Happy Janmashtami!!)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars:  4.5 / 5
Recommendation: A complete chronology of one of the divine beings based on epics written long ago depicted very well in the 3 hrs film.

August 25th of this year marked the day of the festival of Sri Krishna Janmashtami, the celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna. On this day I wanted my nephews to wear the attires of Balarama (Krishna's older brother) and Krishna but they had refused to do it, the clothes being itchy. Oh well, I tried my best. In any case, there are several movies in Indian films in all languages that have plots based on Mahabharatam and Bhagavad Gita along with life of Krishna, Karna, Drona, and other key characters.

For this festival day I picked the 1967 Indian Telugu musical mythological film Sri Krishnavataram ( = The Avatar of Lord Sri Krishna), that depicts the complete life of Lord Krishna tying in with his key role in Mahabratam and Bhagavad Puranam epics.

Being a magnum opus the movie also comes with a string of named and nameless actors portraying various roles in the movie. The film is directed by Kamalakara Kameshwara Rao and produced under the banner of Tarakarama Pictures - owned by Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao (NTR) himself. The lead role of Lord Krishna is portrayed by none other than NTR with other key actors taking up key roles. Music for the film was composed by T. V. Raju with playback singing provided by Ghantasala, Madhava Peddi, Pithapuram, A. V. Ragahavulu, P. Susheela, P. Leela, L. R. Eeswari, Swarnalatha and S. Varalakshmi. The film contained 10 songs and 25 poems. Songs were written by Dr. C. Narayana Reddy and Samudrala Raghavacharya while the poems were written by Chellapilla Venkata Shastri and Diwakarla Tirupathi Shastri. The movie had been a successful one and celebrated Silver Jubilee. It had run for more than 100 days when it was re-released in 1982 and 1990 some thirty+ years after the movie was made. Although the music doesn’t seem to be very famous, at least I have not heard many of the songs.

Being a magnum opus I expected to have the movie depicted in a fast forward mode. Thus most of Lord Krishna's childhood is depicted in one single song and a few scenes with key incidents highlighted - Putana Haranam, Satakatasura (A monster who came as a chariot wheel to kill Little Krishna) Maranam, Kaaliya Mardhanam, Govardhana Giri Katha, Gopika Vastrapaharanam (Krishna teases the Gopikas by hiding their clothes while they bathed), Showing mother Yashodha the universe in his mouth, Promise to Shishupala's mother that he will not kill him until he make 100 mistakes and killing of his uncle Kamsa - before the adult Lord Krishna is shown. Then the plot continues with the wedding of Krishna with Rukmini - although he does foil the plans of Shishupala to marry Rukmini first - Shamantakamani Story including the wedding of Krishna with Satyabhama and Jambavathi, Killing of Shishupala and Sudama being received by Sri Krishna who didn’t forget the deeds that Krishna had done for him.

The plot moves on to the story of Kauravas and Pandavas showing the key role of Sri Krishna with the saving the honor of Draupadi in the court of Kauravas, Pandavas getting the aid of Sri Krishna alone and Kauravas getting all of Krishna's army, Sri Krishna taking the role of ambassador for Pandavas in the court of Kauravas who decline even giving away five small regions (in reality the entire kingdom belongs to Pandavas per the rules), Viswaroopam of Sri Krishna, the battle of Kurukshetra and finally his exit from this world.

All of Lord Krishna's eight wives are shown in this movie: Rukmini (by Devika), Satyabhama (by Kanchana), Jambavathi (by Sukanya), Lakshana Devi (by Krishna Kumari), Kalindi (by L. Vijayalakshmi), Nagnajiti (by Geetanjali), Mitravinda (by Sandhyarani) and Bhadra (not sure who was the actress who portrayed this role). The pic is very blurred due to the video quality but I am hoping all eight wives are seen.

Key Roles portrayed by famous and known actors are: Mukkamala as Kamsa, Shobhanbabu as Narada, Rajanala as Shishupala, Prabhakar Reddy as Balaramudu, Devika as Lakshmi / Rukmini, Kanchana as Satyabhama, Dhulipala as Satrajit (Satyabhama's father), Chhaya Devi as mother of Shishupala, Satyanarayana as Duryodhana, Mikkilineni as Dharmaraju Yudhishtira, Ramakrishna as Arjuna, Nagaiah as Dritharashtra, S. Varalakshmi as Draupadi and Rushyendramani as Kunti Devi. Krishnam Raju also had a role in the movie, but try hard how I might but I couldn’t figure out which role did he play.

It being a very old print, there are so many editing issues. I wish the original movie without the editing issues was available. An excellent effort to cover what goes on in two epics and many smaller mythological books in three hours of a movie. With the kind of technology existing at that time, the graphics are exemplary. Excellent performances by one and all to make it an all-rounded successful movie. The current generation might find it a bit dragging to watch, but it is a wonderful depiction of relationships, brothers, families, leeches who would take advantage of the conflicts between brothers, the knowledge of being wise, striving towards peace and prosperity and in the end choosing the right path. Definitely worth watching any time.
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