Sachin: A Billion Dreams Movie Review: It Coasts Along on the Strength of Nostalgia, Familiarity

Image result for Sachin: A Billion Dreams Movie Review: It Coasts Along on the Strength of Nostalgia, FamiliarityIt’s a tricky thing reviewing a film that celebrates the life and career of one of the most loved sportsmen this country has produced. Because fans tend to have trouble making a distinction between the film and the man. Which means any criticism of the film, any attempt on your part to point out its shortcomings will inevitably be misread as criticism of its famous subject.

Told you it wasn’t easy being a critic!

Sachin: A Billion Dreams faithfully chronicles every major milestone in the career of cricketing god Sachin Tendulkar, from his debut at 16 in international cricket to his retirement from the sport four years ago. It’s a journey that’s been obsessively followed and documented, hence not a lot of this is stuff you haven’t seen before. Then there is the matter of Sachin’s reluctance to address the controversies you’re interested in.

The film acknowledges that there were tensions in the dressing room when Sachin replaced Mohammed Azharuddin as captain, but the master blaster himself reveals no details. On the prickly issue of the match-fixing scandal, he expresses disappointment and shock but refrains from any constructive discussion on the incident. It’s only in the case of Greg Chappell that Sachin commits to anything by way of a firm response, describing the former coach’s style as “divide and rule”, and squarely blaming him for the team’s poor performance in the 2007 World Cup.

He’s more expressive when it comes to sharing his own vulnerabilities and failures. His rough patch on the field, his debilitating injuries and their impact on his game, and of course his ill-fated stints as captain. Emotion runs strong when he speaks about his father’s passing, and about his continuing efforts to live his life in the way that his father recommended.

The film’s real treasure is the footage of Sachin Tendulkar in his private moments: holding his baby daughter Sara for the first time, holidays with the family, hanging out with his friends, training with his son Arjun. It is unguarded moments like these, many accompanied by revealing interviews of family and friends that help piece together the jigsaw puzzle that is Sachin, the man behind the legend.

Like his wife Anjali recounting the time after their marriage that he made it clear that only one of them could work. Or his telling her, quite firmly, that he wouldn’t change the baby’s diapers. Another unexpected revelation comes from a childhood friend who names the Bappi Lahiri track that is Sachin’s comfort music.

Director James Erskine’s patchwork quilt of significant moments from Sachin’s life includes a recreation of his childhood years with a cast of competent actors. This he melds with both incredible home videos and news footage from a storied career. Sachin’s achievements are placed in the context of India’s own modern history, and his rise and rise as one of the greatest icons of our time.

No matter how many times we’ve seen the clip, it’s impossible not to cheer at India’s 2011 World Cup Win, or choke up while watching Sachin deliver that heartfelt retirement speech at Wankhede. Sure there’s a lot more this film could’ve been, but it coasts along on the strength of nostalgia, familiarity, and our collective love for a man who’s name we turned into a chant.

I’m going with three out of five. Prepare for major gooseflesh.

Rating: 3 / 5

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[“Source-ndtv”]

Cannes Film Review: ‘Loveless’

'Loveless' Review from Cannes: Andrey Zvyagintsev's

 

Alexey Zvyagintsev’s stark tale of a divorcing couple is a missing- child procedural that meditates on the corruption of Russia.

“Loveless,” the title of the compelling and forbidding new movie by the Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Leviathan,” “Elena”), seems, for a while, to refer to the state of the relationship between the film’s two main characters, a Moscow couple who are on the verge of divorcing. Boris (Alexei Rozin), bearded and officious, a kind of mildly saddened Teddy bear, and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak), beautiful and knife-edged, with a buried despair of her own, still live together in the same apartment. But they’re trying to sell it off as quickly as possible, because they can barely come up with three words of civility between them.

Their marriage, or what’s left of it, has reached the toxic point of no return. No one understands this better than Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), their pale and passive 12-year-old son, who doesn’t do much besides stare at his computer between crying fits. When Alyosha disappears without a trace, his emotionally estranged parents have to come together to search for him. But no, “Loveless” isn’t a story about how the search for Alyosha brings Boris and Zhenya closer together, or makes them take stock and stop hating each other. What the movie is about, in a way that’s both potent and oblique, is something larger than the charred ashes of one dead marriage.

There have always been oppressive societies that clamp down on filmmaking, but allow just enough wiggle room of expression for a shrewd — and poetic — artist to say what’s on his mind. That was true in the Communist Czechoslovakia of the 1970s, or in the Iran of the last 30 years. It’s true, as well, of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. As a filmmaker, Andrey Zvyagintsev can’t come right out and declare, in bright sharp colors, the full corruption of his society, but he can make a movie like “Leviathan,” which took the spiritual temperature of a middle-class Russia lost in booze and betrayal, and he can make one like “Loveless,” which takes an ominous, reverberating look not at the politics of Russia but at the crisis of empathy at the culture’s core.

Boris and Zhenya have both moved on to other relationships, which are far more affectionate than the one they’re in, so that seems to be a sign of hope; after divorce comes a new beginning. Boris is with the perky, very pregnant Masha (played by Marina Vasilyeva, who suggests an Eastern European Michelle Williams), and Zhenya, between visits to the salon and a consuming relationship with her smartphone, has found the man who answers her dreams, or at least her needs: the wealthy, handsome, doting, middle-aged Anton (Andris Keishs). Love, it seems, is possible. But what kind of love?

Zvyagintsev colors in a whole society’s romantic neurosis, and he does it with the details along the sidelines. Boris has to keep his divorce hidden at his corporate sales office, because the boss is a fundamentalist Christian. (If Boris isn’t married with children, he’ll be out of a job.) Zhenya’s lover, on the other hand, has given her entré to the one-percent echelon of the new gilded Russia. The film introduces us to it in a telling moment at an outrageously ritzy restaurant where the camera lingers on a woman flirtatiously giving out her phone number…before sitting back down to dinner across from the man she’s come with. That moment speaks volumes — about a clawing-to-the-top ethos of desperate avarice that scarcely leaves room for “romance.”

So what does all this have to do with a missing child? Everything, it turns out. “Loveless” has been made in a forceful and deliberate socialist-realist Hitchcockian style that recalls the most celebrated films of the Romanian new wave (“4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days”; “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”). The disappearance of Alyosha hangs over the movie and haunts it, and on some level it’s a missing-child procedural. Yet what’s meaningful is the way that he disappeared: He was left unsupervised, and his mother, coming home at night, assumed that he was in his room and didn’t bother to check in on him. A minor mistake…and an epic instance of neglect.

The Moscow police, who lean toward thinking that he has run away (because if so, the statistics suggest he’ll likely return, and they won’t have to add to their caseload), can’t do a lot, and a local citizens’ group is more proactive. They scour the area in their orange jackets and fatigues, leaving no stone unturned. As all of this goes on, the title of “Loveless” begins to expand. A society rooted in corruption becomes a petri dish for a loveless marriage that spawns a family in which a child isn’t loved — that is, looked after — in the right way. And the result, seemingly out of nowhere (but not really), is tragic.

The dramatic aesthetic of a movie like “Loveless” — rock-solid yet leisurely in its observance, grounded yet metaphorical — makes it a quietly commanding film, but it’s not clear, at least in the United States, that there’s much of an art-house audience left for a movie like this one. It culminates (in a resonant final shot), but it’s doesn’t always powerfully deliver. It’s a meditation as much as it is a relationship drama. That said, almost anyone who sees it is sure to recognize the virus it diagnoses, which is hardly limited to Russia. The forces that conspire in the fraying of love are now everywhere.

[“source-ndtv”]

Film Review: ‘Snatched’

Snatched Movie Amy Schumer Goldie Hawn

Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn team up in a mother-daughter kidnap romp that sticks to the surface and earns too few laughs.

Amy Schumer is one of those rare comic artists, like Louis C.K. or Chris Rock, who can get you laughing out loud at reality. Two years ago, she carried that scorched-earth impulse right into her first movie, the fearlessly funny and close-to-the-bone “Trainwreck.” Written by Schumer herself, and directed by Judd Apatow, it was the most audacious romantic comedy in years — and the most satisfying, too — because it touched a nerve of almost masochistic sincerity. In “Snatched,” her first movie since “Trainwreck,” Schumer gets cast as a loser who’s even further down on the totem pole of respectability. It’s a sign of Schumer’s rapport with the audience that in the opening scene, where she appears to be playing the most annoying off-the-rack clothing-store customer in history (it turns out she’s actually the sales person), the deeper the hole she digs for herself, the more we like her.

Schumer is a virtuoso of cringe comedy. When her character, Emily, gets fired, and is then dumped by her boyfriend, her mixture of pathological self-doubt and clueless egomania is served up with a candor you can’t stop gawking (or giggling) at. You may feel like you’d follow her anywhere.

But at “Snatched,” even if you do love Amy Schumer, you have to follow her into an aggressively cartoonish mother-daughter vacation-from-hell comedy that never strays far from the fractious, one-note surface. The movie teams Schumer with Goldie Hawn, in what’s supposed to be a return to form for the original contempo kewpie doll of screwball comedy. The trouble is, “Snatched” really is a return to form — it goes right back to the knockabout synthetic spirit of such cheeseball Goldie Hawn comedies as “Foul Play,” “Overboard,” and “Bird on a Wire.” If you like those movies (and some do), maybe you’ll go for this, and “Snatched,” at least for the time being, probably has the market cornered on major Hollywood comedies about women behaving badly. But as written by Katie Dippold (the “Ghostbusters” remake) and directed by Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness”), it doesn’t set the bar very high.

Hawn plays Emily’s divorced mom, Linda, who is settled and stodgy, and treats her children with such indulgence that she has turned them into flamboyantly arrested basket cases. Emily’s brother, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), is an agoraphobe who still lives at home with the woman he calls “Ma-ma” (he’s also a pop-culture drooler who thinks he can speak Klingon). As for Emily, her failure to be a functional adult is exceeded only by her lack of awareness of it. She can’t exist without somebody to prop her up, and that’s why she guilt-trips her mom into going with her on an exotic getaway to a resort hotel in Ecuador, taking the place of the boyfriend who just dumped her.

Hawn, in theory at least, is supposed to be playing one of those cranky maternal comic nightmares, like Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” or “Postcards from the Edge” or — to tie it to the franchise era of Mother’s-Day-weekend-as-marketing concept — Jane Fonda in “Monster-in-Law.” But Hawn’s whole shtick as an actress is that she always insists, deep down, on being cuddly and likable. Linda gets her token lines of sniping, but it’s not funny sniping (the insults are too soft-edged; they aren’t allowed to be brittle), and this means that the movie’s mother-daughter jokes are like firecrackers with damp fuses.

In the hotel, Emily, who is already as tired of her mother’s limp scolding as we are, goes down to the bar to have a drink, and it’s there that she meets James (Tom Bateman), a swarthy bearded English dude who’s so handsome yet courtly that he isn’t fooling anyone — except her. Actresses like Sandra Bullock have specialized in taking everyday insecurities and turning them into stylized comedy, but Schumer does something even a lot of trained actresses don’t: She lets the feelings — the icky, squirmy, uncomfortable ones — come right through her skin. When she runs to the bathroom to prep for her evening with James, she gets caught, with the door open, in a compromising position, and Schumer makes it feel like a compressed stand-up routine (“Have you ever gone to the ladies’ room to clean your…?”). She’s a completely original presence, like Ann-Margret with the soul of an eager neurotic gopher, and she uses it to signify the jitters and dreams of a blessedly ordinary woman.

It won’t spoil “Snatched” to reveal the premise of the movie, which is that Emily and Linda get kidnapped…by scary racist-lite cliché Ecuadorian kidnappers! They’re tossed into a cell, with blood on the walls and a scorpion in the corner. Then they escape; then they get tracked down again. The movie is a jungle-set chase comedy that has many antecedents, from “Romancing the Stone” to “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” but really, “Snatched” is the generic version of a latter-day Paul Feig comedy — which is to say, it’s an attempt to shoehorn Amy Schumer into the action-meets-yocks-meets-sisterhood formula of movies like “The Heat” and “Spy.” Feig is one of the film’s producers, and back in the days when he was teaming up with Apatow and directing “Bridesmaids” — the best romantic comedy before “Trainwreck” — there was a human touch to his work. It seems more gone than not now. “Snatched” is a flashy piece of product. It doesn’t quite try to turn Amy Schumer into the new Melissa McCarthy, but it reduces her all the same.

In a middling comic ride like this one, you fasten onto moments and squiggly little jokes. It’s funny that Emily keeps on killing people, and Christopher Meloni, looking like a debauched Jon Hamm, shows up as an adventurer-explorer so valiant that we keep waiting for the catch (the catch is: he’s out of his mind). The fact that the State Department can’t do much to help our heroines beyond advising them to “Get to Bogotá!” feels like a timely forlorn joke about the collapse of American power. The movie also looks about 10 times better than it needs to; the cinematography, by Florian Ballhaus, might have served an elegant Amazon Forest thriller. You could say that there’s no harm in Amy Schumer doing a picture like this one, and maybe there isn’t, but she’s one of those actresses who has the potential to bring a rare full-bodied comic voice to movies. That’s a quality that shouldn’t get thrown overboard.

Film Review: ‘Snatched’

Reviewed at AMC Lincoln Square, New York, May 8, 2017. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 90 MIN.

Production

A 20th Century Fox release of a Chernin Entertainment, Feigco Entertainment production. Producers: Peter Chernin, Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson, Jenno Topping. Executive producers: Kim Caramele, Tonia Davis, Katie Dippold, Amy Schumer.

Crew

Director: Jonathan Levine. Screenplay: Katie Dippold. Camera (color, widescreen): Florian Ballhaus. Editors: Zene Baker, Melissa Bretherton.

With

Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, Oscar Jaenada, Christopher Meloni.

FILED UNDER:

  • Amy Schumer
  • Goldie Hawn
  • Snatched
  • Trainwreck

[“source-variety”]

Trump to review power to establish federal lands

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump will order a review of the 1906 law that gives the president of the United States power to set aside lands for federal protection, administration officials tell CNN, setting into motion a process that could see the Trump administration rescind the protection of lands designated by former President Barack Obama.

Trump will sign the executive order Wednesday at the Interior Department, Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters. The order could lead to the reshaping of roughly 30 national monuments that were designated by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama after 1996.
At the heart of this proposal is Bears Ears National Monument, a 1.3-million-acre parcel of lands that includes world-class rock climbing, age-old cliff dwellings and land sacred to Pueblo Indians that Obama designated a monument in 2016.
Zinke said Tuesday in a briefing with reporters that he will make a recommendation on the contested parcel of land in 45 days and later provided Trump will a fuller report.
“We feel that the public, the people that monuments affect, should be considered and that is why the President is asking for a review of the monuments designated in the last 20 years,” Zinke said, adding that he believes the review is “long overdue.”
Utah Republicans, angry that Obama designated the land for federal protection, have called on the Trump administration to remove the protection and give the parcel back to the deep red state — possibly to authorize drilling. But that action has been met with vocal opposition from environmental groups, outdoor outfitters and Native American tribes, who argue federal protection is not only better for the environment, but better for the economy in a rural, economically depressed area of the Beehive State.
“The policy is consistent with the President Trump’s promise to give American’s a voice and make sure their voices are heard,” the interior secretary added, arguing that the order “restores the trust between local communities and Washington” and lets rural America know “states will have a voice” in land designation.
That argument is largely dismissed by the White House.
“Past administrations have overused this power and designated large swaths of land well beyond the areas in need of protection,” a White House official said Tuesday. “The Antiquities Act Executive Order directs the Department of the Interior to review prior monument designations and suggest legislative changes or modifications to the monument proclamations.”
The move by Trump will not resolve the Bears Ears issue. Instead, it will set up a process to review the designation and make a decision at a later date. But groups that support keeping Bears Ears in federal control believe the Trump administration’s decision, led by Zinke, is the first step in the process to give the land back to Utah.
Rose Marcario, president and CEO of the outdoor outfitter Patagonia, said the review “is an assault on America’s most treasured lands and oceans.”
“Bears Ears and other national monuments were designated after significant community input because they are a critical part of our national heritage and have exceptional ecological characteristics worth protecting for future generations,” Marcario said. “It’s extremely disturbing to see the Trump administration apparently laying the groundwork to remove protections on our public lands.”
Zinke said he is prepared for legal challenges from environmental groups — “I am not in fear of getting sued, I get sued all the time,” he said — but acknowledged that it is “untested” whether the President has the power to shrink public lands by using the Antiquities Act.
And there are likely to be legal challenges. Marcario told CNN Patagonia was “preparing to take every step necessary, including possible legal action” in order to protect Bears Ears and other national monuments.
Republicans in Utah, including Gov. Gary Herbert, have asked the Trump administration to rescind the National Monument status for Bear Ears, arguing the designation infringes on their state’s rights. Herbert signed a resolution in February that urged Trump to rescind Bear Ears’ status.
Led by Utah Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart in Washington, along with Sen. Orrin Hatch, Republicans are urging Congress to withhold money for the national monument in response to the designation.
Mining companies have also been eager for a decision. EOG Resources, a Texas-based company, was recently approved to drill near Bears Ears. And activists are worried that the area, which is rich in natural resources, could be offered up to oil companies if it is de-listed.
Hatch said in response to Trump’s forthcoming order that he is “committed to rolling back the egregious abuse of the Antiquities Act to serve far-left special interests.”
Hatch’s opponents argue that withholding funds or rescinding the Antiquities Act order would impact San Juan County, Utah, where more than 28% of the population lives below the poverty level.
The group Public Land Solutions, a pro-federal designation group, said in a recent report that the economic benefits of Bears Ears to the area should outweigh any benefits with mineral or oil extraction.
“Show me the money,” said Ashley Korenblat from Public Land Solutions. “We are confident that a fact-based review of the national parks and public lands protected as monuments by the Antiquities Act will show year-over-year economic growth.”
Bears Ears is not the only site that has experienced a push to give up federal protection.
Republicans in Maine, including Gov. Paul LePage, have asked Trump to stop national monument status for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, an expansive piece of land that includes much of the Penobscot River watershed. Like Bears Ears, that parcel was designated a national monument by Obama in 2016.
The order will review any monument created between Grand Staircase Escalante in September 1996 to Bears Ears in 2016 that impact more than 100,000 acres or more. Under this designation, Katahdin Woods and Waters — an expansive piece of land in Maine that includes much of the Penobscot River watershed that was enacted by Obama in 2016 — would not be reviewed, despite the calls.
The monuments the Trump administration will review include Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Basin and Range National Monument, as well as a host of Pacific Ocean monuments, including the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. All but one of the monuments set to be reviewed is west of the Mississippi.
Should Trump and his administration opt to de-list these sites, they would be going back on some off their promises to both voters and members of Congress who oversaw Zinke’s confirmation process.
“I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great,” Trump said in January 2015 during an interview with Field & Stream when asked about transferring public lands to state control. Donald Trump, Jr. has also said he is in favor of “refunding” federal lands to keep them out of private control.
Those views aren’t in line with much Republican orthodoxy, which has long said the federal government should control less land, not more.
But Trump isn’t the only Republican who expressed this view: Zinke also told senators during his confirmation process that he was against giving public lands back to the states.
“I am absolutely against transfer and sale of public lands. I can’t be more clear,” he said when Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, asked if, under Trump, federal land would be “unbelievable attack by those who would like to take these public lands away from us and turn them over back to states.”
Zinke stood by that statement Tuesday, arguing that it is wrong to suggest the review will lead to the transfer of public lands.
“I think that argument is false,” he said, blaming “modern media” for the polarized views on Bears Ears.
Cantwell said Tuesday that Trump’s decision to de-list would be “illegal” and faulted Zinke and others for doing the “bidding” for coal and natural resource companies.
[“Source-cnn”]