Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Mubarakan, or: Wife Swap

I’m unemployed and don’t have a place to live beyond mid-August; what I mean to say here is that, rather than host a pity party, it’s the perfect time for impeccably choreographed dance numbers, glittering costumes, and a dizzying number of love triangles. That’s right—it’s the first ever Bollywood month on the Blog Collab!

The Film:

Mubarakan

The Premise:

Identical twin brothers raised separately plan to marry their girlfriends despite family disapproval and the disastrous attempts of their uncle to help.

The Ramble:

On a dark night in England in 1990, twin babies Charan and Karan survive a car crash that kills both of their parents. Their uncle Kartar is guardian of the two boys…until he realizes the whole parenting thing isn’t really his cup of tea. The boys go their separate ways; Karan to be raised by his aunt Jeeto in London, and Charan in Punjab by his uncle Baldev.

From even our opening song-and-dance number, it’s clear that Charan is the good Punjabi boy (and devout Sikh), while Karan is the flashy bad boy. Though far apart in location and in personality, the now grown twins are on the same page when it comes to settling down. Karan is ready to marry his girlfriend of two years, Sweety. Unfortunately, Sweety makes a dismally poor impression when meeting Aunt Jeeto, and Karan decides to hold off on his news.

Meanwhile, Uncle Baldev has arranged an engagement for Karan to Binkle, the daughter of a influential man. Determined to get out of the arrangement, Karan suggests it’s his brother Charan who should marry Binkle. Complications abound as Charan himself is eager to marry his girlfriend Nafisa, a Muslim woman he fears the family won’t accept.

After arriving at Uncle Kartar’s extravagant Mini Punjab in England, Charan does little to hide his dismay at his impending engagement. Due to the influential nature of Binkle’s family, Charan cannot back out of the arrangement; however, Kartar helps his nephew scheme to meet with disapproval. Kartar’s best plan is for Charan to pretend to be a drug addict. Of course, nothing could possibly go wrong here.

When Charan meets Binkle, she’s a total sweetheart and he’s instantly smitten. Though he changes his mind on his uncle’s questionable plans, it’s too late–when Binkle’s brother accuses Charan of drug abuse, a major dispute erupts, pitting the twins’ families against each other. To save face, Baldev vows he will see Charan married within one month, even if the engagement to Binkle has fallen through.

Now that Baldev is determined to make such a quick engagement, the time seems right for him to coincidentally meet Nafisa. If she charms Charan’s uncle, it should be easy for the two to become engaged. However, Baldev mistakes Nafisa for Karan’s girlfriend and, besides, is less than dazzled by her personality. Rather than Nafisa, Baldev has another young lady in mind for Charan…none other than Sweety! More than a little irked with Karan, Sweety agrees to the engagement. Just like that, not one, but TWO weddings are in the works, set for December 25th in London.

Please share my confusion over this dance number featuring a group of back-up dancers dressed in LA Lakers jerseys…?

What follows is scheme after scheme, each one ending in its own spectacular disaster. With the weddings fast approaching, the only option left seems to be elopement. Kartar is all for this until he is haunted by a dream of his late brother, who reminds him of the shame this will bring to the family. Done with elaborate plans, Kartar insists the young couples leave their fate in God’s hands. Will divine intervention bring about a happy end where mortal means have failed?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Oh my GOD, this film did not need to be 2 1/2 hours. After a while, all of the schemes feel repetitive and–sorry for the spoiler–the ending of the film doesn’t exactly defy expectations. Also, the potential for comedic mistaken identity is grossly underutilized considering our main characters are IDENTICAL TWINS.

I will concede that the cast here is great. Anil Kapoor as Kartar is a standout, and I love that he’s basically living the dream that I imagine all people of nations colonized by white people share: lavishing in a country estate with a white servant at his beck and call. Arjun Kapoor is also impressive considering he plays both main roles in this lengthy feature, quite often conversing with himself and occasionally mirroring his own dance moves.

Fun fact for my fellow clueless white people: there is a LOT of English in this film, with actors switching back and forth between Hindi, Punjabi, and English within the same sentence. I had to Google this, but it’s apparently a thing in a lot of Bollywood films since English is such a ubiquitous and, er, cool(?) language.

One of the few Bollywood films I’ve seen is Bride & Prejudice, and this film reminded me of why the Bollywood adaptation of Austen worked so well (see also: colonization. Again). Mubarakan, like much of Austen, is very much a comedy of manners, responding to rather strict expectations surrounding marriage and the discouragement of openly discussing romantic love. The couples in this film balance their feelings of love with the conflicting demands of family, duty, and restraint–plus there’s more dancing than you can shake a stick at.

Would my lovely blog wife accept a proposal from our film or shun it for the shame it has brought upon the family? Read her review here to find out!

Advertisements
a woman with crossed arms leans against a bookcase in a shop
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Bookshop, or: Shelf-Employed

Hallelujah, it’s Feminist February! Not only is this month a celebration of ladies in film, but it’s also the birth month of the Blog Collab! This week, we vicariously fulfill our dreams of opening the quaintest fucking bookshop ever to exist.

The Film:

The Bookshop

The Premise:

A woman in 1950s England faces local opposition to her plans to open and operate her own smalltown bookshop.

The Ramble:

Recently widowed Florence Green is devastated by her husband’s death. However, as stiff upper lip is the English way, she tries to make the best of things by achieving her lifelong dream of opening a bookshop.

a woman reads alone in a field near the beach on a cloudy day

In order to do so, Florence must overcome a surprising amount of opposition from the members of her sleepy coastal town. Only one person in town seems to be much of a reader, so the bank finds little reason to believe her venture will be a solid investment. This leaves Florence to rub elbows at fancy rich people parties which, in true book nerd fashion, she is painfully terrible at carrying off.

Unwittingly, Florence’s bookshop plans have set up queen bee of the town Violet as her archnemesis. Violet has grand plans of her own for the historic building that happens to be Florence’s home: she envisions a grand arts center, despite the small town not having much art and culture to go around.

Even with the scheming of Violet and her toady Milo, Florence manages to convert her home into a cozy little bookshop. The shop is a true labor of love as Florence is the only employee until she hires an assistant, 11-year-old Christine. Though Christine gives zero fucks about reading, she’s nevertheless a dedicated and hardworking employee. The two bond over their determination to keep the bookshop alive and thriving.

a girl looks at postcards with interest while a woman observes with crossed arms

Meanwhile, Brundish, the only reader in town becomes more and more invested in Florence’s success. In addition to being the only game in town, Florence has the knack for tracking down the perfect book for Brundish. After introducing him to Ray Bradbury, she asks for his opinion on selling Lolita in her shop despite its questionable morality.

an older man talks to the camera from behind several piles of books

Deciding to go all-in for Lolita, Florence stocks 250 copies and scandalizes the entire town. Has she finally gone too far? It seems likely when Florence is forced to close the doors on the shop. Though Brundish stands up for her against Violet, in a tragic twist, Florence ends up losing her last remaining ally.

Is there any hope left for Florence and her little bookshop?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

As a feminist being into it when ladies are small business owners, I wanted to like this. As a book person, I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to like this. Florence is basically living my dream life here with her small bookshop in a beautiful little coastal town. But honestly, most of this movie is boring AF and I couldn’t even get invested in the whole cute little bookshop fantasy. And this time it’s not the chemical inbalances in my brain because I have pills for that.

The characters are not super compelling either. Even Bill Nighy’s character is just kind of blah, and that makes it difficult to invest in any of the character relationships. The relationship between Florence and Christine is supposed to be the heart of the film, but it falls flat and fails to create the wistful ending it aims for.

Not to be too spoiler-y, but this film could also be called Christine: That Escalated Quickly.

The landscape and adorable little shops and cottages are lovely, though.

Would my blog wife invest in this one or scheme to shut it down? Read her review here to find out!

a group of four backpackers on a hill looks at the English countryside below
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Backtrack, or: I Do Nazi the Point of This Movie

So maybe you’ve thought off-hand that you must have done something terrible in a past life to deserve a series of lamentable circumstances in the present.  Like…the global political climate, for example.  Perhaps as you’ve considered this possibility, you’ve used a series of clichéd expressions and non-sequiturs to frame what is already something of a cliché.  That’s this film in a nutshell…with Nazis.  And, coincidentally, we must have all offended the forces of the universe to deserve this movie.

The Film:

Backtrack:  Nazi Regression

Where to Watch:

Amazon Prime (US)

The Premise:

What’s more fun than a walking holiday with your partner and two of your closest friends?  Exploring a possible Nazi past life through hypnotism while your girlfriend hooks up with your friend’s boyfriend and a deranged kidnapper stalks you.

The Uncondensed Version:

Claudia has an incredibly vague and convenient talent for looking into the past and future.  While on a walking holiday with her friends seems to be the perfect opportunity to test out her abilities.  Specifically, to explore the secret Nazi life of friend Ralph.  Learning about his past life is…important?  For some reason?  As it turns out, Ralph had a Nazi family in his past life, and something bad seems to have happened to them.

a man lies with eyes closed in front of a seated woman
A fun hobby to try explaining during interviews.

Meanwhile, Andrea and Lucas (who looks 12), the respective partners of Ralph and Claudia are fine with this turn of events as they’re off having sex constantly and/or complaining about all the walking…ON A WALKING HOLIDAY.  Too tired to deal with this shit, Andrea and Lucas go off to find the local pub.  Once there, they are greeted by an incredibly creepy bartender.  I kind of expected him to get along well with Lucas because they are both so fucking sleazy.

a young man sits next to a woman in a bar
Is he reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally old enough to be in a bar, though?  Is he REALLY?

Later, as Andrea and Lucas have yet another weirdly shot sex scene, a mysterious figure who we’ve heard talking to himself throughout the entire movie approaches their tent.  He hits Lucas and ties up both parties.  Whoa.  Is that where this film is heading, i.e. torture porn territory?  Apparently so.  There are some absolutely disgusting scenes that feel endless where this guy burns his victims with a lot of camera close-ups.  I hope you realize I don’t say that lightly given the massive number of B horror movies featured in this blog collab.

After being asked once, Andrea immediately reveals where the other two have gone.  Look, I’m not saying I’d do any better if a creepy kidnapper started asking me questions, but come on.

Btw, did I mention all of this is happening in broad daylight?  And he moves his victims in the back of a tractor wagon?  Super inconspicuous.

Conveniently, when Claudia and Ralph return to the campsite, Claudia senses that Andrea and Lucas were abducted after the odd camera angles of their sex scene.  The answer to all of their questions is supposedly to do another Nazi past life regression.  This is interrupted by the most unintentionally hilarious attempted abduction scene in film, in which the creepy shadowy dude tries to basically tow their tent with his tractor.  Unsurprisingly, they can get out of that one pretty easily.

a tractor tows a camping tent across a field in the night
IDK if I should really be laughing so hard about kidnapping.

However, when he does catch up with Claudia and Ralph, he is intent on exacting revenge for some unknown offense.  You’ll have to watch to see what happens, why, and if you even fucking care by the time any of this happens.  But honestly, if you ask nicely, I’ll probably just tell you how it ends.

Top 5 Lines of Dialogue:

5. “It’s better to know than not know.”

4. Andrea: A man hit you, tied us up, and brought us here.

Lucas (outraged): WHY?!

3. Julian Glover (dramatically, to a grave): You shall be avenged!

2. “If you untie us now and let us go, we’ll be on our way and the whole thing won’t be mentioned.”

1. “I’ve lived before…even if I was a Nazi.”

The Rating:

1/5 Angry PPHs

So bad, guys.  So, so bad.

I tried to think of small things about this film that could be changed to improve it, and I drew a blank.  On the bright side, the scenery is pretty?   Fucking hell, though, those burn scenes are vile.  And though as viewers we are obviously supposed to hate the cheaters and like the other two characters, they are all sooooooooooooooooooo bland.  Sub-par, even for a Nazi B movie.

Would Christa go along with this one or roll on out of the tent ASAP?  Find out by reading her review here!