Director: Christopher Smith
Severance is a hilarious film that takes its content very seriously out of the love it has for us. Not everyone might know how it feels to work in the corporate world and hence it would have been very difficult for some of us to appreciate the dismemberment of its frequent inhabitants. Thankfully, filmmaker Christopher Smith is a very kind man. His film about an outing to stimulate corporate synergies that turns into a bloodbath in the backwoods is the best documentary that has never been made. You don’t need to know how it feels to work for a corporate company before watching the film. You get the hang of it after watching it. The featured characters are caricatures we might have seen at our workplaces. With the exception of clandestine drug addictions and varying levels of sexual frustration and social insecurities, they are all one and the same. And like so many of us who have worked for conglomerates, these sales team members – working for a major military defense corporation – spend most of their time complaining about being treated unfairly at the workplace.
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
Director: Jonathan Levine
Emmet is Mandy Lane’s platonic best friend. He is the nicest guy in the whole wide world. He doesn’t love Mandy just because she turned into the most attractive post-pubescent girl in town. He loved her deeply even before that summer. He even tolerates her stupid friends who bully him. He really is a nice guy. Emmet and Mandy Lane are anomalies. At school. In their homes. With their friends. Without the comfort of each other, they would be lost. Unfortunately, like how Harry Nilsson once sang, “two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one”. It’s the sort of loneliness that can lead to not just heartbreak, but also severe breakage of noses, kneecaps and skulls.
Pathimoonam Number Veedu (House Number 13)
A horror film is much scarier if we can relate to the characters in it. This is why most Indians preferred Bandarinathan’s version of Omen (Jenma Natchathiram) to Richard Donner’s original version. Since we feel so precious about ourselves most of the time, we are more connected to performers who remind us of people we have encountered, more so in horror films since we judge them based on the flashes of trauma, both physical and emotional, they help us theoretically experience. The psychotic babysitter in Jenma Natchathiram is scarier to us because she is brown-skinned just like our long-lost ayyas/ayyaammas (Tamizh slangs for babysitter). Even the possessed child was creepier in Jenma Natchathiram because he acted like one of those kids we were friends with in school, but later forget all about them because we weren’t sure if he was violently abused by his parents or merely amused by their idle threats.
Director: Stephen Somers
Van Helsing is a cathartic and wonderful experience if you choose to look at cinema as entertainment. Not that it is a superficial film filled with cliched one-liners that set up adrenaline-fueled action sequences. Stephen Somers’ Van Helsing is amazing because it tries and miserably fails at that too. But it fiercely grabs our attention, coaxing us to look beyond the confines of our aesthetic appreciation of cinema. It is perversely entertaining in the same way that road-kill is interesting. We don’t want to look, but we can’t help ourselves. We are so enamored by its presence that we just might lose a moment or two in it. Death lays still on the road like a piece of installation art. How can we not stare? It is nobody’s fault that its creator was a speeding bus and not a tormented artist.
Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter)
Director: André Øvredal
Hans the troll hunter is a hero. He fights trolls because nobody else will. Hans doesn’t stop to pose for photographs. He doesn’t feel great about protecting his species, but he’ll do it anyway. Like poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said – “a hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer”. Hans lives life like each minute is the last one of those five minutes. He is the best. Otto Jespersen, a Norwegian comedian starring in his debut feature film, buys real estate in our minds and threatens to live there forever like good movie characters often do. He plays the bad-ass Troll Hunter like the monsoonal wind would a melody in a forest filled with bamboo trees.