‘Wall Street’ is predictable, ‘Pranchiyettan and the Saint’ is the thinking man’s comedy

With most cinema houses postponing their big releases to later this week and the next, new films in Bangalore came from Hollywood and Malayalam cinema.

Almost two decades after he made a film in a similar setting, director Oliver Stone returns with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. In this sequel, Jake Moore tries to save his crumbling professional and personal life amidst the intrigue, corruption and huge egos of Wall Street. Only the agility of his mind can pull him through.

In the aftermath of the recent global recession, the theme is topical and hard-hitting. As in films like JFK and Nixon, the plot is intricate and Stone relies on dialogue and crisp editing to take the plot forward. In characteristic fashion, he speaks without a trace of sugar coating. Once more the film is not merely an action drama, it is a social commentary on contemporary America.

Jake Moore is believable as Shia LaBeouf. He is well-supported by Josh Brolin as Bretton James and Carey Mulligan as Winnie Gekko. But it is Michael Douglas who gives the film its depth as Gordon Gekko. It is a performance that is credible and adds many layers to the film.

But unfortunately, none of this succeeds in rescuing the film from a sense of deja vu. The world of Wall Street, the characters, their dilemmas and Stone’s directorial approach are all familiar and predictable.

Even Stone’s take on 21st century America’s global financial markets is hardly unexpected. The only part of the film that could really strike a chord with audiences is the film’s contemporary relevance.

In the final analysis, the film carries the air of an idea whose time has long since passed. In view of the great tradition of Stone’s previous work, this is no small disappointment.

I would go with a rating on 2.5 on 5 for Wall Street. It’s clever, complex and not a bad one-time watch at the movies. But unlike Stone’s other work, it does not do anything different from past films on similar themes or stretch the boundaries of its genre.

Pranchiyettan and the Saint is the triumph of satire

After winning over audiences with Paleri Manikyam and Kerala Cafe, director Renjith and Mammooty come together once again to give us Pranchiyettan and the Saint, cinema that celebrates the triumph of satire.

The film tells the story of successful businessman Chirammal Enashu Francis, better known as Pranchiyettan (played by Mammooty). While everything that  Pranchiyettan touches turns to gold, his lack of education and sophistication make him the butt of many jokes. So he sets about buying genteel respectability in a determined fashion, but instead discovers love and finds the reverence of a child.

The story is carried forward in the form of conversations between Pranchiyettan and Saint Francis of Assisi. Pranchiyettan is a devotee of the saint and goes to a church to seek his blessing. There the Saint appears before him, and the imaginary discussion that ensues forms the backbone of the film’s narrative. 

In fact this background spoof characterises the satirical element that abounds in the film. Naturally, the brilliance of Pranchiyettan and the Saint lies in the dialogue that is at once comical, soulful and always bitingly satirical. The end result is a film made in the best traditions of a thinking man’s comedy – it entertains, while always questioning and provoking you to think. 

Mammooty demonstrates once again why he has always been rated amongst India’s finest contemporary actors. He transitions between comical situations, deep insights, romance and intense action easily – all in the course of a single film.

Also on the cast are Priyamani, Innocent, Jesse Fox Allen, Master Ganapathy  and Khushboo. While the entire cast delivers with all-round good performances, Innocent stands out as he usually does, giving the film its memorable comic moments.

Like in many celebrated Malayalam films, the sound track does not add an extra dimension to the film. Here the film is taken forward by cinematic action and not its musical score.

While many have decried the lack of good scripts in Indian cinema in recent times, Pranchiyettan and the Saint shows us once again the vibrancy and originality of Malayalam cinema is still alive.

The film deserves nothing less than a 4 on 5. A good script is brought alive by fine direction and sparkling performances, leaving you smiling and shedding a tear at all the right places.

What’s around the corner?

  • This weekend Chitra Samooha will be screening Duniya directed by Soori (R Suresh) and produced by  T P Siddaraju on October 2nd and 3rd, 2010.

Time: 6:30 pm

Venue: Suchitra Auditorium, B V Karanth Road, Next to Post Office, Banashankari 2nd Stage

  • Vikalp will also be screening national award winning film In Camera, directed by Ranjan Palit on October 1st 2010.

Time: 6:30 pm

Venue: Centre for Film and Drama (CFD), 5th Floor, Sona Towers, Millers Road

The ratings and what they mean

The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and try to strike that difficult balance between cinematic critique and giving the regular film buff a peek into what’s playing in town and worth a watch.

1: Watch this film only if the director pays you

2: You could safely give this film a miss

2.5: A one time watch

3: Good cinema. Money well spent

4: Great cinema. A standing ovation

5: Simply speechless. A masterpiece

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About Christina Daniels 48 Articles
Christina Daniels is a communications professional based in Bangalore. She is the author of the cinematic filmography "I'll Do It My Way: The Incredible Journey of Aamir Khan". Before this, she authored the novel "Ginger Soda Lemon Pop" and co-authored "Mind Blogs 1.0".

1 Comment

  1. There is a small correction here that I would like to make. According to an update from Suchitra, the film screened will be Nanu Gaandhi and not Duniya, as earlier mentioned.

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