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Last month’s flavor was Schwarzenegger and this month it is Anthony Weiner, democratic US Congressman who has been embroiled  in controversy in the wake of posting lewd pictures for his female followers on Twitter. The scandal called Weinergate was all over the telly from the last 3 weeks.

The usual politician’s drill took place. At first he denied, suggesting someone had hacked his account. Then this someone became a political opponent. Lots of boos and media coverage followed. But Wiener was not done. After everything was failing around him, he said the image might have been doctored. And finally when all avenues were exhausted then inevitably he had to admit to his wrongdoing by starting with the words

“I haven’t been completely honest with myself”

Ah now politician’s statement containing the word honest, irony that. His work records are mixed. And one of the funnier aspects is that he was critical of UN diplomats not paying NYC parking tickets while at the same time he ran up $2,180 in unpaid Washington DC parking violations even running with expired registration plates on his car at one time.

Despite this public admission he refused to resign. The American media had a field day. And they also held a poll to decide whether he should resign or not.  Just goes to show power can corrupt and politicians are headless gaffers irrespective of any country they are born. Anthony Wiener has since resigned.
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A small working class town in Ohio 1979 suddenly experiences strange phenomena of disappearing car engines, dogs fleeing town and humans vanishing. And all these seem to occur after a US Air force train carrying some top secret cargo derails in a remote part of town, the crash being witnessed by a teenage group who are making a film with their Super 8 camera.

Foremost of this child group is Joe(Joel Courtney) who it is revealed right in the very beginning to have lost his mother to an industrial accident and immediately garners our sympathy. He has his friends who have their own family interactions and tribulations to take care, small town values and youthful virtues et al. They spend the better part making a zombie film with their star performer Alice (a thoroughly remarkable Elle Fanning)

The movie is touted from the very beginning as director Abram’s tribute to the great Steven Spielberg and his films. So anyone familiar with ET immediately recognizes the Spielbergian set up - the character spread, the unrelenting imperil of something lurking whose face is always hidden and the general buildup of suspense rather than senseless action. This is where the film's strength is. All the child actors are universally charming.  Its astonishing that director Abrams manages to stuff a lot of genres into one film like the coming of age, action, mystery, creature feature and comedy.

On the flipside, the movie moves at a snail’s pace with nothing happening for large parts. And as the story moves on, things just seem more and more implausible. However , the earlier build up that leads us into believing that the climax will be worthy of our patient wait unfortunately lets us down in the last half an hour. Consider a child along at home with his toys spread around the room in a haphazard manner. As soon as he hears his parents at the front door he gathers all his toys up and stuffs them in his cupboard in a disorderly manner to avoid rebuke.

That’s how the ending feels in Super 8 , where all the ramping up goes to waste and sequences seem to be filmed for the sake of wrapping the movie up as if Steven Spielberg came knocking to check on its progress. It is spectacularly artificial. The movie and audience and Spielberg of all deserved better.

Rating : 3/5
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It always makes for an interesting narrative when prequels are made because it allows us to see a character evolve into the entity we already know. X Men First Class directed by Matthew Vaughn is one such that weaves the story of the two most powerful mutants Professor X and Magneto. 

The movie starts in a concentration camp in 1944 where a young Erik Lensherr’s magnetic powers are unleashed when he sees his mother getting murdered by a Nazi appointed scientist Schmidt (Kevin Bacon). On the other side of the world in a posh mansion in New York, young Xavier is introduced when he reads the mind of a homeless girl trying to steal something from his fridge. The girl is also revealed to be a mutant – a shape shifter. 

Years later, they have grown up and while Erik (Fassbender) has embarked on a vengeful journey to find his mother’s killer, Charles(McAvoy) has become a geneticist at Oxford accompanied by his foster sister Raven(Mystique played by the cute Jennifer Lawrence).Circumstances force them to reveal their powers to the CIA who hires them for a purpose and eventually when they meet, Xavier and Erik bond quickly. Their friendship is interspersed with entertaining scenes of  the recruitment of mutants of various kinds (features a great 5 second cameo ) from all over the world. In this, the story of how the various mutants come together feels like a cold war era bond adventure and we also have a megalomaniac to boot. Schmidt has now changed to Sebastian Shaw and whose machinations have brought the US and Russia to the brink of nuclear war, an alternate history platform derived from the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Shaw drives this conflict that will eliminate the human race while making the mutants the only surviving super species on the planet. 

The second half concentrates on the differing viewpoints of the two friends as we know with Xavier being the accommodator for coexisting and assimilating with humans while Erik getting increasingly disillusioned with the human race and its intentions for mutants. This is where the movie slightly loses its footing because we expect more drama in the two protagonist’s conflicts but poor McAvoy looks like a child in front of the imposing Fassbender and his magnetic personality (pun intended). It isn’t helped by the fact that one can feel that the movie is throbbing in its underbelly to jump to the next jaw dropping action set piece. For sheer jaw dropping though, one has to mention the submarine sequence, it is incredible. 

Overall the movie is First Class and one of the better comics to movies in recent time. From the actors , it is Michael Fassbender, the German-Irish actor who gets to exercise every acting muscle in his body, strain every thespian sinew and does a mighty good job of it. James McAvoy looks a shade immature but performs admirably. When it comes to playing megalomaniacs, Bacon nails it. Supporting characters don’t have much to do but special effects takes care of everything. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique gives the most interesting and inscrutable character in the movie like her name. However the scene showing her brushing her teeth in the morning was a comical one, alas even superheroes or heroines can’t escape the mundane chores of life. 

Rating : 3.5/5 
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Jack is back but with a whimper 

The original pirates were fast action paced movies with nothing but fun and bravado at heart. After jettisoning Keira Knightley and the wimpy Orlando Bloom, On stranger tides, the fourth installment in the pirates series starts with everyone looking for the fountain of youth. Most of all, a notorious pirate Blackbeard(the dependable Ian McShane once again) , who practices black magic and recruits/captures Jack(Depp) to guide him to the treasure. Following them is the king's navy privateer Hector Barbossa(Geoffrey Rush) and a Spanish expedition. There is also a love interest for Jack, a girl named Angelica(Penelope Cruz) , a scorned lover we are informed. Her intentions keep changing from scene to scene and all she does is look good. 

But as the movie progresses, you realize  that you might as well stick to her unpredictability because scene after scene just seems to be a pile up of desultory set-pieces, with the film going nowhere in the first half. Every scene or action sequence lasts a generation too long with no apparent end or goal in sight. As the movie lurches, we too feel disjointed from it. The only entertaining part was the mermaids whose beautiful faces belie the sinister motives they carry within.

Depp , you would say has outlasted this role and stripped it of any new trinket whatsoever. Rush and Cruz are adequate and just look happy to collect their paycheck. Ian McShane the psychopath for his acting along with the beautiful mermaid for her ...well beauty are the only redeeming features of this boring film. 

And oh yes the 3D, which is not required is just like the movie......nothing special. 

Rating : 2/5
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Po(voiced by Jack Black) and his friends have to face a new enemy Shen, a peacock (voiced by the brilliant Gary Oldman) who is threatening to take over China. The movie has the usual tomfoolery, some nuggets of wisdom and some brilliant action. A little predictable yes because it misses the novelty of the first episode. Just like the first movie, the most interesting character here is the villain in this case the vain peacock. Other than that its all slapstick. Fun movie for all ages. 3D is awesome too or was that awesomeness. Aargh...I had to use that word.

Rating : 3.5 / 5
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