Posts Tagged ‘Irrfan Khan’

Dante’s Death Mask



Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ana Ularu

Screenwriter David Koepp intentionally disorientates the viewer in a disrupted narrative through a series of flashbacks and blurred images in the first half of director Ron Howard’s historical thriller Inferno as Professor Robert Langdon played again by Tom Hanks wakes up bewildered like Jason Bourne in a hospital in Florence. There Langdon is initially tended to by Dr Sienna Brooks played by Oscar nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything).


Soon the couple are shot at by a vicious but gorgeous female carabinieri Vayentha played by Romanian beauty Ana Ularu. As Langdon and Brooks seek shelter in her Florence apartment they soon discover that crazed Billionaire Bertrand Zobrist played by Ben Foster (Warcraft, Hell or High Water), seen only through a series of mediated images like a televised lecture and numerous flashbacks has decried the world’s overpopulation and plans on letting off a deadly virus killing more than half the world’s population as a form of human culling.


Langdon and Brooks travel to the Hall of the Five Hundred within the Palazzo Vecchio to discover that Dante’s death mask has been stolen. Hot on their heels is Brouchard played by French actor Omar Sy as well as a tactical team from the World Health Organisation headed by the beautiful Dr Elizabeth Sinskey played by Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen last seen as the doomed corporate executive in the thrilling HBO Sci-Fi series Westworld.


As the action moves from Florence to San Marks Square in Venice, Koepp’s script strips away the confusion and reveals an enlightening moment as a significant plot twist occurs in the Venetian Piazza reminiscent of Casino Royale and Professor Langdon soon realizes who he can really trust.


With high production values and lots of flashing images of blood soaked streets and corpses writing in hell, the cinematic depiction of Dante’s Inferno adds to the already suspenseful narrative as Langdon races against time taking in some of the ancient world’s most iconic tourist attractions including Florence’s Duomo and Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia.

The second half of Inferno is captivating as the denouement is revealed and the true danger identified in a thrilling finale in Istanbul’s Sunken Palace where a Solstice concerto is taking place amidst the possibilities of a dangerous virus being released into the ancient city’s water supply.


It is a pity that Ben Foster and Tom Hanks did not have any screen time although like with Angels and Demon’s and The Da Vinci Code, Inferno does not faithfully follow the thriller genre. Instead using a combination of visual clues heavily reliant on art history and a sense of urgency, the hero Professor Langdon in Inferno covers a touristic journey through some of the most cultural cities in Europe and Asia Minor.


Whilst Hanks and Jones are suitably impressive in their roles it is the supporting roles particularly played by Knudsen and Indian actor Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi) which add a sense of diversity to this extraordinary tale. Inferno is a fast paced historical thriller boosted by contemporary fanaticism which makes the story all the more relevant within the global context of terrorism and unsuspecting horrors.

Inferno is a captivating thriller which by far is one of the best in the Dan Brown inspired cinematic franchise, transforming into a fitting third act to The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.



Ascending The Food Chain

Jurassic World


Director: Colin Trevorrow

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, Jake Johnson, Vincent D’Onofrio, B. D. Wong, Judy Greer

After the phenomenal success of the Jurassic Park trilogy, Hollywood was bound to make a sequel and Jurassic World lives up to all expectations, smashing all box office records in its opening weekend. Let’s face it, Dinosaurs sell!

Rising star Chris Pratt who was so brilliant as the comic hero in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy plays Raptor Animal trainer Owen while Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator: Salvation) plays Jurassic World’s sophisticated and slick Vice-President Claire who is so into the selling points of the magnificent Jurassic World, a mega-theme park in Costa Rica, that she forgets about the imminent dangers of genetically reproducing more dangerous dinosaurs.

Not to mention that Claire has been given the task of looking after her nephews, Zach and Gray wonderfully played by Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins who are eventually caught up in the mayhem of Jurassic World after their gyrosphere ride goes haywire. The brothers, Zach and Gray firmly place Jurassic World’s target audience as males between the ages of 10 and 16, but the film is so visually spectacular that anyone would find Jurassic World irresistible in terms of special effects.

Audiences that enjoyed the original trilogy should definitely make an effort to see Jurassic World as besides the quirky onscreen chemistry between Pratt (who modelled his character on another Steven Spielberg creation, Indiana Jones) and the hapless Bryce Dallas Howard whose efficiency does not prevent an aggressive genetically modified dinosaur to escape captivity and wreak havoc in the theme park.

Slumdog Millionaire’s Irrfan Khan plays the reckless billionaire Masrani, new owner of Jurassic World while Vincent D’Onofrio (The Cell, Thumbsucker) plays a gung-ho military veteran Hoskins who only sees the dinosaurs as potential killing machines for combat warfare.

As the potential threat to Jurassic World, viciously ascends the food chain, the moral of the narrative soon becomes clear: never mess with what you cannot control and in scientific terms an extinction event occurs of mammoth proportions which involves humans and dinosaurs.

Jurassic World has stunning visual effects, a relatable storyline and loads of action. Highly recommended viewing and as blockbusters go, extremely entertaining thanks to a wonderful onscreen chemistry between Pratt and Howard.



2008 Toronto Film Festival

2008 Toronto International Film Festival Winners


Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.
Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film


Opening Night film: Passchendaele directed by Paul Gross; starring Paul Gross, Gil Bellows and Caroline Dhavernas


People’s Choice Award: Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle; starring Freida Pinto, Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan

Best Canadian Feature Film: Lost Song directed by Rodrigue Jean; starring Suzie LeBlanc, .


Best Canadian Feature Film: (Special Jury Citation)Adoration directed by Atom Egoyan; starring Scott Speedman, , &


Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

Life of Pi

Sharing a lifeboat with Richard Parker

Sharing a lifeboat with Richard Parker

Astounding visuals and an extraordinary tale of survival make Life of Pi worth seeing. Based upon the hit novel by Yann Martel which I was first introduced to in a London Bookshop six years ago by a good friend of mine, Life of Pi tells the extraordinary tale of Pi, a boy who grew up in the French colonial region of India and whose father ran the Pondicherry Zoo.

Pi’s seemingly tranquil childhood in Pondicherry is spent experimenting with different religions from Hinduism to Christianity and endlessly teased at school by his classmates for his unusual name Pi, which he quickly shortened from his original birth name Piscine Moritor Patel, named after a Parisian swimming pool which his father once had the good fortune to swim in.

Pi’s exotic youth is disrupted when his parents decide to emigrate to Canada from India. The catch being that the journey was to be on a Japanese freighter sailing from India to Canada around the Pacific and Pi’s father insisted on taking some of the zoo animals with them including a Bengal Tiger, a zebra, an orang-utan and a hyena.

During a horrific storm off the coast of the Philippines, the freighter sinks leaving Pi now sixteen stranded on a life boat with several animals including a Bengal Tiger, a zebra,  an orang-utan and a hyena. Naturally in these extraordinary circumstances survival of the fittest ensues and soon afterwards it is only Pi faced with the prospect of sharing a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger oddly named Richard Parker.

Yann Martel’s brilliant novel Life of Pi leaves much to the imagination and is beautifully written, winning the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. It is only through the expert eyes of Oscar winning film director Ang Lee whose successes include Brokeback Mountain, The Ice Storm and Lust, Caution that this extraordinary tale of courage, survival and triumph be brought to the big screen with the assistance of some amazing special effects making the Life of Pi an unbelievable and wonderfully told novel come to life on the big screen.

Director Ang Lee whose previous films all dealt with decidedly human dilemmas of forbidden love, family dramas and political intrigue proves he is equally adept at handling a tale about survival, triumph and one teenage boy’s determination to beat Mother Nature’s odds despite his extraordinary situation of being stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific ocean for almost a year with only a hungry Bengal Tiger for company…

Naturally the special effects team of Avatar and Titanic also offer great assistance in bringing this extraordinary novel to the big screen and also shown in 3D. Read the book of Life of Pi and by all means don’t miss the colourful cinematic version. Recommended!

Coincidental Exhibitions

Strange Coincidences

So let me tell you a remarkably strange story about coincidences, clear and imagined. In October 2008, whilst returning from a break in the Drakensberg, I had a two day stay in Durban. The first night, I accompanied a family friend to an Exhibition opening at Kizo Gallery, Umhlanga. Being a Monday evening, it was a fairly sedate but definitely prolific crowd that gathered. The artist was Aparna Swarup and featured a beautiful collection of photographs of Allahabad, a place in India, where there is a confluence of three holy rivers. At the exhibition I met the artist’s husband, an Indian diplomat based in Pretoria, Vikas Swarup. The husband was cordial and polite. A chance encounter I thought nothing of at the time.

Golden Globes

Fours months later in January 2009, I am in Johannesburg, watching the Golden Globe awards and suddenly there is buzz about the new Danny Boyle film Slumdog Millionaire. Of course Slumdog wins countless Golden Globe awards and suddenly there is loads of media attention. Looking up the Golden Globe awards, I found that the film Slumdog Millionaire was based on a book Q & A by Vikas Swarup. I still didn’t make any connection until I returned to Durban and the family friend mentioned that the artist’s husband I met was Vikas Swarup and the book was an Indian version centering on a wonderful story of how a poverty-stricken boy comes to be on the Quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire set in Mumbai.


From Shallow Grave


to Slumdog Millionaire

The film rights had been taken up and Q and A was filmed as Slumdog Millionaire tipped for Oscar glory. What better director than Danny Boyle the Manchester bred director who had brought British cinema into limelight again with such films as the Scottish thriller Shallow Grave and Trainspotting and launched the careers of Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox.

Trainspotting was an instant cult hit in the early 1990s and with a superb soundtrack and frenetic direction, filmgoers saw Edinburgh, crack addiction and trains in an entirely different light. Having met the author of Q and A, now suitably piqued by the curiosity of Danny Boyle’s film version, I purchased the novel and devoured it within a week relishing the wonderful way Swarup entwines the stories of his hero, Jamal with how he manages to reach the final and tantalizing finale of the Quiz show and shedding some light on the horrors and joys of contemporary India.

2009 Oscars come and go, Slumdog Millionaire sweeps the board, the soundtrack wins best original score, the film wins best director for Boyle and suddenly the stars Freda Pinto and Dev Patel are appearing on US talk shows, dancing Bollywood style with the likes of Ellen de Generes. The best part about seeing Slumdog Millionaire for me was watching it in the Supernova theatre at Suncoast Coast and experiencing the full brilliance of such a wonderful and frenetic film, a lush and hectic slant on modern day India. Nothing like watching a film on the big screen, the impact of which surely diminishes once a viewer sees it on DVD.

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