Wow-inducing cinema

I happened to watch four movies during the fortnight that particularly affected me.

Zootopia: The latest offering from Disney is a charming little curio about a bunny Officer Judy Hopps (a dulcet voiceover from Ginnifer Goodwin), who aims to make it big as a police officer in the modern mammal metropolis Zootopia. Her condescending superior, Chief Bogo, a rhino (the inimitable Idris Elba), asks her to crack a case within 48 hours so as to be taken seriously. With the help of a street-smart fox (Jason Bateman), Officer Hopps does the near impossible - but not before the directors, Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush, indulge in some amazing hilarity.

The best part of Zootopia is that it doesn't pander to its supposed demographics (3-14). There are enough helix-like koans that will stir the imagination of anyone - such as the one on the evolution of preys and predators. Zootopia goes against the Disney grain quite well. It never gets overwrought and wears its minor sappiness light on its sleeve. I know it is too early to make predictions, but Zootopia looks like the Inside Out 2016.

Carol: This determinedly poetic movie, set in 1950s' New York, is a story of a love affair between a toy store clerk, Therese (Rooney Mara), and an older woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett). Todd Haynes' lushly orchestrated cinematic adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt is a bewitching piece of cinema told with subtleties that are ably shown by the excellent cinematography of Edward Lachman. The complicated delight of their relationship when the two take a short road trip in the latter half is simultaneously wrenching and transfixing. Kyle Chandler as the person with whom Carol's marriage is crumbling does his prickly, smug part nicely.

The movie derives its torque from the lead pair's chemistry. Rooney Mara's character of a diminutive girl who knows that Carol is way above her league is brilliant. Their first date, when she orders the exact same things that Cate Blanchett does, is awesomely awkward. When the Oscar nominations came out, there was an outrage that the movie was ignored for both the best picture and best director categories. Too bad that the Academy couldn't see beyond the fatuous nihilism of The Revenant.

Kshanam: Telugu cinema rarely delivers a taut thriller. The last one I really loved was Anukokunda Oka Roju (2005), which was remade in Hindi as Sunday. After a decade comes this movie about a woman (Adah Sharma) who is trying to find her daughter that everyone else, including her husband, thinks doesn't exist. She asks her ex-boyfriend (Adivi Sesh) to help her out.

Director Ravikanth Perepu's initial establishment of the movie is a tad slow, but sit through the first 20 minutes and he'll take you on a rollicking ride. The inane tyranny of Tollywood is that it is always about heroism and never about the story. That's exactly the reason why Kshanam ("minute" in English) is so refreshing. Take any A-list actor and the movie would have been a paean to every twitch of his muscle, but Sesh's disposition complements the movie's grimness. It might look like a bedfellow to Anurag Kashyap's Ugly, but it has a lot more to offer. The movie's biggest revelation is comedian Satyam Rajesh, who has reversed his personal cosmos with his character of a sincere police officer.

The movie is being shown with English subtitles across the country.

Steve Jobs: I finally got hold of the Blu-ray edition of the Danny Boyle movie, which is also the least offensive of the movies that Aaron Sorkin is involved with. Michael Fassbender as the Apple Inc founder is predictably magnificent. My only quibble with the movie is that it starts on a random note and then goes back and forth. Since when has it become passe for a character-driven movie to have a linear narrative? Or maybe I'm just being my Grinch self.

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