White Guy Watches Bollywood

A random white guy engages with contemporary Indian cinema... one movie at a time


Tamil Movie Review: Mark Antony brings back linear time travel with mixed results

S.J. Suryah and Vishal star in the new Tamil movie "Mark Antony," here reviewed by White Guy Watches Bollywood.

After nearly two years of being inundated with multiverse movies at the multiplex, it’s refreshing to see a straightforward time travel film like Mark Antony, which takes cinematic “alternate realities” back-to-basics in approaching time as a linear absolute. It’s also a reminder that multiverse stories have it comparatively easy; when filmmakers enjoy an endless number of parallel realities at their disposal, they can seemingly offer any solution they want to a narrative dead-end. More traditional time travel narratives like Mark Antony require the writers to show more of their math when it comes to the Butterfly Effect, which is typically a more rigorous undertaking.

When onscreen time travel logic is done right, the juice is worth the squeeze: as a viewer, there’s something very satisfying about validating that the math checks out. But the constant arithmetic can also get a little tedious if it’s not being consistently used to take the story in fun new directions, which gets to be the case here after an energetic start.

Mark Antony definitely has enough stylistic swagger, scenery-chewing performances, and goofy aplomb to sustain for a good while, at least until intermission. It moves at a mile-a-minute pace as it initially sets up all of the players and rules of its time travel narrative, allowing the audience just enough breathing room to digest the particulars without getting lost. But make no mistake: meticulous plotting aside, this is an absurdist high-wire act, not a particularly serious piece of sci-fi filmmaking.

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Tamil Movie Review: Jailer succeeds on star power, despite underwhelming twists

White Guy Watches Bollywood reviews the new Tamil movie "Jailer," starring Rajinikanth and Vinayakan. Written and directed by Nelson.

Before Jailer, I had never seen a single movie starring Rajinikanth before, but one need not have even heard of any of the Tamil movie industry legend’s 150+ previous credits to know that he is a superstar. The film makes it aggressively clear just what a force this man is, nearing self-parody in the sheer number of slow-motion shots it features of the hero arriving in each scene. It also seeks to afford his thick-rimmed glasses the same iconic motif status as Indiana Jones’ bullwhip or Dirty Harry’s .44 magnum; apparently, Rajinikanth only needs corrective lenses to be able to kick ass. Through such explicit stylistic pronouncements, it feels like writer/director Nelson is introducing Rajinikanth to the entire world at the ripe age of 72, with Kollywood films like Jailer receiving broader distribution than ever before, just as much as he is engaging in fan service for the actor’s loyal following. In other words, he’s welcomely catching the rest of us up.

With an even slightly lesser star, this strategy easily could have backfired, coming across as cheesy and over-the-top. But much like Liam Neeson in the first Taken and Keanu Reeves in John Wick, Rajinikanth has the sheer level of magnetism required to sell the filmmaker’s balls-to-the-walls vision with a surprising level of internal credibility. We don’t bat an eyelash as this 72-year-old takes down hordes of men half his age – somehow, it feels positively logical. And what a sight it is to watch him do it; in much the same way that Top Gun Maverick did in the U.S. last year, Jailer reminds audiences what a true movie star looks like. Even as the film’s plot descends into complete nonsense – and boy does it ever – you’re completely transfixed by Rajinikanth as Muthuvel Pandian, the police pensioner who comes out of retirement to avenge his dead son.

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