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Netflix | The White Tiger – Review

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“Spectacular” is a word rarely used when describing Netflix original movies, since so many get released at the same time. Once in a blue moon, a “spectacular” Netflix film comes out that blows us all away, but becomes buried within the next week when more “content” gets released. We’re more used to say “admirable” or “terrible” when describing Netflix movies. Ramin Bahrani made a “spectacular” film in 2015, 99 Homes, which contained career-defining performances from Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, yet his follow-up, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, was more than “terrible.”

His latest film, which adapts Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger, is a mere “admirable” effort, as it tells a typical “rags-to-riches” story of Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav), who becomes a driver to Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and his wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra-Jonas), in the hopes of getting out of what he refers to as “the rooster coop” (which reinterprets Robert Kioysaki’s “rat race” theory from Rich Dad, Poor Dad) that most lower-class Indians are stuck in. However, when an unfortunate incident happens, it puts Balram’s future in jeopardy as he is framed for murder.

The White Tiger' review: Dir. Ramin Bahrani (2021)

The White Tiger‘s reinterpretation of the “rat race” theory is, bar none, the film’s most engaging aspect. The audience becomes a witness in Balram’s descent into madness, as the people he drives with will constantly abuse and frame him to protect their own self-interests and “public image.” Because of this, once Balram “snaps” in front of Ashok and “The Stork” (Mahesh Manjrekar), you know exactly where he’s coming from. Throughout all of his life, he has been given opportunities to flourish as an individual and create lasting change in the world (one teacher compares him to a white tiger; someone who comes only once in a generation), but bad decisions from his family prevented him from escaping the “rooster coop.” Its lead performance from Adarsh Gourav is excellent, as he is able to convey different emotional states during the film’s three acts and seeing his transformation from “innocent-driver” to “cold-blooded criminal” who’ll do anything to get out of the “rooster coop” is incredibly gripping.

It’s a shame that the movie is told in the third-person, through flashbacks. Balram writes to China’s Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, and gives the audience “hints” as to what happened with Ashok & Pinky, instead of a typical, linear storyline. By watching the film’s opening sequence when Balram prints out his “wanted” poster, the audience can clearly predict what will happen at the end of the movie by connecting a few dots, once Balram starts working for Ashok. This reduces the emotional build-up and supense of the film, because the audience has clearly made themselves an idea of what’s [most likely] going to happen.

Most of the supporting cast can’t also match Gourav’s star-making performance. Rao’s line delivery, as Ashok, is quite flat and Priyanka Chopra’s Pinky is incredibly underused. The only performance that truly carries the movie is Gourav; all of the other actors surrounding him badly deliver their lines and melodramatically perform. There’s no legitimate access to The Stork, Ashok, or Pinky’s psyche, who bribe politicians into not paying taxes. A “bit” of access is given when Pinky feels terrible when The Stork and Ashok’s brother, The Mongoose (Vijay Maurya) frame Balram for murder, but it doesn’t last enough for the audience to care about the supporting cast. Their main focus is on Balram’s journey, but part of that journey’s unpredictability is reduced by knowing exactly how it ends.

Because of this, The White Tiger half-succeeds at telling a standard “rags-to-riches” story inspired by one of the best economic theories of our time. At times, the film is incredibly engaging and gripping; due to Adarsh Gourav’s immaculate portrayal of Balram and its wonderfully stylized cinematography, at times it delves into melodrama and complete unintentional hilarity from its cheesy supporting cast delivering subpar performances and a non-linear plot whose ending “shock-moment” is revealed within the film’s first five minutes. It’s an “admirable” effort, yes, but not a particularly memorable one.

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Adventure

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest

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Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a deadly serious comedy film about friendship and arcade games that’ll surely put a smile on your face and tug at your heartstrings. Set at Bip Bip Bar, it tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes aka friends who help Kim Cannon Arm attempts to be the first in the world to play Gyruss an arcade machine from the early 80s for 100 consecutive hours. The film showcases these heroic outsiders with dreams about becoming legendary world record holders. 

Watching Kim and his friends embark on this quest was certainly like preparing for a marathon as Kim’s friends make him get an annual physical checkup from the doctor, It was easy to get swept up and share their excitement. Director Mads Hedegaard introduces these bunch of endearing misfits who truly make up a kind and supportive community. We learn several details about each of Kim’s friends including careers, favourite games, bands, family life and plenty more. Each are unique and the Documentary made me feel like I’d known this group my whole life. 

The film is also able to capture the gaming atmosphere as it blasts through the 80s with synths and neon lights, which created a stylised, exhilarating journey into Kim’s brain and the world of Gyruss. Montages and Iron maiden tracks also feature and “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler features, which to me represented each member and the story which was ultimately made for pure entertainment. 

Themes of achieving success is a presence in this documentary as it has scenes filled with pure joy, sentimental bliss and deep philosophical moments of the loss of a friend and acceptance. As we watch Kim make his way through hours and hours of his challenge we see his friends are always with him for comfort and to help keep track. They play Iron maiden music to boost his moral but its clear to me that with friends like this, Kim has already won. 

https://youtu.be/d-AidtIZF64

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Reviews

Last Night in Soho – It Lends Itself To The Big Screen Experience That We Have All Craved

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Edgar Wright returns to his British roots with his love letter to 1960’s London…

When the trailer was first released for Last Night in Soho, it looked far removed from anything that Edgar Wright had ever directed and that is proved with the final product. Wright perfectly captures the intense, chaotic energy that is London with its somewhat ‘seedy’ underbelly. It feels like a love letter from Wright to a location that is clearly very close to his heart.

At times thrilling, at times exciting and at times frightening, Last Night in Soho never felt boring nor did it outstay it’s welcome. The screenplay is excellent with some vintage moments of Wright’s comedic style and the soundtrack is fantastic, perfectly reflecting 1960’s in London.

Thomasin McKenzie in Last Night in Soho

When the audience is transported back to London in the 1960’s through the eyes of our protagonist, Eloise (McKenzie), the iconography really does make it feel as though you’re stood in the middle of Soho in the 60’s. Certainly a wonderful, and at times unsettling, experience for both the audience and our lead character.

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandy and Matt Smith as Jack in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release. Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / Focus Features

As for the cast, they all fit perfectly into their designated roles. Youngsters Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are our leading ladies and they perfect their roles to a tee. McKenzie goes from strength to strength with every role she does and Anya Taylor-Joy is beginning to find herself as the go to actress for horror. It will certainly be interesting to see the types of performances these two actresses put in for their next films.

Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in Last Night in Soho.

Matt Smith is also very good here, his career trajectory since Doctor Who has been a very interesting one and he really is beginning to find his feet now. Acting greats Terence Stamp and the late great Diana Rigg play a crucial part in the films proceedings. It was wonderful to see Rigg back on the big screen for one final time.

The last ten minutes did begin lose the immersion that was felt during the rest of the runtime however the twist is a very good one. It’s great to see Wright experimenting more with his filmmaking and it would be wonderful to see more of this style from him, he is clearly a filmmaker who is not adverse to taking risks with his craft. Definitely catch this in cinemas if you get the opportunity, it certainly lends itself well to the big screen experience that we have all craved!

Last Night in Soho is released in UK cinemas on the 29th of October.

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Drama

Mothers of the Revolution – They’ve Challenged World Leaders, Altered The Course Of History And Truly Inspired Millions

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Mothers of the Revolution tells the story of one of the longest protests in history. Between 1981 and 2000, thousands of women from around the world came together at Greenham Common to take a rightful stand against nuclear proliferation. This remarkable group of fearless women were shunned by the press and the media. Director Briar March reveals the women as the cold war heroes they truly were, she tells the story of these women through their eyes and though reenactments as they persisted arrests, condemnation and scorn. 



In the early 1980s, a young mother in Wales was alarmed like many about the UK government’s Campaign called “Protect And Survive”, which advised people to use the four minutes between the warning and a nuclear strike to stack suitcases full of objects like books to absorb the radiation. The Pressure and rising threat to their own families’ safety called for action and thus the Women for Life on Earth group was born.

From the conversation around the kitchen table in Wales, Karmen Thomas took action. She was instrumental in organising the initial protest which on the 5th of September 1981 these women marched from Wales too Berkshire to protest over the nuclear weapons being kept at RAF Greenham Common. Over 120 miles they become a living protest against the British Governments decision. The protest surly gathered momentum as when the reached Greenham Common permanent camps were set up. 

Many women joined the camp such as Chris Drake, a single mother and millworker who truly felt like she belonged and felt like she was born again. Young mothers were not a group who traditionally had their voices heard at the time and the press moved on to other issues they deemed more important, So the women organised Embrace The Base. A day in which the camp and women across the country who travelled up joined hands to form a human chain around the entire military base. 

This documentary is a celebration of Greenham such as its spirit and the effects, which were all worth celebrating. However the film also shows the difficult aspects such as the brutal evictions and assaults by the police force and soldiers. It truly was a Cold War drama/thriller with the tension of a soviet spy novel. It’s also the story of love especially for family and children , and of the commitment these women made to a higher cause. 



They’ve challenged world leaders, altered the course of history and truly inspired millions, it’s an emotional and empowering documentary. 

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