Connect with us

Hands Of Stone Is A Feast Of Fury

Published

on

Hands Of Stone

Starring Edgar Ramirez, Robert De Niro

Advertisement

Directed by Jonathan Jacubowicz

Rating: ****(4 Stars)

Advertisement

Movie Review: Grumpy trainer, abrasive young self-destructive boxer…win lose …lose win…haven’t we seen it all in numerous films of such far-ranging caliber and curiosity as Million Dollar Baby, Mary Kom and this year’s Saala Khadoos?

So what makes Hands Of Stone a comfortable fit? It’s the sheer energy that outflows from the narrative, dragging and leading with it, the characters who are as inflammatory as they are intimate.

Advertisement

Straightoff  the very watchable Venezuelian import Edgar Ramirez who is currently jostling for  one of the top spots  in Hollwood(see his miniseries Carlos and you’ll know why) is the mainstay of this pugilistic treat. Clenched, tense, seething with the anger of cultural injustice and racial segregation Ramirez’s portrayal  of the real-life boxer Roberto Duran is  one of the most engaging true-life characters I’ve seen on screen from any country.

Ramirez’s Duran is a bit of a jerk. He shows an abundance  of disrespect and insensitivity towards all those who are close to him: his coach and mentor the legendary former boxer Ray Arcel, his sexy girlfriend (Ana De Armas), and his friends from his days of poverty struggle—there is sad scene where he insults a friend at a party– and finally his own talent and skills in the boxing ring.

Advertisement

In one of the many arresting volatile sequences in this angry film Duran is shown smashing his former coach’s swanky cars as the coach watches from his home’s balcony, unshaken by his former pupil’s aggressive tantrum.

This is a skilled cocksure(pun intended)  seething boxer whose atrocious behaviour is condoned by everyone who comes  in contact him. There is no other reason to like Duran except that he is played by Edgar Ramirez, an actor so skilled he makes the scenes in the boxing ring  look like extensions of his character’s long-festering angst.

Advertisement

The well-crafted but eminently predictable  film moves back in time to show Ramirez’s dangerous life as a young illegal migrant in the  US.As Panamanians hoist their flag on American land the little protagonist steals apples to share with his large family.This kind of unabashed sentimentality goes well with the film’s tenor of directness.

Duran’s  rise to the status of an American sports hero is sudden swift and destructive. Fellow-Venezualiam director  Jonathan Jacubowicz taps his leading man’s migratory indignation  effectively and powerfully.Ramirez in the ring and outside it conducts himself with a ruinous arrogance reminiscent of Robert de Niro’s  boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorcese’s Raging Bull. 

Advertisement

Hands Of Stone doesn’t aspire to be  Great Cinema  like Raging Bull. It is selfassertively confident about being an engaging rise and fall saga with some heartstopping fights in the ring. The soundtrack  from the 1980 including whiffs of Donna Summer to show Duran’s descent into hedonism, is interestingly nostalgic without wasting time on mourning for the past.

Even the way Duran meets his long-estranged father conveys  the sense of perfunctoriness that we soon recognize to be the film’s chosen narrative mood.

Advertisement

The  film’s greatest strength is its fallen hero’s weaknesses.As Ramirez strips Roberto Duran naked in front of the camera, we watch a straightforward moral fable  told with no elements of the unexpected  . Chapters  from  Duran’s life come undone   with an easy clarity and fluency that  disregards the deeper thrusts  in the protagonist’s shallow characterization.

Surprisingly Robert de Niro as Duran’s coach and mentor looks disinterested  in the goings-on.Perhaps that is part of his character’s long and winding lifescape’s experiences reaching a saturation point.Musician Usher has a substantial role as Duran’s nemesis and main opponent in the ring. Usher comes across as more of a poet than a fighter in film that has no room for or patience with poetry.

Advertisement

But then again I may be reading too much in a film that commands us to go nowhere beyond where the director takes us. Digress at  your own  risk.

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

Exclusive Premium Content

Rakesh Roshan: “Everything I  Know  About Acting & Direction, I Learnt From K Vishwanathji”

Published

on

Rakesh Roshan

The  mighty moviemaker K Vishwanath who  was to Telugu cinema what  Satyajit Ray  was  to Bengali cinema,  passed  away on February 2,leaving behind a luminous  legacy.

Acto-director Rakesh Roshan  who had  the  rare honour of working  in four projects  with  Vishwanath recalls him with tremendous respect. “Everything I know  about acting and  direction I learnt from  him. He was  a stalwart , an institution, and so passionate about his work. I had the privilege  of being directed  by him in two films Aurat Aurat Aurat  and Shubh Kamna. He would show  his actors  exactly what he  wanted, down to the minutest gesture.His  understanding  of the medium was  extraordinary.”

Advertisement

Rakesh Roshan remembers how  he  invited Vishwanath to make films for him. “I produced  two films that Vishwanathji directed. One  was Kaamchor, the other was Jaag Utha  Insaan.While the  first was  a runaway success, the second didn’t do well.”

Speaking on how Kaamchor happened Rakesh recalls, “Vishwanathji and I used to meet socially in Hyderabad.We  wanted to work together. But we had  no script.One evening when we met he  looked very depressed. When I asked him what was wrong, he  said his new release Shubodayam  (in Telugu) had  flopped. That  night I went to see Shobodayam  in  a theatre in Hyderabad. The  next morning I  told Vishwanathji, ‘We’ve  found our script’. I told him where  the  storytelling in Shubhodayam  had gone wrong.We corrected the script and that’s how Kaamchor  happened. Although the entire story revolved  around me,  it was Jaya Prada who benefited  from Kaamchor.”

Advertisement

About the beautiful  Jaag Utha Insaan , Rakesh Roshan admits  bluntly, “It  flopped because  of miscasting. During those days Sridevi was known  in Hindi cinema as a glamorous heroine. We cast her as classical dancer. Mithun Chakraborty had  the image  of  Gun Master G-9 and  Disco Dancer.We cast him as  a downtrodden  underdog. I was  known  for Kaamchor and  other citybred characters,I was cast as a Brahmin pandit.With other actors Jaag Utha  Insaan would have been a superhit”

Rakesh met K Vishwanath six years  ago. “We were shooting for Krissh in Hyderabad. He came on  the set several  times. We  had so much to say to each other. After that we lost contact. He was  very very busy with many projects. K Vishwanathji lived  for his cinema.”

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Exclusive Premium Content

As His Latest Work Faraaz Releases Today,  Hansal Mehta Speaks To Subhash  K Jha On The Exciting Times Ahead

Published

on

Faraaz

Hansal, Faraaz is  your fifteenth directorial  venture. How does it feel to have come so far  with so many  milestones behind you?

don’t count my films. Genuinely. Every film is a new beginning. Every film has its share of uncertainty and nerves. Perhaps it is also because of the choices I make. There is no scope for either complacency or me carrying a false sense of security. I’m not complaining,though. Living life on the edge keeps me going.

Advertisement

I  consider  Faraaz to be  a part of your great trilogy on  the dynamics  of terrorism, after  Shahid and  Omerta…where do you see Faraaz  positioned  in your creative ambit?

Thank you , Subhash.Faraaz is a film I’m very, very proud of. It was a challenge to pull off, a tough journey but creatively a very satisfying one. As Rajkummar Rao told me after watching the film , the Trilogy is complete now. Time to explore new stories and new characters. And finish post-production for all the exciting things that we shot for over the past eighteen months.

Advertisement

Out of curiosity which of your films  have given you  the most creative  satisfaction?

Almost every film Shahid onwards has been immensely satisfying , both in terms of process and the outcome. Save a couple that I need not name. But even those I own for all their flaws, failures, deficiencies and redeeming qualities. But Faraaz has been a great process. I’ve made so many new friends in this journey and found some of the most exciting colleagues that I’m proud to introduce through the film. Writers Raghav Kakkar and Kashyap Kapoor (who co-wrote the film with Ritesh Shah), Cinematographer Pratham Mehta, Sound Designer Mandar Kulkarni, Editor Amitesh Mukherjee, co-producers Sahil, Maz and Sakshi – all of whom have given their blood and sweat to make this film happen. And of course Anubhav Sinha one of my oldest friends in the industry who backed me in telling this story just the way I wanted it. So yes, Faraaz has been satisfying and also filled me with a deep sense of gratitude. I must have done something right, no?

Advertisement

Of course. Faraaz has a lot of young new actors in it. Tell me  about the  process  of  casting in this film? It couldn’t have been easy since there are dozens  of faces?

That was the challenge and the joy of making this film. I worked on the story during Chhalaang and I always knew that it would be a return to my indie roots for Faraaz. The film had to be made. And it needed fresh faces, bereft of image or trappings of stardom. A huge credit to Mukesh Chhabra who has a huge role to play in my filmography since Shahid. We constantly challenge each other and never ever give up. Casting is a process I really enjoy and finding the right talent to bring characters alive is something I thrive upon. Faraaz has an amazing ensemble. Right from Aditya Rawal , Zahan Kapoor, Juhi Babbar to every small character in the film including the officers, parents and the hostages this one is a triumph of honest casting , casting without an eye on profits, simply in service of the film, of the character.

Advertisement

Faraaz is  about a terror attack in Bangladesh?how  do you respond to those who want to know, why Bangladesh?

In our research of this dastardly attack we realised that here was a story that had a larger message and something very universal to share. Misguided youth taking up violence in the name of religion or a parent’s love for her child or the unexpected bravery from an unlikely hero are themes that cannot be limited by borders, nationality or language. These stories must be told. They must transcend the limitations of perceived local relevance – particularly when our polarised times need such stories to be told to a larger audience.

Advertisement

In 2020, your OTT series Scam 1992  proved to  b e game changer. Do you see Scam as a turning point  in your career?

I see Scam 1992 as an enabler. We did not expect its humongous success and to say it did not change things would be fake humility. It gave me back a lot of things I had lost in the years before it released. Including some money. And the courage to tell the stories I desperately wanted to. Also exceptional friends and collaborators like Sameer Nair and his Studio Applause.

Advertisement

Your films  and your  attitude to cinema has always  been fearless. How  do you  cope with the  threat of growing intolerance in our society  vis a  vis your  convictions as a  filmmaker?

It is not new to me. Remember Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar in 2000? The only difference now is that then I was deeply affected by the intolerance to a point of self destruction. Now I channelise my despair and anger into telling relevant stories and through them taking on those who have made it a business to be intolerant.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Exclusive Premium Content

To Attend Siddharth-Kiara’s Destination Wedding, Karan Johar Preponed His Twins’s Birthday  Bash

Published

on

Siddharth-Kiara’s

For those  who are  wondering why Karan Johar hosted  the grand birthday party for his  twins Roohi and  Yash who will  turn 6 on 7 February,  six days in  advance  on 1  February  here is  why:  on the day of his twins’ birthday,  Karan  will be in Rajasthan attending the wedding celebrations of his dear friends  Siddharth Malhotra  and Kiara Advani who are  getting married on  February 6.

 Reveals   a friend close  to  Karan,  “Karan was in a dilemma. To him there is  nothing more important than his  children’s happiness.  How could he break their hearts by skipping  the most important day of their  lives? At the same time, how could he  not attend Siddharth and Kiara’s wedding ? They are  very close to him.”

Advertisement

Karan did the best thing possible to resolve the situation:  he put the dilemma before his children Yash and Juhi who happily  agreed  to  have their party  a few days in advance so their ‘Dada’  could  attend  his friends’ wedding.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Exclusive Premium Content

The  Big Independence Day Clash To Be Averted?

Published

on

Animal and Sunny Deol’s  long-awaited Gadar 2

Sunny Deol, John Abraham  Ranbir  Kapoor  and the Covid Vaccine are all set to clash at the boxoffice this  Independence Day .

While the  Ranbir Kapoor starrer Animal and Sunny Deol’s  long-awaited Gadar sequel  are  both scheduled  for release  on August  11, John Abraham’s  Tariq  releases three days later on August 15.On the same day  Vivek(The Kashmir Files) also  releases  The Covid Vaccine.

Advertisement

It looks  like  a crowded weekend, with one too many releases for audiences to  choose from.

Apparently  intense discussions are on among the  producers of the four  big films to see how the clutter can be  resolved.

Advertisement

A  source close to the  development says, “Gadar 2 is the  right fit for the Independence Day weekend. But the producers of Animal  are in no mood to move  from August 13 . John  who is  a co-producer  on Tariq  and Vivek  Agnihotri with his Covid Vaccine  are also adamant  on coming on   August 15.The  Independence Day weekend is  a long  weekend. So let’s see…”

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Most Popular