Tag Archives: Amazon Prime

The Good Boss: A Dark Workplace Comedy with a Bite

Fernando León de Aranoa’s “The Good Boss” is a movie that will leave you entertained, yet disturbed. It’s a dark workplace comedy with a sharp edge, thanks to the excellent performance by Javier Bardem, who plays Julio Blanco, the head of a mid-sized company that makes and sells weight scales. Bardem’s charismatic presence makes Blanco’s megalomania, duplicity, and self-serving passive-aggression a captivating sight to behold.

De Aranoa’s script is another critical component of the movie’s success. The script has a tight cohesion and is nicely paced, with a great balance of storytelling and character development. The humor comes from unexpected places, making it all the more enjoyable.

Blanco’s company, Blanco Scales, is one of three finalists for a prestigious industry award. The award would provide much-needed subsidies, but it’s really about the glory. Blanco craves the adulation and has an empty trophy wall waiting for the award. With the awards committee set to make a surprise visit, Blanco wants to ensure that everything at the factory is in top form.

The film revolves around Blanco’s attempts to manage his employees and their problems before the awards committee shows up. Throughout the film, we meet a fun array of supporting characters, including Blanco’s friends, coworkers, and interns. The more Blanco meddles in their lives, the more complicated things get, and his paternal charade begins to crumble.

In summary, even at two hours, “The Good Boss” is engaging and entertaining, thanks to its sharp script and Bardem’s excellent performance. Bardem brings Blanco to life, and de Aranoa’s direction ensures that the story never loses its wit or its bite.

Varavelpu (1989)

Having the best intentions and hard work to match it, doesn’t ensure good results, especially if you are a simple and honest person. Muralidharan finds this out the hard way in the movie ‘Varavelpu’.

‘Varavelpu’ is about a sincere and honest gulf-returned Muralidharan (Mohanlal) who pours all his savings into a business and struggles to keep it afloat. His seven years of labour overseas, helps the careers of his elder brothers, but when it comes to returning the favor, they back out. His sisters-in-law, who compete to serve him lavish dishes upon his arrival, quickly downgrade him to rice gruel. Left stranded, he is forced to fight a system that is callous to new entrants’ travails and progressive thoughts.

Though this movie is set against the social political background of Kerala in the late 80s, it still mirrors the current problem of entrepreneurs and small business people. Everyone dishes out free advice but do not step forward when things go south for the individual, and worse still, pursue their personal agendas at his expense. Union Leaders, Local associations etc, do not offer any assistance and even hinder the efforts of a few helping hands like that of the mediating labour officer.

Mohanlal shines in a character, that allows him to play its various shades of innocence, frustration and finally a stoic realization. The way he internalizes all that happens to him and conveys with a simple smile or smirk, is a treat to watch.

Robert De Niro and the art of reveal : This Boy’s Life

Streaming on Amazon Prime

It’s amazing how great actors reveal shades of characters and draw you in to their world and to their performance. While the script definetly has to offer such opportunities, it is the actor who has to be in that particular moment of the character arc and portray the same. A bit less or bit extra would ruin the moment and actors like Robert De Niro are perfectly aware of that and bring out the portrayal to near perfection, as he did in ‘This boy’s life ‘.

He plays a regular abusive step father, but what’s really out of the world is how he transforms himself into the final avatar before our own eyes.

In the first scene he shows his conceited nature, his eagerness to please. Later he brings out his inabilities and insecurities to the fore in the rifle shoot scene. And then finally his abusive nature in several scenes and how it is a actually a reflection of his inner demons and his incapability to make a mark for himself in the real world. Even when the scenes are repetitive and you kind of know what to expect, he still manages to hold your attention.

It’s easy to play a straight forward cardboard villain where atrocities are out in the open, but very difficult to play someone where the evil actions are projected from what is subdued and lurking inside. Robert De Niro has shown it again and again in several films like ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Cape Fear’, ‘Goodfellas’ etc..but in each of these he somehow succeeds in making these performances stand out as unique and authentic. Of course, ably supported by terrific scripts, master league directors and excellent co-actors, like Leanardo De Caprio in ‘This Boy’s Life’.

Tail piece: The final reveal of the character comes in the climax, when Robert De Niro plays the sissy part so well. Infact, it is the sissies who resort to abuse, knowing the other person is too weak to give it back.