Khalid Rafi

Khalid Rafi

The author enjoys writing and is passionate about Pakistan Cricket. He tweets @TheKhalidRafi (twitter.com/TheKhalidRafi)

Celebrating the best and vilifying the worst that Hollywood offered in 2017

This has been another banner year for Hollywood, and while there have been the usual crop of mediocre and bad films that are better left ignored, there have also been a number of great films that continue to give us a reason to go to the theatres, while also setting new standards for the art of story-telling and stretching the very boundaries of cinema itself. As we near the end of this year, the time has come to celebrate the best, and vilify the worst that 2017 has offered! 5. Mother! Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to exploring strange and exceedingly bewildering stories. ...

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Sorry George Clooney, but no one carries out a diamond heist better than women, and Ocean’s 8 proves just that

Sixteen years ago, Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 wowed audiences by offering a slick, stylish and entertaining new take on the crime-caper/heist genre. The movie had a star-studded cast led by George Clooney as the smooth-talking Danny Ocean, while also featuring the likes of Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia, among others. The film went on to spawn two sequels (Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13) and received both critical and commercial acclaim with the trilogy itself grossing over a billion dollars worldwide. Sixteen years later, Ocean’s 8 attempts to do something similar but with a strictly feminine twist, with some of the biggest female actresses ...

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‘Avengers: Infinity War’ just might be the ultimate superhero crossover

“There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if we could become something more. So when they needed us, we could fight the battles that they never could.” In many ways, the opening line in the new trailer for Avengers: Infinity War pretty much sums up everything the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been building towards up till now. After 10 years, everything comes full-circle, so to speak. Photo: Giphy The ever-growing threat of the franchise’s big bad Thanos (Josh Brolin) has finally come to the fore and stopping him would ...

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‘Murder on the Orient Express’ is an unremarkable, conventional and lifeless adaptation of one of the most renowned classics

In an age when cinema and filmmaking is arguably at its biggest, it is surprising that the ‘whodunit’ seems like a genre from a bygone era. While television shows like Twin Peaks, Sherlock and the latest Riverdale have continued to reinforce the classical construct of the genre increasingly well and creatively, only a handful of films, in recent times, have tried to bring the genre back to life. This, again, is surprising because nothing gets ‘butts in seats’ like a good, old-fashioned murder-mystery with a twist. Director and actor Kenneth Branagh likely feels the same way, which can only explain why he decided to adapt Agatha ...

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‘Downsizing’ seems pretty wacky, even for a science fiction movie

Ever since his 1999 sophomore break-out feature Election, filmmaker Alexander Payne has been slowly ascending to ranks of one of the truly great filmmakers of our time. With the release of each film, Payne has shown remarkable command over crafting authentic and introspective character studies of seemingly ill-fated guys that act as dramadies. All of this is set in the backdrop of small-town America. However, with his seventh film, Downsizing, Payne is making his first foray into science fiction with a film that seems very much outside his realm and usual body of work. The wacky premise imagines a world where people – ...

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Jigsaw is basically Saw 8 with new characters – more of the same of something most of us were tired of

Jigsaw marks both the return and a new beginning of one of the most influential horror franchises of the past decade – the Saw franchise. For six years (till 2010), a new Saw sequel turned up every year on Halloween like clock-work, along with its moralising serial killer, Jigsaw. Even though the first Saw still holds its place as one of the more creative and ingeniously crafted horror films of recent past, it’s sequels grew increasingly worse, taking an absolute nose-dive after the third one. They were reduced to little more than a futile and over-the-top exercise in torture porn with each sequel ...

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The 1974 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express was flawed, will the 2017 adaptation be better?

Considered by many as one of the most ingeniously crafted stories ever published, Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ has stood the test of time (it was published in 1934) and a handful of cinematic iterations to retain its place in the pantheon of great whodunits’. Most who haven’t read the book may be familiar with filmmaker Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of the classic mystery which was released in 1974. In Hollywood though, no film is old or important enough to be remade or as I like to call it, ‘reheated’ and this time around veteran Shakespeare director, Kenneth Branagh, is taking a ...

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If you have seen Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne or Taken, then you have already seen American Assassin

With James Bond and Jason Bourne on a temporary hiatus, and Jack Reacher likely on a permanent one, the espionage and spy-thriller market in Hollywood has been left largely untapped. So it makes sense that American Assassin ‒ based on the first book in a long-running series of spy novels by author Vince Flynn ‒ would swoop in and try to make easy money at the box office. Dylan O’Brien, star of the Maze Runner series, plays Mitch Rapp, a man on a path of vengeance. The film opens two years earlier on a beach in Ibiza, Spain where Mitch ...

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Jigsaw: A new direction for an old franchise that’s been failing the mystery genre

I think it goes without saying that the Saw movies are definitely an acquired taste. It probably also goes without saying that over the years, the series has developed more into torture porn rather than actual horror. In Hollywood though, the only thing that really matters are the numbers and numbers suggest there is an audience out there for these kinds of movies. With seven films, the Saw franchise has raked in nearly $874 million worldwide, all on a budget of approximately $67 million. And to think, the first one was shot on a low budget in a run-down warehouse, over the span of just 18 days. Jigsaw, the eighth ...

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‘It’ is a twisted, terrifying and an intense piece of work

Clowns are creepy. There’s simply no getting around that. I don’t care what people say, there’s just something odd about a grown man in a kooky outfit wearing makeup, a wig and a red nose, and has that much cheer in him. It’s this creepiness that author Stephen King capitalised on in 1986 when he wrote It, a book that did for clowns what Jaws did for sharks and what Psycho did for taking showers. The title character, Pennywise, is a dancing clown who happens to actually be a macabre and malevolent force of evil that exists in underground sewers of the small town of Derry, Maine. ...

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