Comments, Rotten Tomatoes and the like

There is always room for improvement; leave a comment tell me what you think. And please, be brutal. Nothing like being eviscerated by the general public (though in reality no one reads this so maybe not so general public).

25 11월, 2007

What is it with Oedipal Complexes That Make Such Good Fodder?

My first book review. Yay! So anyways while browsing through a thread on Dramabeans website, she mentioned author Haruki Murakami as her favorite of all time, considering her good taste in TV, it certainly piqued my interest but it didn't make a lasting impression, or so I thought. I must have stored it somewhere in the back of my mind, because walking past a display in the central library, his name pops up as I walk out the door, and a couple of days later I borrow Kafka on the Shore (I was actually supposed to be attending an art function next door at the museum, but I was more amused than amazed so I wandered through to the library instead).

Two different, slightly out of sync lives sharing the same story make it for an interesting read. The first tale is of a boy named Kafka, runs away on the day of his fifteenth birthday under a foreboding curse bestowed on him by his father and winds up at a library run by the mysterious yet alluring Miss Saeki. He goes on to befriend Oshima, the ostensibly male librarian who works there and reads all sorts of great books and works through some serious issues. The second is about Nakata, an elderly gentleman, who due to some accident is unable to read or write, but possesses the uncanny ability to speak to cats and so supplements his government "sub city" by finding lost cats.

This is the first book that I've read in ages and in that I managed to finish reading it in two days (in between a whole host of other things going on in my life that i won't get into now) and kept forging on through some intensely depressing scenes, means only one thing: The book was damn good. Murakami was able weave fantasy, modern life and the (definitely) surreal into an intense, gripping read that constantly keeps you reaching for understanding until the very end. He adds touches of whimsy and humour that had me laughing in the middle of a train @ 6:30 am on the way to work and garnering some intensely weirded out looks. He introduces minor threads that are woven into the story at the most unexpected moments, jolting the reader. Even so, the book is unrelentingly dark. It seems that the courses for these two lives, headed toward an inevitable meeting both in the flesh and in the ether, are burdened with things definitely out of left field. I was left profoundly disturbed by the oedipal and incestuous references (as i always am), but funnily enough in a Back to the Future, Marty and his young mother sort of way.

The book was an amazing reintroduction back into the world of literature, and since I am currently sans the interwebs (picture deep, wracking sobs at the public library while typing this. How the heck does one go about surviving without a computer?), I've picked up another author also seen in passing. We'll see how this whole book reading thing goes.

5 out of 5. One fantastic mind-bender

09 11월, 2007

Bollywood/Gizmodo Mash up?

There are some things that you never expect to happen in your lifetime. What could my fave Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan and Gizmodo, the best second best tech website ever, have in common? Acer computers, for whom Hrithik is currently shilling for. The collision of two different realms of interest could only be brought together by one thing: Advertising. What makes the post on the Giz so amusing is that they (both the writer and the commentators) have no clue who Hrithik is, and the ad would make me run out and buy an Acer if I wasn't aware that Acers are POS. Celebrity endorsements work for a lot of people, or else we wouldn't have Jessica Simpson and P Diddy selling face creams.

Here's a look @ one ad.

06 11월, 2007

To Gravitas! Kanpai!

One of the things i crave most when watching movies is a sense of something new, that I haven't seen, heard, read or felt anything that happens on screen before. The current Hollywood phase is sort of a been there done that as evinced by the comic book rip offs, the sequels to said comic book rip offs and some high brow stuff like Brown Bunny which would have been much better left as an idea inside of someone's (probably well soused) head. It is one of the reasons I first gravitated towards classic Hollywood movies, to Bollywood and lately, to South Korean and Japanese cinema. The rom coms, dramas and action movies have a different feel to them as the sense of story telling in Asian cinema not only differs from the West, it oddly enough ticks a lot of boxes for me that I never even knew I had (There is a self imposed barrier that denies me the full pleasure of these movies, but more on that later).

One director in particular absolutely converted me to a true believer, convinced me that I had stumbled onto something great with the reintroduction of Far East Asian cinema into the realm of my conscience. Kim Ki Duk stole my attention with his stunning movie 3 Iron (2004). This deep, layered film of what essentially is an amazingly emotive love story employed a simple device; the two lead characters say almost nothing throughout the course of the entire movie. Odd as that may seem, it works. I started actively looking for his work and watched Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring (2003), Address Unknown (2001), and Samaritan Girl (2004) in rapid succession. For all these movies he served as both writer and director and enjoyed I them all, as thought provoking, genuine unpretentious works that actually strive to tell a story as well as being artful.

To be honest I have access to most of his movies including his more recent works like Breath (2007) and Time (2006), but haven't watched them yet. This is due to an unfortunate foible (actually it is a major emotional failing and a stumbling block to any future career) of mine, where I don't enjoy a lot of serious content. One of Kim Ki Duk's (and other directors like Won Kar Wai) strengths in his story telling is that not much really happens as a movie progresses. It is very much a slow unfolding of events that require patience and a somewhat keen intellect to be able to sit through and analyse the goings on in his movies. I sadly have the attention span of a three-year old suffering from ADHD on speed on my good days. My intellectual prowess? Well as you can tell from the language, piss poor grammar along with run on sentences and a serious overuse of commas on this blog, Stanford is certainly not breaking down the door.

In truth, I also am somewhat scared of movies that make you think too hard because being the selfish bitch that I am, anything deeper than X Factor makes me ruminate on how it relates to my miserable [insert deity here]-forsaken life, which i really don't want to think about at all. Watching a good, deep movie invariably leads me to depression and listlessness which is a great disservice to what are to be sure some great movies. Which is sad as I am very much enamoured of the concepts behind a lot of these movies. I have many stored and available to watch, but cannot bring my self to sit through one without fidgeting like my nether regions are on fire. The thing is this; once you get started with these movies you start to think of symbolism and meaning which to me is sometimes a slippery slope into the over-analysis of a movie. Background skyscrapers are suddenly male phallic symbols, where in fact that may have just been the best place to get a shot at the time. I am lousy at interpretation; I am more of the mind that yes, there are some things that imply more than one meaning, other times it is what it is, a freaking table, skyscraper, whatever. Those are my excuses.

All this was just to say that Kim Ki Duk is my favorite Asian dude/dudette of the month, for daring to be individual and bringing that individuality to the screen and hoping he brings more.

NB (Kanpai is the Japanese equivalent of cheers, could not be bothered to find the Korean, sorry)

A pivotal Scene from 3 Iron

02 11월, 2007


Whenever I think that there is no hope for Bollywood, that the endless deluge of cute, benign romantic comedies, Shah-Rukh-in-tears ridden dramas and bland we're-going-to-steal-something action movies would absolutely destroy any hopes that Indian cinema would speak to an international audience, some movie comes along and changes all that. The first was Eklavya (2007) which was good, but still fell back on some tried and true Indian cinema trademarks. Then along came the caper Johnny Gaddaar (2007), and I am still in recovery. Why you ask? This movie was freaking awesome!!!!!!

The storyline is intriguing enough; Vikram plans to steal 25 million rupees (Just under $640,000.00) from his 4 partners in crime in order to run of to Canada with his true love, who just happens to be the wife of partner number 2. This starts him on a journey that he was ill prepared to make and things grow from bad to worse for our lead man. It is one of those movies where a decision made with a coin toss at (quite literally) a crossroad just snowballs and bad decisions create solutions that just mire you so deep, that the thought of escape seems impossible.

Where do I begin with this movie? Is it the retro fabulous opening credits? Great contemporary soundtrack? Great pacing, dialogue maybe? A combination of all three and more. It is rare that I know whether or not I will like a movie from the first couple of scenes, but when this much effort is put into just the opening titles and backgrounds your expectations are raised, and this is one movie that just keeps giving, hand over fist. The soundtrack, keeping in line with the general cinematography and visuals, also employs that sort of nu-retro vibe. The mod sixties and seventies are screaming at you unmistakably, but you also hear reggaeton, rock, and pop vibes in there that I have to say left me damn impressed. I personally want to say that the soundtrack deserves all the accolades it can possibly get and that the producers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have seriously captured my attention.

The cast is also top notch featuring not just newcomers but some old standards as well, making for a great ensemble cast. Neil Nitin Mukesh, descended from a long line of singing Mukeshes, makes his cinematic debut as a lead character, Vikram the gaddaar, in the movie. Apart from being totally smokin' (no seriously, he's damn hot and he can wiggle that little Indian butt), he projects the very palpable essence of a man winging it and hoping that it all turns out right. The script is great in that it allows the actors to portray the humanity of their characters; they have family, loved ones, and are human beings who deal with the pressures of day to day living. There is no sense that we are watching evil doers out to ruin the world. That is one of the many things that makes this movie so good: We may not condone the things these men do, but we empathise with their lives and their problems.

I love crime capers. From Cary Grant's debonair turn in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief (1955) to the fabulous Brit movie, Layer Cake (2004), watching a well hatched, well thought out plan come to fruition or unravel is always a good watch. Not too much concentration is required, there really is no emotional investment in any of the characters the directors use such movies as an excuse to make something that is stylish, sexy and cool. It seems that Bollywood also has a history of crime movies, unfortunately my vague recollections of sitting in my uncle's home and watching such movies only evokes the music, which I found really annoying. Thanks to Johnny Gaddaar's director Sriram Raghavan, I may just have to find and revisit that bit of Indian cinematic history with some fresh eyes as the director makes no bones about where his inspiration arose, what with posters and clips showing up all over the place. It seems that Johnny Gaddaar has made Mr. Raghavan a welcome addition into list of directors to keep an eye on.

NB:- This movie bombed at the cinemas in India for the very reason that it is so atypical.

4.5 out of 5 for making me a fan of indian cinema again!!