Sunday, December 23, 2007

10 films i really enjoyed this year

College was a blur.A movie watching,shawai eating,sharja guzzling,blur.We would download so many movies that it would require a dutiful,disciplined regimen to actually complete all of them.So I made it my own personal task to watch as many as i could.i would devote entire weekends to watching movies as many as 5 a day.There were so many movies and so little time that someone had to do it for the entire hostel.Yeah, everyone tried.Everyone gave it their best shot,but it was not enough.There so many distractions.assignments,football,shawai,life all came in between. Anyway,somewhere down the line i realized i was shunning quality for quantity.I need not watch all the movies out there to prove my geekiness.No,Watch only those you feel like.And you are allowed the odd mistake or two.That made it all better.It cleared the mist and brought much needed order.
Well all that is only vaguely related to this post.What i wanted to say was that i did watch a lot of movies this year.And of those i remember, the following were the ones that really really stood out.They did not all come out this year.I just saw them this year.In no particular order...

1)Memories of murder
A nicely shot thriller about a couple of detectives trying to catch a serial killer in rural Korea.Based on a true story, its taut,well directed and paints a ghastly picture of a twisted mans handiworks.

2)Jab we met
I absolutely loved this film.Hilarious,gr8 songs, and good chemistry between the leads make it a wonderful experience. I hated Kareena i dont :)...

3)Chotta Mumbai
Nobody in India does comedy like Mollywood.NOBODY.Though recent times have been a slump.Gems pop up now and then.Many die hard Lalettan fans were disappointed with mohanlal resorting to cheap gags and slapstick.Not me.This flick about a motley crew of slum dwellers trying to protect their homes, is not only funny but surprislingly has a well thought out story.While director's Abdul Rashheed's previous film ,Rajamanikkyam was all the rage, i dint quite get into it.But this one did the trick for me.

i believe it was mamooty's Oru CBI diary Kuruppu ( i am not sure if i am spelling it rt) that started the trend of murder mysteries in Mollywood.And they have survived through the 80s and 90s and even now as subgenre they thrive.There is always a lead detective who arrives at a crime scene with a team of experts and sets about solving the case.Here too, the same but its impossible to guess the ending ,The modus operandi and the motive are very unique.The smallest details matter, and the story puts forwards so many possible methods that you start thinking on your own which of them could be true.This is intelligent cinema sans the item number.

5)A dirty carnival
I love gangster flicks, ever since i saw the departed i have been gobblong them up like shawais.This is the story of a rising goon who carries out a important hit , which no one was willing to do.An old school mate who happens to be an aspiring director, approaches him to get insight for a script hes writing.trouble stirs when he makes the film about the hit, and it becomes a major success throwing the goon into a spiral of coverup after coverup.The fights are very realistic,moreso by the fact that there are no guns,only knives and clubs.

6)The Kingdom
Peter Berg knows how to direct an action film.Tight, realistic,loud and effective.The kingdom is about an FBi team that lands in Saudi Arabia to investigate the bombing of a US consulate.there is no muslim bashing, instead it portrays the Saudi lifestyle in a compassionate manner. I liked the performance of the Saudi inspector who is assigned to babysit the team.The last half an hour will leave you at the edge of your seat, nail firmly between teeth.

David Fincher.The man knows what hes doing.Three different characters hunting the same serial killer.LA confidential?? No, This ones about the real life Zodiac killer and based on the book by one of those investigators.Theres a scene when Jake Gyllenhall visits a potential suspect in his home.Nothing could be creepier than that scene.

Superbad baby..!!wow, a film with a self descriptive title.Its hilarious,and anyone who hasnt seen it needs to see it.Twice.My fave character has to be Fogell .."I am Mclovin".Probably the funniest film of the year. I am going to watch anything that stars any of the leads in the coming future.Each character is funny in his own imperfect way.The 3 leads, the policemen, the old guy who got arrested. i cant wait for a follow up from the same camp.

9)Bourne trilogy
The wolverine prequel comes out in 2009.But they already made it.its called the bourne trilogy.There are so many similarities between Bourne and Wolverine .Bourne is Wolverine without the claws.Anyway, i just completed the 3 films this year.And you cant deny the fast-pace-ness of the films.And the stunts and action is so stylistic yet realistic that it leaves your mouth gape.You dont mess with the Bourne.If you break down the last film, ultimatum its nothing but Bourne getting from Europe to NY.But its more than that.The duel between Bourne and Desh in Algeirs has to be one of the coolest fight scenes ever.

10)The Exorcism of Emiluy Rose
This film really scared me.Really did.Its not just the in your face scares.There is also a subtle creepiness to it.Heres a scene that creeps you out.Emily'sBoyfriend wakes up to find her missing from bed.She is one the floor ,her body twisted in an inhumanly manner and staring at him.just imagine yourself in that guys shoes,that is some scary shiite.The film is about a Priest who goes on trial for an exorcism that goes wrong.We see in falshback what went wrong and question whether exorcism is mumbo jumbo or not.I really enjoyed it.Especially Tom Wilkinson's portrayal of the priest.

Also in the list:We own the night,Shoot em' up,28 weeks later,and Eastern Promises(this one i dug alot), and the TV show Extras and the super cool second season of Dexter.

Major Disappointemnt:Live free or Die Hard

Trivia:Brian Cox apparently has a nig hand in the creation of both Bourne and Wolverine.He is the Cia guy who oversaw project Treadstone on the Bourne films and he also plays Gen.Stryker in X2 and the upcoming prequel.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ramu ki Aag... oh what could have been...

I have watched a lot of movies over the year just out of curiosity.To know how the story ends and what the director intended.i have burned my fingers several times, with romcoms,B-grade horror and a little film called Cannibal Holocaust and this too falls in the category.Every director has hits and misses but theres is no one whose misses are so off the mark and whose good films are so on the spot as Ramu.RGV ki AAg misses and does a good job of missing.Ramu is a very good director , i don't have to tell you that but sometimes he stubbornly clutches onto his whims,he just doesn't know whats good for him.Case in point remake of James and this little film.The novelty here could have been the urban setting,the twist and changes he could have given to the famous scenes and Jai taking on the role of Gabbar(known as Babban , due to copyright issues)but all save the last have been poorly handled.The first half is so lame, so immaturely treated that it makes you wince at the camp and cheese.Here is one director who has come to define reality cinema in Bollywood with his gritty takes on the underworld.Someone who has come off strongly against the improbablities of bollywood scenarios and the lack of deviation from the norms but here he tries so hard to be mainstream that he falls flat.I tried comparing the scenes between the original and this one and they i couldn't spot any single one that was better or different in a good way..well the Kitne Aadmi scene was good and the hand-cutting scene..thats all.The new Jai-Veeru are Ok and thats all,basanti is good and that may be just because i am blinded by Ms.Kothari's curves.Sushmita tries all she can.Mohanlal excels in the scenes that he is in but his Mallu pronunciation is distracting.But since he is Mohanlal, one of the greatest actors in the country, all is forgiven.The stand out character as in the original is Babban/Gabbar.Amitabh excels without parallel in this role.Babban is one badass,MFer and he knows that.He is cruel,unrepenting and psychotic ,and the only good thing that comes out of this fiasco.
Ok, lets see how campy some scenes are.Mohanlal asks Jai-Veeru to help capture a goon for whom they work(They didn't knw he was a criminal)they come to the decision by squinting there eyes and looking at each other, and then sipping some pepsi.And how exactly do they help him??The 3 of them dress up as caricatures and arrange a drug deal.And when they are asked there names.One says Anthony Gonsalves and Amar Akbar..!!!A 90s style shootout follows in an abondoned fort complete with barrels and empty boxes.And how do Jai-veeru selflessly save the Thakur's life?One distracts the goons by talking nonsense while the other call the police.This act is enough to convince the thakur that these 2 guys alone can rid of Babban.Gabbar Hybrid.
He had previously announced that he would never put lip sync songs in his films unless it was a romance, and i whole heartedly agreed with his decision.The songs in Aag are picturised with background dancers ,something which even mainstream boolywood has shunned.The songs in all the Factory's films have always had a raw,amateur feel to them and that was good.But here the lyrics andthe music itself is very shabby except for the holi song the others were all un-melodious.When i first heard of the remake my mind went wild at all the possibilities, all the guys who could play the different roles, how slick and gritty the modern day reincarnation would be.But Ramu fails and how.
On a related note:
I personally dont have great love for Sholay,and i only saw it completely after coming to college.Its a good film and for a bollywood film its very good.I like the basanti intro scene"tumahara naam kya hai ,basanti?" and the melancholy tune that plays when jaya bhaduri comes onscreen, and the intensity with which they stare into each others eyes.But my favorite scene is where thakur's Family is shot down.Its unexpected and well shot.towards the end when theres just the grandson left,all the sound you can hear is the creaking of the jhoola.As gabbar trots towards the kid,takes out his gun and aims, you lean forwards to see whether gabbar could be so cruel and all of a sudden you hear the engine of the train releasing pressure as the thakur steps of the train.Classic.

1)There are over 4 films titled AAg.I guess the most famous is the one starring Raj Kapoor.
2)Do you know why there are no scenes with basanti and the Thakur together in them??... Coz Hema Malini did not want to be anywhere near Sanjeev kumar since he had recently proposed to her.
3)Everyone knows that Danny Dengzopa and Shatrughan Sinha were the first choices for Gabbar and Jai.
4)Danny Dengzopa in real life is best friends with Jacki Shroff.I thought Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff would be best friends seeing the millions of films they did together.but no.
5)Jackie Shroff's son is names Tiger.Wow both father and son have typical Dog-names.
6)the opening scene of James is downright shocking, but the film spirals downwards from there.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I am too immature for my own good..

I saw this puddle frozen up and I couldnt resist.

Bleary eyed me...

I haven't slept the whole night.I got back at 8:30 from the lab.We( Jasmeet and I) had to take readings every 30 minutes, so had to be awake all the time..All the rest i got was trying to sleep on a table, the floor, and a chair while subconsciously waiting for the alarm to sound the 30 minute mark.Its a harrowing thing, waiting up all night.Plus it was cold,17 degrees Celsius so that made everything worse.The sleep gnaws at you from inside making muscles tighten in dire need of rest and even you try to sleep yu cant cause you dont have a good spot.So we whiled away our time in the lab,Jasmeet found out that one of the offices was open and he continued his quest to watch all the Byomkesh Bakshi episodes on youtube.I told him that in the very last episode Ajit reveals that he had an affair with Byomkesh's wife and Byomkesh is finally killed trying to save an innocent should have seen his face light up at the thought of a climactic end to the series.Poor guy, i was just making it all up...Muhahaha..[evil laugh]..jasmeet then described his cousin brother who just bought a new car."He is a Siamese twin,there are two of them..including him"he said.Well i knew who he was talking about.The guy had come to drop him at cedar lane and i obviously didn't notice another identical person attached to his hip."You obviously mean Identical twins not Siamese"I said.This triggered us into the correct definition of Siamese twins and we bet to sponsor the others lunch if we lost.I hope everyone knows why siamese twins are called so?they are named after the first recorded case of conjoined twins in "Siam".hence the name.
I tried dancing to keep warm but without music its no fun.Then I tried singing and after a while i couldn't thing any good songs to sing.Then my mind started conjuring up serial killers and psychotic madmen breaking into the lab and trying to dismember us.the banging noises from the pipes and vents above didn't help to allay my fear.Why would anyone break into this lab?"reasoned jasmeet ,"to steal concrete and bitumen.?".I then asked jasmeet what he would do if a "Ganda Aadmi" came in with a knife and tried to cut off his nose."I like my nose" he replied."Yeah, so what would you do to stop him"."He looked around the room and pointed out the 2 Normal Nitric Acid, the glass beakers and the vacuum pump , all of which could be hurled at the intruder"."What would i do ?"he asked me"Well, I would punch you (i e Jasmeet) in the face and throw you in front of him and run away.He would be too busy with your nose to come after me..".
When even at 8 am we still couldn't complete the readings we contemplated taking the equipment home.But it would be too much of a trouble taking care of the equipment.Then people started showing up as office timings began and we decided to stop here and continue in the reading in the evening.We came back and while jasmeet is sleeping ,I just completed watching RGV ki AAG.Its not that good.Thats all i will say rt now.Anyway I am headed to Busch campus to get my paycheck signed and eat my free lunch at Schezwan Express.Meanwhile check out this awesome song.Its very good.

PS:Did you know that the siamese twins from Siam, Chang and Eng Bunker did get married and spent the night alternately at each of the wives.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Let it snow,Let it snow,Let it snow....

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Why is it that i wake up when i get a phone call, but wont wake up when my alarm goes wild in throes of vibration??So i get a phone call at 7:30 from Teja, hey open your door, I am downstairs.I unlatched the door and lied down again.But something outside stuck me as odd.The sky seemed empty,and the treetops that i usually spot from my mattress on the floor-silently mourning the loss of their leaves- seemed more solemn than usual,and I just knew it.God it was freezing in the afternoon yesterday(-2 C) when i went to Ctown,and last night i was thinking that anytime now, anytime now.Just as i was springing up from my bed, Teja got in,dusting snow from his shoulders, confirming the good news.It was like a festival, that we were all expecting.I rushed to the window to see a snow covered serene exterior.Trees clutching on to whatever snow they could gather, holding out their wide branches, and the cars blanketed by a uniform layer of white everywhere.I went to the balcony and saw the lovely fir trees in my backyard covered with snow.Watching the snow for the first time filled me up with a inexplicable joy, a child like glee, a genuinely warm feeling,Cibin who was also awake, accompanied me and Teja as we decided to take a small walk to Johnson Park nearby,As i reached downstairs, and opened the door, a wide grin found its place on my face.It was beautiful,rally beautiful.Do I hear Sinatra in the background??The walk was nice,we took photos, made snowballs wrote our names on the snow.It crunches beneath your shoes, and it feels actually like powdered ice.It was around -5 C .It was freezing as hell.I couldn't imagine being outside without warm clothes.Later after we came back and I was sitting on the comp when it started snowing again.I went downstairs to take photos.I was alone as it snowed ,quite heavily actually, the birds were chirping madly,and trees stared back at me,I smiled as the radio in my head was playing "let it snow" on repeat.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we're still good-bying,
But as long as you love me so,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!