Tuesday, December 29, 2009

10 Movies That Rocked My World '09

Another year gone by and did I watch a lot of movies or what. But I feel that somehow I spent more time on TV shows this year than watching movies. It was like like undergrad once again, though, because since June 1st week I watched a movie every week at the Theaters, some weeks even two. Phew!! hard work. I would like to thank Raghu for being a sport and a constant companion to the Theaters. I felt this year several directors I was rooting for failed to live up to their past work, James McTegue with Ninja Assassin coming off the spectacular V for Vendatta, or Balki with Paa which for me was not as good as Cheeni Kum. Even Tony Scott fizzled out with The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 . However the year ended on a wonderful note with Avatar , Sherlock Holmes and 3 Idiots ringing in the New Year Cheers early. OK so here goes my list of 10 movies that I saw this year, which did not necessarily release this year, but which I got around to seeing this year.
  1. Gwoemul aka The Host

This 2006 Korean film is about a family hunting a giant Lochness type River Monster after it takes away their daughter. It is a gripping story and I was amazed at the bold choice to actually throw in humor during some really poignant scenes. There is a scene where the family is mourning the death of the daughter and it is sad, because for one it is a child that has died, but in between the uncle and father start brawling , blaming the father for the death , and it veers to slapstick comedy. Sounds absurd but the scene works so well, invoking both emotions in good measures. There are several beautifully shot scenes which the filmmakers could have easily used on the poster. The climax is so intense and it draws you in , your teeth gritting with rightful indignation , you are rooting for the family to vanquish this most foul beast. This is what cinema is all about. Guiding you through a gamut of emotions , introducing new worlds and ideas. The Host is a must watch.

2. (500) Days of Summer

A Splintered chronololgy love story? Whoa , when's that ever happened before. A wonderful background score and the charming lead couple - the cute Zooey Deschanel and the Talented Joseph Gordan Levitt - had me hooked from the start. They make it clear its not a love story, but a story about a boy and girl. It is a story about love and about people in love but not a love story. See it and you will know what I mean.

3. District 9

I was not that intrigued by the trailer. Nor by the short it was based on. Or the concept. But they blew me away. Stellar story telling, state of the art special effects and lots of cool alien weaponry made this one of the best movies I saw in the summer. This much like Avatar is about a unattached soldier/outsider going "native". Its been done before, but not like this. Watch it.

4. Luck By Chance

I went in for this tongue in cheek satire on Bollywood expecting little if nothing. I prefer Farhan Akhtar behind the camera and can't wait for him to get back behind it again, but if its movies like this that he wants to star in , I am all game. An entertaining tale of starlets and wannabe actors and the harsh and bittersweet world that is Bollywood where perhaps its all about Luck and not talent, fate and not ability. Its got the whole Akhtar family involved and talent , people, is in their blood. I cant wait for Zoya's next movie, which also stars her brother. Incidentally this is the first movie to actually have Aamir and Shahrukh together among a plethora of cameos.

5. The Education of Charlie Banks

Jesse Eisenberg playing the role that he and Michael Cera play in every movie. The shy soft spoken protoganist who gets the girl in the end. I mean seriously these guys play the same guy in every damn movie. And you could put them in each other's movies and it wouldn't make a difference. In fact Jesse Eisenberg even looks like Michael Cera with a Jewfro. Anyway this movie , as Anang noted, is kind of similar to a little movie I saw as a kid called "Big Bully". So , Mr.Eisenberg's character squeels on a bully for beating up someone. Years later he shows up in his life, and they actually become friends. But how does he tell him that he squeeled on him and had him locked away. Watch it for the austere 80s look and the Arthouse kind storytelling. Its directed by Fred Durst, the Limp Bizkit frontman. Go Figure.

6. I Love You, Man

The Judd Apatow camp has only film coming out next year. That is sad. We need more laughs like this. Its hilarious and I like to call it the "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" of 09. Jason Segal and Paul Rudd shine out in their roles and Jon Favreau reminds you that he started out as a comic.Little known secret : This movie is not related to Apatow in anyway other than it stars his frequent collaborators.

7. Up

I agree with Time magazine. The opening scene with the sweet love story of Carl Fredrickson laid out in 5 minutes of a near silent montage left me colored melancholy. How dare the Pixar guys make such good movies one after the other. Such memorable characters , such strong balance of story , drama and humor. Their films are an exercise in perfection.

8. Inglorious Basterds

The film ends with Brad Pitt's character looking at the camera and saying "This might just be my masterpiece". He is of course referring to a swastika he just carved onto a Nazi's forehead but its also QT's way to tell you, that he too consider's the movie his masterpiece. I totally agree. This movie should not have been called IB, it should have been called " Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France" because that is what it is. It is the tale of how several characters converge at a movie theater premiering a Nazi war propaganda film including the titular fatherless spawns, a french theater owner hiding from the Nazi's who killed her family, a famed Jew Hunter, prominent members of the Reich and Fuhrer himself. The bar room shootout and the opening scene are so thick with tension, you could put out your tongue and lick it.

9. Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year/ Wake Up Sid/ APKGK

From the beginning of the movie, with the "Pankhon ko " song set to the images of a middleclass household, it reaffirms the claim of the trailer, of a story of "Hum aur aap jaise logon ki kahani". Did anyone catch all the rhyming dialogue?? Mice are Nice, Itne frustrate mat ho ki kabhi Castrate ho jaaon and the plans and empty cans. The screenwriter was seriously having fun writing the script wasnt he? Wake up Sid is the second cousin of Lakshya, but it held my interest with the taut storytelling and wonderful performances by the lead actors.It is such capable and flawless direction, I was amazed to know that this was a first time director. APKGK is just LOL. It will be the new generation's Andaz Apna Apna. What I love about these movies is the repeatability ie how well they stand during a repeat viewing and they are wonderful to watch again. I did.

10. Sherlock Holmes

I was really excited for this one. I was doing silly dances in anticipation. I knew what I was going to get, and I was so happy when I got it. Lots of laughs, a intriguing mystery, and maybe the year's best on screen couple - Holmes & Watson. I have no complains on this one. Thorough and total Enjoyment. The scenes where Holmes tells you what he is going to do, and then proceeds to do it are Kickass. Also there are many references to the novels and short stories.

11. Waltz with Bashir

What you cannot do with live action you can do with Animation. It follows a formerIsraeli soldiers attempts to recall his role in the Lebanese Civil war by talking and interviewing his former colleagues. It is a stark picture of war and its toll on soldiers. The images and the scenes are nothing short of Art. I found the actual scene where you find out why it is called Waltz with bashir to be very well shot. It was nominated for an Oscar. Yes its that good.

12. 12 Angry Men

12 men , jurors to be specific, get in a room to debate the fate of a murderer. 11 for conviction one against. What follows is this one jurors effort to convince the others that the murderer may be innocent. I never knew people talking and debating , just that, could make for such compelling and riveting drama. There is a reason this movie sits at #8 on the imdb's top 250 movies of all time.

13. 3 Idiots

While several people failed to deliver this year, Mr.Hirani did not. Fail that is. To me Mr.Hirani is the finest example of what Bollywood should be like. It is very much a Bollywood movie but it is also good cinema. There is no reason why they cannot be used in the same sentence without negation. Much like The Host , I loved how the director portrayed sad situations with a humorous touch. The Rastogi residence for instance is always shown in B & W. Like his previous Munnabhai films, this too has the right amount of laughs, emotions and drama. Aamir khan, Madhavan and Sharman reunite after RDB. Its amazing how convincingly young Aamir looks.

Also Loved : Avatar, Away We Go, Mother , Funny People, The Hangover, Casablanca, Sleuth, Warlock, The International, The Last of the Mohicans (amazing climax sequence)
Leading ladies I fell in love with : Summer Finn, Neytiri
Movies I haven't seen yet but want to : Up in the air, The Fantastic Mr.Fox , Precious, Paranormal Activity, Terminator Salvation
Shitfest: Wolverine ,TF2, GIJoe : Rise of the zzzzzzzzz, Ninja Assasin, Do Knot Disturb, All the best, Pelham 123, The Final Destination, Kurbaan
TV Shows that were amazing : LOST, Dexter, Parks and Recreation, The Office, V , Bored to Death, Entourage

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Time for some...

......Penn station humour.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar : My Thoughts

Let's put this out there while its still fresh in my mind. Some may argue that Avatar is an excuse to showcase a technology under the guise of a story that has been told many times before. While not entirely wrong to say so, its one heck of a way to tell the story. I found it to be a delightful two hours spent discovering a wonderful world and its truly unique people . The movie deserves to be seen on IMAX, that's the only way you could realize its true vision. The movie speaks of so many things imperialism, environmentalism, humanity and even belonging. It gives a scientific touch to spirituality , by claiming that since all things living are made up of cells, they can feel and communicate each other, even store memories. The movie has heart, the scenes with Jake & Neytiri training together found me with a firm "Awww" smile on my face. There is no denying the fact that it is a visual extravaganza first and everything else later. The world of Pandora - the people, the flora and fauna - are all magnificent , stunning and bright. Very bright. The effects will blow your mind . A particular scene where a giant tree is fell , is so well done. The final battle scene and the climax are breathtaking and need to be seen. But there is something missing that makes a movie more than endearing, that punch , that "IT", something I can't put my finger on is missing.If you look at it it has all the makings of a great movie. The graph of highs and lows, the WOW moments all should have come together wonderfully. What should have been a masterpiece , remains a few steps away from being one. However the future is very bright , a world of possibilities has opened up with this technology and the real life rendition of CGI characters, which would make for an enriching movie experience.

16 to go

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gamble much??

Here's celebrating the degenerate Juari in each of us graduate student.
Was more sleep ever lost for an exam,
Was more sweat ever shed for work,
Was more nail bitten, hair pulled or brains racked for anything else??

17 to go.

I miss my beautiful posters :(

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What a great year for Ranbir

Is Ranbir Kapoor on a roll or what?? Three wonderful films in a year. Wake up Sid, AjabPrem ki Gajhab Kahani and now Rocket Singh: Salesman of the year. Just came back from the latter and found it to be a delightful entertainer in the vein of Khosla ka Ghosla. A tale of simple everyday people who perpetrate a con for the right reasons. Fun times!! Ranbir Kapoor being the only name actor in the movie is able to carry the movie really well. People are really accepting his potential as a star and with back to back good films , not just hits, you know he's lambi race ka khoda. Along with Abhay Deol and Kunal Khemu I see him as the "Tomorrow" star and present talent of Bollywood. Boyish good looks, fantastic screen presence and certainly a crowd pulling ability. Its not just Lineage, it is talent. Or you could say the talent comes from the lineage , whatever, you know hes here to stay. You could have might as well put him in Luck By Chance and called it his year, coz of the four Bollywood films that I really enjoyed this year, three starred this guy.

18 to go


Have I ever lived alone? No. I have been away from dear ol' Delhi for the last 6 and dot five years, but I have always had hostel mates or roommates for company. But my roommate is now visiting India, and as I sit alone in this quiet Highland Park apartment, I wonder, how would it be if I were to live alone. How I keep my place when I live alone would be the true mirror of who I am. We have made compromises on the state of affairs when we live with roommates, a plate left unwashed , a bathtub left unscrubbed (for weeks). And in spite of all that we agree this is not how our houses back home in Hindustan are. We would never label ourselves as unclean. Why mentally assure yourself that you are better than your roomies, when you clearly aren't being? Why live a certain way if that is not you. Why compromise.

I just came back from a screening of Invictus. I would call it Mr.Eastwood's most underwhelming flick since he shifted gears from thrillers to drama. Anyway, there is a line oft repeated in the movie. Its from the poem that gives the film its name.

" I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my ship"

It says a lot about how we are programmed from birth. We have mistakenly formed habits that weigh us down rather than accelerating us ahead. It is amazing how much I can eat when a craving hits, or how long I can procrastinate when something looms ahead. Its not because we are weak its because we have conditioned ourselves. It could happen the other way. I could have programmed myself to eat moderately no matter what or not wait on that assignment till the night before. In fact when I think of all the things a person can will himself to do , it is overwhelming. Like a Lego set, or a sheet of paper and a pen, the possibilities are endless. Why don't we spend every waking hour, being better, living better. And don't give me that "stop and smell the roses" excuse. It is about learning to appreciate the smell rather than smelling the bloody rose every chance you get. If I had the knowledge of these past 23 years with me when I was born I would certainly be a different person , as I imagine anyone would. Lets summarize the important life lessons I have learned:

1) Binging on foods and movies is not "enjoying life" it is setting up dangerous precedents to habit forming activities. The answer , like Mr. Buddha said , is moderation.

2)How can you be afraid of anything. For once you face it, it shall pass. It may come back to haunt you but the moment you fear the most is just that, a moment. It will pass. And that thought is emboldening.

3) Do not be afraid of girls. Go talk to them. They want to talk to you too.

4)Reading like crazy will make you suave and sophisticated like Shashi Tharoor. Then you can develop a baritone and strut around all you want.

5)Disciplining yourself , lets you know that your indiscipline are well deserved.

6) Nothing or no one is going to come and change your life. YOU have to cut down on food, YOU have to start writing that script and YOU have to better your knowledge of Civil Engineering.

I am sure life has thrown more lessons at me, but this is all I can think of right now. Ah, yes the one rule that has never been proven wrong. The one rule to rule them all. The one rule to bring them all. And in the darkness.. ok I will stop.

7) My father is always right. and I mean Always. There has been tons of things he has asked me to do and tons of things I did not because I thought it was uncool, or not the right choice at the moment or I was just being plain lazy. But each and every time his advice has been spot on. The thing is he sees the bigger picture, I dont. I am sure my progeny will ignore my advice the same way. Why God does it have to be a circle??

Ok That is all I can remember .

Friday, December 11, 2009

Southland Lives!!

I am a big fan of cop movies. Lets make that a huge fan. Procedural Cop dramas have yet to hold their sway over me. Apart from good ol' CID. And Southland. Southland was my favorite new show of Spring 09, and follows several different pairs of cops , from uniforms to detectives to the captain as they solve different aspects of the same case. Its shot in a realistic almost documentary type manner with a livid and very mobile camera chasing around the characters. Its a lot of fun but gritty and downright dark at times, which I love. The 1st season ended of in sort of a cliffhanger with one of the main characters being shot and left bleeding, and I was all prepped up for it to return this Fall, but the suits over at NBC suddenly pulled the plug , claiming it to be too melancholic and sanguine for their viewership. I was shattered, so much potential lost. But then I heard news that it was being shipped around at other channels. Then it happened, it got picked up by TNT. I mean what were the chances of a canceled show returning. But its back. So not only does Spring 10 have Lost premiering its final season, or Jack Bauer saving Anil Kapoor's Ass (in under a day, mind you) or the very fun "V" returning from hiatus, but the LAPD will also be back in business. Yaaay!!!! Spring 10 is going to be awesome.

19 to go

My Very Special Acoustic Evening with Bryan Adams

"I have 16 friggin records, pipe down people, Lets see if we can run through them all" - Bryan Adams on being barraged by requests after his first song.

I can honestly say its a dream come true for me. Bryan Adams produced the soundtrack to my teen years. To a puppy eyed 14 year old moderately plumpy guy Bryan Adams was God. My brother and I were mammoth fans. We knew all the lyrics, all the songs and his biography by Justify Fullheart. Since then I have wanted to see him in concert. Yes, he did come to India, but I just happened to be in a different city every time. But when BA decided to come to my very own backyard, The State Theater at New Brunswick, I had every reason to go.

I had fantastic seats, right in the center, less than 30 ft away from him, in front of the stage. He trotted onto stage at 8:10 , (ten mins late) and broke into "Run to you" right away . It was an acoustic show and so he just had one person accompany him on a piano(who was fantastic, btw). "In case you didn't get the memo, this is the band" he said pointing to himself and the pianist. He followed it with "Tonight we have the stars" , "Back to You" ,"Here I am" "Heat of the Night", "Lonely Nights", "So69", "Everything I do", "Only Thing that looks good on me", "Thought I had Died and Gone to Heaven", "Lets make a Night to Remember", "Not Romeo, Not Juliet", "Cuts like a knife" , "To really love a woman" "Christmas time", "This Time", "When you love someone", "Heaven","Straight from the Heart", "Cant stop this thing we started" and many more. Acoustic does bring out the best in his songs. There's a more personal connection with the audience and its mesmerizing to say the least. I am a bigger fan of his lesser known songs and I was happy to see him give some of them a chance. He has great stage presence. The audience was in splits , when he started singing "Cant stop this thing we started" like a country song. He said "Waking up the neighbors" was his second favorite album title, followed by what he wanted to name his second album but the studio wouldn't agree to: " Adams hasn't heard of you either". He recalled the time he recorded "Lonely Nights". "It was a magical time , I was 21, broke, in NYC. It was fantastic". He spotted two ladies on the balcony waving at him with their little fluorescent "concert thingys" and had them brought down to sit right in front of him. I am sure they will never forget that. While in the middle of "Heat of the Night" his guitar string broke, the pianist immediately covered for him while he quickly got his guitar replaced. I was a bit put off by how abruptly the concert came to an end. He said his goodbyes and rushed off stage. He came back twice, though. It also surprised me how I remembered the lyrics to even some of his less popular songs. I hate "All for love" and "The only thing that looks good on me" but couldn't stop myself from singing along. Towards the end, everyone came up to the stage and started flashing their mob cams. I cursed myself for not having a better cam but had to make do with grainy pics. Someday when I am rich and famous, I will get to shake his hand. Till then this day ,the memory of singing So69, along with him, will do. Now lets see if we can catch Simon and Garfunkel sometime.

20 to go

Sunday, December 6, 2009

...And now a Message from our Founder.

It doesnt make sense to just randomly post anything just to reach my goal of 46 posts. i have to be mature about it , play fair otherwise there is no reason to do it. I could just post 21 photos and then just add a comment to them and I would win. But that doesnt do anything for me. Where is the struggle, the fight against adversaties to emerge victorious. There has to be something at stake. Do this for the right reasons or not do it at all. Being the fickle minded weakling I am , what I can put at stake is my desire for food. I could give up some sort of food for a period of time if I dont complete my challenge. I am already vegetarian for 41 days (Swami Sharanam Ayappa) so cant give up non veg. I could give up soft drinks or maida or cheese or butter. This is not going anywhere. I guess I will put my pride at stake. Can I be motivated enough to accomplish this task. Do I have it in myself to walk the mile. To do what I set out to do. Can Mr.Frodo get to Mordor? We will see in 24 days. I will write only if I have something to say. Expect 21 meaningful or at least sincere posts from yours truly. And if i dont? You all get to slander me on the comment section of the latest post as of Dec 31. Wait a sec.. you can already do that. But I expect u ppl to be fair about it, as I will.

21 to go!!

New Look!!

1) The Black was hurting my eyes.
2) The new year is coming up, I had to go for a new better gritty look.
3) White is the new Black.Literally!!
4) Ok..Ok I admit it . I did it to increase my post tally. There..I said it. Happy??.... Dont look at me like that.. Dont look at me.. nooo!! Go away and trouble someone else!!!

22 to go!! [;)]

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Masterly Mr Master McMasterton

" Jack of all trades and Master of one". Master of Science that is. It was today, this glorious thursday morning that I presented my masterific project and mastered the last task which stood before me and my Masters. True some formalities remain but the groundwork is done. What's that? How does it feel to be a Master, you ask. Well not that different from yesterday actually. Did I do a dance of joy and leap around in front of my department? Did I take off my clothes in a huge F U to the system and establishment and run around Busch campus wearing nothing but my butt.Did I change my facebook/orkut/gmail status to the first line of this post(which I gratuitously lifted from Raghu)? Well, no. I did do a " I have a Masters you dont , nana - nana-na -na in front of Onkar and Srini. Other than that it was just another day in the life of a "student by day, crimefighter by night " person that I am. I spent the afternoon debating with myself whether a person with a Masters should be legally allowed to use the term Master in front of his name like PhDs do with Dr. and some overtly excited B.Tech guys do with Engineer in the way of Er. Hmm.. Master Arjun Raju Adimari. Well that would suit me if I were a child actor in a Rajesh Khanna- Mumtaz movie. Could I just call myself "The Master". Doesnt have a good ring to it , sounds like a Buffy villain or a Darjiwala. What I am is a very jobless person who needs to realize that without a job he is going to have a very hard time repaying those student loans. I actually have a lot of free time ahead of me. I need to apply apply apply. What else. Well a little while ago I promised my dear readers (all four of you) and myself that I would accomplish the task of matching the number of my yearly posts to the previous years. I am at 22 now , well 23 with this one , I need to put out 23 more to match the 46 I have put out each of the previous years. So people get ready for an exercise in namesake posting as I try to pass off whatever I can as a blog post. Here's wishing Master Arjun , All the best.