Monday, December 31, 2007

What a year!

Every year starts off with great promise, gets a little muddled up around the middle, ends with mostly with a whimper. Why should 2007 have been any different? Yes? But it was. Started off on a cool, moonlit night with bisons and barbecue; should have taken a hint then. Towards the middle, it got pretty dizzy. August was the culprit, leapfrogging into mayhem with casualties all around - marriage talks and interviews (of the professional kind). September, October and November tippled through. December brought the first whiff of foreign shores, burgeoning work loads. Won't mind much if it ends a whimper, as long as the next year starts with a bang!

The apples of the valley hold
The seeds of happiness,
The ground is rich from tender care,
Repay, do not forget,
Oh, dance in the dark of night,
Sing to the morning light
- The Battle of Evermore, Led Zeppelin.

Happy New Year Folks!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Things never work the way we want them to...

... and thats the way the cookie crumbles.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday Morning Blues

Sometimes the weather is just so you. Smoked out, pale and moody on a Thursday morning. Shivering in the cold morning breeze and envying the rickshaw driver all muffled up in multiple layers. Taking out your snug earphones to shut out the wind. Your head exploding with a long lost song and the words flowing through your system, the four right chords can make you cry.

Rediscovering music on a morning like this can be a revelation. One that puts things in perspective - that all is true is just you and your music. Everything else, everyone else is transient.

Inspiration? The muses drawing breath for you? God? Nah, don't believe it, you'll get entangled in Heaven or Hell
5 A.M., Allen Ginsberg

PS: I'm rediscovering Ginsberg as well.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rescue Dawn, or, One more reason to love Christian Bale

I was watching Batman Begins for the nth time, when it struck me that I loved Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn. After I saw Saving Private Ryan, I told myself, "This will be the last war movie I'll see". For all its critical acclaim, Saving Private Ryan was cheesy, and played to the gallery till the very last note. So when Rescue Dawn came along, I dismissed it as another war movie, or worse still, an ego exercise for a rather intriguing actor. Eating maggots? Ew, I thought! But when I saw Rescue Dawn on the list of in-flight movies on a 5-hour flight, I couldn't resist taking a peek.

Rescue Dawn is no war movie. Yes, it is set in the thick of the Vietnam War, and the protagonist is a US Naval pilot who is shot down and held prisoner. But thats all there is to it. Like Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries), Werner Herzog wisely stays away from political statements (In this case, the machinations of the war in Nam). For instance, Dieter Dangler (Bale) is shot down in Laos (this is based on a true story), where the US is not supposed to have ever been. That the US bombed Laos to the last centimeter so that if one waters the ground there, a bomb tree would grow, is not something Herzog wants to get into. Nor does he portray the Viet Cong as black villains who indulge in horrendous forms of torture.

A lesser director would have added more drama, shown us blisters on sore feet, cut to a painful grimace of the man who is brave in the face of adversity. A lesser actor would have hammed it up, given us soulful stares and ponderous dialogue delivery. Instead, Dangler salvages a single rotting shoe and gives it to his fellow escapee Duane Martin (Steve Zahn) with the glee of a child who has found a stray marble. (Spoiler alert!) A few scenes later, he snatches away the same single shoe from the the dead Martin's foot without so much as a second thought! Bale does eat real maggots (if media reports are to be believed), but its not a big deal in the movie. Nor is it when Bale strips off a snake's head with his teeth (hope at least that was not real!).

Rescue Dawn could have well descended into a weepy, heavy handed picture. Instead Herzog and Bale work to create one of the most beautiful testaments to the human spirit that we have seen. I'd like to watch the Golden Globe nominated "Into the Wild" to see if Sean Penn even comes close! Bale is a class act, even without fancy outfits and terrible weight loss programmes (well, he had to lose some for this role, but not as bad as The Machinist). Note to self: see 3:10 to Yuma soon. Steve Zahn does some good work here as Duane Martin. In some scenes, he almost steals the thunder from under Bale's nose.

Verdict: Great movie. Bale is now at the top of the list along with Gael Garcia Bernal, and therefore earns the tag "amazing"!

Yeah, right!

A change in lifestyle, no matter how small, can range from irritating to painful.

They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven!
Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to
Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!

Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies!
gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole
boatload of sensitive bullshit!

Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions!
gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs!
Ten years' animal screams and suicides!
Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!

Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the
wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell!
They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving!
carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!
- From Allen Ginsberg's Howl

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Boss knows best

I mean Bruce Springsteen. He knows exactly how to convey the meaning of low. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


(Review expedited due to request from CrazyBugga)

Comparisons to American Pie (the first one, of course) are inevitable, so let me start by saying that Superbad is way better. Way grosser, yes, particularly since these kids are in high school, but way more witty. The plot is simple - 3 high school kids, bordering on the geek-nerd phenomenon, obsessed with sex in the way only teenage virgins are, attempt to get laid. Given their natural nervousness towards the opposite sex, that they are convinced that a copious amount of alcohol is the only way of getting their dream girls into bed with them.

Seth Rogan (Knocked Up) apparently wrote the script for Superbad while he was a teenager, so the kids talk nonstop about boners and girlie bits from dawn to dusk. We hope thats true, else it would be a sad case of art imitating life (Rogan plays a trigger-happy, juvenile cop in Superbad). That said, its a hilarious glimpse into the hormone fueled life of a teenager. The boys Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera, George-Micheal of Arrested Development) are perfect for the role. Hill, as the chubby loser-ish guy whose idea of friendship also includes comments on the mammary glands of Evan's mother, is amazing! The bit where he steals alcohol from a party in detergent cans - hilarious! Christopher Mintz -Plasse as Fogell, the wide-eyed nitwit who poses as McLovin with his fake id, is an absolute scene stealer. I cracked up every moment he was on screen. Cera could have done this role in his sleep, and no one could have been better.

That said, the girls in the movie are little more than cardboard sweeties who seem to fall for guys clearly out of their league. Rogan has not attempted to even give them half-brains or personalities beyond their tight tees and short pants. This is a movie written by a guy and is sympathetic towards the plight of the not-so-cool boys at high school. But its greatest failing is that it treats the girls as little more than objects of the boys' testosterone driven fantasies. And then there is this obligatory brothers-over-girls angle as well.

That said, its a damn funny movie, hilarious in most parts. And unlike American Pie, the movie doesn't try to please all sections of the audience. So, the guys will simply love it, most girls might get offended, but the rest of us will simply unhook our brains and have a good laugh!

Verdict - Didn't you read the title, folks?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Home again

Loved Singapore, the clean wide streets, the clockwork precision, the polite people, the beautiful skyscrapers, the quietness of the city. Didn't get any time to act touristy or shop, so airport duty free was all the shopping I did. Fun, but was glad to be back home. Home is best and thats where the heart is. Pictures if I get any time. Watched Superbad, Rescue Dawn, Shoot em up and Death at a funeral on the flight. Reviews to follow (hopefully).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Off to Singapore

My first trip out of the country and somehow the excitement is simply not there. Maybe when I reach the airport tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Well, well

Imagine being a 19 year old, who incidentally happens to be the only guy amongst 2,000 women. Lucky guy? Or outnumbered wretch? Mohammad Usman is about to find out!

Work threatening to overwhelm. Weekdays are spent chasing the hands on my watch. Weekends are worse. And the first break I will get is 2 months away. Sigh!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Revisiting the master

Managed to catch Satyajit Ray's Apur Sansar, part III of the famous Apu trilogy - my first time as a grown up. And it doesn't take too much effort to understand why Ray is widely regarded as a master filmmaker. Simple and clean story telling, understated acting (Soumitra Chatterjee is amazing) and a realistic approach far ahead of anybody's times. I wont even attempt to review it here, I'm far too unworthy. I'll just say that I'm eager to watch the entire trilogy again. What a thrill!