Saturday, March 27, 2010

Coco Rosie

I suddenly find myself liking them. Saw them live in Holland, but wasn't blown away.
One more hauntingly beautiful one

and here's an article on them from NYT

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

West Bank Story - a spoof on West Side story

This is a short film by Jewish American Ari Sandel that won an Oscar for best live action film 2007.
It's about an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian cashier. The second link is a discussion with the director, and an audience representing Arab-ISraelis, Israelis and Palestinians.

BTW The Palestinian is played by an actor of Indian-Muslim origin.

the discussion

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Genre: Action adventure

Directed by: Tim Story

Cast: Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis

Storyline: Will Invisible Woman ever become Mrs. Fantastic before the superhero quartet must save the world once again from random play?

Bottomline: How did Alba's lips get so bee-stung?

Fact – The screenplay isn't great. The characters are blah. The action is ho-hum. The special effects? Seen better.

But somehow, 'Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer' is not bad. In fact, you could say Tim Story's story is actually mildly entertaining. Why shouldn't they make a pointless sequel (that may actually work) to another superhero tale? Everyone else is doing it.

The film begins with a wedding. Or at least talk of it. Our superheroes Mr. Fantastic aka Reed Richards, Invisible Woman aka Susan Storm, her brother Human Torch (human name Johnny Storm) and The Thing or Ben Grimm (depends on when you catch him) are living the fabulous life. Chased by paparazzi, frequently featured on E News, they might as well buy a Chihuahua and name her Tinkerbell (God knows Sue Storm already has the fake blonde hair and trashy make-up).

But the Wedding of the Year between Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman is off to a rocky start thanks to a strange silver man on a surf board who looks like a cross between an inside out Mercury man from Terminator II who copied the Green Goblin's mode of transport. He cruises across the world leaving chaos and energy loss in his wake. This calls for the brain and the beeping PDA of stretchy Mr. Fantastic, even while he's at the altar.

The sequel to 2005's Fantastic Four features the resurrection of the eerily dishy Victor Von Doom (don't you just love saying his name?) played by Julian McMahon, the deliciously demonic Cole from TV series 'Charmed'.

There's more to Silver Surfer that meets the eye. Avaricious villain or part-man human superhero? While the Fantastic Four are on the job, they find gutsy Silver Surfer has in attitude what he lacks in anatomy.

There's plenty of earth shattering action. And if you get bored, you can always have a crack at pronouncing Ioan Gruffudd.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Namesake

Genre: Drama
Director: Mira Nair
Cast: Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Kal Penn, Jacinda Barrett, Zuleikha Robinson
Storyline: About struggling to find your identity before it slips through the cracks of two alien cultures that define your existence
Bottomline: Impressive performances in a story well told

A great thing about Jhumpa Lahiri is her perceptiveness and maturity while defining relationships. And the great thing about Mira Nair is her perceptiveness about identity.
In `The Namesake,' the skills of these two women come together to tell a tale that makes for compelling viewing.
If you can forget the discrepancy of `Vanity Fair,' you will find this movie an intelligent match to Nair's critically acclaimed `Monsoon Wedding.'

Nicely moulded
The film, based on a novel of the same name by Lahiri, follows Ashoke Ganguli (Irrfan, Bengali accent authentically in place) and his bride Ashima (Tabu) to their new home in America. As strangers legally bound to a life together, they are trying to fit in with each other as much as they are with their new country.
The development of the relationship is moulded nicely, and the film moves at a languorous pace as the Gangulis warm to each other in awkward fits and starts. It is in the foreign country that their family grows.
Gogol (Kal Penn), their son, significantly named after the Russian author who inadvertently saved his father's life, not only has to deal with his Indian heritage but his unusual name.
In `The Namesake,' the director acknowledges that people don't always live by their stereotypes. So many British Indian films about the Indian cultural identity in a foreign land, find their conflict because the older generation refuses to adapt to the new, and the younger generation doesn't understand the old.
This is true to some extent over here, as Ashima disapprovingly notices her son's white girlfriend caress him and is shocked when the girl calls her by her name, instead of the infinitely more respectful `aunty.' But the thing is, she attempts to cover up to make the children feel comfortable.
Another stereotype is turned on its head when Gogol finds that his good Indian girl refuses to take his name, has a life of her own, and appears to have had a lot more lovers than he.
The screenplay by Sooni Taraporevala is sentimental without being cloying, and funny without being cheesy. The problem is that as the film progresses, the narrative picks up speed, like it has suddenly realised that it is running out of time.
This is always an issue when a film has been adapted from a novel - usually resolved by taking liberties with the plot.
But this plot is life, so the compromise is that later on in the film, the development is comparatively sketchy.
`The Namesake' is about finding roots, `know where you come from to get where you're going.' Interestingly, Kal is listed as Kalpen Modi, his original Indian name in the credits.
The best part of Nair's latest offering is that it manages to be moving and emotional without sinking into melodrama.
Watch out for a cameo by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Monday, March 19, 2007

B season again.

My movie for this year - Kaizad Gustad's 'Bombil and Beatrice'
He did 'Bombay Boys' (one of my fav films) and 'Boom'

KG confirmed AR Rahman's doing the music for this one.
Starring that hottie Prashant Narayanan from Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II.

The story:
One hundred years ago, a beautiful young English woman named Beatrice promised a young Indian man named Vilas that she would wait for him. For a hundred years, if need be. At the height of the British Raj, these star crossed-lovers shared a love that defied both their worlds. On the night of New Year's Eve, Beatrice escapes from her family and elopes to her lover. But tragedy strikes instead.........One hundred years later, in the urban slums of today's Mumbai, Beatrice tracks down the reincarnation of her lover from a century ago. Vilas is now Bombil, the hitman, and she has a job for him. At the appointed hour, at the appointed time, one hundred years after destiny struck, what will he do? Can he redeem himself in this lifetime for promises made in the last? Can he kill the very thing he loved? Bombil and Beatrice. Love Doesn't Die.

And here's the link to the trailer. can't figure out how to post it on this blog.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Genre: Drama
Directed by: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Mithun Chakraborty, Madhavan, Vidya Balan
Storyline: Follows the life of Gurukant Desai, and his ambitious quest for monetary success and power
Bottomline: Mani talks

'Guru' is vintage Mani Ratnam. It encapsulates his characteristic canniness about human nature and relationships, more specifically.
However, for anyone reasonably familiar with the filmmaker's work, there are moments of déjà vu; as Sujata (Aishwarya Rai) dances her way through village scenes, you are reminded of 'Roja'. Even one of the A.R. Rahman tracks are reminiscent of 'Yuva'. And though there is no actual similarity between the stories of Gurukant Desai and Velu Naicker
(from 'Nayagan'), their lives follow the same formula, with the same techniques used at defining moments.
Maybe this is an intentional coming together of everything you identify with Mani. But the difference lies in the choice of subject – Guru (Abhishek Bachchan) is a man who rises on dubious morals and a clear regard for self above service. This is a deviation for a director who prefers to make his stories exercises in social awareness. It is interesting for the same reason, as grey characters are always more fascinating than the outrightly good ones.
It is not that the director justifies his character. There is a monologue in the end where Guru talks to a packed courtroom about why he did things the way he did. But it is a sketchy reasoning that gets undue applause from the onlookers. However, the jury, (headed by a no-nonsense Roshan Seth) knows. And so does the audience. It's Guru's ability to manipulate the situation that gets him off the hook. Although this is not considered morally right, it is undoubtedly clever.
So 'Guru' is not the tale of a good man, but one who had a dream and pulled out all stops to make it come true. An admirable enough tale to make a film about.
Aishwarya Rai warms up to her role in the second half of the film. When we first see her, she is a feisty village belle, dancing in the rain and frolicking by a waterfall. This is a woman who won a paegent for her poise and self-aware beauty, so there is no way she could make a convincing village belle. But as the loyal wife of Guru, who supports her husband with a quiet dignity, she is in more comfortable territory.
If you haven't already heard, this is considered Abhishek Bachchan's role of a lifetime. He definitely does a dedicated job, even growing a paunch to rival his pregnant wife's tummy. Again, Abhishek's acting skills come to the fore as the older Guru.
Mithunda goes about his role with a loud eccentricity. Vidya Balan is good, in the itty-bitty part that she plays. But the most significant performance is from Madhavan, especially commendable because it isn't such a significant role. It is restraint that is difficult, and Madhavan's passionate journalist Shyam Saxena is a very restrained person. You know he's passionate because of the single-minded determination with which he pursues business tycoon Guru, determined to bring him down. But he is deadpan for most of the time onscreen. That's why his one passionate gesture on a jetty is perhaps the most effective moment of the film.
The cinematography by Rajiv Menon is classic.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Casino Royale

Although my friend Sandhya didn't wholly agree with this review (she says it's more true to the book than any other Bond film), I maintain that the film sags a bit for a Bond movie. I do like my car chases and exploding fireballs. But Daniel Craig makes it worth yor while.

Genre: Action
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Cast: Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Eva Green, Caterina Murino
Storyline: Bond has to stop a gambler from winning as the money will go towards funding terrorism
Bottomline: The blondest, hunkiest, most intense Bond ever

The ladies tend to choose Pierce Brosnan, the serious Bond fans Sean Connery. But Daniel Craig, the new James Bond has something for everyone in 'Casino Royale', the latest film in the franchise spawned from Ian Fleming's fictitious action hero.
After the gentlemanly womanising and refined killing by Brosnan, Craig's raw, cold brutality may seem a bit rude. But that's why he suits the story so well. 'Casino Royale' is based on the book in which Fleming introduced the character to the world. The movie begins with James as just another government hack, although he does show signs of promise and individuality. He is as deft at poker as he is at bedding another man's girl.
M, played once again by Judi Dench, asks James to vamoose after he most impolitely storms the embassy of another country and kills quite a few of their people. But she knows him; when he's on a case, he's not going to give up until every villain gets his just desserts and every beautiful woman gets hers.
Events take him to the fabulous 'Casino Royale', where fortunes are made and spent in a gamble. Bond babe by his side, he proceeds to beat Monsieur Le Chiffre at cards.
Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd, not your conventional Bond girl. However, she is the one who finds a place in Agent 007's heart, before the armor comes up (the director would have you believe that she is the reason for the impenetrable detachment that is classic Bond in the other adventures). Critics say that the romance with Vesper humanises Bond and serves as an explanation for his detached womanising. But the truth is, there is no reason for him to fall in love with her. There is no development of the romance, except for a Hindi movie moment where the happy couple's love is reflected in the green trees and the beauteous environment.
Craig is the actual Bond girl in 'Casino Royale'. Not that you doubt his masculinity for a moment. But the cameras linger over his buff body several times – there is one particular shot where he emerges from the sea the exact same way so many Bond girls before him have. He has the look of a moisturised Malboro Man. "Wow, you have taken good care of your body," says the villainous Monsieur Le Chiffre admiringly at one point in the movie when Bond finds himself naked and tied up (not in the good way).
The plot is intricate, and there to engage you if you give a damn. But like every good action movie, 'Casino Royale' works even as a sequence of events that don't really have to make any sense for you to enjoy it. It sags a bit. But these moments would be well spent admiring the incredibly blue eyes of James Bond.