Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nice car, no?

And the laptop's not that bad looking either, I say!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Three Colors

Had to slip in this post first. The three films that I have seen over the last two days are such gems that I could not keep myself from writing about them. The first two were movies that were surprisingly not written or talked about much when they came out last year. Both have high ratings on IMDb, but that's not the same thing. The third was definitely a much more publicised film, but almost all reviews called it a flawed classic, with the film's 2.5 hours running time earning a lot of criticism. As it happens, depite the restless person I am, I did not feel the length at all, and loved the slow, painful movement to the inevitable climax.

The first film I saw was Across The Universe. Featuring 30-odd singles by The Beatles, the film is a brilliant musical. I like several Beatles songs, but am not a huge fan. After having seen the film though, I have been listening to Come Together, Hey Jude and I Wanna Hold Your Hand for a good part of the day. The film has an interesting story, and it's unbelievable how well some of the songs are placed in the film. And how well most of them have been shot. The first thing that came to my mind on watching some of the amazing shots is how confident the director seems to have been in her style and technique. Easily one of my favorite 2007 films.

The next one was Surf's Up. It is one of the three animated features nominated in that category at the Oscars this year (the other two are Ratatouille and Persepolis) and it's a rare year where all three are really really good films. Surf's Up is a behind the scenes look at a surfing championship with penguins (who for some reason have become the most popular animals to be featured in animated films). I cannot really describe how smartly this film spoofs behind-the-scene videos, but I strongly recommend this one too.

And the third film that I just got done watching is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Quite a mouthful. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck match each other expression for expression in this film about betrayal. I find films that explore love relationships other than the 'normal' man-woman-of-the-same-age ones extremely interesting. This relationship is a curious one between the charismatic outlaw Jesse James and the young, under-confident Robert Ford who wants to be like Jesse. He loves, for want of any other word that describes the longing in his eyes better, Jesse James and James seems to understand this too. And no this is not homosexuality I am talking about, as far as my understanding of such things goes. But Ford's attempts at befriending James and finding a place in the latter's life are snubbed and made fun of. I don't think any desire to hurt another person can be as intense as one when it is borne out of a snubbed attempt to get close to that person. The film slowly spirals towards the end, which is hardly a suspense given the title of the movie as well as the famous legend of Jesse James, the outlaw. But the film does not end immediately after James dies, and the pain this betrayal brings to Ford is even more intriguing than the act itself. A very beautiful film about how complicated our feelings are and how at times completely beyond our control.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Quizito Ergo Sum

Now that was one hectic week.

And that was one understatement.

No sleep for 48 hours, 3 quizzes, one impromptu Old Monk party, a four hour standing train journey in General compartment, another 2 hours standing train journey in General compartment, and no beer when one needed it because it happened to be a dry day - there's only so much that a man can take!

My last year in college (for the time-being if not for the rest of my life) is going to be most remembered for the number of quizzes I have taken part in. This weekend we went all the way to Jamshedpur (a visit to the city that I grew up close to after a gap of 9 years) and then to Kharagpur for three quizzes. Got richer by a decent amount of money, but got really really tired in the process as well.

And the next seven days will see me participate in at least 4 more quizzes.

Life's turning into one big question.


And I've been tagged. There was a time when my blog used to be read far and wide and I used to be tagged every other day. And I used to ignore them under the excuse that I can't make a post if I have been specified a topic. Which is not altogether untrue. But things have changed these days, and readers are few and far between. So, I think I will accept this one. But more because it looks interesting, and also because I have been worried that I have cut down drastically on my book reading to make time for my studies and movie watching. This would hopefully revive good memories of the times spent in the company of books. Wait for the next post for it though.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


After a really great day that was Saturday the 19th - not the least because of India's fantastic victory Down Under, but also because of a nice victory of my own - I am sitting comfortably in my room this foggy Sunday morning watching a movie.

This movie's called Happiness, and I had been looking for it for ages. It's in the same league as American Beauty. Only more twisted. I have seen about 25 minutes of the 2 hours 20 min film and felt I had to make a post when I just got done watching a scene in the movie where a father and his 10-ish son have one of the weirdest conversations ever in a movie. If you haven't seen the film, you might get an idea by the line the scene ends with.

The father hugs the son and tells him reassuringly, "Don't worry son, you'll come some day".

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two Cents

First: I want to be like Simon Cowell. I think I am like him to a great extent already. He must have the best job in the world.

Second: Juno, for some reason, is being hailed as this great film, the Little Miss Sunshine of 2007. I found it absolutely pointless and pretentious. I really don't care about teenage pregnant women. They could not only Abort but also Retry and Fail as many times as they want to for all I care. Though, in all fairness, I have seen less than one-third of the movie by now, and if it is good enough to make me care for a movie about teenage pregnancies, I might write paeans about it in the next post.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Pretty Man

Richard Gere has never been one of Hollywood's best. He has acted in some really amazing films, like Days of Heaven, but he was always more a pretty face than a really talented actor.

But I might have thought wrong. Among all the post-middle age actors from Hollywood, Gere seems to be getting the meatiest, or at least the most interesting roles. In less than two months I have seen him in The Hoax, I'm Not There, The Flock and The Hunting Party, in fairly wide-ranging roles.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It went well.

Well enough for the alumni team that won to give us (the other quiz-master and I) part of their first prize - a champagne bottle.

Feeling real good.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

After more than a year's gap...

...I shall be conducting a quiz. This weekend.

The last time I remember mentioning doing a quiz on my blog (the previous one) it had resulted in fireworks in my Comments box. Hopefully, this will be a tamer instance in comparison.

I have been participating in a lot of inter-college quizzes since I came here, but have got little chance to conduct quizzes. We don't have too many quizzes on campus, which I have managed to change for the better to some extent this session. I did two, one on campus and one at IIT Kgp in 2006. And none in 2007 at all!

So, it's quite fair that I am more than a little excited about this one. In terms of prize money, expected turnout and size of the venue (it's our own auditorium, but you've got to see it to believe it), it's the biggest I have done so far.

And yes, you are invited. I am not sure if there's anyone from Kolkata who reads this blog. In fact, at times, I feel there isn't anyone from anywhere who reads this blog. But then the odd comment does pop up to dispel that notion.

Anyway, this is becoming longer than I expected it to be. If you are not doing anything particularly important Saturday morning, drop by. Should be fun.
11am, teams of 3 (if you are alone, I'll find someone for you), IIM Calcutta Auditorium.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The 2007 Review

2007 has been a fantastic year for Hindi films. The number of hits might have come down - even Yashraj Films saw more misses than hits - but in terms of the variety of good movies we have seen over the last one year, I think 2007 was better than any in the last several years.

And having too many flops is not a bad thing in the long run actually. The present phase of experimentation, which has begun to get things right after the initial weak, and at times misguided steps, could not have been possible if the same formula films kept doing well. So we have a lot of bad, really bad flicks from the 90s and early 2000s (remember the Bichchhus and the Badals?) to thank for the change in Hindi film norms.

Coming to some of the truly fantastic movies that we came across in 2007, I would have to begin with Johnny Gaddaar. I had written earlier how my friends and I ended up watching it quite by chance and kept raving about it weeks after that. I know a lot of people who haven't found anything great about it, but I was simply blown away by the fact that it was so different from other films in the genre one would see.

A slightly more unfavorable general response was seen by No Smoking. I have met less than 10 people who have liked the film. Weird. I wrote a rather revved up post about that, and I still find it a great effort, despite a second viewing.

And something common to both these films was the outstanding music. I have begun to listen to soundtracks for both films only recently, and am hooked.

Another movie that I watched quite by chance was Jab We Met. I should have seen it anyway, considering that I had liked the director's debut Socha Na Tha. Kareena Kapoor was mind-blowing in her role.

I saw more Hindi films this year (without fast-forwarding to the main scenes) than I have in any other year in over a decade. Some of the others I did not regret spending time on were - Guru, Blue Umbrella, Cheeni Kum, Manorama Six Feet Under, Parzania (ok, not Hindi, but still), Chak De India, Aaaja NachLe, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Life In A Metro (was the Dharmendra in this film the same as the English-spouting one from Johnny Gaddaar!).

The ones I hated, or at least didn't care much for, were Eklavya, Saawariya, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Salaam-e-Ishq and some others that I can't recall, for obvious reasons. And I actually didn't find RGV Ki Aag that bad.

Technically Black Friday is a 2007 movie, but I had seen it more than two years back. Also, although Jaae-e-Mann was released in 2006, I got around to watching it only this year, and loved the zaniness. Two foreign films made by Indians and set completely or partly in India came out - Water was lukewarm, The Namesake was outstanding.

But there were two others from 2007 that I liked more than any other Hindi movie. Om Shanti Om was the Hindi film I had the most fun watching this year. Taare Zameen Par, on the other hand, was the most painful. And for those reasons, I think, they were the two best films of the year.

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