Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Tintin Film

I had been looking forward to the Tintin film ever since I saw the first teaser. Probably from before that too, but after watching the teaser (or was it a proper trailer – can’t recall that now), I just had this weird exciting feeling in my stomach that this was going to be a really worthwhile experience.

Since that brief introduction to Spielberg’s (and Jackson’s) latest masterpiece, I have read several rants about how unlike Herge's version this Tintin looks, how it's just blasphemous and a sign of crass commercialism to remake the simple, refined 2-D drawings into a 3-D film. And not been able to completely understand what the fuss was about.

After having seen the movie today, I am even more perplexed.

I think Herge made the right choice when he asked Spielberg to make the Tintin movie. Now, this choice might have come across as smoothly as Spielberg generally implies in his interviews, or not so much as some of the critics of this transfer to the big screen might allege, but that it happened to come about is a great thing.

From the moment the film begins, with that wonderful tip of hat to Tintin's creator, this is a well-designed extension of Herge's vision. The credits pay tribute to several of Tintin's books, and the film mixes elements from various editions to come up with a truly enjoyable story.

Ah, the thrill of meeting again the characters you have known for so long. The bumbling Thompson & Thomson. The ever-abusive Captain Haddock. The wonderfully voiced Bianca Castafiore. And good ol' Snowy (with the amount of stunts he does, it's a good thing they didn't use a real dog).

And, of course, the boy wonder. Yes, he looks a bit different from what I would have imagined as a three-dimensional Tintin to look. And the British accent made him sound like Harry Potter a few times. But, those are minor issues really.

The winner, as it should be in general, is the script. It incorporates great elements from multiple books, ties them up together and comes up with an intelligent, respectful, adventurous and utterly funny ride.

And also worth mentioning is the motion-capture technique. It might have worked great in films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy or King Kong, or even Avatar, but in a full length film based on this technique like The Polar Express it had fallen a bit flat. It just works wonders here. The bastardized child of animation and live action truly comes on its own in this film.

Just watch and wonder at the way Sakharine's hair or the camel's fur waves in the wind. Beautiful.

I bloody hope they are making a sequel.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Remembering Iraq

I am really angry right now.

I am a fan of Wikipedia, have contributed both in terms of content and in terms of moolah to it. But, I went back to the page on Al-Qa'im today, and was astonished to see that most of the past information had been removed. And the fuckers are complaining that the article is a stub, and that we can help by expanding it! No donation from me you moron, Jimmy Wales.

I spent 2.5 precious years of my childhood there. I still remember the person who used to give me chocolates every time he would run into me. I still remember running away from the people celebrating Holi with masalas. I still remember discussing Sridevi, and Mumbai rains, with the local grocery-shop owner. I still remember being (almost) sexually abused by an idiot who was my father's subordinate (I had the good sense of forcing myself out of his house after he emerged in his underwear and started touching me inappropriately).

No, my wiki contribution was not about these personal experiences. It was about the cement plant run by ACC that got us there and provided many local people employment. It was about how the place became a curious melting pot of Iraqis, Romanians (who were handing over the plant to ACC) and us Indians. It was about how that weird chemical plant a few kilometers away used to give us bad asthmatic attacks once in a while. It was about how I saw my first tanks and first sand-dunes.

These are bound to be hazy memories - these events occurred a lifetime ago. But, I remember seeing VP Singh's visit to Baghdad being covered on the national channel and thinking - Man, why aren't our leaders remotely as charismatic as Saddam Hussein.

There, I have said it. I wasn't very happy when Saddam was executed.

During those years in Iraq, way too young as I might have been, I had heard of the cruelty of his regime. I knew he wasn't exactly adored, even though his portraits and posters covered every street in every town I visited. But, things moved smoothly.

Cities were clean, hospitals were efficient, there was freedom (at least before the First Gulf War; that's when we came back and that's when I hear the place got more fundamentalist) and petrol was almost as cheap as mineral water.

I hated coming back to India. Not only because it robbed me of this perceived exotic identity that I had put on over the course of my stay there (and which used to come very handy when interacting with cousins here), but also because India was a shock to me. When we moved to Iraq I was a little over 6 years old, just beginning to grasp the import of stuff happening around me. When we moved back, I was a fairly worldly wise 9 year old, who had seen stuff (including, but not limited to, extremely violent movies, novels not meant for children, that man who used to touch me, and, quite amazingly, female friends who used to play Ghar-Ghar with sticks, making them lie together and do all sorts of scandalous things).

But, recovering from that major diversion, I absolutely hated coming back to India. It was humid. There were mosquitoes. Every place was filled with people. And everyone else was an Indian too. No fun.

Am watching this film called The Devil's Double. Just brought memories back. During our stay there, we once heard this story - apparently, one of Saddam's sons had killed someone. As per Islamic rules, Saddam's son (don't remember if it was Uday or someone else) could be forgiven only if forgiven by the victim's family. Saddam (apparently) agreed with the death sentence. But, (apparently) the victim's family forgave the son, out of 'natural compassion'.

Yep, so Iraq was twisted. Frankly, I don't think how they can not be unless they are all bombed out. With that much oil and those many tribes, it seems your idiotic God is having a lot of fun there.

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