Monday, August 30, 2010


US Open 2010 Preview

There are just a few hours left for the last grand slam of the year to go! Last but not the least will definitely hold good for the US Open as it is one of the most celebrated events in the sport , happening at the Flushing meadows in the Apple city of New York.

This year’s open is marred in the women’s circuit with the withdrawals of Justin Henin,Serena Williams among others which leaves last year’s titlist Kim Clijsters and runner-up Caroline Wozniacki as the hot favorites for having a shot at the title this year. In the men’s circuit, the options are wide enough this year. The winner of last year’s USO Juan Martin del Potro would unfortunately be unable to defend his title owing to injury & the Open is to see a different champion for sure. Who will that be?? Let us play the cards.

The contenders

 World No.1, Rafael Nadal:
Why he can?
He is back at the helm winning two slams in a row & sweeping the entire clay court season.
He needs this one badly to complete a career golden slam – which only Agassi has managed to do.
Many pundits feel that a US Open crown in his repertoire would claim his contention of being one of the very best the game has ever seen. If that cannot motivate, nothing else can.

Why he can’t?
He hasn’t reached the finals at Flushing Meadows even once. His best has been a semi-final appearance. Losing in four sets to Murray in 08 & receiving a thrashing at del Potro’s hands last year.
The fast paced courts wouldn’t help him as well as they can in clay. Guys will have fast answers to his top spinners.

World No.2, Roger Federer:

Why he can?
He is the in-form player with a final loss at Toronto & a trophy at Cincinnati.
He has won the US Open in 2004,05,06,07,08 & was runner-up after leading 2 sets to 1 in 09.PERIOD.

Why he can’t?
He is 29 now. Getting old is a significant thing in a sport like tennis.
His consistency at slams has slowly been waning off.
Has the difficult of draws – to face Soderling in the Q/Fs.

World No.3, Novak Djokovic:

Why he can?
He has it in him to win a grand slam. He has shown that.
He has been consistent at the US Open reaching the final once in 07 & semis in 08,09.

Why he can’t?
He is highly unpredictable and his respiratory disorders don’t help his cause either.
He has hurdles in Andy Roddick & Roger Federer to reach the final.

World No.4, Andy Murray

Why he can?
He reached the final in 08 defeating Nadal. Had reached the final at Aus open this year once again defeating Nadal & losing to Roger. So he has the hard court game to threaten the bigwigs.
He needs a slam badly to shrug off the ‘the best player not to have won a slam’ image – That can arouse him bigtime.
Defeated Rafa & Roger a fortnight back at Toronto. What a confidence boost that could be!

Why he can’t?
Has to defeat Nadal once again to reach the final. Defeating Rafa three times in Slams. Has anybody done that?! I doubt..
Has to ward off his inconsistent shows. Last year he was thrashed by Marin Cilic. That was unexpected.

Other darkhorses:

Robin Soderling, Tomas Berdych – Guys who have already spoiled Roger’s party at Paris & Wimbledon this year can cause such upsets and break into the semis at New York too. Watch out for these big serving boom forehand players.

Andy Roddick & Nikolay Davydenko – Veterans who have the potent WMDs with them but the time against them. They are getting close to 30 and they are no Roger. It is a make or break year for these two and that might stir them to cause some damage to the draw.

This US Open is not an easy one to predict but nothing can better a final showdown that reads:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP)
[2] Roger Federer (SUI)

They haven't met in a slam since Aus 2009.And I am looking forward to that showdown.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Two line Reviews - #79

Movie: Magnolia (1999)

  • A thought provoking film that forces the issues of guilt,fear,infidelity & haplessness of the characters in it.
  • Whirlwind of a screenplay that shows events in a day of the 10 or so people involved in parallel.
  • The convincing performance of Tom Cruise among others. His is an unconventional role and he pulls it off wonderfully-Couldn't miss the semblance of  his face & expressions to Rafael Nadal.
  • The Anecdote of the conversion of a suicide to homicide in the first scene (a precursor to the way the film would go on) - I have read that as a forward before. Never knew it was from this film!

  • When finally everything seem to fall in place,ironically, frogs fall from the sky - Quite too surreal even to stress biblically that 'Things Can Happen'

Overall Score: 9.2/10

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Two line Reviews - #78

Movie: Michael Clayton (2007)

  • George Clooney's character with grey shades(?) - Literally & figuratively!
  • The story of a merger between two conglomerates & a conspiracy shrouding it has been told wistfully.
  • The way the first few scenes fall in place when the jigsaw in the screenplay is revealed at the end.

  • Too complex a narration for too simple a story.
  • No strong characters apart from Clayton & Arthur.

Overall Score: 8.6/10

Two line Reviews - #77

Movie: Once (2006)

  • What is shown in this musical film can be heavily inspiring for music enthusiasts & the film itself will be a good watch for wannabe amateur film makers.
  • The subtly portrayed romance between the lead players in the band.
  • Awesome musical score - Guitar work in particular,nice tracks & lyrics.

  • The film is strictly for music lovers. It does not have anything else in it to excite others.

Overall Score: 8.9/10

Two line Reviews - #76

Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

  • The captivating LoTR series ends with this 230 minute long spectacle with a winding yet purposeful climax.
  • Peter Jackson & his crew shall take a bow for creating a movie watching experience of a lifetime. I am kicking myself for ignoring this film for so long fearing its runtime.
  • Gandalf makes a resurgent comeback in this part. Other characters of note are the usual Aragorn,Bimli,Legolas,Faramir & the four Hobbits - Samwise Gamgee in particular.
  • The Minas Tirith Marathon battle sequence - Enjoyed every moment of the grandeur.

  • The Frodo-Sam portions were deterrents to the tempo set by the others in the battlefield. Can't help that though!

Overall Score: 9.7/10

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jewellery ads’ curse & consolations! - A theatre experience

If there is a barometer to record petty things that irritate me, the flurry of Jewellery shop ads shown before movies in Cinema theatres will be among the top few in the list. The craze for buying and wearing Jewels in itself is an unfathomable riddle to my senses. To add to that, as if one ad is not enough, the retailer makes multiple versions of ads for his brand and to one’s dismay, all of them are shown-one after the other. And it doesn’t stop there. Repeat this repetitive set once each for Prince, GRT, Saravanas, Joy Alukkas, Jos Alukkas and other Jxx Alukkas.

One can ignore the monotony if at least the ads were interesting enough. But in reality, most of these ads show women drooling for jewels (disgusting idea!) & the women shown are by no means representative of the women targeted. They are all models or super model celebs. With so much surrealism shrouding these ads, I am taken aback when a few ladies in the hall discuss about those ads in detail. If there is an exception to the women-drooling jewel ads, it has to be the recently shown Jos Alukkas ad featuring actor, sorry, cine star Vijay. If the other ads were irritants, this one takes the cake for being the most pathetic, senseless & purposeless of the lot. No one I have talked to about it have got an answer to what that ad tries to convey.

There was respite & consolation offered when trailers of Boss e Baskaran & Quarter Cutting were shown. They were at least interesting if not pulsating. The teaser of Mankatha, surprisingly, was simple and effective too – the only perils being the gun & coolers of Thala. Hope he gets rid of these two for good from this film: They have been on for too much too long now.

The real satisfaction came only as the film that followed these (Naan Mahaan Alla), the cynosure, was impressive. The film has two disjoint halves. The first half, with enjoyable but highly improbable love sequences was probably made in the best interests of the producer for the commercial viability of the film. The distinct shift to a bit gory second half makes me think this part of the film was what the director had desired to show, for, it displays the sense of intensity & care the first half lacks. Other big complements are Yuvan’s background score – He goes to guitar this time & the songs Vaa vaa & Iragai Pole which are instant pleasers. Karthi too has done his part well. Humor comes naturally to him. He emotes well too. If only he stops rolling his eyes the way he does in romantic scenes!

Another very important plus is the apt casting – the choice for the villains couldn’t have been better. Those are faces you will typically come across when you take a trip down north Madras. In all, an intense second half, rocking background score, glimpses of enjoyable scenes in first half & venomous villainy make Naan Mahaan Alla a pretty good watch - Definitely a better watch than the bland jewellery ads shown before the film.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Two line Reviews - #75

Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

  • The visual spectacle continues with the protection of the ring & a build-up to a huge war.
  • The massive sequence of the 'Helm's Deep War' of the Men-Elves allied forces against the Uruk-Hais - High on production value
  • The ecological implications of war on nature as offered by the Ents.
  • As for characters Gimli,Legolas,Strider,Gollum,Sam,Merry & Pippin share the top honours.

  • The laced screenplay to show the three branched substories & the flashback scenes of Strider cause a dragging effect on this already 220 minutes long film.

Overall Score: 9.3/10

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two line Reviews - #74

Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

  • The story of a clash between evil seekers and guardians of the most significant Ring in Middle-earth's history told in the most memorable of ways makes the legend that is this film.
  • The mind-blowing imagination,captivating visuals,excellent art & graphics work,haunting music,queer creatures & the magnificence literally bowl you over!!
  • The influential characters of the Fellowship - Especially Gandalf,Strider,Frodo,Sam & Boromir.

  • There were exaggerated stunts where very few men take on very big & very many orcs and succeed.A minor blip that.

Overall Score: 9.6/10

Two line Reviews - #73

Movie: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

  • This one was less of action,but more of substance giving answers to questions from the past - A gripping account.
  • The concepts of Memory safe, soul safe were ingenious.
  • The introduction of a likable character in Prof.Slughorn.

  • Draco Malfoy, in spite of being given a substantial role at last, is reduced to a dummy at the end.

Overall Score: 9.0/10

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Two line Reviews - #72

Movie: Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

  • Directors keep changing, yet the saga doesn't change drastically in this part too.
  • Despite Potter having lost cuteness to age, the aura of his still shows its presence.
  • Dumbledore gets his due finally,in this part.

  • A relatively weaker plot.

Overall Score: 8.9/10

Two line Reviews - #71

Movie: Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire (2005)

  • Magic,thrills,games,humor & suspense - All in the right mix and that makes this eclipse the first 3 parts in terms of entertainment offered.
  • The Potter-Voldemort confrontation towards the end-was worth the wait.
  • Nice little twist- not easy to predict.

  • Nothing much.

Overall Score: 9.2/10

Two line Reviews - #70

Movie: Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

  • Pluses from the earlier versions carry over.
  • Eye-pleasing outdoor locations & Buckbeak.
  • The time turner climax portion.
  • An unpredictable twist.

  • A predictable twist.
  • The absence of Mr.youknowwho.

Overall Score: 9.1/10

Two line Reviews - #69

Movie: Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

  • More spells,bigger sets & an intense plot make this go one step bigger than HP1.
  • The tempo that the precursor Dobby sets and the way it is carried forward till the end.
  • The twists and the thrills in the climax in the chamber.

  • The trio seem to roam about anywhere anytime with nobody questioning them.
  • Irritating characterisation of Prof.Lockhart.

Overall Score: 8.9/10

Friday, August 20, 2010

Two line Reviews - #68

Movie: Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

  • The cute,adorable Daniel Radcliffe with inquisitive eyes as Harry potter steals the show accompanied by Ron & Hermione.
  • Gargantuan sets & good graphics work.
  • Brilliant creative imagination. Especially the Chess, Quidditch league sequences.

  • Some of the characters are introduced but don't have a big part to play.
  • Terrible bias shown by the profs towards the Gryffindors. Pity two other teams who don't even get into the picture.

Overall Score: 8.8/10

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Two line Reviews - #67

Movie: boy A (2007)

  • British English films do not get as much attention as American ones and here's another example. A very good watch this,on a person released from a juvenile establishment & how he leads life under a different name.
  • Andrew Garfield displays the 'unexposed to society' vulnerability superbly.
  • The intertwined screenplay is apt for this story and fits very well.
  • A Very good climax.

  • The spoilt kids could have had much more screen time.
  • The death of Philip wasn't explained well.

Overall Score - 9.0/10

Friday, August 13, 2010

Two line Reviews - #66

Movie: Edge of Darkness (2010)

  • A pulsating action film concerning a father-daughter duo on the lines of Liam Neeson's Taken. Only here the daughter is killed and not kidnapped.
  • The calm demeanor  Mel Gibson displays while in pursuit of his daughter's killers.
  • The shuddering 'spur of a moment' scenes that come and go & the pop-kid scenes.

  • Gibson breaches through securities at will. Too much for a normal policeman considering the kind of people he is shown to be in want of.

Overall Score - 8.9/10

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Roger!

As the hard-court season gets underway, look who's celebrating his birthday.

Last year,when everyone had written you off, you made the mother of all comebacks lifting French and Wimbledon in succession and giving birth to twin babies! The first two feats were heavily inspiring ones for me & the last - a sheer delight for us fans.

After a glorious start with the Australian Open title this year, your unimaginable streaks seem to have started coming to their ends- finally. They had to,someday! So no qualms with that. But being just 1 day short of the record 287 weeks at the top is definitely a huge slip. I wish you get that one week atop someday this year or early next year.

Happy Birthday Roger Federer. Wishing you all success in the coming hard-court season as I seek some much-needed inspiration from you when I am all at sea now. Go on for 17 and 18 and 19 and that 287!! If you deserved being on top of the world for 286 weeks and 6 days, you definitely deserve that 1 day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Two line Reviews - #65

Movie: Dead Man Walking (1995)

  • The unmistakable 'counsel of hope & redemption' relationship between Sister Helen & Poncelet.
  • The performance of Sean Penn,a young Sean Penn - that too the last 20 minutes where he confesses and fears death.
  • The scenes with the family on the electric chair day.

  • Show of a detail account of the kind of rubbish Poncelet had grown on to become would have been better.
  • It is shown that the prosecutors are given a private live viewing of the execution of a criminal - If that is how the system really works, there is nothing more psycho than that!

Overall Score - 9.0/10