Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #128

Movie: Sugata Sanshirô (1943,Japanese)

Plot: A talented pupil of a practitioner of Jujitsu Judo art is getting wasted because of his rough ways of using the art. A self-inflicted punishment helps him build his resolve so much so that even his love cannot stop him from a determined win against a heavyweight who happens to be her father.

  • This is Akira Kurosawa's first film says the credits & the making style with symbolic touches seem to have started from his debut.
  • The camerawork & a background score of superior quality give a compelling attraction to watch.
  • The build-up to it & the climax itself.
There is nothing unpredictable or twisty in the tale.

My Rating: 9.1/10

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Ashes 2010 is here!

It is always a pleasure to watch a cricket match played in the plush grounds of countries in the southern hemisphere. The wee hour viewing adds to the thrill too! And with The Ashes starting in two days and an intriguing India vs South Africa test series set for December, the schedule offers a mouth-watering recipe for cricket lovers.

The Ashes this time is more interesting with the stage being set for a reversal of fortunes as Australia, probably for the first time in years, start as underdogs in an Ashes encounter.

Why Australia Can?
  • The last time they’d lost an Ashes series at home dates back to 1987. That’s a terrific psychological factor that might work wonders for them if they can back themselves up with a nice collective effort.
  • They humiliated England with a 5-0 whitewash the last time the two teams met in Australia.
Key Players:
Ricky Ponting – His career, more or less, hangs in the balance and it is at these times that one can expect a resilient comeback from punter.

Mitchell Johnson – His fierce bowling should fire if Australia is to start-off well. He is one person capable of causing considerable damage to the not so weak/not so formidable English batting line-up.

Surprise Package:
Xavier Doherty – A relatively new player,he could be a surprise package given England’s proficieny,or the lack of it, against spinners.He is filling the shoes of a legend whose middle name is Keith. It is mighty difficult to fit in them but in wickets such as Gabba and SCG, a spinner’s contribution can come handy & only time will tell if Australia’s decision to drop Hauritz for Doherty would help their cause.

Michael Clarke – He has been going through a trough and has been dismal. He somehow needs to regroup . The only solace for the vice captain is the fact that his captain too seems to be sailing in the same boat.

Why Australia Can’t?

  • For the first time in about 20 years, they have had a string of three consecutive losses. They are under the phase of such an ebb!
  • In Bowling they are certainly second best to England on paper . Their batting too, based on current form of key batsmen, doesn’t seem to pip that of the English. 
Why England Can?

  • They have the Ashes with them and are considered favourites by many. This would be a new situation for them as they have always been considered the challengers for a majority of Ashes series over the past 25 years.
  • They are currently on a very good streak and there are no reasons why that should end any soon.
  • They have the trophy and a drawn series would help them retain the urn making their equation simpler.
Key Players:
The deadly duo of Graeme Swann & Stuart Broad – They more than compensate for the loss of their successful Ashes mainstay Andrew Flintoff. When they start taking the wickets, they do so in a hurry and change the complexion of games. They also come in handy with their bats and that could help when the top order collapses.

Surprise Package:
Jonathan Trott – This solid find for English cricket would want to go big this time & add to his excellent effort in the Ashes 09 & he looks capable of doing that.

Kevin Pietersen – All eyes will be on this dashing debonair batter. He is out of sorts and would find this big stage a good opportunity to make a sound statement on his prowess.

Why England Can’t?

  • The history of Ashes would haunt them and the fact that they are playing away from Home might also be a deterrent.
  • Their batters haven’t exactly been exemplary on the Australian wickets. Posting a solid first innings score is a must & they have a tough task in doing that.
  • The Aussies are at an all-time low and as clichéd as it may sound – Nothing is more dangerous than a wounded big cat on the prowl.
My Prediction: England retaining the Ashes with a 2-1 or a 2-2 scoreline. Come on Pommies!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #127

Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
Plot: He's the hero of a television show that captures him and shows it live since his time in his mother's womb. He doesn't know that all characters around him are actors and the place he lives is a set. His pursuit of his accidental lover makes the makers of the show go berserk & does Truman realise the truth in the end?!

  • The director of the film Peter Weir,true to his name, has made one of the most weirdest concepts possible into a movie & has been successful at that.
  • Jim Carrey surprises with such wondrous films different from his comical ventures time and again & as Truman he is lovable.
  • The screenplay is engaging & doesn't add to the confusion the story offers in the first hour or so.
Some camera angles shown are highly inconceivable & working out such a set is too complex to be believable.

My Rating: 9.6/10

Two Line Reviews - #126

Movie: The Odd Couple (1968)
Plot: A man breaks up with his wife and his dearest friend responds by offering him shelter at his place. The cooking & cleaning conscious man gets on the nerves of his friend & the wit and humor surrounding the events are a blast.

  • Kamal Haasan & Crazy Mohan - Beat this one guys! This film is right up there as a rip-roaring dose of slapstick & dialog based comedy.
  • Jack Lemmon & Matthau as the odd couple of friends are spontaneous and that makes this tick big time.
  • The other friends,especially, the guy from 12 angry men & the 'pigeon sisters' add to the fun.
Not any.

My Rating: 9.7/10

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #125

Movie: π (1998)

Plot: A mathematics obsessed scientist, who believes every form of nature has a pattern finds proof to his theory with his successful stock market predictions. Trouble arises when his computer Euclid crashes to reveal a 216 digit number that is sought after by business ppl for controlling stocks & by Jew Rabbis,for, they feel it is the 216 key to god. He can't take the toll & flashes out!

  • I am lost for words. Whatever was shown in the film has made me dumbstruck. This is the best psychological,scientific thriller I ve seen.Darren Aronofsky shall take a bow.
  • The acting of the guy who plays Cohem is psycho brilliant - Terrific & his tutor earns respect with his work.
  • The background music is apt & fits the film's proceedings to a 'T'.
Too complex. Some anecdotes were incomprehensible for a mere mortal like me. For example, the Pythagoras golden rectange's relation to Da vinci's art work etc..!

My Rating: 9.6/10

Two Line Reviews - #124

Movie: M (German,1931)

Plot: A child kidnapper affected by compulsive murder syndrome is on the prowl in a german town. As kids disappear one after the other, the police tighten their search which causes problems to other underworld thugs. They decide to take on the child killer themselves to trace and kill him.

  • The camera-work was of supreme quality. Too good for a film made in 1931. Especially, the beggars union introduction scene.
  • The acting of the policeman Kohlmann & that of the killer. He scores with a terrific monologue justifying his case in the climax.
  • The police-criminal planning scene shown in parallel was good.
Why are children left to roam around streets even after everyone is aware of a brutal killer on the loose remains an unfathomable question.

My Rating: 9.4/10

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Look - #5

THE SUCKER PUNCH by James Hadley Chase

Plot: Chad Winters,a bank clerk, gets a 70 Million $ worth lone lady as a client to manage. With his intelligent plans,he convinces her to marry him, wants to get his hands on her money and that is when her secretary joins forces with him to plan a murder to get the money in quick time. As the story unravels, a lot of twists unfold to give an account of who was responsible for the murder and how!


  • A sheer page-turner this.The narrative style employed by Chase,without mincing matters, makes this 200 pg novel readable at a single-go. Hard to imagine it to be a 1950s novel!
  • The air of sarcasm that is evident in the style adds to the effect.
  • The story in itself with limited characters,each etched out to perfection, is spine-chilling.
  • In spite of opportunities that the story provides to get indecent, the author doesn't do so & that makes this a very decent piece of thriller material.

Two Line Reviews - #123

Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 (2010)

Plot: The trio of Harry,Ron & Hermione are challenged in their search for horcruxes by the constant vigil of Voldemort and his clan of death-eaters. The search leads Harry towards some startling discoveries on Dumbledore & deathly hallows but after destroying the locket,he is left clueless on the whereabouts of 3 more and elsewhere Voldemort gets his hands on the most important deathly hallow or so he thinks.

  • The trio keep us engaged as usual.Ron particularly,with his awkward expressions at apt times.
  • The artwork (Ministry sequence) and Camerawork (snatchers' chase sequence) are exemplary,well aided by the eye-pleasing dreamy locations.
  • The 'tale of Three Brothers' on the deathly hallows was nicely etched.
There are a lot of non-events. This is partly due to the lack of much substance in the first half of the book. I still wonder why it needed to come in two parts!

My Rating: 8.8/10

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Look - #4


Plot: The daunting task set by Dumbledore makes Harry,Ron & Hermione seek untraceable  horcruxes to destroy them & ward off the Voldemort threat to mudbloods & Hogwarts. A startling revelation on the past life of Dumbledore makes Harry's task all the more difficult to carry off & Voldemort's resurrection doesn't help the cause either. The saga ends with a spectacular sequence at Hogwarts & it is,as always, the triumph of good over evil!

  • The picturesque and highly descriptive narration of Rowling took me to the good old Enid Blyton days.
  • The revelation of Dumbledore's childhood,Godric's Hollow & the logically conceived Elder Wand Hallow explanation sequences were particularly engaging.
  • The book meanders at a steady pace till a point. And when Harry gets on the trail of the horcrux at Hogwarts, the momentum picks up and the journey retains its top speed till the astonishing twist in the climax.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #122

Movie: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Plot: Set in 1880s Kansas City, this film revolves around a big-time thug Jesse James & a wannabe jesse james and how an act of the latter leads to the unstoppable betrayal of the former and the subsequent guilt-ridden fall of the latter.

  • The way the film has been conceived makes it distincty different from other films as much as its name is!
  • The tremendous lifelike performance of Brad Pitt & the apt meek work by the person who plays Ford.
  • The poignant music is also different from the kinds of music in other films.
  • The film could be regarded as being 'SLOW' because of lack of action packed sequences even when it could have had some.
  • The title gives it all and spoils a possible intriguing suspense scenario.
My Rating: 9.0/10

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #121

Movie: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Plot: An emotionally and mentally drained lady comes to her sister's house seeking shelter.Her antics irritate the ill-tempered brother-in-law which in turn spoils the couple's happy life routine. How he successfully evicts the sis-in-law from his place ends the story.

  • Marlon Brando (his perfectly fit physique was a surprise) doesn't look like he is acting. He lives the character he plays and it shows! To do a thing of that sort when one is fresh out of 'stage drama' profession is incredible.
  • Vivien Leigh, as the bewitched clueless soul performs very well.
There surely was an element of dramatic acting by all the lady stars involved. Maybe, that was the order of the day in the 50s.

My Rating: 9.1/10

Friday, November 12, 2010

Two Line Reviews- #120

Movie: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Plot: A heist gang with members of no prior acquaintance is formed to rob diamonds off a bank. They find the cops readily waiting for them during the heist operation. They open fire, get back to their hide-out & have a discussion on who the rat in the gang was!

  • Quentin Tarantino's first film & it should have indeed been such a promising start then. A very different attempt. (Couldn't help noticing the striking resemblance Tarantino in this film has with Roger Federer)
  • The 'colourful' characters & their conversations. Especially,Madsen impressed me with his lethargic attitude.
  • The twists were damn good.

The non-linear narration,for once, hasn't seemed to have gone well. That too, after the suspense gets revealed.

My Rating: 9.3/10

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #119

Movie: Sholay (Hindi,1974)
It's time for me to say 'Kadaisiya naa paatha english padam Sholay nga!'

Plot: A notorious bandit wrecks havoc on the entire family of a policeman who had arrested him earlier. The policeman tries to avenge the loss of his family by seeking the help of two happy go lucky local crooks whom he sees as potential slayers of the bandit.

The story of Once upon a time in the West is presented with the two lead characters adopted from The good,the bad & the ugly and Sholay is surely worth being the legend that I have heard it to be.

  • Amitabh Bachchan & Dharmendra have given stellar performances. Amitabh , with his subdued body language presents the desi Clint Eastwood blondie characte & Dharmendra brings out the Tuco in him & saves his fiery best for the climax.
  • Dream debutant Amjad Khan with his brilliant expressions!! He hasn't immortalised Gabbar Singh without reason.
  • Credits for the writer director duo of Salim Javed & Ramesh Sippy for tying the two classic Sergio Leone western masterpieces and proving it with the Indian touch.
  • Camera work is pretty good & RD Burman scores with the evergreen hit number Yeh Dosti & mouth-organ background.
  • Hema Malini,as the chatter box,reminded me of Dasavatharam's Asin!
  • Just after about the half-way mark, the film loses intensity & seriousness for a while.
  • Needless songs in the middle.
My Rating: 9.4/10

Monday, November 8, 2010

Will Rahman 'Bell the Cat'?

Should Rahman be Hollywood bound? This is the question I was left with after listening to his instrumental soundtracks of Danny Boyle’s latest 127 hours. If one pretty-good (and not the best by any stretch of imagination) work of Rahman could fetch him two Academy awards, should he not be aiming at further International glory by working with Hollywood directors who have an eye or rather ear for the importance of soundtracks in films? He has won the national awards, the prestigious padma award, awards from almost all Indian film industries wherever he has worked in. He has achieved all that is available in the Indian film industry & there is not much left for him to accomplish here. That makes his case to be Hollywood bound all the more momentous.

The other option (which is what he seems to be doing right now) is to be based in India, work with a restricted, selective set of Indian films, look for options from the West,sign for & work on apt films. This might look attractive for the legion of Rahmaniacs but unfortunately is not the best option for the single reason that the people from Hollywood aren’t going to seek someone based in India for sheer logistical reasons if not any other, even if the person is a two academy award winner!

That leaves him in the dilemma of whether to shift base or to work with the best in India. If he chooses the latter, it would add to the dearth of an Indian in the international scene and he would only be following the names of Ilaiyaraja & Kamal Haasan – People with tremendous class & yet not as internationally-famous as they deserve to be , thanks to either their disinterest (Ilaiyaraja’s case) or their restricted-scope (Kamal’s case). Thanks to Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman has crossed both these hurdles with a solid exposure in the international scene & the only way for him is forward. It better be! And ironically, this statement comes from someone who is going to be utterly disappointed if & when Rahman decides to quit Indian cinema for good. Disappointed because of the angst that there wouldn’t be a lot more Indian Rahman music to look forward to. The good reasons that would balance out the disappointments are:

• His move would encourage other brilliant talents in Indian film industry to take the extra mile in seeking international exposure & Rahman’s success would only bring them confidence to try that out.

• The true worth of Rahman would be seen by those who still consider him to be no better than some relatively new, rising music directors in the background score department. If one Liberation track of 127 hours cannot convince them that they are wrong, a bombardment of such tracks in the future should and would!

• There would be no more Yuvvraajs,Delhi 6s,Jhootha Hi Sahis whose blissful tracks would get lost in the commercial failures of the films, for,in the international scene, acclaim gained by music is not correlated to the commercial success that the film gains.

So,Go on Rahman. Lead the way, like you have always done!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #118

Movie: The Hole (2001)

Plot: Four teenage friends seek a three day adventure in a war-time escape route hole and when they know that they are trapped, they get mentally traumatised and there's death,killing as 3 of them die. Were the deaths accidental? Or was it intentional? These questions are answered in an intelligently woven screenplay.

  • The psychic acting of the girl who plays Liz.
  • The neat & smart Rashomon like screenplay.
  • The final scene, guessable but good.
The first 20 minutes was boring.

My Rating: 8.8/10

Book Look - #3

THE ODESSA FILE by Frederick Forsyth

Plot: The Assassination of US President John.F.Kennedy is linked to a three way arms & nuke battle among Germany-Israel-Egypt. Members of the ODESSA -Former SS generals under Hitler's regime are behind the activities. An old diary recovered from a dead Jew gets journalist Peter Miller going after an SS General Roschmann,who had foreseen the genocide of 80,000 Jews at Sigi during WW II. Miller is in pursuit with an unrevealed personal interest too & how he settles his account by gaining access to the Odessa file is what this suspenseful fiction is all about.

  • Too realistic to be accepted as a work of fiction.
  • The first 50 pages are hard to cross,with the intro of so many characters, but after that it is rocket-sailing all the way to the finish line.
  • Tremendous information is presented on the brutal ways of Nazis involved in the mass-murder of Jews all over Europe.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #117

Movie: District 9 (2009)

Plot: An alien spaceship stalls above Johannesburg & the aliens, in the pretext of being offered shelter, are used for genetic research by an agency MNU. After 20 years,during a relocation process,an agnet accidentally hits on a bio med fuel and turns half-human-half-alien.He is wanted by MNU for research & alien weapon handling. He struggles his way out and helps the spaceship move out.

  • An out-of-the-world concept (pun intended!). Too innovative that I would regard it 'psychic'.
  • The performance of the fellow who plays van der merwe.
  • Unbelievably spotless Graphics work.
I understand there is a hidden message on racism. But the concept shown is a bit far-fetched to link to it & so a lot of activities the humans show towards the aliens (asking their consent for shifting!) & vice-versa (aliens kill a hell of a lot of men!) are unacceptable.

My Rating: 9.2/10

Two Line Reviews - #116

Movie: the social network (2010)

Plot: He's a nerd. He spoils his date. He creates facemash.com to vent his anger on his date. He is noticed. He is hired. He uses an idea. He creates 'thefacebook'. He is feigned. He betrays. He is betrayed. He overcomes the hurdles. He is Mark Zuckerberg,CEO,Facebook - The youngest Billionaire in the world.

  • David Fincher's gutsy & intriguing attempt - He shows the owners of facebook,napster in bad light,convinces us & gets away with it.
  • Andrew Garfield as Eduardo steals the show & the nerd like show of Eisenberg who plays Zuckerberg is commendable too.
  • Credibility of the plot makes this tick.Controversies surrounding facebook was news to me.
The Harvard brothers' villainy is a stereotype.

 My Rating: 9.3/10

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two Line Reviews - #115

Movie: Kill Bill Vol.2 (2004)

Plot: The revenge saga of Beatrix,the bride continues as she pins down the three members left in the squad. This time she goes for the kill as she knows that She & Bill have unfinished business.

  • This one is a tribute to Chinese martial arts & Western films of the 50s-60s.
  • The resurrection of Uma Thurman from the grave os Schultz - Riveting.
  • The soundtracks yet again!
  • The totally unexpected manner in which the climax unfolds.

There is literally no sign of 'Police' even with gun shots being fired in Hotels!

My Rating: 9.7/10