Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #264

Movie: The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

Plot: An introvert, understands the illicit relation of his wife & his boss, uses that to indirectly blackmail & get the money he needs badly for a promising tie-up with an entrepreneur. When things go wrong, the boss dies and a chain of others too. After quite a struggle, he quietly resigns into what's in store for his misdeed.

  • The calmness that shrouds the narration & the subject and its treatment make this film stand unique among the works of the Coen Brothers.
  • Billy Thornton perfectly fits the bill as the chain-smoking, calm demeanoured  Barber Ed. Frances McDormand, the barber brother-in-law, the Sacramento Attorney & the others , in tiny but important roles, do well to keep the interest intact.
  • Crisp Dialogues, unexpected twirls & subtle scenes to explain the ironic situations that crop up in the film as if to say 'lies are considered true & at times vice-versa' are classy stuff.
The Piano girl's role, though it aids in making Ed's Resignation valid, is off-track & there appear to be a few untied loose-ends in the film.

Off-beat for sure! Slightly Off-track too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #263

Movie: The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Plot: When the President of a company who holds 87% of its stock commits suicide, his heir-to-be miscalculates, brings in an imbecile as the new president to let the stocks nosedive so that he could buy all the stakes and rule! Only the imbecile was unbelievably crazy that his ideas clicked big time!

  • This film would be right on top among the most craziest comedy films I have seen & every second of this piece of 'Coens' stamped eccentric fun was cherish-able.
  • Tim Robbins - After seeing him in serious roles in films like Shawshank Redemption,Jacob's Ladder & Mystic River, it was such a pleasure to see him do this crazy role at ease; Giving him wonderful company were Paul Newman & Jenifer Jason Leigh
  • Music, dialogues & the rib-tickling Hula Hoop idea in this film were top quality stuff - Dialogue-oriented comedy was unbelievably good! Crazy Coens - they write their films which is another huge thing to praise them on.
Comedy, Craziness, Classic!

Book Look - #23

THE COBRA by Frederick Forsyth

Plot: No cold war, no espionage this time.With the US President's insistence to curb the deadly cocaine business,agent Paul Devereaux nicknamed The Cobra devises a plan to eradicate the distribution of cocaine by mass-seizing tons of the drug in the sea and on air before it reaches its favoured destinantions - USA & Europe. But the buck doesn't stop there; A wily route is taken to completely rout the cocaine issue.

  • This 2010 work of Forsyth is notably trendy & divulges everything under the sun on the supply chain of the Columbian drug not named Caffeine - Cocaine! It is a good read in that sense.
  • The comeback of Cal Dexter aka The Avenger is the surprise package & it is also strange that the title character doesn't appear much in the book - Probably an experiment and it succeeds partially.
  • The explanation concerning Ships,seas, Aircrafts as usual are classy (remains largely unfathomable to a zero-aero-knowledged person like me)
  • The final swipe act is not unheard of & the twist looked like it was stuffed.
& Thus ends the addictive Forsyth journey,unless he writes another one soon!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A sight to behold!

That's when Sachin Tendulkar met Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

What Sachin had to say about Roger:"Spent an hour with Roger Federer chatting on the balcony of Wimbledon Royal box. What a humble guy!And by the way he knows a lot about cricket!!"

What Roger had to say about Sachin: "Today was a special day, played a good match and had the chance to catch up with the great indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar."

It is astonishing to think of the very many records these two have broken in their respective sports and still how humble and graceful they carry themselves on and off the field. The admiration that the 9 yr senior Tendulkar bestows upon Roger shows the simplicity of the cricketing genius and the genius of the tennis star!

To the two who have inspired millions of people around the world - A Bow!

Book Look - #22

THE NEGOTIATOR by Frederick Forsyth
Plot: This again involves USA,UK & USSR and nuclear arms but the focus is on the kidnapping of the US President's son & how a negotiator from Spain nearly gets his deal done. The kidnapping fiasco then turns into a political matter of humongous proportions and again the negotiator traces the puzzle's path to solve it clinically.

  • This one betters many of his other works in terms of speed the narrative carries. Could be a super bet for making a film on - racy, interesting stuff all the way.
  • The negotiator Quinn is a superbly written character and his reactions after the volte-face in the middle make him an instant hero.
  • The way the phone tracing, tackling of the officers by the negotiator, his deal with the kidnappers, the root cause for the episode are all narrated in detail make this work one of his best.
Betters many of his works; Another Pulsating Entertainer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Look - #21

THE DECEIVER by Frederick Forsyth

Plot: Towards the end of the Cold War, a British SIS agent's position looks unwanted for the supposedly different direction the world is about to take. The subordinate of the agent doesn't think so & comes up with 4 stories from the past of the brilliant,maverick agent who was nicknamed 'The deceiver' to show that the man deserves to retire on his own terms.

  • Forsyth comes up with 4 relatively compact stories and neatly ties that up to the prime character in the novel and presents a flashback-mode swansong for his SIS agent.
  • Sam Mcready aka 'The Deceiver' is arguably the best of protagonist characters etched by Forsyth; Usually, he gives that singular importance to antagonists and here's a smart and candid agent whosee deeds, as expressed are superb!
  • The suspenseful portions , some predictable - some not, & the usually descriptive nature of the narration provide ample reasons for another interesting read.
No deceiver this; The title is a pucca misnomer!

Two Line Reviews - #262

Movie: A Serious Man (2008)

Plot: A jewish professor in the USA gets a shock when his wife wants a divorce. More shocks follow which take him to the 'What did I do?' retrospection, a visit to the rabbi & his quest only gets more and more philosophical!

  • This is Coens' take on philosophy and a good one at that! Usually, films on this subject are abstract, too weird; Surprisingly this one isn't even though it meanders at the border of abstractness at times.
  • Michael Stuhlbarg, as the jewish professor Larry Gopnik has come out with an ebullient performance and stays the pivot of the film.
  • The yesteryear hebrew sequence, the dentist fable, Larry's son's scenes, sarcasm on Physics etc. are enthusing & carry the coen brothers' stamp.
A humourous take on the philosophies of human nature!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #261

Movie: The Ladykillers (2004)

Plot: A gang of 5 - a PhD Prof, a new-age nigga, a timid giant of a man, a shrewd Indochinese & an IBS sufferer team up to rent the cellar of an old lady's house to tunnel their way into a nearby casino's locker. They complete their looting successfully & when the lady gets to know it finally, they find her harder to tackle than than their robbery plan!

  • A remake of a yesteryear film but I'm sure the Coens have tweaked it , for there are quite a lot of the brothers' touches all through the film - all enjoyable touches.
  • Tom Hanks, as the talkative soft-spoken professor lights up the show & his scenes with the unit & the landlady are superb.
  • The 'nigga-IBS guy' combination is a laugh riot & their exchanges bring the roof down.
  • The Coens seem to be masters of eccentric comedy & the dialogues here & the final scenes are proof enough to elucidate just that.
A delightful comic caper!

Two Line Reviews - #260

Movie: O Brother! Where Art Thou! (2000)

Plot: Three men escape from prison in search of a treasure that one had looted and saved before going to jail. They meet unforeseen circumstances, play their way out with their smart ways, talent in music & finally end up single-handedly changing the tides of the state elections in Missisippi!

  • A film based on a poem couldn't have been made better. The comedy in it is unmistakably good and the Coens prove their mettle.
  • The three jail-breakers are the mainstay of this film and carry off the scenes with elan.
  • George Clooney, the hairnet maniac, leads the pack with a terrific performance aided nicely by Joh Turturro and the other friend.
  • The final scene on the stage is an apt end to this wonderful jolly movie which has its share of nonsensical characters too!
  • The song tracks are a huge plus and most of the songs are superbly penned and tuned.
Unadulterated Fun all the way!

Two Line Reviews - #259

Movie: Avan Ivan (Thamizh, 2011)

Plot: Two step brothers in a village are contrasting characters but when it comes to craziness & loyalty for a village chief, they are similar. Being petty trouble mogers to the police, they enjoy life with the backing of the 'Highness' chief. When the chief is brutally murdered by a rugged villager on vendetta, the duo join hands to thrash him in typical Bala style.

  • The high points of this film are the performances of its lead players - Bala has his way with his actors getting the best out of all - Be it the highness,Ambika,the policeman, the police constable heroine 'Baby' or ARYA/VISHAL.
  • The two central characters perform amazingly well. Vishal's squint eyed effeminate like role is a surprise and he does marvelously well but to me, the spontaneous and witty Arya is the show-stealer. He plays foil to Vishal's dramatic role and yet scores big.
  • The songs and background score of Yuvan comes to the fore in this film and is of top quality. The bit song on Vishal & Baby is typical Yuvan stuff.
  • The camera work of Arthur Wilson is great as usual & the locations, as often in Bala's films, are unique!

  • Bala's story, screenplay & his aide's dialogues are low points. While the story & screenplay are nothing new - just the same as Pithamagan - the dialogues too seem like a repeat from his previous films.
  • Some highlly disgusting scenes; 
  • Examples:The Arya heroine's kuttikaranam scene & the most irrelevant of all scenes I have seen in films - The self-trumpet blower Suriya's scene & his dialogue justifying his cheap publicity act. Unthinkably irritating scenes in an ordinary film.
Just a rehash of Pithamagan; Nothing new in it.

Two Line Reviews - #258

Movie: Arizona Raising (1987)

Plot: A con man and a police woman marry; When they come to know they can't give birth to a child, they kidnap one of a wealthy man's pentuple kids. This silly act follows more silly acts from the conman and lands them in deep trouble. Finally they save the kid from a maniac searching it for bounty and return it back to its father.

  • Again, an attempt at the silly comedy genre by the Coens. This one isn't as convincing as the ones they have made in the following years but not a bad one for starters.
  • An extremely young Nicolas Cage brings some of his acting skills to the party and is the main showman.
  • The funny lines are enjoyable and the 'man on the bike from hell' helps in providing nonsensical fun.
There are so many wasteful sequences bringing no fun to the proceedings.

Partly funny; Partly Nonsensical; and Partly Boring.

Two Line Reviews - #257

Movie: Burn After Reading (2008)

Plot: A CIA agent's confidential document reaches a gym locker due to his careless wife who has a relationship with a statesman. Two gym employees try for ransom at the documents' expense. In the process, all the above mentioned characters meet at several points and make for a riotous comedy of errors.

  • Comedy seems to be an easy genre for the Coen Brothers. This film is ample proof for such a claim. The presentation is so lively.
  • Among actors, it is the gym employee played by Brad Pitt that steals the show with a hyperactive show which brings riotous fun.
  • Not far behind are George Clooney & the lypo-seeking Frances McDormand with their memorable roles.
  • The theatrical scenes carry the brothers' stamp.
Throughly entertaining fun film!

Two Line Reviews - #256

Movie: Blood Simple (1984)

Plot: A wealthy bar owner uses a detective to spy on his wife who seems to have a notorious reputation with men. When he finds ample proof, he tries to use the same detective to take her & her illicit lover boy off the face of the earth. His act boomerangs and hits him back severely.

  • In this debut film, the Coen Brothers impress with their audacious style of making. The story is simple but quiet,slow & lengthy scenes make it work wonderfully.
  • The role of the spying husband, with his cold features is nice; The spy, though a little overboard, is good and with her feared looks , Frances McDormand acts well.
  • The twists are all unpredictable & the final climax is 'The Shining' like.
A gripping murder thriller marking the arrival of the Coens!

Friday, June 17, 2011

125th Championships at Wimbledon - Privileged to witness it!

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster
and treat those two impostors just the same”

It is time for the players to get inspired before going on court with a look at this hard-hitting verse from Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If..’ in the hall of fame of the most sacred of sports arenas around the world. The 125th Championships at Wimbledon will start come Monday and the draws are out today.

On the men’s side, this could probably be the most intense Wimbledon in a few years as the top 4, all 4 having reached the semi final Roland Garros and 3 of them at the Australian Open, have been on top slam form and a ‘Seeds 1-4’ Semi final line-up is more likely this year than it was in previous years. Bjorn Borg, the legendary Swede who has had 6 titles at SW19, feels Men’s tennis is enjoying its ‘golden age’ with the current top 4 appearing to be the best among top 4s of any era. Coming from a man who has had rivalries with the likes of McEnroe & Lendl, it goes on to show how privileged tennis fans of this era are. But, Wimbledon is not a place where certainties are undisturbed.
It is here that Goran Ivanisevic defied all odds to win the title as a wildcard in 2001.
It is here that Richard Krajicek stunned Pete Sampras enroute the title in 1996.
It is here that the baton was passed from Sampras to a pony-tailed Federer when no one expected it.
It is here that an inspired Berdych got the better of Roger in the quarter final stage last year!
So, expecting the unexpected is not a silly option at all at the Championships which has a court dubbed as the ‘graveyard’s court’ for the number of upsets that have been caused there!

Here’s a peep into the men’s draw.
On the top half are Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
The defending champion has arguably been the best over the last few years at the Wimbledon grass and hasn’t been defeated here since 2007. His loss at the hands of Tsonga at Queen’s last week is to be considered just an aberration and despite his probable match ups with countryman Pablo Andujar who gave him a good fight at Paris, Del Potro (whose grass record has been next to nothing) & Berdych , it appears that he would sail through to the semis at ease where he will face Andy and his legion of british supporters!

Andy Murray carries the British hopes, yet again, but after semi final showings in the last two years and his best performance on clay this year, his chances to get his first slam at his home look bright. The likely hurdles in his path are the stylish Swiss Stan Wawrinka with whom he played that epic five setter in 2009 on the day when the centre court roof made its debut & the American Andy.If he can pull off a nice win in the probable Q/F match against Roddick, who has had a terrific association with Wimbledon, it will do his confidence a world of good and there’s always the partisan English crowd to encourage him.

The lower half boasts of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic; A semis tussle between these two seems to have become a norm in almost all slams! No regrets though; Blessed are we to see the two most elegant players fight it out for a spot in the final against the most likely candidate from the other half – The Mallorcan bull!

Roger Federer, the 6 time Wimbledon champion, is chasing Pete Sampras’s record for the most titles at the sprawling lawns of Wimbledon. With a good showing in the Parisian clay, he would back himself in a surface he has been lethal over nearly a decade. He had a difficult first round last year and a Quarterfinal exit ensued that. So, it is important for him to shrug off the first round hassles and look for making himself available for the business end of the tournament. A title here - he sets as the primary goal at the beginning every year – would be the one he would badly need, if he is to get to that 287 weeks at No.1 record. His probable match up with Nalbandian would be nostalgic but there’s not much threat, on paper, for Federer in his quarter.

Novak Djokovic, the golden-streak man, tasted his first defeat of the year at the French Open but that takes nothing away from his position as a chief contender for the title here. He hasn’t been at a final at Wimbledon yet with his best showings (Semi finals) coming in 2007 & 2010 but he would consider this to be his best shot at reaching the final and going even one step further, for, a slam on Grass is a dream for anyone who has won it elsewhere. He has had shocking defeats at the hands of the likes of Safin, Haas & Berdych in the past. So, his path to the semi final is going to be treacherous but his 43-1 record this year will do a world of good to his confidence and he is almost certain to be at the semi final, the only paper-hurdle being a possible Q/F clash against Soderling.

Two other interesting first round matches to look for are
1. John Isner (vs) Nicolas Mahut – The draw has made statistics go for a walk by making the 1/127 probability a certainty! Let us hope for a good match there, but not a 70-68 fifth set for the players’ sakes!
2. Robin Soderling (vs) Philipp Petzschner – This one is a potential toughie for Robin as Philipp is good on grass and is no pushover. He stretched Rafael Nadal to his limits last year and would definitely want to pull off an upset against the Swede

Dangerous floaters like Andy Roddick, Juan Martin Del Potro & Tsonga can collectively cause one or two upsets (against Berdych, Soderling, Ferrer) but it is almost certain that the one to lift the trophy would be one among Rafa, Roger, Nole and Andy(I’m just trying to be safe in saying just the first name ‘Andy’ cause the other Andy is the only one outside the top 4 who would consider himself worthy of a title at Wimbledon!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Look - #20

THE DEVIL'S ALTERNATIVE by Frederick Forsyth

Plot: Drought,famine & dwindling grain stock are Soviet's problems. Soviet's excessive armament & a probable war on western Europe for grains are USA's problems. The loss of freedom of Ukraine & other smaller nations in the USSR due to Soviet Russia's stronghold is a patriotic Ukrainian's problem. Their problems get traded off spectacularly with a hijack of a Scandinavian mammoth ship Freya!

  • The way international politicians move their pawns carefully under the biggest of crises is shown in an amazing narration by Forsyth in a story of a mega-deadlock situation.
  • The 3 tracks on USA -USSR, Ukraine & The Ship move in parallel and when the tracks join, the action gets even more exciting and gets set for a photo finish; Here again is the mindblowing final page twist; It seems to be his norm.
  • Forsyth's inputs on political diplomacy, ship-related info , arms movement & espionage stuff show, again, his tendency to tremendously research on the subject he writes about; This makes him special.
  • On the flip side, he seems too 'pro-UK', for, he reserves his ill-concealed remarks mainly for USSR and for USA to an extent but UK is off the radar every single time!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #255

Movie: Rock On! (Hindi,2008)

Plot: Members of an enthusiastic rock band 'Magik' move their way up and when they are on the brink of enjoying stardom,frayed tempers on the recording studio split them and they go their separate ways. After 10 years, the wife of the lead singer, finds her husband's forgotten past and tries to recreate the 'Magik'!

  • The film is sufficiently interesting to watch (despite its beaten-to-death storyline) thanks to a lively, enjoyable presentation.
  • The prime characters have all performed exceptionally well - No exceptions. Arjun Rampal & Farhan Akhtar leading the way with effective underplays & the Killer Drummer is the apt foil.
  • The ladies in the film - the wives of both Arjun & Farhan have been characterised superbly and their roles are pluses.
  • The songs of S-E-L are simple and more interestingly realistic - not some unbelievable,electrifying stuff- making sense as it comes from a small band.
  • Predictable cliches keep ebbing time and again.
  • Why Farhan splits with his girlfriend for the rucus that had nothing to do with their relationship remains a puzzle! 
Realistic, Believable & yes,it Rocks On to an extent too!

Two Line Reviews - #254

Movie: No Country for Old Men (2007)
Plot: A psychotic masaccre man is on a killing spree in the US-Mexican desert border to get his hands on a huge sum of money involved in a drugs transaction. A desert resident chances upon the bag of money and when he knows about the killer who's chasing it, gets cautious but no amount of caution prevents a meeting with the lunatic killer. A sheriff who hunts for the killer laments on how times have changed, how unsuited older men are to work on wrongdoings of the kind witnessed.

  • The film has an ordinary killer storyline but the treatment is special. Very few characters and they too don't talk much; Still chilling scenes are aplenty.
  • Coen Brothers deserve praise for pulling this one off as an interesting piece with literally no background music.
  • The actor who plays the killer is a maniac! His unique look, gigantic figure & voice are all apt for the character he plays; Tommy Lee Jones as the sheriff and the desert resident come up with nice works too.
  • Dialogues are scintillating in some of the bigger exchanges.
Slow-paced; Still evokes a lot of interest!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #253

Movie: Aaranya Kaandam (Thamizh,2011)

Plot: A pack of drugs worth 50 lakhs results in a don-heir split, betrayals and confusions. In parallel, the Don's keep and his 'sappa' servant plan to elope with the money that is ready to be interchanged for the drug packet which falls in the hands of a smart kid and his inept father. Who wins what forms the interesting climax.

  • Firstly, the director Thiagarajan Kumararaja deserves appreciation for attempting a genre, which I ve felt is the most difficult of all to attempt in Thamizh given the cultural and regional constraints of India, and coming out with a convincing show - A mix of Tarantino, Coen Brothers, Guy Ritchie styles which has a thin plot with happenings in a short time span, long scenes with lengthy conversations etc.
  • A huge applause for the technical team too & the producer SP Charan for backing this in the days of Nidhi-poly, especially the camera man, for bringing an impeccable 'noir' type film which is a new for thamizh films.
  • The performers who have excelled are the father-son duo, Sampath, Jackie Shroff, Ravikrishna in that order.
  • The interlaced chase sequences, commentary and a twisted climax are other major highlights
  • Yuvan's re-recording, though totally off-target in some scenes, is good in some other sequences.
  • The Ravikrishna-keep scenes stuck out like a sore thumb in an ontherwise gripping narrative.
  • The men-slaughter at Binny mills in the climax; Too much and unwanted.
Gutsy,Crafty & more importantly a CONVINCING Attempt at that; First of its kind for Thamizh films.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #252

Movie: And Then There Were None (1945)

Plot: 10 people are invited by a stranger for a vacation on a lone house in an island & when these people, strangers to each other, meet there - a tape is played mentioning each of their acts of crime. The chosen ten are murdered one by one. At murder count 3, when they decide one among them is the murderer, the excitement begins!

  • There were 12 angry men in that classic; here are 10 people afraid of each other.Agatha Christie's murder story has been pictured on screen to perfection with some nice casting and well written dialogues.
  • The suspense element is a huge huge plus, for, it keeps us guessing if there are 10 or 11 (this isn't a spoiler) men in the island.
  • The Indian statuettes and the rhyme add to the suspenseful setup; And whenever two loners suspect each other, the intelligence of the film shows.
  • The incredible final few minutes when the mystery gets uncorked!
A Perplexing murder mystery; A must-watch!

Two Line Reviews - #251

Movie: No Strings Attached (2011)

Plot: This film doesn't have a RESPECTABLE story. A medical college girl and a typically wasted guy see each other; 15 years ago, 5 years ago, an year ago and finally join 'today' and agree to be sex-friends. And finally, after trying to separate, they realise the love they have for each other and unite as true lovers.

None at all. Maybe one or two jokes here and there.

  • Natalie Portman - Never expected the 'Black Swan' actress in such a filthy no-good tale. The rest of the cast, I ignore. But Natalie was what made me feel this film might get better as it proceeds..but there was nothing at all!
A crass,lewd bullshit of a film.

Book Look - #19

ICON by Frederick Forsyth

Plot: A President nominee of Soviet who enjoys a dream pre-poll run has dreadful plans for his fellow country men to be executed after his successful run to the presidential office. But, his secret 'Black Manifesto' is taken by a cleaner and sent to the UK Embassy who realise its seriousness and put a word to the USA. A former US agent and a British SIS man combine to get back into Soviet with the dreaded manifesto and convince responsible high-powered men in the country to ensure loss to the otherwise predictable winner - the author of the manifesto.

  • The style adopted or the book-play is engrossing. It shuttles back and forth between the 1980s and the 1990s and relates a person from the 80s to the events set in the 90s. The 80s part is more of an Soviet Information provider and the 90s part is what constitutes the real fiction.
  • Jason Monk is a splendidly characterised gutsy hero and the fraud acts adopted by UK,USA agencies wrt Russia as explained are interesting. So is the meticulously planned disintegration of the President Nominee's reputation.
  • The butterfly effect shown is not to be missed. A bottle of beer somewhere sometime leads to the downfall of a psychotic leader and the rescual of Russia!
  • The theatrical finish that it has is only apt to this terrific tale!
Engrossing stuff; The best of all Forsyth I've read.

Two Line Reviews - #250

Movie: Barton Fink (1991)

Plot: A play-writer from Newyork, after receiving praises from all corners for his fine work, is forced to shift base to Los Angeles in search of Hollywood glory. There in a cheap hotel residence, he makes friends with a insurance agent and also finds difficult to make a story for an adamant producer who already has some story in mind. In the midst of all this confusion, a woman he knows is murdered in his hotel room! Finally, he breaks all his shackles and escapes from his dreaded hollywood dream.

  • In one of their early films, Coen brothers shine with this amazing work. The way the film meanders showing the troubles of the director keeps one interested.
  • The action of John Turturro. If he played a pleader's role to perfection in Miller's Crossing, his timid role in this film is done with equal conviction.
  • The insurance agent friend, producer, drunk former writer - all come up with spontaneous performances that help the realism the film carries.
  • The climax, though unrealistic, is one of the film's high points.
A Director-to-be's dreaded tale; Told applaudably!

Two Line Reviews - #249

Movie: Miller's Crossing (1990)

Plot: The mafia boss who controls the town and his heir-to-be get into a tussle on how one of their underpins have to be treated for his fraud act. Opinions differ and the boss's main aide breaks from him and joins the other gang. For others, that's what it looks like. But the man who changes loyalties has his own plans!


  • Coen Brothers have made it look beautiful with a quiet flow of action thereby making it unique and it stands different from other acclaimed thug films.
  • The aide,Gabriel Byrne who plays the pivotal  role is all class in his underplayed portrayal of Tom Reagen.
  • The other loud-mouthed characters add variety ; The Screenplay  with its nice twists and the camera work are of very high standards.
  • The scene that takes place at Miller's crossing is so good and the film's title is totally agreeable in that sense.
A gripping tale of mafia politics!

Two Line Reviews - #248

Movie: Thank You For Smoking (2007)

Plot: A lobbyist from a leading Tobacco firm works his way against anti-tobacco campaigners with his smart,free-will statements and thereby inspires his young son. He talks his way out of tough situations at ease and finally proves his worth as an ultimate lobbyist.


  • The way Aaron Eckhart's character escapes from controversial situations with smart & subtly truthful talk is appreciable
  • The effect that the father has on his son is shown to have been enforced gradually and that's believable
  • The Marlboro man scene & the Hollywood scene are enjoyable
Leaves no impact; Can be considered a light-hearted fun film and nothing more than that

Agreeable timepass show

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tequila shots of Tennis

The title was meant to be attractive. It must be read - 'the killer' shots of tennis.
Tennis is not just about fitness. There is something called finesse that is crucial in the sport and one must know when to pounce on his prey and that pouncing is the tequila shot.

Tennis is an attractive sport to watch because of the options available for players to win points and the geometries involved in shot-making. Decisions are made in a split-second and among the top 20-30 players, there is not much difference in the talents they possess. When it comes to separating the top 3-4 from the rest, it boils down to the percentage of times the correct shot-making decisions are made. So it would be unsurprising to find that the best in the business when it comes to some of the popular eye-catching shots are the big names of the big game.

This piece would focus on some of the scintillating shots that have ‘winner’ written all over them and the players who play that shot best.

1. Forehand down the line
This is the bread and butter shot if the need is to suddenly confuse the opponent in a rally which thus far had been going well for both the players. It is a high risk shot but the dividends are too attractive not to be tried. The man who plays this with precision is the world’s numero uno (could change soon) Rafael Nadal. He keeps churning out mid-court forehands shot after shot and suddenly comes out with this winner and the fist-pump would follow. The powerful Swede Robin Soderling too plays this shot well but is erratic and plays it long quite a lot of times.

2. Forehand crosscourt inside-out
This is a deft ploy which requires setting up play as its pre-requisite. One has to be in control of the point before playing this shot. The opponent needs to be made to hit the ball to one end and in doing so must be positioned in the same end. That would give much room to play this shot turning and making a spontaneous winner out of it. When the ball is short and when the player is in, many (almost all top players) play this shot well but the one who plays this with sublime touch from behind the baseline and gets incredible winners out of it is the man with the most grandslam titles in the history of the men’s game – Roger Federer. The angles he uses to play this shot when he is on top form are inhumane, out of the world! Andy Roddick is another wonderful player of this shot and then there is Juan Martin Del Potro. If he becomes the legend he is expected to become, he will have a lot of say with this particular shot in the future.

3. Backhand up/down the line
This is one of those shots that separate the very best from the rest –adds an extra dimension. For example, this is one shot that separates a Jo Wilfried Tsonga from a Novak Djokovic. While Tsonga doesn’t play it confidently, Djokovic rips this shot at ease and earns an instant point. This one too, must be played out of the blue by setting up the point after playing a few cross court backhands – A dreadful defence to offence shot! Players who play well off both the wings play this shot well – Djokovic,Nadal,Federer,Soderling,Wawrinka in that order.

4. Forehand and approach to the net
This is a high risk attacking option when a player is not in full control of a rally but is the easiest of ways to score a point when his opponent is defensive and crumbling in the rally. One needs impeccable footwork to carry out this shot as this might not exactly be a winner. It sets up the point for a winner off the next shot. Roger Federer’s beautiful approaches in the grass lawns of Wimbledon are a treat to watch.

5. Backhand crosscourt
This is that shot that gives considerable advantage for a double-hand player against a player who employs a single-hand backhand. This one is all about using the angles to the fullest. Rafael Nadal torments his opponents with his powerful crosscourt backhands that are virtually unreachable. Roger Federer and the inconsistent Russian Nikolay Davydenko are quite effective too. But this season, Rafa is being given a taste of his own medicine by Novak Djokovic who is combining terrific angles and power in this shot to ensure the running machine Nadal doesn’t reach the ball. At this point, Nole is the best player around with this shot.

6. Forehand pass
When the opponent is at the net, there is no better way to break his confidence than sending a blitzkrieg of a pass so near yet so far for the opponent to return and the top players are all best in this business. Pete Sampras has been the legend of playing running crosscourt passing shots but in the current era Rafael Nadal does this very well and breaks the confidence of his rival with the shot following it up with his trademark fist-pump and a fuming look at the pitiful man on the other side of the net. But, to me, the best in this shot is the Scot Andy Murray. He has a lot of heart, backs himself up in taking the high-risk option and plays this shot to success at crucial break point opportunities. No wonder he is one of the players with an amazing number of breaks of serve.

7. Backhand pass
It is quite difficult to play the backhand pass for a double hander for want of control but having said that, Nadal plays this at a good success rate but the players whose backhand passes give pleasure to a tennis fan are those who have single-hand backhands – Especially Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet – Sheer class !

8. Backhand Slice
This shot is owned by RogerFederer. He employs it to destabilise his opponent during the course of a rally. It is akin to the famous Undertaker move of choking an opponent’s throat before slamming him down. The change in pace offered by a slice followed by a free-flowing shot or vice-versa is enough to confuse and get the opponent off balance during a rally. Federer uses this shot to move from defence to offence at the unpredictable of times during the course of a rally.

9. Volley
Thanks to the baseline counter-punching started by Lleyton Hewitt and then made extremely popular by Rafa, the volley is almost as extinct as the Siberian Tiger. Wimbledon used to boast of short rallies and sweet vollies but those days are long gone. However, much is being spoken of this shot and of Roger’s coach Paul Annacone after Federer’s success from mid season 2010 from when he started using it much better like in his 2003-05 days. One person who still patronises the volley and does it very well is the Czech Radek Stepanek. When it comes to drop volley, one of the sexiest shots in the sport, Federer and Djokovic are supreme frontrunners.

10. Tweener!

The between-the-legs shot, more popularly dubbed the 'tweener' is the ‘YOUTUBE’ shot of tennis. Discovered in the 80s by Yannick Noah, the eccentric Frenchman, it has been used time and again by players, when in despair ; when they have no options left and more often than not, it ends in failure to fetch the point. In some cases, players suffer hits at vital parts attempting to play this one!Andy Roddick got one right in his vitals once.This is a shot for the occasion and no one seems to play it better than the man who rises to the occasion,TMF - The Mighty Fed. The tweener that Roger Federer hit to set match points during his semifinal against Nole at US Open 2009 is highly popular. He virtually owns this shot and when Rafa played an incredible tweener this year at Madrid, Roger followed that up with an even better one just a week after that in Rome against Gasquet as if to say ‘Please stay away;This is my territory’.

And there ends a rather technical note on some of the finest of shots in men’s tennis.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Two Line Reviews - #247

Movie: The Machinist (2004)

Plot: A worker in a machine company suffers from Insomnia for an year,loses his weight and looks apalling. With some mysterious events around him, he feels his life is in danger because of a stranger he keeps meeting. Finally, when he chases down the stranger and grabs him for questioning, the shrouding mystery is unlocked and how!

  • CHRISTIAN BALE; What a transformation! He looks absolutely pathetic and puny to an unbelievable extent and his performance is terrific
  • The film's suspense element is its vital and it has been guarded well by a twisty little screenplay
  • The music and camera work are neat aiding this eerie thriller
'Nolan'ish movie with Bale in a bewildering get-up!!

Two Line Reviews - #246

Movie: The Number 23 (2007)

Plot: A man is gifted a book on his birthday by his wife. When he starts reading it , he finds striking similarities with the main character in the book. Trouble begins as he gets obsessed with the book and the number '23' idolised in the book. He chases down what the book tries to convey and ends up getting the shock of his life!

  • This thriller film is quite different from the lot and though it has its share of boring scenes, the end effect of the viewing was positive
  • Jim Carrey plays another unconventional role here and shows commendable difference between the two roles he plays
  • The facts, figures and the number games with '23' were interesting & when i added up my birthday digits it surprisingly gave a '23' too
  • The climax makes up for all the goofs in the middle
Wasn't scary or spooky but it sure was interesting

Two Line Reviews - #245

Movie: In the Valley of Elah (2007)

Plot: A US soldier returned from Iraq goes missing in his camp and when his father goes in search of his son, he finds that his son had been butchered and burnt. With a detective's help, the resilient father - an ex army man - goes on the hunt for the killer(s) and ends up finding too.

  • Tommy Lee Jones as the patriotic, intelligent and caring father does a splendid underplay and to give him nice company as the detective is Charlize Theron
  • With a simple plot, the side-story of the ill effects of having to fight in a useless war on the army men is shown wonderfully
  • The detective act , tracking through clues is shown nicely
Delivers soundly, a nice little message.

Two Line Reviews - #244

Movie: Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

Plot: USSR is bludgeoning its way through Afghanistan and is literally raping the country apart. A US congressman makes his country react to this unfair attack after making personal visit to refugee camps in Pakistan. He, and 2 others, make it possible for Afghans to fight back and make the mighty Soviet army retreat...but the USA doesn't end it the way the congressman wants it to...leading to we-know-what.

  • The film's story and screenplay are its strong points and credits for the men behind that. It was pretty much like reading a novel on the subject.
  • Tom Hanks is spontaneous and charming as the congressman Charlie and Philipp Seymour Hoffman is a riot on screen; he's brilliant.
  • The helicopter attack shots looked great and so were the ways showing the entire Afghan war and the sarcasm in showing how very few knew the whereabouts of east asian countries
A good film.Worth a watch.