Monday, August 27, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #421

Movie: Naan (Thamizh, 2012)

Plot: A student coming out of Juvenile school forges his way rush-fully into a medical college assuming a false identity. One of his close friends at college comes to know of his impersonation and wants to use this against him to score over a ruckus he had created earlier. Things turn dirty as the hero is made to bring more of his impersonation skills to the fore.

What Works?
  • A music director makes his debut as an actor & producer, so does a director doubling up as a cinematographer as well. Considering this, the premise and the narration have been bold!
  • The story offers scope for engaging sequences, of which good use has been made.
  • The visuals are neat with pretty faces and decent performances; background music is noteworthy and the songs aren't speed-breakers!
  • Director's smart usage of Vijay Antony by masking his lack of ability to act with oft-repeated 'thiruttu muzhi looks' and short 'sir' dialogues work!
What Doesn't?
  • The very purpose behind the hero's attempt to impersonate to start off with is not dealt with at all!
  • After building the character respectfully, the director takes a u-turn after the interval. So, his attempt at trying to justify the character at the end falls flat.
  • Huge holes in the script are being hastefully filled with convenient plugs that are Unconvincing in logic!
A good premise; Could have been made better!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

EPL 2011-12: Data analysis from the season that was (Part 1)

An open drive by the Manchester City Football Club to crowd-source ideas on the use of season data for predictions and insights has been a boost for the use of analytics in sports. As someone who follows football but is not that much passionate about the sport, I was able to come up with a few preliminary insights on the season that was – 2011 EPL, thanks to the complete Opta Sports data set that MCFC Analytics provided access to as a part of their MCFC Analytics drive.
Let us start with the eye-ball catchers. The ones that even pedestrian football followers can relate to – The Strikers! We know that Robin van Persie scored the maximum no. of goals in the season. But was he the most successful converter of shots to goals? No! The scatter shown below pits players against each other in terms of their shots to goals conversion.
It is significant to note that Papiss Demba Cissé has the best conversion rate scoring 13 goals off 35 shots at a staggering 37%.
To their credit, RVP and Rooney have decent conversion rates of 21% and 22.5% respectively considering they scored a lot more goals. It is also interesting to note that Torres and Suarez were not trolled for no reason. Their conversion rates are a meagre 12% and 10% respectively.

The non-open play goals come next. Though goals are often scored by most teams when on open play, some of the crucial game changers come via corners, penalties and the likes. Here’s a visual to show how the top 5 teams scored such goals.
Points worth noting are that Manchester City are the strongest from corners. Manchester United scored more than twice the number of goals via penalties than their nearest competitors. No wonder supporters of other clubs consider referees to be United-friendly! Chelsea have been pretty good by scoring through set plays.

Do fouls matter when it comes to topping the table? A close look doesn’t show so. Here’s a stack of top teams and Swansea (who’ ve been the neatest in terms of fouls).
All the top teams have conceded more fouls than Swansea (check the blue baseline in the graph) and have won a lot less fouls than Swansea! (The rankings of teams in net fouls won is shown in the bracket by the side of teams’ names). The topping clubs from Manchester: City and United, ranked 13th and 9th are among the most deviant from Swansea – showing neat play is not all that significant. The yellow line indicates the number of penalties each of these teams have won in the season by fouls committed by opposition. This clearly shows what I said above. The yellow line shoots up more than twice its height at the United Skyscraper!

What’s football without the Goal-keepers? Here is a chart depicting the number of saves the top goalies have made during the 2011-12 EPL season.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Wanderers’ Hennessey has top honours of saving the most shots. Being the goalkeeper of a weak team is a huge responsibility, ain’t it?! Goalkeepers of top teams are somewhere in the middle among those towers. The red line running across the towers indicates the % of saves each of those goalkeepers has made from inside the box. The squares for top teams are highlighted. One look at it shows, among keepers of top teams, Arsenal’s Szczesny had to bear the brunt of saving a much higher % of goals from inside the box than his counterparts at Tottenham, Chelsea and the Manchester Clubs.

That leaves us with the midfielders. How well have teams tackled their way through in the league last year? Here’s a look of a scatter of tackles made to tackles won by defenders/midfielders with more than 40 tackles in the season.
The likes of Lescott, Bosingwa, Formica and Fellaini come up trumps in tackle percentage whereas a relentless tackler like Cabaye hasn’t been all that successful with his tackles. Stoke City’s Whelan has been the inefficient of prime tacklers and at 66% success rate, Arsenal’s Ramsey has not done all that well. One major highlight for City this season was the combination of Lescott, Kompany & Toure all of who had tackling success of more than 80%: 91%, 80% and 82% respectively.

Some of the more interesting patterns emerged as I tried pitting style of play of teams against different teams and looked at Home & Away patterns. More of that will follow as I progress further. In the meanwhile, comments and suggestions for angles to look at are welcome! To get access to the full data-set for yourself , follow the instructions on Manchester City’s Analytics webpage here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #420

Movie: Fire in Babylon (2010)

Plot: A documentary that traces the formative and dominant years of the famous deadly West Indian team of the 70-80s: One of the most dominant sports teams ever to have existed! It isn't just cricket; It shows how they won against odds and defeated their masters in their own invention and proved that skin-colour means not a thing!

What Works?
  • True Story; Pace Bowlers; Deadly pace bowlers; Sir Viv Richards; Inspiring tale - Need I say more?!
  • The story of Channel 9's Kerry Packer and his World Series cricket making the windies heroes Rebels and how it made them even stronger is such a nice revelation!
  • To see the heroes of the past speak about how they gave the medicine of Lillie and Thompson back to Australia and how they felt they were only doing their job was great - Their honesty (Roberts especially) bowls you over!
  • Viv Richards' attitude and Lloyd's tenacity : There's just one word for them. RESPECT.
Fiery Rage against Suppression! With a stitched-red rubber and a bat!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #419

Movie: A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)

Plot: A crazy inventor and his wife have a problematic period. That's when they invite two couples for a weekend at their summer house. The 3 pairs get entangled in many different ways causing a lot of riotous comedy in the process!

What Works?
  • When Woody Allen handles subjects on relationships and infidelity, you can safely assume the film's going to be enjoyable and this one too is!
  • The character of this film, apart from Woody obviously, is the Old Professor Leopold! His mannerisms and expressions of disdain score!
  • Allen, Mia Farrow, Tony Robers, Steenburgen and Julie Hagerty as the peculiarly voiced nurse offer credible support!
  • Allen's crazy flying machine and his crystal ball invention give a sense of the man's liking for parody!
Hilarious show of a raucously romantic summer weekend!

Two Line Reviews - #418

Movie: Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Plot: Two Cowboy youngsters take up to rearing sheep in the uninhabited Brokeback Hill. The isolation and monotony of their work make them beat their sexual preferences. When they part ways, the memories haunt them. They battle through their years between their married lives and the secret relationship they share!

What Works?
  • For Ang Lee, this is an unusual territory. With a more-than-deft handling of such a delicate subject, he scores gloriously!
  • The lover boys Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal need to be praised as much for their efforts as for their guts. Ledger, with an even deeper role, outshines Jake by a thin margin.
  • Gustavo Santaolalla's score and the picturesque mountains offer strength to the narration!
  • Michele Williams as Del Mar's wife plays a nice little role to pip Anne Hathaway's routine.
A delicate tale, Masterfully crafted!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Two Line Reviews - #417

Movie: Topaz (1969)

Plot: During the cold war, a neutral French spy tries to help the Americans in understanding what the Russians are up to in Cuba. In the process, he jeopardises his family-life, his estranged love and his own life. Operation 'Topaz' reveals much more than what he had sought!

What Works?
  • This Hitchcock film, in its own right, deserves as much recognition as some of his other spy classics have got. It is gripping, full of interesting twists!
  • The actors are unknown to me, but they deliver in sheer Hitchcock-actors style. The characters such as the florist, the Cuban comrade, the Russian agent, the crippled-french are typical HC surprises!
  • The passionate intimacy between the hero and the Cuban informer works brilliantly! So does the 'Don''s like background theme.
  • The muted scene when the florist approaches the comrade's assistant, the final few scenes are novel and classy!

As sharp as the 'Topaz' stone!