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Pompeii – a 360°

25 Feb

Lots of Spoilers – so please do not read if you do not want me to give away everything!

I have the following tips for Paul W.S. Anderson’s next directorial venture:

1. By all means, assume we did not pay any attention whatsoever during history lessons at school

2. Do not cast Kiefer Sutherland – in any role… please?

3. Kit Harrington’s abs is the only reason for some of us to watch this – next movie, more abs and less of the stabbing in the diaphragm

4. If you need to cut-and-paste a screenplay together, do choose obscure films, we,the movie-going public, do like a challenge

5. Bubble speech works only in Comics – you might want to look for a different dialogue writer for 3-D movies with real people in it

6. Bird’s eye-view shots in a computer generated town works only when you are Peter Jackson and you can slip in New Zealand into some of it

7. Carie-Anne Moss is Trinity, do not waste her as a prop

Overall, I would say, stick to Milla Jovovich and Zombies – you are good at creating mass-destruction in a more of a cinematic set-up than real stories. 

And Kit, I love you as Jon Snow but you got to practise more than just your squinting-menacingly-at-your-enemies look and swordplay. The Abs, you can keep.

Ladies and Gentlemen,I would recommend Pompeii for a different reason. It is an insightful movie. All of you who claim that we are hurting the planet making it sound like it is an adorable furry little animal?  

I have news for you!

The planet is out to get us! Invest in FTL companies Now- Buy, Buy, Buy!

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Cowbells and Canola fields

17 Oct

Imagine a rolling field of canola flowers, a gentle breeze blowing across the nodding heads of yellow buds, the tinkling of genuine alpine cowbells, mandolin music….a man straightens up, slowly and dramatically, opens his arms up to welcome you in to an embrace….. sigh

(if that doesn’t make your heart go wummmm like a tuning fork, I don’t know what else can- oh yes, forgot to mention, there are dimples involved!)

If you had been a teenager growing up in India in the early 90’s, you would immediately know what I am talking about. The scene that came to epitomise romance for millions of teens in 1995 – ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya leh Jayenge’ lovingly called ‘DDLJ’ – loosely translated: ‘The Brave gets the Bride’ (I like alliterations). This movie made every Indian teen believe that Switzerland is heaven, not just a tax-haven. Alpine cowbells probably beat the sale of Swiss chocolates that year because every Indian that went to Switzerland that year or thereafter did not leave that country without acquiring one for their loved one.

My regular readers know of my turbulent relationship with Shah Rukh Khan (King Khan). A friend asked me recently how can I be so besot with that man – he overacts all the time. It is not just Shah Rukh Khan I adore, it is the character he plays – the larger-than-life romantic hero and yes, he can play that to the hilt and that is not overacting!

He never ever gives up on his lady-love, he never ever would turn away from a confrontation (be it with his father, the girl’s father, his boss, the police or even terrorists), he who would fight till the end with whatever means necessary. He rarely harasses the girl to fall in love with him – he just wins them over by being naughty, silly, with his over-the-top antics and look-into-my-eyes look. In his movies, love develops over a period of time- sometimes it takes the entire length of the movie which can go up-to 3 hours but hey, all good things take time. So you wait till the credits roll, do you hear?

Shameless(ness)

11 Oct

Recipe to make a shameless movie

(Besharam)

1 thin plot (might completely crumble during editing of the movie – beware)

3-4 stellar actors (depending on stellarness, if small, then take 4; available in family packs)

6 non-melodious, useless, pointless songs (look in special mediocrity stores)

1 completely nondescript overacting heroine (taken in large doses causes severe hatred)

1 villain in Jodhpuri pants and diamond earrings

2-3 fast German cars (make sure they are red and shiny – you can contact the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce for support)

1  famous director (could also be famous for controversies – adjust according to taste – there is no accounting for taste anyway)

  • Mix all the above ingredients together
  • Add a few kids and babies from an orphanage to give it a nice dreary tone.
  • Sprinkle it generously with toilet humour
  • Layer some atrocious looking clothes and dialogues to make it completely unpalatable.
  • Put in the oven for a couple of years.

When it is done and stinking, if you still have any taste left, you may share the misery with your friends.

I am going to wash off the taste of ‘Besharam’ with some pangalactic gargle blaster. I might never recover – I might need some therapy!

Kicking Ass in the Marvel Universe

20 Aug

Some times you come across a movie purely by chance or because the DVD was being sold in the supermarket near you for EUR 5.99 – you can call it destiny or a discount but it makes all the difference between a boring evening and an exciting new discovery.

Cover of "Kick-Ass"

‘Kick Ass’ was such a movie. I hadn’t even heard of it till my husband brought home the DVD. We both thought it was going to be some kind of junk movie with a wannabe-superhero. It turned out to be a movie with a wannabe-superhero but it was not junk – it was trash! The genre, I mean. We loved every minute of it! From the scene with Nicholas Cage shooting a little girl to the last sequence with a DIY-drone kit, it was awesome. Matthew Vaughn – a new favourite director was added to our watch-list.

I found out later from that veritable source of information IMDB, that Vaughn had produced ‘Lock, Stock and two Smoking barrels’ – which has been a long-time favourite of mine. The only movie where I actually liked Jason Stratham plus Sting stung as an actor (pardon the pun). The film was directed by Guy Ritchie (yes, forgive the man his marital error and move on) and is devilishly humourous that we quote it often (minus the bad language, of course).

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

‘Kick Ass’ was not just a trash movie in the best of Tarantino tradition, it also looked like a tribute to ‘Matrix’ (Part I, the only one that made sense) and it has the most politically-incorrect character in the form of ‘Hit-Girl’- Chloe Grace Moretz plays that role to such perfection that it outshines her just lost milk-teeth. I admit, with ‘Game of Thrones’ playing to a wider audience now, it is not that scary or a novelty to see a little girl kick much bigger men in their private parts, but in 2010, it was.

Matthew Vaughn did a fantastic job making the story believable and quirky at the same time. The biggest achievement? He gave Nicholas Cage a role that can be called that – a character, a brilliant loveable character. The whole movie was such a surprise package – looks like a low-production slapstick on the outside but is high-quality entertainment once you press ‘play’.

Now let us move on to the Marvel Universe.

Ghosts of the past

4 Aug

When I was little my grandmother told me that there are no ghosts. I believed her. And then she would tell me stories with all sorts of spirits and demons in them and assure me that these are all stories made up for entertainment. I believed her. I grew up only slightly scared of the dark. The stories fascinated me though and I would read all kinds of trash with ghosts in them. I remember cheap Tamil paperbacks from the small library near my house that had cheesy titles like ‘Bloody Vampire’ or ‘Ghost villa’ and I would lap it all up. What made a lasting impression though were the ghost movies. That was mind-blowing entertainment.

As the popular maxim goes, there are only 8 kinds of plots in the world and Shakeaspeare covered them all. Indian movies belong to the same school of philosophy. They would have the ‘Hamlet’ type – revenge of the ghost, ‘The Tempest’ type – naughty spirits with nothing else to do or ‘Macbeth’ type where the ghost was all in the head more than reality, it could also be the reconciliatory type that comes in the end and blesses everyone’s unions. Being Indian, we also had the ‘reincarnation’ variation which Shakeaspeare had missed out. There would be combinations and permutations of these themes that would inevitably have haunting melodies, no pun intended.

But our ghosts are not to be confused with Hollywood ghosts with their satanical inclinations and special effects. Indian ghosts can be summed demographically thus : ‘young female, white-saree clad, long black hair, wears anklets and sings haunting melodies‘.

They are way too scarier than your special effects because just the tinkling of the anklets can send people screaming from the theatres. Alternately it could also be the overacting, but as a kid I could not tell the difference between fear and disgust.

The Indian storyline does have its problems though. You see, Hindus burn their dead, so it becomes impossible to come back as the walking dead with your head oozing, arm broken etc. So the plots have to have usually people of other religions as the ghost or it all becomes rather hazy and spiritual with the soul getting involved. To resolve this problem, sometimes the screenplay resorts to the time-tested method of the villains getting rid of the body in a haste and hence, not doing the job properly.

This also opens the story’s scope to bring back that character not as a ghost but as an actual un-dead, meaning they were actually alive but presumed dead but saved by some strange tribal elders or a handicapped couple or a woman of questionable nature and nurtured back to life. It all gets rather complicated after that, especially because the character continues to pretend to be a ghost to exact revenge.

In one of the more enjoyable Tamil ghost movies, a ghost goes hunting for a Drumstick-tree to ‘roost’ on… in Japan.

Ah, see if you can beat that Hollywood! We will see your special effect and raise it a thousand-fold!

Sweets Vs Wooden toy

1 Aug

[Order] [Order in the courtroom]

In the case of ‘Sweets Vs Wooden Toy’, I plead not guilty, your honour!

Let me present my case:

India is a complex nation. If you cross a state border in India, you will be in a different culture altogether- different language, cuisine, festivals and traditions. It should actually be called ‘Indian Federation’. We are a cauldron of flavours and texture like a stew rather than the uniform sliced bread.I get carried away by food, sometimes. Please bear with me.

I am a tamilian from South India and had had very little exposure to Hindi, which is a common language spoken in many parts of North India (north Indian languages have some common roots). Bollywood movies, for example, are in Hindi and for a South Indian, not always easy to follow, if the words are not something you hear everyday.

I learnt Hindi in school as my third language – after English and my mother tongue Tamil. My proficiencyin Hindi can be summed up thus: I can read nursery rhymes in Hindi but cannot understand poetry.

20 years later…..

I live in Goa now where the state language is Konkani but almost everyone speaks a smattering of Hindi. I can converse in Hindi and I was mighty impressed with myself as I could pick up the language after being away from the country for 13 years during which there was absolutely no chance to practise it at all. So I try and keep in touch via Hindi movies.

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Why you should never ever let your children watch romantic movies

30 Jun

Quote from High Fidelity by Nick Hornby:

“People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss”

The same holds true for romantic movies. I usually avoid all tear-jerker movies – I do not have the patience for sob stuff anymore – usually it’s so over-the-top that you just want to throw up. I and my husband quote Joe Queenan whenever we end up watching such a scene in an otherwise entertaining movie/TV-series -”die witch, die”. This is what Queenan was thinking when the girl in ‘A Walk to Remember’ was still talking when she was supposed to just die. I haven’t seen the movie but Joe McQueen’s review was enough to convey the message. (‘Notebook’ is my dirty secret because it has got Ryan Gosling in it but otherwise I hate Nicholas Sparks books and movies based on them.)

Coming back to the quote in High Fidelity, just imagine your impressionable teenagers growing up with movies where people get married to their ‘eternal love’ because it has been destined so, imagine the pain and heart-break when they find out that there is no ready-made Mr. or Ms. Right? All these movies that portray such love should be rated 21-and-above because any younger, you are not ready to understand the difference between real-life and the edited version of reel-life.

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