Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Movie Reviews: In Bruges, Paradise Now

In Bruges

One of the best movies I've seen so far this year. A dark comedy about two hit men hiding out in Bruges after a hit gone wrong. One of them likes Bruges; the other doesn't. They try to get on as best they can. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (his first feature film) and released in Feb 2008.

Paradise Now

I didn't like this 2005 movie too much. About two Palestinians on a suicide mission, the first half was really good, but the end left me feeling like there were gaps in the movie. The two protagonists seem to suddenly switch roles for no apparent reason. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad.


Movie Reviews: Amarcord, Disturbia

Amarcord (1973)

Gotta be the most boring movie I've ever seen. I'm going to avoid Frederico Fellini for a while. I do get that the point of the movie is for it's maker to show us his version of one year in an Italian town, replete with a disconnected but chronological series of episodes about the town's characters that are both dreamy and exaggerated. I also understand that each episode is entertaining in it's own way, and might be considered masterpieces. Yet, I find the film boring. I guess I like complete circular stories with a definite beginning, middle and an end as opposed to one man's reminiscences about the past.

Disturbia (2007)

Pretty good movie. Directed by D.J. Caruso. Suspense filled. Not bad at all for an average Hollywood thriller. Boy is under house arrest. Boy suspects neighbour. Boy gets friends to investigate neighbour. All hell breaks loose.


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

George Lucas in Love

The guys at Shamiana seem to like this short film so much, they've screened it twice already. I find it quite funny and well made.


Monday, 22 September 2008

Karvy Trail

Sat was a busy day. Went to the CS museum in the afternoon to catch the BNHS @ 125 yrs exhibition. Also ended up seeing the special Musical Heritage of India exhibit. Went to Andheri later to catch the Landmark sale - got the entire Sherlock Holmes collection for a steal.

Went to the Goregaon part of the SGNP for a nature trail on Sunday morning, the objective being to see the Karvy flower that blooms once every 8 years in this part of the country.

Walked up to the CEC from Film City at around 8.00 and noticed a lot of cars on my way there. On reaching the CEC I found a good sized crowd already present - students, families, NRI's, individuals, photographers, seasoned trekkers, etc., etc. - and more people kept streaming in.

I registered quickly and took a few pics of flowers in the butterfly garden as the organisers got things organised. This is the first time I've used my camera's macro settings, as I've never had to take close ups before. Found the experience painful but rewarding.

The main problem I faced was manually focusing the camera on what I wanted it to focus on. When you're a few centimetres away from a flower, it seems to take up your whole screen and your camera has a mind of it's own, focusing on a distant petal when you want it to focus on the nearest one instead.

I've never seen so many people show up on a nature trail. With the BNHS it's mostly around 20-25 people. But I was told later that the Rotary club had a hand in organising this event and that explained the crowd. Was nice to see so many nature lovers though.

A couple of groups started off on their trails with various guides. I waited for a familiar face and eventually joined the group led by Sanal Nair and Sunjoy Monga. I know Sanal from the Silonda trek earlier this monsoon and it was nice to finally see and hear Sunjoy Monga - I own one of his books.

Started off on the trail at around 8.30. Immediately came across Karvy clumps.

Also saw a spider,
brackets on the underside of a tree stump, some yellow flowers, Spiral ginger, a lizard, a colony of brackets, a stick insect, and a snake skin molt but unfortunately no snake. All in all, very enjoyable.


Monday, 15 September 2008

Movie Reviews: There will be Blood, Battleship Potemkin

There will be Blood

A one man epic about greed and loss of soul. Daniel Day-Lewis plays a prospector obsessed with gaining the world and isn't too concerned about losing his soul in the bargain. Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia), the best feature about the movie for me is its haunting score. The score is even played through the first few silent minutes of the film during the scenes that show the prospector's humble origins - this just serves to underline the main character's dark destiny - to show us that all his hard work and dedication, seemingly noble qualities at the outset, can only end in doom. One of the better movies I've seen lately.

Battleship Potemkin

A 1925 black and white silent movie about the mutiny on board the Russian battleship Potemkin, one of the uprisings during the Russian revolution. The mutiny is sparked off by the sailors being forced to eat meat with maggots in it. Quite boring, and more of a propaganda movie, one scene that does stand out is in the Oddessa massacre chapter - a baby is in a pram that's rolling down a long staircase. A similar scene was present in The Untouchables and spoofed in The Naked Gun 33 1/3.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Garden of Eden Trek

Went to Khandala for a trek on Sat/Sun with MD, PV and BD. MD organised the trip (he's been there many times). MD and I caught a train from Borivali and met up with BD at Dadar, from where we took a cab to C.S.T to meet PV, whom I hadn't met before.

We caught an 11.00 P.M train from C.S.T. to Khandala. The general compartment was packed and we had to sit in a cramped uncomfortable space for 3 hours.

Reached Khandala station at 2.00 A.M and slept (or tried to sleep on stone amidst cold and mosquitoes) there until 6.00.

Since the Garden of Eden trail is just a few mins walk from the station, the group first had breakfast at a local place nearby as I watched the glorious early morning light reveal mountains that hide themselves every monsoon night.

When it was clear enough, we started off on our walk towards the trail, which leads from the precipice of a hill that borders the valley down into the depths of the valley itself. This being September, there was greenery everywhere atop the hill and throughout the valley, making this a golden photo opportunity.

We found the trail and began climbing down, into the valley. I have never encountered a trickier or more exhausting descent. I'm used to climbing up trails when I go trekking hills and forts, and then descending, which is always an easier process. This trail seemed to behave the other way round.

The descent was torturous, with interwoven streams of boulders and water that required work with all fours to negotiate. We came to a small clearing eventually (at around 9.00) where we braked, ate, rested and where I took many a photo. The group decided to continue down. I, exhausted, decided to go back up.

Before we continued on our opposite paths, however, a landslide took us unprepared. A series of rocks came crashing down unexpectedly from above. We didn't even have time to react. Luckily, none of the rocks managed to hit us, though one landed on one of our bags and one among us scraped his leg against one.

We reached the top of the trail (at around 11.00) quicker than we took to descend it (this is the first time I've found it easier to climb than to descend) and rested in the shade of a tree, sleeping and then eating before going back.

Took a rickshaw to the Lonavala ST depot and caught a bus to Sion, but not before buying some excellent walnut fudge.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Tuesday Night Expedition

Met up with TP on Tuesday night at Globus, chilled there for a while, and then went to Reliance Trends next door to chill some more. Didn't find a single cap that would fit my head.

Decided to walk to Tavaa to get something to eat. Reached Tavaa and ordered Kesar and chocolate Faloodas. They sucked.

Walked to Suburbia to see what was playing. The next movie was at 10.30 which was still two hours away.

Took a rick to Janta's but found it crowded. Went to Papa Pancho's instead.

That's the last time I go there. They have very few snacks or starters. And what they do have is overpriced. A main dish that should and does cost Rs. 115 at a regular Indian restaurant costs double i.e Rs. 230 at Papa Pancho's. The shredded tandoori chicken that we ordered tasted good, but at Rs. 110 for the quantity we got, was definitely not worth the price. We then ordered Sev puri but it didn't taste that good.

Discussed the dearth of eateries in Bandra offering both cheap and good food, a problem I've never had to encounter in Borivali.


Movie Reviews: The Usual Suspects, The Lives of Others

The Usual Suspects (1995)

Brilliant movie; dark, surprise ending. Directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie. What's unusual about this one is, unlike other movies with surprise endings that tend to tie everything up so you understand the movie as it completes a full circle, this ending leaves you wondering which parts of the movie were real and which ones were mere fabrications or story devices told to you by an unreliable narrator.

The Lives of Others (2006)

About an East German police spy becoming attached to the people he is spying on. Very enjoyable. The spy is a strong believer in the German Democratic Republic and its socialist ideals. However, when confronted with corruption and greed within his own ranks and the pure humanism and patriotism of his subjects, he decides to take matters into his own hands to see that the people he's spying on are shielded as much as possible.

The movie is not completely realistic; scenes towards the start of the movie have been given a convex feel to them, making you feel as if you yourself are spying on the proceedings.
Also, objects of a certain colour have been replaced with objects of other colours, in keeping with a particular colour scheme throughout the movie and staying loyal to what most people of that era remember East Germany as looking like, as opposed to what it really looked like. This makes the film look better, more attractive and appealing, as all movies with specific visual themes do.

This movie was directed by Florian Henckel von Dennersmarck, and is in fact his first movie. Rarely have I seen a director's first attempt become so successfull.