Thursday, 31 December 2009

All Things Newsworthy, Bloggable & Tweetable in 2009

This is an end of year post looking at all those extremely newsworthy events in 2009 that got us thinking. So strongly did we feel about some of the things that happened this year, and their consequences, that we had to run online to talk about them. We all had an opinion about these phenomena that we had to share. So newsworthy were they, in fact, that they compelled us to blog and tweet about them. Here they are, the people, objects, and events for 2009 that kept us busy online, and made the Indian digital social space what it was this past year.

1. The Recession
2. Barack Obama inaugration
3. Slumdog Millionaire
4. Terrorism-Taliban-Af-Pak situation
5. Gandhi Memorabilia auction
6. Pramod Muthalik/Ram Sena pub attack
7. Pink Chaddi campaign
8. Violence against women in Bangalore
9. IPL Season 2
10. Fake IPL Blogger
11. Elections 2009
12. Varun Gandhi hate speech
13. Fall of the LTTE
14. Indians attacked in Australia
15. Shiney Ahuja rape case
16. Scrapping of Section 377
17. Michael Jackson’s death
18. Swine Flu/H1N1
19. SRK detained at U.S airport
20. Chinese incursions
21. Jaswant Singh’s expulsion from the BJP
22. Jet Airways pilots’ strike
23. Shashi Tharoor’s Cattle Class & Visa tweets
24. Barack Obama’s Nobel peace prize
25. Liberhan commission report
26. Bhopal gas tragedy anniversary
27. Big budget/hyped Hollywood and Bollywood releases like 'Avatar' & '3 Idiots'
28. Telengana state issue
29. #ChetanBlocks
30. Ruchika molestation case
31. N.D Tiwari scandal
32. Chetan Bhagat/3 idiots controversy
33. David Headley

I should also mention that apart from these specifics, we also spent a lot of time discussing and commenting on every cricket match involving India and the personal lives of Indian celebrities in general.

Are you aware of any that I've missed?


The Best Movies I Saw In 2008 & 2009

I originally thought of doing a summary of all the best movies I'd seen in 2009, then realised that I hadn't done one for 2008, so I did a two year summary instead. Please note that most of the movies on this list are older than two years. That's because not all the movies I've seen in the last two years have also been made in the last two years. Most are older.

What I looked for when compiling this list is perfection, or movies that are as close to perfection as possible. I had to exclude movies with noticeable flaws, be they popular or unpopular, award winners or not. I chose those movies that didn't seem to have a single line of their script out of place, a movie for which I couldn't possibly conceive of any improvements like additional editing, better acting or changes in narration. Only a few made the cut. I've also included a second list below of films that, while maybe not perfect, are still worth your time.

My top films for 2008 & 2009

1. Central Station (1998)

2. Persepolis (2007)

3. Rear Window (1954)

5. Into the Wild (2007)

6. The Visitor (2007)

7. Papillon (1973)

9. In Bruges (2008)

10. Machuca (2004)

12. Thumbsucker (2005)

14. Since Otar Left (2003)

15. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Special Mentions

2. Wall E (2008)

3. Midnight Cowboy (1969)

4. Nine Queens (2000)

6. Heat (1995)

8. Michael Clayton (2007)

11. Stray Dog (1949)

14. Ratatouille (2007)

15. Himalaya (1999)

16. The Deer Hunter (1978)

19. Wings of Desire (1987)

20. City of God (2002)

21. The Duchess (2008)

23. Secret Ballot (2001)

25. Dr. Strangelove (1964)

27. Dust to Dust (2000)

I realise that, ironically, my best of 2008 & 2009 film list has no films from 2009 on it and just a few from 2008. But like I said earlier, it's about when I watch them, not when they were made. That being said, 2007 was a really good year for movies.

Also, I tend to depend more on DVD's for most of my films, and the problem with DVD clubs is that they never have the most recent films on DVD. Not the good ones at least. Furthermore, I try to catch up with older releases, ones that have already got good reviews.

Try to see the films I've mentioned in the lists above if you haven't already done so. I'm sure you won't regret the experience.


Monday, 28 December 2009

Quick Movie Reviews: 10,000 B.C, The Golden Compass

Hunter gatherers join with other tribes to rescue their tribe members captured and enslaved by an advanced civilisation, braving dangers along the way.

This 2008 film is bad, but not as bad as I thought it would be. It's watchable, but mostly for timepass purposes. One of the reasons I managed to watch it without my usual cribbing is because I noticed a few similarities to Stargate, which I later found out was also directed by Roland Emmerich. Similarities also exist with Mel Gibson's Apocalypto.

Roland Emmerich is well known for making movies with over the top special effects and terribly filmi narratives and scripts. His movies include Universal Soldier, Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot, The Day after Tomorrow and 2012.

A 2007 movie directed by Chris Weitz. An alternate universe tale involving a little girl, a 'chosen one', discovering her destiny while on an adventure to save her friends from forces of evil domination.

I expected this to be more interesting than it was, and so ended up disappointed. It was childish, boring and underwhelming.

Do you have any views about these movies that you'd like to share?


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Walking around St. Mary's Basilica, Bangalore

So I was in Bangalore in January, taking in the sights with a couple of friends. We had toured Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh in the morning and afternoon, and evening found us in front of St Mary's Basilica.

This has got to be one of the most beautiful churches I've ever been to, and I've been to a lot of churches. Check out the beautiful gate.

And the carving beside it.

The church steeple greatly impressed us. I've never seen anything like it in India so far. The roofs of most churches here tend to be wide, sloping, triangular steeples, and not sheer ones like this.

The church interiors were stunning.

Here's a closer look at the pillars.

Continuing on our walk around the church, we discovered a commemorative stone tablet marking the church's transition to a minor basilica. Now , the difference between a church and basilica is one of ecclesiastical significance i.e having to do with Church affairs, like the privilege of special ceremonial rites, for example.

Further on, around the back of the basilica, we came across this pictorial representation of the Prodigal son parable.

I clicked a few last pics on my way out, trying to capture the beautiful atmosphere around the building.

My entire South India '09 adventure can be read here. Do you have any great pictures and stories of churches in India or elsewhere? Link to them in the comments section.


Monday, 14 December 2009

Movie Flashback: Super Size Me, Control Room

In late 2005, I bought a DVD player. I had till then only relied on T.V and VCDs for movies, apart from the occasional theater visit. But sometime after I started working, I realised that there was interesting stuff out there that I wanted to see that I'd never get a chance to on T.V or VCD. Because these media showed only popular stuff and not necessarily all the stuff I wanted to see. Whereas DVD seemed new and cutting edge and world cinema and independent movies. Hence, the DVD player.

Going further, I had decided to spend my money only on quality movies, researching before renting them, a habit I continue till today. No surprise then that the first DVDs I rented after buying the player were documentaries. And good ones at that. Here they are:

In this 2004 movie, a perfectly healthy man, Morgan Spurlock, takes up a McDonalds' diet for a month and records himself wasting away. He also interviews a lot of people in the fast food industry.

The movie is an attack on fast food chains and their unhealthy products, showing you why and how the food you eat there can kill you.

The extras contain an experiment where a McDonalds burger and fries, along with other kinds of food, including more natural ones, are left to decompose in glass containers. Guess which one lasts the longest because it's the most artificial?

A 2004 movie directed by Jehane Noujaim, about news coverage, especially Al-Jazeera's, of the U.S war in Iraq, and the different perceptions involved.

The movie that changed my perception of how the the media works. A movie that was so good, I had to re-watch it with two different DVD commentaries after I had seen the original. A must see to observe and learn how people and news channels on different sides of a war see events in different ways and let their prejudices influence their reporting.

I'm not sure what they teach in journalism school but I don't see how screening and discussing this movie would be a bad thing.

An interesting phenomeon to observe in this movie is the transformation of Lt. Josh Rushing, an army spokesperson, from that of Al-Jazeera criticizer to a person with a more neutral view. He now works with Al-Jazeera.

Have you seen either movie? Have any thoughts on big bad fast food corporations or news agencies? Tell me what you think.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

The Mathuradas Mill Culture Crawl

So on Friday the 4th of December, I headed over to Lower Parel after work to catch the inaugural Mathuradas Mill Culture Crawl, a three day art fest with a 'Life around the Neighbourhood' theme.

While not as long, spread out or event-filled as Celebrate Bandra or the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, this 3 day festival had a bit of romanticism all its own. For one, the fest took place in a mill compound which, unlike Kala Ghoda, is one neighbourhood that's anything but artsy, and worked in its favour as far as being different was concerned.

The Culture Crawl didn't have a lot to see though; I kind of took in all the sights in approx. 15 mins. One could of course have spent a longer time at the music stage and food court. That's where most of the action seemed to be centered.

Here's a pic I took of the art exhibition at the Loft.

I noticed these little markers on my little exploratory walk. They seemed to be directing people through the compound. I don't think they were really needed, but I liked the creative touch.

And these two junk sculptures attracted a lot of photographic attention.

Not a bad start for a local fest. Hopefully, they'll come back stronger next year. Did you visit this or any other city fests? What did you think of them?


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Quick Movie Reviews: Midnight Cowboy, Nine Queens

Midnight Cowboy

Directed by John Schlesinger. Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman earn their keep in this touching 1969 movie about life in the big bad city. Joe Buck (Jon Voight) leaves small town America, journeying to New York city with big dreams, and ends up in poverty. He meets and teams up with Ratso (Dustin Hoffman), and together they try to make the best of what they have.

An interesting clash of personalities. Voight is the overconfident but clueless out-of-towner cowboy. Hoffman is the out-of-luck loser/small time hustler, but a NY veteran one at that, always looking to make a quick buck. What they have in common is a need to survive, to do something to get their next meal.

Nine Queens

A 2000 Argentinian movie by Fabian Bielinsky. A story about two conmen - a young gun and a middle aged experienced one - who try to rip off a rich man with a fondness for rare stamps. The entire story takes place in a day, with the two protagonists meeting, teaming up, and then going through fraudster hell, a series of successes and mishaps, ups and downs, to get their hands on the prize money. Very enjoyable, with constant twists and turns, and a surprise ending.

Do you have any thoughts about these movies that you'd like to share?


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Chilling - The Art of Fosters

So I attended an 'Art Of Chilling' BBQ & pool party this Sunday at The Resort, Aksa. Beautiful people, great atmosphere, and excellent food and drinks.

Conceptualised by Fosters to promote their 'Art of Chilling' brand, similar parties have been held in different cities across the country, with Indiblogger members free to attend (thank you Indiblogger).

Here are some photos from the event.

The Resort hotel.

The party was in full swing when I got there at 1.30. Click to enlarge the panoramic images.

I immediately took a few pics of the beach that The Resort overlooks.

Then headed over to the bar to get myself a few drinks, cool off, and mingle. The food and drink section was pretty busy. They had an excellent BBQ going throughout the afternoon and evening - tandoori and reshmi chicken, paneer and eggs. Simply delicious.

Some guests enjoyed the pool. Others seemed content to simply chill.

While others danced.

They had some excellent music going, courtesy an excellent DJ.

Lots of smiles all round.

And models on hand to entertain and make sure no one lacked a beer.

And finally, a view of the crowded beach towards 5.00 P.M, when the party wound up.

I'm seriously awaiting the next Fosters party. Previous AOC party experiences can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here,