Thursday, 30 September 2010

Movies Seen: A Perfect Getaway, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

A 2009 suspense thriller directed by David Twohy. A couple (Steve Zahn & Milla Jovovich) on their Honeymoon in Hawaii suspect that other couples they encounter on a camping trip are serial killers.
Not bad at all. Unlike a lot of second-rate thrillers these days, this film has a riveting story, good direction & strong characters that you care about. And Timothy Olyphant (Die Hard 4.0, The Girl Next Door) is highly entertaining and looks like he's having a lot of fun with his role.

A 2007 film directed by Andrew Dominik, based on Ron Hansen's 1983 book, which is based on the true story of Jesse James' assassination, with a focus on strong characters and personal relationships rather than typical 'western-style' events.

A bit slow at first, and that along with Brad Pitt's deadpan expressions leave you with initial misconceptions about the film, but you won't have any regrets when you watch it till the immensely satisfying end. Excellent cinematography and acting. Sam Rockwell is always a pleasure to watch, but the real scene stealer in this picture is Casey Affleck, who does a shifty, nervous and yet enraptured Robert Ford.

By the way, movie buffs will be interested in the fact that Steve Zahn and Casey Affleck appeared together in Race the Sun (1996).


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Places in Mumbai that Serve Beef

I present to you a work in progress; all the places in Mumbai that serve beef. Feel free to add to the list, in the interest of the greater common good.


Sundance Cafe


New Martin Hotel - Goan - Beef chilly
Cafe Mondegar
Cafe Churchill - Continental - Beef burgers and steaks
Leopold Cafe
Cafe Basilico
Indigo Deli
Woodside Inn
All Stir Fry
Wich Latte - Continental - Beef sandwiches


Mocambo Cafe
Yoko Sizzlers

Nariman Point

Fenix, Oberoi Hotel

Girgaum Chowpatty

Salt Water Grill


Sarvi - Beef kebabs

Mumbai Central

Noor Mohammadi


Olive Bar and Kitchen

Lower Parel

Blue Frog


Hard Rock Cafe


Goa Portugesa

Bandra (W)

Jim-me's Kitchen - Chinese - Beef noodles
Candies - Continental - Beef (Bolognese) spaghetti
Cheron - East Indian - Beef burgers
Mikneil - Goan/East Indian - Beef & tongue sandwiches
Mac Craig - Continental - Beef rolls
Yellow Tree
Cafe Basilico
Salt Water Cafe
Yoko Sizzlers
Pali Village Cafe
Eat Around The Corner


Hotel Pradeep


Cafe Mangli

Santa Cruz (E)

China House, Grand Hyatt
Lotus Cafe, JW Marriot

Santa Cruz (W) 

Yoko Sizzlers


Lake-View Cafe, Renaissance

Andheri (E)

Pan Street, Peninsula
Just Kerala

Andheri (W)

Indigo Cafe

Jogeshwari (W)

Yoko Sizzlers

Farid seekh kebab and paratha - Beef kebabs

Malad (W)

Yoko Sizzlers

Malad Gymkhana - beef roast (must have!), beef chilly, pork chilly

Kandivli (E)

Yoko Sizzlers

Borivli (W)

Ustad's (I.C Colony) - Beef seekh kebabs, khiri & boti

Updates anyone?


Monday, 27 September 2010

Movies Seen: 2012, Henry Poole is Here

Another Roland Emmerich disaster film. Massive sun flare causes tectonic plate shift and pole realignment, causing destruction and creation of new land masses. Woody Harrelson's zaniness doesn't do much to balance this 2009 film's disturbing portrayal of mass deaths.

Picked this film at random out of the 100 plus unseen movies on my HD after seeing 2012. Imagine my delight when I saw a slightly younger Morgan Lily, who also acted in 2012, among the cast. What are the odds?

Henry Poole is Here is one of the better American movies I've seen recently. A 2008 kind-of-dark movie directed by Mark Pellington, an angry cynical man tired with life retires to suburbia to waste his life away, but his neighbours won't let him.

Luke Wilson is enjoyable to watch, Radha Mitchell is a lot more enjoyable to watch in this film than the last movie I saw her in (Thick as Thieves), and Morgan Lily is adorable.



Sunday, 19 September 2010

Mumbai Trains - Handicapped Compartments

Here's the funny thing about the handicapped compartments in Mumbai's local trains. You can only travel in them if you are permanently disabled (missing limbs, digits, organs; polio; cancer, etc.) and have a medical certificate from a railway official saying the same. This means that injured people (who don't fall in the permanently disabled category) are automatically excluded from travel in handicapped compartments and have to travel either first or general class, even if those cars are packed.

Sounds strange? Let's take it one step further. A lot of permanently disabled people aren't really in a position that makes it difficult for them to travel first or general. This means that a person who's broken or fractured a limb and who genuinely can't travel in a crowded train, can't make use of the handicapped car, but a person who just happened to be born with one toe less and who is otherwise completely healthy and normal and in no way physically unable to travel first or general, gets a lifetime handicapped pass. Unfair?


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Movies Seen: Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

A 2010 remake of the 1981 film (which I loved as a child). Directed by Louis Leterrier. Like the original film, this one has nothing to do with the Titans, and the plot has undergone a few changes. In short, Perseus, a demi-god, leads a group of soldiers on a quest to find a way to save a princess, encountering monsters and gods along the way.

Watch this film for the special effects, cause there's not much else to go on. The film does have a bit of an epic feel to it but again that's mostly because of the cinematography, music & effects, not the script or narrative. Narrative flaws abound. But the mythological creatures are awesome. Especially the Kraken at the end. And I loved that they sneaked in a scene with that mechanical owl from the original film.

As far as characters go, Gemma Arterton is a pretty face, Liam Neeson does his usual indignant righteousness act, Ralph Fiennes does his usual dark lord act & Sam Worthington does his usual conflicted character act. As one film reviewer wrote, Sam Worthington needs to stop playing conflicted characters. In Avatar, he was a man who wanted to be a Na'vi. In Terminator: Salvation, he was a machine that wanted to be a man, and in Clash of the Titans, he is a demi-god who wants to be a man.

The whole proud to be a man thing is kind of the the main theme running through this film, culmination with our demi-god hero finally realising his place in the world. Worth a watch if you have noting better to do, but not worth a lot of money.

Directed by Mike Newell, who's movies I've seen parts of and liked, this film clearly takes him out of his comfort zone, and it shows. The 2010 movie tries to create an 'epic' feel about it but only ends up feeling as small as the 'Scorpion King' when compared to 'The Mummy Returns'. The plot isn't worth mentioning.

Too many narrative flaws. Like in Clash of the Titans, the films characters seem to almost instantaneously travel to a far flung part of the world in a day or two. The amount of time it takes to traverse long distances just hasn't been factored in. The script is over-simplistic, dramatic and the music tends towards irritating, especially when Hassansins appear.

Gemma Arterton gets more screen time and dialogue here than she does in Clash of the Titans, though this film is a lot worse.

Have you seen these films? What do you think?


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Never lend a girl to a book

I'm the kind of person who likes keeping his books in good condition.

In my senior college days, I lent a book to a friend of mine, who happened to be a girl. That book was In His Steps by Charles Monroe Sheldon. It was returned to me in a somewhat different condition than the one in which it was lent. Have you ever got a book or one of its pages wet? And waited for it to dry? And seen the difference? The pages, though still bound together, appear somewhat crumpled in a rippled sort of way. They don't quite place evenly within the books like they used to. Also, they're all discoloured. What this tends to do is ruin the book and the reading experience.

In my first year of work I, having not yet learnt my lesson, foolishly lent another book to a female colleague - A Case of Need by Michael Crichton. This too came back to me with a rainy-day story attached, greatly disturbing me. And to make it worse, a small piece of the front cover was actually torn off. The Horror!

These two incidents left an indelible mark on me. I resolved from that day on to never again lend a book to a girl. If you want a book, ladies, buy it off me.


Monday, 13 September 2010

Movies Seen: The Outer World of Shahrukh Khan, City of Ember, Afro Samurai, Long Weekend, Observe and Report, My Bloody Valentine

So what do you do when you have a long weekend and you're stuck at home because you couldn't go on that Ganpatipule trip because you fractured your arm and it's in a cast and you can't go travelling anywhere? You catch up on your movie collection. 

The Outer World of Shahrukh Khan

A documentary where a crew follows Shahrukh Khan and gang on their 2004 Temptations tour across the U.K, U.S and Canada. I did find it honest and open, looking at what happens backstage, the rush, hard work, costume changes, interaction between the stars and crew, security, what they do with their free time, and interviews with the troupe and audience.

There are flaws though. The producers have chosen a more free flowing approach as opposed to a structured one, patching together multiple haphazard backstage scenes from the various venues visited, the only structure being the linear order of the venues themselves. After a while however, all backstage activity looks the same, no matter where the troupe is, meaning you tend to feel as dislocated as the troupe. Some sort of story or build up over the length of time spent on the tour would have been more riveting, as that would give us viewers some kind of context with which to follow the scenes. 

City of Ember 

A 2008 post-apocalyptic film directed by Gil Kenan. Some narrative flaws, but excellent art direction, and superior production values.

Right from the start, the futuristic, sci-fi, fairy-tale element of the story, with background narration and music, totally grips you. Moving on, you're taken in with the city itself and the characters within. Caricatures, some of them, but planned caricatures, and all the while that great music. The lighting is amazing, and you can't help but watch the film through to the end. And this probable the most cheerful family-friendly post-apocalyptic film I've seen.

The movie reminds me of Logan's Run and The Island, in that it also consists of a closed community whose individuals aren't allowed to leave, believing the world outside non-existent. 

Afro Samurai 

More of a T.V mini-series than a movie. Released in 2007, with 5 parts totalling just over 100 minutes of some of the best anime I've seen. What's unique about it is the mix of African-American and Japanese samurai culture along with some mutant and sci-fi elements thrown in for good measure. Yes, a bit slow at parts, but worth the watch, with more attitude than a lot of recent anime. 

Long Weekend 

A 2008 horror movie directed by Jamie Blanks. A couple with relationship problems go camping on a deserted beach and end up fighting nature-fueled insanity. 

The film starts well, with panning shots of the Australian wilderness. It then moves to a slowish but steady pace. Not everyone's cup of tea, given the questions it raises.

A 2009 dark comedy about a mentally unstable mall cop. Graphic, and almost certainly a waste of your time.

My Bloody Valentine

Yet another slasher film. Made in 2009. Average, if you like that sort of thing. If not, don't waste your time.

Have you watched any of these films? Leave a comment.