Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chiseled Golden Men

Dem Oscar nominations are sure dreary this time around. Last few years have been rather colorful, with controversial and alternative flicks like Departed, Crash, Brokeback Mountain et al.

However, this time around, the bleaker ones (No Country for Old Men..., There Will Be Blood .... Atonement ..... god, it sounds like badly rhymed Edgar Allen Poe on depressants) seem to have dominated, with the exception of Juno (yay!). Granted that 2007's been a rather horrid year in terms of good quality commercial cinema, and most of the really good films have been foreign and indie, but have the Oscars not got it right this time? Hmmm, lets see.

Not glad
  • First of all, where the hell is A Mighty Heart? At the very least, Angelina Jolie deserved a nomination for one of the most well-delivered, challenging performances of the year
  • C'mon! Tom Hanks deserved a nom for CWW!
  • Once??
  • Denzel for American Gangster?
  • 300? (for Visual Effects)
  • Once?? Going twice!!
  • Namesake (maybe asking for too much with regards the last one, but at least a nom for Best Original Score - Nitin Sawhney outdid himself on this one).
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman nominated for Charlie Wilson, and Ellen Page for Juno!
  • Cate Blanchett making history with nominations in BOTH the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress category - wow!
  • Falling Slowly (Once) nominated in the Best Song category - I absolutely cannot wait to see this one performed live at the ceremony!
Too early for predictions. I've revved up my Netflix queue to watch (and in some cases, rewatch) most of these flicks prior to the ceremony, and will have detailed thoughts up there. Michael Clayton is back in theaters, so that's good. But all in all, a tad bit disappointed with the overall selection theme, this year, vis-a-vis last year. Almost funereal.

In other news, Cloverfield rocked! Its a 9/11-hysteria-flick-meets-Blair Witch-Project! An absolute edge-of-your-seat-er must-see in terms of realism! And a serious study in movie marketing - loved the hype on this one, especially the fake newscasts on the oil rig (Geniusness!). *Vroom* Mini-Spoiler Alert. Did anybody see the thing fall into the ocean in the last scene?

And people, with regards shows like Moment of Truth. *Sigh*. I mean, is this what this country has come to? To resort to get innocent people up on screen, treat them like criminals with polygraph tests, and make them embarrass themselves by bringing out skeletons out of their personal closets in front of the whole television-watching world. I mean, its one thing to win half a million dollars, and another thing to have to spend it on alimony checks after the freaking show.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Screwed-Up-Life-Portrayed-Effectively-On-Celluloid Pie

Fox Searchlight has been on a roll in terms of their alternative yet viable commercially genre, or as I like to call it Alt-Via-Com (Note to self: a good way to bide away time during recessive times is to come up with innovative, catchy yet utterly useless acronyms). Last year there was Water, Namesake, Once and Juno - all classics in their own right. And a bright little movie that may have gone unnoticed - Waitress. Like Once, it was a delightful hit at Sundance, as well.

And despite what the trailer may look like, its not a traditional romantic comedy, or RomCom (see? - I know, that's not an original one, but you get my drift). And although I'm not particularly fond of Keri Russell and her permanent knotted-eyebrow, frowny-face, she comes across fresh and warranted in this well-baked pie movie - a simple story of a depressed waitress in a Southern Country small town pie-diner. Do watch!

In other news, hoorah for Ellen Page and Juno for their well-deserved Oscar nominations - Juno was a true breath of fresh air from the comparatively darker films that have dominated this year's nominees. More on this soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Its finally out on DVD, and a must-see for true music aficionados. Felt that my one-liner in a previous blog post about this breakout Sundance indie flick, didn't do it justice. Once was the simplest, quirkiest film I have seen. Until you watch it, you could never imagine that a movie like this could keep you hooked with enrapt attention for 85 minutes. The biggest star of the movie is, without a doubt, the music.

Irish Glen Hansard and Czech Marketa Irglova create an emotional and spirited sound, which have a goosebump-inspiring, magnetic ability to be enchanting. The piano/guitar gives it a very early Coldplay feel, but much more heartfelt and amateur and "real". My favorites are "The Hill", "When your mind's made up", and of course, "Falling Slowly". The dreamy scene in the music shop which shows the birth of this song, is an example of classic cinema. I must have seen that sequence at least 5 times, because it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

The movie is free of cosmetics, and extremely raw, which adds to its appeal. Highly, highly recommended, as is the soundtrack, which you should get only after watching the movie.

What Once really makes me perceive, is that there is a very small subset of emotions that an audience requires to be captivated - its a movie that gives hope to artists, musicians and film-makers on so many levels. The chemistry between Hansard and Irglova is bittersweet and charming. Once is a movie that makes you .. believe.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Echo of Love

Was pointed to check out a song by Uzbek pop singer, Iroda Dilroz, called "Sevgi Sadosi", the translation of which is the title of this post (hmm, aren't I mysteriously nifty, today?).

Dilroz, being a hardcore Rahmaniac, has adapted Saathiya's "Aye Udi Udi" into a rather catchy number. Wonder if I like it just because I've heard the original. Its difficult to displace my frame of reference now, but this is a really nice rehash.

Moreover, while we're on the topic of the legend himself, his music is finding its way into mainstream Hollywood, in more ways than one, especially after the opening credits of Inside Man featured "Chaiyya Chaiyya". A poignant sequence of "Lord of War" was supported by the strains of the eternal Theme track of 'Bombay'. Check it out below:

Was also told that a remix version of "Ae Ajnabi" played for a few seconds in an episode of Entourage. Now that is extreme randomness. But all in all, it definitely points to the fact that he is as mainstream as it gets.

You're so money, don't even know it!

Friday, January 18, 2008

On a day like today...

.. the recession special at Gray's ($3.50 for 2 hot dogs and a drink) doesn't really seem that bad.

PS - Thanks a million for the kind words of appreciation, folks. You should be hearing more exciting info about forthcoming projects, very shortly. Watch this space! :-)

In other news, if you haven't yet, watch Once. Its the most heartwarming movie you'll ever see.
As Spielberg put it best, "A little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year. And the soundtrack - heavenly!

The proof is in the math, though. Production Cost: $160,000. Gross Revenues: $14 million.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Few Moments with the Maestro

A clip from Sahara One's recent broadcast of the A R Rahman North America Talent Hunt which was conducted in July 2007. Don't know if I mentioned this on the blogosphere earlier, but I was one of the 20 finalists, picked from about 4,000 audio clips that were submitted for this contest, which finally picked winners who got to sing with Rahman at his concert tour.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You know what really grinds my gears?

People who use the line, "I wanna say". Know what I mean? As in, "I was at the theater at ... uhh, .. i wanna say .. uhh .. 9 PM?".

Dude, if you "wanna say" 9 PM, then why don't you just say it? Wait a minute, you ARE saying it. Then what's with the "I wanna say" crap that you prelude it with. It sounds affected and annoying - and wherever you picked it up from, it isn't making you sound as cool as you think it is. If you're not sure about something, you could say "approximately", "nearly" or "I'm just plain daft", don't fake it up with "uhh I wanna say ...". You sound like Big Moose, dumb and delirious.

And that's what really grinds my gears. Tom?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


What would you call Juno? Reality? Sarcasm? A Tragicomedy? How about a Realisarcitragicomedy? And no, I'm not trying to play on those ever-so-annoying AT&T ads.

(I need a phone that works where I work. A place called ThisAdsSoBadlyScriptedThatImGonnaThrowUp)

Although the movie starts out with dialogue that seems almost read out of cue cards, because we are unable to relate to the film's format or visualize its end goal. But as we get to understand Juno's character better (and believe me, it doesn't take long), this movie is like real life, bent and wound, swung around a tree, and rammed with a baseball bat.

A chunky constitutent of the film's charm is Ellen Page, and how in-sync she is with the challengingly devised character. Juno is clearly unlike anything we have seen on screen before. She has more attitude and spunk than Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill trilogy put-together, and for a teenager, she has comebacks to make the Bronx blush. She's Punky Brewster on acid.

And to add to all that, she has one hell of a complicated life. And Juno is an unpretentious, voyeur's-eye view of it. Simplistically speaking, I'm glad someone made a well-scripted, funny, and bittersweet TEEN movie that doesn't oversimplify or patronize one of the most complex periods of our lives. Juno's bound to sweep up the globes.

In other news, I love Ankasa pillows.

We f***ed up the endgame!

I had never heard of Charlie Wilson, prior to the hype generated by the movie, leave alone understood the primary role that he played in the end of the Cold War. I was aware of the wicked quadrangular interplay between US-Pakistan-Afghanistan and Russia, but the key strategic role of the womanizing Texan senator was somewhat baffling.

Charlie Wilson's War is a movie about forgotten glory. And more importantly, its a movie that makes you aghast at the irony that the US has historically created, staffed and fortified its enemies, prior to launching an offensive war on them. It does not dilute the cruciality that Charlie had in terms of allocating mammoth budgets to the initiative, nor does it overplay it by giving him a messiah-like status.

As you watch Tom Hanks slip deeper into the character of Wilson, one starts to realize that he is by far one of the greatest actors of our time. From Philadelphia, to Forrest Gump. From Saving Private Ryan, to Castaway. From Sleepless in Seattle, to The Terminal. Hanks defines versatility that legends are made of. Julia Roberts was unbelievably droll - completely not with it. Philip Seymour Hoffman - brilliant as always. Om Puri as ex-Pakistani president, Zia-Ul-Haq was interesting and adequate.

CWW is the kind of non-documentary that makes you rethink the mental image that you have of the past, and truly makes it leap out of the pages of your history books, and become a real story that is capable of being perceived, especially in light of the events of the last few years. The highlight of the movie are the last few definitive scenes, where Charlie strives to bring his epic work to closure. Its clear that he wanted America to seal the open wound that was post-war Afghanistan by building the foundation blocks of education and a non-corrupt political system. But its clear that this never happened. The well-equipped, military-trained country slipped into the ranks of religious fanaticism, causing the birth of the Taliban, and the mushrooming of Jihadist organizations that had a multiplier effect across the Middle East over the years, coming back to bite the US in the a$$ less than 2 decades later.

As Wilson puts it simply yet sadly in the ominous closing quote of the movie, before fade-to-black,

"These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world".

"And then we went, and we f***ed up the endgame"

Friday, January 04, 2008

So, turning 27

.. today, isn't all that its steamed up to be.

As I'm short of words, I'll turn the baton to Vishesh, who shares this potent quote which he requested me to post on RevEv on this day. So here goes.


When I think about years gone by,
and what I'd still just like to do.
I pray to our Lord above,
to grant these things that I pursue.

But I keep adding to my story,
another chapter to proclaim.
For everything I'm doing now,
I don't do it for acclaim.

For I've paid my life long dues,
and now its time to play.
Just so long as I remember
to thank God when I pray.

Ahem ... thanks. I think?

In other news, Viva Capricorn!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008