Monthly Archives: February 2007

Proud moment

I have been named as a captain of the Chennai Metblogs. All my articles written for Metblogs (85 at last count) are here. Just wanted to share the happy news with you all.

Holi hai!

Found this video on India Uncut. It’s worth reproducing on my blog. Read more here.

Meanwhile, friends who organised Wikicamp in Chennai might be interested in this news.

The Departed wins

Much to my delight and surprise, The Departed won the Best picture Oscar, while one of my favourite directors Martin Scorcese won the honour long due to him for Best director. The Departed also took home the Best adapted screenplay award. Read more here.

A pale shadow of his former self

At the time I began watching Hollywood movies critically, Oliver Stone used to be a favourite. I consider JFK to be one of the best political thrillers of all time. Likewise, Platoon too is undoubtedly one of the best Vietnam films ever made.

Also consider some of his other movies: Salvador, Wall Street, Nixon, U Turn, The Doors and Any Given Sunday. Take a minute and think of the cast he commanded for any of those films. With such an impressive list of films starting from the mid 1980s, Stone must take his rightful place in any list of top American directors working before Quentin Tarantino.

Stone was the quintessential American director. You may have heard the ‘Greed is Good’ speech made by Michael Douglas in Wall Street. It wasn’t as if Stone was only technically perfect. He could make actors deliver too. James Wood in Salvador was nothing short of electric.

For the ordinary viewer, The Doors may seem ordinary. But consider the possibilities for the potter. Even without any artificial stimulants, I was quite tripped by the time The Doors ended. Also Val Kilmer delivers a stellar performance, even singing all the songs of Jim Morrison’s.

Also, consider the genres Stone straddled: the rock movie (The Doors), the political thriller (JFK, Salvador), the war movie (Platoon) and the sports movie (Any Given Sunday).

And yet Stone has now slipped. His last two films Alexander and World Trade Centre has not only failed at the box office, they have also been panned by critics.

I saw Alexander on a very bad DVD. But one shot of those chameleons and that soaring eagle was enough to turn me off. I recently saw WTC. It is a reasonably good film, but does not live up to the huge expectations of any movie made on 9/11. I haven’t seen United ’93, but going by the Academy nominations, it seems that ’93 is altogether the better 9/11 film.

Why do directors slip so badly? Why do they from their rarefied heights fall so pathetically? Will Stone regain his lost glory? I am plainly worried for him. I hope and pray that he, one day, makes a comeback as superb as his critically acclaimed movie, Platoon.

Read more here.

Links galore

Recently found this site. Been listening to Dylan ever since.

Found this post on resigning from a newspaper editorial on Smal Ideas

I have long been a fan of Jarshad’s PJs. Have a look here. Meanwhile, Rahul, a buddy since ACJ, takes to blogging with a lament.

Guru

Mani Ratnam’s Guru ends with a polemic against the ‘Licence Raj’, the period prior to the reforms of the 90s when bureaucratic red tapeism was high. Since the reforms initiated by Dr Manmohan Singh in the Narasimha Rao government, this argument against the License Raj may have become irrelevant. Today, it appears that starting and running a company in India is comparatively easier. This is a conclusion I arrive at by the sheer proliferation of software and automobile companies in recent years.
If as reports say, Gurukant Desai is Dhirubhai Ambani, then it is wrong to side with Reliance, which is a well-entrenched power centre. It’s also wrong to convince the viewer that his sympathies should lie with the biggest empire in Independent India.

The movie meanders in the first half and really begins in earnest only with Guru entering the textiles market in Mumbai, demanding a membership in the union. Until then, the movie was largely forgettable except for the scenes between Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, which assume significance mostly because of their off-screen relationship.
Why Mani spends the first 15 minutes of the movie in Turkey is an unanswered question. Some viewers may argue that it is here that Guru makes the important decision not to work under the white man. But still as a portrayal of a businessman’s early days, this portion of the movie is unconvincing.

At times I also felt that this is hardly the movie a director should be making 15 years after Nayagan, acclaimed as the best Tamil movie of all time.

But Guru is not at all a completely shoddy work. The song sequences are excellent. The songs by A.R.Rahman, I felt, were among his best. The background music though leaves much to be desired. Abhishek’s performance, like many have already noted, is his best since he first appeared in Refugee. But my quarrels with the politics of the movie remain. Any comments?

Oscar nominated movies

Babel, which I saw about a week ago, is the concluding part of the trilogy that began with Amores Perros (Love’s a Bitch) and 21 Grams. Two siblings accidentally shoot at a bus in Morocco injuring a passenger. From this incident, two more stories are traced making it four in all – the siblings, the passenger, the passengers’ two children taken care of by their Mexican nanny and the owner of the rifle in Japan. Some of you may be familiar with the story of the Babel tower. If not look here. Like the previous two films, this too is in non-linear narrative. But this is a much more mature film from Alejandro González Iñárritu. Amores Perros inspired Ayutha Ezhuthu. Wonder if Babel too will show up in Tamil one day.

*******

Little Miss Sunshine is a little movie of a family of eccentrics, who hit the road, so that their nine-year-old kid can take part in the beauty contest. There is a moral in the end about losing in the winning crazed nation of America. Probably the most funny movie nominated for this year’s Oscar.

*******

Apocalypto,Mel Gibson’s story of the decay of the Mayan civilization, is a gas bag. But it has interesting and extremely violent action sequences. Has to be seen in a movie theatre to enjoy the stunning cinematography. May end up winning the Oscar for best make up.