Thursday, February 24, 2005
The affairs of the lawns make a new splash again. There's the article in the Indian Express, which got picked up across several miles too!
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Vinod Pande's new movie Sins is treading the familiar path of controversy. After going gaga over the salacious promises of the market with Dhoom, Yashraj Films chose to distribute this flick as well. Controversy is a nice way of marketing products whose artistic intent is questionable. Pande is keen on going ahead with the Feb 25 release date and chooses to ignore the protest from some members of the Catholic community (called the Catholic Secular Forum -- I sense an element of paradoxical irony there, but never mind). In all this, we note that (as always) the people protesting the content of the film have not even seen it. We also note the similarity to the sleep-fest Monsignor (and it might even make this drone look like a masterpiece). And Vinod Pande fails to be consistent in his stand about the film. After lamenting the protests ("If they watched the film, they would know it is a sensitive and touching tale. It is a bold film but it is neither cheesy nor sleazy, I promise you."), he goes on to chop off the branch he is sitting on ("Sins IS bold. You'll see a lot more nudity on screen, and parts of the anatomy never seen before. But they are aesthetically beautiful scenes."). Dude! Are you trying to make an argument for art or try and sell porn?
Speculation that the skin-flick fetish is on an ebb, but I wonder if it was ever on the rise. The section of the media in India devoted to film and entertainment seems to be taking more tips from their American counterparts -- create a trend, and then blame the residents for it.
And the Jijy Philip movie for The Factory (or The Factory at Work) makes an appearance in the early preview (aka no trailer) phase, my wife's murder. The Factory page is here. Faithful followers will recognize this as a consolidated repackaging of Galti Se and Jaan Boojh Ke (nice idea that was ... pity.) [more thereabouts]
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Following a typically faux-bizarre thread of pages I went from reading about n-grams to stumble onto a page on the excellent Language Log that dropped two words in synonymy -- malapropism and eggcorn. Aha! I hit the friendly link to the Eggcorn Database dedicated to defining and collecting eggcorns. Some of the examples are gems, but one of them in particular caught my eye: wry->rye. Now, I've been (ab)using this as a pun for a while -- stemming from seeing Jewish Rye Bread occasionally and also from my distaste for the clichés in Woody Allen movies. So I kept referring to it as Jewish Wry Bread. So my pun now becomes an eggcorn. This means that I have found a nice useful repository of puns as bad as this one <wink/>.
Stir of Echoes suffered for appearing at around the same time as MNS's The Sixth Sense. And if the stats of IMDB are to be believed, SoE cost less!! Never really like TSS that much. Didn't deserve all that hype. This quiet flick won't score high on the chills and thrills scale, but it has its moments and a slew of honest performances. Not sure what it is about Kevin Bacon. A very very interesting actor indeed. James Newton Howard has a couple of interesting cues on the score, and I liked the subtle F/X during the "icy" visitation sequence. The film is based on Richard Matheson's novel of the same name and there's a related in-joke when the babysitter is seen reading The Shrinking Man (the source of the famous The Incredible Shrinking Man). And I liked the ([un]intentional?) counterpoint offered by Kevin Bacon's T-shirt that read "social distortion". The end credits note special thanks to Brian de Palma and Steven Soderbergh. No idea why. A decent way to spend 100 minutes. And now if I can find The Omega Man somewhere ...
Monday, February 14, 2005
Wuxtry Records continues to get my vote for the most interesting used CD store in town. My recent trip got me a handful of mixed music (in return for plastic loss, of course). I resisted the temptation to hoard the Badalamanti/Lynch collaborations there, but I know I'll be back to claim them (unless someone beats me to it).
* Deep Throat Anthology, Pts. 1 & 2 (should make for a combination of shocked faces and a good point for questions as soon as I put up a exhibit of my collection)
* RCA's Greatest One-Hit Wonders: Potential victims of my trivia assault may note this as a source of preparatory material
* Zabriskie Point: and more on the making of the soundtrack. This is a relatively less-publicized UK release from EMI with just 11 tracks. What I need to do now is get the extended Rhino release.
* Moog (OST) with a bonus disc of more electronica.
* TV Land Crime Stoppers: TV's greatest PI themes
* Buried Treasures: Lost gems from deep in the '60s vaults
* Surfin' Hits, if only to have at least one version of Pipeline on CD.
Friday, February 11, 2005
The end credits of Rituparno Ghosh's first Hindi film Raincoat acknowledge O. Henry as an inspiration. Just in case you were wondering, the story in question is the classic The Gift of the Magi. Ghosh has been showered with superlatives and hailed as, among other things, a worthy successor to Ray. The only Ghosh film I have managed to catch was Bariwali. News articles and posts online give me the idea that Ghosh is a very "inspired" director -- people have spotted echoes of the works of Bergman in his films (which is not necessarily a bad thing really -- except when Khalid Mohammed and Tehzeeb are concerned).
Which brings us to this film itself. The flick has things going for it -- I liked the way the dissolves and different edits served the narrative (or the sense thereof). Ajay Devgan, once again, provides a sincere (not to be confused with stellar or mindblowing) performance. Annu Kapoor easily takes top honours with his brief role. Must I even bother to say anything about Ms Aishwarya Rai? She looks strange, overdoes her part, and fakes her dialogues to the hilt. If her performance serves any purpose, it is to underscore and highlight how inconsistent and poorly written her part is. The character of Neerja is supposed to have issues with English, and is anything but cosmopolitan and cultured in her social exchanges. What Ghosh provides in the way of dialogue is completely appalling and contrary to this: note how more cosmopolitan Rai seems in the flashbacks, for example. And Rai's pronunciations are jarring -- if only Ghosh had found an actress instead of succumbing to sheer star glory (now I haven't seen Chokher Bali, but I don't have high hopes).
Ms Rai's fraudulent performance only brings to the fore other aspects of the film that might not have been seen as problems -- its pace and the very rare appropriateness of the soundtrack. And at the end of it all, there was only sympathy for everyone involved except Ms Rai and Ghosh. I hope he sticks to actors instead of succumbing to stars (unless he wants to make the $$$). As for Ms Rai, she is a beautiful pestilence that afflicts the milieu of good filmmaking -- if she only she had some acting smarts and flexibility, but then, I don't think that was part of her plan, really.
On the trivia front we have a slower male rendition of piyaa toraa kaisaa abhimaan that differs from the one on the soundtrack (which still remains the best part of the film for me).
Question: Saregama Ltd merits a mention in the acknowledgements thanks to the use of diegetic music they own (e.g. do sitaaro.n kaa zamiin par hai milan from Kohinoor), but why does Subhash K Jha's name figure in the acknowledgements?
Another curious aspect of the credits is the way Ghosh renames established departments. He refers to the actors as "players", he refers to the actors providing cameos as "special players" (incidentally, Surekha Sikri merits two mentions!), he chooses to use "montage" instead of editing (which might only reveal his merit as a student of film and film history), and he chooses to refer to himself as an "author" (auteur, anyone?). Wonder why...
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
[source: T. S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday]
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Aarohi, a recently-conceived Georgia Tech student organisation to promote interest in Indian classical music hosted a Tsunami Relief Concert in association with Vibha's Atlanta chapter and the Atlanta chapter of UNA. The affiliation with ICMS meant that I was around to help and attend. Statistically, all the performers were Bengalis. And but for Kakali Bandhopadhyaya (Sitar) and Krishnakali Bakshi (harmonium), they were/have been faculty members at the Pandit Jasraj School of Music (Sougata Banerjee -- vocal, Prithviraj Bhattacharjee -- tabla). It was a pity that the tabla remained in a supporting role all evening. The vocal performances of raag jaijaiva.nti, aadii (aka havelii) basan.t [thanks to PB for that piece of information], and the (regrettably brief) final bhairavii were my favourite picks. The turnout was high (a good thing for the relief effort), but I couldn't help wondering "why does it take a natural disaster to get such a huge turnout for a hindustani classical music concert? where are all the rasiks?"
Friday, February 04, 2005
The dark clouds have gone by. The sky has cleared up, the sun is out. It's a great day. Wish the work milieu were up to it.
The movie for the night is Robert Aldrich's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Equally famous for the casting coup of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (both way past their prime), this creepy drama (calling it a thriller wouldn't do it justice) features a great makeup job for Bette Davis, and wonderful performances from both leads (Davis gets a few more points simply for going above and beyond the call of duty in providing vibes of creepiness and shock). People expecting a conventional plot (based on the premise) will be rewarded at the end. And the denouement works wonderfully on several levels: it gives us the little twist we might not have been expecting; it sets all the events past in a new light; it redefines ever-so succinctly the character of "Baby Jane" Hudson and gives us one of the most interesting tormented characters on the B&W screen. The only other Aldrich film I have seen is the howlarious Kiss Me Deadly (an adaptation of one of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer tales). And IMDB's trivia page confirms the connection: the beach featured in the tail acts of both films is the same (right down to the beach house that gets blown up in the Hammer tale and merely features in the background in this one). So much for the coincidence of limited viewing. I'm embarking on an Aldrich trip now, so there should be more where this came from.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
The college formerly known as COEP and briefly notorious as PIET has now reverted to its original name. No such luck with Prince Roger Nelson/Christopher/whatever.
Java Development with Ant uses an illustration of an inhabitant of Goa (which is a region on the western coast of India, south of Bombay.). The errata [PDF link] includes a note for "about the cover illustration": The city of Bombay is now officially called Mumbai.
A: which slash? forward or backward?
B: top right, bottom left.
A: that would be ... a forward slash.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Ek Alag Mausam has its heart in the right place. Rajit Kapoor, Nandita Das, and Anupam Kher, and Gopi (blink-and-you'll-miss-him) feature in this K. P. Sasi-directed venture that approaches a bag of facets related to the myth and reality of AIDS. Some are clichéd (perhaps because everyone who wanted to make an "AIDS awareness" movie chose the simple facts), but others are interesting. The irony came from me sitting on my couch with Mahesh Dattani's Collected Plays beside me and watching a screen credit for him (story, script and screenplay!). Unfortunately, the dialogues are one of the downsides of the film. The words and lines are oh-so stilted and clichéd at times. Makes you want to find a cliff. Of the performances, the only one that seems relatively unforced is Rajit Kapoor's. Nandita Das's reading of her character continues to fuel my doubts about her acting abilities. Anupam Kher is in it clearly for the cause. His character remains, like so many others, unbaked, undeveloped and unfinished. The songs by Ravi will remain memorable only for marking his return to Hindi film music. They are woefully unimpressive, jarringly obtrusive, and eminently better suited for half-hearted movies for children. If only this idea had landed in better hands -- tighter handling, and richer performances would have given us a film that offered more interesting and thought-provoking POVs for HIV and AIDS. What we are left with, unfortunately, is yet another effort that failed to capitalize on its promise.