June 29, 2007

Religeous movies are made differently these days...

Title: Evan Almighty
Year: 2007
Cast: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman, Molly Shannon, Wanda Sykes.

Yup, they sure don't make religeous movies like they used to. Back in the Protestant Christian school I went to from Standards 1 to 12, we were required to watch The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur once a year every year, and the movies were both engaging and dare I say- heavy. Its hard not to compare Evan Almighty to them, especially since despite its comic trappings, the movie has a pretty strong religious core.

Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) is an ex-TV Newsman, who has just been elected Congressman. His first day in office finds him with a message from God (Morgan Freeman) to go build an ark. At the same time, the evil heavy Congressman Long (John Goodman) next door wants his aid in deforesting and building over grounds that would further destabilize the environment.

So of course, after initial reticence, Baxter builds the arc with the help of his wife and 3 sons, who also initially believe him as crazy and then gradually come around. The flood, when it happens is a fake out really- the local dam breaks, and the strength of the waters bring Baxter, riding his arc with all the animals, to Capitol hill.

Its funny in parts. But there are so many loopholes in the movie that even Morgan Freeman's cool God act cant redeem it. Honestly, if the flood was only going to mean a dam burst and a ride to the Senate, then why did ALL the animals in creation have to come in pairs to inhabit the ark? It makes no sense! So fine, even if we assume this is because God works in strange ways- and I am always eager to agree with that reasoning, even then the director cannot be easily forgiven for all the wastage of talent. Steve Carell and Wanda Sykes gets to showcase themselves- Steve completely, Wanda not so much; but Molly Shannon and John Goodman are utterly wasted. Still, its a good watch, a must-watch if you love Steve and Morgan, as I do.

June 28, 2007

Gumnaam: Super cool

Title: Gumnaam
Year: 1965
Cast: Manoj Kumar, Helen, Pran, Nanda, Mehmood, Dhumal, Madan Puri.

The 60s were the best time to be alive. Spies and hippies filled the movies, and there was a almost naive belief in universal love and freedom of the individual. This infectious global attitude also affected India, who was just beginning to acquire a taste of the freedom she gained in '47. Case in point: Guide, Bhoot Bangla, Waqt- all three of which had different social messages, but none escaped the camp-iness of the swinging 60s (some more than others: Bhoot Bangla was just campy fun sans social messages. I need to get that in these pages too- its a blast!).

But I digress. After a great opening number "Jaan Pehchaan Ho" ("lets get to know each other"- aptly titled, since the protagonists soon get to know each other more than they want to) in a night club, seven patrons(five men and two women) are told they have won some random contest, which entitles them to visit someplace on a plane ride.

Our protagonists get aboard a plane and find that its just the seven of them in it- no other travellers, except the pilot (Manoj Kumar). The plane promptly flies and then even more promptly requires to make a deserted landing on a supposedly deserted island.

Our heroes search the island and find a mansion, upon entering which they find a mysterious but comic butler (Mehmood, once again the vidushak). Mehmood promptly informs them that they are indeed expected, and presents them with a little black diary which announces each one of our travellers to be murderers, who have been expressly bought to the island to be offered their just desserts. All eyes fall suspiciously (and I can see the literal visual of this phrase- eyeballs randomly falling- eugh) on Manoj, who as the pilot, has to have known to steer them to the island.

Manoj pleads innocent, but in the course of the next few days, members of the party begin to die off one by one. Is the murderer one of them, or hiding on the island? While I never hesitate to give away plot point, on this instance I will hold back- this is a movie you really must see!

To anyone familiar with Agatha Christie's literary works, it will be obvious that Gumnaam was inspired from her classic And Then There Were None, also known as Ten Little Indians. The novel has inspired many movies, in the spirit of Christie's Mousetrap. Gumnam takes good inspiration from the novel, but puts in way more romance (Manoj and Nanda) than, in my personal opinion, was required. They perform the requisite song in the rain, and Nanda just gets on my nerves with her shriek-y voice, as she manages to in every movie I've seen of hears (thankfully very few). On the other hand is Helen, looking ravishing as Kitty Kelley, dancing on the beach much to the delight of a leering Pran. She is a treat to watch, and I love watching both her and Pran. Manoj is a ham, but is way easier to watch in this movie where all the attention is not focused entirely on him.

Note: I found all these great posters and record covers of Gumnaam online, and decided to use them in this blog- love 'em!

June 25, 2007

back to my roots..

Glancing across old posts, it appears I am moving away from my devotion to Bollywood B movies... but what is a girl to do when the avalanche of summer movies has hit? However, I am properly chastened and will get back to my first love...

So we will immediately begin to make amends: Despite the fact that I did watch Evan Almighty this past weekend, before covering that, I will first write the review of the super cool Bollywood 60s flick I caught a few weeks ago. But not today ....................... :D

June 22, 2007

Fantastic Four: not very fantastic at all

Title: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Year: 2007
Cast: Honestly, who cares. However: Jessica Alba, Iaon Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis.

I always LIKED the Fantastic Four- specially Ben. But both the parts of this movie, #1 plus the current sequel, lack the energy essential to making any movie go from OK to WOW. Everyone, with the exception of Ben (Michael Chiklis) seem to be so uninterested in what they are doing: Reed (Iaon Gruffudd) lakes presence, Sue (Jessica Alba) is good only at pouting, Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) just hangs with babes- so whats so special about that?

Actually, nothing is special about that, and by the same token, nothing really stands out in the movie except Ben and the Silver Surfer. Which is hilarious, since both actors are augmented by special affects, and still surpass the others who have the liberty of using their real faces for emoting but cannot emote! The story in a nutshell (if you really care): The Silver Surfer(Norrin Radd) is sent to Earth by some unseen power. His goal is to destroy the planet, as he has done every one of the planets he has visited.
He couldn't have come at a worst time: Reed and Sue are finally getting married, Johnny is super comfy with the endorsements he has accumulated and Ben is happy with his little blind girlfriend. The Fantastic Four are plagued now, not only by the Surfer but also by their former enemy, Doom, who has made a comeback from the dead.
So do our heroes win the day? - Yes of course.
Do we care that they do? - Ummm...not so much.
Why? - Wellll....there is just no passion.
Like I said before, nobody seems to care what the heck they do. Nobody looks like they are having fun- and that truly is important in any movie. The campiest of movies have worked simply because the folks acting in them are just having a ball, and the viewer gets caught up in the infectious euphoria thus created: case in point, Shaun of the Dead, which lead to the recent Hot Fuzz, covered elsewhere in these pages. The sheer lack of energy kills the movie for me. Perhaps the highlight was he point where Ben and Johnny find out that they can swap powers:

That's really about all there is- watch it only if you must.

June 21, 2007

Ocean's 13

Title: Ocean's 13
Year: 2007
Cast: George Cloony, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Al Pacino, Andy Garcia.

When one's of Danny Ocean's (need I say? OK: George Clooney) own: Reuben Tishkoff gets duped by Willy Banks (Al Pacino), to whom he looses some prime Vegas property, and lands in the hospital with a heart attack. Danny and his crew are out for revenge, and oh what a ride....

Sure, this isn't a cinematic masterpiece in any sense of the term. But who can resist Danny (Clooney), Rusty (Pitt), Lenny (Damon) and the gang getting together once again, sharing space with Pacino and Garcia?

Danny and crew decide to do everything within their powers to not only shut down the casino that Willy has built on Reuben's land, they also decide to rob him while they are at it, make him bankrupt, plus steal diamonds for Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). Aside: In a prequel, Danny and Terry were adversaries, but here they collaborate against their one enemy: Willy.

Do Danny & Co. win the day? Of course, and that is a foregone conclusion. The movie is simply an exhibit of Mr. Clooney's charisma, accented by Brad Pitt's handsomeness. The two best scenes in the movie (in my not so humble opinion) involve only the two actors;
Scene 1:
Rusty knocks on Danny's hotel room door.
Danny opens it, wiping his eyes.
When Rusty asks, Danny explains it was something in his eye....when Rusty overhears "Oprah" on the living room TV. Incredulous, he asks Danny if we was crying while watch Oprah- and then himself is caught up by the show, sniffing right along with Danny.....

Scene 2:
The end of the movie- Danny and Rusty at Vegas airport.
Rusty ribs Danny about having gained some weight in the midsection.
Danny advises Rusty to "get married, have a couple of kids" - and here we can insert innumerable Angie Jolie & the kids (during the filming, there were still only two) jokes.

You KNOW Clooney fills a tux like no other man on this planet or beyond- see it!

June 20, 2007

Danny Ocean is my homeboy

Well not really.

But Clooney shares my political views, and lives in LA, so a girl can dream, right?

Saw Ocean's 13, finally understood the Clooney Charm for myself, and will blog the review soon.

For now, just drool right along with me....

June 13, 2007

Still surviving

Am still surviving folks- not dead yet, just no time to blog.
Have barely cooked, and watched some movies, but dont have enough to blog about.
Lots of family stuff happening, and a downpour of work.

As you know, I spent last week in Tennessee (turned out it wasn't as quiet a small town as I thought...). This week am back in Pasadena, and next week will be in St Louis, Missouri- not looking forward to that. as I recall from last year, St. Louis is just barely going through revitalization, and has a way to go. Then half of July will be in San Diego, with early August in Baton Rouge- just in time for hurricane season (NOT lucky me).
OTHER auditors have a laid back summer- OTHER NORMAL people take summer vacations..
but the insanity isn't bad- just got to roll with the punches here.

My only concern is the hubby- and I marvel at how my dear sainted husband handles this- he is a model of patience- couldn't have managed with any other man. Our 2nd anniversary is coming up end of July, when I'll probably still be travelling- had originally planned to take vacation and do something fun, but had to cancel cos of work again... oh well- we'll still have a weekend. And I WILL refuse if they try to call me in to work on that weekend!

Meanwhile, to keep urself amused, check out this guy:
He is "Thai Elvis" - not a bad voice really, but the appearance is amazingly cheesy- features at the Palms Thai restaurant in Hollywood, which is a good spot for us late night folks.

June 7, 2007

Sad Auditor Joke

My staff sent me this (OK Irina..time for an honorary mention to you on my blog!)...so here is a hilarious comparison of an auditor to a prostitute:

Are you a prostitute or accountant???

Sad but true.........

1. You work very odd hours.
2. You are paid a lot of money to keep your client happy.
3. You are paid well but your pimp gets most of the money.
4. You spend a majority of your time in a hotel room.
5. You charge by the hour but your time can be extended.
6. You are not proud of what you do.
7. Creating fantasies for your clients is rewarded.
8. It's difficult to have a family.
9. You have no job satisfaction.
10. If a client beats you up, the pimp just sends you to another client.
11. You are embarrassed to tell people what you do for a living.
12. People ask you, "What do you do?" and you can't explain it.
13. Your client pays for your hotel room plus your hourly rate.
14. Your client always wants to know how much you charge and what they get for the money.
15. Your pimp drives nice cars like Mercedes or Jaguars.
16. Your pimp encourages drinking and you become addicted to drugs to ease the pain of it all.
17. You know the pimp is charging more than you are worth but if the client is foolish enough to pay it's not your problem.
18. When you leave to go see a client, you look great, but return looking like hell (compare your appearance on Monday AM to Friday PM).
19. You are rated on your "performance" in an excruciating ordeal.
20. Even though you get paid the big bucks, it's the client who walks away smiling.
21. The client always thinks your "cut" of your billing rate is higher than it actually is, and in turn, expects miracles from you.
22. When you deduct your "take" from your billing rate, you constantly wonder if you could get a better deal with another pimp.

June 3, 2007

Pirates of the Carribean 3- finally

Title: Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End
Year: 2007
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly, Yun Fat Chow, Geoffrey Rush Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander.

So here I am, having flown over 2/3rds of the country, in Tennessee for my client. The hotel, crappy as it is, is perhaps the best in town, and the food is definitely good (for once- soup that's NOT bland), plus we have Internet- so no complaints- just miss the hubby painfully much-
oh well- back again in a few days.

So I saw "Pirates.." almost 2 weeks ago- and wasn't dazzled in any sense of the word. The supposedly last part of the trilogy (and I MEAN "supposedly) picks up from where the last one ended. After the motley group of pirates headed by Elizabeth (Keira Knightly), Will Turner(Orlando Bloom), and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) rescue Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the the land of the dead (this takes longer than my description), they must face their foe Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander).

Beckett manages to take possesion of Davey Jones's (Bill Nighy) heart, compelling him to join hands with him. Beckett's goal: to wipe all the pirates off the face of he world's seas. Our heroes get together to summon all the Pirate Lords from the four corners of the globe, including Sao Feng (Chow-Yun Fat). The Pirate Lords, with the persuasion of Elizabeth, Sparrow and Captain Teague (Keith Richards), consent to release the goddess Calypso, Davey Jones's damned lover, from the bounds they had put her in years ago.

So of course mayhem ensues, and there is drama on the high seas with battles galore. Of course the pirates defeat the British Navy(would we have dared assumed otherwise?), and the heroes triumph in the end.

Now the problems: As entertaining as Mr. Depp is, he amuses only so much- you get somewhat tired in the middle of the movie- we have seen most of the same action already in the 1st two movies. Keith Richards's much publicized cameo as Sparrow's dad has been talked about to the extent that it fails to thrill when we actually see it. And the director is NOT winning any brownie points with the female audience by the whole star crossed lovers thing with Orlando- we do not like to see him in any pain! Worse still- why the heck get in Mr. Fat Chow if he is to be killed off in less than 6 scenes?!!

All in all, the movie is as expected, except of course the twist in the end with Orlando and Keira, and the whole Calypso release sequence. If you have seen the 1st two, of course you want to see the last one (allegedly- I'm definitely not convinced). Psst... Bill Nighy looks very sissy without the Davey Jones makeup...sorry!