December 31, 2007

Happy New Year folks!

Spent the last 1 week or so languishing in Rajasthan, sticking to the path less travelled. No net, no comp, bare glimpses of actual city life (there was TONS of city, we just avoided it like the plague). We spent our time in the Jaipur, Mt. Abu and Jodhpur areas- while jaipur is uncomfortably commercial, Mt. Abu is rustic enough to please anyone, and looks like we beat Madonna to Jodhpur- she came over to spent New Year's eve the same day we left :)

New year announcements: Found lots of CDs of obscure movies here: trashy horror movies and trashier Mithun fare-all coming up for your special behoof in January'08!

December 24, 2007

2007 faves and connectivity misery..:)

I am having tons of trouble connecting while traveling in India- connectivity in small tows is HELL! Bbut how long can a blogger survive without blogging? Driven to anxiety from the lack of creative writing, I found myself unable to help myself…..

With the approaching year-end, I am compelled to do come up with my “top 10” list for 2007. These are not all Oscar worthy, merely what I had fun watching. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The Namesake: The movie that Tabu deserves an Oscar for. The movie that catapulted Irfan Khan into being the true crossover star that he is (take that Aishwariya- your comparative movies: “Last Legion” etc.- suck big time).

2. The Darjeeling Limited: Easily my favorite movie of the year. Adrien Brody proves he can be endearing and handsome, Owen Wilson simply proves he can actually act, and – well he proves nothing, but simply blows me away. Now I am compelled to watch all o Clive Barker’s movies…..

3. Honeymoon Travels: This was serious fun- it easily qualifies as one of the most underrated movies of the year. Boman and Shabana are brilliant, and I am SO in love with Abhay Deol….mmmmmmm yummy!

4. Bommarillu: SO good! I love Siddharth, and I love this movie for helping me “crossover” and appreciate cinema in other languages. We DO NOT see the boy walking away with the girl in the end, but we believe he will….I guess this one also helped me finally appreciate romantic movies. Good Stuff.

5. Cheeni Kum: I finally learned to appreciate Amitabh. This was a fun watch, and Tabu again proved that she is one of the most talented actors in Bollywood history.

6. Unnale Unnale: I was almost not going to include this- it appeared to be a run-of-the-mill romance after all. But an O. Henry-esque ending saved the day and this movie oh so gloriously. Bonus: A bearable Tanisha for once!

7. Die Hard IV: On the list for its sheer entertainment value. Also kudos are in order for the presentation of an aging male Hollywood star without the ignominy of sagging man-boobs and idiotic self-applause. Bruce cracks jokes on himself and wins the day against tech-terrorists with unmatchable panache.

8. Bhul Bhulaiya: Akshay, you finally made me believe you are a true star- I ignored Vidya’s idiocity and even thought kindly of Shiney and Ameesha, while I was awestruck by your entertainment skills.

9. Spiderman III: Yes yes, I know the movie sucked, as did Spidey himself (SUCH a sissy boy!). But Topher Grace and James Franco cannot be denied applause for their amazing presence and charisma.

10. Salam-e-Ishq: Another underrated movie that single-handedly revived Govinda’s dead career. Salman, in a dumb hairstyle, nevertheless blew me away (when does he not?). Sohail Khan went SO unappreciated, though he was truly raunchily funny.

Note: You will find that the list misses out on much miscellaneous popular cinema. This is deliberate, since I have no admiration of it! :D My biggest crib against 90% of cinema today is the fact that while the clothes, special effects, cinematography etcetera all rock, the story and script seem way behind. We appear to be falling all over themselves applauding movies whose story has either been done million times in other countries (Chak De), or is so wafer thin it cannot hide behind all the gyrations of all the babes in the world.

December 1, 2007

The Golden Compass

Title: The Golden Compass
Year: 2007
Cast: Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Dakota Blue Richards.

Caught a sneak preview of this as well today- yup we at Apni are getting lucky that way.

The plot: Lyra is a little girl who lives in a alternate earth-style planet in an alternate universe. She is an orphan living in a university, kept there by her uncle, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig). Interestingly, each person on the planet has a creature that lives with them 24-7: each creature, known as a demon, is more like a "familiar", whose life is somehow bound with the person's.

One day, Mrs. Stuart (Nicole Kidman) visits the university, and somehow pressures the professors into sending Lyra with her to the north. The professors are unwilling to do so, but because of Mrs. Stuart's influence with the government (and for another reason we will learn later), they let her go, but only after gifting her the golden compass- that somehow works only under Lyra's fingers to reveal to her any answers that she may seek.

Lyra is seduced by Mrs. Coulter's beauty and obvious powers- but once with her, the charm soon wears off. She realizes that Mrs. Coulter is behind the disappearances of children in the land- she is helping the magesterial government run secret experiments on children, using them as guinea pigs to test a vaccine that will separate people from their demons. Lyra is horrified and runs away, being rescued by the "Gyptians"- Gypsies of this alternate world, who are in league with Lord Asriel.

Lyra takes the help of Lorek Byrinson, a renegade white bear, and successfully rescues the kids from the gobblers (the folks who run the experiments). Lorek also wins kingship of the white bears via a fierce fight with their king.

Meanwhile, Lyra finds out that she is not an orphan- she is in fact the daughter of Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter (That is why the professors couldnt prevent Lyra from leaving with her). She wrecks' Coulter's face when defending herself, and the movie concludes with Lyra racing with her new friends to rescue Asriel from the Magisterial army. The field is left wide open for a sequel.

Pros: Nicole's vamp act, Dakota's precociousness.
Cons: It appears that the director used sets from Narnia(2006), and even bought 50% of the costumes from the older movie. The conclusion is somehow not satisfactory- leaves one feeling somewhat bereft.
Not to miss: Lorek's fight with the king of the White Bears.

Where The Wild Things Are

Title: Where The Wild Things Are
Year: 2008 (Yup you read correctly)
Cast: Max Records, Catherine Keener.

The plot is pretty straight forward- Max is playing at home one evening dressed in a wolf costume. Having teased the dog and worried his mother to distraction, as punishment he is sent to bed without supper. In his room, a mysterious, wild forest grows out of his own imagination....where fearsome-looking monsters abound. Max conquers them with a scary look and he is made the King of the Wild Things. One day, lonely and homesick, and he returns home to his the same moment he had left at.

But the plot isn't the big deal about this movie- what is important is the interweaving of animation with "real" people and special effects. Despite all the effects etc, Where the.... does nothing for me- its probably just me...

Not to miss: James Gandolfini! James Gandolfini! James Gandolfini!