Friday, 31 October 2008

Fashion [* * * *]

I went from vacuous men to vacuous women viewing Fashion but I must have two standards because I identified and empathized with this movie.

The story wasn't bad at all, and when it drags at least it does so on heavier emotional content that's hard to explore visually.

For example, when the smalltown girl tries to show humility or gratitude to the bigwigs of the fashion world who treat her like a brainless clotheshorse, it's confused and boring. But when the moviemaker covers something real, like the women losing their sense of identity from the demands of the profession and ambition ... gosh, it's so believeable.

get lost so often when I'm trying to go-git and suddenly find I've left my compassion or basic humanity somewhere along the way, and I have to stop to regret and return to it or lose my entire ambition.

I really liked how that was portrayed. It was genuine, identifiable experience for girls with a modelling dream - torn between who they are and who they have to be to succeed in patriarchal, image-driven, avante garde. [wait ... did I just blame patriarchy again!!?! it's alright, all that skin sells modelling, fashion and shows to another generation of glamgirls and confused boys ... and ... what was with the product placement, Madhur? lol]

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Reviewing reviews

I met a 20+ at the movies. The first thing she said was, "So ... you must be prejudiced?" when I said I reviewed movies. Yes, if 'prejudice' is the only word she has for 'opinion'. (I mentioned the reviews as my excuse for watching movies alone and so many of them. If she'd been on the blog I'd have mentioned movies as my excuse for blogging. I'm flexible about interpretation.)

I see no particular threat to my freedom to hold strong and definite opinion as a woman: If she'd shown more curiosity rather than a desire to slot, I'd have said that I just like movies, I have opinions and I hold my opinion of the movie up for peer review when I blog about them.

That's all there is to critical thinking: opinion that builds on a flexible (and strong) foundation of values.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Body of Lies [ * * ]

I've grown to dislike the vacuous DiCaprio and Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott. None of them seem to get anything right beyond empty posing. Guys, you really ought to try living a real life before you make movies. ;(Leo, try to feel ... something, k? Or else empty male lives comes through and we know that you've run away from dealing with emotional choice. Sometimes I wonder how much more mature Hollywood would have been if it was alcohol, drug and tobacco-free - the three great escapes.:)

That said, there wasn't a plot to begin with, so these bimbas can't be blamed for alternately overacting and underacting scenes.

There was a handsome devil playing Jordanian cop (Mark Strong) who kinda made it worth watching. For the guys the charming woman cast as a nurse (Golshifteh Farahani) would have made it worth a while (not quite 'worthwhile':). It's altogether worth a miss. lol! Don't waste your time seeing it - just read the more educational Time review.

Monday, 27 October 2008

How scarred are you by images?

Were you traumatized as a kid with entertainment-gone-wrong and unable to express it?

Ha ha!:) ... lol, you're among friends.
The 10 Best Animated Movies for Traumatizing Kids is a critic's treat for a sensitive adult who remembers the inarticulate suffering of childhood!

When I was a child I ran out of the 'free movie treat' in the school auditorium and didn't watch Bambi until I was 40. I wasn't sure I could handle the hunters' killing Bambi's mom and then his dad.;(Cried buckets last year when I finally saw it.)

This is true for so many movies I'd rather not see, like Shindler's List, because they represent too much trauma - I can't bear movies about Nazis and WW2. There is vivid imagery associated with ethnic cleansing from that weirdly modern-savage, unethical, mind-game-of-a-war (I even have past-life memories of being a really frightened nazi myself! I guess there were wusses like me back then, too afraid to do the right thing. Not any more - Speak up for what's right!:)

Remember when you were too afraid to tell your dad you were shell-shocked by the cruelty of a circus? It took me months to recover from his cheery ignorance/ignoring of animal suffering. (kids have to learn desensitized living to become tolerant of casual cruelty.) He didn't communicate enough for us to refuse to go with him either - I dreaded the arrival of Gemini Circus in the city ... I'd walk to school with knots in my stomach when I passed the posters on walls. I wished Mr. Gemini, his kith and kin, dead before my dad saw them. (So very glad circuses are banned today!!!!)

Don't miss the ... lol ... review of Jessica Rabbit and the magical racoon solution to getting rid of builders. Japanese tankui exists!!:D

Friday, 24 October 2008

Flashbacks of a Fool [* * * *]

I'm surprised this movie even made it through the censors in India. It was based on the same edgy art deco style as tv or a 60s lifestyle movie.

An aging actor goes back to his hometown and we see the path he chooses that takes him from being a sweet young boy to a jaded cynic, some in his control, some out of his hands.

The actor was reasonably good-looking (and faded men are so romantic) and very gay (and how I love gay men!:) so well worth a watch for me.

I dislike this style of film-making though for complex reasons - most esp. the unfinished nature of the storytelling. It's like they keep forcing you to finish their sentences - I hate this kind of affectation in girls, hate it worse in men, and most of all when it's premeditated!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Stuck at home with no range ;(

It's been raining too much for me. My bike's broken down on the street and I had to abandon it. It's too much effort to get to the movie (theatre) - but I've been watching Disney Classics at home.

The creativity in them is mind-blowing - I often wonder if we'll ever see the same quality again as in Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Snow White or Bambi, or even those that aren't so well remembered like Lady and the Scamp or Basil of Baker Street. They're really masterpieces of music, colour and idea. These days they seem to be simplifying and masculinizing the stories to Bush standards. ;s

I just saw Home on the Range. It was an unusual feminist theme (for Disney) with a woman rancher and her 3 cows who capture a yodelling cattle rustler - beating a bunch of male chauvinists to it too.:) I'd give it five stars just for being ... modern in a texan way towards acknowledging womanpower. Maybe a generation of kids will learn to live with self-empowered women.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Catch Me If You Can [* * * * *]

A Spielberg movie, so it was well-paced. It's the strange [true] story of the 16 yr old Abegnale who posed as an airline pilot and defrauded Pan Am of over 4 million dollars. He also posed as a teacher, an emergency doctor and a lawyer (he even passed the bar exam after studying for it for a week! :O).

I dislike DiCaprio for his choice (and he just looks ... so greedy and well-fed at times. lol), and Hanks always makes tear-jerkers that I can't watch (I hate his ringing, accusing nasal intonation).

Ethically, it was so believeable - the whole movie, the whole time. This is why: I've begun to understand how the teens and twenties are a time for youth to make themselves in words and by imitation. They lie, cheat and steal quite without any apparent conscience or emotion - the least sign of approval (a smile, a laugh, eye contact) esp from a hero can fix that into their tabula rasa. It substitutes for experience in the 'personality' of reading, movie-watching people.

[I knew a bunch of 24 yr olds on irc and orkut who didn't know the truth from a lie and for 2 years maintained a series of unresolved personas that varied from Godfather to James Bond, rock star to psychopath *with no judgement or preference* depending on their alcoholic mood. It was fascinating and frightening to see the process of personality formation in action. None of it was good because none of them were real.]

If ever they change, it's from getting caught. And socially being punished as liars, frauds, impersonators. That's the only time, if ever, when they evaluate who they are and what they've become. At one time the boy, Frank is begging his dad, "[If you love me/are my father,] tell me to stop" but his father refuses. He misses the son's plea for tough love/authority. He's too caught up in his own life, his cons and games and the glamour of his son's to see it's tackiness and his son wearing down from the stress of upping the ante.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

No Country for Old Men

I've got a bunch of movies downloaded off eMule and this was one I thought would give me insight into older thinking.

I was wrong. It's movies like this and Fargo (review linked) that I'd like to leave unrated simply because it doesn't fit into my world (not because I can't rate it, but because it's from a genre of it's own). There are no heroes, no villains, too much blood and violence, and most similar to accidents - sometimes you can see them coming but can't do anything fast enough to make them stop. And you live on by forgetting.

I had to watch it to the finish but now I'm watching another to forget it.

Hello [* * *]

Ok, I broke through my revulsion and saw a hindi movie again: Hello which is based on One Night @ a Call Center.

I can't say I'm really impressed, but it was watchable (probably because the bollywood scenes stuck out like a sore thumb - somehow the moviemaker just _couldn't make them fit in_!! haha. I must say the ballet dancing to a thundering hiphop beat was surprisingly good, even if outre.:)

I really hate Salman Khan, so I've got nothing to say about his fat face, but he really didn't have a role, so it's ok. The movie dragged on a bit in a text-heavy fashion, so you could see it's bookish origins, and the excess of masala sat like mascara, so alien to the skin below.

That's it. Oh, I forgot to give it points. 3
Entertainment was fair, Ethics were mostly good (except when one of the guys breaks an advertising billboard and they giggle - very dumb male blonde equivalent).

Friday, 10 October 2008

Moulin Rouge

Well, what do you know - yup, Moulin Rouge was based on a Bollywood movie, Lol!

Sometimes we don't appreciate what we've grown in our own backyard. (I can't bear to watch any more just yet, I just wanted to share a positive sentiment w.r.t. Bollywood movies after that bilious bout of criticism.:)

Straight from wikipedia about the origin of it's glitter ...

When asked about his inspiration for Moulin Rouge, Luhrmann remarked:

"... We went out one night and there was a big poster up for a Bollywood movie. I said, "Let's go see that." We did - 2,000 audience members, high comedy, high tragedy, brother kills brother, [they] break out in some musical numbers, all jumbled up together in 4 hours of Hindi. We thought that was amazing. So our question was, "Could we create a cinematic form like that? Could a musical work?" A musical must be able to work in western culture again, and could it be comic-tragic? So then began this commitment of moving toward "Moulin Rouge."

There was also a play within a play, "Spectacular Spectacular," which itself may have been based on an ancient Sanskrit play, The Little Clay Cart.

We're unkind because we're immunized to the kind of magic we grew up in. Seeing a bollywood movie from the point of view of an industry that works, and that the machinery churns out more movies than any other place in the world, employs more entertainers than any other legit business ... it's unbelieveable. Kind of mind-blowing to reflect on it.

I just checked that stat-counter ...

My goodness, these hit counters can tell you so much these days ... I'm amazed at the spying and counter-spying possibilities on the internet!

The thing is I recently stopped giving a damn after being paranoid about it when I was on orkut and irc. (Sometimes hanging around with kids in their 20s and their companion young-moms means that *you* get to listen to everything *their moms* have dumped on them - including internet 'security'/paranoia-country.:)

If you aren't using a credit card online, dropping your namecard in every site, I think you're secure enough like we believed in the 90s.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Reading a book.:)

I'm reading the new posthumous Harold Robbins "Blood Royal" a fiction based on Princess Di's life. Or Harry Potter in the 7th book. I bought both. I think the market and Drona have shaken me up.

The market is eating up paper money unbelieveably. The money is not _just_ disappearing ... it's going into someone's pocket. All that hard earned capital will finance someone else's future, not the one who earned it. How dreadful.

Drona was a disappointment, even an embarrassment, and those emotions are black holes ... for a while I don't want to do anything related. Anyway doesn't look like there's a good movie around just yet.

The combination of film-making and the market reminds me there's a bollywood movie I'm going to force myself to see - it's on the Sensex (Saas, Bahu aur Sensex) which promises to be fun (grr, if it isn't!). In the current market situation it will probably be a good laugh. So well-timed.:D

A couple of good market jokes from an email I received from Tim:

"I want to warn people from Nigeria who might be watching our show, if you
get any e-mails from Washington asking for money, it's a scam. Don't fall for it" - Jay Leno

"Do you have any idea how cheap stocks are now? Wall Street is now being called Wal-Mart Street" - Jay Leno

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Star Wars again

In using philosophy, movies must keep it simple: Good and evil; black or white.

Complexity doesn't come through too well. Then too, the primitive mind is designed for simple action, yes or no solutions, which is why we're so deeply affected by stark movies.

The Star Wars hinge on one basic (eastern) philosophical tenet and its corollary. That there is a Life Force Energy (Chi/Ki) and that it has two sides, the dark and the light.

In the Revenge of the Sith(2005) we see it articulated so much more confidently than 30 yrs ago:

PALPATINE: Remember back to your early teachings. Anakin. "All those who gain
power are afraid to lose it." Even the Jedi.
ANAKIN: The Jedi use their power for good.
PALPATINE: Good is a point of view, Anakin. And the Jedi point of view is not the only
valid one. The Dark Lords of the Sith believe in security and justice also, yet they are
considered by the Jedi to be. . .
ANAKIN: . . . evil.
PALPATINE: . . . from a Jedi's point of view. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost
every way, including their quest for greater power. The difference between the two is the
Sith are not afraid of the dark side of the Force.That is why they are more powerful.

Here they articulate the essential difference between the Sith, who use
their passions, and the Jedi who master the passions - power vs. control.

ANAKIN: The Sith rely on their passion for their strength. They think inward, only
about themselves.

PALPATINE: And the Jedi don't?
The Jedi are selfless . . . they only care about others.
PALPATINE: Or so you've been trained to believe. Why is it, then, that they have asked you
to do something you feel is wrong?
ANAKIN: I'm not sure it's wrong.
PALPATINE: Have they asked you to betray the Jedi code? The Constitution? A friendship?
Your own values? Think. Consider their motives. Keep your mind clear of assumptions. The
fear of losing power is a weakness of both the Jedi and the Sith.

But from the point of view of a n00b, both appear the same -
this is the point of balance, and there's room for exploitation
of Anakin's uncertainty, youth and angst. Material for a movie.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Star Wars muse

Just as dreams are a negative of the stresses we're presently undergoing, fantasy is the template of how we will act in the future. Our choices are created and molded by fantasy and myth, esp our self-image.

My favorite series for deep thought is Star Wars. (And yes, as you may have guessed, Yoda remains my favorite character of all time - he's based on a real Zen teacher.:)

The story of Star Wars is actually lifted from Akira Kurosawa, a Japanese film-maker's extraordinary work on Samurai warriors (most of the Westerns/cowboy movies of the 60s and 70s are copies of the same source).

More to follow on the positive use of Indian mythology in Drona.

Friday, 3 October 2008

No Kidnap

In fact, no more hindi movies for a long time - my enthusiasm for reviewing has blinded me to the pitfalls of movies like Drona and Buchna ae Hasina. I can't bear to watch another. My braincells melt from overdrive.:)

Droning on with Drona [* * *]

Rating: 3/10
Entertainment value: 5/10 (if you're under 12 or have the IQ of a minkey)
Ethics: 8/10 (because it's got the right idea - we should be using our own mythology to make movies]

Yes, it was so bad. Boring. Made me wonder why I was at Rex watching the movie instead of shopping in Viva in Mota Arcade next door (they had a festival offer of 2 for 299/- on jeans and casuals ... how much better to have spent 3 hours there!;]. To get completely side-tracked, the parking attendant at Rex has the same idea. He demands Rs. 10 if you want to watch a movie there and Rs. 5 if you want to go shopping elsewhere!! grrrr.... lol!)

But ... under the total wasteful staccato drone of the movie, esp the unnecessary use of digitized fantasy (an inexplicable trend ... are they pandering to some politician invested in those studios?) ... there was the underlying mind which was sound.

The creator's vision was brilliant - of using the story of Drona and the myth of Immortal Nectar in a modern setting. We really could use more story ideas from him - jez plz sum1 aks hym nt 2 mek a movie - hez 2 yng!! :(

Some reviews are giving it a lower rating (just so you know I've been kind.:)
Indicine -1/2*: "Strictly avoid"
- * *: "Overall, Drona could easily be placed a notch or two below some of the worst movies I have ever seen. I would never advice anyone to waste one's hard earned money to see this senseless film.- Alok Hisaria (SAMPURN)" <--- Har!Har!Har!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Jez ...

... one small image that keeps coming to mind: If the creators of this movie had only seen Misery before they made it, they'd realise patriotism doesn't, or shouldn't, save it from being classified as insane. No one really should go insane and act on their rage with a city police and demand action against a few terror-accused awaiting trial.

I hope you don't take the rating of the movie for approval of the behaviour - if you can see the similarity between Misery and A Wednesday you'll understand the disapproval.

Stephen King's Misery is the story of a fan who forces her favorite author to write a sequel by holding him captive, just the same as aam admi Shah holding Kher to ransom with bomb threats.