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6 Movies I am waiting and watching for in 2009!

2009 promises to be an awesome year for the movies. Now only if the crappy multiplex strike, producers strike, IPL matches get over quickly, we could have real entertainment back on again.
My pick of movies for this year are:
1. Watchmen
I can hear most people going – WHAT?
But sad as it may be, this film has not come to my city of Pune as yet. It has been months since its release and I’ve also seen it doing rounds in the metros – but I’m waiting and watching and really trying very hard not to watch it at home.
Why is  this movie hot?
The movie is directed by Zack Snyder. After watching 300, I would blindly go for any film directed by this man just be part of the 120 minutes of cinematic brilliance!
I have also read part of the graphic novel and it is very intriguing to say the least.
And have you seen the trailer? It’s brilliant.
Can’t wait, can’t wait …

2. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
Coming: 24 June 2009
I had missed Transformers in the theatres – but when I later caught the movie on my tiny TV, I realised what I had missed. The movie sounds kiddish – but the visuals were brilliant and breath taking.
Plus, its Michael Bay. Watch the trailer and you’ll realise why it is going to be an awesome movie – even if nothing else works for it – the visuals and cinematography should be more than enough to recover your investment on that cinema ticket you purchase.

3. Terminator Salvation
Coming: 21 May 2009
Terminator 1 was awesome. Terminator 2 was awesome-r!
Terminator 3 sucked (just like Matrix 3) – but I somehow have hopes for the fourth instalment.
It also has Christian Bale – whom I have high expectations from after Batman and Prestige.
So lets hope for the best.
Either ways, I’m sure its going to be a movie to catch in the theatre.

4. G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA
Coming: 7 August 2009
I could not believe a GI Joe movie was being made when I first heard about it.
I remember waking up at 7 am on Saturdays when I was in school, so I could tune into Star TV (Star World now) and catch GI Joe. The cartoon was pretty kewl (guys never grow up).
I checked out the trailer and it looks very promising.
Directed by Stephen Sommers – the guy who made the Mummy movies along with Van Helsing.
Not expecting the movie to be an Oscar movie – but I’m pretty sure it will be a bang-for-the-buck kinda film.
Really looking forward to this one!

5. Star Trek
Coming: 8 May 2009
I didn’t like the last star trek movie (First Contact). I loved the original 1966 series with William Shatner though.
This movie is based on the original series, is directed by JJ Abrams and has Zachary Quinto playing Mr. Spock.
What other reason you need to go catch this when it comes?
Trailer below …

6. Angels and Demons
Coming: 15 May 2009
I loved both the Robert Langdon books (Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons) but liked the latter one more as it was completely action packed. I remember reading the book non-stop one evening till I finished it. I did not put it down – even for dinner.
The Da Vinci movie was pretty disappointing – especially from Ron Howard’s perspective – but I’m hoping the latter one will live up to the book’s reputation. Hoping for the best!

2009 promises to be an awesome year for films! If only they released them here in India along with the rest of the world!

IMDB Voting Demographics …

I’m not sure how late I am to learn about this – but just found out about this feature on IMDB which gives you exhaustive details about the demographics of users that voted for a particular title.

Being a movie and a stats junkie, this is just too freakin’ brilliant for me 😀

Do check it out.

Click here to get to the page

Click here to get to the page



Summary of Information



Further demographic breakup

Further demographic breakup

Talking pictures …

One thing I love to do – sometimes even more than reading is watching films.

In my humble opinion, a good film talks to you at so many different levels and takes you to so many different places in those 120 minutes – that nothing else compares to it.

Well, there are books of course – but the joy of watching a well made film comes very close to that of reading an extremely good book. I do believe that making a film is a lot more difficult than writing a book.

A director has to deal with gazillion different things simultaneously as well as please the millions of people who would throng the talkies to watch his masterpiece.

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Excuse me while I get all sentimental and emotional about films – because I have just come back from one of the most horrific film moments in my life. I have just returned from watching the Bollywood film – Black and White.

The greatest of the directors — the Peter Jacksons, Steven Spielbergs, Martin Scorseses, Quentin Tarantinos, the James Camerons give you — the viewer — the respect that you deserve when you walk into the talkies to see one of their films.

They know that their audiences are not stupid idiots who will watch and take any crap dished out to them.

Walking out of the theatres, watching one of their creations — you feel special — pampered in some sort of a way and take that nice, happy, satisfied feeling all the way home.

I’m extremely sorry to say that Indian directors on the other hand – are exactly the opposite.

They think — we — the audience — are a bunch of morons who will lap up all the meaningless, mind-numbing crap that they throw at us — with our mouths wide open – asking for more.

There are definitely some good film makers in India right now (Aamir Khan, Nagesh Kuknoor, Anurag Basu, Anurag Kashyap) — but the percentages of the films these guys produce compared to the vast numbers that are being churned out annually is very, very meager.

I have no idea why such crap is made and even accepted by the masses.

Today’s film for instance (Black and White) would insult the intelligence of even an eight year old. The research these guys do is limited to their imaginations – and the dialogues are as cliche’d as ever.

It’s about time I think – we guys really refine our tastes and get some quality cinema out.

Please God – let it happen soon 🙂

(If you are wondering why I went for this movie if it was full of horse shit – was because my mom wanted to see it for some inexplicable reason and me and my brother volunteered to take her.)

The pain and agony of those 140 minutes I tell you – was unbearable.

The Band's Visit …

After all these years, I have come to realise that blogging is a lot like going to the gym.

You start with all the gusto – only to find that you have a blog space somewhere and you don’t feel like writing anymore.

One can always try again .. right?

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The Band’s Visit

Anyways, I am sorry about writing another movie review out here – but I just wanted to get the word out on this movie which I just caught.

It’s called – The Band’s Visit and it has to be one of the simplest and sincerest movies I have seen in such a long time!

The movie is for most parts in Arabic — and is about an Egyptian police band which comes to Israel and ends up in the wrong town. The movie has an extremely high rating on Rotten Tomatoes (98% critics) – and that is how I came to know about the movie.

The movie is advertised as being a comedy – but it does not have many ha ha moments. On the contrary, it is pretty sad at places. However, the characters are extremely endearing and five minutes into the movie and you know you have gotten a winner. Once the movie was over, I could not believe how something so simple could be so enjoyable and captivating at the same time.

The way the characters interact with each other and the social situations that they get themselves into is extremely heartening and a pleasure to watch. You can relate to the movie at so many different places!

The movie is by director Eran Kolirin and he does a marvelous job at it. It also happens to be his directorial debut.

The runtime of the movie is about 1 hour 20 minutes — and if you are into foreign films and don’t mind sub-titles, this will be an extremely refreshing change to the mind-numbing, fast action paced movies out there.

Two thumbs up from my side 🙂

Om Shanti Om :)

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I have been wanting to write a couple of blogs since some days now …

But have had to put that off for more important work (read writing Requirement Documents :p)

Anyways, its 1:54 A.M. right now — and I am back after watching one of the most enjoyable films that I have watched in a while – so I am just going to go ahead and gush about it in this post.

I don’t know what reactions other people had about Om Shanti Om – but I absolutely loved the movie!

It makes me want to put on my music full blast at 2 A.M. in the night, get creative and do some loud, colourful design work!

Initially, I was expecting the movie to delve into a deep reincarnation love story by looking at the initial promos.

However, thanks to a few early reviews that I read, I dropped all such expectations.

In short – Om Shanti Om is a complete entertainer!

Do not expect a complex story out of it – or any story whatsoever.

It has all the right ingredients — which make hindi movies what they are.

It has the following in ample proportions:

  1. One of the best hindi music scores I have heard in a long time!
  2. Sharukh Khan (for some, Sharukh Khan – topless!)
  3. Cliche’s
  4. Deepika Padukone (She is sooooo pretty !!!!)
  5. Shreyas Talpade
  6. Ample of jokes, gags and intelligent parodies.
  7. The 31 stars song!

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Om Shanti Om is all loud music, decent humour, larger than life sets and plenty of colour.

Something western audiences go to hindi movies for — and I am dead sure its going to do as well abroad as it will in India.

The songs are lovely and if nothing, go and watch it for Deepika Padukone. She looks absolutely gorgeous in the entire film!

Even though going for a movie at prime time nowadays, costs a sizeable fortune, I felt this movie was complete worth it – total paisa vasool.

If you wanna know, the first “half” lasts for one hour and is completely fun to watch.

The second “half” lasts for around an hour and forty-five minutes — pegging the runtime of the entire movie at around two hours forty five minutes.

But at no time did the movie drag. It was always fun and though in the middle I felt Farah Khan was losing it, she managed to pull it back with a decent ending.

Even the rolling credits in the end are fun to watch and lets you leave the theatre feeling good about the entire experience.

In short, a complete fun, enjoyable, masala movie!

Bombay to Goa (new)

I’m a guy. There have been occasions (while playing sport) when I have
been hit in the (you know where) and let me tell you – the experience
is one of the worst any guy could go through …
Well, that was until this movie came along …
The reason I turned up at Inox on a Thursday night for a special paid
preview (to a movie I didn’t know even existed) was because my brother
was unfortunate enough to win two tickets to watch the movie due to some Idea contest.
Below is my experience with the movie …
For those of you who don’t know what the movie is about, its about a trip
from Bombay to Goa (duh!) which involves the entire cast from the Great
Indian Comedy challenge.
It has Sunil Pal, Ahsan Khureshi and Raju Sreevastav in the leading roles …
I am utterly sorry, but none of these people could act even if their life depended on it.
Vijay Raaz (Raghu Romeo) is the only guy who actually acts – and I really
feel sorry for him that he has to suffer due to the rest of the cast.
He is extremely talented – and it really pains me to see such talent go to waste …
The plot is completely non existent – so I wont waste keystrokes trying to describe it.
Stuff has been literally thrown in – just to make some extra jokes …
Like, the entire Indian cricket team gets on the bus – just so the comedians
can make some Greg Chappel jokes (which aren’t even funny)
The movie drags on from scene to scene – with pathetic editing.
You can clearly make out the cuts during the retakes and editing.
The acting is completely non existent and the dialogues are twisted and
turned just so that they can get some more jokes in (which are again
not funny – and not at all contextual)
In brief, I had to gnaw my leg off to maintain my sanity while watching the movie.
If you manage to put a brick in a sock, keep rotating it from one end of
the sock — till the brick at the other end gains enough centrifugal
force and then hit yourself with that brick — on your head – the
experience would still be more bearable ..
I have no idea how such films are even made. I mean – do even real, adults
sit and discuss the plot and think it makes sense — or is the Indian
audience so stupid that they’ll buy the crap these guys dish out???
Please don’t go for the movie – even if it is free !!!
(Which I think is the only way people will enter the halls)

Gandhigiri actually works!

Before I actually start this post, I must disclaim that I am not very fond of the word “Gandhigiri” – but it has come so much into the everyday parlance, that I cannot find any other alternative.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the word finds itself in the Oxford dictionary pretty soon.
For those unfamiliar with the term, “Gandhigiri” means doing as (Mahatma) Gandhi would. The word comes from a very popular (and extremely hilarious) Hindi film – “Lage Raho Munnabhai” in which the protagonist follows on the steps prescribed by Mahatma Gandhi to bring about revolutionary changes.
This involves using the path of non violence and satyagraha.
Though, I found the movie to be extremely hilarious and enjoyable, I didn’t actually think working on these philosophies would produce results in our modern, day to day life.
However, the cynic in me was silenced when I actually happened to try the technique at home for a very interesting (though trivial problem) and it produced astonishing results.
Let me enunciate as follows:
At the onset of summer, the chore that becomes the biggest pain in our house – is filling up bottles of water to store in the refrigerator.
Though the cold water is consumed by everyone, it is usually my mother and me who end up filling the water. This is actually frustrating, because we have a “Fill up water when you consume it” policy which no one seems to follow.
You will empathize with me when I tell you how homicidal I feel when I open the refrigerator to find that – not only is all the cold water over, but bottles are missing entirely – the ones which my brother conveniently bootlegs to the confines of his room.
This naturally infuriates me because not only do I NOT get the cold water which I so painstakingly filled up, but I know that after I fill up the bottles again – the same scenario will take place and I might actually end up strangling my brother.
None of the tactics to make my brother start filling up after he drank worked. No amount of tantrums, abuses, nagging ever got him to fill a single bottle.
Then, while re-filling the bottles that evening, the concept of Gandhigiri hit me.
One of the biggest and most pro-active emotions that human beings experience – something that more often than not makes someone get up and do something is that of guilt. And this is what the principle is based on. (I think)
So, I decided, to somehow make my brother feel guilty for what he was doing. (He’s human – so he has to eventually – right?)
That evening, once I had done filling up the bottles, I poured in a glass of ice cold water and took it up to his room and put in on his desk.
After looking suspiciously at the utensil on his desk, smelling it and finally taking a sip, he asked what was wrong with me.
To which I replied: “I am now embarking on the path of Gandhigiri and everytime I fill up bottles of water which YOU drink, I’ll get you a glass of water.
He was on the floor laughing and told me that there was no way in hell he was going to fall for this, and I could go and keep filling bottles till kingdom-com for all he cared.
I knew this was coming and had mentally prepared myself to go through this ritual for a couple of months atleast!
I couldn’t be more wrong.
The next day, I get back home after work to find the refrigerator completely stocked – every empty nook and corner of it – with bottled water.
My mom was as shocked as me – and told me that my brother had come to the kitchen, dug up hundreds of empty bottles, filled them up and stocked them – all without her telling him anything.
I couldn’t believe it!
It worked!!! Gandhigiri worked!
Results within 1 day (though your mileage may vary).
So, if you have similar problems, I suggest you give this a shot. The trick is finding the right angle to make the person feel guilty as soon as possible (you don’t want to keep doing this forever and look like an idiot) – like in this case offering a glass of water did the trick.
If this does not work, threatening the concerned person that you are going to blog about this usually does the trick. 🙂
[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 85.]

Umm … How bout a few billions?

This post comes as a result of some musing after watching the movie – Notting Hill recently.
Apart from being an extremely well made, highly entertaining romantic comedy which I thoroughly enjoyed – an incident from the movie struck me …
If you have seen the film, it’s at the dinner (William’s (Hugh Grant’s) sister’s birthday party) at which Bernie (Hugh Bonneville) asks Anna (Julia Roberts) how much she made in the last film she worked – and she says “15 million dollars”.
Hmm …
So I pondered …
How did it all start? I mean – how did movie stars start getting paid so much.
If you think about it, every job comes with an upper and lower limits of payment – which are pretty much well defined for a period of time.
Like, for example, it is an accepted fact that most of the bigger movie stars make millions of dollars for a film. If you think about this a bit more – you can say that this is justified as the distributors of the film eventually rake in enough money which justifies them being able to pay their actors.
This finally brings us to how much we end up paying for a movie ticket.
Here in Pune – a night show in a decent enough hall costs anywhere from 150 bucks – 200 bucks ($3 – $4) a ticket which even though is kinda on the higher side by Indian standards – I don’t think people seem to mind paying it nowadays (by the number of shows running housefull even on weekdays).
And finally again, people don’t seem to mind because the standards of living have gone up.
So indirectly, the more money we tend to make, the more money those actors tend to make :).
I know this is a dumb metaphor – but there is a definitely connection there (I can sense it :)).
In the end if you think about it, (even though I haven’t got the faintest idea about acting) – does it warrant a sum of 15 million dollars to be paid for a film?
I will consider the next case – that of a software developer which I can more relate to.
Again, in India – it is a well known fact that software developers (or Computer Science / Engineering graduates) tend to make more money than most of the other faculties when they start off.
Even further down the line (couple of years), a software developer is likely to make more money than a similarly skilled mechanical engineer working in an automobile company.
And if you think about it – all software developers do is sit in front of a monitor all day long and type code. You don’t actually need to be a genius to do it – just about any human being with a normal level of IQ and will power can do it.
Furthermore, in most of the projects – major parts of the code which you need, can be found somewhere on the internet by careful searching – which makes it more of a jigsaw puzzle assembling job than actual, smart work.
So what do software developers do – which results in them getting higher salaries, air conditioned offices and the like?
Where did all this trend start?
And how do we go about accelerating it … ? 🙂

Silent Hill

Introduction
In the recent barrage of films inspired from video games, Silent Hill – the movie comes as a very pleasant surprise.
I had played the second game in the series (Silent Hill 2) on the XBOX and had fallen in love with the game, so was naturally excited when I heard they were making a movie on it.
The game itself has a fantastic story line and for the time you are playing it – does the job of transporting you to another dimension perfectly. The game is based on the survival / horror genre and is a lot of fun playing.
When I popped in the DVD and played the movie, I was shocked to the see the amount of resemblance to the game. Everything, down to the names of shops in the street were painstakingly reproduced and the environment created was the exact same that you’d experience when you played the game.
A brief overview of the story as follows…
A small girl called Sharon (played by Jodelle Ferland) has repeated nightmares and she sleepwalks and calls out the name of the “Silent Hill” town.
Her mother – Rose (played by Radha Mitchell) decides to take her to the town to see if she can cure her of her nightmares. On their way, they meet with an accident and on waking up, Rose finds her daughter missing.
So begins the story with the explorations and uncovering of the towns eerie history.
Silent Hill is actually a ghost town in which a massive fire broke out 30 years ago, killing most of its residents…
The cast of the movie do their jobs well, and everyone plays their part to instill into you – that particular emotion, which makes the entire experience of watching this movie very, very, worthwhile.
Sean Bean (Boromir – Lord of the Rings, National Treasure) plays the father of the child. The movie comes off as one made with a lot of passion and the director Christophe Gans and his team should be given a lot of credit for the effort taken.
The movie is really well made and besides being a tribute to the game series, brings out the entire experience of this franchise to even people who have not had the chance to play the game.
The sets are really well done and like I said, I was astonished at the resemblance to the entire game.
The music has been taken off the game itself and adds to the authenticity of the experience. The monster and creature design is again well done, and I would also like to mention the brilliant camera angles used throughout the production.
However, the movie is pretty eerie and might not appeal to everyone. There are a few really gory scenes which many people may find disturbing…
Saying this, the movie is not your run of the mill horror flick – it has a lot of psychological and mythological themes explored in the film and if you watch carefully, you will enjoy the movie even more.
If you want to get away from the drudgery of romantic comedies and action flicks into a dark world and at the same time not be petrified, Silent Hill is the place to go!

Indian Movies …

Today being Saturday, I sat and watched a movie in the afternoon – Silent Hill – which is a game inspired movie. And me having played (and loved) the game earlier and having seen brilliant promos of the movie, I was pretty excited to watch this.
However, expectations were not that high – considering how other games related movie turn up (Tomb Raider, Resident Evil)
However, when I started watching the movie, I was shocked and astonished at the level of details which the director had taken care of very painstakingly.
The sets and creatures were right out of the video game and even the shops on the streets of Silent Hill had names from the game.
It felt like playing the game itself.
The two hours that I spent watching the movie, made me feel squirmish, eerie, sad, confused, grossed out and lots of other things which you generally don’t go through during your normal life (and thank God for that!)
Anyways, that made me wonder, why no such movies EVER get made here in India.
Mind you, India makes the maximum number of movies in a year (compared to any other country), but if you ponder over the number of gold medals a country of a billion produce at the olympics, the fate of most of the movies is very cliche’d.
Here, most of the directors rarely give any attention to details and if you were to start writing goof ups on movies made here, you could end up writing books on a single movie.
Basically the order of priority of Bollywood movies is:

1. Have good songs
2. Dress all women in such short clothes that they qualify as belts (almost anyways ;))
3. Raise a lot of hype
4. Get the best stars
5.
6.
.
.
.
.
1354. Write a good story
1355. Make sure everything is technically and logically correct.

Very few people here, make movies out of passion – most of the movies are made to just make money and they dont care what crap they put into it as long as the general populous buys it.
The ‘chalta hai’ attitude of most of the people is highly annoying …
This fact can be affirmed by a statement which a popular producer of commercial (gaudy) films made.
He said, “If you make movies for Rickshawalas (people who drive Rickshaws), you will travel in cars, but if you make movies for people who drive (and hence can afford) cars, you will have to travel by rickshaws”
The general quality of production and acting of the movies is so pathetic that most of the times, I would not even consider spending that much time watching the movie.
Actually buying tickets and spending money on it is out of the question!
I have never seen any ‘out of track‘ movie ever become hugely successful.
There have been a recent spurt of movies which have swayed a wee bit off track and become hits, but they too have lots of content which is downright impossible.
This entire revolution may still take a million years to come, until more and more of the masses get educated (and stop buying crap) or we get more passionate and talented film makers inside …
However, till that happens, it is three cheers for Hollywood 🙂
The biggest plus point of a hollywood flick (a carefully chosen one) is that at the end of it all, you don’t regret the time you spent watching it.
*Update – My review of Silent Hill is up and can be read here.