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Remember remember … (V for Vendetta)

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!
A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah! Hip hip hoorah!

V for Vendetta” is an excellent movie.
Apart from the brilliant acting, direction, cinematography and everything else which made it such a treat to watch, it had a very, very strong message …

“People should not be afraid of their governments … The governments should be afraid of their people …”


PS: The following blog contains references to the movies “V for Vendetta” and “Rang De Basanti” … Though the references might be obvious to the plot of the movie, it may turn out to be spoilers for the majority of the people who haven’t seen the movies.

So, if you do intend to watch the movies, I must sadly ask you to skip this post … else, please carry on …

Though, we as Indians cannot relate to the movie a lot, I think most of the americans will be able to …
Michael Ironside who does voice acting for Sam Fisher – an NSA agent in the game “Splinter Cell” says that there are only two primary emotions that every animal understands : more so human beings – “Love and Fear”
What America is going through or went through (atleast from what we hear or see here) corresponds in some way the Britain in the movie “V for Vendetta” is going through …
I remember – after the 9/11 attacks, people were petrified beyond belief …
In the movie, “V”, which is an analogy to the Guy Fawkes incident, V (Hugo Weaving) successfully bombs the parliament building (without killing innocent people).
Though actually blowing up a building does not solve much of a purpose practically, it does bring hope and faith to the people and shows the government that people are not to be taken for granted.
According to him (V), its not the act of destroying a building, but the ideology behind it and what it (the building) stands for that you are destroying.

Strength through unity! Unity through faith!


Anyways, the problem with the government in the movie was that it was bullying its people and using fear as a method of controlling them.
That got me thinking whether a similar scheme of things would work for our country …
The problem with India is that its not bullying its people in a way that blowing up a building (parliament maybe?) would solve .
The problems that India faces (from its government) is mainly of corruption and apathy and having incompetent fools who don’t know what they are supposed to do.
Unlike the U.S, there is no restriction on the number of times someone can come to power, so the main agenda of the politicians is to please the majority voter bank before the elections so that they can be elected again.
A prime example is the government trying to impose another 27% reservations for the OBC (Other Backward Classes) (taking the total reservations to 49.5%) in the Education sector. The main reason for doing this, as blatantly mentioned by many of the politicians is to please a section of the society.
Thanks to the election commission, this matter has been halted for the time being and now the government is giving thought whether the move would be politically feasible for them.
In such a scenario … another movie comes to mind which I recently caught – “Rang De Basanti”.
In the movie, some college students go and assasinate the defence minister of the country because he was corrupt.
Again, the movie was brilliantly made and a treat to the eyes.
In the movie, after they have knocked off the defence minister (which is a relatively easy thing to do) – and not get caught, the government puts the assasination blame on terrorists (India has plenty of them to pass the blame around) and work of Pakistan’s ISI.
However, our protagonists go to a radio station and broadcast saying that it was them and not some terrorists who knocked off the minister – also giving complete reasons as to why they did it. This is the best part of the movie and apparently brings the government down to its knees.
However, unfortunately, these unarmed students are gunned down by the special task force with orders from higher authorities that there should be no survivors left.
Again, though going and knocking off corrupt politicians one by one may seem to some – an excellent method to rid the country of idiots, it will take a very long time and is not at all feasible. (because India has just so many politicians … we are the largest democracy in the world)
Besides, you also run the risk of getting killed soon…
This actually got me thinking and being the conspiracy theorist that I am … what if … just what if … the Parliament Attacks on Dec 13, 2001 were not actually done by millitants, but a couple of kids who just wanted to change something …
(some sort of a Rang De Basanti meets V for Vendetta)
But the bottom line is … change by the constitutional means … going to vote, electing a new government, etc etc … takes a very long time …
We need a V 😉

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.

Cinderella Man

Ron Howard has a knack of making brilliant movies …
If you loved a Beautiful Mind for the lovely Princeton settings and Russel Crowe acting, you are in for a treat.
The movie is based on the life of James Braddock – a boxer from the late 1920s to the earlier 1930s who was named ’’Cinderella Man’’ for his fairytale rise to fame from a local boxer to the heavyweight champion of the world.
The movie wastes no time as it puts you up with Braddock in a local match. It is still the pre depression era and people are well to do, Braddock is winning matches and is pretty doing well himself.
You notice, at once – the authentic 1920s setting which makes the movie such a treat to the eyes. It has the buildings, the cars, the works.
Not to mention, the camera has that sepia kind of tone to add to the overall experience.
The movie soon fast forwards to the depression era, where Braddock isn’t doing as well as he was (his license gets revoked) … and this is the setting the rest of the movie is based on.
The settings again, reflect the era and the viewer is drawn into empathizing with the people of the time.
The movie also highlights, Braddocks lowest moments of this time – and the scene in which he removes his cap and puts in front of the people he once worked with, begging for some 18 dollars, so that he can pay his electricity bill and bring back his children, is very heart wrenching.
Throughout the movie, Russell Crowe has acted beautifully, both in the ring and out of it. Renée Zellweger who plays his wife, supports him very well.
Paul Giamatti who plays his agent and friend (nominated for Best Supporting Actor) is another great addition to the already existing pool of talent to the movie.
The boxing bouts throughout the movie are very excellently done, especially the last one, and you’ll find yourself being pushed to the edge of your seat every time.
This is not just another boxing movie …
But though the movie about the man – James Braddock – and what he stood for, you can also watch the movie for the boxing bouts (for the ones who are more into the action bit of it). The commentary, setting and the adrenaline are what makes it worth watching more than once.
The background scores and the music are very well done and complement the movie nicely.
All in all, a very good watch. One of the best movies of 2005, one of my favourite movies of all time – and time very well spent.

Aeon Flux



Was unfortunate to have ended up going for the movie today.

What could have been our only solace that it had Charlize Theron – wasn’t worth it …

Spending a hundered bucks on the film still hurts and will do for sometime now …

Will have to watch a couple of good movies just to wash the bad taste down …

Just goes to show that even Hollywood can churn out utterly crappy movies …

This one, just had a lot of budget to add to it the slickness (and also Charlize Theron)

Which makes this movie, in one sentence – “An utterly crappy, slick flick which also happens to have Charlize Theron” :p

Catch my review of the movie here.

Aeon Flux

The following review has been rated R for strong violence, nudity, blood and gore. Viewer discretion is advised
Monday, April 03 2006 – 1237 hours – present

’’Excuse me … coming through …’’
Three 20 something guys rushed up the stairs, bumping into people as they went along …
’’Hey! Watch it!’’ someone yelled …
’’Sorry …’’
The three of them made their way up the stairs, into the strategically placed college library on the third floor of the building.
As they barged into the library, a few people looked up from the books they were reading – completely interrupted … until what had been a lazy monday morning.
The three scanned for the newspaper stands and rushed in that direction.
’’I’ll cover Express …’’ one of them yelled .. trying to keep his voice as low as possible.
’’I’ll take times’’, ’’and I’ll check out Herald’’ the other two pipped back .. as they made their way to the Newspaper stand.
Monday, April 03 2006 – 1235 hours – 2 minutes ago
’’Ma’am … would you be seeing our project today?’’ said one of them to their project guide.
’’Hmm … is it okay if I see it tomorrow? I am not feeling that well now’’ came the reply.
Monday, April 03 2006 – 1238 hours – present
’’Oye … V for Vendetta was at 10:30 … next is at 6:30 … wanna go ?’’ asked one.
’’Negative … we need to work in the evening … it has to be now …’’ came the reply
’’How about Aeon Flux? Its at 12:45 at Adlabs …’’
’’Hmm … hows the movie?’’
’’Supposed to be good. Its got Charlize Theron man … supposed to be a sci fi super hero kind of movie’’
’’Hey .. I read a review today. She’s supposed to be an assassin. Though the newspaper review wasn’t that great’’
’’Hey … we need to take a decision in 1 minute. Either we go now or then tomorrow’’
’’Ok .. lets do it …’’
’’I think we’ll take 10 mins to reach Adlabs if we take it via KP … what say?’’
’’Done …’’
’’Okay cool … lets do this’’
I’d like to bring to your attention here, that this is how bad decisions are made. I was unfortunate to be one of the ’’three’’
The Review, Finally
So in the next 10 minutes (if you’re still here), we were at Adlabs … comfortably seated.
The movie had just started – and all we had missed was the National Anthem and the opening two minutes.
Aeon Flux the movie, is a pretty much waste of time and money.
The movie, as the posters will blatantly read out … is all Charlize Theron.
So, from the first shot to the end, its Charlize all the way …
One shot of her close up, then a wider angle, then her eyes, then her telepathic vision, then she kicking butt, then she flying then she …. etc etc …
You might be wondering, but it’s Charlize you idiot ! Whats wrong with that?
I had thought the same thing too, but by the end of the film, with 100 bucks down (out of which 50 bucks was for a freakin coke !!!), I realised that even that wasn’t worth it.
Okay, back to the movie
The movie tries to be very slick (it being set 400 years in the future … so it has to be)
The movie is a mixture of (all the bad things) of all the previous Sci fi movies …
In the end, there is no ’’sci’’ in the ’’sci – fi’’
You’ll find traces of ’’The Island’’ (a lot of it), ’’I, Robot’’, ’’Minority Report’’, etc etc.
The Script … and the thing you call editing
Unfortunately, the movie does not have any of it.
Its like they hired Charlize Theron, got her an acrobatics trainer, gave her a tight suit and asked her to jump around while they shot her.
The editing is non existent, with shots following one another which have no connection between them …
Most of the plot is very masala hindi movie-ish … and with pretty ordinary acting, turns out to be very corny.
Till the end, every shot is very predictable … and you’re left wishing for something wacky to happen (like Charlize being the main mastermind villain or something) so that you could say .. ’’Woah .. never saw that coming’’ and probably losing 100 bucks wouldn’t sting that much …
But guess what? No such thing happens and by the end of the movie, when you step out of the theatre, you’re left wondering whether a law should be made to jail good actors for acting in crappy movies.
The background score was not noticeable … it had more or less the qualities a sci fi movie should have.
The two best parts of the movie were no doubt the interval and the end credits.
Please don’t go and watch the movie if your life depended on it.
Maybe if someone kidnapped a loved one and threatened to kill them if I didn’t watch it, then maybe I would consider going for it …

Million Dollar Baby

That’s how life is really – and thats what the movie aims to tell you and does a pretty good job at doing it too …

You fall down, you get up and then you get back at what you were doing
Thats what the Million Dollar Baby is all about.
I admit that I caught this movie pretty late, and am extremely glad that I did it.
My first impression after seeing the promos and stuff was that its going to be another boxing movie, well … I couldn’t be more wrong.
The movie tells us a story of a girl (Hillary Swank), a waitress from more than 20 years, who has nothing in the world except her dream to be the best female boxer there is … and of a man (Clint Eastwood) who gives her a shot at getting there.
This movie has many, many layers to it – and I bet everytime you see it, you’ll learn something new from it.
The film is directed and produced by Clint Eastwood and he also stars in it, along with Morgan Freeman. Hillary Swank plays the main role and she won an oscar for best actress for her role in the film.
The film is not just another boxing movie – though the fights are pretty intense and a lot of fun to watch (though they don’t compare to the adrenaline pumping rocky fights), they are still brilliantly choreographed.
The rest of the movie plays pretty slow, but is nevertheless very engaging and I never found the movie to lag anyplace.
At two hours, ten minutes, it is the perfect length to watch – and keeps you hooked throughout.
The movie is actually based on three short stories from Jerry Boyd’s book: ’’The Monkey Look,’’ ’’Million $$$ Baby’’ and ’’Frozen Water.’’
As such, the screenplay is very well written and is one of the reasons that you should watch this film.
The Morgan Freeman narration throughout the film, gives it a ’’Shawshank Redemption’’ kind of feel and helps take the story forward and connect the pieces together.
All the cast perform brilliantly, the direction is superb and the movie is inspirational and very multi dimensional.
Therefore, a must watch according to me …
End Note
The movie won 4 oscars in all including Best Motion Picture, Best Actress (Hillary Swank), Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman) and best direction (Clint Eastwood)

The Constant Gardener



I caught this movie recently, after a friend of mine “highly” recommended it to me … and I’m glad that I caught it.

This is one more addition to African Centric movies – though this is of a different nature.

The last african centric movie that I had watched was Hotel Rwanda, which to be frank, was brilliant.

These movies paint a very sad picture of Africa, and honestly, even India, with the gzillion problems that we face everyday, seems like heaven compared to what some people out there go through.

Some parts of Africa, are really, really bad – which results in the more well to do countries treating them like expendable guinea pigs – a premise on which the Constant Gardener is based on.

I’ve heard that the promos of the movie are very misleading and you’ll be better if you’ve missed them completely – and if you have not, don’t go according to what they say.

But a movie very well worth watching for its underlying base.

BTW .. the movie has Rachel Weisz (Mummy, Runaway Jury) who is brilliant and won the best supporting actress for her role in the movie.

Also has Ralph Fiennes (Schlinders List, Maid in Manhattan, The Prince of Egypt) who is equally brilliant.

A definite watch.

My review on the film : Here

The Constant Gardener

It’s like it’s a marriage of convenience and all it produces are dead offspring.
Beginnings …
This year, coincidently, or otherwise, I have seen many movies which are based on real life, heart wrenching stuff – the Constant Gardener being one of them.
I haven’t seen any promos of the film (it was recommended to me by a friend), but I’ve heard that the promos are misleading which would spoil the film for you if you take it as a murder mystery.
The movie is NOT really an edge of the seat murder mystery and it does not even have its ’’adrenaline moments’’, but for what its worth, it is a very well made movie.
The people
The movie stars Ralph Fiennes (Schlinders List, Maid in Manhattan, The Prince of Egypt) as an English High commission Diplomat who is posted in Kenya and Rachel Weisz (Mummy, Runaway Jury, Constantine) as his wife.
Both of them being the very talented actors they are, do complete justice to their roles.
In fact, Rachel Weisz won best supporting actress for her role in this film at the Oscars this year.
The movie is actually based on a novel by the same name by John le Carre’ and is directed by Fernando Meirelles who is also the director of the very critically acclaimed film : City of God.
The movie …
The overall movie plays extremely slow but is nevertheless intriguing and keeps you glued to your seat.
The story from the synopsis (no, this will not at all spoil the movie for you) is that the wife of a British Diplomat gets murdered in Kenya and he decides to get to the bottom of this.
In doing so, he uncovers many hidden secrets, relating to industrial corruption and how big companies take advantage of third world countries.
Like I said, the movie plays a bit slow throughout and you have to pay attention to the dialogues to actually get engrossed into the movie.
The movie is shot and edited in such a way, that you get a third person perspective of the film. Like something is happening on screen – but you are not involved in it.
This goes on till just before the movie ends – and in those last five minutes, you are sucked into the movie and begin to empathize with all the characters.
In such, the cinematography and the editing are very nicely done.
Most of the movie is shot in Africa – and we are shown than bad, barren side of Africa throughout the movie – the dying refugees, bandits, barren rocky deserts, etc.
Musings …
The movie takes a shot at the pharmaceutical companies around the world and how they use third world countries to their advantage by treating their people as expendable guinea pigs.
The movie is quite depressing at parts and makes you realise that everything is not right with the world and greed, corruption and power result in utter inhuman practices.
If you’re one of those people who care about the world, the environment and liked movies which deal with such issues, you will love this film.
In conclusion …
The original score of the movie is hauntingly beautiful and helps you connect with the film.
The film was nominated for the oscars in four categories including editing, derived screenplay, original score and supporting actress — which Rachel Weisz won.
For the two hours and ten minutes that you will spend watching this movie, its well worth the time.

Rang De Basanti

Prologue
By the time this review goes online, it would be the 170th review of Rang De Basanti in approximately what has been 6 weeks since the movie hit the Indian Screens.
Already lots of good reviews have been written on the movie, which inform you about the nitty gritties of the entire film … so I won’t be going into that.
Instead, I will take a different route and talk about the experiences that I went through while I sat in the theatres for 3 hours today.
Some General Musings
For starters, Rang De Basanti is a pretty experimental movie to me … it’s not your normal, everyday bollywood paisa vasool movie. Not that I see so many bollywood movies, but still …
Today was approximately the 6th week since the movie has been released (and so I was told) – and there I was, sitting in the 3rd row from the screen for a saturday morning 10 o’ clock show.
The movie was to go houseful in the next 5 minutes before the movie started.
The running time of the movie is about 180 minutes – and I went through a series of emotions while watching the movie. The movie is essentially divided into two parts – the one before the interval and the one after.
The production values of the movie is very very good for a bollywood movie – brilliant acting (then again, all Amir Khan movies have brilliant acting), great cinematography and non obstructive songs (for most parts of the movies anyways)
Everyone acted brilliantly, including Madhavan who plays a good cameo.
I was particularly very impressed by Alice Patten (who plays Sue) and her efforts with Hindi which at the beginning sound corny (Maa Ki Aankh??) but you get used to within the first 10 minutes of her arriving in India.
Not to undermine the soundtrack – which was experimental too – and I loved it.
It was well synchronized with the story running and helped in elevating the momentum of the entire movie.
The first part
The initial one and a half hours of the movie deals with the character building (which is so very very important for any movie) of all the characters and is very fun and enjoyable to watch.
We’re introduced to each of the characters and the camraderie that they share amongst them. All this is kept very real, and I as a student (at approximately their ages) was able to empathize with them at once.
Though not generally a comedy, I was in splits at most of the dialogues which were nothing but inline chatter amongst the characters.
The main cast is not introduced till the first 20 minutes, but it was nevertheless very enjoyable.
The Second Part
This is the place where the movie takes a ninety degree turn and the entire emotional balance of the movie swings the other way.
Things get serious all of a sudden and you’re taken through a torrent of emotions ranging from joy, sorrow, fear, hatred, patriotism, etc.
The parallels drawn between the documentary being made – and the lives of the friends (though a bit cliched) was brilliantly done and stands out in the movie.
After thoughts
This movie actually makes you ’’think’’ and whatever hype it has received, is not over the top. Even after a hundred people telling me that the movie was brilliant and my brother spilling the ending, I still loved the movie.
About 3 weeks ago, people I didn’t know would come up to me and say ’’Rang De Basanti dekhi kya?’’ followed by ’’Go watch it’’
The movie has everything in it and as an experience, its well worth the 3 hours of your life that you will spend at the halls.
At the end, it does evoke a sense of patriotism and makes you ponder on things that happen and the government cover ups and whether anything would change in India, if at all …
Maybe a generation is awakening … and its a good thing.
And as a footnote, welcome to the world of intelligent, realistic (well almost) Indian movies. First Dombivli Fast .. and now this …
Things are starting to look good.

Hotel Rwanda

I caught this movie at the Pune International Film Festival just yesterday.

The movie hall which was showing it, was a good 45 minutes drive from our places, but by the end of the movie, everyone was happy that we took the trip.
Hotel Rwanda is a movie which takes us through a true story of a Paul Rusesabagina – who is the house manager of a Four Star hotel and houses more than thousand tutsi refugees in his hotel to save them from the Hutu Militia.
Let me further explain.
The story is from 1994 – when Rwanda was torn up between 2 opposing camps – the Tutsis and the Hutus.
The Hutus take over the country and start killing all Tutsi people – especially the children to stop the next generation of the Tutsis.
’’The movie depicts the very enigmatic nature of Africa and its countries – which can be both, extremely beautiful as well as extremely violent at the same time.
The movie plays around the incident when the entire world turned a blind eye on the thousands of refugees during one of the worst atrocrities in the african history.
When the entire world turned the other way during the mass genocides and slayings of africans, Paul stood up and played his part in saving thousands of people from definite extermination.
The lead role of Paul Rusesabagina is played by Don Cheadle who does stunning work which lets you empathize with the main protagonist without any effort.
The other main characters are played by Xolani Mali as the policeman, Sophie Okonedo as Paul’s wife, Nick Nolte as the UN Colonel Oliver, Joaquin Phoenix as a member of International Press.
All of them gel well together, play their part to the T and as a result are able to bring to you the very disturbing pictures of the struggle taking place and how the world reacts to these things.
The cinematography and the editing of the movie was extremely well done and no one moved a bit during the entire length of the movie – which at 2 hours is a bit long for an English film.
Surprisingly, even without showing a lot of gore and violence, the director is able to capture the essence of every situation and transport us to that place.
The movie overall is extremely well done – and I am sure will be there in one of your ’’best movies made’’ list once you have seen it.
It had been nominated for 3 oscars including best actor in lead role, best actress in supporting role and best screenplay.
In the end, Hotel Rwanda is an extremely hard hitting, powerful movie which one needs to see to really know what goes on behind the superficial news that we see now and then – and what people actually go through.

Dombivli Fast

I caught this movie, at the Pune International Film Festival (which was my second good movie of the day) – and very worth the effort of waiting an hour and a half in front of the doors for the movie to start.
In five minutes, the hall was jam packed – with no one being able to get in because of the number of people sitting on the floors and standing by the doors to catch the movie.
Dombivli Fast is a marathi movie which revolves around the life of a middle class man – Madhav Apte (played by Sandeep Kulkarni) who is a pretty stubborn man and has a very ’’No compromising on my principles’’ attitude.
The starting of the movie depicts the redundancy of his everyday life with him doing the same things day after day after day …
Madhav Apte has never bribed anyone in his life and has never accepted any bribes himself. He is a very straight forward guy who has lived his life so far on his principles and is hell bent on continuing to do the same.
He sees the rampant corruption around him, the apathy of people and how everyone has the ’’chalta hai’’ attitude.
Everytime he tries to intervene or do something, he is stopped by one of his friends or colleagues who tell him to ’’forget it and move on’’.
Throughout his life, he is taunted by his wife, friends and neighbours on his uncompromising attitude, and how the ’’real’’ world does not work that way.
Finally, one day, he flips – the constant taunts and the drudgery of his everyday routine playing a major part in it.
What happens next when he flips, is what the movie is all about.
The supporting cast did a pretty awesome job and their acting was pretty much flawless. Kudos to Sandesh Jadhav who plays the cop and Shilpa Tulaskar who plays his wife.
The director of the movie is Nishikant Kamat and he’s also done a fabulous job of shaping the movie in the way it was done.
For a Indian movie, this one had some surprisingly, good production which put it on par with the other movies being shown at the film festival.
I personally felt, that a little bit more time should have been spent in character building – due to which it takes sometime to empathize with the main protagonist.
Due to this, the movie seems to drag a bit towards the middle, but the ending of the film is awesome and justifies for any other little flaw that the movie might have had.
Once the movie got over in the over crowded hall, the exit doors were empty.
Everyone, including the people who were sitting on the walk-ways were just .. sitting.
No one spoke for quite sometime.
The movie depicts how every person should think, but also at the same time, sticks to the sad reality of how the outcome might turn up.