Friday, April 30, 2010

The Office: Season 1 (2005)

Completed the season 1 of The Office. Point to be noted is there are only 6 episodes in season 1. Of course I'm talking about the American version. For those of my friends who doesn't know what this is, The Office is a mockumentary comedy series showing the daily lives of office employees working in a branch of a company called as Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. So you have all the variety characters that you assume would be present in a typical boring office. 

I've started to love the title music. Most of us when we love a program & hear the music related to it, we have this mixed feeling of warmth, pleasure & nostalgia. You know what I mean. As soon as I hear that initial music I'm having the same feeling. So I guess I'm starting to love the show & the characters.

I haven't watched the British version. So naturally I don't have any benchmarks to compare with, which is really great. All the characters are excellent. I'm remembering their names though not all of them yet.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pilot episodes of The Office & 30 Rock

Last year at this date, I didn't knew that there were two comedy series by the names of The Office & 30 Rock. In the last 6 months, I've read a lot of praise for these two series. One of my friends got the dvds for these shows, so finally I've decided to watch these comedies from today.

After watching the pilot episodes, these are my initial thoughts & reactions about these.

In The Office, we follow the chronicles of people working in a fictional company by the name Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

It is like one of these cluttered govt offices where people are so bored. They appear kind of content but not content. You know what I mean. I am introduced to some of the key characters neatly such as Michael Scott (Steve Carell), Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), Pam Halpert (Jenna Fischer), etc,. All of them looked really good in their characters. Steve Carell was sometimes funny but mostly I felt his character was kind of irritating & slightly lunatic. I wanted to throw paper weight on his head after his practical joke on Jenna but that is the reaction they wanted from audience I suppose. It would be interesting to see how these characters are going to develop in my view. Especially Carell's after that irritating sketch in this episode.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Verdict: 9/10

The Maltese Falcon is written & directed by John Huston and adopted from Dashiell Hammett's novel of the same name. The movies star cast includes Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade, Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy, Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo, Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman, Lee Patrick as Effie Perrine, Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer Cook, Gladys George as Iva Archer amongst others. There is a special cameo by Walter Huston.

The Maltese Falcon received Oscar nominations for Picture, John Huston for Adapted Screenplay & Sydney Greenstreet for Supporting Actor.

I won't give any plot details here except that this is a wonderful crime mystery that started the classic film noir period of Hollywood. The movie starts with these lines scrolling.
"In 1539, the Knights Templar of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels ----- but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day ---".
So we know that we have to find the falcon & in the process we deal with lies, murders, characters full of deceit & cunningness. You know the typical film noir settings.

The Maltese Falcon is the first movie directed by John Huston who in his illustrious career was nominated for 15 Oscars. John Huston hated the two previous movie adaptations of the novel The Maltese Falcon. He thought that there is a lot of scope for improvement. The beauty of the film is that there is not a single waste line nor a single waste shot nor a single waste performance. Everything is so perfect & each character is very well developed. I felt Huston has filtered the movie like water, over & over, until it became so perfect.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Rules of FILM NOIR (2009)

The music in background is the nostalgic classic jazz. Everything is in black & white. Matthew Sweet gets out of a car & says this "Dark, isn't it? You better get used to it. For the next hour, this is how the world is going to be. THIS IS THE WORLD OF FILM NOIR. It's a dark American place with a fancy French name. A place where the sun has died & people get buoy with Neon, where the only pleasures to be had are from bourbon & the satisfaction of knowing that life is a cheap little game in which everyone plays dirty". I immediately knew that the next hour is going to be a superb fun ride & boy! Am I delighted by the end of the programme.

This BBC programme, narrated by Matthew Sweet, deals with the wonderful world of film noir. The word film noir invokes different things to different people. If I have to say 3 things that flash in my mind in a nanosecond, they would be unbelievable shadows, tobacco smoke & Put the blame on Mame. Isn't Rita Hayworth ravishing in Gilda? I would love to know the 3 things that come to your mind first when you hear the word 'film noir'.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Serendipity (2001)

Verdict:  9/10

How many of us doesn't like a good love story with some humour & some melancholy. I think the romcoms of the 30s, 40s & 50s are amongst the best in Hollywood history. We have such precious gems such as Adam's Rib, Roman Holiday, It Happened One Night, My Man Friday & the list goes on. The next 3 decades saw a decline in this genre save some rare exceptions such as Annie Hall. But the last 2 decades saw a revival of sorts. I think the success of When Harry Met Sally & Pretty Woman has a lot to do with this.

I like many romcoms from the last 2 decades but if you ask me to name 3 movies that I absolutely adore from the last 21 years, I would say 10 Things I Hate About You, My Sassy Girl (not the English version but the Korean version Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo) & Serendipity.

I actually saw Serendipity for the 1st time only a year after its release. At that time I haven't seen many rom-coms & also I wasn't thinking about movies in a critical way analysing their good, bad & ugly. It was just some rom-com which I was seeing to waste some time. But by the first 15 minutes, I started to love the movie. One reason was due to the interesting start & another reason was due to Kate Beckinsale about whom I never heard of before & who will always remain my 1st Hollywood crush.

Serendipity is directed by Peter Chelsom & written by Marc Klein.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Most of our Universe is Missing (2006)

From here onwards, to encourage my readers to watch the science videos, I've decided to include a few screenshots in my posts. Hope this encourages you to give some of your time for knowing about some interesting things that are happening around you.

Most of our Universe is Missing is another episode in the long lasting series BBC Horizon. This episode is narrated by Academy Award nominated actor Sir Ian Holm.

I will give a brief intro about what this episode deals with.

Do you know that around 96% of our universe is missing? And I'm not talking about the vast emptiness that we see. All the galaxies with stars, planets & other debris that you see has a total mass of only 4% of our universe.

Prior to 1970, everything in our universe is accounted for. Or that is what most people thought. But in the 1970s Prof. James Peebles & Prof. Jeremiah Ostriker, who were working on the stability of the galaxies & universe, found that with the notions of total mass existed at that time, the stability of the galaxies is difficult to achieve. They were thinking of some missing matter that is unknown to us & they came to know that forty years earlier Prof. Fritz Zwicky had the same ideas about missing matter. Thus our Dark Matter was discovered in theory. But the problem for others to accept this is that neither dark matter could be seen nor it was discovered practically. So, many of the others dismissed it as speculative.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Verdict:  8/10

How to Train Your Dragon directed by Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois is a big budget CGI animation film from the DreamWorks Animation stable. 

The story is set around the ancient & mythical Viking land where the glory of a man lies in becoming a dragon slayer. Dragons occasionally raid the Vikings & take the livestock & any other available food which invariably results in a fight. The protagonist of the movie is Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), son of the chief of Vikings (Gerard Butler). As with any other Viking, Hiccup wants to be a dragon slayer but is constantly discouraged by his father because he is 'different' read not muscular. So at one of the dragon raids, when Hiccup injures a most feared dragon called Night Fury, noone believes him. He goes to the adjacent woods to find & kill it, but when the time comes he couldn't do it because he realizes that it is as much afraid of him as he is of it. So he releases it & an unlikely friendship is forged. Gradually Hiccup finds that dragons are not harmful unless provoked & he tries to change the perceptions of Vikings especially that of his father. With the help of his lady love Astrid (America Ferrera), how he achieves his goal & brings peace between Vikings & Dragons forms the rest of the story. By the way, the intro of Astrid is hot, literally. There are enough action pieces & aerial fights in the film. The Big Daddy at the climax looked like a hybrid between T-Rex & Archaeopteryx. Imagine a flying T-Rex breathing fire.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Män som hatar kvinnor / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Verdict:  9/10

The movie has some nudity & violence.

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" directed by Niels Arden Oplev, is adopted from the 1st book of the hugely popular "Millennium Trilogy" series written by Stieg Larsson. Spare a thought for Larsson because he died before any of the trilogy books were published. The movie is the biggest ever Scandinavian movie & the highest grossing movie of Europe in 2009. There are 2 more sequels to this film which have been already released in Sweden & will be released in U.S in the coming months. I didn't read the novel but as the movie is gradually unfolding, you can actually feel like reading the book. The literal translation of the swedish title is Men who hate Women.

Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) is a retired former head of a business empire as well as the head of a big dynasty. 40 years ago his niece Harriet has disappeared & her body was never found. Henrik, for whom Harriet is like a daughter, is convinced that she is murdered by some one from his own family & he employs a tainted journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) to find the murderer. Mikael gets an unlikely partner in the form of the antisocial computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) who is fighting some demons from her own past. They form an unlikely detective pair & together they must find the murderer before they themselves became the target.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Date Night (2010)

Verdict:  8/10

Ads before the movie in theatre:

1. New Samsung 3D. The ad was amazing on the big screen although I doubt the real effect of the T.V.
2. Trailer of The A-Team, which was rather uninspiring with the only inspiration being Liam Neeson's face.
3. Insipid trailer of The Bounty Hunter starring Jennifer Aniston & Gerard Butler. I found the comedy rather bland. Never a fan of Aniston.

Date Night is directed by Shawn Levy whose previous credits include The Pink Panther & Night at the Museum movies amongst others.

The movie stars Steve Carell & Tina Fey as the married couple Phil and Claire Foster living in New Jersey with 2 children. They are one of those couples who lead the same monotonous routine life, day in & day out. Although they do love & admire each other, they feel nothing "special" or magic in their relation as well as life. Every week they go on a date night to the local restaurant where they make jokes & amuse themselves by imitating other couples' talks & guessing their stories. But even this has become a tiresome experience now. When their best friends inform the Fosters about their divorce by saying that they no longer feel like couple but good room mates, Fosters feel the same about themselves. So in order to rekindle their romance Steve takes Claire on a date to a costly Manhattan restaurant.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jesus Camp (2006)

Verdict:  10/10

This is one of the most terrifying horror documentaries that I've seen in the recent past. Leave aside your exorcists, grudges & halloweens. I've seen Gin gwai 2 a couple of days ago & as far as horror is considered, Jesus Camp actually beats it. If this documentary doesn't send even a single chill through your brain, I promise I will stop seeing any horror movies in the future. 

A couple of quotes from the documentary.

Becky Fischer: It's no wonder, with that kind of intense training and discipline, that those young people are ready to kill themselves for the cause of Islam. I wanna see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam. I wanna see them as radically laying down their lives for the Gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different places, you know, because we have... excuse me, but we have the truth!

(If I erase "The Book" from your mind Becky, Where/What is the truth that you are talking about?)  

Becky Fischer: I can go into a playground of kids that don't know anything about Christianity, lead them to the Lord in a matter of, just no time at all. They are so usable in Christianity.

(Usable! Since when did Kids became some junk stationary.)

Jesus Camp directed by Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing is a critically acclaimed documentary film which received an Oscar nomination but lost the award to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.


Oh yes. There is no title for this post because honestly I thought about it for a while but nothing appropriate flashed in my brain. When I started my blog, I only wanted to post whatever movies (plus occasional documentaries & science videos) that I've seen from mid-March 2010. I wanted to keep my personal beliefs/opinions regarding anything other than movies away from the blog.

If somebody asked me now what is my religion, I would say I had no religion at my birth, then I am brainwashed to be a Hindu because I was born in a Hindu family (I would have been a Muslim if somebody kidnapped me at birth & sold to a childless Muslim couple), finally came to my senses after 20 years & now I again assume my religious position at birth which is no religion. Mind you, once a person is brainwashed in a religious way (which most of you are) it is very difficult to come out of it, which explains why there are so many suicide killings, honour killings (based on both religion as well as caste). I am proud to come out of such brainwashing.

I had friends in my class who are afraid to mingle with my friends of another religion. I have friends whose family members, in case of a medical emergency, only take blood from within their relatives because they think that other's blood makes them impure. But when you accept evolution as a fact, there will be no place for any type of discrimination in your heart because everybody is related to everybody. You (whoever is reading this now from whichever place on Earth) are related to me, & we both are related to every other person on the planet albeit by a distance. When you think of every other person as your distant relative, you may not love them but at the same time you won't hate them. For e.g., I love & adore my sister. I also love my first cousins very much but not as much as I love my sister. My love towards my second cousins is far less than that towards my first cousins. I actually don't know about my third or fourth or any other cousins. But if somebody comes to me & says that he is say my fourth cousin, I may not love him but I definitely won't hate him. So when you think that every person is related to every other, believe me when I say, the whole perception of your world changes.

One more thing I wanted to add was this brain washing of kids. I have a question which you need not answer here but just answer to yourself. Are kids the property of their parents? (or) Are they the responsibility of their parents? I believe children are not some kind of stationary/property on which parents can start brainwashing their religious beliefs & customs. They are only the responsibility of parents until they have enough maturity. Please don't treat your kids like some property. Teach them the facts & leave them the freedom to choose their lifestyle when they are mature enough.    

Check this video on YouTube although this is not exactly related to the above subject.
Also check these winners of Project Reason short film contest. The 2nd one is nice but the 3rd one eats the cake. 

So why am I Posting all this? It is because I saw a documentary Jesus Camp. I almost cried after seeing that. I completed it at 2 a.m & now it is 5 a.m but I am unable to sleep. I have to let go my frustration of not being able to do anything except lying on my bed & thinking. Now that I vented some of feelings, probably I will sleep. I will post about Jesus Camp in my next post.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Gin gwai 2 / The Eye 2 (2004)

Verdict:  6/10

It was 1 a.m. My roommate was already sleeping. No disturbances. I closed the windows & it was my perfect setting for watching a horror flick. The downside of loving & watching too many horror thrillers is that nowadays unless I have the above said perfect conditions, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get my thrills.

An important observation regarding the title is that there is absolutely no relation between the movie & the title. I felt cheated because going by the title, I thought this movie has some connection with Gin gwai/The Eye which was one of my favourite movies. Since the first movie was a hit, just to cash on the success, the directors Pang Brothers named this movie as a sequel but the story is completely new one. As the story isn't bad at all, they should have kept an independent tile. The second thing which I hated immensely was the background score in the 1st half. Random usage of heavy music was actually distracting although in the 2nd half the situation improved. As a whole I would say job not well done as far as background score was considered.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth? (2009)

Do you know the following facts?
  • The current world population is just under 7 billion.
  • Every year 80 million babies are born.
  • Each additional being needs water, food & energy.
  • Already more than a billion people don't have access to safe drinking clean water.
  • A can of beer uses of 150 litres of water. Production of a cotton shirt takes 3000 litres of water.
These are some of the important facts shown in this programme.
Along with the brief description of the programme, I posted a few thoughts of mine below.

How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth? is an episode of BBC Horizon series & is narrated by the one & only, ever indefatigable Sir David Attenborough. In the programme David discusses about the affect of population growth on our ability to obtain food, water & energy. Also the danger to the environment due to rapid population growth is discussed. David also talks about the duty of individuals to commit to smaller families & to change the way they live for the sake of humanity and planet Earth. He makes an interesting but true observation which is although we humans do care about our near ones, thinking about our species as a whole was never our strong point.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Verdict:  6/10

The first thought that came to mind after watching Clash of the Titans was What an opportunity wasted!

Now the movie isn't bad by any means & is an easy one time watch. But it could have been so much more.

The Greek mythology is as rich as the Hindu mythology. Titan is the term for god in Greek mythology. Although the Greek gods are nothing more than a myth now, it would be wise to know that once upon a time they were thought to be real & a great civilization has worshipped them for centuries. There are many wonderful stories in Greek mythology & the story of Perseus, son of Zeus (Zeus like our Indra is the head of gods) is one of them.

Based on the heroics of Perseus, Clash of the Titans was first made in 1981. With the current advances in visual effects, it's a nobrainer to remake it & so we have the current movie directed by Louis Leterrier starring Sam Worthington (Avatar fame) as Perseus, Liam Neeson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades (god of underworld & brother of Zeus), beautiful Gemma Arterton as Io (kind of guardian angel to Perseus), Alexa Davalos as Andromeda (princess of Argos) among others.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Varudu (2010)

Verdict:  4/10

Fine. Where should I start?

You came across an interesting plot point - "What if during an arranged marriage the bride & the groom decide to not see each other until the last moment of tying the knot". You don't know what to do next with this point. So you go in every direction north, south, east & west, search for all the available movie cliches. You put all those into a movie assuming that audience are going to watch anyway since your hero is a top star & finally what will you get. Presto! you have the worst movie of Allu Arjun's career "Varudu".

In a recent interview, Allu Arjun said, “Gunasekhar narrated me the story in 2 minutes and I liked 4 scenes narrated in that 2-minute narration". After watching Varudu, I was left wondering what those 4 amazing brilliant wonderful scenes were.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Sky at Night - "Life"

This post is for the astronomy lovers who are in Britain.

The Sky at Night is a monthly programme produced by BBC. It is telecasted in Britain on BBC One & BBC Four. The first episode was aired in 1957 & hosted by Sir Patrick Moore. It is still running with the same ever enthusiastic host. If you have internet, you can watch most of the previous episodes at the above link.

The programme covers a very wide range of astronomy & space related topics. This is a must watch for every one in Britain since it has only one episode per month (no time wastage) & it gives enormous knowledge.

The last episode was titled "Life". A very interesting topic. Half a century ago, scientists didn't know anything about planets outside our solar system & there was only speculation about them. But know more than 400 such extra-solar planets were discovered. The reason for the discovery of so few planets is that detecting a planet is one of the toughest jobs for astronomers because planets are one of the tiniest objects in the universe & they have a very little footprint. So detecting them is a very tidious & painful process. If detecting an extra-solar planet is so tough a process, you can imagine what it is going to be to find what is on such a planet. So is there anything living on them and if so, is it intelligent?

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)

Warning 1: Both the movie & the following review are Rated A for India & R for America. So proceed with discretion.

Warning 2: If you haven't seen the other 2 Monty Python movies, don't see repeat do not see this movie.

Verdict:  9/10

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, unlike the 2 previous movies each of which had a full length continuous plot, is a sketch comedy. The movie is directed by Terry Jones except for the opening short film 'The Crimson Permanent Assurance' which was directed by Terry Gilliam. The 6 Pythons played more than 75 roles among themselves in this movie.

The movie starts with an amazing short film called 'The Crimson Permanent Assurance' which is nothing like I've ever seen. Comparing tired old people working in a company to slaves in a slave ship & developing this into a short film! Only a Python can devise a satire like this. The old people revolting against their more efficient young bosses to take over the company is shown as the slaves revolting against their captors & taking over the ship. The old people now run the company (shown as pirate ship) & attack other big corporations & finally fall off the edge of the world. The whole sequence is so incredibly shot that I was completely left in awe. Even a Python hater should see the opening sequence which runs for roughly 16 minutes. The old actors who performed here are brilliant.