Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kites (2010)

Kites is directed by Anurag Basu, produced by Rakesh Roshan & stars Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut, and Kabir Bedi amongst others. Story by Rakesh Roshan, Screenplay by Anurag Basu, Robin Bhatt and Akarsh Khurana, Music by Rajesh Roshan, Cinematography by Ayananka Bose.

My review is for the 130 minute Indian version. For your info, next week a 90 minute international remix version of Kites is going to be released which was re-edited under the supervision of Brett Ratner (director of Rush Hour series and X-Men:The Last Stand).  

Some of the reactions that I observed in the theater. At the 80 minute mark, the person adjacent to me is whispering in a tired voice "Oh my God! how much more time is the movie going to last?" At the end of the movie, I saw a group of friends waking one of their friends. There are uniform sighs of disappointment from the audience by the time end credits started rolling. You may guess now in which direction this review is going to be.

I saw the trailer of Kites a couple of months ago and was not at all impressed by it. So I went to the screening with a bit of low expectations. But the movie was worse than my already lower expectations.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Iron Man 2 (2010)

The movie is written by Justin Theroux who previously cowrote that fantastic comedy Tropic Thunder. Director of the movie is Jon Favreau who also acted in the movie as Tony Stark's bodyguard.

The trailer first. The beauty or the not so beauty thing about this trailer is that you can get a really good idea of almost all of the plot points of the movie in this.

Not difficult to guess the best part of the movie. Sometimes you feel that a particular role was destined to be played by a particular person. You can't seperate the role and the person. Robert Downey, Jr. is Tony Stark. He is so convincing that if not for the backlash of the fans you may very well change the name of Tony Stark to Robert Downey, Jr. He is absolutely enjoying this role and it shows on the screen. Also Mickey Rourke is an excellent casting choice for Ivan Vanko / Whiplash. He is really cool. I read that it was Downey who initially proposed Rourke's name for Whiplash.

30 ROCK Season 1 (2006-07)

30 Rock is the name of an American comedy series which Tina Fey created partly based on her experience at Saturday Night Live. So here we have a fictional live sketch comedy show called as "TGS with Tracy Jordan" (initially called as The Girly Show) whose head writer is Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey). We see what happens behind the production of this TV show along with knowing about the various persons/characters involved with it. 

Season 1 was nominated for 10 Emmy awards. Apart from the writing, the really best part of the series is actors. Casting was absolutely fantastic. Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, Katrina Bowden, Keith Powell, Lonny Ross, Maulik Pancholy everyone was great in their roles.

But the 2 people who really stood out for me are Jane Krakowski as attention seeking star of TGS and Jack McBrayer as the ever happy, obedient, stupid NBC page. For me, these two and Tina Fey of course are the real stars of 30 Rock. 

The comedy is top notch. If what you want is plain don't-use-much brain comedy, this is the thing for you. As far as the characters are concerned, they make me laugh very much but somehow I'm really not concerned about what happens with them except Liz Lemon. But my liking towards Liz Lemon might have to do more with Tina Fey than Liz Lemon (also I guess there might be a lot of similarities between Fey and Liz Lemon). With other characters, it's more like you make me laugh but I don't care if you are out of the show because someone else is going to do the same job. But once again the comedy is really good.

Verdict: 8/10

Some of the episodes that I felt to be very very good are episodes 13, 14, 18, 20 which are Up all night, The C-word, Fireworks, Cleveland respectively. But my top 5 favourite episodes are

1. The Head and The Hair (episode 11)
2. Corporate Crush (episode 19)
3. The Rural Juror (episode 10) & Black Tie (episode 12)
5. Jack meets Dennis (episode 6 )

Love to know your favourite ones,

Saturday, May 08, 2010

LIFE IN THE UNDERGROWTH - Part5: Supersocieties (2005)

Successfully completed the wonderful wonderful series Life in the Undergrowth. Although my favourite episode of the series is the 3rd one named The Silk Spinners (mostly because of my love towards spiders), this episode Supersocieties is a very very special one because of the similarity to our society and these societies of superorganisms.

After watching this episode, you really feel that at some point of time there was some connection to us. I mean, apart from intelligence there are a lot of similarities between us and these superorganisms. (It is another matter altogether that by seeing some of the actions of our species, I some times feel that we are less intelligent than some of these invertebrates.)

At the start of this episode Attenborough states that "The superorganisms such as ants, bees or termites are not the blindly mechanical robotic slaves that we once thought they were, indeed we now know every insect society is full of conflict, power struggles & mutinies".

Power struggles & mutinies! I never thought that could happen in other species apart from ours.

So in this episode we go into these super societies to see how they work. There is one superb footage showing the rise (from scratch) of a bumblebee society, its functioning and finally its end when the worker bees revolt and kill the queen bumblebee.

The wood ants squirting Formic acid when threatened is another good shot. After a flood, the mud ants quickly saving their eggs and moving them to a higher ground is another thrilling sequence in this episode.

The specialty of this particular episode is that most of the sequences in this episode are like from a thriller movie. Check this clip and see whether this reminds you of an old James Cameroon movie.

LIFE IN THE UNDERGROWTH - Part4: Intimate Relations (2005)

In this 4th episode of the wonderful series Life in the Undergrowth, we are dealing with the relationships developed by the invertebrates not only towards their own kind but also towards plants. Most of us know that generally plants and insects depend on each other. But the kind of footage that they have shot for this episode is unbelievable.

This clip shows how a Gall wasp uses an Oak tree for the development of its egg.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

LIFE IN THE UNDERGROWTH - Part3: The Silk Spinners (2005)

As the title says, in this episode of the Life in the Undergrowth series, we are dealing exclusively with the invertebrates which produce silk.

If you are thinking that spiders are the only invertebrates which produce silk then you are wrong because there are a whole lot of other beings which produce silk, of course apart from silk worms.

Check this clip to see the amazing fungus gnats, from the Waitomo Caves of New Zealand, building beautiful chandeliers to trap prey. This is a truly truly beautiful clip.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

LIFE IN THE UNDERGROWTH - Part2: Taking to the Air (2005)

Since I've given a minute introduction to this series in my previous post, I will straight away give a few snaps from this episode.

As the title shows, here we deal with the invertebrates in air such as butterflies, dragonflies, wasps and a lot lot more.

There are a lot of metamorphosis videos shown in this episode but the best of the lot is the following one of a dragonfly. You wouldn't believe that the initial monster looking creature has changed into such a beautiful one.

LIFE IN THE UNDERGROWTH - Part1: Invasion of the Land (2005)

I've seen many programs about various wonderful forms & variety of lives on our beautiful planet. But until Life in the Undergrowth there hasn't been a program that dealt about invertebrates in such a great depth.

Narrated by the one and only incomparable Mr. Who Else, this is a series par excellence.

More than 95% of all animal species on Earth consists of Invertebrates. For every one of us there are more than 200 million of those. As David says in the following intro clip, if we backbone creatures disappear suddenly, everything goes on normally for them but if they disappear, we are going to disappear with them.

The following clip consists of the first 200 seconds of the program. Observe that at some level we do have some similarities. 

Saturday, May 01, 2010

1940 lo Oka Gramam (2009)

In an interview, Narasimha Nandi, the director of this movie gave the following statement. I held 30 shows for distributors but no one seemed interested in buying the film". After watching the film, I can easily see why this happened. I will bet my laptop that each one of those distributors were sleeping soundly by the end of the movie.

1940 lo Oka Gramam has won 3 Nandi awards & a national award for the best regional (Telugu) language film. As the title says, the film is about the superstitions & class discrimination by the upper caste Brahmins in a village in the year 1940. This film is adopted from the book Ghosha by Gurazada Appa Rao.

The film starts with an intense scene where a man from a lower caste is castrated because of his love with an upper caste woman. So I know (atleast thought) that this is going to be an intense thought provoking film. But by the end of the first 30 minutes, I understood that this is going to be one of the most agonizing & torturous experiences that I will have. Dheekshitulu is a 65-70 year old brahmin widower with no children. He sees the beautiful 16 year old Susheela & goes to her parents to ask her hand. Though her mother is angry with this proposal, Dheekshitulu says that he will give them a lot of kanyasulkam to which they finally agree. 

(To my friends in other countries who don't know about kanyasulkam, kanyasulkam roughly means brideprice whereby sometimes an old brahmin would buy an young bride by giving the bride's parents money as an exchange for the bride. This was prevalent in some areas of South India prior to the 1940s. Thankfully, like smallpox, this practice was completely eradicated only to be overtaken by a more horrendous practice called dowry system which, like AIDS, is unfortunately yet to be eradicated.)