Saturday, June 30, 2007

Überviews #41: Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

Caveat viewer: This film scores 0/5 for logic and 10/5 for illogic. Which, in the spirit of things, adds up to a grand total of 6/10. It is an out-and-outrageous entertainer that's high on Bollywood. Leave your mind outside the cineplex. Bring in your ears, heart and popcorn.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Überviews #40: An Inconvenient Truth

7/10: A few might dispute the alarming science in this film but what is indisputable is that this is a powerful plug for Al Gore as the future President of the United States of America.

Film vs. Book #1: H2G2

It’s virtually impossible to say anything objective about an experience that is revered by almost everyone who has, and in some cases even by people who haven’t, participated in it. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2), much like the Lord of the Rings and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, to name but two, is that kind of happening. But, I’ll try and approach the onerous task on hand in the spirit of the book, i.e., calmly.

When I first attempted to read H2G2, like any self-respecting follower, I went for it hammer and tongs. I grabbed the Adams’ Trilogy in four parts, called ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ (in no small measure thanks to the title, which I found uproariously funny) and plunged into it all arms and legs. It was too much. I couldn’t get beyond the first 30 pages. Of course, like practically every unsuccessful 'reader' of ‘important’ books on the planet, I felt ashamed and most inadequate.

For many years, thereafter, this traumatic non-event remained a black hole in my list of literary influences. Every time someone mentioned the book in, of course, reverential tones, I’d nod knowingly and make earnest sounds of clueless agreement.

Then, recently, prompted by the purchase of the H2G2 DVD, I picked up the first part of the Adams’ Trilogy, convinced that I was now grown up enough to appreciate the mind-boggling pleasures of this awe-inspiring book. Predictably enough, in my case, I bought the DVD not because I had enjoyed reading the book but simply because I had to find a way to truly be part the H2G2 crowd. How could I not, this was H2G2. Everything about it had to be awesome.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

Now now, hold on. Please don’t panic. Please don't crucify me. Please allow me one, just one, feeble attempt to try and justify my incredible stance on this earth-shattering book of global significance. Thank you.

Carefully speaking, both -- the book and the film -- are good, but not great. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the film more than the book. $hit, I've done it again. Not only have I committed the cardinal sin of being inadequately worshipful about the book, I’ve multiplied it by saying the film is better. So help me my dear kinda-undecided-about-your-existence God.

And for the few who are still with me, an impotent stab at explaining my hedonistic reasons for preferring the film. It had much to do with the bright colours and the cutesy, stylish animations. The not-all-CGI-driven-aesthetic employed for the special effects to create the creatures, the settings and, among other things, the lumbering Vogon people I found rather endearing. And a deliciously bright, over-the-top performance from Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed rogue king of the Galaxy. None of which, in a manner of speaking, I got from the book. (I know, downright sacrilege.)

Yes, the characters in the book are better fleshed out -- they better be, it is after all a book -- but they aren't crafted into an engaging narrative. This is not to say the film is a smoothly structured ride. In fact, it's even jumpier than the book. Where it scores over the book is in the showcasing of the sights and sounds from the book, something the writer in Douglas Adams has not been able to do. (At least, for me.) That said, what I did immensely enjoy in both forms was Marvin, the perpetually-depressed robot, who is a pure joy to read, watch and listen to (Alan Rickman doing a perfectly apathetic turn with the voiceover).

The way I see it, H2G2 is a kind of book that falls in a genre between magical realism and science fiction (whatever that might be) and is not for everyone; even though, every Tom, Dick and Nerdy strives to make it seem like it is. I also believe Douglas Adams is an infinitely better thinker-up of improbable ideas than a polished wordsmith.

To conclude this blasphemous piece of extraordinarily indigestible opinion, a few more thoughts on why the book didn’t do it for me, even the second time. I suspect it might have something to do with my age, both times. I think I was too young for it when I first approached it. Sadly, the mature, boring, stoic person I am today is a tad over-that-hill from where one might be able to unequivocally appreciate the highs of this slightly juvenile, quite absurd and wildly spaced out book. Still, if you were to ask me what -- the film or the book -- you should feed your fancy with first? I'd unhesitatingly say both - for I am inclined to believe that a mix 'n' watch will be a most compelling journey.

Before passing away into the oblivion of must-be losers who won’t pay obeisance at the shrine of H2G2, there is one other thing I'd like to say. When Ford Prefect tells Arthur Dent, early in the story, that he, initially, thought the dominant life form on Earth were cars, I immediately found myself agreeing with him. Vehemently. Emphatically. Militantly. Great call, great idea, Douglas. (So, does this absolve me, to some extent, of my impertinent crimes against Adamskind? I sincerely hope so.)

Famous last words: Because we live in an age of technology that allows us to show what Science Fiction in written form will find relatively difficult to match, I would argue that books of the H2G2 kind, if well done, are likely to woo and wow modern audiences more on film. Not surprisingly, the case of Douglas Adams' landmark book confounds the mind and Garth Jennings' film is delectable eye candy. For the complete trip into their Galaxy, do them together.

Überviews #39: The Hitchhiker's Guide to how can you not know what

6/10: Absurdly entertaining, especially Marvin. But.

Überviews #38: Die Hard 4.0

7/10: 'Hi I'm a Mac' Justin Long helps Bruce Willis, and Steve Jobs, create an action-packed, fully-loaded, totally teched-up, and so subversive 130 minute commercial for Apple. Question: Did Steve Jobs pay anything for this product placement?

What if Lever played Borg

Actually, he did. And how.

The goals are great

But it's the commentary that really takes the cake.

The bad ass

Used to eat batsmen alive. Would do the same to the current crop of trundlers the Windies possess.

Forget Paris

Even when people want to forget her, they can't. Check out this non-news story that refuses to stop making the news.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Sopranos in 7 minutes

Baggio v/s Baggio

No, not that missed penalty against Brazil. This is something else from the man who was something else.

The BINV Syndrome

Yesterday, somebody I work with walked up to me and asked whether I had heard of Anand Jon? (In case you haven't, he is the LA fashion designer charged with multiple counts of rape and other sexual offences.) The funny thing is not that he asked me about Anand Jon but that he seemed almost proud to have studied with someone who was now in the news, for all the wrong reasons. I suppose you can call it the Being In The News Vicariously (BINV) Syndrome. Which also explains why so many people love to send links to websites like India Uncut. (So that they too can enjoy their few links of fame, silly.) Full disclosure: I, too, bombard Vermaji with my links. Unfortunately, the much admired gent doesn't find them interesting enough to showcase on his Übersite. Sniff.

Links: Anand Jon, Vermaji

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Mango is better than Pratibha Patil

Since it goes without saying that a Mango will prove to be a more intelligent Presidential candidate than the fruitcake that is Mahima Chaudhury, I won't say it again. Furthermore, a Mango will not have to worry about sartorial inconveniences while getting into a tank or any other military vehicle. For instance, a bicycle. Thus, it has been proven without a doubt that a Mango continues to be the best bet for the President of my great country. All hail the Mango. What mystifies me is why Vermaji chose to switch loyalties and drop the Mango from the top of his list. Though, this post leads me to believe he may be switching loyalties. Back.

What's interesting is

That the most viewed video on this new video upload web site is the one on how to detect infidelity. In fact, six of the top 10 videos viewed have all got to do with relationships. Hmm.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Find out why Brian Blessed never became a jockey. So funny the uploader decided to repeat it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ka Chong

Stephen Colbert v/s Tommy Chong

I prefer the Mango

Since Vermaji has chosen to go with a fruit-cake and withdrawn his nomination of the Mango for President of India, it becomes incumbent upon me to take up the cause of this most deserving of fruits. Mostly because I find it a lot easier to have a crush on a Mango than Abdul Kalam. Or for that matter, Mahima.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Reminder from iPhone

The new iPhone commercials from one of the smartest marketers on the planet. In a time when so much advertising strives to be smart, they're not. They're just intelligent. At least, that's what I think. iPhone. My phone.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Überviews #37: Grindhouse

4/5 and 2/5: Tarantino does a Pulp Fiction in Death Proof, while Rodriguez makes a no-brainer with zombies.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Überviews #36: Ocean's 13

6.5/10: Standout camera work. Great Chemistry between Brad and Clooney. Very stylishly made. Very Sinatra.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Überviews #35: Zodiac

7/10: An engrossing film that's more like a book; in that it takes its time to reveal itself.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Überviews #34: Sylvia

6/10: An incomplete visual poem that takes us on a rivetting trip into a few dark corners of two very intense minds.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Überviews #33: Shrek 3

6/10: Despite it being a threequel, which most of the time is two too many, it's still worth a watch to see non-human creatures behaving like inhuman beings.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Martin Amis

“Here is a list of things I have understood.
i. There are only two sorts of things, bad and good.
ii. When he gets the good, a man ought to be glad.
iii. When he gets the bad, a man ought to be sad.
iv. Some of the good are joking, smoking, soaking,
And (if you will permit the expression) poking.
v. In a bad place these are absent, or even banned.
vi. In a good place they are frequent, or ready to hand.
vii. And I want as much of them as I can stand.”

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Überviews #32: Haven

5/10: Looks good. And like most things that look good, it feels superficial.

Überviews #31: Perfect Strangers

5/10: Bad writing. Bad casting. Bad news.

Überviews #30: Black Snake Moan

6/10: An exploitive flick that tries to communicate compassion. And does so, quite successfully.

Friday, June 1, 2007