Saturday, August 12, 2006

Movie Review

This is a movie review, and I've decided not to care about lack of credentials for movie journalism -- if there are really, anyway. You see, sometimes Bollywood comes out with movies that I truly despise (that I still watch a whole gamut is a sign of hope -- and there have been reasons). And I feel this uncontrollable urge to get it out of my system. A need for catharsis.

On to the movie. Bollywood put out another candy floss movie based in an American metropolitan, wrapped in designer clothes and soft-focus marketing stills. This movie is a dud. You see, when you watch a movie you are gradually led to a denouement, a climax. At this point, all questions get answered, and mysteries are solved, and it ties everything together. Good movies work because they handle this buildup and the eventual denouement well. This movie bumbles along, for most part builds up a confused mess, and when the time comes for final denouement, it falls with its face on a slab of cement -- there is blood splattered everywhere, and you wish you weren't there to witness it.

Starting with the first frame where Shahrukh Khan shows his arrogant, smirking face I wanted some character to slap him hard and wipe that stupid grin off his face. I wished Amitabh would do that for daring to think he could do a Don. When Shahrukh meets Rani Mukherjee, I think she came pretty close to doing the honour. When Shahrukh blurts out his affair with Abhishek's wife, I thought this is it! Bachchan Jr. is going to land him a sock. Nopes. Then Shahrukh's mom comes face to face with him, having caught him red handed. I think the slap got edited away, because it was hanging there in the air. And then, finally!, when Shahrukh tells his wife madam Zinta about the affair, she, amongst all the fine cast of this movie, has the pluck to deliver what it takes. She delivers a slap that I clapped hard at. I even shouted for an encore! This, for me, was the denouement of the movie. The climax. This is what the entire movie seemed to be building up to.

But alas, someone thought differently. According to the writers and directors of this movie, you get punished for adultery by spending 3 years alone. So the movie blunders on, till there are enough weddings and funerals, and till they've captured the fall, the winter , the summer through 20 different camera angles, and finally ends with the dumb and dumber couple walking off the Grand Central. It makes one wonder -- what a shallow, sheltered, deprived lives the writers and makers of this film would lead. You wouldn't notice if most of the cast was replaced by plastic cards.

The first half hour or so of the movie works -- primarily because of the chemistry between the Bachchan father and son duo. The rest of the movie is an exercise in sadism. The Chinese may have invented many different torture schemes, but we have them beat with Shahrukh Khan.

If someone is interested in more details of the movie, there are none -- or at least not any more than what you already don't know. Shahrukh Khan chews gum, limps, yells, smirks, frowns and thinks he is the super stud. And so thinks Rani Mukherjee, who happens to be married to Bachchan jr. Why is Rani Mukherjee smitten by the wimpy Khan? Because he is a loser with a limp and a smirk, who tells her what an idiot she is. So they do a Silsila thing, have a fling. The loser yells some more. The dumb girl cries and falls along. And yes, she makes it a point to clean the gardens and apartments of New York when you are not looking. They get caught, they admit their folly. Shahrukh Khan tells his wife over coffee -- I was hoping there would be hot coffee splashed on his face and then a slap, but madam Zinta (as she herself said) was too much of a man to do that. Rani Mukherjee probably tells her hubby in bed. Big noises ensue, furniture is broken -- the designer stuff in Rani's house, and Shahrukh's ugly face in Preity's. The guilty are thrown out. And then the director tries to make it a redemption saga. The real redepmtion was that Shahrukh's character walks off the screen to 15 days in jail(are there chains in New York trains?). 15 days won't cut it, but they'll do for a start.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Castro coincidence

I had picked up the latest issue of New Yorker as I left home yesterday to catch a flight. I usually start with the Fiction piece, but this time around I got off the block with the article on Cuba and Castro. And as I was leaving the plane I saw the news plastered on newspapers -- Castro steps down. Lucky for me, I had had a real good primer for the state of affairs in Cuba, and I knew who Raul Castro was, and so on.

The article is online here.

Talking about topical stuff, this Middle East buddy list from Slate was useful in trying to figure out who's on whose side. When the recent war started and Egypt and Saudi Arabia criticised Hezbollah, I was a bit confused. It's complicated.

Dave the funny guy with a funnier hat posted a yet funnier joke on Jibjab. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

movie of the week.. Jakarta

This week another Korean movie gets the pick. I had picked up Jakarta because of its premise -- it seemed like an interesting thriller/heist movie. It turned out to be a lot more than that.

In the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, I was thinking that I had picked up an amaterurish production -- horribly acted, poor cinematography. The plot looked silly and simplistic. It didn't seem promising. To my pleasant surprise, however, the movie seemed to evolve. In 90 minutes, everything in the movie got increasingly better. The plot of the movie turned out to be quite a twisted one, where loyalties changed as we learnt more about both the present and the past of the bank robbery that the movie starts out with.

In most movies, as an audience, you figure out your loyalties with some characters, and wait as the directors predictably leads you to a tragic or satisfying end. This movie, however, doesn't make it that easy for you. And yet, its denouement is quite satisfying.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen this movie get mentioned in many places, and it may be hard to find its DVD in the States. I know Scarecrow in Seattle carries one, and Netflix doesn't. But if you can find it, enjoy!