Sunday, November 12, 2006

Some random stuff I've been watching...

Arish recently recommended House M.D. TV series. Netflix makes it easy to live a few years behind the world and catchup in a week -- so I am catching up to many seasons of this series. I am still on the fist season, and I've come to like it quite a bit. I think the reason Arish recommended it was that it has Hugh Laurie -- who made Wodehouse' Wooster come to life on screen. I like it -- to the extent that watching it sometimes made me want to become a doctor. It makes medicine seem more like puzzle solving than anything else.

I, of course, went to see Borat. When I saw the preview of the movie, it looked hilarious, but I was skeptical -- these things work well in half an hour sketches at more, but rarely have the lasting power to make a movie. Borat tries, but it's riding on marketing and hype. You have to hand it to Sacha Cohen though -- it's a performance worth applauding. The movie itself is ok -- he picks on the people worth picking on, and in many ways picks on the audience itself. But I still found it a tad boring -- thought it does have some very funny parts.

I've been meaning to watch The Departed. It's always a lot of fun to watch Jack Nicholson chew everyone else in bad boy roles like this one. But I haven't. Infernal Affairs was a damn good movie, and remakes, however well made, don't pack the same punch. Maybe, one of these days, I'll get around to it. Meanwhile, I do recommend Infernal Affairs -- the Hong Kong original that inspired it.

If you haven't seen the Gods must be crazy, you must. Both parts, I and II. Hilarious stuff.

Journey of Man is an interesting documentary. It traces genetic mutations to track human history all the way to 50,000 years ago when Man started to branch out of Africa and human race spread all over the world. Just for the science and the story alone, it's worth watching. But it does seem overstretched and seems to have missing pieces. It is also a promo vehicle for the presenter/scientist. Despite the flaws, it is a good story.

Tony Jaa might grow up to be the next Jackie Chan?

I've had a hard time finding something from Eddie Izzard as good as Dressed to Kill. But he was working solid magic in Definite Article -- something I saw recently. I am waiting for "Unrepeatable" to show up in the Netflix envelope one of these days...

In case you do not know, Almodovar's latest -- Volver -- should be out soon.

And so will be the new Bond flick, and the new Spiderman flick.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Murder by Death

The movie I am writing about this week is Murder By Death.

There are many reasons to watch this movie -- David Niven, Alec Guiness, Maggie Smith, Truman Capote, and the king of them all Peter Sellers. They all come together in this amazing comedy. Peter Sellers turns in a brilliant spoof of Charlie Chan -- his character in the movie is Wang -- and packs in a whole new, and even funnier, one liners that the Charlie Chan was synonymous with. And of course he delivers it without any prepositions. Take this: "Conversation like television on honeymoon -- unnecessary."

The movie itself is a spoof on several well known detective characters -- Poirot is Perriet, Columbo is Sam Diamond, Miss Marple is Miss Marbles, Charlie Chan is Sidney Wang, and so on. They all come together in a mansion, as guests of Lionel Twain, played by Truman Capote. The movie unfolds as a murder mystery -- or spoofs one. All these supposedly brilliant detective minds are supposed to solve the murder mystery to get a prize. Don't expect any brilliant detective work here -- just laughs.

Another cute one from the movie, this time by Sam Diamond -- "This all could mean just one thing.... and I don't know what that is!"

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jambool is in (private) alpha.


A tale of two movies

The first movie is about a warrior who travels from the desert of Rajasthan to the snow of the Himachal, in a joueney to discover himself. The second, is a story of a woman who travels from Himachal's mountains to the sand dunes of Rajasthan to find someone else. So, in some ways, you can call this a Tale of two States.

The first movie is a patient, indulgent, raw-looking story of a "warrior" who gives up weapons, loses his son and finds some form of salvation. It's Asif Kapadia's The Warrior. Irfan Khan gives a splendid performance. The rest of the cast are non-actors, but the movie adds up quite well. It has a much more art-house feel to it -- it has subtle imagery that was lost on me initially.

The second movie is a little more popular cinema stuff -- though very different in its treatment than Bollywood stuff. It is Nagesh Kukunoor's Dor. The movie carries itself on some brilliant performances by its lead actors. The movie is shot very well -- it frames the sand dunes, the temples, the Himachal backdrop very well. It also has some really well etched characters -- at least the central characters. One can't say that Nagesh Kukunoor is a master of his craft, but he's getting better. His Hyderabad Blues seemed like a school project, his other movies in the middle didn't seem to break much ground either. But there were occasional flashes in the pan -- specifically Teen Deewarein and Iqbal.

Undoubtedly, he tries. Though he couldn't stop himself from giving Dor a crowd-pleaser of an ending. Nevertheless, it's good to see such cinema come out of India -- instead of the regular mush and dramas, or the remakes of Bachchan flicks of old.