Saturday, December 23, 2006

Beware of the Linkspam

Note: This list has been in development for nearly 3 weeks now, so really, the warning in title? Is very meant.

This isn't even the worst of it. In anticipation of how sour this could get, let me just say that my new TV boyfriend is Jamie Bamber. (and bombard you with picspam to complement the linkspam coming your way) *sigh....* I do NOT understand how I missed him before. Not only does he have, you know, the body (I am shallow) and the bluest eyes, like, ever, he's also got a FIRST CLASS degree with HONOURS from CAMBRIDGE.

Another bit of absolutely unbelievable news is how Joss Whedon (OMG) and JJ Abrams (OMG) are directing consecutive episodes of The Office. I do not kid.

More year-end "Best of" lists are now out. I will link to them, and discuss some of the more (to me, anyway) annoying aspects. Oh, the WGA nominees are also out, and lets just say that I have some issues.




The unimaginativeness gets to me, no The Wire, no BSG, no VM, same old Lost and same old Sopranos. Grey's has hardly had a stellar creative year either.



30 Rock is funny but uneven - and Curb Your Enthusiasm is again a symptom of going with the familiar. Where is My Name is Earl? And what about Ugly Betty?



No Dexter. And if they've nominated the pilot of Big Love, that could've been on here as well.

EPISODIC DRAMA — any length — one airing time

OCCUPATION/PRECIPICE (Battlestar Galactica)
THE END OF THE WHOLE MESS(Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King)
PILOT (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip)
PILOT (Big Love)

Really, Really hope BSG takes this one.

EPISODIC COMEDY — any length — one airing time

IT TAKES TWO (Desperate Housewives)
DON'T LOOK AT ME (Desperate Housewives)
BOMB SHELTER (Malcolm in the Middle)
THE COUP (The Office)
UMP FOR JOY (My Name is Earl)

Desperate Housewives. Just.. Guh.


Also, yet another screening of Volver and yet another time I am not going to watch it, because my buddies are a big pile of ditchers.

The SAG nominations were announced, and Oh God, they're even more unimaginative than the Globes. Grrrr.



Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Leonardo DiCaprio / BLOOD DIAMOND – Archer - Warner Bros. Pictures
Ryan Gosling / HALF NELSON – Dan Dunne - THINKFilm
Peter O’Toole / VENUS – Maurice - Miramax Films
Will Smith / THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS – Chris Gardner - Sony Pictures
Forest Whitaker / THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND – Idi Amin - Fox Searchlight Pictures

What's with the Will Smith nomination? And, please, a nom for Blood Diamond? For what, the worst accent in history? (Okay, I exaggerate).

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Penelope Cruz / VOLVER – Raimunda - Sony Pictures Classics
Judi Dench / NOTES ON A SCANDAL – Barbara Covett - Fox Searchlight Pictures
Helen Mirren / THE QUEEN – The Queen - Miramax Films.
Meryl Streep / THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA – Miranda Priestly - 20th Century Fox
Kate Winslet / LITTLE CHILDREN – Sarah Pierce - New Line Cinema

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin / LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – Grandpa Fox Searchlight Pictures
Leonardo DiCaprio / THE DEPARTED – Billy Warner Bros. Pictures
Jackie Earle Haley / LITTLE CHILDREN – Ronnie J. McGorvey New Line Cinema
Djimon Hounsou / BLOOD DIAMOND – Solomon Warner Bros. Pictures
Eddie Murphy / DREAMGIRLS – James “Thunder” Early Paramount Pictures

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Adriana Barraza / BABEL – Amelia - Paramount Vantage
Cate Blanchett / NOTES ON A SCANDAL – Sheba Hart - Fox Searchlight Pictures
Abigail Breslin / LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – Olive - Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jennifer Hudson / DREAMGIRLS – Effie White - Paramount Pictures
Rinko Kikuchi / BABEL – Chieko - Paramount Vantage

I'm very happy with both noms for Babel.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture



Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Thomas Haden Church / BROKEN TRAIL – Tom Harte - AMC
Robert Duvall / BROKEN TRAIL – Print Ritter - AMC
Jeremy Irons / ELIZABETH I – Earl of Leicester - HBO
William H. Macy / NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES – Clyde Umney - TNT
Matthew Perry / THE RON CLARK STORY – Ron Clark - TNT

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Annette Bening / MRS. HARRIS – Jean Harris - HBO
Shirley Jones / HIDDEN PLACES – Aunt Batty - Hallmark Channel
Cloris Leachman / MRS. HARRIS – Tarnower’s Sister - HBO
Helen Mirren / ELIZABETH I – Elizabeth I - HBO
Greta Scacchi / BROKEN TRAIL – Nola Johns - AMC

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
James Gandolfini / THE SOPRANOS – Tony Soprano - HBO
Michael C. Hall / DEXTER – Dexter Morgan - Showtime
Hugh Laurie / HOUSE – Dr. Gregory House - FOX
James Spader / BOSTON LEGAL – Alan Shore - ABC
Kiefer Sutherland / 24 – Jack Bauer - FOX

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Patricia Arquette / MEDIUM – Allison Dubois - NBC
Edie Falco / THE SOPRANOS – Carmela Soprano - HBO
Mariska Hargitay / LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT – Det. Olivia Benson - NBC
Kyra Sedgwick / THE CLOSER – Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson - TNT
Chandra Wilson / GREY’S ANATOMY – Dr. Miranda Bailey - ABC

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin / 30 ROCK – Jack Donaghy - NBC
Steve Carell / THE OFFICE – Michael Scott - NBC
Jason Lee / MY NAME IS EARL – Earl Hicke - NBC
Jeremy Piven / ENTOURAGE – Ari Gold - HBO
Tony Shalhoub / MONK – Adrian Monk - USA

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
America Ferrera / UGLY BETTY – Betty Suarez - ABC
Felicity Huffman / DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES – Lynette - ABC
Julia Louis-Dreyfus / THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE – Christine Campbell -
Megan Mullally / WILL & GRACE – Karen Walker - NBC
Mary-Louise Parker / WEEDS – Nancy Botwin - Showtime
Jaime Pressly / MY NAME IS EARL – Joy - NBC

Default setting: Megan Mullally for Will and Grace. How about a side order of some IMAGINATION guys. Oh, well.... atleast Jaime Pressly wasn't ignored.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series


Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series


I should probably just give up on expecting decent stuff from television awards. Having watched most of the things they nominate, and a LOT of the things they didn't I have to say that these awards are a joke. The Wire, Battlestar Galactica AND Veronica Mars are snubbed in every category, and they are actually pretty much the best things on TV. And where does Boston Legal get all this love?? Like someone suggested on a rant, David E. Kelley must have a good many photos of a good many people in extremely compromising positions to get nominated. Award-whore-bitch-man. [/rant] I'm also not thrilled about continued recognition for Desperate Housewives, especially after its super-sucky Season Deux.

Much love for the Empire's end-of-year movie list though. While I don't agree with some choices (especially the COMPLETELY misplaced love for Superman Returns: for more on my opinion on that film see this post.) I love them for including atleast 5 films from my own best of year list, and not having much that I disagree with. Though I do disagree with their best film of the year, which is United 93. I also *love* that they put The Prestige on the list, and so high up as well. And its looking more and more likely that the best-film-I-haven't-seen-yet is Pan's Labyrinth.

The Producer's Guild Awards and Director's Guild have also announced nominees, but I can't be arsed to hunt links and post them here, because they will disappoint me anyway.

Anyway, here are the end-of-year lists that are (IMO) important, or atleast the opinions of these publications are considered important.

Time says these (or these) are the best films of the year. But their choice in TV sucks, because a) no Veronica Mars and b) no Battlestar Galactica.

The New York Times movie critics' choices for this year can be found here, here and here. Among them, they have a pretty good list going, though I will never agree with any list that has Miami Vice on it. Though that could just be all my Colin Farrell hate.

A blogger has compiled a list of the best TV based on other best-of lists:

1. 24 (80)
2. The Wire (77)
3. The Office (76)
4. Battlestar Galactica (69)
5. Friday Night Lights (62)
6. Heroes (60)
7. Lost (49)
8. Grey's Anatomy (48)
9. Rescue Me (34)
10. Veronica Mars (33)

I'm a little amazed by all the appreciation for Heroes. I really, really like and enjoy the show, and don't miss an episode, but it is hardly the best-written or best-paced dramas. The plot points leave a lot to be desired, and the acting is good, but not mind-blowing. I'm surprised, for example, that Dexter didn't make it on this list.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bringing the Christmas Back

End of year festivities means that my office is playing Christmas Carols pretty incessantly. Currently, my colleagues and I are wigging out to Heal the World. Of course when one thinks of Michael Jackson singing it with his penchant for little boys all I get are the wiggins. (Ha, ha. See what I did there? See? See?)

All of this carol singing and tree decorating is bringing back memories that are best left buried. Having gone to a small convent school with extremely strict nuns running the place, Christmas entailed some major competitiveness and parable-sharing. Carol singing competitions, crib-making competitions, skits, plays, trees and a lesson a day were par for the course. As House Captain I'd be standing and trying very hard to shout out militant orders, but mostly (like any good General) I delegated.

There are also better memories, of bone-crushingly enthusiastic children falling all over each other to get first in line to play games at some Christmas Carnival or other. And I shall be re-living said memories in three-dimensional glory, at the IHC on Christmas Day. Oh, Joy. 'Cept not.

However, before I get accused of being too Scrooge-like, let me take this opportunity to direct y'all to an extremely funny Christmas greeting (don't worry, I am not inflicting the atrocious-but-funny 12 Days of Christmas video on you). In keeping with the fact that Battlestar Galactica is my new obsession (having rewatched season 1 and waiting impatiently for season 2 to finish the frakkin' download) I give you:

Happy Holidays, Everybody!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Star World starts telecasting Heroes from January. That is incredibly quick for a show to find its way onto Indian shores. Also proves what a big hit the show is.

I'm not complaining! Yay! One less show to download, that is if the CAS PVR thingy comes in the set top box, or our DTH people start supplying PVRs.

In other news:

Jason Dohring is Yum-may. Here's proof:
All images are courtesy the fabulous LJ user leucocrystal from this post here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Golden Globes, and Reversal of Fortunes

The inner 11-year old pervert that I am will always snicker when I think of the Golden Globes. But that aside, I normally wait for the Globes with baited breath, considering how it kicks off the award season propah.

This year I was surprised to realise, going through the lists for movie and television nominees, that I was actually more familiar with the television than the movies. It is normally the other way round, but here it just highlights how many films I have yet to see before the Oscars. (I'm a total award whore BTW. I love the whole process of bitching about the nominations, rooting for your favourite, bitching about the awards and examining everyone's dresses with a magnifying glass. So sue me.)

So basically I don't have major gripes with the movie shortlists, if only because I haven't seen enough of them to have an opinion. But running through the list and offering my immediately biased opinions anyway:

Best Motion Picture
The Departed
Little Children
The Queen

Bobby? Really? I have seen it, and... best picture? Puh-leeze.

Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The Devil Wears Prada
Little Miss Sunshine
Thank You For Smoking

Don't even get me started on how wrong all this love for The Devil Wears Prada is.

Best Director
Clint Eastwood - Flags of Our Fathers
Clint Eastwood - Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen
Alejandro González Iñárritu - Babel
Martin Scorsese - The Departed

Does Clint Eastwood need 2 nominations?

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Peter O'Toole - Venus
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland

I'm absolutely certain Leo does not need two noms, by all accounts his accent in Blood Diamond is horrific.

Best Actress
Penelope Cruz - Volver
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Sherrybaby
Helen Mirren - The Queen
Kate Winslet - Little Children

Possibly the one category I have no issues with - if only because I haven't seen any film.

Best Actor -- Musical or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean 2
Aaron Eckhart - Thank You For Smoking
Chiwetel Ejiofor - Kinky Boots
Will Ferrell - Stranger Than Fiction

The one category I have seen all the films in. I liked Aaron Eckhart... but I'm not certain it was nomination worthy. And I love Johnny Depp, and Jack Sparrow, but this was hardly the surprise it was for the first film. I don't have alternate nominations though, so not too much complaining.

Best Actress -- Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening - Running with Scissors
Toni Colette - Little Miss Sunshine
Beyonce Knowles - Dreamgirls
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada
Renee Zellweger - Miss Potter

Again, I love Meryl Streep, but misplaced is the word I'm looking for.

Best Supporting Actor
Ben Affleck - Hollywoodland
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson - The Departed
Brad Pitt - Babel
Mark Wahlberg - The Departed

IMO, this category could have been comprised entirely of The Departed. I'd have liked to see Alec Baldwin and Matt Damon recognised as well.

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson- Dreamgirls
Adriana Barraza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada
Kikuchi Rinko - Babel

Again with the wrongness that is the Devil Wears Prada.

Best Foreign Language Film

Letters from Iwo Jima
The Lives of Others
Pans Labyrinth

Apocalypto? Really? Really? Really?

I'm not getting into the other categories, because I really can't have an opinion on them without having seen the films.

So while all in all this is a decent list, the TV nominations? Not even close.

Best TV Series - Drama
Big Love
Grey's Anatomy

I like Heroes. I love Grey's. I like 24. I like Lost (even though I have only watched season 1). I even like whatever Big Love I have watched. BUT. I mean, c'mon. Heroes is not even the best of the new shows on network TV. (Portentous writing and a grandiose feel to the whole show does not endear the writing to me. ) Friday Night Lights is possibly that. 4 episodes of Dexter have convinced me that it deserves to be on this list. And Dear God, why no Veronica Mars? Or Battlestar Galactica?

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Patricia Arquette, Medium
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Evangeline Lilly, Lost
Ellen Pompeo, Grey's Anatomy
Kyra Sedgewick, The Closer

No Kristen Bell for Veronica Mars. Really, Edie Falco yet AGAIN? Evangeline Lilly for what?

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Patrick Dempsey, Grey's Anatomy
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Bill Paxton, Big Love
Kiefer Sutherland, 24

I love Patrick Dempsey. But even his biggest fan would admit that this is a tad undeserved. Thank God Michael C. Hall is on the list though. And I won't object Kiefer, coz he's, well, Kiefer. But I really wonder at the criteria here. I'd have like to see Matthew Perry on this list for Studio 60. And the coach in Friday Night Lights. Please, please get some imagination.

Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Desperate Housewives
The Office
Ugly Betty

Urgggggggh. Desperate Housewives.... Urghhhhhhhhhhhh.

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

Desperate Housewives.... Urgh..................... Where is Jaime Pressly?

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Zach Braff, Scrubs
Steve Carell, The Office
Jason Lee, My Name Is Earl
Tony Shalhoub, Monk

Yes! They nominated Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock!

(Pardon the formatting issues)



I haven't seen the Made for TV stuff, so I wont comment on that. But Katherine Heigl, who is ridiculously over the top and the most annoying thing about Grey's lately? No way. None of the girls from Big Love?



Yes! Masi Oka and Jeremy Piven. Yes!

Also, several end-of-the-year, best movie lists are out. Check out Slant's list here, and a list from Ryan Stevens, one of Cinematical's contributers. The Observer has also released a 50 forgotten classics list. My thoughts will follow soon.

Also, Chelsea has won their game, Man Utd lost theirs. India has won the test match versus South Africa. Icicles were seen forming in hell.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Fan

No, I'm not talking about crappy Robert DeNiro baseball movies. This is something I've been thinking about quite often, the more invested I get in certain tv shows and other media, the more I contemplate the intricacies of fandom, the more certain things start bothering me. These issues have merely been highlighted by reading such sites as Television Without Pity. I love TwoP... and the forums, and its posters are a generally well-informed bunch. But there is such a thing as over-analysis, and becoming so invested that you lose sight of the creator's vision and start imposing yours instead.

The lovely utsusemia wrote an excellent post on the subject. (I haven't asked her if I can link to this, but I hope its alright. And for anyone with any interest in VM fanfic, read her Nightfall, quite possibly the most beautiful work of fanfiction ever.)

"Have you noticed that the more people are obsessed with something, the less they seem to actually like the thing they are obsessed about? I never really experienced this before Harry Potter, but since then I keep noticing this strange "I hate the thing I love" torture going on with alot of fan(girl)s. My first obsessive experience, outside of a book, was in anime, which I'm guessing is a very different sort of thing, mainly because by the time you get obesssed with any anime, the entire show is finished and you just sit back and watch it. I'm thinking that it's the impression of a collaborative experience that you get with an obsession with an ongoing show that brings out the strange "fangirl hate" phenomena. I call it strange because it doesn't really happen to me Call me crazy, but the reason I love the sixth Harry Potter is the same reason I loved the first, and whoever the hell Harry or Ron or Hermione get together with isn't going to change my enjoyment of it. To be clear: I'm not the author. I may be involved emotionally, but it's still not my story."
So. Much. Word.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Of Days Long Past

If I were asked why I haven't been blogging, I could quite honestly say I don't know. Its not that I've been too lazy, because [this time] that really is not the problem. Its not even that I've been (as I can often be) apathetic to it all; there have been many moments in the past few days that I would have liked to record. But, invariably, as a result of letting it go, I can't remember them all now.

Good things have been happening to me lately. I went shopping with my mom after a day when I was feeling a bit... depressed, and boy, there's nothing like retail therapy to restore a girl's spirits. I went to the capitalist paradise that is G.K I M-Block market after ages and ages, and God, was it fun. (Of course, this trip to G.K means I don't want to look at me bank account anymore.) Anyway, I spent ages ooh-ing and aah-ing over the new Puma store (Yay!) and a surprisingly affordable Espirit rust cord jacket (which I didn't buy) and an equally surprisingly unaffordable gorgeous Benetton claret velvety jacket (which, needless to say, I also didn't buy).

Another point of great joy on the day was the purchase of two First Editions, one Graham Greene's The Human Factor and the other was Empire by Gore Vidal. While in the bookstore looking over publication histories, I noticed some of the declarations signed in these books. It's hard to describe what I feel every time I think about that (flashbacks to Serendipity notwithstanding), but I think a sense of nostalgia and history is probably accurate. It felt as if I were holding someone's dreams in my hands, and it made me happy and sad and proud all at once. The yellowed pages, the words written... the Love, Jacinda (or whoever) ... they're a part of someone's memories. Nothing but a book can inspire that kind of emotional connection to a complete stranger, in my opinion.

I have also been watching a movie a day. So much better than having to eat an apple! Anyhow, in the past week or so, I have watched these films: Scoop!, John Tucker Must Die, The Break Up, The Interpreter, In Her Shoes, Equilibrium. With the exception of In Her Shoes, they were all crap. I was especially disappointed by Scoop! which was so bad that even Hugh Jackman couldn't make up for the awfulness. What I really disliked about the film was that Woody Allen couldn't resist inserting himself into the film yet again, and his routine is really unfunny now. Equilibrium, with Christian Bale, was not so much awful as a mish-mash of every seminal SF film over the last 20-30 years. One would be far better off watching the stuff that patently 'inspired' this film, from 1984 to Blade Runner.

Since most of my favorite shows are on hiatus, I'm going to now catch up on other stuff, what everyone swears is fabulous but for some reason or other, I haven't gotten around to it. (Yes, A, I'm talking about the Wire). Also, the arc finale for Veronica Mars means t my love for Logan has reached unhealthy heights now. Sigh...if ONLY he were real!

ETA: I realized I hadn't said anything at all about my absolute anger at PVR for first raising my hopes with a 'Next Change' for the Prestige, and then cruelly deciding to not release it.

Secondly, I have yet to express my views on both The Departed and Casino Royale. I thought the Departed was toe-curlingly good. I haven't been blown away like this at all this year. I also love Scorcese for his use of Puccini. For a review, read this piece, which I [mostly] agree with. A disclaimer: I certainly do not share the love for The Aviator or Gangs of New York.

I watched Casino Royale right after the Departed, which might be why I didn't like it as much as the rest of the world seemed to. However I saw it a second time and it did improve on repeat viewing, but I still don't understand the fuss. My gripe then, and now, is that were it not a James Bond movie, if the protagonist was called Jeremy Smith instead, we would dismiss it as a decent thriller, nothing more, nothing less. And while I was never someone who had a problem with the casting of Daniel Craig as Bond (I love his eyes, so cold and blue) I don't believe he is right for future Bond films. He was good in this movie, no doubt, but I can't see him doing suave as well as he did the thug. I keep thinking someone like Hugh Jackman, who can effortlessly do both (Wolverine, anybody?) would have been a better choice. Things I loved about the movie however, were the opening sequence (which made me visualize a Bond film filmed in black-and-white, nearly causing me to asphyxiate with excitement) and the credit sequence (even though the song was well below-par). The parkour-with-things-exploding-alongside was considerably less adrenaline-thumping that many other parkour sequences seen even on TV (Top Gear).

BTW, I also watched Dhoom 2, in which I lusted after Hrithik Roshan for the first time ever. High on style, low on plot, it was nonetheless a fun film with equal opportunity oogling. As the NY Times put it:
"The pleasure principle is palpable in the giddy, slick ''Dhoom 2,'' a satisfying example of the new, thoroughly modern Bollywood. The film is shot in sharp, primary colors, with sophisticated stunts, exotic location hopping and songs sung partly in English (and available on iTunes no less).... Hrithik Roshan plays Aryan, the ''smartest and coolest thief alive,'' as his police nemesis, Jai (Abhishek Bachchan), enthuses. (Jai to Aryan: ''I like your confidence''; Aryan to Jai: ''I like you.'') And the buffest: at the mere hint of a flamenco beat, Mr. Roshan whips off his shirt."
Heh. And also, some HoYay!

Monday, December 04, 2006

All I Want for Christmas

This is for any friends, family and other kindly souls who feel like gifting me, for being me. Coz I'm so awesome, and all that. And Santa Claus, this goes for you too. Also: this is a Christmas and Birthday wish list, all rolled into one, for easy perusal and reference.

1. An Apple iPod 30 GB.

2. A Nikon D-50.

3. A burgundy red leather coat.

4. The Television without Pity book.

5. The Michael Schumacher Biography (translated, of course)

6. All the usual stuff - A trip to Paris, Moet et Chandon, Chocolates etc etc.

7. A Saxophone. A good one, mind.

8. Television without Pity t-shirts, and a Slacker t-shirt. Preferably the one Logan wears on VM. Like, the actual one.

9. The Complete Friends DVD set - The One with All Ten Seasons.

10. Vintage, Oversized Sunglasses from Valentino or Chanel.

I'll be extremely happy to provide links for purchases online. :)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Big Game

In important news: Michael Schumacher's approved biography (written by his PR lady, Sabine Kehm) in out, only its in German. Which, you know, I can't read. Guh. No word on translations as yet. The other biography, by Christopher Hilton, is in English. Hopefully I can get my paws on it sooner rather than later.

I know I've titled this post the Big Game, but it could just as easily be called the Beautiful Game. Football is fast filling the void left in my heart by cricket. India's galling performances rankle less and less every day, to the extent I don't care about it anymore except to suggest that maybe they should just stop playing altogether. Or atleast not go to the World Cup next year so as to save some billion Indians from embarrassment. But I suppose no-one cares as long as the BCCI keeps getting richer.

As far away as I want to be from this, I can't help being drawn into the whole Greg Chappelle debate. Which was what led me to make the football comparison: there is NO WAY, and by that I mean a snowball's chance in hell, that Chappelle would still be coach were this a football side. In many situations the disposable nature of the coach is lamentable, because as often as not all the coach needs is time. But if the team in question is one of the giants (i.e. India, here) and the coach has been around for two years with only a steady decline in performance, there is absolutely no doubt that he would've been replaced well before now. I'm even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he really believes that all the tinkering will eventually come together. But that just means the man has no awareness of whats good and bad in the game of cricket anymore, atleast not beyond his own ego.

Contrast this with two of the most successful current managers in football: Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho. Very different men both, and the way their teams are playing is very different as well. A top of the table clash is always exciting, and Chelsea V. Man Utd had all the makings of a classic, thankfully lacking the edge that makes Arsenal - Man Utd games so mean spirited.

And it was a good game. Though it invariably did not quite live up to the hype, you got see United dominate Chelsea in the first half and then vice versa in the second. My concern that United will ultimately lose out to Chelsea because of Chelsea's depth was demonstrated yesterday by that second half performance. Mourinho's bench strength must be the envy of every Premiership manager right now. Hopefully United can set things right in January when the transfer window opens.

As of now: Kudos to both teams, and may the best man, so to speak, win.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Great Gig in the Sky, Bar One

Many people have left us this past week, intentionally or not. Great football players, great directors, great swimmers and great economists. I mourn them all.

Ian Thorpe is truly too young to call it a day, but I guess when you've been training your whole life to do this one thing, once you've done it you may want to, well, do something else. Ah, Ian, of the webtastic feet and super-muscley swimmers body, I do hope you wont disappear. 'The Thorpedo' as he was affectionately nicknamed (though of course I can't even think it without sniggering to myself) has 9 Olympic medals and won the 'race of the century' against Pieter Van Hoogenband and Michael Phelps (he of the gigantic neck) in Athens 2004. With his retirement the world of swimming becomes infinitely less drool-worthy, what with Alexander Popov also having retired ages ago. So here's to you, Thorpie, may we see you modelling your underwear soon.

All of the other people who have left us have done so by shaking of this mortal coil and taking their talents to, literally, another realm. Ferenc Puskas, who of course I never had the fortune to see play, was by all accounts a fantastic player. He's been rated the 4th best in the 20th century, behind only Pele, Maradona and Cruyff. His scoring record is ridiculous. 83 goals for Hungary in 84 internationals. 512 goals for Real Madrid in 528 games. Ridiculous is actually an understatement. Puskas once said about football: "I will write my life as a footballer as if it were a love story, for who shall say it is not? It began with my great love of football and it will end the same way."

Another person with almost supernatural talent in his craft, Robert Altman, also died. I am more personally acquainted with Altman's art than Puskas', and so feel his loss more keenly. Even if Altman had done nothing more than making M*A*S*H, he'd be immortalized in movie fans' minds. While the last film I saw directed by him, The Company was hardly vintage Altman (or even a very good film by other standards) the number of cinematic classics that Altman created is spectacular. One of the most inventive and demanding film-makers, there was always something to love about his movies, even in below-standard fare like The Company (which I may be biased against as a matter of protest for the hiring of Neve Campbell). Whether a comment on class relations fashioned as a Agatha Christie-esque mystery (Gosford Park) or The Long Goodbye, a revisionist noir (where Philip Marlowe is played by Elliot Gould, an Altman regular, who some might recognize as Ross and Monica's Dad from Friends), to satirical and brutal comments on the music (Nashville) or Hollywood (The Player) industries, his films were always revelatory, demanded from its audience and rewarded their concentration in spades. So here's to hoping his body of work will serve as an inspiration to young filmmakers, and they will atleast attempt to make films that mean something. The New York Times has described it beautifully:

"Unlike most directors whose flames burned brightest in the early 1970s — and frequently flickered out — Mr. Altman did not come to Hollywood from critical journals and newfangled film schools. He had had a long career in industrial films and television. In an era that celebrated fresh voices steeped in film history — young directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich and Martin Scorsese — Mr. Altman was like their bohemian uncle, matching the young rebels in their skeptical disdain for the staid conventions of mainstream filmmaking and the establishment that supported it...He was often referred to as a cult director, and it rankled him. “What is a cult?” Mr. Altman said. “It just means not enough people to make a minority.”"

The last person I am paying tribute to here is Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize winner for Economics in 1976. Milton Friedman is a massive figure in the economic arena. He advocated an unfettered free market and liberal economics. Before Friedman, the Great Depression was though to be a direct result of free-market policies. As a result state control of the economy was considered not just unavoidable but also desirable. Friedman rewrote history, for all practical purposes. He identified human individual liberty as the cornerstone for prosperity. Whether one agrees with his philosophy or not, he had a major impact on the American economy and politics and by extension, the world.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Skiving Off and Other Stories

I haven't felt the urge to blog is a while, and even when I have it has been fairly inconsequential ( I am aware I blaspheme), of movies and telly and football. While some of this was down to the emotional exhaustion of Michael Schumacher's retirement (and no one need comment on just how ridiculous that sounds), most of it was due to that basic reason for most things people fail to do, laziness. With its friend, Procastination.In an attempt to set that right (so now you can lay off me, S) I shall recap in probably unwanted detail my weekends past. And the vaguely horrifying thoughts that pass through my head.

I have not yet managed to watch The Departed, what with trying to go on Sunday but not getting tickets. Hopefully this weekend will work out better, but I do have tickets to Casino Royale anyway, so there's definitely one movie off my list. Another grouse to get out of my system is the fact that Volver opens IFFI and Babel closes it, and frakking IFFI has moved to Goa. Grrr.

I have caught up with some films though: watched Don, Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna, Omkara, A Place in the Sun, The Big Sleep and The Philadelphia Story, all of which I hadn't seen before. Some disconnected ramblings:

1. I liked Don. In many ways I detest the 'remake' tag (even though I use it) because it almost automatically reduces a film's worthiness in the eyes of the public, what with yearning for the older versions. The 'homage' tag is somewhat better, because expectations are reduced, but in this case I don't think it was really applicable. However comparing this Don to the Amitabh Bachchan Don is like apples and oranges. The bare outlines of the plot and some songs (which rankled at very many people, for some reason) are the same, but the twist at the end more than makes up for it. Farhan Akhtar is uninterested in exploring the duality of our (anti)hero's character(s) as either 'role' spilling over into what they were before, or even a re-invention. But he provides a film high on style, and it is a sleek, well-made, well-acted Hollywood-type thriller. Even if the exposition fairy visits one time too many (have I mentioned my deep dislike for exposition? But that's for another post). I also loved Boman Irani.

2. Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna or KANK as it is so lovingly known, was not half as bad as I expected. However, I am an unabashed SRK fan, so that is not so surprising. Beneath the helplessly over the top nature of Karan Johar's direction, there are actually some good moments. But for me the most mystifying thing was the Incredible Colours of Rani Mukherjee's Eyeshadows. What was up with that? Truly, truly strange. Oh, right, the good moments. Contrary to what most people had to say, I actually liked SRK's interactions with his screen son. That was how bitter a man he had become - incapable of being kind to someone he clearly loved. It explains his attraction to Rani as well - with her he feels like a better person, like he's someone more than who he is - not just the husband of so-and-so but a person in his own right. Many people told me that they didn't understand why Rani would be attracted to SRK, though. And that is harder to get at. But I think the movie does a pretty good job of outlining her feelings of inferiority and most-importantly her lack of self-worth as a woman. She seems to believe that since she can't have children, there is no reason to have sex. And the fact that she isn't sexually attracted to her husband deepens her insecurity. With SRK, she recognizes that he has so many flaws in himself, that she doesn't have to feel guilty about her own. And ofcourse there is the lure of illicit for them both. I shall stop fanwanking now. Oh, I forgot to mention how hysterical the Sexy Sam stuff was, and not in a good way .

3. Omkara was brilliantly made and brilliantly adapted. I absolutely loved Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan. The music was great. The screenplay was great. Movie nirvana.

4. A Place in the Sun was based on An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. The experience of having had to read Sister Carrie made me dislike the film before I even saw it, though it raises some interesting moral and ethical issues. They are also not fully explored in the movie, and the central romance so important to the plot feels rushed and not very plausible.

5. The Big Sleep and The Philadelphia Story had fabulous casts, repartee, chemistry between the leads, the bestest leading men..... sigh. No, this was movie nirvana.

In other random news, I have discovered The Clash and they are indeed very good. I'm also very interested in purchasing several things: the TwoP book, the Michael Schumacher Biography, TwoP shirts and most importantly, an illustrated history of rock music. Maybe then I can get all these genres sorted in my head. Not to mention the timelines.

Football is still exciting. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store opened bizarrely above Mango and has just as bizarrely closed in the wake of sealing. And they had a beautiful Van Gogh reproduction that I was hell-bent on buying.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Your Winter Look is Urban

You can't imagine spending your winters any place but the city!

..Or How to Learn Something About Yourself from a Random Test, which Obviously Only Tells You What You Already Knew

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Forgive me the somewhat arrongant and mostly pretentious indulgence of titling my post untitled, but I figure I can get away with it. Once. Maybe.

Reflecting on the weekend is a curious mixture of the crappy (continuing cold) and the fun (book shopping!). Lets kill the crappy first: I'm still phlegmed.

Also, my friends refused to go watch The Departed or World Trade Center with me. Cretins. (Ack, no I don't really mean it!) However on Saturday I bought many many books, including an early copy of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire which may very well be one of my favourite plays of all time. Also found some Diana Wynne Jones in the new store, Landmark (which is huge!). That was a nice surprise. Another good thing about the weekend was unexpected mother-daughter bonding over Grey's Anatomy. This has resulted in watching atleast 3 episodes a night together, and ruminating over the dreaminess of Dr. McDreamy. While I'm talking about Grey's, I really liked last week's episode. There's just something about this show, it can be a schmaltzy mess sometimes (most times) but its still so sharp and funny and warm. There just is no substitute for good writing.

It was a fabulous weekend for Manchester United. They won, 3-0 from Portsmouth while their two big rivals, Chelsea and Arsenal both lost. Guess Sir Alex will be the one laughing now.

And now to sign off:

Happy Birthday, Soumita!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Time of the Season

... that you get sniffles, apparently. The only thing worse than being sick is being full of phlegm. TMI, I know, but atleast now I'm not suffering alone.

But apparently somebody does listen, because The Departed (and the World Trade Center) have both been released. I'd be over the moon about House of Flying Daggers, if for some very unclear reason PVR hadn't held off from releasing it for well over two years (forcing me to watch a pirated copy). The Departed fills me with joy, though, and I hope to see it at the earliest opportunity. As such this seems a good time for films now, with new releases coming fast, and many many festivals also being organised all over the city. I'm less psyched about World Trade Center which has to do with a number of things ranging from its supposed apolitical-ness (from Oliver Stone! Come on, if Oliver frakking Stone won't make a political film, who will?!) to its middling reviews and the lead being Nicholas Cage. But I will watch it.
The TV season has picked up steam as well. Now most shows are well into their respective runs, and are hitting their stride. Veronica Mars aired its best episode of the season so far, and The Nine is getting more engrossing, as is Heroes. Being ill also gave me the chance to have a 24 marathon, as a result of which I'm only 2 episodes from the end of Season 5. While Season 2 and 3 were disappointing, 4 was a definite improvement, and Keifer is back to his growly best in Day 5. To the extent that I'm actually excited about the premiere in January.

I've been wanting to watch Babel for a really long time. But what really annoys me is the top billing given to Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Though I'll be honest and say it only annoys me because it means Gael Garcia Bernal gets less press.

What I have not done in an unconsciably long time is read. I will set that right.

The football season is also picking up steam, with everything from Euro qualifiers, to Champions League knockout stages beckoning. Plus there will the inevitable massive Boxing Day English Premiership clash to look forward to (even if it is more than a month away). In other football news, Kaka continues to set the world alight. Man Utd underachieves. Arsenal does not score and Wenger calls it their most brilliant performance so far. (I don't know, Arsene, I thought the point was to put the round thing in between those two wooden posts with the net in the middle. Silly Me.)

As a pick-me-up for being ill, I reserve the right to post pictures of pretty men. Here is the first.

And here is the next: Marat, love, I know you're pretty, but less photography and more tennis. Please?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Bit of This and That

Now that I'm finally recovering from the pain of Schumi's retirement (about which I will blog later, when I'm little less sentimental) I thought I'd get back to normal life:

So when I was trawling through the internet looking for Schumi tributes, I found this:
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER was the most lustful, the most ravenous, the most metaphysically ambitious sportsman of his generation. He made millions, but did not drive for money. He won thousands of admirers, but cared nothing for adulation.

As anyone who endured his hawkish glance and witnessed his visceral competitiveness will testify, Schumacher was driven by a passion for Formula One that bordered on obsession.

And a jolly good thing, too. Where would sport be without vehemence? Where would be the grandeur and the heroism, the joy and the heartbreak? Give me a warrior who craves victory for its own sake any day rather than the tepid careerism exemplified by so many British sportsmen, whose puny ambition is slaked by a few measly drops from the National Lottery Sports Fund.

This is what journalism is coming to? About the only adjective the author missed is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Rule number one: A tribute should not look like a thesaurus. (I must add, however, that I do agree with the sentiment).

I also had a bit of a shock when I read this:

Raul wanted to quit Madrid, president says

Not too long ago I had blogged about how much I appreciated Raul's loyalty to Real Madrid. To read this headline was a real slap in the face... until you actually read the story, and realise that Raul was willing to stop rather than drag his team down. This warms me all the way down to my toes, the idea that in modern football team loyalty is still paramount for atleast some people.

It also seems that Martin Scorcese will, yet again, lose out to Clint Eastwood. Reviews of both The Departed and Flags of our Fathers are largely positive, but Flags is being hailed by all critics as a masterpiece in film, while praise for The Departed is more along the lines of good genre entertainment. I haven't seen either film, ofcourse, but here's hoping they both find their way to the cinemas before the Oscars, so I wont have to resort to Bittorrent.

Veronica Mars holds its own in the ratings (infact, they went up last week). CW, please, please, please let me hear about that full-season order. Heroes has got a full-season order, and it is becoming more and more interesting. Hiro remains the best character on the show, and even though the series as such is definitely not even the best of the new shows, there's something about it that has hooked me. I must also say a word about Friday Night Lights, which, as someone who does not give a flying f*ck about american football, I find engrossing. The art direction is beautiful. Studio 60 is still good, but Sorkin really needs to let someone else write the fictional sketches on the show; they get less funny every week.

The other two new shows I'm watching are The Nine and Ugly Betty. I'm really enjoying both. The Nine has too much fancy camera-work and atleast one character I really don't like (Egan), but the cast is top-notch and there are moments that it has that just suck me back in every episode. Ugly Betty is wonderful. Its warm, and amusing, and campy. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and it has Vanessa Williams as the big bitch.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Crying A River

The Brazilian GP was heart-breaking. It was also an exceptional demonstration of Schumacher's talent, determination and grit. He showed why he holds practically every F1 record in existence.

I can't say anymore about him than to say Thank you, and all the best.

I literally cannot imagine F1 without him.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Planet of the Apes

Apparently monkeys also exhibit religious behaviour:

'Hindu' Monkey Bites Muslim Kid

Some extracts from this priceless report:

"This is a story of a simian who has been caged in Orissa for the last five years for, believe it or not, disturbing communal harmony.

The seven year-old monkey called Ramu is serving life imprisonment at Remuna police station in Balasore district.

Raised by a Hindu family, he bit some Muslim children five years ago, sparking communal tension in the area. When police intervened, they put him in this cage."

Whaaaa? is my first reaction. My second reaction is to go watch Charlton Heston and hope that that is the future of the world. Because, clearly, we don't deserve to make any more of a mess than we already have. Maybe Darwin, were he alive, would now like to argue for a process of devolution, where Simians were the pinnacle of biological development. He would have had a point: monkeys don't create technologies that can kill themselves, and anybody else that follows. Monkeys also don't create specific social orders and rules and then spend the rest of their existence squabbling endlessly over them.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

TGIF? Nah, not so much

Working on Saturday has made most weekends not just short but incredibly busy. For a compulsive shopper like me it means that I have to spend my Sundays trawling the markets. Last Sunday was spent buying sneakers. And because I insist on only wearing Puma, it took a goodly while to find shoes that were both comfortable, good looking, and cost under four grand. Of course, I still spent a disproportionate amount of my salary buying the shoes.

The weekend just gone was all about Diwali melas and trudging around the Swiss embassy and the Blind school looking at jewellery, clothes, crockery, clothes, jewellery. There was also yummy food, which I partook of quite gratefully.

My Sister had a baby!!!!! Hello, baby! Welcome to the world! He's the cutest little thing...

Also, met with friends after a long while, and its always good to do that. What I haven't done in sometime is watch a film. That has to change very very soon...

Also cooked after a long while. Don't have any sense of proportion now, my pasta always ends up a little bit low on basil and then I have to douse it with non-fresh basil which never seems to make enough of a difference. Gah.

And can I just add, while on the subject of food, what a genius whoever came up with Pop Tarts is? Mmmmmm.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Random bits of news:

Goro Miyazaki, son of Hayao Miyazaki, has made an animated film version of Ursula LeGuin's classic Tales from Earthsea. He has also caused my head to explode from the sheer awesomeness of it all. Now I really really want to see this film.

Apple, Bono and Oprah have teamed up to release a red iPod nano. This is as a result of Apple joining in the RED initiative, where $10 from the sale of each red iPod will go toward fighting AIDS in Africa. The nano is pretty. And even though I did not plan to buy one, now I think I must. (Yes, advertising works on me.)

Terry Gilliam's latest film, Tideland, is apparently awful. So he is capable of making a totally crappy film... thought I'm sure the so-called badness of this film will merely highlight the genius that is Brazil.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

If You Forget Me

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Pablo Neruda


There's this song, by Sandi Thom called I Wish I was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in my Hair). She's singing about how she wishes she could've been born in '77 or '69, and expereinced the revolutionary spirit among that generation's youth. I wish I'd been alive in the late 50s or early 60s (as a twenty-year old) and been able to (maybe) hear or meet people like Neruda and Guevara and Marquez. I suppose I could still accomplish one of those, even now... but how incredible would it have been to actually breathe the same air as someone like Neruda.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ten Things I Hate About...

... well, nothing in particular. But just 'Ten Things I Hate' doesn't quite have the same ring to it. So in a completely random arrangement:

1. "Brangelina" and the tabloid (and mainstream!) fascination with such.

2. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

3. The law that makes you get into an auto-rickshaw just as soon as the completely empty bus you were waiting half an hour for shows up.

4. How torrents go bad in the last 2-3% of download. (Or are discovered to be so)

5. Feeling Old. 22 seems to be the new 30 these days.

6. Opening a newspaper and seeing a full page ad on the seond page.

7. Remembering to watch that really exciting program thirty minutes after it ends.

8. The lack of chocolate necessary to keep one's jeans fitting

9. Realising that that really sexy top from 4 months ago now outlines your tummy very lovingly.

10. Being stuck doing things that require you to use .0005% of your brain.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Google Tube?

From Salon:

YouTube gets Googled

Dot-com boom days are here again. YouTube launched 19 months ago. Today, Google bought the company for $1.65 billion in stock. What does it mean? If we needed any more proof that Google intends to be one of the masters of the media universe for the foreseeable future, well, here you go. YouTube, it hardly needs belaboring, is the kind of global phenomenon that delivers an irreversible shift in how media is produced and consumed, à la Napster. But unlike Napster, YouTube has at least partially succeeded in convincing established media companies that it can be a partner, and not a mortal enemy that must be destroyed. Along with the deal came a flurry of licensing announcements with the likes of CBS, Universal and Sony BMG. That doesn't mean the GoogTube Goliath will be completely immune from a swarm of copyright lawyers descending upon it like a horde of locusts. But it suggests that this new beast will survive their onslaught.

Which, from a global point of view, is probably a good thing. YouTube isn't just the easiest, most popular way for people to share and view video on the Internet. It is the necessary next step in the democratization and enrichment of global cultural intercourse.

A quick example: For nearly a month, I've been checking in regularly to several India-related blogs that comment on Indian music and movies. Embedded YouTube links to short clips ripped from Bollywood films are routine. These clips are undoubtedly copyright violations. But they've also been a tasty introduction to an (increasingly less) alien popular culture that has enriched my appreciation of what the world has to offer, culturally speaking, and increased my appetite for the full, unexpurgated product. Seeing and hearing is believing. I feel as if a firehose of Indian culture has suddenly been blasted at me. We've long known that the Internet collapses time and distance. The seamless sharing of video and music means that cultural barriers are also prone to crumbling.

The global conversation will be GoogTubed. Tanks rolling in a Thailand coup? Find it on YouTube. It's one thing to read reports posted by bloggers moment by moment from Bangkok. It's another thing entirely to see Thai generals with their hands clasped in Buddhist prayer, against a backdrop of portraits of the king and queen, announce their takeover on live TV (with a surreal slinky jazz introduction to boot).

A self-made spoof of outsourcing at a Burger King drive-through window? The glory of Al Yankovic's "White and Nerdy"? David Ortiz winning Game 5 against the Yankees, as seen from a fan's digital camera?

From the silly to the severe, the world seems a richer, closer, more interconnected place now that user-generated video and mash-ups and cut-and-pasted clips are illustrating, commenting upon, mocking and recording the world second by second. Naturally, people were sharing video on the Net before YouTube, just as there were search engines before Google. But the two platforms dominate, and help immensely to facilitate, their chosen domains. Their marriage is potent. Not long from now, I'm going to hear a rumor of a riot in Shanghai or a rave in Bangalore. I will Google it, and I will see it. Maybe I will be enlightened or amused or rocked. Maybe I'll be depressed or disgusted or immediately distracted by something else. Whatever -- the opportunities for connection and conversation just continue to grow.

-- Andrew Leonard

I don't really have anything much more to say, except that I wait with baited breath to see what Google do with their latest acquistion. And also to see what Apple come up with, when they release iTV. If there was speculation of content sharing with Google before, surely that's going to triple now?

Monday, October 09, 2006


...would be a fair way to describe how I felt after watching Michael Schumacher's championship hopes explode with his engine. After 6 years without an engine failure, what a time for it to let go! I was in tears, and had to pray for Alonso to have a retirement as well for whatever reason. It didn't happen ofcourse, and then I spent the next hour sobbing over the phone my sister... who understands my love for F1 and Schumi. Watching the smug arse after the race dancing around on his car was... well, unpalatable really. But now, I really just want to quote Leyser from the Atlas F1 bulletin board, who put it so beautifully:

I was very upset when I saw what happened to MS's Ferrari and was sat there in a state of semi-shock and disbelief, until I saw him in the garage, smiling and shaking the hands of every single mechanic. If Monaco was the lowest point for my support for Michael, then that moment may have been the highest - certainly as far as off-track behavior is concerned. Maybe it stands out more prominently in light of the recent headlines, but that was really special and in a way 2006 now has something from every period of Michael's career in Ferrari, and this very public display of what helped him make Ferrari what it has become is the next best thing to what should have been.

Alonso showed today that regardless to how much he runs his mouth off the track, he is still superb on it. I don't think either of them can be called lucky or unlucky - both would be deserving champions as they have proved time and again this season that they are the class of the field and trying to nitpick for faults is pathetic: you don't win 7 races in a season and be undeserving of a WDC, you simply don't.

I'll be hoping for - what would for me be - a miracle in the last race, but if in the first few seconds I didn't know how to digest the likely end result of the season, MS made it much easier for me and I thank him for that.

In the end, I have to agree with this and hope for a miracle in Brazil. But even if that doesn't happen, I have to believe that Michael will win the race, because that would be the only fitting end to such a brilliant career. He's given us so much as fans, including the knowledge that he will give his best in Brazil no matter what. Thank you Michael, for being so incredible. You will be missed.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle

So, I was rewatching Howl's Moving Castle today with my brother. I've fallen in love with it all over again...

Howl's Moving Castle is Hayao Miyazaki's latest film. It was released last year and was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar (with the excellent Corpse Bride and winner Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-rabbit being the others). Those who take an interest in animation and Japanese films will recognize Miyazaki as the creator of such glorious masterpieces as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. And while those two films are technically (in terms of screenplay) much better than this one, Howl's is closest to my heart.

Based on a book by Welsh author Dianna Wynne Jones, Howl's is about a young girl, Sophie, it turned into a 90 year old woman. The film immediately enchants, and you know this is much much better than the stock animation pervading the genre these days - witness the profusion of animal-zoo type animated cinema: from Open Season to Ant Bully. When Sophie is turned into an old woman, she tell herself "There now, that's not so bad. You're in good shape and you clothes finally suit you". This is the brand of humour and whimsy Miyazaki brings to cinema.

The film is set in a staple Miyazaki vaguely-19th century Europe (Sophie's hometown looks like Bavaria). Sophie is rescued from the attentions of some soldiers by the young, enigmatic wizard Howl, who is himself being chased by low-grade monsters from the Wicked Witch of Waste. Needless to say, she immediately falls in love with him, and being seen with him enrages the Witch to turn her into an old woman. In a way, this is Miyazaki's masterstroke. Sophie is different in that being old gives her the freedom to be whoever she wants to be. Throughout the film, Sophie's physical appearance changes with her emotional state. She embraces the change as a release from fear and self-consciousness, and in a way it inspires her to adventure.

After being turned into a woman of pensionable age, Sophie leaves home, and recues an enchanted scarecrow (Turnip Head) who leads her to the movie's titular castle. The castle is a wonderful thing - you have never seen anything quite like this before. It is awesome, not in the way that a royal palace is awesome, but in the literal sense of the word. Clearly hand drawn, the castle is a series of tacked on towers and turrets, as mysterious as its owner, moving around on giant chicken legs. On first viewing, one can't help but share Sophie's wonder.

Sophie proceeds to move into the castle as a cleaning lady, along with Howl and his aide Markl. The Castle is powered by a fire-sprite named Calcifer, who is witty and charming and totally vain, just like Howl. Indeed, Howl is a beautiful and talented wizard - and arrogant and immature with it. (He's laso animated, but I'm choosing to ignore that - I'm as much in love with him as Sophie. I know I need help.) There is a deep bond, stretching to childhood, between Howl and Calcifer. Their magic is inextricably linked.

Omnipresent through the film is war. Miyazaki leaves the details obscure - we're never quite certain who is at war with whom, or indeed why. It is treated as inconsequential, and is representative of Miyazaki's disgust at human barbarity. There is a scene where Sophie and Howl are enjoying a quiet moment in a beautiful meadow-like space, when there serenity is interrupted by zeppelins. Sophie asks Howl if they're enemy ships, and Howl responds: "It doesn't matter. They're both going to kill people".

A lot more happens, of course, before we get our happy ending. But its such a joyful ride to get there, that even the increasing incomprehensibility of the plot doesn't detract from the almost adolescent enjoyment that an adult can come away with - all you need is a open heart. At its whimsical best, Howl's is a romance, in the traditional, epic sense. The author of the book of which the film is based, Dianna Wynne Jones, said after watching the film "I had grown used to young ladies regularly writing to me to say that they wanted to marry Howl. Now, Howl in the film is so plain stunning and sexy that I think I have joined them."

So have I, Dianna, so have I.


Argh! Can't Hardly Wait for Sunday to come so I can watch the Grand Prix. Its so close, anyone could win... this race has the potential of being a real cracker, with everything that's riding on it and with all that has been said over the last week.

Having said that I'm suffering from withdrawal from shopping. Working regularly leaves very little time to go buy windows, but this Sunday will be exception. I want new Pumas.

P.S. Am changing my blog layout post-migration to Blogger Beta! Wheeee! Its fun!
Also, taking an oath to only have catchy/witty post titles now.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lage Raho, Munnabhai

On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, we managed to go and watch Lage Raho Munnabhai (finally). [As an aside, let me note that the movie, tax free, and in the middling seat range cost us some 135 rupees. Go figure.] First impressions of the movie were generally favourable, and as such I quite enjoyed the warm, sort of gentle humour.

A result of watching a film after so much has already been written about it is that the stuff you've read obviously influences the movie you're watching, leading you to motice things that you might not have, and to think in directions you might not have. In a way this was true for me, because I may have spent less time thinking about the Gandhian principles that the movie supposedly advocates. In any case, a lot has been written about the degree to which the film is faithful to Gandhism. Some have argued that the film is guilty of over-simplification and others have cast doubts over the relevance of Gandhi in the 21st century. While I do want to add my .02 to the whole debate, I'll stick with reviewing the film first.

Plot-wise, the film is simple. Munna is in love with an RJ, Janavi (played by the lovely Vidya Balan). He poses as a Gandhian professor to meet and impress her. Janavi lives with her Grandfather in a sort of old-age home, which unbeknownst to Munna is the house he is meant to get vacated for Lucky Singh. No major twists other than ones the viewer knows will be coming. There are no major artifical conflict-situation creations, which is gratifying. Director Hirani obviously has the confidence in his cast and screenplay to keep the viewer entertained, without needing to resort to cheap melodrama, thank goodness.

In terms of the humour itself (which is important, considering the film has been marketed as a comedy) it was...well, gentle is the word that comes to mind. Hirani doesn't rely on slapstick but instead draws on the audience recall from the first Munnabhai to really create the humour. I have to say, though, while I was amused, there were not that many laugh out loud moments. There were definitely a few, but not enough to really truly entertain just as a comedy.

I also have to say here that I am not a big Sanjay Dutt fan. I think he is a mediocre actor at best, and seeing him look so bloated - and patenly older - doesn't inspire me to suspend my belief. However, the supporting cast around him more than makes up for any performance deficit. Arshad Warsi has been praised, and rightly so, for his portrayal of Circuit. I must say, I love Circuit. He's a very funny sidekick and a loyal friend. Warsi's comic timing is impeccable (One of the longer gags in the film is the Gandhi Jayanti as Dry day - and its absolutely hilarious). Vidya Balan, as I have already noted, is quite beautiful, and I may have a bit of a girl-crush on her. For me, though, the standout performance is Boman Irani's. He is such a verstaile actor, and so unbelievably funny as Lucky Singh, that he steals the show. The scene where a paranoid and frustrated Lucky reacts angrily to a woman he perceives is mocking him with her gajra is pure cinematic gold.

And might I mention here that it seems like Abhishek Bachchan is fast turning into India's Jude Law? It may sound like I have an axe to grind against him (I really don't) but is there anything I've seen in the last few months that Abhishek Bachchan has not been in? I suppose it'll be too much to ask at the next Filmfare Awards to have the MC make a joke at Abhishek's expense, and then have say, Ajay Devgan, come and defend him like the stick-in-the-mud he probably is. I'm just saying.

Now for the Gandhigiri. As I have already noted, the range of opinions on this differ. Mine, like any good liberal's, is probably somewhere in the middle ;) While I can understand some of frustration about the so-called oversimplified form of Gandhian principles being advocated in the movie, lets not forget that this is a movie. And its purpose is to entertain etc. etc. Personally I think that Hirani has done a fairly admirable job in picking up parts of Gandhi's philosophy and adapting them into a cinematic frame. Yes, its superficial, but so what? Even if it convinces some 1 in 20 viewers to have a closer look at Gandhi's ideology, its done more than it set out to do. As for the other view, that Gandhism in itself is unsuited to the practicalities of 21st century India, well, all I can say is that said people have very narrow views. (And I mean this in the nicest possible way). The great thing about ideas is that you don't have to accept them in whole - you can take the parts you like and build something completely new from it. And I seriously doubt that Gandhi would object to that.

The movie, though, does get a little preachy sometimes. However, it also avoids some easy-to-fall-into temptations, in that it is still pragmatic enough to not provide easy solutions. Infact, this is all about taking the harder way - all of the pop-Gandhism advice that Munna dispenses is about playing the long game. There are no easy answers, no get-rich-quick miracles proposed, as evidenced by the work hard advice given to Victor (Jimmy Shergill, in a nice piece of stunt-casting. Also Jimmy Shergill was hot in this film. What's up with that?). Sometimes, especially in the climax, the overt sentimentality does get a tad nauseating (Janavi to Munna: Tumne mujhse jhoot kyon bola? Ki tum professor nahi ho? Gag). Overall though, the film is light, amusing, but with an unexpected depth.

Bascially, it was fun. And I'd recommend it.