Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fake Reading, What Fun!

A book just waiting to be written: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read?, by Pierre Bayard. This French author’s previous book, Who killed Roger Ackroyd, was an examination of Agatha Christie’s crime novels. Now, he’s written a book on talking about the must-read book, even if you haven’t read it, thus removing any opportunity to be embarrassed in an important social setting. Bah, spoilsport. The practice of exposing a fraud is immensely satisfying, if only to prove to oneself how extremely well read one is, and to even attempt to dilute this experience is rather perverse of Bayard.

Most of us, of course, if we are honest at least with ourselves, claim to have read many more books than we actually have. Life expectancy may have gone up considerably since James Joyce wrote Ulysses, but it is still not long enough to have actually read it. Bayard makes the point that it is possible to have an informed literary opinion of a book without having read it cover to cover. It takes little more than one page to determine an author’s writing style, after all. Certainly enough to gather whether or not one needs to bother with the rest of it.

The core of Bayard’s thesis is that there is no obligation to read, and that his book will help free people of the psychological guilt of not having read, say, Remembrance of Things Past or Middlemarch. According to Bayard, ambiguity is the key when talking about things one doesn’t know in detail. A reader’s “personal relationship” should come through when talking about the book. A confession here. Bayard’s book is only available in French. I don’t speak that language. But Bayard can hardly fault me for not reading his book, can he? Even his publishers understand the inherent paradox in his book. So is it smarter to read it, or not? That, fellow bibliophiles, is the big question.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Today is the 40th anniversary of Che Guevara's death. All over the world, his life, his contribution are being debated, largely because he achieved iconic status through a photograph. A photograph which has been used in ways so out of sync with what Che believed in, that is almost a mockery of his ideals and what he stood for. Many people have asked me why Che appeals to me, why I think he was a Great Man. He was, after all, pretty vicious and killed and tortured many people simply because he was suspicious of them. He believed that violence could achieve real change, and in nationalisation. His economics are far removed from what my personal beliefs, and my anti-America days are long gone.

But Che is still relevant. To me, he exemplifies what youth can do, if it wants to. Here was this man, with his whole future ahead of him, a bright one at that - a paying career, a pretty fiance - and he gave it all up because he believed in something. He believed, passionately, that he could change things for the better in Latin America. He did truly want to help the poor and disenfranchised. He was a real activist, someone who practiced what he preached. I suppose one could say he had purity of belief.

I know Guevara wasn't perfect. I know he was brutal. But he had the courage to try and change the system. He didn't become a part of it while whining about it. What he saw on that trip affected him, moved him and he didn't lose sight of that, not really. How many of us care enough to give up rewarding careers to help affect change?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some interesting reading

I read a piece in the Indian Express today that articulated rather well what I think of this Ram Setu mess. Some things I want to highlight:

"The relevance of myths is the stuff history is made of. Karen Armstrong, in one of her lesser-known works has spoken at length of the importance of myths through human history. Even Marxist historians like the legendary D.D. Kosambi in his book, Myth and Reality talk of collective memories of a people. Eric Hobsbawm goes as far as to talk of how the evolution of modern nation states wouldn’t have been possible but for collective myths that people held onto, which led to national identities being formed."


"The debate so far, has been focused on where the state must not tread. But in a multi-cultural society, with as many beliefs, it is also important to establish when the state must not shy away from playing the role of a neutral umpire. The secular Indian state has consciously allowed its citizens to keep their faith, practice and propagate it too, but not when it interferes with someone else’s freedom."

In other news, Times Select (by the New York Times) is now free. So we can all read what the likes of Paul Krugman and Roger Cohen have to say.

Also, Paul Krugman has just started blogging at the NYT website. Whether or not one agrees with him, he's always an interesting writer, because he is amazingly direct and coherent in his arguments. He is pretty persuasive as well, its only a little after I've finished reading what he's written that I can find points of departure for myself.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

La Eventful Vita... Except Not Really

So... I've been busy the last month or so, but I can't imagine why. No parties as such, or busy days at work. Everything is mostly normal, but I still don't have time to do things like read books I want to or watch *gasp* the telly or even too many movies. It may have something to do with the Italian class killing my evenings and the renewed obsession with Harry Potter fanfiction. Not that I read that till late at night or anything. Also there are FAR too many people leaving Delhi for saat samundar paar.

I watched Ratatouille however, and it was a delight. I love Pixar, and rejoice that it exists. And also, Brad Bird, can I marry you? Please? We'll have exceptional children, I promise.

Apple has refreshed its iPod line, making me want to part with money I don't have. Sigh. Some things never change.

The football is slow and the F1 is strange. I don't like the way the mainstream press has handled reporting the spy stuff. McLaren deserved what they got, and indeed should've been fined more, but Lewis Hamilton's success got in the way. And Alonso! The less said the better.... boy do I ever miss Michael Schumacher.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Guess Who's Clairvoyant?


United won, but I was right to be nervous because it was a very nervy game. And guess who opened their account for United with a spectacular strike? I'll direct your attention to the post below.

Yesterday was good day for my teams, since Milan also won, with a brace from Kaka. Today looks not so good.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Biting my Nails

The Man Utd v Tottenham match is about to get underway, and I'm nervous. V.v. nervous. United have already had their worst start ever to the season since the first year of the Premier League in 1992-93, and anything but a victory against the Spurs - especially on a weekend where Arsenal and Chelsea have won their games - will increase the gap to unecouragingly large levels at a very early stage of the season. The lack of Rooney and Ronaldo doesn't help things.

Having said that, though, there isn't much wrong with the kind of football United have been playing. They've created a lot many chances. Unfortunately, all but one have missed the back of the net. But today is as good a day as any for Nani to score his first goal for United, no? Otherwise I shall have to change my views from "results are all that matter" to "but they play beautiful football!"

Gah. I do so hate being a hypocrite. Please, Sir Alex and Merry Men, please don't make me do this.

P.S. Video blogging YAY!

P.P.S Ferrariiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!! Forza!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I would love to pretend that my 5 month absence from blogging got people emailing me with "Nooooooooooo", and "Come back!" but alas! I am not appreciated in my own time. Regardless. What brings me out of my self-imposed isolation? Football. Premier League football. Specifically, Manchester United's winless beginning to this season, compounded by Rooney breaking his foot and Ronaldo taking de-aging potions. Not even Kaka's proposed move to Real-kill-your-career-here -Madrid was this enervating. And atleast that is Not. Happening. Here we're 2 matched into the season and The Special One's newfound placidity has already meant Chelsea are overwhelming favourites.

Three movies I watched last week were Children of Men, Aeon Flux and Chak De India. Aeon Flux was craptastic like how, Chak De was very good - really enjoyable and fun and hot!SRK. Children of Men was a tour de force. Really. Magestic movie that. Alfonso Cuaron is forgiven for butchering Prisoner of Azkaban.

Re: F1, Muahahhaahahahaha. I love that Mclaren are imploding, even though Ferrari is not their opportunistic self with Michael Schumacher to make the most of the opposition shooting themselves in the foot.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This is gonna be HUGE

I have many many things to blog about. From movie reviews to impressions to World Cups of shame and doom and Murders so very foul. And also timelines of complex television shows. Though the last may just be only the one T.V. show. Whatever.

Anyway, to begin at the beginning, I watched 2 uber-violent films in one fantastic day. I was going to call this post a History of Ultra-Violence but then laziness got in the way of blogging and now there is too much to post. The two films are 300 and Apocalypto. The former has done brilliantly at the box-office and also created a stir regarding its depiction of Persians in the film. Apart from the cinematic merits of the film, on which consensus is divided, this controversy has kept the movie in the news and also reignited the old debate about political correctness at the movies. My opinion is this: When did we start to expect every film to deliver a nuanced representation of every character? When did cinema become the custodian of historical accuracy? And why must all movies be required to humanise the Other?

Having said all that, let me express how gratifying it was to watch those.glistening.abs.in.leather. Leather! Also - fun movie. Liked the cinematography.

Apocalypto was a good action/thriller type. The latter half was particularly exciting because it was an extended chase sequence in the Amazon. Mel Gibson can direct, but when it come to trying to make larger points about the present human condition, he should really think again. Especially if he's going to discredit himself by coming out as a bigot.

The murder in question is that of Bob Woolmer, at the World Cup. Abhorrent performance by our lovely team of over-pampered idiots notwithstanding, this is a new low. I can only hope that his killers will be found and punished. Cricket should take stock - Pakistani cricket should take stock - of whether it wants to win if people are going to literally die for it.

So the timeline was going to be for, surprise, Battlestar Galactica, but I think I will only very quickly enumerate the possiblities. When the colonials find Earth, what are they going to find? It could be that the show is set in the past, and the fleet's arrival is how the planet got populated. Or, they could find the Earth in the present and be (badly) surprised at how backward the 13th tribe technology is. Of course they could also find Earth at any point in between, but that is the least intereting option, IMO. The other option is to find Earth in the future. It could be a post-apocalyptic Earth, with nothing left on it. Or a superior society. Or a post -apocalytic Earth that has also been attacked by Cylons. Mindfrak!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Long Time Coming

Its been a while, people. Not that any of you have missed me. But anyway, I shall regale with stories of my new-found Dolce Vita. Part of it is due to the joy of having a job where you are required to, you know, actually work. Its quite a radical concept. And to top it all, I'm required to think! Boo-yah!!! Give me a salary to match job-satisfaction and I'd have myself a trifecta!

Suffice to say I am enjoying work.

Anyway, after having posted the nominations of all the award shows under the sun, I have not commented on the Oscar Awards. Since that threatens my self-proclaimed status as an award-whore, I must set this oversight to rights, ASAP. Here, then is a list of the winners, complete with pithy comments. For nominations look here.

Picture - The Departed
Director - Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Actor - Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Actress - Helen Mirren, The Queen
Film editing - The Departed
Original song - I Need to Wake Up, An Inconvenient Truth
Original screenplay - Little Miss Sunshine
Original score - BabelDocumentary feature - An Inconvenient Truth
Documentary short subject - The Blood of Yingzhou District
Supporting actress - Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Foreign film - The Lives of Others
Visual effects - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Cinematography - Pan's Labyrinth
Costume design - Marie Antoinette
Adapted screenplay - The Departed
Animated film - Happy Feet
Supporting actor - Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

These awards were notable in that there are very few truly contentious/controversial decisions. And the biggest story of the night? MARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!! He-who-finally-has-an-Oscar!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I must say, I love that the Academy chose a fabulously done "genre" film over such "important" movies as Babel and (the extremely mediocre) The Queen. For once, the Academy eschewed the message film and embraced good cinema, as cinema. I enjoyed The Departed like nothing else last year. Also, very happy for Alan Arkin upsetting Eddie Murphy for Best Supporting Actor. I mean, Norbit? Plus, how angry was Eddie at being snubbed? Imagine missing out on all the drama. I wish I could warm to Jennifer Hudson, really I do, but something about her strikes me as so fake and so, so manufactured. I would really have loved someone else- anyone else - to win instead of her. Especially with her post-Oscar comments on how Dreamgirls lost out because of bias. The biggest snub for me was the German film, The Lives of Others, winning over Pan's Labyrinth. Ah, Academy. When will you stop rewarding upper-mediocrity over the truly brilliant? I also liked Ellen as host, she was warm and funny. I especially loved the bit where she gave Marty the script and then later when she had Spielberg take a picture of Eastwood and herself. Oscar comedy gold. I loved the two minutes Seinfeld was on, however, so much so I hope he takes over next year. I liked drooling over Gael Garcia Bernal in a tux with a skinny tie as well. Oh, and Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly were the funniest things about the whole night. The bald Jack Nicholson, on the other hand, was the scariest thing about the ceremony.

The Filmfare Awards were notable only for the fact that Shahrukh Khan, in his awesomeness, hosted them. Best Actor went to Hrithik Roshan for Dhoom 2, comparable to, say, Tom Cruise winning for Mission: Impossible. (This refers to a time when Tom Cruise was not synonymous with crazy-scientology-guy). Kajol won Best Actress for Fanaa, which was a bad, BAD film. And that is all I have to say about that.

Holi was incredible fun this year. I had a fantastic time with a couple of friends, and this was the most fun Holi has been for me since school. The festivities started on Friday at work, where the office interiors started looking like the exterior in the amount of colour spread over walls and floors. I ended up looking like a female version of the Incredible Hulk.

In television news, I'm so glad Koffee with Karan is back! I love the show with its wonderfully insidious host who makes the A-list say things they really shouldn't. A treat in these politically correct times. Veronica Mars is on hiatus until April after wrapping up another mini mystery arc in an extremely satisfying way for me. The Agatha Christie style parlour game mystery was a refreshing change from the Veronica-in-mortal-danger, which while more urgent are also frustrating, and now repetitive. Battlestar Galactica is going to cause me to have an apoplectic fit and/or palpitations with the amount of anticipation I have for the final few episodes. They have already exhausted me emotionally more times this season than anything else on TV ever has (with the exception of the BTVS episode The Body).

I have watched several films recently, including: The Queen which apart form its fantastic central performance and Michael Sheen as Tony Blair is really a made-for-TV type thing; The Last King of Scotland which was enjoyable enough but notable only for Forrest Whitaker's performance; Little Children, which was a truly well-made film; Little Miss Sunshine, ditto; A Good Year, um.... and Guru, also ummm.......

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Is it Christmas? Sure feels like it.

Wow. A good weekend, and a mostly good week, and then yesterday's football results. Could a girl ask for more? (Well, other than a vat of chocolate sauce and Jamie Bamber and/or Jason Dohring).

My new job goes well, and it has so far stimulated more brain cells than the last six months combined. For some strange reason India has started winning cricket matches again, and even though I profess not to care, it is nigh impossible not to. I have been managed to get my hands on most of the Oscar nominated films and I am looking forward to my choc-a-bloc movie-watching schedule. Social life continues to flourish thanks to friends at work.

And then, I am gifted with superb football results! It was almost perfect - Manchester United win. Real Madrid win (and people die of shock). Arsenal lose. The 'almost' is only because Milan only managed a draw, but anything that's not a loss for Milan is good these days.

It gets better and better. There are rumours that Schumi is being groomed for the top job at Ferrari. A so-so episode of Battlestar Galactica is mitigated by lots of Lee Adama. And there is a fantastic episode of Veronica Mars.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Free Kareem!

Today is Free Kareem Day. Kareem is an Egyptian blogger who has been arrested and will be prosecuted for daring to express his views on his personal blog. He is currently awaiting trial and will be sentenced to jail for 11 years if found guilty. There are world-wide rallies organised to further his cause. In India we are attepmting to assemble a concerted blog protest.

Freedom of speech and expression is as essential in human endeavour as breathing (cliche I know). Any attempts to muffle dissent must be brought to light by whatever means possible. I am glad to be a part of this movement, and I hope that my readers will also take up cudgels on behalf of not only Kareem, but the idea of free speech.

You can find out more about Kareem and the protest here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The End of the World is Nigh

Because I am about to voluntarily defend Microsoft.

A new OS release from MS has been met with something considerably less than enthusiasm. It seems the tech media, and even the mass media, is sick of the MS experience, as it were. They've all used Windows98 and XP, and have met with the Blue Screen of Death, and patched and repatched their computers too many times to actually buy anything MS says about Vista being really, truly secure. This general underwhelmed reaction to the release of Vista is compounded by the fact that there are zillion versions that they've released (thus confusing consumers no end) and more importantly, that very few existing machines can actually run Vista. My laptop, which is pretty darn cool and loaded, can run the Home Ultimate edition, but only just. If I do install it, I'm sure I will be able to run barely any applications and it will kill my hard drive.

Oh wait, the defense. Yes. So, contrast all of this negative press with all the hoopla surrounding Apple's iPhone launch at MacWorld 07. Steve Jobs is a rockstar, even given all the stock-optioning issues, and Bill Gates is.... not. In interviews with the mainstream media, particularly this one with known Apple afficiando Steven Levy, Bill (and by extension, Microsoft) comes across as a man with a serious case of Apple envy. But if you read the questions asked, and measure them against his responses, the slightly defensive tone is quite warranted. Through the entire release, all they've been asked about is Apple and OS X, and this is compounded by Apple's cheeky PC and Mac ads. The media has also gone overboard with predictions of this sort. While I don't doubt that Apple's market share will increase, and I also don't doubt that the pick-up on Vista will be slower that XP, MS, to all intents and purposes, still dominates the PC market as much as it ever did. Linux has made little to no headway in market share, and Apple may increase its share, but its a long way from even being true competition.

I have also read many, many opinion pieces speculating that Apple will now take advantage of the general public distrust of MS and start to license its OS X to other PC makers. Michael Dell has said he would put OS X on his computers in a jiffy if he could. But I honestly doubt that such licensing will happen. As some people have pointed out, the reason OS X is relatively secure as compared to MS, is because the hardware it runs on is as controlled by Apple as the software. MS doesn't have a say in its hardware, it doesn't offer a vertical experience. Thus, its very pervasiveness ensures that hackers are far more likely to spend their time and energy exploiting security holes in an MS OS.

Having said all that, however, I'm not migrating to Vista anytime soon. I will wait atleast a year to upgrade, and I may just trade in my laptop for a Mac well before that.

In the meantime, Steve Jobs has written an opinion piece on Apple's Thoughts on Music blog that gives me the fuzzies. Of course, this seems like it is atleast partially in response to the EU lawsuit but his ideas are still very interesting, and as user, exciting.

Also, can I express my extreme dissatisfaction at all the rumors of an important Apple ad during Superbowl this year (echoing its iconic 1984 ad) being completely false? I lived in a state of suspenseful anticipation and then... nothing. And on the same note: the Superbowl ads? Sucked, mainly. For me, the best of the bunch was Coke's Grand Theft Auto commercial. Bud Light's Slap was good and so was CBS' Letterman and Oprah but... that was it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Battlestar Muzaktica, Indeed

The reason for this unprecedented double post is that I had to say something about how absolutely incredible the score on Battlestar Galactica is. I love the show for its incredible character-driven drama, its morality and its politics, but the music sets the tone perfectly.

And there is one particular piece, called Passacaglia, which is beautiful in its simplicity. Its haunting, its bleak, and its sense of tragedy is almost palpable. It is the kind of music that you want to die to.

ETA: This is the blog of the composer for the miniseries, Bear McCreary. Its an interesting read for anyone interested in music, and also a fascinating insight to the creative process behind a score.

Winners, All

An extremely belated round-up of various Guild winners:

Screen Actors' Guild Awards:

Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries - Helen Mirren, Elizabeth I

Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries - Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth I

Male Actor in a Comedy Series - Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Female Actor in a Comedy Series - America Ferrera, Ugly Betty

Ensemble in a Comedy Series - The Office

Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls

Life Achievement Award - Julie Andrews

Female Actor in a Drama Series - Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy

Male Actor in a Drama Series - Hugh Laurie, House

Ensemble in a Drama Series - Grey's Anatomy

Female Actor in a Supporting Role - Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Male Actor in a Leading Role - Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Female Actor in a Leading Role - Helen Mirren, The Queen

Cast of a Motion Picture - Little Miss Sunshine

My (100% biased) thoughts: While I dig Hugh Laurie as Dr. House, having already won this award before, I'd have hoped the SAG looked elsewhere (remember Michael C. Hall?). Also, I really really love Grey's Anatomy, that show pushes my buttons, BUT a) they didn't nominate possibly the two best ensembles on TV in the category (Battlestar Galactica and The Wire) and b) even amongst the nominations, it can be argued that Grey's is one of the weaker shows, not the stronger.

I'm also loving that Chandra Wilson won for her Bailey, absolutely my favorite character on Grey's, and that Ugly Betty is receiving so many plaudits in its first season.

I don't have anything worthwhile to say about the movie awards. The less I say, the better, except: I watched Little Miss Sunshine, and color me underwhelmed. How The Departed could be overlooked for an arty road movie (excellent though the performers are, and entertaining though the film is), is beyond me.

Directors' Guild of America Award: Martin Scorsese, The Departed.

Nothing but YAY! Here's to an eventual Oscar. (Finally!)

Producers' Guild of America Award: Little Miss Sunshine.

See Above.

I'm semi-excited about the WGA Awards on Feb. 11, seeing as they were the only ones smart enough to nominate BSG for something. Well, rant or rave, it'll be on here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Genius, Ridiculous

So, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.

They're a little bit ridiculous, and watching them play, you really have to think that God created them differently. That they have a special talent. How else can one explain the absolute, crushing superiority that both men enjoy in their respective sports? Sure, they work hard, have great work ethic, have dedicated their life to this. But I'm sure atleast one of the pursuing pack has as much, if not more, hardworking dedication to the sport. And yes, these guys have the drive to succeed, they want to win more than anything and it never gets very boring for them to continue to win, but again, there must be other professionals who're just tired of losing and are as driven to win, if not more.

Michael Schumacher used to be a part of this pantheon, but he's retired now. He is truly legendary in that his achievements are in past, and with time they will acquire the patina of awed wonder. Tiger and Roger are still on their paths, their stories are not yet complete. But with their forms of late, it is hard to even conceive of anyone defeating them.

Their friendship is something wonderful to us mere mortals. Its almost like a competition, and we, the public, lap up this camaraderie between our modern gods.

Anyhow, I don't really have a point, except to say that these men? Have got to be differently blessed.

Monday, January 29, 2007


To this post.

The whole Celebrity Big Brother fracas has resulted in loads of editorials being written about the racism, discrimination et al. Most of these op-eds, from what I've read, have chosen to berate the Indian government and society for an over the top reaction. Many have drawn parallels between the intrinsic caste-ist behaviour of Indian society and racism of the kind that was drawn attention to by Jane Goody's conduct. The implication has been that as a society, India is ill-equipped to cast stones, given its own propensity for discrimination based on caste. I think that this is rather missing the point.

What these people seem to be arguing is that somehow Jane Goody's crimes (such as they were) are mitigated because India is so deeply racist. While the episode is as good a time as any to draw attention to our own shortcomings, I don't understand what the purpose of contrasting the ills of our society to the wondrous (or not, depending on the editorial) qualities of Britain's are. We have a lot of work to do, yes, but the point of this whole episode is to showcase that so do others. It is ultimately irrelevant that India is racist; this story is about Britain's racism, about Britain's prejudices. Lets not cloud the issue, or give it a pass, simply because we as a society also have many many things to repair.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ze Nominations Le Oscar

So, the big one, then. The grand-daddy of all award shows, complete with whining and campaigning and bullshitting and cattiness. Here are the nominees:

Best Picture
The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Muahahahaha. No Dreamgirls. That in itself makes me love the Academy this year. I've only seen 3 of the movies on this list (with the exceptions being The Queen and Letters from Iwo Jima). Wide-open category - a couple of days ago, I would've said Babel was the front-runner (if only just) but Little Miss Sunshine's PGA award has muddled up the waters even more. Letters is a surprising and extremely deserving nominee, if the end-of-year lists are anything to go by. Its also surprising to me that United 93 didn't get nominated, but I suppose it lost momentum after its early Critics Circle wins.

Best Animated Film
Happy Feet
Monster House

Absolutely no surprises here. I think the competition is between Happy Feet and Cars, with Monster House the outside bet. That said, I can't see anyone upsetting the might of Pixar.

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whittaker, The Last King of Scotland

Two major issues with this list: A) Leo's nom for Blood Diamond, I mean hel-lo. and B) I really really wish the Academy had been less predictable and not nominated Will Smith. Sacha Baron Cohen should've been on that list. However, props for finally nominating Ryan Gosling.

Best Actress
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children

I suppose the nomination for Meryl Streep was unavoidable - she was definitely the best part of the movie for me, the only thing that made it tolerable. But it was such a horrible film that I wish it didn't exist.

Best Director
Babel (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
The Departed (Martin Scorsese)
Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood)
The Queen (Stephen Frears)
United 93 (Paul Greengrass)

Again, no Bill Condon. Yes! Also Paul Greengrass gets nominated at the expense of the Little Miss Sunshine duo.

Achievement in Art Direction
Dreamgirls, The Good Shepherd, Pan's Labyrinth, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and The Prestige.

Honestly, having seen stills of Pan's Labyrinth, I can't see how it will not win.

Best Cinematography
The Black Dahlia (Vilmos Zsigmond), Children of Men (Emmanuel Lubezki), The Illusionist (Dick Pope), Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Navarro), and The Prestige (Wally Pfister)

See Above. Though I absolutely loved The Prestige.

Best Documentary
Deliver Us from Evil, An Inconvenient Truth, Iraq in Fragments, Jesus Camp, and My Country, My Country

I have, despite my best efforts, seen precisely one of these films...

Best Documentary Short Subject
The Blood of Yingzhou District, Recycled Live, Rehearsing a Dream, Two Hands.

... and none of these.

Best Editing
Babel, Blood Diamond, Children of Men, The Departed, United 93

Blood Diamond?

Best Foreign Language Film
After the Wedding (Denmark), Days of Glory (Algeria), The Lives of Others (Germany), Pan's Labyrinth (Mexico) Water (Canada)

For me, the biggest snob of these awards: No nomination for Volver, thus shutting out Almodovar.

Original Score
"Babel" (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Gustavo
"The Good German" (Warner Bros.) Thomas Newman
"Notes on a Scandal" (Fox Searchlight) Philip Glass
"Pan's Labyrinth" (Picturehouse) Javier Navarrete
"The Queen" (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Alexandre Desplat

I adore the Babel score.

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Mark Walhberg, The Departed

Alan Arkin everybody! Also, yay Mark Wahlberg. And yay for NOT nominating Brad Pitt.

Best Supporting Actress
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Adriana Barraza, Babel
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

Fabulously happy with Rinko Kakuchi and Adriana Barraza's nominations.

Best original scripts
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan's Labyrinth
The Queen

Um no problems here...

Best adapted scripts
Children of Men
The Departed
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

... Or here. I hope Children of Men wins, though The Departed is a lesson in how to do a remake.

All in all, I'm actually pretty pleased with this list. Though I would've liked the Academy to be more adventurous, it never is, and hence films like Children of Men and The Prestige get shut out.

Oh, the Razzie nominations:

Worst Picture

Basic Instinct 2 (a.k.a. Basically, It Stinks, Too) -- Sony/Columbia --- Hee!!!!
Bloodrayne -- Romar Entertainment
Lady In The Water -- Warner Bros.
Little Man -- Sony/Revolution
Wicker Man -- Warner Bros.

Worst Actor
Tim Allen -- The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, The Shaggy Dog and Zoom
Nicolas Cage -- Wicker Man
Larry, The Cable Guy (Dan Whitney) -- Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector
Rob Schneider -- The Benchwarmers and Little Man
Marlon Wayans & Shawn Wayans -- Little Man

Worst Actress
Hilary Duff & Haylie Duff -- Material Girls
Lindsay Lohan -- Just My Luck
Kristanna Loken -- Bloodrayne
Jessica Simpson -- Employee Of The Month
Sharon Stone -- Basically It Stinks, Too

Worst Supporting Actor
Danny DeVito -- Deck The Halls
Ben Kingsley -- Bloodrayne
M. Night Shyamalan -- Lady In The Water
Martin Short -- Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
David Thewlis -- Basically, It Stinks, Too! and The Omen

Worst Supporting Actress
Kate Bosworth -- Superman Returns
Kristin Chenoweth -- Deck The Halls, Pink Panther and RV
Carmen Electra -- Date Movie and Scary Movie 4
Jenny McCarthy -- John Tucker Must Die
Michelle Rodriguez -- Bloodrayne

Worst Screen Couple
Tim Allen & Martin Short -- Santa Clause 3
Nicolas Cage & His Bear Suit -- Wicker Man
Hilary & Haylie Duff -- Material Girls
Sharon Stone's Lop-Sided Breasts -- Basically, It Stinks, Too
Shawn Wayans & Kerry Washington -- Little Man
Shawn Wayans & Marlon Wayans -- Little Man

Worst Remake or Rip-Off
Little Man -- (Rip-off of the 1954 Bugs Bunny cartoon "Baby Buggy Bunny")
Pink Panther -- Sony/Columbia
Poseidon -- Warner Bros.
The Shaggy Dog Story -- Disney
Wicker Man -- Warner Bros.

Worst Prequel or Sequel
Basically, It Stinks, Too -- Sony/Columbia
Big Momma's House 2 -- Fox
Garfield 2: A Tail Of Two Kitties -- Warner Bros.
Santa Clause 3 -- Disney
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning -- New Line

Worst Director
Uwe Boll -- Bloodrayne
Michael Caton-Jones -- Basic Instinct 2
Ron Howard -- The Da Vinci Code
M. Night Shyamalan -- Lady In The Water
Keenan Ivory Wayans -- Little Man

Worst Screenplay
Basically, It Stinks, Too -- Screenplay by Leora Barish & Henry Bean -- Based on Characters Created by Joe Eszterhas
Bloodrayne -- Screenplay by Guinevere Turner, Based on the Video Game
Lady In The Water -- Written by M. Night Shyamalan
Little Man -- Written by Keenan Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans
Wicker Man -- Screenplay Adapted by Neil LaBute from a Screenplay by Anthony Schaffer

Worst Excuse for Family Entertainment -- (New Category!)
Deck The Halls -- Fox
Garfield 2: A Tail Of Two Kitties -- Fox
RV -- Sony/Columbia
Santa Clause 3 -- Disney
The Shaggy Dog -- Disney

Basically, yay. Though I think Uwe Boll should be given a category of his own now. And thank the Lord that Kate Bosworth was nominated. Ugh, Lois Lane indeed.

Friday, January 19, 2007

TV Nanny, par excellence

So, AXN has been banned from Indian airwaves for 2 months for daring to telecast some claptrap called Sexiest TV Advertisements. Let's ignore the fact that this show would've been on late at night. Lets also ignore the limited TRPs an English-language channel gets. Forget even that AXN is possibly one of the braver TV channels on here in India, which screens [heavily censored] versions of Nip/Tuck, and some other excellent dramas, including 24, House and Numbers. To avoid any potential conflict with the government, Star World has decided to cease broadcasting Baywatch and Baywatch Hawaii immediately. None of this is important. What is important is that once again, our government feels the need to protect its citizens from the evils of Western programming. Because, of course, watching semi-nude women prance around is tantamount to incitement and leads to the wholesale degradation of moral values.

I don't understand why its obscene to see sexy adverts. I don't understand why its offensive to our politicians. I don't understand why this is not OK, but its OK to show videos of someone being hanged, and killed all over the news channels, and show them 24/7. I'm not saying that the govt should've legislated against these channels, or banned the video. But they left it to the discretion of the management, and why can't they leave this stuff to programming heads as well?

What really annoys me is how all of this interventionism passes under the radar. There will be a report in the papers, but by and large this is ignored. A few months ago, movies had to be re-edited and censored to pass inspection from the CBFC, again, before being telecast. Any films rated 'A' (Adult) was banned from being shown. HBO routinely censors its award-winning shows, like Deadwood and Rome. Then, we have situations where someone makes a jokey video about Mahatma Gandhi. The point isn't whether the video was in bad taste or not. The fact that the Ministry felt the need to get involved is the issue here. A video which would've been largely overlooked by the general populace became the you-tube hit of the moment only because the Ministry created such a big ruckus around it. When is all of this going to stop? When will our govt realise that as adults, as a functioning democracy and as a people who choose their own government, we do not need supervision in what to watch on television? Sometimes, people really are capable of making these decisions themselves. I know, shocker.

And then there are instances where political incorrectness on prime time television has been creating such a massive furor in the US and UK. I'm referring to the backstage Grey's Anatomy drama, which dates back to October, where Isaiah Washington, who essays the part of Burke, referred to his co-star as a f*****. The whole thing blew up again at the Golden Globes, where Grey's won Best Drama. IW is on record as saying it "Never Happened" and then TR Knight, whose coming out was precipitated by the October fracas, goes on Ellen to say it did, and that "Everyone heard it".The sad part is the way the whole issue has been mis-handled to this degree. With a creator who goes on about diversity on her show, both Shonda Rhimes and ABC are very responsible for the mess that exists right now. In any case, the slur is unforgivable, definitely on par with calling someone an N-word, or a P***. Which leads me nicely into the second show creating waves of the wrong kind - Celebrity Big Brother with its on-set shenanigans involving actress Shilpa Shetty and other residents of the house. Having watched a few of the videos, I can say that racially motivated or not, Shilpa was attacked, and if all it takes is a few other issues to remove the veneer of multiculturalism and descend to name-calling that utilizes racist epithets, then these people (both IW and CBB "celebrities") are in their essences homophobic, and racist.

All that remains is for the networks in question (ABC and Channel 4) to wake up and do something. Such behaviour must be marked out as unacceptable. At this point, it doesn't matter what the intent or motivation of the people using these words were. Both the situations have exploded into a comment on their respective societies, and must be addressed. The networks need to get their heads out of their asses and realise that not all publicity is good publicity. It doesn't matter if IW's insults were more about Patrick Dempsey than TR Knight. It doesn't matter if Shilpa Shetty hasn't been "overtly abused" as the channel now seems to be saying.

Oh, and the very idea that TR and Shilpa have somehow brought this upon themselves by being, I don't know, gay and Indian respectively, is outrageous. I will never look at Germaine Greer the same way again - I didn't know Germaine, that there were some forms of equality more important than others. And USA Today should take a good, long look at themselves and how they choose to portray things.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Living History

On Tuesday, 16.01.2007, I had the privilege of watching two of the greatest living (Jazz) musicians, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, live in concert.

The concert was organised by the American Centre, held at Siri Fort in New Delhi and was marked by the sort of mismanagement that seems to be a trademark of all events at Siri Fort. It started over an hour late, passes were over-issued and atleast a thousand people were turned away at the gate after having queued up for well over an hour. I would've been one of those people, if I had not found a friend near the front of the queue and joined her. I had NO idea Delhi had that many Jazz enthusiasts.

As it turned out, the concert was well worth the trouble. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to listen to these guys, so influential in the history of music, play live. I am admittedly a jazz newbie, in so far as even though I love the music, I haven't been driven to find out more about it - its origin, its history. However this concert changed all that for me, and (totally coincidentally) I happen to be reading Eric Hobsbawm's Uncommon People as of now. The combination of the book and the concert has led me to read more about Jazz and its beginnings, and what I've found out has made me love the genre even more.

Hobsbawm's incredibly well-written book (much like his other, more political, books) traces the history of Jazz from the 1920s social rebellion to Sidney Bechet, through to Ella Fitzgerald and the decline of Jazz to Miles Davis and its resurrection in the 1960s/1970s. Jazz, especially Hobsbawm's take on it, has a very inspiring story behind it, given its roots in the Civil Rights Movement, and its status as music of oppressed peoples, for lack of a better word.

All music post Jazz owes a very big debt to it. Without Jazz, there would be no Hip-hop, and even rock would sound incredibly different. Thus to see such practitioners as Hancock and Shorter in their skin was a surreal but humbling experience.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Globes

*insert obligatory "globe" joke here*

Now that I've got that out of the way, here is the list of winners:
Best Television Series - Drama
Big Love
Grey's Anatomy

Best Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives)
America Ferrera (Ugly Betty)
Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (New Adventures of Old Christine)
Mary Louise Parker (Weeds)

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

Best 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)

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie
Bleak House
Broken Trail
Elizabeth I

Mrs. Harris
Prime Suspect: The Final Act

Best Actor in a Television Series
Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Bill Paxton (Big Love)
Kiefer Sutherland (24)

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or Movie
Emily Blunt (Gideon's Daughter)
Toni Collette (Tsunami, the Aftermath)
Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy)
Sarah Paulson (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip)
Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds)

Best Actress in a Television Series
Patricia Arquette (Medium)
Edie Falco (The Sopranos)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Ellen Pompeo (Grey's Anatomy)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)

Best Supporting Actor in Series, Mini-Series or Movie
Thomas Haden Church (Broken Trail)
Jeremy Irons (Elizabeth I)
Justin Kirk (Weeds)
Masi Oka (Heroes)
Jeremy Piven (Entourage)

Best Picture Drama - Babel

Best Picture Musical or Comedy - Dreamgirls

Best Supporting Actress - Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Best Supporting Actor -- Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls

Best Song "The Song of My Heart", Happy Feet, Prince Rogers Nelson

Best Score -- The Painted Veil

Best Screenplay - The Queen

Best Animated Picture -- Cars

Best Actress Musical or Comedy -- Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada

Best Actress Drama -- Helen Mirren, The Queen

Best Actor Drama -- Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Best Actor Musical or Comedy -- Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat

I'm obviously not happy with Grey's Anatomy winning Best Drama, but Ugly Betty (and America Ferrara's) win makes me really really happy. The movie awards were really not much of a surprise, though I suppose one couldn't have predicted Eddie Murphy winning for Dreamgirls. Which I already hate, btw, for absolutely no reason. I also loved that Sacha Baron Cohen won. Really hope he gets an Oscar nom, think it'll be up there with Johnny Depp's nom for Pirates.

I haven't blogged about having watched The Prestige (finally!!!) and Babel. I really, really liked both films. I've read a lot of criticism for Babel, but the movie mostly moved me, and was quite an intense experience. I shall post a more detailed review later. The Prestige, on the other hand, blew me away, with the fantastic direction, great acting, fabulous pacing. It took a book that I would've thought was really difficult to translate to screen and did it brilliantly. Christopher Nolan, you are a genius.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


From the Macworld SF.

All pictures courtesy Engadget, in case the watermark didn't give it away.

Also check out Apple's website

*dissolves in apple-fangirly puddle of goo*

Oh, and Happy New Year, Everyone.

ETA: Wired's initial impressions. Excerpts:
"The amount of innovation coming out of Apple is astounding. The iPhone doesn't just match its competitors, it leaps right over them.

From what Jobs showed Tuesday, the iPhone really does look to be five years ahead of what anyone else has got. Maybe longer. It's taken rivals five years to catch up with the iPod, which now looks hopelessly outdated and crippled compared to the iPhone."