Monday, November 30, 2009

கருந்தேள் கண்ணாயிரம் - The next blog !

Check out - கருந்தேள் கண்ணாயிரம் !!! in Tamil . . .

Exclusive blog in Tamil for movie reviews . . .!

take a look and spread the gud word :) . . .

Saturday, November 21, 2009

American Psycho - Get Disturbed . .

Well, there are a lot of psychotic movies all over Hollywood. In those movies, we see a character either a complete psycho, going on a killing spree, and getting killed at the end by the protogonoist. Or, we see the character getting psychotic at certain times, experiencing vioient mood swings (these characters usually have a pathetic story to tell in hteir flashbacks) and they will be supported by the female lead in the movie so that the disorder gets eradicated totally or they succoumb to it. But, 'American Psycho' is different. At least, to a certain extent.

American Psycho is adopted from the novel of the same name which was released in 1991, authored by Bret Easton Ellis. The novel sparked critical acclaim and controversies, due to the violence and sexual content it contained, and after many attempts for a screenplay, the one by Mary Harron (co-written by Guinevere Turner) was chosen, and Mary Harren herself directed the film. It was released in 2000.

The story is recounted by Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a Vice President of a Wall street company (Pierce & Pierce), a company which specializes in mergers & Acquisitions. He casually narrates his everyday activities to the audience. We see him discussing with his colleagues, over official things and etiquttes, doing rigerous work-outs, going to high class restaurants, drinking in pubs... In short, the high styled life of an executive. When we begin to raise a question about the casualness of these incidents, the story begins to take a blunt turn.

While Bateman is showing his hi-style visiting card which he got printed newly to his colleagues, they too show their cards one by one to him, of which some are more stylish than his own card, including one by Paul Allen, a fellow hi-fi executive. We see Bateman slowly becoming rigid with contempt, and he starts sweating. He leaves the place.

That night, Bateman talks to a beggar in a dark ally. He woos him by sounding like he will get a job for the beggar. Just when the beggar begins to than him, Bateman stabs the beggar kills him along with brutally tramping over his dog. He then walks casually away.

Bateman then talks to Paul Allen, who mistakes him for another executive, named Marcus Halberstorm (this is a very important point in the film). They both eat out, and then Bateman brings a drunk Paul Allen to his apartment. While casually talking about an album ('Huey Lewis and the news') and mentioning about the proffessionalism and the humor in those songs to a bamboozled Paul Allen, Bateman picks up a big, sharp axe, drinks his daily dosage of a pill, and
moonwalks behind Paul Allen, addresses him, and while he turns. . . . . . . .


After disposing the body, Bateman registers a message in Paul Allen's answering machine in his cozy, cosly apartment (more costlier than his own), that he is traveling to London on a trip, and he will be back after some days. He also picks up a few suits and dress and leaves.

After a few days, Bateman is approached by a detective ('Body of evidence' fame Willem Dafoe), who questions Bateman about the sudden disappearence of Paul Allen. He asks Bateman about his whereabouts during the night of Paul Allen's disappearence , for which Bateman is unable to answer. The detective says they will meet up again in a week for lunch, and by that time, he needs the answer.

The next day, we see Bateman rigorously working out, and that night, he picks up a prostitute, along with another one. He wants them to do a 'threesome', and while doing so, he videotapes it (some dialogues and clippings in this scene got cut during the release. They were there in the DVD - but nothing very 'exiting', though (??!!)). The prostitutes ask ateman if they can leave, but he says it ain't over yet. After a while, we see the prostitutes hurrying out.

Bateman, then is again disturbed by his colleague Carruthers, who gets a new visiting card for him. With the intention of killing him, Bateman followes Carruthers to the rest room, and when he is about to lay his hands on Carruther's neck, he turns, mistakes Bateman for a gay, and tells him that he too wanted it to happen. Bateman is taken aback, and runs away.

Bateman asks his secretary for dinner the next day, and she is happy. He takes her to his apartment, and as usual, plays her some music, and while he is about to drive a nail on her head, the phone rings, and it's the girl whom he is dating. He asks his secretary to leave, as he says he is afraid he might hurt her.

Bateman again picks up the same prostitute (she initially refuses, saying she had to make a stitch, after their last meeting), and a model friend of his, and this time, takes them to Paul Allen's apartment. After their threesome, the while the prostitute tries to whisk away, she sees Bateman biting the model's vagina, and there is blood all over. A naked Bateman chases the prostitute (she sees two naked dead bodies stacked in a room) and finally, is able to kill her by dropping his chainsaw on her from the top floor.

He then talks to his date (Reese witherspoon) the next day, tells her it's all over between them as his need to engage in homicidal behaviour is going in an uncontrollable manner, and he doesn't know anyother way to service his needs (It is to be noted that Bateman, many times, admits to people around that he is in to murders & executions, all the way telling the truth, but they always gets misunderstood like he is talking about mergers & acquisitions).

She thinks that he has lost interest in her, and Bateman leaves a crying Evelyn. That night, while Bateman is taking money from the ATM, it appears to him in the ATM screen to feed a stray cat in to the machine. While he lifts the cat and tries to insert it in to the machine, a lady questions him, and he shoots her.

Then starts a spree of incidetns which look like a disaster movie from the eightees. He goes on a shooting and killing spree, and kills everyone who come in his way. A police vehicle gets blasted out, and Bateman is unable to believe himself. He goes to his office, calls his lawyer, and confesses all of his killings so far. He says he has killed 20, or may be 40 people so far, including Paul Allen.

The next day, we see Bateman casually working out. He dresses up, goes to Paul Allen's apartment where he has stacked many of the dead bodies. He wears a mask around his nose, and slowly enters in to the apartment.

From this point on, the story takes a turn, and it cannot be mentioned here, just for the reason that it will spoil the fun. Hence, see it for yourselves what happens next.

American Psycho is a complex film, which talks vividly about the complexities in the mind of Bateman. He is narcisstic to the core, enjoys portraying himself, and is unable to withstand the pressure when someone else steals the show when he is around. He also has the ago of a sussessful exacutive, and is proud to boast off his status to everyone, even when they are uninterested. It appears that he kills people just for the sake of doing it, and doesn't feel towards the killings at all.

At the end of the movie, we get to know about what happens to Bateman. It is something which Bateman has to accept, something which he says to his date Evelyn - his need to engage in homicidal behaviour is going in an uncontrollable manner. He has no exit.

For the first time, this movie might disappoint the viewer, by the sheer surrialistic nature, towards the end. We, as an sudience, always expect some dramatic turn towards the end of a psychotic thriller (like silence of the lambs, or seven, or watever). The way this movie ends might even irritate the audience, for the first time. I suggest seeing the movie again, for, there are many minute clues and scenes all over the movie which tells us about the end.

Christian Bale as Bateman, is very good. I learnt that he worked out three hours a day, to get the tonned up physique of bateman in the film. The way he has acted is par excellence, and in some scenes, during his close-ups, it reminded of Vikram's face in Anniyan (only the face, mind it). Especially, watch his expressions and the way he talks to his lawyer whe nhe confesses his murders, over the phone. It's a sheer professional performance.

I also suggest seeing the movie with the director's commentary, as it will set the rope straight, solving some of the mysteries in the film.

Overall, watch American Psycho with an unbiased mind, and get disturbed.

Watch the trailer here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2012 - Were we Warned ?

Imagine an apocalypse happening right in front of our eyes. We are a part of it, and we are gonna be consummated by it. What will it look like? How will it be? The answer is 2012.

When we look at the director Roland Emmerich's previous attempts, he tends to be a director who believes in disasters, in general. All of the movies which made him famous, were basically disaster-oriented ones. Take for an example Independence day, or Godzilla, or Universal Soldier, or the most recent ones, The day after tomorrow or 10,000 BC. He directed a good drama , The Patriot, in the midst of these disaster oriented films. I can remember Madhan interviewing Roland Emmerich during the release of Godzilla in Philippines, and the interview came in Vikadan. In that interview, Emmerich had mentioned that he loves destroying New York with all those disaster movies he films, and has expressed a child-like joy in doing so.

Now, I saw 'The day after tomorrow' keeping in mind these facts, and it did disappoint me. That movie was a total goner, and it was boring, without a proper story. Hence, when 2012 was announced, I vowed to myself I'm not gonna see this film, as it will be an extension of the day after tomorrow. But, when I saw the trailer for the first time, it impressed me. All those CG scenes with huge earthquakes and tsunamis, were realistic, and so I decided to give it a try.

Off we went to this film last Saturday in Bangalore.

The movie begins in the year 2009 with Adrian Helmsley, an American scientist coming to India to meet his friend satnam (now, this is one name I see frequently in American movies and books!), who has made a discovery that the minute particles called neutrinos, which emanated from the sun by means of a huge solar flare (solar flares are nothing but large flares of energy from the sun's surface which are caused by the sudden explosions on the sun's surface. The length of a solar flame equals to thousands of kilometers), have reached earth. It's a common thing for these neutrinos to reach earth, but then, in his discovery, these neutrinos have caused the earth's core to heat up, there by resulting in a chain reaction of events, which will end in the world getting destroyed. And, it has already started to happen. The scientist Adrian Helmsley travels to US and he informs about the impending danger to all the authorities.

It's 2010 now, and all the leaders of the G8 countries are informed about the danger. A plan is evolved, which is about constructing huge ships which can contain four hunderd-thousand people inside them, so that they act as an arc (remember Noa's arc ?), and these people can be saved to kickstart a new world, after the disaster. This is meant for rich people only, and it involved billions of dollars.

The year is 2012, and we see Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a literaturist, whose books sell only for a few hunderd copies, decides to take his children to a trip to yellow stone national park. His ex-wife Kate(Amenda Peet) lives with her boyfriend. Jack's son Noah hates him, and he likes his mother's boyfriend.

At the park, there is a lot of military activity around, and Jack meets Charlie Frost, who runs a radio show. Frost tells Jack that the park will be the center of a giant volcano very soon, and he advices Jack to return. Jack doesn't believe Frost, but tends to believe everything when he hears about an earthquake at California, from his ex-wife. Frost had already told Jack that he knows about the government's huge arc building process, and he also has a map. Now, Jack returns, takes his ex-wife, her boyfriend and the kids back to yellow stone to get the map from Frost. There starts the adrenaline rush.

Jack hires a private aeroplane to safeguard his family, and is able to save his family, flying away from an earthquake hit Californis, which gets completely destroyed.

By the time Jack reaches yellow stone, the volcano starts to erupt, and he is able to recover the map, when the Volcano starts to engulf the area. Jack & family successfully escape (!!) from the volcano too, and through the map, they travel to China, to reach the place of the arcs. What happens during their journey? Did they reach China? Did the world got destroyed? The questions are answered in the movie.

As usual, this is an Emmerich film which you gotta see, without asking questions. You gotta remove your brain, place it outside the theatre and then should see the film. I mean, what else can you expect from an Emmerich film?

I liked the film. The graphics are exceptionally good (except for a few scenes which clearly gives us the impression of the 'Partha mudhal naale' song where they show the road at the background on a screen). This movie was definitely interesting to watch when compared with 'The day after tomorrow'. It's a huge adrenaline rush throughout.

There are a few cliched scenes, though. Like showing a huge structure getting destroyed (this time it's 'Jesus the redeemer' statue from Brazil), a monk looking at the huge trunami, the bad guy dying, the hero safeguarding his family through massive destruction-he flies his aeroplane amidst huge-collapsing buildings , without even getting a hair burnt, getting saved at the final moment, the hero's ex-wife's boyfriend getting killed (so that the hero can be united with his wife again), Everyone dis-believing the disaster theory from the hero until they actually see it, US government spearheading the 'safeguarding' mission (as if the other countries are like clowns), The US president getting portrayed as the 'I'll save everyone-I'll give-my-life' kinda angelic man, The guy who flies a huge plane without even knowing the basics of piloting . . etc etc..

Overall, this a time pass film. Go to the theatre and experience the world getting destroyed.

PS:- The one plus point of seeing this film, was that, I happened to see the trailer of 'Avatar' a James Cameron flick-the return of Cameron after Titanic. It was excellent, to say the least, and I'm looking forward to see Avatar in Dec.

See the trailer here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sherlock Holmes is Back !

Watch the trailer here.

Directed by Guy Ritchie - this adds up the flavor !

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Director's Special - 1 - Robert Rodriguez

What will we do if handed over a digicam, or at least an ordinary video recorder, at the age of seven, by our parents? I would definitely think that it's an oversized metal toy which does not have anything special to impress me, and will throw it repeatedly to the ground till I lay my hands on a new toy. But children like Robert Anthony Rodriguez had other plans. They just started to shoot movies using that 'oversized metal toy', and identified a career out of it!

Well, that was exactly how Robert Rodriguez's career began as a filmmaker. During his seventh year, when his father bought a video casette recorder (what is called as a VCR – you remember right? People from the seventies.. that was the only entertainment with respect to movies, as far as we were concerned during our childhood), Rodriguez started to use it. After a few years, when at highschool, due his prowess with the cam, he was asked by the authorities to film the football matches which happened during that particular year, and what Rodriguez did, absolutely enraged them to the core, and they fired him out of the job straightaway!

Yes. Till that time, filming a football match meant, recording the match ONLY, and nothing else. But what Rodriguez did was to record the ball flying high in the air, and the instant reactions of people seeing it! Typical cinema style! That cost him his job as a video recorder in the match, and he didn't worry at all. By this time, he was well aware so as to what will earn him his bread.

When he went to the College of Communication at Texas University to study filming, his marks were 'low', to their standards. Hence he was unable to join film lessons straightaway. But then, he found a way out to join the classes, by impressing the authorities. He discovered something which amused the lecturers and the students alike, which got him a seat at the college. Rodriguez invented a comic strip which was on the lines of a 'Charles Bukowsky' style, inventing characters based on his own life incidents. The leading character was a girl, which was based on his younger sister. That comics – 'Los Hooligans' (he later named his production company as 'Los Hooligans'), was a hit among the college people, and it ran for almost three years in the college magazine.

In the college, Rodriguez was making a number of short films. One day, he decided to participate in a local film making contest, where he made a comic movie about a girl getting repeatedly annoyed about her brother's hairdo, which absolutely looks like medusa's hair - a total mess! The movie was titled as 'Bedhead' , referring to the brother's hair which is a terrible mess. While getting teased by her brother, she tries to beat him and falls down, and gets hit in her head. In so doing, she suddenly picks up a telekinetic power which makes her extremely powerful. But, while avenging on her brother, she gets hit again in the head, and gets admitted in a hospital. There, she decides to use her power in a good manner, but at the same time, also decides to be a constant threat to her brother.

This movie garnered awards and prizes , which made him to finally choose his road . The road more traveled by a lot of veterans so far. With as little as 7000$, he made his first movie 'El Mariachi' - which was originally supposed to be a home video in Spanish, but went on to become a hit and was marketed as a feature film in Hollywood. The movie also garnered the audience award at the Sundance film festival - a film festival dedicated to the independent film makers. The founding chair person is Robert Redford whose 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' was an inspiration for the inception of the film festival.

Robert Rodriguez followed his first hit with a few TV episodes of a series named Roadcrackers, and then released one of his signature movies - Desperado (one of my favorite movies)- which was a mixture of the latino style with explosive Hollywood action. It starred Antonio Benderas and Salma Hayek. It had the typical Rodriguez style of film making written all over it , with sudden cuts, close ups, funny dialogues, outright action, seductive females and a nice music (all these, a part of Quentin Tarentino films too).

The next film was 'From dusk till dawn', which starred George Clooney along with a geeky looking guy called Quentin Tarentino. In fact, it was Tarentino who wrote the script, and Rodriguez directed it. This movie 's first part will make you think that you are in to a psychotic chase drama, and the second part will make you to break the TV - it's a mixture of two bizarre sections coming together. The first time I saw this film, I enjoyed the first part thoroughly and was bracing myself for the second section,which turned bizarre and even a bit idiotic, totally making me to bite my pillow.

Between Desperado and From dusk till dawn, he directed an episode among the four episodes in the film, 'The four rooms' (The other three episodes were directed by Quentin Tarentino, Allison Anders & Alexandre Rockwell). It is a comical movie about four stories happening in a hotel, in four different rooms, where the assistant in the hotel (Tim Roth) witnesses all the four stories. Rodriguez directed the episode named 'Room 309 - the misbehavors', which starred (again) Antonio Benderas and Salma Hayek (as a girl dancing in the TV). The story is all about a couple leaving their two kids in the hands of the assistant, while they go out. Many comical incidents follow, which creates the whole episode as an interesting one to watch.

The next movie was 'Faculty', a science fiction thriller, which was not that successful. The movie following it, though, was a major success, which spawned two more sequels. It's 'Spy Kids', a thoroughly entertaining series of movies about two kids, whose parents are spies, and their adventures. The third part had Stallone as the bad guy, which was also a 3D movie.

Between spy kids 2 and 3, Rodriguez completed his 'El Mariachi' trilogy with 'Once upon a time in Mexico', which marked the return of the guy with the guitar. Antonio Benderas starred in this flick, with Salma Hayek. It starred Johnny Depp too. The movie was named so, as a tribute for Sergio Leone.

After the spy kids movies, Rodriguez returned to his familiar action packed foray with 'Sin city', originally a graphic novel series by Frank Miller, the famous storyteller. Since Rodriguez had a wide knowledge about the comics and stuff (as he himself had a successful comic strip to his name), he was able to convince Frank Miller, who was initially unwilling to give his comics rights to this movie. As a result, Frank Miller too co-directed the film which went on to become a huge hit.

The whole movie was a high quality digital film, shot entirely in rich color and later converted to black and white, using state of the art techniques. Although the entire movie was in black and white, selected things and effects were in color, giving the film a complete graphic novel effect. As usual, Quentin Tarentino guest directed a scene.

Sin city was followed by another movie for children, the adventures of sharkboy and lava girl, which was also a 3D movie. After this film, Rodriguez joined hands with his long time buddy Quentin Tarentino again, to direct a movie called Planet Terror, a part of the two part series Grindhouse. The movie Grindhouse contained two movies, Planet Terror and Death Proof, which was directed by Tarentino.

Robert Rodriguez is a man of multi talents. He can direct, write screenplays, compose music, edit, and can handle the camera very well. Infact, in all of his movies, in the titles, to denote his editing, it will be displayed as 'chopped by Robert Rodriguez'.

Currently, Rodriguez is filming the sequel to Sin City. No matter what kind of movie he is making, one thing is for sure. There will be absolute entertainment from Robert Rodriguez, and it will be one hell of a ride !!!

Here are a few of his movie trailers . .


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

World Movie Series - 29 - Samaria

Here is the review of a gripping movie - 'The Samaritan Girl' - posted by Shree.. I have already introduced her blog long ago when she wrote about poor children and a cause to support them. Now, she has started writing reviews too, and it's nice to see her first review being a Kim-Ki Duk movie, one of our favorite directors. It's good to see the movie being reviewed from a girl's point of view, as it will give us the exact picture of what's happening inside the leading characters' mind, both being girls. (link updated on 19th Oct 2011)

This becomes a part of our World movie series, with due permission from Shree. . . All the appreciations to be routed to her blog. .

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Inglourious Basterds - Once upon a time in the brain of a nostalgic Tarentino . . .

When we become nostalgic with our childhood memories and the things we loved during the days we grew up, we will reminiscent those days for a while, and then will carry on our work. At the most, we will visit a neighboring bar (or a park, for teetotalers), will gulp a few larges with old friends, and then walk away to our home to continue with our day today work. Okay. What will happen when a famous director gets nostalgic with his favorite movies from his childhood? It's unnatural to expect him to walk away just like that, and the result is 'Inglourious Basterds'.

Imagine the feel and effect of great spaghetti (can anyone suggest a different name, for a change?) westerns like 'Good, bad and the ugly' or 'A fistful of dollars' or 'Once upon a time in the west' (incidentally, all are Sergio Leone flicks). To me, watching one of these (and many more quality westerns) is like heaven. The effect it gives after watching these movies is terrific, with the mind brimming with happiness. The same effect is achieved from watching 'Inglourious Basterds'.

Saw the movie very recently in Bangalore, as it was released just now in India. I didn't want to see this one in internet or in DVD, as Quentin Tarentino is easily my most favorite director. I watched his Pulp Fiction long ago, and was astounded. From then on, started to see all his movies one by one, and he easily became the kind of director a movie buff would prefer. I mean, after watching a Tarentino flick, one would get what he wanted from the movie.

The movie begins exactly like 'Good, bad and the Ugly', where Angel face (the talented Lee van Cleef) walks in to the house of Stevens to enquire about the hidden treasure, and kills the family soon after. In fact, the first few minutes never had a single dialogue in that film (and in many other Leone flicks). The same way, we see Colonel Hans Landa walk in to the house of a frenchman and kills a family which had seeken refuge at his cellar. The only girl Shosanna, who escapes from the massacre, later on tries to avenge for her family's death.

Now, we cut to Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), recruiting a pack of Jewish – American soldiers – to kill and create panic in France by killing every German soldier who they see – in fact, every one of these soldiers must have to kill at least a hundred Germans and scalp them. They carve a Swasthik - the Nazi symbol – on the forehead of one soldier whom they decide to leave away as a survivor at every killing – to spread the terror among the Germans.

A perfect plot, where on one side, there are a pack of angry ruthless soldiers who would stop at nothing, and on the other side there is the lone survivor from a massacre, throbbing to avenge the death of her family. What will happen if both these plots collide at one common goal during the course of the film? Well, it's Inglourious Basterds, in a nutshell.

As usual, there is the elegant touch of Quentin through out the film, and he doesn't cheat his fans. Right from the tight close-up shots showing the little things (spoons, guns etc), to showing in balloons what the characters think, and showing in animated pointers the names of the characters among a crowd, Quentin pleases his fans. As usual, we see the chapter names among the scenes. We hear witty dialogues and we see the splash of blood all over.

It's an outright Quentin flick both hands down. I read in a few reviews that Quentin has lost his gifted story telling prowess, and this movie is not like his Pulp fiction or reservoir dogs. I don't think so. When a fantastic story teller becomes nostalgic about his favorite flicks, the output is a movie like this, and we must see the movie keeping this fact in mind.

The one guy who stands apart (Sounds like 'A band Apart', rite? Quentin's production house) is Christopher Waltz, who plays the role of the Nazi colonel Hans Landa. I was astonished to learn that this is his first major film ! A fantastic performance indeed. The fact that he is fluent in German, French and English adds up to his excellent performance. The character of the German colonel is not a completely sadistic one, as we see in the beginning, but is a mixture of emotions combined with a good taste and a dashing confidence, with a touch of feminine grace (might be termed as charm). Waltz has really done a waltz in the movie- the one character which makes the movie worthwhile to watch.

I remember that before a few years, I first read the movie's title in the internet, and it was gossiped that Stallone and Schwarzenegger are to star in the title roles along with Michael Madson and Mickey Rourke. I was eagerly awaiting all these years for this movie, and it didn't disappoint me. I simply loved it.

The final dialogue of the movie – which Aldo raine utters, is reminiscent of

Tarentino's take on this movie - 'You know somethin', Utivich? I think this might just be my masterpiece' – Just might be Mr. Tarentino. . But never mind. Ultimately, it's the fun ride which we need.

Inglourious Basterds – Vintage Tarentino.

See the trailer here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The break is (almost) over . . .

Dear friends . .

It's been a break for sometime since the past 2-3 months, as the posts have deteriorated rapidly. Well, I ave relocated from Chennai to Bangalore in this period, and am setting up things. I am almost done with settling down in the city of lakes, and you can expect regular posts sooner.. I still have a lot of unseen foreign movie DVDs with me, and I'm planning to write about them from next week onwards. Until hten, happy blogging, and wishing every one of you a fantastic festival of lights. . . . Njoy Diwali and have a (real) blast ! ! !

Friday, September 18, 2009

World Movie Series - 28 - Ōdishon

Ageing is something which can be compared with death, isn’t it? When people age, they gradually develop a fear inside, which shrinks them inside their shells, and they become sad and jealous about people happily living. Now, what will happen if suddenly someone enters in to their lives who can drive away the fear of loneliness? Suddenly they feel happy and rejuvenated, and they will do what ever they can to be with this new person throughout their lives.

‘Ōdishon’ is one such movie which tells us the story of a widower named Shigeharu Aoyama. Aoyama’s wife had died when his son was ten years old, and from then on, his son is the only element in his life with whom he can share his emotions with. His loneliness is shared with his son. One day – the son is now seventeen years old – during dinner, the son casually puts across the question of remarriage to his father, and he tells that the idea occurred ‘just like that’ to him. The son leaves, and Aoyama keeps pondering about the option of remarriage for a long time. It is as if suddenly a door has been blasted open in his heart, and all his emotions are rushing through the door.

The next day, Aoyama reaches office, and we see his secretary. She is melancholic and tells him that she is planning to marry, for which Aoyama gives a simple nod and leaves. Aoyama meets his friend Yoshikawa, who happens to be Aoyama’s partner too, and tells him about what the son suggested. Yoshikawa becomes happy and he asks Aoyama if he has any plans to date and love any girl for which Aoyama answers negative. Yoshikawa then thinks about a plan to audition young girls in the name of a new film, for the role of the heroine. Aoyama can select the girl he likes very much and then they can tell her the truth.

Aoyama likes the idea, and the next day, all the newspapers carry the advertisement of a new film to be produced, which needs a new face. Applications flood in, and Aoyama selects thirty applicants from the huge pool.

The ‘audition’ begins. Yoshikawa and Aoyama question the applicants, and near the very end of the audition, Aoyama meets Asami Yamazaki, a girl, seeing whose photo the previous night, Aoyama got attracted. Asami had mentioned in her application that she learned ballet dancing for 12 years and that she stopped dancing due to an injury. She is more reserved during the audition, but then Aoyama gets attracted and keeps appreciating her for everything she had mentioned in her application.

After the auditions, Aoyama tells Yoshikawa he was bowled over by Asami, and both are happy they were able to select a girl.

The next day, Yoshikawa calls Aoyama and warns him that not even a single contact she had mentioned in her resume was verified, and he was unable to reach anyone in the resume. Aoyama is further informed that the music producer under whom Asami worked had gone missing for the past one year. Even then, Aoyama believes in the girl.

After a few days, Aoyama decides to call Asami and to talk to her. Asami answers his call, agrees to meet him in a restaurant. They both meet up a few times, and then Aoyama confesses to Asami about the truth about the audition. Asami says she doesn’t mind it, and it will be her good luck to get married to Aoyama. This continues for a few days.

One day, Aoyama takes Asami to a sea side resort. There, Asami gets in to the bed naked, and tells Aoyama she wants him to know everything about her. She shows him a few scars on her body and tells him about the abuses she suffered in her childhood, and she asks him to love ONLY her, and after Aoyama agrees, they make love.

The next morning, Aoyama learns that Asami has left the hotel. From then on, Aoyama is unable to trace Asami, as she disappears from his life altogether.

He suddenly remembers about the ballad dance centre where Asami had learnt dancing for 12 years. It is deserted and ruined, and there is an old man on a wheelchair with wooden feet. He laughs at Aoyama and asks him about all the days he spent with Asami and tells him it was the old man who was responsible for the scars on Asami’s body. He orders Aoyama to go home and not to search the girl.

The confused Aoyama then goes to the bar where Asami was working, and while entering it, a man from the upper floor tells Aoyama that the bar is closed for an year, since the manager was found murdered an year ago. He was chopped in to pieces, and when the police assembled the body parts together, they found three extra fingers, an ear and a tongue. He concludes with a sad remark about the cruel world outside, and leaves.

From here on, a series of events occur which take the movie to a totally different surface. One by one, the viewer gets to learn all the shocking truths, and is left gaping at the screen. The final 20-25 minutes form the backbone of the movie, and it’s difficult to come to a conclusion by watching the movie only once. We gotta see it 2-3 times to learn about the series of events, and even in the end, the movie poses a lot of questions to the viewers for which the answers have to be assumed, based on our own discretion.

‘Ōdishon’ is a Japanese film which got released in 1999 and is directed by Takashi Miike. Just like ‘Seom’ directed by Kim Ki Duk, this movie too had a series of walk-outs, and the viewers were left puking or fainting. Many viewers have registered their opposition about the movie, stating that it has violence which can never be imagined. But, to be frank, I didn’t feel any sort of disturbance at all, and I was engrossed completely in the film. But, I am giving this warning for the people who can’t take seeing blood or flesh.

In my opinion, this is a different movie. We can derive a lot of inferences after seeing it. I don’t want to give any more details about the film, as it will break the suspense. I will advice the viewers to watch it and to have their own deductions.

There are a lot of unsaid stories about the characters in this film which are shown to us in just a single shot – less than a second – and from then on, things are just not the same. Due to these unsaid stories, the film is all the more interesting.

See the trailer here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Don't go to Usmaan Bhai ! Ignore him !

So many incidents have happened in the past one month, and they all have made my time buzy, and as a result, I have not got any time to update my blog. I will update it soon, and hence kindly bear with the delay.

Now, I'm composing this post to tell the readers about a fraud named Usmaan Bhai. I have written about meeting him in Tiruvannamalai in this post earlier. It has turned out that this guy demands huge money from the people he meets up with. The medicine he gives to people is powerful and real, but then he demands lots of money from the people who go to him. Hence, my sincere advice is to ignore t his guy. Don't go to this guy henceforth, and just forget that such a guy existed. I am not going to remove the post which I have written about him, and it will serve as a costly error in judgement whenever I think about making such stupid moves in the future.

Read about the entire episodes in Charu Nivedita’s website in the below given links. You can also read my letter to Charu about the Usmaan Bhai episode.

See you people with a new post soon. Until then, njoy and hv a blast !

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

World Movie Series - 27 - Che part 1: The Argentine

Ernesto Guevara. A name which is otherwise known as ‘Che’ to the millions of people who live with the fire of revolution in t heir hearts. A very important personality of the twentieth century. A name which can never be erased from the history of the world’s revolutions. A godly figure to the Cubans worldwide. A devil to the American citizens.

We see these days many people wearing T shirts which carry the image of Che. But I wonder how many of them know the role he played to liberate Cuba from a dictator named Batista (Nope. Not the one who features in WWE’s wrestling shows, but a real dictator) and the charisma he had among the Cuban people who considered him as a liberator and the role he later played towards the Bolivian revolution (which, of course failed). I’ll advice these people to try seeing the movie ‘Che’ first.

Well, before we review the film, let’s take a look at the details of how the movie was made. Talented actor Benicio Del Toro bought the movie rights of Jon Lee Anderson's 1997 biography Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. But, while he and producer Laura Bickford were trying to get a suitable writer for the movie, the rights expired in two years. But, Benicio Del Toro had begun researching the role, while they were searching for a writer. He did his research for seven long years, in which he read every possible book on Che Guevara, met most of the people who were associated with his life (including Fidel Castro), touring all over Cuba to see the places where Che lived and studying Che’s body language and mannerisms. After a certain period of time, when Del Toro felt he is ready to carry the role of Che on his shoulders, asked Terrence Malick to pen the script, as he had been to Bolivia as a journalist during 1966. But, due to shortage in funds, Malick moved out. It was then decided to ask Steven Soderbergh to direct the film, and to ask Peter Buchman to pen the screenplay, due to Buchman’s interest in researching historical personalities. Thus, the movie began to take shape.

Initially, the decision was to film a movie on Che’s unsuccessful attempts to thwart the government of Bolivia, but then the stakeholders realized that there was no reason or a context which made Che to go to Bolivia, and so, they decided it would be better if the movie talks about the Cuban revolution first and then Che’s decision to go to Bolivia. But, after finishing the script, it was so huge that Del Toro and Soderbergh decided to cut the script in to two parts. The first part must be about the Cuban revolution and the second part about Che’s days in Bolivia.

This is how the movie was made.

The First part is titled as ‘Che – The Argentine’. The film begins with an interview of Che by a female reporter, Lisa Howard, after the Cuban revolution, and through the interview, the flashback of the Cuban revolution is shown in intercuts. The scenes of how Che and Castro meet for the first ever time, how Che joined Castro’s ‘July 26th’ movement, how they travel to Cuba in a boat, how the revolution started, how they gradually started to launch guerilla attacks on the Cuban army, how they successfully attacked the Cuban army barracks, how they were able to move in to the city of Las Villas, the battle of Santa Clara and how the dictator Batista finally fled out of Cuba, there by ending the Cuban revolution, and how Fidel Castro became the Cuban Prime Minister. We also get to see the fierce speech Che delivered in the UN during 1964 and his American visit.
The revolution is shown in rich color, where as Che’s post revolution scenes are shown in black and white, giving the movie a documentary feel.

Although the movie can be summarized in a small paragraph, the realistic scenes add an advantage to the film. The transformation of a young Argentinean doctor in to a fierce revolutionist is excellently portrayed in the film. Although the film starts with the meeting of a young Che with Castro, it has to be taken in to consideration that it was Che Guevara’s Latin American motorcycle journey for six long months which changed his entire attitude and made him in to a revolutionist. Read the review of the movie ‘The motorcycle diaries’ here.

After joining the army of Castro, soon Che gets promoted to the role of a Comandante. He served in the July 26th movement as an inspirational leader throughout the revolution. In the movie, we see Che’s various traits, from being a very compassionate doctor and an inspirational leader, to being a ruthless executor of traitors, a masterful Comandante, a political leader and an author, a disciplined military officer who doesn’t want his troops to travel in stolen cars and instead prefers them to walk all the way to the country.

The movie ends with the battle of Santa Clara and how Fidel Castro became the Prime Minister of Cuba.

The movie was made in spanish and released in the year 2008 in May at the Cannes film festival and Benicio del Toro won the best actor award fro his brilliant performance.

The second part of the movie is called ‘Che – the Guerilla’ which is entirely about Che’s Bolivian struggle which will be posted in a day or two in this blog.

See the trailer here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Thiruvannamalai & Usmaan Bhai . . .

It all started when I suddenly decided about going to Thiruvannamalai, a sacred place for the Hindus and the worshippers of Lord Shiva. I have never been there so far, and all of a sudden, during a telephonic conversation with my girlfriend, while answering to her question about going somewhere to relax, I said ‘I’ll go to Thiruvannamalai’. I didn’t know what prompted me to say so, and so it all started when I suddenly decided about going to Thiruvannamalai.

I started from Chennai on Saturday night around 8:30 PM, and reached the place at Sunday early morning around 3:30 AM. Throughout the journey, it was irritating to the core by the idiotic movie clips shown with full sound, and to my surprise, the people found it very interesting, and on top of it, they were sleeping peacefully in spite of the deafening sound! I thought of telling the driver about the sound, which I usually do, but this time, decided against it, as there were a lot of people sitting on the floor and it’s impossible to cross all of them from my last seat. I thought, ‘Okay. This is a nice beginning’.

But, while nearing Thiruvannamalai, all the irritation slowly disappeared, and I became a sort of curious. I dunno why, but I also felt in peace. Got down the bus around 3:30 AM, and started walking towards the mountain. There were no one on the road, and it was very windy. While walking towards the temple, I saw some beautiful illustrations of Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri YogiramsurathKumar (Visiri Swami) on the wall towards my left.

After a while, reached the temple, and the gopuram was magnanimous. It was then I thought about a very young Venkataraman, reaching the temple and prostrating before the lord, saying ‘O father! I have reached you’ and immediately attained the holy state of Samadhi, and began showering millions of people with his grace, Sri Ramana maharshi. I slowly walked around the temple, and reached the other side.

While walking, in a particular spot along the road, I saw a name board called ‘Sri Sai mess’. I immediately decided to begin my journey around the mountain from there, and after switching on Sri Rudhram in my mobile, started my journey.

The total distance to be covered is 14 Kilo Meters. It is said that one has to walk all the fourteen kilometers, barefooted, to complete the mountain pradhakshana. It was a wonderful experience, hearing the manthras from Sri Rudhram and to walk in utter silence on the deserted road, thinking about the holy mountain and the temple and the various sages and great souls who had lived there.

Along the route, there are temples of the astha lingas - the eight lingas, and while crossing them, I offered my salutations. A young saint was also walking along with me, on the other side of the road, and throughout most of the journey, he was walking just ahead of me. Even in the darkest parts of the journey, he was there walking just ahead, non stop, and by keeping an eye on him, I was able to walk freely. He stopped near a temple, near the end, and stayed there.

I began my walk at 4:15 AM and completed it at 7 AM. I entered the temple. It was huge, to say the least. I saw the temple elephant, and there were a few monkeys as well. The following is taken from the authentic temple history, which is called Arunachala Purana.

‘'All stones in that place [Arunachala] are lingams. It is indeed the Abode of
Lord Siva. All trees are the wish-granting trees of Indra's heaven. Its rippling
waters are the Ganges, flowing through our Lord's matted locks. The food eaten
there is the ambrosia of the Gods. When men move about in that place it is the
earth performing pradakshina around it. Words spoken there are holy scripture,
and to fall asleep there is to be absorbed in samadhi, beyond the mind's
delusion. Could there be any other place which is its equal? “

I went straight to the temple of the main deity there, Sri Arunachaleswara (Lord Shiva), and to my surprise, I saw the lingam as it is, without any ornaments or garlands. The Lingam appeared very old, with a lot of cuts on the surface, and it was a bit smaller in size too. The darshan lasted for about ten seconds, when the priest pulled my hand and asked me to leave. It was a wonderful darshan.

After getting the darshan of Shiva, I went and visited all the remaining gods and goddesses, and then with a satisfaction, came out of the temple.

I had to meet one another person there. I called and confirmed his presence, and off I went to a small village called ‘Manaloorppettai’ which is about 30 kilo meters from Thiruvannamalai to meet the person, named ‘Usmaan Bhai’.

I went to his home, and he greeted me in. When we sat, he started to talk about the mountain, and the god, and general philosophy of Hinduism. He then spoke about Ramalinga Adigalar, who is popularly called as ‘Vallalar’, whom this man is a staunch devotee.

Usmaan Bhai casually asked me to bring a small amount of sand, from outside. When I brought him the sand, he picked some of it in his fingers, and keeping it between his forefinger and thumb, asked me my mother’s name. Then, he offered his closed fist to me, and when it opened, there was a Rudraksha! The sand had disappeared !

He again did this, and it was a lemon this time. He asked me to wear the Rudraksha and keep the lemon in my home. Guessing the kind of respect in my mind towards him, he suddenly dismissed these miracles as frauds, and started to engage me in casual conversation.

Yes. This man is called ‘Usmaan Bhai’ and is a famous siddha. He can bring anything from his hand, and is a very famous doctor too. He specializes in giving medicine to people who don’t have children, and it works for them all the time. He also cures people of various disorders by giving ayurvedha medicines. Overall, he has many supernatural powers, but is a very humble, down to earth person.

After spending nearly 2 hours with the great man, I bid my farewell. He insisted on coming with me to the bus stand, in spite of my protests, and took me to one temple also. After me getting in to the bus, he left for his home.

For further details about Usmaan Bhai, read the following link, by Charu Nivedita.

It is true that Usmaan Bhai can cure any illness. But, above everything, he successfully cultivates the thoughts about the all pervading lord in to our minds, and turns it towards the lord. A great soul indeed!

My eventful Thiruvannamalai trip concluded with meeting the powerful Siddha. This is the first ever time I went to the holy mountain, and it was indeed a great experience.

PS:- The image courtesy –

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 7 - The Last Lear

Watching movies is a really good experience. It might give you new ideas, might totally change your mood and might leave you refreshed. I write mostly about foreign movies, and I have seldom written about Indian films. There are a few Indian directors who match and who sometimes exceed the best of the world’s finest directors. One such director is Rituparno Ghosh. Now, I first saw Ghosh in his ‘Raincoat’, starring Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai. It touched my heart and it still is one of the best movies I have ever seen, in any language. Inspired by an O Henry story, it’s a beautiful romantic tale. From then on, I knew this is a director who can make marks with his quality movies, in the world cinema.

‘The Last Lear’ too, didn’t disappoint me. Nicely filmed, it’s a trade mark Rituparno Ghosh movie. It stars Amitabh Bachchan in a very different kinda role. It has Preity Zinta and Arjun Rampal, again in two offbeat, different roles. I want to see such kind of movies to be taken more frequently in India.

The movie begins when we learn from the leading actors that there is going to be a premiere of a new movie of director Siddharth. The leading lady Shabnam is getting ready to visit someone, and she tells her husband she is not going to the premiere. Her husband always suspects that she is seeing someone, and tortures her and sprays her perfume all over her face. She runs out, and goes to a house.

Back at the premiere, director Siddharth is seeing the movie all alone, to check about the scenes and the shots. He finishes watching it when press people want his interview outside the theatre. Strangely, he stays aloof from all the celebration of the premiere. His friend Gowtham comes in to the scene, and through Gowtham, we start to learn about what happened during the movie shoot, in a flashback.

Harish ‘Harry’ Mishra a greatly talented thespian, has refrained himself from acting for a few years. He stays in his home all the time. Once Gowtham, a reporter, goes to interview Harish and is driven out of the home when he doesn’t know the names of the characters in ‘A midsummer night’s dream’, a play by Shakespeare. Harish is a specialist in Shakespearian plays, and has a deep respect towards the celebrated playwright.

Through Gowtham, Siddharth comes to know about Harish, and he decides Harish will be perfect for the leading role in his new movie. So, he goes to Harish’s home and gradually becomes a friend of Harish, since he too is a Shakespeare fanatic. Slowly, Siddharth makes Harish to accept the offer.

What is happening to Shabnam is also shown in intercuts. She has gone to Harish’s home, to see him. Harish is paralyzed and is lying in the bed, without any consciousness. We learn that something has happened in the film shoot which resulted in Harish’s present condition. We meet a lady named Vandana who looks after Harish, and the nurse. The nurse is anxiously waiting for her boyfriend finally to pick her up, so that they can start a new living. She complains to Vandana and Shabnam though, that he at times tortures her by asking stupid questions like where is she, what is she doing in the night etc.. Shabnam too says she has the same treatment from her husband.

Back in the flashback, the film shoot is happening in an outdoor hill station, and due to the harsh treatment from her husband, Preity is gloomy, sitting alone, memorizing the dialogues in a mechanical way, when Harish sees her. He comes to her, talks to her to bring out her emotions, as she can act well only if she is able to bring them out. If she is sad, it will affect the takes and hence, she must get rid of the sadness. He convinces Shabnam and she finally cries out aloud, bringing all her emotions out. From that day, they both become good friends. Harish teaches Shabnam some great dialogues from Shakespeare’s plays.

The film is nearing the climax, and Siddharth is planning to shoot the climax. One night, when Siddharth and Harish are enjoying a drink, Siddharth tells Harish that he has a dupe planned for the climax, and this makes Harish sad, as he says he has never used a dupe in his plays so far and he wants to act in the climax himself. The climax has been written in such a way that the leading actor jumps from a hill top, and hence Siddharth says it might be dangerous for Harry to act in it, but Harry falls in Siddharth’s feet, begging him to grant him the opportunity of completing the climax. Finally, a reluctant Siddharth agrees.

The day arrives. Everything is set for the climax. The climax is shot, and Harry jumps off the cliff. Siddharth notices Harry holding the branches below the cliff, for balance and because of this, the shot has not come well. So, he grabs the mike and orders for a re-take. Being a perfectionist himself, his mind is thinking only about how to film the shoot, and hence he secretly orders people to cut the branches. When no one comes forward, he cuts them himself, and when Harry jumps from the cliff during the re-take, he falls down and breaks his spinal chord and falls unconscious.

Shabnam goes in to Harry’s room, and sees an unconscious Harry. Vandana tells her that Harry stopped acting in plays, since people were commenting about their relationship. They are not married, and are living together. Now, Shabnam slowly starts reading passages from Shakespeare and slowly Harry opens his eyes. He too starts uttering the dialogues, as the movie ends.

Amitabh Bachchan has rendered an excellent performance as Harish ‘Harry’ Mishra. The respect he has towards his plays and his funny comments towards films portray his character well. He has a deep yearning towards playing as King Lear, his most favorite role, and while he was about to play the character, he stopped acting in the plays, Vandana tells Shabnam. The way Siddharth convinces Harry to act in the movies is a touchy, yet enjoyable part of the film.

Amitabh Bachchan has lived the role of Harry, and I would easily say this is one of his greatest performances, if not the best.

Another masterpiece from Rituparno Ghosh, The Last Lear is a very realistic film which introduces us the eccentric as well as the passionate Harry, as the tagline says.

See the trailer here.

World Movie Series - 26 - 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

How far would you go for a friend?

This is the tagline for the movie ‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ (4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile), a Romanian movie. Set in the days of 1987 in Romania, the movie talks about a day in the lives of two friends, Otilia & Gabriela. They both are roommates in a dormitory of the college they are studying. The movie begins when they both are packing for what looks like a trip. But that thought gets changed when Gabriela comments to Otilia that she packs like they are going for a picnic. Otilia gives her a dry look and buys soap and cigars from the other students in the dorm. Gabriela asks Otilia can she bring her exam notes to study, and Otilia says yes.

Otilia goes out to meet her boyfriend Adi. She asks him about the money and Adi hands over her the money she asked for. Adi invites her to visit his home that evening as it’s his mom’s birthday. He also asks her to get some flowers. Otilia says she can’t come that evening as she has some important work. Adi starts persuading her and finally she gives in.

Otilia then goes to a hotel to confirm a room which was booked by Gabriela the previous day through phone, but the receptionist argues to her that it was not confirmed and no body called the previous day to book the room. Otilia pleads the receptionist that she desperately needs the room, but the cold receptionist denies it and asks her to leave.

Otilia goes to another hotel to book a room, and from the receptionist, she learns that a double room is available. She books it, asks Gabriela to occupy the room and she goes to meet a man named Bebe. When meeting Bebe, he enquires Otilia about where is Gabriela and she tells that Gabriela is sick. Bebe tells her that it is a part of the agreement that Gabriela has to meet him and not Otilia, and after knowing that the room has been booked in a cheaper hotel than the originally planned one, Bebe gets angry. He tells Otilia that he is totally unhappy on them for breaking the rules.

He then visits the hotel. At the reception, he has to hand over his id. While in the room, he explains to both the girls that he has risked his life by giving the id in the reception and that if caught, can get years of imprisonment. Only then, it becomes evident that he has come to do an abortion for Gabriela.

He enquires Gabriela about the pregnancy and gets to know that she is on her fourth month, as opposed to what she initially told to him in phone that she is only 2 months with her pregnancy. This infuriates Bebe further more. When the girls offer him 3000 lei (Romanian currency), he says he didn’t talk about the money initially. Also, Gabriela had lied initially to Bebe that Otilia is her sister, but he learns that they both are just roommates. He makes it clear to the girls that he wants to have sex with both of them before he aborts the baby.

Otilia reluctantly agrees, as there is no other way. Bebe has sex with both the girls, and then he performs the abortion by using a probe, pouring something like a fluid in to her vagina. He tells her not to move, and when the fetus comes out, he asks her to dispose it, and leaves.

Otilia and Gabriela are left alone. After a few minutes soaked with the pressure of intolerable silence, Otilia tells Gabriela that it’s a foolish move to have hired Bebe and instead, they would have gone to the other lady suggested by one of her friends. Gabriela says they chose Bebe only because he was cheap, and it was Otilia who decided on it. Otilia retorts back that she didn’t chose Bebe and she only suggested going to the cheaper option. She then says nothing can be undone now, since things have happened in this way.

After a while, she gets ready to visit her boyfriend’s home for his mother’s birthday. She gets a tram and reaches his home a bit late. She is totally torn in to pieces inside, but attends the party for the sake of her boyfriend. In the party, both Adi’s parents and their friends keep on blabbering about the society and their old days and how Adi likes potatoes and boring things. Otilia remains silent throughout. One of the guests gives a lecture on family values when Otilia asks for a cigar, and how girls should remain as girls by not smoking with the elderly people in their family. Finally, when the party ends, both Otilia and Adi go to Adi’s room, and they start talking about the reason she arrived late. Otilia tells Adi that she was helping Gabriela for the abortion, and Adi seems disturbed. He says he is against abortions, and adds later that it was only because it’s dangerous. Otilia starts arguing with Adi about what will happen if Otilia gets pregnant since last week he blew up inside her as against to her repeated warnings. Adi tells, if she becomes pregnant, he will marry her. This infuriates Otilia further. She becomes totally irritated, as she can’t just digest everything that has happened to her since that morning. She decides to leave when Gabriela doesn’t answer her call, and in spite of Adi’s protests that she needs to talk to her parents before leaving, Otilia leaves the home.

Otilia reaches the room, and learns that Bebe has left his id in the reception. Back at the room, Gabriela tells Otilia that the fetus has come out, and it is in the bathroom. Otilia goes in to the bathroom and finds the dead fetus on the floor. She wraps the fetus with towels and goes out to dispose it. Gabriela pleads her to bury the baby, and she leaves. She moves here and there with the fetus in hand, and finally, goes to the top of a building and drops the fetus in to a trash tube.

She then returns to the hotel. She finds Gabriela in the dining hall, as she is famished. Otilia tells to Gabriela that they both have to forget about the whole incident, and they are never to talk about it in their lives again. Gabriela doesn’t answer, and after a few minutes of silence, Otilia drinks some water. The movie ends.

‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ is a striking film about the modern day youth and the difference between the society of the youth and that of the elderly people. Through the discussion happening at the dining table in Adi’s mom’s birthday party, we learn that the elderly people are still in the mirage of ‘family values’ when there is nothing like that in reality, and the youth are more concerned on living their day today life, instead of worrying about morality and ‘family values’. Also, we get to know about the relationship between Adi and Otilia. It gets sour day by day, as Otilia snorts to Adi that she is not ready to prepare potatoes to Ad all through her life. Otilia is a more practical person than Adi who is more like a person who believes in his family and all the old values his parents suggest.

The relationship between Otilia and Gabriela is another important thing in the movie. Although Otilia doesn’t like all the lies of Gabriela to Bebe, she stills feels that she must support her roommate by all means, and as a result, loses herself to Bebe because of his demands. She tries to be a bold person throughout, and fights with her boyfriend for the sake of her friend.

‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ was released in the year 2007 and won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes film festival in the same year. It also won many international awards, and was received well by the critics and the Romanian people. It was directed by Cristian Mungiu.

Overall, the movie raises a lot of questions in our mind. When I bought the DVD, the owner of the DVD shop said to me that if he has the powers, he will make every college in the country to screen the movie. To me, I think there is no meaning to rules if they don’t support and help he people, and there is no use in opposing something when it is inherent in the society around us. Instead, it will be good if critical issues like abortions are looked upon with a kind heart, rather than an iron fist.

Watch the trailer here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 6 - As good as it gets

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The fourth most common psychotic disorders in the world. When someone suffers with OCD (as it is called), they are doing certain things repetitively, in order to drain out the stress they have developed in their minds. By doing something repetitively, the stress, they believe, slowly disappears. They will not be able to do things the way a normal man or woman does.

Okay. Fullstop. This is not an essay on OCD, but before writing the review, thought the first paragraph will be useful to proceed further.

Now, Jack Nicholson. One of the extremely talented actors Hollywood has ever produced. When I think about Nicholson, the thought of Clint Eastwood comes naturally to my mind. What Eastwood does behind the camera, Nicholson does it in front of the camera. Movies like Chinatown, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining, Batman, The Departed are a few of his masterful flicks which showcase his uncanny acting prowess. To me, he is the kind of actor who can portray any emotion effortlessly, while acting.

When Jack Nicholson plays an OCD patient, there’s naturally a lot to enjoy. In this movie, Melvin Udall is a writer, who has published more than 60 books. He lives alone in his apartment, having regularized his life based on his OCD. He is systematic to certain traits like washing his hands many times, locking his door five times, walking on the road in a particular pattern, eating out in a particular restaurant wanting the service of a particular waitress etc.. He doesn’t want to be disturbed at all, and when disturbed, his magnanimous egoistic attitude is unleashed on the person who disturbed him, resulting in a flurry of utterly insulting abuses which makes the world to think that Melvin is a total loser.

Deep inside, Melvin is like a child. He cares for affection, but has his ego blocking his way when he wants to let out his affection. As a result, he neither receives affection nor is able to bring it out from his heart.

His lonely life is disturbed when he needs to take good care of his neighbor’s dog which he threw down the garbage line once. His neighbor is a painter, who gets severely attacked when he gets robbed. As a result, the painter’s manager, who once was abused by Melvin, forces him to take care of the dog which Melvin totally dislikes, but can’t do anything, since the manager threatens to attack Melvin if he says no. As a result, the dog gets to live in Melvin’s house for a few weeks, and slowly Melvin begins to love the dog.

Meanwhile, Carol, the waitress whom Melvin always prefers when he dines out in a particular restaurant, takes a days leave as her son Spence is suffering from acute asthma. This pisses Melvin off, as he doesn’t want to be served by anyone else. So, Melvin arranges for a checkup to Carol’s son, which Carol considers as the greatest help she has ever received from anyone. Although she doesn’t like Melvin coz of his attitude, she accepts the help, out of her love towards her son. Melvin slowly gets attracted towards Carol, but as usual, his ego steps in, totally blocking him to mention to Carol that he likes her. He continues to act arrogantly.

Melvin’s neighbor, the painter, comes home from the hospital and wants the dog back. Melvin doesn’t want to part ways with the dog, but pretends as if he doesn’t love the dog and gives it to the painter. The painter, because of his injuries and his broken hand, is not able to continue painting, and he becomes broke, as his apartment is up for sale to meet his medical expenses. He decides to borrow money from his parents, whom he has not spoken to, for many years. The painter’s manager comes to Melvin and entrusts the job of driving the painter to his hometown in his convertible, as he is busy with some work, and Melvin agrees, as Carol, the waitress, says she would love to go on a trip in a convertible. Melvin invites Carol and she reluctantly agrees for the t rip.

While in the trip, Carol and the painter develop a friendship and this annoys Melvin. Melvin thinks they both love each other, and the series of events in the hometown of the painter, add fuel to Melvin’s attitude and ego. He insults carol with his verbal attack and she decides not to talk to Melvin anymore. The painter, after seeing Carol while she is about to take bath, gets impressed by her beauty and starts to paint again, and they all return home without asking money from the painter’s parents.

Back home, the painter comes to live with Melvin for a few days as his apartment is up for sale, and he makes Melvin to understand and realize about his love towards Carol. Carol calls Melvin to express her apology for being so indifferent to Melvin, and the painter convinces Melvin to run to Carol’s home. Melvin, for the first time in his life, listens to a person, and decides to run to Carol’s home.
He reaches Carol’s home and invites her to the coffee shop at the corner of the road, the time being 4 AM! Carol comes with him, and while walking on the deserted toad, Melvin says he needs to compliment Carol. In spite of Carol’s resistance, he says the following dialogue:

‘I might be the only person on the face of the earth that knows you're the
greatest woman on earth. I might be the only one who appreciates how amazing you
are in every single thing that you do, and how you are with Spencer, "Spence,"
and in every single thought that you have, and how you say what you mean, and
how you almost always mean something that's all about being straight and good. I
think most people miss that about you, and I watch them, wondering how they can
watch you bring their food, and clear their tables and never get that they just
met the greatest woman alive. And the fact that I get it makes me feel good,
about me’

Carol gets dumbfounded, as she understands the love Melvin has towards her. They both walk in to the coffee shop, as we see Melvin walking casually, without following all the OCD patterns he usually does while walking. The movie slowly fades out.

Throughout the movie, Nicholson brings out his best. All the face twitches and expressions he displays during the various scenes where he has to react to people, who think him as a sucker, are just great. He has lived like an OCD patient. We clearly are able to understand what a loner he is, and how he yearns for love and affection. That is the success of his acting.

Helen Hunt as Carol, has acted very naturally. The scene where she cries to her mother that she too has emotions towards her own life, where she is unable to get even a date, due to the problems of her son, and how desperate she is when she looks out at people and their families, is one of the best scenes of the movie.

I heard from a friend of mine that last week, in one of the biggest hospitals in Coimbatore, this movie was screened for the patients, to ascertain that love can change lives. Affection and love towards fellow people can change even the toughest of fates, and that is what is expressed throughout the movie.

The movie garnered two Oscars for Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in 1998.

One of the great films which talk about love and affection, watch ‘As good as it gets’ and feel the ability of one of the best actors of our times.

See the trailer here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 5 - Eyes Wide Shut

Bill kept walking.

He was walking hurriedly, but without any immediate destination or target to reach. He just wanted to walk. He didn’t care about the cold night. All around him, the streets were buzzing, with people trying to make their Christmas purchases. Bill’s mind was numb, and his brain was repeatedly flashing the thought of Alice making love with the Naval officer she was referring in an estranged conversation with Bill, early that night. He can’t get the images away from his brain, as the effect of the marijuana he took still made his mind to think deeply about Alice.

Bill kept walking.

A day before…

Bill and Alice were attending the party of Victor Ziegler, a very rich friend, and a patient of Bill. Alice gets drunk in the party, while Bill meets two models. While Bill talks to the models, a stranger approaches Alice, and invites her to dance with him. She dances, and the stranger gradually tries to take her upstairs to seduce her. Alice is able to deny the offer, out of her love towards her husband, and Bill is able to deny the offer from the models, coz of his love towards Alice. Bill is summoned by Ziegler as a girl gets overdosed with heroine and cocaine. Bill treats the girl, and after she gains consciousness, promises to Ziegler that his lips are sealed.

Bill also meets an old college friend of him, Nick Nightingale, who dropped out from the medical school and now a pianist. Nick invites Bill to the bar where he’ll be playing for the next two weeks, and leaves.

Back home, the next night, while Bill and Alice smoke Marijuana, Alice questions Bill about the two models in the party, and Bill in turn questions Alice about the stranger she was dancing with. Alice slowly reveals about a naval officer she met the previous year during a vacation, and how she yearned for him. She says she was ready to spend a night with him, leaving Bill and their daughter. But, out of her love towards Bill and their daughter, she was able to resist the temptation.

Bill becomes frustrated by her open statement, and he gets a call that one of his patients has died. While going to the dead patient’s home, Bill meets the dead man’s daughter, who tries to kiss Bill, revealing her love towards the handsome doctor. Bill leaves the place and he starts to walk in the streets of New York.

Bill meets a girl called Domino, who’s a prostitute, and goes to her home. While kissing the girl, Bill gets a call from Alice and this makes Bill to come out of Domino’s home. Bill pays her, though.

Bill then goes to the bar where Nick Nightingale plays, and while talking with Nick, Nick gets a call. He hurriedly scribbles ‘Fidelio’ in a paper, and tries to leave. Bill persuades Nick to tell him about the word and learns that there is going to be a secret gathering, the password for the entrance being ‘Fidelio’. Bill becomes curious to attend it. Nick tells Bill he can only attend it if he wears a long cloak with a mask, as the identities of the people attending the gathering will not be revealed.

Bill goes to a costume shop of his friend, and learns that his friend has shifted, and meets the new owner. He rents a cloak and a mask, the prerequisites for the meeting.

Bill rents a taxi and goes to the meeting. When he moves in, he learns that it is a huge mass which practices a sexual ritual, where humans enact gods and have sex with females. Everyone is masked inside the house. There are many females in the center of the room, performing the ritual, seated in a circle, and one by one, they are released from the circle, and they pick men from the gathering. One girl approaches Bill and warns him that he is in great danger and he must leave immediately.

While walking inside the house, Bill notices masked people making love in all poses and in all the places inside. Suddenly, he is approached by a masked waiter, and is summoned to the center of the hall. A man in a red cloak questions Bill about the second password to attend the ritual, and Bill replies he has forgotten it. As a result, Bill is ordered to remove his mask. He is further ordered to remove his cloths, when the girl appears and tells that she is ready to accept whatever they are doing to Bill, and Bill must be freed.

As a result, Bill is freed with a warning that if he reveals anyone about the ritual, his entire family will be wiped out. Bill returns home.

The next day, Bill goes to the same house in the morning, and is handed over a letter by someone inside the house. It states that Bill must discontinue all his attempts to find out the secret of the house. Bill returns to meet Nick to know all the secrets, but learns that Nick has checked out very early in the morning. Bill goes to Domino’s apartment again, and learns from Domino’s friend that Domino was declared HIV positive that morning from a blood test. While Bill walks away, he identifies a man following him. While trying to hide, Bill reads a newspaper which states that an ex-beauty queen has died coz of drug overdose, which warns Bill. He goes to the hospital mortuary, and identifies the model as the girl who saved him the previous night, and it was the same girl Bill helped earlier in Ziegler’s party.

Confused, Bill returns from the hospital and is summoned to Ziegler’s home.

What happened to Bill? Did he learn the secrets behind the masked ritual? Why did the girl die? What happened to Bill’s wife Alice?

Try to see the movie and find the answers.

‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is the last film of Stanley Kubrick. He died just after four days of presenting the director’s cut of the movie to Warner bros... Throughout the movie, we can easily take note of Kubrick’s mastermind – the way he has placed the shots and the way he has made the actors to ‘act’ – a point noted here is that the movie took more than 400 days to shoot – That is the mastery of Kubrick, where he creates the movie shot by shot, scene by scene.

The way Tom Cruise’s character has been portrayed - a handsome doctor with a huge female following – reminded me of ‘Parthale Paravasam’, a film by ‘Iyakkunar Imayam’ Balachander where he portrayed madhavan’s character exactly similar to that of Tom Cruise. But that‘s expected from KB. Take a look at ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’ – a masterpiece by Ritwik Ghatak and you will absolutely be astounded to see the similarities it holds from ‘Aval Oru Thodargadhai’ by KB.

Sydney Pollack has acted as Ziegler. Nicole Kidman as Alice. The movie holds some fantastic scenes like that of how Bill torments himself by imagining about the love making of the naval officer and his wife and the magnanimous mystic ritual in the middle of the movie – the ritual has an excellent music score which chills the spine, with an eerie sensation.

Two incidents are linked with perfection in the movie. When Bill returns home from the ritual, he finds Alice laughing in her sleep, and Alice tells him she dreamt about standing naked among hundreds of people, who make love within themselves, and after making love to the naval officer, she makes love with many more in her dream. Just hours before, Bill had attended such a ritual in person – he was among the people who were making love with each other. These two layers are linked in the mind of the viewer, through the mastery of Kubrick. He leaves the judgment to the viewer.

To me, it was a great ride of emotions throughout the movie, and I liked it a lot. It has certain allegorical representations as well, but overall, a satisfying experience.

See the trailer here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 4 - Dances with Wolves

I am a fan of Kevin Costner for a long time. Amazingly, the movie I saw to become his fan was not a critically acclaimed one, like ‘The Untouchables’ or ‘The Bodyguard’ or ‘Waterworld’ or ‘Wyatt Earp’ or ‘Open range’ or JFK’ or many more, but a cheesy action flick named ‘3000 Miles to Graceland’. I saw it after a year of its release (2002) and immediately became a fan of this talented actor. The character he plays (Murphy) in the film is a memorable one to me, and I still remember how angry Murphy will be when one mentions any jokes about Elvis Presley in the film. He holds a ‘connection’ to Presley in the movie.

Well, this post is about ‘Dances with Wolves’ and not ‘3000 miles to Graceland’. Hence, we will see about the masterpiece movie which he has directed.

‘Dances with Wolves’ is originally a screenplay written by Michael Blake. In the book ‘Four screenplays’ by Syd Field, Syd writes about the film in detail. He explains about how the screenplay was written and how Costner kept supporting Blake while he finished it, and how Costner decided to make the film and asked Blake in turn to write the novel. Costner supported Blake coz it was Blake’s novel, named ‘Stacy’s Knights’ which was made in to a film, and it starred a young Costner, in the early years of his movie career.

Blake finished the novel after much struggle, and when it was published, it attracted a very limited audience. Then, Costner started to film the screenplay. It was the year 1990 when ‘Dances with Wolves’ was released. Costner made his directorial début. The film won 7 Oscars including the best director Oscar for Costner. Considered to be one of the epics on the Sioux tribes of the Red Indians.

The movie begins at a hospital. It’s the period of the American Civil war. We see Lieutenant John .J. Dunbar. His leg has to be amputated, since it’s badly injured. But, Dunbar looks at the other soldiers wriggling in pain after their amputation, and he runs out, steals a horse and heads straight to the field where the gun battle is on, trying to commit suicide by getting trapped among the gunshots.

Seeing Dunbar fearlessly heading towards the enemies, the union troops are rejuvenated, and they start attacking the confederates, ultimately winning the battle. Dunbar is awarded the horse and is named as a hero. He is then offered the choice of his favorite posting, by the union General.

Dunbar asks to be posted at the western frontier. The reason – he wants to visit and feel the frontier which will lose its nativity – the army is planning to launch an attack on the Indians. He goes to a Fort – Fort Hays – to report to the major about his posting, and the drunk major shoots himself after assigning orders to Dunbar. Dunbar leaves the fort with a wagon driver named Timmons, carrying fresh supplies of food and ammunitions to his assigned post. He has to report to one Captain Cargill at Fort Sedgwick which is in the western frontier.

Dunbar finds the Fort Sedgwick deserted. He asks Timmons to leave and starts to set up his own camp. He sees a wolf which he names as ‘Two Socks’, because of the color of its legs. Timmons gets caught and scalped to death by the Pawnee Indians in the frontier, and Dunbar, unaware of the impending danger, starts to explore his surroundings. Once, while bathing in a nearby pool, Dunbar sees a Sioux Indian – the leader of the Sioux tribe named Kicking Bird approach his camp. After seeing Dunbar running towards him from the pool naked, the Indian is frightened and runs away. Dunbar immediately prepares the camp to face the battle – he sets up guns and prepares hideouts.

The Indians try to steal Dunbar’s horse but in vein. After seeing all these ‘not so rosy’ incidents, Dunbar decides to visit the Sioux village to improve relationships. While Dunbar nears the village, he encounters ‘Stands with a fist’, an English girl who’s been brought up in the village by Kicking Bird and his wife. She tries to cut her hands and legs in order to follow a traditional custom of mourning for her dead husband, but faints since she has lost blood. Dunbar brings her to the village. The villagers are frightened by his arrival, and Dunbar leaves.

The leaders of the village hold a meeting to discuss about Dunbar and decide that he must be observed. The next day, Kicking Bird goes to Dunbar’s camp, and Dunbar greets the convoy with coffee. Eventually both the parties become friends, but there is one thing which stands as a barricade – the language barrier. Since ‘Stands with a fist’ was born English, Kicking Bird assigns her to translate whatever Dunbar says, and she reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile, Dunbar helps the village when he tells them about a huge herd of Buffalos. The Sioux hunt the herd along with Dunbar, and Dunbar kills many buffalos with his gun, and this act of Dunbar makes him a hero among the tribes. The minute difference of Dunbar reluctantly becoming a hero among his people in the war, and now Dunbar happily becoming a hero among the Sioux is captured well in the movie.

Dunbar becomes an inseparable part of the Sioux from then on, and he slowly learns the language too, with the help of Stands with a fist. They both fall in love gradually, and Kicking Bird gives her permission to come out of her mourning and to marry Dunbar.

While Dunbar one day plays with ‘Two Socks’, the wolf, the Sioux see this and name him as ‘Dances with Wolves’.

While the majority of men from the Sioux camp go for a war with the Pawnee Indians, Kicking Bird makes Dunbar stay in the village as a protection for the women and children. One day, while a Pawnee army comes to attack the camp, Dunbar facilitates killing the army with the help of his buried guns at his fort. While Kicking Bird returns, he learns everything, and the marriage of Dunbar with ‘Stands with a fist’ happens.

While Dunbar finally reveals to Kicking Bird that the white men will soon start coming like waves to attack and kill the tribes, Kicking Bird plans to move the village to the winter camp. Dunbar, while shifting, realizes that he has left his journal back in the camp, which contains all the information about his tryst with the Sioux. He runs to the port, and finds a battalion of white soldiers. They kill Dunbar’s horse and they torture Dunbar, asking him to tell the location of the Sioux.

While Dunbar is taken to the Fort Hayes, the Sioux attack the convoy and they rescue Dunbar. Dunbar goes to Kicking Bird, telling him that Dunbar’s presence will always attract the white men, and it will be a risk to the Indians. Reluctantly, Kicking Bird agrees to leave Dunbar behind. Dunbar and his wife ‘Stands with a fist’ leave the camp and we learn that after some years, the white men indeed arrived, and the Sioux Indians were killed. The movie ends.

“Dances with Wolves’ is a film which talks about relationships. It shows us a heartening display of how a man who wanted to die became rejuvenated while being with people he didn’t even know about. The story of John Dunbar. It won seven academy awards including best film, best director and best screenplay.

This is the highest grossing Western of all time, with a domestic take of $184 million in the US. It achieved this figure without ever reaching #1 on the box-office charts. Also, this is the first western to win a best picture Oscar after Cimarron (1931) – about 50 years between these two movies. – (thanks IMDB)

See Dances with Wolves and get a hold of the realistic display of the treatment of the native tribes of America, during the 1860s.

See the trailer here.

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