Monday, May 16, 2011

A new site

In case anyone stumbles on this page. Let me inform you that I have started a new website with my own domain. Do visit.

http://www.travellingslacker.com/

Also visit the Zimbio page I have created for promotional purposes.

http://www.zimbio.com/member/travellingslacker

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Where the Hell have I been?

My last entry in this blog was posted almost ten months ago. I know it is pathetic and almost blasphemous for any self respecting blogger to ignore his own blog for so many months. But it doesn't mean that I have not written anything of late. In fact I have published a few pieces in some other sites and so I would say that my output is still more or less the same although I have different outlets now.

Basically most of them have been published in this new movie site called cinemaaonline.com. So, let me list out some those posts here so as to let the accidental visitors know that I'm still alive even if not kicking.

http://www.cinemaaonline.com/reviews-2/the-white-ribbon

http://www.cinemaaonline.com/reviews-2/when-wuxia-met-rashomon

http://www.cinemaaonline.com/reviews-2/le-salaire-de-la-peur-the-wages-of-fear

http://www.cinemaaonline.com/reviews-2/kites_some_ponderings

http://www.cinemaaonline.com/reviews-2/predators-the-pianist-goes-six-pack

http://www.cinemaaonline.com/reviews-2/peepli-live-review

http://www.cinemaaonline.com/featured/machete-dont-beep-with-the-wrong-mexican


http://www.cinemaaonline.com/reviews-2/mary-max-melancholy-in-claymation

Apart from that I also managed to published one in the recently renovated UTV World Movies site but the process out there seems pretty slow and it takes a long time to get published there. They still have a couple of unpublished write ups with them. The published post can be seen here,

http://www.utvworldmovies.com/post/the-conformistil-conformista-1970/

What else? Of course I have seen a truckload of movies in these months as usual. Apart from that, the only thing worth mentioning is my new purchase, the Nikon D5000 and the subsequent trip to valley of flowers. Some of the pics can be seen here,

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jitaditya/

Coming to the trip, I can only say that a lot more things are now brewing because of it. I can not say anything as of now, but I sincerely believe that I will be able to come up with more interesting updates very soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar: Cameron Reincarnated?


Why do we watch films? To get entertained? To get educated? To ogle at the things we can’t catch otherwise (I don’t mean anything vulgar here)?

Yes there are many reasons for watching films and when we bash a film this is because they fail to satisfy any of those criteria. Some people would argue that entertaining movies are mindlessly targeted and criticized at times by some people just because they do not offer any cerebral fodder. But I would like to point out that this is a very misplaced notion. People like me who are too nitpicky, actually abuse mindless entertainers when they fail to entertain and not when they actually entertain. Avatar is an excellent case study in this context.

Coming back to the film, I believe no one needs to be told what it is and in fact I’m sure no one even wants to read the plot once again. Just to reiterate, the plot is nothing new. A mélange of man Vs alien conflict, a thinly veiled environmental message (which also serendipitously coincides with hope-(less)-enhagen disaster), a semi dystopian futuristic tale and a star crossed love story, the plot never comes as a surprise, nor does the climax. Even the climactic battle might offer a seen before feeling although it is bigger and better than any of its predecessors excluding LOTR.

So, unsurprisingly again, the biggest asset of the film is its visual effects. This is the mother of all CGI vehicles and the makers have left no stone unturned to deliver a unique visual experience that can make even most cynical of the jaws drop. Cameron creates a brave new world here which is supposed to be alien but seems extremely relatable in reality. With all those dense forests full of exotic animals and humanoid aliens who have also learned to speak English, we can see that the spacecrafts are merely the new age allusions to the legendary Mayflowers or Santa Marías. But this realization never dilutes the impact of the visuals. Especially astounding are the shots of the Pandora skyline where multiple planets and moons loom large over the horizon, the meticulously created luminescent forest with fluorescent flora & fauna and also the alien versions of dinosaurs and pterodactyls.

The film boasts of a very competent cast with Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Michelle Rodriguez. But I am actually concerned about attributing the performance to those actors. Because as we know, large parts of the shots are CGI generated and hence I do not even know if those expressions were real or animated! Probably the makers can take that as a compliment! The background score is also being praised by many people, but I thought the visuals overpowered it & I never really noticed it.

Nevertheless, influences are more than visible in the plotline. Dances with the wolves (Native Vs White Americans), Pathfinder (Vikings Vs Americans), Pocahontas, Fern Gully (I haven’t seen the last two) etc have been quoted as the predecessors of the film in terms of the theme. But I found a more than striking resemblance of the film to Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece Mononoke-hime (1997), visually as well as thematically. The entire talk of forests spirits, mythical creatures and men Vs nature conflict kept me reminded of that film which might not be as well known as its Hollywood counterparts. I actually wrote a piece about it sometime ago.

So, just to wind up, it is a technically immaculate film and I am not even qualified to comment on Cameron’s directorial capabilities. It does qualify as a film that is supposed to entertain and does so very successfully despite being predictable. Also, let me clarify that I added the word “reincarnated” in the tile not because Cameron is making a film after 12 years but because he gets back to his roots after more that one and a half decade. I was never a fan of Titanic except for the painting scene. In Avatar, he underplays the romance and gives us more of the action and adventure. So, watch it if that is what you are looking for and don’t go there expecting another Titanic.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Feeling Blue: A non review...

Finally skepticism gave in to curiosity & I saw it 2day...& yes the history was repeated again. I felt exactly the same way I felt after watching Dhoom 2 & Tasveer. Moreover, the climax has an eerie resemblance to the climax of Tasveer 8X10...both are set on a boat (or yacht whatever it is)...& both offer mind-boggling "revelations"...

But everything else apart, I have one question. Why do all Bollywood action films take so much time to get to the point? It was promoted as a nonstop action adventure joyride, but in fact in the entire 1st half there is no action at all. All you get to see is 3 or 4 songs, some senti about friendship & brotherly love, bikinis (the only good thing about it, especially for male chauvinists) & a bike race which is definitely ripped off from torque, F&F, 2F2F & ilk...

The makers need not do anything path-breaking, but they should show at least what they promise. Bond films work because they don't even give time to think how silly they are. How disappointing it is to see AK not getting to kick anyone in an action movie?...

Anyway, here are some logical inferences I derived from the movie...

1. When a ship coming to India from England gets shipwrecked, it ends up near the Bahamas across the Atlantic...
2. When someone breaks into your house with deadly weapons, the first thing you do is to grab your sunglasses (somehow it reminded me of that scene from Scary Movie when Carmen Electra grabs the banana while running away from the killer)
3. Sharks are normally very non violent in nature and friendly to homo sapience. In fact you can simply grab them and show them where they belong to.
4. It takes merely a few hours to prepare, reach, spot and bring back a treasure hidden at the bottom of the Atlantic that no one else could find in last 60 years...
5. Everybody understands Hindi in the Bahamas...That is why Lara sends SOS in Hindi...
6. It is a modern day interpretation of Ramayana, as explained by Rahul Dev so eloquently just before the climax. (Take that Mr. Maniratnam)

Probably there are more symbolism and references that I've missed out. But let me stop here for the time being.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex: The Film, the Ideology and the Fallacy



German Cinema never ceases to fascinate me. It is not merely style or the substance, but the sheer honesty with which they portray the darker shades of their past, that mesmerizes me. With Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, they take on another gory period of their recent history and turn that into an absorbing cinema.

No I am not exactly reviewing this film. For those who have never heard of this one before, it is about the heydays of Red Army Faction (RAF), a violent leftist terrorist group in Germany that existed during the late 60’s & 70’s. As I found out later on (through wiki obviously), most of the incidents including assassinations, encounters and hijacks depicted in the film are honestly portrayed without much fictionalization. I also noticed that most actors have striking resemblance with the characters they were playing. Such authenticity make the proceedings much more engrossing and chilling!

Just like any other regular European fiesta, this one also comes with a generous serving of casual and nonchalant nudity (which I have always enjoyed being a victim of conservative Indian society). Nevertheless, that is not the point I am trying to make. Through the entire course of the film I just could not help relating those German anarchists to Indian Naxalites, regional terrorists and ilk. It is simply not the ideology that is similar. Right from the reckless vandalism to the ultimate tragic culmination, everything seemed so familiar and of course so futile!

RAF gained ground protesting the US involvement in Vietnam, Palestine & other such issues. Despite their seemingly generous intentions, those unruly youngsters embarked on a path of mass arson, bomb blasts, kidnappings and ambushes. They also enjoyed a degree of mass support initially which withered away even faster than their ammunition.

Such radical groups world over have an identical life-cycle: A bunch of hot blooded youngsters with larger than life ideologies and nearly zero (or probably negative) common sense firing at imaginary enemies and finally hurting their own people!
The RAF was wiped out and the members met with tragic ends. It might be in poor taste to say this, but that was in fact very fortunate for Europe. If we look at all the indigenous groups operating in India, they have had a similar beginning and metamorphosis. But they did not die their natural death, probably because of sheer demographic as well as economic diversity of the nation that kept fueling separatist as well as communist ambitions or probably because of sheer spinelessness of the state machinery.

It is not that those guys never had a point. But if we look at them now, it is evident that they have lost that sole point to justify themselves. This is what happens when ideology becomes livelihood and revolution becomes your 9 to 5 job that you can’t resign from.

Coming back to the film, it doesn’t make any judgments. It just shows the history as it is. But still the message comes out loud and clear. The futility of misplaced idealism has been portrayed with honest brutality. Director Uli Edel, whose Hollywood misadventure Body of Evidence was one of the worst movies I ever saw, does deserve credit for this one.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Hangover: Why did I like it?


No I’m not writing a review. Enough reviews are available if you really care about them. I’m just trying to analyze my own psyche here. I just saw The Hangover and I liked it. I’m not sure why exactly I liked it. It is probably because of the gay (not in “that” sense) abandon with which they indulged in their sinful escapades. In fact it is every man’s (dunno about women, I’m still clueless about them) fantasy to get intoxicated and do things they can’t when they are in their senses. These are the classical “stop making sense” moments. The sheer bizarreness of the plot elements satisfies the perennial male fantasies to the fullest. Getting away from preachy kin, long drive to a place like Las Vegas, losing all the senses, marrying a stripper…the list goes on.

But I must clarify here that it is not exactly a stoner flick. That is not the point. It is not another Up in Smoke or Pineapple Express (Yes I liked them). Nor is it about self destructive losers like Leaving Las Vegas (I liked that one too). In fact it reminds me of the films like The Sideways & to some extent Thelma & Louise. It’s about reclaiming life even if for a few hours. Most of such films have characters suffering from mid life crisis who finally break free. But The Hangover is about younger people. That is exactly why I can relate to them. I’m yet to arrive at mid life. But I do have a crisis. What have I done so far? Was it worth it? Finally, what’s the fucking point? Every thing I have been taught and I have done so far seems questionable. It is probably the mid youth crisis!

On second thoughts, I also liked it because I simply like such low budget indie flicks with excellent scripts. That is why I liked Li’l Miss Sunshine. No megastars, no stunts, no CGI…. just pure intelligent filmmaking. Whatever it is, after a very long time I didn’t regret paying for the ticket after watching a film. In case you stumbled upon this page searching for a review, it is definitely recommended!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tata Crucible Ahmedabad Round-Prelims Questions

Just attended the Ahmedabad round of Tata Crucible Campus Edition 2009. The turnout was unexpectedly high & number of participating teams were around 200 according to the QM. We made it to the wild card rounds (top 16) but could not proceed further. In the final six teams there were three teams from IIMA & one each from MICA, NIRMA & NIT Surat. Although IIMA had the majority on the stage, MICA had the last laugh & they will be going through to the national finals...

I am posting the prelims questions along with answers...there were 20 question & I am trying my best to reproduce them...but at certain points my memory might betray me...

1. Some rural IT initiative in a certain state (I forgot the details)..which state?.
Answer was understandably Gujarat

2. Picture of a stamp consisting of photographs of Martin Luther King Junior, Lincoln, Gandhi & Mother Teresa. It was released last year on 60th anniversary of something...what?
Answer was 60 years of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

3. Who has written the book Hot, Flat, and Crowded?
Answer Thoma Friedman ("flat" being the clue)

4. Poster from the movie Devil wears Prada....identify the related brand
Answer Prada

5. Connect Jack Nicklaus (golfer), Sachin (& another one I forgot) to a certain brand
Answer RBS (brand ambassadors)

6. Which Indian hotel chain won the Hellen Keller award recently for their initiative in employing differently abled people.
Answer ITC

7. Logo of Murugappa group

8. Which business school completed 100 years in 2008?...(clue being 100 years in review or something like that)
Answer Harvard (review points to harvard business review)

9. Famous industrialist who wrote In the Shadow of the Mahatma?
Answer GD Birla (I mistook him for Jamnalal Bajaj)

10. A diagram to identify the McKinsey's 7s model

11. A print ad with Kongkona Sen Sharma
Answer woman's Horlicks

12. Carol Bartz has been named the CEO of which online major?
Answer Yahoo!

13. Hollywood Foreign Press Association gives away which award?
Answer Golden Globes

14. Identify the media Baron from a picture
Answer Ted Turner

15. Which brand is launching luxury ice creams called exotica & milk exotica?
Answer Amul.

16. Ashok Kapur, founder of which bank died unfortunately during 7/11
Answer Yes Bank

17. Sun Pharma replaced which company in the Sensex?
Answer Satyam

18. Pic of the reverse side of a Nobel prize medallion...for which category?
Answer Economics...(what else can it be!!)

19. Close up TVC with Anupam Kher

20. Ezee TVC where the guy struggles with his suitcase stuffed with woolens garments

Hope it helps other aspirants. Happy quizzing...