Friday, July 27, 2007

Have a Kitkat

I am taking a break till the end of August. I will be back in September. Got things to do and plans to make. Got no time for the blog.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My say on Potter

When people say the potter series is growing darker, what do they mean?
On seeing this section in the NYT, I could not quite figure out what the craze is about the darkness of the series. Of course, it's getting darker. What else could it possibly do? After all, in The Deathly Hallows, Potter has to kill Voldermort. What else could he do? Only question remain is will he survive?

No doubt it's a fantastic series, but the criticism on TV, print and other media is going a little crazy. Even in otherwise good newspapers like NYT. You can see the critical starvation that Manhola Dargis and A.O. Scott undergo while trying to come up, oh, desperately come up with anything to justify a dissection.

To my mind, a proper dissection of Potter would be a waste of time. Some things in pop culture are best left alone.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men, starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore, is one my favourite courtroom dramas. It's a bit too dramatic in parts, but that's the way I like them the best.
Here's a scene from the movie: Cruise and Moore, who are investigating a murder, are collecting details from Colonel Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson, about an order that that the colonel might have given causing the death of one Pvt Santiago at Guantanamo Bay.
Jessep complies and later in the middle of the lunch breaks into a monologue. He is addressing Cruise whose character is outranked by Moore's.
"There is nothing on this earth sexier, believe me, gentlemen, than a woman you have to salute in the morning. Promote 'em all, I say, 'cause this is true: if you haven't gotten a blowjob from a superior officer, well, you're just letting the best in life pass you by."
All at once with that one word, blowjob, the waters are vitiated. Cruise who visibly flinches then and there decides to nail Jessep. And this is significant because Cruise has thus far spend more time on the baseball field than in court. He is eager to settle this case out of court, but now he wants to go after Jessep, who might anytime be promoted.
The story opens with two marines giving the "Code Red" to Santiago. This may have unwittingly caused his death, and yet the marines were only following orders. Code Red is a kind of punishment unofficially given by the Marines at the Guantanamo Bay, where soldiers standing on a huge wall are guarding the US from Cuba. This is still in the height of the cold war.
The military prosecutor (Kevin Bacon) plays it like a cold fish. He is the kind of lawyer who approaches his case clinically and perform his duty without sentiment clouding his judgement.
The supporting cast is incredible. It boasts among others Kevin Pollack, Keifer Sutherland, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Wolfgang Bodison, who plays a black Marine charged with murder.
The chemistry between Cruise and Moore, who seems to be the older woman, is palpable. And though the two don't end in bed, which is rare for Moore, the scenes between them do have a certain sensual quality.
The courtroom sequences work well. And though the suspense is not much, the actors squeeze it for what it's worth. Cruise plays it straight, which is difficult when you are up against Jack Nicholson, who, in turn, acts as if he were a reptile. You can almost see reptilian scales on Nicholson's face. The climatic clash him and is superb and always leaves me with a high.

And yet all of this does not amount to great cinema. I suspect director Rob Reiner knows this and sets the movie up in a way that his audience is hooked anyway.
******
Here a couple are trying to review every movie that won the Best Oscar. Hmmm...Interesting.

Kaiser Chiefs

One reason why you may not have heard of Kaiser Chiefs is because the band, which has made an impact on the British rock scene, is yet to storm the US market. Here's their hit song Ruby, which is peaked at No 1 in February. Listen in.



Kaiser Chiefs official website.
Link via Talgeri.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Girlspeak and Manhood

For guys, only. Here.

This is a little more original, and funnier.

Link via Deepti.

Captain

Many of my friends in Tamil Nadu must have already seen it. This is for those who haven't.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I recommend

David Lynch, ever the enigmatic director, has a great website. You might need broadband.
Go explore.


Friend Sanjeev has updated his blog. This is at least in part about the controversial helmet rule. Go there.

Sexism

I have a new post at Chennai Metblogs. It's about a party that went nasty at the house of a call centre employee. I am inviting the wrath of commentators, who mostly seem pretty sexist themselves. Join in the fun. Click here.

Echo Park by Micheal Connelly

Micheal Connelly, creator of 11 Harry Bosch novels, is out with Echo Park, which finds the detective, now nearing 60, in the Open-Unsolved Unit of the Los Angles Police Department. This time around Bosch, with his ox-like detective skills intact, has to match wits with a serial killer he has been hunting for 13 years. He has to also come to terms with his own guilt in letting the killer Raynard Waits slip past him and murder seven more women, all of them prostitutes and runaways.
Connelly, a former crime reporter with LA Times, has all through this remarkable series let Bosch age in real time from his early 40s. The detective, who first appeared in 1992’s The Black Echo is named after the famous 16th century painter Hieronymus Bosch and is unlike any other in modern crime fiction. The quality that endears the average reader to Bosch is not his stunning intelligence like say, Hercule Poirot, but his ability to plough against the odds. Add to this the devil-may-care attitude and courage bordering on recklessness, the combination is irresistible.
This recklessness costs Bosch his girl in this book. Rachel Walling, the FBI agent, who helps Bosch nail Waits finally leaves him saying she can’t live with someone she knows may not return home that night.
The murder Bosch is investigating is of Mary Gesto, which has haunted him for years. Her “murder book” sits on Bosch’s table where he keeps reading it in fear that he may have missed a clue. When the public prosecutor’s office calls him to confirm the confession of the serial killer Raynard Waits, Bosch has to come face to face with the man he dreads. Reynard means a male fox and he is caught near Echo Park while transporting the cut-up bodies of two dead women. He has confessed to nine murders in return for a lesser lifetime sentence that his lawyer is bargaining for.
Connelly is at his best writing the police procedural. Though his latest offering has enough political intrigue and legal drama, at the end it is the author’s intimate knowledge of flatfooted police work that is most attractive. As layer after layer of lies and deception peel off, the reader is left open mouthed with surprise and admiration.
Connelly unlike many masters of crime fiction isn’t insular to politics. That this thriller is set against the election of the public prosecutor of Los Angles gives the author ample chance to dabble in democracy. Often enough, Connelly’s books have also targetted the Los Angles Police Department. Echo Park is no different.
His unsentimental, straightforward narrative style has kept Connelly, a self-confessed admirer of the inimitable Raymond Chandler, at the forefront of American crime fiction. His books have been widely translated – 31 languages at last count – and continue to be bestsellers. He has also won the Edgar and Anthony awards.
Though Connelly has often charted outside the Bosch territory, most notably with The Poet in 1996, he keeps returning to the “true detective”. What attracts both author and reader to Bosch are the same qualities. Like his namesake, Bosch may be fighting the eternal darkness, but his uprightness keeps our faith in life alight and burning.

An Inconvenient Truth

The accusation against An Inconvenient Truth, which stars the former US vice-president and almost-President Al Gore, is simple. It's hard to ignore it while watching the movie. As fact after numbing fact about the real danger of global warming hits you, at the back of the mind there's denial. That Gore is playing politics and using the issue of global warming to gain political mileage. Also at the heart of the issue is the burning question: Is global warming for real?
Gore effectively counters the controversy surrounding the issue. Quoting from peer-reviewed articles and mass media, he points out the difference. That none of the 925 articles carried in journals in which scientists contributed during the period the study was done disputed global warming. But many articles appearing in the media dispute global warming and seek to portray it as a controversy. A Sinclair Lewis quote comes in handy: It's difficult to get a man to understand an issue when his salary depends upon him not understand it.
Here is some political background. India is not a major contributor to global warming despite its huge population. It has also ratified the Kyoto Protocol, though both India and China have been exempted from reducing emission limits. The US, which is the undisputed leader in emitting greenhouse gases, has not ratified Kyoto. The reason why US won't ratify Kyoto is because the political climate in the country does not allow it.
Against this background Gore's film assumes significance. The difference between our country and the US may be huge today, but as our economy grows, ironically, the ways we harm the planet also grows. There is need that each of see the movie because this is a rare movie after which you can actually do something to help society. Even changing a simple thing as a bulb would help.
Gore would also have you believe that the movie will drive political change in the country. That to my mind is doubtful. If Democrats led by Hillary return to power, they still may not be able sign Kyoto simply because it's too demanding and emission level remain atrociously high.
The film strives to prove two points: one is that global warming does takes place, and its effects are multifold and disastrous. This is, indeed, one way to destroy the planet. The other point that the movie proves is that within the US government, particularly the Bush administration, very little was done or is being done to contain warming.
The bulk of the film is shot as Gore gives his slideshow on global warming, and this is no ordinary class. This took six years to develop. The very fact that Gore makes the issue interesting and comprehensible is a testimonial to his in-depth knowledge of the subject and his commitment to the cause.
I am came away feeling that Gore may be a woody politician, but he wasn't the usual power hungry dummy.
The film departs from the two parallel hard-hitting tracks for some soft psychological background of Gore. There are fleeting images of the way he shuffled from a Washington hotel and a Tennessee farm where his father was a breeder and of Gore growing up as boy and the medical problems his father and son face. The writing around these parts is fantastic, and even though, Gore never quite comes alive, he does suffuse the documentary with meaning and a personal touch. In fact, he begins the documentary in style, naming two professors: one who dismisses that the continent of South America and Africa were ever together (a well-known, proven fact now) and the other who was first in the world to say that carbon dioxide emissions by countries should be measured. It was these measurements that finally conclusively proved that global warming was reaching disastrous proportions.
Gore's collection of slides is also exceptional, even for a man who was almost President once. The photographs of Earth from the Sun, the dramatic shots showing how fast ice melts at the poles and the CGI sequence with a polar bear are all technically perfect. That makes the movie mainstream. This is not the work of a left wing intellectual setting out to make an art house product. This documentary-as-lecture movie also proves another point: That Gore is a pretty good teacher.
Gore has a deeply resonant voice. But however articulate Gore might be, he is never once able to make a single expression that draws your attention. That he is fat, and growing fatter with every single day, doesn't make him cute. Comparisons to Michael Moore, who is much more gimmicky and effective, are inevitable. Gore falls short. He can never get to you the way Moore can.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Discovery

Wanna listen to music on a blog without downloading from the Net? Here you go.

Friend Talgeri had suggested this blog a long time back.

Happiness

A man and a woman lie on a white bed.
It is morning. I think
Soon they will waken.
On the bedside table is a vase
of lilies; sunlight
pools in their throats.
I watch him turn to her
as though to speak her name
but silently, deep in her mouth--
At the window ledge,
once, twice,
a bird calls.
And then she stirs; her body
fills with his breath.

I open my eyes; you are watching me.
Almost over this room
the sun is gliding.
Look at your face, you say,
holding your own close to me
to make a mirror.
How calm you are. And the burning wheel
passes gently over us.

Poem by Louise Gluck from here, via Lavanya.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Subscribe to Phoenix Arises

On the left is the icon which will help you to subscribe to my blog. I should remember to move the icon down later on. I am not a frequent poster, and I still prefer people reading my posts on my blog. Am old fashioned that way.