Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hollywood top 10

1.Citizen Kane
Thought to be the granddaddy of all movies. Whiz kid Orson Welles stormed Hollywood with this movie based on the life of William Rudolph Hearst, the media tycoon. While most biographies still stop at the rise of their main character, Orson portrayed Kane as a vulnerable, fallible person, taking more interest in his fall on the eve of becoming President. The movie is famous for the use of the deep focus technique (ex:the shot of Kane playing with Rosebud) and astounding make up helping Orson age Kane from 20-something to his death in old age. Perhaps, what is less known is that many shots were stitched together into a single frame to save cost. Flopped critically and at the box office upon release. Rediscovered almost 10 years later. Orson was, however, eternally condemned by the studios and till his death remained an ‘outsider’.

2.The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
What began as a spaghetti western series with ‘A Fistful of Dollars’, ended in a big bang with GBU. Clint Eastwood, a failed B-movie actor, became superstar and Sergio Leone and composer Ennio Morricone became household names. Clint is all charm, pitching his voice like a whisper and chewing on a cigar. I don't remember another scene that thrilled me as when watching Clint move the cigar from one corner of the mouth to the other to Morricone’s score. The out-of-the-plot civil war sequence was a turn off, but the wild climax – all belts, eyes, hands and pistols - made up for it. Morricone’s finest hour as Leone stretches the suspense and tests himself and us to the limits.

The movie begins with a favourite opening shot. A slow pullback from the baker’s face to Marlon Brando’s back. One of best opening lines is in this movie as well: ‘I believe in America’. When I first saw the movie, I was appalled it was all dialogue and no stunts. I wanted the damn sissies to throw a punch or two. Only as an adult did I realize how evil the characters were. Though ‘I will make him an offer he can’t refuse’ line became the most famous, dialogues throughout are exceptionally well written. A young Cappola, just out of film school, came out with all guns blazing. So endlessly copied and parodied, the movie is a permanent fixture on all best movie lists. But if you are a feminist, better not watch.

4.Pulp Fiction
How do you write dialogue in which every third word is fuck. Quentin Tarantino made the definitive movie of the 90s in which everything from sound track to performance to the dialogue with the steam of abuses is awesome. He even rewrote a psalm from the bible to make it ‘hardhitting’. Made Tarantino the darling of discerning movie watcher worldwide. To me it showed how wildly interesting even movies that get at serious things could be. Tarantino seems to have lost footing since.

5.2001: A Space Odyssey
Kubrick and abstract filmmaking at their best. No dialogues for the first half hour. No recognisable stars. A story nobody understood. Shot mostly in Britain using techniques especially created for the movie. A score composed entirely of classical western music pieces. You really got to give it to Kubrick for making this movie. For days after watching, I couldn't forget the scene in which Hal shuts the bay door leaving Dr Poole gasping for breath outside the spaceship. Amazing use of sound effects. Kubrick was to win his only Oscar for the movie’s astounding special effects.

6.Annie Hall
Hollywood’s funniest movie, if you ask me. Made Woody Allen, with his crackling dialogues, the world’s reining neurotic. Diane Keaton, Woody’s muse for years, is equally good. Simon Garfunkel joins the party in a cameo role. Made love romantic for me. Exhilarating watch when you see it for the first time because of the way the movie is structured – narrative all seemingly jumbled. But as you keep watching layer after layer of meaning hits you.

7.Maltese Falcon
Pretty much the movie that made the term 'film noir' popular. You really got to watch Humprey Bogart in this movie and The Big Sleep. Terrific actor. Bogard was Sam Spade in this film, Dashiel Hammett’s most famous creation. Mary Astor is the femme fatale. Takes Sunset Blvd’s rightful place in the list because of Bogart.

8.Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
It’s hard to leave Lucas out of any list. I almost like THX 1138 better but Star Wars movies are more addictive. I really wished Lucas could write a little better though by the time Revenge of the Sith came out, he was OK. Began the sci-fi/fantasy craze that has become Hollywood’s main attraction today.

9.Schindler’s List
When I first saw it I didn’t have the faintest clue what it was about. I saw it a couple of years after release, then I began to realise what Spielberg had achieved. I love the movie’s music. And Ralph Fiennes. What a role! I just could not swallow the scene in which he stands on that balcony and keeps shooting people dead. Words like Genocide and Holocaust took on a new meaning after that.

10.Terminator 2: Judgement Day
All I remembered of the first part was the scene in which the human sent from decades ahead makes love to Sarah Connor. And Arnie. But then Judgement Day arrived. Apart from the breathtaking special effects and the time paradox, you really got to see the two chases that define the movie. Arnie loading that double barrel as he chases John Connor on his bike and the final chase between trailer trucks.
Hasta la vista, baby!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Science of Sleep

Michael Gondry, who last made Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is out with The Science of Sleep, the movie I most look forward to now.

The Dead Man's Chest is now one of the three films ever, according to, to make more than a billion dollars. LOTR: The Return of the King and The Titanic, which is numero uno, are the other two. Will Chest become the highest grossing movie ever? Watch this space.

Orkutters-what do they do?

What do people do on Orkut? I mean seriously, What do they do?
I have a friend who has Orkut open on her computer all day long. I ask her and she shrugs. Do you have a better answer? Please use the comments section if you do.

Padmini dead

Padmini, perhaps the greatest overactress in Tamil cinema, is dead. She was ___.

I am sure that would never be a lead line in any obit. But it would certainly be the truest.
I wasn't a big fan. I could hardly stand her. I hated her even more when she appeared in interviews some five years ago and interviewers would go "How come you haven't changed in 30 years?" Comeon guys, gimme a break.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hunger for movies

I think I haven't been to the movie theatre in three weeks or more. I can't remember the last time that happened to me. Depressing.

What do the statistics tell me?

I keep asking myself - Why do I religiously and meticulously look at sitemeter? Why am I so damn interested in who is hitting my site and what search terms they use? Is it just out of curiosity, like you would anyway look at a new visitor to your house?
On the other hand, I realise that I don't even care about the reader. I say I write about films but only one if every five or so posts on my blog are about movies. So if I don't care about the reader, why look at the stats?
Do I or don't I want readers?
I want readers but on my terms, not on theirs.
Well, is my content that good? That the reader would come and read on my terms, whatever I write? Not always. But sometimes or once in a while, yes.
Indeed, I have surprised myself with some good writing. Yes I have. Explore the archives, which are damn hard to reach, btw. Or just keep visiting. That great blog is always round-the-corner.

UPDATE: The sitemeter is out now. One pain less, I say.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What am I reading?

Why do people put up "What am I reading?" posts for? Same reason they blog. To connect.

I am reading:
Maximum City - I don't have to say anything about this book. It's nice, it gets into the heart of the city and it's damn well written. You breathe Mumbai on the days you read the book.

Dune - After a while it feels like having sand on your eyes. Much like after I watched Lawrence of Arabia. Expresses the ecological concerns of the time in which it was published - 1965. David Lynch made a movie, which I think he later disowned. But many Dune fans loved it. Up there with Foundation, I, Robot and Blade Runner. Or Lord of the Rings even.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sivaji's under-rated comedies

While I was away a couple of weeks back, the cable guy unplugged the service. I didn't care. I don't like TV. But that is one reason I have watched so few movies lately. I did, however, manage to catch a couple of classics - that too in Tamil - on VCD. These are being brought out by Modern Cinema, Madurai. The prints are poor but at least the film is now once again available for viewing.
Both the films I saw were by B.R. Bandalu and starred Sivaji Ganeshan. And both Bale Pandya and Sabash Meena are unforgivably underrated. Whenever anyone mentions Sivaji's name, images of dancing eyebrows and cheeks in rapid motion flash through my mind. Sivaji's eyebrows as he sings "Neeyum Nanuma?" or "Enge Nimmathi". Or Sivaji's face as he delivers the lengthy monologue during the courtroom sequence in Parasakthi or Sivaji in chains in Manohara.
But all of the above are poor examples of Sivaji's acting or even acting as such. Today, they are often dismissed as melodramatic perfomances from an actor who pretty much gave Tamil cinema audiences the defenition of the word 'overacting'.
But in casual, seemingly airy comic roles, Sivaji is restrained. His performances at least in some scenes is something approaching sublime.
Bale Pandya was the inspiration for one my all-time favourites, Michael Madana Kamarajan. This is the classic 'aal maarattam' story. Sivaji played three roles while the other great 'overactor' of that time M.R. Radha starred in two. The movie is like a template on which many later comedies would be reworked. So even while seeing it for the first time, you might get the feeling of having seen it all. But the movie, which is a laugh riot, isn't predicatable at all.
Sabash Meena has a wonderfully modern appeal. The dialogue crackles, especially the lines, which would never be funny sans the way in which they are delivered. Chandrababu stars along side Saroja Devi is one among her few more tolerable roles.
Both movies have central characters which are quite naive, and their actions seems to remarkably free of consequences. Freed of fate, they come alive on screen. Even during the low points, you have the feeling of being taken along for a fun ride that can only end well.

And oh, btw, Brian de Palma, who excites love and hate in equal measures among his fanatics-filled audience, is back with The Black Dahlia. Based on a James Ellroy (L.A.Confidential) novel of the same name, the movie has taken quite a hit from the critics. But Slant Magazine thinks differently. Here is a collection of reviews for Palma fans.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

BlogCamp humour

Blocka? Seria kekkalae? Appadina? Concrete blocka? Onnum puriyalaye.

The above happened when a BlogCamp organiser tried to explain to somebody's mom what he was doing. She thought he was doing something with a concrete block.

(Spiced up version of true story)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Just to let you know

That I use Google reader, and it's cool.

BlogCamp on Desicritics

Read my article about BlogCamp from an organiser's perspective here, and the report from Kishore Gopalan, also an editor at Desicritics, here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Blog Camp trivia

Did you know...
That Amit Agarwal's 15-month-old kid is called Google.
Of the time Kiruba knocked off a post after being pressured by ICICI?
Hear of the confessionals about first loves made at the beach during the party by Rupya, Kiruba and a lot of bloggers?
I slept in the middle of the session on podcasting?
That Atul Chitnis believes that all bloggers have a mandate to gloat?
What Desicritics wrote about put vote, a social bookmarking site?

7/G Rainbow Colony

Selvaraghan is one of the hottest directors in Tamil cinema today. It's hard to say how good he is when compared to the all-time greats. I prefer to wait and watch for now.
He has made three movies: Kadhal Kondain, 7/G, Rainbow Colony, and Pudhupettai.
I first saw KK on Sun TV. I saw it in bits and parts and liked it. The character Dhanush played lacks values, and repeatedly murders to get the girl he wants. I was impressed.
7/G had fantastic music and a super theme song. I saw the movie a few weeks after its release. I have since come to realise that it wasn't a great movie, but back then I was really bowled over. Story: Boy meets girl (Sonia Agarwal). She is middle class and good looking. He is a dirty rotten scoundrel. She learns to tolerate him and strikes a deal with him: He has to reform, and his life changes. But ultimately, her life changes too. She finds that he has the most unexpected impact on her even after her death.
I value the feeling that I get when I walk out of a cinema hall a lot. When I walked out of 7/G, I was euphoric. Haven't the faintest clue why.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

BlogCamp speech: A work in progress

My subject here today is blogging as journalism. I must start with a frank admission that the history of journalist-bloggers is not familiar to me. But the logical place to start is with this question: When did blogging as journalism begin in india:
India Uncut’s Amit Varma’s decision to cover the tsunami – which saw the daily hits to his blog rise from a mere 800 to 13,000 – must be a recent landmark. Another would be Gaurav Sabnis’s exposure of IIPM in August 2005 and his subsequent resignation from IBM.
The next question – one that is often asked - is blogging journalism? Can blogs that carry news – as original reportage or analysis – be called journalism?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to look up any discussion about the Indian situation on the subject on the Internet. But let me quote you an example from the American media.
Last April, PBS, an American channel, asked this question on its flagship programme, Newshour. A top executive from MSNBC said no, it wasn’t. Bloggers can’t be called journalists, he said. He pointed to the absence of the editorial filter in most blogs and argued that, because of this absence, the content in blogs wouldn’t constitute journalism. Bloggers appearing on the same programme, however, disagreed.
What is an editorial filter? Mainstream media – newspapers, radio and tv channels - act as a gatekeepers of news. They decide what is news and what isn’t and this is what we consume on a daily basis. Let’s return to the argument – is blogging journalism?
When small, independent online publications with an amateur staff perform original reporting on community affairs, few would contest that they're engaged in journalism. Example: Chennaionline. You can have no doubts in ur mind that what chennaionline does is journalism. For those not familiar with chennaionline, I am here referring to sites like drudge report.
When citizens contribute photos, video and news updates to mainstream news outlets, many would argue they're doing journalism. Example the scores of videos all of us saw on ndtv during the tsunami. Or those we see of the Katrina or any disaster for that matter.
But here is the moot point. when bloggers comment on and link to news stories, is that journalism? Usually no -- but it depends. When the blogger adds personal commentary that relies on original research, or if someone considered an authority on the subject does it, some, at least, would consider it journalism.
When a blogger conducts a phone interview with a newsworthy subject and posts it to his Weblog –like kiruba did a few back with Guy Kawasaki-- or somebody does some research to turn up the address, phone number and e-mail of an alleged rape victim and post these details on their blog -- some would consider those acts of journalism, too.
But even though the question is blogging journalism is an attractive one, it’s almost irrelevant now. Many are convinced that it is indeed journalism. And the blogs at the tsunami have added credibility to the argument that blogging is indeed journalism. Now with more recent events, the argument has moved forward. We must now attempt to scratch out the deeper pattern.
But before we do that we might consider the differences that blogging has with Big Journalism.
What exactly are the differences between traditional mainstream media and bloggers who engage in journalism?
Two aspects are immediately apparent. One is interactivity. When u write an article in a newspaper or broadcast a report on the channel you talk. When u blog, u converse. The other is the lack of space constraint. A blogger has flexibility of space. In a magazine or a newspaper, a journalist is constrained by length – he can’t write too much and, in instances where he might want to share a vignette or a telling observation, he can’t write too little. On a blog, that isn’t an issue.
Third is the ability to hyperlink: on a blog I can link to pictures, audio clips and videos to tell u the story. I have the ability to take the reader with me on the journey. I can even link to another blog to add to another aspect of the story or even borrow a bit from a newspaper or tv channel. This btw is a difference between newspapers and new media.
Four immediacy or Instantaneity: when you're writing for, say, a weekly magazine, it seems like it takes forever to see your work in print. With a Weblog, you hit the send key and it's out there. It's the perfect “disposable journalism” for our age.
Five: a blogger can add the personal touch. He or she can tell the story in a personal tone. This is the opposite in mainstream media. The word ‘I’ as you are taught in journalism school is to be shunned.
Let’s get to the two less obvious differences. These are two points, which I as a journalist value greatly.
Creative freedom: Part of a blog's allure is its unmediated quality. Allow me to paraphrase from a website. This is a journalist, who has a widely read blog in the US who said this. “For a journalist, there's no luxury like the luxury of the unedited essay. There's an enormous freedom in being able to present yourself precisely as you want to, however sloppily or irrationally or erratically. I don't have an editor to pitch the story to, or a copy editor who decides he's not happy with my syntax... You think it, you write it, you put it out to the world."
The other is the Lack of marketing constraints. "The people who are interested in your perspective find you, instead of you having to find a publication that reflects their interests. You don't have to necessarily tailor your work for a certain readership or demographic. A god given gift that is to bloggers, if you ask me.
We must also differentiate between the terms citizen journalism and blogging – both are often freely interchanged but mean two different things:
What is citizen journalism? As many others are doing now, I turned to the wikipidea: Citizen journalism, also known as "participatory journalism," is the act of citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information"
From that definition it’s clear the citizen journalism is altogether a different creature from the simple act of a blogger writing a news report or an analytical piece. Citizen journalism surely accommodates the act of blogging but when I see a report from Jawaharlal Nehru University done by that university’s students on reservation in higher institutions appear on CNN-IBN
When merinews, a sponsor for this event, uses ordinary citizens and scholars to write the bulk of its content
That is very different from a blogger sitting alone at home and writing about what he or she thinks of reservation. Or for that matter write an expose on IIPM’s alleged fraud.
Citizen journalism in way precedes blogging. Jay Rosen, who today runs PressThink, which is a blog, was one of the early proponents of participatory journalism. Citizen journalism itself is traced to the 1988 US presidential elections and the erosion of public trust in large media houses. Some Americans were also disgusted with politics and politicians. Somewhere here began the first infant steps towards what we today call citizen journalism.
In more recent times, we can take the highly successful example of ohmynews, a South Korean-based media house, which has used ordinary people to generate as much as 80% of its content. According to the paper, every citizen is a reporter, and now more than 40,000 people have contributed to the content of this newspaper. The widespread availability of broadband and a good computer penetration has made this possible in South Korea. This model is also being replicated in Japan.
But in India where Internet connections are unreliable and computer penetration is low – not many people especially those in rural areas can afford a computer – will citizen journalism be as meaningful or successful? Will it become a force to contend with? Or is it just a fad to get your stuff on TV? Many people with good reason – because of such issues as widespread illiteracy - are highly skeptical of the effectiveness of citizen journalism in India. We do tend to estimate the masses as being ignorant, unaware and dull.
But let’s look for a minute at a highly successful blog - one that has an almost notorious reputation in the television journalism industry. I cant possibly ignore that site’s contribution to this whole discussion. I am not a regular at the site. Neither have I ever had the guts to comment there. I am told in some organizations that might cost me my job. But whatever your views, warfornews has in the six short months since its inception become one of the most popular media watchdogs – as it were- in India.
A short intro for those of u not familiar: On January 5 this year, theallseeingspy wrote ‘the declaration of war’ on the site. The professed aim was to cover the “war for news” between NDTV and the newly lauched CNN-IBN. Theallseeingspy was eventually joined by two other bloggers- Artemis Zoop and the Watchful Acolyte. All three have made vituperative attacks on the big channels. But this August saw only three posts. And the email leaks from the media houses – that made the site so popular - seemed to have been stopped. But in the meantime the channels have definitely taken a trashing.
I must now got back to the where I began from and start to summarise this brief speech. But for that I would like you get away from the debate surrounding small journalism vs Big Journalism. That debate more or less is killing our perspectives and keeping us from looking at what is both obvious and interesting. What is clear is that there is now an extension of the press. Tom Curley, who runs Associated Press, calls it’s a “huge shift in the balance of power” from the “content providers to the content consumers”.
It means that professional journalism – in the world as a whole – no longer has sovereignty over news. This doesn’t mean that big media houses shut shop and go away. It just means that their influence isn’t singular anymore.
We must also consider another simple fact. Because of the fact that bloggers in their thousands are commenting on news and analyzing it on their own the sovereignty of editorial writers and oped-columnists on the reaction to news is gone. I constantly find that bloggers often go one-up on the sleepy op-ed page. I am not saying that the oped pages of newspapers have lost their influence. But now for their first time, their ideas – and their imagination – are under pressure. And they never anticipated that this was even possible. Now professional journalists are being forced to share media space with amateurs.
Now journalism is seeing a rare moment. Let me quote from a 2003 report titled New Directions for New. It says: “Journalism’s hegemony as gatekeepers of news is threatened by not new technology and competitors but potentially by the audience it serves.” It thought there was a Frankensteinian ring to that quote.
We tend to think of credibility in journalism as a zero sum game. Credibility gained by bloggers is not what is lost by MSMs. Or vice versa. Also we in India tend to look at the Internet a little suspiciously. We are a little sceptic about news that appears on it. But frankly I have no sympathy for people who read that George Bush had an alien love child on the Net and go – really? Also we cannot be blind about the loss of objectivity and credibility in the mainstream media over the years.
What bloggers and journalist have is not an adverse relationship. They certainly can peacefully coexist and learn from one another. Moreover, journalists own a debt to bloggers. Amateurs in a large part – those who have nothing to do with news- are today preparing this platform of blogging that journalists might one day occupy. Or confront. But journalist must see that the tool is being readies and sharpened not by fellow journalist but by bloggers.
To end, let me quote from Amit Varma. This is from an Indian Express article he wrote called ‘the world according to me’, I think sometime after his coverage of the tsunami.
“I find it odd that so many of the news stories on blogs in 2004 focussed on a “Blogs v Big Media” storyline, which makes for an interesting peg, but is misleading. I don’t think that there is a conflict between blogs and any other journalistic medium. Just as TV did not kill print, blogging is no threat to either print or TV. On the contrary, it enhances both the breadth and depth of the coverage that journalism provides and, as one-day cricket did to Test cricket, it might introduce new skills and values to the older forms of journalism. That can only be good for the reader, and that is all that matters.”

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dylan out with new album

Bob Dylan's first album in 5 years Modern Times is out on Sony records.
There is this new page up on Google Video to mark the release of Modern Times. I have a slow connection. Do let me know how they are.

Something else you might be interested in. Mark Haddon, the author of Curious Incident of the Dog at the Night-time, has written a new book. Read Janet Maslin's review of A Spot of Bother here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Monday, September 04, 2006

"What the scoreboard doesn't say?"

"The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. Over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments, and I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you."
ANDRE AGASSI, to the fans after the last match of his professional tennis career.
View Agassi's career in pictures here
I am not a big tennis fan. Stopped watching when Becker stopped playing, but I do remember this marathon match between Agassi and Sampras. Agassi won because of his sheer will to win. Sampras was by far the better player that day. Let's say goodbye to Agassi keeping that fighting spirit in mind.

Celebrity jams

Once again, the presence of a celebrity has clogged up the Chennai roads. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was in the city today. But does his presence need to affect the schedule of thousands of people using the city roads? If the President can't come to the city without throwing its traffic in disarray, he better not come here. What say?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu

I couldn’t hide my disappointment after watching Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu today. It’s a good movie I kept telling myself, but I was expecting a Seven or Silence of the Lambs in Tamil. But the peek into the cop’s life and the frantic hunt for the killer that marked those movies was missing in Vettaiyadu. Gautham has to take the blame for making the movie with brawn but no brains.
Even hack writers write better serial killer books, one of the most overworked movie genres in Hollywood along with the cliché of schizophrenia (split personality). (seen Adaptation?)
Where is the intelligent cop who is hunting down the brilliant but psychopathic killer? Where is the thrill in seeing him at work, taking all kinds of risks? Where is the unpredictability? Gautham may as well go back to writing another Minnale. He has no story to tell here, no understanding of what this genre is about.
Remember Seven. Remember the Kevin Spacey character and his audacious killings. Remember the brains it took the Morgan Freeman character to catch him. Remember the good hard flat-footed police work in that movie? Remember Brad Pitt fast on the hunt. Remember the sense of vulnerability you felt as you watched these cops and the claustrophobia that surrounded them. It’s been over 10 years since that movie was released and Gautham still can’t write anything better? It’s a crying shame.
The first 15 minutes are easily the worst for any Kamal movie in the recent past. The last time this happened might have been in Maharasan, a pitiful flop from 15 years ago. I couldn’t help but think of Kuruthippunal’s brilliant opening scene of the bus bombing. No macho dialogues, no cat and mouse games, no childish one-upmanship. Just a simple, dramatic sequence. That left me with my heart in my mouth. Here as Kamal dared a rowdy to pluck his eye out, I only wanted to puke.

Gautham did get some things right. For example, the Jyothika character. I can’t think of the last time when the female lead in a mainstream movie was a divorcee mom. And Jyothika did her job to perfection. The music was good. The background score was still a little too loud, but that is done in all Tamil movies. The camera work was brilliant in parts and the costumes were pleasant on the eye. I loved Kamal’s tummy too. Made him so much more believable. Such a relief to watch him work with his own face too. But all these don’t make a good movie.

(spoilers follow. Skip if you haven’t seen the movie)
Think of the gaping holes. Four corpses are dug out from a serial killer’s burial site. But where is the frenzy in the NYPD? A few scenes later Raghavan (Kamal) and his Yankee colleague are still the only ones sifting through immigration data. Any police department would have put an entire team of cops on the chase. That is a plot hole for you.
Then think of the dramatic lapses. After a hunt across two countries, where does the cop find the killer? Oh, why? He is standing right in front of the cop trying hard to drive a bike into his jeep? Are u kidding me? After all this, the killers just make a present of themselves? Another puke worthy moment, if ever there was one.
After Kamal loses his wife in a flashback sequence, I waited and waited for the connection to the present story to show up. That never did. Wouldn’t it be more emotionally powerful to tie up that sequence with Kamal’s assignment of catching the serial killing duo? And if there is no link why make such a fuss? Why not say that the wife died in dialogue.
And oh, what is this brilliant thesis these two serial killers studying in Brooklyn Medical University are working on? Can somebody please tell me? What makes them brilliant doctors? I caught a line about some life saving bullshit, but that made no sense. And since when could doctors slash at moving targets with such devastating accuracy? Just where does that training come from?
After a while I felt sorry for Kamal. He was doing everything right in a movie where everything was going so horribly wrong. There was no story to provide background to the psychopaths. Any director with half a brain would have written in some story to explain why his villains are on a killing spree in India and in the US.
(spoilers end)

Somebody said Ravi Verman has shot the movie’s New York sequences in a way Woody Allen would approve. They don’t know what they are talking about. I remember Annie Hall and Manhattan. What Ravi did in comparison was make a video postcard of New York. But in some sequences the camera is brilliant, admittedly. But Verman could have resisted making New York look like a tourist paradise in a serial killer movie. The early scenes in that city were worthless.
Well, when you can’t write in one intelligent scene, what do you do? (Remember how in Kuruthippunal Kamal finds that the driver they had arrested was all the time the head of the militant group?) Here is what you do. You throw in a lot of muscle and some vague nonsense about “Raghavan instinct” and hope it works. Gautham must now acknowledge that it didn’t and get back to the writing table. And he must stop pretending to be the next Mani Ratnam, for Christ’s sake.

Friday, September 01, 2006


It is not everyday that movies like Capote get made. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, most known for his non-fictional masterpiece, In Cold Blood, the movie is an unbiased, almost aloof account of his life. The movie begins with the killing of the Cutter family in Kansas state that Capote wanted to cover for The New Yorker. He ended up writing one of the most influencial journalistic books ever. The movie ends with the hanging of the killers. Capote never finished another book.
Hoffman is superb as Capote. I don't know how Capote spoke and acted, but I am sure Hoffman came pretty close to nailing everything right. His performance has an air of authenticity to it. Pretty awesome. There is also a great cameo by Catherine Keener as Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mocking Bird. Must watch movie.