Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Review of the movie 'The Master'

What is it that Lincoln said ? '“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” 

Paul .T. Anderson's The Master  seems to fit this bill. Movies that meander aimlessly never fail to amaze me. Even if the maker of the movie believed in it (P.T.Anderson), what the hell were the people around him doing?

The story of The Master had immense potential. It could have conveyed the thin line between fanaticism of  belief and non-belief, it could have been a powerful message about the charisma of charlatans, it could have even been a story of the power of influence over the helpless, instead it chooses to be an incoherent mishmash of a half-lunatic war veteran and an evangelist of a new religion.

The war veteran ,Freddie Quell, is played by Joaquin Phoenix and the evangelist,The Master, is a brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman. Freddie is an alcoholic and wanders around until he lands on the yacht of Lancaster Dodd, otherwise known as The Master. The Master is the harbinger of a new cult that is based on beliefs of reincarnation and hypnotism. The Master takes Freddie under his wing and begins a series of psycho-analytical tests to convert Freddie. Freddie's beliefs in The Cause are ambiguous. He attacks anyone who opposes the master but whether he himself is a true believer is questionable. Dodd's wife Peggy (wonderfully portrayed by Amy Adams) seems to be a silent controller of the Master himself. His teenage son does not seem to believe his father's preaching and his daughter and son-in-law seem to be 'Yes' men. In the midst of all this, The Master is a great orator, often holding gatherings in private houses and releasing books about 'The Cause'. His attempts to change Freddie's violent behavior are futile and Freddie escapes him to return to his hometown of Massachusetts.

I have multiple problems with this movie. The biggest one of them is that there are way too many loose threads. Why does Dodd go to the middle of a desert to recover a box that 'seemed' to be his unpublished works? What is the purpose of Dodd's daughter trying to seduce Freddie?  What was the necessity to show the sexual hallucinations of Freddie? Why does Peggy not have a voice in front of the gathering? And many more.

I know that some people might think that meaningless cinema is brilliantly creative , but I think that it is greatly idiotic. The Master seems to fall in the latter category.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Review of Beasts of the Southern Wild

There is a scene in 'Beasts of the SouthernWild' in which six-year-old  Hush Puppy says ‘When you’re small, you gotta fix what you can.' and that pretty much summarizes what this movie is about.'Interesting' is the adjective you would use to describe the adventures of six-year-old Hush Puppy who lives in 'The Bathtub' along with her father. You would also wonder if Hush Puppy is the modern day Scout  and her father Atticus? Pretty soon you realize that they are not. 
 Hush Puppy, along with her father, belongs to a small community who refuse to embrace civilization even if it means that diseases are left untreated and their land disappears under water.  Their dilapidated house has filthy livestock but Hush Puppy revels in it. She bonds with them by listening to the heartbeat of animals and fish and believes that they speak to her. Her father Wink, is suffering from a deadly disease but teaches Hush Puppy to be self-sufficient both physically and emotionally. Crying is frowned upon and fearlessness is encouraged. She is also taught how to fend for herself in case the world ends. 

There are parts of this collage which do not make sense ; the huge boar-like creatures could have been allegorical but they actually come charging towards the six year old and she stops them with her courage. But you can forgive these misgivings looking at the various layers it presents. On one level this appears to be the story of a little kid who is missing her mother and tries to be strong and does not want her father to die. Another layer is the stubbornness of social groups who are resistant to change. But ultimately it is a joy to see the six year old's smile in the poor, dirty, deteriorated land. 

The kid who plays Hush Puppy has a wonderful knack for expressing through her eyes.Her magical view of everyday things and her struggle to be brave in the face of adversity are definitely Oscar-worthy.But you must remember that this is definitely an unusual and exotic fare in the midst of typical American films like ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm much too busy seeing that you don't lose any of the money I married you for. - The Thin Man

Can you imagine any movie in the last five years that would be appreciated after nearly eighty years. I cannot think of one!

The Thin Man, made in 1934, is timeless and does not make you feel antiquated. The credit for it must go to the fun and witty dialogue of the husband-wife duo, Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) along with their chuckle-inducing dog, Asta. Nick Charles , a retired private investigator, is approached by Dorothy (Maureen O'Sullivan) to locate her missing father, Clyde Wynant . Nick is not too eager to take up this assignment.This is what he says to his rich wife Nora :

" I haven't the time. I'm much too busy seeing that you don't lose any of the money I married you for." 

With the murder of Wynant's girlfriend, Julia, Wynant is the prime suspect and members of the Wynant clan plead Nick Charles to help them.Nick is too busy enjoying a drink too many and still refuses to get involved in the case. Nora wants some excitement and eggs Nick to start the investigation. Their light banter edged with sarcasm seems like a good camouflage for their romance.

Nora Charles: Pretty girl. (about Dorothy)
Nick Charles: Yes. She's a very nice type.
Nora Charles: You got types?
Nick Charles: Only you, darling. Lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.

When Nick narrowly escapes getting shot at, he decided to plunge into the case. Nora, although, fearful for Nick, enjoys the thrill of the investigation.The case takes a turn like a good who-dun-it when Nick invites the murderer to a fun dinner party, which includes policemen dressed as stewards waiting to serve fish.
 Although The Thin Man continued to be a successful series of films, it is unclear who the actual Thin Man is. Internet sources reveal that Wynant was alluded to as the Thin Man in the movie but it seems to have stuck to the detective, Nick Charles. Maybe my viewings of the other Thin Man series would reveal more.

A fun movie to watch on a sultry summer afternoon when you wish to see something that is cross between an Agatha Christie mystery and an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

(PS: I was very impressed by the dress worn by Myrna Loy in the Christmas party scene. Another reason to believe that this movie does not feel like 1934. Enclosing a picture of it below)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review of the movie To Rome with Love

How do you write a non-tribute to your favorite director? By being candid, I guess.

Woody Allen , one of my favorite directors, has disappointed me with a tedious, errant and contrived movie called 'To Rome with Love'.

The scenes where Woody Allen, playing Jerry, a retired music director, seem to have the best laughs. But sadly Woody Allen doesn't stick to those scenes. There are four disjointed stories and what point they all serve is best understood only by the makers of the movie.

The opening scene introduces us to the chaotic Roman streets where Hayley(Alison Pill) , an American tourist , meets the handsome Italian Michelangelo. Hayley invites her parents, Jerry(Woody Allen) and Phyllis (Judy Davis), to meet her in-laws.During the visit, Jerry discovers the natural singing talent of Michelangelo's mortician father and launches him as an opera-singer. The best of the guffaws are part of this story :

Jerry: "The kid's a communist, the father's a mortician, does the mother run a leper colony?"

Elsewhere, we are introduced to an architect John (Alec Baldwin) who bumps into a young architectural student Jack (Jesse Eisenberg). In a series of surreal imagination, John hovers around Jack like a guardian angel. Sometimes whacky, sometimes didactic, John tries to steer Jack away from the mistakes of the young  like warning him against women like Monica. Woody's obsession with the pseudo-intellectual woman, is  brought to screen by Monica (Ellen Page) who waxes eloquent of Dostoevsky and Ozymandian melancholy.

Monica: "I would do anything to spend one night with Howard Roark."

Scenario three is about a newly-wedded couple who are separated and is laden with the cliched 'call-girl pretending to be wife' . Even Penelope Cruz in a sexy red dress, fails to save this one. 

The last tale is the one depicting that the famous become 'famous' for no apparent reason. Except as a tribute to Fellini and Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) , this is the most tiring of all . 

The movie might have worked decently well if the story of  the newly-weds and that of a 'schmuck' becoming famous were avoided.For those who are not familiar with Woody Allen's  work, this is not the best place to start familiarizing with his oeuvre.But if, like myself, you are a Woody Allen fan, then you must definitely check it out just so that you can go back to appreciating Annie Hall or Manhattan more than ever.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review of Moonrise Kingdom

      Nostalgic moments of childhood are funny when we wonder how strongly we believed in stories like the stork bringing babies or how people actually lived inside television sets.

       In ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, Wes Anderson does an amazing job of taking us back to this world. Our heroes are 12 year olds –Sam Shakusky(Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), who start as pen pals, fall in love and escape to a forest in an idyllic island. Set in 1960s New England, this sepia tinted movie has a fairy-tale feeling.

      Sam attending ’Khaki Scouts’ summer camp is an orphan and is troubled with foster families, who do not need him. He finds solace in Suzy Bishop, who is unhappy with her constantly bickering parents - Laura (Frances McDormand) and Walt (Bill Murray) Bishop. They decide to elope.

    Sam Shakusky: Dear Suzy, walk four hundred yards due north from your house to the dirt path which has not got any name on it. Turn right and follow to the end. I will meet you in the meadow.

      Together they discover the joys of fishing, hiking the hills and woods, reading, camping and lo and behold, kissing!  Their adventure is threatened by multiple search parties .Camp master Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) launches a search party with the other boy scouts. Meanwhile, the sheriff of the island, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) also tries to rescue the kids.

    Sam Shakusky : What do you want to be when you grow up?
    Suzy Bishop    :  I don't know...I want to go on adventures I think; not get stuck in one place.

          Camouflaged in this story, is the unhappy troubled story of the adults. Captain Sharp and Laura Bishop’s affair as well as the life of Walt Bishop are melancholic. All of them want to do the right thing and hence put up with unhappiness.

           Two actors who make the movie worthwhile are Jared Gilman as Sam Shakusky and Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp. Jared Gilman as Sam, adds the right element of naughty glint in the eyes along with enough innocence to make audiences want to hug him.  You are also impressed by the transformation of ‘Die-Hard’ Bruce Willis, who, as a melancholic middle-aged sheriff in a small island evokes strong sympathy.

         Captain Sharp :  Let's face it. You're probably a much more intelligent person than I am. In fact, I guarantee it. But even smart kids stick their fingers in electrical sockets sometimes. It takes time to figure things out. It's been proven by history; all mankind makes mistakes...

      There are multiple chuckle-inducing scenes not because they are laugh out loud funny but because they are reminders of the innocence of kids and the awkwardness of 12 year olds.

       Sam Shakusky : Watch out for turtles. They'll bite you if you stick your finger in their mouths.

     The music, composed by Benjamin Britten, is soothing to the soul and adds an ethereal element.

     Moonrise Kingdom will take you back to the time when you first read ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and if like me, imagined yourself to be Becky Thatcher enjoying the adventures with Tom Sawyer.

     For today’s digital era kids, it is a wonderful story of creativity, ingenuity of surviving in the woods, enjoying nature, retreating to the wonders of reading and last of all, learning that one needn’t resort to cell phones and Facebook to have fun in life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Separation - Movie Review

Is 'A Separation' the modern day Rashomon?  is the first question that came to my mind.

Every couple of years there comes a movie that involves us beyond the screen. A few years back, it was The Reader and this year, 'A Separation' surpasses it in terms of it's simplicity of presentation along with depth of emotion.

The movie commences with a couple, Simin and Nader, in a divorce court. The reason for the divorce is  simple - Simin wants to move out of Iran for better prospects for their 12 year old daughter, Termeh.  Nader cannot leave the country since he is the sole care-taker of his Alzheimer-stricken father. The divorce is denied but Simin separates to live in her mother's house. A house-help, Razieh, is employed to look after the demented father during  the day. Razieh, along with her 4 year old daughter, struggles with the burden of managing  the household chores as well as the care of a forgetful and sick old man. She is caught between her religious beliefs (of a woman taking care of a man with no chaperone around) and the need to make ends meet.

At this point the movie could have easily become predictable - by either projecting the plight of Iran and why Simin wants to flee the country, or by focusing on religious beliefs and the way it affects common people. But 'A Separation' does neither. Instead it's sole focus is the intricacies of people's lives. We are drawn into the plight of Razieh that we forget about her religion but sympathize with her situation.

One day Nader and Termeh come home to see the old man fallen off the bed and his hands tied. This infuriates Nader, who wonders along with the audience where Razieh disappeared.
A distraught Razieh returns after some time and tries to explain that she only tied the old man to prevent him from wandering. A furious Nader pushes Razieh out of his house.What follows is a complaint by Razieh's husband against Nader for causing a miscarriage.

We feel deeply sympathetic to all characters. Nader is an amazing son and a fine father. We sense this when Nader, back from work, strikes a fine balance between looking after his father as well as his daughter.
Surely he must be on the right. But again, our heart reaches out to Razieh - pregnant and a good-for-nothing husband forcing her to take up a tiring job. Some of us might be angry with Simin for leaving her family and moving to her mother's house. We also weigh the options just like Termeh does. Like the self-righteousness of a 12 year old, she wants to support whoever is right.

Surprisingly, the judge is neither corrupt nor prejudiced.The questions asked by the judge not only confuse the 12 year old daughter but also the audience.Did Nader know that Razieh was pregnant? Where did Razieh disappear after tying the father?What caused the miscarriage?

If you peel the different layers of this intrinsic story, the heart of movie is the confusion between what is right and wrong? What does one do in a state of helplessness ? Does a parent teach a child what is right or what is convenient?  'A Separation' tries to balance it all as if it were an apple on the tip of the pencil.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Movies and books in march 2012

  1. Boys don't cry - I was fooled at some point about Hillary Swank being born 'inter-sexed' but realizing that she is a woman made me sad. It also made me sad because of the stupidity of her character. I know it takes courage to fight an identity crisis especially a sexual one, but when met with barbaric boys, the woman in you should shout 'Run from danger'. At-least that is what I do!
  2. Blue Valentine - I can't gush enough about Ryan Gosling. Add Michelle Williams to this eclectic mix and we have this amazingly beautiful sad story of a couple gone awry.
  3. Howard's End (Abandoned) - Would blame it on the timing - when sleep beckons me, this is not the movie I should be watching.
  4. Kahani - Nothing more to add to my review.
  5. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? - Yes, it is horrifying. Yes, Betty Davis makes a horrific villain. Yes, it reminded me of Rosemary's baby. But, there were points of time when it defied logic. I like a good movie to have all loose ends neatly tied.
  6. Barefoot in the park -  My introduction to Niel Simon. Fun but a little over the top movie-shot- like-a-play(I do like them when done well like Rope but this was a whole different story).I like Robert Redford but he was the wrong choice for the husband. And I can't stop drooling over the dresses of Jane Fonda. I think I would like to see more of her.

 7. Young Adult  - Did not live up to it's review. Could have given it a miss.   
 8. A Separation (Iranian movie) - Totally worthy of the Oscar it won. I would like to write a full review of it at some point. This movie does an amazing job of portraying the subtle emotions of a family that is undergoing change in present day Iran. 
 9. Detective Dee and the mystery of the phantom flame (Chinese)  - Fun and colorful. I think it would have been a grand viewing on the big screen but I enjoyed watching the mystery unfold. Set in 618 AD, the first Empress of China orders the investigation of men exploding in flames before her coronation.It is a good DVD watch on a boring Friday night.


1.Bossy Pants - Tina Fey - Marks my foray into the world electronic readers. It introduced me to the world of 'Improvise' and definitely had a few good laughs.
2. The Hunger Games -  Suzanne Collins - A good story with a fast moving plot. I don't think I would be reading the other two books of the trilogy but will look forward to the movies.
3. Biography of Steve Jobs (Abandoned)- Maybe because I am not the biggest Apple fan on earth(and they are not missing me anyways). Also the entire India trip reeked of 'West finds India mystical' theme, that I find mildly annoying.

Audio Book :

The Coral Thief - Rebecca Scott

I used to consider those who say 'I heard the audio book' as not reading the book, which I still say, by the way. But my first brush with this audio book was good. I don't know if I would bury myself in voices instead of the pages, but they do make good companions on a long and lonely road trip.   

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Movies and Books of Feb 2012

Looks like I'm making good progress on the reading front. Me happy :)
  1.  By Blood Possessed -  Elena Santangelo : Wonderful read. Set in contemporary times, the story oscillates between the civil war period and present day. I was attracted to this writer who hails from a suburb about 2 miles from where I live and was the winner of the Agatha Award for 2010. Any writer who is affiliated to Agatha Christie has my attention~!
  2.  Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell  : I am not much of a non-fiction reader but this book held my attention. Stories varied from 'How Hushpuppies became a fashion phenomenon' to 'How the crime in NYC during the '80s was curbed'. Gladwell definitely scores high on how to tell a good non-fiction story.
  3.  Life itself : a memoir - Roger Ebert : Deserves a separate blog post. One thought though; although one is strong in life something from childhood always lingers on your head - in this case, Ebert's mother's indirect influence on the girls he dated made him marry late in life. I thought that was an interesting point to be noted.
  4.  Tender is the Night - F Scott Fitzgerald (abandoned for lack of interest. Blasphemous, I know, but I never read a book I'm not interested in.) 
  5.  The Valley of Fear - Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)  : Need I say anything more than what millions haven't said before? A good murder mystery for a silent winter evening.

  1.  Jazabel : I think Bette Davis deserved an Oscar for her performance in 'All about Eve' and not this one.
  2.  Munich:  (abandoned because of too much violence) - A sad but true story of how the Israeli team were brutally killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics and how their death was avenged.
  3.  Drive : I thought the plot was too contrived although Ryan Gosling was very good.
  4.  Deconstructing Harry : Cookie, is the first African American woman featured in any of the Woody Allen movies I have seen so far. Movie is a hilarious riot of a writer whose writing has gone awry with twisted autobiographical incidents.
  5.  Office Space : Is funny every time I watch it because of how close to truth the movie actually is.
  6.  That obscure object of desire : One of Bunuel's famous works, I did not think much of it except that I liked the beginning- A man from a running train, pours a bucket of water on a woman's head, which piques the curiosity of the fellow passengers.
  7.  I Don't Know How She Does It : Fun movie of a career woman balancing kids, husband and her project that needs her to travel. Kudos for making a woman respectably reject the boss who is interested in her and stick to her husband.
  8.  Higher Ground : Surely everyone who watched 'Up in the air' were mesmerized by Vera Farmiga. So when I heard that she had directed this movie and had good reviews, I decided to pick it up. But it was not for me. A movie about religious zealots is not my cuppa tea. 
I plan to blog about all the books and movies for each month and would love to hear from you on your monthly viewing/reading.        

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kahaani - A movie review

When I called my friend to watch a Hindi movie, he was skeptical but played along. He did mention that he would rather watch 'A Separation'. I asked him not to insult my intelligence. I would never waste my time on a movie that is not worth my time. 'A Separation' is high on my list but I was in mood for some Indian fare.

How can one not like a movie that plays 'Tere bina jiya jaaye na'? Kahaani is all about such small details. It assumes that the viewer is intelligent, which is a big plus for Indian movies.

Kahaani is the story of a wife searching for her missing husband just like 'Roja'. But it doesn’t taper off as lamely as 'Roja' did. Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) , a computer engineer from London, frantically searches for her husband, who comes on a two week assignment to India. No one has heard of her husband - Arnab Bagchi. Not the 'National Data Center' (the project he was working on) or the guest house where he stayed. The first place she starts her search is the usual one that any common man would go to - the police and earns the sympathy of a constable, Rana. Her search leads her into an intricate web of mystery and suspense of a look-alike of her husband. Her relentless pursuit of what looks like a lost cause, in spite of being heavily pregnant, makes us want to shout to her to be more considerate to her unborn baby.

The suspense here is not built by a car chase or a series of gun-fights. It is the slow unveiling of an intricate plot which revolves the 'Intelligence Beaureau' and an incident involving a terror attack in the Kolkatta metro.

The characters are flawless. You would hate the IB deputy chief Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), whose commands are nothing but a string of swear words. You would love Rana(Parambrata Chatterjee), for being a simpleton, who takes the tram after work, telling his mother that he is on his way back home. And you are afraid when Bob , the contract killer who masquerades as a lazy insurance agent, is going to kill next.

Of course Kolkatta is an important central character. The simple beauty of the Howrah bridge as seen from the tram, the traffic, the chai chops, the yellow taxi cabs, the Chinese street food stalls, the preparation for puja and the ever beautiful Bong women (if you notice the receptionist at NDC).

Vidya is excellent - as a forlorn wife, as a frantic and pregnant woman, as an NRI who is returning back to homeland, as a South Indian adjusting to being called 'Bidya' and lastly as a beautiful actress who portrays emotions through a subtle glint in her eyes.

Every year I think there is atleast one Hindi movie that I love. Last year, it was Dhobhi Ghaat and this year Kahaani usurped it.  If all this is not enough, the throws-off-your-seat ending makes it a must-watch. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

All things are new before they become old - My own

A stroll through a used book store on a lazy Sunday afternoon introduced me to an amazing writer - Beverley Nichols. The world knows him as a famous writer of gardening books but 'Verdict on India' is anything but that. Published in 1944, it is an autobiographical account of the writer's observations of India. As my fingers turn over the yellow, dog-eared pages, I'm amazed at how much India is still the same except maybe the 'Untouchables'.

In the foreword, the author is apologetic about his book. I think that is very humble of him. Why should anyone apologize to reveal the impressions that India leaves you with?

He also stuns us with his words. In one of the opening paragraphs he writes :

"I stared over the valley. Thirty miles away the white robes of Kinchinjunga were spread against the sky of immaculate blue; they looked like a sort of celestial laundry waiting to be gathered into gigantic baskets by industrious angels. The angels would have to hurry up, for the sun was falling swiftly ; already the divine draperies were being stained with gold and crimson and that strange acid green that is the secret of the Indian twilight'

Like most writers those days, Nichols was a versatile writer. He has published novels, mysteries, short stories, essays and children's books.He wrote a number of non-fiction books on travel, politics, religion, cats, parapsychology, and autobiography. Not to mention his  famous books on gardening.

I'm looking forward to picking more of his books. Discovering this writer is like finding an uncut diamond in a mound of pebbles.

His book of Ballads is featured on Project Gutenberg. I'm sure you would find him as pleasurable to read as I do.

Friday, February 10, 2012

But then I am a lawyer, and my business is to make a fuss about trifles. - Wilkie Collins in 'The Law and the Lady'

I'm glad to pick up my reading again. Going off cable TV about 6 months back, is now reaping benefits. January  reads were 'The Law and the Lady'(Wilkie Collins) and 'The sun also rises'(Hemingway).

When I realized I had a long flight to California, I looked at the books from the library - The Law and the Lady, The sun also rises and Tender is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald). I had to decide on one of them. This is because between the number of clothes, shoes, scarves and handbags, I can manage to carry only one book.If I made the wrong choice, I would be left with nothing but  a boring book and maybe an even-more boring passenger in my next seat.Luckily, I took The Law and the Lady. My only gripe is that I read too fast and finished the book even before we completed the 6 hours of flight. A good reason for me to consider buying the kindle. 

'The law and the lady' is officially be the first book to feature a lady detective. Keeping with the times of 1875 (the year the book was published) the lady investigates the death of the first-wife of her husband, who is falsely accused of killing her. There are some hints of 'Rebecca' but barely so.It is commendable that Collins believes in women power in the Victorian era when women were not allowed to venture anywhere without a chaperone.Willie Collins is the true harbinger of detective fiction. (while Edgar Allen Poe is attributed to this, I beg to differ since Poe only wrote short detective stories and not a full length novel). 

One wouldn't believe that 'The sun also rises' was written in 1926. It could be an experience narrated by a present day American having a grand tour of Spain. This book can be set in 2012 as opposed to 1926 with the promiscuous 'Lady Ashley' shifting her affections easily from one man to another not caring for the wounded along the way.
No one can match Hemingway in the brevity of his sentences. Made me edit tons of my own writing (both at work and the novel). If anyone is on their way to writing a book, Hemingway is a teacher like no other.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Movies is but life with the dull parts cut out - Alfred Hitchcock

The first month of 2012 has me happy with the number of movies watched. I think I have to write it down to make myself believe it.

Jan 1st - The Adventures of Tintin - When I asked my 9 year old nephew if he had watched this movie, he replied in the affirmative adding 'It is a mix of multiple books'. My memory is hazy on this.Having read the books about 20 years back, it is already a mix of books in my head . It is a well-made entertainer capturing  the spirit of Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock very well.It was a bigger edge-of-the-seat thriller than 'Sherlock Holmes II'. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the sequels. 

Jan 2nd - The Asphalt Jungle - I would not do justice to this movie in a short two sentence review since it deserves a blog post by itself. I would like to call this movie less of a film-noir and more of a heist especially with no 'femme-fatale'. Like 'All short stories come out of Gogol's Overcoat', any heist movie is a by-product of this original. Marilyn Monroe has a small role in it as a mistress of the villain and she looks and sounds the same like she did when she was at the height of her fame.

Jan 3rd - All about Eve (re-watch)  - This film made me fall in love with Betty Davis and watch her other movie 'Jezebel'. I watched the bonus materials which had interviews of the leading ladies taken at that time and was surprised to see how closely their real lives resembled their screen characters. More on that in a separate post.

Jan 4th - Arsenic and Old Lace (re-watch) : Good old Cary Grant - sometimes funny, sometimes over the top in this macabre comedy.

Jan 5th -  LA Confidential - The less said about it the better :) 

Jan 6th - The Artist - I was at a bar the other night and when the conversation turned to movies, I mentioned a silent Black and White movie and immediately my friend said 'she of course watches old movies'. I had to interuppt and say ' But this was made in 2011'.The movie reminded me of this song .
I'm glad that the French actor, Jean Dujardin, got his Oscar nomination for this.
How can one not think of Pushpak while watching this?

Jan 8th - Black Dahlia - Nothing worth writing about except maybe that it kept me company on a bored evening.

Jan 12th - Queen Bee - Joan Crawford was Disappointing! with a capital D with her over the top acting. Who tolerates an arrogant, old, married-woman-going-after-younger-men wife? Nobody. But the movie tries to make you believe otherwise and it fails. They all loathe the Queen Bee but I don't know why they put up with her!

Jan 14th - Straw Dogs - A remake of the 1971 film of the same name, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. It shows how anyone can provoke a peace-loving, eclectic, intellectual and turn him into a violent killer to protect the lives of him and others.A question that bugged me to no end - Why did the woman strip herself and stand at the window? Beats me!

Jan 15th - The Help - I think if I leave out the re-watches, Tintin and The Asphalt Jungle, this would be my pick for my favorite movie out of this list for January. The Help, in many ways, reminded me of the maids we have in India. There are some commonalities and some not. I hope Octavia Spencer wins the Oscar for Best supporting actress. She totally rocked it - as a maid with a mind of her own. Without her, it would have become another dark Afro-American story. The women publishing a story of their lives without being recognized  made for a fun viewing.

Jan 28th - The Rope (re-watch) : My love of this movie has already been documented - here.

Jan 29th -  Intolerable Cruelty : Not my favorite Cohen brothers movie, but is a fun watch, nevertheless.
I can never get over the disappointment of a Cohen brothers' movies that has a happy ending.

Honorary mention of abandoned movies : Chasing Amy, The 39 Steps for different reasons. I thought I narrowly missed watching Chasing Amy by a decade and was impatient now. The 39 steps along with The Jamaican Inn are the only two Hitchcock's I've been unable to watch  1. because of the old print and 2. they had some spy story or the other that did not interest me.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

They say life is what happens when you are making other plans but what if there are no plans?

In 2011 someone asked me 'How long have you been in the United States?' and I said '5 years' and she said 'only 5 years?'

Little did she know that in those 5 years there were enough activities that were filled into an already overflowing suitcase of memories.

Moving to United States, relocating from Indiana to Pennsylvania, finding a full-time job, moving into a teeny-apartment with sky-high rent, going through a divorce alone without friends, car and a new job (Ah!shit! moment of my life), putting up with 'what does she know?' looks at work, a new shining red car, acquiring good friends along the way, trip to Scotland, day trips to Atlantic city, parents visit and proud to see me do well, smart move to a better apartment, first long drive to new jersey, new boy friends, heartbreaks,beautiful snowfalls, discovering the joy of writing a book, digging deeper into movies,finding out that I have a green thumb, going to writers meets, trip to California, people at work saying 'she does know something', my promotion as Senior product manager, trips to India, rediscovering old friends, surviving management changes in the company, putting up with 'you shouldn't have gotten divorced', certified in product management, trips to New York, Broadway shows ,going to women's leadership course, discovering someone I love, getting better at long distance driving,discovering the fun of baking, cooking, partying, dancing besides many other unmentionables!
No, it wasn't only 5 years....

As I step into 2012, I hope I come a wee bit closer to discovering myself - who I am , what I want and hopefully know how to bring these two together.