Green is for Veggies

Tom Green has to be the most overrated comedian ever. WTF I wonder why anybody even calls him a comedian. Even a self-induced shot of laughing gas would make it difficult to overcome the horror of his act. Green, no doubt has moulded himself on the shock jock act. He connects his ‘comedic’ intensity with the method acting of Brando and Strasberg, and he no doubt considers himself a free-wheeling artist. It’s because of puerile minds like Tom Green’s that I fully endorse artistic fascism.tom green

I, for one, cannot imagine why the media even considers this guy worthy to be spoken off. Need to know what set off this rant,

1. Immediate reason: After watching ‘Stealing Harvard’ last night. Green’s performance brought down a movie to the level of unusable horse manure, when it should have been usable. Please note that I am politely using the word ‘manure’ for both Tom Green and the movie.

2. He acts extremely self indulgent on talk shows. Appears like he was the last comic standing and all human kind had to look up to him. Pah! If he was the last man standing and I was the reanimated zombie, I would make sure he never infected our species.

3. He made Freddy got Fingered: There are some movies surrounded by such negative hype that you wouldn’t mind having a peek at them. I haven’t watched this movie, but after reading every review, every random dialogue that this movie offers it makes me so disgusted that I really wonder who were the a**holes who rented out the DVDs to help this movie turn up a profit after perishing at the theatres.

4. Green married Drew Barrymore: How could she do that? But what the hell, it soon turned out that my faith in her intelligence was vindicated when she dumped the green headed monster.

5. He gives a bad name to everything Green, Green IT, Go Green, Green Fuel (in his case would be a bad dose of flatulence)

sci fi movie low budget on time travel

I had forgotten the name of this small sci-fi film that made me believe that time travel was actually possible by gearing up a contraption in my garage with the help of an IIT genius. This morning I decided to type in the very words that mark the title of this blog on Google. Hand it to Google, the first link that appeared was for the film ‘Primer‘ developed and directed by Shane Carruth.

Primer Film
Primer Film

Armed with a degree in Mathematics and engineering experience, Carruth made Primer on a $7000 budget. Now forget about a sci-fi flick, this would not be enough to arm even a c-grade romantic comedy meant to go straight-to-video. But with Primer, Carruth has given us one of the most engrossing sci-fi, time travel movie ever without the use of any cheap special effects. It’s the thrills and the twists and turns that make the film so engrossing.

Besides writing and directing, Shane Carruth stars with David Sullivan as the duo who accidentally come up with a time travel device in their garage and the movie traces their experiences while trying to manage this device in the best way that they can for their mutual benefit. The movie is believable from the point of view that it is the ‘Blair Witch…’ of the Sci-Fi genre. There are no sound effects, no dark alleys and renegade machines trying to entrap you. It’s just the characters who go through a complex lifecycle process while trying to go back in time and benefit from what they know happened. I won’t say I understood everything in the movie the first time I watched it, but there was a palpable thrill when the developers of the machine nearly came face to face with their body doubles from the past. Instances like this, create the tension in the film adn there is a climactic sense everytime the main characters use the machine. You wait for something bad to happen till the very end and this is what keeps the viewer on tenterhooks.

This movie deservedly received a Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance film festival. Other mainstream sci-fi awards like the Saturn Sci-Fi Film Awards completely missed this cracker of a film. Checking up on Shane Carruth on Wikipedia, I noticed that he hasn’t made any movie since.  I guess the studio execs found this guys number crunching skills too complicated especially when it came to realigning the share of the box office profits and otehr profit sharing ratios, which are now decided before a movie is made. From fractals to geometrical and algebraic patterns, Carruth is one guy who can turn numbers and element symbols into a 3 hour long masterpiece on celluloid. I hope someone is listening.

Watch the trailer here.

Control – No freak of nature this

Joy Division Control film

  • Till yesterday I had only heard of this band in passing
  • Till yesterday I made no effort to learn anything more of this band
  • Till yesterday I had not heard any of its music

And yesterday I watched ‘Control’.

Biopics have this nasty habit of being all that you expected them to be. And this holds true especially for the movies portraying brilliant but extremely flawed individuals. ‘Control’ has it all – sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll – in short the general ingredients of a niche band that came into its own too soon and was assumed to have faded away too early.

That’s where all the clichés stop. ‘Control’ is based on the life of Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis and his troubled life that made and broke the genius within. If there is one word for the pace of the film that is – subtle. Subtlety flows in every frame without being pretentious and this is totally performance driven.

Before this, I had never set eyes or seen the Joy Division lead singer in action. But after ‘Control’ there is a feeling that Sam Riley got it right. In fact he got it perfectly cause the flaws, the genius, the performance, the illness, the discord is all packed into this one performance that takes its inspiration from the stone & machine landscape of Macclesfield. The cast has its share of known performers – Samantha Morton playing the aggrieved wife (playing Deborah Curtis on whose book, Touching from a Distance, the movie was based), and a brilliant cameo from the band manager (Tobey Kebbell as Rob Gretton). Kebbell is hilarious as he goes about arm twisting and wheeling dealing his way with profanity laced words that seem to make good business sense in the end.

I have slept through biopics before, but this one definitely did not warrant a blink. The performance was riveting and backed with a racy soundtrack from the sounds of David Bowie to the Sex Pistols and then the punk rock of Joy Division, every frame of the movie was there for a reason. If I heard Joy Division’s music without knowing anything about them, then I definitely would have mistaken it for a band of the nineties. The music was definitely well ahead of its time and showed why brand Britannia ruled when it came to the rock and punk scene. Rock and punk is as much a British phenomena born out of the gloomy industrial towns of England than the downtown parking lot of Seattle or San Francisco.

The air feels funny out here

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have the only gun on board. Welcome to Con Air.”

With these words, John Malkovich starts off one of the greatest campy action movies of all time. That’s right, you don’t hear ‘Con Air’ and ‘great’ mentioned in Con Airthe same sentence ever. I hope to change that especially after I got served by Christy on this particular topic. Nicolas Cage (as Cameron Poe) may have headlined this flick, but that was pure poster pleasure ‘cause the real heroes were the prisoners who made up the crew and passengers. They would definitely be the right antidote to deep vein thrombosis were they to hijack the Bangalore-LA direct flight.

With US Marshall John Cusack hot on the tail of these jailbirds (the airline was also called the same, talk about perfect naming conventions), this motley bunch of crackheads, skinheads, potheads provide all the in-flight entertainment you could ever ask for. Oh, I nearly forgot, you also got the wrongly jailed felon who is to be released and looking forward to seeing his wife and daughter. Keeping the good Nicolas Cage company is the standard black dude, whose virtuousness makes you wonder why he wouldn’t make the grade for Mother Superior of Mother Theresa’s congregation. Shawshank Redemption in the skies… that’s what I say.

All hail Scott Rosenberg for writing some of the cheesiest dialogues ever that are so cheesy that they are brilliant. It’s like one of those “it’s so bad it’s good moments”. Sample these from Steve Buscemi, the serial killer who can battle rap Hannibal Lecter any day, (all dialogues courtesy wikiquotes)
“What if I told you ‘insane’ was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn’t you consider that to be insane?”
“Define ‘irony’: a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane, to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.” (that’s when Sweet Home Alabama blares on the in-flight system)Cyrus the virus

Then take Malkovich, named Cyrus ‘the Virus’ Grissom. He pulls off the best ham job ever and I swear he should have got an MTV movie award at least for this. Nic Cage roams around like a mangy dog with the same hang-dog look that he sports in every other film of his. Damn… I don’t think even plastic surgery could correct that look.

This movie does not create excuses for itself. I think it was genuinely meant to be a blockbuster action flick but instead as the movie proceeded to be made, a natural evolution towards campiness took place which spread to every other frame and department in this flick. I will watch this every time, anytime it hits the channels.

To the hammiest movie ever… you really pulled the bunny out of the hat. Cameron Poe, try getting that back.

Exploring Panambur

On my last trip to Mangalore I decided to make it a point to visit Panambur Beach. Caught up with Vishal, a Manipal classmate, who promised show me areas in Panambur I had never seen before. We first went to the old beach near the NMPT colony and surprise, surprise there was a parking fee, that too 15 bucks which is pretty steep by Mangalore standards. The ticket said that this went to the beach beautification fund, but from where we looked we just saw a sea of people throwing empty charmuri and chip packets all over the place. They had begun some water sports over by the beach and beautification definitely seemed to be far from everyones minds.

Averse to crowds, we took a diversion from the beach towards the rocks. On the way we spotted a couple of peacocks roaming around in the middle of the road. I tried to get them on my camera phone, but they were too quick.

From the Panambur rocks you have a clear view of the harbour with ships entering and exiting the port. When I had been year a few years back, a trail of broken bottles and garbage littered this part of the beach. For now, people seemed to be too bothered about the water sports to bother coming over here. Guess this was the only way to beautify places. Make people discover some other area to pollute to leave you in peace and cleanliness.

I was also taken to the NMPT colony, an area where Vishal relived his childhood memories. I was going right in for the first time in years. The last time I was in the NMPT school was as a kid in 5th standard when I attended an elocution competition on Jawaharlal Nehru. The colony is beautiful during the night and is one of the best planned layouts in Mangalore. Though some of the houses seem dilapidated, there seem efforts to upgrade these quarters.

Mangalore, I miss you.

When the night never ends

Movies with a touch of realism always work. Even in the world of fantasy and make-believe, that film strikes the right chords when a sense of ‘believability’ is set as teh platform for the story. ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Ironman’, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter… the list goes on. Each of these movies were set in real times, in real situations and then rose to the climax where the superhuman and paranormal were justifiably interspersed in these settings. ‘30 days of Night‘ is one of those movies.

30 Days of Night

I caught this movie last Friday evening on HBO. The IPL has turned out to be a pure drain on channel space and I switched on to this Josh Hartnett vehicle. I am not a fan of this guy having watched Lucky Number Slevin – an overrated piece of crap with very mediocre acting. The only worthwhile effort of this actor seems to be Sin City… that too he hardly had enough scenes to make an impression. Anyway, getting back to ’30 Days…’, the reviews for this film were quite good and I was curious about the movie after hearing the story. Vampires attacking the remotest county in the whole of US i.e. Barrow, Alaska, and making hay turn red while the sun stopped shining during the winter.

The movie starts with a foreboding feeling. As the inhabitants get ready for 30 days of the harshest wintry darkness, there is always that dreadful feeling in the air that something bad is going to happen and the mood of the film conveys this without any in-your-face scenes. Hartnett plays the righteous sheriff in this county and starts investigating a series of animal killings and weird happenings in the town. The movie slowly unfolds bringing out the vampires as they feast on the towns inhabitants while speaking to each other in some absurdly corny language.

I liked 30 Days of Night just for the mood of the movie. In a way it brought back memories of another (not exactly similarly themed) movie – John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, where scientists in a remote Antarctic station get cornered by an alien. Hartnett and the rest of the cast here did a pretty good job. No hamming, no overacting, no screeching, not too many false alarms with jarring bass notes. the second half of the film did descend into a bit of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ territory, keeping this aside I would not write-off this film.

This is one of the best horror films made of late and would make the top 10 in best comic book adaptations. Creatively bankrupt Hollywood failed to recognise this pitch from Steve Niles who initially came to the studios with a script for a movie. The rejected script was then turned into a graphic novel and the rest is history. Script pitches don’t seem to be working in Hollywood. You need to have a graphic novel on hand, a spec for a reboot of some 1970s franchise or a dog-eared diary that lists out a sequel for some dumb long forgotten film.

When a vote skipped a beep

Finished voting yesterday morning. However the jury is out as to whether my sister’s vote was recorded. Managed to click a few pics at our polling booth in Bockapatna government school. With regard to my sister’s vote, no alarm went off when she pressed the button. The poll officials seemed clueless as to what the problem was. They asked her to press the button a couple more times before asking her to step aside and then asked me to vote.

All this while they went about searching the machine for defects. They obviously had no clue what was happening nor was there any technical person around. When I pressed the button the machine worked fine and beeped. Mysterious! They looked at the machine at  their end and then told my sis that her vote had been registered. How they came to this conclusion I have no clue. I then asked them right there how her vote could be recorded without any beep or signal as I was watching the presiding officers monitor. They again assured both of us that it was recorded.

I would have taken this issue forward if not for the long line of people who were waiting to cast their vote after us.

On a lighter note, the electoral candidate list symbols were hilarious. Among the independents these were the symbols they shared

– A gas cylinder

– ring with emerald?

– a basket

– flashlight

– coconut husk

Ha, I’m sure the election observers in charge of drafting these symbols have to really scrape through the A-Z symbols from nursery text books.