Sunday, July 15, 2007

Movie Review - Mr Brooks

Unremarkable movie with a good cast. Mr Brooks offers a brief insight into the hows of serial killing without bothering with the why. The why is sidelined to just being a 'family trait'... if only the serial killers of the world were a slightly more respected lot, they could sue this movie maker for over simplifying the 'whys', and for making serial killing an almost partisan characteristic... like diabetes.

Mr Brooks at one point of the movie says... "Selecting a person to kill is almost like falling in love. If the person you select does not do it for you, there is no point in killing him." My thought was.. ayyyayyyyayyyo.. Arivu kozhundhu annein.. killi vaila daan potukanum. Though you got to give it to the director for presenting an interesting concept, he falters in not maintaining our interest in the storyline because of such over-simplifications.

There are million sub plots in this movie, and the way all the sub-plots have been interwoven, as usual, seems contrived. Mr Brooks's involvement with the detective, and her reasons seem to be more important than why Mr Brooks even wants kill. All this apart, there are certain areas that are still good. Some inside jokes between Mr Brooks and his alter-ego, especially when the blackmailer Mr Smith talks about doing anything perfectly, are minimally interesting. I am not sure if this movie is goign to be released in Chennai, but even if it is, will not be worth a watch.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Music Review - The Music Messiah

You sometimes think, if a person is a genius, why would he have to boost his own public image. My initial reaction to the self titled album... was that. You cannot fault me, this would not be the first time Illayaraaja has tried something like that.

This album is interesting in that, there is an underlying story to the tracks (10 in number), and to quote the producer, Agi Music, "Agi Music provides a storyline for this album. Nevertheless, Agi suggests the audience to imagine their own version of the story to digest the music and motivates the listener to interpret their own meaning of the story which is hidden in this musical work." :-/. That is my version of the 'one sided dismissive smile'.

OK, in order for you readers to derive all the nutrients from his music, let me guide you through it.

1. Primordial Music - This is supposed to signify the natural music of the earth... starts with what I think is an oriental flute (I assume it is that, because on hearing it I am reminded of Kung Fu masters practicing their art in silhuoete... ). He lends his voice, and the opening firmly establishes the stamp of Illayaraaja... with a few violins wailing in bits and pieces. Just before the song gets to you, there is a change in track, in order to signify the yang of the Universe, the music suddenly turns dark. This is supposed to signify that the earth has its dark elements also. There has been an attempt to include 'earthy' bass instruments in both this song and the next.

2. Paradise - No flow in this. Why was the dark element in the previous song? This song starts on an upbeat mode, and reminds me of one other Illayaraaja composition. "Kala kalavena Mani Osai'... I liked that song, like this too.

3. Revelation - I have this one more crib against Illayaraaja. Why does he build up so well, and suddenly let you down? His sons too have the same quality. Uvan in 'Yaaro'.. in Chennai 28. he builds up pretty well in the song before he just wraps everything in a hurry with "Anbe Vaaaa" hey hey.... and a few unsettling drum beats.

4. The Jealousy of Indra - Apparently in the 'musical story', Indra the god of creation becomes jealous of the 'good music'.. the 'Ying' in the universe. The song starts out on a nice loop at the end, but then there is no continuation.

5. The curse of Indra - Indra was Jealous of the 'earth music'. So he curses. Must have pretty low standards.

6. Lust Anger and Greed - If you are following the story so far, this is teh sad part of teh album. Babies cry, violins wail really slowly... give it to Illayaraaja to make some really sad music. He excels. At the end of the sog, a baby laughs. I suppose that would be God trying to revert the curse of Indira.

7. The Music Messiah - The god ponders what to do. Hmm.

8. The Omnipresence - Hmmmmmmmmmmm

9. The Sacrament - God tries to re-invent music... to calm the minds of the people. It sounds like mood music / ambient tracks, with Native American shakers and davara tumblers rolling in the background. This Song reaches Indra, and he is rendered impotent.

10. The Redemption - The first track is replayed again, with a few fringes. The album ends.

I hope you 'digested' the album. I did, and this was the result. I hope you could get atleast a 'waft' of it it. Putrid.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Movie Review - The Queen

This movie is indeed one among 'a few of a kind' (as opposed to the previous one I reviewed). It is not often that you would get to see a realistic yet entertaining portrayal of a seemingly uninteresting but poignant event. The event in this case was the official reaction of the Queen to the erstwhile Princess, Diana's death.This movie paints a brilliant satire, touching at times, of the ugly nationwide reaction to the passing of Diana, and the very dignified royal response. This is one movie, that I never wanted to end.

I had watched Judi Dench play different queens a couple of times, and Cate Blanchet play another, once. I thought all those representations were partisan, compared to Helen Mirren's performance. Remarkable. The seemingly strong, and poker faced queen, who never 'wears her heart on the sleeve', letting the emotions break through the surface just a few of times in the movie... Each time it happens, you are rewarded with a glimpse of how much work must have gone into the wonderful screenplay. It is a wonder Mirren has not been recognized for any of her earlier roles.

The movie, in one angle, revolves around the Royal family's displeasure at Diana's comportment. The narration begins the day before she dies. The family's resentment to her behaviour when she was alive, turns into quiet withdrawal on hearing of Diana's passing. This is twisted into 'arrogant indifference' by the preyign media, the second angle, and whipped up into a frenzy.
The third angle, is that of Tony Blair, who is but a few months into his first term. He, at first seems to have the legendary british sarcasm towards the Monarchy, and wants to modernize it in every way. He then understands the enormity of the situation he has to handle, first up, and in a quick turn of fate becomes the advisor to the Queen. The rest of the movie is about how a compromise is struck between Blair's intent to not harm the monarchy, and the Queen's rigidity in preserving tradition.

Every third party reaction is treated with extreme satire. Be it the crowds that wept outside the Palace or the extreme rudeness of the media. The tongue in cheek portrayal of how the Duke of Spencer's (Diana's brother) direct blaming of the media for her death in the early hours of her death, turns into a direct attack on the Monarchy during her funeral... suavely done.

The funeral in itself is covered in a tongue and cheek manner with an emphasis on the celebrities no way connected to Diana attending it... just so that it gets media coverage. The dialogues are regularly interspersed with what all of us would have thought at that time... when we see people completely otherwise unnafected by Diana, acting up like their entire future has been destroyed.
Among the movies I have watched over the last couple of months, this is perhaps the best... better than The Prestige by quite a bit.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Movie Review - Sivaji

This has happened to me before. In the case of Snakes on a Plane. SOAP was a much hyped movie, and the premise was astounding. Putting two of peoples greatest fears... flying and snakes together in a movie along with Sam Jackson... one other mortal fear. It took me a couple of hours to actually accept to myself that the movie, in spite of its much hyped, much promised aura, is a remarkable flop in terms of entertainment value.

Sivaji is no different. This movie, flops in every sense of the word. This movie flops even if you disregard the lack of originality in Shankar's direction, ignore the pointless and half assed action sequences, and turn a blind eye to the blatant disregard to anything remotely resembling logic. The movie looks like as if someone had used flash movie maker to make the resume of a kindergarten student. And yet as a HR person, you are forced to consider it for a software architect position.

I watched this movie pretty late... the third week of release, and I was warned to not expect anythign great, and that the movie must be watched for Rajni and Rajni alone. So I prepared myself well, by leaving expectations of coherence, good screenplay and decent acting at home, in the freezer. I was prepared for the SS patented 'style', some gimmicks and a few childish feel good moments.

What I got was some horribly partisan gimmicks... (come on.. do you really think that throwing a chewing gum into your mouth by bouncing it off things is 'style'?), jarring BGM, and a few cliches strung together. That maketh the movie. The only 'new' thing that this movie offers is that Rajni has painted himself pink for one song.

It took me a few hours to accept that inspite of all the self build-up, SOAP was infact a terrible movie. I expect the Thamizh audience to realize that Sivaji is a truly boring, aimless, self absorbed movie that was not worth even the first watch.

And guys... people will fool you by saying that the last 10 minutes of the movie was worth every paisa, and it must not be missed for anything in life. It is just their way of saying that the first 45 hours of the movie sucked donkey dong real hard. Do not believe them.