Sunday, April 20, 2008

21 - Slick, Stylish, Intelligent and True !!!

Well there are films and then there are films. However once in a while there comes a film, thats not only intelligent and slick, but also fast paced and well synchronised. Characters, cinematography, music, plot, everything is so well blended, its a visual and intellectual treat. The dialogs are fantastic and humour is dry and sarcastic.

The background music is particularly well done. There is a scene where the lead character is at his first blackjack assignment. Naturally he starts with apprehension. At this stage u hear the guitar being strummed, in a nice but inconsistent rythm(if u'd like). But as and when he starts winning at the table, the music progresses till it reaches a crescendo!

I must also mention that this film is taken from a book called "Bringing Down The House" written by Ben Mezrich. Based on a true story it portrays how six students from Massachussets Institute of Technology, all mathematical geniuses, take to Blackjack and make millions in the casinos of Las Vegas. One of those films that lives up to the book's reputation.

One beautiful thing is, right near the beginning, the game of Blackjack is explained to the audience. Not everyone knows how the game is played. So to make matters simple for those people, there is a scene where Professor Mickey Rosa, played by the effervescent Kevin Spacey explains the game to the lead character. Thats a very subtle but a very useful thing that the crew have done to reach out to the audience.

A must watch and I will add this to my DVD collection, when it comes out.

cheers

Raam

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shaurya - What is the fuss all about ?

Replace Tom Cruise with Rahul Bose
Replace Kevin Bacon with Javed Jaffrey
Replace Jack Nicholson with KK Menon
Replace A Few Good Men with Shaurya. Or at least try to do something of that sort. Then to add insult to injury, copy Yanni's Aria as the background music for the scene when the two lawyers arrive in Kashmir. Then there is the breakfast scene, taken straight from A Few Good Men. Come on for f***'s sake have some creativity. A Waste of talent(Bose, KK and Jaffrey) and waste of time(ours) that leaves you confused, bewildered and asking what's the fuss all about.

The only message I got is that Bollywood doesnt need Shahrukh Khan and the Chopras and Johars to make crap movies. It can do it without them. Call me heartless, call me mean, call me critical, but hey when I pay more than 7 quid to sit in a cinema and watch a film, all i get is a cheap imitation of a fantastic hollywood film. Now this not only insults the great names that made the quality film, but also insults the intelligence of the literate population of India (yes I mean all of us reading this post amongst tons of others).

Save your money, save your time, scan the channels, I am sure you'll have A Few Good Men playing on some channel. Else rent a dvd of the film and watch it with Hindi subtitles.

Technically as well the film lacks the cinematography it could have had. When I think of Kashmir, I think of films like Roja and Mission Kashmir, technically very well made. Shaurya stands nowhere near those films. Dialogue delivery could have been better had the dialogues themselves been written in a powerful authoritarian way. The last scene where KK confesses looks like it was glued to the plot, just to take it to the desired ending.

I can go on and on and on, but I am sure you get the message.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shaken...Not Stirred !!!

Just a little while ago, I was reading Angels and Demons, by Dan "Da Vinci Code" Brown. Pretty interesting and scary as well, to be honest, especially if you have Iron Maiden and Megadeth alternating on winamp. My curiosity got the better of me when Robert Langdon hands Lire to the taxi driver after travelling in an Alfa Romeo 155, twin spark. I was a little sceptical about the period during, which the story was happening. So I decided to refresh my memory on Alfas and just when I had settled down on my bed, with my laptop, rightfully on my lap, it happened!

I felt the walls shake, the door of my room, my wardrobe and my window panels shake simultaenously and then I felt myself tilting to one side. It lasted maybe a couple of seconds. But it scared the shit out of me. Why dyu think m up @ 1.35 AM writing this on my blog? The truth is I cant sleep now. My first experience of an earth-quake has left me like a lilttle more than James Bond's martini, shaken and stirred.

Now as I am writing this, I am also discussing this on Facebook's Manchester network and it has measured 4.7 on the Richter scale. Wikipedia says its normal and major damage is unlikely. However what worries me is being woken up in sleep due to any after-shocks, just like my flatmate has been woken up by this one. We had a discussion bout it, I went out had a look around, a few other lights were on, I felt relieved that we werent the only ones to feel it. I hope that its over for now, as I am planning to get some sleep.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Debenhams Debacle - A Bunch Of In-Store Jokers

www.debenhams.com

The website says that Debenhams is committed to offering their customers greater value, a wider choice and excellent service across every area in which they trade. However, what I went through very recently at Debenhams was a total contradiction of what is mentioned here. At this point I must tell you that I am not whining or moaning about a one off incident that happened to me. It is a typical example of another big brand not living up to its commitment to excellent customer service. What is even more pissing off is the attitude of the in-store attendants.

This particular incident happened in the Debenhams store in Stockport, Greater Manchester. I was looking for a pair of trousers and stumbled upon these designed by I think Thomas Nash, an inhouse brand of Debenhams. I took the pair and went to the fitting room. I was shocked to see that it was locked. There was a little note that said something on the lines of "please buzz and wait for assistance." However it did not say how long to wait for assistance. So I buzzed and waited for around 4-5 minutes. No one came. No one! That put me off a little. Nevertheless, I thought, since I knew what my trouser size was, I might as well head to the till and pay for it. Mind made, I went there, paid for it and left. End of story.

Today as I was getting ready for work, I thought of wearing the new trousers. When I tried them on, what I saw in the mirror was a horrible fitting piece of tailoring that did not warrant the expensive price tag on it or the label of a so called "high street brand." Since I had thankfully preserved the bill, I thought I might as well get it exchanged for something else. I was quite cheesed-off because this was the second time a Debenhams product had failed to meet my requirement. The earlier one being a pair of formal shoes that gave up on me within one month.

So at lunch time today I go to the store and ask this lady at the till for customer service. She says there is no customer service at Debenhams, I dunno whether there was a pun intended. So I told her I would like to exchange the pair of trousers for something else as they did not fit well.

Her response: I am afraid I cant exchange.
Me: Why cant you not exchange?
She: You'd have to return the item in resaleable condition.
Me: Well then if you cannot exchange it, I would like a refund, please.
She: I cant refund either. Coz itz not exchangeable as you've worn it.
Me: Of course, how do you think I could tell you it did not fit?
She: Since you've worn it I cant exchange it.
Me: I've only tried it on this morning and I came to know it does not fit.
She: Well you should've tried it on in the store.

At this point I lost it. I told her everything from the beginning and added:
When I come to buy something, there is no one to take care of my requirements, I press the buzzer and wait, no one appears. I trust Debenhams and the brands associated with it, take the item home and try it on. It does not fit. All I want is an exchange. Since you can exchange and your attitude is so putting off, I need a refund. I need my money back.

She cuts me off and says "I will refund you this time, but I cant do it next time."

She wears a grumpy look on her face and does whatever she has to. Then I tell her that there wont be a next time coz I am never walking into a Debenhams store ever in my life simply because of their attitude, lack of proper customer service and understanding and more importantly that particular lady in their Stockport Mersey Way Shopping Centre store.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

The Kingdom

IMDB link to the film - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431197/

Each character seems to have been created with a purpose and fulfils the role very well. Character progression is well illustrated. However the one character who will sweep

Do not miss out the opening titles of the film. It will give you a superficial idea of what could happen in the next couple of hours.

The vividity of human emotions and what goes on in the human psyche are well interpreted. Dialouges are to the point and witty at times. Situational comedy is good and so is the timing.

Cinematography is great and you feel right in the middle of the action when it happens. One memorable scene is the car crash, wen the FBI crew is going back to Riyadh airport. You literally feel as if you've been in the crash physically. Sound is great and the background music and its absence echo the intensity of the scenes.

There is a scene when Foxx pays a visit to his colleague's house and talks to his 4ish 5ish year old son. Keep that scene in mind! Also near the end, a member of his team asks Foxx what he whispered into Jennifer Garner's ear during the mission briefing. At the same time a Saudi woman asks her little son what the old man whispered into his ear. Watch out for the answer!

The only dull thing about this film is, like most series and films of recent times, its another focus on a current issue. However the good thing is the perspective with which it tackles the problem and tries to provide a solution.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Plugged Unplugged

Relax.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts:
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin...

go Pink Floyd plucking, thrashing and belting out this classic number and it feels like a dream, where I travel across space and time, disconnected from everything else...including the world around me... and then the lyrics hit me hard...particularly these two lines...

"You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin..."

As I try to make sense in the context of the song, they start making more sense when I look around me in the train, towards other passengers. Students, executives, managers, salesmen, engineers,almost everyone, is plugged onto something electronic, be it their ipods, mobile phones, pdas or laptops.

We people are plugged onto electronic gadgets so much these days that we're getting unplugged from the world around us. There used to be a time when travel meant meeting new people, a friendy wave and a smile. Roads and platforms used to be social spaces. Even a polite hi or a hello goes to deaf ears and leads to a sense of insecurity so much that I am starting to feel like a social retard.

What I find even more alarming is he scenario another ten years from now....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chakde India !!!!

I must say that there were excatly 7 Asians in the cinema, watching this film. I dunno how many apart from me were Indians.

About the film.

It is the first Indian sports oriented film in ages, which does not have cricket as its crux. It has been loosely based on true incidents of former India goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi, who let 7 goals against Pak in , i think Asiad '82 in Delhi. Negi then coached the Indian mens hockey team to glory in 1998 Commonwealth games @ Kuala Lumpur and repeated this feat with the womens team @ Manchester in 2002. Powerful performances from everyone, rightly justifying their role makes this worth watching and the India factor makes this a collectable.Oh and the pep talk before the finals reminds me of Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday (if u love sports films and/or Al Pacino watch it). Fantastic cinematography is an incentive this film has, especially when different girls are introduced to the plot in the beginning. Another technical aspect thats well shown is everyone's, including Shahrukh Khan good hockey skills. Finally it does not have many songs to ruin the plot or digress from it. Good to see Cricket taking a back seat with this film and soon to be released Dhana Dhan Goal (football oriented, based in Southall London and following the fortunes of Southall United Football club, starring John Abraham & Arshad Warsi soon after their Kabul Express adventures). Fantastic dialouges add to the plot, which absorbs you with every passing moment and you see what you dont expect in most cases.

A few negatives were, little technical glitches like the England team being called as UK in the film, but actually in Hockey World cup it has always been England, Scotland Ireland and Wales separately & in Olympics and Commonwealths it has been Great Britain. Never UK. Media has been very negatively shown and one gets the impression that media people can be very very flexible and biased, which is not the case always.

cheers

Raam