Archive for August, 2008

For those who care about movies being classified into genres, The Proposition is an Australian gothic western. If you really want some insight on the storyline, well I’ll tell you this much…the film is about three outlaw brothers, each one of them a pawn in a brutal game of chess with the law. It involves murder, robbery, death sentences, vengeance Aborigine-style, blackmail, flogging and a bunch of other cleverly crafted sub-plots. The climax, like any aesthetically pleasing work of art, will devastate your senses and later let you revel in the intensity of it all.

If you must ask, the actors do a fantastic job. Guy Pearce (Charlie Burns) stands out as a violent, detached outlaw, as does Richard Wilson (Mike Burns); difference being Charlie has a bit of rationality left in him while crazy Mikey is busy battling Mick Taylor for the honour of being the silver screen’s “most psychotic outback outlaw”. Like Taylor’s chilling lack of humanity in Wolf Creek took scary to a new level, Mike’s behaviour in this film has a similar effect. Both of them have gone to great lengths to make their characters reflect the ambience of the outback; intense, tormented, poetic, with a bucketful of sadness dipped in fading sepia. Ray Winstone as Captain Stanley is very convincing, as well. Emily Watson doesn’t do justice and considering how good she can be, it is a surprise.

If anyone is curious about the director…well, John Hillcoat is the guilty party. More importantly, Nick Cave is the screenplay writer. For those whose musical inclinations have been shaped only by MTV, Nick Cave is a legendary Goth musician/writer from Australia. Too popular to stay underground and too tortured to give a shit about Carson Daly, he was a part of bands such as Birthday Party and the tremendous Bad Seeds that worked up quite a storm Down Under with their apparent insolence towards all things shinny and happy. Being a fan of his, I must say that his poeticism in music spills over perfectly to the visual medium. The darkness, the idyllic madness scorching heavily under the angry sun, everything fits really well into the dialogues. Along with Warren Ellis, he has also crafted exquisitely sparse symphonies for the film without including any god awful-spaghetti western chords. I guess, being in the Australian outback secludes one from being exposed to the criminally overrated American western classics. Good for him.

I could go on and on about other aspects of this film I found to be admirable, but I’d rather not. To put things in a nutshell, I will tell you this…The Proposition really should not go unwatched by those who have a penchant for the dark, dire and desert-like.

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The Killing Joke is probably Joker’s most terrifying performance on graphic print. His insanity shone dimly like a broken ray of hope through dark corridors almost threatening to reveal the truth that mommy and daddy have tried for so long, and hard to keep away from you.

The way he dissects Inspector Gordon’s mind is a thing of beauty. He slices and dices through every shred of pattern in Gordon’s life and haphazardly discards them on a larger canvas to make a point.

His point being, in a world gone insane, man should do all but remain sane.

Yesterday, I watched The Dark Knight for the fifth time and I am yet to be bored by Heath Ledger’s performance. In fact every each time I listen to Joker recite chilling anecdotes behind his scars…I cringe in delight.

So obsessed I am about Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Joker’s shenanigans that I have started to question my interest in all future endeavors of Christopher Nolan’s tremendous take on Gotham’s darkest saviour.

In fact I didn’t think too much of Christian Bale’s character. The blood lust that the Dark Knight mustered under his breath in epics such as Crimson Mist and Knightfall seemed missing in Nolan’s latest. Anyone who has read the visceral episodes of Dark Knight battling Azrael, Bane or even the Mutants in Dark Knight Returns series, will feel a pinch of disappointment witnessing Bale’s character abiding by moral laws to serve justice.

I want to see a more vicious Batman, one who is capable of soaring over ethical grounds and laying his enemies to rest in a bloody pool of poetic justice. One should know that more than anything else, The Dark Knight is a saner and in ways weirder than most can fathom a less heroic reflection of Joker.

Ask Alfred, he’ll tell you.

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Christopher Walken is way cooler than Samuel L Jackson. Even Harvey Keitel. Hell…if he were any cooler, the actors guild of America would have had to make him walk on all fours and call him a polar bear. Just so you know…if he ever had the misforune of being stuck in a plane choke full of venomous snakes, he would have probably looked at the slippery feinds and said, “These vicious fangs, this incessant hissing…such an EMBARRASSMENT to the reptilian family.”

Right from playing the war-ravaged Nick in Deer Hunter and the vicious Gabriel in the Prophecy series to the mobster Vincenzo Coccotti in True Romance and the hilarious Captain Koons in Pulp Fiction, Christopher Walken has always walked away with scripted spotlight shining bright over his head.

A few dialogues from the numerous characters he has played:

Coccotti: You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you.

Gabriel: I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why.

Sal Maggio: After the tragic death of your father, I married your mother promising her I would raise you as my own. You chose not to take the Maggio name. I did not complain. And when you wanted to go to Beauty School, as boys who lose their fathers early in life often do, I did not snivel at interventions, did I?

Rayburn: A man can be an artist at anything, food or whatever if you’re good enough at it. Creasy’s art is death, and he’s about to paint his masterpiece

Secretary Cleary: Well, the guy wants to run for president, he thinks Moby Dick is a venereal disease.

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Oru Sorru is an authentic Madurai restaurant that sleepily rests below the newly constructed Kodambakkam Bridge. I’m not sure about the authenticity of its origin, but what I do know is that they serve quite a platter of mammal organ meat.

A lot of folks I know cringe in horror when I tell them about my culinary adventures. They don’t seem to have the nerve to appreciate unique flavours. I have always managed to muster an appetite when internal organs are cooked over a red-hot flame and presented on a plate with a few herbs and garnish, of course.

Suffice to say that Orru Soru has carved a niche for itself on my palette with an array of scrumptious dishes ranging from gizzard fry, brain masala to head curry and lamb liver omelettes.

The main attraction is definitely the Orru Sorru biriyani. It is served with tender pieces of mutton, a boiled egg wrapped in mincemeat and of course the customary vegetable curry and raitha.

I’d definitely recommend it, but only if you appreciate the finer and presumabely lesser recognizable parts of the anatomy.

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The world paid attention to Tainted Love only when Brit synthpoppers Soft Cell performed a hellishly lame version of it during the summer of 1981. Two decades later, Marilyn Manson gave it a gothic spin on it and released a commercially acclaimed version of this song.

In between, bands such as Blue Oyster Cult, Hi-Fives, Static-X, My Ruin and Milk Inc fiddled around and pretty much messed up Tainted Love.

Sadly ironic is the fact that not too many people have heard the original version composed Ed Cobb and sung to perfection by Gloria Gaynor. Unfortunately, this northern soul stirrer is also responsible for that tacky and almost demeaning survivalist anthem “I Will Survive

But once you have heard her belt the living soul out of “Tainted Love”, all will be forgotten and forgiven, especially for inspiring Cake to record one of the worst cover songs ever.


Gloria Gaynor – Tainted Love


Gloria Gaynor’s Anthology

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The Happening: The first 30 minutes of this film is vaguely interesting. The rest is Al Gore’s wet dream. I’d prefer minor surgery to watching this again.

Hellboy II: Director Guillermo Del Toro has brought along influences from Pan’s Labyrinth to Hellboy’s latest adventure. The visual effects are trippy, the dialogues are witty on cue and the storyline engaging enough to take a rain-check on those cigarette breaks. Special mention to Prince Nuada and the nasty tooth-fairies…both ostensibly kick loads of butt.

Kids: Director Larry Clark is on a mission to shock us into recognizing the truth. His intentions are respectable but the crude depiction of pre-pubescent street life leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Showcasing the decadent youth culture of America’s armpits is all fine and dandy, but I didn’t appreciate the crassness of Clark’s attempt. Apparently 19-year old Harmony Korine wrote the script for Kids; that’s probably the only thing about this film that didn’t shock me.

Walk Hard, Life and Times of Dewey Cox: This is a spoof film that pokes fun at Ray, Walk The Line and I’m Not There. The latter is probably incidental. The jokes are pretty much standard fare with a few standouts. Lil’ Dewey Cox sawing his brother in half results in hilarity. But seriously, I just don’t understand John C Reilly gets crappy roles; he’s such a fine actor.

Hero: I was always of the opinion that you needed to be under the influence to enjoy what Jet Li does. Despite drawing heavily from Rashomon, the film nevertheless adds credibility to this callous opinion of mine. But rest assured, even in sobriety you can’t help but admire the visual splendor of Hero. It’s almost as though the director has fulfilled a secret desire to be a painter. Quite a lovely painting, it is.

The Ruins: Take notes, Mr Night Shyamalan…this is how you make a film about flora wreaking bloody havoc on humans. Not the most intricate of concepts, but the film builds up the characters rather nicely and then makes them suffer adequately. In fact, it ends up doing fair justice to the creepy crawly genre.

Stranger Than Fiction: This probably is the warmest film to light up my television screen since I Heart Huckabees. Will Ferrell plays Harold Crock, an IRS auditor whose life is all but a story currently being written by the bitterly poignant Emma Thompson, a tragic author who hasn’t published in over a decade. The third person narrative is a part of the storyline and it works, wonderfully too. Ferrell gives up his screwball cult status to deliver a very clever performance. His love interest in the film Maggie Gyllenhall is outrageously gorgeous, as a woman and more astutely, as an actress. I could go on and on since there are so many things right about Stranger Than Fiction. I think I’ll just let Roger Ebert wrap things up in a nutshell. “Such an uncommonly intelligent film does not often get made”. I’ll gleefully second that.

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Watching the dying moments of a good film should be a fittingly exhilarating experience. The audience craves for the climax, proverbially and literally. I seldom judge movies by their conclusions. With the exception of Million Dollar Baby, in which I feel that Clint Eastwood took the easy way out and gave us an emotionally juvenile tearjerker, not too many films crash and burn solely by how they finish.

In some movies, it even turns out to be the saving grace. Case in point, Gladiator. But for me, cinematic bliss reaches its highest echelon when the climax enhances everything that just passed, sort of like the messy yet colourful concoction found at the bottom of a Falooda drink. Maybe similar to the ultra cool fatality sequence that occurs at the end of Mortal Kombat duel. Maybe not. Recent films that ride on this bliss include 300, Death Proof, Pan’s Labyrinth and few others I can’t seem to remember.

The memorable climax scenes that I do remember are those which have haunted my mind for so long that I can no longer forget them.

The film titles are linked to their respective videos on youtube. All you have to do is the right click on each link, copy shortcut and paste it on Keep Vid or Save Youtube. Hit the download button and save the file with an .flv extension.

Easy does it.

About Schmidt

Jack Nicholson’s best performance since The Shining. The sadness in his eyes towards the end sends shivers with a bunch of goosebumps for good measure down my spine. You want the truth? Well you can witness it unravel its beady eyes in the final moments of this excellent, excellent film by Alexander Payne.

Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

This film is one of two reasons why I don’t completely abhor George Clooney, the other being “Welcome To Collinwood”. Sam Rockwell steals the show, as George Clooney, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts miraculously don’t screw it up with their plasticized presence. The climax is bitingly cynical…thankfully, fittingly too. And just so you know, this is also one of those rare films in which we get to see Julia Roberts’ character die.

Tears Of Julian Po

I can’t find any video link to this film. Apparently the Internet has not been moved by the tears of Julian Po and it’s a shame considering Christian Slater’s heart-wrenching performance as a suicidal newcomer in a quiet, disturbing part of small town America. If you ever get lucky enough to find this film, hold on to it tight and don’t let it go. Yeah it’s that good. The theme song is also one of the best ever.

Lawn Dogs

Another one of those films I often impose upon my friends. “What?? You haven’t seen it?” I would scream in terror if they dare to display any sort of ignorance about such films. Seriously, your cinematic palettes should get a taste of Lawn Dogs. It’s fantastical, confusing and seemingly very keen on keeping a close eye on the decay of the America suburbs. The ending is surreal and saying anything else would be gross injustice.

Requiem For A Dream

I’ll say this much…keep anti-depressants, a lover’s shoulder and a bunch of tissues on stand-by mode.

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Marina beach is our city’s first born; formerly a much-loved water body now left to rot in its filth and almost embarrassing attempts at beautifying it. The Besant Nagar beach is Chennai’s second child. Spoilt by a barrage of consumers and hovering activists, it rests uneasily with the grace of ballet dancer suffering from elephantiasis.

Thiruvanmiyur beach is Chennai’s adopted child. Its distance from the city has given the quiet stretch of sand and sea a rightful sense of seclusion. Greg and I often take drives beyond the Sea Shore Estate in Thiruvanmiyur and each and every time, the beach gives us something to beguile ourselves into a false sense of philosophical ennui. It’s a good thing, especially when my camera tags along.

Last Sunday was an afternoon of impersonations.

Broken pieces of timber and seaweed impersonating a trail

A kid pretending to be insignificant

A hut and a boat conspiring to resemble a Viking helmet or perhaps a fancy burrito dish

A bush under the impression that it is and has always been a king crab

The hut now gets cocky and tries to impersonate Jabba the uhmm Hutt

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“I do so like green eggs and ham

Thank you, thank you, Sam I am”

As far as I’m concerned, only three things taste better than ham; chocolate, oysters and crab eggs. Processed ham can be made into spam, but unfortunately this unholy evolution is nothing short of an abomination. Nobody willingly eats spam…well maybe the bastard chick of a vulture and a California Condor or perhaps Bourdain when he’s feeling a bit too gnarly.

Hams are a different beast altogether. They taste a little bland when eaten raw, but with the most uncomplicated of procedures you can turn them into those delicious things that you would crave for after the clock strikes midnight and your abdomen has sent a million cryptic signals about what it could possibly yearn for. They really don’t need any fussing about; throw in a dollop of butter on the frying pan, defreeze the ham slices and throw the buggers into the fire, add a dash of salt and pepper, flip over, rinse and repeat…done.

If you do like to fuss about for a bit, crush a dozen almonds and whip them into a frenzy using cheese paste. Get a couple of slices of bread and well, pass the TV remote.

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A recipe for bliss



Slice and dice Kamal Hassan’s ability to channel schizophrenic tendencies to further his artistic merit.

Throw in a few onions to titillate lachrymal glands.

Add a generous helping of Illaiyaraja’s language of music, and boil until the symphonies float with the grace of a feather in a gentle breeze.

Take a scoop of Santhana Bharathi’s natural talent and soak it in water until memories of Chinna Maaplai are washed away.

Serve it with portions of KJ Yesudas’ vocals on the side.

And here’s what you get.


Partha Vizhi (Guna)


Guna DVD

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