Archive for May, 2009

Nambu orru velayaatu puzhlai

Reason #56 and #234 why Anand (Son Of Bosey) is one of the funniest South Indian blogger out there.

Lalit Modi combines elections and IPL to create unprecedented extravaganza – Indian Premier elections

Residents violently protest against plans to erect Goundamani statue in Beverly Hills

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Since the influx of new music is killing time, I have had to delay posting the weekend movie reviews. I have got three Werner Herzog films and a couple of others by Jim Jarmusch left to watch, so next Monday I would be posting the complete reviews of both DVD box sets.

Dead ManDead Man: Jim Jarmusch films are bitingly funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hires genetically jacked-up vampire bats to write dialogues for his films. People like Jarmusch and Wes Anderson are brilliant in the way they use humour to drive home a particularly gray point. Quite unlike the more theatrical mainstream comedies that rely on execution of humour rather than its actual content. There is more of an onus on making funny faces than actually saying something funny. Case in point, the American Pie series and the decade of retardation it spawned. However, in Dead Man, there is enough deadpan existential humour to tickle seven generations of Nietzsches. And it’s not one of those “you’ve got to be Kevin Smith to understand the one-liners” comedies either. For instance, take the storyline. Johnny Depp plays William Blake, an accountant on the run who ends up meeting Nobody, a large and morose Red Indian in a desolate industrialized small town. After a brief discussion between the two, they decide to kill as many white people as they possibly can; there’s also Lance Henriksen who plays a cannibalistic bounty hunter out to get them by any means necessary. You might wonder, what in the blue hell is this shit? But I assure you…everything works really well.

The William Blake references, the black and white cinematography, Neil Young’s original compositions, Henriksen’s game face, John Hurt’s accent, Iggy Pop’s cross-dressing…gasp, yes…everything.

Spun_posterSpun: Jonas Akerlund’s Spun is a cocktail of few druggie films of the past two decades. Take half a cup of Trainspotting, add a large dose of Requiem For A Dream, squeeze a few drops from Go and throw in a few pieces of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, as well. But the thing is Spun is way more fun (not necessarily better) than any of them. I guess you can thank Renita Whited, the casting director, for that. The energy and exuberance that the Spun’s cast showcase seem so infectious that you almost get the impression that a strange concoction of mashed ecstasy pills and cough syrup was passed around during the shooting of this film. Jason Schwartzman, Mena Suvari, Brittany Murphy and John Leguizamo – all of them do a fantastic job of playing meth-heads looking for a fix and quite possibly, an off-the-road path to serenity. Props to them for going beyond what we thought they were capable of.

One particular scene stands out as a testament to how gloriously fucked up and fun Spun can be. Watch out for the conversation that takes place inside the car between Ross (Schwartzman) and Nikki (Brittany) towards the end of the film. Such twisted fun! For the sake of NOT sounding like I’m gassed up on a few concoctions myself, I’m going to downplay the awesomeness that Mickey Rourke brings to Spun as Cook. A serious challenger to the Michael Madsen’s Cool Cat Of Cinema Award.

Midnight Meat Train

Midnight Meat Train: Midnight Meat Train is one of the short stories in Clive Bakers’ Books of Blood, a collection of literary screams. I haven’t read the book yet so I’ll hold back personal biases about interpretations. For what it’s worth, director Ryuhei Kitamura’s film about a serial killer tearing through the heart of city metro subways leaves little to be desired. I say this because nobody should watch this, expecting the sort of subtle titillation that serial killer films such as Elements Of Crime, Cronicas and The Gray Man quietly stir up through visual metaphors and striking passages of dialogue. Watch this as you would those slow-burning, violent and strangely Lynchian Eighties movies.

Matter of fact, grab John Raffo’s Johnny Skidmarks and watch that first. You will have newfound respect for John Lithgow and Peter Gallagher. As for Midnight Meat Train, Vinnie Jones and Bradley Cooper are sort of alright but I’d say Jonathan Sela, the director of photography, should rightfully take most the credit. Who says gore can’t be stylish?

high_fidelity_1High Fidelity: Nick Hornby’s book is better. Much much better. And Catherine Zeta-Jones is as awful as always. With those clichés out of the way, let us focus on the positives. The music is friggin great. I mean, really really great… like one kickass garage mixtape. Featuring tracks by The 13th Floor Elevators, The Kinks, Velvet Underground, The Beta Band and Stereolab, High Fidelity’s OST is one of the finest of its kind. Oh and Tim Robbins is really funny with his character’s “so hip I’m square” douchebaggery. Wellllll…uhmmmm…uh huh…so much for the positives. Many have opined that the film had a brilliant cast and while the jury is still out on that, I must say that it sort of felt like the actors and actresses were sleepwalking their way through this film. Catherine Zeta-Jones continues to amaze us with her impersonation skills. Once again she plays a role of a woman who thinks she can act. Jack Black plays an over-excitable Pomeranian. Both John and Joan Cusack are wasted yet again (see Grosse Point Blank to see just how good they can be). The mediocrity of observation has started to hurt, so read more about the storyline here.

P.S: Mickey Rourke’s character Cook has been given a lifetime ban in three countries for the sheer amount of awesomeness he exudes every two seconds

P.S.S: Da Bear has reviewed one of my favourite independent American films – Shane Caruth’s Primer. Read it here.

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BradMehldau01I came across Brad Mehldau while scouting YouTube for Radiohead covers. So, he is this post-bop jazz pianist who makes music for Nonesuch Records, a label that boasts of many wonderful, eclectic musicians. Brad Mehldau’s pretty friggin great, as well. Wikipedia says that Mehldau’s “signature techniques is to create an ostinato in his right hand whilst developing a motivic idea in his left hand” and supposedly this is very, very cool. I’m sure I’d agree if I understood what that meant. With my meager knowledge of jazz music, I’ll try slightly better than just drooling and holding a placard that says “sounds awesome matcheee”.

See, I think appreciating jazz is very much like loving a lady. It can never be love at first sight. You need to become familiar to her. Before taking her out, you’ve got to smell her hair, go through her music collection, visit the hospital in which she was born, find out what moves her and then decide if she moves you.

I guess that’s why I easily got into Mehldau’s versions of Radiohead tracks. Despite the strange transformation of Nineties mod rock into exquisite lounge-y piano pieces and Radiohead’s not-to-be-fucked artistic merit, it was the familiarity in melodies that had me nodding my head in approval. The notes flow like sad little droplets of water in each song with Tom Yorke’s wailing inconspicuously absent during moments of manic crescendo.

So here it is then…a toast to discovering jazz and a tribute to one of her obscure lovers, Brad Mehldau.


Brad Mehldau – Exit Music (For A Film)


Brad Mehldau – Paranoid Android

Brad Mehldau – Knives Out

Brad Mehldau – London Blues


Brad Mehldau’s Elegiac Cycle


Other artists who make music for Nonesuch Records: Philip Glass, Thomas Newman, John Zorn, Kronos Quartet, Shawn Colvin, Magnetic Fields, Black Keys, Emmylou Harris, Viktor Krauss, Jonny Greenwood, Youssou N’Dour and Brian friggin Wilson!

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When I quit the liquor scene, I unintentionally gave up on good ol’ southern rock. Face it, some shit sounds better when there’s a couple of lagers inside of you. I mean, Lynyrd Skynyrd is a great, great band, no doubt about that…but when confronted by sobriety, Gary Rossington’s white-hot solos sound tamer than you’d expect them to. Gulp down a couple of Glenfiddich shots and you’d be truly humbled by the sheer amount of asskickery those solos incite.

gov't muleOver the weekend I got myself reacquainted with Gov’t Mule. I used to be one of their e-roadies; getting people introduced to them through peer-to-peer applications, chat messengers and a highly temperamental lazy eye. Led by the ‘real‘ king of good times (screw you, Kingfisher) Warren Hayes, Gov’t Mule made music that you could groove to until Gloria Estefan throws a hissy fit and tells you, “haha the rhythm got you”. At that point you should probably ask her to leave, turn the volume on tracks such as 30 Days In The Hole and walk the fine line between dancing and rioting.

The guitar tone is almost always fantastic and when interspersed with rhythmic percussion blasts and a low bass riff, they could easily driven that one imaginary song on the Almost Famous soundtrack that had balls.

warren haynesNot everything is up-tempo and unruly in a fun sort of way. Quite understandable given the tendency of southern gentleman to talk bout their women over a guitar riff. “Beautifully Broken” is one of those epic ballad rockers you hear every once in a while that is unbelievably better than November Rain. The live version on YouTube starts off with a slight nod to Prince’s When Doves Cry and sometime around the 1.40 min mark; a beautiful solo lifts the song into a soulful landscape where Syd Barrett drank bear instead of dropping acid.

Given the sheer length of the concert performance, you’d probably ease up on hearing the whole track.

Now imagine if you had done the same for Skynyrd’s Free Bird.

Yes, that’s how good Gov’t Mule can be.


Gov’t Mule – Beautifully Broken (Live)

Gov’t Mule – Thorazine Shuffle (Live)


Their live performances on beemp3

Of course I’d much rather you buy

Govt Mule’s Live At Roseland Ballroom

Govt Mule’s Dose

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Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind theme (Jon Brion)

I Heart Huckabees theme (Jon Brion)

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Ever so often I stumble upon a couple of Bjork’s songs and then I get this irresistible urge to scream out her name. A few months ago, it was this totally fucking awesome version of Big Time Sensuality with Zakir Hussain. This time around, I have found two rarities, which showcase two very different sides of Björk.

bjork0304So Broken sounds like it is. A stripped-down acoustic plea by Bjork found on the pre-release promo of the 1997 Joga single. Backed by Raimundo Amador’s flamenco guitar, she sings, “So broken, in pieces, my heart is so broken, I’m puzzling” in a way that would make Tom Yorke look like Deepak Chopra. So very fragile.

Hidden Place was the first single from the 2001 Vespertine album. It had an incredibly cool music video directed by Mathias Augustyniak going for it, as well. Unbeknownst to everyone and their cousin, a concert version recorded at the Royal Opera House in 2002 leaked out some time ago. Well, this pretty much kills the studio version. Adoringly led by the Inuit Choir on backing vocals, Zeena Parkins on harp and Robert Groslot’s Il Novecentro Orchestra, Bjork whispers to us, “But careful, careful, there lies my passion, hidden, there lies my love, I’ll hide it under a blanket, lull it to sleep”.

Bjork-Royal-Albert-HallSee, Björk has the same effect on jazz that pepper spray has on foreplay uhmmm or something less disturbing. A blinding commitment to discomfort. Very much like Diamanda Galas without the raving lunacy. Right from one of her first solo albums – Gling-Gló (recorded with Ingólfssonar, a very weird Icelandic bebop trio) to the more recent single Náttúra, a common thread of anomalies that run through her music. A string of misshaped notes that dare the listener to appreciate unfamiliarity.

If ever further proof was needed that a lack of structure is what drives art physically ahead, look no further than the sounds of Björk Guðmundsdóttir.


Bjork – Broken (acoustic version)


Bjork – Hidden Place (live at the Royal Albert Hall)

Buy something

Here and here

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Sony Pix has taken time off from churning out seriously bad Eighties flicks starring Tom Berenger. Tonight (at 9 PM) they are broadcasting ControlAnton Corbijn‘s brilliant biopic on post-punk revivalists Joy Division‘s lead vocalist, Ian Curtis, who killed himself at the age of 23.

control curtis

Trust me on this…Control is great since it mostly drawls out sequences of Ian Curtis’ life rather than chronicling them as per cinematic logic. Thankfully, the director never portrays that life to be one merely confined to a self-imposed ‘I’d rather write poetry than talk to you’ social exile.

I say this because the director’s apparent fascination for Curtis’ timidity makes way for some of film’s most poignant moments. The conversation that he has with his wife about an affair and the apology that follows seems to have fallen right out of Cassavettes’ mind. This definitely is one of more realistic rock star biopics I have seen. Hell, at times his vulnerability is so intense that we almost want to call up his mom and ask her to take her son home.

It also helps that this film was shot in severely high contrast monochrome. A bleak grandeur, if there ever was one (random Bergman enthusiast suffers cardiac arrest).

And if you don’t already know, Joy Division made awesome music during the Seventies. Of course, the gods of good music will forgive you if you think otherwise. They were awesome in a The The sort of way. You’d either think they had synthesizers-o-titus (which most New Wave bands suffered from) or you’d be totally blown away by one of those ‘oh that’s where Nine Inch Nails came from’ epiphanies.

Either way, check out Control tonight or whenever bittorrent decides to please its masters.


Joy Division – Disorder

The The – Beat (en) Generation

Nine Inch Nails – Dead Souls (Joy Division Cover)


Papa Bear’s review

Andy Slabaugh’s review

Buy everything

Here, here and here

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For the past six months, I had given up on music that involved guitars. After surviving a brief affair with Indie rock and pop sometime last summer, I got heavy into hip-hop and neo soul, and since then my ears have been stuck to the turntable with my head nodding along to pre-programmed beats and urban poetry. Thankfully, force of habit has kicked right in. At least once in a year, my mp3 player re-digests its contents fully and spits out the remains. Like the energizer bunny drunk on caffeine, it devours a shitload of new sounds.

monster magnet 2This time around, rock and roll has caught on (I still despise thee, heavy metal). The sweet virus has spread like wildfire over the last three days. It all began with curious glimpse of a Monster Magnet song on Youtube that I had never heard before. Negasonic Teenage Warhead.

After a couple of listens, it came to me like a sugar rush…the whimsical silliness of rock and roll. The loud telling of tales of maniacal fun and timid emotional disasters. The sound of rhythm sections gnashing against solo passages like mad beavers fondling cleavers with nasty intentions. The complete obliteration of the double-bass pedal for the sake of music.

Monster MagnetTake Negasonic Teenage Warhead, for instance. I mean, what the fuck is Negasonic Teenage Warnhead? (my inner child says that it actually is a Marvel Comics’ mutant character with telepathic powers) And 12 seconds into the song when the almighty Dave Wyndorf whispers, “Saw your face last night on the tube, strong fine snake in a sucker’s vacuum”, you actually end up knowing less about the song. The thing is 10 seconds later when Ed Mundell guitar tears through the oblivion and gets into a locomotive groove, you only care about the blistering noise it makes. In fact when Wyndorf screams, “Like a subatomic genius who just invented pain, I will deny you, I WILL DENY YOU”, you feel like beating yourself up for giving a shit about what Negasonic Teenage Warhead actually meant.

That’s rock and roll, I guess. Pure, unadulterated escapism. I guess that’s why many opine that it works so wonderfully with alcohol and drugs. That’s like eating a chocolate pastry and washing it down with maple syrup when the heart aches for a bit of candy. What a rush, indeed.

Cat RocksI delved further and revisited a couple of old favourites. I have since gone mad. Wishbone Ash, Kyuss, The Cult, Henry Rollins, Nebula, The Stooges, Black Crowes, Yardbirds, and a few tremendous others. It’s all been rather overwhelming.

Yes yes…this is one of those “there is so much beauty in the world” moments. My only fear is that six months may come and go too soon. At least for now, I rest easy knowing that Jefferson Airplane’s Rock Me Baby is next on the playlist. Anyone has the Devil’s number? I need to re-sell my soul on the altar of rock and roll.


Monster Magnet – Negasonic Teenage Warhead

Monster Magnet – 19 Witches

James Gang – The Bomber

Buy a CD or two

Here, here and definitely here

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RescueDawnWerner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn: I cannot stress how comforting it is to watch a feature film knowing that the director is a dehumanized sonofabitch. Based on Werner Herzog’s 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Rescue Dawn lacks most of what keeps me away from films about American-sponsored wars. Socialist humour, feverish patriotism and Tom Hanks. Christian Bale is strangely convincing as Dieter Dengler, a US navy pilot who survives a torturous prison camp in the jungles of Laos. More importantly…Dieter Dengler, the fiercely inspired kid who dreamt about flying the day Allied Forces aircrafts dropped bombs on his hometown.

Steve Zahn is a remarkably weird choice for playing Dieter’s buddy -in-peril – Duane. Zahn’s spaced-out stares interspersed with bursts of Herzogian dialogues (“A man tries to kill you and you want his job”) bring the sort of existential wit that has been absent in war-inspired films since Peter Sellers demanded that there was to be no fighting in the War Room. To complete the circle of weirdness, Toby Huss is in there too. You know, the fellow who impersonated a blue whale to pitch perfection in Down Periscope.

I’d love to wax lyrical about the stunning cinematography and whatnot, but I don’t think it warrants too much insight. Herzog and his crew do what they do best. As for the story itself, well, real life does lend itself to melodrama…so don’t expect too much in terms of originality. Actually you know what, I think I am just a little grumpy that I didn’t like this film as much as I did Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The Godfather over the Father of German New Wave movement? No fucking way.

Wright-StevenThe Appointments of Dennis Jennings: This one’s a short film. Written by the little known but consistently awesome Steven Wright, The Appointments of Dennis Jennings runs for a little over 30 minutes. Of course, it’s about one Mr Dennis Jennings played by Wright himself. We are led to believe that Jennings is a bitter man with a bitter life. He seems to go through life hand-in-hand with lady mundane and all her ridiculously overrated children. His girlfriend’s pretty boring too. With such an unbearable aura weighing down on him, Jennings visits a psychiatrist (a hilarious character essay by Rowan Atkinson). From then on, secrets are spilled, dirty clothes washed in muddy waters and so on and forth. Wikipedia tells me that it won an Academy award in 1989 for Best Short Film. I’d like to tell you that watching this will result in cackling. Warn the neighbours.

bunnyThe Bunny: New York director Chris Wedge is the brain behind Ice Age, one of the less annoying Hollywood animated films. That was 2002 and since then I guess he has been busy milking dead horses. Of course, years before he went prehistoric on us, he won an Academy Award for the animated short Bunny. And wellllll, I really liked this one. It’s cute, but not in a Hello Kitty way. It’s got that whimsically disturbed sort of calmness to it. Whimsically disturbed what? I think I have crossed an echelon of bullshit that few dare trespass. I officially outrank stupid-looking guys with slanty French caps and cheap cigarettes. But still, a really, really nice short film that tugs at your heartstrings in a Radiohead cover song sort of way. Watch the entire short film here.

Chuck-Norris-Con-AirCon Air: See, Papa Bear thinks that Con Air is a stupendously funny spoof film. I think it is a spectacularly awful action film. Every month, at least once, one tries to convince the other. Last week, Papa Bear restated his case. Just to close the chapter on my not-so-legendary tryst with Con Air, I watched it yesterday and I still think it has some of the worst one-liners fucking ever (“Put the bunny back in the box”, “Yeah, it fell outta the sky. I don’t think he’s an astronaut.”). In fact the dialogues are so goddam awful that I suspect that they inspired South Park’s Lice Capades.

But I guess Con Air has a few redeeming qualities. John Malkovich’s villainy. Steve Buscemi. An eight-year-old girl makes Nicholas Cage cry. The American legal system makes the eight-year-old girl cry. Everything makes Monica Potter cry. And as always, Danny Trejo is the MAN for his commitment to all things gnarly. Everything else about Con Air sucks. Especially the bickering between Colm Meaney and John Cusak. I’m sure battle-raps between the Queen Mother and Nelson Mandela’s left nut would have been more confrontational.

I’ll meet you near the middle ground, Mr Bear…replace Nicholas Cage with Chuck Norris and the bunny with a pair of nunchucks and I’ll admit that this is one hell of a comedy.

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I have heard many people say that they would not be voting this time around. Apparently, it has become a pointless routine that only results in like sweating. I can understand the frustration that people have in the candidates and their higher-ups, but to lose belief in a system that quite possibly is democracy’s like bestest friend like ever is just cynical to the point of retardation.

I’m not saying casting a vote this time will sift the muddy waters of Tamil Nadu politics. I am relatively sure that things will remain the same no matter who wins. Construction of bridges will be delayed. Water supply will run short. Electricity might be a bummer during summers. Of course, good stuff will also happen. A surge in employment opportunities…maybe. Better roads (who’d you think laid the Chennai-Bangalore highway? Elves? Rajinikanth?). Improvement in counter disaster measures. I can almost hear Robert Plant scream, and the song remains the same.


At this point, I urge you to think about what went wrong with voting. Like many other channels of pro-democracy, this one too has taken a hell of a beating over the ages. The greed for power and the insecurity of having to let go of it have driven politicians batshit crazy for ages. By savagely taking advantage of process loopholes and the unbelievable hard-on that people have for currency notes, they have constructed a zillion ways of rendering the voting system useless.

But for fuck sake, that does not mean casting a vote is pointless. Well…it would be if more and more people do this neat trick of talking through their asses about how voting like really sucks dude. Is it really totally awesome that we give up the right to decide which party gets to lead our state? More importantly, how would you rather have it? Inky pinky ponky? Oh wait, I forget. You don’t care. You like don’t give a rat’s arse about politics. Hell, if famous people on television urge you to vote, it must be uncool. But let’s not discuss how much your life depends on both State and Civil cooperation or how voting at least ensures that there is always a medium for future improvement…nooooooo…let’s just focus on shit that went wrong.

Suffice to say, I harbour a certain amount of fear towards that dystopia; one in which power is assigned to cynics who would rather use every ounce of intelligence to fuel their own cynicism.

This isn’t China, fuckers. Put that goddam Samurai blade down and cast your vote. We’ll talk about how totally cool it is to be indifferent towards society much later.

Much much later.

P.S: For those in Chetpet, check out the array of election officials at the Club Road Corporation School near the Malayali Club…totally Hell’s Angels lookalikes.

Post-election footprints’ reaction: Thank you, come again!

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