Saturday, August 19, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
It is bound to give a nice, twisted break to the monotony of regular thought.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Mind blowing narrative, decent performances and a complex story that happens over different slices of time, keep you hooked till the end to reveal the twist in the tale. If you are into introspection, you may find yourself questioning your own memories and trying to separate the truth from the perceptions that you believe are true, after watching this thriller. Nerve wrenchingly intelligent at times, this is a masterpiece from Christopher Nolan, based on a short story by his brother Jonathan Nolan. Memento is so awesome that you wonder if it is the same Christopher Nolan who revived (if it could be said so) the Batman franchise last year with the very insipid and uninspired “Batman Begins”.
Teaser: Imagine having to live your life without a memory of what happened even five minutes back, a reality that is supported by a few polaroids, scribbled notes and tattoos serving as reminders of what happened in the recent past, a past that is thoroughly distorted and subject to manipulation by those who need you to go their way. How do you know who you are? What are doing here? And who really is the person sitting next to you? Is this today? What is today? What do you do today?
People with normal retention powers can answer these questions right away but what if you are one of those who can’t.
The greatest movie of all times….that’s what they say. Finishing comfortably at the top of every movie critic’s list, this movie is said to be unequalled in its concept, conviction and creativity. And that is true. But I had the unmistakable feeling of having missed out on that WOW factor that I would have had, had I seen the movie back in the 1941 when everything about the movie was must have seemed so innovative, so smashing, so experimental and so mind blowing original. But still with that missing factor, the movie stood out as bold, artistic and different.
The one thing that amazed me were the unconventional angles in which the scenes where cinematographed. Yes, for one of the few rare times, I actually felt the astounding power of cinematography as an art, with a strong presence of its own rather than just an aid to the actual story telling. This is the kind of legendary cinematography that makes the images not just impactful but forever entrenched in your visual memory. Gregg Toland, the maestro cinematographer has played around so skillfully with the lights, the shadows, the low angles, the sweeping shots, the blending and the merging and his patented deep-focus shot that it is almost unnerving to imagine what he might have done had he the advantage of our modern day wizardry.
The guy behind it all- Orson Welles, the man, the guts, the brilliance. I had read about how the movie was completed in spite of the extremely trying circumstances manufactured by the media mogul, William Randolph Hearst whose life was the inspiration for Citizen Kane and it made me even more reverent of Welles for his tenacity and spirit for standing by his work uncompromisingly, in the face of these odds. Personally I believe that Hearst and all his generations should be grateful to Welles for immortalizing him in such an unforgettable masterpiece.
There is also a famous story about how Welles unwittingly introduced the concept of controversial movie publicity to Hollywood by threatening to sue RKO (distributors) of dire consequences if they withheld his movie, under pressure from Hearst. As a result he got the audience excited about the movie and the studios to release the movie due to mounting public demand to do so. Anyways that’s just some trivia. What shines through the movie is the sheer courage and undeniable talent of the irrepressible Welles, who also gives a powerhouse performance as Charles Foster Kane, complete with all the nuances. Rest of the cast does well too. Citizen Kane does live up to the hype, but the unmistakable feeling lingers on….
Thursday, August 10, 2006
If you can make your picture look like it is an old picture reconstructed, I think that adds a little touch of artistry and makes it more interesting. Look at the effect achieved in the pictures seen.
Doing this might seem tough, but with Picasa (Google's picture software), it actually becomes a cakewalk.
Once Picasa is installed on your PC, it will automatically search and find all the pictures on your system and arrange them systematically. So all you have to do is locate the picture that you want to work on in Picasa and then follow the steps given below:
1. Right click on the image in Picasa and choose 'View and Edit' option
2. Under the 'Effects' tab (on the left), choose Black & White.
3. For the image that has become B & W now, use the option 'Film Grain'
4. Then select the tab 'Tuning'.
5. Adjust the Fill level, Shadows and Highlights bars suitably.
Voila, you have your reconstructed look!!!
For free Picasa download, visit http://picasa.google.com/download/index.html. It is totally worth it.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The cinematography in this movie is hauntingly beautiful as the camera pans effortlessly across the varicolored contours and the diverse cultural scenarios of the picturesque Latin American countries; instilling a wonderful earthiness in the movie with the sounds, the smells, the traditions of these lesser known lands. It is truly breathtaking at times.
The lead actors have done a superb job with their unassuming performances, subtle yet so real. Especially Gael Garcia Bernal, whose charismatic screen appeal and intense persona most certainly makes him a true to life young Guevara. Rodrigo De La Serna as the chubby, horny and harmlessly cunning Alberto Granado keeps you smiling throughout with his playfulness and wit. But it is really the director, Walter Salles, who has to be credited for creating such a impressive work of art incorporating the talents of not only the professionals but also of some of the natives who bring such authenticity and credibility to the movie that it almost feels like a documentary at times. He should be applauded for introducing a new kind of documentary-commercial-art kind of cinema. Kudos for a movie nicely made, with no pretensions, just all heart, soul and spirit.
Trivia: How Motorcycle Diaries is truly one of its kind
The film was an international co-production between companies in Argentina, France, Germany,Peru,United Kingdom and the United States. Ernesto Guevara is played by the Mexican actor Gael García Bernal and Alberto Granado by the Argentinean Rodrigo de la Serna.The film was directed by the Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles. The screenplay, written by acclaimed Puerto Rican playwright José Rivera, is based on Guevara's and Granado's journals. The soundtrack was produced by Gustavo Santaolalla, an Academy award winning Argentinean composer.
Movie Tagline: Let the world change you and you can change the world.
Get a glimpse of Che Guevara’s inspiring life at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che_Guevara
P.S. Maybe a long road trip is what I need to find out what I want to do with life; I might find a purpose to me too just like Che.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I know of a few songs that have unusually associated themselves with the sounds, the smells and the surroundings that environed me when I heard them, maybe for the first time or maybe for the nth time. Now these aren’t those songs (mostly the romantic ones) that people tend to associate with their favorite or memorable times such as the first kiss, best date, engagement night etc because they were been played in the background when the event happened. No…no…not those. These are the songs, which for some unfathomable reason; unmistakably manage to bring back memories of a particular time that I had heard them, recreating the mood, the feel, and the emotions that I felt then, down to the last freakish detail. It is an intriguing phenomenon for I know that the songs aren’t all my favorites, or the settings in which I heard them, exceptional, but the recreation of the ambience is impeccable.
Now for example, there is this song ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams. Whenever I listen to that song, I am transported to this time when I used to work in Bangalore, left all alone at night time in the office, in the corner seat of one of the bays, working on the computer while listening to this song. Sometimes I can also hear the dull sound of the server in the background. I can see the entire office just like it used to be on those nights, absolutely quiet except for the occasional intrusion of the sweeper boy or the cleaning lady. Then I can see myself moving out of the office into the balcony. The night suffuses over me with the delicious aroma of the night queen and the gentle touch of the cool breeze. As I search the sky for the moon, it shyly peeks out from the clouds where it had been hiding and I smile at it. I feel like it smiles back at me. Then I decide to move in and take a steaming cup of Bournvita along for warmth.
It is unbelievable but I see this every time the crooner hits the ‘Angels’ note. And there’s more. I admit I have never seen what the video for this song looks like. But there are some images that come to me when I try and imagine what the video must be like. I see Robbie, walking down a lonely road, shadowed by enormous trees at its sides. It is autumn and the trees are resplendent in lovely hues of orange and red. As Robbie is walking along, a strong breeze is blowing by, showering him with beautiful leaves and as he raises his head to look to the sky, the shadows drift off for a moment to light his face with sunshine. Then he smiles, looks towards the ground and keeps walking ahead.
Why do I get these images when I hear the song? Still trying to figure out….
Find the lyrics for ‘Angels’ at http://www.lyrics007.com/Robbie%20Williams%20Lyrics/Angels%20Lyrics.html and by the way, it is nice, soothing song.
Monday, August 07, 2006
First thoughts on two movies seen over the past weekend
An Oscar award winning South African venture, Tsotsi is the story of a young outlaw whose has to make life altering choices after being entrusted the responsibility of a child by a chance encounter. Along the way, he faces a lot of dilemmas and has to give up some relationships and initiate new ones, that influence the person that he eventually becomes.
Even though the sensibilities of the characters were deftly handled, I still felt the movie becoming too mushy at times. Also there was a sense of déjà vu as the lead character undergoes moral transformation, for I have seen similar storylines in Hindi movies. However Tsotsi manages to score in the acting and the cinematography departments, with all the performers giving life-like believable performances and the camera admirably portraying the glaring contrasts and striking differences between the downtrodden, dilapidated colonies of the poor and the snobbish, stylish complexes boasting of upper class extravaganzas. It is also notable how the sky is always shown to be some shade of red, depending on the mood of the scene without ever seeming artificial or contrived. The soundtrack is rap & hip-hop medley, the beats managing to get your feet tapping though I felt irritated when a track was played every time Tsotsi took a walk, like some kind of forced style statement.
All in all, a well made movie with talented artistes and smart camerawork but not something that will stay with me for long.
Capote, in one word is slow. Ok I will make it two. Excruciatingly slow. By the time the movie gets over, the characters have lost your sympathy, the script has lost its tautness and you have lost the ability to even say that it was ‘boring’ because you are too bored to even utter a word.
What, however cannot be ignored is the path breaking performance given by Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the flamboyant, gay, life-of-the-party American author Truman Capote, who invented the genre of non-fiction novel with his best-selling “In Cold Blood”. Based on the true story of the murder of an entire family at the hands of two seemingly sane men, this book went onto be a critical and popular success. But the process of researching and writing this book took a toll on the psychological health of its author, who could never complete another book in his lifetime, having fallen for the charm of alcohol and drugs under the spell of depression. Many contend that it was because Capote had betrayed the trust of the accused men, who bared their souls to him, and exposed their realities to the rest of the world through his book, garnering enough fame and money for a lifetime at the cost of their death sentences.
The camerawork is pretty neat. The sets and costumes are appropriate without being too elaborate. Katherine Keener, in the role of Harper Lee, Truman’s close friend is the other cast member that impresses with her subtle, restrained performance. Rest of the actors fit into their roles but other than Clifton Collins Jr., playing one of the accused Perry Smith, no one else gets enough screen time to make a mark.
Sensitive in its portrayal of each of the characters, including the criminals, this should have been a great movie if not for its lousy pace and a drama that doesn't really give the expected high. Eventually, it ends up becoming a showcase for Hoffman's unbelievable prowess to get into the character physically and mentally, but even with his Oscar winning performance, he is unable to salvage the movie from being the perpetual drag that it is.
For a brief on Truman Capote, visit http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/capote.htm
Friday, August 04, 2006
One of the most lovely things in the sky....the moon. The object of most people's fancies, the inspiration for a thousand poems and a million sonnets, symbolism for love. The moon.
Captured here using a 3 MP digital Sony camcorder, over a period of an hour, using the maximum zoom settings. Out of the many snaps that I took, these four came out decently. Others suffered from distortion (when in zoom, even the slightest move can ruin the photo), excessive graininess and ofcourse cloud cover due to time delay of the cam.
A fun experience that left me with an exhausted arm (out of the effort of holding the cam for a long time waiting for the cloud cover to pass) but an enamored heart.