Sunday, November 27, 2005

Why don't you just kill me?

So, um, my hard drive is experiencing breakdown. I turned on my computer earlier today to the sound of bizzare clicks and beeps, followed by a blinking blue screen. I think it very significant to add that my computer is less than six months old. Let me state that again - brand new HP computer with 200 gigs. Why don't you read those last two sentences again to get an idea of my lack of understanding on this picture? I swear to God, there is no trusting technology anymore - it just decides to fuck you over at the worst possible moment. Proof? I have five papers to write over the next two weeks, and this is the time my computer decides to say "I'm going to commit suicide now, sorry for any inconvenience you may experience". Thank God I was able to back-up all my music, files, movie reviews and lecture notes before it totally conked out. Kaput. I would be slitting my wrists right now if I had lost all that - my computer had everything on it (let this be a lesson to me to back up everything constantly). Still, it's a major inconvenience because I have to keep switching CDs to access my essay work and notes for writing.

The piece of shit is thankfully under warranty, but they'll have to send it away. For three weeks. I'm seething right now, and family members are staying far out of my way. I'm already hostile enough during essay/exam time, but this has just set me over the edge.

I'm now writing this post on my mom's laptop, which is acceptable enough, but lacks all the speediness of my earlier workstation.

Lesson? Technology is very enticing and lures you with the promise of stability and good times, but secretly plans to destroy your life when you are most vulernable. I urge you all to take a closer look at your computers, tvs, DVD players, MP3 devices that you love so much... don't trust them. They are planning to break down on you any moment now.

Seven Things List

Break from paper-writing. Passed on from Nathaniel:

7 Things to do before I die:
- Leave behind some lasting legacy that will be talked about for decades to come. I don't care what it is: a book, piece of academic criticism, speech, artwork. As long as it is genius and divisive enough to spark debate and scholarly interest.
- Travel to all the continents. I am woefully sheltered and need to see the world as it is, not as it is channeled through the media and other people's perceptions of it. I have lived in the Middle East and been to Africa, but I need to do Europe/Australia/Far East in entirety, and I would love to live in India for a couple of years (it is my major after all).
- Adopt a child. I mean this, I really do. And this is not because Angelina Jolie made it popular. I've always wanted to do this, and I aim to do so, no matter what, whether I have a partner or not. As long as I am stable enough though (I do not want to bring up a child if I am screwed up or can't give it the attention/love he or she deserves).
- Become good at debating. I have lots of "views", but I turn to jelly when someone who is argumentative starts throwing information at me. I can't really articulate myself well under pressure, which is why I like writing so much. But still, I'd like to be spontaneous and winsome in this regard.
- Get into shape. And get a six-pack. I've lost the weight, now it's the toning part that's the bitch of it all. I like cardio because I can turn off my brain and let music distract me. With weight-lifting, you have to count constantly and keep switching movements/stations/machines, etc.
- Have something to do with film. Whether it's criticism or acting or doing work behind the camera (like documentary), I love cinema too much to simply be an observer.
- Become less material. Right now, films and DVDs take up a lot of my time and money. I'd like to become more spiritual and introspective rather than focus on things I can buy and enjoy for myself.

7 Things I cannot do:
- Sing. Can't do it at all. I hate my voice - it's nasal and monotone.
- Dance. No rhythm at all. The exception is Prom Night, where I made an effort to get on the dance floor with my friends. But it will never happen again.
- Live without my DVDs. I seriously think I would die without them. I would take my collection with me everywhere if I could.
- Be consistent with correspondence. My friends and family get very angry with me for not replying to their phone calls and emails on time. Sometimes it's just forgetfulness and other times it's avoidance.
- Give up Diet Coke. I've tried and tried, but it's like a drug. And it's so bad for you, with the aspartame and all. This is one bad habit I simply can't kick. Ditto for caffeine.
- Stop biting my nails. It's ventured into OCD territory now.
- Make friends easily. In my third year of university, and I don't have any good chums. All my friends are the ones I made in high school, and since they're at different schools, it's so hard to keep in touch.

7 Things that attract me to people:

- Good looks (obviously).
- Self-confidence.
- Smarts.
- A talent with humour.
- Passion (for whatever - art, sports, politics, anything).
- A sexy laugh.
- Good teeth.

7 Things I say most often:
"Riiiiight" (in the Dr. Evil way)
"Shut. Up."
"You're kidding"
... I can't really think of anymore. I do A LOT of quotes for "The Simpsons", but only two of my friends really get them and the rest of them give me strange looks: "When I say Mr. Thompson and stamp on your foot, you smile and nod, got it?" or "Mmm... sacrilicious".

7 Non Movie Star Related Crushes of the Fictional or Celebrity Variety:

- Dickie Greenleaf as played by Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
- Lizzie Bennet as played by the luminous, ridiculously talented Jennifer Ehle in the Pride and Prejudice mini-series. I'm subconsciously holding out on seeing the new version, because I feel there's no way Keira Knightley will come close. Also Lizzie Bennet in the Austen novel; the ultimate romantic heroine.
- Shakespeare as played by Joe Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love. But even historical Shakespeare, because you deserve to be worshipped when you are that brilliant.
- Oprah. I know she's manipulative, condescending and judgmental at times, but she has taken control of my soul. I watched practically everyday during the summer. There's just something addictive about her. I'm obsessed. I also read my mum's "O" magazines. Someone help me.
- Ariel from The Little Mermaid. She's not the brightest bulb in the closet (what can you expect from Disney's take on women), but I was in love for years. In fact, I met the animator Mark Henn when I was six or so, and the drawing he etched for me still hangs over my bed to this day.
- Mira Nair. I admire this woman a lot. Her genius in both documentary and narrative genres inspires me. She merges my two interests - film and South Asian Studies - with such ease. Just witness how she captures New Delhi in Monsoon Wedding - despite the story being set within an upper-class Punjabi family, she never loses sight of the servants, the workers, the streets, the chaotic world that exists outside of the main characters' privileged lives. I find this woman's work endlessly fascinating (even her Vanity Fair was brilliant in my eyes, despite the overwhelming indifference that greeted it).
- Mrs. Ramsay from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Such a fascinating creation, a glorious matriarch, but nonetheless limited in her view of the world... and when she is killed off in the middle of the novel, I never fail to be devastated.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


After months of going blog-less, I have decided to start one up again, if only for the need to archive my thoughts on films (because I forget everything I think about a movie a week after I see it). I had a journal on the Rotten Tomatoes database, but it was aesthetically hideous. As well, my film "reviews" were rather naive and pretty generous. New blog = a new leaf. The purpose of this blog is to document my progress as a cine-phile; admittedly, I have rather large holes in my screening duties (especially the classics), and I will attempt to rectify this problem in time. University right now is taking up a lot of my time, so there won't be anything of substance here for a while. But towards the end of December, and as we move into glorious awards season, I will be updating constantly.

To start off, here are some thoughts on some recent viewings (*spoiler warnings for all*):

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Newell, 05) B [Better than expected, I have to admit. Yes, it's mostly a hodgepodge of "best-of" moments (the first forty-five minutes are extremely awkward in terms of pacing and editing), but those individual scenes that do click now and then are ace. For example, I got major fanboy chills just witnessing the sheer hugeness of the Quidditch World Cup sequence (Patrick Doyle's crisp, exciting score helped considerably), or the dragon-chase around the towers of Hogwarts (which looked so delicious, I almost thought Peter Jackson was brought on to supervise). I admit that the film would frustrate a viewer not familiar with the Rowling novels, and that it pales in comparison to Cuaron's work on last year's adaptation (the development of love-pangs are handled with a lot more sublety in that film), but it's still a lot of loud, popcorn fun. The supporting cast does solid work, especially the new additions like Brendan Gleeson's uber-creepy Mad-Eye Moody, and the always-great Ralph Fiennes as the Dark Lord. I also must give credit to Daniel Radcliffe, who I have always singled out for criticism in the last installments (no one has been able to escape my long-winded rants about his wooden work); he is rather terrific (!) here (see the bathtub sequence with Moaning Mrytle, or his sob-fest over Cedric's body for proof of this). It is the first time I saw Harry Potter the character on-screen rather than the actor playing him. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint get even less to do than usual, but they are still great in every scene they have. In all, a perfectly fine adaptation; if nothing else, it's light years ahead the Columbus takes, so I'm very happy with what is here. I might even see it again.]

The Squid and the Whale (Baumbach, 05) B+ [I was only seven years old when my parents split up, so Noah Baumbach's auto-biographical dramedy hit home pretty hard. What was also rather refreshing here is that the writer-director stays far away from the conventions of other dysfunctional-family movies like Imaginary Heroes, The United States of Leland, American Beauty, etc. Note to those movies: we got it. Like, a long time ago (although I do like the Mendes film). But I digress - this film thankfully juggles multiple perspectives, from Jeff Daniel's insecure academic to the emotionally disturbed children (Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Wilson). Lest the film sound dreary and angst-ridden, it's actually quite hilarious - Baumbach expertly balances the humor in the film with the more painful elements, never mining serious territory for laughs (unlike some filmmakers). My reservations come from a rather under-used Laura Linney and the needless supblot with the Lolita-like Anna Paquin character (who basically recycles her performance from The 25th Hour). But overall, this film is not be missed; it is especially memorable for the involvement of Jeff Daniels, who deserves an Oscar nomination (I'd call him Best Actor of the year if it weren't for Heath Ledger, who shattered my heart in Brokeback Mountain). And although both Eisenberg and Linney are great, it's little Owen Kline who steals the film as the sensitive pre-adolescent son. One of the best child performances I've seen, let me tell you.]

The Magician (Bergman, 58) B- [The spooky and mysterious opening sequences here promise so much (ghosts! magic! censorship! a haunted house!) that ultimately mutate into something of a sex comedy, which Bergman already explored with much greater success in Smiles of a Summer Night. These two very different genres do not mesh well together here, at least to me. It's entertaining for what it is though, and the Max von Sydow/Ingrid Thulin/Gunnar Bjornstand team do good work.]

Paheli (Palekar, 05) C+ [After hearing that the film was officially chosen as India's selection for the Oscars, I skimmed through the DVD to see if there was anything I missed the first time around theatrically in June. My feelings still stand. It's a cute little fable with great songs and a very funny lead performance by Shahrukh, but the whole thing stinks to me of "Bollywood makes Rajasthani culture accessible and colorful for the masses". The casting is problematic too - Palekar gives every single part to a well-known face; it's the equivalent of the way Miramax pushed their regular players into Cold Mountain. More bothersome, the thing is too beautiful and glossy to be taken seriously (as great as the cinematography, makeup and costumes may look), and it's rather insignificant when compared to the other films that could have been sumbitted this year. I'm hoping this doesn't get chosen, because it has no place being up there with the other nominated greats like Lagaan, Salaam Bombay and Mother India.]

And some other grades:
Good Night, And Good Luck (Clooney, 05) B
The Legend of Zorro (Campbell, 05) F [And I liked the first one mind you. This is one of the worst films I've ever seen. Ever.]
Jeepers Creepers (Salva, 01) B
Saw (Wan, 04) D+ [Why do people like these movies? I'm not even going to bother with the second.]
A History of Violence (Cronenberg, 05) A [Even better the second time around, stupid and immature audience notwithstanding.]
Twilight Samurai (Yamada, 02) A- [Damn good. Now I wonder whether I should incorporate this into my top ten list for 02 or 04...]

More reviews to come after my essays are finished.


p.s. - Thomas Newman's score for Angels in America is one of the best I've ever heard. It helps me write my papers without distraction. Too bad it could not be submitted for Oscar contention.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Capsule Review Index

Apocalypto (Mel Gibson, 2006)

The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana, 2003)
Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (Takashi Miike, 2006)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006)
Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella, 2006)
The Break-Up (Peyton Reed, 2006)
Brothers (Susanne Bier, 2004)

Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)
Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
Casanova (Lasse Hallström, 2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Andrew Adamson, 2005)
Clean (Olivier Assayas, 2004)
Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
The Constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles, 2005)
C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005)

The Da Vinci Code (Ron Howard, 2006)
The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006)
District B13 (Pierre Morel, 2004)
Disturbia (D.J. Caruso, 2007)
Dong (Zhang Ke Jia, 2006)
Dosti (Satyen Bose, 1964)


Factory Girl (George Hickenlooper, 2006)
The Fall (Tarsem Singh, 2006)
The Family Stone (Thomas Bezucha, 2005)

A Grave-Keeper's Tale (Chitra Palekar, 2006)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)

Happy Endings (Don Roos, 2005)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell, 2005)
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Hitch (Andy Tennant, 2005)
The Holiday (Nancy Meyers, 2006)

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang, 2006)

Jarhead (Sam Mendes, 2005)

King Kong (Peter Jackson, 2005)
Kings and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin, 2004)

Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)
The Last King of Scotland (Kevin MacDonald, 2006)
Lights in the Dusk (Aki Kaurismäki, 2006)

The Magic Flute (Kenneth Branagh, 2006)
The Magician (Ingmar Bergman, 1958)
Manderlay (Lars von Trier, 2005)
Mrs. Henderson Presents (Stephen Frears, 2005)
Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)
Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro, 2005)
Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004)

The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)

Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright, 2006)
The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
Penelope (Mark Palansky, 2006)
La Promesse (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 1996)


Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
Rent (Chris Columbus, 2005)

The Silly Age (Pavel Giroud, 2006)
Sin City (Robert Rodriguez, 2005)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
Starter for Ten (Tom Vaughan, 2006)
Stranger Than Fiction (Marc Forster, 2006)
The Sun (Aleksander Sokurov, 2005)
Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005)

3-Iron (Kim Ki-duk, 2004)
Tideland (Terry Gilliam, 2005)
Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2005)


The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 1960)

Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Steve Box, Nick Park, 2005)
Walk the Line (James Mangold, 2005)
Walk on Water (Eytan Fox, 2004)
The White Diamond (Werner Herzog, 2004)
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)

X-Men 3: The Last Stand (Brett Ratner, 2006)

Yes (Sally Potter, 2004)
Yesterday (Darrell Roodt, 2004)


Full-Length Review Index

L'Avocat de la terreur (Barbet Schroeder, 2007)
Away from Her (Sarah Polley, 2006)


Confetti (Debbie Isitt, 2006)


Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekar Kapur, 2007)

The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006) [*review is of first screening]
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristi Mungiu, 2007)






Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Ashutosh Gowariker, 2001)
Little Children (Todd Field, 2006)

Memoirs of a Geisha (Rob Marshall, 2005)
My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev, 2007)

The Namesake (Mira Nair, 2006)
Notes on a Scandal (Richard Eyre, 2006)

Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006)

Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)


The Reader (Stephen Daldry, 2008)

Sex and the City (Michael Patrick King, 2008)



Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)



You, the Living (Roy Andersson, 2007)

Zubeidaa (Shyam Benegal, 2001)