All Talk and No Action Friday, April 5, 2013

There hasn't been sufficient motivation to write recently. That, and the general rustiness that accompanies a graduate student's life have kept this space empty.

Not today.

I feel compelled to write about one man who has been a great inspiration - Roger Ebert.

Through the last 5 years of reading Ebert, I have been introduced to different ways of looking at art and life. His humour, intellect, knowledge and humility made reading him an immense pleasure. He treated his readers with respect and warmth. His curiosity was childlike and his battle with cancer, graceful and encouraging.

Reading Ebert has enriched my life and I will forever be indebted.

All Talk and No Action Friday, November 30, 2012

And, I'm back.

Sharing the movies I have seen in the past few months -

Nov 8 - Kaksparsh (Marathi) - While I liked the performances, I'm still undecided if I liked the movie as a whole.

Nov 9 - Salt n' pepper (Malayali) - I loved how the protagonists bonded over food.

Nov 10 - The lion king - Didn't appeal to me. Not every animated movie can be timeless, like the Toy story.

Nov 12 - The wave (German) - A school experiment gone horribly wrong. Good watch.

Nov 15 - Casino royale - My first bond movie. A thoroughly enjoyable fare.

Nov 16 - A quantum of solace - After Casino Royale, a huge disappointment.

Nov 17 - Half nelson - Watch it only if you like Gosling.

Nov 18 - The Godfather - Now I know why people were embarrassed by Sarkar.

Nov 19 - The Godfather 2 - I don't think Robert De Niro has ever looked this handsome.

Nov 20 - The godfather 3 - Like others, I feel this was an unnecessary installment. Unlike others, I liked it.

Nov 21 - The matrix.

Nov 23-25 - chasing liberty, it's a boy girl thing, law of attraction, because I said so, My big fat Greek wedding - Yes, I have an overtly romantic 22 year old room mate who was keen I let my hair loose and enjoy.

Nov 28 - When a man loves a woman - One of the most under-rated movies ever. A very well enacted movie with a good look into the family life of an alcoholic. While I picked it up only for Andy Garcia (the Godfather hangover), I was pleasantly surprised by Ryan's nuanced performance.


Oct 2 - OMG - Probably the first Bollywood movie to wager an attack on organised religion. After having watched the play (which I loved), I was keen to see how Rawal would translate it for the screen audiences. I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to everyone. Atheists won't be happy, but this is the closest a bollywood movie can come to challenging the existence of God.

Oct 11 - English Vinglish - My favourite hindi movie of 2012. Apart from the amazingly beautful Sri, I loved the music too. May Sri win as many awards as there exist. What a comeback!

Oct 12 - Vertigo - Good old Hitchcockian suspense. While I liked it, I was stumped to know it is the 'greatest film of all time' as per a 2012 ranking. Now who makes such decisions?!

Oct 14 - Shame - A story of a man clinically obsessed with sex. Depressing.

Oct 20 - Pretty Woman - Pure meh.

Oct 26 - Definitely, Maybe - This one was picked out of sheer boredom. But I'm glad I did. A good romantic movie with nice performances and a cool twist in the end! I like coming of age stories where relationships are traced through the years and love isn't treated as a one-time epiphany. I especially liked the parallel story of Clinton's presidential campaign and his impending impeachment.

Oct 27 - The time traveler's wife - Left it midway. Too boring and meaningless an endeavour 

Oct 28 - The silence of the lambs - I often wondered how Hannibal could be the no. 1 villain of all time since I had watched Hannibal before this one. Stupid me. The silence... is the most spectacular thriller I have ever seen. The movie is so cleverly written that it can scare the hell out of you even a good two decades after it released. The best part was, I could watch it at two levels - one, as a viewer being scared out of her wits, another as someone who was acutely aware of and awed by the tricks being used to scare her.

Oct 29 - The usual suspects. One of the best thrillers ever, they promised. What a disaster and waste of time!

oct 31 - Insomnia - A psychological thriller. Decent watch.

Sep 10 - Being John Malkovich - If the movie has a deeper philosophy, it went way over my head

Sep 16 - barfi - If you're one of those that loved the movie, this isn't for you. Yes, Ranbir was good, but this definitely wasn't his best performance. And, were you as confused with Priyanka's medical condition? I thought her performance while being good, was veered more towards retardation than autism. And I am tired of complete, scene by scene rip offs! The movie does have its sweet moments. But that's that.

Sep 22 - GOW 1 - I slept midway. Will probably never know why it's been compared with the Mahabharat.

Aug 10 - Kids - Sometimes I wonder why I attract such depressing movies. And to think this was made in 1995!

Aug 12 - Agent Vinod - Need I say more?

Aug (don't remember) - Kya super kool hain hum - I survived.

Aug 24 - Ek tha tigerrr - Only solace is I watched it at home and not spent a penny on it.

Aug 25 - The dark knight rises - Yes again. This time in Imax.

Aug 29 - The love guru - A colleague recommended. Later I struck me it was some kind of revenge.

July 8 - bol bachchan - a typical Rohit Shetty film with some genuine laughs.

July 20 - The Dark Knight Rises - I don't think I have ever read so much about any other trilogy, ever.  Yes, the movie doesn't exactly deliver or match up to its predecessor. But I still feel it was a great attempt, considering the scale and themes explored. My dad still doesn't understand how I could take an off from work and watch it at 9.30 am in the morning. He was glad the tickets for earlier shows were booked.

July 21 - The kids are all right - A funny family drama and a decent representation of an LGBT couple.

July 24 - The Dark Knight Rises. Again.

July 27 - Please give - decent watch

July 29 - Ice age 4 - good entertainment

Fight Club - It took every ounce of patience not to give up midway. The movie may have spawned a cultural revolution in the US, I care a damn!

Shanghai - One of the better movies to have come out of Bollywood this year. Nice performances.

Toy Story - They don't make such movies anymore.

Mumbai - Pune - Mumbai (Marathi) - nice entertainment.

The Amazing Spiderman - a disappointment.

Toy story 2,3 - My all time favourite animated series. I was amazed at its emotional connect. All it takes to make a memorable movie - good story and lovable characters. And my favourite character(s) - definitely the aliens!

All Talk and No Action Friday, July 20, 2012

Is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Dark Knight?

This is all my friends wanted to know during the interval.

Simply put, there cannot be another Joker or a movie as epic as The Dark Knight.

But that shouldn't get in your way. As a stand alone movie, there is enough meat that makes The Dark Knight Rises a spectacular finale to the Batman series.

Having waited eagerly for more than a year, I was beyond exhilaration while watching it today. Though I had my reservations on how the movie would pan out and if Nolan could outclass his previous almost perfect acts, I felt rewarded as a fan. 

It's difficult to deliver on a project this ambitious in scale, especially when its popularity has assumed  mythical proportions. Nolan's Batman is not a comic strip adaptation; it's a deeply moving, spiritual experience.  

Yes, there are some plot holes. Bane is not a Joker. The editing could have been crisper and some characters deserved more screen time. But it doesn't matter.  

The slow build up, the fine performances, a bombastic musical score and skillful application of CGI culminated in a rich and satisfying climax to one of the best series ever made. 

I'm more than happy as a fan and a tad emotional that I won't get to see my favourite superhero again. 

All Talk and No Action Sunday, June 3, 2012

May 1 - Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl - A silly and pointless endeavour.

May 2 - Kambakht Ishq - Don't judge. I'm allowed to watch atrocious movies once in a while

May 5 - The secret in their eyes - A 2009 Argentine movie. Won an Oscar for the best foreign language film. I was unaware of such weighty credentials before watching the movie. But after having experienced the magic of such powerful cinema, I can safely call it the best I've seen this year and definitely one of the most compelling onscreen romances ever. On the face of it, the plot's about a legal thriller panning 3 decades, involving a brutal and unresolved  rape. That the movie is set in a class ridden, bureaucratic Argentinian society of the 70s adds to the atmosphere. Stylishly directed; as you peel further, the story offers strands of love, humour, hatred, hope, longing, loss and retribution. The romance is achingly unalloyed and ethereal. It is completely to the credit of the makers to have portrayed such raw and complex emotions so sincerely. Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil make for a superb lead and are pitch perfect in their performances. It is impossible to remain untouched by this story. 

May 11 - Hugo - A visual extravaganza and heartwarming performances. I'd give anything to inhabit such a beautiful Paris. Highly recommended for cinema lovers.

May 12 - Blue Valentine - So, my first Ryan Gosling movie. THE Ryan Gosling. Boy, was I stumped! The next I know, I'm watching his movies in a row for the entire month. This one's a well made film - a distressing story about the dissolution of a relationship. The film is difficult to watch due to its imminent melancholic climax. Yet, it works on several levels, especially the performances.  

May 16 - Before the devil knows you're dead - A Sidney Lumet thriller. A one time watch.

May 17 - Drive - Ryan Gosling. Superb music that I've been listening to almost everyday. An intense,  stylish thriller which re-enforces the thought that 'still waters run deep'.

May 18 - Lars and the real girl - Yeah, Ryan again. Though I'm yet to watch Half Nelson (a movie which won Gosling an Oscar nomination), this one's my favourite.  The movie has such unbelievably generous characters that I wished to meet them in person. If only the world was this kind. You've to see this movie to believe what Ryan is capable of.

May 19 - Ides of March - Ryan Gosling. A political thriller. A decent watch

May 20 - The Notebook - So, apparently this Ryan flick makes women lose all grey cells and act against their better judgement. Well, I hate saccharine filled movies about 'louuvve' and am just not into a Romeo-Juliet kind of saga. So, I found it trash. Don't get me wrong. This one too is about eternal love and the blah, but it just didn't work for me.

May 20 - Crazy, Stupid, Love - I enjoyed this romantic comedy. An uber cool performance by Ryan and an equally funny act by Steve Carell. For those of you who have seen it, I found the "Steve Jobs" scene hilarious.

May 22 - All good things - Tada! Ryan Gosling again. This one's based on a real life incident. I don't have much to say here apart from the usual "Ryan was good".

May 25 - Fracture - A rather boring Ryan movie. Supposedly a thriller.

May 26 - Vicky Donor - An ingenuous plot and neat performances.

May 27 - Keith - A random teen romance I picked which left me pleasantly surprised. Not your run of the mill stories. A different plot with commendable performances by the lead.

May 31 - The Artist - I had a wide smile plastered on my face throughout this one. Every single minute was a pleasure to watch. Every actor, perfect. It takes real skill and bucket loads of audacity to make a B&W, silent movie in this age. With all things doctored and cosmetic around us, The Artist comes an absolute delight  and confirms that great stories can still be told simply. And Jean Dujardin -  they don't make men like him anymore! What a handsome and expressive face! The tap dance at the end had me mesmerised. But, everything said and done, I'd still have a difficult time deciding the better performer between Juan Dujardin and Uggie. Wouldn't you?

All Talk and No Action Sunday, May 6, 2012

April 8 - Housefull 2 - I liked it. Good, mindless, time pass.

April 15 - Midnight in Paris - I'd been meaning to watch this one for long as I've always been enamored by all things Parisian. I expected a beautiful looking movie with bowl-full of Allen'ish humour. Beautiful and sweetly nostalgic it is. But I found it too mild and not in the league of previous Allen movies. Give me a Bullets over Broadway any day.

April 16 - A Separation (Iranian)One of the best movies I have seen in recent times. Highly nuanced and vivid characters - the movie is rich in its understanding of human emotions. I loved the detailing in the plot and the various shades to each character. I should also add, I was surprised to see a different side to the Iranian society and its social mores.

April 18 - Certified Copy (French) - The writing was clever and I couldn't help trying to make sense of the plot. Foolish me. This is one of those capers which will engage you, tease you and finally leave you baffled. And Juliette Binoche - Gorgeous doesn't begin to describe her!

April 25 - Saving Private Ryan - One of the most compelling opening sequences and possibly the most honest war movie I've ever seen. The entire experience was deeply moving and I haven't been able to get the performances out of my head. Every second day, I revisit scenes that most impacted me, which is actually most of the movie. Anything else I say will be a waste of your time. Just watch it.

April 28 - The Green Mile - The Green Mile refers to the last mile that a prisoner walks from his cell to the electric chair. The story is set in the 1930s and is an adaptation from a Stephen King novel. I've always been a King fan and hence had sky high expectations. I came back with more than I'd asked for. The movie offers some fabulous moments. I loved the smooth and slow build up and the delicate bonding that develops between the guards and prisoners. The supernatural elements are beautifully woven together and every actor gives a classy performance. Highly recommended.

April 29 - Cast Away - This month has been great as I've watched some of the most memorable movies of Tom Hanks. Again, this was a superb act. And I was glad for not being forced to suffer much philosophical drama. I mean, for god's sake! The guy is abandoned on an island and I'd die if they showed him deliberating on larger existential issues or the purpose of his life. I'm not saying that doesn't happen or there was no philosophy at play here - there was, but Hanks played it out subtly, mostly in his head. I say this because I was reminded of a few scenes from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - especially Hritik's deep-sea diving experience. The point that had been ably made through his tears and Javed Akhtar's soulful poetry was rendered useless when Katrina's character asked him to spell out and describe his life altering experience. We are dodos when it comes to subtlety. I was mighty irritated with the scene and thought Zoya could have done better than that. 

All Talk and No Action Thursday, April 12, 2012

This appears to be a useful tip. In my head, I've already applied it to two situations at work and I'm hopeful of positive outcome.

Dan's blog is a neat place to hang out at. Every time I dig through the archives, I come back thoroughly impressed.

I especially enjoyed reading through this discussion and its many interesting responses.

All Talk and No Action

Broken neck, brain hemorrhage, cigarette burns, bites.

It'd have helped had Mumbai Mirror not published the image.

And we will continue to celebrate International Women's Day, participate in the Slut Walk and celebrate womanhood in general

All Talk and No Action Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I have been taken in by this wonderful initiative and have written to four people already.

I urge you to go through the letters. Some are cheerful, a few are uplifting, but the majority  are heartbreaking.

Which brings me to my closely held belief of saying it while you still have the time! 

All Talk and No Action

I've been away for so long that the whole business of blogging seems alien to me.

Every time I wish to share something, it invariably ends up being better expressed by someone else.

Plus, I always wonder what more can I ever add to the humongous pool of blogosphere. Everything worth saying, has been shouted from the rooftops; every news dissected, every emotion discussed threadbare, every worthy cause upheld and all possible outrage had.

Friends and readers have reached out at different times. I am grateful for the attention and, regret the woeful state this blog has come to.

Though some important events did claim majority of my time in the last few months, I won't offer them as valid reasons to not have blogged.

The only reason I didn't blog is -  I didn't have anything intelligent to say.

This feeling may have lingered had a friend not written a seemingly uninteresting mail a few days back. All he shared were thoughts that crossed his mind while he traveled to and fro office everyday.

What struck me then was how silly I had been all this while.

The very reason I started blogging was to give voice to the thousands of random thoughts that crossed my mind every day. The point was never to make readers think. The point was never to agonise over the wrongs in the world. It definitely was not to be a torchbearer of any sort. The only aim was to enjoy myself. And maybe, learn in the process.

My favourite bloggers have always been the ones who have created magic out of mundane subjects. They have connected with me, entertained me and if time permitted, made me think.

This is not to say that I won't link to important issues on this blog or discuss worldly and otherworldly matters.

It only means I will be more real to myself.

It also means I am already feeling better and less silly than from when I started penning this post.

And before you sign off, please try to answer this completely unrelated, but profound insight -

“Of all men’s miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing.” ― Herodotus, The Histories

Is this how knowledgeable and worldly wise Indians feel?

All Talk and No Action Sunday, April 1, 2012

I was able to manage only four movies past month. This could have been a matter of concern, had the rest of the days not been spent fruitfully - watching Community and Yes Minister.

Here goes -

Carnage (March 7) - A highly nuanced movie, deliciously sarcastic and superbly enacted. I was very happy to watch Christoph Waltz; he is study in perfection. Again, one doesn't need too many props to make good cinema. Well written is more than half done. 

Leaving Las Vegas (March 8) - A depressing story of alcoholism and abuse. Well performed. Probably the only time I felt positive about the otherwise irritating Nicholas Cage.

The Great debaters (March 9) - Some movies pick up the gauntlet of entertaining as well as lending  meaning to the larger canvas of life. This is one such exquisite story.

Kahaani (March  31) - I was glad to see an almost well constructed thriller. While the climax didn't sit too well with me, Kahaani has too many strengths, to complain. And, personally, if I ever have to choose a second favourite actress after Madhuri, it'll have to be Vidya Balan. Sorry Kajol.

All Talk and No Action Friday, March 2, 2012

I know I haven't been regular here. In my defense, I have a life.

Presenting to you, the movies I watched in February -

The Royal Tenenbaums (Feb 3) - A dysfunctional family (of child prodigies) comes together to bid farewell to their ageing patriarch. I found myself giggling at all inopportune times here. That's how this movie pans out. The Tenenbaums' tragedy becomes the viewer's comedy, and, a good one at that.

Notes on a scandal (Feb 9)
- Watch this one solely for the performances.

Manhattan (Feb 12) - Wood Allen. Just the name makes me smile. Manhattan is an irreverent look at twisted human relationships. I liked the movie, though, I have seen better from Allen.

Ek main aur ekk tu (Feb 13) - Let's call this my guilty pleasure. And, I'm not ashamed to admit that I liked the movie. Having known people with similar stories (of misdirected and mis-understood emotions) it was easy to laugh at the improbability of the romance. The only disappointment was Amit Trivedi's music.

The Descendants (Feb 15) - I loved the movie and pray that we make such messy, yet refreshingly humorous and uplifting family dramas in Bollywood. And say what you want to, but Sid stole the show!

Friends with benefits (Feb 18) - Second guilty pleasure of the month. Same old story; it could have been bolder but chose not to push the envelope. I, however, developed a tiny crush on Justin Timberlake.

All Talk and No Action Friday, February 24, 2012

is Pinterest.

I feel a childlike excitement while pinning on this virtual soft board.

Fairly new to the platform, I am charmed by the site's elegance. Simple to use and a fabulous treat for the eye.

All Talk and No Action Monday, February 20, 2012

This is totally worth your time.

I am amazed to find a humorist not relying on abusive language or snark to evoke laughter.

So refreshing!

All Talk and No Action Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Friends and I freaked out on the south Indian fare at Hotel Ram Ashraya, outside Matunga station.

By south Indian fare, I only mean apna roz ka dosa, uttappa, idli aur upma.

I have never, ever, in my whole life, had such awesomely tasty upma or such wholesome and heavenly dosas.

I can die now.

All Talk and No Action

A fine farewell speech converted into an equally engaging video.

Work for work's sake is a recurrent theme in most of my readings these days. God knows if I'm subconsciously digging for such works or it's a co-incidence. 

All Talk and No Action Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Starting 2012, I have decided to post a monthly round up on prominent movies watched during the month.While I'm interested in documenting the range of movies I watch, I hope you'll  find movies that interest you enough to give them a try.

Recently, I have been handed a collection of movies by a cinema lover whose taste is different from mine. Hence, watching movies has been a strange experience lately. I may not have given preference to some of these movies, and may have skipped others completely. But that's the good part of watching movies from a collection that's different from your own. You end up experimenting and watching newer directors and exploring more themes.

Another practice I've followed is to randomly pick movies and watch and not whet my expectation with reviews or rankings.

L.A. Confidential (Jan 4) :  A crime thriller set in the 1950s. 3 LAPD cops on the trail. An absolute must watch! Crisp writing and strong, believable characterisations. Given the ambitious scale of the project (since it is an adaptation from a book), I felt the movie assumed a life of its own and is standalone piece of art.

Let the right one in (Jan 10) : A Swedish, vampire love story. My first Swedish movie. My first vampire love story. My last vampire love story. I hate vampires, especially when they are in their pre-teens! Having said this, I loved the mood and the cinematography and feel the winter in Mumbai added to enhance my late night movie watching experience.

True Grit (Jan 13) : Decent performances and that's that. I couldn't understand the hype, except for that it's a 'Coen brothers' movie.

Winter's bone (Jan 13) : The plot is fairly basic and the movie is simple in style. Yet, this was one of the most engaging movies I have seen of late.  A spectacular performance by the lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence. Winter's bone is the actual True Grit.

The Fighter (Jan 14) : My only motivation to watch this one was Christian Bale. While he didn't disappoint, I didn't think much about the movie.

The constant gardener (Jan 28) : A political drama about the nexus of governments, large (and evil) corporations and the impact on third world countries. A fairly engaging watch, with some great shots of Africa. While I wasn't too impressed with the political theme, I enjoyed the parallel romantic theme, especially, because of its non linear treatment.

Other decent movies : The squid and the whale (poignant, funny, family drama with good performances. The more I see Jesse Eisenberg, the more I like him), Man on the train (French movie, a lovely theme and good performances. I enjoy movies which have two or at the most three characters, and are completely dialogue driven. It is a minimalist approach and can serve as a litmus test to see how good a writer one really is).

All Talk and No Action Thursday, January 26, 2012

Solitude and Leadership, one of the best essays I have read in a long time. Originally a lecture, I found it easier to read than to listen.

Although the premise isn't new for me, I thought the speech was beautifully constructed. Every word, thought, suggestion was priceless.

I'm not sure how many readers here like to read lengthy, thought provoking prose. All I can say is this should be a great philosophy to read and practice.

All Talk and No Action Monday, January 9, 2012

I stumbled upon this video of Isa Leshko. Poignant and beautiful. Some of you may find Isa's personification of the animals silly. Yet, it struck a chord with me.

I always maintain that caring for a pet has made me more human. I'm glad to have relatives and friends who've had various farm animals as pets.

Getting to know such animals has been an important part of my life experiences.

Most in my family are very sensitive to animal abuse, and feel strongly about animal rights. This may sound funny, especially, if you're from my part of the world, India. In a country famous for its callous attitude towards human life,  striving for animal rights can appear to be an elitist indulgence.

Yet, humans can find courage and hope, rationalize and even stand up to their tormentors. Not so with animals. World over, many farm animals, including well bred home pets, continue to die earlier than usual; they are either abused at a young age or turned away by their adoptive families in old age.


Another reason why I found the video compelling was the ageing factor. There is much discomfort and disgrace attached to this natural process. Yet it's the one thing that connects us all.

All Talk and No Action Friday, January 6, 2012

Though it's not a new year's resolution, I wish to cut down my reading list on Google Reader. In fact, I've already reduced my subscriptions by 30%

Over the last 3 years, I subscribed to and shared many interesting resources and blogs on Google Reader. The social buttons on the platform provided unimaginable highs of learning, sharing, ideating and curating. My primary purpose was to hog on knowledge and opinion. My days began with checking for updates on reader and often ended with commenting on interesting reads.

The knowledge accumulation was great while it lasted. There will always be fun stuff to read, new ideas to comprehend and opinions to absorb. The urge to subscribe to one more witty cartoonist, read one more great movie critic, follow one more erudite political analyst will never end.

However, with time, my reading habit has evolved. I no longer want to keep up with this sort of competitive reading. I don't want to feel bad about unread reading items on Google reader. I'm fine with not accumulating all the knowledge out there. Of course, my decision also has a lot to do with exasperation with ideas and opinions. But, more on that later.

For now, 2012 will see a refined and leaner reading list, focused browsing and fewer Op-eds.