Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 - At the Movies

This year has not been particularly exciting - but at the movies - for a price of a ticket, there were some good times. Here are this year's top ten movies.

1. Inception – Imagination unleashed. There is so much to savor in this marvel of a movie (swift editing, stunning photography, music that transcends dreams and a cast to die for).

But at its core this is a story about things so simple yet so poignant – the love of a son for a dying father, friendships, redemption, of second chances and above all the power of mind. The action scenes are dynamite, the freight train in the middle of a busy street, zero gravity fights or the chase scene in Mombasa.

I will happily take on any cynic who would undermine the accomplishment of this great movie. As a movie junkie – I have new found respect for the chicanery and illusion of Christopher Nolan – this is full blown entertainment.

2. Social Network – The last scene of this movie hits you hard enough to knock you down sideways. This movie shows us what we have become, a generation who substitutes social networking for direct communication. We all hide behind our own created pages and look for any human contact online. Sorkin’s razor sharp dialogues cuts deep, this is a movie about human frailty, ambition, power and deep insecurities.

In one scene the associate lawyer says –“Mark, you are not an asshole! You are just trying hard to be one” – aren’t we all?

3. Green Zone – A ballsy movie that dishes it to the disingenuous dirt bags in the Bush administration. Director Paul Greengrass take on the Iraq war is incredibly moving, the rapid fire action scenes in the rugged landscape are visceral and adrenalin thumping.

4. Toy Story 3 – Coming off age has never been so bitter sweet, this Pixar wonder is not just about our true love (and fidelity) with consumerism, this digs deep – anyone who has left home for college will know what I mean.

5. The Fighter – A triumphant boxing movie – may not be “great” as ‘Raging Bull’ – but the visceral boxing scenes and real time feel is explosive. A big shout out to Christian Bale, Mark Whalberg and Amy Adams for their performances – it’s like lighting explosive dynamite.

6. Scott Pilgrim vs the world Edgar Wrights video game movie is funny, smart, sharp and so dam cool. The Nintendo style fights and video game references are mixed with witty dialogue and excellent photography – Super cool.

7. 127 Hours Danny Boyles follow up to the Oscar winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is a haunting movie about man verses nature. James Franco performance shows us the pain and endurance under the most extreme circumstances with a will to survive. The cinematography in this movie is blow your brains kind with a killer soundtrack by Rehman.

8. DabangSalman Khan’s career defining performance and Muni Badnaam – good times.

9. Peepli Live – A smart-sad-funny-satirical-grim-honest movie. Best line 'Jaib dalindar dil hai samandar'...oh the India I miss is way too good.

10. Animal Kingdom & True Grit – Shot on the streets of Melbourne where the suburban streets are empty and crime lurks where unexpected, this is a character study of not just criminals but also crime. Animal Kingdom is undoubtedly the best Australian film I have ever seen.

I have not seen ‘True Grit’ yet but the idea of the quirky Cohen brothers and Jeff Bridges a.k.a “The Dude” from ‘The Big lebowski’ reuniting is got to be good – I am sold on this movie.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Warped-raptured -insanely sick – Inception is a masterpiece.

Come on, go ahead – say it, I can almost hear it, what the hell was going on this movie - it’s too complex - dint know what was happening - who’s sub conscious are we in now and who’s dream is this.

Like a dynamite exploding, Inception doesn’t destruct in shock and awe rather it becomes a spectacle that is devastatingly entertaining. This corporate espionage about dream stealing and planting is like a zero gravity experience where the movie transposes you - and gives you a kick - and you never know whether you where in a dream or in a movie.

I aint sayin no more, watch it for yourself and enjoy for what it is - an action blockbuster.

If you are going to carp that the movie is cerebral, convoluted and to smart of its own good, then no offense – with all due respect – you deserve to be dumb down by Transformers where logic is a bad joke.

Or be frazzled by the deplorable Twilight franchise where a vampire glitters in gold and believes in abstinence (seriously, come on, WTF – watch “True blood” instead it is for grownups, the real deal, there are fangs, fang bangers and the moral arc of a vampire is as dark and twisted as humans).

The blogs have gone ballistic – few rabidly critiquing the movie, some viscerally defending it and most honestly calling – “a spade for a spade” – and saying what the movie really is – a masterpiece. (The New York Times gave a scathing review and people are almost fighting on the website).

The action scenes will blow your brains out - a street in Paris turning on its head, buildings falling bit by bit, shattered glasses, explosions in a cafe, stairs, bridges shifting, changing, an avalanche, a truck blazing through the middle of the street, shoot outs in car reverse all in an intertwined layered dreams.

It is technically brilliant - Hans Zimmer’s music is kick ass, stellar cinematography, and the visual effects and CGI look as real as it can possibly be in a dream.

A Knockout ensemble – DeCaprio is Cobb ‘The Extractor’ his performance is as good as - or maybe even better - than ‘The Departed’ or ‘Shutter Island’. Cillian Murphy is a stand out as Fisher ‘The Mark’.

Marion Cotillard is Mal ‘The Shade’, devilish and equally sexy, Ellen Page is sublime as Ariadne ‘The Architect’ , Joseph Gordon Levitt as Arthur gets to do the best stunts ‘The Point man’ (the zero gravity fight scene in the hotel is mind blowing) and then there is Ken Watanabe as Saito a.k.a ‘The Tourist’ who is dam cool.

But the best character is Eames, Tom Hardy as ‘The Forger’, who shape shifts within dreams, shoots a bazooka and has a quirky sense of humour.

Credit to Nolan for not jumping on the 3D bandwagon, IMAX is way more real and effective.

3D doesn’t work for every movie, it did for “Avatar” as 3D was also a character in the movie and it was strategically used as a product placement, which now has become “Avatar’s” brand equity.

Director Christopher Nolan has an impressive resume, every movie he has made is either unique (Insomnia, Batman Begins, Prestige) or outstanding (Memento, Dark Knight). Inception falls in the latter – Nolan has my respect.

In the movie Cobb says that an idea is the most resilient parasite, the movie isn’t– it’s infectious.

For all you know the movie could be Cobbs dream or even Saito. The ending could be a reality or maybe a dream or maybe that was the Inception, where an idea was planted for closure, redemption, it is all up for debate and interpretation.

And you know what I really don’t care, this is what I paid $22 for and I was high on its trip.

I strongly recommend it:

Give Inception – “cart-e-blanche” and the result is a “tour-de-force”.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mates rates to Kangaroo Island

At 3:45am on the morning I was leaving with mates for my annual Easter trip to Kangaroo Island, I said to myself – Hope this is worth it and worth it, it was… The early morning road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide to Kangaroo Island was long-sleepy-confusing-muddling but ultimately interesting. Between the ferry rides, the stop over’s and the dry terrain we managed to have conversations form arranged marriages to financial crises and outsourcing. In between we also debated about following the Navman or the tourist maps resulting in the human brain triumphing technology (no pun intended – if anything this is complimentary – in all seriousness). Kangaroo Island isn’t obviously picturesque but does have some scenic wonders – Like the ‘Little Sahara’. One cannot help but marvel at the sand dunes, the sheer scale of the place, is more than you can absorb. It is here where we sand boarded and attempted sand surfing, and was fun to see everyone sliding down. The sand dunes is a rarity of an experience which will linger on for a long, a very long time. The milieu was insanely surreal and the experience – kick ass! The Remarkable rocks was not as much an overwhelming experience for me as it was for the rest (if anything - the light house, the strong winds, the small distant islands reminded me of “Shutter island”) But never have I seen so many seals at one place in my lifetime. Having said that - the unique rock formations where oddly engaging.
But the real scene stealer’s where - Quad Biking and Kayaking. Quad biking was a real adrenaline rush, the combination of speed and abandon is a high, which is ‘As good as it gets’. But, the Quad biking was marred by a friend’s mishap – regardless – everyone’s spirits where high and the experience was thumping. But for me - Kayaking was the very best, still new to the techniques and with the support of a very gentle river, Kayaking truly made my day! In fact it made my trip! There was a moment in the middle of the river, where the stretch of the water met the eye and the quiet of the surroundings added to the experience – that was a high point and something that I took away from the trip. I will not overstate and say that Kangaroo Island was the best trip ever, but certainly- memorable.
Everyone seemed to have a good time – Whilst one friend spotted a UFO another was flirting with the quad bike lady and wanted to ride the Quad bike to Melbourne. One friend made delicious pancakes for breakfast (thanks for that) whilst another was well travelled and shared great insights. One friend did rise even before the sun, one always took care of things and another enjoyed their whiskey. I enjoyed it all and the food was great -pancakes for breakfast, Chicken and ricotta burgers for lunch, green curry for dinner – throw in Carlton Club (the best scotch as far as I am concerned)-ridiculously good! This go-for-broke trip was fun coz of the group dynamics – the ring leaders, the mid fielders and the quarter backs, everyone made this a good (syntax-game) trip. Now will we say – Kangaroo Island – been there done that – nah – we l say – “Been there done everything”.