Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Sad State of Bollywood

Part I

I just got home from the theater, where I had gone with mom to see Fashion. With this, I'm pretty sure India has just gotten its first so-called "respectable"/"serious"/"reality" mainstream exploitation director: Madhur Bhandarkar. The man is great at PR, tom-tomming his so-called "research" at every street corner and in every gossip rag. Because a great film-maker, he is not. Madhur Bhandarkar's "research" is just ripping off the headlines. He stole the Carol Gracias wardrobe malfunction, the Geetanjali Nagpal episode, and a bunch of other snippets, and just makes it all so very crass on screen. This is a shoddy, very superficial movie, and the fashion designers and photographers who made cameos in here should be embarrassed to be a part of it.

The movie is ridiculously long and self-indulgent, with no though given to pacing or script. No effort is made to really show a model's struggle. Every designer is gay and speaks with a weird accent that in some cases (Harsh Chhaya) borders on serious speech impediment. Kangana Ranaut is just horrible. This is the first movie I'm seeing her in, and i'm shocked she's getting any movies at all. Her "model-walk" and facial expressions are downright ugly in comparison to the actual models walking around her. Half the time she's doing coke in a dazed fit, and the other half she's using her laughable child-like voice to scream and screech "YOU BUS-TURD" at her abusive lover. Not only is the movie full of stereotypes and cliches, it's rather illogical at times too, with gaffes likes the show-stopper outfit being shown at the very beginning of a show.

Priyanka Chopra looks good, but her character finds success waaay to fast and easily, and then turns super-bitch in a flash. After the numerous fuck-ups she commits both before and after her fall from grace, I'm not sure anyone in the audience would really have felt any pity for her. I must say Mugdha Godse was the best eye-candy on screen. She was hot, and did a pretty good job at her role as well.

All in all: long, boring, superficial, and very, very self-indulgent. This is an outsider looking in, and it shows.

Part II

Of course, this is a fairly common sight in Bollywood, with directors talking bollocks off-screen and screwing up royally on it. Take Goldie Behl and his so-called movie, Drona. What an embarrassment for him, and everyone associated with it.

I was out with some friends last month, watching a play at Prithvi, called Chaos Theory. It's an amazing play, very well written with some fabulous one-lines, hilarious scenes, and some real touching moments. It was a powerhouse of performances by Zafar Karachiwala and Anahita Uberoi, aptly supported by Sohrab Ardeshir and Shaana Levy. The story follows the lives of Zafar n Anahita from their college days at Stephens, Delhi, to teaching jobs at Harvard, right up to their retirement. It's quite obvious they're in love with each other, but never speak out or really act on it. It's a funny play with a lot of quirks, and never slackens in pace, running at and hour twenty-five minutes.

Then after meeting some more friends, we went out on a lark to see Drona. Boy, that was one of the worst decisions in the history of bad decisions. Drona is the polar opposite of Chaos Theory. Such a horrendous, horrible, atrocious, mind-bogglingly bad boring movie. Aaaaack. Abhishek looks a slacker, drunk and puffy with a scowl throughout the movie. Priyanka Chopra is wasted in some atrocious lines and worse costumes. Jaya Bachchan would make a great witch for Hansel and Gretel, and Kay Kay Menon was surely pumped up on the most narcotic cocktail of drugs ever known to man. What a disaster of a movie. Stealing bits n parts from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, King Arthur's Legend of Excalibur, and a whole lot others that I can't recollect now, the movie really had no coherent script or sense to whatever is happening on screen. Most of the dialogues were obtuse to the point of being incoherent babble. Ridiculous, unimaginative set designs only served to make the whole thing look like some kind of joke. Frankly, if that hack Goldie Behl had actually played the whole thing as some kind of parody, his absolute lack of directorial skills wouldn't have been so blatantly obvious.

My hearts weeps thinking of the colossal amount of money spent and wasted on this. Also, how can I get in on it?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Towards a great comic collection...

Comic fans will ove this. The Comics Reporter recently published a fantastic article - The 50 Things That Every Comics Collection Truly Needs

From the list, what I already have:

8. A Little Stack of Archie Comics (I have 3 actually, so that is as little as possible)
10. Several Tintin Albums (A buncha single albums, and some of those 3-in-ones)
15. At Least One Comic Book From When You First Started Reading Comic Books (I would say i seriously started reading and collecting comics when I got a set of 30 South African editions of Batman n Supes, and First Publishing's TMNT 4-isse GNs. Still have them.)
17. Some Osamu Tezuka (This is a cheat, I got a friend's copy of Buddha vol 1)
21. One Run of A Comic Strip That You Yourself Have Clipped (When i was a kid, i used to clip and collect Phantom n Mandrake newspaper strips. I dunno if i still got them.)
22. A Selection of Comics That Interest You That You Can't Explain To Anyone Else (Wierd category, everyone can lay claim to this)
24. As Much Peanuts As You Can Stand (A whole lotta digests, and the first two of Fantagraphics's The Complete Peanuts series)
29. Several copies of MAD (Tons of digests and lotta them Indian editions)
30. A stack of Jack Kirby 1970s Comic Books (I have a Jack Kirby's New Gods trade)
31. More than a few Stan Lee/Jack Kirby 1960s Marvel Comic Books (Two Essential Spiderman trades)
33. Some Calvin and Hobbes (I have pretty much most of the strips, in about 8 books)
38. A Stack of Comics You Can Hand To Anybody's Kid (Would no. 8 fall into this?)
39. At Least A Few Alan Moore Comics (League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen, Top Ten)
41. A Few Comics About Comics (I have the third Animal Man trade)
43. Some Frank Miller Comics (DKR, DK2, Year One)
44. Several Lee/Ditko/Romita Amazing Spider-Man Comic Books (Two trades of Essential Spiderman)
48. An Array Of Comics In Various Non-Superhero Genres (My Faith In Frankie, Sandman, Fables, Bone, a trade each of Aliens and Predator etc)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Speaking of epic...

The mantra for the new era: "Comparing movies to LOTR is out of style. Now everything is the next Dark Knight."

Yes, EiC Josh Tyler hits it right on the head.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monstorous trees, anyone?

While talking about Blizzard's Diablo III, Lead Designer Jay Wilson made this really interesting comment on the state of designers in games:

I don't know anybody who isn't trying to hire background people. Part of it is that there's so much background to create, and part of it is that most people would rather create a big, giant monster than a tree. But boy, what we wouldn't give for some good tree creators! People who love to create trees are worth their weight in gold!

A very intersting observation, and quite true too. Heck, who'd pass up the opportunity to create a race of six-legged blue-skinned aliens or six-headed fire-breathing demons in favour or a deciduous forest or a flower shrubbery? I know I wouldn't...

Friday, August 22, 2008

F.E.A.R. of the dark...

I completed F.E.A.R. yesterday.

Things I liked.

Enemy AI: This was a bunch of smart fuckers. They'd often turn over couches or crates for cover, and fire with just a hand sticking over. Sneaky bastards. Plus they had good aim too.

Atmosphere: Quite creepy. Lotsa silent stretches where you keep expecting something to attack you or a creepy vision to appear. Plus those sighting of little Alma n Fettel walking around and suddenly disappearing were disorienting.

Music and Sound fx: Great sound effects all around. Engaging bg music when it came around, and at a few places some really good music kicked it. Stuff that I wouldn't mind listening to as stand-alone songs.

Weapons: The weapons were 30 different shades of fun. I love the HV Penetrator and the Particle Weapon. Too bad there weren't enough enemies in all to use them on.

No Crate Smashing: Good thing I didn't have to spend all my time breaking open crates to hunt for supplies n hidden items.

No Cheap Attacks or Triggers: In a lotta games, if you pick up a particular item or perform a task, it triggers off an enemy attack. None of that crap here.

Things I didn't like.

No sense of immersion: I didn't have a name, and was constantly referred to as "F.E.A.R. Pointman." Pretty stupid. Even during the pre-level mission displays, none of them read "You need to.." or "Your mission is.." but rather, the alienating "F.E.A.R. Pointman needs to.."

Enemy variety: Seemed like I spent the entire game basically fighting the same enemy, with a few helmet varities. The interesting, challenging enemies like the Power Armor n the Stealh Assasin were in way too much of a short supply.

Not enough action: For a first person shooter, I was doing remarkable less shooting than expected. I spent a lotta time just running around and getting from place to place. So less in fact, I didn't really get much of a chance to adequately use some of the better weapons found later in the game.

Storyline Reveal: I had to read a buncha online post to understand the plot completely. While I like the story, It unfolds in a very convulated manner, and isn't very clear within the game.

Drab, recycled Environments: Everything was gray, and I felt like I was basically spending all my time in a warehouse or office building. Could have used a whole lot more variety.

Sad-ass boss fight: One shot to kill Fettel n eleven shots to kill Alma. A major let-down.

A couple of random observations:

Linear Level Progression: The levels were ridiculously linear. I dunno if I like that or not, beacuse I don't really like dead ends, but even the few places which served as "puzzles" were embarassingly easy to figure out.

All in all, I'm more than a little surprised this game was so highly rated and won so many awards. I suppose that's more of a commentary on the state of the other games out there.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Words I Learned Today: Manic Pixie Dream Girl

You learn something new everyday. Ofcourse, it's entirely debatable whether that learning lasts for more than a day, but that's an entirely different topic altogether. Today, I learned the phrase "Manic Pixie Dream Girl", who, according to Nathan Rubin, as used in his review of Elizabethtown, is a girl that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures. Imagine the endless conversation possibilities this opens up:

You: Hello, I learnt a new phrase today.
Girl: Really? How utterly wonderful, what is it?
You: "Manic Pixie Dream Girl"
Girl: What does it mean?
You: A girl who exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.
Girl: Wow. Will you be the father of my babies?

Like I said, fascinating.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Plagarism of Greg Land

I was online searching for some reviews of Uncanny X-men #500, which featured art by Greg Land and Terry Dodson. As is the nature of the internet, one link led to another and I soon landed up at this blog post over at JimSmash.

Now, I wasn't ever particularly a big fan of Land's photorealistic art, as it was quite obvious at times he was just tracing or photosahopping images. So I tended to ignore his work. However, looking through the insane nuber of swipes and traces that Land has done (and most of it from magazine images and other copyrighted material), I'm more than a little horrified that he continuously gets work. It's not even like he's highly consistent in his referencing, as seen in this hilarious blog, comparing his Sue Storm renderings.

Marvel had also, way back in October '06, come out with an Original Artwork Policy, which lead to a discussion on the CBR forums, attacking Greg Land's work and his ethics. There were a few morons supporting Land, blind to the overwhelming evidence ponting to the contrary. Geek that I am anyway, I read all 34 pages of it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Let's put a smile on that face...

Yup, i had a tryst with awesomeness today.

You can see me wear my Batman/Joker t-shirt. Coolness!

On the way back, i was attacked.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Readings: Greg Bear's Eon

I finished Greg Bear's Eon a few days back. I can't remember the last time i'd been so disappointed by a book. It had the best hook i'd read in quite a while, the blurb at the back, very enticing. What it turned out to be was a badly written mess with the sci-fi almost getting buried under the political crap.

The book is about this giant 300 km asteroid that appears suddenly in the Solar System. It had seven chambers inside, each connected to the next. The seventh chamber, however, extends forever. The asteroid is longer on the inside than on the outside.

Such an interesting concept, and what Bear does is bury it under some retarded US-Russia cold-war political/war crap. The US/Nato controls the stone, and gives slots to scientists from other countries. Russia gets about seven, and aren't allowed into the 7th chamber (or 6th onwards, i don't really remember). Stung by this restriction, the Russians attempt to do a hostile takeover in space. This absolutely unimaginative, dreary sub-plot takes up nearly half the narration.

Any sense of awe at what's being described is quickly eroded by the clunky prose. The charaters aren't developed at all, so you don't care what happens to them. For instance, when they do actually meet the creators of the asteroid, i couldn't sense any feeling of shock or wonder in their reactions.

So in a sense, this was pretty similar to his other book that i'd read, Blood Music, in that the concept is extremely strong, but he's unable to write "epic" in any manner.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tattoo removal - easy come easy go...

It isn't often that i come across direct mailers that make me stop whatever i'm doing. This mailer from work-creative did exactly that. In the words of creator Chris: To promote sk:n’s world class tattoo removal treatments I devised a simple yet engaging direct mail piece. I utilised a scratch off mechanism (like you would find on a scratch card) to enable the recipient to literally remove the tattoo.

Tables on the go...

Innovative product design is alwats a pleasure to come across.
Take this table from designer Oscar Diaz, for instance - ...consists of four legs which hook onto each table top corner and are held together in tension by a strap which in turn is tightened using a ratchet to create a load-bearing structure. The table is quick and simple to set up, as it does not require any tools or fixings to assemble or disassemble. A grip on the tabletop situated at arm’s length from the front edge makes it easy and comfortable to transport, and is used once constructed, to pass the various cables through from appliances such as a computer or lamp.

Beautiful in it's simplicity. makes you wonder why you didn't think of it earlier.

Monday, May 19, 2008

...they Believe in Halo 3!

I just read this in Impact mag yesterday. I wasn't even aware the One Shows were on, but the Halo 3 "Believe" campaign won a Best Of Show at this year's One Show.

“The ‘Believe’ campaign catapulted Halo 3 from an ordinary video game into a worldwide cultural phenomenon due to its ability to build an emotional rapport with the audience,” said Mary Warlick, CEO of The One Club. “The innovative stream of interactive TV, Web and cinema advertisements was an inspired approach that successfully attracted an audience beyond the typical gamer.”

View the "Believe" videos here - or do a YouTube search.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Movie Time: Go SPEED Racer!

The father of LSD may be dead, but the Wachowskis live!

My friend got passes for the Speed Racer premiere at PVR yesterday (thnxx Haritha!), and i was pretty kicked about seeing the movie two days before eveyone else. The clock stuck 8 and i was there at the theatre. The lobby outside wasn't as crowded as i'd thought it'd be. There were a whole lot of kids though, and some promotion was on, giving away cool Speed Racer stuff, including the Mach 5 replica. I was dying to win one of those for myself, but didn't wanna rob the kids (I'm kinda feeling stupid now). A bunch of minor celebs were getting interviewed, and i was getting quite fidgety. The cold panner-on-toast starters didn't help either, and unlike the Iron Man premiere, there wasn't any alcohol being served, courtesy all the kids. Anyway, about 45 minutes after it was supposed to start, the theatre doors opened, we rushed in, took our seats, and waited with bated breath. The theatre was surprisingly half-empty. Anyway, the movie started soon, and sucked me right in...

Speed Racer was like one long drugged-out psychadelic acid trip. I mean, the colors just bled off the screen in a way i've never seen before. They must have spent a bomb color-correcting this movie, because everything is bright and neon and solid primary. The race-track sequence the movie opens with is so exhilerating and dizzying, i almost got motion sickness just watching. I almost felt like throwing up, that's how excited i was.

I almost can't believe the Wachowskis made this movie. It's not a masterpiece by any standards of repute, but it's a labour of love quite possibly unlike anything before. They've put their heart, soul, and every other body part right into this movie, and it shows. Whatta rush!

Ofcourse, looking at it a little objectively, it does have some drawbacks. The pacing is off, for one. The races at time seem waaay to fast to discern what's happening. And the parts between races at times seem to drag. They could have chopped off about 30 minutes, because it does seem a bit like self-indulgance (not that i'm really complaining).

The story also unfold in a somewhat convulated manner. I never got all the details, but understood enough of it to not go "huh?". There is a solid message behind it all, - stand up for what you believe is right, and believe in your family.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Readings: Federal Investigations, Dinosaurs and Subway Muggings

Just out down David Baldacci's Total Control. It's a story that moves on from an investigation of a plane crash to a case of industrial espionage gone horribly wrong, and moves onto a far bigger conspiracy. Anything else would be a spoiler for sure. Fairly engrossing, clocking in at over 500 pages, though it could definitely have some fat trimmed off, and made a little more taut. Not a must-read by any stretch of imagination, but not altogether too bad.

Some books that preceded this: Re-read Michael Chrichton's Jurrasic Park and The Lost World, after watching the trilogy last week. It was a nice excercise to compare the two. The books have such a lot more tham simply dinosaur-chomping action. It's overwhelming at times to think of all the research Chricton must be doing for his books. I mean, for these two, he must have at the very least studied dinosaurs, extinction theories, the functioning of amusement parks and zoos, and chaos theory (in a lot more detail than the usual "a butterfly flaps it wings.." heh). Makes me think of his novel Congo, and that travesty of an adaptation hollywood made...

Alex Garland's Coma. It's a story of a guy who's beaten up during a mugging, and lands in the hospital, in a coma. When he wakes up, he's not sure if he's really awake, or dreaming that he's awake. There are about 40 chapters, ranging from a few paras to a few pages. Each chapter has a b&w illustration accompanying it. Interesting concept, but it's too short to be wholly satisfying. An interesting experiment, if nothing else.