For some, the year couldnt end. For others, the year and life ended rather prematurely at the hands of people they had never met, strangers who took it upon themselves to inflict violence on others, who they never knew. Be it the girl in the delhi bus or the school kids in the connecticut school, young lives have been cut short, at a time when they would have been looking at the festive season and thinking of fun and frolic. The nations of the world seem to be leaderless. Obama, propounded as the messiah by many, has proved to be as disastrous as our very own Manmohan “Theek hai” Singh. India, as a democratic nation, has never been bereft of leadership as it is now. It is in the depressing scenario that 2013 is heralded in. The heart no longer has the urge to welcome the year in, for who knows what untold suffering is waiting for us, or some of us on the other side of this year. I feel morose and depressed.
So Captain America 2, is probably the best of the Marvel Avenger series sequels – it is definitely much better than the first movie. Cleverly plays and develops the role of the Captain America, Steve Rogers, while at the same time creating and furthering the Avengers universe. The three solo hero sequels have all added to the Marvel Universe – be it Iron Man III, Thor 2 or Captain America 2 – these movies have neatly tied in the happenings from Avengers, added to the mythology, developed the storylines further and kinda took the steps towards Avengers 2 – Age of the Ultron. I am definitely interested in this series now – my boys find it interesting too – for them, the series to watch has always been Star Wars, but they did enjoy both Thor 2 and Captain America. It is an interesting time in Hollywood – with the remixed Star Trek and the whole Marvel Avenger series, adding some much needed heft to the traditionally fluffy summer blockbuster genre. These movies have enough for everyone – be it the mindless “Michael Bay” action lover or the thinking viewer, who likes to have a story working through there.
What I liked about the movie:
1. Nick Fury's action piece – Samuel L Jackson gets his time under the sun and does some bad ass stuff with a chain machine gun. Is shot and presume dead, and then (SPOILER) resurfaces in the end to show that he is always the man.
2. Black Widow grows more complicated and is the relationship between her and Captain America also complicated? Scarlett Johansson plays Black Widow well – and the playoff between Chris Evans and her is really great. This is a pair which is shaping up well. And they share a kiss.
3. The Winter Soldier – is the set up for Bucky Barnes taking over from Steve Rogers as Captain America being done.
4. The action pieces – do not look like CGI crap – everything looks like atleast some of it has been done with proper people. The climactic battle aboard the helicarriers is also really cool.
5. The dialogues – loved them.
6. Robert Redford – the man slimes in and out of the movie so smoothly. He makes a brilliant villain. Too bad they had to kill him in the end.
Cant wait for Avengers 2 – that movie is making me wonder how the next round of these super hero movies would be.
This is strictly for the fans of and amongst those only, those who have finished all the 10 books of the Malazan Book of Fallen. This particular study relates to exploring the supposed bad assedness of the Forkrul Assail and the Tiste Liosan, and why in my opinion, their bad assedness was the same kinda bad assedness which is typically ascribed to either Bond villains (or in some case, the Bond villains henchmen) or Bollywood villains and their henchmen. This bad assedness arises more from actually screwing with weak people, which kinda evaporates like alcohol in a slightly largish gathering consisting of drunks, when faced with anything resembling heroic bad assedness, such as the hero in the aforementioned Bollywood movies or James Bond in the Bond movies.
So to start with, the Forkrul Assail – one of the four elder races in the Malazan world. They are larger than humans, have two hearts and two of every other organ, have limbs with multiple joints which enables them to move at spectacular speeds, draw sorcery from the ancient hold of Akhrast Korvalain, are said to possess the ability to control people through their voices and communicate with each other telepathically. There are 12 of them called Pures – these are the pure blooded Forkruls, the ones that command the army and are the Lawful Inquisitors, and have the ability to command thousands of troops through their voices. The next in hierarchy are the Higher Watered, followed by the Lesser Watered and then the Shriven, who are nothing but those enslaved to the voices. The Higher Watered and Lesser Watered have varying powers, including the ability to command and use the Akhrast Korvalain. The race is supposed to be bad ass enough to have actually brought down their God and destroyed the being, represented in the book as a scrouge of locusts, and other insects.
So these are the bad asses, who collectively have enslaved half a continent – the Kolanse part of the Letherii continent and have purportedly decimated the better part of the this land. So how do these phenomenally challenging creatures die, one would presume after causing an immense amount of misery to the Bonehunters, the K'ell army, the Imass army, the Host and the Jaghut Army. Well, I list below the causes of death of these so called phenomenal creatures:
1. Sister Reverence – purported to be the best, oldest and strongest of the Pures. She is killed by a combination of Gesler, Bent and Hood. Well, to be honest, Gesler does most of the hard work, Bent helps a bit and Hood comes in a closes of what could have been a tight fight if she had been alive. In the scale of bad ass deaths, this is the bad assest of the lot, with the damage to the team good being the death of Gesler. On a scale of 1 – 10, I would rate damage to team at a 7 (Gesler after all was an almost ascendant).
2. Brother Diligence – The next most powerful being in the army. He is the one sent to command the army facing down the collective might of the Letherii, the Bolkando and the Gilk. His death is probably the next most bad assesst, as it involves Brys Beddict doing some seriously fucked up stuff like reciting the names of all the Gods that you think of. But, you know what, what is the collective damage to the team good here, despite the bad ass nature of the death. None – all parties involved are saved. Rate the damage here as 5 – I mean Brys is almost lost.
3. Sister Equity – I mean this one's death is almost sad. She walks into a meeting with Hood, Felash and Shurq Ellale and has her face bitten off by Hood. I mean that is so sad. Rating of Damage – 1. She doesn't even get a chance to do any damage.
4. Sister Freedom – The one with atleast a reasonable body count. Leads the army against the Bonehunters. She is taken on by the Seven Unbound and the Khundryl Burned Tears. She kills all but Nom Kala, who along with Warleader Gall manages to finish her off. Rating of damage – 6.
5. Brother Serenity – He is the commander of the forces along with Erekala of the Perish Grey Helms who faces Ganoes and the Host. Is killed by the Quick Ben and Kalam Mekhar combination. Doesn't do much damage. Damage Rating of 3.
6. Brother Grave – leads the army against the sappers and marines gathered around the body of the Crippled God. Secondly, leads an army of 3000+ against 200 odd sappers and marines and still loses. Gets killed again by the duo of Quick Ben and Kalam Mekhar. Without causing much damage. Damage Rating of 2.
7. Brother Aloft – takes on the main core of the Bonehunters – faced by the foursome of Adjunct Tavore Paran, Lostara Yil, Ruthan Gudd and Henar Vyrgulf. Does a significant amount of damage to the foursome, which is something since Ruthan Gudd seems to be some form of God and the Adjunct is the Adjunct. But is then eaten alive by the swarm of locusts summoned by Badalle. Not bad I would say. Damage Rating – 6.
8. Sister Calm – after being released by Karsa and gang, she does significant damage to Denom. But then in the end after fighting with Mappo Trell, she is killed by Ublala Pung of all people. Damage rating – 4.
9. Brother or Sister Repose – is killed by Yedan Drygg when he enters the Blind Gallan Road. Along with 8 Tiste Liosan. Alone. Yedan does this. Without even the Hust Sword. Even more pathetic than the death of Sister Equity. Damage Rating – 1.
So for a bad ass set of villains their ability to cause significant damage to the forces arrayed against them seems to be limited. So is their bad assedness an essential macguffin. We are told about the Just Wars – where the Assail faced off against the Tiste Liosan – supposedly a war which raged for centuries and eons and never ended. The Liosan are supposed to be as bad ass as the Assail – and well, for the record, they, their Hounds, and their Soletakens are all faced down by Yedan Drygg with a Hust sword and a bunch of Shake and Letherii soldiers. I mean – these are the dudes who could take on Rake and Ruin. I mean, they are completely and utterly destroyed by one Hust sword. How is that bad ass?
So my conclusion is that the Assail and the Tiste Liosan are played up as bad asses only to make the Malazans and the Watch to look even more bad ass.
All these movies have a common thread – take a hero, no, correction, superhero, and make him mortal, human. All four movies have intensely personal issues confronting the hero, which he has to deal with. Firstly, Skyfall, in 24 bond movies, the only other movie which comes close to having a premise as personal as the one in Skyfall, is License to Kill, which had Bond de-licensed, go rouge to eliminate the killers of his friend's wife. In Skyfall, Bond's enemy is not a villain threatening global disaster or trying to be a supervillain, his enemy is someone who has a personal grouse, against one person, M, as played by Judie Dench, a M who now has more Bond movies than all save Moore (at 7 both are tied for the top spot). Daniel Craig has brought a humanism and mortality to a role, whose nature varied from superhero to supercomic to rougish playboy in the past. Not that the playboy part is not there, but it is heavily underplayed to what was in Brosnan's, Connery's or Moore's movies. In terms of an ugly looking Bond, only Dalton does worse. In terms of an effective Bond, only Connery does better, but then Connery defined the role. Craig's Bond is a variety that grows, not for him the usual tricks of the trade – in fact, he didn't use the classic line till the end of his first movie. The one liners still abound, a kiddish looking Q, who probably was born well after Dalton became Bond, provides one of the classier lines in the movie – “If you were expecting an exploding pen, I am sorry we don't do that any more”. Watching this movie, as I did, after watching Brosnan do the exploding pen trick in Golden Eye the day before, the line seemed even more relevant. Javier Bardem, shows why he can play scary motherfuckers, scarier than anyone else, his Silva is an amalgam of a megalomaniac, selfish, psychopath and the traditional over the top Bond villain. Not much of a caricature, as is usually required of a Bond villain, but someone who is way meatier than what was the vaguely amorphous villain of the previous Bond movie, Quantam of Solace. He nicely converges all the evil energy in this movie and provides a very personal antithesis of what Bond is. Dame Dench, is as she is always, quite regal as M – the playoff between Ralph Fiennes, who is there in all his full nosed and haired glory, and her are great. Ralph Fiennes actually is quite good and underplayed and the lead up to how he (spoiler warning) becomes M is quite nice. He again has one of those classic lines – where he tells an overbearing and yakking Minister – “in the interest of hearing something different, can we let the witness speak”. Shows of his action chops too by taking a gun and firing at assorted villains. Nice movie – I liked it way better than Quantam of Solace and almost as good as Casino Royale. It also introduces a new Moneypenny, who moves from being the field agent who shoots Bond to the secretary behind the desk for the new M. A final climax sequence bereft of any fancy pants action, the only fancy gadget is a car machine gun, which looks like it was whacked from the bond movies of the 70s. A little implausible as Bond, M and a gamekeeper take on a dozen or more armed to the teeth mercernaries, but hey this is a bond movie and he is kinda a superhero you know, falls into a lake full of icecold water and instead of getting hypothermic in 4 mins, walks out of it, has enough motor skills to throw a knife into the back of Silva's head, with M's head a few inches away.
Moving over to Thor 2 – Dark World. Nice movie – Chris Hemsworth makes a good Thor, Idris Alba makes a bad ass Heimdahl. The story here though personal, as Thor's girlfriend has a bit of Aether that is needed for the plot to work, also has the usual lets destroy the universe plot point to it. Natalie Portman looks a bit old for Hemsworth. The movie theatre erupted into hoots and screams when Thor walked in. Tom Hiddleston as Loki as usual stole the acting chops here – his Loki has improved with every version that we have seen. The Loki in Avengers was probably the weakest of the lot. Marvel with Iron Man, Captain America and Thor seem to have cracked partly the formula for individual superhero movies congregating into a big bang ensemble movie – with Iron Man 1, 2; Captain America and Thor setting the stage up for Avengers and the next series of sequels setting up the stage for Avengers II. In between, they are going to squeeze of Guardians of the Galaxy movie out. Interesting bit of movie lore being built up here. And an interesting set of actors playing an interesting set of characters.
Star Trek – the reboot – was cool in its own way, of how it gave some basis to the whole Kirk- Spock friendship. Added a bit of masala with the Uhura-Spock angle. But in all if was a creditable attempt at the reboot by JJ Abrams. In Star Trek Into the Darkness – the loony Romulan of Star Trek is replaced by the Khan, played by a Bernard Cumberbatch in a rather stiff necked. I don't remember the Wrath of the Khan, but I would have assumed that a name of Khan would imply some kinda Asiatic features, instead we get Cumberbatch in all his Brit glory. Chris Pine makes a nice rakish Kirk, while Zachary Quinto seems to be the spiritual heir apparent to Leonard Nimoy. The final climatic flip of what happens in the Wrath of the Khan feels kinda overdone a bit, Spock can never ever lose his cool and become emotional. I mean, we are talking about Spock, for chrissakes.
Ironman 3 – hmm, quite different from Ironman 1 and 2. Stark is dealing with his New York issues, again a nice line in by the Marvel team to get this into the mix. He also seems to have built a whole stable of Ironman suits – the suits are all there in the final climax. An attempt again to make the hero human. Robert Downey Jr now owns the Ironman character, difficult to see anyone but him actually bring this character to life again, but then we are always wrong right.
since I updated this blog. Worship at this Goddess' altar has been superseded by the worship at the altar of the Goddess of Work. But then a time does come when the worship at this altar has to resume and the time I think has come. Not much to update – have started the Malazan series or to give its full name the series which is the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Interesting little series – if you can call a 10 book series, a little series :). And surprisingly Steven Erikson has not only managed to finish the 10 book series, he has done so without driving everyone nuts, killing about 90% of his main characters or dying while writing it. Note to GRR Martin and Scott Lynch – this is the dude that you should emulate :). But it has taken him the time – the first book was launched in the late 90s and the Crippled God, the final book in the series was launched only 2011. I guess a book a year almost is not a bad rate to finish up a 10 book series in. Interesting bunch of characters he creates too – a motley mix of ordinary mortals, extraordinary mortals, magical mortals, immortals, undead, immortals who could become mortals, a vexing combination at times. Has its share of depressing moments – steven erikson is as ruthless as grr martin in terminating key characters, even ones that you grow to like over a period of time. So I have waltzed through books 1 to 4, have hit a bit of a slow time with book 5. Will probably get over it shortly. So far I have only concluded that there is only one actor who could possibly play Coltaine, the High Fist of the damned Seventh Army of the Malazans, who leads the Chain of Dogs on a brutal and depressing march from Hissar to Aren and of course, dies in an epic manner at the end of it, and that would be none other than Sean Bean, who seems to have made a specialty out of dying these completely heartbreaking deaths.
Well -haven't done much of movie watching recently though. Caught Ironman 3 and Star Trek into the Darkness quite some time back and then the Croods 3D with the brat and the seal pup (and their mum of course). But no, not much TV watching in general. So I have Django Unchained to watch, as also Machete Kills. And then a whole set of other movies.
The brat and seal pup have become connoisseurs of cars (they can pretty much identify the brand by just seeing parts of a car) and star wars – so the house is a mess of star wars lego pieces and them being luke or Anakin or master yoda or hans or whatever. So far they haven't shown the inclination to be princess leia or queen padme Amidala, but I guess that is just boys being boys :P.
A song by the Beatles. Thats what it was – A Day in Life. With lines such as “Woke up, fell out of bed, drank a cup of coffee, grabbed my hat, made the bus in seconds flat” and so on. And something about counting all the stones in England or wherever. So A Day in Life is all about it. Hell, Heaven, whatever. Sitting, listening to music – weird new album. Wondering what to write next. Life is a bitch, I guess and as they say, we are not dogs enough to fuck her. Ah well, the days of the old. When one was younger. When the complications consisted of whether one would get a job or not. Now a Day in Life is much more complicated. As in compli-fucking-ated.
I shouldnt swear so much – bad for my boys. Who I am sure will come by this piece by me. Mostly because I will probably direct them here. What does one live for? Existential fucking question. One which I guess cant be answered all that easily. Or maybe, can be answered so easily for some. Not so easily for some others. Maybe, or maybe not. Who the fuck cares.
What am I writing? Why am I writing this? As Rajesh Khanna front ended a song such probably by Kishore Kumar – “Aate Jaate Khubsoorat awaara sadakon pe, kabhi kabhi ittefaqse” and goes on to say “Unme se kuch log yaad rehten hain aur kuch bhool jaatein hain”. And now there is Kadal – Moongil Thottam. It has been a hard week at work. Lots got done, but then again lots didnt get done. There is always more that can be done. More and more – everywhere. Lots to do.. as robert frost said – I have miles to go before I sleep.
ah well, after the last angst ridden post, I now move onto other things, like movies. I watched multiple movies on account of being unable to sleep on a couple of long haul flights. The movies included – Kahaani (again), Urumi, Shanghai, Safe, Safe House, parts of Velayudham (yesh!), parts of Avengers, and Wrath of the Titans or something like that. So here is the long awaited review of each of these movies.
Shanghai – Dibanker Banerjee blows your mind out.. I havent see Love, Sex and Dhokha by the guy. Shanghai is good. Prosenjit to Abhay Deol to the star of the show, Emraan “Kissme” Hashmi.. the sore thumb was Kalki Koechlin in essentially a one track screamy role. Farookh Sheikh was nice, as was the Sheila Dixit look alike CM. Between Hashmi and Deol, they nail the small town photographer and the prim and propah tam bram bureaucrat. The ending is a tad simple.. I would have liked if the essential hopelessness of the situation had been preserved instead of making Abhay Deol’s character some kinda tambram Dabanggish hero (without the fisticuffs). But good tightly written movie. Enjoyed it. Would give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Safe – heh heh. Now this is a movie which is hilarious. Well, not exactly a comedy, as much as a Jason Statham, smash them, bang them up special. I think in general Statham exterminates more bad guys through this movie than he did in all of his transporter movies, which is saying something. Has a macguffin of a plot of a little chinese girl who can remember this extremely large numbers. And something to do with dirty special ops cops. Or something like that. A little bit like Leon in the play between a little girl and a rough hitman, though here it is more fatherly affection than romantic. I would give it a 3 on 5, but then I like both Statham and the way in which he wades through a lot of bad men.
Safe House – now this is something. This guy Denzel Washington, he is something. I mean he made even tripe like Deja Vu watchable. After playing a grizzled veteran joining hands with a young man (Chris Pine) in Unstoppable, he again plays grizzled veteran playing with a young, wet behind the ears man, Ryan Reynolds. A powerhouse play by Denzel-man. An outline of story about something which Denzel’s character has. Also has Vera Farmiga and Brian Cox – Farmiga looks as she usually does in these thankless roles.. Cox is the usual villain out here, but plays it out well. I enjoyed this movie – quite a good. A 4 on 5 in my book.
Urumi – interesting story and take – painting Vasco Da Gama as the villainous pirate that he probably was and not the renowned explorer that he is made out. Santosh Sivan again makes a very pretty movie with lotsa pretty faces, including the men – here Prithviraj in the Abhishek Bachchan, I look grim and hence, I am serious version and Prabhu Deva, in the, I am the joker of the pack role. I am really not sure if the heavy acting was to give the movie an operatic feeling or if it was as it was. The movie comes of very stultified and stagy. The women are all uniformly hot from Tabu to Genelia D’Souza (badly miscast as a fire breathing warrior princess) to Vidya Balan to Nithya Menon (who probably does some justice to the role of Chirakkal Bala). The one actor who seemed to have had fun is Arya, cast as both the tribal leader and Kelu Nayanar’s father, Sethu Rayan. I liked it, though i did find it a bit stagy for my liking. You dont get too many halfway decent historicals. Prithviraj could have really done better. I would give this a 3.5 out of 5.
Velayudham – well, I watched the parts which had Vijay beat up goons three times his size. How does he do that? Anyways, plot is similar to usual Vijay movie – Vijay has loving sister, comes to evil city from village, beats the crap out of evil city people robbing the common man, sister killed by evil city people, comes back to city and kills evil minister and eviller terrorist. Usual Vijay stuff. Better not to rate this stuff.
And then saw some bits of Wrath of Titans – can confirm it was as bad as the first movie. Hopefully putting an end to the series. Rating – negative.