Thursday, January 29, 2015

I'm so done with the Internet this week.

Oh, you guys… I don't even know where to begin today. I woke up really early from an anxiety dream, prompted in part from all the bickering over Jonathan Chait's whiny piece about how people are mean… to white guys on the INTERNET! Boo-fucking-hoo, bro. I enjoyed Glenn Greenwald's response quite a bit. And this part stuck with me:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The way we live now...

Just a short thought today…

I was reading the New York Times Book Review, which is generally a mixture of infuriating and dull. Occasionally there is a gem, such as this Q&A with Daniel Handler.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

I won’t name names, but for the life of me I am mystified by the appeal of novels showing us the Way We Live Now. I am interested in the Way We Lived Then. I am interested in How Some Other People Live, and I am interested in the Way We Might Live Some Other Time. But most of all I am interested in the Way We Don’t Live Now, a book with the essential strangeness of great literature. The strange illuminates the ordinary. But somebody tell me, please, what the ordinary is supposed to illuminate.

Add "movies" to "novels" and I feel the same way. Wallowing in the ordinary seems a product of those writing seminars where you're supposed to "write what you know" which has led to an avalanche of films and books about upper middle-class dudes and the women who don't love them even those those dudes are like really chill but whatever those girls were bitches anyway. You know. "Real life stories." "Art."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A little too on the nose...

I was telling my co-worker yesterday how I've always wanted to get a motorcycle but that every single one of my friends and family refused to allow it because they were afraid I'd kill myself joyriding. She said she wanted a Vespa scooter, which would be safer than a hog however I don't think I could ever bring myself to ride one because I'd be too afraid of looking like a Zooey Deschannel-style hipster… or, rather, afraid of looking even more like a Zooey Deschannel-style hipster. A Vespa is just a little too on the nose.

But that got me thinking. I do get frustrated sometimes when people I don't know well (and sometimes people I do) interact with me as if I am a Zooey Deschannel-type of goofy, hipstery girly-girl. And I admit, okay, I do wear glasses and lots of dresses and may or may not have made black bean brownies from scratch while wearing a funky-printed apron and listening to Belle & Sebastian in between knitting a pink and white stripped afghan this weekend but that's all surface stuff!!

Or is it? Maybe I really am a Zooey Deschannel-type hipster… I love craft beer and homemade soap. I shop on Etsy… all that stuff made by hand. I love it.

And it struck me while I was watching a movie on Sunday evening with my new roommate who is a Movie Talker. The movie was the 2012 Japanese historical fantasy film Ruroni Kenshin, based on a popular adventure comic.

My roommate pipes up during one of the fight scenes, "This looks expensive, I wonder how the studios make their money back. They don't distribute this stuff in the West, do they?"

And I thought about it. I mean, the budget was about $20 million according to wikipedia and while expensive, it's really not that expensive compared to Hollywood movies. But instead of CGI robots or whatever, the Ruroni Kenshin team spent money on people. There's the link. People-stuff made by hand-movies I like. I like watching people tell a story more than I like watching CGI dragons. And I definitely prefer Ruroni Kenshin's one-on-one sword battles to the visual vomit turned out by Hollywood FX studios. AND who finds a world more meaning in Vikram's haunted eyes in I than any of Christopher Nolan's intricately done world-building… I like watching actors do their thing more than I care about "autuer" directors with a story to tell. For the most part.

Maybe at heart I'm just one of those deliberately difficult people. I don't know. I just know that every time, if forced to chose, I will pick a charismatic actor over a "logical" story or technically stupendous effects.

Every time.

Anyway, Ruroni Kenshin: good flick. I wouldn't mind seeing an Indian adaptation of some sort. It has an interesting premise--set in the early Meiji period as Japan was being forcibly modernized, the titular Ruroni Kenshin, a wandering samurai, is a relic of the earlier feudal age. Very regretful of earlier battles, he has sworn never to kill again but gets swept up into events that may make him break his oath. There's an EVIL opium-selling corporate magnate only interested in cash, a spunky girl who has taken over running her father's sword training school, another girl on the run from the EVIL corporate baddie, and a few other odd guys who find common ground with Kenshin and decide to join forces to fight the baddie.

There's a handful of big battle scenes, many more one-on-one fight scenes, some nice costumes, a couple really detailed sets… but the main attraction was really the actors. Perfect type of movie for me~ There's two sequels. I should check them out, too.

And coming up, we've got Shamitabh (YES!), Badlapur and… Anegan and Yennai Arindhaal depending on what comes to my theater.

I'm also looking forward to Broken Horses. WOW! The trailers look so epic! And just my style, talking about people-driven, actor-driven films...

Friday, January 23, 2015

So Baby is out now...

So, yes, Baby is out and you'll forgive me if I take a hard pass on it. For a number of reasons.

I do always skim reviews for films I'm on the fence about and look for keywords. I don't care about the same things critics do but sometimes they mention things that signal whether or not I should pay to see a film.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A tl;dr on music. Don't mind me. Just venting a little.

NEW BELLE & SEBASTIAN ALBUM!! You have no idea how happy this makes me. I don't know if I've recounted my full history with Belle & Sebastian but I feel in love with them way back in 1998 when If You're Feeling Sinister landed on my college radio station playlist. I've seen them many times in concert and will see them twice more this year.

The thing is… a new Belle & Sebastian album also makes me kind of sad because I remember the days when I used to get excited about new albums from new bands landing in my inbox at the radio station. I realized that I don't have a single outlet that I trust to find me music that I might like from America or the UK or basically anywhere not in Asia.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sh, sh, sh, shamitabh!

Look, I admit that I was extremely wary of Shamitabh for a few reasons.

1) Do I want to see a song picturization with Amitabh on the can? No.

2) The words, "From the guy who brought you Paa."

3) The nepo-tastic debut of yet ANOTHER star daughter with no background in acting doesn't exactly set my pulse pounding.

So, basically I didn't even bother to watch the trailer… UNTIL I WAS FORCED TO WHEN IT RAN IN FRONT OF I:


Okay so I still don't want to see Amitabh on the can, Akshara Hassan = still uninteresting to me, but I'm in enough to go to the theater to check it out. I mean… DHANUSH!!!!!! And Amitabh chewing up scenery like it's milk toast! LOVE IT!

I do wonder if this was originally supposed to be another Amitabh-Abhishek joint… I'm glad they didn't go that way if it was.

Ah, and maybe I should say a few more words about I? I don't know. There seems to be some controversy with Ojas's character. I stand by my original view that she was playing a Helen/Shashikala-type role… and playing it straight, pardon the pun. By which I mean you could have put somebody like Amisha Patel in the role and only one or two lines would need to be taken out. Now, maybe the "vamp" role itself is reactionary. I'm certainly happy to have that discussion. But it can only be a good thing to include a perfectly normal (and utterly fabulous) transgender actress in a mainstream film, right? The more people get used to seeing difference, the less different it seems. Isn't it better that she's playing a fun, colorful vamp in a big budget mass film than playing in some dour, weepy, woe-is-my-life artsy film that only a handful of elites will see? That's my opinion, anyways. With the caveat that I do realize it's easier to Monday morning quarterback from my comfortable couch in America...

Monday, January 19, 2015

I is for...

I is for image.

I is for innocence.

Or at least that’s what popped into my head somewhere in the second half of Shankar’s I.

The film is a revenge story, a cautionary tale about believing what you see, about what happens when you neglect to develop your inner life.

It’s also damned entertaining.

Friday, January 16, 2015

What's on?

For your viewing pleasure, in the United States anyways, you can chose from two films this weekend! I think we can guess where I'll be heading:

Yup! IT'S TIME FOR I!!!!!! Oh, yeah! It's showing in Tamil and Telugu so watch out when you buy your ticket that you get the right language.

People who don't care for Shankar's style of entertainment can check out Gangs of Wasseypur.

GANGS OF WASSEYPUR - US Theatrical Trailer (GREEN) from Cinelicious Pics on Vimeo.

The list of theaters is here and there are quite a few so chances are if there's a fancy movie theater near you, it will be showing up!

I know I rag on the Kashyap a lot but… I don't know. I kind of want to see this do well but I kind of don't. But I suppose the cat is already out of the bag, so to speak. The Miramax-lovers are firmly embedded in the Bollywood mainstream. And if I have to watch an adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles set in India, I would a million times rather it come from one of the Hindie crowd than some carpetbagger, you know? And it would be nice to be able to say to people, "I saw this great Indian movie last weekend" without the knee-jerk response being, "OH WAS THERE DANCING LULZZZZZZ! REMEMBER BENNY LAVA?!!!!!!"


I also noticed that Lingaa is on Tentkotta now with subtitles! I will try to get to that, as well!

Filmi Girl is tired, y'all. Tired of a lot of things. But do you know what she is not tired of… AWESOMENESS! I and Gangs of Wasseypur can co-exist. One to soothe and delight the frazzled mind of a Filmi Girl and the other to add some "grit" and excitement to the otherwise boring lives of… other people. To (mis)quote David Brent, different films for different… needs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Uptown Pi...

ザ・タイガース--花の首飾り by jrapaka5

Yesterday evening on the Metro, I started reading Hitomi Minoru's memoir. Hitomi, better known as "Pi", was the drummer for the 1960s Japanese rock band, the Tigers.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Kaththi: A TL;DR on a good film.

This weekend I had the pleasure of watching Kaththi. Unfortunately I did not have the pleasure of having subtitles to go with it, so I had to make do with reading the plot synopsis from wikipedia and using my best filmi detective skills to follow along. Fortunately, the plot was fairly straightforward for an AR Murugadoss film and, even more fortunately, Vijay is just as charming without subtitles as he is with them.

Kaththi is a Tale of Two Cities story--or, rather, a Tale of a City and a Village--with Vijay in the role of both the Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton characters.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ramblings on "The Birth of Korean Cool."

While I was out at the book store looking for children's books for a friend's kids, I picked up something for myself: "The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture" By Euny Hong. I can't exactly recommend it, though I did find parts of it interesting. The book is about 1/2 cultural observation and memoir and 1/2 mediocre NYTimes magazine piece-style filler. The cultural observation and memoir sections were good but not good enough to outweigh the mediocrity of the surrounding filler sections. What do I mean, hmm?

Well, in short, I thought Ms. Hong did a fine job of exploring why and how Korea has pushed it cultural output to places like… Manipur. But she falls very short in evaluating the content that it's pushing. The problem is that Ms. Hong was born and raised in the US and retains a Western standard of what makes "good" product. In one particularly (pardon the pun) tone deaf section, she pulls out the same old post-Woodstock Generation talking points about "bands" and "authenticity." Because the Korean music getting exported is not made by "organically formed, self-contained bands" (her words, p.120) ergo it's worthless, except as product.

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