Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Things i am going to miss

all the movie things
I could see all the releases in the last eight months as soon as they released. Movies which has to be enjoyed in 3D(eg-Coraline) and IMAX (Monsters vs Aliens) - I could enjoy them as it is supposed to be.

This summer is going to be a spread of 3D movies. I am going to miss them all...
Pixar's Up
Ice Age 3 Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Final Destination: Death Trip 3D
Toy Story and Toy Story Re-release in 3D

I checked the theatres in Bangalore also, there also no 3D movies are playing.

Movies made in IMAX - they are a feast to the eyes. Everything feels more real.
I checked the IMAX theatres in India and the closest one is in Hyderabad. All of them are playing old (by my current standard) movies. We have quite some IMAX movies coming this summer.

Star Trek: The IMAX Experience
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: The IMAX Experience
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: The IMAX Experience
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Hmm..I could plan some trips to Mumbai Adlabs IMAX or Hyderabad IMAX!

Being close to Hollywood has some perks. Many independant movies which are good but dont get so much publicity are released only in LA and NYC. And in LA we have a lot of movie houses which cater to these kind of movies.

There are many historic movie houses which routinely have special screenings of classics and blockbusters of yesteryear. You could catch these movies in your 15" laptop, but seeing them on the big screen is an experience you cant match.

Recently there was a movie marathon of Matrix series where they showed all 3 movies in a day. This week, there are screenings of Vertigo (Hitchcock) Casablanca and Reservoir Dogs!

Then there are advance screenings. Movie producers hold advance screenings of upcoming movies in select theatres, to get audience/press feedback. This is totally FREE.

The public libraries here...they have huge collections. of comics and DVDs! Free membership! Original DVDs! I have started a mission to compile a 1TB movie library before i go.

Netflix. I hate their throttling but I have found a way out. And there is no better way to get hold of those rare movies.

Some of the food here... I love them. Pancakes. Barbecue. Tortilla Chips with hot Salsa. Aloe Vera Juice.

After being in California for 8 months, i have become a wine-file. Do you get Sauvignon Blanc in India? I hope so.

Attributes of American Life
Organization. Cleanliness. Preservation of nature. Internet usefulness. Cool Rental Cars. Open culture where you can express yourself freely. Respect for pedestrian. Respect for traffic laws.

Choti Choti magar Moti batein
Paper towels. Vending machines. Redbox. Powdered coconut. Ready to cook chapati. Fully furnished Studios.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We want to thank the academy...

In a colorful function in the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood, we were presented with the Oscar award for the best couple. :))

In other news Slumdog Millionaire sweeped the Oscars with 7 awards including the Best Film, Best Direction, Screenplay and Music. I was glad to see a Keralite, Resul Pookkutty getting Oscar for best sound mixing for Slumdog Millionaire.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My top 11 Movies of 2008

This list was arrived at using a scientific and psychological method.
1. Check lists of all movies released in 2008 in English, Hindi and Malayalam.
2. As soon as i see one movie i liked, note it down.
3. Tear the paper into slips so i have one movie name on each slip.
4. Wait for sometime. Do some actual work.
5. Comeback to the slips.
6. Take one slip at a time, give the movie a score out of ten.
7. Now list them according to the scores.

Originally i had wanted a top ten list, but by the way the scores appeared, It became a top 11 list.

I learned some things from this excercise.

The top grossing films of 2008 in Bollwood- I havent seen most of them, I was not interested in most of them, and I am truly shocked at some of the entries - Race, Jodha Akbar, Sarkaar Raj, Jannat!

English movies of 2008- Some of them i sadly missed-
Australia by Baz Luhrman (previous film 'Moulin Rouge') with Nicole Kidman,Hugh Jackman.
City of Ember - DVD still sleeps in my laptop. Supposed to be good.
CJ7 - Supposed to be another laughter riot from the team of Shaolin Soccer.
Frost/Nixon, Milk, Gran Torino - Oscar nominated films.Never got around to see them.
Spiderwick Chronicles, Wanted

Some films conspicuous by absence:

The Happening: First time around, i liked it for the PA landscape and frights. (I was supposed to goto PA for onsite). Second time, the silliness of the plot and Mark Wahlberg's unintentionally funny expressions were too much.

Dark Knight: Heralded to be the best film of the year, biggest grosser in history etc.Lest i had missed something, i saw it in IMAX too. I feel the best description for the movie is 'murky'. There were some good things about it. Christian Bale (not his fake batman voice) Heath Ledger's Joker. Bad things were Maggie Gyllenhall, badly choreographed action and the plot.Looking back again, may be the only good thing was the Joker.

Not appearing in the list, but still good: Get Smart, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, Pineapple Express, Semi-Pro, You Don't Mess With The Zohan

Never see: Disaster Movie, Cloverfield, Meet the Spartans, My Best Friend's Girl, One Missed Call,Pathology, Punisher: War Zone, The Strangers

Now to go into the list:

Slumdog Millionaire (7.5)
It may be over-rated, but it has a good story, synthesis of good english filmmaking and feel-good bollywood-ian story. Gains extra points for making an 'Indian' film in the Oscars.

Yes Man (7,5)
May be not as good as Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey looks a little old, but still the movie cracks me up. Extra points for beautiful/crazy Zooey Deschanel.

Wrestler (7.5)
I dont like to watch Wrestling. But still this film made me watch it (in it).A film that makes you care for its characters. You wish they somehow find redemption. Extra points for the scene where the wrestler and stripper meet outside their 'jobs'.

Kung Fu Panda (8)
Damn Funny. The opening dream sequnce has me hooked. And it has Jack Black. extra points for being a film about a fat person saving the day.

Transsiberian (8)
Taut thriller. Edge-of-seat. I totally abandoned Nithya one evening to see this on DVD.

Bachna Ae Haseeno (8)
I kept wondering-Can Hindi Cinema do this? Yashraj production values bring a movie that is actually enjoyable for once. And i am a little fan of Minisha Lamba.

Vantage Point (8)

Another edge-of-seat movie with lots of twists thrown in. But its not the 'Race'.

The Incredible Hulk (8)
I am a fan of comic-book-hero movies. But i have never read any Hulk books. This film was pure adrenaline thrill. And an appearance from Iron Man? Man oh man.

Bolt (8.5)
Enjoyed it thoroughly. Old-fashioned themes like friendship, courage and faithfulness. Lots of comedy. Great animation. And there is a cat who shows the way.

Definitely, Maybe (8.5)
It achieves the impossible. A chick-flick which can be enjoyed by guys. A great leading man, 3 gorgeous ladies, a story which keeps you guessing.

Iron Man (8.5)
Great Superhero movie in a long, long time. I am a fan of Robert Downey Jr Now. This man can do any role. First he is super hero in this movie. Then he goes and does super comedy in Tropic Thunder. Who is this guy? For extra points this movie has the charming Gwyneth Paltrow.

Honoroble Mentions:
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (7)
Cycle (7)
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (7)
Be Kind Rewind (6.5)
Tropic Thunder (6.5)
Kadha Parayumbol (6.5)
21 (6)
Aamir (6)
Twenty Twenty (5.5)
Wall-E (5.5)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentines Day

Valentines Day

Had a beautiful valentines day..full of love. Hope it was the same all over.

Manu & Nithya

Friday, February 13, 2009

Must Watch: Coraline 3D

Brilliantly animated in stop-motion, and filmed in 3D, Coraline is a visual treat. Me and Nithya saw this movie last weekend. We both enjoyed the movie very much.

Newly arrived in Oregon from Michigan with her mother (Teri Hatcher) and father (John Hodgman), she feels ignored by her stay-at-home, workaholic writer parents. Father, hunched over his PC, is a mild, preoccupied sort; but Mother has no milk-drop of the maternal instinct.

Left on her own, Coraline wanders through the huge old house, now divided into several large apartments, to meet the other residents: Mr. Bobinsky (Ian McShane), an eight-foot-tall blue Russian who runs a circus of more-or-less trained mice; and Miss Spink (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Forcible (Dawn French), a pair of venerable theatrical troupers endlessly recounting their glory days in the music hall. Coraline also meets a boy her age, Whybe Lovet (Robert Bailey Jr.), the grandson of the grande dame who owns the place, and a talking cat (Keith David) with dark secrets he eventually spills.

For Coraline, the big secret is behind a small locked door. Like Lewis Carroll's Alice and the Narnia children (and, by now, far too many tyke heroes of fairy tales), Coraline goes through the doorway into another realm. It's a long, oddly uterine passage that leads to an apartment exactly like her new home, and with identical parents — except for two things. The weird news: Other Mother and Other Father have buttons for eyes. The better news: these cheerful folks instantly dote on the little girl as if she were the center of their universe. How lovely to see you! Have some cake! Let us tuck you into bed. Coraline thinks she's lucked into paradise: that she's escaped the loneliness and numbing drudgery of real life, where she's either an obstacle or invisible, and discovered her mirror home, her ideal parents, an Opposite World where she feels wanted, pampered and, for a change, happy.

"You probably think this other world is a dream come true," the Cat tells Coraline. "But it's not." He's right.Soon, Coraline is in terrible danger.

The illusion of depth through the 3D glasses is awesome. It doesnt go for too many gimmicks also, like the insufferable "Magic Magic" (malayalam).

Stop-motion is an exacting form of animation in which puppets are posed in a scene, then photographed for a single frame, then moved ever so slightly, then photographed again — and 100,000 or so frames later, presto, you have a feature film. It's been around from the beginning of cinema, since 1898, and for the patient artists behind the scenes, it must seem it takes about that long to finish a movie.But the patience pays off. The results are movie magical. The fear and terror are real. No way i am going to crawl into a trapdoor leading to some other world.

These days i have begun to put my belief in www.rottentomatoes.com. It's tomatoemeter (the more the better) can really tell you which films are the good ones. It takes the avergage of good reviews/total reviews to arrive at the figure. There is a chance you might like the 40%s and 50% movies (For eg.I liked Yes Man-43%) but its damn sure you would like the more-than-70% movies. Some of these 'fresh picks' recently are: Bolt-87%. Slumdog Millionaire.94% Wrestler.98% Luck By Chance-60% Coraline-87%.

One last word. This film is availble in both 2D and 3D. This review is based on the 3D version. If you want to see the film, search for Coraline 3D.

Trailer on Youtube:(Near the youtube text on the video, select HD for best quality)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Joise

A nice day in Mangalore. I am inside Bharat Mall, noting various offers on sale. Buy one shirt get 2 free! 50% off on jockey! Panataloons end of the season sale! Suddenly the whole building began to shake. Is this an earth quake? Will i be able to get those 50% OFF jockeys?? I wake up to see Joise back from Kerala, in Mangala, waking me up saying "Eneekeda, va chaya kudikan pokam." The only time i am not upset about losing sleep, or losing a great 'offer'.

Our morning tea-drinking sessions at Leela Palace also were stuff of legends. We would savor the tranquility and the clarity of laziness standing in front of the 'swimming pool'. This was the time when we discussed about the big issues of life. Those were the best days of my life.


We had a lot in common. Everday, we were the last to start from the flat in Hariraj to Infy.We were the 'bachelors' in the house.We had some of the same bad habits (no commitments) and good habits.(wine,beer and other alcohol, chicken manjurian from mythri. C&H).

I never hid the fact of the attraction of the fairer gender.But joise took (fake) pride in the claim that he was impervious to those charms.

But soon all that was to change.
feminine cham

Then the #$%@ infy sent him to Bangalore. Judy was the saddest person, i think i was the 2nd saddest person.

I used to take a lot of advice on the matters of life and love from Joise always. He was always resourceful, practical and insightful!

Still, whenever i need a good advice i call him.

While love visited my life, Joise also had come back to Mangalore. During the blizzard of SMSes i used to send/recieve while during curfew, he made up one cheesy sms "he read in my cell" about "a dream nithya had". "In my dream my house was filled with flood. i ran from room to room. Then manu came and rescued me."

After this, he took me to Nithyas flat for me to give her the birthday gift. He is the ultimate wingman.

Funny fact: We are the only room mates in the world with the same pattern striped pants. (It looks like criminals in jail) Once he picked me from office, and we were both wearing those pants. It was a scene.

We had a lot of drinking sessions sitting opposite to the police station in mangala. once it was celebrating his canada trip. then comin back from canada. then getting married. The last drinking session was at his home punctuated by 5 types of wine celebrating life. It is a night i cant forget.

When i was under the belief that i will stay a bachelor for life, I often told Judy and Joise that i will come and stay with them sometime when they are settled.Now by fate, i did it twice, and then over that, a long one week stay as a patient. Sacrificing a lot of vacation they nursed me to health. I could not be as comfortable anywhere else.

We went on some crazy trips together..Posa de gumpe. Manipal on bike. MM Hills. :)He had seen my posts asking about this hills in BB.One day during tea he asked 'would you like to go take a look at it?' It was a working day to boot. Without a care in the world we set off..

Whenever i am helming some skit for ES in a competition I thank god Joise is not in the fray for their PU.He has a ton of ideas up his sleeve. We have brainstormed many Oscar-worthy scripts like "Lamp post". Then Vinayan-style tear jerker about an a guy with no hands/legs, just a thumb. "Room Mate", a suspense thriller which could have been a great follow-up to Survivor! I did make a video on him, about which he was not too kind. We made a lot of M&J Cartoons of which funniest ones were scripted by him.The ability to laugh on oneself is very rare. He has it.

I wish him the very best, fulfillment of his wishes and desires. I wish he remains my friend for life.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Must Watch Short Film: Validation

We all have driven cars in towns and got our parking tickets validated from someplace or the other. This enchanting film tells the story of a parking attendant who gives his customers REAL validation by dispensing both free parking and free compliments. This movie has won 17 awards till now. It’s a great reminder of how we can all create a better world, instantly, by sharing a smile and a few kind words.

This is a light-hearted modern fairy tale. It uplifts you in a magical way. I have seen this 3 times till now, and each time it gives me the same emotion & feelings.

This is a much needed pick-me-up we all need.See it on youtube. It will bring a smile to your face and maybe even some joyous tears!

Soon to be not alone

Nithya is waiting for the flight in Mumbai International Airport. She has a flight in 4 hours to HongKong, then another flight to LA. Tomorrow she will be here... :)))

Soon my loneliness is going to end. I am going to be reunited with the love of my life!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy birthday (belated-um allatheym) Sreekanth and Reshma!

2 and half years ago. I was coming out of some kind of coma or unconciousness in a hospital in Cherthala. Someone told me some friend of mine had come and seen me. He had given some support to my amma and achan. I couldn't figure out who it could be. I didn't have any big friends in Cherthala at that time. Later i came to know. It was Sreekanth.

Sreekanth has this unimaginable ability "to be there". He has many other talents we know. I have always wondered, how on earth a person can have all these gifts from God. Its not fair! He is fit and keeps fit.(No effect of onsite life!) He has these artistic talents like mimicry, cooking,photography and chalu. He goes on these crazy treks. He knows each and everyone in Minfy Top Bosses.He knows Kalaripayattu!

He codes well, he takes bottomline responsibility and delivers on it. I know this because i was doing the Essence newsletter. I feel i got a lot of undue fame and recognition because of this superb guy. It did not go more than 2 issues after Sreekanth left offshore. He was that indispensible for the newsletter. I have had a lot of fun (legal and illegal) while he really worked.

When he was in Hariraj, he could tell you all the kidu scenes coming in the action movies coming on TV.
His adventure about the "Idi bag" (dont know english name) is famous. He knew whatever a malayali is supposed to know.

I have gone on a single trek with this guy. I and DK were boozing in the First Degree Bar (DK i hope the name is correct). We were discussing the intoxication in Vodka Martini (its just a hype) and some other drinks when Sreekanth called. Now i know that when we get drunk, we get imgainary gains in health and fitness.
S: "Eda, nale oru trek plan cheyunundu"
M: "OK We are ready"
D: "Valuthano cheruthanonu chodiku"
M: "Ee treking ennu parayumbo enthoram varum"
S: "Da athu cheriyoooooooru trekingaa"
D: "Eda 5000 feet-nu thazhe ulla oru trekinginum njangal illenu paranjeku"

We were ready to trek even Himalayas that day. Next day, me and DK had to get a lot of "energy drinks" to get to the top of that motta kunnu where as I could see Sreekanth jumping from cliff to cliff like goddamn Arnold Schwarznegger.(could be the effect of energy drinks also)

The biggest thing Sreekanth has done for me is, without question, introducing me to my then-future wife.
He was putting load after load of praises on me that day. I remember, the first mail (that too, a chalu) i sent to Nithya was with Sree in the CC. He has given me a lot of support on that "project".

If close birthdays are a sign of porutham, Reshma and Sreekanth will be the couple with most poruthams. I think they do have a lot of poruthams as divined by the astrologers.

Reshma, is still a mystery to me. How did she reach till here? I think her daddy was her teacher too. If i had her brain, i would be in 2nd class even now. ( Score 1 for me)

Having said that, her biggest asset is her simplicity. Each time you read a post of her blog that is what strikes you. You or me, when we write something, usually we have some ahambhavam in it. I cant see that, but a better person would be able to find me lifting my ego in this post itself. She doesnt have that. One bit.

She cooks very well, being the person who lifted me from nirasha into a yummy onam sadya this year. Me,Nithya, Sreekanth and Reshma had proved to be a good team in cooking last Vishu when we combined made a good Vishu lunch.

We all used to call her (and still do) "Tholvi". She is a little tubelight in understanding the kunishtu buddhis i suppose. But she was successful in breaking somebodys leg in just one trip to Bangalore. I keep my legs always away from her.

She is a Model Kerala Woman, just like the Model Kerala Man Sreekanth.They both know all the things a malayali is supposed to know. I am sure my grand parents\parents would be so damn impressed if they could meet. She supports and complements Sreekanth im a magical way.

Happy birthday (belated-um allatheym) Sreekanth and Reshma!