Sunday, January 30, 2011

Journey movies

One of things that i just realized is that i love journey movies. Movies in which the protagonist leaves everything for a journey and there are a lot of unknowns. How will the journey end, how will you cope with the dangers of road, food, water, logistics, safety, getting lost, stamina, exhaustion, sleep etc etc. Typically journey movies have these common themes -

1. Stories of life and road - People living in rural places, they have seen life too, a life very different from city life, a life that we can not imagine. These stories make the journey a forever memorable. And you meet so many good people along the way, people whom you will never meet again yet you long for them. In the end you thank them and move on.

2. Beautiful landscape - I have never seen a single road movie where the landscape has not been amazing. Nature is very very beautiful, no matter which country you are in and it always fill you up. Plus the slow moving camera trick, where you mount the camera on a rolling plane and you move it slowly, to give the effect of motion and the beautiful landscape can be seen, passing away slowly. I simply love it!

3. Music - Mainly folk music. Each land has its own music, music changes if you move more than 100 kms, and some of these movies make good use of it.

4. Unknowns - There are always unknowns when you are on road. These are not road journeys with GPS, laptops and other gadgets, these are raw records, people on bikes or motor bikes, or on buses. Bed, food, water are big questions and what happens if it rains. And how will you make money if you do not have much.

So, here are some of my favourite ones -

1. The Straight Story - Directed by David Lynch, a man of 70+ wishes to meet with his brother, so he goes out on a lawn mower and travels about 400 miles. Very beautifully written and directed, the straight story is a delight to watch. And what makes it amazing is that it is based on a true story as well.

2. Central Do Brasil - A woman and a boy give up everything to look for the boy's father. They have to go to Rio and that's all they know. Very good music and road anecdotes are very good.

3. Motorcycle diaries - Based on the true experience of Che Guerera, this road trip happens on motorcycles. And Che didn't had that much money, so they treated patients along the way and made their living. Wonderfully acted by Bernarl Garcia.

4. A bit stretch, but LOTR was also about a journey.

5. The middle of the world - A family of 7 travels on bicycles about 2000 miles so that the father can get a job. See prev blog post.

Have not seen yet, but into the wild looks very good.

The middle of the world

Movie - The middle of the world.
Imdb -

Yesterday, i was surfing around to get a glimpse of the movie Central do brasil and netflix showed this movie in its recommendation column.

A family of 7 travel 2000 kms so that the father can get a job. They did it on bicycles. Even though i was very tired, the last two lines were enough for me to browse through the movie. and i ended up watching it completely. First thing, very very impressed by the wife's acting. Rosa, the wife is played by Claudia Abreu and she just was amazing. Kudos to the director/cinematographer for giving us close up shots of her, it just showed her true acting range in a closer look. Had it not been for her, i may not have watched the entire movie. One of the best performances i have seen in recent past (and recently i have seen very good films, see previous blog posts)

But other than a very interesting plot and an awesome performance, the movie was not that appealing. Partly because i found the protagonist, the father Romao, quite deranged. He cared too much for his ambitions, too egoistic to see what the hell his family was going through. And the way he used to rub on his eldest son. True, he also took care of him; I guess it was his style of parenting, his notion of life that i found to be too strange for me to relate to him. And that's why it seems more like fiction than a true story (which it is loosely).

The landscape of Brazil is amazing. The director also does not highlight on road logistics such as water for family, bike tires getting flat etc etc which creates a distance between viewer and actors, we are not with them, we are just watching them. The music is good, especially when the mother and son sing together.

Overall, a very different film, something one should see. If nothing else, watch it for Claudia Abreu.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The non-adventures of Ponyo

I have a pet fish now - Ponyo.
I got it as part of white elephant gift exchange at office. Its great to have a fish at home.

The non-adventures of Ponyo -

Yes, you read it right, these are non-adventures of Ponyo. I don't know what it is but Ponyo likes to have a very lazy and relaxed lifestyle. For the first 36 hrs of its arrival at my home, as soon as we shifted her to the small aquarium, it was thought to be dead. Yes, it lied without moving for day and a half and we were thinking that may be we should get a new one. It was good that we were lazy in throwing her off, otherwise we were quite confident that she was dead. Yet after two days, as if she was taking a long sleep after a strenuous journey, she woke up and started moving.

Yet, she is Ponyo and she is exactly as her owner (me) - a very lazy fish. It always prefers to lay still at one position and moves very rarely. This is totally contrary to the fish in the movie Ponyo after which i named her. In the movie, Ponyo was seen running on waves. Aah, running! my Ponyo wants a couch and access to television :)

Last week, we were trying to change the water of her aquarium. While shifting her back from a tumbler, for some reason she got excited and jumped from my net. She jumped inside the kitchen drawer where all spoons are kept. I shrieked, totally lost my control and quickly put her back in aquarium with my hands. Not a nice experience at all. Since then she is more terrified of me.

More of her non-adventures will be posted as we get to know her better :)

Blue man group

We watched a performance of Blue Man Group at Las Vegas on 27 Dec 2010 and it was amazing.
Here are some reasons why ?

1. Very unique - The idea itself that blue man group are not from earth and they react based on audience reaction; looking everything with curiosity ; and being innovative in doing things - yeah thats how shows should be.

2. So much audience participation - Couple of acts included people from audience. a huge paper roll is passed from back to front by audience - no reason why, it is just cool.

3. A lot of physics is involved in the acts - If you rotate statues, it gives an effect of animation, projection, liquid dynamics.

4. Technology - Advanced technology and especially the interaction of technology with blue men.

And lots of satire - they completely ridiculed the rock band concerts, shaving razors, cereals and what not. Truely a delight to watch. One of my favorite acts was when each of the three blue men show big cards one by one at a rate that you can read only one. The mind tries to read all three and in the process fails to read anyone of them. Very clear.

Drum beats and background score was quite good too!

Settlers of Catan

Oh man, this is so addictive.
Two days ago, Guy invited me to his friend's (Eric) place for a night of board games. I have played board games couple of times at office and always liked it.

We played Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico. I had never played either of them before. I loved both the games. The interesting part is the design of these games, so much has gone into making them, so many details, all leading to logical end. Too hard to figure out which one was better among the two. Settlers of Catan has more randomization built into it than Puerto Rico.
Very very impressed.

And then today, i woke up at 2:30 am (yes am) and don't know why but i downloaded the Catan app on my iPad. And then from 2:30 am to 12:30 noon, i was just doing this. Playing against computers, it is absolutely amazing. It would be much better playing with people though. But so far, the addiction has not reduced. 23rd of January 2011, if it will be remembered in my life, it will be for Settlers of Catan.

Thanks Guy!!

Movie reviews

My last three movies have been awesome. This is despite the fact that i missed this month's camera cinema club screening.

True Grit - Directd by Coen Brothers, this movies is a classic western tale and nothing else. Well directed, well acted, the story line keeps you engaged all the time. Movie's pace is relaxed, neither fast nor slow. Camera shots are beautiful as it has been with Coen movies in past.

Black Swan - Daren Aronofsky's dark drama movie. Black Swan is very similar to Wrestler (the previous movie by Daren). I liked wrestler better because it was more emotionally packed and it had more depth to it. Black Swan is more sensual and much more active than wrestler. While in wrestler, the protagonist is almost retired, in black swan it is the story of an actress who is struggling to get attention. So wrestler was the downhill curve, black swan is the uphill part of bell curve. Good performance by Natalie, very surprised to see Mina Kunis there. Mina kunis will always be Jackie from That 70s show and she was quite bad there. The ending is quite impressive especially the picturaization.

The King's speech - Director Tom Hooper's delighful movie is about King George the VI who stammers. The movie is about how an ordinary but extraordinary speech therapist treats him; set during the start of world war II during which George the VI was required to inspire nation by giving speeches. Very well directed, and awesome performance by Geoffery Rush and Colin Firth. Colin Firth is very very good. Tom Hooper is someone to be followed, i loved his last movie - Damned United. It would have been great to see Charlie Sheen too in this movie, but we will wait. Very nice ending - it doesn't make it the usual melodramatic as one would expect; even though the war is going on, the emphasis is on the speech itself and how relieved the king feels. Helena Carter is a delight to watch.

At home -
Ponyo - Directed by Miyazaki, this one is a very light hearted movie about a fish/mermaid called Ponyo. The anime is quite nicely done with good effects. The story was little bit too loosely formed as per me. A good no tension feel good movie.

Watched Inception again.


How a SEO guy would write his travelogue.

So many places were visited in a month time that very soon i will forget. This travelogue is a set of keywords to remember all the uber set.

Los Angeles -
Disneyland, Universal studios, Rodeo drive, Beverly hills drive, Kodak theatre, Chinese theatre, hollywood walk of fame, Redondo beach, Santa Monica beach sunset, Santa Monica Third street promenade walk, Souplantation, Crepe place.

Las vegas -
Casino - Ceaser's palace, Paris, Venetian, Excalibur, Mandalay bay, Luxor, South point. Eiffel tower ride, Bellagio fountains, Blue man group, Chinese food at food court.

Las Vegas to LA -
Mojave National Preserve, Kelso dunes, Joshua tree, Cima dome, extinct volcanoes and hot cinnamon rolls in cold weather :)

Santa Cruz -
Mystery spot, Roaring camp railroad, Redwood forest, Beautiful redwood trees :), bear camp, Monterey, 17 mile drive, Cypress trees, Lone cypress, white sand beach, Sand city, Restless sea and other points.

San Francisco -
Golden gate, Crooked street, Pier 39, Half moon bay, Poplar beach, Linda Mar beach, Highway 1 drive, Santa Clara Nutcracker ballet, Vasona park Christmas lighting, Great mall, Gilroy outlets, Stanford university, University ave, Castro street MV, Palo alto book sale, Farmers market MV, Century cinemas.
Food -
Zeni's (Ehiopian cuisine), Amarin thai, Bangokok thai, Pasta ?, Dosa palace, Madras cafe, Whole foods salads, Chipotle, Denny's.

New york -
Manhattan, Statue of Liberty, Battery park, Wall street, Raging bull, Times square, Empire State Building, Museum of natural history, Trinity church, Ground zero memorial, Macy's, Tiffinwalla, Jersey city, New Jersey, Mexican restaurant

Washington -
Liberty bell (Philadephia), White house, Capitol building, Library of congress, Botanical garden, Natural history museum, Hope diamond, Memorial - Lincoln, Jefferson etc etc, Treasury building, Supreme court, Washington state memorial.

लास वेगस

लास वेगस

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