Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blood Diamond...

... is a diamond, which has been mined in a war zone, and sold to finance the military needs of an insurgent group.

What’s the story: In the late nineties, Sierra Leone is in midst of a civil war. Insurgents of the Revolutionary United Force (RUF) have swooped on the newly-found diamond mines in the country and are selling it to unscrupulous persons to finance their arms and ammunition. The government is trying hard to cut down on the smuggling of the country’s natural resources. And thousands are dying amidst the gunfire of these two warring factions.

Solomon Vendy (Djimon Hounsou) is a fisherman, who has been captured by the RUF and is made to search for diamonds. One day, he finds a huge diamond – of a size that no one has ever seen – and is caught by the captain of the RUF while trying to bury it. But before the captain can lay his hands on it, the government troops launch an attack, and arrest all of them. In all the gunfire and fighting, Solomon is separated from his family, and his son taken away to be a child-soldier. Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an ex-soldier from Rhodesia , who smuggles diamonds from Sierra Leone to Liberia , for his former commander, Colonel Coetzee. Caught while smuggling, he is now in prison. He is in desperate need to find something of value to bargain his life and way from Colonel Coetzee, for the diamonds which were confiscated when he was caught. Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) is a journalist covering the civil uprising in Sierra Leone , and is trying to find proof that the illegally flourishing diamond business is actually funding the war, and that the largest diamond corporation is actually buying these diamonds to hold the reins of an ugly game of demand and supply. However, she has no one who will go on the record to give her the details.

So when Danny overhears the conversation between Solomon and the RUF captain in prison, he realises that the huge diamond might as well be his ticket out of this situation. He strikes a two-way deal – with the Colonel to find the huge diamond as repayment for the diamonds which were confiscated while he was caught, and with Solomon to help find his family for the huge diamond. He gets himself and Solomon out of prison, and under the guise of a person genuinely helping a homeless man, he asks Maddy to help find his family. But when she finds out that he is actually a smuggler, Maddy refuses to help him until he goes on record and gives her the details for her story. Danny gets under immense pressure – with his commander prodding him for the diamond, Solomon prodding him for his family, and the RUF searching out Solomon. His only hope is Maddy, who can find Solomon’s family, and lead him towards the mines as members of her press convoy. Watch the movie to find out what happens next.

What’s good in it: Top of the line acting by Leonardo DiCaprio. He sports a look and feel not very different to the one in The Departed, and gets a good hold of the Krio. Watch out for his infectious rendering of “yeah yeah”, when he nods in agreement. Jennifer Connelly looks believable as the journalist. The narration is tight and the cinematography is excellent. All the gunfire, wildlife and war-torn rural Africa make it look like Tears Of The Sun but has been depicted better.

Reco: Once, most definitely. It would not have been nominated for the Oscars otherwise. Must-watch if you are a Leo fan.

Friday, February 16, 2007


... is a first-time thing, like physical attraction, while lyrics are like real love, deep, true, like getting to know a person. Or so Sophie Fisher says in Music and Lyrics.

The Movie – Music and Lyrics is a sweet romance – a chick flick with an Awww!!!! climax on the lines of Notting Hill, About a Boy or more recently Love Actually. Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is a star of a bygone era. His heydays are over, and after his band broke up, he has been singing his songs at retro clubs, and resigning to the fact that he is not in demand anymore. Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore) is a “plant-girl” who comes to water the plants in lieu of his usual help, who has taken sick. And when Cora Corman (a teen music sensation made out on the lines of Britney / Lindsay) chooses to do a show with him, he realises it would be his biggest break in the music industry ever since his band broke up. The flip side – he has to write a song in under two days, something he is not very proud of. The last time he wrote a song, he rhymed “you and me” with “autopsy”. So he decides to get a lyricist to do his song, but is left unimpressed with the given lyrics. And then he hears his “plant-girl” humming some words to his melodies. He fires his lyricist and sits with Sophie to write their song. And they start debating on music, lyrics, words, rhyme, and what not under the sun. How they write the song, and finish it up (with Sophie’s sob story, her star-struck elder sister, love and of course Cora and her karmic mixes thrown in) forms the rest of the story.

Performance – Brilliant. Hugh Grant comes up tops!!! He carries his age well, and is extremely believable as a fading star. When he sings “Don’t write me off, just yet”, it almost seems he is referring to his acting career. His Elvis-esque thumkas and the POP after “Pop goes my heart” are lovable. (Dont miss this video at ANY cost). You see yourself doing the POP while coming out of the movie. Drew Barrymore excels as the bubbly sensitive girl, who has dreams to pursue, but develops jitters every time she finds the going getting tough. With her pouts and batting eyelashes, she develops sizzling chemistry with Hugh, making you forget the toughie she played in Charlie’s Angels. Sophie Fisher’s elder sister and her family, Cora and Alex’s manager provide timely humour. Music is awesome, lasting melodies with meaningful (and sometime laughable) lyrics justify the title to a T. Look out for the moment where Hugh dubs his song in his studio.

Reco – Once, most definitely. All the good reasons – Good looking stars, excellent chemistry, lilting music, genuine humour. Plus, it will gather you brownie points if you take your girlfriend along. Pity I had to watch it alone on V-Day.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


... is a movie of a confused director. He wants to say something, but he loses all of it in the melee of his under-used overbearing cast. He takes six couples, and you wonder why. Your confusion is never set to rest, because even at the end of the movie, you are as huh as you were at the beginning. In his effort to fit in all the stories into one, Nikhil Advani loses out on the material.

There is hardly any story which has any palpable depth – in fact there are only five stories – the sixth is hardly a story. If I did not know Isha Koppikar and Sohail Khan were stars, I would have searched the whole screen trying to locate who is being shot there. Their story hardly has anything to do with the other five, nor is its slapstick comedy entertaining in its own right.

A quick performance analysis follows, and may have slight spoilers.

The story of John Abraham and Vidya Balan proves to be the only one with some substance and it aches when its superlative climax gets diluted in the typical shaadi-mandap-esque finale of the other stories. This story comes across as the only reason for which the movie has to be watched. Both John and Vidya excel in this sweet romance. Vidya has matured as an actress, and effortlessly moves from a bubbly mood to a poignant one.

Akshaye Khanna desperately tries to do an Aamir Khan of DCH, but fails miserably. As a "wants-love-not-marriage" guy, he churns out a performance which is a watered down version of Aamir at times, and Rahul Bose in PKSE. After Dor, Ayesha Takia has shown that she has a lot to offer, but Nikhil does not capitalise on it, and she is wasted.

Anil Kapoor gives out a couple of shockers in his role of a middle-aged guy with a successful career, perfect family but boring life. As the dutiful wife and mother-of-two, Juhi spins out a natural performance; it is high time she did something which requires her to “act”. For quite some time now, her characters have become an extension of her real life.

Govinda is old. Period. His comic timing, though, isn’t. His performance is not very different from Bhagam Bhag, and is predictable. His role of a simpleton, falling in love with a phoren maidum is unconvincing, and dull. The phoren-maidum is not too remarkable either. Age shows on Salman Khan too. His awry hair, and body language have nothing to offer. His vintage charm of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam shows up in bits and pieces, but fails to clear the last mile. Priyanka Chopra is lack-lustre. Her name (Kkamini) and her mannerisms often confuse you into thinking it is actually Kareena onscreen and not Priyanka.

The less said about Isha and Sohail the better. They have a total of 3 scenes, none of which are original or remarkable. Half of their story runs, believe it or not, while the credits roll. Their story (or what is called one) is totally unconnected and runs parallel to the rest. I think it has been included in the movie just to satisfy a numerological need, and nothing else.

Music is not very catchy, the sole exception being the tune of the bagpipes which I intend to use as a ring tone. Camera work is superb, especially when John takes Vidya to his father’s house. Movie is too long, with too many characters playing touch-and-go. Much of the dialogues are takes on old songs, and there are a couple of spoofs as well.

Watch it if you have nothing else to do. Which is why I went in the first place :)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


... in business has resulted in a hiatus in posting. It isn't only the volume of work you see. A lot of other things are happening, like arranging an intra-company badminton tournament, like discussing NRIness with old friends on IM, like receiving and seeing off colleagues, like arranging a conference call to discuss how to vacate the house in Pune, now that no one is there and such like.

Things, which did not allow me to do what I would want to - like writing about the trip to a small British Isle (Wight), or ordering free prints of the photos I took there, or reviewing Guru, or spell-checking the professor, or mentioning my new PDA phone (or its 2GB micro SD card or the bluetooth stereo headset or the 4GB pen drive), or putting in a word on the pass I have to the local multiplex, which gives me unlimited movies for 11 pounds a month.

And to boot, these guys have loaded up this new thing here, which requires me to login with my Gmail account - that's one less password to remember, but what the heck is Google upto? It is integrating everything left, right and center. It took over Youtube, and integrated it into Orkut. I can see them integrating Blogger too, and before you know it, you will be blogging on Orkut.

While this will convince you that I'm still active and Google has not mistakenly trashed my blog in the migration it is undertaking, I'm gonna take some time off and write a lot - most of it will be reviews ( I have been spending too much time on eBay :P ) - but I will also include travelogues and photos and movie-reviews (monthly pass, you see). For Guru, though, I will direct you to this exhaustive review here.

Stay tuned. Attuned.