Sex And The City 2

Sex And The City 2

So I finally got around to watching the movie that was made after nearly a decade of the ‘SNTC’ drama.

I first discovered the sitcom years after it had concluded on HBO. I found it with some guy (straight) friends who were absolute fans of the sitcom. I had spurned it when it was playing on television stating that it was all about ‘women and their silly boyfriends and sex.’

But at the age of 20 and entering the field of dating, it was quite interesting to me and my friends. I got the whole series and would randomly plug in an episode.

Then the movie came out and I was a little stunned. To be frank, I barely even recall what that movie was about apart from Carrie getting married.

I found Carrie ridiculous and annoying and flighty, and her sense of style – appalling.

And then the second movie came and everyone was raving about it. Except the critics. And then many of the women I met too. But today, I finally pulled out that DVD I had gotten a long time ago…

Maybe because I was braced for the worst, it didn’t seem so horrible. There are one or two good moments in the movie. My favorite – when they all sing “I’m a woman, hear me roar.”

It was that moment what the entire sitcom had stood for – women’s liberation. Women talking about dating and ridiculous issues because they were important to them. Well, least that’s what it started with.

The rest of it is simply old. Not even boring. Just old. It has some relevant issues… the seriousness of women’s lib in the Middle East.

Watching a woman eat French fries through her veil, lifting it every time to eat a chip, Carrie comments “That’s a lot of commitment to fast food.”

The comment was funny. But it did made me wonder about why was it treated so frivolously? I mean it is all about the ‘desert mystique’ and all that shit but… it is like they picked the image off a tourist poster. The Souk, the desert and the opulence.

True, I’ve not been to Abu Dhabi but don’t they have special areas for women where they can walk around without their veils? It is just so AMERICAN… the way they disregard other’s cultures. There are Americans who respect every culture but there are also the rude, irritating ones. I wish it was Carrie who had been arrested instead of Samantha, who at least never pretended to be something she is not.

The movie is a really sad attempt to portray old women as young. True, it is also about the struggle women face in accepting their age. But it is done so shamefully, that I would hate to waste 250 bucks on watching it.

Yes, it is tough to have babies and bring them up. A woman does not want to be just a mother and honestly, that should be okay. That was one of the most honest moments of the movie – when Miranda confesses to Charlotte that she doesn’t want to be ‘just a mother.’

It is a question of identity and there is nothing wrong with it. Yet it is a question every woman faces these days – the distance between ‘mommy’ and ‘boss’.

 

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Dhobi Ghat

This is a movie that would’ve been called an ‘art’ film a few years ago. Actually, it would perhaps have still been called that if Aamir Khan had not been involved.

And Aamir turns out to be the one off-note for the movie, which, surprisingly, I loved.

The movie is slightly slow. But it is funny, romantic, poignant without ever really sinking into melodrama. It takes a page from Slumdog Millionaire and portrays the gritty Bombay without making it indigestible. Infact, it makes it… romantic.

A friend said that many people didn’t like the movie because it portrays Bombay the same old way. After watching the movie, I’m not quite sure that I agree.

Bombay to me was and continues to be faded buildings pushed one too many together, people creating their own self spaces amidst the hurdles. The rains, the people, the dirt, the open air and peace at Marine Drive and most of all – the struggle, the eternal struggle, for survival.

There are so many ships that sink in this struggle and nobody particularly notices – the good and bad thing about Bombay.
***

There are two story lines… intersecting subtly, though not particularly relating to each other, but crucial to each other nevertheless.

By that, you can piece the story into four parts – the discovery, celebration, disillusion and death.

Discovery – the shaky shots of Mumbai, shot from a cab as a woman speaks about her trip into the city. She tells the cab driver that she has been here for 5 months, and is from UP, and marvels at the open space of the Marine Drive, even as children come begging but happily begin shooting for the camera when they see one.

Discovery – Munna… the laundry boy, the cleaner and you wonder what else… going about his chores in a slum in Bombay. He looks too healthy and cute to be from the slums but perhaps that is the point.

Discovery – Arun and Shai discover each other at Arun’s art exhibition and end up having a one-night stand. She gets pissed the morning-after and walks out, and Amir moves into his new apartment. Shai meets Munna, the laundry boy.

Celebration: Arun discovers the videotape of the woman ‘Yasmin Noor’… he explores Bombay through her eyes, a lonely housewife who seems to be filled with zest for life and loves to explore everything around her, even as her morose husband ignores everything. Her eyes sparkle and her smile is wide and she begins a video chronicle, we find out, for her brother.

Celebration: Shai and Munna become friends and she does his portfolio, he becomes her guide to the ‘inner Mumbai’.

Disillusion: Yasmin’s eyes fade… there is a weariness she tries to hide from the camera.

Disillusion: Shai discovers another face of Munna… Munna is confused about Shai and if she is just a friend or more. And Shai is confused about her feelings for Arun and her friendship with Munna, trying to choose which is more precious.

Death: Literally. Of several people. Of several interpretations of several relationships.
***

The thing about Aamir’s movies that I particularly admire is the casting. All the characters, starting from the maid, to Yasmin, to Munna to Shai are so natural that you believe you are watching real life.

Shai (Monica Dogra) has just returned from the US and is on a sabbatical and meets Arun (Aamir) at a pretentious art show. Munna (Prateik Babbar!) is half-confident, half-shy… maturing to a man almost that shows in hints of looks when he asks Shai questions about her personal life and blushes like a high school girl when complimented.

Shai seems incredibly natural as a vibrant woman, very at ease with herself, her insecurities and the pampered girl of a rich family who is pursuing her dreams. I won’t give away more of the story… because, even if it is slow, it is probably worth a watch.

Strangely, Aamir seemed to be the only off note in the movie… maybe he has become too big to play such roles. He is good… but given the naturalness of the rest of the cast, it just seems a little… odd.

I love the voice of the woman in the narration. I love the pulse of Mumbai that they captured so beautifully.

Of course they romanticized it… but love it or hate it, Mumbai will always appear romantic on film.

(This is written when the whole movie is fresh in my mind over the first viewing. Opinions could change and be a little more critical on the second watch. I think I would like to watch it again.)

Marley & Me

I know this is an old movie. But on a quiet Saturday afternoon, without much good bad TV to watch, figured I would watch a movie about a guy and his dog.

Least that is what I thought the movie was all about, initially. A coming-of-age movie, with the girlfriend and all that.

I should’ve known the moment Jennifer Aniston walked onscreen that it would be a bust. I haven’t yet liked a single movie starring Aniston (and every time I think I’ve seen them all, there is some obscure movie that pops up).

The movie isn’t bad in the first half. Here is this guy who is getting married and doing the whole settling down bit, and is trying to adjust to it the best way he knows. Except he finds out on his wedding day that the ‘list’ his then-girlfriend and now-wife keeps talking about is actually a real life. With steps about how to go about life. So the steps of finding a guy and getting married are done. And then they move to somewhere warmer – Florida.

That is when you wonder is this like a decided move or she just decides for them. But you let it pass because this adorable dog – Marley – comes into the picture. And you are laughing at the dog’s antics and seeing how he tries to manage that monster. We all have had the new puppy and we know how much of a disaster it is in the first week.

Except from then on, it gets bizzare. The director tries to rush through the movie (and realise why at the end – there is still so much to tell). So Anison gets pregnant, loses the baby. Gets pregnant again. And again. And again. She’s like a baby magnet or something. Every time they have sex, she seems to have a kid. Thankfully, the director rushes through the pregnancies… or any other scent that might have emotional depth whatsoever.

I wanted to watch the whole movie. I really did. Because the scenes with Owen Wilson and Marley are quite cute and a little soul searching types. But the rest of it depressed me so much.

Here’s a woman who chooses to give up her awesome job as a reporter because she wants to bring up her kid. Here is a reporter who owns like a mansion. And then she keeps popping out kids before the earlier one can say ‘momma’ and then gets pissed off because ‘no one told her how hard it would be.’ Did she forget that bit about protection?

I didn’t watch the whole movie. It began really depressing me, particularly when you go the dog is going to die soon. The movie just loses all sense of fun and depth after the first hour and from then on, it is just like another hindi tear jerker, minus the tears or the good background music.

The Social Network

One man changed the way the world thinks about socializing. He invented this little website called “Facebook.”

Perhaps it was his age, his youth or just the incredible social phenomena that made him so interesting to people. Or perhaps it was the incredibly strong way that he bulldozed his way into people’s lives and declared privacy was nonsense – a little statement that affected about 500 million people across the world, people who had shared the most basic details about their lives.

He is a curiosity. Not quite at the celebrity status of some other non-movie star people, but getting there slowly. And that perhaps is what makes the movie so interesting.

The movie could’ve been boring. It is all about a bunch of geeks writing codes and talking about stuff that doesn’t even come close to the realm of most people’s understanding. There were movies made about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs  – men who revolutionized the world of technology – but it barely made a ripple (Movie: Pirates of Silicon Valley).

But The Social Network is smooth, fast-paced and witty, with an awesome soundtrack.

Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Mark Zuckerberg, is so… perfectly Zuckerberg. The images of the two men are now so confused in my head that I have to wonder if Zuckerberg had the same vulnerable look in real life.

True, he is a geek, a nerd who has incredibly retarded social skills. I am torn between feeling sorry for the guy for his sheer need to be accepted and cool or feeling contempt for the way he threw away friends and perhaps stole ideas. Eisenberg projects such an air of vulnerability that you want to wrap him up and keep him safe.

We all heard about the famous “unfeeling” part of Zuckerberg. Indeed, much of the fallout of the movie has been negative. But I wonder why? Was it because of the privacy issues that arose from Z’s comments right before the movie released?

I had heard about the famous scene when FB touched a million users and everyone was celebrating but Z just remained in the corner. I did not know about the fight he had had with his best friend, who also was the CFO, right before the event. That puts a slightly different spin on things.

So here is this super genius geek who is really desperate to be accepted and goes about it the only way he knows because else, he is always on the defensive. Is that really Zuckerberg, I have no idea. It is a little hard to talk about the movie separate from Zuckerberg… after all, that is what makes the movie so successful.

Even if you do leave out the fact that this is a real life story (which you doubt for a minute when you look at those twins – whatever their names were – the epitome of blue-blooded, heirs of a family hunks!), the story is smooth and fast and gripping.

Justin Timberlake, who is perfectly cast as the slightly sleazy and smooth-talker Sean Parker, has actually even acted in the movie. It feels a little weird to see him act but then he fits that role so perfectly well!

This isn’t a feel good movie. The ending is ambiguous… left open perhaps to continue the story, for surely there is more of the story remaining. We leave Z at a point when the lawsuit is over, while he tries to reform his life as he loses his friend.

Who is the real guy? No clue. But is sure is interesting to watch how the single website where many of us spend half our internet time on, came about. And some glimpse of the man behind it.

Was it totally negative for the guy? Everyone who has interacted with him perhaps should’ve realized that he is a little socially retarded… a genius but not much for conversation, if that is the truth. Nobody will stop using Facebook if he is rude. And investors don’t care if he is rude. All that we really care about are the privacy issues.

Image. Image. Image. In a world where walls are an illusion, or something you write on. Seriously.

Enthiran

The most important thing – I surprised myself by liking the movie.

And then, I thought only Rajnikanth and Shankar could probably ever pull up such a sleek movie.

Because the movie is sleek!

I didn’t think so, initially. All those promos were a little lame. Maybe I didn’t watch the right ones but I never saw what was the coolest part of the movie – the last 20 minutes. And the most touching part of the movie – a tin man saying he wants to live and love.

The kudos probably goes more to the make up and the graphics team than Rajnikanth (oh the spam mail i’ll get for saying this!). But I enjoyed the movie, even though I barely understand Tamil.

The plotline isn’t something new. Rogue robots. We’ve all seen those  in English movies. And maybe some b-grade hindi movies too. But you don’t go watch this movie for the plot. You watch it for graphics, or Rajnikanth, who looks quite decent as a genius scientist.

What’s the plot?

Scientist makes robot. The most advanced robot ever. Robot slowly is given human emotions after some classic and shocking examples of why he is only a machine. Robot falls in love with Scientist’s girlfriend. Robot goes rogue thanks to another bad scientist.

There are moments of absurdity – like when this super-intelligent robot, Chitti, does house work for the scientist’s girlfriend. But like in all Indian movies, you learn to overlook some inconsistencies. So if you can swallow the fact the robot initially does a bit of housework, you’ll get through this surprisingly. Most of it made sense…

Of course, there is a good guy, a bad guy… and a bad robot.

Like one of the reviews I read mentioned – If Rajnikanth is beaten up by a bad guy for more than a minute, the theatre will be broken down. But when Rajnikanth is beating down Rajnikanth, there is nothing to be done.

And if I went by the whistles at the theatre (most of whom seemed to have already seen the movie), they were rooting for the bad robot.

Of course, the movie could’ve been shorter. The editing was bad… but I guess those songs and some silliness is not only required but is demanded in Indian cinema.

But the last 20 minutes takes your breath away with its graphics. An army of robots imitating everything from Anaconda to your craziest comic book hero. Did I think I’d ever get to see such awesomeness in an Indian movie? Nope. Nail biting car chase and typical Rajnikanth style… except when the robot does it, it is so much more believable.

Perhaps that’s the main reason I liked it… Rajni’s antics seemed a little funny to me. But in a robot, i can believe it all.

Aishwarya Rai is the token female in the movie, like in most of his movies. She looks gorgeous and does her part of oomph and childishness. Meh. Nobody expected her to act in this movie, even if there was space for it, anyway.

Watch it. Definitely. And watch it again to figure out how they did this.

Link of the day: Later!

Salt

There is something curiously cathartic about watching Angelina Jolie kick ass in any movie. But Salt slightly falls short of the depth of her other ass-kicking movies.

She does a beautiful job blowing up things and shooting and all that. But the martyr act is getting a little tiring. First there was Wanted and now this. I mean shouldn’t she get to live after all the ass kicking?

But that apart, Salt is a perfect roller coaster movie to watch with a bucket full of butter popcorn.

Spies, Russia and Angelina Jolie.

The opening is perhaps the grittiest scene in the movie with Salt being tortured in a North Korean prison somewhere. Thankfully, that does not set the tone for the entire movie. In an age where all spies are generally good, unless they are the women in a James Bond movie, Salt is refreshing.

It is also confusing as you teeter between ‘this is perhaps a trial op they are running’ and ‘holy shit she is really a spy’ and back to ‘what the hell is she doing.’

So you gotta sit and watch to figure out what really is happening.

Every time I watch those movies, I wish I were the spy. Even when I was watching Mr & Mrs Smith, as lame as it was, it was still cool to see her whip out those guns and take out an entire roomful of people at one shot.

In short, there is nothing much to say about the movie. Wonderful past time.

Song of the day: 

This is the song mentioned in yesterday’s post

Anjaana Anjaani not really new, but…

This appeared in an online newspaper today:

Anjaana Anjaani

“Life begins on the point of death” is the theme Anjaana Anjani is trying to explore.

Boy meet girl when both want to die. Boy and girl decide to die together. This would’ve summed up the movie, except this particular one starts where most other Bollywood movies used to end.

Additionally, Akash (Ranbir Kapoor) and Kiara (Priyanka Chopra) are not in love with each other. Their lives intersect on the bridge as they are poised to jump. And when that attempt fails, they decide to die together because two is always better than one.  If one chickens out, the other is expected to push them through.

Except, numerous attempts later, when they are still alive, they figure one of them has something to do. So they pick New Year’s Eve for another attempt. In the meanwhile, they figure they can cross off things undone on their version of The Bucket List.

Some wishes are harder, some are easier. And during the course of the crossing off the list, there are moments you wish they had jumped off the bridge.

The movie is predictable. You can predict the ending of the movie at the beginning, and once you know the story behind their death wishes, you also know how that will be resolved.

Like many other Bollywood movies, the back half is emotionally loaded and the director Siddarth Anand did not have enough finesse to take it through with the same ease of the first half. There are the usual host of characters – the ex-boyfriend, the best friend, the do-gooders, none of whom really have a strong presence or a role in the movie.

However, Anjaana Anjaani has a lightheartedness during the first half that makes it easier to stomach the morbidity it is portraying. Just when you begin getting uncomfortable about their attempts at suicides, they make you laugh.

Also, in yet another reversal Indian cinema is seeing, the woman, Kiara, is the force that drives the two of them to live the 20 days they have left. The mystery woman, who is so happy it makes you wonder why she was on that bridge. Akash, you know his story already and he is as prudish as the virgin he claims to be.

So they swim in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, do their share of clubbing in New York City. They live so normally that you forget they have set an expiration date on their lives.

The much-publicized car, titled ‘Blush,’ appears far shorter than it was supposed to. A road trip to sin city Las Vegas, with panning shots of deserts and dry shrubs and a winding road. That is probably one of the wider shots the director even wanted.

The second half of the movie in particular is crammed with close up shots of the duo. Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor are actors who have proved themselves in more challenging roles and manage to pull this off with ease too. The extreme close ups though begin to annoy after a few shots of Chopra’s kajal-rimmed eye that aren’t so artistic.

Zayed Khan makes yet another guest appearance, like he seems to be famous for these days. The short time doesn’t make his role any sweeter or his acting any better. Instead, it adds to the flatness of the screenplay, and makes you wish the director had thought of adding little more depth to the characters.

But Anjaana Anjaani also belongs to the new generation of movies, where women are the happy-go-lucky souls, men bawl their eyes out and are virgins, and also caters (or mocks) the gay audience with a gap strip club in the back of nowhere or Ranbir Kapoor trying to take over Salman Khan’s position as the shirtless guy, which makes it all fun enough.

The music would be good for your iPod but does make you wish for the remote while watching the movie.

Anjaana Anjaani is the perfect movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon, as long as you are not expecting a new plot.

Edit: Things I couldn’t say in the official review:

1. Ranbir Kapoor = yumminess. Finally Indian women have a body to ogle over. Maybe he just realises his sex appeal or just likes taking his clothes off, but the one scene in the movie where he walks out of the shower, in the semi-darkness = HOT!!!

2. Priyanka Chopra – did she get collagen or something in her lips. She looks gorgeous except for those lips.

3. What on earth is with the close-ups??? Oh wait… I did mention that in the review, right?

4. The car. Me wants!!!