Monthly Archives: August 2013

The About-7 Movie List

A few days back, a friend asked me to suggest him some movies to watch. Absolutely. But what kind? Whichever you like, he said. I was about to do that but then I thought maybe it was not such a great idea. I can safely say that I watch more movies than him and that is not even condescending. He has better things to do in life. So the movies I come to like the most, though not bad, do not always make for an ideal casual weekend-evening watch. Sometimes you just want movies that tell a good happy story, which, when they end, make you happily ask your partner to order a generously loaded pizza and she agrees, momentarily forgetting about your belly !! You know the kind I am talking about. They do good business but not always are blockbusters. They never really wow you but they always register their good intelligent work. The kind which when you come across while flipping movie channels, while having dinner, make you stop (not the dinner, the browsing), happily. Here is the list of my kind of that kind of movies. Hope you like it. And about the title, well, its an allusion to how such  movies almost invariably rate just around 7 on IMDb. And yeah, they always have some cool songs playing in their background 🙂 .

Here it goes.

The Devil Wears Prada

The devil wears Prada (2006): This comedy drama revolves around a powerful fashion magazine Editor and a young college graduate who gets a job as her co-assistant. It does not help that the young lady does not share the same enthusiasm for fashion as her boss does. The best thing about the movie is, of course, Meryl Streep, supported very ably by the beautiful Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci. An urban comedy with interesting situations, this movie is smart but not too overtly so, which is a good thing really.

The rock

The Rock (1996): 90s was the decade of some of the most fabulous action movies ever. The rock is one of them. It is directed by Michael Bay (Transformers, Armageddon, Bad Boys) who, with all his corniness, does has an aptitude for telling gripping stories in a visually grand way. He is like a action version of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. So the Army General will have to say things like “Identify yourself”, to a person who he does not know, over a telephonic conversation, because Army generals compulsively talk that way isn’t it !! But it is a lots of fun anyway. The cast is indeed rock solid too: Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris and the great Sean Connery (who could not, for his life, pronounce the S sound, its always Sh. “I think I heard Shomeone”. “Shtupid Ashshhole”. I am sure his parents named him Sean with an ‘S’ initially. LOL). A great old action movie with a dab of humour.

The 40 yr ols virgn

The 40 year old virgin (2005): Steve Carell (The Office, Little Miss Sunshine, Get Smart) is such a masterclass at playing a likeable loser that its amazing. And he is funny as hell. He plays the guy the film’s title refers to. It is directed by Judd Apatow and has all the characteristics of the type of movies he is associated with: amazing buddy humour, lots of cultural references and hilarious support characters. The movie also features, of course, Seth Rogen (Knocked up, funny people), Paul Rudd (I love you Man, Role Models) and Romany Malco. One of my favourite movies.

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American reunion (2012): Who isn’t a fan of the original American Pie (1999). It spawned many sequels but this 2012 sequel was something else. For one, it managed to bring the whole cast back, including both of the MILF guys. It was really nostalgic to see all of them back in the original setting. It was like watching some of your friends after a decade and everybody is grown up and all. If you are fond of the original movie, as i am, do watch this, even if, for just the nostalgic value.

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Invincible

Invincible (2006): Invincible tells the (real life) story of Vince Papale, who went from being a 30 year old bartender to playing pro American Football for Philadelphia Eagles. For comparison, it is like if a Big Bazar bill desk employee got to play for the Delhi Daredevils in IPL, for two seasons. Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, The Italian Job) plays Papale. Like all good sports movies, it inspires and makes you feel like going for a run the next morning. And that awesome song which plays during one of those match scenes is Ted Nugent’s ‘Stranglehold’, download that too, super good guitar song.

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Knocked up (2007): The second Judd Apatow movie on this list, this movie is a romantic comedy about a slacker who gets a career oriented girl pregnant after a drunken one night stand. The movie features Seth Rogen and the beautiful Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy, 27 Dresses) who are excellent. This was the first time i saw Rogen and I am a fan since. As always, there is a superb support cast, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill (Superbad), Jason Segel (How I met Your Mother).
This movie is smart, super funny and very endearing.

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A Few Good Men

A few good men (1992):  One of my all time favourites, this movie is a court martial drama featuring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, both of whom received Best Actor nominations for this movie. Because that’s what they did, acted brilliantly. I can’t stress enough how good Jack Nicholson is. It has a riveting story and is extremely well made courtroom drama. But the best part is, how this movie takes you along with the case it depicts, makes you understand the various characters and the believability of an improbable end. Brilliant.

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Match Point (2005): Match Point is a Woody Allen movie but is unlike any of his typical movies. It is a thriller, for one. It is also a movie where, as Roger Ebert observed, every character is rotten. That’s a brilliant analysis for this movie and the reason why this movie is brilliant too. This movie deals with the themes of deceit, infidelity, money and luck. It stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Bend it like Beckham) and Scarlett Johansson, who is tailor made to play girls who betray. Meyers is well cast too. This movie is brilliantly dark and its interesting to see which rotten character you side with.

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Shoot ’em up

Shoot ’em up (2007): This movie is sick funny. This movie is audaciously violent and stupendous fun. This movie is like from Mercury, always hot and going too fast. I don’t really know how to describe it really. Let me try nonetheless. Suppose Mithun of old, approached Tarantino to create a movie for South Indian audience, this is what he would get. It stars Clive Owen(Closer, King Arthur) and Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man) and both are brilliant beyond words. Shoot em up is a super violent action movie with a wicked sense of humour. Its so outrageously improbable that you cannot help but wonder at its genius. I love this movie. Watch it with an open mind, and you shall be rewarded. And that guy in the picture above has a carrot in hand: not accidental.

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Horrible Bosses (2011) : When a movie has such a brilliant cast as Kevin Spacey (American Beauty), Jennifer Aniston (Friends), Jamie Foxx (Ray, Django Unchained), Colin Farrell (Minority Report, Alexander) and Jason Bateman (Hancock, Arrested Development), it is reason enough to give it a watch. But when someone else outshines these guys in the same movie, well, then it becomes a must watch. Charlie Day is that guy. Very earnestly funny. The movie is comedy about three friends who are fed up with their respective bosses and want some revenge and hire a hitman to do the job. Brilliantly comic due to its talented actors, this movie is very entertaining.

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The case for UFC : Part 2

wizard of id to post
(from Wizard of ID)

(I hope you have read part 1 of this article. )

Was I really too violent to be designing toys and games? Should the kids, who we do not want to grow up into violent human beings, be shielded from toy guns and bows and arrow? Does playing Grand Theft Auto really make you want to run those b!tches over? I am not sure. Personally, I do not agree. The experts are divided.

I loved guns when I was a kid (RIP my dear red Thompson Leo gun). I loved imagining my toy cars making the most daring jumps and impossible drifts, with the liberal eeehhhee hheeehhee schreeeech sounds, suggesting tyre burnout. I monstrously impaled the mango tree in my backyard with sharpened broom sticks which were the arrows of my rubber band powered bow (of course I duly put it to my forehead to equip it with magical powers a la Ramayan and Mahabharat). I still remember my disappointment when I did not see an ‘Action’ or ‘Stunts’ credit before the start of the Sunday evening movies. I think I speak on behalf of a lot of guys.

Then, entered Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv and a host of others. These comics were gory, bloody and super-violent. And we loved them. That was also the time of rise, at least in my part of the world, of the modern-day menace, video games. The earliest I played

The epic 'Ek Katora Khoon' cover
For Kids !! (The epic ‘Ek Katora Khoon’ cover)

were Mario, Pacman, Mortal Combat and Contra. All included, with varied levels of seriousness, concepts of destruction, death and violence. I did not pick on my juniors and feebler classmates any more than usual the day after. The two greatest Hindu festivals, Diwali and Holi, fill up the markets with, isn’t it fabulous, (toy) Guns, to fire the little paper crackers or spraying colored water. Our scriptures are replete with descriptions of bloody battles. Our gods invariably brandish weapons, and most often than not, they kill the ‘bad’ guys; never reform them or anything. And for all of this, we are not even the violent-most people around.

So I think I have every right to not consider myself an especially violent person. I mean, I could be, but a little story is too little evidence to brand me violent isn’t it? Some of the most interesting short stories I read were from Roald Dahl who wrote extensively for children but whose adult stories were really dark.

And I do not enjoy the Hostel series of movies or that genre in general. Just saying. I find them tasteless.

But how do you explain the above then? I mean, if we do not like or practice violence, why do we relish all such activities which include blowing things up, or throwing stuff, or making disorder out of order? Because, I think, these activities and violence are not really so tightly related. Sometimes violence may manifest itself through these but largely they are just pure innocent child like fun. We, as children, have not so subtle tastes. Everything has to be really amped up to be good.  The crackers should make the loudest noise, the candy has to be annoyingly sweet, and the cartoon character should fall on its head and get flat like dough or crumple up like paper. The good guy should thrash the baddies to hell and beyond. It is all just fun and that is why we liked it as kids. And as grown-ups too, just wee bit subtler.

So what about violence IN AND AS sports? The Martial Sports. Combat sports. They must be the coolest things right? I mean guys are fighting as sport. What could be cooler? Umm, not quite.  Championships of Judo, Karate, wrestling and boxing have been around for years. Only boxing found some favor. In fact, it still is the most watched combat sport in the world but in India it is a weak first among other combat sports. The last boxing I watched was when Mike Tyson was around. But more often than not, I found it a bit of a non-action due to a lot of holding. Boxers would jab a bit and then hug each other to catch breath or to defend themselves. Of course, I was a kid. I hardly knew any boxers and was almost totally unaware of the other weight-class boxers apart from heavyweights (for obvious reasons, lighter weight classes have more fast paced action and action of any sort in general). In short, boxing never really caught on. But the main problem and one which really made the action of combat sports, if I might use the word here, bore, was an overabundance of rules. Boxing had to be fought like boxing, judo like judo and grappling like grappling. Wouldn’t it be great if all of it was thrown in the mix, the freedom to use whichever style you want? And more interestingly, to see who wins when a boxer fights a Judoka or a wrestler takes on a kick boxer?

  WWE seemed to be the answer. WWE, or WWF as it was called back then, was immensely popular. Is in fact. Amusingly, it was not through WWF shows that I became a fan. It was through the WWF card game where we compared fighters’ biceps, wins, fights fought etcetera and the stories about it from my class mates. The card games and the fabulous stories got me very interested in WWF. (If you too watched WWF in the 90s, this link will surely find some favor with you)

Finally I saw WWF and was mildly disappointed because it was easy to judge that they were not fighting for real. And I was astonished to see how many of my friends did not seem to accept this at all. The simplest thing man, why on earth anybody would wear long hairs in an all-out no rules brawl, when they could be the easiest thing for your adversary to grab? The lack of complete replays, the lame kicks and backhanded slaps, the extraordinary ability of fighters to just rise up even after punched in face brutally, really lot many ways to tell. But then it dawned on me that it was not really meant to showcase sports in the first place. It is meant for entertainment and that it provided aplenty. Then I could appreciate the hard work of those guys, their daring stunts, amusing storylines, and of course Stacey Keibler

But would not it be great, if WWE was real?

And God heard me. I saw UFC. And interestingly, it was one of the WWE superstars who acted as a link. I was just flipping channels when I saw Brock Lesnar on Sony Six (Sony Six broadcasts UFC in India). But it was not WWE because that is on Ten Sports and anyway Lesnar was not in a WWE ring. He was in an Octagon, fighting Shane Carwin for UFC heavyweight championship, which, I learnt, Lesnar was defending.

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The program duly built up the fight. I heard a guy (Dana White, I later learned) say “Carwin is a beast. Whatever he touches, drops”. Carwin was undefeated and he had finished (not killed LOL, defeated. ‘Finish’ is used to distinguish it from a win based on points) all his previous opponents in first round itself. The guy had not seen a Round Two in his 5 years’ career !! That was impressive. There he was, Lesnar, himself a monster and they were hyping the other guy?? I had to watch this. And then I saw Joe Rogan, who I remembered from Fear Factor (the host of Fear Factor when it used to run on AXN). He also made some comments about Carwin’s knockout abilities and Lesnar’s athleticism. Nice. The fight began, and Shane Carwin really turned out to be the beast he was projected. His punches rocked Lesnar and Lesnar was wobbly. And I could tell it was real, this was not another pro wrestling promotion, THIS was the real stuff. Couple of punches more and Lesnar was on the ground with Carwin punching the dear life out of him, Lesnar guarding his head. The first round bell saved Lesnar, barely. The start of Round two, Carwin winked at a banged up Lesnar from his corner, who smiled back. That was damn funny, I was a fan right there. I think that was the moment which impressed me the most. And that is what you really expect when two equals collide; mutual admiration. And what makes you really love it is when the guys have the heart to express that admiration. Lesnar finished Carwin by a submission (an arm triangle choke) shortly in round two and won. Carwin was too exhausted from round one. Lesnar mock punched his face to indicate that he can take punches, afterwards.

Those 7 odd minutes of Lesnar vs Carwin converted me to a UFC MMA faithful. And like all smokers who tirelessly keep offering their dearest nonsmoker friends a whiff of their own cigarettes, I will have to try and make you see the awesomeness of this action.

Read more shortly.