Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blockbuster Movie Night

Went to catch a movie last night. The 10 PM show or the night show as we call it. It was a few minutes short of 3 hrs long and there was the constant threat of falling asleep in the hall what with the 'pongal' I had for dinner, the comfortable seats, the AC, the time of the night and what have you. That, however, didn't happen and I am still not sure if I am glad for that or not. Still trying to figure that one out.

How was the movie, you ask? Well, one word. Wow! Don't mistake me. I mean that not in the I-am-blown-away-that-some-one-could-tell-a-story-in-such-an-entertaining-and-riveting-manner-that-I-can't-come-up-with-any-other-adjectives-other-than-riveting-and-entertaining-but-that's-probably-only-because-of-my-limited-vocabulary kind of way but in the I-just-spent-three-hours-of-time-I-could-have-spent-getting-some-much-needed-sleep-watching-the-same-old-worn-out-tropes kind of way. As I look back on the experience, the only good part I can think of is that I didn't pay for the tickets and am pretty sure I am not going to pay up when my friend comes around to asking for it! ;)

Anyway, here are the worn out tropes (I learnt this word very recently and I am showing off! :) )

#1 - Single dad with a teenage daughter who is down on his luck; daughter's boy friend; dad - boy friend at loggerheads; all of them caught in a life threatening situation and comedy relief thrown in to reduce tensions. The movie ends with dad giving them the ok and they all live happily ever after.

#2 - Hero is being hunted; multiple un-related bad guys; one bad guy is hunting him to imprison him, another bad guy is hunting him to kill; first bad guy is a real bad-ass with cool moves and cooler weapons; second bad guy is a crazy, evil schemer waiting for his chance; hero gets caught; he gets help from an unexpected source; he escapes; more unexpected help; final battle; some really unexpected help; first bad guy is vanquished and the second bad guy slinks away to wait some more. The movie ends with Hero promising to keep in touch and going away.

#3 - Did I forget to mention that the dad and his entourage are happily leading their life on a farm before all hell breaks loose when the 'gobermint' agents land on their property to cause trouble? My bad. Can't have a movie without a stick-it-to-the-Man under current, now can we? Along with it, we also have the breathless action taking place all around huge buildings in metropolitan areas (including 'phoren' locations).

#4 - This I can't and shouldn't forget. The good guys can't die or get hurt or get caught or remain caught or anything like that. The bad guys just can't catch a break or anything like that, the cops and even the armed forces can never get to the scene on time or bring down anybody of consequence or anything like that.

All of the above are from the same movie. The perfect formula for a summer blockbuster, full family entertainer of a movie with a big name, super star hero that we are so used to seeing in either Hindi or Tamil or Telugu (those are the Indian languages I know and follow). So imagine my surprise when I got all this while watching Transformers: Age of Extinction

It felt very much like watching a Mahesh Babu movie remade in Tamil with Vijay in the lead, the rights of which have been bought by Ajay Devgun for the Hindi version. With robots and stuff thrown in of course. There was enough applause and cat calls and whistling inside the hall when the main characters (Optimus Prime, BumbleBee and Mark Whalberg) appeared on screen for the first time that you would be excused to think that it was indeed a Vijay or an Ajith movie. Of course there was no prancing and singing around in some scenic location which was a dead give away and once the special effects start, the quality of which till date remains firmly outside the realm of what any of the copycat '-woods' in India are capable of, all bets were off. You knew fo' sure that you were watching a Hollywood movie.

But there is that one redeeming quality which is missing in this movie which each of the previous three episodes of this mega serial had. Eye-candy in the form of Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. They got rid of that and inadvertently brought out all the other short comings in sharp relief. Make no mistake, this movie will rake in the moolah just fine. It just didn't feel like a Transformers movie.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I have known the smart one for a little over a decade now. We have been married for a little over 5 years. The one "advice" that I remember getting the most is that I should expect her to change once we get married and apparently that's the same advice she got too, though to her they said it was I who was going to change! We got this basically from all the experienced friends we had, most of whom were yet to get married. Thinking back now, it is surprising how many of our friends and family who were married didn't give us that advice! :)

After these 5 years, if I look back, I can see that we have indeed changed but we have also adapted and adjusted (I guess that's what happens in all marriages. In all relationships, in fact). I have adapted to her being a wee bit 'OCD'ic about certain things and she has adapted to me being a lazy bum around the house. I am waiting for her to get used to me cribbing and irritating her intentionally which I find funny. She still thinks I am being a jerk when I do that. (Needless-English-lesson alert: The word "crib", when used as a verb, apparently means "to copy" if you happen to be informally British; means "to steal" if you just happen to be archaic irrespective of which part of the English speaking world you are affiliated to; means "to restrain" if you happen to be archaic but not in the mood to steal; means "to grumble" if you are a dated Brit or an English literate Indian. From India. Not to be confused with native Americans who are also called the same, because, you know, 'Murica!!!)

This reminiscing is brought to you courtesy of my having read "15 ways to stay married for 15 years" in the Huffingtonpost, the reference to which I came across in a column I was reading in a newspaper. Anyway, somewhere in that piece it says, "You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team's rules." I concur. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Trilogy awaited

It's been exactly less than 24 hours since I walked out of a brightly lit cinema where I had been to catch a much anticipated movie. Before anything else I might or might not write about this, let me see if I can list down the different 'blockbuster-movie' staples covered.

Romance - Obviously! And not just among the characters you would imagine!! :D
Duets and Dancing - You betcha! Again, not among the characters you would imagine!! :D
Soundtrack - So good and fitting that now bagpipes don't remind me of the Scots anymore.
Action (shooting-beating-and-blowing-up-things variety) - Big Bada Boom
Plot Twist - Of course
Humor and Comedy - But of course
Locations - My. Next. Vacation. (When I can cough up the dough that is!)

So any guesses as to which movie I am talking about? I will give you a clue - It takes place in a village which is twelve days north of hopeless, a few degrees south of freezing to death and solidly on the meridian of misery.


Yep, "How to train your Dragon - 2" just got released and almost 24 hrs out, I think I am still feeling the effects of the endorphin release from all the laughing and smiling I did watching it. I haven't read any of the books, so I didn't have any bias going in. I also consciously kept away from reading or watching any reviews of the movie because I wanted to enjoy it and form my opinion based on my own observations instead of having to constantly keep matching the scenes unfolding on the screen to some reviewer's comment to see if they were right, which I unfortunately tend to do all the time. But I am not trying to write a review here. The first movie is one of my all time favorites, so I was ready to like this iteration right from the time they announced there would be an iteration. Let me just say that part dos of the story of Hiccup and Astrid and Toothless and Stoic and Gobber and Berk and the others, as it looks when seen through my fanboi colored lens, is just as much fun and laughter as the first one was and it moved the various story lines forward.

What I want to think about is what the next iteration could involve. 

- We have the romance between Astrid and Hiccup (she is referred to as "my future daughter-in-law" by Stoic) - It could go sour for any number of reasons and they could turn enemies (Remember that Astrid is one heck of a warrior and now rides her own dragon)

- We have Hiccup's mom in the frame now - There is that whole lifetime when she went missing, which begs the question - are there other sides to her which will come out?

- We have Toothless who is older and figuring out what all it is capable of - Maybe his metamorphosis into a big, powerful dragon while giving us a beginning story and a peek into why there haven't been other night furies in the picture so far

- We have Hiccup who is older and figuring out what all he is supposed to be capable of - He is the genius builder, adventurer with an irreverant streak (Tony Stark, anybody?), is a wanderlust at his core , is a cheiftain's son and of course is the main protaganist. Way too many trajectories to explore for this guy. 

But of all the possible story lines I think the most interesting part are the bad guys - Drago and his bewilderbeast alpha dragon. They have lost face, lost the war, lost control, lost power and not the least, lost a significant part of their body. But they are still alive!

So bring on part-3, I say. With the characters stacked up the way they are and given how bloody enjoyable the two stories woven around them have been so far, I can only wish it doesn't take them another 4 or 5 years to bring us HTTYD-III.

Trivia Quiz

1. Who is black and cute and funny and extremely dangerous if provoked?

2. Who is black and white and cute and funny and extremely dangerous if provoked?

3. Who are black and white and orange and cute and funny and extremely dangerous all the time?

Answers in the comments, if you please.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I had to get this out of my system :)

So there I was on my virtual surf board surfing in the choppy waters of the net called youtube ( See what I did there?! :) Do pardon that excuse for a metaphor but I guess you got the point) when I came a video about someone talking about how God created the universe in 5 or 6 days and then rested over the weekend. You know, the whole let-there-be-light and adam and his rib and the apple and the snake and that darn box which apparently should have been left closed. Now I don't have any problem with what people believe or want to believe but what got to me in this exposition on 'creationalism' is the fact that it was part of an argument against science!!!

I am paraphrasing but the dialog went something like this: " are asked to accept a lot of stuff - like evolution, like how life formed, like how humans came to be and so on and so forth - based on the words of a few scientists. This is called science and it is supposedly good. You are asked to accept a lot of stuff - like God, like how man came to be and so on and so forth - based on the words of a few men of yore. This is called religion and gets so much flak. Why don't we realize that people espousing evolution as scientific fact are just asking you to accept it based on faith and that makes it as much a religion as any other... ". So if my understanding of this is correct, what he was saying is that science is as much a religion as any other "traditional" religion because we just need to have faith and accept what we are told about things we don't have an explanation for. Fair enough I suppose. I mean, as part of our daily life we don't really see things like electrons and neutrons, do we? Nor can we actually verify things which are supposed to have taken place millions of years back or are supposedly happening slowly over the last so many millions of years. So I can see why it might be equated to a faith based system like a religion.

However, one simple thing that people making this argument keep forgetting or missing or avoiding is that science, especially those fields which involve explaining all the heretofore unexplained phenomena that we see around us, is ever evolving. There was a time when we thought the earth was flat. There was a time when when we believed that we were the centre of the universe. There was a time when we waited for a gaint snake to swallow the moon every month. There was a time when diseases were thought to be because of a curse or because of bad deeds in a previous life. We now have more rational, observable and provable explanations for all of these and more. Our understandng of these has evolved just as the science has evolved. Which just goes to show that while science might ask us to take some things on faith, it doesn't insist on holding on to that same faith in perpetuity. In fact, the core tenet for anyone wanting to pursue science is to question established norms and try to prove them wrong in a repeatable and verifiable way. That, in my opinion, is why any attempt to show science and religion as equals will fail to find acceptance.

PS: That was a long rant but has been cathartic. So no apologies.

PPS: God of the gaps! Listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about this. Makes a lot of sense.

PPPS: In matters of God, I am agnostic. I think that is mainly the consequence of me being born a Hindu. When you have 330 million Gods (give or take a few thousands!!) to pay obeisance to, I guess it was bound to happen. I am not complaining though. I love the temples (make no mistake, I am talking only about the physical structures, not the inane things they insist you do there) and I absolutely love the 'prasadam' they distribute there. It gets my goat however when someone tries to shove their religion down my throat.