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Hello again, everybody! By this point, you probably think of us as a monthly blogging trio (and if you do, I can’t fault you). Honestly, we keep meaning to post things but exams and general college-related depression have shot our good intentions to hell (Yeah, I’m really going with that excuse again.). Anyhow, apart from college (which, I’m pretending, doesn’t exist) work, I’ve been busy catching up on a lot of movies on my To-Watch list. So, in typical BWC fashion I’m going to use up my post for this month talking about them.( No, wait. Seriously. Why are you all still hanging around?)

Anyway, I left off at some of the 2012 Oscar nominees last post, after which, I watched both Hugo and The artist as well as A Separation ( Best foreign Film), so I figured, what better place to start?

The Artist: For anyone still in the dark on the Best Picture winner, this is a movie about a silent movie actor, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who struggles to adjust to a world that is far too quick to make the switch to Talkies.

  Both Jean DuJardin and Berenice Bejo (who plays Pepe Miller,a girl who shoots to fame by chance but unlike George succeeds through the shift to Talkies) bring enough whimsy and joy to their roles that this movie is elevated from a purely stylistic piece to one that is lighthearted but not quite slight. The use of text to sort of wink at the audience was a really nice touch, too. Overall, it’s an entertaining watch, but I wouldn’t have voted it Best Picture (Or Best most of the other eleventy-thousand awards it did win.).

Hugo: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch Hugo in all its 3-D glory (which, most of the time, I don’t care for at all). However, since it has only just hit the cinemas in India, that might change. Also, I’m sorely tempted to just type out ‘MARTIN SCORSESE!’ and move on to the next one, but that would be misleading, because this is so unlike the gritty kind of film that is typical Scorsese-fare.
Hugo Cabaret, now an orphan, lives at a train station and winds up all its clocks- originally the job of his drunken uncle who disappears
early in the story. His living is centred around watching the people who frequent the station, and watching their lives unfold. But he is also working on restoring an automaton formerly in his (deceased) father’s possession. In doing so, with the help of his friend Isabelle, the two discover the true identity of Isabelle’s godfather, Papa Georges. And I am loath to reveal his identity or anything else that follows. I will just say that it involves a beautiful reconstruction of a lost piece of film history and is just a treat to anyone who loves film ( and I imagine anyone who doesn’t already, can’t help but fall in love with the medium by the end of this movie).
The film tends to tell rather than show, sometimes, which can get a bit tedious. But in its defence, it is directed at a younger audience.
Overall, though, this is such a rich, gorgeous movie and one that fully deserves its five Oscar wins.

(Sub)text: Go. Watch it.
A Separation: This is an Iranian movie by Asghar Farhadi that I watched not a week ago (so you have it to thank for this awful return to film-reviewing) and I can’t recommend it enough. It is very simply shot, but is an excellent example of the wonders that a good script can do for a movie.

 A Separation begins with a couple filing for divorce because the wife seeks a better life for herself and her daughter, abroad. Once she packs up, her husband is forced to look elsewhere for a caretaker for his father who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, the couple’s 11-year old daughter chooses to stay with her father, knowing that her mother will not leave the country without her and hoping for a
reconciliation. A string of events occur thereafter, involving the central family and that of the new caretaker’s, which throws all of their lives into turmoil and results from every character’s making some poor decisions along the way. And yet these decisions are so understandably human, as are the characters. And that’s what makes this movie so incredible, is the true moral ambiguity of the situation in which these everyday people find themselves. That it is so easy to switch allegiance between characters is really to the film’s credit. I also really enjoyed the ending, which asks the audience to examine all sides and perhaps look at the bigger picture. If you have the chance to catch this movie, definitely go for it!

Other movie’s I’ve watched:
The Hunger Games: This adaptation of the novel by Suzanne Collins had me excited but cautiously so, because when book adaptations have large, eager fan-bases, the film-versions tend to suffer from all the pandering to the audience and the very limited time in which they’re made so as to make the most of said fanbases. Having recently watched the film, I’m glad to say it’s a pretty good
take. The opening is frustratingly shaky and had me worrying about the quality of the rest of the movie, but it got better very quickly.
The casting is also surprisingly good- in the leads as well as minor roles.
The premise here is that each year, every district of Panem sends two representatives to the Hunger Games. These are horrifying annual televised constructs of the all-powerful Capitol that pit the representatives against each other in a battle to the death, gladiator-style. Unfortunately the chosen tributes from District 12, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark spark a revolution spanning the various districts, that awakens people to the horror of these games and causes them to actively rebel against the Capitol.
Overall, I think the movie is worth a watch, but it failed to capture the ghastliness of the games. Which is odd, because you’d think a
visual medium would have greater impact. I understand that the violence would have to be toned down in order for the movies to be more accessible to younger audiences, but this sterilization only serves to drive home the book’s criticism of reality TV and cinema  and its effective desensitization of the audience.

The Avengers: This superhero ensemble film really doesn’t require an introduction, judging by its box-office success. But also, I think, the movie itself doesn’t take any great pains with a complex plot, and any examination of storyline would be excessive in a review. If your objective is to have a good time, some good laughs and to watch some thoroughly entertaining action sequences, The Avengers is the way to go. However, despite a stellar cast and some great humour, this isn’t one of the better movies of the genre. By which I mean, if you’re a comic book enthusiast, or seek something along the lines of The Dark Knight or Iron Man, this movie will disappoint. The movie is at its best when it focuses on witty banter or Robert Downey Jr.(Seriously. Can the man do any wrong?!)’s antics, but as a story it lacks substance. The movie seems to be working off a checklist- Brothers at odds? Check! Humane superhero taken for a beast? check! Former badgirl with a debt to repay? Check! and so on. To me, the plot just lacked cohesion and innovation, and only some great performances from the cast ( and the entire cast really is excellent) keeps this movie from being entirely forgettable.

Those are just some of the movies I’ve kept notes on. Other 2011 films I watched include:

  • Drive (Stunning; but not for those who can’t stomach some major gore.)
  • Source Code ( Solid action movie, interesting premise, Jake Gyllenhaal! Worth a watch.)
  •  In Time ( Interesting premise; not so much a fan of the execution.)
  •  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2 ( Certainly one of the better movies of the series.)
  •  Martha Marcy May Marlene ( Disturbing as hell, but beautifully made. And Elizabeth Olsen is a real discovery.)
  •  My Week With Marilyn ( Michelle Williams is incredible. Unfortunately the script is largely predictable and tends to over-simplify.)
  • PotC: On Stranger tides ( Why do they persist in making these when even Johnny Depp’s presence won’t redeem them?)
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We were just wondering, the other day, whether blog readers will wonder what we look like.

And that got me into drawing when I was bored.

 

So, here we are, in all of 2D glory, in proportionate order of height, from Left to Right – BWC, Luci & Fuzzy:

 

I cannot believe it’s Oscar season again already! It seems not too long ago that I was lamenting Nolan’s luck (or lack thereof) with the Oscars. It has been a year, however, and unfortunatelyI haven’t managed to catch up on all the Oscar nominees this time around either, although I have watched a couple of movies that I thought would appear on the list, earlier in the year.

Of the nine movies nominated for best picture, I’ve watched 4  thus far, and here are my thoughts on them:

1. Midnight in Paris:

  I hear that a lot of people are on the fence when it comes to Woody Allen movies, and I will just preface this by saying that I am decidedly not one of them. I couldn’t name a more gifted screenwriter or one who surprises me or makes me laugh more often, and Midnight in Paris did not disappoint. Much.

It is a movie that centers around Owen Wilson’s character, Gil,  a Hollywood screenwriter and his fiancee (Rachel McAdams) who are vacationing in Paris. Gil is disenchanted with Hollywood stories from the start, and being in Paris only makes him more nostalgic for the 20’s and (to his mind) all the inventiveness and artistry and freedom associated with the period. And so it is, one night, that Cinderella-like, he is whisked away in an antique car (sorry folks, no pumpkin, here!) at midnight to a bar populated evidently by people form the 20’s. Meanwhile his finacee is off galivanting in 21st-Century Paris with the pseudo-intellectual Paul (Michael Sheen). At the bar, Gil runs into his idols -Ernst Hemingway, F.Scott fitzgerald and his wife Zelda ,Cole Porter and even, momentarily, Pablo Picasso. And this is where the movie is at it’d best. These lengendary artists are portrayed with all the little neuroses that they are known for, in popular culture. It also gives Woody a chance to fill the movie with great music and great art, which he does masterfully well. However, upon leaving the bar to get his manuscript (to be read by Gertrude Stein), Gil finds himself sadly back in the 21st century. He attempts to return, the next day, promising his fiancee the most incredible adventure. However she loses her patience pre-midnight, and chooses to go dancing with Paul, leaving Gil to his adventures once again. He then encounters Picasso’s current muse, Adrianna, whom he is instantly taken with. The question then becomes whether Gil will choose to live in a time other than his own, and also as to what will be of his fiancee. 

I thought Owen Wilson was surprisingly good. He wasn’t necessarily your typical speed-talking, anxious lead Woody-character, although the director’s influence was evident throughout. The rest of the cast form the 21st century were disregarded, I think, and they seem to have been constructed to be loathed. I feel like perhaps that entire storyline could have been dispensed with. On the other hand, the characters from the 20’s were wonderfully charming and well fleshed-out and generally a treat to watch. The sights and sounds (best soundtrack!) were a treat, really. Overall, though, I was left slightly underwhelmed. I would still recommend the movie, though, so there’s that.

2. The Descendants

Directed by Alexander Payne, The Descendants is this year’s ‘dysfunctional family’ entry at the Oscars.When Matt Kim (George Clooney)  is told that his comatose wife isn’t making any improvement, he is spurred on to clean up his act. He finds himself a father unable to control his kids- the younger, precocious, handful of a child , Scottie ,and her older troublemaker of a sister, Alex. He must find a way to break the news to his youngest daughter as well as the relatives and good friends of his wife. Through meeting his wife’s friends and Alex’ shocking revelations, Matt learns of a different woman from the wife he thought he knew. The film follows Matt’s struggles with keeping his daughters in check and forgiving his wife, with several unpleasant confrontations along the way as well as several reminders that he still has a loving, crackpot family. In addition to this, as trustee of several acres of untouched land , Matt has a tough decision to make regarding its future and that of the descendants.

The trouble with this movie is that any insight or difficult moment is followed by a bunch of contrived, painfully unfunny moments that are meant to temper the film, but fall flat without fail. I thought the movie succeeded where it did, because of excellent performances by the two younger actresses and a decent performance from Clooney. I wish the director hadn’t reined the story in so much, but overall it was a pretty enjoyable watch and certainly nothing like anything I’ve seen before. I doubt it’ll take home the Oscar, though.

3. Moneyball

 This was the movie with the most unusual central idea, out of all the movies I watched. I mean, we’ve all watched Jerry McGuire and so it isn’t strange because it’s a ‘sports movie’, but rather because it is a movie that argues for a statistical approach to player-selection. Moneyball is a movie about Oakland Athletics general manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt)’s attempt to assemble a strong baseball team on a tight budget. After hemorrhaging their best players, who move on to better-paying teams, Oakland Athletics are left with big shoes to fill, and with seemingly hopeless candidates to fill them with. That is, until Beane hires Peter brand (Jonah Hill), a Yale Economics graduate who convinces him that an excellent team is still well within his reach, so long as he’s willing to disregard everything but the players’ on-base percentage. Billy faces criticism from well-established scouts and even the OA’s manager early on, but sticks with his strategy, which ultimately leads to a string of unparalleled victories for the Athletics.

The story itself didn’t really rise beyond that victory to the underdog-aspect that one would expect. However, it did feature several good performances. Jonah Hill was a revelation as Peter, and full y deserves his Supporting Role nomination. Brad Pitt, I thought, was rather out of his element at the start of the movie, surrounded by a set of much more believable scouts. His performance tended a little to the theatrical, but got more on-base as the movie went along (I thoroughly enjoyed his negotiating skills!), with the result that I wont begrudge him his Best Actor nomination, although I’ll be surprised if he wins. The movie overall is pretty enjoyable and I’d recommend a viewing.

4. The Tree of Life

Early in the movie, Mrs. Obrien (Jessica Chastain) receives a telegram informing her of the death of her son. This leads to an examination of life and loss through the memories of Mr.Obrien (Brad Pitt) , his wife and their eldest son, Jack (Sean penn). Their reminiscence paints a picture of Mr. Obrien as a  bitter man, whose talents go unrecognized and who consequently pushes his sons, that they may achieve what he cannot. He is often tyrannical, and yet obviously loves his sons dearly. He is as ‘nature’ to his wife’s ‘grace’ in his unforgiving , harsh, impartial beliefs. And yet he is far from perfect, himself. As Jack grows up he gradually begins to see this in his father- that he is not infallible, himself- and grows to resent it. He cannot fully forgive his mother for her acceptance or her easy tolerance, although he recognizes his father’s traits in himself and appreciates her ability to follow the path of grace. Jack’s loss of innocence is beautifully played out, and disturbing as it is, is universally identifiable and true. In the absence of his father (who takes a short business trip), Jack goes through a trying adolescence, and that is the last we see of him as a child, before Mr. Obrien returns.Jack the adult, we learn, is an architect, in whom the influences of nature and grace still compete. 

These memories and each character’s search for meaning in death is interspersed with sequences showcasing the history of all life, even as the history of the dead brother’s is examined in its entirety. The movie reminds us of the fleeting quality of life and its insignificance in the grand scheme of things. It seems to say: why does this matter? And also simulataneously : what could possibly matter more?

I’ve never watched a more ambitious film and the juxtaposition between a single life/all of life and more that Terrence Malick makes is ingenious. Regardless of the Oscar outcome, this is a stunning movie that will be discussed over and over for years, I think. Need I add that nothing will make me happier than its winning the Oscar as well?

The Big Comeback

Hello folks! Remember us? No? Well, can’t say we’re surprised. In fact, you’re only getting this post because Impower You has managed to guilt us into it by nominating us for a Versatile Blogger award. When that didn’t work, she gave us the damn award and as it turns out, that’s something that not even we can ignore.

All kidding aside, thank you  for the award! We started this blog on a lark, and it continually amazes us that people come by it and follow it of their own volition. So this is us saying thank you to our followers as well.

The Versatile Blogger Award has the following rules:

  1. Post a picture of the award
  2. Thank the award giver
  3. Share 7 random facts about yourself
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers about this and tell them so.

So, the first two are done. Here are 7 random facts about us as a group because we figure you don’t really want to read 21 random things about us:

  1. We all have younger brothers.
  2. BWC and Fuzzy have known each other for 14 years and the both of them have known Lucid for 8 years, and been friends for all that time.
  3. We sometimes play Dungeons and Dragons with our brothers on the weekends.
  4. We’ve been throwing each other surprise birthday parties/making presents every year, for the last 7ish years.
  5. We make covers of music videos sometimes when we meet up. They are extremely dorky and are not for public viewing.
  6. We were all in the ‘Red House’ in school.
  7. We are all afraid of dogs.

So, that’s us, folks, random with a dash of crazy.

Here are our nominations for this award;

  1. Forever Amber – We all read this blog extremely regularly and talk about Amber as though we know her. Its slightly creepy, we know, but we swear its only because she’s so entertaining.
  2. Hannah – We found this blog through Hannah’s comments on our site. In it you will find interesting, well-written pieces that are inspired by everyday events and much more.
  3. Richard Wiseman – If you don’t already follow this blog, you’re missing out on the best collection of puzzles and illusions and also probably the most consistently smart comments section on the internet.
  4. Craptivate – One of the authors is Fuzzy’s friend from college. It’s got a host of interesting and some not so, posts.
  5. Duty-Free –  Because her way with words is totally worth a read.

 Our list is going to have to end here, because although we recommend the above blogs wholeheartedly, it has come to our attention that we are not very good followers, quantity-wise. 

We will be adding to this list as we find other blogs that belong on it, though, so stay tuned!

 

 

 I just heard in the news today that the new TN CM plans to covert this amazing library into a hospital.

For once, Chennai has a library that it can be proud of. Having visited it a few times, I must say I absolutely love it. If only they opened the borrowing of books, I would love it even more. It was just a gorgeous library, something I’m sure everyone will agree if they see the building at Kottupuram. And it’s ambiance is quite good for reading and the stock of books they have right now is considerably so much better than the run-of-the-mill second-hand libraries that exist around the city.

This move of hers is insane! I mean, first she decides to ‘move’ the exclusively constructed Secretariat back to old Fort St. George, and now this! Absurd!

Personal vendetta or even political for that matter, should not affect the people. And besides, think of how many students will be affected by this. It’s not just novels; it has a host of good subject books as well. This is equivalent to interfering with education. How on earth will our state develop if each new governmental reign sets out to undo what the previous one did? Why not leave the existing and seek to improve? We are quite happy with this current arrangement of libraries, fine thank you.  She said and I quote from here :  “It is noteworthy that such a kind of a super speciality paediatric hospital has not been established anywhere in India so far.”

I should like to point out that the library is quite noteworthy in itself and Chennai’s first ever decent library that is quite accessible as well. Yes, a hospital is important, I agree. But why not find a new site for that? This library is placed in a quite strategic location and why take pains in clearing and recreating only to create confusion later on? Who’s to guarantee that books will not be mishandled/misplaced in this whole process?

 

Dear woman, please let us use this library and fix the price for book borrowing and subscription and all that.

(And I believe I have the right to vote.)

(For more info : Clicktey and clickety)

Now that that rant is over, you may gasp at the fact that I watched the news.

And in other news, exams. Blerrgh.

Normally, I don’t take these things terribly seriously. But there are times when, in a class with sixty-odd people who all have their future plans neatly mapped out while I still confuse the SATs with the GREs ( and have done nothing in preparation for either, natch), I feel my brows furrow. I make all kinds of vows to do some research on these things– figure out what I want to do, where I want to go! And in the meantime, I nod knowingly when other people bring up things they want to pursue. “GATE? Well, can’t go wrong with that.”

Full disclosure: I don’t even know what any of those abbreviations stand for- GATE, SAT, GRE. And I simply don’t know what I want to do for a living. It isn’t for a lack of things that interest me, it’s because everything is interesting and I’d really like to just go about doing new things as and when they interest me. Unfortunately, I suspect that kind of thing doesn’t pay the bills.

Louis C.K. quote

So of course, I did a lot of heavy research today.

FALSE! What I did do was spend a ridiculous amount of time on tumblr. This turned out to be a great move because here’s what I found:

“A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world.

The LHC successfully collided particles at record force earlier this week, a milestone Mr Cole was attempting to disrupt by stopping supplies of Mountain Dew to the experiment’s vending machines. He also claimed responsibility for the infamous baguette sabotage in November last year.

Mr Cole was seized by Swiss police after CERN security guards spotted him rooting around in bins. He explained that he was looking for fuel for his ‘time machine power unit’, a device that resembled a kitchen blender.

Police said Mr Cole, who was wearing a bow tie and rather too much tweed for his age, would not reveal his country of origin. “Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I’m here to stop it ever happening.”

Mr Cole was taken to a secure mental health facility in Geneva but later disappeared from his cell. Police are baffled, but not that bothered.” (From Cnet; highlighting is mine.)

I laughed so, so  hard at what  Mr. Cole had to say. But with this came the realization that: THIS. This is all I ask of life: that it be surprising and unpredictable and  amusing in ways I could never imagine and that I always have lots to laugh about.

The End.

I’ve been thinking about e-readers a lot too, recently. Largely because of the long commute to college, but also because I love reading and I love books.

 As Fuzzy said, nothing can beat the feel of paper between your fingertips. But there’s a lot more to ‘the real thing’ than just that. When you think about it, all the ‘traditional’ story-telling devices that books use (blank pages, breaks in paragraphs..) have evolved from the fact of their physical form. Then there’s illustration and cover design- which, sure, will still be available on a screen, but there’s a reason the Mona Lisa isn’t just preserved in high-res digital format (that is more accessible to people, easier to maintain and occupies less space) and the same is true of book illustration. But all this, I will concede, is somewhat romanticized argument. The real argument lies in the drawbacks of e-readers themselves. Availability of books is an issue. Further, since they haven’t been around very long, the copyright-protection laws on e-books are sometimes ridiculous (and only made more so by competing e-reader manufacturers). They make legitimate sharing and transfer pretty impossible and there are all kinds of restrictions on format that further limit the books you can buy. Even more importantly, you don’t own the books you buy; you have the license to read the books you buy. Meaning, if these e-readers do poorly and e-books become a thing of the past (which, granted, doesn’t look likely), there’s a good chance that you can’t read the e-books you bought (although this would be less of a problem if the content transfer issue was settled while still somehow protecting against piracy)! Also, this owning-of-license-business is the reason that some e-books are cheaper. I mean, nobody’s going to pay more to be legally permitted to read a book as opposed to owning one that is theirs to use as they wish.

There is much to be said in favour of e-books, though. There’s the obvious: the portability (ranks high on my list!), the durability (no worrying about pests/dampness), the compactness, the ease and immediacy of purchase. But what’s really interesting is that e-books also offer a possibility for authors to earn much more off their writing. Normally, with printed books, the author either receives a flat fee or royalties on sale. With flat fee, the author is paid a fixed amount for a book, regardless of the number of copies it will go on to sell. If the book does poorly, the author still has his fee and the publisher loses out. Alternatively, the book does incredibly well (as does the publisher), and the author still has his meager fee. The other option is to receive royalty (a certain percentage) on every sale. This is still not a large amount, unless the book does very well; and then, it is still not as much as the publisher makes! E-books could potentially increase that percentage in the author’s favour because the publishing process is now much simplified.

So there you have it folks.

E-readers- To buy or not to buy: that’s the question.