Monday, July 05, 2010

Closing down this blog

Thinking things through I've decided to shut down this blog.  I don't really post here much beyond the occasional interesting and funny snippet.  I can do that easily on my Google Reader feed and on Tumblr.  I put out quite a few links on these. (Click on the links to subscribe!)

The rare detailed review that I do end up writing (e.g. here and here), I am going to post to my other blog (where I try and post at least one long post a week).

So bye for now, see you over there, and it's been great knowing you all (all 3 of you, that is).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I like David Leonhardt

Even if I don't read the New York Times for weeks, I still make it a point to read David Leonhardt's columns as they appear. This is why.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


A theater critic reviews Twyla Tharp's latest "Come Fly Away" here. A dance critic reviews it here. Oh, the difference!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kathryn Bigelow

I don't normally care for Manohla Dargis' sneering takes on most films or issues but I really liked her post-Oscar piece on Kathryn Bigelow.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Holy cow! I just realized that the Anna Kendrick whom I saw a few weeks ago in Up in the Air is the same girl who performs a rendition of Stephen Sondheim's Ladies Who Lunch in the movie Camp (the best 3 minutes in an otherwise so-so movie).

Watch her as she strides in around 20 seconds into the video and then takes charge from there.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Quote of the day

Via Hendrik Hertzberg, here's James Cameron on ... well, just read it.
PLAYBOY: How much did you get into calibrating your movie heroine’s hotness?

CAMERON: Right from the beginning I said, “She’s got to have tits,” even though that makes no sense because her race, the Na’vi, aren’t placental mammals."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Irony watch

One Mr. Douglas Preston in the NYT article on the rising prices of e-books:
“The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing,” said Douglas Preston, whose novel “Impact” reached as high as No. 4 on The New York Times’s hardcover fiction best-seller list earlier this month. “It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something.”

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I think Nitin Pai hits the bull's eye here:
And yet, a significant element of Maharashtra’s law enforcement machinery was not engaged in securing the state against a potential terrorist attack. It was engaged in securing the state against potential hooligan attacks. If there was ever a time to hold the Shiv Sena and its grotesque leadership to account, it is now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Aamir Khan and BHL

My hatred of Aamir Khan, as my friends well know, knows no bounds. Still, I thought that these words from Arthur Goldhammer on the insufferable French New Philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy (or BHL, as he is known to his admirers; his detractors are far funnier though!) are equally applicable to Khan (just change the context from writing to acting):

“How does he pull it off?” wrote Goldhammer. “First, it must be recognized that he's not a total fraud. Though a wretched scholar, he is neither stupid nor uneducated. His rhetoric, at least in French, has some of the old Normalien brilliance and flair. He had the wit to recognize before anyone else that a classic French role, that of the universal intellectual as moral conscience of the age, had become a media staple, creating a demand that a clever entrepreneur could exploit. He understood that it was no longer necessary first to prove one's mettle in some field of literature, art, or thought. I think that someone once said of Zsa Zsa Gabor that she was ‘famous for being famous.’ Lévy realized that one could be famous for being righteous, and that celebrity itself could establish a prima facie claim to righteousness.”

Righteous or not, BHL is certainly timely. His denunciations of Communism in the late 1970s were hardly original. But they appeared as the radical spirit of May ‘68 was exhausting itself -- and just before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Chinese party’s own denunciations of late-period Maoism. BHL developed a knack for showing up in war zones and sending out urgent dispatches. Last month he did a toe-touch in Georgia following the Russian invasion -- filing an article that was impassioned, if, it seems, imaginative.

“He chooses his causes shrewdly,” continues Goldhammer. “He may not have been the first to divine the waning of revolutionary radicalism, but he made himself revisionism's publicist. He has a knack for placing himself at the center of any scene and for depicting his presence as if it were what rendered the scene important.... His critics keep him constantly in the limelight and actually amplify his voice, and why should a ‘philosopher’ of universal range stoop to respond to ‘pedants’ who trouble the clarity of his vision with murky points of detail?” [emphasis mine]

Friday, January 01, 2010

3 Idiots: a brief comment

I disliked 3 Idiots intensely and indeed cringed through more than half of it but looking back, I can see that by the standards of contemporary Hindi movies, it is not at all a bad one. There is a certain slickness to the script and the direction (credited to Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani), a couple of good jokes (the jokes are pitched at the level of a 5-year old but the audience around me found them funny), one truly moving scene (about which more later), pleasing performances by pleasing actors (Sharman Joshi, Madhavan and Kareena Kapoor) and of course the great Mr. Aamir Khan himself.

That last part, in case you didn't get it, was intended as sarcasm (the rest was sincere). Indeed 3 Idiots works best when the movie isn't busy adoring its star. Sadly, that would be may be 15 minutes of its running time. The rest is mostly scenes that consist of: (a) Aamir Khan telling people he likes how they ought to live their lives, or (b) Aamir Khan telling people he doesn't like how they ought to live their lives. (Oops, did I say Aamir Khan? I meant his character Rancho. But who am I kidding?) This gets a little wearying after a while since: (a) his intellectual adversaries are either bumbling or wicked or both. They get no good lines and don't offer much of a fight. Khan always has an answer! He's a genius, you see. (b) His friends are either bumbling or helpless or both. And boy, does he love to help! And boy, are they thankful! In fact, they worship the very ground he walks on.

If Khan took praise well, if he looked, oh let's say, just a wee bit embarrassed, this could still be interesting. Not. Aamir Khan, as an actor, is pathologically incapable of modesty. Indeed the more Rancho attains demi-god status in the movie, the more annoyingly smug he looks. Rebellion never had such a supremely self-satisfied avatar.

PS: Watch out for the scene at the very end between Madhavan's character Farhaan and his father, played by Parikshit Sahni. Probably the most touching father-son confrontation I've seen so far. And the song sequences pop and fizz.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A cooperative interviewer puts quotes in your mouth

Deborah Soloman interviews Jeff Bezos:
"Barnes & Noble claims on its Web site that the Nook has several advantages over the Kindle — for one thing, a Nook book can be lent to friends. You can forward the text to another user.

The current thing being talked about is extremely limited. You can lend to one friend. One time. You can’t pick two friends, not even serially, so once you’ve loaned one book to one friend, that’s it.

You have to pick just one person? What are you saying? It’s like “Sophie’s Choice”?

It is “Sophie’s Choice.” Very nicely done."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Is Maureen Dowd on drugs?

Or does she have ADD? Or does the New York Times not have an editor? Read her latest column. It is, as far as I could see, a bundle of disjointed sentences, with no coherent connection between them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Quote of the day:

Christopher Orr on 2012:
At this point, I’m not sure which has become more tiresome: Roland Emmerich’s penchant for emotionally overwrought end-of-the-world pictures or his penchant for giving said pictures time-specific titles. With the exception of Godzilla, which advertised its subject with forthright specificity, his titles have exhibited a peculiar insistence on emphasizing the when at the expense of the what: Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and now 2012. (Even his relatively Armageddon-free caveman film--humankind evidently hadn’t yet built enough to bother annihilating--was called 10,000 B.C.) I shudder at the thought of such potential future projects as A Week from Thursday, Maybe Sometime in the New Year?, and Whenever.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The problem (so far) with Flash Forward

A couple of my friends recommended Flash Forward to me, and as I watched its second episode today (yay for on-demand TV!), I realized why Flash Forward had bugged me so far (the two episodes I've watched, that is). (Remember this is a strictly provisional opinion subject to change any time as I watch more.) So why am I not impressed?

(1) The almost complete absence of any danger:
So imagine this. For approximately two minutes, everyone in the world experiences a black-out for two minutes. Yes, they all become unconscious -- and if the series is to be believed, this leads to a spectacular disaster, on an unimagined scale. Airplanes crashing into buildings, cars running over people and crashing into buildings; the possibilities are endless. And yet, I get no sense from the series that anything serious has happened -- there's no destruction and everything seems to be right on track. WTF? Don't you remember the days after 9/11? Hell, I do, and I was in India and not even in the US -- it was probably what one could euphemistically call a very tense time. And this is a 100, a 1000 times worse -- and still nothing seems to have happened!

Which is why the investigation to find out how and why the flash forward happens (led by Joseph Fiennnes' character) seems to have no force at all. Why should we care really? Another flash forward happening would be just fine, it seems to me. And everyone can have even more cuddly little visions about their own future: what's not to like?

The super-success of Lost has brought on many Lost-like clones and Flash Forward is clearly one of them -- a wacky, vaguely sci-fi concept with a nice stereotypical array of characters. But if I remember anything from the beginning of Lost (the first few episodes of the first season are all I have seen of it), it's that there's a vivid sense of danger there: what's on the island? why are these people here? What's going to happen? I get no such feeling in Flash Forward -- but maybe that will change.

(2) And oh yes, the metaphysical bullshit: I mean, yes, it's fun to see the future, etc. and think what that means. Do we have free will or not? Are we in charge of our futures or are our futures in charge of us? But it's all bullshit (and absurdly pretentious) if I don't have a concrete sense of the stakes involved (see point (1) above, about Danger, lack of)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Line of the day

Pedro Almodovar on the kinds of movies he likes to make:
“No biopics,” he said firmly. “No biopics, no prequels, no sequels, no hero movies, no antihero movies, and definitely no superhero movies. Anything else I can handle.”