Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jindal's speech

I went to bed early so I didn't catch Bobby Jindal's response to Barack Obama's speech.

But the first thing my Google Reader showed me was Matthew Yglesias saying
Bobby Jindal apparently believes it’s appropriate to address the citizens of the United States in a tone that suggests we’re all nine years old.
And I thought: wtf? So I went over to Youtube to watch the speech? And you know what? It's true! -- he talks like he's recording an audiobook for children (as commenter Helena says).

Obviously I sympathize with Jindal. It was his first big (I think?) opportunity to speak on the national stage -- and I am guessing he wanted to speak the way most Americans spoke, with the proper accent and all. Unfortunately he seems to have tried too hard and Indians tend to slip into the sing-song rhythm easily when they get self-conscious (I speak from first-hand experience...) and I think that's what happened.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog again

I think A. O. Scott makes an important point here [emphasis mine]:
The wins that “Slumdog” has racked up in some of the less glamorous categories— editing, cinematography and score — may be the most significant, since they recognize some of the film’s novelty. Its look, its pacing and its sound are not like the competition, and indeed not like a lot of commercial American movies. And yet it is an entirely accessible movie, not so much self-consciously exotic as effortlessly, eagerly eclectic. So the fast editing, the eye-popping colors and textures, the songs and the music may be, to some audiences and Academy voters, a bit unfamiliar, but they obviously work, extending the vocabulary of what we sometimes parochially think of as mainstream moviemaking in some exciting new directions.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Random thoughts on the Oscars

Clearly having Hugh Jackman host was a big mistake. Enough said.

The best moment? When James Franco and Seth Rogen giggled unabashedly at Kate Winslet's German accented dialogues in The Reader. (Not that I think Winslet was bad or anything but just that someone needs to make fun of The Reader).

Friday, February 13, 2009

What do you think?

I posted something on my other blog: what do you think?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PhD Comics question

So do we interpret from this that Tajel is actually Indian?

Because I always thought that she was from, I don't know, Lebanon.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Attack dog Obama

So you thought from his debates with John McCain that Obama couldn't be aggressive? Here he is, giving it to the Republicans - what a performance!

My favorite line: "Well, what do you think a stimulus is?"

Netflix read my mind

The chick-flick He's just not that into you opened today at the box office. Since I loved Drew Barrymore's technology monologue in the trailer, I was interested in knowing whether the movie was any good. (Well, from the reviews, it turns out that the Barrymore monologue is pretty much the highlight of the movie, see, e.g., Roger Ebert -- so I guess I'm watching it on DVD).

But anyway -- after reading Manohla Dargis' withering take in the NYT, I wanted to see what some other critics thought of it -- so I went over from metacritic to Owen Gleiberman's review in Entertainment Weekly. The review mentioned John Hughes' Some Kind of Wonderful ("always underrated", says Gleiberman):
But then I realized why Gigi and Alex really do seem like characters out of Some Kind of Wonderful. There's nothing to their relationship — nothing at all — but the thin, Hughesian predicament the two happen to be in.
I popped over to Netflix to put it in my queue and guess what? Check this out:

There it was, Some Kind of Wonderful, staring right back at me -- I didn't even have to go and search for it.

I guess the stars aligned for Netflix today -- if more stuff like this happens, people are going to believe that the folks at Netflix are wizards or something. (Or maybe their algorithm mines our thoughtstreams. Ha.)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road is a very good movie but I often wished as I was watching it that it had been directed by someone other than Sam Mendes. The problem is not, as Manohla Dargis thinks, that Mendes is too distanced, but that he is too intent on driving home the point of the story, rather than just letting his brilliant actors do it for us.

But I digress. The movie hits home, especially among us 20 and 30 somethings and I think Jason Bellamy brings out the reason why:
Revolutionary Road is a conviction of the Wheelers. Their crime? Denial. Yes, Mendes’ film, from a screenplay by Justin Haythe, makes good on opportunities to mock suburban living, but this is mere decoration, like the tiny plants Kathy Bates’ matriarchic Helen gives to Winslet’s April to fill in the “messy patch” at the end of the driveway. Suburbia doesn’t make the Wheelers miserable. Instead suburbia is the mirror by which they recognize their long-denied unhappiness. Characters turning 30, April and Frank are for the first time realizing that they have emotional wrinkles. As much as anything, Revolutionary Road is about that transitional period of life when your identity stops being about what you are “going to be” and starts being about what you “are.” [Via The House Next Door]
TNR ran a review of the book which again makes an important point:
But if Mendes's new film is to do Revolutionary Road justice, it will transcend the easy anti-suburban categorization. While Yates's depiction of suburban life is nightmarish enough to exceed the worst fears of Jane Jacobs's devotees, Revolutionary Road is far more than a complacent takedown of the 'burbs. It is in fact less an anti-suburban novel than a novel about people who blame their unhappiness on the suburbs. [Link]
Also check out James Wood on Richard Yates.

Monday, February 02, 2009


I was too tired to stay up and watch the Australian Open final live but I did manage to get up just in time to watch the prize distribution ceremony -- live. And boy oh boy, what a ceremony it turned out to be. For those who don't follow tennis, Federer, who lost to Nadal, burst into tears during his speech and couldn't speak for a while. While he recovered, the trophy was presented to Nadal, who then, to his credit, walked over to Federer and put an arm around him. Federer twisted away, said he would speak first since he didn't want to have the last word, rattled off a few words, posed red-eyed alongside Nadal with his runners-up trophy and then ran away as fast as he could.

It was the most touching moment I've seen -- not to mention the most emotional -- since Jana Novotna, sobbing away, rested her head on the on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder at Wimbledon in 1993.

Here, for your comparison are the two videos. Watch how Federer tries to speak jauntily at first, and how suddenly he starts crying:

Kevin Drum puts into words my own feelings about Nadal:
When I first saw Nadal play a few years ago, he was a kid with stringy black hair, a sneer on his lips, always dressed in a muscle shirt, and hitting the absolute stuffing out of the ball. "This guy's a thug!" I thought, a tennis-playing Terminator — but of course nothing could be further from the truth. As I quickly learned, Nadal may very well be the nicest, sweetest, most generous tennis machine on the planet. He's almost too nice. It's hard to convince people that this is one of the great sport rivalries of all time when they spend more time hugging each other than trash talking.
That said, I wonder if having your opponent, the one you just lost to, come over and put his arm around you is such a good thing after all. I am pretty sure that I would twist away from any embrace, howsoever well-intended, just as Federer did. And there was something rather incongruous about the 22-year old Nadal telling the 27-year old Federer that he was a great champion. This is, after all, exactly what a veteran champion tells the ousted up-and-coming challenger (Graf said almost this exactly after beating Hingis in their bad-tempered 1999 French Open final). To have the newly crowned king tell his predecessor that he will always be considered great is probably equivalent to telling him that he is over the hill (this is my own twisted interpretation, I am sure Nadal meant it only in the nicest way possible).

All that said, I think all talk of Federer not winning any more Grand Slams is a little premature. I think he almost certainly will surpass Sampras ' record and win a few more Grand Slams. What seems less likely now is the possibility of his winning the French and becoming the first man since Agassi to have won all four Grand Slams. And of course, the possibility that Nadal will be that man has risen. Of course, one can hope both will go on to win all four majors -- wouldn't that be great? Here's hoping ...