Tech-Savvy Woes

I’ve written earlier about the advent of Alexa in our lives. Red was in the market for good quality speakers and was considering buying Sonos and then suddenly got his head turned by the cute lil dot that now talks to us in a STRONG American accent and frequently gets our song choices wrong because she doesn’t get us much. And that’s funny because the offspring has his own twangy accent that sounds kind of like Alexa and yet they don’t always communicate correctly.

Properly enunciated crisp diction rings her bells though. Take for example, MLM wanting to hear Ra.One’s Chhammak Chhallo. He yelled out into the general direction of Alexa, “AlexaplaymeChamakChalo” and pat came the reply, “I’m sorry. I am unable to understand you.” El Brato grumbled, “Stupid Alexa” and then yelled out to me, “Ayu…come and tell Alexa the song I want to hear. It’s not listening to me.”

And there I was, speaking to the dot, yet again, telling her to play Chhammak Challo, said with tight lips and no hint of any accent anywhere. And she popped up saying, “Here’s ChamakChalo from VishalShaker”. I swear there was no difference between her and MLM but someone must have a hearing problem somewhere so I’m still running interference for them both and waiting till he asks me to tell her to play ‘Rashke Qamar’. Last time he asked her to play the song she played Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush

For my troubles, I get to hear the dratted song on loop till my brains start to leak out of my ears. *rolls eyes*

Signing off!

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Movie Review: Pari

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This movie is Prosit Roy’s love affair with the older parts of Calcutta, the bits that make it stand apart from every other city in India. It is strangely enough, also an ode to the nail cutter and umbrellas. Never has the humble implement of hand and foot hygiene received so much spotlight neither, for that matter, has so much water fallen on the city of Calcutta.

I fully expect the sales of nail cutters and umbrellas to go through the roof post people watching the movie.

The devil is invoked. He of the run-of -the-mill horned-head fame and blood thirst, comes (excuse the pun) and impregnates women (poor, low-income…take your pick) whose gestation period lasts for all of one month (the only bright spot in the movie) and then a belly button-less and umbilical cord-less child comes forth into the world. Their goal? To increase the progeny of their father. But all banality aside, the Devil needs his flesh and blood to aid in eventual world domination. The world domination bit isn’t referred to but why be the Devil if you can’t rule over the world, am I right?

That in a nutshell is Pari. The tagline claims that it’s not a fairy tale but fairy tales are replete with angst-ridden, unhappy characters who utter curses as easily as they breathe.

So why is this movie not a write-off? Because the cinematography sets the tone and mood of the entire movie without having to resort to cheap gimmicks of blood and gore to live up the “horror” genre.

The by-lanes of Calcutta, the moss-laden walls, the sooty shutters and a slightly sleepy, lethargic ambience lull you into the story only to be jarred from the calm and into the world of the preternatural. Compared to RGV’s Bhoot and movies of it’s ilk, Pari doesn’t rely on a sudden loud noise which has you clutching your heart in fear.

Anushka Sharma’s vulnerability makes you wish the bad juju doesn’t catch up with her and gulp her down. This movie is Anushka’s vehicle but she has to work at being creepy and you feel sorry for her plight. She can be de-glam but she still has to nail being ferocious.

The rest of the cast is passable with Mansi Multani (Kalapori) and Rajat Kapoor standing out for their respective roles. They are by turns creepy, scary and the chief ingredients needed to bring in a bit of shiveriness to an otherwise droll “horror” movie. Kapoor with his fake eye, stoic and almost amused-countenance is a true reflection on how normal people can become evangelical and take on a mantle of evil themselves under the guise of the greater good.

The role of the crone playing Kaali Pori (Mansi Multani) has been enacted well with her entry coming in sporadically to scare the life out of Anushka. That and her sing song voice while she plays the conduit for the demon is well portrayed.

The male lead-Parambrata and Ritabhari (Piyali) do justice to their roles with the former playing a person with values and morals but still dragging his feet throughout life and becoming proactive when you least expect him to. He seems confused through most of the movie and even his repentance at the end seems to fall flat.

But all this dissection aside- kudos to Anushka for not going the expected path of KJo-type movies alone. She can emote and emote well.

Pari is all about her. But I give it half a thumbs-up because a horror movie shouldn’t just be about pathos…it should be a bit jarring. Pari fails to do that.

Me&Crappy Movies…

I have watched tons of rubbish movies. Honestly. And I make no excuses for it. If it intrigues me, I’ll watch it at least once.

I don’t look into the why it’s good or bad or why it’s made money or lost a pile of it. IF the topic is interesting enough, I’ll try and get my hands on a copy.

I really like watching creature and disaster movies. The former is usually improbable and the latter hopefully won’t happen in my lifetime but they are usually not boring; if made well.

I watched Ghost Shark, the Sharknado series and a whole bunch of other stuff with the words “shark” or “snake” in its name and have been actually entertained. And then there was Oceans Rising.

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Oh my god…what an utterly, utterly pathetic movie. To have watched The Day After Tomorrow, Poseidon and even 2012 to some extent and then see this crappy piece of well…crap, is so disappointing. And that’s saying a lot coming from me. I also watched Megashark Vs. MechaShark and lost no sleep over it.

Apart from probably not having any money for believable special effects and having people who just run their entire gamut of expressions in 0-60 seconds, this movie was not the best utilization of a Friday afternoon I’ve done.

The lesson has been learnt.



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The 80s&90s

Those were some fun decades…especially in the way movies were made.

This last week I watched some movies I had DVRd and utterly enjoyed the blast of nostalgia!

I started with Die Hard…a movie you can never go wrong with. Whether you’re burping a baby, fighting with a spouse, feeling angst or anything else this is an ‘Anytime Movie’.

Bruce Willis’ deadpan face gets stiff competition from the late Alan Rickman but as far as thrilling action movies are concerned, this one is right up there with the best.

Add to it the poofy 80s hair-dos made stiff with hairspray, the blazers and sweaters with their shoulder pads that made people look like linebackers. The ponytails tied high and one side, the white hightops everyone seemed to favor and the Frankie Goes To Hollywood track that most of the movies seem to integrate in their OSTs…Ah! Good stuff.

2nd on my list was Hard To utterly, completely silly farce of a movie made by Steven Seagal and starring yet another person who shouldn’t ever have “acted” aka Kelly LeBrock.

While Under Siege is another of my Anytime Movies and made by Seagal, the flow of the movie in Hard to Kill is plainly hard to swallow and yet it escapes being so bad it’s actually good. Instead it’s just a movie that makes you guffaw if nothing else simply because it’s really that flat. Seagal also delivered gems like Out For Justice which was in a class by itself (insert big time eye roll).

But this isn’t a post about movies alone. It’s about a point in time. I was a child growing up in the 80s and 90s…and it was such an interesting time. Make-up was better louder, hair was better poofier a la Bon Jovi and his ilk and groups like Bell Biv Devoe were on the air.

And while I listen to Cheap Thrills on continuous loop (courtesy the offspring); harking back to the 80s and 90s doesn’t seem like a bad time at all.

Cheers to nostalgia.

Movie Review: Arjun Reddy

After a long time, 10 years to be precise, I watched a Telugu movie- Arjun Reddy and enjoyed it quite a bit. As a person who doesn’t have too much fluency in the language, scratch that…I can make do if I have to, else I nod my head along to pretty much everything; I didn’t feel like the movie was beyond my reach at all. The only reason that I even ended up watching this movie is because the Lord&Master suddenly announced his wish to watch it and wanted me to come along. That alone was enough to pique my curiosity.

It’s very visceral and quite emphatic; possibly due to being an out-and-out drama and here’s my 2 cents worth:

  • Vijay Deverakonda– total hottie and does justice to the persona of a hot head who always wears his heart on his sleeve and is unapologetic for his emotions, especially when they run wild!
  • Everyone looks so bloody normal, it’s such a refreshing change! The hero doesn’t sport a V or an 8-pack, the lead actress isn’t so-called glam-down…she looks like a normal girl in college. There are no superbikes, no signs of being impossibly wealthy or anything that’s remotely unbelievable. Just normal, whimsical, idiosyncratic and occasionally damaged people.
  • The angst of love- it bites, it rips you apart and it makes you behave with just a touch of madness but the audience laps it up because at some point we’ve all felt a twinge of the same.
  • Rahul Ramakrishna– as Shiva aka the ultimate best friend. His unabashed support, despair and love for his friend forms a mainstay in the movie and despite it being all about the titular character of Arjun, Shiva has a huge role to play and Rahul Ramakrishna does it with aplomb!
  • The music- it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the words, you feel them! The score by Radhan is edgy, it’s soft and it’s imminently hummable. Telisiney Na Nuvvey is stuck in my head although when I try to sing it am sure the words are being mangled horribly! The background score totally works.
  • The supporting cast- the dads on either side; grim, conventional or just biased…are stereotypes to be true but very believable because stereotypes exist for a reason. The grandmother, the friends- everyone fits well barring Kamal Kamaraju as the older brother trying to broker peace and shield his wayward younger brother.
  • The whole energy of the movie- it’s big, it’s dramatic and it’s very unapologetic! And that’s what makes it work.

I’m glad the director decided to use subtitles so people could keep up. There’s only so much you can deduce from body language and nuances alone. But the reason this movie works, despite the running time and at times overly dramatic posturing of the lead character, is due to it feeling real.

The lead actress isn’t a wallflower neither is she very prominent. Except that she is. Even when she doesn’t speak much, or just flits in and out of a scene, her impact on Arjun Reddy is what takes the story ahead. I’d read that Shalini had dubbed all her own lines…commendable given how different the Southern languages are for native Hindi speakers.

At the end of the day, every movie is made to tell a story. It’s made to entertain. And this one does…in spades! Despite all the controversies over the non-issues like liplocks and being tagged as misogynistic. On one hand if Arjun Reddy tells his girlfriend that she should be friends with a fat chick because a pretty girl and a fat girl are an equation that work, he is equally dismissive of a friend’s sister being married off to an NRI who outright objectifies women and demeans them without any provocation.

Everyone who saw this movie, found something they wanted to in it…I was entertained and got good music out of it…not to mention total eye candy! *wink wink* It should be left at that…a story about a brash man who feels deeply, loves deeply and takes on the world and screws up only to get back up again. Nuff said.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

I’m going to lead with: my experience wasn’t wondrous at all.

I have a bad habit of reading the Wiki and IMDB posts thoroughly before watching a movie, rather than just going with the flow where most movies are concerned. When I read that Wonder Woman received critical acclaim as well as mass approval, my curiosity was stoked because my benchmark of superhero movies was done solely by the first Avengers roll out. And that’s a movie I can watch (and do) again and again.

So what can I say about Wonder Woman? Well…those were 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back. *wipes tears surreptitiously* Let’s list it’s less than stellar qualities, shall we?

  • Chris Pine hasn’t been eye-candy material since The Princess Diary days. He’s adequate in this movie. Nuff said.
  • Gal Gadot- I wouldn’t have picked her in the role of a Amazon…she looks too confused about the world around her; constantly! And has a case of botoxy lips which never seem to close…giving her a perpetual perplexed-fish look. That was an alliterative mouthful, wasn’t it?
  • Robin Wright Penn- gone before she could do anything.
  • Zeus&Ares- better depicted in the Percy Jackson series. A washout here.
  • Danny Huston- had more screen time in Wolverine and a better role too.
  • The aura of the guy in the role of the God of War needs to be spot on. David Thewlis…naah…he didn’t do it for me.

The intent here isn’t to trash the movie. It was adequate as a one-off watch. I guess I have issues with it being promoted more as a movie about a woman, made by a woman. Even if it is path breaking in that sense, it’s still boring. And that’s wherein lies the rub! It’s not interesting and I watch all sorts of crap that’s out there even sampling the tripe called the Sharkansas Womens Prison Massacre.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman doesn’t possess enough of a personality to be captivating. Gal Gadot as an actor needs to emote more and look beyond eyebrow twitches in lieu of acting. Give me the Black Widow with the deadpan and her kickass moves.

Rating: 2/5



Movie Review: The Shallows

I know why this movie got good reviews:

  • Pretty girl wearing bare minimum required to avoid censorship.
  • Gorgeous locales and alluring waters.
  • A creature that everyone loves to hate viz The Great White.
  • The mysterious solitary seagull.
  • No bizarre sharky behavior barring well…being too chomp-chomp-chomp!

Eloquent wasn’t it? But snark aside so many things are based on location, location, location! And of all the shark movies I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen my share is all my saying), this one had the best location of them all!

This movie is minimalistic and has Blake Lively breaking out of Gossip Girl and the yawn-worthy Green Lantern mode; showing that she too can act and not just be a pretty prop on some guy’s arm. And channeling some snark back in…that swim wear of hers had to be glued onto her chest the way it didn’t move no matter what kind of a beating she took in the water. All hail the the new Wonderbra!

The way the shark is dealt with in the end is an interesting twist from the perpetual blowing up that Hollywood does whether it’s JAWS, Deep Blue Sea, Sharknado or even the utterly forgettable Dam Sharks! Almost like they got a good deal on TNT.

I won’t be revisiting this movie the way I did Ghost Shark and Sharknado#1 or even Jaws 3 but as a one time watch it was entertaining and the ending scenes before the credit rolled were lovely with Sia’s Bird Set Free setting the perfect tone. And it made me wish I could surf….sigh.

I’d give it a 3/5.

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