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Tales from the Gryphon

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Saturday 15 December
2007
Link: Ankur

Posted early Saturday morning, December 15th, 2007

License: GPL

Ankur

This one of the very first "art" films from Indian cinema, and in some senses the very antithesis of a Bollywood movie. It explores things like caste, parent child relationships, and aspects of rural society in India, and much, much, more. And while doing so, it manages to tell a tail that draws you into it, and into caring for the characters. Pretty amazing.

Read all about Ankur), thanks to the wikipedia.

Manoj

Saturday 15 December
2007
Link: Flags of our fathers

Posted early Saturday morning, December 15th, 2007

License: GPL

Flags of our fathers

This was a good movie. Perhaps I'm guilty of heresy in saying this, but it was not a great movie. It did come as somewhat of a surprise to me that the movie was about the flag raising (a humdrum chore when it was done) photograph, not about Iwo Jima or ghe marine corps or uch about the war (apart from what lead to the flag raising -- mostly to provide a contrast to the the actual flag raising. The impression I took away from it, the thing that made the most impact on me, was the sheer desperation of the fund raising, trying to get a weary and cynical population to buy war bonds.

Clint Eastwood is to be commended on an unusual take on the sordid details of war -- there are no drum beats going in this movie.

Manoj

Sunday 25 November
2007
Link: 300, and the history channel perspective.

Posted early Sunday morning, November 25th, 2007

License: GPL

300, and the history channel perspective.

Yes, this is about a movies based on a comic based on a movie from the 50's. And they did a wonderful job of conveying to comic book feel -- and yet, though you could appreciate the abstract, stylized presentation of the comic, most of the movie still came straight from Herodotus. The training of the Spartans, the throwing of the Persian emissaries into a pit and a well -- this cleaving to the historic details was a pleasant surprise. The history channel presentation is recommended for the perspective it brings to the tale.

There were some poetic licenses -- the whole bit about a highly placed Spartan traitor was made out of plain cloth; and the current convention wisdom is that Leonidas went to Thermopylae because of his religious beliefs, and conviction about the sacred prophecy of the oracle at Delphi, not because he thought Persia would destroy Greece (remember, Xerxes won, and sacked Athens). Indeed, there was little concept of "Greece" at that point.

Indeed, the whole stick about the last stand at Thermopylae saving democracy seems suspect -- the stand bloodied Persia's nose, and delayed them by perhaps 5 days -- in an advance that took the better part of a year that the Greeks knew about. No, it was the combination of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataea -- over the course of half a century -- that ensure that the no name David of the Greek city states survived against the Goliath of Persia. And, then, of course, came the boy wonder out of Macedonia.

Highly recommended.

Manoj

Sunday 25 November
2007
Link: The children of men

Posted early Sunday morning, November 25th, 2007

License: GPL

The children of men

A nicely placed movie about a bleak future, and how people cope with despair and desperate times. While it did not quite come together in the details (anything outside of England was a big unknown blur), and the London of 2027 seemed not much different from any current day city under semi martial law (technology, for instance, seems to have frozen at todays levels), it was still fast paced, and enjoyable, and anyway, this is not primarily a sci-fi flick.

Recommended.

Manoj

Sunday 18 November
2007
Link: Eragon

Posted early Sunday morning, November 18th, 2007

License: GPL

Eragon

I liked the book. Sure, it is "The Lord of the Rings" meets "Star Wars", but, the book had a nice flow -- and it was written by a fifteen year old, fer gawds sake. The very fact that he can turn out a page turner of a book when others of his age can't string together a grammatical sentence spelled correctly is amazing. Overall, derivative, unoriginal, and simplistic though the book is, it has an original charm -- a very good book for children, and one that adults can read through as well.

So I went to this movie with high hopes. What a let down. This was merely a notch above the Beowulf debacle. Lack luster performances, bland, drudge of a movie, with all kinds of interesting elements and nuances from the book removed. Crude, unimaginative, ham handed performances all around. The plot line, which did not follow the book, was dumbed down, there were implications that the Elven princess was a potential love interest (faugh), and the refreshing pace of the book fell off to a plodding soporific caricature. It is an offense to the book, and to the author.

I was going to point out the differences between the movie and the book; and why they difference made the movie worse, but after 30 or so items this post would have gotten to be too big. And, having written it, I have the release of the rant, so I no longer have to include it here. Anyway, Wikipedia says that the film came in at #235 in the all time worldwide box office chart but was met with dismal critical reviews, scoring only a 16% composite score on Rotten Tomatoes

I feel sorry for you if you suffered through this, as did I.

Manoj

Sunday 18 November
2007
Link: The movie vaguely resembling Beowulf: an IMAX 3d experience

Posted early Sunday morning, November 18th, 2007

License: GPL

The movie vaguely resembling Beowulf: an IMAX 3d experience

This should really be titled "A movie vaguely representing Beowulf, but all sexed up with various salubrious elements". Hrothgar was treated much better in the original; and all the blatant and gratuitous sexuality brought in into the movie was a turn off. But then, I might be in the minority of the audience who had any familiarity with the poem.

The characters in the movie seemed two dimensional caricatures (the only compelling performance was from Grendel's mother). And the changes made to the story line also lost the prowling menace of the latter years of the king of the Geats.

After watching Hollywood debacles like this one, I am driven to wonder about why Hollywood writers seem to think they can so improve upon the work of writers whose story has stood the test of time. Making Beowulf into a boastful liar and cheat (even in the tale of the sea monsters -- his men imply that that they knew their lord was a liar) -- in an age where honor and battle prowess were everything -- I mean, what were the producers thinking?

Most certainly not a movie I am going to recommend.

I had not researched the movie much before I went into the show, and it was a surprise to me to see that this was an animated movie a la "Final Fantasy", and while I was impressed with the computer graphics (reflections in general, and reflections of ripples in the water were astounding), the not a cartoon but not a realistic movie experience was a trifle distracting, and detracted from telling the tale.

I like IMAX 3d, and the glasses are improving.

Manoj


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