Friday, June 22, 2007

Why do they suck??

It's a funny thing with Hollywood releases this year. The summer releases are all sequels. And not just sequels, they're part three sequels (trilogy sequels, if you will) and with one noticeable exception, they all suck. I mean SUCK!!!!!

My first premonition of things to come this summer was when I watched 'Spiderman 3'. I saw it the Sunday after it released. 30 minutes into the storyline came this scene - Peter's talking about how tough being Spiderman is to his increasingly jaded Mary Jane, when this girl who'd kissed him upside down (himself upside down) during a Spidey-honouring ceremony turns up AND turns out to be an old friend of Parker's. May Jane transitions from bored to bilious, shrieking "How could you kiss HER upside down? That was OUR kiss!!" and storms off in a huff. The scene significantly marked the first "What the f#@$!!!". More wtf's followed, with a count of possibly 40 by the time the movie was done. And this, mind you comes from yours truly, whom you all know believes Kalki or Christ, when they choose to save the world, will arrive swinging off weblines in red and blue tights. 'Let down' would be the understatement of the year, as far as the movie goes. Suffice it to say Sam Raimi and Topher Grace had best keep away from Comic Book Conventions for the next couple of decades. I can't imagine any Spidey fan not wanting to throw webs or goblin gas or chappals at them.

The next blockbuster was "Ocean's 13". While not sucking per se, it was something of a disappointment. Cast - the same as 11 and 12, save for Julia Robert's (thankful) absence. Eddie Izzard turns up as a replacement, but his role is minimal, as is Andy Garcia's as no. 13. Plot - the same as Ocean's 11. In fact, I might say the plot's a better version of Ocean's 11. They want revenge on Al Pacino, so they pull off a giant complicated scheme. Sure, the scheme was an intricate, twisty-turny thing, but so was the one in 11. Is a sequel supposed to be a piece in its own right, or simply a photocopy of an original? So the disappointment.

The third and most recent disappointment, was "Pirates.......bean: At World's End". While the first was neat and the second a maze that left you wondering as to the conclusion, this damn thing was simply an excuse to continue cashing in on Jack Sparrow t-shirts, Black Pearl rides and Davy Jones mugs. Following the initial 40 minutes, which the protagonists spend sailing to World's End (Get it? At World's End?), there follow a humongous set of double-crosses, locale shifts, exchanges of "Arrrgh"s and similar pirate jargon and to top it all off, a long speech by Keira Knightly about how even a few "free" men can fight evil conquerors and at the very least make an ending that is worth remembering, the kind that's delivered when your enemies are 7 foot tall dudes in moving thrones carried by hundreds of slaves. "Freedom" is somehow starting to become to America what Peking duck is to China.

When you think about it, this applies to most second sequels in the past few years. The Matrix Reloaded provided an interesting premise, but Revolutions turned out to be a philosophical-cyberpunk mush. Star Wars Episodes I and II sucked, and so did III, so not much of a disappointment there. Shrek 3 has been touted as dismal in comparison to 1 and 2. X-Men 3 was god-awful (my first post here panned it). "Return of the King" alone, has not sucked.

So why is it? Why are Pirates 3 and Spiderman 3 and Shrek 3 only marginally better than, I dunno.... Sivaji??

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Nod to Pandora

Having returned from a month in India, I've decided to emulate Esoteric Pandora, in comparing USA and India. While I did miss the country as a whole, I had no inclination to sing "Yeh mera India!! I love my India" upon landing. So anyway, here's my contrast of India and the US:

Things I was glad to go home to:
- Mangoes: This was summer, and the mangoes were a bumper crop this year. And Thainadu being Thainadu, I could cut a mango into two large slices and shove my upper jaw into each till the juice ran down my chin. (I'm still talking about fruit here btw, so VP don't get all suggestive imagery HAW!! HAW!!)

- Vegetables: I think I could count the various vegetables I've consumed over the past year on the fingers of one hand. Non-veg is fine as an occasional outside thing, but the TamBram stomach calls out for home made vegetarian sappadu. At long last, non-meaty things that aren't either boiled, served cold, mashed or served on a pizza/burrito!!! At long last, carrots and beans with coconut and chow-chow koottu and bhindi and vayakkai and fried chepangkayangu and keerai molaguttal and paruppu usuli. And my two all time favourites - masala-laden fried potatoes (the way Mom makes it) and Aviyal (the way anyone makes it). I spurned non-veg by and large over my trip. Screw meat, I can swim in it here. Vegetables and rice are what you return home for.

- Relegation: One of the things that makes life in America so character-building and strengthening, and thereby most unpleasant, is the need to do everything oneself. One has to cook one's own meals, make one's own coffee, iron one's own clothes, drive one's own car....... Being in the lap of middle class luxury was something else - a driver and car on call, somebody to clean the room and smooth the sheets and make the coffee and do just about anything else you can think of...Maybe if enough Mexicans come on over, I can have a 'maami' (the Mexican term is vieja tía, I believe) and driver of my own up here.

- Not having to go to a Wal-Mart or Costco or whatever. I mean, walk 10 minutes down the lane and there, you have Krishnan Provisions, or Satyam Kirana Stores or Singapore Shoppee or Gopal General Store. Beats the hell out of searching through a football field-size obstacle course for a packet of biscuits

- Carnatic music and shlokas: They sound pleasant at 5.00 am, sort of a feel-good "Brand New Day" thing

- Coffee: I mean coffee, the kind you set the decoction to half an hour earlier and have between 6.30 and 7.00 am in a stainless steel tumbler when reading The Hindu. Does wonders for constipation

- Haircuts that cost between 50 cents and 2 dollars

- Trips to Landmark for a good long browse

Things I'm glad to get back to here:

- Roads that don't have cracked pavements with reeking open drains below

- The assurance that the guy in the next lane will be prosecuted/sued properly in the event of a car crash and will therefore NOT get in your way

- Not needing cash for most things

- Broadband that's actually broad; and wi-fi too

- The cheap price of electronics

- Ice cream with genuinely exotic flavours