Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No Smoking

As a certified pirate and shameless copyright violator, I chanced upon a torrent for a movie that I'd a friend of mine talked about a few days ago - No Smoking. He linked me the ongoing internet drama following the release, "between Anurag Kashyap and everyone else", as he put it.

Anurag Kashyap and his cohorts were piling on all their belligerence on a blog-site called passionforcinema, which is populated by film nerds who can also write. I think it's great. Nerds need to fight the good fight, make movies that provoke, and engage other nerds in the movie-making process.

First, the Khalid Mohammed review:

You can’t make out, you don’t care, and you’re fed up of the affectations, the self-indulgence, and the fact that you even bothered to see this Dhumrapan Nishedh bandhi which tells you about Socrates, Plato and then goes Do be Do. I swear on Sinatra’s head. Hey, Kashy actually hears retro-music and wants us to know. Niiice.

Gee, the movie’s so unusual, unconventional and daring. It’s an original guys, original. Get me a double whisky yaar. Gotta celebrate. It’s so very much like Stephen King’s story Quitters’ Inc. which featured as a part of the Cat’s Eye horror movie way back in 1985. What to do Sir Genius? We Idiotic Reviewers, FOOLS, Scum of the Earth, watch DVDs too.

Nicely put there, good to know he's not using that idiotic rhyme format anymore, like he used to for his entire Sunday Times reviewing career. For the record, his debut movie, Fiza, was one long unwatchable turd. For someone who spent his entire life panning formula movies, Fiza was as pedestrian as they come. Booo! You suck too!! If only you knew!!

On the other ringside, we have Anurag Kashyap and his film-nerd clique, who are pissed off that a plebe like TARAN ADARSH (of CAPSLOCK OVERUSE FAME) has reported unfavorably
on No Smoking.

What ails NO SMOKING, did you ask. Simple, it’s the most complicated cinematic experience of 2007. Agreed, the director’s intentions are noble. Cigarette smoking is injurious to health and Kashyap wants to highlight this message loud and clear via his new movie. But what has Kashyap come up with? ”

Actually, no. That's not what No Smoking was about, you idiot. I figured that out because Anurag Kashyap told me so, well before I watched the movie. Yay for Spoilers!!

It's a tale about an arrogant man’s descent into morality.. and the architecture of the moral world is so absurd that it sometimes beats reality.. what happens in the film is a parallel to what happens in the real world.. Taran’s review talks about three E’s which reminds me about the censor board official who asked me why did i make paanch, and then he further said cinema is suppose to be healthy entertainment.. Paanch is niether healthy nor entertaining.. baba bengali is like that man, who has already deciced what kind of cinema should be made and should exist.. the film is about my struggle against the system to have the freedom to (smoke)make films..

Seen from that angle, yes, I dig what Kashyap was trying to do. He's trying to pitch in a allegory here about being creative in a system that expects cookie cutter, templatized, canned scenes. Once the belligerent K (John Abraham) surrenders his habit, he still gets tossed around and chewed up by the system. Moral of the story: There's no beating the machine, might as well get beaten on your own terms. Perhaps the movie is drawing a parallel to theism, equating Baba Bengali's Big brotherlihood to an unforgiving petulant god who is forever watching and judging, where even the smallest transgressions ensure a lifetime of suffering.

Regardless of the intentions, No Smoking misfires terribly at a few points, the sepia tinted flashback scenes with laugh tracks were god-awful, and that whole cigar smoking episode where a Cuba return friend of K holds a press conference for In Fidal castrated cigars was unfunny and sad. And that comic book blurb that popped in every once in a while was also poorly conceived and didn't add an ounce of wit or depth to the scene.

The movie is a bit of the yin-yang thing going, the first twenty minutes have K making convoluted conversation with his wife like a bad Woody Allen movie knockoff, while in second half Baba Bangali (Paresh Rawal) proselytizes in chaste Vajpayee Hindi. The magic realist/surrealist dives into Baba Bangali's dungeon in some Dharavi ghetto were well done, a stark contrast to K's pristine high rise dwelling, which I guess is a subtle way of saying that a man is comfortable when he plays the game by his rules.

I saw a Kurosawa movie a couple of weeks ago - Ran, a movie based on Shakespeare's King Lear. After reading the wiki, I found out that the reason why Kurusowawa chose to make it was because he could relate to the trials of King Lear, whose sudden fall from grace was as heartbreaking as Kurosawa's film making career, once he was on the outs.

It's these little side stories that make art-house movies tolerable to me. Herzog's movies wouldn't be half as much fun without the crazy side-stories about how he made Fitzcarraldo, or his tumultuous relationship with Kinski. No Smoking is about the bloated ego (not necessarily a bad thing) of Anurag Kashyap; a failed experiment based on a laudable stance. John Abraham is no Robert De Niro, he's probably more like Tom Cruise, looks easy on the eyes, but ultimately hard to root for, that photogenic prick. Ayesha Takia was fist-gnawingly irritating, while Paresh Rawal as Baba Bangali was the best cast character of all.

No Smoking epitomizes the new wave of Indian filmmakers who aren't afraid to take risks, or communicate one-on-one with their audience. You've read the blog, now watch the movie!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shame on a nigga who try to run game on a nigga

Pseudo-commie pamphleteers Greenpeace are under fire from an equally despicable group - Apple users.

"Gizmodo published this morning allegations by the bromine industry claiming that Greenpeace's report on the iPhone was inaccurate and alarmist. They got an official rebuttal to the bromine industry by Greenpeace, but the most interesting part is their acknowledgment that their targeting of Apple, even while they have similar reports on every manufacturers, is a deliberate attempt to grab headlines. While it's logical and not surprising, I find it quite shocking to see them be so cavalier, and even hypocritical, about it."

Who the fuck are these Greenpeace guys anyways. They exist only to provide a warm, fuzzy, feel good 'eco-friendly and scenic calendar that can be yours, for Rs. 549'.

How about NOT BUYING ANYTHING instead?
That I guarantee you, is way more eco-friendly than buying a calendar made out of oxygen bleached recycled paper. Even if that calendar is handmade by some indigenous tribe that never used fossil fuel either directly or indirectly, it eventually will be delivered to you by a logistics company that will use a bike powered by a four stroke engine, which directly contradicts the top priority action item on their manifesto.

These guys are against all forms of power except solar and wind energy. Assuming that we manage to a planet where we manage to be self sufficient on wind and solar, you will still require batteries to power vehicles, which violates point 6 (Eliminate Toxic Chemicals) on their manifesto.

Here's a newsflash guys. At no point since the beginning of last century, have we consumed less energy than the previous year. The population has grown, everyone wants stuff and electricity to keep them whirring and humming, and there is no escaping the laws of thermodynamics. Have these activists might have pondered about the inescapable logic of their ideas? But why use logic when you can profit off emotion?

Nephilium is bang on here:
The problem is that rational environmentalism has seemingly fallen to the wayside to be replaced by anti-globalization activists (who use the technology they decry in order to organize) and luddites who want to get rid of all technology after period X (where X equals their idea of the human ideal).

"Environmental extremism arose in the mid-1980s. It arose because the majority of people accepted all of the reasonable points in the environmental agenda, and the only way to remain adversarial and confrontational and anti-everything was to adopt even more extreme positions - eventually abandoning all science and logic altogether."

~ Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chaser Necrophilia

I spent a large part of my day yesterday watching Chaser's War on Everything on youtube. If you're having a slow day, start from here, and search for all these sections on youtube.

I recommend:
If Life Were A Musical
The Ad Roadtest
Mr Ten Questions
Firth in the USA

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Charlie Brooker - Screenwipe

Screenwipe is a TV show about television. On the face of it, a TV review guide is about as culturally relevant as a message board entry on, but the host Charlie Brooker gives the program such a hateful, pessimistic and witty edge that it's fun to watch even if you don't watch the telly at all. Or, if you're like me, downloading torrents of whatever is bearably entertaining.

Screenwipe is a highly editorialised cliff notes version of what's on the tube, interspersed with insider accounts, industry jargonry, and quick cuts to cameo sections like Despicable Fibs of the TV Lie Machine, and Talent Tales: True Stories of Pampered Presenters, and The Ten Biggest Cocks in Advertising.

Charlie Brooker's greatest creation was Nathan Barley, a scathing caricature for the uptown new media brat pack, ('a self-facilitating media node') so lovingly detailed in the TVGohome guide. He also writes a column for guardian called Screenburn, a lot of his best lines from these columns make it to the show.

Satire is best done by Brits; Brooker's high speed non stop TV commentary deserves a watch:

Screenwipe videos on Youtube:

Naomi Klein - Shock Doctrine

If right wing apologists like Niall Ferguson can provide a fresh, compelling, but flawed account of history, left wing demagogue Naomi Klein shows she's equal to the task, desecrating the grave of Milton Friedman.

Naomi Klein's previous book, No Logo provided a negative and bleak view of globalisation, it was a scathing attack on corporations, for its horrific effects on the diminishing quality and security of jobs provided, both in first world and third world countries. GDP-wise, the top 500 corporations are bigger than all but the top seven countries, and they've proved that they can be more powerful and more despotic than most of the governments that administer them.

From Naomi Klien's Harper article:
Blackwater’s investment in its paramilitary infrastructure. Founded in 1996, the company has used its steady stream of contracts to build up a private army of 20,000 on-call mercenary soldiers and a military base in North Carolina worth between $40 million and $50 million. It reportedly has the ability to field massive humanitarian operations faster than the Red Cross, and boasts a fleet of aircraft ranging from helicopter gunships to a Boeing 767.

Shock doctrine is a leftist viewpoint on how neoliberalists exploit disasters and often create them, for profit. She uses the examples in Chile, America, Russia, Iraq, and Sri-Lanka to support her vision of disaster-capitalism, all the above examples heinous and without question undemocratic.

So here's the Shock Doctrine pitch,

In the 1950’s, the idea of electro shock therapy caught the attention of the CIA. The agency funded a series of experiments that eventually helped produce a secret handbook detailing how to break down prisoners. Methods included both physical and emotional shock, which ultimately reduced subjects to “a child like state.”

The Shock Doctrine claims that these methods did not only work on individuals, but could also effect society on a massive scale. Events such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters or war could force us all into shock, leaving us more open to suggestion and prone to follow others.

Youtube link:

DIRECTED BY JONÁS CUARÓN. Alfonso Cuarón, director of "Children of Men", and Naomi Klein, author of "No Logo", present a short film from Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Brief History of Disbelief

Atheists hardly get a say in history books, since most of western history, or what was preserved of it was because of the Catholic church, which portrayed everyone not Roman as barbarians, and muted every rational mind by erasing or torturing him.

Even before that, 2,500 years ago, Greek philosophers expressed doubts about the supernatural. What absolute zingers their rhetoric has produced.

Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is god both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him god?

-Epicurus, 341-271 BCE

Fear is the mother of all gods. Nature does all things spontaneously by herself, without their meddling.
-Lucretius - 99-55 BCE

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.
-Aristotle - BCE 348-322

No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
- George Bush Sr.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers, as useful.
-Seneca 4-65 CE

If it weren't for Hitler, I wouldn't exist.

If you think about the thermodynamic miracles that we all are, what are the odds of exact sperm that won the Olympic swimming competition nine months before my birth, doing so without the existence of Hitler.