Archive for the ‘Books & Movies’ Category

Some six years ago, I read this book “Out are the Lights”, got it from my Brother’s Girlfriend, a crumpled 80’s paperback with yellow pages. Some B Grade horror, Boy..!! I loved that… creepy story line, no supernatural ghosts, just humans capable of doing grotesque crimes, scary sequences, lovable character, especially the female lead Connie…
Since then Laymon have been one of my favourite trash authors. Just like those Zombie and Slasher movies, the gory, splattering horror has its own charm. No class, no place in the literature, but once or twice every year I pay my homage to them, and for this Laymon is my source (At least until now).
Well coming to ‘The Cellar’, I got it from flipkart for some 550 bucks (with approx. 250 pages, it’s more than a Rs. 2/per page affair). When I was in college (read ‘unemployed’) pages per rupee used to be a significant factor before buying any book… leave the exceptions like Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Gresham, Paulo Coelho etc. Coming to the point, right from the beginning it disappoints.
It opens with a beast house, a house notorious for some 11 murders by some beast, then this single mother running away from her Ex-husband, a convicted paedophile. She runs away and enters the town of the beast house, meets the new love of his life, the guy called Jud (short for Judgement), the visit to beast house, the new found love is hell bent on killing the beast, the Ex-Husband tortures, murders and rapes on his way to chase his wife (wondering why she decided to flee only on the day he’s freed… I mean she had 6 whole years for that, why the hell only on getting the news), anyways, the lover boy goes on beast house expedition, finds an old diary about a women and her pet beast, or the beast and her pet women… whatever… crap..  well the Ex-Husband comes in, fights the new found love, as usual the lover-boy wins, decides to put the Bad Guy in the beast house… ends up dead himself… and the lady and her daughter? Well the last page tells their fate… I won’t spoil it for anyone still interested..!!
After the plot the biggest setback are the characters, The Ex-Husband Roy, he kills without reason, and emerges more as a frustrated loser then a terrifying killer on the loose (Compared to the similar Husband on hunt in Stephen King’s “Rose Madder’ he’s too naive and fails in creating an impact), and The women Donna, She has no class (unlike Connie in ‘Out are the Lights’), I mean the first day in new town and she dates this guy, common, and her daughter, somewhat aged 12, She’s Slow, or we can say retard… no no “Special” will be better term… (Don’t want SRK’s son suing me now), Jud is umm… Stupid, I never got satisfied with his reasons to kill the beast. In all no one impresses, not on any front.
Before ordering the book, I read a few reviews on Amazon, and a lot of people have mentioned the climax as gory, fantastic, most unpredictable, blah blah… yeah it is ‘unpredictable’ but sorry I’m not impressed… I’ve expected better.
Conclusion: gross, crap, pathetic, No more Richard Laymon for the time being… at least not for a year… 🙂
My Rating: 1/5 
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I Spit On Your Grave is a revenge film at it’s finest and also a powerful take on feminism. It was there in my HDD for past two years, and the only reason I kept on delaying it is the fact that the movie has been marked as one of the most disturbing, sickening movies ever made. But finally last night after Chelsea’s yet another loss to Man U, I decided to give it a shot.. finally..!!
While many people find it hard to look past the brutality of the rape scenes- they are failing to realize the overall outcome of the film. So what if Roger Ebert called it the “worst film ever made”, he also gave two thumbs up to Speed 2: Cruise Control (which rarely anyone has seen, and those who did end up saying ‘I Spit on your Film’). Clearly the man is not to be trusted.
Coming to the plot – Jennifer is a writer working on her first novel in her rented summer home in some woodsy area. She meets a few nice townsfolk who seem pretty normal and really not all that backwoods-like. They aren’t even close to those in Deliverance which is probably what makes the rape scenes so unbelievably gruesome. Anyways- Jennifer settles into her summer home and one day while sunning in a canoe, two of the boys round her up with a motor boat and pull her canoe to the far off side of the lake. Here she is pulled from her boat and stripped and beaten then raped by the lead guy. After this she runs away- only to be met again by all the men who once again rape her. After getting away a 2nd time she tries to call for help once she reaches her home but is interrupted by-you guessed the men once more. Oooh and raped. Again… And the scenes are really brutal, disturbing and sickening.

After barely escaping with her life, Jennifer rebounds faster than any rape victim in the history of rape victims, and plots her revenge.

As I said before, what makes the rape scenes truly unsettling is that all the men appear to be quite normal. They aren’t toothless hicks who force grown men to oink like a pig before sticking it in their butt. They just truly believe that what they are doing is 100% A-OK. Even their conversation the night before while fishing never really spells out that they are going to rape someone.
What is even more unsettling is the fact that they let her go 3 times. After the first rape I kind of thought, “that’s it?” But then bam rape number two, and bam bam rape number three. And also the actress who plays Jennifer is extremely extremely convincing. You could truly feel her anguish and her screams almost ripped through your body.

Now the revenge sequences I thought were pretty damn good. Although I kind of questioned her decision to kill Matthew, but I suppose in the end it had to be done. He still did it and even though he was egged on, he did jump in on the fun a bit suddenly…so yeah I don’t trust him.

The best revenge and probably the best scene of the movie is the bathtub scene. The red of the blood mixed with all those bubbles is pretty impressive and almost gives Argento’s blood a run for his money- but not really because that would just be preposterous. Then the way Jennifer calmly locks the door and settles down in the chair to enjoy some nice classical music, with the guy screaming in the background…I just really thought that was well done.

My only real complaint about the film was how quickly she bounced back. And how she just took a bath afterwards and laid down in her bed. There is no way she could have known she was suppose to have been killed and that those men wouldn’t be back. It doesn’t entirely make sense that she wouldn’t jump in her car right away and go to the cops immediately. The scenes after that- her taking a stroll in the meadow, and her continuing to write her novel are kind of like….ummmmm hello? You got raped? A lot. But I suppose it’s speaking to her strong character as a woman and her abitlity to move on with her life and not let what happened to her destroy her as a person and all that. It still makes me raise a “I don’t think this makes any sense” eyebrow.

The great thing about this movie is that you are always always on Jennifer’s side. Even when you see that the gas station guy has kids and a wife you never for once feel sorry for him. You might feel a little sorry for Matthew- but when Jennifer has had her last word you truly feel empowered as well. The revenge sequences weren’t some cheap way to get people to watch a horror movie and go wild over violence and blood. They were necessary to the film and it’s overall impact is a strong one. Jennifer comes away from the movie as someone who has literally whacked her rapists in the balls. Yes, she uses her sexuality to appeal to the men in the end but that is what they deserve- because nothing is worse than getting a boner and then having it cut off. Or so I’m told..!!

It’s very rare for me to get influenced/moved by movies, but almost every few months I usually come across one such masterpiece that makes me think and wonder about this whole world, humans and human relations. Something related happened with this Japanese movie I just watched this evening.

Aruitemo Aruitemo (Still Walking) is a 2008 japenese movie, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. With a cast comprising of Hiroshi Abe, Yui Nutsukawa and YOU… yes you, It’s a storyline so simple and still so complex that it entangles you along with it and before you can realize, you became an inseparable part of it.

A son went to meet his parents, living alone in a small town, and the duration of visit.. just one night. That’s it, its just a long tale of those few hours. There’s a father busy reading newspaper when everyone else is busy clicking some family portraits. And the one part which touched me the most – When the mother very lightly, very casually in a simple tone tells that she always had a dream to take her kids out for shopping in a car, their own car. And now for her kids, its just such a simpleton thing… going out shopping in car… no big deal.. “So who’s stopping us mum, let’s go anytime..”  Anytime?? But where is the time ???

It has some inherent sorrow within it, some deep gloom inside every character… there is something breaking inside, something like the old washroom tiles, rotting and becoming weak day by day, nearing a collapse. Its brings you face to face with those hidden sadness of today’s life that you always turn a blind eye to.
And in between all this there are the characters, one who’s thinking what to say to these parents next morning while bidding farewell? what to say to them to solace them that they won’t be alone in their last days ? and the thought that do we really have faith and trust on ourselves?

Don’t miss it, It’s a rare film…

A New era of fantasy novels

Posted: April 16, 2011 in Books & Movies

Generally I read a lot , and by a lot I mean a lot… and in that lot a certain good fraction belongs to the mainstream Fantasy Novels, be it Harry Potter, LOTR, Wheel of time or beowulf… Fantasy novels are like third on my “genre in order of priority list”, the first two being History and (Auto)biographies. I love literature, and certainly i do find an internal satisfaction with every new leap in the field. Anyways, i just wrapped up The Briar King and yes, it’s good and different, won’t write any review though :)but yeah one thing i can assure, the Fantasy world is changing, changing for the good.
The days when village boys and dark lords chase each other endlessly across a landscape may be at an end. There’s a new type of fantasy that’s taking the fantasy world by storm.

The Fantasy genre has historically been a very static one. We have the classics like E.R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros, arguably the prime contender for the work that laid the foundations of the fantasy archetypes, and Tolkien, who pretty much single handedly laid out the foundations of modern fantasy.

We’ve seen a variety of subgenres birthed the past few decades: urban fantasy, Celtic fantasy, romantic fantasy, gothic fantasy, etc. But by and large, the most popular fantasy has always been the fantasy that followed Tolkien’s example (epic fantasy). Yes, in some of the more obscure subgenres of fantasy, we’ve seen some interesting things being done. Writers like China Miéville (The Scar) and Neil Gaiman (American Gods) have been cloaking some fascinating ideas in the robes of fantasy, but the main vein of fantasy – epic fantasy – has remain unchanged for nearly fifty years.

However, in the past several years, In whatever I’ve read I’ve seen a new type of fantasy coming to the fore of the genre . This new Fantasy has been gaining swift momentum. This new style of Fantasy takes the old staples of Fantasy and remakes them into something more sophisticated. Strong, witty writing, dry humor, twisted plotting, and full of contrasting elements, this new style makes for some intelligent reading. In this new world of noir Fantasy, shades of grey are the new black and white. Gone are the hopefully optimistic village boys wielding magic swords on a quest to defeat the impossible; in their place, a gritty fantasy has arisen; a stark genre where the very conventions of what it means to be a hero are challenged: worlds are made of gray not black and white; heroes may be both a villain and savior; love is powerful, but ultimately ephemeral; heroes die and villains live.

Many fantasy readers are becoming more astute in their fantasy choices. Gone are the days where Terry Brooks and David Eddings topped the fantasy lists. The quality level demanded of a good Fantasy novel is now much higher. No longer satisfied with the dark lords versus farm boy conceit, readers are demanding fantasy novels that don’t follow the normal fantasy vein; they want something completely new.
There are several authors pioneering this new wave of fantasy: George Martin, Joe Abercrombie, R. Scott Bakker, Patrick Rothfuss, and Scott Lynch(yet to read him but have heard a lot…) to name a few.

Have we seen the end of farm boys and dark lords? Who knows, but right now, I’m enjoying the dramatic increase in the quality of fantasy writing today…

The Korean Movies

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Books & Movies

When I was in college I had an overwhelming obsession with Korean movies, specially the romantic ones. The romantic comedies were my favorite though. These movies appealed to me in an enigmatically convoluted sort of way. Even
with the bad sub titles with its many typos… which I am sure gives a imprecise translation at most times… I simply could not get enough of them.

Once I had spent an entire weekday night watching ‘Gautmn in my Bert’ … Well that’s ‘Autumn in my heart’ but remember the typos I told you about? They even extended to the DVD covers… and stumbling to first lecture the next day without even having slept a wink. But luckily for me there was an ODI that day and all… Yes, ALL… my classes were bunked! Lucky me!!

Btw, if you are wondering why one movie took me an entire night? Well I thought ‘Autumn in my heart’ was a DVD collection of 27 movies and I was planning on watching one that night. But it turned out to be 27 episodes of one series, and I somehow found myself unable to stop in between.

In Korean rom coms, the lovely but invariably gauche heroine always fell for this really hot chink she could never get her hands on…. and the stories did not always end in a ‘happily ever after’. Their profound simplicity and slight imperfection, I think, gives them a touch of reality.

200 pounds of beauty happens to be my all time favorite… Not only coz this has a happy ending but because… Nah! I m not gonna spoil it for you. So go check it out.

Anyways… it was a college thing and I haven’t watched a Korean flick in almost a year now.

Yesterday (it was a holiday in Microsoft 🙂 ) as I was going through this movie collection i picked from my colleague in Microsoft (actually he’s a college senior too), I came across a sealed Korean movie DVD collection I had never got around watching. So I finished my chores, popped it into my laptop and settled in for a movie marathon… the first of the year.… just like old times. But… there is always a butting… my lappy does not even detect it! So I spent half an hour cursing, reloading, and cursing some more. Then some one told me to try it in a DVD player. So the marathon of searching a DVD player begun, finally after one hour i managed to get one from the mallu famil living on the lower floor… and lo! Behold! It worked!!! But… yup! one more but… for the life of me I could not get the sub titles to work. Even though all system functions were set to English the subtitles appeared in Korean!… I m no shakes at languages or scripts so I am assuming it was Korean but it might be Chinese for all that matters

Anyways out of the window went my movie marathon, my walk down memory lane. Guess i should not have made fun of the subtitles.. eh?
So once again I am stuck in my Office with something to be Signed Off by tomorrw and i’m pretty bored doing this since afternoon, Hence the post 🙂

——–

And before I sign out
Congratulations everyone… we are the World Champions now 🙂

 

Right from my childhood I’ve this habit of switching on T.V. as soon as I return home from school, college, gym wherever. Same way as soon as i came back from office i did the same and today my bad luck… it was all melodramatic happy go merry Rajshri productions all over it….Hum Sath Aath Hain..sry sath sath, Maine pyaar kia, and the legendary Hum Aaapke Hain Kaun..!! aaarrghh!!”

All i could think was “mercy on us oh Holy Saints above”. Then i began to think over the whole concept of these ‘Family Movies’ and figured out the following common characteristics among these:

1. A house, a very big house with all the luxuries of the world – swimming pools, pool tables, lawns, fountains, drivers, servants…. in fact its not a house, it’s a palace a palace even bigger than the Vatican.

2. A family where all the first, second, third cousins, relatives, friends all live at the same palace. Wonder whether they have kids going to school next day or not. All the buajis, mamijis, bhabhis and a lot of giggling irritating girls are all stuffed at the same house.

3. At least a dozen songs, one meant for every situation, every nook and corner, every festival, marriage, romance…. thank god S. P. Balasubrahmanyam is not around any more… (remember the voice “aaja shaam hone aayi mausam ne li…”)

4. A pet, usually a Dog (a monkey can serve the purpose too) who plays a very important role in the romantic buildup of the plot. In certain cases it plays the central binding character in the climax too.

5. Alok Nath/Reema laagu/Anupam Kher, 10 out of 10 times one of them will be there.

6. The second family (usually the girl’s side), poor but dignified, with either a Masterji / Professor being the head of the family.

7. A foreign educated dude, who worships his parents, loves women clad in churidars and sarees and is more fluent in music and songs than beethove and mozart could ever be.

8. A humble, loyal servant (usually the comedian with all blunt jokes in an irritating accent, one face i could remember of – lakshmikant berde yakk… may his soul rest in peace up there) – an orphan raised by the Badi Maa of house as her own son (aka the mistress of the Vatican palace).

9. A wicked Buaji/Mamaji typically played by Bindu. Usually her husband is a very humble, insecure joru ka ghulam types.

10. A fake accusation of stealth being put on the poor, orphan servant. Where he cries melodramatically and either the Maa  or Bhabhi consoles him afterwards.

11. A pathetic Antakshiri game (sometimes cricket takes its place too). The fascination lit faces of all the actors are enough to dread me during my sleep for the next one week.

12. Wrapping up with few dialogues :
Maa/Babuji mujhe kaam ke silsile me london jana hai”
“Kal prem apni padhayi puri karke vilayat se wapas aa raha hai”
“Main chor nahi hun maaji”
“Bas ab jaldi se iske hath peele ho jayein, to main bhi chain ki saans lun”

 

 

 

I won’t rate “The client”, I never rate Gresham, his novels are like – time pass reads, momentary pleasure, one or two night stands with well spun plots and a few real to life characters…. certainly no masterpiece.

The Client is, overall, a nice book, good page turner. Although it does drag in places and some of the “lawyer jargon” can get annoying, the characterization and plot are quite involving. It is a very suspenseful and unpredictable novel which kept me up till 4 am reading.
What make the book so good are the characters.
Mark Sway–an eleven year old, trailor-trash, kid is brilliant and foolish all at the same time which keeps the book moving well because every time he gets himself out of a situation, he always manages to get himself into another. He talks like he’s 45 and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He also questions a lot about society and the legal system in such a childlike matter that it really makes you stop and think about your position on the topic and what you would tell an 11 year old kid.
Reggie Love is definitely the most complex character. After a painful divorce, attempted suicide, and commitment into various mental facilities, she begins a new life as a smart-talking, witty, clever, and absolutely crazy lawyer who you just have to love. They call it her “second life” and she lives it to its fullest. Only a 4 year lawyer and she’s able to outsmart the FBI. She cares so much, too much, about her “little clients” and although she denies it, is willing to risk her life for some of them. She’s a very strong character, but still very vulnerable, which makes for a great story.
Foltrigg
 ( forgot the spelling :)), is the opposing, big-headed, stuck up, U.S. prosecuting attorney who is absolutely determined to win the case no matter the extremes. Completely engrossed in his job, he really helps display the infamous view of the lying, cheating, snake-like lawyers which we all hate so dearly, yet, Grisham also makes it seem like he is just trying to do his job.

The plot is pointless for me to elaborate :), is either full-blown action, or boring, drag along lawyer stuff and mob talk. Basically, at some parts you can’t put the book down and then at others you are just waiting in agony for something exciting to happen, but its well worth the wait. Overall–I’d only suggest it as a casual read, not great, not bad… just an interesting book for any given weekend…

P.S. for the time being I’m taking a break from reading, will be trying something new for some time – music, theatre, movies, ngo… ?? Maybe… but books are my most reliable and loyal girlfriends… we are just having a break… it’s not over, it will never be over… 🙂

And Then There Were None

Posted: January 7, 2011 in Books & Movies, Reviews

I’ve never been a huge Agatha Christie fan, but I’d always liked her books, most of the time i only read her Poirot novels. Hercule Poirot is the greatest fictional detective ever after Sherlock Holmes, whose character is unparalleled . But this book does not feature Poirot, which is why I wasn’t too enthusiastic for it, but after a friend of mine, Sundaram suggested it with a brief outlook of the plot i decided to give it a shot rightaway. As it turned out, this book is now on the list of my all-time favourite mysteries!

I suppose the plot is what draws most people to this book. There never has been a more elaborate mystery in the annals of fiction. Ten people gather on an island, supposedly invited by a host who isn’t present. We learn quite quickly that all the people are murderers — murderers that the law can’t touch. And the mysterious host who calls himself U. N. Owen (‘unknown’) plans to execute his guests.

The murders take place in accordance with a little nursery rhyme that is framed in each guest’s room. And as people begin to die one by one, and an extensive search reveals that there’s no one else on the island, it soon becomes clear that U. N. Owen is someone among the original party. The book soon turns into a psychological thriller as each guest becomes paranoid and suspicious of the others.

The last few chapters are nerve-wrecking and the Epilogue is shocking. Some of the contexts of the book are really nerve recking and worth the horror. “Definitely worth reading” is a huge understatement. Go read it!

“When the sea goes down, there will come from the mainland boats and men. And they will find ten dead bodies and an unsolved problem on Indian Island.”

A True Reader ?

Posted: December 2, 2010 in Books & Movies, Thoughts
I wonder how to define a True Reader…
The other day, I was talking with my colleague about a book I’d just bought. “I may glance at it,” he told me, “but I don’t really read anymore.” I didn’t say anything but my internal response was, “Huh?” That colleague of mine reads the paper regularly, reads information on the Internet almost daily, and often browses through books that other people are carrying, even if he doesn’t read the whole thing. Oh, and later that day, he started reading through a non-fiction book kept in my cubicle. Only a few days later, he’s over halfway through. While I don’t think I’ve ever seen him read through a novel, he regularly reads.I’ve read articles about people downplaying their reading when they don’t read “literature,” but this was the first time I saw someone do it. I’ve always considered him a reader (though i know him for just 4 months), but he was discounting the huge amount of reading he does because he doesn’t read entire works of fiction. I wonder, if even readers ( though i don’t even know the true definition of one) would count up the amount of time and pages they read on books they didn’t finish, how much time and how many pages would be represented?

Does “reading” means going through the huge volumes of fiction like LOTR, HP or banging your senses and brains into the works of philosophical wonders or reading is simply reading any stuff you’ve at hand?

I wonder why do we count a particular type of reading as “real”?

Who perpetuates ideas of “real” reading, and what I do for the people in the community who may not read the books on fiction or philosophy or travelling; because they aren’t “readers,” when they really are?

The Girl who loved Tom Gordon

Posted: November 28, 2010 in Books & Movies, Reviews


Well written, but not upto Stephen King’s Standard

This book, from its cover design, its author’s reputation and its blurb at the back, seems completely to suggest a tale of seething terror.

However, I find that it is more a tale of jungle survival couched as a horror story. The horror is really very much in the background, while the reader (and protagonist) is mostly absorbed in the nitty-gritty of finding food, fighting bugs and avoiding the rocks when falling into a river.
It is admittedly a very charming book, especially in the characterization of 9-year old Trisha McFarland and the depiction of her struggles, her ever-deepening exhaustion and that fine line between comedy and tragedy; between hope and the abyss.
Yes there is a good build-up of fear about the “special thing” that lurks in the forest; stalking Trisha; but I found myself actually laughing when the terror should have climaxed. Laughing. Sure, you might choose to interpret that I am twisted, but I think the climax was more than a little funny.

While the writing style of King is great, as usual, the plot of this book is really monotonous because he spends too many pages detailing Trisha’s wanderings through the forest.

King could have involved the enemy more in the plot and spend more pages describing the hard moments that her family was going through instead of telling us so much about her misfortunes in the Appalachian Trail.
King also could have detailed the efforts of the search party to introduce more adventure and thrills to the book.
Overall I think this book is more suited to introduce teenagers to King’s books than for King’s fans craving the classic suspenseful terror stories of gore and blood.
Being a big Stephen King fan i’ll say its not worth the money for those of us used to his classic stories.