Creative common license

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dev.D

Yes, i have seen it finally. And my verdict is - impressive in chunks, too long, colorful and missing a baseline. (Sorry for the disappointment Justin!)

To start with, i was never a fan of the devdas - original story or any of its takes so far. I never understood why the story of a loser with life gone wrong had attracted so mu ch attention of Indian audiences. But having said that, i think Dev.d will be the best of them all. Lets start with the good - colorful, some excellent cinematography - the scene where Abhay helds his hand under water, face close ups are very nicely done. A film about sexuality for an Indian audience - i think Anurag walks on tight ropes here nicely using rich colors, to create the appeal. And a good score in background.

But then what's bad - Too much experimentation sometimes, clearly in music, there is no underlying soundtrack, it just jumps off from one to another. Too long of a story, there was no point in showing father's death, it added nothing. I like the investment in time for developing each character but chanda's character was so much over done, she is often portrayed as a victim in the whole story, she with her orgami, face painting, books etc comes out as a moral hero in the whole story. I think in Anurag's version each one comes out as a victim - Chanda as described above, Paro because of Dev and Dev because of himself :) . I belive first two but Dev as a vicitm of his own ego, i am sorry i do not buy it.

But may be i need to view it another time to get a better judgement.

Monday, March 22, 2010

camera cinema club

So, i have attended two screenings of the Camera cinema club and thought it would be a good time to review them. Camera cinema club is a bay area movie club with one screenings a month and where we have no idea what the movies is going to be. Before the movie starts, there is also a movie quiz with random prizes, some good some bad. Both of my movies so far have been premiere shows of yet to be released movies.

The first one was The most dangerous man in America . A documentary on the life of Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the pentagon papers to the American media. One of the best movies that i have seen this year. The documentary is made in a suspense drama style and for a person like me who had no idea about this historic event, it was the kind of drama that i love the most. Not only is the story and story telling is at its best, but the drama created is super (french style). After the screening, the director was there and it was interesting to hear questions from people who had seen when they were young. Interestingly, most of the members of the cinema club are old like 40+ or 50+ so they were young when the war happened, some even served at the war etc, for them it was quite a painful event. The film also has real footage from Nixon administration and there as the dir said, Nixon will continue to amaze people for generations to come.

The next one was The Joneses Debug movie by the director, this one is about the American consumerism taken to its extreme and done in a way that it is totally credible as well as shocking if it turns out to be true (now or in future. ) I liked David Duchovny's acting a lot on this movie, he got the movie's mood and blended in. It is not going to be an 8pointer on imdb, but there should be reasonably good movies, movies made with lot of creativity, detail, normal story, decent acting and movies made with good intentions. These indie movies surely know how to experiment and awe with their creativity.

Camera cinema club page - http://www.cameracinemas.com/club.shtml

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New sites

As it is evident, i very rarely write about tech things on this blog. I do not know why - mainly i think i am not interested in most of the tech things that come out. My general opinion is that people in tech are creating problems out of thin air and trying to solve them while there are thousands of open problems that no one is trying to work on. Yes, the last comment was directed mainly towards twitter and scores of twitter related products, facebook to some extent and thousands of idiotic iphone/facebook apps that people are trying to create these days.

Yet even in the midst of these fictional products, there are some that stand out - some by their simplicity and some by their application. This post is a review of some of these sites that i am glad exist on web. Lets check them

(a) movies.google.com - Google is releasing many big products such as wave, buzz, etc etc. I have turned all of them off. Yet it is movies.google.com that i have found myself checking it out again and again. It is a very simple interface - all it does is that it takes my zip code and lists theatres soreted by distance and for each theatre the movie listings and their times and for each movie - a link to its trailer and a link to imdb profile. Yes, that's all i care about. I agree that it favors imdb but it follows the 80% rule. The best thing i like is the simple interface to provide a simple functionality. There were many players in this space - fandango etc who were much before than google but it is the interface of movies.google.com that makes it special for me. Ofcourse google does not has to worry about ads etc which gives them an edge but as a consumer, i would even be willing to pay like 5$ for a year to receive this product. Thats just me!

(b) http://www.walkscore.com/ -It is an excellent idea - What this site does is that it takes any address and computes a walk score aka given your address how walkable are places to your home, places like grocery story, cafe, school, bus stop, train station etc etc. And it has cool interface as well. It is a typical west world application in that regard but atleast it is doing something good - encouraging people to buy homes that are walkable. My place's walkable score is 82 out of 100 - http://www.walkscore.com/get-score.php?street=768+rengstorff+ave&go=Go and thats the reason i like where i live :). Thanks Guy for pointing to this site.

(c) http://www.booksalefinder.com/ - Again a very useful site to a book reader. It tells you when is your library's next book sale. Book sales in US are somthing that this country should be incredibly proud of - this culture is awesome. You get excellent books for very cheap prize and people buy books in sacks (no, i am not kidding!) and after reading them, they donate it back. Yes, a lot of people read here esp senior citizens. Although this site is still very web 1.0ish but the content is extremely valuable for any book connoisseur.

(d) meetup.com - As i had written earlier, i joined meetup two months ago and as it is typical of me, i am 2 yrs late when it comes to knowing this site. Meetup.com is a site where people can post meetups about things that they are interested in and othetrs with similar interest can then meet to do it. A very cool idea and what makes it fascinating that it is working! Its a nice to have thing over the web and the range of meetups is very diverse. A great opportunity to meet like minded people. And they have implemented this thing very nicely.

Things missing over the web -
a) imeem replacement - After myspace swallowed imeem and deleted all my playlists/friends, i am at loss of a site that can replace it. If you know anything that is similar to imeem, please let me know.
b) News filter - So many news sources, much of them are junk. a site that can filter junk from rest, that filter has to be customizable. esp for tech news. Techcrunch is going in the direction of punjab kesari, read write web is publishing so many. Have not yet tried Giga OM yet.

Things that are still going good -
a) phulki - although little bit disappointed by their search and lack of some crucial features, this site is still my go to site for indian music.
b) woot - although my addiction has toned down, it is still there.
c) amazon for book reviews.
d) hulu for new tv shows.

Hem (the band)

Myspace page - http://www.myspace.com/hem

How i discovered this band -

It started with this Liberty mutual ad -


And then i thought - geez! that was a good song. who is that ? Couple of google searches and i get that the band is Hem and the song is Half acre. The video is here -


Lyrics are -
I am holding half an acre
Torn from the map of Michigan
And folded in this scrap of paper
Is the land I grew in

Think of every town you've lived in
Every room you lay your head
And what is it that you remember

Do you carry every sadness with you
Every hour your heart was broken
Every night the fear and darkness
Lay down with you

A man is walking on the highway
A woman stares out at the sea
And light is only now just breaking

So we carry every sadness with us
Every hour our hearts were broken
Every night the fear and darkness
Lay down with us

But I am holding half an acre
Torn from the map of Michigan
I am carrying this scrap of paper

That can crack the darkest sky wide open
Every burden taken from me
Every night my heart unfolding


Hem's wikipedia page - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hem_%28band%29

Ballet

Another check box in life - i watched a live ballet performance yesterday.
It was Mountain view center for performing arts (mvcpa.com) - it is right opposite my office and i had never been there. Kind of shameful but as they say - "better late than never".

The group performing was Contemporary C ballet - http://www.companycballet.org/ . I thought that the event would be sold out but it wasn't, infact the auditorium was 60% empty. The group's artistic director - Charles Anderson in his introduction said - "I have a dream that one day you will come here to buy a ticket and you will say what? sold out?" I liked his confidence :)

The performance had 4 pieces -
(a) Beautiful maladies - two couples dancing on about 6 songs - all jazz songs. Songs started with each couple knowing their partner as friends, then valentine, then married, then marriage gone sour and lastly - i can live without you. Their site describes this piece as "an emotional journey through the complexities of love". Music was quite good. It was by Richard Rodgers. I have check him out.
(b) Nine person ball precision - This was my fav. I will write about it in detail below.
(c) Cavalcade - 7 person dance. I am sorry that i didn't get the story here. I give this link which explains this piece - http://www.companycballet.org/popup_2010_winter.html
(d) Last was Charles Anderson's directed piece - Dreams to remember. I think this review covers my thoughts as well - http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_10/mar10/rr_rev_company_c_contemporary_ballet_0210.htm

All in all, a delightful experience. One thing that i notices was the lack of symmetry in the performances. Of all the shows that i have seen on television like those olympic opening ceremonies with huge groups, one thing that stands out in all of them is the symmetry and coordinated moments. And it is a joy to watch a group of people performing same moves at the same time and symmetry comes from their coordinates. But in all the performances above (Except ofcourse the nine precision ball passing) both symmetry and coordinated moves were ignored and i think intentionally. It was great to watch a group of people (esp in cavalcade) dancing in their own rhythm, with their own moves yet there was a coherency in the group. "The group as a collection of individuals with each individual a part of the group" - group and individual dynamics coming together. Also noteworthy was that the number of female members and male members were also not the same. Maybe it was due to some members being injured but it was interesting to watch the performance.

And now the Nine precision ball passing - It was directed by Charles Moulton and apparently there is a whole project called ball passing. Do check it out at - http://ballpassing.com/ . What it is at the end is that there are 9 people standing in a grid like fashion 3 rows, 3 cols each holding a ball and then as the music begins, they all start passing balls. And it is the coordination in which they pass balls makes all the difference. And what makes it more interesting is the combinations in which ball can be passed from one person to another. If you have ever solved a sudoku and have tried to fill numbers in that 3x3 grid, you may get some idea on the different combinations. It was exactly the same thing here. Do watch the documentary/video on ballpassing.com, as Charled Moulton explains it, this simple thing is probably one of the best things to foster group dynamics. Since there are so many moves and so synchronization, dropping of balls is inevitable and the smooth in which the contemporary c artists recovered was a delight to watch.