Monday, March 23, 2009

So many ways to begin - Jon Mcgregor

An unusual title was what had attracted me to this book. "So many ways to begin" by Jon McGregor turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read and has made my top-10 list.
Written in an amazingly simple and unassuming prose, this book does not purport to do anything great. The author does not use highly stylized, lyrical sentences nor does it have an engaging story line. In fact, it is the story of the ordinary life. What makes it incredible, is the narrative. Short chapters constructed around a keepsake or memory object from the protagonist's life describe in excruciatingly beautiful detail mundane and everyday things which puts you in the front row seat to this show. It might as well be your life the author is describing.
The vivid descriptions of the verdant Irish countryside or the bleak landscape of the dock towns of Scotland vie for attention with the description of a gesture, a look of lost love, a moment when that crucial choice was made. In fact, it is these seemingly routine choices that turn out to be at the heart of this story, like it so often is in real life. Even without laying out every single detail of the scene, the author manages to tug at the soul of the crisis in each one of them - the devastation of World War II, the ecstasy of true love, the agony of giving up a child or the darkness of a depressed spouse. This book did not make me cry nor did it make me laugh. What it did is make me nod in agreement at the end of almost all the chapters. In keeping the edges murky almost sfumato, the attention is drawn to the details and what emerges is a beautiful portrait of everyday life and extraordinary people.
A definite 5/5.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


The good people at Pixar have done it again. Just when the dust was settling from Cars and Ratatouille, here is WALL-E. Though not as thrilling, fast and exciting as the former or sophisticated and story-oriented as the latter, the slow pace and the impassive "faces" of the characters make it easy to imbibe the spirit of this movie. A very strong message is highlighted by carefully though out details like the dark, dull color of earth instead of the usual green as seen from space, the dark oceans, the space junk, slush river and the omnipresent trash compared to the sanitary and robotic yet "peaceful" existence of the people aboard the space cruise liner.
By far the steal of the movie is the adorable Wall-E. It doesn't have the spunk or charm of Lightning McQueen or the rustic hillbilly enthusiasm of 'Mater but the almost expressionless binocular eyes exude pure innocence - almost like that of a newborn baby. Contrast it with the "know-it-all" aura surrounding his friend, EVE, and you have yourself an irresistible pair.
The storyline could have been developed a little more and the pace is slow, but the effort is valiant and so is the theme. My 4 year old son stayed up way past his bedtime to finish the movie and that is a big indicator of the charm of this movie to an audience that does not really get the save-the-Earth message.
A good watch - 3.5/5.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wild hogs!

Just watched "Wild Hogs" starring Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H.Macy and others. It is an outrageously hilarious movie, an unpretentious commentary on the proverbial "male midlife crisis" and a very down-to-earth response to it. It is certainly a biker movie, with shades of a Western to it, but at heart it is a feel-good comedy with anyone can identify with. The casting is excellent as each character is brought to life especially by the 4 lead actors. I particularly enjoyed the excellent timing of William H.Macy as Dudley, the Geek who gets his fairly tale princess at the end. Also Ray Liotta as Jack "Del Fuego" personifies all the stereotypes that pop culture has set on "biker dudes". A brisk pace, witty dialogues and beautiful picturisation of the open road and the heartland make this movie extremely enjoyable. It even has its version of Mayberry - Madrid NM (pronounced May-drid) complete with the predictable Chili festival, a sheriff who doesn't carry firearms and their favourite pastime, bull-slapping!
The piece de resistance - other than the stunning Marissa Tomeii - is a glimpse of William H. Macy's pale, shrunken, naked butt!
Highly recommended to drive away all your workweek, hard day blues. Definitely a must-see!