Last Best Chance

Last Best Chance is a documentary movie about a nuclear terrorism threat to the USA. In the movie, Al-Qaeda plans to acquire nuclear weapons and detonate them in US and UK on the anniversary of the US attack of Afghanistan. They acquire nuclear material from Belarus and assemble the bombs in Poland. Meanwhile, the US and Russian governments get wind of their moves, but are not able to stop them. The movie ends when Al-Qaeda successfully moves the bombs into the US (through the US-Canada and US-Mexico border) and the UK. The movie is followed by an interview of Senator Richard Lugar (R) and former Senator Sam Nunn (D) with Tom Brokaw. Answering some of the questions, they do indirectly hint at how little the current Bush government is doing to prevent such a catastrophe.

The movie hinges on the belief that the last best chance for the US government to stop a nuclear bomb going off within its borders is by controlling the nuclear material at its source at all the places in the world. Once terrorists get hold of nuclear material, making a bomb out of it pretty easy. The movie is very short (~45 minutes) and quite interesting, except that the focus keeps shifting between the different incidents at very short intervals. This docu-drama is funded and produced by the NTI. If you are interested, you can order a free copy of this DVD.

Tintin In The Congo

Tintin In The Congo is the second book in the original Tintin series. Tintin and Snowy set off on an adventure to the (then) Belgian colony of Congo in Africa. They travel by ship and in Congo take the help of a African boy named Coco. Many times in their adventures and hunts in the bush, they are harmed by a thief. Later, they find out that he was sent to kill him, so that his boss (Chicago mafia) can profit from the diamond business in Congo.

Not much of the sophistication of the later Tintin comics is seen in this one. The drawings are in black-n-white. Tintin and Snowy have started to look much like their later selves. The book is filled with characters and names stereotypical of the colonial times and slave trading. It might come off as racist today, but one should remember the time that this book was created. Tintin In The Congo is only for the diehard Tintin fan.

S.W.A.T.

S.W.A.T.

Rating: 2/4 (So bad that you wish the villains swat this S.W.A.T. team!)

SWAT is a special police force in some US cities which are used for critical operations. The movie S.W.A.T. is about the SWAT team in the LAPD. When the movie starts off, Jim (Colin Farrell) and his partner Gamble are involved in saving hostages from a bank. Gamble is a loose cannon and shoots a hostage in the melee. He is kicked out of the force and Jim is demoted from S.W.A.T. Six months later, enter veteran Hondo (Samuel Jackson) who assembles a new S.W.A.T. team with Jim, LL Cool J, Michelle Rodriguez (remember Blue Crush?) and others. Now into this mix, throw in an international criminal who needs to be transported to a maximum security prison. The problem is that he has announced a reward of 100 million dollars to whoever can rescue him from the police. During the transport, the S.W.A.T. team get attacked from several groups including some of their own who are interested in the $$$ reward.

This is a crappy movie. The story leaks like a New Orleans levee. The S.W.A.T. team look like a bunch of jokers as they go about their training. None of the motives in the movie are strong enough to warrant the actions they take. By the time the movie reached its climax, I was wishing the bad guys would swat this S.W.A.T. team. You can do better than to watch this movie!

Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets

Yours truly is a big Tintin fan. However, I had not read 2 rare issues – Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets and Tintin In The Congo. Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets is the first Tintin comic. Compared to the extremely refined art in the later Tintin comics, the art here is amateurish and in black-n-white. The story (I guess) is aimed at children, since it is full of gags and not serious. Tintin, the Belgian reporter sets off to Russia to see the how the Communist regime is doing. The Soviet secret police try to kill him many times, but he escapes all the attempts. He discovers that the Russians are actually dying of hunger, while the Russian propaganda just shows off that they are doing well to the outside world. Not much of an adventure there! Tintin looks a bit fat and grubby, Snowy talks and its all funny! Not to be missed for the nostalgic value.

Laughing Gas

Read a Wodehouse book, Laughing Gas this weekend. Reggie is an Earl who looks like a gorilla, but soft at heart. He is sent to the US by his aunt to bring back his cousin Eggy who is in Hollywood and has got engaged to a commoner there. During his journey across America, Reggy falls in love with a delicate actress named April June. In Hollywood, Reggie discovers that his cousin has engaged to Ann, who is his old flame!

Things start to get complicated when Reggie goes to a dentist to have his teeth extracted. When under the influence of gas, his soul gets exchanged with that of Joel Cooley, a Hollywood child star who is also at the dentist. Now, with the body of Cooley, Reggie finds himself beset with the former’s troubles and also needs to keep in touch with June. He soon discovers that June’s love for him is just for his wealth and also that he still loves Ann. The threads tie together cleanly and all ends well.

The book is filled with the trademark Wodehouse humor. Also, this was interesting since it was a non-Jeeves story. Laughing Gas is a fast paced humorous read with zero dull moments.

The Day After Tomorrow

The Day After Tomorrow

Rating: 3/4 (I cannot resist a good natural catastrophe blockbuster!)

The Day After Tomorrow could not have aired on TV at a better time! In the movie, a series of strange climate changes are being seen all over the Northern Hemisphere. Tornadoes rip through Los Angeles and a hailstorm blasts Tokyo. Jack (Dennis Quaid), a paleoclimatologist working for the NOAA, predicts that these are but the initial stages of a coming second Ice Age for the planet! He bases this on the observation that the Gulf Stream has gotten colder by 13° due to an increased melting of the ice at the poles. Once the delicate balance between salt water and fresh water (brought by melting ice) is lost, the planet could see an accelerated climate change. The president and vice-president dismiss his claims.

They are made to eat their words when 3 superstorms form over Earth covering the entire Northern Hemisphere. Jack now predicts that the entire North region could be frozen in mere days due to the storms. He calls his son Sam who is in NYC and asks him to stay inside until the storm has passed. Sam (Jake Gyllenhall) is in NYC with his geeky friends to attend an academic competition. His love interest Laura (Emmy Rossum) is also with him. They soon witness the Atlantic Ocean well up into NYC flooding it. They take refuge in the New York Public Library. Soon, the superstorm over North America intensifies bringing with it heavy snowing. Heeding his dad’s words, Sam convinces his friends to stay inside while the others decide to walk out. Jack’s predictions come true as the superstorm brings more intense cold which turns the Northern Hemisphere into an Antarctica. Sam and his friends burn the books of the library to keep warm and survive until help arrives.

I love movies with natural catastrophes (Twister being one of my all time favorites) and I liked this one as well. The Day After Tomorrow is loosely based on the book The Coming Global Superstorm. Though the science of the movie may be a little farfetched, the natural catastrophes of the recent year are a grim reminder of what is coming. It was also fun to watch Americans run over the Mexican border to flee from the storm. The movie is filled with little satires and ironies that make it interesting. Dennis and Jake are good. Emmy is oh oh oh so cute! The effects are great, making a frozen NYC convincing.

Casablanca

Casablanca

Rating: 4/4 (Great lines, music, Bogart and Burgman make this a must watch!)

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

So says Rick when he sees his old lover Ilsa walk into his bar. The movie is Casablanca, the time is early World War II and the place is Casablanca in Morocco, Africa. Casablanca is teeming with European refugees who have run away from their countries desperate to obtain an exit visa from here (unoccupied French territory) and get into America. They are all running away from the expanding Nazi armies.

Rick (Humphrey Bogart) escaped from Europe after the woman he loved ditched him, he has now settled in Casablanca and runs a bar. Fatefully, he gets his hands on two transit letters that allow any two people to get out with no restrictions. Incidentally, the same day his old lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) walks into his bar with her partner. Ilsa’s partner Victor Lazlo turns out to be a guy working on a resistance movement against the Nazis, a cause that Rick himself is sympathetic to. But, Lazlo and Ilsa are denied exit visas. To complicate matters, the German influence is already growing in the city and the Nazis are sure to send Lazlo to their concentration camps if they catch him. In these desperate situations, the couple request Rick to help them with his transit letters. Rick turns then down saying he does not care what happens to them. Will he have a change of heart?

The movie is really old, shot in B&W. The story with its elements of love during war is very intriguing. Bogart seems very stony and always talks in a monotone. Ingrid is stunningly beautiful in this movie, I just melted. The famous song As Time Goes By appears in this movie. This is certainly a movie not to be missed.