Tomorrow Never Dies

I got around to see the one last Pierce-Brosnan-as-Bond movie that I’d missed — Tomorrow Never Dies. The villain in this movie is Carver who owns a huge chunk of the world’s newspaper and television networks. His company is so big and powerful that he now creates wars and accidents just to create news for his papers. In a bid to enter the Chinese market, he sets up the stage for a war between China and the UK. It is upto Bond and Chinese secret agent Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) to save the world.

The movie’s pretty decent. Carver looks like Rupert Murdoch, the real world figure he is meant to represent. But, he doesn’t have the size to be a Bond villain, so comes off as comical. Michelle Yeoh though eye catching, is a bit old to be a Bond girl. Teri Hatcher (the sob queen of Desperate Housewives) as Carver’s wife and Bond’s old flame looks good. There are loads of good Bond style double entendres in this movie. And the title song by Sheryl Crow is neat! GoldenEye remains my favorite Brosnan starring Bond movie.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

After everyone and their dog have read it (pun unintended), I got around to reading The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. Written by Mark Haddon, the novel follows a mathematically gifted autistic pre-teen Christopher as he tries to find out who killed his neighbour’s dog. He discovers Mrs. Shears’s dog Wellington dead one night with a garden fork sticking through it. Being an avid reader of Sherlock Holmes’s mysteries, Christopher decides to find out the culprit. The detection leads him and his loved ones through an emotional journey causing much grief and in the end, a bit of happiness.

The book is narrated by Christopher himself as he tries to jot down his adventure. We get to see/hear/smell the world through the eyes/ears/nose of an autistic child. Being born with a kind of autism called Asperger Syndrome, Christopher sees mathematical numbers and patterns in everything around him. Unlike other humans, his moods and decisions are heavily influenced by these patterns. His social and communication skills are severely stunted and he needs the help of his dad to look after himself. More than the dog murder mystery (which is actually pretty lame), the book generates a lot of thought about autism. Christopher’s autistic view of the world is vivid and absorbing. Also, the reader gets to see the hardships of a family tending to such a child and how society treats them. These are what make this book stand out.

TCIOTDIN won the Whitbread Book Of The Year award in 2003. It is a small book and can be read in a noon.

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  • Chapters in the book are numbered in prime numbers. Christopher says he did this because:

    “Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. […] prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”

  • The book’s protagonist solves mathematical equations and puzzles in his head when he is emotionally disturbed to make those feelings go away. One of these puzzles is the Conway’s Soldiers. The intrigue in this puzzle is that no matter how big a board or how large the number of soldiers you start out with, you discover that you cannot move beyond 4 rows.
  • The Monty Hall Problem also makes an appearance in the book. P had discussed this problem in detail on his journal. Back then I had said that though I could understand the proof, I did not feel it was right in my gut. In this book, the proof is depicted using a simple figure. On looking at it, it immediately became clear to me! 🙂
  • The book’s subject might look serious, but the book is infact quite fun to read. Here is an example:

    (Christopher is at a train station ticket counter. He is trying to buy a ticket to London. He’s never been to a train station before in his life.)

    And then there was no one else in front of the window and I said to the man behind the window, “I want to go to London,” […]
    And the man said, “Single or return?”
    And I said, “What does single or return mean?”
    And he said, “Do you want to go one way, or do you want to go and come back?”
    And I said, “I want to stay there when I get there.”
    And he said, “For how long?”
    And I said, “Until I go to university.”
    And he said, “Single, then,” and then he said, “That’ll be £32.”

Lord Of The Flies

I read Lord Of The Flies during the weekend. The book is authored by William Golding who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. It begins on a deserted island where a bunch of boys are stranded after a plane crash. Soon, Ralph emerges as a leader among them through a vote of hands. A fat smart kid nicknamed Piggy becomes his intellectual counsel. Together they think their situation over and decide that the boys need to keep a fire burning on the island so that they can be rescued by passing ships. Ralph also restores order by setting rules for discussion (using a white conch as the token), assigning boys to build shelters for resting and collecting food. But, there is a rebel in the midst named Jack who is jealous of Ralph’s power. He prefers a dictatorial style of leadership. He soon starts drawing boys to his side by teaching them to hunt the pigs of the island for food. As the days go by, the chance of rescue wanes, Jack’s power grows, Ralph loses support, the social order of the boys breaks down and the island slips into barbaric chaos.

On the surface, the book is a nice read of kids surviving on a deserted island. But, this is no book for kids. Below, it is a full blown allegory to the various forms of human nature, society, leadership and political formations. The boys start off with a system similar to democracy under Ralph. That slowly deteriorates to end up as dictatorship and brutality under Jack. This transition is in the exact opposite order of how humans evolved from cave dwelling brutes to civilized democracies. The last book I read with such a strong allegory was Life Of Pi. LOTF is a pretty small book and can be easily read in a day. This is an excellent read.

The Truth About Cats & Dogs

Beauty or brains? What does a guy really go for in a gal?

In the romantic comedy The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Abby (Janeane Garofalo) is a short, not-so-attractive veterinarian who hosts a radio show on petcare. Her neighbour Noelle (Uma Thurman) is a tall, blonde model. Abby’s in a fix when a caller on her radio show asks her out on a blind date. Worrying that this guy might not like her looks, she sends in Noelle as herself. The guy (Ben Chaplin) falls in love with his date. The relationship continues over phone calls which are answered by the real Abby, and lead to stimulating intelligent conversations. The guy starts suspecting that the woman he dates outside is not the same as on the radioshow or the phone. Abby doesn’t know how to reveal herself and express her love to him. Meanwhile, Noelle falls in love with him for real.

A fun story with good acting, this is a nice movie. Perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon.

The Shawshank Redemption

Some people have called this the best movie ever. I certainly didn’t feel so, but this certainly goes into the great movies category. The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 movie based on the novella Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption written by Stephen King. The story revolves around Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who has been convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and who is sentenced to life imprisonment. At the prison he becomes friends with Red (Morgan Freeman) who is the narrator of the story in the movie. While everyone in the prison (most of whom are there for life sentences) are counting their days (decades is a practical term), Andy never gives up hope. He sticks to hope doggedly despite the pessimistic atmosphere of the prison, the felons and the prison guards. In the end, Andy’s hope is answered.

This movie is directed by Frank Darabont. Anyone who’s read a Stephen King novel knows the distinct kind of world he creates in the reader’s mind. Frank seems to have the knack of bringing that experience to a movie audience. (Little surprise that he later directed King’s The Green Mile too, which I liked). Tim Robbins and especially Morgan Freeman are superlative in their acting here. Full marks on the cinematography, dialogues and the background score. This movie is flawless. And when you rewind the story in your head and realize the analogy in it to life, it goes a notch further. It joins the ranks of great movies. A very inspirational watch.

Scary Movie 4

The 4th movie in the Scary Movie series spoofs Saw, The Village, War of the Worlds, Million Dollar Baby, Brokeback Mountain and some more. This could have been an ultimate spoof movie, but sadly it’s pathetic. It even made me lose my appetite somewhere in there. Not worth watching.

I think the 1st and 3rd movies are the better ones in this series.

Pallavi Anu Pallavi (ಪಲ್ಲವಿ ಅನುಪಲ್ಲವಿ)

ನನಗೆ ಕೊನೆಗೂ ಮಣಿ ರತ್ನಮ್ ಅವರ ಮೊದಲ ಚಲನಚಿತ್ರ Pallavi Anu Pallavi (ಪಲ್ಲವಿ ಅನುಪಲ್ಲವಿ) ನೋಡುವ ಅವಕಾಶ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿತು! ಚಿತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಅನಿಲ್ ಕಪೂರ್, ಕಿರಣ್ ಮತ್ತು ಲಕ್ಶ್ಮಿ ನಟಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಅನು (ಲಕ್ಶ್ಮಿ) ಅವಳ ಗಂಡನಿಂದ ದೂರವಾಗಿ ತನ್ನ ಸಣ್ಣ ಮಗನೊಂದಿಗೆ ಮರ್ಕೆರ (ಮಡಿಕೇರಿ) ಅಲ್ಲಿ ವಾಸವಾಗಿದ್ದಾಳೆ. ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಲ್ಲಿ ವಿಜಯ್ (ಅನಿಲ್) ಮಧು (ಕಿರಣ್) ಅನ್ನು ಒಂದು ಪಾರ್ಟಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಬೇಟಿಯಾಗುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಬೇಟಿ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯಾಗಿ ಅರಳುತ್ತದೆ. ಮಧು ತನ್ನ ಕ್ಯಾಲಿಫೋರ್ನಿಯಾದಲ್ಲಿ ಓದುವ ಹಂಬಲವನ್ನು ಕೈಬಿಡುತ್ತಾಳೆ. ವಿಜಯ್ ತನ್ನ ತಂದೆಯ ಎಸ್ಟೇಟ್ ವ್ಯವಹಾರವನ್ನು ನೋಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಮಡಿಕೇರಿಗೆ ಹೋಗುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಅನುವನ್ನು ಬೇಟಿಮಾಡುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಅವಳ ದುಃಖ ನೋಡಿ ಅವಳೊಂದಿಗೆ ಸ್ನೇಹ ಬೆಳಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ವಿಜಯ್, ಮಧು, ಅನು, ಈ ಪ್ರೇಮ ತ್ರಿಕೋಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಂದೆ ಏನು ಕಾದಿದೆ?

ಚಿತ್ರ ಸುಂದರವಾಗಿದೆ. ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿನ ಪ್ರೀತಿ ಸೊಫಿಸ್ಟಿಖೇಟೆಡ್ ಆಗಿದೆ. ಕತೆ ದುರಂತದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಂತ್ಯವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಚಿತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಲಕ್ಶ್ಮಿ ಹಾಗು ಕಿರಣ್ ನಳನಳಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ! (ಈ ಚಿತ್ರದ ನಂತರ ಕಿರಣ್ ಎಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಾದರೋ?) ಚಿತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಎಲ್ಲೆಡೆ ಬೆಳಕು-ಕತ್ತಲೆಯ ಅನ್ಯೋನ್ಯಕ್ರಿಯೆ ಇದೆ. ಇಳೆಯರಾಜ ಅವರ ಹಾಡುಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಹಿನ್ನಲೆ ಸಂಗೀತ ಅತಿ ಮಧುರವಾಗಿವೆ. ಇದು ಎಲ್ಲರ ಚಲನಚಿತ್ರ ಸಂಗ್ರಹಕ್ಕೆ ಸೇರಿಸಲು ಅರ್ಹವಾಗಿದೆ.