Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

What if you could erase your most painful memories and start afresh? The movie Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind deals with dreams and memories. Joel (Jim Carrey) is a silent introvert who wakes up one Valentine’s Day and decides to visit Montauk. On the cold beach of Montauk he runs into Clementine (Kate Winslet), a loquacious female who lives life to the max. They are slowly attracted to each other on the train journey back. The blissful romance continues for sometime until they have a spat. Clementine has her memories of Joel removed after visiting Lacuna Inc, a medical service which does this. Unable to live separated from Clementine, Joel too decides to get his memories removed. What follows is a dreamy journey through Joel and Clementine’s memories. Is this the end of their love?

The movie is directed by Michel Gondry (whose The Science Of Sleep is similarly themed and is in theatres right now). The screenplay is literally out of the world (it won an Oscar for the movie). The story is non-linear, funny, full of surprise and will leave you rewinding back to understand the context. Jim Carrey has given probably his best performance, ever. He should definitely give serious roles a shot. Kate Winslet as the lively Clementine is awesome. ESOTSM is a dreamy, emotional look at our memories and is difficult to put into words. You’ve got to watch it to experience it. Not to be missed.


Goal! The Dream Begins

[ Trailer ]

Goal! The Dream Begins is the first movie I’ve seen which is based on football. It follows Santiago Muñez, a Mexican immigrant in the US, whose talent with the ball is discovered and leads him on a journey to join the Newcastle United team. The story is very clichéd. Santiago comes from a poor hard-working family. His father doesn’t support his passion. His talent is discovered by an Englishman who inspires him to travel across to UK to try out for the Newcastle team. At first he loses and is almost driven to go back. Enter a girlfriend and some inspiration and Santiago ends up as a young football star. This is a pukka Bollywood drama! The story is the worst part of this movie, cause it’s so damn predictable.

The good thing about the movie is but of course, football. I don’t watch much football and yet I easily liked this movie. Kuno Becker plays his football part earnestly. Also, there’s zestful acting by the Newcastle United manager and the coach. The best is the photography. Can anything look more sexy than football in the rain? England looks splendid with its fog soaked climate, beaches, towns, historic football clubs, stadiums, teams, fans and best of all, their accent, mate! The movie is supported by FIFA. So, all the teams, players, stadiums and even the team shirts are all real. This movie is supposedly the first in a trilogy. I hope to see the rest when they’re released. If a stupid collision sport like American football can be glamorized in innumerable movies, this one is just a start for football. Yay, for more football movies!

– – –

This is a scene from the movie which I found to be particularly memorable. Here Muñez is on his first morning in England and goes out for a run beside the town beach. The visuals are stunning. The song in the background is a version of Oasis’s Cast No Shadow. The lyrics are relevant to Muñez’s situation at that point in the movie.

Here’s a thought for every man who tries to understand what is in his hands
He walks along the open road of love and life surviving if he can

Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say
Chained to all the places that he never wished to stay
Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say
As he faced the sun he cast no shadow

Into The Blue

Saw Into The Blue. Set in the Bahamas, Jared (Paul Walker from The Fast And The Furious) and Sam (Jessica Alba from Sin City) are a poor young couple of divers who dream of making it big by finding a ship wreck. Jared’s brother Bryce (a lawyer) and his girlfriend Amanda visit them and they go diving in the waters off the Bahamas. They find the spillage of a wreck and while trying to find the main wreck they come across a recently crashed plane with a cargo full of drugs. Though Bryce/Amanda are interested in selling the drugs and getting rich, Jared/Sam preach them not to and they resume looking for the wreck instead. They soon find the wreck, but their joy is short-lived as the drug lords come after them to get them their sunken cargo.

The movie is directed by John Stockwell, who turns out to be the guy who directed Blue Crush too. If you’ve seen that eye-popping-beautiful movie (I loved it!), Into The Blue is more of that but underwater. The story is not much, but expect loads of sun, sea and skin. More than half of the 2+ hour movie takes place underwater in a world of turquoise water and white sand beauty filled exotic sea creatures. I give full marks to the video crew of this movie, the underwater world never looked this bright on even NGC. The actors have acted naturally even when surrounded by innumerable sharks, eels and rays. Forget the storyline, watch this movie for the sheer visual pleasure.

Brave New World

Brave New World and 1984 are 2 books which I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. One is in an Utopian world and the other in dystopia. I finally got around to reading Brave New World written by Aldous Huxley. This sci-fi work is set in an Utopian future of Earth in the 26th century.

Family as an entity no longer exists. All babies are decanted artificially by fusing ovules and sperms and growing them. Eugenics is used to create 5 castes of humans known as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon, ranging respectively from intelligent beings to morons. Each class is imbibed with the characteristics required for their future work by conditioning them (thinking for the Alphas, manual labour for the Epsilons and so on). Hypnopædia (sleep-learning) is extensively used while rearing children to ensure that they think in a predestined way all their life. Since they’re all artificially grown, the concept of parents or siblings doesn’t exist. Every person is a cell in the social body. Everyone takes artificial agents to ensure youthful beauty until their dying breath. Everyone belongs to everyone else, i.e. sex is promiscuous. Living with a single person for life is unheard of. There are no politics, war, family, literature or religions. Soma (a drug) is used by everyone to stay blissful all day. Everyone is happy.

In this world is Bernard Marx, an Alpha who is dating a beautiful Beta named Lenina. He is tired of the artificial life and takes her on a trip to a savage reservation in New Mexico. These are inhospitable parts of the planet where uncivilized people have been allowed to stay as they had centuries ago. Here, Marx runs into a savage child named John, who is actually a child of a civilized mom. He takes him back to London. Meanwhile, Lenina is feeling love towards this savage. In the New World, John observes how his life in the forests differs so much from the controlled life in London. He has feelings towards Lenina too, but is turned off by her behaviour. Everything comes to a head when he causes a ruckus at a hospital. He is taken to meet Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller (think Architect from Matrix Reloaded) along with Marx and his fellow thinker Helmholtz. In his office, John and Mond confront each other and it leads to an enthralling discussion about the gains and losses by living like they are in this controlled artificial society. In the end, Marx and Helmholtz are transferred to distant islands and John moves back to a solitary life in the wild.

Written in 1932, Brave New World is a surprisingly good read even today. (The book is available online here.) The pace is quick, the flavour is light. Huxley is brilliant in recreating his Utopian world. The book can be roughly divided into 3 parts. The 1st introduces the new world in rich detail. The 2nd introduces the protagonists and the last part deals with the debate between Mond and John. The last part is what makes delightful reading. The reader finally learns how this world came to be, how humanity slowly gave up its freedom in exchange for happiness. This is a thrilling and brilliant work brimming with ideas.

Rating: 4/4


Mond to John: “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma. Which you go and chuck out of the window in the name of liberty, Mr. Savage.”

Mond explaining why even science is controlled in this world: “I’m interested in truth, I like science. But truth’s a menace, science is a public danger. As dangerous as it’s been beneficent. It has given us the stablest equilibrium in history. China’s was hopelessly insecure by comparison; even the primitive matriarchies weren’t steadier than we are. Thanks, l repeat, to science. But we can’t allow science to undo its own good work. That’s why we so carefully limit the scope of its researches […]. We don’t allow it to deal with any but the most immediate problems of the moment. All other enquiries are most sedulously discouraged. It’s curious,” he went on after a little pause, “to read what people in the time of Our Ford used to write about scientific progress. They seemed to have imagined that it could be allowed to go on indefinitely, regardless of everything else. Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest was secondary and subordinate. True, ideas were beginning to change even then. Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness. Mass production demanded the shift. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can’t. And, of course, whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered. Still, in spite of everything, unrestricted scientific research was still permitted. People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were the sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years’ War. That made them change their tune all right. What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled–after the Nine Years’ War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for.”

From the bathroom came an unpleasant and characteristic sound.

“Is there anything the matter?” Helmholtz called.

There was no answer. The unpleasant sound was repeated, twice; there was silence. Then, with a click the bathroom door opened and, very pale, the Savage emerged.

“I say,” Helmholtz exclaimed solicitously, “you do look ill, John!”

“Did you eat something that didn’t agree with you?” asked Bernard.

The Savage nodded. “I ate civilization.”

Lage Raho Munna Bhai

Lage Raho Munna Bhai is the sequel to the movie Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. The original gang of Munna (Sanjay Dutt) and Circuit (Arshad Warsi) return here for another caper. Munna has fallen in love with Jahnvi (Vidya Balan), a Mumbai RJ. To win her heart he wins a radio contest themed on Gandhi by faking as a history professor. He is now forced to learn everything about Gandhi. A few nights after doing that, Gandhi starts appearing to him! He starts to use Gandhi as a mentor to solve his personal and society’s problems.

Kudos to the writers for using the unique concept of Gandhism for their comedy. The movie isn’t as funny as the first one, but it’s relevant and serious in parts. Sanjay and Arshad Warsi are easy with their roles. Vidya Balan is peppy (a little too much in some cases). Songs are again a distraction from the pace of the movie. Why can’t they just do away with them? The pace is fast and never gets boring. Many friends have called this a great movie. I didn’t get any such feeling. It’s a good movie. ’nuff said!

The Xbox 360 Uncloaked

The Xbox 360 is Microsoft’s second attempt to break into the game console market. It was released in Christmas last year and has been doing better than expected. I picked up The Xbox 360 Uncloaked interested in reading how a game console is created. This book is written by Dean Takahashi, the gaming writer for the San Jose Mercury News. The book follows the 360 through its creation, development upto the launch.

After the lukewarm response to the first Xbox, in early 2003 M$ decided to launch a follower by 2005 end, a year ahead of the PS3 to gain traction among gamers. That is, just 3 years from conception to creation. The new console was codenamed Xenon. They dumped the Intel/nVidia pair from Xbox and instead chose IBM/ATI for Xenon. They concentrated a bit more on industrial design since the first Xbox looked butt ugly and was the size of a suitcase. They planned a simultaneous worldwide launch (this would be a first for any game console). Several gaming companies were roped in to make launch titles in time for the launch. M$ wasn’t going to try anything radical (like PS3’s Cell microprocessor). Later, the Xbox 360 and PS3 would be called Xbox 1.5 and PS 3.5 due to this. In this iteration, M$ just aimed at a launch earlier than the PS3, decent hardware, decent games and an online experience through Xbox Live. The plan went mostly according to plan. The only hitch was that they had massive shortages when they did the global launch. This resulted in loads of bad press and Sony could’ve easily steamrolled them had they launched at the same time.

M$ might want to seriously look at splitting itself into many lean companies. Chapter after chapter of the book reveal an undercurrent of discoordination, lack of communication, bickering and power struggles between the divisions of M$. More than half of the people involved resigned, were reassigned or removed during the making of the console due to conflicts. To even me, this came as quite a surprise. The few people who wished to take the 360 in creative new directions were stomped over or asked to shut up. Even J Allard who seems to have a nice persona tends to be more Ballmerisque on a Gates-Ballmer scale. The only things that M$ did well with 360 were timing, outsourcing and cost reduction.

Now about the book. I was interested in learning about the personal and technical experiments, failures and successes that form the journey of any new product. Instead, this book goes on and on only about the 360’s business decisions. It is endless pages of totally un-exciting, un-interesting, lifeless, numb, tame reporting of facts, figures and events. Takahashi manages to bury a nice story six feet under. In contrast, books with similar themes like Revolution In The Valley manage to be such delightful reads. Also, in a rush to release ASAP after the 360 launch this book has numerous grammatical and editing errors. This is a disturbing trend I’m seeing increasingly in recent books. Where the heck are the editors?! The only reason I stuck on with this book for a month was to see how it all ended. Dean has written about the first Xbox too in his other book Opening The Xbox. I was planning to read that too, but after the bad taste of this one I won’t even think about it. This book is boring and disappointing. Don’t bother.

Fight Club

Saw the movie Fight Club. Starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, it’s based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Edward Norton plays the narrator (whose name is never revealed) who has insomnia. He discovers that attending support groups helps him sleep, so he starts doing that regularly. He comes across Marla, who is also faking like him to visit support groups. After he finds her, the support groups no longer help and his insomnia comes back. On a flight he runs into Tyler (Brad Pitt), an eccentric character who manufactures soap. After his flat catches fire, he meets up with Tyler and moves into his rundown house. He and Tyler start having fun by beating each other up. When other people also show an interest to join in this activity, he and Tyler formalize the underground organization by calling it Fight Club and giving it rules. Soon, it grows very popular and Tyler starts giving out assignments to its members under the name Project Mayhem. These increasingly result in hurting people and destroying property. The narrator begins to withdraw from Taylor’s violent activities but can’t. When he finds out that Project Mayhem involves a plan to cause massive destruction, he tries to find out the plan from Tyler and stop it. Who is Tyler whom the narrator can’t seem to escape from? Can he stop the plan?

If you’ve seen the movie, you know the surprise element. Actually, there are loads of clues all along indicating who Tyler really is. So, yeah, the story is interesting. Pitt and Norton have delivered neat performances. The cinematography matches up well with the gritty feel of the movie. The music score by the Dust Brothers is catchy. The only thing I found disconcerting is the violence. It gets quite excessive and is a major turn-off. Except for that, this is a neat movie.