Reviews: Everest, Pawn Sacrifice

Everest-PawnSacrifice
Two movies based on real life incidents. One of them is a flawed, but an honest attempt to capture the ordeal of scaling an impossible peak. The other one is a myopic biopic of a twisted genius’ ascent to fame.

Neither of them has heroes who save the day, real life inconveniently getting in the way of storytelling. While the British movie gracefully deals with this fact as its humans climb ‘Into thin air‘, its Hollywood cousin decides to rejig history to create its own heroes, from thin air.

Everest was a tough watch. If you didn’t know much about the 1996 disaster, you would probably set yourself up for an eventual hero, a daring rescue, end credits showing happy post-movie photographs etc. You would be disappointed. The movie doesn’t even have a third act in the traditional sense. There is exposition, preparation, and actual climbing. Disaster strikes, some people survive and, roll credits. What the movie manages to achieve with this weak structure is remarkable, helped hugely by stellar camera work from its IMAX crew and a 3D that actually enhances the visual experience without giving a headache. Unfortunately, the movie suffers from severe pacing issues, which undermine an otherwise solid attempt.

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Jigirthanda — The Real Slim Shady

jigarthanda

Watched Jigirthanda for the second time today. I had written a quick note earlier covering my thoughts on the first viewing. Though they largely remain to be the same, in-between the viewings, I have had the opportunity to read Baradwaj Rangan’s review of the movie and the rich discussion that follows in its comments. One particular angle regarding the meta aspects of the movie piqued me.

People have referred to many films which they believe have inspired Jigirthanda. While many of those ‘accusations’ are downright silly, it is obvious that Karthik Subbaraj has paid homage to a handful of films/genres — from Thalapathi’s rain scene to Quentin Tarantino’s trunk shot. I call them homages because of the obvious nature of their placement and the general intelligence of the said director.

But, I am going to put forth another film now with the claim that maybe, just maybe, this is the most defining inspiration for Jigirthanda. Conspiracy theory/over-analysis much? I guess so, but still, it is obvious that you are going to indulge me further anyway, since you have read this far.
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Vile or Visionary?

Rev. Bro. GeorgeI was reading an article today about the recreational habits of Magnus Carlsen, when I stumbled upon this sentence: “…late afternoon, Carlsen headed for the Santhome School, which is near the Marina beach. He played football, and also basketball, for more than an hour”. I wondered how he would have played his football in Chennai’s afternoon heat. The answer immediately triggered a trip down the memory lane.

Santhome School is where I completed my schooling (11th and 12th). During the time I was there, our Headmaster was a Rev. Bro. George. Now, the universal consensus at that time was that Bro. George (referred to, rather unpleasantly as the Princi because of his insistence on using the title of ‘Principal’ instead of the usual ‘Headmaster’) was a horrible person. You could ask anyone in the neighborhood, even those who did not have much to do with Santhome School, and they will recollect some horror story about how he was downright mean, ruthless, insulting etc.
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The Entitled Indian

(or) we Indians are like that wonli.

Yesterday, I happened to see an ad for snapdeal.com in TV. A husband and wife visit this upscale jewelry showroom. They get interested in a necklace, and when the salesperson ventures to pick up the item and show, the wife quickly says “could you please show us that other piece as well?”. With the salesperson turning his back to them, they quickly snap a picture of the necklace. Cut to the next scene, where they are seen showing this picture to the shopkeeper of a small neighborhood jewelry shop. He says “yes, it can be replicated — ditto”. The ad happily ends, exclaiming what all we would do to get a deal.

I thought about this for some time. I realized that I see many of these “we Indians are like that wonli” ads these days. It is portrayed to be a good thing. The most important part — the populace seem to identify with these ads very quickly.
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NRN – Messiah 2.0?

Why do I think that NRN coming back to Infosys is a desperate move by the company?

First and foremost, we have to accept and digest the fact that it was Infosys’ game to lose, in the first place. They were ahead in the race, had mostly everything going for them (including world figures like Thomas Friedman giving free (paid?) advertisements), and, at that point, the best value system and the best street-cred among all the other competitors. And they came tumbling down from such a position to where they are now – a good deal due to great execution and some nimble manoeuvres by the competition, but a great deal due to their own internal issues. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons is their refusal to acknowledge the shifts in the industry and their adamancy in sticking to the same principles, which ironically were conceived and shaped by NRN himself.

So, now Infy is getting NRN to come back for another stint at the helm, exactly like Sunil Gavaskar coming back out of his retirement to save Indian batting, and like Kamaraj coming out of his grave for another term as Chief Minister – except that those two things didn’t actually happen.
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Peru Trip – A photographer’s note

Canon-EF-Lens-Collection

What is the ideal camera kit for a vacation? Depending on who you are, the answers might vary from a simple smartphone camera to what you see above.

Of course, the nature of your vacation would also drive the kind of gear you would want to carry. Some vacations are so chilled out, one has time for tripods, multiple lenses and a zillion different filters. But some other vacations involve a lot of activities forcing minimal amount of equipment. We had planned for primarily two outdoor activities during our trip – the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and a 6-day visit to the Amazon rainforest in Manu National Park, Peru. So, we certainly had to travel light. I am certainly not so camera-nerdy to carry around stuff like in the picture above. But, as a photography enthusiast, I had to plan a little bit so that we had the right ingredients to ensure good photographs without having to look like bazooka-wielding Terminators.
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வேலாயுதத்தின் 7-ஆம் அறிவு

ACVelayutham

விசயின் விசிறிக்கூட்டம் வேலாயுதம் போஸ்டர் கண்டு வீறிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்த நேரம், சூர்யாவின் சுற்றுவட்டாரங்கள் சூப்பர் கதையென்று சூளுரைத்துக்கொண்டிருந்த நேரம், நண்பனிடம் இத்திரைப்படங்கள் இரண்டையும் பற்றிப் பேசிக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். சட்டென்று சொன்னான்: “மச்சி, ஒரே வீடியோ கேம்ல இருந்து காப்பி அடிச்சு எப்பிடிடா ஒரே நேரத்துல ரெண்டு படம் ரிலீஸ் பண்றாங்க?”. என்னதான் வீடியோ கேம்களில் ஆர்வமிருந்தாலும், நீட் ஃபார் ஸ்பீட், மார்ட்டல் காம்பாட் என இரண்டொன்றைத்தவிர வேறெதும் விளையாடியிராததினால் ’ஙே’ என்று விழித்தேன். அப்போது அவன் அறிமுகப்படுத்திய பெயர்தான் Assassin’s Creed (’கொலையாளியின் கோட்பாடு’ என்றெல்லாம் கொலைவெறி காட்டாமல் ஆங்கிலத்திலேயே எழுதிவிடுகிறேன்).

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The best tablet device out there – 1

tablets

I have reserved my judgment so far on which is the best tablet device out there. I think that is only fair. Tablets, being such nascent technology (with all due respect to Mr. Gates), it is not right to jump the gun and announce a winner after 15 minutes of random hands-on usage, as many tech blogs are wont to do (Interestingly, it is one such tech blog that actually made me write this post today).

Some of you might know that I own an Android Honeycomb tablet (Asus Eeepad Transformer) and a HP Touchpad. Mayuraa has an iPad2, which means I do get periodic access to it. So, over the past few months I have had enough opportunities to try out most of the standard tablet features and use cases across these devices. In the process, I also have had a few interesting/useful observations. I haven’t put fingers to keyboard on this topic and I can safely blame my laziness for that.
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The Fifteen Dollar Fable

customer service

Simple is never simple. Often, it’s the simple things that are difficult to get right. They are the ones that are challenging to visualize and execute.

People often say that Apple products ‘just work’. I have never really agreed to that notion with Apple’s PC devices. But their post-PC devices, the brainchildren of a second-gen Steve, are a different matter altogether. As someone who used to think Nokia N73 was a pretty neat idea, I was blown away the first time I used an iPhone. You knew it wasn’t déjà vu, but it almost felt like one, as it slowly dawned on you that it was exactly how you would have visualized a smartphone OS, only that you never did.
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