Friday, December 23, 2011

Maggi Noodle Review: Hugo

I had no intention of seeing Hugo.  I am not a big fan of 3D movies.  I feel it is more of a gimmick than an artistic improvement on 2D.  On top of which, I felt the the preview for the movie was about a Dickensian orphan living by his wits in a French station.  Been there, seen that.

Now that I have seen the movie, I am super-duper glad I did.  it is a gem of a movie, an ode to movie-making, and the 3D is non-intrusive, making you (the viewer) a part of the action as opposed to the target of it.

I should have known.  Martin Scorsese, the director, is a man who has long professed a love for the movies and probably sees 3D as the wave of the future and wanted to make a definitive movie for the medium.  Much like James Cameron's Avatar (the only other 3D movie that I recommend must be watched in 3D), Hugo is a movie that relies on the story as the hook on which to hang the visuals where a lesser director would make the mistake of doing it in reverse.

Some of the side characters are caricatures, behaving in a typically predicable manner, but at the heart of the story is the connection between the eponymous hero and an elderly gentleman who own a toy store played with great elan by Ben Kingsley.

Go, see the movie while you can on the big screen and in 3D, if possible.  Then we can talk in more detail about the story and how it is, at its heart, a love story.  A love story between a director and movies.

P.S.  The only jarring (and sad) note for me was that the main protagonists speak in a decidedly English accent even though the entire action is taking place in Paris.  *sigh*

Book review: Beyond the Blues

For a few weeks I have working furiously on a personal deadline of writing a book before Christmas rolled around.  Now that the deadline has been done and dusted with I can get back to more important things like living my life again.  (Some will snicker that the deadline was less about Christmas and more about Boxing Day.  Oh, how well they know me!).

Anyway, thinking about books took me back a couple of years to a book that I had read, liked, promised to review but had never gotten around to doing.  So, here it is - my review of Beyond the Blues by Aakash Chopra.  Better late than never.

From September 9th, 2007 to June 5th 2008, Aakash Chopra kept notes of his actions and thoughts in the form of a diary.  Eventually, to the happiness of many of his fans, including me, he went ahead and published them.

The book is filled with an insider's perspective of Indian cricket, from the behind-the-scenes shenanigans in the backrooms of selectorial meetings to the on-field skullduggery that the viewer is unable to pick up on from 90 (or in these days 60) yards away.

It is a compelling book, written from the heart.  The best way to appreciate the book is to read it in its entirety.  Here are some of the nuggets that caught my fancy and should serve to whet your appetite for when you read the book.

On Sachin Tendulkar (p48):
Aakash Chopra had a very pivotal hand in Sachin's classic exercise in self-denial, that face-saving 241* at Sydney in Steve Waugh's final Test in 2004.  In fact, it is safe to say, that Aakash saved SRT's life that day.  He did something that made him "... one of the few people in the world who has given something to the Little Master without taking anything material from him in return."

On a fellow team-mate (p60):
He has definitely mastered the way to score at this level consistently and I wouldn't be surprised if, one day, if he plays enough domestic cricket (given his India commitments), he goes on to break every batting record on the domestic circuit.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Never die wondering

Seven years ago, the man said he would do it.  Today, he did it.  The "he" is Virender Sehwag, the "it" is a double century.  In an ODI.  Which he achieved with 6 overs to spare.

Last night I was very tired and went to bed very early and slept a dreamless sleep till about 2:55am, when I woke up and was instantly as wide awake as I was going to be.  Call it premonition, call it luck, call it what you will - I turned on the PC and saw that India had won the toss (again!  Take lessons, MSD) and was going to bat.

For years, I played in a local league with a batsman whose appetite for gargantuan scores was seemingly limitless, except that he kept getting out.  We always wondered how much Sohail Chaudhry would score if he lasted the entire 25 overs.  And then one day we found out.  I have always had the same feeling about Sehwag.  He still hasn't ever batted for the entire 50 overs but on the day he does, I am pretty sure he will score more than the 219 runs he scored today.  What a player!

The sign of a truly great man is that he leaves room for improvement even when he accomplishes the unthinkable.  By not batting the entire 50 overs, Sehwag has left the door open for a few more dreams.

In parting, of all the comments I heard/read so far today, the best of them all was by someone named Jim Morrison on CricInfo's (outstanding) ball-by-ball coverage.  Reacting to Sehwag's double, he wrote:
"So, Sachin now holds the record for the SLOWEST double century in ODIs!"