Category Archives: Thoughts

‘The Radiance of a Thousand Suns’ (new painting) + Thoughts on LP’s Latest Album

What you are about to read isn’t much of an essay or an album review. It’s simply a painting of mine and a few thoughts…

Change is rarely ever easily accepted. I’m sure you agree. Moving into a new house is hard, and it takes a while to call this new house your home. Switching schools is difficult for any kid. My grandfather still firmly believes that a broom is a more functional cleaning tool than a vacuum cleaner, only because he refuses to adapt to change. Heck, I still have trouble accepting 3-D.

The same can be said for artistic direction. You know, you acquaint a particular art style with a particular artist… and you might love this artist for that style. And then, when the artist decides to experiment a bit, to try out something different… you lose it. You condemn the artist for moving into new waters. You command the artist to return to his original style. You restrict him. Dear reader, when I say ‘you’, I do not necessarily mean you. You know who you are.

Changes in Superhero costumes between films or comics are always scorned upon. When movie directors dare to craft films of genres beyond those expected of them, you hear things like, ‘So-and-so should stick to so-and-so-genre’. If a horror author tries his hand at romance, well, you get the idea.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry. "I refuse to acknowledge some pop stars as artists. They refuse to grow. All their songs are the same, except for their lyrics. Now-a-days, even their lyrics are the same."

I believe an artist must be given room to change. To venture beyond his or her usual domains. Diversity is necessary for any artist. That’s why I refuse to acknowledge some pop stars as artists. They refuse to grow. All their songs are the same, except for their lyrics. Now-a-days, even their lyrics are the same.

Whoever you are, I’m sure you know of Linkin Park. You must know of their new album, ‘A Thousand Suns’. You might even know about how some fans hate their new style, criticizing their new sound, their new subject matter, their departure from their rock, nu-metal sound…

A quick mosey through some online blogs and forums showed me comments like ‘LP’s 1000 suns is diarrhea to my ears!!!’ and ‘R.I.P., LP!’ and ‘I don’t knoe if itz worth w8ing 4 3 more yrs for LPs next album!!!’. And a lot more. Boy.

I wasn’t a fan of LP before ‘A Thousand Suns’, so maybe I have no right to ask fans to accept LP’s new direction. I tried giving ‘Hybrid Theory’ a quick listen… I found it very I’m-a-pissed-off-teen-and-the-world-is-against-me-ish.

a thousand suns

'A Thousand Suns' Cover Art

A Thousand Suns’ inspires me. It creates bold, brilliant images in my head. It brought me to pages on the internet I wouldn’t normally read. It moved me. ‘A Thousand Suns’ isn’t just a collection of songs. It’s wholesome experience.

The album deals with themes of nuclear warfare, war in general, and uses quotes by various political personalities like Mario Savio, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Robert Oppenheimer.

Each song spins a different tale and tells a different story. The album doesn’t aim at dishing out catchy tunes and choruses for repeated radio play… it’s aim is evoking a mood, a sensation, in the listener. Linkin Park explains well in the booklet of the album, “We were not making an album… We asked ourselves: Were we all earnestly willing, more than ever before, to abandon the percepts of commercial ambition in pursuit of what we believe to be honest art?

I know the word of a seventeen year old movie buff isn’t much, but I’ll say they were willing. Or at least that’s what the end product shows.

This, here, is a painting I did, heavily inspired by ‘A Thousand Suns’.

A Thousand Suns Waiting for the end catalyst linkin park

'The Radiance of a Thousand Suns'; Heavily influenced and inspired by Linkin Park's 'A Thousand Suns'

Apart from ‘A Thousand Suns’, I was also inspired by the graphic novel and great film ‘Watchmen’. The towering blue Vishnu/Krishna in my painting reminds one of Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan. Also, notice the doomsday clock on the hourglass. It might appear to be a ‘Minutes to Midnight reference, but it’s actually a prominent symbol from ‘Watchmen’.

Feel free to comment below, be it on the writing or the art.

Cinematic Jackass, signing off…


Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s–!

Back then, I could watch Max Fleischer’s Superman cartoons forever and never get bored. Today, the case is almost the same.

Oh, those films have some of the finest animation I’ve ever seen—even by today’s standards, the animation is phenomenal, right from the fluidity of the movements of the characters to the uncanny weight of the objects. The characters and objects had shadows too. Of course, back then, I was too young too care about the quality of the animation. Back then, all I cared for was Superman’s heroics. How astonished I’d get when mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent said, “This looks like a job for Superman.” At that moment, I would smile widely and try to ignore my hair standing on end. Clark Kent gets into a telephone booth—and gee-whiz, Superman comes out!

The same thing would happen in every single episode, but some how, it never got old. It always had that ability to get me excited—every time felt just as exhilarating as the first, just like when Popeye would gulp down his can of Spinach.

Superman never failed to dazzle me as he flew ‘faster than a speeding bullet’ and displayed his amazing strength– ‘more powerful than a locomotive!’. Those cartoons were really something.

Oh, and that music, oh what music! That hair-raising theme music as Superman flies into the air to save Lois Lane from the Mechanical Monsters or the city from the Mad Scientist! The delight I felt! The delight I still feel.

Those animated films made my young childhood years. They were produced in the 1940’s; I savored them in the 1990’s.

Later on, still in my very young years, I discovered the much newer animated Superman films, the ones actually made in the 90’s. This Superman was more stylistically rendered—he was all squares. The show was way more modern, and the story lines more mature and intriguing. But there’s something about old animated shorts that new ones just don’t get. Maybe it’s the magic. The new Superman cartoons didn’t quite capture all of it. And, oddly, the animation of the new cartoons doesn’t even hold a candle to that of the older ones.

All day long, I used to watch these Superman cartoons, never tiring of them. One day, my mother asked me, “Do you want to see a real Superman movie?” She went on to explain that what she was about to introduce to me was a ‘real Superman’, not an animated one.

She pushed the VHS into the player. I held my breath. A few  hours later, I was awestruck. I was spellbound. I believed a man could fly.

‘Superman: The Movie’ was released in 1978. Made on a considerably high budget for its time, it was the first of its kind—no other superhero film had been created on such a large scale. While the traditional superhero TV show would have a few bank robbers and a car chase, ‘Superman: The Movie’ went all the way; helicopter accidents, earthquakes, bridge collapses, dam explosions, nuclear bombs—and not in the noisy style we now acquaint action films with, but in a wonderful style aided by such brilliant skill, I’m not sure what words to use to describe it. Maybe the word I’m looking for is ‘charm’. It’s an old-fashioned film, sure, but that’s what makes it so appealing. It’s such a huge blockbuster, but it’s somehow– innocent.

The origin story of Superman was told with such respect to the comics and the lore. Here was an opportunity for the film to become a victim of self-parody. Instead, it took itself seriously, and yet not too much so. It managed to tell an epic story and add a great deal of wit to the proceedings.

I don’t think most people reading this might realize the significance of ‘Superman: The Movie’… it is to the superhero genre what ‘Snow White’ is to animation. It is literally the film that started the superhero film genre. Without it, there would be no ‘The Dark Knight’, no ‘Batman’, no ‘X-Men’, no ‘Iron Man’.

The special effects were outstanding, no doubt about it. Some green screen effects, wires, and optical printers all worked together almost seamlessly to make our hero fly. The theme music is, like most of John Williams’ themes, extremely memorable. The dialogue and plot is the ideal example of the superhero origin story. The look and feel of the entire film is spot on. All these things strung together like clockwork to bring out a great film.

And yes, Christopher Reeve. Christopher Reeve is Superman. And he is Clark Kent. Just Christopher Reeve. Nobody else. Christopher Reeve is Superman.

May he rest in peace.

So there I was, a little kid, gaping at the TV screen. Wow. I remember holding one of those old photo cameras and taking pictures of the TV with Superman in the frame—I loved Christopher Reeve’s ‘Superman’ that much. And a small part of me believed what I was seeing was true—a man could really fly, and he wore that costume while he was at it. My mother said it was a ‘real Superman’; I took that as, “He really exists.” Or at least I subconsciously wanted to.

But then there was my dad; he made sure he burst my bubble every time. “It’s not real, okay? It’s all a stunt.” Those words hurt me back then. Even today, I wish it was all real. I’d like to think Christopher Reeve could fly around the world in seconds. Reality, of course, is different. He died an early death after being completely paralyzed from head down.

Over time, my parents got me copies of Superman 2, 3 and 4. They tided me over, but not like the first film. Today, maturity has brought with it the realization that the sequels were no where near the original. ‘Superman II’ was decent. ‘Superman III’ was absolute crap.

‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ is quite surely the worst superhero film I’ve ever seen; even worse than ‘Batman & Robin’. It’s saddening to read Reeve’s thoughts on the film. He said that he knew the film wouldn’t live up to expectations with the approach  that was taken. He was contractually obliged to do the sequels, so he simply went with it and tried to give it his best. You know there’s something wrong with the film when the original film made almost a decade ago had better special effects.

One day, when I was still very young, as I switched through channels on the television, I came across another live-action Superman. This one had a different hairdo. He had a darker costume. The logo was much bigger. And yep, Lois Lane was hot.

I’m talking about ‘Lois & Clark’, the TV show. Dean Cain did a pretty good job playing Clark Kent, and Teri Hatcher was Lois Lane. It was then that  I experienced my first celebrity crush. ‘Teri Hatcher’ is quite surely the first female celeb’s name I typed into the Google Image search-bar ever. I was, what, nine, ten-years-old?

Apart from the thrill of watching Lois and Clark get intimate every now and then (keep in mind, that’s about all the intimacy I could get at that young age), Superman saving-the-day-at-the-end was a great deal of fun to watch.

I’m now the proud owner of all four seasons of ‘Lois & Clark’; nice to throw it into the DVD player every once in a while and get nostalgic. I think the show had, while not the best Superman action, the best Lois and Clark chemistry among all the Superman screen adaptations. I’m not just talking about the sex appeal, I’m talking about their interplay– the light flirting between the characters, the fun they had with Lois’s contrasting rudeness to Clark and infatuation over Superman, things like that. Now that I’m older, I realize people didn’t watch the show for Superman: they watched it for Lois and Clark.

In 2006, almost four decades after ‘Superman: The Movie’ was released, Bryan Singer’s ‘Superman Returns’ was playing in theaters the world over. Though its look, music, costumes, special effects, plot, et all were great, the film was let down by soulless, hollow acting. No amount of special effects can make up for the fact that Brandon Routh is no Christopher Reeve. He is no Superman.

And Kate Bosworth isn’t Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane at all. And she isn’t even anywhere as hot as Teri Hatcher. Just sayin’.

After ‘Superman Returns’ didn’t meet the expectations of the big heads at Warner Bros., there have been numerous rumors and stories being thrown around. Mark Millar wanted to do something with Superman. David S. Goyer was attached to a reboot of sorts. Before ‘Superman Returns’, Nicolas Cage was trying hard to get the role (he’s a huge Supe fan– he named his son Kal-El, Superman’s Krypton name!).

At present, Christopher Nolan (need I say this? The director of ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Inception’) and his brother Johnathan Nolan are doing early work on a Superman film. While I am happy that one of my favorite directors is giving Superman his chance to fly on the big screen again, I wonder: Christopher Nolan’s films are all plot and no humor or wit. Can I accept a Superman film without the excellent wit of the first film?

Sometime in the past three years, I got over Superman. ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ kept me occupied. ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Iron Man’ took me over.

And eventually, my whole craze for superhero films in general died down. I kept myself busy with other films. I was no longer in love with the genre.

Recently, I decided to skim through the first Superman film again. For old times’ sake.

I’m in love with it again.

Say what you want to say about Superman being too powerful, too boring, to0 gay. Say he’s no Batman, say he’s not Iron Man. The thing is– he isn’t. He’s Superman, and that’s all he needs to be. And he’s my superhero, right down to the red underwear.

And you know what I’ve realized? Twenty years from now, I might have outgrown ‘The Dark Knight’ and the ‘X-Men’ and ‘Spider-Man’ and what not. But, mark my words, I don’t think it is possible for me to ever outgrow ‘Superman: The Movie’.

How can you outgrow the thing that made your childhood?

(Christopher Reeve was born on September 25th 1952. Six days ago. He died on October 10th, 2004. Nine days from now.)

– Cinematic Jackass, signing off.

http://www.youtube.com/v/arG12Bld6Ag?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0

Episode 1 of Max Fleischer’s ‘Superman’

*****

UPDATE : Deadline and Heat Vision are now reporting that Zack Snyder (of Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch) has been officially chosen to direct The Man of Steel, with final negotiations currently taking place this week with Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. David S. Goyer is working on the screenplay.

Is this good news? Some of you may think so. Some of might not. I, for one, am going to wait it out and see what happens. I have mixed feelings about this. I mean, I really really loved ‘Watchmen’. I think it was very underrated. In fact, I think it’s the model for superhero graphic novel adaptations. It got the look right, it was intriguing… I’d go far enough to call it a masterpiece. Yes, I know, you disagree.

Having said that, I don’t know if Snyder is the right choice for an all-good superhero like Superman. I mean, can a man in blue spandex and a red shorts work with Snyder’s trademark style?

*****

Read an alternative version of this article that at Roger Ebert’s Far Flung Correspondents site here!


On Murder, Neighbors, Arab Kids and Ginger Cats

Every time I come across a murder case in the newspaper, I get lost in thought. While most people would ponder over the mechanism of or the reason for the murder, I think about the murderer… not about what he or she did for a living, or his nationality, or anything of the sort, but his thought process, if any—I always wonder, “What was the murderer thinking?”

Just put yourself in the murderer’s shoes. Imagine holding a rock in your hand and smashing someone’s head to a pulp. Why? Maybe you had an argument with the person. He insulted your mom. He called you fat. He took your money. His voice annoyed you. So you’re bludgeoning his head. Your hand goes up and down just like it does when you’re hammering a nail into a wall, but only this time, you’re denting somebody’s face.

What’s going on through your mind as you painfully end this person’s life? Nothing, maybe? In all the adrenaline rush, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re just flattening a person’s face, passively, dispassionately. Or maybe you’re feeling some bizarre form of exhilaration, a twisted form of joy you’ve never felt before.

Now he’s just a corpse. You’ve not just killed a person—you’ve ended a life, a good life that took nine months to create and many years after that to develop. A life that was worth so much more than this. Of course, you don’t know that when the rock’s in your hand. Maybe after committing the murder, you have an epiphany. “Oh Lord… I killed someone.” The realization must be terribly agonizing. Or it’s possible you’ve been so psychologically affected by the act, you’re not yourself anymore. You don’t feel bad about having killed someone. There are a few many people who savored their murderous acts.

Really, imagine being the murderer. If that doesn’t make you feel dirty, nothing will.

Most murders aren’t random acts of violence—there’s normally a cause, a stimulus. You can’t just kill someone without reason, however unreasonable. Murders are born from jealousy, feuds, depression… why, just a month ago, there was article in the papers about a software engineer who murdered his wife because she was irritating. It’s fascinatingly scary to think about where these murderous thoughts begin. Hard to think they’d originate from an annoying wife.

Reading all these articles about murder also reminds me of my neighbors. Oh no, my neighbors are not murderers, thank heavens for that, but the younger ones, the kids in the building… well, they do things on an almost criminal level.

I don’t mean to stereotype, and I am not racist, but these kids I talk about are mostly Arabs. They vandalize walls with unintentionally misspelled explicit words (c’mon, how hard is it to spell a four-letter word right?). They litter the corridors. They burn the plastic buttons in the lifts. They spit on their walls. They kick footballs at their neighbors’ doors. They bully juniors. (Many years ago, my sister and I were once cornered in a swimming pool by an Arab boy. I remember begging him to leave us alone as he mocked at our Indian culture. Today, I’m far bigger than he is, and, excuse me, but I can kick his ass.) They throw stones on cars. And their resourcefulness knows no bounds; they once threw a water balloon on a Mercedes parked below the building. Since they threw it from the twentieth floor, it managed to completely shatter the windshield of the car.

Every now and then, you will surely come across a teen with a blue eye, or with a serious injury. The more observant of you will find that these kids, far too young to have obtained driving licenses, go for drives in their parents’ cars. Do their parents know? I dare say, do they even care?

Day in and day out, these kids hang around the building, smoking cigarettes, doing really stupid, redundant things… it just makes me wonder what does on in their heads. I, like most people my age, feel horrible when I’m not intellectually stimulated in some way or the other. Either these people are really good at masking this horrid feeling or they have no intellectually stimulated memories at all to crave for new ones.

I am sorry if I come across as condescending, and I’m sorry if I’ve offended any Arabs out there. I’m not too sure about the attitudes of Arab children in general, I’m not even sure if they have a general attitude, but I can tell you I’ve stated nothing but the plain truth.

As much as the other children in my building partake in all these activities, none of them troubles me as much as the way they treat animals. I’ve seen them put a rabbit on a skateboard and slide the poor thing down a sloped surface.

One day, my mother found a ginger-colored cat with a belt fastened tightly around its neck with one of its hands in it. No doubt, one of the kids did it. My mother, being a major cat lover, repeatedly tried to reach for the cat, but to no luck. She then saw this Russian boy, around ten years old, who lived on the nineteenth floor. He smiled sweetly and asked my mom what was wrong. On being told of the ailing cat, he simply reached for it, unfastened the belt around its neck and started petting it. He smilingly told my mom that he was going to keep that cat at his place. I had met the kid after that incident, once with the cat. He seemed to be a real nice guy, not like the other destructive (maybe destroyed?) kids.

Why can’t more kids be like that boy? What pushes these children, the future generation, to forms of violence so needless and so primitive, it borders on being the acts of Neanderthals? (No, that’s not a hyperbole, I’m serious.) Is it them acting out against their sad lives? I strongly doubt any of them have sad lives. So what’s the reason? Is it fun to be violent? I’ve never gotten into a physical fight, so I can’t really say. Is it modern video games? Playing ‘shoot-em’-up’ video games so often has possibly sparked some rebellious soul in them. But that’s not likely—I have several sane friends who do nothing but play said games.

How did the kid feel when he fastened the belt around the ginger cat? How did he feel knowing he could’ve killed the poor, yelping creature? No too different from the murderer smashing someone’s head, I think.

Quite clearly, there’s something very wrong with the workings of things if children are resorting to such ridiculous actions. Sadly, I can’t even think of something to say to soften the blow of this article. I can’t even end with some little streak of hope—let me try…

Maybe there are still some children out there bound my good values, raised on morals—like that sweet Russian boy from the nineteenth floor who unbelted that ginger cat and took it into his house.

Maybe there is still hope.

Or maybe there isn’t.

My mother just told me that they found that ginger cat splattered all over the ground outside our building. The watchman said it fell from the nineteenth floor.

– Cinematic Jackass, signing off.


Memories of My Travels Around the Globe

Our Fridge... clothed with our world-wide-magnet collection

“Oh yes, we’ve been all over the world,” my father booms proudly as my mother places a pile of photo albums on the drawing room table before the guests. My father and mother continue: “We’ve been to Paris, we’ve been to London. China. New York. Australia. Canada. Singapore. Switzerland.” My family and I have been to such a variety of places around the world as my dad, being a business man, gratefully, had the means and need to travel. And so now and then he’d take us along.

The guests smile and nod curtly, occasionally saying things like, “Really? Is it?” or, “Wow, I’d love to go there!” Then, quite rarely, the guest booms back, “Oh, yes! Beautiful place! I’ve been there too!” That’s the cue for my parents to take a rest and listen to the story of the guests’ wonderful holiday at wherever-they’ve-been.

The guests now and then ask my sister and me about our vacations to all these places round the globe. We shyly recount stories of how we saw this show, or touched that animal, or tasted this dish, or walked on that street, or bought this souvenir (mother brings souvenir to guests).

The truth of the matter is… I don’t remember doing any of that. I was a very young boy. And I can’t blame my lack of true memories regarding these travels solely on my youth. I was also a very strange kid… I wouldn’t take in my surroundings as keenly as most kids would. I wouldn’t take in just the essentials either. I would take in the most irrelevant, unimportant things that, at that time, seemed like the most important things in the world.

It is the dream of every young individual to visit Disneyland. What a magical place!; with all its wonderful rides, all its costumed characters prancing around, the glorious castle with its sky high turrets, the truly spectacular parades… just like walking through a dream! One of our holidays was spent in Paris, specifically Disneyland. We stayed there for a fortnight or so. You’d think I remember all of it, but no, I don’t. I’ll tell you what I do remember.

There was balloonist in the lobby of our hotel. He was making the most exquisite balloon animals and passing them around to the children who had surrounded him almost as though they were worshiping him, me included. I was given a yellow-and-black bumblebee! (I paid no heed to what my sister was given, but something tells me it was pink or purple, whatever it was.)

That bumblebee balloon is all I remember from my visit to Disneyland, Paris. I went to the place every child fantasizes about, and I came back with memories of a balloon that tried hard to look like an insect. And at that time, that balloon surpassed everything around it in my eyes when glory and magnificence was concerned. I had eyes only for that stupid balloon; it was the object of my temporary obsession.

It burst on the very first day. I forgot how, but it did. I, being the resourceful kid I was, picked up the deflated bumblebee, with black and yellow stripes on it, and put it on my little finger, like a cute one-finger glove.

Today, if you ask me about Disneyland, Paris, I can tell you how wonderful the whole experience was, how terrific the rides and the parks, but most of what I tell you is sourced from what I’ve seen online, what I’ve been told and, most of all, what I’ve seen in the photographs my parents clicked.

In fact, if you really think about it, most childhood memories are sourced from what you’ve been told and what you’ve seen in the photo albums. Do you honestly remember all that stuff you did? Surely, your memory was aided by photographic aids and the like. At least I hope it was, or else I had some unique psychological defect as a kid.

I remember just three things from my holiday in Switzerland:

1. That bat-mobile toy I bought from I-don’t-know-where (the toy is in a cousin’s house now, but it has no wheels to speak off). Come to think of it, I’m not sure if I bought that great toy from there. Maybe I bought it from Paris. I dunno.

2. I remember reading the green ‘EXIT’ signs and pleading to my parents to take me out of wherever-we-were.

3. I remember walking on glorious, snowy mountains, and touching the clouds (It was then that I discovered you couldn’t stand on clouds. ‘Mary Poppins’ was misleading, damn her!)

All I remember from New York is a Batman VHS my parents didn’t buy me for some reason. And a Superman VHS they did buy me (it’s right here in my room). Oh, also the King Kong poster (or statue?) in the Empire State Building. And the yellow signboard of that Indian restaurant that served Idlis (a great relief for us, Indians, in New York).

All I remember from Australia was the hotel room, which had a kitchen. And the statues in the hotel lobby. And the fat white couple we met… I think, again, I’m not too sure.

All I remember from Canada was the people we stayed with, and even them I remember because we met them again years later. Oh, I also remember a blue water slide. It was huge, dark, and closed. I went on it eight or nine times, pretending to be Bruce Wayne from ‘Batman Forever’, sliding down that big blue slide to his Batcave. Only, my Batcave was a pool of water that was deeper than it should’ve been, and my awesome Batsuit was a swimming trunk.

Sure, I have some other memories of these places, buried somewhere in my head maybe… very faint memories, but nothing substantial at all.

Now, when I’m old enough to remember things, our family doesn’t do much foreign traveling. See the irony of it all?

Oh, wait, I remember something more from Paris! We spent a lot of time with a cute, blond, foreign girl my age, maybe French or Romanian or something! No, actually, I don’t remember that at all; I just saw the girl in one of our many photo albums, standing right next to me in several pictures. Perhaps, at the time, I was so caught up with my balloon and my toy car that I didn’t care to notice her existence or commit it to memory. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to notice that girl, and maybe gather up the guts to talk to her. Paris might have been more of a memorable experience.

*****

– Cinematic Jackass, signing off 🙂


OMG!! ROTFLMFAO kool dude! Lollllzzz!

Dere wz a point of tym wen i neva stukk to propr grmmar rulz n i chattd lyk dis. Many of my friends were, and still are, used to chatting that way. Of course, now it hurts me to miss a comma. Call me condescending.

Two to three years ago, when I first forayed into the online worlds of MSN, Facebook, and the like, I, like most young teenagers, wanted more than anything to fit in. I remember doing ridiculous things like posing for pictures, with the camera on self-timer, trying to look as ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ as I possibly could, which wasn’t remarkably too much so. I’d then hurriedly upload those pics on Facebook and wait for comments (which I rarely got).

I remember how I used to chat with my friends too.

‘Krishna says: Waazzaaaaa dude!’

The shame. “Waaazzzzaaaaa”. Number of ‘a’s and ‘z’s proportional to the enthusiasm or boredom, whichever was concerned.

I remember this one time I tried to look cool: I typed, “It rocked!” I realized it didn’t sound cool enough. So I changed the “It rocked!” to “It rockeddd!!!” Then, I went and made it “it rockeddd!!!” (Notice the capital ‘I’ is gone.) After backspacing and editing, I ended up with a reasonably cool, “it rokkkddd!!!”.

Like I said, the shame. I wish I had a time machine to go back in time and stop myself from being so incredulously wannabe (Today, I still am, but at least not regarding internet lingo.)

Apart from the misspellings, there was the ‘LOL – OMG’ thing. And ROTFL later. LMAO. ROTFLMAO. Sigh. I would be lying if I said I didn’t use ‘LOL’. I still do. But I feel this odd sort of guilt after using it… I mean, think about it: How many of you are actually laughing out loud when you say ‘LOL’? I feel ‘LOL’ is being abused. Everyone says it for everything. It used to be a substitute for laughter, but now it’s just a meaningless triad of letters. ‘LOL’ could mean, “Haha! That joke was funny!”. It could also mean, “I’m not really listening to you, but you don’t know that do you? Haha.” I’ve always felt using these chat-speak short forms reduces the clarity of your communication. But they’re big time-savers. Maybe I should start using them to save as much time as possible so I have more to waste.

While I’ve been able to erase all traces of those things I used to do (Yes, I’ve even gone and deleted all those Facebook pictures), there’s still one skeleton in the closet, or rather hanging around my neck. My e-mail id, made in the good old wannabe days, goes, ‘krishna_niceguy@…’. See that? ‘Niceguy’. No, that wasn’t a reference to ‘No more Mr. Nice Guy’ or anything like that. I made my id that way just so people would think I was a plain, nice guy. Maybe my brain was still in its early stages. Maybe it still is.

I haven’t changed my e-mail id since, always felt it too much of trouble to do so. My friends and I have hearty laughs every time we see those glaring words ‘niceguy’ placed in my e-mail id. Their e-mail ids were laugh-out-loud hilarious too, but they’ve all taken the pains to change theirs. I remember one ‘gangsta’ and one ‘cooldude’ and one ‘rockzz’ and one God-knows-what-else.

I’ve seen the effect of the internet language of short forms and misspellings influence people’s daily lives. For example: students writing ‘tym’ instead of ‘time’ in English exams and such other things. I’m glad I quit it. I don’t know why I stopped writing that way. I guess it was my all-too-early exposure to the great writing of Roger Ebert, or maybe my all-too-late stumbling upon classics of children’s literature. (I was eight when I discovered it was ‘Enid Bylton’ and not ‘Gnid Blwton’ like I thought it was from her signature on her books)

Whenever I look at what I’ve recently written, I am consumed by a pompous sense of pride; like I’ve climbed some kind of personal ladder by trying my best to adhere to rules of grammar and punctuation. Sure, at times, I appear condescending or patronizing, saying, “Oh well, nothing much, really,” when my friends ask me, “Waaaaazzzzzzaaaa duddeeee!??” But so what? Hu carez kool dude? Lollz.

(Note to reader: I am truly sorry if I’ve offended anyone out there who chats in da kool internet way. Srryy dudes. No offense, k? Tc. Hf. Ttyl. 🙂 )

Cynimatik jkass syning off! 😀 Cinematic Jackass, signing off! 😀

***

omg = oh my god
lol = laugh out loud
wtf = what the funk, fish, fudge… nah, kidding, you know. 🙂
wth = what the hell
rofl = rolling on floor laughing
lmao = laughing my ass off
ttyl = talk to you later
imho = in my humble opinion
idk = i don’t know
idc = i don’t care
idr = i don’t remember
jk = just kidding
r = are
u = you
…and so on


On ‘STEAMBOAT WILLIE’ (1928)

I wish I were alive back in the 40’s. I could have seen Disney’s wonderful ‘Pinocchio’ on the big screen. But unfortunately, having been born only a decade-and-a-half ago, I have to make do with a VHS I bought in Singapore.

‘Pinocchio’ is a masterpiece. It’s excellently animated, it has such beautiful, memorable imagery and characters, its songs are absolute classics… and the story, that marvelous story of a puppet’s journey to become a real boy, is just so very engaging. And, it was something we could relate to. Let’s face it; at some point in our lives, we all wanted to attain the impossible. Only, in ‘Pinocchio’, it wasn’t impossible, thanks to the Blue Fairy.

Like ‘Pinocchio’, Disney’s older animated classics like ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’, ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Cinderella’ were triumphs of both technical skill and storytelling magic. The animation in those films is, even by today’s standards, just amazing. And the story telling magic… even better than today’s. Who’s hair didn’t stand on end when Snow White bit that red apple? Who didn’t lean forward anxiously as the clock struck twelve as Cinderella lost her glass slipper?

Disney and his magician were pioneers in this glorious field of animation. They boldly did what hadn’t been done yet.

All this lead to infinitely so much more. Decades later, we had the wonderful ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘The Lion King’… the list of classics goes on. While most of you might have seen the films I’ve mentioned above, how many of you have seen the one that started it all? I’m not talking about ‘Snow White,’ I’m talking about what introduced the world to Disney’s creation, one of the world’s most popular icons… Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse was what got Disney into the big leagues. No wonder that little mouse was chosen to be Disney’s mascot. And as a result, he’s one of the most recognizable figures in the world. The gloved hands. The round ears. The black button eyes. The red pants.

This icon’s birthday is November 28, 1928, the release date of ‘Steamboat Willie,’ an animated Mickey short. It’s Mickey Mouse’s third animated short, and is cited as the first animated film with a synchronized soundtrack. Wondering why his birthday is celebrated on the release date of his third animated short and not his first? Apparently, ‘Willie’ was the first short to find a distributor, and so it’s considered Mickey’s debut.

‘Steamboat Willie’ is my personal favorite animated short of all time. If you see it now, you might not admire it like I do. I love it for so many reasons: it’s funny, it’s cute, it’s also very wild (Mickey grabs a cat by the tail and spins it around!), there’s just something wonderful about it. But the main reason I love it: It’s the one that started it all. The one that started the magic.

This post was just to share with you this little gem of a film 🙂

– Cinematic Jack*** (c’mon, this is an article about Disney), signing off 🙂


Movie Review: STEP UP 3-D (2010)

Directed by Jon Chu
Starring Rick Malambri, Adam Sevani, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner

It seems to be a rule of the thumb that teen dance and music flicks have to follow certain guidelines and regulations. One of the main characters has to be nerdy or shy, only to undergo a dramatic transformation by the end of the film. The main characters just have to be reasonably attractive. There will be a villain having no motive in life but to bring down said main characters (and he might have one or two sidekicks to do his evil bidding). There will be misunderstandings and obstacles, causing the group of good guys to disband, only to be brought back together near the ending after a unanimous epiphany that they can’t do without each other. The guy will get the girl eventually (or vice versa, depending on who’s initially after whom), ending the whole film in a classy kiss. And most important; if there is a competition or something of the sort involved in the story: The Good Guys. Always. Win. ALWAYS.

Since these films, in most cases to say the least, are limited by these guidelines, there is no room for any uncertainty. There is no room for suspense. There is no room for guessing what’s going to happen next as you, quite surely, already know what’s going to happen. And as a result, there is no cause for interest or care.

‘STEP UP 3-D’ is almost excessively pedantic with the way it adheres to the clichés of its genre. There is not a single unpredictable bone in its skeleton. This is a story we’ve been told a hundred times before. I haven’t even seen the first two ‘Step Up’ films and I found the plot tiresome, and I’ve been told it’s more or less the same plot all over again.

Aside from being predictable, it’s emotionally immature. The characters aren’t the type of people that occupy the real world—no one in the real world is all-good or all-bad. In ‘Step Up 3-D’, the good-guys group ‘The Pirates’ consists of, well, all-good guys (except for those overly ambitious members who find their way to the all-bad team, ‘The Samurais’.)

There isn’t too much character depth. In fact, the film’s so shallow I don’t feel the need to start describing the characters as they’re all pretty boring. There’s the guy who has to give up dance, but secretly keeps at it (Moose). There’s the girl who is the guy’s just-best-friend, but she’s secretly in love with him (Camille). There’s the team leader who secretly loves filmmaking (Luke). There’s the girl who falls in love with the team leader (Natalie) (betrayals, however, break them apart… but obviously they end up together in the end. Remember the rule?)

But though the characters are boring, I found the actors to be pretty likable. There’s the young Adam Sevani playing Moose, who was pretty good and did the best he could with the material he was given. I enjoyed most of his scenes, and somehow instinctively rooted for him. Camille was played Alyson Stoner, a good young actress who needs to find films better than this one and the ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ flicks. Rick Malambri, who’s a good looking guy, plays Luke, and I see in him a lot of potential to take on more mature, dramatic roles. Sharni Vinson stars as Natalie, and she’s pleasant enough, and she’s eye-candy for all the panting boys too. I wonder, why aren’t the good guys ever ugly? Do you need to look good to be good? Why is that most of the good guys need to be gorgeous? Oh, I know why. Remember the rule?

And if you think the main characters are boring (This is the third time I’ve said that), the bad guys are infinitely more so. They are so excruciatingly uninteresting, they’re almost not even worth mentioning. In these films, they always are. All they wanna do is mess with the good guys. As I write this, I feel the words ‘protagonist’ and ‘antagonist’ would provide me with the air of a good writer more efficiently than ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’, but these characters are so poor they don’t even deserve those words.

By now, you’re thinking one of three things about me: 1. I’m an idiot for hating this awesome dance film. 2. I’m an idiot for judging a dance film based on its emotional power and story telling strengths. 3. I’m right.

If you’re thinking no. 1, you can stop reading right here. No. 2, keep reading, I will explain. No. 3, you’re my new best friend.

It might appear I didn’t like this film at all, but actually I did. Ignoring its major flaws, you’ll actually enjoy it. Why? The oh-so stunning visuals.

The dance sequences are absolutely spectacular. Their choreography is just solid. Some of the steps seemed to defy everything that Newton stated, and what’s more, I’m pretty sure it’s all real, un-aided by the digital touch. There was such an awesome, zestful energy throughout all of the dance sequences, and I was always in admiration of how much practice and dedication must’ve been poured into perfecting all the moves and coming out with those awesome visuals, if not much of a plot.

There were times when I felt the rival group was dancing better than the good-guys group, but what the heck, the good guys won anyways. Always. Remember the rule?

Most of the songs that accompanied the dances were hip-hop and pop, the kinds of song I eagerly avoid on the radio. However, I didn’t mind them here as the dances were superb. There came tiny points of time where I was passively, inattentively staring at the screen as they danced on, but that was only now and then.

If I had to pick out one dance sequence that had me smiling through and through, it wouldn’t be any of the competition rounds, it wouldn’t be the climax… it would be one sweet little sequence in which the two young to-be lovers Moose and Camille dance happily to a remix of Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers on one of the quainter streets of New York. (To know of my musical movie tastes is to know that I am in love with Gene Kelly’s ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ dance.) Adam Sevani and Alyson Stoner emulated Gene Kelly quite well, making what was one of the more charming sequences in the film. Oh, how could I forget. Just like a lot of Kelly’s ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ sequence, the whole sequence was carried on in one continuous shot!

While reviewing 3-D films, I generally review the entire film just like I would a 2-D one and then end with a tiny paragraph on how good (or rather bad) the 3-D was. I recommended very lightly the 3-D version of the overhyped ‘Avatar’. I told people to watch the excellent ‘Up’ and the wonderful ‘Coraline’ in 2-D rather than in 3-D. I told people not to watch ‘A Christmas Carol’ regardless of the D’s. And yet, I find myself in an unprecedented position… I find myself recommending to you nothing less than the 3-D version of this film. Watch this film with the glasses on or don’t watch it at all. I’ve seen a great many 3-D films, and I can say that I haven’t seen it used more effectively than in this film.

Normally, 3-D is distraction from the plot, but seeing as this film hasn’t one, that wasn’t a problem. And normally, the 3-D effect wears off ten to twenty minutes into the movie, but not here. There are always the awesome dances to remind you of the 3-D, and that’s not a bad thing. Bubbles, dust, splashing water, party confetti, laser lights, all are utilized to great effect. Who’d have know a group of teenagers dancing on a stage would be more effective than blue motion-captured aliens riding flying creatures?

Do I recommend this film to you? I’m not really sure. If you liked the first two, I reckon you’d love this. I read online it’s got better critical reviews than the first two. If you hate dance movies, I don’t see why you’d need to watch this, save for the choreography and the 3-D.

Before I’m accused of spoiling the movie for you by revealing that they win the competition at the end and that the guys get the girls, let me remind you: you were already supposed to know all that. Remember the rule?

– Cinematic Jackass, signing off 🙂