Saturday, September 23, 2006

iTunes - not made for India

The world’s not kind to someone who likes to listen to contemporary English music on the go. At least not in India. WorldSpace isn't interested in car audio and in its earlier cruel and random decision Go 92.5FM stopped English music altogether before transforming into a 24*7 Hindi music station - Radio One (and no, I don't think Tarana is coming back, so get used Sangraaam and Jaggu in the morning).

So what else is there ? There’s downloading stuff from the net through sites like seekasong, mpeg-search, and other sites which allow free MP3 downloads. But hell, how can you download a song before hearing it ? I mean the entire use of these sites was in the days when you heard James Blunt belting out “You’re beautiful”; or felt blessed on discovering bands like Vertical Horizon. You listened to the songs a couple of times on the radio and then downloaded them. Free of cost.

Today, I'm willing to pay for downloading music from the biggest online seller of music - iTunes. And I can't. Which gets me to my peeve of the day - Why hasn’t Apple launched iTunes in India ? No, I’m not talking about tie-ups with Hungama (what a ghastly website) or Saregama. Those tie-ups are specifically for making Indian music available to a global audience. I’m talking of how iTunes can make global music available to an Indian audience.

How much does it take for Apple to add “India” to its list of countries ? Currently – and as Apple’s teeny-weeny disclaimer at the end of its web page reads – “Purchases from the iTunes Music Store are available only in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.” Dude, that’s 21 countries and India is nowhere there.

So if I’ve got it right, I can’t buy any music on iTunes because I’m in India. But anyone, in any of those 21 countries, can download Gulzar, Bhupinder and even the OST of the new Don from iTunes. Ironical ? Probably because catering to niche audiences doesn't get you the moolah. Probably because Apple believes that they can’t crack the market for Hindi music downloads (read piracy) the way they revolutionised music downloads in the USA. As for English music downloads, Apple firmly believes that no one in India is interested in the Billboard hot 100. We wouldn't know Rihanna from Shakira, leave alone wanting to download Justin Timberlake’s sexyback. Oh right, we’re still in love with Abba, Boney M and Osibissa.

If all this is true, then why is Apple so gung-ho about launching its latest ipods in India ? Why is Apple tying up with HCL Info to set up a distribution and after-sales network, not only for ipods but Macs as well, in India ? Why is Apple opening up retail outlets in India ? All this hype and hoopla, without including India in their list of 21 privileged countries authorised by Apple to have a valid iTunes account?

I’ll tell you what else is ironical. Even if I can’t download the #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 from itunes, I can listen to Bill Maher’s completely brilliant talk-show "Real Time". I can also listen to Ricky Gervais and Chris Moyles. Hell, I can even get the most e-mailed article on the New York times read out to me. Glory be – all these are free podcasts.

Perhaps there is some justice in this world.

PS- This post eventually got printed in "Man's World" magazine (Nov-06 issue, page 34, no link available), attributed, unfortunately, to a pseudonym (don't even ask why).

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Movie lists from the other side

Our man from the USofA, Purush, adds some movies of his own. I've copy/pasted from his earlier comments below. They fall under..well..all categories.

Disclaimer - Please note, his list, as well as my ongoing series, is not a list of all-time greats. As I've said before, the path to a good weekend movie is strewn with many a lemon.

Over to Purush (views expressed entirely his own, but I'd agree to most of them anyways)

The Pink Panther: Disappointing. Steve Martin is quite reliable, and his Shopgirl, below, is wonderful. But he’s not at his best all. BTW, if you haven’t, “Bowfinger” which is an older movie of his, is a hilarious must-see. (Tomato Meter Reading: 21%)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Some very witty and snappy dialogue, in a ludicrous, slight plot. Some lines in it make it worthwhile, plus Robert Downey Jr. is quite good. (TMR: 83%)

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys: 2002 movie about 2 rebellious teen boys in a strict Catholic school. Well-made and acted. Kieran Culkin has a creepy, but absolutely magnetic, presence. (TMR: 76%)

Junebug: Probably the best comedy I’ve seen this year. Not strictly a comedy, actually…but a simple story that follows a big city girl into her boyfriend’s small-town America family, with their differing lives and attitudes. (TMR: 87%)

The Family Stone: Strictly okay. Watchable for some of the big-name stars like Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Sarah J. Parker, Luke Wilson…otherwise quite predictable. (TMR: 54%)

Shopgirl: Up there, amongst the best movies of this year (though was released in 2005). Funny, contemplative, bittersweet…Claire Danes is luminous in the movie! (TMR: 62%)

Rumor Has It: A dud. Because it’s directed by Rob Reiner, it’s 2005s’ biggest disappointment for me. (TMR: 18%)

Anchorman: Will Ferrell playing a cocky, misogynistic, non-PC anchorman from the 70s…what’s there not to love?!! Guilty pleasure. (TMR: 65%)

Broken Flowers: Love Bill Murray, hence liked this, it’s got Murray doing his minimalist brand of comedy as he traverses the US looking up his ex-girlfriends. But I can see why non-Murray fans would not like it all. (TMR: 87%)

Mean Girls: Very smart, bright comedy. Hip and funny – Tiny Fey’s script writing debut about the pressures faced by teen-girls in high school. (TMR: 86%)

Saved!: Another 2004 movie about teenage girls, that’s anything but a chick flick. Very good, though it looks a mite too simplistic in lampooning the evangelical movement. (TMR: 61%)

Roger Dodger: Well made movie, and loved Campbell Scotts’ world-weary act of a jaded Lothario shepherding his young nephew into the NY scene of clubs, girls and all things subterranean about NY city. (TMR: 87%)

Trees Lounge: Older Steve Buscemi movie, and absolutely pitch perfect in its’ depiction of a small-town drunk just shuffling through life. Buscemi directed it himself, hence it’s got double the oddball quotient that his movies usually have! (TMR: 80%)

Match Point: Over-rated. Very linear, mechanical story line. Woody Allen movie, though and not a comedy either, so you might want to check it out. (TMR: 79%)

Igby Goes Down: Older movie, but awesome, in a watching-a-train wreck kinda way. Dysfunctional New Yorkers have rarely been shown better. Reminds me of the old "Sunscreen" song line: "Live for a while in New York, but not too long that it makes you too hard". (TMR: 76%)

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: Beautiful, small movie. Unpretentious, heart-breaking and yet uplifting. Really liked it. (TMR: 58%)

The Squid and the Whale: Blah. NYC does seem to have some very unlikable, self-obsessed people. (TMR: 94% !!)

P.S.: Liked it, it grows on you. And if you like Laura Linney and Topher Grace, it's a no-brainer. V. good and complex performances by them. (TMR: 56%)

House of D: Duchonvy's directorial feature debut(?), and shows some likeable New Yorkers, for a change. Decent, and if you're still a Duchonvy fan, you'll like it. (TMR: 10% whoo-ho!)

My Summer of Love: Dark flick, the anti-teen movie about emotionally damaged teenagers flirting with their sexual power and innocence. Powerful. (TMR: 91%)

The Dreamers: Some in-your-face nudity and attitude but extremely watchable, otherwise, too. Bertolucci masterfully shows, in the actions of his young protagonists, the different idea that is France as compared to the USA. (TMR: 58%)

War of the Worlds: If u can get past the fact that Cruise could actually be from another world, this is a pretty good movie. Suspension of disbelief, though, majorly required. (TMR: 72%)

My earlier movie lists
Part 1 - Drama
Part 2 - Comedies
Part 3 - Thrillers (to be updated)
Part 4 - World Cinema (to be updated)

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Indiatimes does it again

Another movie list, but of a different kind. Yes, the kind you like. Indiatimes is out with "The big 'sex flicks' of 2006".

So, ask yourself - have you seen..

Beach - "The makers tried to play up the bikini clad leads of the film as the USP. But the film got a ‘thumbs down’ from the audience as the film sank without a trace."

Bobby - Love & Lust - "‘Wet Bobby is coming to set your town ablaze’, said the tagline of the posters. Rakesh Parmaar directed this film which tried hard but failed to make the audiences sit erect."

Hold your breath and watch out for these upcoming movies..

Deha -
"Jaya Prada will be seen doing lovemaking scene with Dino Morea in this film. It’s a film delves into women’s suppressed sexual desires and cross-generational love. It’s scheduled to hit theatres by late 2006."

Hot Money - "Item girl Rakhi Sawant does a raunchy item number for this film wearing a skimpy two-piece made by coins. The film is scheduled to hit screens later this year."

Haseena - Smart, sexy and dangerous - "Ishaa Koppikar, Preeti Jhangiani, Tara Sharma and Raj Babbar star in this film. With a multi-star cast, the film is expected to draw in a sizeable opening. The film is likely to release in September this year."

They've also done detailed research on earlier such movies. Sample this

Julie - "If you're expecting ‘Julie’ to be a soft porn film, with sleaze aplenty, peddling skin-show in every alternate scene, you’re right. ‘Julie’ has its fair share of sex-laden sequences -- after all it is based on the life of a prostitute, or should we say an exploited destitute. Whichever way, it's ‘sexed up’ to tap enough audience. "

Double Cross - "The wife pushes her husband to sleep with women and act in blue films. She forces her husband to be a gigolo. The husband becomes a hustler since he has to support his wife and also his family back home in Punjab. The husband falls in love with a stripper, who subsequently beds one of her clients to free her lover from the clutches of his wife. Now, that’s what they made formulas for, isn’t it?"

And more, much more can be read here. Rush, rush.

Further proof of silliness

As if silly photos weren't enough, now we've got to give proof of the kind of people who read our blogs. This will only prove something we already know, i.e. if bloggers are self-obsessed losers without a life, then those who read their blogs are worse.

Thanks to this tag from Gaurav Mishra, I present below the search terms used by people that got them to my blog. It's great to know that for all my efforts, I get visited by weirdos and lonely despos looking for hottest expose, underwear and a Hindi 007.

1. "C grade movies in Mumbai" and - get this - "Z grade movies in Mumbai" got the searcher here. If 'C' grade is truly bad, how bad can a 'Z' grade movie be ?. I think someone was searching for Fanaa reviews (incidentally the term "kajol cleavage" can also get you to my blog.)

2. "Bombay girls" landed here. I like the bluntness in this guy's quest. Leaves nothing to the imagination.

3. "Hottest pics of Zeenat Aman in satyam shivam sundaram" lands up here. No, I don't know what that post has to do with that search phrase. Shabbash google.

4. "Madhuri Dixit expose" and "Madhuri Dixit underwear" expectedly lands up here. Between Zeenat Aman and Madhuri Dixit, I think we just crossed a decade of Hindi cinema. Good history lesson.

5. "prince was fall in a fit in kurukshetra" lands up here. The truth now revealed. Prince had a fit and then fell in the well. Coming up next- Jill felling after.

6. "Hindu 007 agent movies jokes" lands up here. Even the RSS would be proud to have a desi James Bhaand.

- and finally, here is a truly bizarre one. What was this guy thinking when he searched..

7. "What is the name of the animals that eat peoples bad dreams" which landed here. scared of being eaten up now when I have a bad dream. Bhoot.

With tag done, I am now furthering this misery to Parijat, Vulturo, Chronicus Skepticus and the two bloggers who had conveniently sneaked out of an earlier tag - i.e. Punds and Kusum Rohra. (Come on, this one you can do, right ?)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Movie lists continue. Part 2 - comedies

This picks up from the earlier list on comedies linked here. As you will see here, most of the movies range from so-so to so-no. The path to a good weekend movie is indeed strewn with lemons. Here we go..

Part 2 - Comedies
Christmas with the Kranks: Ok, so I saw it only because of Tim Allen (And boo to Star World for not restarting Home Improvement at a better time) and it turned out to be a damp squib. (TMR: 4%. Eeesh, wish I'd known that.)

The Brothers Grimm: Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Monica Bellucci. And the director of 12 Monkeys. And you can still go wrong. Disappointing and a big let-down. You have been warned. (TMR: 39%, and I do not agree with the good reviews there).

The Pacifier: After renting movies like above, movies like this look good. No pretensions, no expectations, nothing. Put Vin Diesel in the middle of a bunch of kids..and well, at least you won't get bored. Or angry that you expected anything. Fun pic really. (TMR: 21%. Oh come on now..)

The Wedding Date: Your very average weekend rom-com type, of which there have been better. Nothing great, unless you're a huge Debra Messing/Dermot Mulroney fan, which I'm clearly not. (TMR: 10%).

Monster-in-law: Saas-bahu steal most of the show in this passable, and at times funny, fare. With J Lo and J Fo on virtually every scene of the movie, the hero appeared rightfully lost. Fits the "time-pass" bill. (TMR: 17%)

Lucky Numbers: Yet again goes to show that big stars (John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow) and big directors (Nora Ephron) do not guarantee anything. Insipid stuff. Totally missable. (TMR: 22%)

Hitch: You've already seen it. Will Smith pulls it off with all the right lines, the moves, and of course the girls - drool, drool Eva Mendes and drool Amber Valletta. (TMR: 69%. Yes.)

Just like heaven: Surprise package. Very mushy, very sweet, very there. Reese W just fits in these roles so well. You also have Mark Ruffalo, so eye candy all around and makes for a nice post candle-lit dinner fare. (TMR: 56%. Yes)

The Ice Harvest: Oh how I fell for this crap hook, line and sinker. Or rather John Cusack, BB Thornton and Harold Ramis. Tedious, unfunny and a drag. Also, what was Oliver Platt thinking when he agreed for a role that the movie clearly didn't need?. (TMR: 46%. Still too high. I like that the hot pick quote - "woefully miscalculated, distressingly unfunny dark comedy...)

Yours, mines and ours: Remake of the 1968 classic and fairly funny family fare (!) with two stars I like - Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo. (TMR: 5%. Disagree).

Fun with Dick & Jane: Another remake (see..apna film industry is not the only one on a remake high). Decent stuff and nothing spectacular. Loved the closing scene where Jim Carrey's ex-colleague (who was out of a job after their company collapsed) is telling Jim about this new job he just got - in a hot, fast-growing energy trading company. And when Jim Carrey asks him which company, this guy replies "Enron". Ha. (TMR: 28%)

The Princess Bride: I don't know how I missed seeing this excellent old movie earlier. Actually, I saw it because of this which I noticed here. Hilarious entertainer even if its not Rob Reiner at his best. And yes, that is a killer line in the movie. Let me say it once for the record "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!. " Also watch out for the cameos. (TMR: 100%).

Wedding crashers: Between "Time-pass" and "good" thanks to the lead duo's antics and some really funny lines. Where the movie scores is when you root for the lead duo's ass getting kicked and their eventual come-uppance. Hollywood remains a sucker for true love and redemption. (TMR: 75%..what for ?)

Coming up next - Part 3 - Thrillers and Part 4 - Foreign movies.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Movie list time again

Its time to add the movies I've seen on DVD since I 'd last posted.

Part 1 - Drama (earlier drama list here)

Good night and good luck: Brilliant. Black and white can be so damn effective. Loved seeing what broadcast journalism was, isn't and should be. David Straitharn was so good that he over-shadowed his director. Read the wiki on Ed Murrow here. (Tomato-meter reading of 95%)

Pride and Prejudice: Hmph. I've never been a big Jane Austen fan, but yet every once in a while one has to see these movies. This was so-so. And I can't take Keira Knightley's smile any more, please. (TMR: 85%)

Jarhead: I'd see anything of Sam Mendes anyways. While this one had it all I thought it was a bit long. Yet definitely worth a watch. (TMR: 60%)

The Constant Gardener: Hard-hitting, superb, must-watch. So much for happy endings, this was one movie that left me feeling utterly miserable, and not just for the cinematography. Unmissable. An Oscar well-deserved for Ms. Weisz. (TMR: 83%)

Two for the money: This is to football what Devil's Advocate was to law. I thought you can't go wrong with Al Pacino and Mathew McConaughey. But you can. Overall a very ok movie. (TMR: 21%. Hehe.)

All the Presidents men: Must, must, must watch. I knew it'd be good but not so damn good. Woodward, Bernstein, Watergate, Deep Throat. All of it real life. My favourite line was said..or rather yelled Jack Warden to Jason Robards: "They're hungry! Don't you remember when you were hungry?". Want a perfect weekend ? Rent this with Good night and good luck. (TMR: 100% !)

As before, I will continue this later with Part 2 - Comedies, Part 3 - Thrillers and Part 4 - World Cinema.

Steve Irwin RIP. (a.k.a. revenge of the stingray)

A lot has been said on the demise of Steve Irwin. This one below by Germaine Greer* (from her article in the Guardian) adds some more perspective.
"The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing 10 times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn."

So a famous firang dies by a freak accident. Media goes into overkill. And then someone opines that the animal world has taken revenge ? This could be the next animation hit - Title "Jaanwaron ka badla" with a tagline "Ek julmi ki kahaani, stingray ki zabaani". Mithun-da as Steve, mate ?

* As expected, Ms. Greer's comments have raised a controversy. Sheesh.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The silly photo tag - this time for real

I've been reminded that I've not participated in"true spirit" of this tag passed on to me by Vulturo (via Amit), and also been threatened with dire consequences if I don't fall in line.

So, I've come up with something else, which should surely fit the bill.

That's me doing the Peacock number. It's an office party and as it happens in these kind of situations, someone from somewhere got peacock feathers. Various people were then invited, coaxed, cajoled, coerced, harried and harassed to wear these on their back and do..well, the peacock dance. The above was my turn. No, it didn't start raining later, but fun - and hangover - came.

I think this entitles me to one tag and I tag Dhoomk2. Over to you.

And finally, for a nice list (with photos) of other bloggers looking silly, go to Gaurav Mishra's post here.