2001 : A Space Odyssey

Ok, this is a classic film, one of the greatest movies of all time and a science fiction masterpiece. However I haven’t seen this film in full until a few days ago. Yes, I hang my head in shame. No point in offering excuses, I failed! Anyways let’s get into this cinematic beauty, which I will admit is a bit slow and hence some people may not enjoy it as much as most science fiction buffs. But, you will find it hard to believe that this film was made in 1968 and not a decade or so later!

2001 : A Space Odyssey is a British-American science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”. Clarke also wrote a novel based on the book, which could be a good choice for a lot of fans to get. The movie is set in 4 parts. The first part is set in prehistoric times and focuses on a group of early hominids in central Africa. The group is attacked separately by a leopard and another group of hominids who drive them from their water-hole and they take shelter in a cave. When they awaken they find a black monolith that appears in a place it wasn’t there before. They shriek and jump as they approach it and one of them touches it realizes how to use a bone as both a tool and a weapon, which they start using to kill prey for their food. Growing increasingly capable and assertive, they reclaim control of the water hole from the other tribe by killing its leader. Triumphant, the tribe’s leader throws his weapon-tool into the air as the scene changes to millions of years later.

In the year 2000 there is a meeting on a space station that is orbiting the earth. Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester), after stopping to speak to a Russian colleague and her friend, makes a video call to his daughter on her birthday after arriving at the station. He then heads to Clavius, a US outpost on the Moon, and heads a meeting of base personnel which is to discuss the discovery of a black monolith similar to the one that the apes saw. The base has been kept off limits to others with a cover story of an epidemic outbreak. Floyd and others head to the location and pose for a photo in front of it. While doing so, they hear a very loud high-pitched radio signal emanating from within the monolith. The signal is sent towards the location of Jupiter. Which brings us to the 3rd act; 18 months later the U.S. spacecraft Discovery One is bound for Jupiter. On board are mission pilots and scientists Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood), and three other scientists who are in cryogenic hibernation. The majority of the ship’s functions are controlled by the advanced computer Hal 9000 (voice by Douglas Rain). During the trip Bowman & Poole and even Hall are interviewed by the BBC for a program. When HAL alerts Poole to a report the imminent failure of a device which controls the ship’s main antenna. However the astronauts, on investigating the part, cannot find anything wrong with it.

Hal suggests reinstalling the part and letting it fail so the problem can be found. Mission control concurs, but advises the astronauts that results from their twin HAL 9000 indicate the ship’s Hal is in error predicting the fault. When queried, Hal insists that the problem, like all previous issues with the HAL series, is due to “human error”. Concerned the two astronauts try to speak inside an EVA pod and discuss disconnecting Hal if he is proven to be wrong, but they are unaware that Hal is reading their lips through the pod’s window. While Poole is on a spacewalk outside of his EVA pod attempting the repair severs his oxygen hose and sets him adrift. Bowman attempts a rescue and during this time HAL turns off the life support for the 3 crew members in suspended animation. When Bowman returns with Poole’s body HAL refuses him entry stating that the astronaut’s plan to deactivate him jeopardizes the mission. Bowman lets go of Poole’s body and manually opens the hatch and enters the Discovery and then proceeds to disconnect HAL’s processors. HAL first tries to reassure Bowman then pleads with him to stop, and finally begins to express fear—all in a steady monotone voice. Dave ignores him and disconnects each of the computer’s processor modules. Hal eventually regresses to his earliest programmed memory, the song “Daisy Bell”, which he sings for Bowman.

HAL being disconnected a prerecorded message plays in which Floyd reveals the existence of the four million-year-old black monolith on the Moon, “its origin and purpose still a total mystery”. Floyd adds that it has remained completely inert, except for a single, very powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter. Bowman leaves the Discovery in a pod to investigate another monolith, much larger this time, which is orbiting Jupiter. As Bowman nears it  the pod is suddenly pulled into a tunnel of colored light, and a disoriented and terrified Bowman finds himself racing at great speed across vast distances of space, viewing bizarre cosmological phenomena and strange landscapes of unusual colors. He sees himself middleaged still in the suit in a bedroom and then even more older variations of himself until he is a frail old man on his death bed. A black monolith appears at the foot of the bed, and as Bowman reaches for it, he is transformed into a fetal being enclosed in a transparent orb of light. The new being floats in space beside the Earth, gazing at it.

Fantastic film to look at and experience if you can get past the lack of much dialogue in a lot of scenes. I can’t believe that this a a 1967-68 production as it looks so futuristic. The best scifi ideas originated in the 60s. The monolith is a representation of the work of a highly advanced alien race who influence life on other planets, once they themselves evolved to a stage beyond their physical bodies. A must watch for any scifi fan and any movie lover to be truthful. 9 outta 10!

The 2014 Academy Awards Winners

86th Academy Awards winners

Best Picture :  12 Years a Slave

Best Actor in a Leading Role : Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Leading Role : Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role : Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role : Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Best Animated Feature : Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)

Best Cinematography : Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Best Costume Design : The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)

Best Directing : Gravity (Alfonso CuarĂłn)

Best Documentary Feature : 20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)

Best Documentary Short : The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed)

Best Film Editing : Gravity (Alfonso CuarĂłn, Mark Sanger)

Best Foreign Language Film : The Great Beauty (Italy)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling : Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)

Best Original Score : Gravity (Steven Price)

Best Original Song : Let It Go – Frozen

Best Production Design : The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)

Best Animated Short Film : Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares)

Best Live Action Short Film : Helium (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson)

Best Sound Editing : Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

Best Sound Mixing : Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)

Best Visual Effects : Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)

Best Adapted Screenplay : 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Best Original Screenplay : Her (Spike Jonze)

Somewhere in there, Jesus won an Oscar for best fictional character (in My Daddy & Me) :D

Pre-Wedding Jitters In Tv Shows

Romance-Drama rule in tv shows/movies : the woman (usually the lead or second lead actress) would have known the guy for years, been sleeping with him for 4-5, basically living together and are known as a couple to everyone who knows them, go to all events & functions as a couple but…..

When the time finally comes for the wedding to take place, just before she is to get married “I don’t know if I can do this!” Typical cliched stuff, boring! She has a breakdown (well not really, I call it being a selfish bitch! Cmon, the dude you’ve been fucking for the last 5 years is waiting for you, standing there smiling like a jackass in front of a whole lot of people and you think of this now!) and needs the sagely advice of her mother or some other well meaning adult or a close friend who always ends up saying “You love him” and a stupid smile and a hug later, she finally walks down the isle.

So the marriage takes place. It’s always white women who go this nervous ritual. Never the black folk. Or Chinese/Korean/Pinoy/Indian etc. First world problems. Atleast you chose the guy you love. In some Indian weddings (and in other Asian countries), the women have barely met the guy!

Arsenal 0 Stoke City 1

A toothless attack and a lackluster performance saw Arsenal going down to giant killers Stoke City by a solitary goal. Stoke had previously beaten Manchester United & Chelsea at home this season and Jonathan Walters’s penalty ensured Arsenal slipped further behind leaders Chelsea. In a robust encounter in which Olivier Giroud was given some particularly stern treatment, with Charlie Adam fortunate to escape punishment for one second-half challenge, the Gunners failed to sparkle. Chelsea’s victory over Fulham allowed the Blues to increase the gap at the top to four points, while Liverpool’s win at Southampton saw Brendan Rodgers’s side move above the Gunners and into second.

Starting with both Giroud & Podolski up front didn’t provide any of the attacking prowess we needed in terms of goals. It looked as if the game at the Britannia Stadium would remain goalless after a series of wasted chances, but Walters converted his spot-kick with 14 minutes remaining after Laurent Koscielny had handled (although it clearly was not intentional). Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil came off the bench in the second half and came close to equalising eight minutes from the end, before Yaya Sanogo fired over from eight yards in stoppage time.

So what now Wenger? We sit at 3rd in the league and that’s only because Manchester City has not played their 2 games in hand and are in action in the League Cup. Arsenal’s continuing misery at Stoke will hardly lift their spirits ahead of a crucial month in which their title challenge could be decided as they face Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City in the space of two weeks. 4th place looks like a likely finish for the Gunners.

The Last Exorcism Parts I & II

The Last Exorcism is a low budget horror film from 2010 in the found footage category, shown here as a documentary film that was being made.  A small film crew consisting of producer/director Iris Reisen and cameraman Daniel Moskowitz are following a disillusioned evangelical minister, the reverend Cotton Marcus as he performs fake exorcisms on “possessed” individuals. After years of being a well liked, charming & popular priest Marcus lost his faith after the birth of his ill son. He now wants to expose the sham that is exorcism and agrees to be filmed by the crew. He chooses an exorcism request sent by farmer Louis Sweetzer, who claims his livestock is being slaughtered by his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) who is possessed. Also in the farm is the hostile older child Caleb, who wants the reverend to leave the farm After speaking to Louis and then spending time with Nell, Marcus claims that the girl is possessed by a powerful demon named Abalam. Using some tricks and equipment set up, which he shows to us in the recording, Marcus tricks the girl and her father into believing that he is driving out the demon. After the ritual, Marcus and his film crew leave, believing they have cured her of a mental state that was misdiagnosed as a possession. That night, Nell appears in Marcus’ motel room, apparently unwell.

Marcus takes the girl to a hospital for tests but they come back conclusive that she is well & healthy. In the morning Marcus goes to speak to Louis’ former pastor, Joseph Manley who informs him that he has seen Nell in 2 years. In the morning Louis & Caleb take Nell back to the farm but chains her to her bed after she slices Caleb’s face with a knife and Marcus & his crew stay with her as Louis takes his son to the hospital. That night, the crew find a drawing of a dead cat. Nell takes the camera while the 3 sleep and kills a cat in the barn with it and then approaches Marcus with the camera in her hands but the other two stop her in time. They then see more of her paintings. The first depicts Marcus standing before a large flame, holding up a crucifix. The second shows the dead bodies of the crew: Marcus being consumed by the flame in the other picture, Iris hacked to pieces with an axe, and Dan decapitated. When Marcus speaks to the doctor who treated Nell he finds out that she is pregnant. Marcus accuses Louis of incest but he denies it saying that Nell is a virgin who was defiled by the demon. Nell cuts Marcus’s hand with a pair of scissors when he approaches her so the crew decide to leave but stop when they find Nell begging to be killed and Louis taking his shotgun to her. Marcus says he will try another exorcism to pacify Louis and they head to the barn.

Marcus confronts the demon Abalam who agrees to leave Nell alone if the reverend can stay silent for 10 seconds. Marcus agrees but yells out when Nell breaks 3 of her fingers. Abalam then asks Marcus if he wants a “blowing job.” Marcus realizes that a demon would know the actual name of the sex act and concludes that Nell is not a demon, but a very disturbed girl. Nell is agonized over losing her virginity to a boy named Logan resulting in her mental breakdown rather than possession. Marcus arranges for Pastor Manley to come to the house, and leaves. On their way home, Marcus and the crew happen to meet Logan at a fast food joint they stop in, who explains that the only contact he had with Nell was a brief conversation 6 months ago at a party held at Pastor Manley’s home. Logan also admits to being gay and hence didn’t have sex with Nell. Realizing that Manley was lying about not having seen Nell for 2 years, Marcus and crew heads back to the farm where they find numerous occult and Satanic symbols on the walls, and Nell and Louis missing. They search deep in the woods where they find a large fire and a congregation of hooded cultists, led by Pastor Manley. Louis is tied and gagged up against a tree and hooded figures pray at an altar upon which Nell is laid. The girl gives birth to an inhuman baby and Manley tosses the baby into the fire from which demonic roars are heard.

Marcus, having regained his faith, clutches his crucifix and rushes toward the flames chanting to combat the evil. Iris is tackled by a member of the congregation and killed with an axe. Daniel continues to run, until he stops to take a deep breath. He then looks around to see if he was followed, before turning back to find Caleb, who is wearing clean clothes and a bandage covering his wound. Caleb then decapitates Daniel and the camera falls to the ground, before it cuts out.

The Last Exorcism Part II was the much maligned sequel which came out in 2013. Nell is found alone and out of her senses, huddling next to the fridge in a couple’s house. She is taken to a hospital and treated and slowly recovers to a sense of normalcy. After spending a few months at Frank’s home for girls and settling in as a chambermaid at a hotel, Nell’s condition seems to have improved and she no longer has “bad dreams”.  She makes friends with the other girls in the home, mostly victims of abuse. Nell and her group of friends visit a costume parade; Nell witnesses many strange happenings there, including masked men watching her. Her personality changes as things get darker. She begins to get hints that the demon Abalam is back. After one of the girls at the home dies of a sudden seizure, a friend tells Nell of the Order of the Right Hand, a secret society which has been monitoring Nell.

At night she feels the odd presence of the demon even though she can’t pinpoint on something solid. Chris, a young man who met Nell and befriended her, cuts his own throat as he says out of sadness and rejection after viewing a clip of Nell lying about how she got pregnant (clips from the documentary that was found and uploaded to Youtube). Chris also liked Nell but was under the influence of Abalam. Cecile seeks help from the Order of the Right Hand, and Nell is introduced to Calder and Jefferey. They attempt to rid the demon which is “in love” with Nell by transferring it into the body of a sacrificed chicken. The supernatural force in Nell proves to be too powerful, and Calder is forced to kill her. The demon appears to Nell and begs her to take it’s hand. Nell finally agrees and seems to die but then the 3 secret cult members are killed and the house bursts into flames. Nell murders Frank and burns the home for girls, leaving her friends to die. Nell appears undead in the rearview mirror, the prophecy of mass destruction among Earth is proven to be correct as she sets multiple buildings aflame.

While the first atleast had a good story (although I was disappointed that I didn’t even get one good scare) the second seems lame and created just to capitalize on the critical success of the first which was a minor hit. The most positive thing for me was the acting of Ashely Bell as a likeable and sympathetic lead. 6.5 for the original and 5 for the sequel.