Book Review: The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons

5/5 STARS!!!!!!!

27239265Well…. that was pretty intense, exciting and enjoyable!
Gibson Vaughn is like the American equivalent of Cormoran Strike – in a refreshing, believable and non-super hero kind of way; and this first book builds a great back story for him. This is not a James Bond / Mitch Rapp equivalent and I’m so grateful to Matthew FitzSimmons for keeping it real. I am definitely looking forward to the release of the next one in October this year.

The story hooks you from the very first page and keeps the tempo up throughout. There is something about surveillance videos of missing persons that just keeps you glued and I’m sharing no more than that. Though I was able to guess the plot before the big reveal, that didn’t spoil it for me, it was still super interesting till the end.

Usually, in this genre, the lead character is either unbelievably ‘uber cool’ or so ‘flawed’ that it doesn’t seem real anymore and I find it hard to relate to. But I liked all the characterizations in this book. They are well balanced, and don’t fall into the usual cliched territory. The other thing that sets this one apart is that while the book is so fast paced, its not a shallow story and makes one care for its characters. It will stick in the mind for a while.

I think this story is perfect for American TV or at least a movie, though I think 2 hours wouldn’t do justice to all the plot lines.

Read it!!

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Haywire…. a little amiss?

I am wondering, whether the movie gods happen to be totally impressed with my review writing skills 😉 or is this just reward for attempting to even write one in the least!!?? I mean hey, this is my third movie in less than a week!! Ok, touch wood , touch wood – I don’t to jinx that track record 😛 (also thanks to a very insistent movie buff who is keeping a record of his own – of being 15 minutes late for both the movies he planned)

So anyway,  today’s flick was the action packed Haywire – which suited the mood, since I caught it in the nick of time.

Hollywood favorite storyline. Agents / assassins hired and funded by the US government to bump off inconvenient men. But when money is the central motivator – even class agents are sold out in a wink. Betray your country’s most valuable weapon and you are in for a ruthless battle to the end.

Though it wasn’t a bad watch, far from it infact -I still came away thinking it lacked something. Maybe a meatier plot – more twists ….. more edge of the seat moments…..more guess work……unraveling of a baffling truth……

But, what I liked about the movie were 2 things:

One. The casting of the woman who plays the central character (Mallory) – Gina Carano. A trained “mixed martial arts” fighter was the perfect choice for a movie with brutal, sudden and very real hand to hand action. She is the kind of attractive but deadly woman you want in this kind of a film – something Angelina Jolie isnt able to do in movies like The Tourist, Salt, or even Tomb Raider for that matter. The fight scenes in these films just aren’t that fun to watch…..

Loved the opening scene in the roadside cafe – where the first major fight takes place. Ruthless. And it happens so quickly that once you recover from the suddenness of it, you’re saying “ouch” at every blow the two fighters deliver each other. But at the end of the scene, I had a satisfied smile on my face – saying, now THAT was Well Done!! Phew!!

What made it so good was that Gina Carano can “kick ass”!!!! and very convincingly so. No fragile woman stuff here!! Infact there is a reference in the film where another assassin is warned not to assume that she is a “woman” – as that would be a big mistake.

Two. The way there is minimal dialogue and distraction where it isn’t required. Just pulsing background score to match the movement onscreen. Allows the viewer to sort of be a part of the moment. Like when Mallory is trying to lose the police on her tail – zigzagging, climbing, jumping, running – but there is no hurry in shooting the scene. The director allows her the time to figure it out and the viewer can actually make sense of where she is going and how she intends to make her getaway.

3 big names in the movie – Micheal Douglas, Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas – but hardly any screen space so to speak for either. The first 2 didn’t really leave an impression, but I loved Antonio Banderas’ new bearded look – totally dig it! Very real and genuine again – the “not trying too hard” kinda feeling – which is so Banderas – in fact, not trying at all!

But none of them had much time on screen……so maybe that’s where the makers could have capitalized on having these 3 in the film and creating more interesting sub plots.

Channing Tatum is just a side kick to Gina Carano……nothing much to say there.

So there you have it.

I would give it a 3.5/5 just for the 2 main fight sequences and that’s why it is also worth a watch once at least.


Agneeepath!! Hain!!!

Since I seem to have an opinion on a lot of things these days, I decided no better time to revive my long dead blog with a movie review. Nothing intellectual about this – but  if you must, then read on for my honest opinion of the movie.

Consider this review a fresh perspective on the film, not at all influenced by the original Agneepath (AB’s claim to a lot of fame) – since i haven’t seen that one, though would like to now surely – to draw comparisons – and maybe i will write about that in a future post some time. But for now, lets stick to Agneepath – 2012.

Well for one thing, within the first 20 minutes of the film boredom set in, i was shifting in my seat, fidgeting, looking at other people to see if they were watching as “intently” as me. Of course the storyline is a simple one. Father gets killed by bad guy, son grows up to take revenge. The challenge was to tell the same story – only better.

One could say that the start was a wee bit promising – but it lost steam pretty fast. Especially the long drawn scenes of the violent hanging of Vijay’s father – the Master, leaves nothing to imagination and is basically not such a well executed scene. It doesn’t evoke the necessary feelings and just goes over the top, making you wish that they would just get on with it! For someone who hasn’t seen the original, the movie is also very predictable – maybe coz this storyline has been done to death, but still – i was looking for some pull!

Following the trend…..the grown up Vijay is very predictably introduced with a close up shot of his bulging biceps – which just makes me nostalgic, coz I have seen that shot in way too many Hrithik films. I think the directors need to stop obsessing over his biceps and really pay more attention to other detail – like how do we make this movie more watchable – other than putting a good looking starcast together 😛

The introduction of the villain – Kancha was, well, disappointing too. He almost looks the part – more like a glob of muscle and flesh and i couldn’t help notice that his scalp extends to the base of his neck. You will know what i mean when you see. A bald head, shaved eyebrows (which is pretty much the only major change) and a stiff upright ring in a falsely pierced ear are the characteristics of this menacing bad guy. Sanjay Dutt’s tattoos thrown in for free add to his image and the black kurta / dhoti and chonch waali kohlapuris complete the look.

Other than that, the dialogue and conviction about how bad or psycho he really was, left a lot to be desired. I think there was a lot of untapped , unused and under utilised potential there.

I would say the same for Vijay Deenanath Chauhan too. The angry young man, is much too sentimental and i think there isnt a moment in the film that he doesnt have tears in his eyes – whether it is because he is happy, or because he is sad, or because he is drunk or  because he is angry. I owe that to a lack of  better direction, coz no matter what, Hrithik does put in all his effort to be a convincing character as always. But, he was just too much of a good guy in a bad situation. Maybe thats how it was meant to be, but then, not very believably so.

Priyanka Chopra…..hmmm. Well, firstly I didn’t even know she was in the film. With all the hype about chikni – chameli, which by the way is an unnecessary and untimely occurrence in the movie, Priyanka just ends up as a very “sidey” character. Anybody could have played that role. Infact they should have used a new face, who would have brought a fresh dimension and also looked the part and got noticed too. Hrithik’s character has too much of a central role to leave any room for hers. Other than Vijay’s love interest – she has no real presence or significance in the film. Also, I think Priyanka needs to stay away from the “marathi mulgi” image now – coz the wedding scene looks almost exactly like the one in Kaminey. Her character is also very similar to it and that does nothing for her either. I almost felt sorry for her.

So who wasn’t so bad you ask? I think Rishi Kapoor. Initially I almost laughed out loud seeing that he was playing a bad guy – so bad that he ran a flesh trade business and sold young girls who he kept trapped in a cage and was a drug lord too. But he pulled it off pretty much – and I think he was so much more convincingly sinister than Kancha.

In the end, picking up a cult film and remaking it does not guarantee anything, especially to the viewer. i did not go with any hopes, especially since we went on the first day of its release and had no reviews to fall back on. I think this was a lack of execution at many levels – direction, editing, screenplay and also the soundtrack – i dont think i enjoyed any songs in the movie.

A rich star cast but half baked everything else.

  Khush to aaj bilkul nahin hoge tum!!!

Must Watch !!!

The movies listed below are a must watch for me. From what I read, they are all like masterpieces in their particular genres.

I watched Inglorious Basterds last night and I really enjoyed it. Plus I have a thing for war/nazi movies and books. I loved reading the ones by Leon Uris – like, Mila 18, Battlecry, Exodus, Trinity…….

So i decided, why not make a list of some good cinema, club it into  genres, and try n watch as many as I can 🙂

Genre: World War II / Nazi

  1. Where Eagles Dare (1968) : though I saw this when I was pretty young, I’ve forgotten almost all of it. so this one’s gonna be a memory refresher!
  2. Come and See (1985)
  3. The Pianist (2002) – I haven’t seen it yet.
  4. The boy in the striped pyjamas (2008)
  5. Au revoir les enfants (1987)
  6. The Counterfeiters (2007)
  7. Downfall (2004)
  8. Army of Shadows (1969)
  9. Nuremberg (2000)

Genre: Assassin Films

  1. In Bruges (2008)
  2. Road to Perdition (2002)
  3. A Bittersweet Life (2005) – south korean
  4. Blast of Silence (1961)
  5. The Killer (1989)

Genre: Mixed Bag – Good Cinema from 2009

  1. 500 Days of Summer
  2. Revanche
  3. Moon
  4. Goodbye Solo
  5. Chop Shop
  6. Gomorrah

So that’s the list for now!!!

Do add to my list……coz it feels like there’s so much good cinema we’re missing out on 🙂

Until next time……..happy viewing!!!


Well i almost got sucked in and sunk, but, i guess all the kickin n strugglin helped.

Brain wave when cutting vegetables…… = Therapy.

Therapy = abandoning veggies + rushing to crossword bookstore + pickin up a VCD copy of “the hangover” + 2 books by sudha murthy (gently falls the bakula, the old man and his god) + a book called “i too had a love story” by Ravinder Singh (picked it up only out of curiosity and becoz it was the cheapest thing there – 100 bucks) + dollops of cheese in my veggies (so much for health conciousness)

Damage: Rs. 700 (esp when i’m unemployed) + calories i dont even wanna think about.

Result: lightness………momentarily – but nevertheless – its here for now 🙂

Lesson: Impulsiveness makes a lotta sense sometimes 🙂

Confusion vs Conviction….back to Confusion and then maybe Action

Its such a self defining phrase……..coz jahan Confusion hai wahan Conviction nahin hoti and jahan Conviction hai wahan Confusion ka sawaal hi nahin hota!!!

But well my state of mind doesn’t seem to quit shuttling between these two…….more often than not its in the Confusion phase………the longest most predominant phase!!!

Conviction on the other hand is ephemeral!!! Coming and vanishing in bursts!!!! A by-product of this: Frustration!!!

Yet another level is Conviction vs Action. One thing that eternally evades me.

But I am what I am…….no matter what I try to be, it still comes back a full circle.

Is that what we call the character of an individual?? Is that what defines who I am and what I deserve?? Is that what defines me as the bad person, one who isn’t making the most of everything……wasting opportunities…..??

There are so many things one does in life that define who you are. From the smallest to the largest – everything involves making the “right / appropriate choice”. And not just that, seeing it through is the actual litmus test.

There are so many questions that pop in my head everyday about so many issues. And I am seeking answers to so many of them …..but the thing is, that nobody can really answer them for me. Some people might make me feel better (or worse) with their own analogies, but the final reasoning still has to come from within. And unless that happens, well I just keep bumping around in the bubble of Confusion.

Anyway, taking this a step backwards. Where does confusion stem from? Why is it that I am so utterly confused about so many things?

One, it could be due to indecision – too many options staring you in the face. Two, it could be due to lack of information. Three, it could be because one cant decide what is “wrong” and what is “right”.

The third option is generally where I get stuck. Because who is to decide what IS really wrong and what is right. Some things are very easy and obvious to categorize but then there are the grey areas where your integrity, morality, credibility and responsibility are tested. These are the ones that truly test your character. But then again, why is it so that they are considered to test your character…..Who decided that?

Isnt it a  matter of individual choice?? Isnt it about how an individual feels about the situation rather than the community at large (who apparently have a copyright on the “appropriate behaviour” expected in response to such situations). The funny thing though is that, sometimes your decisions dont affect anyone but yourself, but if ti comes to the knowledge of others, its put under such a stringent scanner of judgement that in the end it just becomes an example of what one shouldnt be.

The point I seem to be coming to is that at the end of the day, each one of us goes ahead with whatever actions and choices we consider suitable to us in that moment. The type of actions / reactions to various situations can be discussed at length and each individual will have a different approach and understanding of the same. But those vital few minutes of getting past the confusion making a decision (because the situation demands so, even if you are in two minds) and acting on it are the ones that define “how much are you going to question yourself about it in the future”. At the end of the day, if you still question yourself about your own actions…….then somewhere you’re aware that its wasn’t an all correct. But then its too late and so begins another frustrating cycle of dilemmas and regrets……..

he he he….I just realised how completely opposite this is to my last post. How jubilant I was then, everything seemed great – crystal clear. And then some stupid complication just throws you off track……makes you lose focus. And with people like me, literally, focus takes a serious hit…….I cave in, and I completely lack the will to pull myself out……!!

I just linger………