Thursday, November 27, 2008

The English Patient

Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes on the Miramax DVD cover

I first watched this film in 1997, when I was still in high school. I thought it was a remarkable tale but the plot was a bit 'mature' for me. I re-watched this film today. I must write that I am moved. The excellent story has been remarkably well told.

Director Anthony Minghella's project showcases an incredibly beautiful, complex cinematography and a transcendental soundtrack. While Ralph Fiennes is at his usual best (think Schindler's List, The Constant Gardener), and Juliet Binoche received the well-deserved Best Supporting Actress Oscar, for me Kristin Scott Thomas is the spark that set this film alive. In the role of Katharine, Kristin is stark femininity entwined with a wild, adventurous spirit and an emotional persona. Just as Katharine creates cavemen paintings on blank canvases, Kristin has inked the character from scratch. Whether as a beautiful outsider to the Egyptian desert, as a cultured woman of the army society, or as a passionate lover, Kristin adds life to the very narrative. Again, this is very parallel to how her character adds life to Almasy's (Ralph's) existence.

If you've not seen this film you really are missing something. Take my advice - set aside 3 hours and delight yourself.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How To Have 700 Friends And Still Be Alone

An interesting observation in the New York Times Magazine. Read it here.

Quite an irony, huh?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Yi Yi

I just finished watching my first Taiwanese film - Edward Yang's Yi Yi. To say it was brilliant would be an understatement. I feel that only a few number of filmmakers would attempt a serious project of such depth in scope, characters and plots. And only once in decades can one of them execute it with this mastery.

The idea behind the cover photo is deftly explained in the story. The boy Yang Yang (Jonathan Chang) explains that we only see half of the world because the other half eyes are unable to see. With his camera he tries to capture the hidden half for the people he meets. The boy is thus the director/writer Edward Yang's representative in the film. Lives and relationships, both business and personal, are wonderfully explored in this film through some very well defined characters, ranging in age from a newborn child to a dying old woman.

My moment of Zen - The piano score (Kaili Peng) on the DVD menu is simply marvelous.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Twilight Samurai

The Twilight Samurai
The Twilight Samurai is Yoji Yomada's first Samurai film. The film is set in north east Japan's Unasaka clan in the late nineteenth century. Hiroyuki Sanada plays Seibei Iguchi, a 50-koku Samurai. I believe koku is a unit of land and thus a direct representation of the societal status of a Samurai. Iguchi is thus a low ranking Samurai who really aspires for a peaceful existence as a farmer. After his wife's death he has to take care of his two young daughters. His old mother is senile and thus unable to help with household work. Further entwined with this plot is the story of Tomoe, a girl who had been Iguchi's childhood friend. She is divorced from her violent, drunkard husband. Even though he is attracted to her, Iguchi at first refuses a proposed marriage with Tomoe.
The tale takes a turn when the clan leader dies and Iguchi is called upon to kill a dissenter within the ranks. We now slowly learn that Iguchi had been an accomplished fighter in his day. Even though he is fighting with a short sword he matches well with his practiced opponent.

One particular scene that stands out to me is when Iguchi's elder daughter asks him - "Father if I learn to do needlework someday I can make kimonos. But what good will book learning ever do me?" Iguchi replies -"Well, it probably won't ever be as useful as needlework. But you know book learning gives you the power to think. However the world might change, if you have the power to think you'll always survive somehow."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Miyamoto Musashi aka Samurai I

Note: I like to think of this blog as my own thoughts on these films; I try not to read any published reviews on these films before I write here.

Hiroshi Inagaki's Miyamoto Musashi (aka Samurai I) is the first film in the so-called Samurai trilogy, based on the 17th century Japanese warrior Musashi. The film is available on Criterion Collection DVD set. Last month I watched the final film in the trilogy and it raised this question in my mind. Samurai I follows the same theme in that it traces the beginnings of this samurai fighter to answer the question I had earlier.

I found one particular part of the plot, the capture of Takezo (Miyamoto) by priest Takuan, to be the most interesting. Takezo is hung from a tree for many days as a punishment for being a menace to society. Otsu, a kind village girl, and also Miyamoto's beloved, helps him escape from this punishment. Later priest Takuan again captures Miyamoto, this time in a jail-like room, where only books are his companion. Very subtly the film gives us an interesting view on how this fighter really learns. We are shown Takezo's good qualities - a trustworthy friend and brave soldier. But it is also shown that simply these are not enough to excel in the code of samurai conduct. Takezo has acted irrationally many times to the point of killing people simply for having a different opinion than himself. Now he is terribly punished for these crimes. This to me is the essential 'rite of passage' which the film depicts beautifully. It is the manner in which this man is simply stripped of all his dignity, made to realize his place in the world among fellow men, and also his insignificance in front of God. Musashi Miyamoto passes this test in over three years. The result is a samurai warrior with a a far tougher mind and a skilled, disciplined body.

I hope to watch Samurai II soon (and expect some action in it).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Surviving In The Wild

Discovery Channel's program Man Vs Wild is a useful collection of such survival skills which just might get you through in case you are ever stranded in a remote and seemingly uninhabitable wilderness like the Zambian bush in Africa or remote Siberia. What are the chances of that happening, you ask? Very less. Of course in 1972 some passengers of the Uruguayan Air Flight 571 had to face a somewhat similar battle when their plane crashed in the Andes, and they lived in the wild for over two months.

This particular production's survivor, his name is Bear Grylls, displays and describes various unpleasant acts like how to find and eat protein-rich larvae, how to catch and cook a frog, how to barbecue leftover carcass, among others. There is a lot of useful information too - for example how to decide which rock is worth climbing if you ever need to get out of a canyon which has a good chance of flash floods, how to decide where to stand if you suddenly come across a pack of wild African elephants and how to filter muddy stream water using wood charcoal to make it drinkable.

Here is a link to Discovery's Man Vs Wild fan site.

Here is the link to the Wikipedia story of Uruguayan Flight 571. In order to spice up your interest just a bit - the wiki article also mentions that some of the survivors resorted to cannibalism in order to save themselves. And that is the definition of a Human Being - social, yet so very animal.

On a related note there is an interesting story of the young man, only 20 something years old, who left his home, survived in the wild and ultimately met his death in the Alaskan wild. Sean Penn's film, Into The Wild, is based upon that story. I did not get a chance to see the film but I did hear Pearl Jam's OST on it; for me Hard Sun was the most notable track.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What Makes A Good Fighter?

Hiroshi Inagaki's "Samurai III - Duel At Ganryu Island" is a 1956 Japanese film, the last part in the samurai trilogy based upon the famous seventeenth century japanese warrior Musashi Miyamoto. If summarized in a sentence, the film is a quest to decipher the answer to the ultimate question - 'What makes a good fighter?'.

The film develops the characters to give us a very balanced answer to this question. A true samurai is not the one who is the best at fencing, neither is he the one who has killed the most people, or won most fights. The film's hypotheses is that the true measure of a fighter is in the discipline displayed by her. Musashi Miyamoto is already a highly respected samurai, perhaps the best in Japan. He has, however, neither grown proud of his accomplishments, nor has given up his warrior instincts and discipline. He has simply attained a state of mind in which he believes that he neither has to display his skills to earn more respect nor has to shed innocent blood to awe people. He is sharp but at the same time very humble - the hallmarks of a true samurai at the pinnacle of his form.

In contrast, the challenger to Miyamoto's legacy is a young, brash samurai called Kojiro Sasaki, whose very existence is defined by the promise of a duel with Miyamoto. Sasaki is also shown to be ruthless in the pursuit of his goal (he kills four innocent samurai of one clan to draw Miyamoto's attention). Many times during the course of the film Sasaki displays the spirit of a true warrior. One example is the scene in which he visits the house of a competitor he crippled in a duel and apologizes for the pain he caused. On the whole Sasaki symbolizes the promise of a greater warrior but at the same time fails to deliver on the promise. His dream, of being the greatest fencer in Japan, has overtaken his judgement and discipline. He is also hurt because lady Akemi, whom he likes, chooses Miyamoto over him. Thus suffering from a double blow, Sasaki feels his only redemption lies in a duel-to-death with Miyamoto.

My Moment Of Zen - In the duel at the very end, Miyamoto approaches Ganryu island from the sea, while Sasaki waits inland. The duel takes place at the very edge of the ocean, with the sun setting behind Miyamoto's back. Besides the great cinematography, the scene is also symbolic of the broader struggle. Miyamoto, in life as in the duel, is constantly in chaotic waters (and the sun is setting on his reign), yet he has the better warrior spirit of the two samurai along with an unmatchable mastery of the game.

Samurai III Duel At Ganryu Island

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Idea Of Flight

If there is one area where evolution has shown an outstanding leap forward it is in the concept of flight. There is enough to ponder about how and why did terrestrial beings first felt the need to fly. Was the craving as simple as that of man, who tried all sorts of contraptions through the ages to be able to soar in the sky? Evidently their wish was far greater than what human beings have had in their relatively short existence. I am sure the need for flight was just absolutely essential for the very survival of the beings that first started hopping towards the sky.

Humankind has felt that need too, albeit for reasons far removed from survival. It is said that the tipping point in the design of first successful fixed wing aircraft was the slight curve on the top part of the airplane wings which made lift possible. Bernoulli's principle which governs this law of physics was written a century before it resulted in, arguably its best application, an airplane.

This post is inspired by the documentary film I just saw - Jacques Perrin's Winged Migration. If it ever crosses your mind to really feel what birds see during flight then this film will probably bring you closest to that vision. I quote from the DVD cover -

"..Witness as five film crews follow a rich variety of bird migrations through 40 countries and each of the seven continents. With teams totalling more than 450 people, 17 pilots and 14 cinematographers used planes, gliders, helicopters and balloons to fly alongside, above, below and in front of their subjects. The result is a film of staggering beauty..."

I tend to agree with the judgment passed in the last line above. The film really has some breathtaking photography of the actual flight of migratory birds. The close-ups are so vivid in motion that initially I thought that one of the birds in each group was carrying a camera attached to its body. As it turns out that is not the case and gliders were used. If you are very accustomed to documentaries on National Geographic or Discovery Channel this film would seem to lack in certain respects. On both of those TV channels, a documentary, whether it features birds, animals or insects, almost always has a very descriptive narrative throughout. That is not the case for Winged Migration; and I do not hold that against the film. I feel that this film, in several respects, is part of a different genre of nature-documentary films. Human intervention has been left to the very bare minimum and the viewer is left to spin his own story around the visual. Occasionally a narrative is used, but at most times only the name of the bird is provided in a subtitle. The sound, though, is different from the visual aspect. The intrusion of music is clear and very well defined. The choice of music too fits well with the sensibilities of the subject matter (and the particular scene). The end result is that the viewer feels he is actually on a migratory flight alongside these dozens of different migratory birds.

Trivia - Check the fascinating Arctic Tern which flies some 12,500 miles twice each year, from the Arctic to Antarctic! Some life, huh?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Everyone Is Going Somewhere

There is an increasing agreement within the global scientific community that human beings (Homo Sapiens) originated in Africa and then spread out to the rest of the world in two or more distinct exoduses. Genetics has played a major role in confirming this idea (which really has been around since Darwin). Dr Spencer Wells is an American geneticist and anthropologist who has written a book titled Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey. National Geographic, in 2003, made the book into a documentary, which I recently watched. To me, the film was like cherry topping on a chocolate cake, since I just finished reading Jared Diamond's Guns Germs And Steel: The Fate Of Human Societies.

If we assume that this community of geneticists, paleontologists, evolutionary biologists and archaeologists is indeed correct then our history appears to be a rather short one (of about 60,000 years or 2000 generations) since the time we left Africa. With the rapid pace of technological innovation which is now underway it should not be long before we colonize the rest of the galaxy (or galaxies). Here we come.

To learn more about this incredible journey of humankind check this link.

Learn more about the documentary here, and about the Recent African Origin theory here.
You can preview the the documentary on Youtube here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Neorealism In Italian Cinema

Q: What is neorealism (neorealism in Italian cinema)?

1. Italian neorealism is a style of film characterized by stories set amongst the poor and working class, filmed on location, frequently using nonprofessional actors. Italian neorealist films mostly contend with the difficult economical and moral conditions of post-World War II Italy, reflecting the changes in the Italian psyche and the conditions of everyday life: defeat, poverty, and desperation. (Source: Wikipedia)

2. Neorealist style means a simple story about the lives of ordinary people, outdoor shooting and lighting, non-actors mixed together with actors, and a focus on social problems in the aftermath of World War II. (Source: NYTimes)

One of the major figures of this genre of films is director Vittorio De Sica. I recently watched his Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief; also translated as Bicycle Thieves). As far as visual quality of the film is concerned, it easily surpasses expectations that one might have from a film made in the year 1949. The story is simple in execution and rather haunting in the message. To me, the film is a commentary on human life - we as conscientious beings try our best to be good at most times during our lives. Sometimes, however, circumstances force us to do bad things. The film's end is symbolic of the one quality that we so dearly cherish (and so easily lose), our innocence.

For story and expert opinion you may read the NYT Critics' pick article about the film here (requires login).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

On Hummingbirds

"Consider the hummingbird for a long moment. A hummingbird's heart beats ten times a second. A hummingbird's heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird's heart is a lot of the hummingbird. Joyas voladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them ...

Each visits a thousand flowers a day. They can dive at sixty miles and hour. They can fly backward. They can fly more than five thousand miles without pausing to rest. But when they rest they come close to death: on frigid nights, or when they are starving, they retreat into torpor, their metabolic rate slowing to a fifteenth of their normal sleep rate, their heart sludging nearly to a halt, barely beating ...

Hummingbirds, like all flying birds but more so, have incredible enormous immense ferocious metabolisms. To drive those metabolisms they have racecar hearts that eat oxygen at eye-popping rate. Their hearts are built of thinner, leaner fibers than ours. Their arteries are stiffer and more taut. They have more mitochondria in their heart muscles - anything to gulp more oxygen. Their hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight. The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It's expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine. Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise, and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old ..."

Brian Doyle in The Best American Essays/2005

Simply incredible.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The New York Yankees

I reckon most people will tell you that the very first time you enter the Yankee Stadium you are just awed by its sheer size and volume. Yesterday I had that experience when I watched the The New York Yankees play baseball at their home ground on 161st in Bronx. The green patch at the center and the players in it almost look visually (and metaphorically) minuscule when compared to the arena. From what I know of Gladiators in ancient Rome, the modern day players of Baseball (and also Cricket) assume a similar role in front of the crowd. Even though in hindsight it appears decisively one-sided, the scorecard did nothing to subdue the crowd-spirit. There were loud boos, whistles, shouts of 'go-yankees' (also go-rachel green?!), and 'detroit-sucks' all rolled in with beer, fries, sausages and tonnes of testosterone. If you haven't yet seen the insides of The Yankee Stadium (and ever happen to be in New York City), just remember, it is a must-do thing.

Disclaimer - I am not a Yankees (or Red Sox) fan!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Boy Jack

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”

Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,

This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

~Rudyard Kipling, 1915

Kipling wrote this poem titled "My Boy Jack" when his 18 year old son Jack (John) went missing in the Battle of Loos during World War I. I recently saw David Haig's adapted play based on that particular time of Kipling's life. In the play, David Haig himself plays Rudyard Kipling and Daniel Radcliffe plays young John Kipling.

There are several places where, I feel, the playwright has clearly gone overboard in dramatizing the story. Even if we do make an allowance that the play is a work of fiction, and thus deserves some artistic freedom, there are more than a few things that appear out of place. Rudyard Kipling is portrayed as a rather pompous, energetic man who does not seem to think twice before launching into a scathing attack on anyone (or anything). The play almost goes on to show how he pushes his son into the war and ultimately almost sacrifices him for the sake of his ideals. In my mind, I am unable to imagine the character in the play as the man who wrote the poem above. Rudyard Kipling was, first and foremost, a writer par excellence and therefore clearly must have been a better thinker than what is portrayed in the play. Also it is a widely held belief that he had a unique multicultural perspective on most things, in part attributed to his upbringing in culturally diverse environments across continents. These qualities are certainly apparent in the global appeal and recognition of his work. None of these characteristics are reflected in the Rudyard Kipling created by Haig.

Moving on, the character of Jack Kipling (Daniel Radcliffe) seems to be somewhat unidimensional. Subconsciously he is primarily concerned with only one thing - being able to emulate his father in greatness. This pitiable condition is brought up repeatedly, first with his failure during the eye exam, and then with his sheepish training as a soldier. Both the navy and the army first reject him for his myopic eyes but Rudyard used his enormous influence to get him into the army as a soldier. This pity for Jack reaches its crescendo when later he loses his spectacles during the battle, gets shot and is killed. The young boy's bravery in battle, and his untimely death, are used in the play for the ultimate goal of placing the blame squarely on Rudyard. In summation, the theme of the play is slowly built up to show just one thing - Rudyard Kipling's guilt for the death of his son. The play largely succeeds in this effort. I, however, still have my reservations about the need to do that in the first place.

My Boy Jack cover

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Teen Repeller

There has been an outcry by civil liberties groups across the developed world after a $1500 device called Mosquito was installed in a number of places to repel young adults and teens. The device emits irritating sound and thus drives away loiters (and or harmless bystanders) aged between twelve and twenty-something. The sound cannot be heard by either younger children or older people.

Read more about it here.

To find if your ear is sensitive to the sound, you may download an mp3 here and listen to it.

In a not-so-interesting way I learn that my ears are still sensitive (as I could hear the screech) - Phew!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Баллада о солдате (Ballad Of A Soldier)

I just saw this fabulous 1959 Russian film about a World War II soldier. Director Grigory Chukhrai won the 1960 Cannes award for best direction for this film.
The main character Alyosha Skvortsov's life, and the life of people he meets in the movie is a story of possibilities:

- possibility of being killed by enemy tanks (in the opening scene)
- possibility of finding Vasya's (the invalid) wife waiting for him
- possibility of winning Shura's friendship
- possibility of seeing his mother before his official six day leave is exhausted
- possibility of patching up the roof of his mother's house
- possibility of returning back alive from the war (the ending)

Some of these possibilities get fulfilled (thereby keeping us as believers while the end of others just remains unknown to us). Besides the great plot the film has superb direction, cinematography and music which render it is a classic B&W masterpiece. Nineteen year old Alyosha's life seems to mirror everything that is right even during the tragic war - he is a brave soldier, an honest man and a devoted son.

My Moment Of Zen - The dusty, curvy road which marks the beginning and end of story is a haunting visual. To me it signifies the life of the soldier, the wait of the mother and the beloved, and over and above the choices we as individuals (and nations) make and how these choices impact others.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters)

Today I saw Khamosh Pani aka Silent Waters (2003). I must say I am extremely impressed by the authenticity of the content in movie (so rare in subcontinent films).

Director Sabiha Sumar does an excellent job in transporting the viewer to a not-so-distant past in Pakistani Punjab (1979) and very elegantly depicts the angst of a nation coming to terms with its identity. Kirron Kher is her usual self though, remarkably, her vocal outbursts have been very well subdued by the excellent direction/editing. For me the outstanding screen presence was Shilpa Shukla (below). I have seen her in another film (not Chak De India or Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi), but I am unable to remember which one. If I recall correctly, she played the role of a prostitute in that particular movie (whose name I am unable to remember). Does anyone know what I am talking about?

Friday, April 18, 2008

King Corn

I saw two movies today -

Woody Allen's Crimes And Misdemeanors and Independent Lens film King Corn

The first one was typical Woody stuff. The second film is a really good independent effort - it awakened me to the hazards of eating badly (read fast food).

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I watched Tsotsi yesterday. It won the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2005.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Kramer vs. Kramer

Scene Analysis - The first time we see the child custody court, the camera is situated at the ground level inside the (magnificent) courthouse and facing the entrance from which Meryl enters with her lawyer. The camera then pans upwards towards the balcony where Dustin stands, deep in thought.

Implication - To me this scene sums up the genius of this movie. We as viewers have put Dustin's character on a moral high ground with the development of the plot. We can not relate to Meryl's side of the story in the same way (since her character is not fully developed). Thus at the end when Joanna gives back little Billy to Ted, all of us (Ted+ Joanna + viewers) feel vindicated.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Independent Lens/PBS Film.
The film is about Shadya - 17 year old world champion (2003 World Shotokan) in Karate. The film is about her life as an Israeli-Arabic woman living in a (liberal) Muslim family in Israel. It appears to have been shot at a minimum budget and looks very real. Interesting subject to make up a really interesting film.

Read more about her here.

Go see it!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One, Two, Three (1961)

Today I watched this classic B&W called One, Two, Three on WNET/Thirteen ( Liked it immensely - "Schlemmer", the pet cry of McNamara (played by James Cagney) will keep going through my head for some time.

What I found especially amazing about the movie is not only the ferocious speed with which the dialogs between the cast take place but also that all times it is (ROTF) funny! Besides the obvious humor in the story it also came across to me as a very valid, albeit comical look at politics of its times. The story is set in Berlin (West) during the Cold War and it shows the idiocy of politics in general. Otto continuously gives a running commentary on the evils of the capitalist/imperialist world (which do not sound far from widely held views). He is however seriously disappointed in the communist politics of Moscow when it is shown that the very same human fallacies (greed, power-usurping, control, etc) exist on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Immensely funny and simply magnificent. Period.

PS: I also saw a part of an indie movie called The Delicate Art of Parking. Set in Vancouver, Canada, it is a humorous take on the life of parking enforcers who are obviously hated by everyone. It turned out rather mild and seemed to be stretched a little too much off the central theme. Could have been much better.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Cry In The Dark

This week I saw the 1985 movie A Cry In The Dark. It has breathtaking cinematography of the Australian wild. An emotional, touching story in the end.

I am very intrigued by Meryl Streep; no wonder she turns out to be a Masters in Fine Arts from Yale University. Diane Keaton calls her "my generations' genius". I am hoping she will be the next subject of my (private) film festival series! So far I have seen her in :

Sophie's Choice (1982) - Academy Award, Best Actress
Out of Africa (1985)
The Bridges of Madison County (1995) - an amazing Clint Eastwood flick
Lions for Lambs (2007)

And next on the list are:

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) - Academy Award, Best Actress

Friday, March 14, 2008

What have I been doing?

I took this blog off line for a while. Below is a short summary of what I have been up to:

1. I am irrevocably submerged in the Japanese classics. So far I have seen Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, The Seven Samurai and The Lower Depths. All of them are superb classics of their times, which redefined the art of movie making. It is said that the sun sequence (the popular way in which the film camera travels under a canopy of trees while at the same time it is pointed straight at the sun) was invented in Rashomon. I have seen this sequence countless times in Bollywood movies.

Later I also picked up Kagemusha, one of his later movies, but did not have the patience to go through it. Maybe some other time.

2. I also watched Kinji Fukasaku's 1975 Japanese classic 'Kenkei tai soshiki boryoku' aka Cops vs Thugs. Its one of the films of the Japanese Yakuza genre. I always like the rugged 1970's action flicks.

3. Yesterday I watched Wong Kar Wai's Chunking Express - a movie from Hong Kong presented by Quentin Tarantino. Contemporary cinema from east - it was good.


1. In November I picked up Kiran Desai's Booker Prize winning An Inheritance of Loss. Good job here.

2. Recently picked up Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. This is a book which is in effect a (semi) scientific history of the human race. Still working through this one.