28 Mar

10 movies that you may not have watched, but might want to hunt down

When I watched “The Stoning of Soraya M.” yesterday, I thought to come up with another 9 movies to create a list of movies that you may not have watched, but might want to hunt down.

You will notice a strong Indian theme in my selection. When I lived in Munich, it was very easy to get a hold of Indian movies and thus, I watched quite a few of them. Not all tear-jerkers, but also critical and thought-provoking. 😉

Rang de Basanti

This 2006 movie by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra tells the story of a group of young people who participate in a docudrama to realize that there are many parallels between their lives and that of revolutionaries in India in the 1920s.

The drama was well noticed around the world for its critical portrayal of issues in contemporary Indian society. I added this movie to my list because it let’s young people who have been more or less happy-go-lucky discover history on their own, become aware of their political and historical surroundings, and take a stance. It is also a frightful example of how similar situations in a country’s present can be to its past.

Elements Trilogy

Deepa Metha’s trilogy of the movies Fire (1996), Earth (1998), and Water (2005) deals with controversial topics in Indian history: homosexuality, the partition of India, and the treatment of widows.

Fire was the first Indian movie I ever watched. It was not a typical Bollywood movie at all, and an Indian friend was very surprised that I had seen that movie as it had received a very critical reception in India. I guess, the more critical Indian movies are more acclaimed abroad while Bollywood produces musical fantasies that let people escape from reality.

My friend had suggested I watch “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ)” because that was an Indian movie that was and still is very popular in India (has been running continuously since 1995 in Mumbai theaters!).

Bride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” in contemporary India and the U.S.A. The movie was released in 2004 and adds a cross-cultural dimension to Jane Austen’s original.

Dor

This 2006 Indian movie centers around forgiveness, traditions, the strengths of women and the will to overcome obstacles.

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip with English subtitles.)

Inside Man

A movie with Denzel Washington has to be on my list as well. 😉 This one by Spike Lee from 2006 is a great movie because of its clever storyline.

In addition, I will always remember it because it starts out with the very popular “Chaiyya Chaiyya” from the movie “Dil Se“. While sitting in the movie theater we discussed how a friend could not be made to watch an Indian movie even if it were a critically acclaimed one. We just had to laugh heartily when the movie started with a song from a Bollywood movie, and he liked it.

August Rush

Kirsten Sheridan’s 2007 movie stars Robin Williams in a serious role. I was most fascinated by the sincerity of the movie along with the great guitar playing / slapping. It’s a modern fairy tale.

Pirates of Silicon Valley

This docudrama is a must for everybody interested in the birth of the personal computer and the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft.

Children of Heaven

The adventures of two Iranian siblings are told in this moving film by Majid Majidi from 1997. The brother accidentally lost his sister’s shoes and tries to get them back while they share one pair of shoes trying to hide the fact from their parents.

The Stoning of Soraya M.

This movie by Cyrus Nowrasteh from 2008 is based on a true and horrific story about a woman who was wrongfully accused of adultery by her husband and stoned to death. However, it is not just the story of this woman, but more the story of a remote village in Iran where traditions, conspiracy, and hypocrisy rule.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asH9sUD0A-s

Untraceable

Diane Lane features in this thriller from 2008. She is set to find the serial killer who streams the killing of his victims live on the Internet in a perverted way because the more people watch the quicker the victims die. It is a critique of online voyeurism. This movie is nothing for light-hearted people.

09 May

The dedication of fans

The “Lord of the Ring” enjoys a great following and it may have even increased after the release of the movie trilogy (2001-2003). Recently, on May 3, 2009, the fan movie “The Hunt for Gollum” was released to the world on the Internet. A tweet from Michael Wesch alerted me to this movie.

The Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum

It is amazing to see that a 40-minute movie can be made with a small crew, a budget of just about 3,000 £, and a lot of enthusiam, dedication, and free hours to contribute. You do not learn about that in the movie, but in the Making of for which I am a total sucker.

This will not be the only fan movie about material from “Lord of the Ring” as the link to “Born of Hope”, a fan movie that is scheduled to be released in fall 2009, indicates.

17 Oct

Give plants a blog

Thanks to Alan Levine’s blog post about the blogging plant in Japan I ran across this novelty. As can be read on Pink Tentacle,

Midori-san started blogging about a week ago. So far, the plant’s highly structured posts summarize the day’s weather, temperature and lighting conditions, describe its overall physical condition, tell how much light it received via the user-activated lamp (see below), and explain how much fun the day was. Each post also includes a self-portrait photo and a plant-themed pun (in Japanese), which Midori-san likely did not write. A graph at the top of the sidebar shows the plant’s surface potential in real-time.

Impressive for a plant. Now we will know all about it and can monitor its growth cycle, need for light etc. very closely. I wonder what the inventors come up with in the future. Will the blog send a message to the cell phone of the owner reminding him / her to water it? That’s what I would need in order not to neglect my oxygen producers. 🙂

Visitors to a web site have the opportunity to treat the plant to some light as Pink Tentacle points out:

Readers can also treat Midori-san to a dose of fluorescent light either through the website […]:

To activate a web-controlled fluorescent lamp positioned next to the plant inside the cafe, click the “Give Light to Midori-san”button at the bottom of the widget, enter your name (or a nickname), and click OK. […]

Once the lamp activated, the widget shows a real-time view of Midori-san under the light.

Judging from the blog content and the numerous “thank yous” below the fold of each post, Midori-san seems to really appreciate every chance it gets to photosynthesize.

This is really nice for the plant. However, when I read this, I was reminded of the movie “Untraceable” in which a killer sets up a web site that is connected to his murder instruments. The more people visit the web site the more quickly is the victim exposed to the lethal poison etc. Unfortunately, there is usually a dark side to a good intention and invention.

24 Jun

In the beginning… / Am Anfang…

Do you want to know how the entire personal computer business started? Then you should watch “Pirates of Silicon Valley” on YouTube. This docudrama is quite fascinating and is supposed to be rather true to the facts according to Steve Wozniak who was a co-founder of Apple and built the first machines. If you think you know the actor playing Steve Jobs, the Apple guy, but cannot place hime, it’s Noah Wyle who was “Carter” in “ER” (Emergency Room).

***

Wenn ihr wissen wollt, wie alles im Heimcomputerbereich in den USA angefangen hat, dann könnt ihr “Pirates of Silicon Valley” auf YouTube anschauen. Allerdings gibt es dieses Dokudrama nur in Englisch ohne Untertitel. Es ist ein interessanter Film und soll auch recht gut die Situation von damals darstellen, laut Steve Wozniak, der zu den Mitbegründern von Apple gehört und den Computer eigentlich gebaut hat. Wenn euch der Schauspieler, der Steve Jobs, den Apple-Guru, spielt (Noah Wyle), bekannt vorkommt, ihr ihn aber nirgends einordnen könnt, erinnert euch vielleicht mal an “Carter” aus “ER” (Emergency Room).

17 Jun

Version control / Versionskontrolle

A few years ago the big word everybody used was “multimedia” (it even was the “Word of the Year” in Germany in 1995), then “2000 / Y2K” came around the corner and made it big. Nowadays, in the times of Web 2.0, version control has become the big obsession and might be about to take control of Hollywood as well. Sequels are nothing new in the city of movies. First, sequels were simply numbered like “Scary Movie” -> “Scary Movie 2” -> “Scary Movie 3” and so on. Then came the more innovative guys that thought numbering is outdated. That’s when we got “The Matrix” -> “The Matrix Reloaded” -> “The Matrix Revolution”. Now numbers are back in full swing because the web has made them fashionable again. Recently, I saw an ad for “Die Hard 4.0”. That made me wonder: Where was “Die Hard 3.2” or “Die Hard 3.5.7”? Did I miss these movies? When did the number after the dot became so important in movies where there are no in-between versions as in software development? I guess, it’s just a fad. Let’s see what comes next.

Update (28 August 2007): In the meantime, I have come across a few more version control terms where you would have never guessed them:

Well, I think I could continue the list even further.

***

Vor ein paar Jahren war das angesagteste Wort “Multimedia” (und was sogar “Wort des Jahres” 1995), dann kam “2000 /Y2K” und wurde der Star. Jetzt, in Zeiten von Web 2.0, Versionskontrolle ist die neue Obsession und ist dabei, sogar die Kontrolle über Hollywood zu gewinnen. Fortsetzungen sind nichts neues in der Filmstadt. Zuerst wurden Fortsetzungen einfach nur nummerier, wie z.B. “Scary Movie” -> “Scary Movie 2” -> “Scary Movie 3” usw. Dann kamen ganz clevere Leute und dachten, dass Nummern nicht mehr in sind. Das brachte uns Filme wie “The Matrix” -> “The Matrix Reloaded” -> “The Matrix Revolution”. Nun ist die Nummerierung wieder zurück, da das Web sie wieder salonfähig gemacht hat. Vor kurzem sah ich ein Werbeplakat für “Die Hard 4.0”. Da wunderte ich mich: Wo war “Die Hard 3.2” oder “Die Hard 3.5.7”? Habe ich diese Filme verpasst? Wann wurden die Zahlen nach dem Punkt so wichtig in Filmen, wo es keine Zwischenversionen gibt wie bei Software? Ich denke mal, dass dies auch wieder nur eine Laune der Zeit ist. Mal sehen, was als nächstes kommt.

Update (28. August 2007): In der Zwischenzeit bin ich noch auf ein paar mehr Begriffe mit dem neumodischen 2.0 gestoßen:

Die Liste ist aber bestimmt noch nicht vollständig.