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Aug 272014

All your friends try to kill you? – Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko)

Eventually.The November Man (Pierce Brosnan)
Source – The November Man

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief during the closing credits of the new Hollywood spy thriller November Man.

Names like Sriram Das, Raj Brinder Singh, Vishal Rungta, Ankur Rungta whizzed by.

WTF was that!

Where did this desi swarm spring from?

Hey, didn’t I just watch a Hollywood film (directed by Roger Donaldson with screenplay by Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek).

I rushed home, to Google.


Of the countless action films these fading eyes have swooned over the last few decades (James Bond, Jason Bourne, Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Iron Man, Lucy, Kickass etc), I now declare unequivocally that my favorite is the new Hollywood film The November Man (Pierce ‘James Bond‘ Brosnan, Olga ‘Bond girl‘ Kurylenko).

Why? Why November Man?

Because it’s a Hollywood action film produced by Indians (along with Beau St. Clair and Pierce Brosnan). :)

Oh, No. Not by that C-grade businessman Anil Ambani or that brain dead mass of steroid pulp a.k.a. Uday Chopra.

OK, I can sense your impatient angst boiling over.

Let me explain the “Indian” part of November Man before you Chutiyas start wetting your langots and panties in impotent rage.

Sriram Das of Das Films (Santa Monica, California) is co-producer of The November Man.

Sriram Das - November ManSriram Das – Co-Producer

A Harvard and Yale alumnus, 36-year-old Das (born in NYC) has produced seven films and has another seven in the pipeline.

Above Average

Honey, who gives a rat’s ass about Sriram Das or Gobar Gas.

Tell me ’bout the movie.

And what do you have to say about the ‘other’ critics who have savaged the film (35% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Well, it should come as no surprise to you schmucks that the only critic I’ve ever found competent or taken seriously is I, Me and Myself.

In my movie lexicon, action films are seldom great.

With rare exceptions like The Dark Knight Returns, they usually fall on the spectrum between bad to above average.

November Man falls in the class of Above-Average Hollywood films.

Based on Bill Granger’s novel There Are No Spies, the film is a spy thriller set in Belgrade with guns blazing, cars zipping on narrow European streets, a dashing ‘decent’ hero (Pierce Brosnan), a sexy babe (Olga Kurylenko), double-crossing CIA agents and, of course, the rotten Russian bastards. Continue reading »

Aug 142014

By Naveen

Günther: “Why do we do what we do?
Martha: “To keep the world safe. Isn’t that a good enough reason?”

This Philip Seymour Hoffman (Günther Bachmann), Rachel McAdams (Annabel Richter), Willem Dafoe (Tommy), Robin Wright (Martha) and Grigoriy Dobrygin (Isa Karpov) starrer is directed by Anton Corbijn and based on John le Carré book of the same name.

Extensively shot in Hamburg, this movie triggered in me some lovely memories as it was the first city I visited outside India. Ah… the visuals at Reeperbahn! ;-)


The complex story/plot which takes a while to unravel is set in Hamburg (Germany) where the September 11 attacks were planned. The German intelligence community is on a perennial high alert to avoid such an incident again.

Günther runs a secret spy network. His network is monitoring the activities and transactions of a Muslim philanthropist Faisal Abdullah, who he suspects has a bad side – Of being a terrorist sympathizer. Continue reading »

Aug 082014

Asking for a discount doesn’t mean I’m poor. It means I’m thrifty.
- Om Puri’s character Papa in The Hundred Foot Journey

Filmed in Mumbai (a short-bit) and France, The Hundred Foot Journey is visual splendor.

Linus Sandgren’s photography – of rural France, Indian and French food, the markets, the cast etc – is like a bewitching painting that leaves you in thrall to its beauty.

Plus the movie features two acting legends Om Puri and Helen Mirren in key roles.

With so much going for it and all the talk about Indian spices, Murgh Masala, Tandoori Goat and the like, you’d think this English film with a strong underlying ‘Indian‘ content would be a spicy treat for a desi palate like mine.

Alas, because of a limp story the Hundred Foot Journey turned out to be an unsatisfactory repast.

Sure, the movie has a few good moments (mostly centering around Om Puri and Helen Mirren) but the overall effect is of an uninspiring feel-good film with a banal ending.

The Dreamworks-Reliance Entertainment production is directed by Lasse Hallström based on the eponymous novel by Richard C. Morais.

Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah and Farzana Dua Elahe are other key members of the cast.

Yesteryear Bollywood ‘actress’ Juhi Chawla has a small role (Thank God).

A Smorgasbord

So what’s the movie about? Continue reading »

Jul 252014

To my jaded, cynical and seen-it-all eyes, most movies seem like garbage.

Thank God for the new Hollywood film Lucy from French director Luc Besson (also writer of the film).

In a rarity, I derived 150% value from my $11.25 ticket this evening.

A visually appealing, high octane thriller featuring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and Choi Min-sik, Lucy had me breathless at the end.

Luc Besson is a respected film-maker involved in production, writing and direction. Leon – The Professional (director), Wasabi (writer and producer) and Tell No One (producer) are some of the Besson films I’ve seen previously.

Brain Use

For the full 82-minutes, there was not a single second when I felt bored or my mind wandered. Continue reading »

Jul 162014

(For SI Blog reader Naveen)

Jesus, what a Clusterfuck….

What did we learn….

I guess we learned not to do it again….

I’m fucked if we know what we did.
- CIA Director to his underling Palmer

Burn After Reading (2008) is best described as a milder version of a Quentin Tarantino film.

A dark comedy with multiple oddball characters flung into bizarre situations, Burn After Reading begins and ends inside the CIA and depicts the nation’s top spooks as clueless idiots who’d have a hard time tying their shoelaces.

Joel and Ethan Coen (of No Country for Old Men fame) produced, directed and wrote this wild, hilarious ride.

Besides the engrossing riot of a script, the movie’s other big plus is the collection of exceptional talent brought together in a single movie – George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins. Each singly defines class acting and when they come together the result can only be explosive.

Except for Frances McDormand, we were familiar with the rest of the troupe. And we sure were glad to make her acquaintance.

Burn After Reading did very well at the box office, grossing $161 million on a budget of $37 million.

Fine Clusterfuck

Put simply, anything that can possibly go wrong does go wrong in Burn After Reading.

Once CIA analyst Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) quits the agency in a huff after a demotion over his drinking (a problem he not only refuses to acknowledge but blames on his non-drinking Mormon colleagues), the runaway train leaves the loony station.

Raging at the CIA in particular and oozing hostility at the ‘morons of the world’ in general, Cox sets down to pen his memoir. Unbeknownst to him, wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is plotting some hostile moves of her own.

George Clooney is the suave Harry Pfarrer, happily married, a U.S. Marshal,  friend of the Cox family and dear friend of any woman willing to open her thighs. Continue reading »

Jul 112014

Caesar Loves Humans More than Apes. – Koba

I always think Apes better than Humans. I see now how much like them we are. – Caesar
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Not since the beast Salman Khan emerged out of the womb have things looked so bleak for the human race.

Simian flu and fighting have brought the human race to the brink, leaving pockets of survivors here and there in a powerless, effete state.

As the wise (chimp) Caesar says a decade later:

Humans destroyed each other.

Power – Elixir of Life

In San Francisco, a few hundred human survivors have closeted themselves in a derelict colony.

Fuel supplies are running very low!

Outlook is grim.

The dam! The dam!

Hydel power! Only hope for humans!

For electric lights and the many aspects of life that power enables.

But power inevitably flows through the barrel of a Gun, right?

What about Caesar?

Hunting deer, leaping from branch to branch and awaiting the birth of a new son.

That’s Caesar and his simian followers.

Seeking the strongest branch! Chimps do that literally and humans follow metaphorically! Continue reading »