Items of Interest (Jan 2012 Recap)

Apart from the collection of tweets in the earlier post, here are some more interesting things that I posted online this month.  Archived for posterity.

First off, this is my official 2012 New Year Card:

2012 New Year Card by KarthikEven if the world is going to end on 21-Dec-12, we’ll still get to see these movies before that: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which unfortunately may not get released in India after all), Prometheus (8-Jun-12), The Dark Knight Rises (20-Jul-12) and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (14-Dec-12).

As I’d mentioned in my collection of tweets post, I bought a Canon Speedlite 580 EX II flash for my camera.  This is, as I later found out, one of Canon’s top-of-the-line external flashes.  I still have to learn to use it to its full potential.

Canon Speedlite FlashI’d remarked that when attached to my camera, it’s quite bulky and makes my Canon EOS 550D look positively small!  In fact, if one was to add a bigger telephoto lens to it, it would be heavy enough to do bicep exercises with.  So I took a photo of that.

I later posted larger resolution versions of two of the drawings in the New Year Card above.  Here they are:

The Dark Knight Rises - Drawing by Karthik AbhiramThat’s a stippled drawing of Batman holding what appears to be an EMP Gun from The Dark Knight Rises.  The drawing was done based on a screenshot from the HD trailer.  The text is the chant you hear in the trailer.

And here’s Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander from David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander - Drawing by Karthik AbhiramI decided to use the original Swedish title instead of the English one.  I love the posters and the artwork for the movie.  From what I read, the publicity materials are designed by Kellerhouse Design and the photography is by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

Another interesting thing:

Businessman - CBFC CertificateThese days, I’ve observed that at Prasad’s Multiplex, for Hindi and Telugu movies, they post the censor certificate for the movie as approved by the Central Board of Film Certification.  The front part of the certificate is what you see attached to the film itself, but they’re even putting up the reverse side of the certificate these days.  Apparently, if there’s a triangle stamped on the certificate, it means that there are cuts made (these things I found out thanks to a friend).

Above is a quick photo I took of the certificate for the Mahesh Babu movie Businessman.  The list of cuts is pretty interesting.  If you want to know what all dirty stuff you are missing, all you have to do is read the list of cuts!

I found this description very funny (“Delete the visuals: close exposure of cleavage”, “finger of hero moving on the chest and hip of heroine”, “Mute the words: …, lanja kodaka, fucking, …”), that’s why I took a photo of it to preserve the memory!  One friend commented that this description is actually more sleazy than what it would have been if this stuff ended up in the movie.

While there may be a rationale to certifying movies, I still can’t understand why cuts are required in a movie that’s anyway rated “A” or “Adults Only”.

Some other videos and trailers of interest:

  • i2 (i square) Promoi2 is an upcoming short film from Nakama Creations and Planet Green Pictures (the filmmakers behind the massively popular short film Shadow).  The trailer totally wowed me, the music (Prakash Anantha) and cinematography (Surya Vinay) are awesome.  It looks like a movie made for the big screen.
  • Theme from A Fistful of Dollars by Ennio Morricone – Watch the video and then tell me, does that tune sound familiar?  If you recently saw the Mahesh Babu movie Businessman, then it will.  That’s the theme music associated with Kajal Agarwal’s character.  I’ve not seen A Fistful of Dollars, but when watching Businessman, I recognised the theme right away as being from a Clint Eastwood movie – because I had a desktop theme (remember those things from several years ago?) with these sounds.
  • Comparison Video from the Manos in HD ProjectManos: The Hands of Fate is a 1966 movie directed by Hal Warren.  This is known as one of the worst movies ever made.  Someone has discovered a pristine print of this movie and are painstakingly restoring it by scanning the film at 2k resolution.  I’ve actually seen this movie and would love to watch it in that beautiful HD transfer at some point of time.  The page that I followed to get to this video link rightly says: “The Manos In HD film restoration project is one of the most important things going on in the world today. Never before has such a fucking disaster looked so beautiful!”
  • Talaash Trailer – A psychological thriller starring Aamir Khan.  Looking forward to it!  Releases in June.
  • Kahaani Trailer – Another thriller starring Vidya Balan.  Looks good.  The trailer kind of reminded me of Anurag Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots.  This movie releases in March.
  • Agent Vinod Trailer – Action / spy movie starring Saif Ali Khan.  It’s written and directed by Sriram Raghavan who made Johnny Gaddaar, so should be good.  Also a March release.
  • Jeremy Keith – All our Yesterdays – This is a 45-minute video but an interesting talk on preserving our memories, comparing the longevity of digital data to analog (info engraved on a stone tablet can last, and can be read after hundreds or thousands of years, can the same be said of digital data on a DVD?).

This month, we had a few events at office, for which I acted as a photographer.  For two of the events, you can see the photos I took on these Facebook albums:

The first album consists of photos entirely shot with my Nokia N8 phone camera – which does surprisingly well in good light.  The second one though was taken with my Canon EOS 550D camera (I got permission to bring the camera and two additional lenses).  I got a lot of good feedback on these photos.

Flower among Leaves - Photo by Karthik AbhiramThis is one of the photos that resulted from that set.  Taken with my 550D with the 50mm f1.8 II lens.  You can download the full-size image and peek into the EXIF info if you wish.

Collection of Tweets – end Dec-11 till today

This is a collection of tweets from me and others that I retweeted, between 30-Dec-11 and today.  I thought I’d post these on a regular basis to archive these links.  The below set essentially recaps the important stuff that I posted or shared this month.

  • 28-Jan-12: #NowDownloading Romero’s Night of the Living Dead 1968 in 720p HD – http://t.co/UTyI9Qn6 – MP4 file is 1 GB in size. 1080p is also there.
  • 28-Jan-12: Twitter’s Awful But Amazing Recruitment Video [Video] http://t.co/gg42Ad4b
  • 28-Jan-12: If you run a self-hosted WordPress blog, search for and install the Jetpack plugin – http://jetpack.me – it enables advanced plugins.
  • 28-Jan-12: MOVIE REVIEW: Josh Trank’s Chronicle (2012) http://t.co/rcCQRMig
  • 27-Jan-12: Agneepath – Acting was good, especially Hrithik’s. But I felt it was too long and had too much exaggerated drama. 6/10
  • 26-Jan-12: Famous Photographers With Their Even More Famous Photographs [Photography] http://t.co/Jj6HClur
  • 26-Jan-12: Is This the Canon 5D Mark III? [Cameras] http://t.co/C8ZZD9yl
  • 26-Jan-12: RT @Galactica_gk The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo not releasing in India as David Fincher isn’t willing to cut 3 scenes in the movie.
  • 24-Jan-12: You should get married soon. Or else.. http://t.co/AnEZEzj1
  • 22-Jan-12: Underworld: Awakening 3D – Decent & good looking movie with stylish action scenes. Fun while it lasts but you won’t remember it later. 7/10
  • 22-Jan-12: Drawing face-off between @justkalpana and her son: the results: http://pic.twitter.com/oWzIbGDU (mommy) and http://pic.twitter.com/ngziMePf (son)
  • 21-Jan-12: “‘The Raid’ features some of the bloodiest, impressive, and most inventive action sequences in recent memory” – http://www.movieline.com/2012/01/20/sundance-everything-youve-heard-about-indonesion-actioner-the-raid-is-true/
  • 21-Jan-12: RT @OfficialBrookeT Life is too short to be sitting around talking about how short life is. (:
  • 20-Jan-12: Just bought “The Illuminator: Access To Universal Intelligence by Rajith Rajappan” from @flipkart http://t.co/HqvibO7Q
  • 19-Jan-12: RT @Galactica_gk Really America?? Really? RT @denofgeek CBS orders contemporary Sherlock Holmes show http://t.co/pOrydLzU
  • 19-Jan-12: Sad news if this is so… AICN: Are We Getting A PG-13 EXPENDABLES 2? http://bit.ly/xFBc6C
  • 18-Jan-12: RT @mihirfadnavis I like Len Wiseman – Die Hard 4 was great. But the Total Recall remake looks like it won’t last.. *puts on sunglasses* #TwoWeeks. *YEAAAAA*
  • 17-Jan-12: Five directors and their questionable filmmaking techniques http://t.co/BM4DSkjb
  • 17-Jan-12: What makes Prince Of Persia so enduringly popular? http://bit.ly/xoO43g Pls note @psam @rajturl
  • 17-Jan-12: Businessman – Loved it! Mahesh Babu carried the movie with his tremendous attitude, storyline kept one interested & music was good. 8/10
  • 14-Jan-12: Lee Bermejo – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo http://t.co/BgWq1irg
  • 14-Jan-12: RT @GDBALA Exclusive: Quentin Tarantino’s favorite films of 2011 & more! http://t.co/2nAn9Wbs
  • 13-Jan-12: Journey – Two love stories told as flashbacks, in the context of an accident. Very nicely done. I watched the Telugu dubbed version. 8/10
  • 12-Jan-12: RT @RGVzoomin Extreme heights of craze for Business man..Mahesh babu himself is not getting tickets!
  • 12-Jan-12: Attn @rajturl @psam RT @mihirfadnavis If you used to dig Baba Sehgal and are feeling nostalgic, here – http://t.co/rR5dOiW5
  • 11-Jan-12: Extended cut? RT @FarOutAkhtar Off to the gym now and then to do background music for Don 2 additional scenes to be incorporated in the DVD.
  • 10-Jan-12: RT @gurpreet_bhatia @AshuMittal Photographers are violent people. First they frame you, then they shoot you, then they hang you on the wall.
  • 10-Jan-12: RT @krishashok Me: have you heard this new Harris Jeyaraj song? @hariflute: No. Me: yes, you have heard it before
  • 10-Jan-12: RT @krishashok The @hariflute – “Tamil physicist to waiter: There’s an MC-squared in my soup”
  • 8-Jan-12: If I attach my new flash on my camera, and put a telephoto lens on it, I can do bicep exercises with it.
  • 8-Jan-12: I bought a Canon Speedlite 580 EX II flash today. The flash looks big compared to my diminutive EOS 550D 🙂
  • 7-Jan-12: RT @mihirfadnavis I didn’t dig ‘Tinker Tailor’ because it was a cool old fashioned spy tale. I dug it cos it had Sherlock Holmes punching Bane in the face.
  • 7-Jan-12: IMO – The Darkest Hour > Skyline > AVP: R 🙂
  • 7-Jan-12: The Darkest Hour – An effortless watch if you switch off your brain. To it’s credit was never boring. Dialogues unintentionally funny! 7/10
  • 7-Jan-12: RT @mihirfadnavis #IamSoMiddleClass I go to Landmark but avoid the DVD/BluRay section, so I can buy the Moserbaer 40 rupees 3-in-one VCDs.
  • 7-Jan-12: “Hello Amanda. Tum mujhe nahin jaanti ho. Par main tumhe acchi tarah se jaanta hoon. Main ek game khelna chaahtha hoon.” – SAW Hindi dub 🙂
  • 6-Jan-12: RT @io9 An Exclusive Look at the Making of Dragon Tattoo’s Stunning Titles http://io9.com/5873372/
  • 5-Jan-12: RT @Violent_Gandhi_ @Chiken_chameli ‘SHERLOCK HOLMES’ is a Poor Mans ‘ACP PRADYUMAN’… . 🙂
  • 5-Jan-12: Great poem in the beginning… Geekolinks: 1/4 http://t.co/YKyUUcju
  • 4-Jan-12: RT @purisubzi A tome, if there ever was one, on Roboto – the font used in Android 4. http://bit.ly/y8Mdum #TypeNerdsOnly
  • 4-Jan-12: 70 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out for in 2012 [Io9 2012 Preview] http://bit.ly/A7cWOu
  • 3-Jan-12: RT @zombeaner If youre havin girl problems i feel bad for you son/It took me under 12 parsecs to make the Kessel Run – Han Goin’ Solo
  • 1-Jan-12: Mihir Fadnavis – The 35 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012 http://t.co/3D9l8xwQ
  • 1-Jan-12: What do colorblind people see? [Biology] http://t.co/KfM03x2Q
  • 1-Jan-12: RT @clientsfh “How many SEO experts do you need to change a lightbulb lightbulbs buy light bulbs neon lights sex porn” http://t.co/DwaaxtwA
  • 31-Dec-11: Alien trailer, Prometheus style http://t.co/Vm4gOHAD
  • 30-Dec-11: RT @josephradhik RT @sickipediabot: What do you get if you cross a left leg with a right leg? A squashed bollock.

M (1931)

M is a 1931 film directed by Fritz Lang.  The movie is set in a Berlin terrorized by a child murderer.  It has been months since the cops have been on the hunt for this man, but they have failed to find him.  As a result, people in the city are constantly afraid for the safety of their children.  Not only that, the police’s crackdown is so extreme that organised crime in the city is unable to operate properly.  So, the criminals decide to take matters into their own hands and start a search for the killer.

The killer is revealed early on in the film to us, the audience.  It is Hans Beckert, played by Peter Lorre.  Are his killings premeditated, or does he act out of compulsion?  If so, what is justice for such a man?

M 1931 - A drawing by Karthik Abhiram

For the most part, I found M a very nicely done movie.  Peter Lorre’s acting was very good as Beckert.  The story kept one’s attention, and some of the elements (the killer writing to the press, how the crime syndicate actually implements their search) reminded me of later movies.  The scene with the cops deciding to intensify their search and the crime syndicate discussing their plans to apprehend the killer is intercut in an interesting way.

The movie has some nicely designed, very artistic shots.  As is common for older movies, most of the shots are deep focus ones (I think the practice of using shots with a shallow depth of field started much, much later).

There were certain parts in the film that tended to drag and some of it was over-dramatized (one scene in the beginning where the crowd panics and almost lynches an old man).  Does every lawman in Berlin smoke cigars constantly?  The ending I thought was a bit abrupt.

I guess when one watches an older movie in the present day, one tends to approach it with a jaded mind, having already seen elements from it in later movies.  I couldn’t avoid this bias.  Still, the movie holds up very well and does pose some interesting questions.

The aforementioned scene in which the killer sends a note to the press reminded me of David Fincher’s Zodiac.  Also, Hans Beckert whistles the tune of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg, which Fincher used in The Social Network.  This made me think, what would it be like if there was a remake of M directed by David Fincher, with music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross?  Or a moody remake by Nicolas Winding Refn.  If there was an Indian remake, I guess Anurag Kashyap would be a good fit to the material, and he’d do it in a gritty style like his That Girl in Yellow Boots.

Rating: 7/10

More info on the IMDb page and the Wikipedia article.

I drew the above image with black and red gel pens and a black marker.  You can click that to see a larger image.

You can watch the film below:

The above video is available in HD (720p) and a great way to enjoy the movie.  It appears to be ripped from a BluRay source (I guess the uploader could do this, since the movie is in the Public Domain).  It’s a 110 min restored version in German with English subtitles.

If you use Mozilla Firefox, you can download the video if you have a plugin called DownloadHelper.  Apparently, on Google Chrome there’s a YouTube downloader in built.  Alternatively, you can use an online downloader like SaveYouTube (where you copy the YouTube URL and just replace the youtube.com part with saveyoutube.com).  That’ll give you some other options, like downloading the WebM encoded version (which at 1.69 GB is smaller in size than the MP4 file).

While you may be able to get the video using any of the above methods, you’ll still need to download the subtitles.  You can search online for subtitles that match this video, or you could use a program called Google2SRT to get the subtitles.  This is a very handy program to have, since it’ll allow you to rip subtitles from any YouTube video.

Underworld: Awakening 3D

Underworld: Awakening is the fourth movie in the Underworld series of movies, which is set in a world where vampires and werewolves (here called lycans) exist and are feuding races.  The first two movies featured Kate Beckinsale as the vampire Selene, who hunts lycans, but falls in love with Michael, a lycan.  It’s been a while since I saw those two movies, so to be honest, I don’t remember more details about them.  Evolution, though, I remember had quite a bit of the icky creature stuff, and dealt with vampire-lycan hybrids and the sort.  The action was good too.  Along the way, the heroine found out that the vampire elders were not so honourable as they seemed to be.

I didn’t see the third movie, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, but that is a prequel, so not necessary to watch in order to understand the fourth movie.

Underworld: Awakening opens with humans conducting a ‘purge’ – eradicating both vampires and lycans, who they believe to be infected.  Michael and Selene are running from the humans when an explosion happens.  Selene wakes up in a lab (after 12 years, as we later find out) and escapes from there.  It’s later revealed that this is Antigen Labs, and Dr Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea), one of the people behind the purge, is the one who’s been doing experiments on Selene and another subject.  This other subject turns out to be Selene’s daughter, who is very powerful and the lycans are after her for some reason.

The movie looks good – slick and a cold blue tone throughout.  The action scenes were well done.  Although, like the first two movies, I doubt I’d remember any of it after some time.  It was entertaining while it lasted though, and the acting was decent.  Kate Beckinsale did well in her role.  It’s directed by the Swedish Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein and there are a bunch of writers credited (including a story credit for Len Wiseman who directed the first two movies).

This movie reminded me of the Resident Evil movies, and in fact, the scene where Selene escapes from Antigen Labs was very much like the siege on Umbrella Corporation by the Alice clones from the beginning of Resident Evil: Afterlife.  The vampire and lycan mythology is nearly jettisoned here and this is a more traditional action movie.  For some reason I also got reminded of the Spierig Bros’ Daybreakers while watching this.  Underworld: Awakening plays things seriously, so I guess it wasn’t as much brainless fun as a later Resident Evil movie.

This movie is shot in 3D (as opposed to being post-converted), and I thought the 3D effect was quite good.  I saw this in a theatre with good 3D system, so no complaints about the glasses or about the screen being too dark.

I read that this was the first 3D movie to be shot on RED EPIC cameras, and that the upcoming Resident Evil: Retribution is also shot that way.

Overall, I’d say this movie gets points for the good action scenes and Kate Beckinsale’s acting, but other than that, I thought it was a decent movie at best.

Rating: 7/10

Resident Evil: Retribution

A few days ago, a trailer for the upcoming fifth Resident Evil movie, Resident Evil: Retribution appeared online.  The trailer is a clever piece of work, it’s put together really well, and the movie seems like it’ll be a lot of fun.  Say what you will about Paul W S Anderson’s movies, the man can put together a slick and stylish film.

This movie’s going to be in IMAX 3D, and if the 3D is as good as it was in Resident Evil: Afterlife, this certainly should be a movie worth watching out for.

So, very impressed by the trailer, I drew this.  Click for a larger image.

Resident Evil: Retribution - Drawing by Karthik AbhiramThis is just a quick sketch done with black, blue and red gel pen (and I also used a thick marker), colours, texture and text were added with Photoshop Elements.

Oh, and the trailer is embedded below:

Looks cool, no?

UPDATE 24-Feb-12: I’ve posted the original scan of the drawing, so you can see it without the digital edits.

Hello, World

It has been about 2 years since I wrote any new posts on Karthik82.com.  I’ve now moved the old site to http://historic.karthik82.com and this will be the place where new posts will come in.  I’ve installed WordPress on this site, which should make adding content easy.  Please bear with some placeholder stuff while I configure things here.