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Two "Don" Reviews!

Tuesday · 26 Dec 06 · 01:09 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

Don 1978 and 2006

Amitabh Bachchan's 1978 thriller Don is an undeniable classic, and doing a remake of such a film is not an easy task.  That didn't stop Dil Chahta Hai director Farhan Akhtar from updating the original though, and I got to see both versions of the film over this past weekend.  I've written reviews of both of them.  So do have a look, and feel free to add your comments and opinions!  Here are the links to the reviews: Don (1978) and Don (2006).

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Merry Christmas

Monday · 25 Dec 06 · 09:30 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

A very Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas!

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A Good Breakfast

Sunday · 24 Dec 06 · 08:30 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

A few weeks back, Rajith bought an electric stove, and some days later, I bought a non-stick frying pan.  This combo has opened up a whole new world to us, and a lot of cooking is going on in our house nowadays.

One thing which I am really happy to have is toasted bread with ghee and sauce, which is something I've loved since childhood.  Once in a while I also make French Toast, omelettes, scrambled eggs, and Maggi Noodles.  I also paid a visit to a nearby supermarket today and got a lot of ready-to-eat stuff — the range available is surprising, and all you have to do is heat the contents and eat.


I took the above photo with my cellphone camera this morning.  See what's on the plate?  Ghee toast with Kissan Tomato Chilli Sauce, a Choco-Pie and a cup of Bru Cappuccino.  Good stuff!

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Lots of Grindhouse stuff!

Sunday · 24 Dec 06 · 07:13 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse - Coming April 2007

Grindhouse is a collaborative effort from writer/directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, comprising two feature-length films (called Death Proof and Planet Terror respectively), which will be shown back-to-back, along with fake trailers in the middle!  This project will be released on April 6, 2007 by Dimension Films and I can't wait to see it, for more reasons than one!

The intent of the film is to pay homage to all those "grindhouse" theatres, which used to screen low-budget, exploitative horror films with extreme amounts of violence, gore and sex.  Often, considering the run-down conditions of the theatres they were playing in, the prints of the film used to be scratchy, with missing scenes and all (apparently, if the projectionist found a certain scene appealing, he'd just cut it out of the reel and add it to his personal collection).  This film would also be done in the same style, with digital effects used to wear out and "damage" the print (although I read that Tarantino is shooting on film and not digital, and he is going to wear out the print manually), and apparently, Planet Terror is going to have a reel intentionally missing.

I don't know much about the content of the two films, though Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror seems to be about an outbreak of zombies in a town.  The signature image of this segment is that of Rose McGowan's character, with a gun attached to one of her legs (think Evil Dead's Ash).  Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof seems to be about a psycho driver called Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who menaces people with his car.

The "Grindhouse" seems to be more of an American phenomenon, though I can think of a comparison.  There's a theatre called Skyline in Basheerbagh, Hyderabad, and this is not exactly your top-of-the-line movie screening experience.  It is still better though, than a smaller theatre called Sterling, right next to it.  Here, they screen movies that have finished their run in better theatres, and also some obscure movies in the night shows.  There was also another theatre in Hyderabad (don't remember which one it was) where I watched Critters some ten years ago.  I think it ran for about one week only, and only in the night show.  It's actually an experience to attend such screenings, the feel of the theatre itself tends to stick in your memory (that theatre where I watched Critters actually had lobby cards for The Zero Boys also... I don't know whether it actually played in that theatre or not, but I'd certainly have liked to see it).  This is the kind of experience that Grindhouse is attempting to create.

Hence, the posters for the film have that aged look as if they were folded up and scratched.  Ditto for the lobby cards.  And the trailer, which was released a couple of days back, is absolutely amazing.  The editing of the trailer, the voice over, and the "digital damage" all perfectly capture the grindhouse feel.  There's even the official website for the movie which was launched recently, that simulates the feel of such a theatre.

I'm really looking forward to this project, and I'll definitely be following its development up to its release, but for now, here are some links to the stuff I mentioned earlier:

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The Cybertech Incident, a new short film from Varun

Saturday · 9 Dec 06 · 11:21 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

After Dark Machine comes another stop-motion animated short film from Varun, called The Cybertech Incident!

Varun mailed the video to me last night, and I must say, it is awesome!  I like this one better than Dark Machine, as this one is in colour and is more stylish.

Another interesting fact about The Cybertech Incident is that it is adapted from one of my drawings!  Yes, about a year back I had an idea for a story that combined cyberpunk elements with horror, which never actually materialised into anything, save for two drawings.  Both are quick throwaway ones where I added some random cyberpunk-inspired cool-sounding text.  Varun took this and expanded the concept into a very nice video.  The film is a minute and a half long, and depicts a cyborg battling demons at the Cybertech System Core, before his inevitable self-destruction.

So here are a set of links to The Cybertech Incident and related material:

  • Varun's blog post has a description of the film as well as a download link (go ahead, the file's only 7.5 MB in size), and an embedded video courtesy YouTube, as well as some behind-the-scenes information!
  • The Cybertech Incident, at YouTube.
  • Dark Machine, at YouTube.
  • The Cybertech Incident — Trenchcoat, my drawing that inspired the video.
  • The Cybertech Incident — Face, the second drawing based on this concept (which I like better than the earlier one).
  • My recent comic, Smoke, also has a reference to the "Cybertech Industries", which means it is set in the same universe, and obviously, I hope to come up with more stories with this setting.

Varun did the video during holidays.  Just goes to show what creative stuff can be done when not hampered by the mundane parts of life...

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Teleport Destinations #4

Wednesday · 6 Dec 06 · 03:10 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

A number of interesting links for you all to check out this time.  As usual, a lot of these are through Slashdot articles.

  • Duey's Drawings is the website of pencil artist Brian Duey, and contains some absolutely stunning art.  Many of his pieces are so realistic that you just wouldn't believe they're done with pencils!  Contains links to several other pencil artists' websites as well.
  • This is one that many of you would have already seen.  J D Hillberry's site has some amazing pencil artwork as well, and I especially love the Trompe l'oeil pieces of his.
  • Top Ten Data Disasters is an interesting article about this company called Ontrack, which has succeeded in recovering data from drives damaged by freak accidents (a hard drive damaged due to a rotten banana?  It happens...).
  • Variety posted an obituary for the VHS format, and here is the Slashdot article on the same.  Quite sad, I must say... though we still use the VCR at home, and I have a big collection of VHS tapes (with some obscure movies recorded from TV... must figure out a way to convert them to a digital format sometime).
  • Speaking of converting video into a digital format, this Slashdot article discusses whether digital data would be readable and understandable in the future.
  • This one is absolutely amazing.  Here is a music video created using stop-motion animation on... a whiteboard!  I love the video as well as the music!
  • Anyone who uses a cellphone will find this interesting — here is a quick rundown of the Top 10 Mobile Phones in history.
  • Another interesting Slashdot discussion on a drug that removes the need for sleep...
  • Crave at CNET posted this article on the Top 10 Geek Girls, and here is the associated Slashdot discussion.  Interesting, though I feel that some of the names just don't fit that list.
  • flOw is a game that you might like to try out playing.
  • Speaking of games, this Slashdot article talks bout NASA using a simulation built off the Unreal Tournament 2 Engine, with some hilarious commentary...
  • And this is a bit too technical, but I thought I'd link it anyway — Slashdot posted this article, about a fast inverse square root function found in the code for Quake 3.  Now I looked at the actual article and also the analysis of the code given, and wasn't able to understand much at all.  One of the comments in the discussion helped clear up things a little bit though.  Apparently, this code calculates the reciprocal of the square root of a number, very efficiently, utilising no division and no actual square root function at all!  Instead, it employs shifting of bits so that division is accomplished, and some trickery based on Newton-Raphson approximation.  What?  Newton-Raphson in TWO LINES??  I remember when we used to write these programs in Engineering, they were much bigger...  I honestly don't know how people come up with stuff like this.
  • This is just in!  There's a new Doom II level by Richard Wiles out!  It's called Monolith and it is the first in an intended series!  I decided to peek in the /newstuff directory today just to see if anything interesting was there, and I found an innocent-looking file called there.  I looked at the associated text file for it and almost spat out the coffee which I was drinking at the time!  Anyway, it's a nice little map, with all the usual tricks.  Seems extremely difficult though, so I must play it on a low skill setting.

Well, that was a pretty massive edition of Teleport Destinations, wasn't it (at least, when compared to previous versions)?  Until next time, then!

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A few updates...

Wednesday · 6 Dec 06 · 12:50 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

Been quite busy at work recently, so could not write an update for quite some time.  Thought I'd briefly run through some of the interesting stuff that has happened recently, and also talk about the additions I made to the site:

  • Remember I said I downloaded Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft)?  Well, on 26 Nov, I tried running it from the LiveCD itself (didn't install it).  It worked great, directly booted into the desktop, and as soon as I plugged in the network cable, I was able to browse the web without any problems!  Looked at this very site in Firefox and was pleased to see that my design looked good even here (no problems with messed-up fonts and all).  I started up as well, and looked at fortune a dozen times or so.
  • Movies-wise, I watched plenty of good stuff recently, and the list can be found here (scroll all the way down to see the most recent entries).  Highlights are: Dhoom 2, Versus, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Pan's Labyrinth and Renaissance.  I've been watching this series called Masters of Horror as well.
  • Rajith bought an electric stove about a week back, and this Sunday, I bought a frying pan, and have started making simple stuff like toasted bread with ghee, scrambled eggs, etc.  It's pretty good actually and I'll probably experiment with more stuff as time progresses...
  • Came across many, many interesting links recently, and I will make a separate post about that (Teleport Destinations!).
  • I have added two new drawings to the site: Going Postal and Stream of Thought.  Both of these were done during a training programme at work.  Once again, one of the sessions in this programme was handled by trainer Mr. Chendil Kumar, who actually mentioned the post I'd made back in June on my WordPress blog, about a drawing I did during a training session!
  • Movie Reviews?  Why certainly: the latest ones are those of Ryuhei Kitamura's action movie Versus, Brad Anderson's creepy thriller The Machinist, and the latest Bollywood Blockbuster Dhoom 2.  I've also started a mega-review of all thirteen episodes of Masters of Horror: Season 1, will keep adding to this as and when I watch further episodes.

That seems to be all for now.  Next post will be a list of interesting links you might like to check out!

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Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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