Jan 212014
Frozen (2013)

SPOILERS ABOUND! The traditional Disney musical is a genre that has been given the shaft in recent years. With Pixar becoming the foremost animation house in Hollywood, we’ve got films that are thematically deep and resonate in ways the older Disney musicals didn’t. And while there’s no denying the absolute cinematic quality of Pixar’s films, there’s a simple endearing quality to the likes of Aladdin and The Lion King that I have grown to miss. The quality I am talking about may not make me introspect like Pixar regularly does but makes me feel warm and gooey inside and feel good about [Read More…]

Jan 182014
American Hustle (2013)

(SPOILERS ABOUND!) In the midst of an Oscar season filled with the usual dramatic fare comes David O’Russell’s American Hustle to remind me why I began watching films in the first place: to be utterly entertained. Not that I don’t mind or enjoy the more serious films we get in December and January, it just seems to me that sometimes we lose sight of the fact that having fun and being entertained are also perfectly good reasons to visit movie theaters. And they’re also perfectly good reasons why a director may choose to make a film. There really is nothing [Read More…]

A New Home

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Oct 282013

http://blog.balajisivaraman.com After years of sporadic blogging, I’ve decided to demarcate my online blogging presence into two entities. This current website will be home to all my thoughts on general entertainment such as movies, music, games, TV shows and the works. That’s how it has always been, and that’s how it’ll continue to be. If you’re a keen reader, you would’ve noticed that I’d begun writing recently about various coding and technology topics as well. This was as confusing for me to maintain as it was for you to read. Having a blog focusing on two wildly different topics makes it very [Read More…]

Jun 162013

SPOILERS GALORE! I’ve now seen this summer’s most anticipated film twice, and the experience was surprisingly different on each viewing. The first time around the film fell down in the weight of my expectations. How couldn’t it? With a story by Christopher Nolan, screenplay by Nolan and David Goyer, and directed by Zack Snyder (of 300 fame), Man of Steel was the most anticipated worldwide film since last year’s The Dark Knight Rises. Unfortunately, it didn’t meet up to those standards. However, on a second viewing, after having removed my expectation-tinted glasses, I realize that it is a worthy reboot [Read More…]

Apr 142013
My Love Affair with Mass Effect

What makes the Mass Effect trilogy one of the greatest game series of all time? That question will understandably generate a myriad of responses from the series’ long-time fans. Some will highlight the breathtaking science-fiction world the creators gave us, vaguely reminiscent of Star Wars and Star Trek, yet completely new all the same. Some will point to the abundant gameplay options available to the player; whether playing as a Soldier, Engineer or Biotic, there was always something new to be found in each playthrough. Nearly everybody will point to the consequences the players’ decisions have on the game world, with [Read More…]

Apr 062013
Thank You and Farewell, Roger Ebert!

Roger Ebert passed away yesterday night, finally succumbing to his long, arduous struggle with cancer. I woke up to the news today morning and haven’t been able to think clearly, if at all, for the better part of the day. How can I even begin quantify the impact Roger Ebert has had on me, as well as scores of other filmbuffs? For me personally, he was the baptist. He was the one who inducted me into the world of cinephilia by a trial-by-fire. It was somewhere between 2003-05 when I began reading his reviews. I clearly remember thinking he was [Read More…]

Mar 052013
Haridas (2013)

There’s a beautiful moment in the second half of Haridas where the child lets his father know exactly what it is that excites him. It is, at once, the first time the father stoops down to truly understand what drives his autistic son; the scene where the audience understands the significance of a totem the child has carried thus far; and the instant where the film finally kicks into gear. It is also one of the few truly cathartic sequences in a film which is otherwise muddled in the melodramatic conventions required of Tamil films. Not surprisingly, my mind floated back [Read More…]

Feb 192013
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

As I exited the theater after watching Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, I had a sinking feeling that had nothing to do with the film’s quality and everything to do with the real-life events it recounted. I thought to myself, “The United States not only killed the most wanted man in history, they also made a fucking brilliant film about it. Respect! What has my country done lately? Nothing.” This realization was quite depressing because of the truth in it. Zero Dark Thirty’s retelling of the painstaking efforts of the CIA to find Osama Bin Laden’s location followed by the US Navy SEAL’s assault on [Read More…]

Lincoln (2012)

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Feb 132013
Lincoln (2012)

When Lincoln was initially announced, Liam Neeson was signed up to take on the challenge of bringing to life the 16th President of the United States. As someone who holds a great deal of admiration for Neeson, I was intrigued, not the least because it would’ve been one of his more showy roles in a long time. Of course, we all know what happened, Neeson, having lost his wife by the time the film went to floors, opted out of the project saying he was a little too old for the part, and Daniel Day-Lewis was roped in and what was already [Read More…]

Feb 092013
Special 26 (2013)

P.S.: Although I’ve tried to avoid major spoilers, Special 26 is one of those films which works better if you enter the theater with no preconceived notions. So be warned! One of the defining aspects of Neeraj Pandey’s films so far seems to be his usage of offhand shots/scenes to establish his characters. How else can you explain Naseeruddin Shah’s conversations on the phone with his wife in A Wednesday! which are perfunctory to the overall plot? They serve no purpose other than to reveal something about this character. Will the film lose anything without these phone conversations? Certainly not. But they [Read More…]