movie: The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

movie review:

The Motorcycle Diaries
Directed by Walter Salles

Two Argentinian friends, one a 29 year old biochemist and the other a 23 year old medical student go on a long planned tour of South America. The decrepit old bike of the title packs up by the time they reach Chile, after which they make the journey on foot and hitchhike across Chile and Peru.

The two very different personalities of the travelers come into play. The younger, Ernesto (Gael García Bernal), the strain of the second half of the journey showing plainly on his face, is moved and angered by the conditions of the poor, exploited Peruvian peasants. Granado (Rodrigo De la Serna), his biochemist friend, is roguish and more driven by comforts, booze and women.

Their common goals come to light when they stay at a leper’s colony in San Pablo, near the source of the Amazon, where they play football and shake hands with the lepers. Ernesto celebrates his 24th birthday there and makes a small, impassioned speech of his dream of a united America, to an audience of nuns, doctors and nurses, clearly uncomfortable with his obvious idealism. Irrevocably driven by his newfound ideas, Ernesto jumps into the river that separates the lepers from the healthy, in a bid to celebrate his birthday on the other side. He succeeds in crossing it despite his asthmatic condition, to the delight of the cheering onlookers.

It is easy to see this as a 'coming of age’ story but for the fact that a journey undertaken with the multitude of hardships faced by the two boys can have a sobering effect on the best of us. Ernesto records his thoughts in a journal, reflecting on his experiences every step of the way, choosing not to be cowed down by what he sees but to be strengthened by it.

Considering the film as a plain road trip movie would also be doing it injustice. The movie is based on the real life account of the Latin American revolutionary leader Ernesto ‘Che’* Guevara de la Serna (1928-1967) who spent a major part of his life at Fidel Castro’s side, planning and executing the Cuban peasant-based revolution. It is definitely worth the watch, especially when you’re aware of the history that goes with it.

(*The Che Guevara famous black and red picture with the beret, which became a worldwide icon at some point, was recently reinterpreted for Madonna’s American Life album cover. )

-rhea daniel


movie: Lucky
Salman Khan, Sneha Ullal

The movie has generated quite a bit of interest due to the resemblance of leading lady sneha ullal with aishwarya rai (and add to that her pairing with salman khan whose antics with aishwarya is bollywood pop history), but it would be unwise to write of sneha as a aishwarya clone.

While she actually looks a cross between aishwarya and mayuri kango, I think we should do justice to this lady and and say that she is actually quite a beauty and for a debutant she plays the role of a demure, sweet, seventeen year old "Lucky" to perfection. Salman Khan shows off (no...not his muscles) his happy-go-lucky attitude quite well and the clever dialogues sure assist the both of them in their performance.

Having said that, one must accept that there is nothing memorable to the story, no depth to the characters or the movie, no emotions to carry back home for the audience.The story of two strangers meeting in a time of crisis (terrorist strikes) and surviving through it to finally fall in love with each other, held more promise than it actually delivered.

Mithun Chakraborti is totally wasted in a tritely humorous and totally unnecessary role. It's strange that mainstream filmmakers still fail to utilize the potential of this three time natinal award winner!

The songs are pretty hummable and have the adnan sami (who composed the music) signature to them and are shot in wonderful locales across Russia.

One could really watch the movie for the breathtaking landscapes, palaces and even the cemetery and the fresh youthful charm of sneha and of course in the place where I watched it (hyderabad), needless to say, for Salman Khan!


The Ring 2

movie: The Ring Two (2005)

"The Ring" (2002) seemed a welcome release from the B-grade teen horror flicks that had flooded the market since the 80’s (with very very few exceptions). Here was genuine, gore-less, spine-chilling horror. It redefined the horror-film genre, mainly by giving its audience the benefit of a thinking faculty.

So with the success of Gore Verbinski’s The Ring, a remake of Hideo Nakata’s Japanese flick Ringu (1998), the horror film genre seemed up and coming.Hideo Nakata directed Ringu and another film, Dark Water (2002) based on the series of novels by writer Kôji Suzuki, both stories centering around the ghosts of abandoned children, both excellent horror flicks without much use of sfx or flashy camera work. The films also manage to be riveting despite the similar central character.

So if Hideo Nakata decides to direct the sequel to Gore Verbinski’s version of Ringu, the result should be awesome, right?


The tape is unfortunately still doing the rounds in teen circles. One such incident falls a little too close to where Rachel (Naomi Watts) is trying to carve out a new life for herself and her son Aidan (David Dorfman). So she goes to investigate, finds the offending tape and destroys it. Which more than annoys Samara. At first Samara just wanted to be ‘heard’, but now she wants a new mommy in place of the one who abandoned her. Ye gads, by this time I was yawning. So she plans to take over Aidan’s body. Yawn. As you pretty can much guess in the beginning, the Ring 2 explores the motherhood angle more than giving its audience the frights. Well, there are frights but its more because the surround system is exploding around you in between naps.

Now if you haven’t seen Dark Water the motherhood twist may seem new to you, but to those who have, this is old news. Dark Water involves the ghost of a tragically abandoned little girl, death by drowning no less, strands of very dark hair floating in clumps in tons of murky water. And guess what, the ghost of the mouldy little girl is looking for a new mommy to replace the one that was never there for her.(Zzz.) Samara tries to take over Aidan’s body while he’s in the bathtub (be wary of bathtubs now folks, the Boogeyman popped out of that one too).

Rachel sacrifices herself to be Samara’s mommy, then cons her out of it at the last minute. So the film reaches its end and all that you’ve been waiting for with bated breath never really comes. The only scary part is Samara (Kelly Stables) climbing after Rachel who is trying to escape from that nasty well yelling after her in a deep, gravelly voice that well, actually can scare the pants off of you.

The first flick already used the thematic elements of the snowy TV screen and the lonely well, the creepy atmosphere made even more creepy with the use of the blue filter, so that failed to instill too much excitement. Samara popping out of the TV, already been done. Flashes of the victims’ distorted faces shown for microseconds were enough to make you jump in the first flick. Here the shots of the silent, screaming, twisted faces of the dead seem to go on for millennia.Too many answers too soon in this film. And almost everybody dies in the same way, so you don't really feel sorry them after a point.

With reference to casting, the appearance of Elizabeth Perkins as a psychiatrist, her face normally seen in romantic comedies and hitherto digestible films like Moonlight and Valentino, just doesn’t fit. The face of actor Simon Baker (The Guardian), is pretty much a prop. And a pretty one at that, even after Samara gets to him.

The keyword to use is UNDERSTATED. Less is more. Ring 2 is not. The audience can think without jerky background thunder surround. Well, the writer of The Ring and Dark Water should sue because this movie is The Ring 1 recycled, slapped on with Dark Water, and kneaded very badly into a lame sequel that falls desperately short of the audience’s expectations.

-rhea daniel

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