No Reservations - Movie Reco

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, December 30, 2011


Dir: Scott Hicks
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Abigail Breslin

There are these special movies that make you feel good after watching them. ‘No Reservations’ is one such movie.

After watching 5 movies by a famous Hollywood director which required thorough analysis, brain storming, reading reviews after reviews and then re-watching them again, I felt a bit tired. I was dying to watch something light, something soothing and I could not have asked something better than ‘No Reservations’. In a way, rom-coms are pretty much predictable; this one is not an exception. But what makes some rom-coms special and deserves multiple viewing is, the apt cast at the core, blended with crisp humour, garnished with delightful music running in the background, then served fresh to the audience. Oh... well, No Reservations is lot about cooking too :)

It stars Catherine Zeta-Jones as Kate a bachelorette Chef, who is just too serious about her passion - cooking. She works diligently in the kitchen of a NY restaurant, who believes she is the best cook in the city, throws tantrums on customers when they nitpick about her dishes, in turn inviting the rough relationship with the owner of the restaurant. She attends counseling sessions upon insistence by her restaurant owner often wishing ‘there was a cookbook for life’. Kate’s sister dies in an accident and gets to take care of her sister’s young daughter Zoe (brilliantly played by cute girl - Abigail Breslin). Initially Kate fails to cope-up playing the role of a caretaker for her niece who is missing her dead mother terribly. There enters Nick (Aaron Eckhart), the newly appointed chef by the restaurant owner as a replacement for a pregnant chef. Nick considers working under Kate is an honor. But, Kate is unhappy over Nick’s unorthodox working style, she is even insecure that Nick might take over her kitchen. Over the skirmishes with Nick, Kate learns to let her hair down; she even learns few lessons on parenthood from him. What follows after that is pretty predictable, but thoroughly enjoyable.

For me, a good movie is all about those special moments in it. Remember the scene where Julia Roberts asks Hugh Grant “After all... I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” in Nottinghill. Remember Richard Gere saying, ”When you're not fidgeting, you look very beautiful...” to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman or Julie Delpy enacting a telephonic conversation with Ethan Hawke who would be sitting right opposite to her in Before Sunrise. No Reservations too leaves you with memorable scenes that you would just not forget. There is a scene in the movie where Nick tries to kiss Kate in front of Zoe at the dining table. Kate turns her face away saying, ‘not in front of Zoe’. To which Nick says to Zoe, ‘I am now going to kiss your aunt’. Then Zoe covers her face saying, ‘OMG, this is so embarrassing’. I liked the expression on Zoe's face so much that I watched this scene many times. Every time I watch it, it never failed to convert the smile on face into a delightful grin.

Aaron Eckhart is very impressive in the movie. Check out the way delivers those smart lines, the way he uses his charm to flirt with Zeta-Jones. I have never liked Zeta-Jones this much earlier. The young girl Abigail Breslin is adorable too. Watch this movie when you are feeling little heavy in the head after a boring day at office, you will surely hit the sack smiling.


Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , , | Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2011


  • Did you guys notice the striking similarity between the teenage sister(?) of Nargis Faqri named Mandy in the movie Rockstar and French actress Audrey Tautou; The female who played the lead role in the movies Amelie and The Da Vinci Code. I was already smitten by Audrey Tautou and now by this Mandy! Talking of Audrey Tautou, the movie I fell for her is neither Amelie nor Da Vinci Code. In fact, I am a ‘Dan Brown Agnostic’, when my friends who had read the novel were enjoying the movie in theatre, I had fallen asleep! The movie that cast the magic on me was Priceless, a French rom-com which I watched in UTV World Movies some time ago. It is a nice little movie with this cute actress in it. I would like to take the name of Priceless in the same breath as that of Pretty Woman and Nottinghill, for its high cuteness quotient. Watch this movie without a miss.
  • Since I mentioned Rockstar, I must say I liked the movie incredibly. Was unable to mention in my blog as the post on it has been the state of draft for quite some time and I am failing miserably to transcend my thoughts about the movie into words.
  • I know it is quite late to comment on the music of Rockstar after many people admiring it and some calling it an average work of A R Rahman. But I will comment about the film’s music anyway as I have taken the name of the movie. Remember the song ‘Masakkali’, the first hit song in Mohit Chauhan ARR combo? I remember watching the interview of ARR during the release of Delhi-6 in one of the news channels. When the interviewer asked who is ARR’s favourite contemporary singer, ARR mentioned the name of Mohit Chauhan and even hummed his favourite song by Mohit Chauhan - ‘tum se hi..’ from Jab We Met. I was not very surprised by what ARR said, because it is very common for celebs to say their most recent work being their best and to take the artist’s name they have last worked with as their best colleague ever, as they would be paid to promote their recent work. With my limited knowledge of music, I do not think Mohit Chauhan is an accomplished singer, although there is a sect of film music to which his distinct voice and style of singing suits perfectly. After all, to score a match winning century in cricket you do not need to be a technically perfect batsman. I was amazed to see almost all the songs in Rockstar being sung by Mohit Chauhan. Not sure if ARR has used the any other singer so extensively in any single movie before. I no more doubt ARR. Mohit Chauhan must be his favourite contemporary singer. I must also say, listen to ‘Naadan parindey..’ carefully. It is sung by both ARR and Mohit Chauhan. In few places, it is difficult to say who is who. In high notes, their voices blend beautifully in unison.
  • I took part in 5th Bangalore Midnight Marathon which was held on 10th December. I finished the half marathon with my personal best timing of 2 Hours 7 mins and 58 secs. It was really an amazing feeling to run in the night with so many of enthusiastic runners. The energy really was infectious.
  • Got to read a quote by Javed Akhthar in TOI recently, which perfectly sums up the debate of who is the master of one’s destiny. “Your life is designed by three important factors – circumstances, coincidences and you. At any given moment, any of the three could be the chief designer”.
  • There is a scene in ZNMD where Farhan insists Hrithik and Katrina to take a stroll after dinner, so that he can share some private time with Nooria. On their long walk, during their conversation about the ‘type’ of guy Katrina prefers, Katrina blames Hrithik that he belongs to the type of guys who considers money as the only important thing in life. To which Hrithik retorts, “don’t judge me, you don’t know me”. I found this statement ‘very much mine’. I have said the same thing in the past many a times to different people under different circumstances. Is it the itch to shout out that I am off the herd, an exception to the generalization.. a craving for distinctness.... Hmmm...
  • The mention of ZNMD makes me write that it is really amazing that Farhan Akhar is associated with all the three best male bonding movies in Bollywood according to me. He forayed into direction with DCH, then he acted in Rock On!!, which was directed by Abhishek Kapoor, lastly he has acted in yet another brilliant movie on male bonding with ZNMD, directed by his sis Zoya.
  • It has been quite some time since amma is staying [vacationing] in my native. This has rekindled my passion for learning cooking. I have been trying out few of the dishes on my own with some useful tips from akka. I am glad that there has not been a disaster till date. I believe any person with good amount of common sense can never be a bad cook, but to be a really good cook, you need to have real talent man...
  • Whenever I prepare some dish which has come out pretty good, I keep it in fridge sticking a small note on the door of the fridge for my cousin to taste it. My cousin who stays in our home works in night shifts. Since I hardly get to speak to him during the weekdays, the sticky notes has been the effective medium of communication between us. These handwritten sticky notes reminded me of amma teaching me to write letters to my aunts and cousins during my school days. I used to be really happy when I used to get the reply for my letters. The advent of email and SMS has killed the communication through postal letters. The joy of seeing those cute handwritten paragraphs, the crossed lines, the corrected misspelt words is certainly irreplaceable. I feel there was warmth in that medium of communication... the emails and SMSs look pale, cold and impersonal in comparison.

An old A R Rahman song

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Monday, December 19, 2011


Good that I checked my mobile just before starting my car. Basu had messaged to carry my small portable speakers [as I do not have a music system in my car yet]. I went back and got my speakers hoping that it has enough charge to last for few hours during our drive. My friend Basu and me had planned a day's trip to Kolar. More than the destination, both of us actually wanted a nice drive on an open road.

Basu had got his iPod. He connected my speakers to the iPod and asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen, he was all set to be the DJ during the drive. Off late, I have gotten bored of my own selection of music. It's my own predictable set of choices that has bored me! Knowing Basu since little more than a decade, I had total faith in his taste for music, I told him to play anything he liked. He was "mixing" it well with few recent Kannada numbers, some ARR Tamil hits and few Hindi hits. Then he played this Tamil number 'Kannukku Mai Azhagu'. I had never heard it before. He told me it's an ARR number. He told me to guess the singer. Since the song sounded pretty old, my mind started matching the voice with some of ARR's favourite female singers. It wasn't Sadhana Sargam, It wasn't certainly Chitra, It wasn't Kavitha Krishnamoorthy. I am not even sure if Kavitha Krishnamoorthy has sung any Tamil song for ARR. Then Basu said, it is P Susheela. Waaww, that's really a rare combo.

Googling a bit about the song, I got to know the song is from the movie Pudhiya Mugham (1993). The song has a male solo version too by Unni Menon. ARR has used the same tune in the Hindi movie Vishwa Vidhaata (1997). There the song, 'nazaron ke milne se' is sung by Kavitha Krishnamoorthy.

The tune is very very soothing. Those were the days after Roja, when ARR used to use minimalistic musical instruments, used to use all well established singers of music industry. Though the song sounds pretty much like a lullaby, it is a romantic song with very beautiful lyrics. Check out the translation here.

I know I sound pretty old in saying this, I doubt such an amazing tune and lyrics fit into the scheme of things in today's music in movies :-/

Meryl Streep

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Watched Adaptation last night. May be I will go gaga over Charlie Kaufman’s script in my coming posts, but could not resist posting about Meryl Streep. I have seen handful of movies of this elegant lady. In each of these movies, there were moments when I have said to myself ‘Waw… this is it. This role could have never been played by any other actress on earth’. I just wonder how her expressions and gestures can be so unique and precise. Just a sigh, a smirk, a heave, a shrug, a huff, an empty smile, a happy smile, a sad smile, not-so-happy-smile, i-am-not-falling-for-your-jokes-smile, I-am-a-married-woman-knowing-my-limits-smile, wait-I-am-thinking-smile, an uninhibited laughter, a nervous laughter, I-am-on-high-laughter, the wave of a hand, just by looking away, by slightly shifting her body weight on one of her legs, just by leaning against the wall, by repositioning her slightly slid spectacles, just by touching the rim of her hat to make sure it is in place…. such minute nuances and she conveys a lot. No wonder this female has got maximum number of nominations to Academy Awards and Golden Globe, at the same time, I feel sad she has won only 2 Academy awards and just 7 Golden Globe. She should have won it every time she got nominated!

For all the actresses of our Indian cinema who yearn for a role in parallel cinema, or the role of a psycho killer or a prostitute to showcase their acting prowess, they should learn it from Meryl Streep to play any ordinary character extraordinarily.

Image courtesy: Simply Streep Media

Phantoms In The Brain by V S Ramachandran

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2011


There is a famous quote in Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ which goes like, When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. I would like to alter this statement slightly, “When you got to read a book, all the universe conspires to lead you to it”

I first came across this book when a friend of mine blogged about it few years ago. After some time Ashwin, another friend of mine recommended it to me. Though it is a fascinating subject to know about our brain, I had relegated picking this book up, thinking it might be too much of neuroscientific jargon for me. But I was wrong, now I repent not reading it much before. The author of the book, V S Ramachandran is a credible neuroscientist who has proposed his own theories in the field of neuroscience and has solved many of the mysteries behind the working of the human brain.

When my father was paralyzed, there were instances when he moved his paralyzed left hand and leg while asleep. He even used to raise the left arm involuntarily when he used to yawn. This always made me wonder, how the brain could make his hand/leg move involuntarily on these particular occasions but fail to do so when he wishes to. When I told about this to the doctor who used to treat him, he had given a plain reply – ‘it happens some times’. I am not sure, if the doctor did not want to explain me the complications of the mechanism in brain, or was he not aware of the actual reason for it. I found the answer for that in this book!

Ramachandran, an ardent believer of simple and inexpensive experiments, conducts many such experiments on his patients and presents many of the interesting case studies to the readers. Take for example the finger agnosia -  where a patient fails to recognize which of his finger is being touched when blind folded, dyscalculia – a stroke patient who understands the concept of large and small numbers but fails miserably to do simple addition and subtraction, idiot savant syndrome – an autistic patient’s ability to generate a series of large prime numbers, an epileptic patient who claims to have realized ‘the true meaning’ of life and could converse with God after an episode of major temporal lobe seizure, a patient whose brain was normal in seeing and identifying static objects but could not identify motion after a brain injury and the patients with phantom limbs – the major interest area of Ramachandran. These cases might appear crazy initially but Ramachandran says when physicists say these are crazy, it is their failure to understand how brain functions. And he digs deep into these exceptional cases in letting us understand the mystery behind some of the cases or leading to some significant clues behind some insolvable cases.

Throughout the book, the author generously quotes from Omar Khayyam to Upanishads to Charles Darwin to Sherlock Homes to Bhagavadgeeta, which made me awe at his areas of interests. Ramachandran is as good a curious human being with wonder-eye as he is a neuroscientist. This serves as the constant undertone in the book, which appealed to me the most. He knows the art of explaining complicated things in a simple manner to a layman, with his great sense of wit it makes the book a very fascinating read.

There were sections in the book, which I found little difficult to understand. For example, some of the sections on interpretation of vision by brain and the last chapter where Ramachandran explains consciousness and qualia. My favorite chapter in the entire book was ‘God and the Limbic System’. There are some serious questions raised here about the region in the brain which makes us an atheist or theist [believe me, in one of the speeches by Ramachandran in youtube, I have seen him introducing the special case of a patient whose one hemisphere was atheist and another hemisphere theist!!], what makes a human being a great artist/musician/mathematician, how different is his brain from normal human being, what “makes” it different? Then he touches upon the evolution of human brain, Darwin’s natural selection of species, Wallace’s counter argument to Darwin where the former orients towards ‘divine intervention’ in making some brains special (?!). This is a chapter I would love to read it again and again.

It’s astonishing to see some patients turning into great painters after epileptic seizures. I have even read somewhere an honest man turning into a con after brain damage! This raises the basic question of ‘Who am I?’ If a brain damage can change my personality, my whole perspective of the world, of the right and wrong, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What is my identity?’ When I was listening to a discourse by Osho some time back, he refers to the rules and prejudices that are imposed upon us by our culture and society as if some person inside our brain is commanding our actions. What if there is one such thing..?!! Ramachandran too says some of our reflexes are controlled by ‘zombies’ inside our brain!!! Like I thought, did u also think about the movie Inception here..? Where the seed of an idea can be planted in somebody’s brain..? Think over, it’s time for you to scratch your head J

Thanks to Tess for lending me this book.
Do read it without a miss. It’s a delightful book.

PS: I was hoping Ramachandran would shed some light on another mysterious topic - dreams. Which is not mentioned in this book.