Archive for September, 2011

30
Sep
11

Movie Review – Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster

“At least don’t refer to the guy you’re asking me to bump off as your friend,” Aditya Pratap Singh (Jimmy Shergill) tells the shameless man who has come to him with a job offer. Aditya Pratap Singh is of royal blood and very classy, but alas – rutba is all he has, and rupya is what he needs. Having taken several blows to his pride, the sahib now gets people murdered to make money.

After showing a spark in Anurag Kashyap’s Gulaal and flesh in RGV’s Not A Love Story, Mahie Gill does both in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster. Frustrated because her husband doesn’t give her sex, and angry that he visits his mistress 3-4 nights a week, Mahie Gill plays the biwi to the hilt – by her husband’s side when times are bad, and fucking her new chauffeur, who is slowly getting used to her fits of violent rage. “Vegetarian or non-vegetarian?” she enquires of Babloo, and laughs when he tells her he’s a mauka-tarian.

The chauffeur is Randeep Hooda – Babloo at home, Lalit to the world. Randeep Hooda finally gets a role to show his acting skills and he makes the most of it. A mauka-tarian (an opportunist) he is, alright. Babloo is in a spot of trouble and has been sent to work for the sahib, planted there cunningly by the sahib’s foe, but what he works is the biwi, when she isn’t driving like a maniac or drinking her loneliness away. “Are you loyal to him?” he asks, sprawled over a naked Mahie Gill, when she says the sahib keeps only the loyal with him.

Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster is a crackling tale with outstanding performances by all. It isn’t only the Shergill-Hooda-Gill triangle that is making things happen; the supporting cast is what you take notice of, because they (and Jimmy Shergill) are the ones who make the movie believable, and they all make the story flow.

The dialogues are absolutely smashing; what a change it is to listen to conversations between smart people… the lines are crisp throughout, caustic when they have to be, and wit is something even the sahib’s rivals have.

It is the modern treatment and the competent performances that make this movie click, the highlight being Jimmy Shergill having his breakfast at noon, explaining to a visitor that it must be morning in England, his back to a wall helpless against time and neglect tearing its paint off.

Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster is one of the best Hindi films you’ll get to watch this year.

RATING: 3.5/5

 

30
Sep
11

Movie Review – Force (2011)

Genelia D’Souza is the prettiest girl in the Hindi film industry but she has wrecked John Abraham’s chances of giving his career a boost. Genelia is so cute and delicate and girly that she wins big points with me instantly, but she’s in every other scene in Force, looking pretty and making John Abraham fall in love with her. Nobody in the audience will fall for it, though.

You go to watch an action movie feeling good that it doesn’t have that idiot Salman Khan or that bore Ajay Devgan, you think it’ll be a fun movie because it won’t have movie stars mouthing stupid lines for people who have come determined to clap and whistle till the movie’s over, you think you’ll actually be able to take the movie seriously because the story won’t be an attempt to make the superstar larger than cinema. Force is the movie you came to watch, but unfortunately, Force has no depth or substance. Force has John Abraham being stoic, Genelia D’Souza being childlike, a bunch of familiar faces hamming away, new villain Vidyut Jammwal making a mess of the shot he got, and badly shot action scenes.

The story? A police informer gives away the whereabouts of everyone who deals in drugs, causing the narcotics department (John Abraham and a few others) to wipe their businesses out. Turns out the informer had been asked to do that by Vishnu (Vidyut Jammwal), who wanted the narco team to eliminate his rivals so that his gang could become the only one around.

Vishnu jumps and runs like a strong animal, and this we see after his brother has been shot dead by the undercover cops during a drug bust. Vishnu wants revenge, and he wants the narcotics team and their loved ones dead. Vishnu’s one-dimensional performance would have been interesting had he not been stiff. Vishnu walks in and out of scenes with the same look and the same mood, occasionally putting up a fight with ACP Yashvardhan (John Abraham), who has fallen for Genelia’s beauty and has even danced in the desert with her. In a suit. And in strange clothing. Next to a piano. In the fucking desert.

Not that much is required from John Abraham. He’s in an action movie; all he needs to do is be dour and flex his muscles, because the chick will handle his dick. But John looks like he’s in great pain when he smiles. It’s a struggle for him. I really feel for the guy; he’s got this pumped up body and deserves a break. Force, which is a remake of a hit movie from the south, would’ve done it for him if director Nishikant Kamat had not had a female voice humming every time John looks at Genelia, and if there hadn’t been a song for every occasion, every 15 minutes. And the dialogues… Lord Satan, if you heard the banter exchange between John and Genelia you’d wish they’d just shut up and have sex. But I don’t think they get to fuck; Genelia falls in slow motion while dying and that stupid humming comes back on.

Something’s very wrong when an action movie doesn’t have you rooting for the hero or the villain, and something’s very wrong when an action movie doesn’t make us guys want to work out or learn a martial art.

With Genelia playing cushion, and all its other flaws, Force is impossible to get into.

RATING: 2/5

26
Sep
11

Music Review: Mastodon – The Hunter (2011)

By Prayag Arora-Desai

Ok, so, Mastodon just made another record, with another obscure looking animal adorning the album cover. I like.

Now, it might cost me my nuts for saying this, but I pretty much hated Mastodon’s last. Even with all the huff and haw and hipster-ish ‘progressive/ experimental/ what-have-you’ genre tags and five-star ratings and blah blah blah, the exceedingly chilled out vibe of Crack the Skye was entirely lost on me. While I didn’t (and still don’t) object to the band exploring creative possibilities outside of big balled heavy metal, it wound me up to hear the testosterone driven rage of Blood Mountain and Leviathan dissolve into this weird sort of lighter, new age gunk. That said, Mastodon are still a heavy metal powerhouse with one of the most impressive and consistently innovative discographies out there.  Each of their albums has chronologically progressed from one style to another, and even though Crack the Skye was a bit too fucking hillbilly for my own taste, it sure as hell wasn’t a bad album by any stretch of analytical masturbation; whether you liked it or not, it was well written, well executed, well produced, and ultimately: tight as hell… same as all their other albums. Admittedly, Mastodon haven’t nearly approximated the quality of sludge that comes from premier bands like Neurosis or Crowbar, but they have the potential to get there, and The Hunter is a seminal stride forward in making sure they damn well do.

On The Hunter, Mastodon reprise both, their spankingly slick progressive edge, as well as the visceral power of their early years. So it’s not all moshpit friendly, this album. The half assed, spaced out stoner vibe (that made Crack the Skye such a fail for me) is a lot more prominent and well defined on this one, echoing back to punk-rooted bands like Kylesa and Kyuss, which is definitely the most fun part of the album. Thankfully, Brett Hind’s pretentious intellectualism of writing thirteen minute buildups has gone out the window and the tracks jump into one another in a riot of styles. At first, you’re listening to Cult of Luna having mad sex with Eyehategod, the next moment they’re doing Brant Bjork or And So I Watch You From Afar. It’s a lot of fun, and very remarkable, especially when it dawns on you that Mastodon haven’t sacrificed one bit of their quintessential ferocity underneath all this stylistic horsing around. Unpredictable yet cohesive songwriting is what makes this record click. I’ve heard it multiple times already, and there’s still more left for me to discover.

It might be an over-thought to claim The Hunter as being Crack the Skye done right. Because it’s a lot more than just that. The Hunter, in its excellence, brings to life the beast that Mastodon have been pregnant with all along. And one can’t help but smile. When I think about it seriously enough, Mastodon are really the only contemporary band that remind me of Black Sabbath. And I don’t mean that on a genre-specific basis. Rather, my point is that both these bands, they’ve always known what exactly they’re trying to do, and have followed it up with albums that are a downright pleasure to listen to at the end of the day.

All things considered, this is definitely Mastodon’s most fun album yet.

Oh, and Bret Hinds has a one helluva beard.

Rating: 3.5/5

25
Sep
11

Music Review: Absu – Abzu (2011)

Beginning with a falsetto wail that can be expected from King Diamond and not a revered black metal band, Absu pays little heed to conventional structuring and easily hops across genres. Primarily black metal, Abzu blends other styles – thrash, death and traditional heavy metal. Occult-based lyrics are barked with masterly drumming pausing to let an acoustic guitar piece take the spotlight before another thrash riff starts the buildup of the next song. The riffing is energetic and Absu creates an atmosphere effortlessly. The band flows in and out of songs, making them seem like intense jams. Short solos are inserted in parts layered with tremolo picking; stretched passages with the drums pounding induce awe and make Abzu intriguing enough for more listens.

24
Sep
11

Music Review: Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming (2011)

Former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach shows his worth in these times, and here’s a great singer with an able band backing him tightly. Kicking & Screaming is a bunch of heavy metal songs expecting to be taken seriously; it’s free-flowing fun that thinks it’s very deep; even the attempt at making a power ballad is commendable, but not that poignant. The band indulges Sebastian Bach and he tries to make the most of it, succeeding only when he doesn’t try at all, and the second half of the album is on a higher level of maturity. Bobby Jarzombek is a drummer who knows what to do, and Nick Sterling (guitar/bass) puts up a good show with his riffs, adding value to the songs by throwing in flashy solos to make Sebastian Bach feel like even more of a heavy metal singing sensation. Kicking & Screaming is music from the ‘80s with modern production values. The songs that work best are the ones about living a rock n’ roll lifestyle, and even they won’t stay in your memory unless you listen to this album several times, so here’s wishing Seb Bach and his band lots of booze and groupies.

Bret Michaels’ Custom Built Review

Alice Cooper’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare Review

22
Sep
11

Music Review: Machine Head – Unto The Locust (2011)

Looks like someone in hell heard my complaints about the lack of quality thrash metal in my life, and it sure sounds like it. The shortage of chugging guitars, memorable licks, solid grooves, killer solos, thumping bass and pounding drums – the dearth of everything that made me a fan of thrash metal along with a curiosity for more morbid sounds and the need to reach deeper emotional states drew me towards death metal and black metal respectively. Thrash Metal still doesn’t sound as convincingly morbid as Death Metal unless we’re talking about Slayer, and Black Metal is all one needs to reach emotional heights and also plunge into its depths.

Machine Head’s 2011 album Unto The Locust is that beast which smashes its way into the soul with everything thrash metal needs to be. Modern and yet fully traditional, Robb Flynn & Co. mean business right from the first note of ‘I Am Hell (Sonata In C#)’, dragging the listener on a wild, thrilling ride of superb thrash metal, complete with rowdy riffing, perfectly timed breaks, thunderous double bass drumming, dazzling solos and boisterous vocals.

Thrash Metal is meant to be ballsy – even Anthrax manage to sound likeable when they get ballsy – but Machine Head in 2011 is pushing the boundaries with so much force that the titans of thrash (Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer) will have to match this intensity to prove their relevance.

Balls to you if you think this is ‘nu-metal’; Machine Head is modern thrash metal: polished and yet rougher than every other thrash metal great right now. There is nothing stale on Unto The Locust, not one dull moment, and in fact, it’s the most refreshing music I’ve heard so far this year.

Just listen to what they’ve done with Judas Priest’s ‘The Sentinel’ and Rush’s ‘Witch Hunt’ – it’s one great band covering two. These are bonus tracks on the special edition, with an acoustic version of ‘Darkness Within’ thrown in. Here’s a band I could never get into despite liking two of their albums quite a bit, and I’m embracing them now. Machine Head‘s Unto The Locust is a contender for album of the year. ‘Music, it will set you free.’

                                                                    

20
Sep
11

Music Review: Brutal Truth – End Time (2011)

Grindcore stalwarts Brutal Truth return with a noisy album that doesn’t offer much to pick from unless you’ve been expecting basic grind. End Time has 23 tracks – songs, if you want to call them that – and amidst the scarce but welcome guitar squeals and shouted-out hoarseness – are pleasant song titles like Celebratory Gunfire and Fuck Cancer. Clanging away almost throughout, Brutal Truth offers respite by way of Warm Embrace Of Poverty, making you wish there was more of controlled harshness on End Time. The production drowns out the interesting riffing, bringing the drums and shouts upfront. Brutal Truth can be interesting only when they structure their songs or go all-out like they do on Control Room.




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