Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

A long thirst well quenched!

On 11/11/11 Tintin released here in India and I soon realised there was hardly any movie I had waited so eagerly to watch, ever. I first came across Tintin as a kid of very few years of age and—like so many others around the globe—found it impossible to leave the fandom. A few years later, I wished I could watch Tintin on the silver screen. This was in the last millenium. Today, that wish came true!

Now this is not a review or a critique, merely my thoughts on the Spielberg-Jackson venture which few, if any, expected to be bad. First things first: I shall try to go in order.

The characters have eyes!

Alright I had noticed this in the trailers. Something had seemed wrong. A while later when I took out one of my Tintin cartoons from my collection, I realised that Herge drew the characters with mere dots for eyes.

Tintin happens to be blue-eyed. While this does not spoil anything and while Jackson was right in deciding to go for stop-motion animation as opposed to a live action film, what disappointed me was that all the pivotal characters were not present.

To be precise, Prof Calculus is absent

That is right. Cuffbert Calculus is absent. What was Spielberg thinking? Perhaps, now that I look back at the film, I see Calculus would have hardly fit in; but Steven Moffat is one of those writer-geniuses who I’m sure could have worked out a plot to fit Calculus into it.

Snowy was entirely animated and some actors (Craig and Serkis) happen to play two characters and the entire thing comes out flawlessly. I could not think of a better substitute for Bell to play Tintin.

To me, Jamie Bell was an unheard of actor. I never knew him before The Eagle. I later recognised him in Jumper when I watched it a second time on television; then in the more recent Jane Eyre. In fact, I had no idea the boy was in King Kong (2005) either! Well, I will not say much now except that Man on a Ledge is a film I await.

Andy Serkis’ accent, Thomson and Thompson

Now Serkis’ accent (for Capn Haddock) was as new as actress Kim Stengel, who plays the Captain’s favourite, Bianca Castafiore. I have heard to (got accustomed to) Haddock’s voice in the animated films and the rolling of the R’s in the films seemed a tad difficult to put up with, but the smooth performance by a man whose face is, unfortunately, often hidden from the camera (Remember Gollum?) made it truly likeable.

That said, Moffat’s mixing up Herge’s three stories (The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure) was brilliant. It was nice that, while I could identify almost all bits and pieces from the three stories, I was waiting to see where he has deviated from one to add stuff from another.

British comedians Simon Pegg and Nick Frost make a remarkable detective duo. Although I did feel they had put on a little weight from the comics to films, they were quite the lovable characters Herge meant them to be.

The Original Comics

Perhaps it was right then, as Herge put it, that Spielberg alone could bring Tintin to the screen while doing justice to the original comic works. This was back in the 1980s when Speilberg was to have met the Belgian writer but could not as he passed away just that week. Herge’s widow gave Speilberg the rights and over two decades later the director seems to have put it to good use. At least I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What I wish to see are few: the opening train sequence from the animated films and the Tintin theme music from those shows seemed to have become the norm among all Tintin fans and I expected to see that in the film; but, like Ccalculus, perhaps we will have to wait for a second part. Or perhaps, unlike the Professor, these will never come?

Time will tell. In the meanwhile, perhaps I will go again the coming week! All in all, the characters got a whole new dimension of theirs (no pun intended) and it was a pleasure to watch. I only hope Peter Jackson will not delay too much in bringing out the sequel.

And I hope it releases first here. Again.

Green Lantern theatrical poster is out!

I would not call myself the biggest fan of Green Lantern, but the new film (out on June the 17th) is exciting nonetheless. Personally, I still cannot picture Ryan Reynolds as a superhero after The Proposal (in spite of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and all.) The new poster however shows that the film has something promising to deliver; yet, only time will tell!

I said I experienced satiric haunting!

I’ve heard of haunting yourself to death, but laughing yourself to death is unheard of insofar as you are sitting in a theatre amidst hundreds of shivering anthropological beings, all firm believers in the supernatural. And yet, you will find that you don’t really feel odd: you make the others feel odd.

Last night found me at a theatre nearby, watching what was supposed to be a horror film in some small way. It was called Haunted in what was perhaps the most misleading name this past century (the only other one rivalling it being the Hindi Film Industry.)

The whole two hours and a half were the most stereotypical hours I have ever spent. Continue reading

Hollywood, tailor-made!

It pleases one to no small limit to see all (or at least most) of his favourite actors, director(s) and screenplaywright(s) working on a common project and coming out with what can only be a masterpiece of a film. This coming year looks like its my turn.

Among my favourite actors are (in no particular order) Al Pacino[The Godfather (trilogy,) Scent of a woman, Scarface, S1m0ne,] Marlon Brando [The Godfather, Julius Caesar, A streetcar named Desire,] Robert DiNiro [The Godfather II, Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver,] Johnny Depp [Pirates of the Carribean, Charlie and the chocolate factory, Public enemies, Alice in Wonderland] and Hugh Grant [Four weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, About a boy, Music and Lyrics.] And then my favourite directors are Francis Ford Coppolla [The Godfather,] Martin Scorsese (SKOR-say-zee, many say it wrong!) [Raging bull, Good fellas, Taxi Driver, Shutter Island,] and Stevn Speilberg [Jurrassic Park, Schneider's list.] And not to tire you out, two of my many favourite screen-playwrights are Steven Zaillian [Schindler's list, Mission: Impossible, The Interpreter, American Gangster,] and Eric Roth [Forrest Gump, The Good Shepard, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.]

Now picture this: Robert DiNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci [My cousin Vinny] all starring in a film directed by Martin Scorsese and scripted by Steven Zaillian. Bowled over?

Continue reading

Classical music you never knew you had listened to

I play the violin. I’m no maestro, but I can handle the bow well (but I still cannot play the vibrato!) And this beautiful instrument–which came to me somewhat as a serendipity–has, for some reason, convinced me to spread the word about those great musical masterpieces I listen to everyday. And then I realised people around me hardly ever listen to it. There is no way you can make them listen, but one of the means I just realised was to associate these numbers to some things we are perhaps better aware of than the music itself.

So I sat down and compiled a list of the best pieces which have featured in well-known forms of media, and to which we have probably hummed, all the while not knowing what we were really humming to. The list is in no way exhaustible and it is my humble request that you add to it should you find something I have skipped. And I am aware I have skipped many: these are just those on the top of my list! Continue reading