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Review by Gokhra

Oh man, I waited a long time to see the master print DVD of this movie and it was worth every penny. It's one of those thrillers that twist and turn taking you on a wild ride.

The plot:
The movie starts with two strangers who meet, do some impulsive stuff they seem to do mostly in Hollywood movies and then marry. Of course, that's when they decide to take a breather from the under sheets activities and get to know about each other.

Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a low-level British diplomat living in AIDS-stricken Kenya. His wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz) is an activist who had been investigating a large pharmaceutical company. She goes to Africa with Justin and witnesses what she thinks is murder in an African hospital. In the opening moments of the movie Tessa is found brutally murdered at a crossroads, along with her African driver. The driver called Arnold as it turns out was another doctor who was her colleague.

Somewhere along the way Tessa receives an email which Justion later finds that asked her "What were you and Arnold doing in the Nairobi Hilton Friday night? Does Justin know?"

So it makes you wonder was she having an affair with a handsome African man, went where she shouldn't have and got caught in one of those African border killings. Or did it have deeper implications such as the embarrassing questions she asked the drug companies at a press conference. The underlying theme is that as the drug companies pour AIDS drugs into Africa, are they using their programs to mask the testing of other drugs? The premise is that drug companies test their products on the poor of the Third World. Deaths occur and they are willing to accept the deaths because these people do not seem to count.

But who is really conspiring against whom?

The verdict:
The whole movie is a progress back into Tessas life, and a journey of discovery for Justin, who discovers a woman he never really knew. The rest of the movie is told in a flashback structure with scenes that are interrupted and completed later. It's a fragmented movie that ultimately combines into a breathtaking whole.

You see, the fragmented style is the best way to tell this story based around an elusive conspiracy. Fiennes plays Justin as a bland, shapeless character who gradually finds definition on a grief-fueled journey to unravel the forces behind Tessa's murder.

It's a spy movie devoid of gunplay interwoven with drug corporation policies and a tightly calibrated murder mystery. Only in death does Justin truly get to know his wife.

"The Constant Gardener" begins with a strong, angry story. It begins with grief and gradually proceed toward horror. This is one of the year's best films. This is not your typical critically acclaimed movie that works as a sleeping pill but rather one that make keeps you awake long afterwards.

Le Chupacabra

In a future where man and machine have become seamlessly intertwined, its upto Public Peace Section 9 to resolve complex cases involving homicide, hostage situations and of course, cyber-hacking. However, the re-emergence of a 6-year old case involving the enigmatic master hacker and industrial terrorist simply known as 'The Laughing Man' brings to light the disturbing depth of the corruption that runs rampant through the very bureaucracy that has employed them.

With the series being based on such a celebrated cult phenomenon, GITS SAC had a lot to live up to. The original movie was one of the few that pushed the whole 'anime extravaganza' further into the limelight - does its episodic counterpart do the same?

Well, for me, not entirely. However, it's still one of the best cyberpunk thrillers I've watched since the film itself.

For starters, there's the plot. It can be occasionally confusing but that's the point. I liken the whole thing to a puppet-master controlling a complex marionette; in order for the whole show to proceed almost all the strings must be used, but it has to be done a few or one at a time with each movement setting up subsequent ones, for now or for later. That's exactly how the plot 'strings' here work and that's exactly what makes the show gripping. Allusions are made, theories are surmised and seeds are planted and then left untended to for quite some time. Just when your curiosity reaches a peak, the next tier of revelations commence. The dialogue here is rather interesting since much like the animated iteration there are intriguing discussions particularly regarding the human 'soul' and its place in the mysterious opera of 'life'. The show won't express anything as a definite or certainty, instead it allows the viewer to ponder the points by himself/herself and then come to his/her own conclusions. Fortunately the inconsequential techno-babble that occasionally plagued the film is all but absent here. Suffice to say if you're a fan of intricately orchestrated plotlines peppered with a healthy dose of philosophical musings, you'll find a lot to love here. You may want to note that a substantial number of episodes are not related to the main, 'Laughing Man' plot. Filler episodes they may be, however each one is still a great 'standalone episode' as they are called (the 'Laughing Man' chapters have been labelled as the 'complex episodes'). These are vignettes that aim to convey the odd ideology or two, or give us some background information on the characters. Thankfully those episodes received the same care and attention as the main ones so they still come across as wholly enjoyable.

'Character development' is a phrase that's thrown around in reviews all the time. In terms of anime, many believe that without it, the characters lack personality or appeal and especially so if we haven't thoroughly explored each and every nanometre of their past. Those reviewers must hate GITS SAC for that. However, I see that as a plus point in this case. Since we see only the briefest of snippets of their previous accomplishments we are left to concentrate on what they're doing now: their current thoughts, their current actions, et al. It gives them a sense of spontaneity and leaves us piecing together their personalities from our own perspectives. (FYI: the second season - 2nd GIG - covers the characters' pasts in a lot more detail.)

The animated movie was also popular for its incredible artwork and to honour that plaudit, Stand Alone Complex is similarly breathtaking. Infact, SAC's artwork is far more beautiful than that of the film. The animation is fluid, everything is lushly detailed and there's a wonderfully atmospheric use of lighting that gives it a brilliant sense of mood. While it lacks a lot of the more 'gratuitous' scenes that made the film slightly infamous, SAC stands as a visual tour de force. The music is masterfully composed by none other than the great Kanno Yoko.

The beauty of it was that I didn't notice the music until it was no longer present in some scenes. It goes to show how seamlessly it segues with the action and drama. I particularly enjoyed the haunting intro song which was vocalised in Russian.The second season of Stand Alone Complex (called “The 2nd GIG”) has already begun, so hurry up and watch the brilliant first season before you start on that one!

Visit my blog le-chupacabra.blogspot.com and chime in with your comments and what-not.

Sites Unseen

By Niloy

The Nintendo DS lite
Nintendo unveiled a new redesigned version of its handheld in Japan in the last weeks. “The DS Lite is a slimmer DS with a brighter screen that will hit in Japan on March 2. The device will be less than two-thirds the size of the original DS and about 20 percent lighter. It will also sport four levels of brightness, thus the name. (That and it's lighter)” It looks decent, and is slightly more sleeker than the current design. To find out what the gamers think, head over to Kotaku.com where a discussion is going on about the DS lite: doiop.com/DSlite. Size comparison with the old DS: doiop.com/sizeDSlite

Must have downloads
Lifehacker.com is an excellent site that's all about managing to live on in this ever increasing complex world of today. Its slogan say, “
Computers make us more productive. Yeah, right. Lifehacker recommends the downloads, web sites and shortcuts that actually save time. Don't live to geek; geek to live.” And it does that very nicely. A few weeks back, it put up a list of must have software. All of them are very useful and are totally free. Check out the list and download whatever you think you'll need.

Beautiful computer generated images
You gotta love these computer generated images! Hopefully in a few years, games will look of this good! Here's a mirror to the site, just in case it doesn't survive the “digg effect”: doiop.com/CGmirror

A city as an avatar of itself
This guy's photos are amazing. They look as if they are extremely accurate and super detailed models, but they are real photos with just an effect on them. “They look uncannily like hyper detailed models, absent the imperfections of reality. Streets are strangely clean, trees look plastic, and odd distortions of scale create the opposite effect of what we expect from aerial photography a complete overview, like military surveillance.” This one guy commented about these photos: "Yeah, these pics aren't that amazing. I've flown CESSNAs (two-seater small airplanes), and that's pretty much like what the world looks like from up there." Someone replied: "Well for the rest of us common folk who don't have the time or opportunity to fly Cessnas around all day, it looks quite cool." If you're interested, you can find more of these at flickr.com/photos/tags/tiltshift. Also: people have way too much free time. Godzilla attacking a miniature city: doiop.com/MiniZilla

A Picture History of Hard Drives
We've come a long way since the first storage devices in 1956. Hard drive storage is supposed to double every year, and over in this site are a lot of photos showing how hard drives have changed over the past 50 years.

“Join the social music revolution at Last.fm. It's fun, it's free, it's all about the music. You get your own online music profile that you can fill up with the music you like. This information is used to create a personal radio station and to find users who are similar to you. Last.fm can even play you new artists and songs you might like. It's addictive, it's growing, it's free, and it's music.” Doesn't that make you want to go on and check it out? Well, it's pretty damn good. But you'll need a relatively fast internet connection though.

That's all for this week, I'm afraid. You will also find these links at niloywrites.blogspot.com. Comics lovers might want to check out BDcomics.blogspot.com. You can also check out more of my photography at flickr.com/photos/Niloy/.

Photo: Niloy

Earring Holders

Over the years, earrings have gotten cooler and trendier. I have bought earrings galore just 'coz they look pretty not because I need a different pair to match every dress. I realized these accessories can really stylize your dressing table if displayed in the right way. But at the same time it's vital that they are not subjected to dust and weathering. That's when I came up with that idea of an earring holder. An idea that I'd like to share with you today………..

You will need:
1. Styrofoam (they are used as padding within the boxes of most electronics and are known as 'shola' in bangle)
2. Wrapping paper/colour paper/ handmade paper of your choice
3. Pins
4. Clear thin plastic sheet (optional)
5. Your entire earring collection
6. Scotch tape

The procedure for making this is very simple: take a rectangular shaped Styrofoam. Wrap it with the paper of your choice, carefully folding it behind in the sides and the corners, using pins to hold the paper in place. You can tape up the sides where necessary. Cut out a thin strip of Styrofoam and attach it in the middle at the back of the holder, pinning it in at an angle…so that it works as a stand. Now simply stick the earrings by driving the sharp end into paper-covered-styrofoam. Use the plastic sheet for the final cover pinning it onto the holder in the same way that the paper was pinned.. This last step can, sometimes, spoil the look of the holder so it's up to you if you want to do it.

By Aniqa



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