Sunday, October 21, 2007

Auction Action with the Guru of Waltz

It's true what they say about worrying too much in advance. We had set our sights on this quaint little Federation house in 4 Stewart Street in Eastwood up for auction. Nearing a hundred years old, this 4-bedroom, air-conditioned, 553-sq. m. property is quite well-maintained. Close to shops, station, and school. My sister was fretting about how much we should bid, how much buffer we should allocate, who to do the actual bidding, where we should physically position ourselves during auction day, etc. We even got a solicitor to go through the contract. I was telling her that with that kind of location, it'll definitely go beyond $800k. Turns out I was right.

The auction proper started around 10am. The auctioneer mentioned that he'll start the bidding at $600k. Apparently, somebody wasn't paying attention. When the auction started, this Chinese guy offered an opening bid of $700k, which totally blew us out of the water. Even the auctioneer was surprised. A couple of interested parties kept the ball rolling, until this guy joined in the latter stages and started trumping all the other bids. He managed to get the property at a price of $816k. Interestingly, he only saw the property this morning. Ah, to be rich and naive!

Went to see Guru at the Hurstville Civic Theatre with my movie buddy. It's the second time I was late, and she had to reserve a seat for me. Wasn't my fault really. By noon, we were still in Eastwood. Had lunch in half an hour. Drove back to Campsie, then to Hurstville in record time. It's a movie about this young cocky villager called Gurukant Desai (Abhishek Bachchan), who started out working for Shell in Turkey. Not content to work for the white man, he goes to Mumbai with wife Sujata (Aishwarya Rai) and brother-in-law Jignesh (Arya Babbar) to make a name for himself. He joins a trading fraternity, bets heavily on polyester when nobody else would, and hit paydirt. From there, he started his own company called Shakti, and by hook and by crook, he dominated the industry. Now, it wouldn't be an Indian film without some dramas (and song-and-dance numbers). He was hauled to court for making bribes and evading duties and taxes. He was being bashed by the media. His sidekick committed suicide for unwittingly admitting they're not doing the right thing. There was a stockholder backlash because the company's shares took a dive, etc. In the end, he got off lightly for arguing that he did what he did to make the business successful. For the good of the millions of stockholder, for the good of India! Yeah, right. The movie didn't mention this, but apparently, it is based on the life story of India's richest man, petrochem tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani, the owner of Reliance India.

A few things I didn't like about the movie:

  • The song-and-dance numbers. They have absolutely no value-add to the movie. They are there simply to show off the entertainment prowess of the actors. Ok, assuming it helps to set the mood or something. Do you really have to perform the song in its entirety?
  • The mish-mash of shooting styles. Every shooting style known to man is implemented here, which distracts from the story.
  • Soundtrack overuse. Every single minute of the film is backed up by sound effects. I know how to read subtitles. I know how to read the actors' faces. There's really no need to blanket the whole movie with soundtrack to tell me what I should be feeling.
  • Cliched plotlines. Again, almost every plot device known to man is used - the midnight elopement, the train chase, the dashing idealist-journalist marrying the beautiful, crippled girl with MS, the wrist-slash suicide, the mild stroke, the hospital bed crying scene, the rousing rich-vs-poor speech, the courtroom drama, the triumphant return to power, etc.
Anyway, I just learned that I have to start brushing up on my dancing skills again, particularly the waltz. (Can you actually waltz to The Way You Look Tonight?!) Last time I did ballroom dancing was during college PE. In a week's time, I'll be dancing again. Watch this space.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pepper Lunch Dinner after Death at a Funeral

Second funniest movie of the year after The Simpsons Movie. My movie buddy and I was supposed to watch another film at Dendy, but we didn't want to wait another 2 hours, so I suggested Death at a Funeral instead. Directed by Frank Oz and written by Dean Craig, Death at a Funeral is a barrel of laughs despite the sombre title. Right from the animated opening credits with a symbol of a coffin moving over a street map, you'll know this is going to be interesting. The dead father who has yet to come out of the closet, the struggling son living under the shadow of a much successful novelist-brother, the midget lover out for his share of the inheritance, the drug-dealing cousin whose bottle of recreational drugs disguised as Valium goes missing, the nervous fiance of the niece who took the Valium and goes naked in public, etc. - outstanding performances from a stellar cast. In spite of all the commotion and the interruptions, the son manages to deliver a passionate and heartfelt eulogy, which ended the movie nicely.

Some choice quotes from the movie:

Daniel: Who is this?
Undertaker: Pardon me?
Daniel: This is not my father.

Sandra: Tea can do many things, Jane, but it can't bring back the dead.

Martha: Simon.
Simon: [behind the bathroom door] Simon.
Martha: Simon!
Simon: Simon.
Martha: Sy!
Simon: Mon.

Uncle Alfie: Touch and go! Touch and go!

Simon: [when the coffin started moving] I knew it!

After the movie, we dropped by the MCA to pass the time before going to St. Patrick's Church along Grosvenor Street for afternoon mass. I may be a non-practising Catholic, but I reckon it wouldn't hurt if I enter a church once in a while. The mass took about an hour. After all that sitting, standing, and kneeling, I'm starting to feel hungry. Passed by the Pepper Lunch restaurant along George Street, and we went in for a sample. The unique concept of this "fast-steak" franchise is a metal plate heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius) by an electromagnetic cooker. Raw steaks like chicken or beef with rice and sauces are then placed on the hot plate where it cooks right in front of the customer. Most stressful dinner I've had so far!