evenxlarge “Seven Pounds,” which reunites Will Smith with Gabriele Muccino (who directed him in “The Pursuit of Happyness ), begins with a series of riddling, chronologically scrambled scenes. A man calls 911 to report his own suicide. He badgers a blind call-center employee — whom we suspect will be a significant character, since he’s played by Woody Harrelson — with complaints and insults. He embraces a lovely woman in an even lovelier beach house. He visits a nursing home where he terrorizes an administrator and comforts a resident.

For a while it is pleasant enough to contemplate these loose ends, and to tease from them the possible contours of a story. It is never unpleasant to watch Mr. Smith, who likes to play peekaboo with his charm, hiding it now and then behind fleeting shadows of anguish or malice. The music (Angelo Milli’s score and a handful of emotive pop songs) combines with the deep colors of Philippe Le Sourd’s cinematography to summon up intensities of sentiment not yet arrived at by the narrative, creating an interesting frisson of suspense. After a while, though, as the pieces of the puzzle snap together, curiosity gives way to incredulity.

Near the end of “Seven Pounds” a carefully laminated piece of paper appears, on which someone has written, “DO NOT TOUCH THE JELLYFISH.” I wouldn’t dream of it, and I’ll take the message as a warning not to divulge the astonishing things that happen, not all of them involving aquatic creatures.

Frankly, though, I don’t see how any review could really spoil what may be among the most transcendently, eye-poppingly, call-your-friend-ranting-in-the-middle-of-the-night-just-to-go-over-it-one-more-time crazily awful motion pictures ever made. I would tell you to go out and see it for yourself, but you might take that as a recommendation rather than a plea for corroboration. Did I really see what I thought I saw?

And I wish I could spell out just what that was, but you wouldn’t believe me, and the people at Sony might not invite me to any more screenings. So instead of spelling out what happens in “Seven Pounds,” I’ll just pluck a few key words and phrases from my notes, and arrange them in the kind of artful disorder Mr. Muccino seems to favor (feel free to start crying any time):

Eggplant parmesan. Printing press. Lung. Bone marrow. Eye transplant. Rosario Dawson. Great Dane. Banana peel. Jellyfish (but you knew that already). Car accident. Congestive heart failure.

Huh? What the … ? Hang on. What’s he doing? Why? Who does he think he is? Jesus! That last, by the way, is not an exclamation of shock but rather an answer to the preceding question, posed with reference to Mr. Smith. Lately he has taken so eagerly to roles predicated on heroism and world-saving self-sacrifice — see “I Am Legend” and “Hancock” — that you may wonder if he has a messiah clause in his contract. Which is not to say that he doesn’t show range in these films, in which he credibly plays a research scientist, a dissolute superhero and, in this latest one, an I.R.S. agent.

An I.R.S. agent who wants only to help people. This is a nice, small joke that provides a few grace notes of levity in what is otherwise a lugubrious exercise in spiritual bushwa. For all its pious, earnest air, “Seven Pounds” cries out to be remade as an Asian horror movie, so that the deep, creepy grotesqueness of its governing premise might be allowed to flourish, rather than to fester beneath the surface.

As it is, the movie is basically an inverted, twisted tale of revenge. Ben Thomas, Mr. Smith’s character, is in essence a benevolent vigilante, harassing, stalking and spying on unsuspecting citizens for their own good, and also to punish himself. Why such misery should also be inflicted on an innocent, affirmation-hungry audience — and also on the marvelous Ms. Dawson, who plays one of Ben’s victim-beneficiaries — is another matter entirely.

But maybe I’m approaching this in the wrong way. Maybe “Seven Pounds” isn’t a spiritual parable about redemption or forgiveness or salvation or whatever, but rather a collection of practical lessons. Don’t drive while using a BlackBerry. Fertilize your rose bushes with banana peels — sorry, that was a spoiler. But please, whatever you do, don’t touch the jellyfish.

I’m serious. Don’t.

“Seven Pounds” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Swearing. Soulful sex by candlelight. Car accident. Eggplant parmesan.

SEVEN POUNDS

Directed by Gabriele Muccino; written by Grant Nieporte; director of photography, Philippe Le Sourd; edited by Hughes Winborne; music by Angelo Milli; production designer, J. Michael Riva; produced by Todd Black, James Lassiter, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch and Will Smith; released by Columbia Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes.

WITH: Will Smith (Ben Thomas),  Rosario Dawson(Emily Posa),Woody Harrelson (Ezra), Barry Pepper (Dan) and Michael Ealy (Ben’s Brother).

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Christmas and New Year beach parties in tourist resorts in the Indian state of Goa have been banned because of security concerns, say the authorities.

No specific details have been given but officials said there was “obviously” a security threat.

The decision follows the attacks in Mumbai last month in which more than 170 people were killed.

The ban will be a major blow to Goa, which relies on the thousands of tourists attending the famous parties.

“Taking into consideration all the aspects, we have decided that beach parties would not be allowed from December 23 to January 5,” Goa chief minister Digamber Kamat told reporters.

He said traditional ceremonies and parties being held in hotels will be unaffected.

Kishan Kumar, Goa’s police inspector general, told Reuters: “Obviously there is a security threat, but we cannot say anything more specific at the moment”.

Security has been tightened around India’s coast following the attacks in November and several foreign governments have advised their citizens against travel to the country.

Goa business leaders said tourism was a “lifeline” and the decision would seriously affect trade.

ehlmann1hr

Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has finally spotted rocks on the Red Planet that bear carbonate minerals.

The ingredients needed to make the rocks are very evident, so their absence had been a major puzzle.

One theory to explain the omission is the idea that water on Mars has been too acidic to allow carbonates.

The rocks’ identification now shows these harsh waters have not dominated all parts of Mars – and that is good news for the search for life.

“You want to get an environment that is basically as clement as possible, that’s not difficult to live in,” explained Bethany Ehlmann from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

“It’s difficult to live in a highly acidic environment; it’s difficult to live in a very salty environment. If you have neutral waters then that presents a less difficult environment for microbial life,” she told BBC News.

Weathered rocks

Ehlmann and colleagues have been detailing the discovery here at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting 2008. A paper explaining their findings is also being published in the journal Science.

The carbonate minerals were detected in a mid-latitude region called Nili Fossae, on the western edge of the Isidis impact basin.

The landscape viewed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is believed to have formed more than 3.6 billion years ago.

Carbonates are produced in the weathering process that sees water with dissolved carbon dioxide re-fashion the original chemistry of rocks. The carbonates – in this case, magnesium carbonate – precipitate out of solution.

On Earth, carbonates are usually associated with great marine sediments like limestone and chalk; although the scientists here stressed the Martian carbonates would look nothing like that.

Life hunt

Previous data from orbiting spacecraft and from the robot rovers on the surface of Mars has revealed salt-rich, acidic waters affected much of the planet in more modern times.

Given that carbonates dissolve quickly in low pH solutions, it is possible that many large carbonate formations created on early Mars may simply have disappeared; and this could explain why it has taken so long to find a carbonate signature.

But the MRO discovery shows that some areas of the Red Planet must have been untouched by these harsher conditions. That makes Nili Fossae an interesting place for future Mars missions to explore.

“If you preserve carbonates on the surface then you know carbon-bearing compounds can survive in some environments on the planet,” said Richard Zurek, the project scientist on MRO.

“That means there are some places we can go and look for evidence for past life – if it ever existed.”

Interestingly, Nili Fossae lost out in the site selection contest to choose the landing location of the next Nasa rover, called the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL).

The vehicle’s launch recently slipped from 2009 to 2011 and the scientists at AGU said it was possible the contest outcome could now be reviewed. However, they also said there would be other opportunities to visit Nili Fossae.

“MSL is not the last lander that we intend to send to the planet. With this diversity of environments, there are many places to explore,” said Dr Zurek.

rg_huss

Swiss glaciers are melting away at an accelerating rate and many will vanish this century if climate projections are correct, two new studies suggest.

One assessment found that some 10 cubic km of ice have been lost from 1,500 glaciers over the past nine years.

The other study, based on a sample of 30 representative glaciers, indicates the group’s members are now losing a metre of thickness every year.

Both pieces of work come out of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

“The trend is negative, but what we see is that the trend is also steepening,” said Matthias Huss from the Zurich university’s Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology.

“Glaciers are starting to lose mass increasingly fast,” he told BBC News.

The retreat is being driven largely by longer melting seasons. The other key factor in glacier health – the amount of winter snowfall to replace ice melt – shows no long-term changes.

The two studies are being presented here at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, the world’s largest annual gathering of Earth scientists.

They are not the first to assess the status of Swiss glaciers but few others can match their scope.

Summer heatwave

In one, Daniel Farinotti and his team tried to assess the total volume of ice in Swiss glaciers -1,500 of them, from the mighty Aletschgletscher (the largest glacier in the Alps) to small ice fields that cover less than three square km.

The research used direct measurements where available, and combined this with modelling to estimate ice volumes for areas that are data-deficient.

The assessment found a total ice volume present in the Swiss Alps of about 75 cubic km by the year 1999 (a baseline for the purpose of the study). It is a bigger figure than previously thought.

“However, 1999 is quite some time ago now, so what we did was try to calculate the volume lost since this baseline; and we estimate a figure of 13% – from 1999 to today,” explained Mr Farinotti.

For 2003, remembered for its strong heatwave across Europe, the team estimates that 3-4% of the volume in Switzerland at that time was lost in that one year alone.

Mr Farinotti said his study highlighted the importance of the largest glaciers as ice reservoirs: more than 80% of the total ice volume is stored in the 50 largest glaciers.

“Aletschgletscher, for example, has about 12% of the area of Swiss glaciers but it contains about a quarter of all ice that is present in Switzerland,” he told BBC News.

“What really matters is how much ice we have in the big glaciers, because the small ones will disappear; that seems clear. For them, it’s just a matter of years. But in glaciers like Aletsch that have a lot of ice, they will be around for decades.”

THE DECLINE OF FOUR SWISS GLACIERS SINCE 1860
Four Swiss glaciers (BBC)
The four glaciers here represent a range of types, sizes, locations, and climatic zones. The assessment has now been extended to 30 glaciers
Area covered by the glaciers – Aletsch: 83.01sq km; Rhone: 16.45sq km; Gries: 5.26sq km; Silvretta: 2.89sq km
Distinct phases of growth (I & III) and strong ice loss (II & IV) are seen within an overall trend for the period which is negative
The cumulative mass balance is given in “metres of water equivalent”. Essentially, it records the net thickness change of the glaciers
Thickness change over the entire period – Aletsch: -65m; Rhone: -43m; Gries: -97m; Silvretta: -35m

The study by Mr Huss and his team takes a slightly different approach. It considers just a key group of 30 glaciers, representing all sizes, types, and locations.

Again, using a mixture of direct data and modelling, the scientists analysed the mass trends from 1900 to 2007.

Over this period, there is a significant negative trend. It is not linear, however. There are two distinct phases when glaciers gained mass, and even a phase in the 1940s when the glaciers lost mass faster than they do now.

But in general, over the period, there is a retreat; and in the last 30-50 years, the shrinkage has accelerated.

Mr Huss has applied future climate projections to the 10km-long Rhone Glacier, which in Swiss terms is mid-sized.

“Rhone Glacier will have almost gone in 100 years,” said Mr Huss.

“It first retreats not very fast, until about 2050. Then, it retreats really quite fast. It means that most glaciers, the smaller ones, will have disappeared by the end of this century.”

Switzerland’s glaciers are iconic but their shrinkage is more than just an issue for the tourists with their cameras; their loss would have profound ecosystem and economic consequences.

“Glaciers store the water in winter and release it in the summer when it is dry and warm when there is more need for water,” added Mr Huss.

“And they can also store it in the wet and cold years and release it in the hot and warm years. That’s an important reservoir.

“In the south-western part of Switzerland, almost all run-off water from glaciers is temporarily stored and used for electricity production. More than half the electricity consumed in Switzerland is produced from hydropower.”

The Huss-led research builds on work published in the Journal of Geophysical Research this year. The Farinotti-led research has been submitted to the Journals of Glaciology, and the Journal of Global and Planetary Change.

rab-ne-ban-di-jodiThere hasn’t been such a soothing title in Bollywood for ages. Aditya Chopra has made a movie with his “ghar ka beta” Shahrukh. You do not need reasons to watch a Shahrukh movie. I didn’t waste time searching for one…I was present at the first show….

PLOT and CAST:

A common man who knows the value of love but has his own ways of expressing it tries to win the heart of his better half. No! It’s not old wine in a new bottle. Shahrukh excels as Surinder Sahni. A common man working for Punjab Power Ltd, who longs for love from his better half, and even enjoys love in the lunch box she packs for his work.

The new comer Anushka is promising. She is quite a treat to the eyes to be honest (both her looks and performance). She was on par with the Bollywood King. Be it the initial aversions or the later intimacies. She dances quite well and emotes perfectly.

Vinay Pathak does his job fantastically as a fellow pal of Surinder. The comedy element hits the bulls eye when they both share the screen. He plays quite a vital role in helping Suri to do things to win Taani’s love…..

BRILLIANCES:

Writer-Director – Aditya perfectly blends sentiments and bubbly sequences. I wonder how this guy’s story telling ability is still the same even after a gap of 9 years. (Mohabbatein was his last). Honestly, I never felt bored at any part of the movie, which is the most difficult part in today’s film making. Neither the star cast over-acted nor the story lacked pace. Kudos to the director.

Music….To me, something that really goes well with the movie and perfectly highlights the happy and sad moments is good music….It is superlative in that sense for this movie…Best…..Haule Haule is the pick of the lot and comes at a perfect timing….True for any Yash movie, this serves the BGM for the first half….”Tuj me Rab diktha hai” is the next best that serves the purpose during second half….All the other songs are not speed breakers but catalysts for the pace of the movie….

Cinematography…Its none other than Ravi K Chandran…..perfectly shoots the Amritsar Golden Temple sequences and the nuances of a middle class household. The top angle shots and rotating sequences are trade marks of the director….The cameraman has done a splendid job and given what the director wanted….

NEGATIVES:

Only negative I see in this movie is the obvious plot. So what?? Love is still love after so many decades of romantic films….”And they lived happily ever after” is the ending of 99 percent of the movies….If you start guessing what’s going to happen in a thriller then you lose the total adrenaline shakes….Similarly in a Shahrukh movie you if you start moaning about the repetitive BGM’s and cheesy dialogues then you should stay away from it. It’s always watchable if its done by Shahrukh….That’s the thumb rule for Bollywood…

yuvraj-dravid

New Delhi: In Mohali two men will have a contrasting view of the future after what happened in Chennai. Yuvraj Singh proved that he belonged to the Test arena but Rahul Dravid failed to overcome the ghosts of an unusually long run of failure and now faces an uncertain future.

For Yuvraj his unbeaten 84 on Monday was a moment of reckoning. He joined his childhood idol Sachin Tendulkar with the target still 163 runs away and victory rested on how well he supported his mentor. The southpaw passed the test and when they walked off the park, Yuvraj Singh knew he had been part of an unique moment.

“I thought if I could ever win a Test match with him (Sachin Tendulkar) and today that dream has come true,” said Yuvraj after India won by six wickets against England.

However, on the other side of the coin is the conundrum surrounding Rahul Dravid’s poor run of form; it has now become more than a passing headache.

He averages less than 30 this year in Tests but even if many believe his time has passed, his team continues to support the once formidable “Wall.”

“Whatever people are saying about Rahul, is not worrying any of us. He is a great player and he will definitely score runs,” stated Tendulkar.

But will Dravid repay that support. The selectors have reportedly assured Dravid, that his place is under no immediate threat although there may be a chance in his batting position. It’s a move that many experts support.

“I would have him bat at number five. I will make him swap places with VVS Laxman and I will pick him for Mohali,” Sunil Gavaskar told CNN-IBN.

So come Mohali, these two men face their own unique challenge. One to build on a reputation and the other to salvage lost pride.

jeff

BUFFALO, N.Y. – After years of chasing the gold that had eluded him his entire career, Jeff Hardy  defied the odds at Armageddon, winning the Triple Threat Match against Edge and Triple H to become the new WWE Champion – his first World Title.

In a hard-fought battle full of power from The Game, grit from the former champion Edge, and high-flying, fast-paced action from Hardy, it was the involvement of one of Hardy’s rivals, Vladimir Kozlov, and his own brother, Matt Hardy, that inadvertently helped him capture the title. When Kozlov interfered and pulled Triple H out of the ring, all hell broke loose, and in the end, after Matt rid the ringside area of Kozlov, The Game nailed Edge with a Pedigree – virtually sealing another golden win for himself. But Jeff ascended the top rope and delivered a career-changing Swanton Bomb to earn the victory and the gold.

While Jeff had heard over the past few months from the likes of   SmackDown GM Vickie Guerrero, Triple H and even Edge that he could never win the big one, Hardy proved all the doubters wrong in front of the raucous WWE Universe in Buffalo – all who stood and cheered in approval of Jeff’s historic win.

Jeff and his brother,ECW  Champion Matt Hardy, have made history, as both are World Champions at the same time, cementing their legacies during their tenures in WWE, and putting an exclamation point on their seven World Tag Team Title reigns.