Prometheus – A Review

I will preface everything that I’m about to say with the following: don’t worry I’m not going to give away the plot! So please, read on…

As the lights in the theatre gradually began to fill the room with life, I realized that not a single person had moved. For several minutes after the final scene of Prometheus had played out (a startling prequel to Ridley Scott’s favourite genre) people still sat motionless, trying to make sense of what they had just witnessed.  A gentle murmur soon began to fill the air as couples, friends and family members began discussing the two-hour 3D extravaganza.

I remember feeling the same way when I watched Christopher Nolan’s Inception a couple of years ago and funnily my brother echoed my thoughts as we were walking out of the theater. Both films present the audience with a long list of existential questions to ponder and mull over.  Where did we come from? Who made us? What is our role in the creation of life? What moral responsibilities have human beings been entrusted with? What is our fundamental purpose? They are the kind of questions that demand post-screening discussion and could torment you when you fail to figure out the answers that many are so desperately searching for.

And yet, Prometheus is different. In addition to being delectably crafted by one of the greats of the sci-fi genre, it is both a visual and intellectual treat.  Touching on the age-old debate between religion and science, the film catapults us into a future so unreal, so remarkable that we are forced to sit back open-mouthed and take in the beauty of the futuristic world the audience is compelled to become a part of. All the while, Scott has us mulling over our own ideologies, our own personal beliefs and the faith we have. With its themes of spirituality, supernatural forces and the origins of life, it’s no surprise that Prometheus will leave your mind spinning.

The film is fast-paced, engaging and its highlight is undoubtedly the absolutely crackling star cast. Noomi Rapace is a revelation and Michael Fassbender is the perfect foil to her fiery character. Together they carry the film.

If you watch Prometheus with the hope that all your questions will be answered and that all your doubts will be wrapped up in tiny little bows of closure and understanding, then be warned. The film attempts to do no such thing and that’s precisely why I love it. It is without a doubt, a thinking man’s film and like with any form of art, it is open to interpretation. Films like this generally make people uncomfortable and tend to ignite heated discussion. Prometheus does all that and more. Go out and watch it if you haven’t already, it will blow your mind!

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কলকাতার Kahaani – A Review

As the haunting last strains of Ekla Cholo Re lingered in the theatre, I sat there enjoying every note and the feeling of warmth and familiarity that was washing over me and all the other Calcuttans in the room. The sweeping images of Calcutta decked up in all her Pujo finery, the dilapidated buildings of the British Raj, yellow taxi cabs, the seedy underbelly of the black markets and the posh restaurants in Park Street, all subtle reminders of a city that is in a constant state of limbo. Calcutta is as integral a character in the film Kahaani as is Vidya Balan’s Bidya. I’m so glad Sujoy Ghosh set the story here. Too many Hindi films are set in Mumbai and Delhi. In fact, Calcutta has gone unexplored, with the exception of a few films like Parineeta and Yuva that needed a Calcutta backdrop.

From the very beginning, the jagged camera work, the fast paced action and the unpredictable turn of events all indicate that the audience is in for a gripping and gritty thriller. But, Kahaani transcends the normal thrill-a-minute action films that Bollywood is so used to churning out. This film is so much more than the hunt for a missing person, which is ironically another Bollywood stereotype. Kahaani is so much more: what makes Kahaani extra special is that the film precariously toes the line between cinematic liberties and reality. This is such a huge achievement for the team Kahaani, for there are moments in the film where you will forget it is a film and will begin to be engrossed in the story of Bidya Bagchi.

I’m not going to spoil the movie for those of you who have not seen it and besides, there are so many twists and turns that I wouldn’t know how to explain them all.  But you will be happy to know that Sujoy Ghosh keeps the movie exquisitely authentic and unbelievably gripping till the very last scene. You will not find (and thankfully so) a chiffon clad Vidya dancing in the Swiss Alps with ten different costume changes. You will not find the excruciatingly obscene item number and you will not be forced to listen to the minimum number of tracks that a music company needed to fit into the movie to rake in some additional moolah. Kahaani is not one of those films.

Vidya is perfectly dazzling in her execution of what I feel is her best character till date. but it is the buffet of supporting characters that contribute to making the film come alive. Parambrata Chatterjee is perfect as young Rana, who becomes her willing accomplice. In fact his natural charm is the perfect foil for Vidya. My favourite character though is Bob Biswas (actor Saswata Chatterjee), the unflinching and cold hearted hit man masquerading as an LIC agent. And oh! I must not forget the beaming little boy and the ‘running hot water.’

Yes, Kahaani could do with a few less twists and turns and there are one too many sub plots and jigsaw pieces that all eventually do fall into place but, the film remains breathlessly engaging till it’s very last scene which is something not many Hindi films are able to do. So kudos to the team – Kahaani shows that there are still engaging and captivating stories waiting to be told.

Keeping up Appearances

By now, everyone who reads this blog knows of my manic obsession with T.V shows. The obsession began with a little show called ‘Small Wonder’ that I used to watch growing up, I’m positive half of you wouldn’t have even heard of it. Gradually I began to secretly watch the scandalous lives of the famous Forrester family in ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ and before I knew it, I was hooked to every show that was playing on the tele. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s there wasn’t too many genres to choose from, today however, the situation is a lot different.

One of the shows I most loved watching was the British sit-com ‘Keeping up Appearances’. I have such fond memories of sitting with my folks; eating dinner and watching the crazy antics of Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet, mind you!) unfold. It’s a pity that the show doesn’t air anymore, but there are plenty of episodes on You Tube that one can easily download.

For those of you who haven’t watched this show, it tells the story of Hyacinth Bucket, a 50 something British home maker who is constantly trying to move up the social ladder. She keeps persistently telling everyone how expensive everything she owns is and she does everything to her ability so people don’t find out about her middle class family upbringing. She adores her sister Violet, who married a wealthy transvestite and has “a swimming pool, Mercedes, and room for a pony.” But she’ll do anything to hide her bankrupt relatives: her wacked-out father, sloppy romantic sister Daisy (Judy Cornwell) and promiscuous sister Rose (Mary Millar), who has a new boyfriend for every episode. Not to mention Daisy’s couch potato hubby Onslow (Geoffrey Hughes).

‘Keeping up Appearances’ is one of those British comedies most people would pass up based on the description itself. However, passing this classic show up would be a mistake. Inspite of its clichéd jokes and sometimes predictable story lines, it is without a doubt, one of the funniest shows I have ever come across and is by far so much funnier than most of the sitcoms ever made.

It has often been said that typical British comedies are an acquired taste – most people tend to either love them or hate them. Undoubtedly, some shows present a better introduction to this genre than others. ‘Keeping up Appearances’ is probably one of the best examples of a show that offers an excellent initiation into the complicated world of British society.

Today when more than half of the modern world is trying to keep up with the lives and scripted loves of the Kardashians, I strongly recommend that you take a break from the trashy thirty something’s on T.V and allow this dysfunctional T.V family to regale you with clean humor and good old fashioned entertainment!

Simply put, ‘Keeping up Appearances’ is a stroke of genius in sit-com production and I recommend it highly if you’re looking to have a good laugh on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Oscar Obsession

I’m obsessed with the Academy Awards. In fact, I’m obsessed with all kinds of award shows but the Oscars have always held pride of place. I’ve always had this uncanny fondness for the drama that unfolds at the Kodak Theater each year, but have never been able to explain why. It’s quite funny if you come to think of it; the high profile guests arrive in broad daylight wearing the most formal of evening gowns and tuxedos. The presenters and hosts, including some of the world’s most accomplished performers, read their lines off a prompter with the confidence of bumbling teenagers and sometimes make the silliest mistakes in front of the whole world literally! And yet, (like today’s stats show) 44.4 million people tune in, no matter which time zone they’re in, to gape open mouthed as the who’s who of the Hollywood film fraternity make their way to the biggest party of the year!

So on the bus ride home this evening; I tried to figure out where this obsession of mine stems from. What is it about the Oscar’s that has had me captivated from as far back as I can remember? Here’s what I came up with.

You see, I don’t have any secret wishes of being a movie star and I’m under no illusions, my face will hardly sell a film. Neither do I harbor any unfulfilled dream of being involved in the process of making films. Yet, I love watching the entire Oscars telecast, from red carpet to reviews and even love watching those obscure awards like sound editing being given away to nameless, faceless individuals I haven’t even heard about before.

The thing about watching the Academy Awards is that for me, it’s only partially about watching the awards. You see, cinema and the Oscar’s too, are not just about the movies, they also have to do with something more tangible, something special – The stories. The stories that are validated each year are simply riveting and the stories of the lives and loves of those that play out the parts are in themselves inspiring. Imagine the myriad number of lessons one can learn from watching a stalwart like Christopher Plummer lifting a trophy at the age of 82! Now that’s inspirational. For me,  It’s all about  the stories . When we watch the Oscars, the story becomes this grand thing again, because sometimes we forget just how huge our own stories are and how inspirational the live sof those around us can be.

It’s no secret, Im a pop culture addict. I love the glitz, the fashion, the backstage moments, the tensions on the red carpet, the ‘gracious loser faces’ of those whose names are not announced, the rehearsed speeches, the brilliantly humorous ones…I love the whole shebang! But, behind all of that, these popular, accessible movies creates not just entertainment for viewers like me– but also, a longing and a yearning deep within us. In the depths of our being, I believe we all just want our stories to be told. Not for the glory, but for the validation, the recognition and the knowledge that our stories are worth something too. The Oscars accomplish that and how! The Golden statuette is no longer a mere metal shaft but a symbol of inspiration, hope, perspective…and everything life giving.  It is in so many ways a reminder that our stories really do matter!

Modern Family

I’m obsessed with T.V shows and you can read about why that is, in my blog post from last year titled T.V Fanatic or Movie Maniac. (https://sydneydxb.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/t-v-fanatic-or-movie-maniac/ )

Of late, I have been glued to my T.V set watching and re-watching episodes from my current favourite show, Modern Family. If you haven’t yet heard of this delightful series, chances are you don’t watch T.V at all. The show has captivated a global audience and has been sweeping away awards for the last three years. I suggest you download a couple of episodes and give the show a shot – mark my words: You’ll fall in love with it.

So

So why is it that the show has grown in popularity over the last three seasons? Sure, it’s entertaining. It’s funny. And the convoluted circumstances cooked up by the writers and played out by the genius cast are pure perfection. But is that really enough? Or does Modern Family have something that other shows don’t have – Heart? The answer my friends, is YES – Modern Family is all heart. This kind of show cannot be manipulated with and cannot be cut to fill pre-determined sitcom status quos. Modern Family is as real as real can get. People often say, true life is always more interesting than fiction and the great thing about the show is that in its fiction, it manages to strike a chord that’s true in me and in so many of us all over the world.

Family is the most important thing in the world to me and this series about a dysfunctional family that loves each other intensely and passionately has struck a chord with millions like me world over. Like any form of art, the best shows are the ones that you can identify with, the one’s that give you a glimpse of a side of you that you knew existed but couldn’t explain. A good show will leave you feeling like you’ve watched people go through situations and instances just like you face every day. Modern Family does all that and more and the icing on the cake is that it’s so bloody entertaining!

In the larger scheme of things, I know TV shows really don’t matter. But those special little moments in Modern Family are significant to me, and I assume or a lot of other people, especially since the show has reached dizzying heights of success.It gets us right at the heart of things and makes us appreciate the little oddities and eccentricities we all love to hate about our loved ones. In its humor and through its levity it manages to touch us and in the end that is what makes the difference.

The Iron Lady – A Review

Any biopic that has a powerful and charismatic political personality like Margaret Thatcher’s for a protagonist, can never really and truly encapsulate the many achievements or the myriad controversies that are now synonymous with her name. If you walk into a theatre hoping to see a film about Maggie’s political career and the controversies that followed her, you will be disappointed. Instead of attempting to highlight or gloss over significant political milestones, the film (in my opinion) is a beautiful look at the girl, the lady, the wife and the mother behind the callous exterior.

Director Phyllidia Lloyd who earlier directed Streep in Mama Mia, returns with a story that traces Ms. Thatcher’s unplanned and unprecedented rise to political power and the struggles of a woman trying to balance that power alongside her role as wife and mother. The film progresses through a series of flashbacks. From her contemporary life, the film contrasts the once-commanding leader and her historic rise through the ranks to an ill old lady suffering through the painful pangs of dementia.

We first see Ms. Thatcher in a cluttered convenience store, buying milk. The store in itself with its dilapidated interiors and the graffiti and trash on the walls outside is probably a reflection of the times in which Margaret Thatcher found herself. Right from the onset we are introduced to a lady who is no longer in complete control of her mental faculties. The film is really about her life, her ageing and her suffering.Her regular hallucinations serve the dual purpose of highlighting her state of senility as well as the psychological need of a lady desperate to reconnect with a husband who probably had to play second fiddle to a wife who was busy in political power-play for the better part of their married lives. More than being a film about the crude goings on in the corridors of power, the iron lady is for me – a love story.

The Iron Lady interweaves two themes. One is an endearing love story while the other tells of a struggle against the odds – of a young woman following her dreams in a time in history dominated by intimidating and powerful men. It subtly tells of the great personal costs Thatcher had to endure in order to remain at the political forefront for over a decade. Yet she remains committed to her cause to ‘do something’. What she did will always either be appreciated or will be mired in controversy but, this film is not about those decisions. This is not a film about Thatcher’s politics.

Ultimately, The Iron Lady is all about Meryl Streep. She gives a remarkable performance, a celebration of a powerful woman and because of it we are forced to celebrate the achievements of this wonderful actor herself. Over the years Meryl has continued to slip into the skins of great characters and make them come alive on screen. She is a powerhouse both in this film and every other role she has ever played and for that alone, she has my vote for yet another Oscar win.

Levi’s – Selling Us More Than Just Jeans?

There are so many trashy ads on TV these days. The good ones are so rare. The inspirational ones – almost non-existent. Of late however, one ad in particular has been making me stop whatever I am doing in that moment and pay complete attention to the words being spoken in the voice over. Here is the text for the Levi’s®  ‘Go Forth’ campaign. The message is so positive, so encouraging and so unlike other ads that I thought I’d share it with you all. Have a nice day and a great weekend ahead.

Levi’s® Go Forth 2011  (Source: LYBIO.net)

Your life is your life- don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
Be on the watch.
There are ways out.
There is a light somewhere.
It may not be much light but it beats the darkness.
Be on the watch.
The gods will offer you chances.
Know them.
Take them.
You can’t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes.
And the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be.
Your life is your life.
Know it while you have it.
You are marvelous the gods wait to delight in you.