Category Archives: TV & Movies

Art Journal- Movie I’d Love to Live

If I were to choose a movie that I’d like to live through, most definitely it would be You’ve Got Mail. Coffee shops, Christmas, snow, bookstores, New York and a romance full of banter, what could be better? I’d love to be Kathleen Kelly.

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This has to be my favourite quote from the movie, from one of Joe Fox’s emails in the beginning…just the image of a bouquet of pencils is cute as a button 🙂

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Thoughts on The Flash’s “The Runaway Dinosaur”

*Little late because I’m down with the flu*

Okay, so “Rupture” was my absolute favourite episode of the second season along with the Earth 2 episodes, which heightened my expectations for what was to come next. This explains my slight disappointment with”The Runaway Dinosaur”. In my opinion, the episode seemed a lot like a filler, slowing the momentum that has been building over the past couple of episodes. This was my major reason for shaking my fists angrily as the episode unfolded, so my resistance to it has nothing to do with the story. In fact, it would have been perfect mid season or at a time when Barry’s struggle to come to terms with his mother’s death had greater relevance and precedence because it was difficult for me to accept that Barry was struggling with this when it had not been even remotely hinted at in the previous episodes.

Having said all that, this was one hell of an emotional roller coaster. While in the Speed Force, Barry is confronted with painful moments, ultimately reconciling them into loving memories, a transformation that showed just how in touch he is with his emotions. Grant Gustin did a spectacular job with this beat (he cries so naturally that I couldn’t help but cry with him, I mean come on, it breaks your heart.)

That wasn’t the only highlight. Iris was bad ass in this episode, which is a side to her we’ve been wanting to see more of. Her chemistry with everyone is brilliant to watch, especially Cisco (No, you get behind me!). Taking charge with the Girder situation and stepping up to get Barry back from within the Speed Force, she was finally given some good material to work with and  I loved it. Plus, I think I may have a girl crush on Candice Patton.

And we got some more Westallen and I could not be happier (I ship it hard because I never bought the whole sibling-best friend dynamic that the writers kept forcing on us). That scene at Nora’s grave was wonderful in its containment of Barry and Iris’ feelings by ending with a hug rather than a kiss (so  glad there wasn’t a kiss because that would have been so disrespectful given where they were, in my opinion). Barry’s confession was everything (haha), and don’t even get me started on Iris’ little gasp, clutching her chest before hugging him (inner fan girl squealing).

Source: http://collider.com/the-flash-recap-runaway-dinosaur/

So excited to see the last two episodes!

Oscars 2016- Sexual and Gender Variance Films

It’s Oscar season and the #OscarsSoWhite controversy (a very important one) has made this year’s awards ceremony more than just that, calling attention to a much bigger issue of the lack of diversity in the Academy as well as the nominees. However, it’s also worth mentioning that this year two films have called attention to something very important. Sexual and gender variance.

While The Danish Girl is concerned with gender dysphoria and cross gender identification, Spotlight exposes sexual deviance in the form of pedophilia among Catholic priests.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/the-danish-girl/true-story-lili-elbe-transgender/

The Danish Girl tells the story of Lili Elbe, the first to become a transgender woman through a series of risk-ladden surgeries in the early 1900’s. While Eddie Redmayne as Einar/Lili was commendable as was Alicia Vikander, who played his wife Gerda, there was something ineffably missing for me in the film, leaving me with no emotional reaction or connection to it. However, The Danish Girl made me think which is perhaps more important.

Thinking of the risk Einar had taken in order to fully realise Lili’s presence made me question to what extent would you go to be who you really are. It’s terrifying and requires a great deal of courage which Lili demonstrated in a time when there was less understanding of transgender issues.  So The Danish Girl at least works on that level, if not an emotional drama.

Spotlight, however, was the film of the year for me. I was enveloped in the story, having watched it three times in one week. The film portrays the Boston Globe’s investigation on pedophilia among priests and highlights the the fact that, while less common, it is possible for men of religion to abuse their so-called power. When sexually deviant priests molest and abuse children, majority of whom are young boys, not only do they cause psychological damage but they destroy someone’s faith in religion which is inadmissible. This is the one of the most dangerous things because as it was said in the film, how do you say no to God?

Maybe pray you never have to.

I sincerely hope Spotlight wins Best Picture,  having my fingers crossed for it to get it’s well-deserved recognition. Though Revenant is favoured to win big, I hope this film doesn’t get sidelined in the process.

The Flash Review: Speeding through Season 1

With a rapid and viral influx of superhero movies, TV shows and the endless spin-offs, it’s been hard for me to find the ones I actually like. The last one I saw was Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D  and it was not my cup of tea so since then I steered clear of TV superhero adaptations. Yet, I’m glad I didn’t avoid them for too long, because The Flash caught up to me and though I have never liked a spin off in my entire life, this one took me by surprise.

Having just finished the first season, I  may be late in jumping on this band wagon but I’m here for the ride now. Not everyone is though. Someone said to me that it’s predictable in how there’s action and The Flash will always save the day and then there’s some sentimentality thrown in the mix to humanize it but to that I say, welcome to the superhero genre because that’s the formula right there.

However, The Flash is a more fun offering from DC, with great visual effects and action sequences that aren’t mindless flashiness to make up for a contrived plot. That’s what appealed to me the most.  Not only are the sets and the cast brilliant, but the story balances everything pretty well, being enjoyable and serious all at once. Surprisingly, Grant Gustin is great at carrying the show  as an adorkable lead considering tha I first saw him on Glee as the detestable Sebastian Smythe.

Some other people I know who’ve watched the show commented on its unrealistic twists and this I suppose had to do with the time paradox in the second half of the first season, which had the opposite effect on me because I’ve always been fascinated with them. I think the paradox works really well on The Flash. What didn’t work so well was the Grodd story line which was more than unnecessary, in my opinion, and the good thing is that that is pretty much my only major criticism because I am hooked to this show.

Yet, what I liked the most was the diversity on the show and the counter-stereotypes you can see. The captain of Central City Police is a gay Indian, a white kid being fostered by a black family, and then there’s the lovable Cisco Ramone without whom this show wouldn’t have been as humorous. Not only is there no white saviour tripe to roll your eyes at but in terms of parents, fathers are finally given their due. Barry’s relationships with his actual father and Joe, who raises him as his own, are touching and for once, show men having some god damn emotions. Hell, we’ve got a superhero who cries and I like it. Way to challenge the stereotype that ‘real men don’t cry’. Plus, in the love triangle, it’s nice that Eddie and Barry aren’t enemies but rather work together and neither of their characters is portrayed in black and white.

Overall, The Flash deserves a huge thumbs up and if you haven’t watched this show yet, I’d suggest you get right on it. Who knows,you just may binge-watch it in a flash (pardon the pun), just like I did.

Cultural In-Betweenness and Being Indian on ‘Master of None’

In her Emmy speech, Viola Davis had said, “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” The same can be said for stories. They can’t be told without platforms that aren’t there which is why I am glad that Master of None has one because it has a lot to say. Created by comedian Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, this Netflix original series is an episodic vignette of various slices of life. Ansari plays Dev Shah, a 30 year old actor, trying to weave between dating and establishing a career in New York City, figuring it out as he goes along.

The title in itself is quite apt, since Master of None cannot simply be pinned down as anything, instead choosing to dabble in a bit of everything, like someone dipping his or her toes in the pool yet executed with a great deal of skill. What it does manage to master is telling the story of being a millennial, featuring sporadic references to social media (which are not annoying but rather realistic), an interrupted conversation about the singularity and the habit of flaking on people last minute, which I can assure you most of us are guilty of. Not only does it do a good job of capturing the life of the meme generation but it seamlessly assimilates racial and ethnic diversity without drawing attention to the fact and that’s what appealed to me the most.

With each episode acting as a comedic social commentary on various issues, my favourites were the Indian themed ones because they truly resonated with me.

The episode ‘Parents’ focuses on the stories of Dev and his friend Brian’s parents, how they came to America and made a life for themselves so far from home. Ansari even cast his own parents for the roles and the series is genuine in portraying the reality of first generation immigrants. The take away from this episode is that ABCD’s (American Born Confused Desi’s) and other second generation immigrants don’t know all that much about their roots. I think it’s an important point to highlight because with America being a bit of a mixing pot of cultures it’s easy to merge with the dominant one and you see Indian kids being raised there who have no connection or idea about their own culture. Recently an American university student of Indian origin came to our class and as part of her introduction she said she was excited to experience Indian culture which, if I’m being honest, made me cringe at how contrived it sounded. YOU’RE INDIAN.

In Indians on TV, Dev points out to his friend the Indian in Short Circuit 2 is actually a white man with a brown face, saying, “They got a real robot and a fake Indian.” That one line sums up Hollywood’s whitewashing that’s been seen in the case of The Social Network and more recently in The Martian where Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Dr. Vincent Kapoor when the character in the book was actually was written as Dr. Venkat Kapoor.

The simple matter of the fact is that Hollywood rarely ever gets Indians right and it needs to be called out. Either they whitewash Indian roles or they portray ridiculous stereotypes. Just look at Raj from The Big Bang Theory. I’ll never forget his ludicrous joke about the McDonald’s in India serving curry sauce as the special sauce. I can assure they do not. Master of None even points out the racist connotation of the overdone curry jibe when Dev accidentally receives an email referring to him with the racist joke. When his friend, Denise suggests leaking it he launches into an all-too-true rant pointing out the reality of it, saying “People don’t get that fired up about racist Asian or Indian stuff. I feel like the only way to start a brouhaha is if you say something about black people or gay people…” I couldn’t agree more.

This series has given me a lot to think about that I probably wouldn’t have. It’s the little things you deal with so often you forget they’re even an issue.

As an Indian kid born and raised in Canada for half my life and in India for the other half, I can easily relate to the neither-here-nor-there box you’re in when you’re accultured.  On moving to India, I studied in an international school with other NRI’s and OCI’s and it was like a little glass you’re swimming around in  which I’d taken for granted until graduating and going to college where I felt like a bit of a fish out of water.  Even if I looked like I belonged, I certainly didn’t sound like it and my accent had warranted ridicule. I’ve got people asking me why my accent isn’t more ‘Indian’ even after having lived here for 10 years. What does that even mean? I don’t hear anyone asking my Korean friends that though they’ve stayed here just as long. Accents don’t permanently change, people. And not to mention how ridiculous it is for me to have been called a ‘firang’ which is a derogatory term for a caucasian person in Hindi.

So I guess the struggles of cultural in-betweenness don’t just apply to children of immigrants as it does in the show but also to those of us who move back to the homeland. I’ve never spoken much about this except to a friend of mine from New Jersey. He faces the same issue and we’ve turned it into a huge joke ( a mutual defense mechanism of sorts) but is it really as hilarious as we’ve made it out to be? Maybe. Or maybe not.

That’s some food for thought right there and I’m still chewing on it. If you’re interested in taking a bite, go binge-watch Master of None.

Movie Review- Begin Again

Rating: 4/5

If you’re looking for a feel-good movie centred around the magic that is music, then look no further because John Carney’s Begin Again really delivers. This past week, I’ve watched it around three times but before you judge, let me tell you this…it really makes you appreciate music differently (Granted I haven’t seen Once and Begin Again is said to follow along the same lines.)

Begin Again follows the story of a down-on-his-luck record label executive Dan Mulligann (Mark Ruffalo) who discovers an occasional and fiercely independent song writer named Gretta James (Keira Knightley) who’s just broken up with her boyfriend and song-writing partner Dave Kohl (Adam Levine). The two set off to record an outdoor album all around New York City, fixing up some old wounds and tying up loose ends along the way. If you think Dan and Gretta get together, think again. This isn’t a ride-off-into-the-sunset rom-com and I love it. Dan and Gretta’s platonic relationship made the movie what it was and I would have been sorely disappointed if it had become anything slightly romantic.

I think that’s what helped make the characters feel real. Ruffalo pulls off the drunken-mess-sort-of-charm that defines his character and Knightley does well to represent the musical integrity that Dan is looking for, probably wouldn’t have survived without, in fact. Musicians like Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green are welcome to the melange and James Corden is the perfect comedic buffer in a movie of heartbreak and bourbon.

The moments between Dave and Gretta where the music did all the talking and they didn’t have to say a word were some of my favourites. This happens a few times in the film, once in the beginning and again at the end. The best scene, however, is when Gretta and Dan plug in a splitter and listen to the music on her iPod, aptly saying you can tell a lot about a person by the music they listen to (a friend of mine is even doing research on that fact).

Undoubtedly, the soundtrack accounts for most of the film’s appeal. With songs like Lost Stars, Tell Me if You Wanna Go Home, Coming Up Roses, No One Like You and A Higher Place, the soundtrack is undeniably good. Knightley did a decent job for someone who hasn’t sung before and you know it’s not going to disappoint when Levine is on the tracks. I suppose watching how Gretta’s tracks get recorded around New York with no filtering made it even more interesting. I enjoyed the part where the kids are singing ‘hold on hold on’ in ‘Coming Up Roses’ in some alleyway and the entire scene where they play ‘Tell Me if You Wanna Go Home’ on the rooftop with the city lights in the backdrop. Magic.

Ultimately, the movie makes me want to stroll down the street listening to my favourite playlist or cycle through the streets pondering about life and that feeling is what makes me want to revisit the movie time and again. Just watch the movie and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

(Oh and on a completely unrelated note, I would also like to steal Keira Knightley’s entire wardrobe from the film.)

Thoughts on Game of Thrones: The Dance of Dragons

Warning: Spoilers and honest opinion ahead

Frankly, season 5 of GoT hasn’t been my favourite although that isn’t to say it hasn’t shocked me, especially episode 9. Here’s my take on it:

1. I am absolutely disinterested in Arya’s storyline this season, although there’s a blip in my curiosity now that Ser Meryn Trant has come to Bravos. Finally, I feel like she’s going to do something interesting.

2. Shireen’s death seemed to alert everyone to how cruel and sadistic Stannis can be but I always felt that was apparent. It wasn’t as if he suddenly started making fanatical religious sacrifices to the God of Light. He’d burned many before his daughter and killed his own brother in a dishonorable way( I really liked Renly). He’s wrapped around Melisandre’s twisted fingers and is willing to do anything to win besides actually fighting his battles and conquering. I don’t know why Stannis was ever the Mannis when all he ever did was sacrifice others to further his cause instead of dealing with it head on. Also, that glimmer of love he seemed to have for Shireen conflicts with his actions in ways I can’t seem to reconcile. Selyse surprised me too.

3. Why sacrifice another female character (Shireen) to further a male character’s development(Stannis)? It’s already been done this season with Sansa and Ramsey. Though Sansa’s rape wasn’t out of the ordinary what with all the rape and violence on GoT, it felt unnecessary. At this rate, I expect every female charcter to be brutalized at some point or the other. Come up with something else to cook up drama.

4. I feel terrible for Davos and wonder how he’ll react to Shireen’s death. Their relationship was one of the few heart warming one’s in this brutally cold TV show.

5. I was terrified that Jorah would die and for once, I was not made to mourn yet another of my favourite characters (they’re really dwindling now). But he’s still going to die of grayscale 😦

6. I feel disappointed that after such a great stint as Hand of the King and being a very interesting character, Tyrion has blanched this season into a gift being shipped across the sea, getting lost somewhere along the way but then finally reaching the recipient. Season 3 and 4 Tyrion was my favourite and I want him back. But I do like how he’s fighting a bit more. Go Tyrion.

7. Drogon and Dany flying off with Tyrion. Daario, Jorah and Mellisandei watching was a great way to end the show. It gave me goosebumps. Brilliant. (Although, Dany maybe you should give your friends a lift too?)

Why Kyoukai no Rinne is Worth Watching

From the creator of InuYasha and Ranma 1/2 comes Kyoukai no Rinne, an anime/manga about a girl named Sakura who is able to see spirits and ghosts and a boy named Rinne, of human and shinigami heritage, who aids lingering spirits pass on from this world to be reincarnated. Airing from April 2015, there’s only 9 episodes out but this series is definitely one to watch and wait for.

If the name Rumiko Takahashi wasn’t enough to convince you then here are some other reasons why you should watch it:

InuYasha Nostalgia

Look familiar?

If, like me, you are reminiscent of InuYasha, you’ll easily find similarities between the characters. InuYasha and Rinne are half human boys who can travel across worlds and wield gigantic weapons in battle while Kagome and Sakura are kind high school students with the ability to see what others cannot( sacred jewel shards and ghosts). If you read the manga you may even see how the male and female protagonist of each series have similar facial features.

The Rinne equivalent of Shippo/Kirara happens to be a cat named Rokumon ( who is adorable and quite unlike Shippo in terms of arrogance). There’s also a love triangle.

Uniqueness

Yet despite these similarities, Rinne stands out on its own. While the characters may be rehashed, they’re not carbon copies either. Rinne’s patience and level-headed nature make him an interesting character. His relationship with Rokumon is lovely to watch. It’s also nice to see how Rinne and Sakura start off platonic and their love story isn’t too palpable.

Spin on Japanese culture

File:Rokumon.jpg

The series revolves around Japanese culture pertaining to ghosts and the afterlife. Up until watching Kyoukai no Rinne, I used to always picture shinigami looking like Ryuk from Death Note. The concept of samsara or circle of reincarnation, wherein we are all continuously being reincarnated in a cycle of existence, is interesting. Not to mention, the contract between black cats and shinigami!

Humour

Don’t expect the depth of InuYasha but rather relish the episodic adventures of Rokudou, Sakura and Rokumon involving ghosts and spirits. Kyoukai no Rinne is a humourous and light series, making it refreshing to watch while taking a break from, well, life. One of the funny things about the anime is Rinne’s money woes. The poor guy can’t catch a break and it makes me both laugh and feel for him. Yet despite being constantly ailed by financial worries, he’s not at all a Scrooge. Those moments when he forgets about the money and does what’s right show how endearing and admirable he is. Adding to the comedy is the sheer randomness!

Yes, that’s a huge chihuahua spirit.

Music

The opening and ending themes are nostalgic of 90’s anime which I love. You’ve got to appreciate when songs just click with animes. Even more so when they click with you.

Anime Please

So I’ve watched every little bit of InuYasha this KagoMay and am in dire need of more anime to watch! I suppose I’m a bit hungover on the series (the feels hit hard). I’ve already seen Death Note and am primarily interested in shounen (Sadly an old friend who loves anime watches mostly shoujo and gave me all of it so I’m set in terms of that).

I’ve got a list of anime I plan to watch but would love to add to it, so if you’ve got suggestions I’d love to hear them.

  • A Certain Magical Index
  • Soul Eater
  • Attack on Titan
  • Kill la kill
  • Pandora Hearts
  • One Piece
  • Future Diary
  • Berserk
  • Claymore
  • Darker than Black
  • Fate/Zero
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Kyoukai no Rinne

Manga suggestions also welcome! Help a girl out!