Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Spirited Away

I've been drawn to anything and everything Japanese for a while now. It started with Made in Japan by Akio Morita, followed by Jiro dreams of Sushi and a book about Hello Kitty. And the latest entrant: Spirited Away.

If you plan on watching it, watch it in HD with English sub titles. The English dubbed version loses the charm and the natural flow of the original movie.

I was mesmerized by the trembling cellophane that the flowers were wrapped in. Yes, cellophane paper cast a spell on me. Spirited Away follows Chihiro in her journey through a strange land in search of her parents. The graphics are utterly beautiful, drawn in incredible detail. You can feel yourself shudder as the wispy spirits pass by Chihiro on the bridge.

There's a lot to say about the spirits! They're creepy, definitely. Their creepiness lies in their inscrutability. Their bland faces don't reveal much, it's hard to decide whether to trust them or not. The strangest Spirit is No Face, who Chihiro keeps encountering. No Face has a mask and is cloaked in wispy blackness and simply stares at Chihiro from time to time. Cue creepy music.

Chihiro meets Haku, a boy of her age, who acts like a guide. You don't realize till the end that they're in love with each other. It's a beautiful kind of love, where they don't adhere to the standard holding hands and romancing stuff. They just do stuff for each other.

Spirited Away portrays greed, love, sacrifice, loneliness and goodness through Chihiro and the various characters she encounters in this dreamy journey. Not only is it a visual delight, it's a feast for all the senses! The music and the background score up the magic quotient. Keep your tissues handy!

Sunday, July 12, 2015


What's yellow, pill-shaped and talks gibberish?
No, not your 4 year old niece in a minion costume. Sheesh!

Minions! Everyone loves 'em. They're cute. They make you laugh with their minion-talk, a language which vaguely sounds like a 'proper' language and then you realize they're just messing with ya.

It made me realize that 'banana' is such a weird word. Ba-na-na.

To begin with, I wasn't expecting much from the movie, the movie would probably just cash in on their cuteness and funny gibberish and add a bunch of gags. Which was pretty much true.

My movie-watching experience was sullied by the presence of an audience. I had to ignore the stranger who kept repeating whatever the minions said. I was chastised by the guy on my right for checking my phone. The guy to my left offered me his business card which had an 'O' emblazoned on it in red and the other side read "We specialize in Feet. And Potatoes". Remind me to never set foot in that theater again.

So here's how the movie goes: a bunch of minions on the search for their evil leader. Behold Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), their new Evil leader! The minions' new assignment: Steal the crown from the Queen of England for Scarlet. Things go awry when Bob pulls out the Excalibur and is crowned as King of England! Scarlet is enraged at this betrayal and strives for revenge. Bob eventually abdicates in favor of Scarlet. Then stuff happens and the Queen reclaims her Crown. Pepper this with a bunch of funny scenes.

Watching it in 3D didn't add any value to the movie. Sure, the glitter looked real, some things popped out of the screen. Nothing special.

It's hard to imagine the minions carrying the weight of an entire movie on their yellow, pudgy shoulders. The movie flounders in parts where the yellow buggers are without a non-minion counterpart. It made me yearn for Gru and his three adorable daughters.

I missed you Agnes.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road


I've never watched a movie in the theater by myself. But this week, I was filled with a strange sense of rage and loser-feelings. I was convinced that I had zero friends because I could get none of them to hang out with me. And when some friends would make plans, I'd refuse them because the neurons in my brain would defuse and pop and crackle and send signals to headquarters and then it would make my vocal chords emit something that sounded like "NO".

So here began my quest for:
Things To Do When You Have No Friends.

"Go watch a movie alone!" was a common theme among the results that popped up as I Googled it.

Here's the conversation between me and My Inner Self Filled With Rage Due to Loser Feelings.

Me: Watch a movie in the theater all by myself?? That's such a loser thing to do!
My Inner Self Filled With Rage Due to Loser Feelings: Do you mean to say that you aren't a loser?
Me: Well, I am a loser. But that doesn't mean that I should do loser things!
MISFWRDLF: You're a fucking loser and I hereby order you to do loser things. In fact I'm making a list of loser things I want you to do. Googling "List of loser things" didn't yield the results I wanted but I know I'll get there.
Me: Hmmm
MISFWRDLF: Don't "Hmmm" me! Losers Hmmm! Oh, wait. Do that. Let me add that to my Loser List. Wait, what were we talking about?
Me: Watching a movie.
MISFWRDLF: Yeah, go watch that movie or I'll pick some stupid brain-dead Hindi crap and make you watch it.
Me: Please don't do that. I'll go watch a movie in the theater.
MISFWRDLF: Good. Go do your loser stuff, you loser.

So there I was, with my 3D glasses, marinating in my loser feelings. Watching Mad Max.


Proceed with caution: Because spoilers. But no loser feelings anymore. They're there but not ahead in this post.

Mad Max. Mad Max! Here I was, a lone woman, scanning the crowd. Mostly male, with a sprinkling of girls who were accompanying their boyfriends.

I was reveling in the strangeness of it, I hate action. I hate desert scenes.  And here I was, watching a post apocalyptic action movie set in a dusty, gritty desert-like landscape.

The plot is fairly straightforward. The story feels organic, the series of events progress naturally. Somehow, even the weirdness woven in seems natural. Mad Max being used as a "Blood Bag" for Vux, a white-hued weird character who is a "War Boy" doesn't seem strange in this land. The director George Miller doesn't use the standard Hollywood action movie trope. There are no damsels in distress, nor is a hero out to save her (Can one call the five wives of bad guy "Immortan Joe" as damsels in distress if the hero is female? Can one call them damsels if they're actively trying to escape from Joe's clutches?) No explicit "message". No eye candy. Well, the five wives sure are pretty to look at, but they're bad-ass too.

Another surprise: Mad Max wasn't about Mad Max at all. Max was simply the guy who said very little (well, everyone in the movie ration their words) barring for grunts. It should have been called Ferocious Feminist (gasp! I used the F-word!) Furiosa or something.

The thumping metal rock background score definitely deserves a mention. To call it a background score would be wrong, though. There was a guy with a flame-throwing guitar, suspended to a contraption embedded with amplifiers. And drums as accompaniment. Because every warring maniac needs a travelling rock band with guitar flame-throwers to get the adrenaline pumping. Of course.

The dusty, gritty landscape was a sight to behold. Delicious, chewy grit. Mmmm.

And of course, the mad machines! As eccentric and weird as the drivers themselves! Rickety, yet mean and powerful. Every scene was a fight scene. My favorite was when the War Boys are attached to the end of javelin-like structures, balanced with a weight on the other end so that they can swoop down on the enemy. Like bait at the end of a fishing rod. Bait that's going to beat the crap out of you.

Oh what a day. What a lovely day to watch this movie.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

In Bad Taste

Do we always have to be tasteful? Do we really need to be well turned out, in impeccable clothes?
This quote by Diana Vreeland got me thinking:

“A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”

Remember Björk's swan dress?
A photo posted by Vanity Fair (@vanityfair) on

A HUGE dose of paprika, perhaps. But look where the dress landed, at MoMA, one of the most influential museums of modern art in the world. Does that elevate it to the status of good taste? Perhaps not.

But one should remember this, every Björk swan has it's day.

Also, paprika. And stuff.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Internet Cat Phenomenon

Internet cats.

"Woke up like this"

Why is the internet still obsessed with cats. I thought the cat meme/ picture/ video/ vine thing would die its natural death and the internet would move on to the next new thing. But Grumpy Cat is proof enough that the Internet Cat Phenomenon is still a thing.

A photo posted by Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat) on

Are cats the new celebrities with their narcissistic tendencies and love for the camera? Are we going back to the times when Egyptians used to worship cats?

 Over to you, Wiki
Praised for controlling vermin and its ability to kill snakes such as cobras, the domesticated cat became a symbol of grace and poise. The goddess Mafdet, the deification of justice and execution, was a lion-headed goddess. The cat goddess Bast (also known as Bastet) eventually replaced Mafdet, and Bast's image softened over time and she became the deity representing protection, fertility, and motherhood.
That makes sense. Cats were useful creatures, killing snakes and vermin and keeping your house pest-free. But we don't have that problem now, we have pest control to take care of that!

Now that the Ancient Egypt Cat Goddess angle has been eliminated, what could be the reason behind our obsession with Internet Cats? Why are cats breaking the internet?

Breaking the internet. That reminds me of Kim Kardashian, another enigma. Nope, that's not it. Cats don't name their kid after a direction.

It has something to do with celebrities. I know it.

What do cats have that celebrities don't? A sense of mystery, that's what. We're bombarded with celebrity news. We follow them on social media. We know what Neil Patrick Harris eats.

A photo posted by Neil Patrick Harris (@instagranph) on

Cats. The new celebrities who want nothing to do with humans and will never share pictures of cat food (mainly due to lack of opposable thumbs)

Humans. Hungry for sources of social rejection. Suckers for 'mystery' and stuff.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Empowerment of Women. This video, apparently. Judge for yourself.

All I can see is juvenile teenage rebellion. It doesn't talk about empowering women. The way one dresses, who one chooses to sleep with (or not): in no way are these signs of empowerment. One may argue that this is a video produced by Vogue, a lifestyle and fashion magazine, and that one shouldn't expect it to handle heavy issues like liberation for women. If such is the case, shame on Vogue for packaging this crap as a "Women's Empowerment" video and misleading the viewers.

Fashion has nothing to do with empowerment! Or does it.

What is empowerment, really? It's all about being stronger and confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.

Here are some ladies in fashion:

1. Alek Wek
    She's been an inspiration to countless women (including Lupita Nyong'o) who've been                     uncomfortable in their own skin. Not considered a conventional beauty with her dark skin, tiny booty and short natural hair; yet she has never thought of herself as otherwise. Read her interview here.

2. Winnie Harlow
     The model with vitiligo. She's been bullied and ridiculed, but that didn't stop her from proving her naysayers wrong. This teenager now models for top fashion brands.
A photo posted by ♔Chantelle Winnie♔ (@winnieharlow) on

There are many more inspirational women from all walks of life. 

Sure, the Vogue video featured shots of Nimrat Kaur, Adhuna Akhtar and Anupama Chopra to name a few. But they were merely extras in the movie, disjointed from the nonsense commentary. I'd prefer something which actually touches upon the subject, not this well-produced piece of white noise.


Monday, March 2, 2015

I'm not a 10 year old boy but I like Adventure Time

I'm not a 10 year old boy who likes Cartoon Network and video games. Wait, do 10 year old boys like Cartoon Network? Have they moved on to girls? I don't know what 10 year old boys like. I don't think I know any 10 year old boys. What age are my nephews? I don't know. There's so much I don't know!!!

So, Adventure Time. I'm a 24 year old, er, woman and I like Adventure Time. I'm a fan. I might even write fan fic.

My favorite episode, you ask? Jake the Brick. Poignant, simple and turns my heart into a warm smushy puddle.

Don't let the boring preview fool you, sit back and watch the episode in its entirety to turn your heart into a warm smushy puddle too!

This episode has almost every Adventure Time character listening in on Jake's monologue of the goings on in the wild, where he affixes himself onto a crumbling brick shack as a part of his "mystical journey or whatever" as Finn puts it. It doesn't have any awesome fights or adventures, it's quite the opposite of standard Adventure Time fare. Maybe that's the reason I love it so much.

I wish I could watch AT with some kid. A neighbor's daughter dropped by and all she wanted to watch was Oggy and the Cockroaches!! I tried to convince her to watch AT, but Oggy is all she wanted. 4 year old girls can be so stubborn.