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.