Family Guy

Family Guy: a show about a family of five and their dog. It all looks normal on the surface but as soon as you peel the layers off what you find is toilet humor and an environment where getting humiliated seems to be the most regular thing, ever. It’s ordinary-meets-funny and that’s what I have always found oddly compelling about the show. Its eccentricity doesn’t just spill over into a territory which is implausible – Family Guy, I find, wonderfully instead just simply takes the most ordinary of family episodes (and conversations) and turns it upside down for laughs.

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Kikyo

A priestess, who meets tragedy because she had begun to trust a half-demon – there is more to Kikyo than meets the eye

Kikyo is a perplexing character in the anime Inuyasha. Much of Kikyo’s life, in my point of view, is cut really short because of the sudden love affair that Kikyo has with Inuyasha.

The love affair between Inuyasha and Kikyo is based on the fact that they have both had to lead very difficult lives in Japanese society – Inuyasha had spent much of his life completely alone, which must have been a rather hard existence. So, when he met Kikyo, the half-demon fell in love with her. The scenario was a little bit like the kind of love that happens upon first sight – perhaps because the young priestess, much like Inuyasha, also never got the opportunity to reveal herself to society.

Entrusted with the guarding of the Sacred Jewel, Kikyo actually led a pretty mesmerizing life before meeting Inuyasha. Part of the reason why the priestess was chosen to guard the jewel was for her pure character and whilst at her task, Kikyo had to always make sure that she was never found in a weak state in front of her enemies – this included both demons and men interested in using the jewel for their selfish gains.

Although, Kikyo completely abandoned the idea of strictly protecting the jewel when she met and fell in love with Inuyasha, even though their chance meeting was because he too was (in part) a demon, who wished to use the Sacred Jewel for his own greedy personal benefits, that isn’t one of the only sides to Kikyo character’s which perplexes. It is also unclear as to why Kikyo would even desire to reveal her true self in society, when she was given such an important task in life: to protect the jewel and make it pure.

The two challenging facets of Kikyo’s character sometimes defines who she is and it provides a window into her complexities as a woman. This is despite the fact that it was all probably borne because the priestess tragically didn’t really hold this particular outlook that the job that she had been entrusted with as a priestess was a lot more important than just being a woman who had fallen in love.

Annecy 2017: Funny animals & an unlikely pair

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

A marvelous animated collaboration inbetween Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert, titled The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales premiered at the 2017 Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. The film is a collection of short stories comprising of a fox, a duck, a lizard and a stork. The longest story, and by-far the most moving one too, has been allocated to the fox, who one day while out looking for food comes across some baby chicks that he must look after; the fox immediately switches from his major naturalistic desire to eat the chicks, to a loving and doting parent instead.

The other animals have rather equally interesting experiences of their own: a lazy stork hands over the task of delivering a baby to a rabbit, pig and duck and the lizard is a random figure, versed in Mandarin. Humorous and intelligent, the choice of animation for the movie is a mix between sketches and something primarily off the nineties, which makes the film even more of a curiosity to want to appetite. It’s the all-out adventures of a range of funny and neurotic animals running around though, which delivers, each story (complete with a lively music score as an accompaniment) just brilliantly.

Rating: 9/10

A Slient Voice

A Silent Voice is an adaptation of a seven volume manga series into one full feature length film. That thought alone suggests it’s an impossible task but the movie, which also premiered at Annecy (2017),  shouldn’t be expected to be an animated play-by-play of a comic novel because what it is, is a rendition of the key elements of the manga of the same name by Yoshitoki Oima. The movie opens with an attempted suicide by a boy called Shoya Ishida. Shoya tries to take his own life by jumping from a bridge – he’s a bully who in class use to terrify a young deaf and mute girl called Shoko Nishimiya.

Shoya doesn’t have any friends in school because of his bullying ways, and Shoko has a similar disposition herself: she is always at the receiving end of other kids’ jokes. Shoko hopes for forgiveness from Shoya and in pursuit of that the two become friends, and even wooing is thrown into the picture for a very unlikely pair. It’s a relationship filled with hurt, sporadic comic moments fetched by Shoko’s newfound friend, Tomohiro Nagatsuka, but pushed together by loneliness, and yet what is striking throughout it all, is how different Shoya and Shoko are from each other; Shoya can only communicate with the help of sign language, so her life is quiet but the isolation in school for Shoko, makes him look like he’s always yearning for, at least, a chance of redemption for his previous acts and an exit from this prevailing state of quiet loneliness.

Rating: 7/10

The Witty Ways Of Deepika Padukone

From getting fearless on-screen in Bollywood to making her debut in Hollywood, Deepika Padukone proves she is a force to be reckoned with

Deepika Padukone is one of the finest examples of Bollywood glamour. After making her debut in Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om opposite Shah Rukh Khan, which turned out to be a dreamboat role in itself, there has been no looking back for the young actress. I can vaguely recall Deepika from her initial modelling days, where she had walked the ramp for Indian fashion designers, such as Suneet Verma and starred in advertising campaigns for Liril, Limca and Maybelline. It was a drastic professional change for Deepika to join Bollywood and came as a bit of surprise as such, since she was already a pretty recognized model herself. Nonetheless, it was perhaps one of the best things to have happened because over the years, Deepika has been going from strength-to-strength as an actress.

Recently, the 31-year-old also made her debut in Hollywood, with xXx: Return of Xander Cage, opposite Vin Diesel and the movie managed to label itself as a critical failure, in spite of critically being noted as an improvement on the previous xXx franchise. The movie introduced Deepika Padukone to Hollywood, but personally I have always preferred her work in Bollywood more, where she can naturalistically very much demonstrate a larger range of emotions and portray a wide range of very interesting Indian characters.

Deepika’s first big break came in Cocktail (released in July 2012), after she had manged to survive through a string of failures. Even though her career had begun with a bang of sorts, it didn’t take long for it to sink to a very bad level – in retrospect, I have to say that you kind of saw it coming, when Padukone got primarily negative reviews for Chandni Chowk To China (2009), despite it only being her third major film. But those are bygone days now because Deepika managed to underwrite all of those setbacks that define nearly every Bollywood star’s career, with enormous films, such as Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani (2015), and two Disney-UTV films Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (2013) and Chennai Express (2013).

It’s not just about saying goodbye to career setbacks for Deepika Padukone – nowadays she also feels no pressure to make petty conversations with people in parties. Hailing from Bangalore, Deepika sports an entirely non-film-industry-background, so the idea of making petty conversations with people about Bollywood films, such as Sholay (1975), which she has never watched, like me unless snatching seconds of glimpses count, has now been exchanged with behaving as a recluse comfortably. Deepika’s roles have also evolved into ones which boast an intrepid nature off-late and she shares this with her male co-stars but things didn’t always use to be this way – earlier on in her career she had felt the burnt edges of working in a male-dominated film industry, where ace directors would not run the distance with her in terms of proper guidance.

I guess, like fashion, which Deepika describes as something that is dictated to a person, not everything or everybody can always act as a great leader. Speaking of style, I really must say I liked how Deepika chose to wear a Rohit Bal sari at Cannes in 2010 instead of a pretty gown – it is the definition of strutting around in Hollywood, for a little while, for Bollywood celebrities, at large, and I think it must have taken a lot of guts for the Indian actress to do something different and singularly bring the Indian equation to the Red Carpet at Cannes.

I really feel that an Indian woman looks very good in a sari, and unlike for women in India (and Bangladesh) it is tough to imagine most cultures in the world can even carry a sari well. It’s not just that they are not naturalistically built for it, it’s also that draping yards of fine cloth like the ancient Romans used to isn’t really in their culture so I don’t understand why besides those cultures curiously sampling, it would be even remotely interesting whatsoever. I think that if Deepika is smart with her script choices, as well as her mantras in life, there should be no doubt over seeing a lot more of her (and her unique idea of glamour/style and life as a celebrity) in Bollywood, for years to come.

A Cozy Christmas

A Cozy Christmas

 

La La Land

La La Land is a revisitation of a musical genre, which hasn’t been greatly explored as often as it has been enjoyed: it’s primarily a film that follows the young romance between a boy and a girl. Ryan Gosling stars as Sebastian Wilder, a jazz player, who earns a living by playing random compositions in unattractive bars all over town. Wilder resists the urge to sacrifice his conviction in his dreams, when love has told him to get a more steady musical job to achieve his one big dream, and the job entails playing the piano for a “sometimes friend, and sometimes not” but that’s how romances sometimes go very wrong. Wilder’s romantic partner is Mia Dolan – a waitress in Los Angeles, who basically serves hot drinks to celebrities and hopes to become an actress one day.

Beautiful Dreams

Dolan and Wilder start off on the wrong note but soon enough the two cannot escape the undeniable chemistry inbetween them, and fall in love. Damian Chazelle places Dolan and Wilder in a very typical musical setting: there are spontaneous bursts of energy, traffic jams that turn into a young dance routine, and breathtaking environments (around town). Wilder and Dolan connect on an emotional level because neither of them are able to “live their dreams”. Dolan goes on one frustrating (and script-reading) experience after another but producers don’t even look at her, let alone consider casting her in their film. Similarly, Wilder is on a path that is littered with unconvincing ends for him: he is not an agreeable man on most days but to top all of that off he wants to one day have his very own jazz club. And Wilder, doesn’t want to compromise on his dreams for it – he would rather not play beloved songs to tourists, nor could he escape himself at his previous job where he got fired for sneakily playing jazz music when the restaurateur simply wanted pretty background music.

Ryan Gosling isn’t a natural dancer but he dances convincingly to Chazelle’s musical scores. I liked the movie for it’s heartwarming take on the Los Angeles scene, where nearly every other person hopes to be a star someday, and how it’s still like any other American town filled with a multitude of American dreams to swear by, indefinitely.

Rating: 8/10

Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals pairs Amy Adams with Jake Gyllenhaal, in an emotionally riveting piece of drama. It’s Tom Ford’s second directorial venture but not as smooth talking as his clothes. The film is an adaptation of the novel Tony & Susan, by Austin Wright, where the protagonist, Susan Morrow, is the owner of an art gallery stuck in a dead-end marriage; Morrow’s husband, Hutton, cheats on her often even though the relationship began as a window of escape for Morrow from her first marriage to Edward Sheffield.

Dark Drama

The film has many dark elements to it which wasn’t particularly nicely fitting into an otherwise seamless narration – Edward’s debut novel, for example talks of rape and murder but his book isn’t even the slightest bit reflective of the man Morrow was once married to. Susan knew Sheffield as a man with romantic tastes in life and yet no drive to actually follow up his big plans for literary-success. There are further raw clashes in a movie that can be also termed ‘as an inherently soft drama’ which makes for grossly uncomfortable viewing – these are inclusive of difficult confrontations and investigations outlined in Edward’s book. At certain times, Susan dissolving her marriage to Edward by cheating on him with Hutton, seems like a calmer alternative than all of the Texan brutality. The film wraps up with Edward getting even with Susan as she she gets stood up by him in a restaurant, which was frankly a nice enough ending.

The film is watchable for Jake’s performance as a dejected (and at the same time hopeful young man) but Amy Adams seems so lifeless and free-of-emotions in the film sometimes. With it’s half-violent storyline, the movie proves to be emotionally draining more often than not but is still absorbent in spaces which highlight the author’s first piece of literary work and how a reader (personally connected to the author) receives it.

Rating: 6/10