All we want is Hope: When Marnie Was There Review

I have to admit, I associated anime with childish cartoons, over-the-top action and cheesy plot lines that only attracted social discards. Having said that I was always aware of the fandom that amine had. The amount of films, cosplays, films and TV shows only pointed at the awesome grip that this had on cinema goers. So needless to say ‘When Marnie Was There‘ was my first anime and I must say that I’m impressed. From a Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who has directed other, universally well acclaimed anime, comes a story of a misfit girl Anna, sent to countryside for health reasons.

The story included flashbacks, visions and a girl named Marnie. It was quite intriguing to see who Marnie really is, is she a ghost? A spirit? A fragment of Ana’s imagination? Who is she, you wish for Anna’s sake that she is real, as she is the only friend she’s got. Eventually what starts off as a standard story line escalates to a much passionate ending. On the other hand, Marnie’s story line was far more touching, the torments she’s put through, the cruelties she has to bear connects you with her on a much deeper level. You can help but feel sorry for her as her back-story is revealed. The final revelation is very emotional and the complexity of the story line, leads to a much grounded, heartfelt message.

For me, it was a message of hope that no matter how much of an outcast you think you are, how much you feel alone, there is hope. You are not alone, someone is watching out for you. It makes you closer with your family, the ones who are here and ones that are not. Ending left me with mixed feeling, while I was glad to see Anna happy and finally smiling, Marnie’s story left me feeling sad. The fact that she was always smiling and making the most of what she’s got makes you like her even more. The fact that this is based on a novel that came out in 1967 only highlights the fact that us humans crave human connection, we want to be belonged, and this movie connects with audience 47 years after the novel came out.

Still From When Marnie Was There It taught me to be happy with my life, the way it is, and always have hope. Also, it taught me to never judge a book by its cover.

4 Well Deserving Stars!

The ‘Swag Bags,’ Are they Really Necessary?

Spending a small fortune on a gift basket for Oscar nominees really justified. According to online sources 21 gift bags will be given to the host and losing nominees in five categories including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director at this year’s show on Sunday. Not only is the bag more than double in cost than last year’s, it is also the most expensive bag ever. However, these bags are not endorsed by the Academy itself.

With a range of things included, the most expensive product is said to be a little over $20,000. Personally, I think that the money invested in the bags could be better utilized if donated to charity. There are way too many expensive things for people who are already rich enough to afford it themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I am not thrashing celebrities here. But being nominated for an Oscar, the biggest movie award in the world should be enough as it is. Adding an expensive gift on top of that is not needed. I am sure the celebs themselves give a lot in charity but I can’t seem to get my head around the amount of money spend. Being nominated to awards that started in 1929, have enough power to not only give you credibility as an actor (let alone the fact whether you deserve it or not) it also gives you a name in the illustrated history of academy awards. Sure sponsors that add their products to the list to get some promotion in the press but is giving their products to Oscar nominees really the way to go? swag bags, as they are called, appear to be more of a marketing strategy than a way to congratulate the nominees. In 2006, The Academy itself voted to end the distribution of gift bags, but that obviously did not happen.

The swag bags are certainly nonessential. Possibly the worst thing there is in my opinion. It degrades the show by adding an over-expensive price tag on it. Everyone is a professional, everyone is nominated because of their work, because they have achieved that. There is a lot of poverty in the world, that could really use the amount of money spent on these bags. After all, millions of unknown people liking your work, praising it and wishing you the best, isn’t that the biggest reward there is?


International Language of Entertainment

Recently I was on a 10 hour flight. Needless to say, flights without in-flight entertainment can be boring. I usually opt for more light, comedy content on flight. Friends episodes are mostly my favorites. Now with comedies like Modern Family and Veep it just keeps on getting better. With so many options now available in terms of genre, language, movies, music, TV shows, documentaries to name a few. Things never looked better for in-flight entertainment.

Everyone on a plane has one thing in common, they are on boarded a plane going to the same place and boarded the same flight. We also have the same content available to watch. The way that I see it, when we are in a fight that becomes our world, we are separated for the world beneath us. One thing is same in both the worlds, is that someone somewhere is watching the same thing as you. They might not have anything else in common with you other than the fact they their idea of entertainment is same as you, they laugh at the same thing or have the same interest in films. Being on a plane also brings a diverse range of people together and we connect on small things like that. You might not see anyone from that flight again but just the feeling that they have seen the same film as you, makes the experience surreal. All this has made the world a whole lot smaller. Now more than ever movies, TV shows or any form of entertainment has become an international language of entertainment.

Why All The Hate? Men, Women and Children (2014) Review

Jason Reitman is one of my favorite directors. His Juno and Up in the Air remain some of my favorite films of all times. When I heard that he is directing the likes of Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner in his next I couldn’t be more excited. His latest, Men Women & Children deals with teenagers and their parents getting hold of their relationships in today’s digital world. Based on a novel by Chad Kultgen it has a range of intervening stories, all dealing with that same issue.

Don (Adam Sandler) and Helen Truby (Rosemarie DeWitt) frustrated of their love life start to have extra-marital affair, while their son Chris (Travis Tope) deals with extreme porn addiction. Chris’ girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia) wants to be famous and is dropped after being selected for a reality show because the producers discover the inappropriate pictures taken by her mother posted online. Her mother Donna Clint (Judy Green) starts a relationship with Kent Monney (Dean Norris) a divorcee, lives with his only son Tim Monney (Ansel Elgort). Tim after his parent’s divorce quits football and is in a relationship with Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) who hides her secret Tumblr account from her mother, Patricia (Jennifer Garner). Patricia an over-protective mother monitors everything her daughter does. From reading her text messages to proof reading and deleting her Facebook messages. The saddest story is perhaps of  Allison Doss (Elena Kampouris) who’s under a lot of peer-pressure along with low self-esteem and body image issues. She sleeps with a guy who couldn’t care less about her. Later she has a miscarriage due to anorexia after extreme dieting following the advice of her chat room buddies, “Eat celery while smelling her Shepherd’s Pie.”

A range of different characters made the film more interesting for me. Every character in the film feels like technology be it internet or phones can solve their problem. But the sad thing is that no one seems to realize the implications it can have. Tim reluctantly tells his online game friends that his mother is getting married again, hoping to get some sympathy but only gets insults and crude jokes targeted at his mother thrown his way. You would think that turning off phone is an option, but you cannot bury your head and hope no one sees you. Everyone is looking for sanctuary in the world of technology, when what they really need is human interaction.

Every character faces their own conflict. All the conflicts from eating disorders to depression are portrayed as real as possible, which is why the impact of the film is powerful. Its gut-wrenching seeing Allison on the hospital bed post her miscarriage. One of the more haunting scene is when Helen is confesses to Don about her affair and instead of getting mad, he tells her he can either tell her what he has done or they both can just let it go. The things that is upsetting is perhaps that only the negatives of technology is portrayed in the film. Technology, like anything has it pros and cons. Everyone has secrets and insecurities and no one talks about it, throw technology into the mix and its a whole new thing.

Adam Sandler out of all the cast is a stand out for me, for portraying a cheating husband so effectively.  In fact there is not one performance that isn’t brilliant, all-star cast but on an all impressive show. I was surprised to see all the negative review against the film. Reitman has done exceptionally well in portraying these real and sometimes frightening scenarios on screen. It’s an endearing film that does deserve a watch. It wont make you laugh instead will make you think and question a lot of things.

We should learn from this film, not discourage it. Like I said, Why all the hate?

4 Stars.

It Your City, Have Your Say: ‘The Human Scale’ (2012)

The Human Scale is a film that needs to be seen by every human. It deals with urbanization and the effect it has and will have in the near future. Most people who are not urban design professionals, students or teacher do not realize the effects urban environment has on a city. Director Andreas Dalsgaard brilliantly weaves through Chongqing in China, Dhaka in Bangladesh, New York in America, Copenhagen in  Denmark and  Christchurch, New Zealand. He focuses on challenges and gives solutions to the urban design problems faced by each of the city.  We need to be aware of the decisions made for us that affect our city. Some decisions can affect the city negatively and some positively and is divided as such below.


In Chongqing, China planners designed a pedestrian through the city giving priority to humans. However during a routine inspection the pedestrian-friendly crossing had been converted to car traffic area. A decision made by the local authorities. On the other hand Bangladesh growing economy is leading to increase in the number of vehicles, which leads to highways. With a small percentage dedicated to improve the public transportation, city’s traffic problems are peaking. With roads filled with parked cars due to lack of proper parking, traffic is a daily problem. This might eventually lead to roads being completely blocked with cars.


New York City’s transformation of Times Square to public open spaces from a traffic engrossed area is well received. People embrace this new-found space and cherish it and soon become a sightseeing area.  With no-traffic zones and preference of bicycles over cars,Copenhagen is perhaps the best example. The city is enjoying less traffic and more efficient environments. City embraces its new-found love for bicycles, primary example being 8 Housing in Copenhagen, where bicycle ramps go up to the top story of the complex. Lastly Christchurch’s residents in New Zealand are given a choice to have their say in the redesigning of their city post 2011 earthquakes. They say that the city is ” at a tipping point between becoming L.A. or becoming Copenhagen,” as city is redesigned with inputs from the locals.

What really stood out to me was the fact that the documentary does not talk about a futuristic world, it talks about the world today and what it will be like in the next 5 years. Negatives can be turned into positives if more people voice their opinions. Last things that China and Bangladesh needs is more cars and more pollution. Negatives or positives, its humans that have to dwell in these spaces, so everyone needs to be made aware. I certainly learned a lot from this documentary and wanted to share my experience. We should be involved in planing of the city because that affects the country, countries make up this world and we cannot afford to plan this world imperfectly because that’s the only one we have.

Hopes For Inferno

Its Official, Inferno will star Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irffan Khan plus others


If you are a big fan of Dan Brown’s novels featuring Robert Langdon, then chances are that you weren’t quite satisfied by big screen adaptations of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Brown’s novels are great, filled with so much information that I have to constantly search buildings, artworks or any other facts that he mentions in the story. Film adaptations however are pale in comparison, only saving grace is Tom Hanks, as the Harvard professor.

Now Rom Howard is adapting his latest novel, Inferno. Here are somethings I’d wish they’d consider.

Invest some time in script.

It’s a no brainer really, When you read any one of Brown’s novels, its pretty obvious that he has taken his time to do all the research, think of a story and write it. Inferno comes 5 years after The Lost Symbol, that’s more or less 5 years worth of research…

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Shear Brilliance of Birdman’s Cinematography

Last night I had the pleasure to watch Birdman, and wow what a film!

Everything was superb from acting to writing to everything. But what was a clear standout for me was the cinematography. Rather the shear brilliance of Birdman’s cinematography. The one-long-take look of the film was indeed a pleasant surprise. I first noticed this long take when the film started, with Regan (Micheal Keaton) walking out of his room to the rehearsals of his play, then coming back to his room, followed by press interviews followed by everything else. I was patiently waiting for the long take to end, so that I could go back and watch it again. Little did I know that this long take would end with the film.

Flawless, ingenious and creative are some of the words that come to my mind when I think of this astounding feat. With camera following the characters from one room to the other than following another character out of the room to some place else. Going from indoors to out on the streets to the bar then back to indoors to the theater. Not only does it feel surreal, you feel what any character is feeling as the camera follows behind their feet. This made the characters more relate-able and eventually the impact of the movie is so powerful as you feel you are part of the film and the world created by it. One of the more memorable sequences is Keaton walking across Times Square in his underwear, you can feel the awkwardness as the camera follows him from the back alleys of the theater through the square and back into the theater from its main entrance. Whats even more impressive is that it was shot in 30 days.

After watching the film, I did some research on the cinematography of the film and wasn’t surprised when I came across articles like “Here’s How Ridiculously Difficult It Was To Film ‘Birdman’ In 30 Days” or “Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki details the ‘dance’ of filming ‘Birdman’.”  Here the Oscar winner talks about how some of the scenes 7 to 10 mins long were shot more than 20 times to get them right. Let alone the obvious pressure that the cast and crew felt during these scenes. One hitch up would lead them to re shot the entire sequence again. Not to mention the lighting of every scene required different attention. Now that’s commitment.

Glimpses of his technique can be scene in last year’s ‘Gravity,’ more specifically in the opening scene. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Lubezki have created here is an invisible character in the film and through that character’s eyes we see the film. That character is us, the audience. Needless to say Lubezki’s Oscar win won’t come as a surprise.

Wanna win an Oscar?

Oscars are almost here. People are making predictions on who’s going to win. To make well informed predictions, we need to look back at the trend. More specifically, trend for Best Actor Male. Colin Firth won for playing King George VI, Jean Dujardin for The Artist, Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln  and Matthew McConaughey for playing Ron Woodroof.

Notice the trend?

Out these 4 wins, 3 were playing a real life person. Each movie based on a certain predicament in the person’s life. If we look at this year’s and last year’s best actor nominees alone, seven out of ten nominations are for characters based on real life person. That’s 70% of the nominees. This year, Michael Keaton is the odd one out for being nominated for a fictional character. Last seen in 2010, when Javier Bardem was the only one nominated for a fictional character. So I guess it’s safe to say that actors playing a real person have an upper hand at best actor nods. One of the reason could also well be that Hollywood is producing far more ‘based on true events’ stories, featuring real life persons. Maybe as audience it is interesting to see on screen what we heard about in the news perhaps, as if  to see history come to live on the big screen.

Actors winning for playing a real person isn’t a new thing, first Oscar given for the same was in 1929/ 30. Be it Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle or Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, it’s a trend far more common these days. This in a way immortalizes the crisis that the character went though, how else would we have known about Ron Woodroof’s story or King George’s vocal training. Also, what are the chances that people knew much about the legal troubles that Facebook once faced.  What’s more, Daniel Day-Lewis who holds the record for winning 3 best actor Oscars won 2 for biopics. Coming to this year’s show, people who have seen Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Steven Hawkins are raving about his fantastic performance. So his Oscar win won’t come as a surprise. Making a hat trick of Oscar-winning performances based on real person, following Day-Lewis and McConaughey, which will be a first. Also his chances of winning are increasing as he picks up best actor at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs.

So therefore to win an Oscar all you’ve got to do is star in a biopic, simple right?!

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Hopes For Inferno

If you are a big fan of Dan Brown’s novels featuring Robert Langdon, then chances are that you weren’t quite satisfied by big screen adaptations of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Brown’s novels are great, filled with so much information that I have to constantly search buildings, artworks or any other facts that he mentions in the story. Film adaptations however are pale in comparison, only saving grace is Tom Hanks, as the Harvard professor.

Now Rom Howard is adapting his latest novel, Inferno. Here are somethings I’d wish they’d consider.

Invest some time in script.

It’s a no brainer really, When you read any one of Brown’s novels, its pretty obvious that he has taken his time to do all the research, think of a story and write it. Inferno comes 5 years after The Lost Symbol, that’s more or less 5 years worth of research, thinking and writing up a great story. Even if Howard’s team takes half the time to write the script we’ll have a great film to watch.

Don’t change the story

Dan Brown’s avid readers come to watch the film for the story, so why alter it? Ending of Angels and Demons was slightly altered. I didn’t like it, and I’m sure many didn’t. Plus people haven’t read the novel and don’t plan to will miss out on the chance to experience the ‘real’ story.

Inferno is important

If you’ve read Inferno, you know that it comes with a very important social message about over population. World needs to hear the facts, fear the repercussions and see this story. Like Interstellar, Inferno can make you think about our actions as species. Mediocrity will kill the film and the chance for people to hear this valuable message.

Get the casting right

Women in Dan Brown’s novels are strong characters. On screen they come across somewhat that, for which I’ll blame casting. Tom Hanks is a two-time Oscar winner, anyone standing next to him on-screen will be over shadowed by his presence, let alone the fact that Robert Langdon is a genius in his field. Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra in Angels and Demons and Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu in Da Vinci Code fail in living up to the characters in the novels. Rumors are the Felicity Jones is to star opposite Hanks in Inferno, for films’ sake I hope its true. 

Be as real as possible

Last thing I want is this film to come across as a fiction. Its written realistically and should come across as real. Because only if its real, people will relate to it.

I’m sure the the makers do want to make the best film possible and as Dan Brown’s fan I want to see one. So here’s wishing for a kick ass Robert Langdon film!

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Aren’t we all saints? St. Vincent Movie Review

Spoilers Ahead. 

St. Vincent, stars not one but 3 Oscar nominees, needlessly to say that expectations are quite high. Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, it deals with an unlikely bond between a young boy, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and his anti-social, unfriendly neighbor Vincent (Bill Murray) after he moves to a new home with his mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy). Series of events leads to Vincent having to baby-sit Oliver after school, simultaneously and coincidentally Oliver has to prepare a saints among us presentation. While all this is happening, Maggie is going through a divorce and a custody battle with her ex-husband, during which Vincent’s pregnant, stripper girlfriend, Daka (Naomi Watts) enters. While the premise is interesting, the film isn’t.

Going by the logic shown in the film, it would appear that almost all of us are saints in one way or the other. Don’t we all do what’s right, look after our partners or occasionally do someone random a favor? Well that’s exactly what Vincent does, yet is proclaimed a ‘Saint.’ Oliver chose Vincent as his saint for his school presentation, even though he takes him to horse racing where gets the 13-year-old to bet money, after which he makes him lie about winning to avoid paying money to his debtors and takes him to bar quite a few times. Oliver then be-friends Daka, who Vincent refers to as his ‘Lady of the night.’ Only good thing that comes out of that is the Oliver starts to see the saintly qualities hidden in Vincent, like him taking care of his sick wife for 8 years or teaching him to fight and break noses. These ‘saintly’ qualities pale in comparison to not so saintly things Vincent does.

We can argue against all the qualities that Oliver uses to describe Vincent as a saint in his presentation. At one point, Oliver says that Vincent took him in when he didn’t have too. Well, Vincent gets money in return for ‘taking him in,’ so why wouldn’t he. Sure, he’s been to the war that would make him, a war veteran, not a saint. In the end I was left wondering what Melfi thinks a saint actually is, does a saint bash on religion? Does he talk to a 13 year of about strippers, sex, profanity and ‘lady of the light’? Does a saint gets his pregnant girlfriend to sell prescription medicines that he stole from the hospital? At point in the film he lashes out at Oliver, telling him to stop living his life through him, that comes after Oliver and his mother took care of him while he was in the hospital. If you ask me, his hard working mother Maggie is a bigger saint that Vincent ever could hope to be.

Brilliant performances by all the actors are let down by not so good script. Melissa McCarthy is a standout for me, especially in the scene with the Oliver’s principal and teacher.  Her changes of expressions from awkward laughter to crying are seamless and leave a long-lasting impact on you. Naomi Watts is unrecognizable in the prostitute attire and a thick accent, which she pulls off with a lot of charisma. Finally Bill Murray is great as not-so-likable neighbor, for me though he is not likable at all, which says a lot about his natural performance as Vincent, he becomes and lives his on-screen persona. His Golden Globe nomination is well deserved. Debutante Jaeden Lieberher is likable as Oliver, watch out for this kid.

What bugs me even more is that this film had a lot of potential. Seeing saint-hood qualities in worst of people is an intriguing theme, yet for me it did not come across. Wish Vincent came across as more of an enriched man than he did. I wanted to see what Oliver sees in him, but I couldn’t. I’ll think twice before watching this saint on-screen. After all he does gets his stripper girlfriend pregnant while still being married to his sick wife. If that’s not enough film stars off with Vincent having sex with Daka. I’ll leave it at that.

My rating, Two Stars.

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