This is Not a Movie Review: Venuto Al Mondo (Twice Born)

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probably I’m never going to meet a bunch of interesting strangers, fall in love impulsively and dance in the snow to rock n roll and classic American music

Director: Sergio Castellitto

Writer: Margaret Mazzantini (novel)

Starring: Penélope Cruz, Emile Hirsch, Adnan Haskovic

Release Date: 6 December 2013 (USA)

 

Last night I was eating dinner at my friend’s place when my sister pinged me saying she’s gonna watch “Twice Born”. After she finished the movie, she told me that I should probably watch it but warned me that it is intense so I might be sad.

Boston’s climate was confused whether it should rain or snow today – so it decided to shower both. I was curled up in my comforter, refusing to get up before 5 pm on a Saturday and that ‘sad’ keyword had attracted me to the movie like a bee towards a jar of honey (not sure, honey is artificial, wouldn’t it be more attracted to a flower with nectar, I give up!). I also checked imdb.com and I was surprised that it had 7.4 which is a pretty good rating. So I decided to watch it. Plus I love Penelope Cruz.

The description on imdb focussed on a mother bringing her teenage son to Sarajevo, where his father died in the Bosnian conflict years ago. But the movie was so much more. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking that I would love to read the book, just to understand the depth and complexity of the characters and the conflict in Bosnia that the movie could not reflect. I’m sure I would love the book even more than the movie, because, isn’t that always the case?

The movie starts with Gemma (Penelope Cruz) receiving an early-morning phone call from her old friend, Gojco (the boisterous Adnan Haskovic), urging her to return to Sarajevo. The work of an American photographer is the subject of an exhibition there. She agrees to visit with her son, to expose him to a different part of the world. Immediately, memories of this thrilling and tumultuous time come rushing back to her. The year is 1984, Gemma arrives in Sarajevo for her research for the Winter Olympics. Her guide is a poet Gojco who introduces her to a bunch of eclectic artists including the American photographer Diego (Emile Hirsch). Diego pursues her in a very reckless American way “Drop everything, and run away with me,” he purrs. They have only one night and then both are leaving for different parts of the world. Diego is leaving for Brazil to photograph children working in mines, whereas Gemma is going to Rome where she is getting married to her long time boyfriend.

Gemma’s marriage doesn’t last long and Diego comes back to meet her in Rome. “Every day will be a party with me, baby.” She resists the attentions of the younger man. Until she doesn’t.  Both of them want a family, but after multiple miscarriages they get to know that Gemma is 97% sterile and due to the past drug abuse and police records for Diego, the police would not approve them for adoption.

Their struggle to have a child is tragically and beautifully portrayed in the movie. In one of the scenes, Gemma tells the psychologist that “I’m here because I am afraid. I am afraid of losing the man I love. I want to give him a child, to tie him to me.” I couldn’t help but wonder is this why most people have children. To tie another person to you, so that they remain in the relationship with you even if they do not want to. I have a friend I have known for a very long time. People who are not close to her know that she does not want children. But since we were close, I Know that it is not that she did not want children, she just didn’t want to have a child with a man who is not there to raise the child with her. She did not want to have an absentee father or someone beside her but not in love with her anymore, which is often true in an Indian society. What she really wanted was a man who wanted to create something together, to build a life together, a family together. In the movie, both Gemma and Diego want that family, however they falter.

As their inability to have children starts wrecking their marriage. war builds up in Bosnia. Gojco is part of a Sarajevo arts community where denial about the war runs deep. Lines of people fleeing the city when the shooting starts only earn a “they would never touch Sarajevo” from him and his friends, the silly dreamers. The war plays out on television, until the snipers show up in Sarajevo and the power is cut off and the city is under siege. Meanwhile, Gemma’s efforts to conceive play out against that bloody backdrop.

At one point, Gemma and Diego are on the verge of splitting, but instead they decide to travel to Bosnia, to go back to their old friends and past life. In Sarajevo, Gojco comes to know about their sterility issues and he gets creative with the idea of surrogacy. This brings us to the one of the films vibrant and intriguing characters, an outspoken Croatian musician named Aska (Saadet Aksoy). But like every other character in the movie, she gets saddled with some truly awkward dialogue, much of which revolves around her obsession with Kurt Cobain. (This is also an easy shorthand to inform us that it’s now 1992, the year the Bosnian War began.)

I do not want to give away any more of the plot or the climax in here. I give Penélope Cruz credit for her role of Gemma – she is tragic and earthy as ever.  She is a wonderful actress. Gojco, has the best lines in the movie “Poetry is God when he feels nostalgic for man”, “For me the most beautiful word is ‘grazie’”. Emile Hirsch plays exuberant and callow well. Diego has a childish charm, a man-child vibe and reminds me of someone I fell in love with a long time ago, and which made watching this movie such a personal experience for me. I never understood, which is also a big flaw in the movie, how Diego moved away from Gemma or why. In fact, the two of them, Cruz and Hirsch, never really click in the movie, there is a serious lack of chemistry.

Irrespective of the flaws in storytelling, when the third act of the movie rolls in, the surprises start piling up. Events from long ago are shown through a more accurate lens in the backdrop of the war and in the context of love and motherhood. This is where “Twice Born” rises to something nobler and closer to heartbreaking.

The movie has really terrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes which only goes to say that it’s not always the film critics opinion that counts. The movie hit me… hard. The mix of history, great performances, and an arresting plot, brought home the reality of what war means to civilians caught up in it. I didn’t enjoy the movie because it was hard to watch, but I loved sitting through the emotional journey that this movie was. If you have watched it, what did you think?

Sreeja

Movie Review:: Sicario

 

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Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writer: Taylor Sheridan

Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin

Release Date: September 18, 2015

 

When I went to watch this movie, I didn’t know what to expect. Uncharacteristically for me, I didn’t do much research. I knew it was a crime thriller, I wanted to stay away from all things romantic for a while and I just chose to go watch it. Plus, there was Emily Blunt.

The movie really surprised me. The first scene of the movie was as gory as it could ever get. There was a police raid, shooting, horrific smell from decaying corpses, scores of dead bodies and even a blast. I was amazed that I survived the first scene (mini feat).

But the movie got more interesting from there on. The plot of Sicario focuses on an FBI agent named Kate Macer (Emily Blunt). Kate is enlisted by government officials to track down a drug lord, who has been responsible for multiple grisly murders. She is going aid a number of people who, we find out in the course of the movie, are often on the other side of the law. The plot though simple, is very engaging.

The characters are well developed. Emily Blunt gives an incredible female lead performance as Kate – she hates violence, but is serious about her job. Both Benicia del Toro and Josh Brolin are great in their roles. I especially was intrigued by del Toro’s character. There were many moments that I never saw coming. The haunting score and the unpredictable plot line consistently engaged me. The movie was very dark, sometimes unsettling and even scary. There’s a lot of suspense and the recurrent darkest sentiment of the movie is the sense of hopelessness. I don’t like violence and gore, and I still I enjoyed the movie a lot.

I would recommend the movie if you like dark stories, crime thrillers and good acting.

I watched “O Kadhal Kanmani”

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!! my most favorite scene and shot from the movie !!

Yes! I watched a Tamil movie, myself, without anyone forcing me to watch it. Thinking about it, it’s not that strange so as to make a headline. Being a huge movie buff, I like to watch all movies, irrespective of their language. I just don’t prefer watching movies in foreign languages that much because I often find myself paying more attention to reading the subtitles than feeling the emotions. I have watched more western foreign language movies than foreign language Indian regional cinema by myself, so I thought I can make it a big deal.

I my opinion, one of the best feelings in life is when you realize that the one you love completely, loves you back the exact same way. This movie is about that. It was a simple story: Adi, a happy-go-lucky game-designer, bumps into Tara, a bubbly architect at their friend’s wedding. They started talking in sign language during the wedding (which was annoying, but I guess Mani) and find out that they have a lot of things in common, the most striking one being they both hate marriage. Adi being a boy needs no explanation to Indian movie goers for his beliefs. But Tara being a girl needs one, and it is because her father left them when she was young.

Now Adi wants to go to USA for advancing his career and Tara is moving to Paris for higher studies. So they both know there is no future to their relationship. So they casually flirt for a while, and then very soon they move in together for a live-in relationship. The movie was sometimes too simple – the main protagonists convince an elderly couple to let them live as paying guests for a live-in relationship in Mumbai, by singing some Classical Tamil song.

The most romantic part of the movie was perhaps the relationship between the old couple. I have always had very bad memory, so much so that I would sit blankly when my friends would discuss any incident in school or college that was not related to me. I even forget things and incident that did not involve me in any way.  always used to tell all my friends that I have a “memory like a sieve”. And when I watched Still Alice, I was convinced that I am going to get Alzheimer’s disease when I grow old and I am pretty sure I will no have someone to take of me. Anyways, through the slit on the open doors the young couple observe the old couple and learn that love is not only about the fun and frolic but it is more than that. Love is about genuine affection and commitment to each other. What I like most about the movie is that how the couple’s ask each other clarifying questions and then they answer those questions “truthfully” in the context of the movie. In my experience, it is hard to ask difficult questions, especially in a relationship. It is easier to assume and reach a conclusion, sometimes a decision; or to put things in the back of your mind, and ignore it completely.

The soundtrack of the movie was beautiful, even though I don’t understand the language! It was so beautiful that even the translation seemed nice. I am also a big fan of the cinematography. Overall, it was a nice movie to watch curled up in covers, sitting at home, bonus it was on Netflix. It was a feel good movie so if you are asking for in depth character analysis or something deep and thoughtful, then this movie may not make you happy.  Overall, I enjoyed watching this movie.

My thoughts about Damián Szifrón’s “Wild Tales”

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I just finished watching Damián Szifrón’s “Wild Tales”. The movie was nominated for Oscar in 2015 in the Best Foreign Film category. But what really sold me to watch it was that it has 8.2/10 rating on imdb.com and 95% rating on rotten tomatoes. I’m a big movie buff, but I haven’t really watched that many foreign movies because I think reading the subtitles takes my focus away from what is happening on screen and thus leads to less feels. Anyways, this movie was different. In fact I was never bored enough to look away from the screen and play Farm Heroes Saga on my phone. If you haven’t watched this movie and plan to watch it in the future, then I will ask you not to read this blog as it will contain some spoilers.

Because I do some research before watching any movie seriously (unless I’m on Netflix and planning to fall asleep while watching it) I already knew that the movie was broken up into 6 short stories and that it was about broken people and revenge. I didn’t want to read anymore so I just started watching the movie.

The movie starts with a very hot Argentinian model going to the airport to board a flight. She asks if she can use her miles and the clerk at the airport says no. That was the first time something struck me as odd. Because when I fly I can always use my miles. It’s a different story altogether that i forget to add them. Anyways, maybe that scene was important to the movie or not, but it kind of got me hooked. This first short story is called “Pasternak” and it is about a person with the same name. The conversation in the movie was very interesting and it was fun to watch. At the end, they show an old couple and you are left to wonder if they are Pasternak’s parents or not. I’m pretty sure they are.

The girl in the second movie “Las Ratas” was very pretty and it was enjoyable to watch her. However, this movie was mostly surrounding the old cook and I think the theme was really how badly she wanted to go back to jail to lead a secured life. At least that is how I interpret it. I’ve watched Orange is the new Black and I think that the old lady will be quite the badass in jail.

The next story was “El Mas Fuerte”. When the story started then Diego Iturralde was driving through this beautiful road. As a newly confident driver myself I would love to drive on that highway between Salta and Cafayate, alone, blasting Enigma’s Return to Innocence. However, this is where it got really crazy and gory. This was perhaps the only story which was even funny at times, may be because at the core we are still ignoble. I fast forwarded the fight sequences a little bit because they are not really things I enjoy unless I’m in a movie theatre and I’m challenging myself.

After the third short story I started to question whether all these stories will be linked together at the end or not (a huge fan of Arthur Hailey’s Airport). I even started fabricating in my mind how all these stories could be related. Anyways, they were not.

The next story was “Bombita”. If I understood Spanish a little bit I would have set the expectation for this movie accordingly. This movie was fun to watch. I think i sometimes behave like this guy Simon Fischer. I will really overreact, shout and scream when something that seems unfair to me happens. I will react so much that everyone around me will remember my reaction instead of the bad thing that happened to me. Then from the next time onwards I will learn a lesson and just not react and do the same thing calmly without much fuss. Since I was relating the story to myself I was really confused when SImon, seating in a nice cafe, watched his car being towed. Anyways, I really just did not understand the ending of this story. Why would the wife who wanted a divorce because the husband was not spending enough time would come to meet him in jail happily with their kid. Also is it safe to bring a little girl inside a prison? I understand that all prisoners are not bad and often not guilty, but still… By the way, Simon Fischer is such a typically American name. Anyways, may be it is common in Argentina as well.

The fifth movie, ‘La Propuesta” was the one I enjoyed the least. I really have no comments about this story except two. Firstly, I really liked how the study and the video room in the protagonist’s house was decorated. I wish I have something like that someday. When my husband and children get too chaotic I will just lock myself up in that room and listen to Bocelli’s voice or Yanni’s composition to calm me down. I think this will remain a dream. The other comment is that I felt really sad when the gardener Jose was killed at the end.

The story that really frightened me was the last one “Hasta que la muerte nos separe”. Since I was a young child I have really worked on every aspect of my personality. It has really affected how I think about success, life, religion, relationships, career, politics etc. I have consciously chosen what I wanted to eat, what should be my impact and footprint on this world and many other things. The only thing I left untouched was my emotion and at this point in my life I feel like that is something that I should have worked on. This story kind of shows you that what a wreck you can be if you do not control your emotions at the correct moment. I really liked Érica Rivas‘s acting in the part of Romina. I admire actors who can let go of their need to look pretty on-screen and without any inhibitions become the character that they are portraying. Nonetheless, she looked so pretty in the end when she’s sitting on the floor, surrounded by her friends, crying and at the same time concerned about Ariel.

I cannot watch any movie without identifying personally with a scene, a character or at least imagining myself in a role in place of a character. I know many people watch movies objectively, just like a movie. But at the same time I think a movie like this one wouldn’t have got so much rating just for it’s entertainment value. I think it kind of shows what we as human beings are capable of doing if we are not constantly talking us out of it. All in all, it was an interesting movie to watch.

Trailer

Okay people!
Like every good thing must come to an end, every bad thing must start again. 😉
So i am back again posting on my blog, and yes, just like I have said several times before, I will try to be more regular from now on.

Well, I can safely say that the root of all my life’s problems are a direct result of imbibing F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and all the Kajol-Shahrukh movies that I watched as a teenager. I cannot watch those movies anymore as a grown-up, but neither can I take out the mushy, hyper-sensitive, hopelessly romantic that I am inside.

Let me not digress… Kajol and Shahrukh have not acted in a movie together since My Name Is Khan released in 2010. But they are going to be back again in this new movie Dilwale. The film is scheduled to be released on 18 December 2015. And I have been eagerly waiting for the trailer since the movie was announced in January 2015.

The trailer was just released today:

Kajol and Shahrukh look so hottt! But I didn’t like the trailer 😦 except where they show Kajol & Shahrukh!!!
I hope the movie is good though, but anyways I’m gonna watch it even if it’s bad…
Are you guys crazy like me about any pair? Comment and let me know… 😀

20 Things You Do When You Are Writing Your Thesis

  1. Sit and stare into blank space or the screen of your computer, convince yourself that you are immersed in deep thought evaluating a critical analytic dilemma.
  2. Doodle on any blank scrap of paper you get.

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    Doodles on a post-it note

  3. Evaluate all decisions you ever made in life, suffer from inexplicable existential crisis,  go deep into the dungeons of despair and totally judge your own-‘younger’-self.
  4. Sleep on desk at lab when no one is around. Be stunned into semi-wakefulness when other lab mates enter the lab. Get up and pretend you had been working hard throughout.
  5. Write a lot of motivational quotes on post-it notes and stick it around your computer.

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    Work Station cum Inspiration Board

  6. Feel like writing about anything other than your thesis. Write a lot of inconsequential blogs like 10 Random Facts About Me.
  7. Take random photos in and around the lab.

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    Random snap of worn-out shoes

  8. Listen to a number of Richard Dawkins speeches ranging from militant atheism to god delusion and superstitions. Ponder about your core beliefs and get ideas about new blogging topics. Create a lot of new drafts (which you can only hope will get completed someday).
  9. Listen to different genres of music and keep making new playlists.

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    On the way to lab across Antelope valley, around 5:00pm

  10. Watch a lot of Disney movies, one more time.
  11. In fact, feel that urgent need to watch all those movies that you have had on your watchlist for a long time. And watch them all at once.
  12. Draw tattoos on yourself!

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    Make-belief bad@ss with lots of Ink!

  13. Be really fussy and short-tempered with people who really support you, like closest friends and family.
  14. Totally mess up your sleep cycle and unwillingly participate in morning and evening walks.

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    On one such Morning Walk, near the Memorial Stadium

  15. Miss a number of important meetings with important people due to #14. Get scowled at when you meet them the next time.
  16. Justify all the bad food choices, loads of chocolates and caffeine saying you need them.

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    Gorging on Chicken Tarragon Salad sandwich @ Bruegger’s

  17. Fuss a lot about writing thesis to everyone you meet/talk to/come in contact with. Be totally spaced out at all times.
  18. Sleep a lot and avoid any kind of household chores, like cooking, cleaning and paying bills.
  19. Shop online!

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    Huge Delivery from F21

  20. Most importantly, Do anything but write your thesis! 😀

I envy Heath Ledger

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I am running on a strange clock. When people ask me when I got this bug, if I was traveling and got jet lagged then I laugh inside. I reply ‘No, may be I just stayed up late one night and from there… ‘. But deep down they know me, they know how disorganized I am and that is not something I am proud of…

So one weekday night I suddenly planned to get back into schedule. I went to sleep early hoping I will get up early, best at 7:00am, and start living life like a regular person. But fate had different plans… there was a thunderstorm at night (being in Nebraska that’s not uncommon) and the sound woke me up at 3:00am (how rare is that… I pride myself on being the heaviest sleeper in the world, a fact that my friends and family will be more than happy to confirm).

So unlike my nature, I woke up at 3:00 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I thought about working or reading a book… but my darling MacBook Air was right next to me.., and I try to use it at every opportunity I get. So I went to, where else, YouTube. I browsed through a few of my subscribed channels and finally decided to watch a movie. Recently single and thoroughly disappointed with the men of my race, I have been considering interracial dating and this movie ‘Blind Dating’ attracted me naturally. Don’t watch it… no matter how cute Chris Pine looks ignore that movie… even though it’s available for free on YouTube, please save your sanity and a few minutes of your time… So yeah, it was unwatchable and still I was not sleepy. So what else was available for free? One of them was ’10 Things I hate about You’. Now I had heard good things about the movie from many people. But who watches a teenage chick flick which takes place in high school? Also I hate to admit it but I never liked Heath Ledger much. Specially since he died due to drug overdose. Although I admire his acting skills and all, and ‘The Dark Knight’ is one of my favorite movies of all times, but I have always been a supporter of the underdog – just because he was already so popular made me cringe. Also I always thought his death gave him unfair publicity. Anyways, at 4:00am in the morning it’s better to watch a teenage movie that you have heard good reviews about than watch something like Blind Dating once again. So I relented. Oh and what a movie it was! I mean it takes place in a high school! It’s based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew!! Who would have thought this movie will have two totally strong and individualistic characters?! I loved the movie. You see, it was all a conspiracy, I had to go to sleep early, there had to be a thunderstorm, I had to wake up at 3:00am, go through the torturous Blind Dating, and I had to watch this movie and fall deeply in love with the movie, with the characters (Kat & Pat). I am not very proud to admit it (I’m on the other side of 25 and I should be busy completing my Master’s thesis right now) but I have watched the movie 2 more times since then….

I’m also doing this #100happydays thing on Instagram where you find out one thing you were really happy about that day, and of course the character of Pat and the hopes of finding one like him in real life made me really happy. So again, unlike my character I posted a photo of him from that movie on my Instagram. I would never do that unless it was the #100happydays stuff and guess what… I got 10 more followers and crossed 100 followers on Instagram and that photo of him is the most liked photo of all times on my Instagram (makes me kind of irritated that a simple Google search and stolen pic can do that when no one notices when I spend hours trying to capture good photos to post there). But that’s beside the point… It’s more deep or weird or childish (as you prefer to call it)..

Since I was very young I have always been obsessed with dying young… and dying violently… I want to die in a car crash… a violent car crash and not die immediately… anyways, that’s kind of morbid. I always wanted that and frankly I still do… Let alone anybody else, I myself never understood my obsession. It was never about dying young solely, because I also fancy getting a terminal disease. I mean no disrespect to anyone who is suffering or someone who lost a dear one. I feel if I know that my time on earth is limited I will be able to live my life more fully. But that is stuff for a different post.

Now the problem is I envy Heath Ledger. To know his popularity you just need to go on Instagram and look at how many profiles are there on his name, where people post only his photos time and again, again and again. I mean you can always do a Google search and be overwhelmed, or you can just turn your head and ask the person sitting right next to you what they think about Heath Ledger. I mean ask the next stranger on the road now, and I kind of know what you’ll hear – something on the lines of ‘What a talent wasted for eternity!’.

His youth, his talent captured in time… he will always be good-looking, he will always be talented… he will never grow old, never lose all his hair…. never wear a hideous piece of clothing again or commit a fashion faux pas.. He will never abuse paparazzi again or behave badly with someone.. more importantly, he will never act in a bad movie again, or even give a poor performance in a good movie, his talent will never die… He will always be young and beautiful and talented… People will always mourn his loss from this world.. and he will be forever etched positively in our memory… I’m jealous!

P.S. It is meant as a light-hearted comic post. Please don’t take it seriously. No disrespect to anybody intended.