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  • balrajrathod 11:06 am on February 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    FEBRUARY 23, 2013.

    The Oscars are at the doors, and in my hustle to see as many Best Picture Nominees as possible, I found myself nagging around my seniors at the hostel, asking whether they possessed any of the Star Movies of this time around, of the lot the first one I stumbled upon was the Silver Linings Playbook. This adapted screenplay film(“The Silver Linings Playbook” is a novel by Matthew Quick) at first sight seemed to be a Typical Hollywood’s take on a Love Story. But it wasn’t. No abstract was read by me, just the presence of a heavy-starcast made me watch that included the likes of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence(Oh Boy!, I loved her in “The Hunger Games” and the “Winter’s Bone”), the stupendous Robert De Niro, the ever-funny Chris Tucker and Jacki Weaver. I don’t generally have a taste on “Love Stories” but I never knew that how much I would enjoy this ineffable love story that has been nominated for astounding 8 Academy Awards.

    Silver Linings Playbook is, in quintessence, a romantic dramatic comedy about two crazy people struggling to live it up and trying to summate things up. Crazy here doesn’t mean Nuts, I mean endeavoring with mental stability. Role of a former teacher, played by Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano, completes his tenure in a mental institution after a crime of passion which nearly kills his ex-wife’s lover.(Pat is down with bipolar disorder and is constant mentally unstable throughout). Tiffany Maxwell, played by the flawless-sunshine Jennifer Lawrence, is a young widow who also turns out to be a depressed sex addict, loses her job for “obvious reasons”. Pat undergoes medication and is under a restriction order to be away from his ex-wife and on the out seems disturbed, but on the other part Tiffany is normal on the out and struggles within.

    Watching Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t freaking-awesome enough, it was a joy-ride seeing Robert De Niro as Pat’s Eagles struck-superstitious father, Jacki Weaver plays Pat’s caring mother, Chris Tucker, as Danny, plays Pat’s best friend from the mental facility and our own Anupam Kher is also present in the cast as Pat’s Doctor. This stupendous cast brings it all together in mending these two messed up personalities, trying them to get back on the road.

    The performances given in by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who have successfully managed to form the complex human characters that are living with the scar that comes adjoined to mental illness. Pat returns home to find himself stared at and murmured about everywhere he goes. . Also has a police officer following him to ensure there is no violation of the restraining order against him.
    Tiffany has a problem dealing with her family; her sister is very judgmental of her and her parents questions on the men she brings into their home. Tiffany attempts to self-heal and dance is her tool; in one instance she is a caring-loving person and the next, is a screaming daemon crying “Sexual Harassment!” in order to get Pat away from her when she is angry with him. Jennifer Lawrence completely transforms what Crazy looks to our eye, giving more meaning and depth to the vivid term called “Mental Illness”. Bradley Cooper on other hand is brilliant in his portrayal of a Bipolar Disorder and the condition he undergoes through, questions the measures and theorization taken by society when a person commits an act of violence which was most likely to happen at the time. The director David O. Russell re-invents the romantic comedy way along with the cast that makes it all happen.

    Silver Linings Playbook is a must-see, go to the nearest showing (Though I had seen this in the midst of night when my Psychopath Room-mate was off) watch the latest taking on Mental Illness sprinkled around a wonderful love story. The Playbook might just change you totally.

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  • Debapriyo 1:10 pm on January 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , friendship, , , ,   

    Sakamichi no Apollon : Anime Review 

    Kids on the slope

    English Title : Kids on the Slope

    Watanabe Shinichiro, the guy who made Cowboy Bebop comes back with another masterpiece, but of a completely different sort. The only link? Jazz!

    The scope for an anime based on teenage romance/friendship to establish itself as ‘unique’ is quite meager, the genre being oversaturated and all, but Sakamichi pulls it off rather easily. The starting scene gave me vibes of Clannad, but it was quick to set itself apart. The main plot follows the friendship between three high-school students of the 1960s: Kaoru (the nerd), Sentaro (the bully), and Ritsuko (the girl). Vibes of a love triangle?

    Kaoru is the son of a man with a navy career, due to which he’s forced to jump from school to school quite often, and feels unwelcome everywhere due to his inability of developing intimate friends. He meets Sentaro, and Ritsuko, who also happen to be each other’s childhood friend. The way of portrayal of these characters is quite different from what you normally see. For example, most problems and quarrels are solved through group jamming sessions instead of words, which according to me is a HUGE thumbs up. And they actually play some awesome music.

    However, the main reason I liked this anime is because of all of its subtleties. You have a guy trained in classical music being exposed to serious jazz for the first time. You have the new and growing rock-n’-roll genre supposedly corrupting good music. (There’s this scene where they refer to The Beatles as “popular music meant to attract silly teenage girls” which really hits you hard if you are a fan, but also makes you realize how subjective tastes really are.) You also have those sad-for-no-reason moments which only anime and books have the power to possess. Like the time Ritsuko talks about Sound of Music:

    “Oh no, I didn’t see it. I wanted to, but before I knew it, it’d already stopped playing. I bet it was a good movie, huh? How could I miss it? I guess I thought I’d be able to see it anytime… I’m pretty dumb.”

    Life in the 1960s has been quite effectively captured, though many aspects and problems related to that era have been left out. Over and all I enjoyed it and pretty much everyone would. This anime gives you a kind of ghibli feeling. A classic noitaminA series.

    Overall rating: 8/10

     
  • Debapriyo 12:38 pm on October 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Paper Towns – Book Review 

    Paper TownsPaper Towns by John Green
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Reading John Green is a totally different experience, now that I know him more through Nerdfighteria than through his novels. For the same reason, he will never be able to create the awe which my other favorite writers do through their books. I’ll always see him as the goofy, nerdy, brilliant individual that he is.

    That said, Paper Towns was a nice experience. The characters were predictable and even the story was predictable, but in a good way. I liked this book for three simple reasons: 1) I loved Margo Roth Spiegelman 2) I could relate to Quentin 3) I liked the idea of Paper Towns.

    Though John Green is known for using the same formula over and over again in all his novels, I found this one significantly different from The Fault in Our Stars (the only other one that I’ve read so far).

    The book starts out with a flashback about child Quentin and child Margo discovering the corpse of Robert Joyner while playing in a park. We discover the differences of their characters from their different reactions.

    I took two small steps backwards. I remember thinking that if I made any sudden movements he might wake up and attack me.

    As I took those two steps back, Margo took two equally small and quiet steps forward. “His eyes are open,” she said.

    I especially liked the fact that the corpse had a name. It created a whole new dimension for me; it could’ve been just a corpse since the character is almost irrelevant to the story, but no, it was Robert Joyner. Anyway, moving on from my weird observations, the story jumps to few days before Quentin’s high school graduation day. He is a band nerd and hasn’t spoken to Margo for years (she is with the popular kids). But suddenly one night she climbs up to his window and takes him along for a secret one-night journey before disappearing from the neighborhood forever.

    Quentin now starts a search for Margo following some clues which she left especially for him. And the story carries on from there.

    Personally I think the ‘clues’ part should’ve been omitted. And few of the several metaphors too, because, even though there wasn’t anything wrong with them, they did sound a bit cheesy. Margo Roth Speigelman, ‘the manic pixie dream girl’ can also be charged of being too attractive a character to be real.

    Overall, I agreed with the philosophy and laughed at the jokes and liked the romance.

    View all my reviews

     
  • Debapriyo 10:22 pm on August 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , pain,   

    The Fault in Our Stars – Review 

    There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.

    To be honest, I like to steer clear of cancer books. I know cancer is a deadly disease and all that, but let’s just face it; I can do nothing to help in the field, and being selfish and keeping myself away from the associated depression seems like the best option for now.

    But I decided to read this book anyway since it was recommended to me rather earnestly, and one should never turn down earnestness! Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Mainly because it is as much a cancer book as the earth is a cube. It’s just that the characters in the book have cancer.

    A few pages into the book, I was really getting annoyed by the author’s self-advertisement of vocabulary. It was as if he was screaming “Look at me! I know more words than you, you loser!” I’m not saying that using rare words is bad, but using rare words where common alternatives are probably available, is simply show off. Then I thought that he might actually be unaware of the lowness of our comprehensive abilities, and decided to let it go.

    But John Green is certainly aware that pretty busty ladies won’t get the adequate attention (most people who read such novels these days aren’t driven through life by hormones). Hazel Grace, the protagonist and narrator, was made probably to attract readers like myself. Hazel, and girls like her are really and annoyingly appealing, in the sense that she is downright rude, self-satisfied, arrogant, and states stuff in a very matter-of-fact way. She is a person who will bullshit your thoughts if they’re different from her’s and will act like that’s the most natural thing to do. Of course, all these things aren’t even indirectly implied in the book (the book doesn’t need to explore those sides), but I know, since I know real girls like her. The typical intellectual teenager for you.

    Then there’s Augustus. A handsome amputee. Who also likes making jokes. He says he can’t write, but proves himself wrong in the same passage. You won’t find a speck of a flaw in him. In other words, a perfect match for Hazel.

    I wasn’t impressed much by the characterization. Every character seemed to have a John Green brain, and was similar to all the others on some level.

    Enough criticizing. Now for the strong points. The book gives you thoughts, or rather extracts out thoughts that have been hiding at the back of your head. You will find an inevitable connection with each idea. Also, the writing is pretty awesome. That’s the whole point of being an author, isn’t it?

    People will tell you that this is a book which make you cry gallons of tears. Maybe it will. But it wasn’t even remotely sad for me. There are books which transcend such emotions and only leave you grateful at having read them.

    And that is the highest compliment I can give to this book with my limited literary capabilities.

    My rating: 9/10

     
  • Debapriyo 10:32 pm on July 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: book reviews, highly recommended,   

    The Book Thief – Review 

    Everyone should have a book and I believe this is mine.

    I cannot claim that I’ve read a lot of novels, but among the ones that I have, no other book has moved me as much as The Book Thief. It might be because I’m a lover of Holocaust literature and movies, or because I adore authors who experiment with their writing, or for countless other reasons; this book worked out in every way possible, and it was just the right depth for someone like me.

    The story is set in Nazi Germany, where pain, suffering, and death are the ways of life. Among them, Death comes forward and tells the tale of a 13 year old German girl and her love (and hate) for words. The story itself is typical to other Holocaust tales, as it should be, but what sets this book apart is the narration. As I’ve already mentioned, Death is the narrator. Death, however, is portrayed in a slightly different way, as per the requirements of the story.

    While checking the reviews for this book, I found rather extreme reactions. Yes, there are two major reasons why few people might not like this book at all, and I should mention them here. Firstly, the narrator. Death comes off as really arrogant, as he gives you ‘spoilers’ throughout the novel and you come to know about most of the major events beforehand. Secondly, the characters. They are almost too beautiful to be real.

    I, and countless others, found these factors very enjoyable and essential to the novel. All I can say in defense is that these ‘flaws’ were meant to be there and without them The Book Thief would not have been as special as it is. The ultimate aim of the author, in my opinion, was to create something magical and a little set apart from reality (almost like the movie La Vita e Belle, but a little harsher). You might also find a vague similarity in narrative style with the anime Honey and Clover, although the themes are poles apart.

    You might want to read this book:

    1. If you enjoy beauty
    2. If you enjoy casual story-telling
    3. If you enjoy unconventional descriptions
    4. If you like sadness
    5. If you love books

    You might not want to read this book:

    1. If you’re looking for something raw and realistic
    2. If you want suspense
    3. If you appreciate nothing but happy endings

    Few quotes from the book to help you decide:

    1.

    There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life:

    1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else.
    2. He would make himself a small, strange mustache.
    3. He would one day rule the world.

    …Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words.

    2.

    He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world.

    She was the book thief without the words.

    Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.

    3.

    Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out.

    4.

    So much good, so much evil. Just add water.

    5.

    Often I wish this would all be over, Liesel, but then somehow you do something like walk down the basement steps with a snowman in your hands.

    6.

    You can’t eat books, sweetheart.

    7.

    I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate.

    My rating: 10/10

     
    • StetotheJ 10:59 pm on July 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Couldn’t agree more, frantastic book and great review. I did enjoy the sadness, if enjoy is the right word.

      • Riju 11:03 pm on July 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, this is the best I’ve read till date.

    • tuhinspeaks 10:29 pm on August 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Do you have the book with you? I would like to borrow it.

      • Riju 9:32 am on August 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I read everything on my kindle nowadays. So I have the mobi ebook.

  • Debapriyo 1:04 pm on March 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , comedy, , romance,   

    Honey and Clover – Anime Review 

    “We never did go to the beach. All that planning for nothing. But somehow, the fake memory of the six of us bathing in the sun burnt into the back of my eyelids, as if we were really there.”

    Takemoto, Honey and Clover.

    Episodes: 36, divided into two seasons
    Genres: slice of life, romance, comedy

    Highly Recommended.

    Not often do you come across something artsy and about art, and at the same time gives you a taste of cherries. Honey and Clover is a romantic comedy revolving around the lives of five art students going through their college life. This is definitely a benchmark anime for the ‘slice-of-life’ genre, finding just the right balance between joy and sorrow.

    There is no proper story-line; rather the entire plot is based solely on the characterization. The characters here are few of the most lovable ones ever to grace the screens of animated television. Each person is a three dimensional human being with reasonable flaws, having a unique perspective towards life. There is no stereotypical ‘dumb guy who makes you laugh’ or anything of that sort. Everyone is complex, having reasonable intelligence and emotions, and plans which stretch out further than the activities of next week. Sometimes few insignificant characters, who are mere cardboard cutouts having single purposes in life, do turn up, but they add to the flavor of the entire anime. A vague analogue would be Lestrade from the ever so great Sherlock Holmes.

    You’ll find a lot of melodrama and energy, all for the sake of comedy, and trust me; it gets seriously funny at times. But Honey and Clover is not just another dramatic show. It ranges from belly-aching laughter to tearful insights. The transition between these happens smoothly and continuously throughout the series, leaving no phase completely sad or completely happy.

    Like all college students, the air surrounding the five is scented with young love and dilemmas. Two love triangles pop up. But I guess that’s a gross over-simplified way of saying things. Don’t go on thinking that all the serious issues are related to the love aspect though, ‘cause there is just so much more.  A heartfelt despair about lack of talent, for example.

    The series has soft pastel shaded coloring throughout, unlike the typical bright tones you find in most animes. This compliments the steady flow of incidents to perfection. The expressions conjured with sudden changes in eye/face/body shapes often leave you mesmerized. I have a few complaints regarding the second season, in this respect. Though they maintained the same soft pastel shade, somehow the rough beauty of the expressions didn’t match up to those of the first.

    In fact, the entire second season is a bit disappointing, thanks to the tremendous expectation set forth by the first. The proper balance between separate storylines is somewhat lost, and you don’t get to see anything of Shinobu, Takemoto and Hagu for about six episodes or so. I won’t say it’s bad though (hell no!), it’s still awesome and makes up for all the aforementioned minor flaws with a fabulous ending sequence. What awes you most, is that in spite of being melodramatic throughout the season, no one gets any special hype towards the end, even though the precious characters might never see each other again.

    The voice acting is good, but, as usual, the English dub is a bit disappointing. They managed to ruin some important scenes with change of tone and complete change of dialogues. Hence I’ll recommend Japanese audio with English subs. In case you are new to anime, you might as well stick to English dub.

    I feel that this is best watched between the ages of 16 and 18, although there is no reason why older people won’t like it. This is a must watch for all anime and/or art lovers. If you want something rare and precious, Honey and Clover is one of the best there is.

    IMDb rating : 8.3/10

     
    • starsamaria 10:19 pm on March 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Nice review! Actually, though, I would argue that older viewers might be able to better appreciate Honey and Clover because the series has such a strong sense of nostalgia. I think it does a really good job of capturing the struggles of the college crowd, from Yamada’s unrequited love to Takemoto’s uncertainty about what he wants to do with his future. But my favorite aspect of the series is the casts’ friendship, and one of my favorite quotes from the series is the one at the top of your post, so I got excited when I saw that.

      • Riju 12:30 pm on March 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I cannot think from an older person’s perspective since I’m 18 myself. :P

        And you’re right, everything is pivoted around the friendship of the five. I somehow feel like Morita is responsible for that. The Rika/Harada/Shuji subplot was very captivating too. Nice to meet a fellow fan.

    • dibya 3:29 am on March 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I need to take this from you…

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