Tag Archives: Through the looking glass series

Emerald City: The Story So Far

emerald-city

 

A few weeks ago a show caught my attention that I hadn’t heard of at all. There were no whispers or murmurs of this show anywhere….at least not the places and spaces I dig and crawl through and find things. Trust me I do have a good set of eyes & ears as far as picking up on new shows is concerned. So a few days after the show premiered I was perusing through a list of new shows that I could possibly invest my time & interest in…and voila! There it was…’Emerald City.’ That led me to Youtube to check out the promotional trailer, which then led to the discovery that Vincent D’Onofrio is on this show which in turn piqued my curiosity even more, because let’s face it, the man picks very interesting projects.

The trailer was pretty darn interesting. Okay maybe I was having a nice senior moment, but for some reason I didn’t make the connection between the title and The Wizard of Oz. Heck, when I read the title I thought it might be a show on Irish mythology. The trailer in itself showcases that it’s a different take on The Wizard of Oz, not what we have come to expect after reading or watching the different adaptations over time. The cinematography and visuals are quite spectacular, in fact you get a certain ‘Once Upon A Time’ and steampunk-ish vibes when you watch the promo. Following the promo I started watching the show, and, I was sold within the first 5 minutes of the proceedings. Why? Because Gina freaking Bellman is on the show, at least she was in the pilot! Which made this far more interesting…fast!

Alright, let’s get into my  thots about the show so far. The first 2 eps will leave you confused, perhaps even a little unsatisfied & with a boat load of questions. But that is to be expected, I mean how can you watch a show if everything is explained within the first 2 eps? That just ruins the mystery, appeal and intrigue right? Anyway,  all I can say is that the curiosity & suspense regarding the plot-line just keeps building after each episode. The characters on this show are starkly different from what you’ve read and watched on other Oz adaptations. One of my fav aspects of the show is just how much the creators have dived into and played with the gray spectrum of human nature. There’s more than one way to view a character as good or bad, not just by their costumes or dialogues, but also by their actions and the situations they’re in that bring out this bivalent nature. It’s not our inherent natures, personalities, attributes, strengths or weaknesses that define us really. It’s how & what we turn to in order to survive that gets us labelled as good or bad. None of the characters are black or white representations of good or evil. Everyone is on a quest of their own.

The next few lines are going to be a few things that really stood out and were moments that made me pause and say ‘Hmmm…’ that’s an interesting way to put it. So this is my way of saying SPOILER ALERT for those of you who care, in which case skip this paragraph. For those of you who just don’t give a damn, as you were I guess. In this adaptation of Oz-ness, Dorothy is adopted by a couple after her Mum comes running to their house for help. It’s unclear what or who her Mother was running away from. Anyway flash forward and Dorothy wants to get to know her birth mother and she tries to go and talk to her but loses her nerve every time apparently. Then when she finally gets the courage to do so things get a little complicated, there’s a little blood and disturbance, trouble with cops and then a tornado which pretty much teleports her to Oz land…where she is on a completely bizarre new journey. When she lands in Oz she is subsequently captured/held & tortured for a wee lil’ bit before being released/freed, with some advice from a tribe leader telling her to follow the yellow road to Oz to see the Wizard, who in turn will be able to answer her questions, hell even save her. The yellow road, we find out, is made of pollen from the Opium poppy, which eventually has an effect on Dorothy and travellers she meets along the way & accrues as she heads on towards Oz. After watching the last 4 eps, the Yellow Road had me doing a lot of thinking. While the road takes you to your ultimate destination that has the answers, sometimes the path prescribed the most isn’t the path that you as an individual need to take to get to your goals. That commonly taken path might be one full of delusions that dim your hope away, and, may cause you to stray more from your destination, as opposed to the path you choose to make and take to your end goal. Besides, life has a funny way of giving us answers we’re looking for in the most interesting places and spaces, and a quest is not defined by a fixed path, but by the choices we make. One of the characters on this show has caught my attention more than the others. The character is a young kid, well is introduced to us as a young boy, probably in their early to mid teens. This character was given a magic potion (for lack of a better term) to help keep them alive, because as per the kid’s guardian he apparently has ‘bad blood.’ Now magic is something that is banned in Oz, a decree passed and enforced by the Wizard. So this kid was told that without the elixir they would die from their condition. The information was given him by his guardian, most probably a witch, who keeps him under lock and key at all times. Eventually, the character is busted outta house prison by a friend, only problem is they don’t have enough elixir for him to take on a daily basis to stay alive. Kid & his friend spend the night in the forest…the next morning kid makes a discovery after running out of the elixir, much to his surprise and horror he finds himself transformed into a girl. In the subsequent episodes you find out the elixir helped hide the fact that he’s a girl. The character’s struggle is heart wrenching to watch. Spending all your life thinking & believing you’re one way only to discover you’re not and not knowing how to handle something so complicated and not knowing whom to turn to or what to do, is definitely beyond frustrating, aggravating & nerve wracking. While trying to adapt to his new body, comes the expectation to adapt to gender roles in society. The character spouts a pretty epic line in episode 4 and it stuck with me. It goes something like this, ‘So basically as a woman you’re telling me my options are either to become a nun or be a whore?’ There was something so damn profound in those words. Society and their perceptions really peg us down. Why do we let assumptions and perceptions define what can or can’t be done, or what expectations are? Why can’t everyone, regardless of all the differences we like to get into, be able to set their own expectations and standards?  So far, these are the scenes/moments that have stuck with me, I’m sure there’ll be more ‘lightbulb’ moments as the show progresses.

This show’s locales and cinematography is very reminiscent of something that’s a cross between ‘Once Upon A Time,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Merlin,’ and LOTR, with a hint of steam-punk dashed around. In terms of plot it reminds me of OUAT, only it’s much darker. I love the creative liberties the writers and creative heads have taken to tell this story. It basically is an old tale re-told for a new generation. But then again, that’s the idea of stories and story-telling right? To make them as relevant as the world & times we live in. Initially I was annoyed by some of the reviews I read by prolific ‘critics.’ I mean honestly, how do you write off a show based on 1 or 2 eps? If this show was done straight to Netflix where all the eps were lined up and one wouldn’t have to wait a whole damn week to see what happens next, I think the opinions might just be a smidge different. In conclusion, give ‘Emerald City’ a shot and let me know what you think of it!

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Fan (2016) Movie Review

Through The Looking Glass series presents a quick shot review of Fan, a Hindi movie released on April 15th, 2016.

Movie: Fan
Release Date: April 15, 2016Director: Maneesh Sharma
Rating: 4.0/5.0 Stars of Superstardom

Fan (2016)
Fan (2016)

In one line this is what I took away from the movie – ‘Obsession comes with a price.‘ Instead of revealing plot points and fun things of the sort, I’m just going to mention things that I think stood out in the flick.

-Loved the psych aspect of this movie. In this day and age I think it’s a very salient point to bring up the concept of obsession and the extent to which it can drive a person.
-Also with the advent and boom of social media, it is very easy to get caught up and lost in the world of celebrities. It’s easy to get obsessed over them because all the information you need is literally at your fingertips and a few keystrokes away. It’s easy for people to possess that sense of entitlement over possessing an actor/actress and/or character(s).
-Obsession can rob you blind of your own potential. It’s like that itch that needs to be constantly scratched and takes all your attention away. It just consumes so much of your attention and focus, that you tend to forget that you have your own life to live.
-How obsession can be both harmful and helpful. It gives you a sense of purpose and it makes you see just what you can be driven to achieve if you put your mind to. But once you cross the line, it can go haywire. Obsession can turn into a tool that keeps you disciplined and goal oriented, and one that can make you forget there are limits & boundaries that exist. All it makes you see is your target and attaining what you want regardless of consequences.
-How the media (especially the Indian media) loves to sensationalize just about anything and everything especially when it has to do with Bollywood…the current Hrithik Roshan & Kangana Ranaut issue is definitely one for the media sensationalisation books.
-At the end of the day, celebrities are human, and just like the rest of us they crave that space for normalcy. It reminds me of Shylock’s famous speech from Merchant of Venice when he’s in court justifying/explaining his whole ‘pound of flesh’ situation/demand.
-Irrespective of where you reach in life, set your own standards so your world remembers you for the legacy you leave behind….not by somebody else’s legacy. Also, regardless of your station in life, you will always have people who look up to you and follow you blindly. It is important to acknowledge them and give them the respect they deserve, but in that same vein, it doesn’t mean you have to be eternally obligated to them or bow to their every demand. Life is about making yours the most memorable one you’ve lived & built for yourself, without forgetting all those who helped you along the way.

Now let’s talk about other aspects of the flick. When I first watched the theatrical trailer for ‘Fan’ oh man did I get goosebumps. They were goosebumps of nervousness & excitement all clubbed into one…I watched this trailer and I said to myself, “Self, you know, this flick reminds me of SRK’s flick ‘Darr’ and bloody hell I’m excited to watch it. I think it’s gonna be absolutely thrilling.” In my opinion, it was a very interesting flick, it could’ve been a shorter flick, but it’s definitely a very interesting flick. The climax was definitely surprising and not one I was expecting per-se. Like I said before, a few aspects of the plot could’ve been handled a little better, the writing could’ve definitely been a little tighter. That being said though, I did love the cat & mouse game that ensued.

In terms of performance, freaking hell SRK is bloody awesome. I found his rendition of both ‘Gaurav Chandna’ and superstar ‘Aryan Khanna’ to be handled in quite a flawless manner. And holy shit the man is in excellent physical shape, something that’s very evident in all the running around and physical scenes. Some of the locales in this flick are absolutely breathtaking…especially the scenes in Dubrovnik, Croatia. That’s definitely a place on my list of places to see, I don’t think the cameras and settings did enough justice to this breathtaking location!

Take a bow Maneesh Sharma for trying to balance, handle & do justice to such an interesting subject. I find it to be quite a relevant issue, especially with stuff like Twitter, Tumblr, FB and so many other countless social media outlets that allow you to not only have access to info, but also allows you to spew a lot of hate & disagreement over words & sentiments that are misconstrued. Heck we’ve all seen famous Twitter wars, we’ve seen fandoms go at each other even when the celebrities themselves have no problems with each other. I like the essence/concept of ‘Entitlement’ Maneesh Sharma has sneaked into this flick…an insanely relevant sentiment that reigns supreme amongst most people these days.

Alright, well that’s it folks, these are my thots on one of the many interesting Bollywood flix of 2016. Lemme know what y’all thought of Fan & I’d love to hear your opinions & talk to you about it!

Mad Max Fury Road

Through the Looking Glass Series presents a super quick review of Mad Max Fury Road.

Movie: Mad Max Fury Road
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Director: George MillerRating: 4.5/5.0 Units of Guzzolene

Mad Max Fury Road
Holy Jaesus! It only took me this long to watch it, due to very reasonable reasons might I add. But all things aside, I finally did watch it and Holy %#@$#$ it was quite a visual & cinematic experience. I wasn’t really expecting much from the movie and I had very low expectations. Why? Because the earlier version of Mad Max never really caught my fantasy and the steam punky nature of things along with this whole post apocalyptic scenario didn’t exactly appeal to me. I heard great things about it, even then I wasn’t too stoked to watch it. But boy oh boy am I glad I finally did. I’m not gonna take up too much space & place with this review, mostly because it is my understanding that I might be the last human being on this planet that finally watched this movie, therefore you all know what happens, if not there’s always Google to ruin your day/quench your curiosity so on and so forth.

Holy Shit….wait let me rephrase…HOLY SHITTT!!!!! Tom flipping Hardy is one helluva actor. Just when I think this guy has hit his peak, he goes and does something like this & boom you have to re-think his potential. When this guy plays a character, not only does he get into the physicality of it (like Christian Bale) but shit he becomes that character. He creates mannerisms, vocal pitches and timbres, facial characteristics, basically he modifies everything about himself to be the character. He’s so precise with it that it’s not just an external presentation, it literally goes down to the bone where this guy and his characters are concerned.

Moving on from fangirling over Tom Hardy let’s move on to the next stellar actor/actress in this cinematic adventure….Charlize Theron. All I have to say is Charlize Theron…who is that? OH you mean Imperator Furiosa?!?! Man toss in another cess pool of talent along with some high octane action sequences and BOOM you’ve just created magic. I just got a new bad-ass hero to add to my list of ultimate if not most epic heroes/heroines EVER! Start to finish Charlize Theron exudes, flourishes & shines in her role as Furiosa with her lethality & vulnerability.

Last but not the least I have to mention the technical aspects of the flick. Take a bow George Miller. The stunning use of colour, music and locales pretty much adds to the body of this edge of the seat action dramaga (drama + saga) and I cannot wait to see how Max’s story unfolds. I really enjoyed how the geography, topography pretty much set the tone if not reflected the ppl from those areas.

Here’s the best part though that I interpreted from the flick (maybe I found something too deep that may have not been there.) Everyone wants to go out in glory and be witnessed while they make their way to Valhalla. Question remains which Valhalla do you choose? The one that’s been pre-defined by a buncha ponces who claim to be leaders, or, the one you make your way towards by doing what you know to be the true and right?

Well let me know what you guys thought of the movie down below in the comments section, and have yerselves a fantastic weekend.

Phantom – A Movie Review

My Rating: 4/5 Afghan Jalebis or Jalebis of any kind.

In a world where hatred is the easiest commodity to sell, Phantom does a pretty decent job of not overdosing on smear campaigns, as well as avoiding quite a chunk of cross border slandering. 26/11 is a date engraved in the minds of billions of Indians across the globe. A terrorist attack in Mumbai, where questions are still being asked and remain unanswered. Are there answers available? Have the ones responsible for such a heinous act of terror been brought to justice? Or have we slipped back into acceptance mode where this was just another terrorist incident in another part of the world that we’ve now learned to accept with a frightening sense of normalcy, since there’s one happening on an almost daily basis. Are the victims of these attacks and their loved ones the only ones who feel the gravity of the situation? The same people who feel as if the world has turned away from hearing one more outcry, one more mother wailing for their child? One more child crying for their parents? A soldier crying for their fallen comrades? The soldier who sends a prayer to the great void of uncertainty everyday, hoping to see their loved ones just once more if today were their last day?

I do digress from the point. Phantom is NOT a propaganda filled flick, believe it or not. In fact, hats off to director Kabir Khan for handling this issue with what appears to be a lot of ease. The heart and soul of the matter is that terrorism hurts us all, but what hurts us most is the ease with which power hungry idiots can manipulate our emotions and sentiments. Especially those clowns who destroy religions, the fundamentals of religion (and have absolutely no qualms doing so,) spread the language of violence and a supposed ideal of ‘martyrdom’ at the expense of so many innocents. Kabir Khan has managed to capture the anguish and consequences of cross border terrorism from both sides without pointing fingers at either. I like the beauty with which he has handled the effects of terrorism within India and Pakistan and the effects on the families of the fallen, be it the countless soldiers protecting the borders, the gazillion innocents lost and caught in the cross-fire in these senseless acts, the families of the terrorists/suicide bombers and the great void in between. There’s this one line in the movie, which I’m paraphrasing, where one of the characters states one makes more money by joining the terrorist training camps than by working a good ol’ job…Makes you wonder doesn’t it, if the world hasn’t already crumbled to pieces and fallen to depths far beyond our reach? It also amazes me how religion is now just a mere toy in the hands of ranting and raving lunatics who think it’s absolutely alright to bastardize ideals and values taught by these faiths, and re-package and sell them, especially to curious, innocent and naïve minds who don’t know any better? It irks me immensely as to how malleable these idiots make the concept of religion seem, and it irks me as to how easy it is for people to buy into these ideas without questioning them.

Kabir Khan’s casting choices are always interesting, and definitely an aspect of his films I look forward to. So needless to say for this flick, it was entertaining to see Saif Ali Khan take on such a role, because I still associate SAK with his characters from Hum Tum, Dil Chahta Hai, Kal Ho Naa Ho etc etc and it’s hard for me to picture him in a more serious role (despite the fact he has done and excelled in several serious flicks such as Being Cyrus and Omkara to name a few.) Katrina Kaif’s movie choices have been interesting thus far; I’d say she’s done a pretty decent job as a supporting character in this flick. The movie doesn’t get sidetracked by too many personal sentiments, entanglements or stories of the characters, nor does it get too complicated with complicated romantic angles and notions. With that being said, I must add that this is a tale of love…for country, duty and humanity.

Yes the movie does open the floor up to questions pertaining to vigilante justice, spy vs. spy government defense & intelligence agencies, terrorist organizations, government diplomacy, defense/security consultants, politics and political distractions. It also raises important questions pertaining to the ease with which we’re willing to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to such pertinent matters, and the ease with which we allow people to blindly make our decisions for us. I mean hey they sell a good game and great pitch when elections roll around, but, do we actually see anything being done to ensure a better, safer and peaceful future?

All in all I enjoyed this movie and I do recommend it! Please do me a favour and watch this flick out of curiosity and free of all the mind swinging garbage political hullabaloo ‘we said, they said’ drag surrounding this flick. And, please do let me know what your thoughts and sentiments are about this flick. Well that’s my 75 cents on the movie Phantom. Until next time folks…Cheers!

Phantom

 

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
My Rating: A Bookworm Special 

Well first off let me assure you this is not a book report, it’s my knee jerk response to an impulse buy & impulse read. The only reason I even picked up this book, and I’m not ashamed to say so, is because a) it was on sale and b) the cover piqued my curiosity. I have a history of picking up books with intriguing covers, case in point being the ‘Twilight’ series. Hey those books have some fancy and stark cover art that gives your bookshelf some colour, and is a great distraction to get whiny people off your back.

Going back to the book being discussed here, I must add that the book did catch me by surprise. The plot isn’t an intriguing one and the book isn’t a sequel demanding piece of work. What caught me by surprise and I found to be quite refreshing was the simplicity with which the story was crafted and written. There aren’t too many complicated or fancy words to induce a headache, in fact, the simplicity of the diction used is so sharp and stark that it captures and maintains your interest as you turn  the pages. It’s not an eye-opening story, in fact it’s one that makes you pause, analyze and reflect on the ease with which our minds brush off incidents, conversations, emotions and people. It highlights a line we are in the habit of ignoring and forgetting, but one that our subconscious is constantly aware of. That line happens to be the one between perception and expectation. How easy is it for us to look at someone and perceive them to be a certain way which in turn determines if not confines a certain expectation as a result of that perception.

After reading this book, my mind was reeling with the ease with which we convince ourselves with half truths and lies as a result of fear, hesitation and ignorance as opposed to taking the initiative to truly discover more about those around us. Is it really worth the time we have in this one lifetime to categorize people, as opposed to filling this lifetime with memories of a life well-lived through exploration, discovery, compassion and empathy? Compassion and empathy don’t necessarily mean being the official “Kleenex” supplier or the ‘Agony Aunt’ everyone runs to. It could be the one smile you were responsible for earlier today, or those fun 15 minutes you spent chatting to the person ahead or behind ya while waiting in line for a cuppa tea or coffee.

Celeste Ng, thank you for bringing out the power in simplicity. Very few books have gathered and gripped my attention the way your piece of work did. I am most definitely looking forward to the next tale you weave with your words. And folks, don’t be fooled by the cover. Give it  a read and let me know what you think.

As I mentioned before w.r.t ‘Through The Looking Glass’ series I won’t really be discussing the storyline, plot nor generate a synopsis. I trust Google to give you guys the answers you’re looking for as far as those issues are concerned. Here’s how the Rating system works

Bookworm special – Definitely something you should read
Drifter – Well, your survival and life as you know it doesn’t depend on reading this book, but it does contribute to your vocabulary.
Space Cadet – Drooling and appearing glass eyed are common signs associated with reading this piece of work.

That’s it from me folks, until next time!