There were only twenty-five minutes left, but that seemingly short amount of time was excruciating – my back ache had worsened, probably because a particularly garrulous couple was pushing up against me from behind and I was squeezed between them and this lady in front of me. There was also this woman in front of my mother who kept passing things to someone behind me by passing them over my head and I had to duck constantly to avoid getting hit. However, the silver lining was this girl diagonally in front of me who was a super fan of MLTR – she was the most ebullient person there and her energy was infectious. She was there with her boyfriend who didn’t seem to know who MLTR were and she was most probably introducing him to the band. He was the polar opposite of his girlfriend – phlegmatic and composed. Yet, he looked slightly embarrassed by her antics which included shouting at the bouncer standing in front of her for blocking her view. Nonetheless, they were fun people to have around me and I enjoyed their company.
Yesterday I attended my first music concert (non-orchestral). At 16, I guess it’s pretty late for such a thing, but when you consider the place I live in, it should come as no surprise. Calcutta, otherwise known as the cultural capital of India, is inhabited by people with the musical taste of a two-year old. Whenever international bands or solo artists tour India, they always bypass this city of mine and that’s left me sore on many an occasion. However, last month, my mother read an article in the newspaper announcing that Michael Learns To Rock would be performing here in Cal on the 17th of December. This was a band I’d grown up listening to, mostly due to my parents who adored it. The “Assorted” folder in my parents’ music collection contains songs by MLTR like 25 Minutes, Sleeping Child and Out of the Blue. The prospect of hearing these guys live made my mother and me ecstatic.
The event was scheduled to be held on the field of The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club from 5 onwards. The tickets were surprisingly expensive and were categorized into General, Gold and Premium, the differences being the first is the standing area some distance from the stage and the latter two providing you with a seat closer to the stage. We decided that my mother and I would attend the concert and so we bought two General tickets which set us back four thousand rupees. (Each Gold ticket was five thousand rupees and each Premium was ten thousand.)
As an ardent Star Wars fan, I must shamefully admit that I played the critically acclaimed Knights of the Old Republic game only a couple of years ago. Though, it wasn’t really my fault as I have been trying and failing to make the game run on my computer for almost 6 years. I originally got the game when I was 10 only to discover that, for some reason, it refused to work on my PC. It didn’t launch and if it did, it crashed as soon as I reached the main menu. I tried to fix it, but at that age I really wasn’t very knowledgeable about these matters and soon gave up. My second brush with it was around two years later when a friend told me that he had gotten the game to work on his computer. He said that some of the files on my CD must have been corrupt and so, he gave me his CD to install the game from. I remember sitting excitedly in front of my monitor waiting for the installation to finish so that I could get on to playing the game, but once again, I was disappointed. This time, an error popped up on my screen every time I double-clicked on the launcher. I scoured the net for solutions, but none of them seemed to work for me. This attempt to run the game ended the same way as the last – in my surrender. Finally, I got my hands on it again two years ago and this time I was determined about fixing it. I spent hours digging through forums and watching YouTube videos on the subject. Eventually, I think the game sensed my frustration and acquiesced. I literally leapt up in joy when the game worked. However, there were still a few kinks to solve – the game refused to save, cut-scenes refused to play and the aspect ratio was stuck at 800×600. These required an hour more of work, but when it was done, I felt so relieved. I reclined in my chair and prepared myself for a great Star Wars experience. However, I never anticipated it to be that good.
Seeing the classic Bond Gun Barrel sequence right at the beginning of the movie made me feel nostalgic. Plenty of other scenes in Spectre evoked the same emotion, making it feel like an homage to Bond of old. Many have faulted it for this exact reason, but I embrace it as a welcome change from Craig’s usual Bond formula.
It opens wonderfully in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead with masses of people dressed appropriately for a masquerade. It’s by far one of the best opening sequences in any movie, let alone a Bond one and right from the get-go, I could understand that this was going to be a different ride from Casino Royale or Skyfall. Spectre tells a much more personal story than any of Craig’s Bond films. It was a good move because the previous three movies had woven a very intricate story for Bond that was just waiting to be unraveled (Quantum of Solace did very little though). In all honesty, Spectre didn’t exactly do that, but I learned a lot about Bond, his childhood, why he does what he does; I got to see a more emotionally vulnerable side of Bond and seeing him like that made me perceive him as more human than the stoic, one-line spouting killing machine.
Note: For the purpose of simplicity, I will be considering any movie based on a character by Marvel or DC to be made by them respectively and not by its original studio (if any). For example, Spiderman will be considered to be made by Marvel and not Sony because he’s Marvel’s intellectual property.
I’ve been reading comic books quite casually since I was a child and though I’m not very well-versed with the intricate details of every character’s background, I have a decent overview of each of them. Now when it comes to Marvel vs. DC, I’ve always been on DC’s side because I just like their characters better, simple as that. But the problem is that while DC has really good characters in the comic books, they haven’t been able to reproduce that comic book magic on the big screen like Marvel has. Tim Burton’s and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are exceptions to that rule and maybe even the old Superman movies, but they’ve aged terribly. Iron Man and Captain America aren’t nearly as interesting as Batman and Superman, but Marvel hired the perfect actors to portray the two characters and made some really good movies about them. Consequently, I went from thinking of those two as discount superheroes to considering them worthy of being in the big leagues. The funny thing is that DC had the leg up on Marvel in terms of movie success with Christopher Reeves’ Superman movies, but how the tables have turned.
Star Wars and I go way back; I was introduced to it at a very young age by my father and was instantly entranced by it. Yoda, Luke Skywalker and Jabba the Hutt were my favourite characters at the time and my father often pokes fun now at how I used to pronounce Luke as “Loop” when I was a child. The series was what got me so interested in space and even science and I remember nights when I would stare doe-eyed at the stars and imagine myself flying an X-Wing. Star Wars really is like a fairy tale – it has a protagonist who is the quintessential good-guy, a villain who is as evil as the protagonist is good, a fantastic story that takes place in many elaborate locations, the age-old notion that good always triumphs over evil and of course, a happy ending. Just like a fairy tale, Star Wars has endured, maybe even grown, in popularity in the 38 years since its inception.
I remember being very confused by the ways the movies had been numbered – I remember being stumped by the fact that the fourth movie, A New Hope was made before the first, The Phantom Menace. I didn’t really know the history of Star Wars at the time and thus, it was one of life’s big mysteries, that is, until I asked my father about it many days later (I don’t know why it took me that long) and he answered the burning question. Star Wars has a very special place in my life because of the massive impact that it has had on me. The Jedis are the embodiment of good, of what is right, of purity of mind and spirit. I always wanted to be a Jedi when I was a kid and there were many times when I would spend almost an hour trying to move a door or a bucket by using the Force or try to force-choke my annoying cousin (that’s more Sith, but hey, a lot of Jedis have temporarily turned to the Dark Side. For example, Kyle Katarn). I would have lightsaber battles using these plastic lightsabers that my grandfather bought for me from a toy store with that same annoying cousin who I tried to kill by holding three of my fingers in the air.
Spring exudes elegance and subtlety. This isn’t the kind of movie you sit down to watch with a group of your friends, hoping to have a blast of a time; it’s the kind of movie that’s slow paced, doesn’t have much action, that’s “arty”, where every single line of dialogue is a clue about the character, where so much is implied through speech. To really appreciate it, find some quiet-time for yourself and give it a watch. It’s a masterpiece and nothing short of it.
I didn’t know a thing about this movie before I watched it – not the genre, general plot, actors, director, nothing. I didn’t know what to expect from the movie because, honestly, I had never heard of it before. It’s quite slow paced, more so in the opening 30 minutes. But those first 30 minutes tell you so much about the protagonist without throwing a ton of exposition in your face like a lot of other movies. It’s a wonderful mix of three genres – romance, horror and dark comedy, but somehow, it isn’t a convoluted mess that can’t find its own identity. Moving on to the plot — here’s the thing, I really don’t want to say anything about the plot because it would be tantamount to a crime. The story flows so beautifully and spontaneously like a calm brook. Most similarly-slow movies end up having these long and frankly, boring scenes that are praised by highbrow critics to be “Oh so wonderful!” For example, 12 Years A Slave was a great movie no doubt, but there were some scenes that had no dialogue or for that matter, any people in them; they would just depict a field or some aspect of nature and I felt that they didn’t add anything to the movie. This movie avoids those pitfalls and is intriguing and engaging throughout.