Sunday, March 09, 2014

Movie Review: Ship Of Theseus

Finally, this week, I got the chance to catch this very highly rated movie, on DVD.

The theme of the movie, with three independent stories that converge at the end, is the paradox of the Ship of Theseus. According to Wikipedia, The Ship of Theseus, also known as Theseus's paradox, is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object which has had all its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object. The paradox is most notably recorded by Plutarch in Life of Theseus from the late 1st century. Plutarch asked whether a ship which was restored by replacing each and every one of its wooden parts, remained the same ship.

The characters in the film all undergo a transformation that raises the question - are they still the same person? Egyptian actress Aida plays a blind photographer who gets a gift of an eye transplant that allows her to see again - but destroys her photogrpahy skills. It is a brilliant performance that you will remember for a long time. Neeraj Kabi plays a monk who fights against cruelty to animal, but his resolve is severely tested when he needs a liver transplant that requires him to accept medicines that have been tested on animals, the cause he has been fighting so hard for.

The movie is technically brilliant - the camera work, the sound. Apparently, the movie was shot on a Canon DSLR!
Do watch the movie - but remember, it can be pretty heavy stuff - so make sure you are in the right mood for it!

Movie Review: A Hijacking (Danish)

Polar opposite of another movie in the genre (Captain Phillips), A Hijacking deals with another real life incident in which Somali pirates board and hijack a Danish cargo ship for a ransom of 20M USD. Negotiations between the company's CEO, who refuses to let other professional negotiators take charge, and the pirates, drag for months - until the company finally pays up around 3.5M USD to end the crises.

The two hour movie feels longer than the months the sailors would have actually spent on board! After all, how much can you wait for the inevitable, especially when you know, no Navy Seals are ever gonna come to the rescue? :)

Movie Review: Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks enjoys being in movies where he is stuck in one place - and this time, he chooses the American container ship, Maersk Alabama, hijacked by Somali pirates 145 miles off the coast, in 2009. From the word go, the movie is a pulsating action thriller, with the ship's crew captained by Phillips (Tom Hanks) engaged in a deadly game of wits with the desperate pirates led by the stunningly cast Muse (Barkhad Abdi), while the American navy seals prepare to end the standoff.

Giving an intimate and very real-like view of the rescue ops, stunning footage of naval ships and intense negotiation techniques, this is one movie you cannot afford to miss!

Movie Review: Pulling Strings (Spanish/English)

Pulling Strings is a delightful, heart warming movie about a single father's attempt to woo a pretty gringo girl working at the American Embassy in Mexico City, so that he can get a visa for himself and his young daughter, who he wishes to leave with her grandparents in the US.

After being refused a visa, luck turns in his favour when he finds her drunk at a bus stop after after a long party, and takes her home. He hides her laptop and then spends the day with her, helping her "find" it, while making sure there are enough signals being generated about his popularity as a singer, income and stability - essential for her to get convinced that he deserves a visa.

Will it finally get him a visa? Or does life have something else in store?

A light, breezy movie, with delightful Spanish songs - if you love Bollywood, you will love this one!

Oh, and yes, the pretty Laura Ramsey makes it all so much more worthwhile!

Movie Review: Queen

I have always believed Kangana Ranaut is one of the best character actresses among her peers in Bollywood, and Queen yet again demonstrates exactly why.

The Vikas Bahl-directed Queen is a wonderful, light comedy with a powerful social message, just perfect for Women's Day. Sparkling with power packed performances, a thoroughly enjoyable script, and perfect casting, Queen is a delightful mix of English Vinglish and ZNMD. It's a coming of age story, a story of a shy, reserved Indian girl in Paris and Amsterdam, two cities that are the polar opposites of her own Rajouri, as well as a wonderful exposition of how love and friendship transcends borders and nationalities, unifying everyone in one common bond.

Let's start with the story. Kangana plays Rani, a shy, young Punjabi girl whose life and heart is broken a day before her marriage, when her fiance walks out on her. Crestfallen and dejected though she is, she decides enough is enough - and sets off on her Paris honeymoon, alone. A journey that will transform the self-pitying, scared and innocent soul into a modern, confident and proud woman.

Kangana is perfect for the role, her liberal dash of craziness, her subtle sexiness, never really seen, but always lurking around, makes her adorable. A few of her scenes are going to stay with you for a long time - fighting with the street mugger, the amazing drunk scene with Haydon which I rank as one of the best ever drunk scenes with absolutely stunning editing, the scene in which she runs to the rock show - watch her transform from the scared, shy girl to the new Rani who knows exactly what she wants. Watch her for the subtle expressions, the look in her eyes, the dialogues (many of which, by the way, have been penned by her).

The rest of the cast is also spot on. First, the stunning Lisa Haydon as her friend in Paris, who supports and drives her when she needs it most. Lisa is smoking hot, but her relationship with Rani is so beautiful and enviable. Rani's Punjabi family - again, absolutely spot on. Raj Kumar Yadav as her fiance has a small but critical role - his transformation from her suitor, to her fiance to the guy who desperately wants her back in his life is stunning, which isn't surprising as he has always been great at what he does! Rani's friends in Amsterdam, and the Italian cook she falls for - and the way their relationship build up, leaves a very warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart, and you wonder, why can't we all live like this?

While it is light and fun, it is also relentless but subtle in pointing out the gender disparity in India, and will inspire more than a few girls to stand up for themselves - and for the way it achieves this, the movie deserves an ovation. And not once does it turn preachy.

For one of the best movies in it's genre from Hollywood, huge applause from me - don't miss it this weekend!

My Article on Social Samosa on SMA for Digital Marketing

I  recently wrote an article on Social Samosa on the need for social media analytics to look beyond statistics, which present a very limited perspective.

The Indian middle class is becoming increasingly urbanized, with regular access to opinions and trends from around the world through the Internet. There is a big opportunity and a very urgent need for marketers to engage the urban Indian on the Internet. Also, not surprisingly, with the explosive rise in mobile penetration, the rural Indian is not too far behind.

With information and reviews quickly and increasingly moving to social networks, people are now more empowered and in a better position to judge and decide. For marketing strategists, simply knowing so much more about their target audiences through their social conversations, puts them in an excellent position to develop focused campaigns that resonate with each individual – something that wasn’t possible a few years ago.

Unfortunately, most social media watchers rely on largely superficial statistical information that encourages a false sense of confidence in the marketing strategy, while denying digital marketing strategists the tools needed to dig deeper into what the social networks are desperate to reveal!

Read the whole article reproduced on my Musings blog.