My Life, Our Times

Capsule Review

Gordon Brown is known as a politician, who dislikes appearing publicly these days, and it’s probably a very good idea: Brown is not eloquent in communicating – this has always made him a British figure, who’s hard to connect with as a human being, but Brown insists that permitting his work as a politician to speak is all that’s necessary to make a difference on a global scale. That kind of character-blend instantly makes a failed politician, as the elections of 2010 proved, and yet Brown still maintains that during this age of social media networks, that’s what’s right. In many ways, Brown still comes across as the same person he was when he was the Prime Minister, which is something else that’s good because the expectation from his autobiography was that he provides an in-depth look into his world (of work): Brown doesn’t lack in many more drawbacks, as is often the general notion – as the country’s longest-serving Chancellor, Brown was (gratefully) trying his very best to control Tony Blair, the Prime Minister at the time, and he was also (memorably) a dependable British leader, when the banking crash happened on such a mammoth scale; for those things alone, if nothing else, Brown’s reflections of a lifetime in politics is a curious piece of work – one that is genuinely interested in the goodwill of the British people and national values.

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The Limehouse Golem

The Limehouse Golem

Capsule Review

Cast: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke and Henry Goodman
Director: Juan Carlos Medina
Rating: 6/10

The British film centers on a murder, where the suspect is the person’s wife: Elizabeth Cree but meanwhile, Scotland Yard Inspector John Kildare is on the trails of a ‘Limehouse Golem’, which has a reputation of swiftly remaining uncaught and during it, it soon emerges that Elizabeth’s husband is one of the suspects in the Limehouse Golem murders. In the midst of a sea of eyesores, an underlining suspense running through the script to find out the identity of the Limehouse Golem, as well as discover what really happens of Elizabeth in the end, very much recycles the movie around from a piece of trash to something worthwhile; also noteworthy is the elaborately-detailed backdrop, which gets the tone of the film right – it’s not gay Victorian London anymore, because the atmosphere has suddenly gone from happy to (pressingly) gloomy and dark.

It

It (2017) poster.jpg
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Capsule Review

Cast: Bill Skarsgard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer and Chosen Jacobs
Director: Andy Muschietti
Rating: 8/10

It is a horror film about a terrifying clown, who lives off children and surfaces in an otherwise normal small town, every twenty-seven years (for it). Pennywise the Dancing Clown has special abilities which help him in his pursuits, here – he can morph into a child’s biggest fear. It is the late eighties and there’s a group of young societal misfits called ‘The Losers Club’ – a fat new kid, who likes to read and research a lot, a foul-taking best friend of the brother of a Pennywise victim (George), a homeschooled orphan, and a sickly boy, are amongst the children on the run from Pennywise’s terrors. All this unravels after Pennywise drags George to a sewer, on a very rainy day – George is never seen in town after that incident. I liked that the movie wraps up with the children promising to hunt down Pennywise for good in the end (if he was to return) and there are no ramblings, which fall off the main plot of the film – the scary relationship that Pennywise shares with young children; given that the scary clown appears a little over every two decades or so, it was very interesting to have a new story bring to surface, what that scary experience of being hunted by a clown feels like for some (new) children. It is a must-watch for lovers of classic horror because it’s a new kind of scary experience – a clown (these days) instead of just entertaining in a silly avatar, also hunts terrifyingly mercilessly.

Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards

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A documentary puts the spotlight on legendary footwear designer: Manolo Blahnik.

Capsule Review

Cast: Manolo Blahnik, Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Karlie Kloss, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Rupert Everett and Issac Mizrahi

Director: Michael Roberts

Rating: 7/10

A documentary exploring the life and times of the legendary accessories designer Manolo Blahnik, dotted with quotes from the people who knew him best? It sounds like a novel idea (on paper). And that is just what I liked about this movie – that it focuses on being an informative documentary on the Spanish fashion designer, and nothing else. The storytelling centers on getting the opportunity to learn more about who exactly is, Manolo. Some interesting tidbits about Manolo included in the fold: his first shop was in London (during the ’60s), Manolo’s very personally involved with the renowned creativity displayed in his brand’s handcrafted shoes, which are manufactured in his factories in Italy, and a remarkable story – Manolo’s journey to the top, impressively began with the crafting of shoes from chocolate wrappers in Canary Islands, for lizards. The film manages to caricature Manolo as a humane person, someone who’s quite uncommon, and it really helps to connect with him for that, which makes learning about the fashion designer, all the more interesting and worthwhile.

Dalida

Dalida 2017.jpg
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Capsule Review

Cast: Sveva Alviti, Alessandro Borghi and Niels Schneider
Director: Lisa Azuelos
Rating: 3/5

Dalida can only be two things: portraiture and a tragedy. The French biographical film is about a talented musician, Dalida (Sveva Alviti), with a troubled romantic life – three of her romantic liaisons had committed suicide. Dalida always thought it was important how people view her – she started her career after getting discovered by a Parisian radio programmer, who she had such a romantic equation with that he eventually left his wife for her. Dalida indulges in many romances but perhaps the one that meant the most to her was this one which began in Paris. Dalida eventually commits suicide in 1987 – the film is an insightful and pretty comprehensive take on the life of this Italian music artist, who was born in Egypt. Although, the film focuses on Dalida’s romances more than her musical journey, it still utilizes the film frames in a thoroughly entertaining manner.

A Gentleman

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Capsule Review

Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Jacqueline Fernandez Suniel Shetty, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Rajit Kapur
Directors: Raj & D.K.
Rating: 4/5

Fox Star StudiosA Gentleman, starring Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez is a roller coaster ride of fun and modernity. The film released this Friday, and it is an Indian ode to a largely contemporary American-style of filmmaking: slickness and an excitable, fast-paced plotline. The plotline involves two young boys, Gaurav and Rishi, who look the same but have very different personalities. Both played by Siddharth Malhotra, Gaurav’s the good Miami boy, with a high-flying career, while Rishi’s a risqué character, working for Colonel Vijay Saxena (Suniel Shetty in a feature moment), with sleek action moves – Rishi’s an assassin. Jacqueline Fernandez’s character, Kavya, reigns in the romantic arc in the movie in a thoroughly enjoyable manner – Kavya has a slight romantic interest in Gaurav, her best friend but doesn’t do anything over it. Meanwhile, Supriya Pilgaonkar and Rajit Kapur, if only briefly, makes appearances as Kavya’s parents but it was great to have them in those avatars.

The film has ‘masala’ written all over it, which is why it’s entertaining: there’s heart-pumping action, comedy elements, great dancing, romance and glamorized avatars. Sidharth proves he’s more than just a good looking young hero, in the movie, because essaying two roles meant demonstrating plenty of character-depths. Sidharth switches from the good boy image to a dangerous one in typical Bollywood-fashion – Rishi wants to quit his work as an assassin and become a man with a wife and a dog, and soon, you discover all of that can even be a possibility, since Rishi and Gaurav are alike in more ways than you imagined. The bottom line is that a good script, good looking actors, great outfits and catchy music might spell formulaic but it works and sometimes it’s brilliant to have a film like this that only runs on lighthearted entertainment-value and nothing else.

Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years

Queen Elizabeth I is one of the most fascinating emperors to have ever ruled the United Kingdom. She is a vision in portraiture, literature and history for centuries now but much of her term in power is shrouded in some of the most catastrophic decisions ever made by an English ruler: from being an avid Protestant to granting lifetime imprisonment to the Queen of Scots, Mary. A new book by John Guy speaks in a similar tone of disagreement over Queen Elizabeth’s rule in England, although for quite a different set of reasons.

A captivating new look inside the life of one of the greatest English monarchs of all time
A captivating new look inside the life of one of the greatest English monarchs of all time

The book talks about the Spanish Armada episode and how the Queen successfully defended her kingdom from it. Moments such as these demonstrate what a great Queen she was despite Elizabeth’s many faults. It’s tough to imagine every ruler so wicked and steely, that the country manages to protect itself from a Spanish invasion for as long as Elizabeth I ruled the United Kingdom. John uncovers new historical documents which showcase negotiations the Queen was always ever busy in, with the Spanish to keep her kingdom very safe and secure. A subject of many foiled attempts to take Elizabeth’s life, the Queen always exudes a sense of calm and poised-strength that is hard to gather from other monarchs.

But Elizabeth I’s faults far outshadow her commitment to coming off as a great Queen. She must have given her secretary Sir Francis Drake numerous headaches despite his entrenched loyalty to his duty, Elizabeth was filled with lies and also liked to divide and rule her kingdom, which was unfair to say the least. And to top all that off she also had an affair with the Earl of Leicester, who she never married because her throne depended on it. The book is a good counterargument against picturing Elizabeth I as a stuffy (and powerful) woman-in-control, and for that alone it is a remarkable historical narrative about a Queen and her glorious rule in the United Kingdom as a monarch, which should really always be taken at face value.