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.

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Dalida

Dalida 2017.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

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

A Gentleman.jpg
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

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.

Best Journaling Apps

The greatest apps in the market for writing your diary entries

One of the biggest tasks that you have daily is writing down your experiences for the day in a beautiful diary. It makes you feel good about daily activities, and also helps you reflect on what happens in your life everyday. Every day may not be an insomniac whirlwind – days go from mundane to exciting and vice versa and a diary comes in handy to record all those precious moments that make life so amazing.

Technology has made it easy to jot down your thoughts because not only is going digital a rather cost-effective alternative in our society for beautiful diary writing in comparison to the more traditional approach to keeping a diary (think: papers, ink and a crafty DIY diary you have put together yourself), it also aids ‘the paperless agenda’. Going digital with diary writing is also very well suited for people who love technology (like me).

Penzu

Penzu is a great online app in the market for writing your diary entries. The app is cross-platform (supported for iPad, Android and iPhone as well) and the interface will quite simply take your breath away – it boasts a word count function, you can add images to your diary entries if you like and my favourite thing about the app is that it has a good range of text edit options for writing your diary.

Everyday (for iPad and iPod Touch)

The Everyday diary app is a simple diary option. I loved the personalization feature for it – there are a good range of themes there and there’s also a unique-looking stats (number of posts and words used), as well as reminders to jog your memory that it is time to write in your diary.

Moleskine Journal (for Android and iPad)

It’s a personal favourite because the app is a digital alternative to a traditional (and very amazing) Moleskine Journal. There are options to have several diaries, all stacked across a shelf-like space or as note patches which looks nice enough but my favourite features on the app are the page-like writing interfaces (lined-or-not), a sync feature with Evernote and the ability to scribble whenever and however I please.

JotterPad (for Android)

With JotterPad, you can write simple diary entries. My favourite feature in the app: it comes with a dictionary.

Momento (for iPad and iPod Touch)

If you like to keep a private diary then this is the app for you. One of my favourite features in the app is that it provides seamless connectivity with Spotify, Flickr, Medium and Moves to name a few, which will record your activities on all of the platforms, right into Momento.

Journey (for Google Chrome and Android)

With the Journey app, you can publish your diary thoughts to WordPress, and selected social networks, which I really liked the sound of but other than that it is a rather simple diary app, in comparison to it’s contemporaries.

Collect (for iPad and iPod Touch)

If you like to keep a photo-based diary instead of a traditional diary, then Collect is the app for you. You can add photos from Flickr and Dropbox if you like, apart from manually taking one with a camera. But the best thing about it is that the app lets you build your own collages.

DayJournal (for iPad and Android)

What I liked about DayJournal is that it comes with emojis. The interface is pleasantly uncluttered and there is also a magical route to learning what you were upto this time in the year past.

Quiller (for iPad and iPod Touch)

Quiller is an eccentric journaling app. My favourite features in the app are the enormously long range of fonts and the paper-feel of the writing space – this is also complimentary to how the app amazingly looks traditionally like a glorious diary.

Diaro (for Kindle Fire, iPad and iPod Touch)

I think Diaro is growing on me. The interface is uncluttered, the app boasts a customizable UI colour, and it is a pretty simple diary app but it’s really excellent for taking small (and fast) notes just when you need to.

When Breath Becomes Air

Every so often a book comes along that can only be described as moving and dogmatic. Paul Kalanithi explores life’s most pragmatic questions in his book, which was penned before he died. Paul was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer when he was only thirty-six years old and it was the most tragic thing because he was very close to finishing ten years of training. He was a neurosurgeon by profession, and born to a family of Indian migrants in the United States, and died aged thirty-seven.

An emotive memoir
An emotive memoir

One of the subjects that Paul was always interested in was death. He wanted to explore it’s connection to life and the wider meaning of life as a result, and in his search for the answer, he even did not consider medicine as a profession, at first. Having studied English Literature and human biology at Stanford and obtaining a postgraduate degree from Cambridge in history and the philosophy of science, Paul chose to become a neurosurgeon because unlike all his Yale med school companions he wanted “a profession not a job”; it’s tough really to have a profession that asks to sacrifice personal interests just in an effort to serve because there is absolutely no joy in that.

I don’t think that a job can be held if you do not enjoy it and where is the enjoyment if you do not have a life of your own? Naturally, a person can feel that a demanding profession like that, where a person has to always choose “lifestyle last” and their job first, is worth having because it’s a lot higher up on their list of priorities but is that what is the meaning of life really, where it’s all work and no play because that for sure, as the saying goes, makes Jack a dull boy.

Some other different kind of observations by Paul includes the point of life when human beings have to grapple with the idea of death and what to do when you do not exactly get the chance to get all the things in life you had wished for. Becoming a neurosurgeon-in-training had hardened Paul to patients’ sufferings because he even witnessed several deaths, on-the-job, inclusive of a fellow worker who was so wracked by guilt at a medical error he committed suicide.

The push for sentimentality in the book is strangely rare in places because it is so filled with Paul’s questions about life and death: he turns down his dream job because he realizes that he will not live long enough to take it up, and also takes the decision to have a child, with his wife, after finding out that his lung cancer is not a treatable disease. But nevertheless, the book still serves as a good insider’s account of what it is like for young people training to become a neurosurgeon, and the journey that a person must sometimes make to find the right path in life for themselves.

Movie Reviews: Funky Humour, Gripping Drama & Gender Wars

Ki & Ka

In Bollywood, defining stereotypes is the easiest thing: always imagine a spirited woman, ultimately destined to be doomed underneath a patriarchal system, for every one of life’s little choices. Traditional (and bizarre, in modern India) as that thought sounds, this is an outdated outlook in a world where feminist theories have a wider appeal than confinement of the weaker sex, fuelled by sexist theories. Playing into a similar story is the film Ki & Ka, by R. Balki, where the protagonist is a female career woman, and she literally is “the one who wears the pants in her household.” Kia (Kareena Kapoor) wishes to see more women actively contribute to the workforce in India, rather than still be all-perfect housewives.

Kia, however, then falls in love with Kabir – a son, destined to inherit his father’s wealth, but pursuing interests in becoming a househusband, like his mother instead, because to Kabir playing up a career sounds zany. After the two get married, Kia happily takes on the role of “the bread-earner” in her family, leaving Kabir to manage the two’s home instead. The film is lukewarm in spots, despite it’s overarching feel-good atmosphere: there is a loose story about suspicions over infidelity brewing in Kia’s mind for Kabir, along with the thought that the male protagonist is a “Goody Two-shoes”, when his wife is instead more zealous. Because of these loose stories, the film does not really elaborate how tough it must be in Indian society to simply switch traditional family roles (for women, in particular), preferring to instead sugarcoat this new forward-manner of Indian thinking.

Kabir, is the kind of man that most don’t expect to meet in India: when it comes to goodness, he is naturally a hyperbole. Kabir is also over-sensitive, and massively popular with neighbourhood women (because of his brewed up plans for females interested in maintaining a better diet and regular exercise), and women en générale (Kabir lives in a co-dependent relationship with his wife, and this attracts the attention of many, inclusive of cookery shows). With his latest film, R. Balki has managed to push the envelope in terms of creativity, and boldness because not very often do you meet a male character, so different from the usual butch male kinds in Indian films. Furthermore, this is a film that does justice somewhat to newer romantic urban cultures propping up all over India, that is less about tradition, and more about reformist.

Rating: 7/10

Mastizaade

Mastizaade
Mastizaade

The adult comedy, Mastizaade, centres around the curing of two sex addicts, Sunny Kele and Aditya Chothia, who have hopelessly fallen into that state because of a fun-loving prankster. Played by Tusshar Kapoor and Vir Das, respectively, the boys try very hard to get rid of their obsession with sex, even when they fall in love with a set of twin sisters (Laila and Lily Lele), but to no avail. The twin sisters, to elaborate, are natural opposites, they have a gay brother (who falls in love with Kele), and one of them is even engaged to a patriotic (and handicapped) army officer; basically, Lily is a simple young girl, with stuttering issues, whilst Laila is wholly-contemporary, in nature, and the film is a fat collection of one-line comedic sentences, and typecast humour doses, with a lot of regularity – funny and familiar.

Rating: 4/10

Rocky Handsome

Rocky Handsome, is an official adaptation of the Hollywood success story, John Wick (2014), starring Keanu Reeves. John Abraham plays Rocky Ahlawat, a pawnbroker, who develops a mutual fondness for his neighbour’s young daughter, even though she likes to nick items, and her mother disapproves of the two’s relationship. The young girl’s mother is addicted to drugs, and is also a dancer at a bar, but she doesn’t seem to be too concerned over how this new friendship between her daughter and her neighbour could actually prove to be a positive experience in the child’s life, for a change. The film soon shifts into a thrilling spin of mystery and secrets, however, with the abduction of the girl, that Rocky must now enlist himself to not only protect, but also save. Peppered with action scenes, very uncommon to Bollywood, Rocky Handsome, is an emotional commitment to John Abraham’s naturalistic portrayal of the electrifying adventures of a sombre and silent young man.

Rating: 7/10