Monday, 30 April 2018

UnIndian

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UnIndian is an Australian/Indian produced movie starring Brett Lee, a former Australian cricketer and Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee. Cricket is a popular sport in both countries so having Brett Lee as a lead was a draw card. I don’t watch cricket at all, but I was curious to see Brett Lee in a film. This film was a passion project for producer and writer Anupam Sharma who has been working in the film industry showcasing Indian cinema. Many patrons helped to produce this film and there is a lengthy amount of credits thanking organisations and individuals in the opening.

Meera (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is a single mother to Smitha (Maya Sathiamoorthy) and working in Public Relations for Cochlear. She is pressured by her parents to marry again. Her parents are convinced that is the only way she’ll ever be happy.

 Will is an English teacher, who teaches Australian culture to international students. He meets Meera at a Holi festival and is instantly smitten. Will’s best friends Tinku “TK” ( Arka Das) and Mich (Adam Dunn) help him, telling him the differences in dating an Indian girl. Meera and Will have to fight for their relationship, against the wishes of her family and culture.

I thought the movie was okay. I didn’t find it funny, but I thought there were some cute moments. I could relate to trying to balance two cultures. The acting in the film was amateurish. I didn’t think there was much chemistry between the leads. The dialogue was a bit corny which may have attributed to some of the poor acting. Brett Lee tries his best, fully embracing his role. Maybe he’ll get better with practice.

The parts of the movie I did like were the dance numbers which is the norm in Bollywood movies. The dance scenes were so entertaining, over the top and frivolous which is exactly how it should be. I loved the ending credits where they had a dance scene with the production staff.
I would watch this film again despite its flaws. It’s an entertaining and feel good film. You can see the love and effort put in the film.




Thursday, 12 April 2018

Dawn and the Surfer Ghost by Ann Martin

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The Babysitters’ Club was a book series for teen girls, written in late 80s and finishing in early 2000s. There are more than a hundred books in the series as well as spin off series. I loved reading the Babysitters’ Club books when I was younger and have been collecting them for a while now. I have about eighty books so far. I look for the books when I go to thrift stores and markets. They now reprinted the first four books, so some are available in department stores, but I like the old ones. I haven’t read all the books yet in the series.

Dawn and the Surfer Ghost is a book no.12 in the mystery series spinoff. The books are standalone and feature one of the babysitters’ trying to solve a mystery. The mysteries are lightweight stuff like Scooby Doo mysteries as it is a book series for kids.

There are seven babysitters in the series and the books focus on one of their viewpoints per book. This one is on Dawn Schafer, the environmental, vegetarian peace-loving babysitter. (There’s a different babysitter for every taste). Dawn has moved away from Connecticut where the other babysitters are, to live with her dad and her brother Jeff in California.

She attends surf lessons with her friend Sunny and participates as a volunteer for children’s program at the beach. A big surfing competition comes up and Dawn enters it in the beginner’s category.  One day, the best surfer on the beach goes missing. Some people think he’s dead others think he’s skipped town. Dawn is on the case to find the missing surfer.

This mystery wasn’t as good as the other ones I have read in the series. I feel that she didn’t really do any sleuthing at all. There were hardly any clues, no following leads or false accusations, no mysterious calls telling her to quit investigating like the other mysteries. It all came together in the end when she got a hunch.

What I enjoyed the most was the nostalgia from reading it. It is why I read the books.  The book was printed in 1993. It was amusing how Dawn explains what a smoothie is and there’s lots of cringeworthy surfer lingo. I can picture this book as something from one of those made for tv movies when the characters go on vacation. I think my thirteen-year-old self would have liked this book and not noticed any of the shortcomings. 



Saturday, 7 April 2018

Life in April



Work
I’m no longer working as a teacher aide but it was a wonderful learning experience. As a teacher aide I assisted many different classes and I was able to learn ideas on classroom management and activities. I was working with teachers who had been teaching for many years and it was great seeing the level of experience they had in action.

I had some fun times at the school. Everyone was friendly and polite. It was a positive environment which was a nice change from some of the places I have worked at before. I will miss the children and the staff.

Life
One of my goals this year was to catch up with old friends. During the school holidays, I met up with my old teaching buddies from when I taught in the desert. We had a nice lunch together and chatted about old times and what were up to now. I also met up with one of my best friends. We finally swapped Christmas presents from last year as she’s been away travelling.


Watching
I’m currently watching Chrisley knows best which is a reality tv show about a rich Southern family and their life. They all have big personalities which makes the show entertaining. I like how the episodes are around 21 minutes, so I can watch it while I’m eating and finish an episode during that time.



Reading
I’m still reading The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald. It’s a fictional biography of Friedrich Von Hardenberg, a German philosopher. The book has been on ‘to be read’ pile for years. I’m liking it so far. I’m also reading Dawn and Surfer Ghost by Ann Martin. It’s one of the books from The Babysitter’s club.

 
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Monday, 2 April 2018

Our Souls at Night


Addie (Jane Fonda) and Louis (Robert Redford) are two senior citizens who have been neighbours for many years. They both lead solitary lives after their spouses have died. Addie asks Louis to sleep in her bed every night to ease their mutual loneliness. They talk in bed together and reminisce on their families and relationships. The couple’s relationship becomes more complicated when the neighbours find out about them and Addie’s son arrives with her grandson in tow. Addie and Louis contemplate their growing attraction towards each other and what their future will bring.
I liked how this film explored aging, relationships and isolation. While Addie and Louis had friends, both were lacking intimacy in their lives which made them lonely. Not just physical intimacy but having someone to talk to about their inner thoughts. It’s easy to forget that older people want those things too.

 I thought the romance between the two was interesting because of the maturity and life experience that they both had. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford played the characters with ease, having worked with each other before in four different films. I think they both gave an understated performance, as their characters were mild mannered people.

The movie goes at a gentle pace, highlighting the staid lifestyle of the two main characters. They don’t do anything exciting, just go about their day in their small town. They both live in big empty family homes, with floors that creak just like their bones.  However, when the two characters get together, they have more fun. Sometimes, things are just better with company.

I wasn’t fond of the ending, but it was a happy ending. I would have liked the movie to end more triumphantly. I wouldn’t see this movie again, but I don’t regret watching it. I would recommend this is a movie to watch with your parents. The themes in this movie would be a good avenue for discussion.



Thursday, 1 March 2018

Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman- Review By Carlyn



Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman is a novel set in a world where superheroes and supervillains are real. The chapters alternate between Doctor Impossible, a supervillain who wants to rule the world and a new hero called Fatale who joins a team of superheroes to stop him.  Jon Bear has also written a review of this book and you can find more of the synopsis on his review.

Jon Bear asked for the perspective of a female on the strong female leads in his review. In answer to his question, I liked how complex and strong the female characters were in the story. I liked how they didn’t just exist in relation to the male characters and didn’t need rescuing all the time. I particularly liked Fatale because she still trying to find her place in the world after turning into a cyborg and trying to fit in with an established group.

I liked the exploration into the everyday lives of superheroes, the origin stories and growing older and going into retirement. There’s a variety of super powers explored in this book, from magic, science experiment gone wrong and alien technology. The characters all relate their stories about how they saved the world from alien invasion and ancient forces, how they time travelled, went to different planets and parallel dimensions. It’s a bit funny how they mention it as if it’s an ordinary thing to do.

While reading the book, I concluded that it would be awful living in a world populated by people with special powers. The citizens in this book must deal with the constant threat of world annihilation or domination and suffer through the super battles that go on in their cities. This topic is explored in some of the current superhero movies.

I thought this book was funny and entertaining. I think this book has a kind of Mystery Men vibe to it. It’s a little quirky and has enough action, comedy and heart in it. I think it’s appropriate for all ages and for anyone who likes superheroes.  



Friday, 23 February 2018

February Happenings



I haven’t really done much this February. Most of my time has been spent on my new job as a teaching assistant. It took me a while to get use to working every day as I use to be a part time worker. The people at my new work place are very friendly and welcoming people. Everywhere I go, people say hello and ask me how I’m doing. I must have the same conversation three or four times. I bet the others go through the same convo cycle.

 I find it a little tedious, but I try to remember that it’s the first time having that conversation with that person. I think this is what celebrities feel like when they are asked the same question in press junkets.  I try to remember what people say to me too and inquire about their lives as well. I’m totally anti-social, I do like my colleagues and care about them.

I really value the weekend now and love Fridays! In my downtime I have been reading Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman. It’s one of the books on my ‘to be read’ pile since 2011! It is a book about superheroes and alternates between the villain’s point of view and the perspective of the hero. Jon Bear has read it before, you can read his review here.


I’ve also been watching Star Trek Discovery on Netflix. It’s different from the other Star Trek series. The main character is Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) as a science specialist on the USS Discovery. It features the Federation during war time and the ship has a secret weapon which hasn’t been seen on Star Trek before.



Sunday, 18 February 2018

Heartthrob

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One of my guilty pleasures is that I love watching movies or reading books about obsessive love. I love the melodrama, the stalking and final moment when the main character realises what’s really going on and how the stalker/lover becomes unhinged. I do know that it would be a horrible experience in real life to have a stalker in real life. But I don’t mind it playing out fictionally.

Heartthrob is about an unlikely romance formed between Samantha (Aubrey Peeples), a popular girl and a shy nerd Henry (Keir Sinclair) over the summer. Sam likes how Henry is different from her friends who only care about hooking up and partying. Henry is thrilled to be with Sam and strives to be the perfect boyfriend by spying on her constantly. His jealously eventually drives them apart and leads him to do dangerous things.

I knew it was going to end tragically, I just didn’t know how it would end. I think the whole mess would have been avoided had Henry talked it through and was more rational. Although I do understand his motivation. Sam is his first love and he’s thrilled to have a popular girl validate him. Sam is more rational than Henry having a bit more experience in relationships. She knows that life will go without him if they break up whereas Henry feels that Sam is the best thing that has ever happened to him.

The acting in this film was okay. No standout performances. The cast are relatively unknown actor with a few credits to their names. The film was made on a small budget but not much is needed for a simple story. I think this is a good movie to watch with friends, especially if you have friends who like to give a running commentary. There’s lot of things to discuss in this film and you can always talk about your high school experiences.






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