Movie Review: Jurassic World

We’re a pro-dino family. The more teeth, the better. The bigger, the better. So it was a forgone conclusion that we not only had to watch this movie but had to appreciate things about it. But all dino bias aside here’s what’s good about it…

The story couldn’t have any entirely new twist in it because the whole damn premise is about an amusement park which has dinos running amok. The more time goes by they (the film makers) just find ways to make you jump more in your seats. Be as that may, they keep the interest levels up with the new dinos that they dig up (excuse the pun) and the ways that they wreak havoc on the sadly unsuspecting populace.

Spoiler alert…go no further if you wish to see the movie and not have the predictable plot laid out bare courtesy wikipedia.

Chris Pratt is good. He’s better than what he was in Guardians of The Galaxy and that’s saying something. Gone is the man from Parks and Recreation. He doesn’t go OTT with his ex-Navy man avatar and instead does what he’s supposed to as a wrangler/trainers of the velociraptors on Isla Nublar.

The rest of the cast basically function as props but one wonders why Vincent D’Onofrio takes on these negatives roles so often these days. Possibly all those years of Law&Order made him want to have fun as the bad guy for a change?

Irrfan Khan has no business being in a dino movie. He’s an actor of no little talent and he’s deadpan in the worst possible way and very little screen presence IMHO. He dies soon enough and carries very little weight even among actors who typically don’t take up dramatic roles much.

The hero of the movie and totally living up to his name is the T-Rex. He is the king and he IS the Indominus Rex more than the test-tube-petri-dish-hybrid dino that the mad scientists have unleashed in the park.

But this movie gets a 1&1/2 thumbs up for it’s entertainment value and because no one quite does it like Spielberg…even as a producer.

Worth 2 watches but only in the movie theater…it loses its charm on the smaller screen.

The Travel Diaries: Kolkata’s Waterways

The city of Kolkata offers a tremendous amount of stimulation to a visitor; whether you’re armed to take pictures, eat your weight in the food available in and around the city or just sight see and take your fill of the sense of history that still lingers all over the city.

Even if you don’t have a massive colonial hangover, the gorgeous buildings, relics of the British Raj can’t help but capture your fancy with their massive pillars and high arching roofs. That people from a different century and generation are now flitting in and out of those buildings only add to their allure.

But there are a few things to keep in mind while planning a trip to Kolkata: a) avoid summers if you aren’t used to a humid climate and b) you cannot do justice to the city without factoring in its waterways.

The summers in Calcutta can be quite debilitating if you’re used to drier climates. The humidity saps your energy, making sight seeing a cumbersome thing. You are actually left with only the evening and pre-dusk time to visit places, many of which are in the process of shutting their doors for the day. Keep in mind that this city is pretty far east and the night sets in fairly early as compared to many other places. Ideal time to visit would be the winters which can be tackled with a light to middling heavy sweater.

But to move on to another extremely charming part of the city- the river Ganges which flows through it and also around it. Apart from the river cruises which are operated by the West Bengal government, there are quaint little fishing boats which can be hired out for half and hour or so right from 5 in the morning and till 8 at night.

Local fishing boat sailing under the Vidyasagar Setu- or the new bridge as the locals still call it.

Local fishing boat sailing under the Vidyasagar Setu- or the new bridge as the locals still call it.

Sunset near the Prinsep Ghat- small boats, ferries, barges can be seen throughout the day.

Sunset near the Prinsep Ghat- small boats, ferries, barges can be seen throughout the day.

One of the best places to visit via a boat or take a boat ride once you reach there is the Dakshineshwar Temple which is situated bang on the river. There are steps leading down from the temple courtyard into the river where the worshipers bathe and also offer flowers since the river is also considered holy.

Belur Math which is situated just across the river from Dakshineshwar boasts of a calm, serene setting as the international headquarters of the Ram Krishna Mission. Seeing the sunset from the steps just above the river while the soft chants and drones of the hymns float out from the prayer halls is something which has to be experienced. Atheist, agnostic or true believer, the ambiance of the place is just uplifting and while photography is restricted at both places, a sneaky click of the sunset over the river is something everyone attempts irrespective.

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Sunset over the river.

Sunset over the river.

The distinctive domes of the Dakshineshwar Temple.

The distinctive domes of the Dakshineshwar Temple.

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On another day, commute with the locals from one ghat (dock) preferably in the evening while many go back to their homes across the Ganges from the main city hub. The ferry boats or river taxis are chock full of office goers who rush to get standing rooms on the steamers for a 15 minute ride that terminates close to Howrah station. You will also see children cooling off after a long hot day by canon balling into the river while barges a couple of yards away.

One can get down, stroll around with a terracotta cup of hot tea made on the roadside and poured deftly by the vendor who seems to be able to dole out tea to 10 at a time, take the money and still keep an eye on the ever-boiling liquid for the next pot.

Of course, what is considered by most to be the ultimate river trip in this region is the trip down to the Sunder bans. Once the din of the city fades away and even the endless drone of the motor made peace with, the sounds of nature take over. The water is murky to be sure but it’s vast and areas around it lush. The ferry motors down past small villages where the river is a lifeline as well as a part of life.

Kolkata cannot be seen properly in just a few days. You barely end up getting a taste of the city and are baffled by what ought of be viewed next. A segment of the trip ought to feature the waterways to even starting to understand the tone, flavor and pulse of the city.

Next time you find yourself with a few days off and free to travel…take a trip downstream, or upstream and just go with the flow.

Movie Review: The Others

I love movies on the paranormal. Slasher, subtle…you name it and I’ll watch it at least once! And subtlety is the name of the game in The Others.

Image courtesy- thetraileraddict.com

Nicole Kidman isn’t an actor I’ve actually enjoyed watching on the screen. She seems kind of off to me for lack of anything very concrete to say but she proves her chops in this movie as a mother who is coming unhinged. The neurosis, the bewilderment flows off her and makes it pretty real for the viewers.

But the real gems in the movie are the characters of Nicholas, Anne and Mrs.Mills played by James Bentley, Alakina Mann and Fionnula Flanagan. They play the children and the nanny and they are total naturals in being who they are supposed to be. That and the landscape aid the ambiance perfectly in giving it a Gothic feel.

Horror, terror, chills, fear…whatever you call it doesn’t always have to scare you out of your seat or even make you jump. It can also make you curious to see what happens next, where the movie is going and what’s finally going to be revealed as the truth.

This movie does it all. I was quite a few years late in seeing it but I finally saw it on a dark and windy night with the rain falling against the window panes, at midnight so it’s been watched in an appropriate setting one might say.

However, if you like your horror palpable and do like your heart to skip a beat, this movie will seem a bit tame for you. It’s all about being subtle.

Skillfully done by director Alejandra Amenabar.

Worth one watch.

After A Long Break…From Writing

Been visiting my folks back in my hometown. It’s kind of become an annual trip during the brat’s summer holidays. It’s part torture and part relaxation but the fun comes and goes. I say that because the concept of fun not only changes from person to person but sometimes even from day-to-day.

One day locking yourself up in a room and just reading Asterix comics can be bliss where another day going for a trip on a river despite the icky-sticky humidity can be pretty damn good too!

But be as that may I have some blog posts bursting to get out. Haven’t blogged at in the past month. Barring my renewed love for Instagram, I wasn’t doing anything else at all. A break of sorts.

Anyhow one of the things that did catch my eye and then my head was the essay written by Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, after her husband passed away.

Apart from the utterly heartfelt words that Sandberg wrote, what really caught my attention were her updates on Facebook throughout the entire  time she was in mourning.

She didn’t do any of the silly and utterly without value kind of updates like check-ins into malls or fashionable places or used emojis to describe how she was feeling but she her work updates, things which probably kept her grounded during that indescribably difficult time.

But I have to wonder if uneasy does rest the head wearing the crown. Do you have time to actually grieve, go where your life is taking you or are you beholden to a greater power- your work?

My father, although not in Sandberg’s league, is a pretty well-established person in his own field. And he seldom switches off. While it isn’t as hectic as it was before he retired (for the first time) he hasn’t entirely cut the cord either. And it must be hard to do…if you have done something for most of your adult life, especially when you distinguish yourself at it.

But while there is something to be said for going up the ladder, there are times when being a foot soldier or a cog in the system might be a blessed thing as well.

Here endeth the first one of the pent-up blog posts. More posts to follow. Some on my photo blog. Check it out here.