Of fractures and what not

One week with a fractured foot and I have gone through quite a collection of movies/series on my hard drive. And all that’s on the hard disk needs to last foIMG_20160602_172646r another three weeks. That’s right, I am counting the days before the full leg permanent cast comes off by June 22. A check up at the doctor’s yesterday determined that the injury was an old one that got worse over time. Surprising question was why didn’t I notice it all this time. Last weekend’s excruciating pain and my inability to place my foot on the ground led to an emergency experience that lasted the whole Sunday. Talk about missing the IPL finals.

So on this cheery note, I have viewed and reviewed a few of the gems I came across during the week.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Britain’s most obnoxious radio jockeyindex is at it again. This time on the big screen. I have always enjoyed the foot-in-mouth shenanigans of Alan Partridge (sort of brings memories of a cross-Atlantic contemporary – Alan Harper) and it was time his bloated ego got its space up there. This time our RJ from Norfolk has to deal with a ‘Dog Day Afternoon‘-like situation and in his own incompetent way handles the hostage crisis till the end. With a lot of familiar faces from the TV series, those of you connected to Partridge’s life can relate to the nonsensical brilliance that Steve Coogan‘s character offers. While on painkillers this was a good way to start my recuperation. Oh and I loved the music from the opening sequence.

Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride – My fascination for all things Holmes brings me to the latest offering from Benedict Cumberbatch and co. One of the best portrayals of Holmes, this hour and a half long episode focuses on a specific case from the past interjected with scenes from the present. I cannot reveal more, but say that there are some neat Gothic touches to this tale of a wronged bride along with the usual surprise twists that come along with Arthur Conan Doyle‘s fables. A cheer out for Dr. Watson too and Mrs. Watson. Look out for one of my favourite scenes from the books – The Reichenbach Falls.

the abominable bride sherlock holmes

Amores Perros – Before finding success in the States, Innaritu directed this gem of a tale based in Mexico City. Dogs are the connection between three story arcs that make this film. Loyalty, honesty, love are the themes that emanate strongly from this beautiful, brutal and dramatic featuamores perrosre. Everyone has a story to tell and Amores Perros (Life’s a Bitch) proves what good story-telling is all about. As with Latin American films, the emotions are strong, vivid and portray the ghettos of Mexico to the high life and revolutionary idealistic zeal of the educated. All the while marking the perils that life can hold out to us.

 

Sicario – Staying with Mexico. What a movie! Benecio Del Toro has been a favourite ever since ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘ and the performancesicario del toro emily blunt he puts in here is matched by Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin in a hell of a cartel movie. From scene one you get the feeling that the next shot is going to be the last for the protagonists and it goes on till the end. Never a dull moment, this has one of the best military road scenes when an elite crack team makes it across the US border to bring in a cartel suspect. Del Toro’s silence lurks in every scene and there’s a lot to say in that. His character is the mission and till the end you never guess what his exact role is within the Special Forces. One of the best movies of 2015 and certainly deserved a lot more accolades than it got.

The Devil’s Backbone – Sticking with Spanish revivalism, this Pedro Almodovar produced movie with one of my favourite director’s at the helm – Guillermo Del Toro, brings in Spanish Gothic horror in the midst of the Civil War of the 1930s. Set in a remote orphanage with spookydevils backbone del toro happenings, this tale of war and ghosts weaves its way through the deserted Catalonia region. The horror is real and there are scenes that would make you cringe and sink deeper into your bed. What I loved about this movie was the poetry. The actual poetry that the orphanages doctor brings out in his discussions with the students and the woman he loves. There can be no greater description of a ghost (or Phantasmo as they say in Spanish) than the words used by the good Doctor. Love, betrayal and resurrection in the time of war… that’s what the Devil’s Backbone stands for.

Plebs – Back to TV series. And my favourite genre – Brit comedy. Set in ancient Rome, with all modern day mannerisms, Plebs is a sporty laugh riot with memorable characters to boot. I LMAO on this one. Who would have thought the Romanplebs‘s had such a great sense of humour. From Roman orgies to Cypriot monks, Plebs takes you through the life and times of Caesar’s civilians as they live through gladiator fights, bureaucracy and the occasional refugee who steals the hearts of the protagonists while leading them on. The master slave equations are hilarious and one to watch out for in this comedy. Plebs dabbles a bit with the ‘Carry On…’ humour to prove that Rome was not built in a day.

When history comes alive

The British Broadcasting Corporation have this uncanny knack of developing documentaries that leave an indelible mark on your psyche well after the last scenes. Two documentaries I watched this week definitely were in this league as this channel outdid itself in producing a couple of thought provoking pieces.

I have always been a fan of the BBC documentaries considering their wonderfully researched pieces along with archival footage that is rarest of the rare among montages. Coupled with my interest in history, these two videos were a potent mixture of politics, religion and the wars that followed this deadly combination.

birth of israel
Jerusalem burns during the Arab-Israeli wars

The Birth of Israel – Journalist Jeremy Evans has long been known to be a fair interviewer and in this documentary he clearly chronicles the origins of the struggle in the Middle East for a small strip of land and a city that speaks for three faiths or rather three faiths that speak about this city. The rise of the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary organisation, in the midst of a migration wave into Palestine following World War II and its consequences speak volumes of the botched efforts of the erstwhile British Empire’s leaders to come to diplomatic resolutions. There are echoes of this crisis in partition era India. The hurry with which the Empire dismantled itself, left a lot of regions in shambles.

It is truly admirable how the Israel state was built, based on strong leadership and foresight. However, the displacement of the Palestinians is a sad spectacle in itself. Without taking sides, the wars that define Israel’s existence are a result of ego’s, broken promises, internal bickerings, and super powers that have thrived on the region’s instability.

From prominent Arab diplomats to Israeli intelligence officers, this documentary provides a critical, factual and emotional representation of what Israeli’s and Palestinians went through during the 1940s. In the midst of the state’s formation, the media had an equally important role to play as radio broadcasting networks sensationalised stories related to the war that resulted in more confusion that contributed to the crisis. Nothing different from what we see nowadays. In the documentary you will see both sides still blaming the other for what happened. Blood runs grey here.

While bloody, the history of the region is fascinating and this documentary captures the essence of the times and its repercussions in modern Middle East. Carefully researched, considering the sensitivities involved, this feature is a BBC hallmark that is a fair account from a third person’s perspective. Is there a lot more hidden behind the politics and the regions complexities? I suspect yes, but the truth can be harsh and violent and that’s the last thing Israel and Palestine can afford at this point.

Vatican: The Hidden World – Another BBC feature that I watched was on the workings of the Vatican along with entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the holiest places for the world’s Roman Catholics. While a pilgrimage to the Vatican is on my list, I doubt that I will be given access to what was shown in this documentary. From St. Peter’s tomb to the original transcript of Galileo‘s deposition to the Church, the Vatican archives and catacombs are host to unbelievable treasures and secrets.

While the word ‘secret’ lends a sense of mystery to the Vatican archives, as explained by the official archivist, there is nothing ‘secret’ about this. The term ‘secret’ lent itself here as in the mid-ages anything related to the kings, queens and princes was termed ‘secret’. It was not hidden, it was just an affiliation of royalty and this extended to the Pope who was considered the ‘Prince of Princes’. So there you go, the Secret Vatican Archives are just that – related to the Pope. And while I am sure the minute number of archivists who have access to this library would not divulge all the scrolls and scriptures, there is room for outsiders to come and study the carefully preserved documents.vatican

From temperature controlled tombs to hi-tech security wizardry from one of the world’s most efficient protection agencies – The Swiss Guard, the Vatican has come a long way to usher in modernity into an edifice that no too long ago faced challenges and does continue to take them on. While Galileo Galilee was forced to retract his statement on the Earth not being the centre of the universe, the Vatican Observatory now actually searches for other life forms through the worlds most powerful telescope located close to Castel Gandolfo (the Pope’s summer retreat). Retracing the year’s of wrong committed in debunking authentic scientists, the Church plays as important role in merging scientific temper with its teachings while retaining the exclusivity of each of these topics. Complicates yes, but the Cardinals weigh their words carefully when it comes to science.

While a lot of aspects in this documentary are common knowledge, it is the way various angles are met, from the point of view to the most powerful man in the Vatican to the altar boys, that makes this feature fascinating.