A Good Mother

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Everything has changed since Luke died. Not actually, as in, we’re going to work, having dinner together, watching Netflix together on weekends like a normal family. Seen from outside, you can say we’re getting on track. It’s the little things which we usually don’t noticed have changed. I see it sometimes, when I’m talking to Dave and he’s not able to look me in the eye for longer than a few seconds. We talk but not actually. He talks about things like, “What should we do about dinner”, or, “How’s everything at work” and something similar but nothing remotely related to, “Hey! 6 months ago, we lost our 5-year-old son in an accident and both of us are still in shock but why don’t we ever talk about it?”.

Even Ryan has changed a lot. He has become this quiet kid. The other day, he was at his friend’s for a sleepover. Later, his friend’s mother called me to let me know how worried she was about him because all night he was sitting near the bedroom window. He hardly ate anything and she was sure she heard him cry near the staircase late night.

He has become this distant kid which is very annoying, especially for me. I cannot say if it is the same for Dave. It’s very frustrating even to think about how Ryan would be feeling right now. He has lost his younger brother and his parents are clearly not dealing with their grief properly.

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I am a good mother. It is the one thing I knew from the day we had Ryan. Dave took a backseat when he saw how I took care of almost everything. He is a good father too, when he has to be. I didn’t mind it at all. I wanted my boys all to myself because I loved them to death. 2 years ago, when Ryan was 12, I decided to go back to work. Dave supported my decision and promised that he will put in extra efforts with the kids. I loved that he understood how he has mostly been an observer till then without me ever expressing that. But I realized I never needed any help even after I started working. I used to wake up early, make breakfast for them, clean up after them, pick them up from school. I was always early while picking them up from school.

Until that day.

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Ryan was sick and had to stay at home. I was supposed to pick up Luke after school. I was 5 minutes late. Poor Luke, my innocent little Luke, who has never seen a time when his mother was not their standing at the sidewalk waiting for him with a smile, didn’t know what to do when I wasn’t there. Generally, the teacher stays with the kids at the door until the last of them is picked up by their parents. But Luke didn’t wait for a second. As soon as he got out and couldn’t find me, he ran towards the street to reach the turn to see if my car was coming from there. It wasn’t the teacher’s fault. He couldn’t leave 15 other kids to run towards Luke. Also, they told me it happened too fast for anyone to be able to do anything. No one saw the bus coming from the other side.


 

Tonight, I couldn’t take it anymore. When Ryan went upstairs after finishing dinner, tears came out of my eyes. Dave saw me crying at the dinner table and ask me what happened which turned my sorrow into anger. I threw the plates off the table and looked at his in the eye. This time he did not avert his.

I poured it all on him.

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“What is going on between us! You haven’t said a word about Luke’s death since it happened. Tell me what is in your mind! I know you blame me! I know I’m not as smart as you but I can take a hint. You cannot even look me in the eyes anymore! I know how much you love to rub my mistakes in my face. You wait for the PERFERT TIME and then blast them all one by one to humiliate me during a fight. But it has been 6 months now! Lay it on me, Dave! But you know what?! I’m sick of you. I’m sick of you making me feel like I’m nothing and you’re holier than heaven, with your silence. It was like this even before all this! You let me do everything and thought as if you’re doing me a favour. I was here taking care of our kids all the time and you were doing whatever you like. Lending a hand here and there is not parenting, Dave! We still have a child and he has not talked about losing his brother! He is suffering and we’re not helping him! I was feeling empty like I had nothing else left in my life. You ever thought of that? How you never made me feel good? Like you never cared about how I’m feeling? But instead, you resent me for what happened to our child! Now go one, tell me how you blame me!”

It was a lot to take in for him. He sat down on the table with his head down. Finally, he spoke.

“I could never blame you for his death. It’s because I know for a fact that you’re the best mom these guys could have. I don’t resent you for that, I could never.”

This made me cry more. I sat on the chair and asked him slowly.

“Then what is it Dave? Because there is something that you’re not telling me. You need to tell me and solve this so that we can get on with our life and take care of the son we still have.”

Dave looked at me.

“I called you that day. In the afternoon to remind you to pick some medication for Ryan as he was sick. When you didn’t pick up, I called your office and they told me you left about an hour ago for lunch with your colleague Aaron. It wasn’t odd, I mean, I know Aaron and I know you guys have lunch together sometimes. I thought I would join you guys for lunch and pick up the medicine as well as I was done with work. I went to your usual place for lunch which is closer to Aaron’s house. You weren’t there. Later, I saw you come out of his building with him. He kissed you and you got in your car and left.”

Now, as I looked at Dave, I understood the look in his eyes. He continued.

“I know how much you love Ryan. And I understand that I can never replace you. That’s why I never mentioned it and kept on with our life. But I cannot hide it anymore, can I? You see resentment in my eyes? It’s not because you were late once while picking Luke, it’s because of your affair that made you late that day.”


 

Searching – Review

searching_ver3If you’re looking for a mindblowing movie to watch this weekend, stop searching and watch Searching.

Ever since I watched John Cho in Columbus, I was in awe of his performance. After that, he proved his mettle once again in the Exorcist by acting both as a loving orphanage caretaker and a grief-stricken man possessed by a demon. So, when I heard about Searching, I was more than excited.

Searching definitely beats the expectations. Its an engrossing, edge of the seat thriller which goes through unexpected twists and turns throughout its runtime. What works the most is the emotional angle placed on the side. The troubled father-daughter relationship is subtly put in front of the audience, making it more engaging. While watching it, I found myself looking for clues, or any sign of her, as I wanted her to find his daughter. The film has this much tension to grip your attention. The presence of Cho adds to the charm of it. The supporting casts, especially Debra Messing, did justice with what little time they were on screen, as it was a full-on John Cho’s show. Along with all this, the background music from start to finish perfectly reflects the mood of every scene. The effectiveness of skilful direction is clearly visible. I’m sure, Chaganty will be getting a lot of work now that Searching is being praised everywhere.

One thing, Searching is no Columbus. But it comes close. It is one tight thriller which won’t allow you to check your phones or look at your friend emptying the popcorn bucket. So, if you got time this weekend, do not miss this. I’ll even go and say miss your work and watch it, as its one kickass movie deserving to be watched in theatres.

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“There was a storm on Monday!”


 

Cargo – Martin Freeman’s One Man Show (Review)

We are expected to live in the society in a certain way. Living in a family, we are expected to set aside some of our wishes to fulfill those of people around us. Before we die, we try to gather as much resources for our family for them to live with ease. We make sure that people dear to our heart are taken care of. But what if the world is not what it is now and society as we know it doesn’t exist? What would you do if even all of your efforts combined cannot ensure the safety of your family after you die? In a world infected with a virus that turns people into flesh eating zombies, what are you willing to risk so that your children won’t have to?

These are the kind of questions Cargo answers. It’s a race against time for an infected father who is desperately trying to find a safe home for his infant daughter to live after he’s gone. On his way, he meets a variety of people whom he assesses to be his daughter’s guardian. Cargo is not your run on the mill zombie flick. It dwells with the humanities part of it – loosing empathy towards others, taking advantage of others who need your help, helplessly watching your loved ones dying, constant fear for your children etc. Cargo takes its time to conjure up an emotional climax enough to make your heart heavy. Some might call it slow, I’ll call it a necessary build up.

I’ve never seen Martin Freeman in a leading role before this. He mostly plays the clumsy friend or uptight English gentlemen who needs being saved from something or the other. Here, he is the star and his character is the movie. He proved he can singlehandedly carry an emotionally charged movie on his shoulders, that too with ease. All this with the harsh, arid landscape of Australia and the tribal music which is eerie and magnificent at the same time, the movie becomes a real treat.

Instead of creating high budget low rating movies like Mute, The Outsider and The Cloverfield Paradox, Netflix should come up with more of movies like this and I Don’t Feel Like Home in This World Anymore and promote them instead. Now that it clearly looks like the new season of 13 Reasons Why is not as taut as the first one, Cargo seems like a better alternative for one of your lazy evenings.


 

Grandma (Prime Video) – Review

MV5BMjExMDE2OTIxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDY5NzAyNjE@._V1_QL50_SY1000_CR0,0,679,1000_AL_Grandma is a story about a teenager who accidentally gets pregnant. Afraid of telling her mother, she asks her bitter and always irritated grandmother to loan her some money for the abortion. But it turns out that the grandma is broke too and the rest of the movie follows this odd team of grandmother and granddaughter trying to come up with the money before the appointment at the clinic. The movie is directed by Paul Weitz (About a Boy, In Good Company) and stars Julia Garner and Lily Tomlin in prominent roles.

Not all grandmothers are these sweet little creatures who make you a soft sweater and prepare tasty cookies for you every time you visit them. Some of them are badass, boyfriend beating, weed consuming chill personalities. One such soul is Elle, played by Tomlin quite impeccably. The finest thing about this movie is the multifaceted relationship between the three generations of women who are at odds with each other at all time, not grasping how much of what they are, they, in fact, got from each other. It was all portrayed very subtly how each of them echoes one another.  The movie was divided into parts, like segments of a play. My favourite part is the one which is based on the complex relation and strong argument between Elle and her ex-husband, played by Sam Elliot. That was the scene which was rather intense in this otherwise breezy movie. It is an enjoyable movie which handles a big subject like abortion quite casually to make sure that the movie does not lose its true nature. Maybe that’s why it never reached the level of seriousness of Juno, but we should keep this in mind that this is quite a low budget movie for which very little publicity was done.grandma

Now, as Grandma has arrived in the directory of Amazon’s Prime Video, I would highly recommend it to anyone who just wants to see some light-hearted drama about love, relationships and family.

October – An unconventional tale of unconditional love

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When my parents asked me if I want to go watch October with them, I was a little sceptical. One of the reason was the trailer. It did not clarify if the movie is going to be a comedy or a sensitive drama. Also, I was anxious if my parents are going to like it. At last, I went through all the Shoojit Sirkar movies on IMDb and found that I gave them all of them a 7 out of 10. I really like his flicks, they’re usually made skillfully and have moments which leave an unconscious smirk on your face. But they couldn’t hit the mark for me. October reformed this.

October is about Dan. Dan is an intern in a big hotel. He is mischievous, temperamental and sluggish. A total opposite of Shiuli. A meticulous and lovely girl who is attentive and responsible. But fate had its way and Shiuli had an accident which landed her in a coma. Dan, who rarely crosses path with Shiuli unexpectedly becomes drawn to her after her accident. The rest of the movie is an eccentric tale of Dan falling in love with Shiuli, who might not wake up ever again.

It is very tough to even visualize how someone would fall for someone like that. It’s not even a case of a fault which we have seen in some previous movies, where the person responsible for the accident finds himself/herself linked to the affected. October rather deals with Dan’s curiosity. It starts with Dan frequently visiting Shiuli. Then he starts talking to the family, the staff and the doctors. A type of connection is built when he came to know that she asked about him right before her accident. This changed a lot for Dan. The fact that a girl who he hardly knows asked about him and the remorse that he might never be able to tell her anything is the driving force of this movie. It’s one of those movies which might have a light story but is made very strong by captivating performances. Shoojit Sirkar should be given the credit for such a remarkable screenplay. One of the things that fascinate me is how the pace of the movie is kept constant but yet there is no point where you’ll be sidetracked. I was expecting a heavy melodramatic speech in the end like the one we saw in Neerja (I have no problem with Neerja, but I just feel that the whole movie is highly dependent on that one speech by Shabana Azmi in the end). But nothing like that was here, the whole movie was like a slice of life. It showed how someone can get so affected by someone’s loss that they might even start having feelings for them. The few jokes which put here and there added to the straightforwardness of the characters, especially that of Dan.

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Playing Dan can easily be said to be a turning point for Varun Dhawan’s carrier. It could’ve been Badlapur but the limelight was stolen by Nawazuddin at that point. Varun has put a lot of effort into this role and it’s evidently visible. The presence of decent supporting cast helped but the movie was to be carried on his shoulders which he was able to accomplish with finesse.

October is one such beautiful movie which has a rare brilliance which won’t go unnoticed. It left me thinking about the complex human emotions and definition of unconditional attachment to someone. Last time any Bollywood movie which affected me like this was Guzaarish. For me, October is Shoojit Sirkar’s best. I hope this movie win a lot of accolades and awards and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets Oscar buzz as well.

 

As real as it gets – Before Sunrise, Brokeback Mountain and Call me by Your Name

I saw Call me by your Name yesterday. While I was watching it, I couldn’t help but wonder how much it reminds me of Brokeback Mountain and Before Sunrise. All three of these movies are about two beings falling in love with each other in the most natural fashion. So today I am writing about how much I adore these movies, how they have left an impression on so many of us while also reviewing Call Me by your Name, which is on an award streak this year.

Let’s start with the one I love the most. Before Sunrise. Richard Linklater does it right every time and history knows it. But when I first saw this movie, I was just a teenager who was perplexed to see how the whole movie is just a long conversation between the protagonists. I wasn’t sure if I liked it because OBVIOUSLY I liked it, but I couldn’t get this around my head that such a brilliant thing can be made out of just a piece of discussion between two people. But that’s how it happens, doesn’t it?

Love, what some people might call it, happens in actuality when people share with each other their perceptions, beliefs about something, their habits, disliking etc. In the movie when Jesse (played by Ethan Hawke) and Ćeline (played by Julie Delpy) meet they instantly strike up a conversation which embraces so many aspects of life that we cannot help but nod in an affirmation that yes, this is how it happens. In the end, when they part ways, the audience is convinced that this encounter of theirs was unquestionably worthy to be termed as ‘falling in love’. Hence the movie was triumphant in making the audience fall in love with itself. The two movies after that were like living the dream once again. Watching two rational characters, meeting again, talking, loving and growing old together, and sure they have their disagreements, who doesn’t? No two people are same, but that just adds to how genuine the whole series was! After that I made sure that I will not miss any of the Linklater’s films because he doesn’t make stuff up, he captures reality.

Then, I watched Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. It was my first flick which featured two gay characters. Not being aware of how that dynamic would work, I watched it as I watch any other romantic drama. I still count it as one of the best romantic movies I have watched till now. Played by two talented actors, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, the main two personas were shown portraying all the complex sentiments that come with falling for someone, especially in a forbidden relationship. Also, whenever I discuss Brokeback Mountain, I do not miss to say how much I love Michelle William as a supporting actor here. One thing the movie does give you to add to the theatricality of it is amazing dialogues which will stay with you. The famous ‘I wish I knew how to quit you’ is one of the most influential dialogues in the history of Hollywood.

But Call Me by your Name is not a romance, not your usual one. It will not give you a hint at exactly which point the characters fell in love with each other. Because for many of us it doesn’t happen that way.

I remember my first crush, it was a mess! Everything I used to do around her was somehow a performance to build an image in front of her, to make her notice me. Yesterday when I saw this movie, all that came rushing back.

Call me by Your Name is a story of a teenage boy in the 1980s going through all those feelings which I went through when I was his age. That’s why the audience will connect with it, regardless of their sexuality. The character, played splendidly by Timothy Chalamet, is in a conflict with himself about what he is feeling and what the other person feels about him. The other person, played by Armie Hammer, is a young attractive guy who came to live in the house of our protagonist. He has different problems. He is not only in a conundrum if his feeling is genuine or not, but is also in a constant battle with himself about what if what he is feeling is not taken well with the society around them. At the same time, he is asking himself, does it matter? They have little time left with each other, so why not enjoy it while they still can.

The movie has everything there is to make it sincere. The said and more importantly, unsaid things, the sexual tension which sometimes is so clumsy that you can only mildly chuckle and sudden extravagant upheaval of a need to be close to each other.  The film is shot in the magnificent landscape of Italy with each frame comfortably fitting the mood of the characters. The music is light and flawlessly synced. Special mention should be given to the two songs by Sufjan Stephens, especially ‘Mystery of Love’ which is going to be on my playlist forever. The supporting cast is phenomenal. Michael Stuhlbarg (you might remember him from Fargo season 3) and Amira Casar are just marvellous. They did most of the heavy lifting in gracefully putting dialogues which could’ve gone awfully out of the theme of the movie if not backed by powerful acting.

This is what I liked most about the film. It talks about a relationship which is wrong in so many ways in 1983. But the storytellers want you to look past it and see two guys falling in love and savouring each other’s companionship during a summer in the 80s. The conflict is not with the world, it is within. It is what you want to say but you’re too afraid to say it. You’re afraid of the result of it. But at the same time, you cannot help but imagine what would happen if it all goes down the way you want. The direction by Luca is so effective that you can appreciate it throughout the movie. It’s beyond my understanding how he made us look at every small detail without even emphasizing it. I recollect I was closely observing every expression on every characters’ face because all of them were saying something, even when they weren’t.

All these things made me remember the two beautiful films we discussed above. The movie deals with the same kind of love as it was in Brokeback and puts it in front of the audience as subtly as it was put in Before Series.

All this makes Call Me by your Name one of the best this year has to see. I have to see other Oscar contenders yet but so far I won’t stop at saying I liked it. I would say that I liked it so much that I think this movie should win, and most importantly even if it doesn’t, it will always remain one of those which left a long-lasting impact on me.

Heavenly Creatures – Review

“Their friendship is……unhealthy!”

Heavenly Creatures is a story about the notorious duo Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme who, in their teenage years, killed Honora Parker, Pauline’s mother, in cold blood. Parker’s murder is one famous case of the 1950s which later inspires many plays, books and also, movies. Pauline and Juliet like nothing more than each other’s company. They came close as they both had experience of suffering from some kind of severe illness as children. During their friendship, the girls used to create imaginative worlds with kings and queens and knights and loved to dream about that instead of focusing on reality. In reality, their parents were getting suspicious of their friendship and hence, decided that the girls should be separated as their friendship is poisonous. All this and a lot happened after which the girls decided that killing Pauline’s mother and running away is the only option left for them.

Sure, you would say that their attachment was unhealthy. It is convenient to say that it wasn’t love that brought them together but pure madness. Both of the girls lived in a fantasy world created by them in their head to escape the reality that they may not stay together forever.

But this movie is not about that. Peter Jackson directed Heavenly Creatures is a portrayal of how innocent between two teenagers can wreak havoc. They movie shows us how close they were, almost inseparable. They lived as if there is no one else in the world. But, when you feel this much connected with someone, it is almost impossible to imagine how one will live if they get away somehow. You start feeling that everyone is your enemy as they are trying to take that one thing away which you cannot part with. Even if those who are trying to do this are your own parents. Step by step, the whole scenario is explained beautifully, right up to the murder.

The movie gave a successful entry to Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet into the world of Hollywood. Both of them played the troubled teenagers quite efficiently. Winslet brought the craziness to her character and Lynskey brought the innocence. The screenplay is something to look forward to. The audience is taken on a ride which swings between the reality and the fantasy world. In the end, the movie will make you feel sorry for both the girls, even after knowing what they did.

I think this movie is remarkable and gives everyone something to think about.

Big Little Lies – Review

That’s what happens when you cast 3 beautiful women, who also know how to act, in a well written well-directed drama. Critics will not get tired of admiring it and fans like me will just fall in love with it.

Big Little Lies

A 7-part miniseries that tells the tale of three mothers of first graders, whose apparently perfect life unravel to the point of murder. It is based on a book written by Liane Moriarty. Reese Witherspoon plays Madeline who is a control freak and has a habit of getting into everyone else’s business, although her own life is spiraling out of control with each passing day. Then, there is Nicole Kidman, playing Celeste, a beautiful former lawyer (and an awesome one at that) who has a relationship with her husband which can be nothing less than dysfunctional, but she chooses to stick with him, hoping that things will turn out to be alright one day. Last, there’s Shailene playing Jane. A young mother who just came in town and wants to lead a happy life with her sweet little son, but she has a disturbing past which she is trying to forget but can’t.

So, you know, just a bunch of normal human beings they are.

From chapter one, you know that there has been a murder at the fundraiser event. People are being questioned and somehow everyone has something to say. In a small town like that, it is difficult to hide the rivalries, especially if you’re rich you become the source of gossip. After this, we switch back and forth between the statements of the town folks and flashbacks of the life of these three women leading to this point.

At first, I was curious to know who got killed. The creators were successful in confusing the audience by metaphorically pointing at different characters who could be killed, and by who. But, as you go on, you will know that they won’t tell who actually died till the last episode. This will happen around episode 3 and at that point, you will be so hooked, you will be guessing but you wouldn’t want to know. You would like this show to just go on. But like all good things, Big Little Lies ends too, and the ending is jaw dropping.

Reese, Nicole and Shailene are so good at what they did, I think I can watch the whole season again just to watch the prudent acting of these three divas once more, together as a team. Other than them, work done by Alexander Skarsgard, Adam Scott, Zoe Kravitz and Laura Dern was noteworthy. The kids have done a great job too. For first graders, they can certainly act.

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The show has failed in gathering a lot of audiences but it sure has a dedicated viewership including fans who would love to see another kick ass season but I don’t think that could be possible. The series was complete in itself, there is no point in outspreading it unless you come up with a totally diverse storyline and making it an anthology, as done in the case of Fargo.

In the end, I would like to say that this show has it all, decent cinematography, near perfect direction by Jean Marc Vallee (directed all 7 episodes), a ‘who-done-it’ mystery, a fascinating intricate plot, splendid performances and a dazzling ending. Trust me on this, there are not many miniseries which will provide you the perfect balance of all this in only so few episodes. So, check it out.