Non-review: English Vinglish

It’s about believing in yourself when nobody believes in you.

I have never had problems with the English language. I’ve always been good at it. The various rules have always been easy to understand. I don’t really understand why people struggle with it; all you need is practice.

But I get English Vinglish: it’s about believing in yourself when nobody else does.

It’s not about starting something. It’s not about success. It’s not about an underdog taking a chance. It isn’t about learning English and showing people that you aren’t “illiterate”. It isn’t about standing up for yourself.

It is simply about believing.

It was an unexpected pleasure to watch this movie. And the only reason wasn’t the fact that I was watching one after a long time. The story was simple and well-told. It was real and believable. Very heart-wrenching. Very relatable, even if not exactly in terms of learning English.

If you set your mind – and heart! – on something, you can certainly achieve it. If you can stand up for yourself, you can always find a way. There is always one, just hidden behind “complications”.

It is only belief that would help you fight the barriers.  Which would never be easy, of course. Which wouldn’t always work, unlike in a movie. But you’d know you tried.

At the end of the day, that is all that matters.

Non-Review: Moneyball

It’s about changing the game but nobody reinvents this game.

I am not a sporty person. I am not a sports fan. I barely understand cricket rules properly, which is a very very important game in a country like Pakistan. I definitely don’t get a game as complicated as baseball.

But I get Moneyball: it’s about changing the game when nobody reinvents this game.

It’s not about being romantic about baseball – or any game, in fact. It’s not about losing, and it is certainly less about winning. It’s not about the underdog being given a chance. It’s not about taking chances even.

It is simply about believing. That’s all it boils down too.

I am not going on Google to find out more about the movie. No trivia or random facts. I don’t know how many awards or nominations this movie has won, if any. The end-credits tell me it was directed by Bennet Miller but I am not aware of any other of his works. And of course, I recognize Brad Pitt.

All I have to say is that it is not exactly a feel-good flick. But it does make you think and that’s always good.

Miller’s way of shooting it was impactful and I loved every second of it, even though I know less than shit about baseball. The back-and-forth-in-time is certainly not a new technique to make a movie but there are always new angles that need to be delved into. This is one movie that I’ll always remember and the brilliant direction is partly to be thanked for.

Other reasons include the star obviously. I both love and hate to see Pitt looking so old. There’s a lot I don’t know including how he suddenly got so many wrinkles. Maybe I need to stop thinking of myself as a ten year old (although I wasn’t aware of Pitt’s existence back then). Whatever the reason, he carried them too well in Moneyball, as well as my heart.

I am now even more sure that it is simply about believing. I wish life was this simple too. Despite it’s complications though, believing does help.

So we should change the game to the extent we can. May it be one itty bitty step at a time. The game will change only when we believe it can. When we believe we can. It might not always have a pretty end but we’d know we tried.


Plain Old Plane-ness

I don’t really like travelling by air. I get air sick. I was reminded of this fact after a double dose of Air Force One, airing on Star Movies India a few days ago.

Maybe I should have been reminded of how serious and dangerous it is when a plane is air-jacked and all. But living in Pakistan does help develop an apathy towards such kind of potential threats. And of course, when air travel is not that common an occurrence in someone’s life.

I’ve flown only once. It was a million years ago (and only about half a million flights), barely squeezing sightseeing of three countries in one go. After that, I clocked a total of fifty minutes to and from Rawalpindi/Islamabad ‘cause my parents didn’t feel trains or buses were safe enough for a teenager travelling alone. (Ironically enough, in the latter scenario, I had been collected by my uncle before my family reached home). Nervous as hell, afraid of boarding the wrong plane or answering a question wrong, reading every sign ten times and then once more, filling up the paper bag for the steward on the return journey; but safety first.

Come to think of it, that was how I felt when I was travelling with my family too. The only difference was that five necks, not all of whom could read, would crane up to look for directions to the boarding gate or baggage claim. Yet, I was the only one filling up those bags.

I think there was only one three-hour international flight (my first!) in which I managed to keep my food down. Home food, fast food, airplane food. Desserts or drinks. Even a handful of airplane peanuts. Sigh. (Don’t worry. This is not what this post is about.)

I couldn’t even watch an in-flight movie. However, thankfully my airsickness does not disable me from watching movies about airplanes.

And when I say movies about airplanes, I mean movies based entirely on airplanes. A small Google search indicates that it is impractical to take into account all the movies that feature planes. So I’m just sticking to the simplest normal ones.

What I really like about these movies is the air of mystery and drama created by the locked-door mystery. The difference here is that you obviously can’t really leave the plane and run before it lands and your only resources are what are already inside it *dramatic music*.

Here are the ones I’ve seen.

Air Force One: All the main action happens inside the presidential plane, including the hijack, blackmail, killing of hostages and of course, the rescue of said hostages, thanks to the POTUS who refuses to abandon his family or advisers. There is help from the outside but Harrison Ford is The Man of The Hour. Or the hundred and twenty-four minutes of running time. The movie keeps you on the edge of the seat till first, all the terrorists are eliminated and the good people regain control of the airplane. Then, you hold your breathe again when you realize that the airplane can not land! And of course, it is held until Ford is finally inside the military aircraft sent for an exchange with all crafts up in the air.

United 93: A prime example of real-life threats that exist in these times, not least because it is based on the events of September 11, 2001. I have seen this one only once, mainly because it is too emotional for me. But it aptly embraces the locked-door mystery, even while I condemn the events behind it.

Red Eye: I guess I have to admit it extends a little outside the airplane setting but most of plot does happen during the flight. I do like Rachel McAdams and I admire her acting in this one too. She makes her character very believable. And yes, it has the terrorist element to it too, though of a different kind.

Snakes On A Plane: Okay, I had actually decided to not mention this one but it turns out, as I am writing this post, it comes up on HBO. Coincidence? Yes. I don’t believe in signs from the above. Or at least not about movies and blog posts. But I still thought I’d add it to this little list given the circumstances.  However, that does not mean that I like it. I like Samuel L. Jackson movies generally but I wonder why he decided to do this movie. Does he really need the money, seeing as he is in every other action film? Oh wait! *enlightenment*

Flightplan: Now here’s another favourite flick. Jodie Foster has always had my admiration and she doesn’t disappoint. All the good story elements are present. Loss, death, mystery, missing daughter and panic all of which then tumbles into a conspiracy, terrorist plots, bombs and paranoia. She’s innocent! I kinda yell out. But the circumstances continue to put seeds of doubt. I saw her board the plane with her daughter. Didn’t I? And that is when we are putty in the hands of Robert Schwentke has us (Google rocks!). Also, apologies for putting Flightplan right after SoaP.

Annnnd…that’s all folks! *looney tunes music*