Friday, 28 November 2014

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Movie Review (Spoiler-Free)

In District 13, after she literally shatters the games forever, Katniss Everdeen works to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends.

Finally, it's Mocking-Day! On a scale of 0 to 10, I've been... well... this excited for Mockingjay Part 1.

And now, here comes my review for the penultimate THG movie. 

The movie starts off a little slowly, with Katniss recovering from the events of the Quarter Quell in District 13, as Plutarch Heavensbee and President Coin attempt to convince her to take on the role of the face of the rebellion: the Mockingjay.

But then the movie picks up some pace, and you see a lot of crucial moments from the book come to life: Katniss' visit to the ruins of District 12, how she finds herself struggling to keep the rebellion and Peeta Mellark alive at the same time, and how she inspires the district rebels in ways she could have never imagined.

Some of my favourite scenes include the famous "If we burn, you burn with us!" sequence, Katniss' rendition of The Hanging Tree (this hauntingly beautiful song is still stuck in my head, by the way), and any scene involving Haymitch and Effie (or as the fans like to call them, Hayffie!).
I also loved the interactions between Katniss and Prim. This is, of course, one of the most important relationships in the series, and with every movie, this sisterly bond only gets stronger.

James Newton Howard's background score will give you chills and may bring you close to tears. I certainly found myself getting emotional a few times throughout the movie (especially towards the end), and the credit for that must go not just to the music but also to the actors on-screen.

Jennifer Lawrence continues to embody the character of Katniss with such finesse that sometimes you wonder if she really is just acting. Julianne Moore wasn't how I'd imagined President Coin to be like, but she pulls off the character - and the hair - very well.
A special mention to Elizabeth Banks as Effie - her character actually doesn't appear until the very end of the book, but I'm glad they gave her a bigger role. She provides quite a lot of comedic relief, and who doesn't love movie Effie, after all?

And Josh Hutcherson as Peeta... oh, I'm not supposed to give any spoilers, but even with so little screen time (he probably appears for not more than ten minutes), he delivers a very... memorable performance. I'm really looking forward to his role in the finale, where there's going to be a lot of scope for character development for the boy with the bread.

I'm not very fond of Liam Hemsworth or his character Gale, so he didn't make much of an impression on me, but I suppose the average movie goer wouldn't have anything bad to say about him in this movie.

In short, Francis Lawrence has done it again. With Catching Fire, he had had a lot to work with - interesting turn of events, the Quarter Quell, exciting new characters - but in this movie, by adding a few powerful scenes and cutting down on the slower moments, he commands your attention for every second of those 123 minutes. Well done, Francis, buddy. Can't wait to see what you have in store for us next time.

I'm going to go with 4.25 stars out of 5 for this one. 
A great movie adaptation for a somewhat drawn-out book, Mockingjay Part 1 is equal parts action, emotion and tragedy.
If you're a fan of the books or the movies, you wouldn't want to miss this one. So go to your nearest theatre, grab your tub of popcorn, and get ready for the movie of the year, because this one is simply...

Have you already seen Mockingjay Part 1? Let me know what you thought of the movie. Where had you expected the movie to end?
And if you've been living under a rock and haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out below:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 hits theatres on 20th November, 2015. I definitely will be waiting for that one with bated breath.

Meanwhile, I think I'll finish that Harry Potter movie marathon. This IS the Ultimate Geek Week, after all!
Next blog post will probably be a book review for The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (it's actually JK Rowling, but shhhh! That's a secret!), which I'm halfway done with.

Until then, bye-bye, my dear Mockingjays!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Semester One, Check // Just a Random Update #3

This semester is OVER!


How's it going, Geeks? This is going to be a brief update, but I felt it was necessary to make one to mark the day my first semester in college ends.

What? One-sixth of my undergraduate college life is over already? Feels just like yesterday when I was new to Mumbai, whining about the heat and the difficult-to-understand North Indian Hindi and all the strange people.

Although, to be fair, I still complain about those things. November is almost over and it's still so hot in the day! The nights are fairly pleasant, yes, but the humidity never ends. I NEED my winter so I can wear sweaters and hoodies and cardigans and those cute boots that my sister got me.
Please, Mumbai. Please.

The strange people don't seem that annoying anymore, though. I'm actually talking to my classmates willingly these days. It's a weird feeling to be... socializing.

But I kind of like it. Still, my alone time is precious and I cherish every wonderful minute of it.

My exams were so-so. Three were good, three were bad. I don't think I'm going to be known as the class nerd anymore. Still, it's too soon to say anything.
Anyway, we have a week off before the new semester begins, and I'm actually not going home. I'll be staying in Mumbai, spending my days being geekie. Lots of books to read (review of The Cuckoo's Calling coming up in a couple of days), movies to rewatch, TV show marathons to catch up to, and workouts to do. This week is going to be...

Plus, Mockingjay Part 1 comes out in less than two days! I've already accepted the fact that I'll be crying my eyes out. I mean... the scene where *spoiler* talks about his days as a *spoiler*! And when *spoiler* tries to *spoiler* *spoiler* after the *spoiler*!!!!!
I really can't wait to watch this one and see if it's better than the book. It probably will be, because I personally didn't like the last book that much.

Well, I've got my hummus, pickled cucumber and carrot tahini in a grilled signature multi-grain bagel waiting for me to eat it (it's much tastier than it sounds... and healthy, too! And HUMMUS! So good!), and I think I'll do a movie marathon of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
Let the Games (and the feels) begin.

I'll see you on Friday, with my review of Mockingjay. Bye-bye! :)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

5 Things Only Introverts Would Understand

Random, fun list time!!

Howdy, the internet! I thought I'd write about something close to my heart today. Actually, introversion resides deep within the core of my heart. It's a pity that a lot of people don't understand what introversion actually is. It's not being shy or being anti-social. It's just... a way of living.

Hey, I love hanging out with my homies as much as the next person. But after a long day of being around people, I like to charge my battery of awesomeness by being alone. Not because I hate people (well, to be honest, I do, but most introverts don't), but because being alone rejuvenates me.

Without further ado, let's get to the main topic of today's blog post. So, fellow Geek, you know you're an introvert when...

1) According to you, one of the worst sounds in the world is the phone ringing:

Imagine this scenario. You're cuddled up in bed, or on the couch, eating your favourite snack, watching your favourite show or reading your favourite book. And then, suddenly, in the midst of all that silence, in the midst of all that serenity, you hear a noise. Your body tenses. Your hands tremble as they hit 'pause' or shut the book. And then... you reach for your phone to see who's calling you.

Ugh! I don't know why, but the sound of my ringtone fills me up with dread. I usually keep my phone on silent for that very reason, but even the thought of my screen lighting up with someone's name and the call icon upsets me to no end.

I like being social. I really do. But do I have to do it on the phone, where you can't see me, where I have zero emoticons to express myself with, where I'll be subjecting people to silence because I don't know what to say?

Here's a message for everyone who knows me personally and is reading this: unless you're my sister, my mother or my father, please do not call me. (That goes for you too, best friend. Sorry, Man. You know I love you!) Even if I do pick up, you'll only get a half-hearted attempt at a conversation from my side.
Instead, why not drop a message on Facebook, or WhatsApp, or email? I find it so much easier to express myself in writing, and you'll probably enjoy my presence much more on the internet.

2) Music and books are your best friends:

It's the weekend. It's exam time. Your friends are too busy doing some last-minute cramming to hang out, but you've already finished revising... three times. Looks like it's going to be one boring weekend.... NOT!
An introvert is never bored as long as he or she has two things: earphones and access to a variety of books. Oh, and a music library. Three things.

My ideal weekend would be curled up in bed on a winter's night, drinking green tea, listening to soft music and reading a good book. I wouldn't mind having someone there with me - maybe a trusted friend, my dearest sister, or a handsome, fictionesque man who loves to listen to me read - but being alone doesn't make me uncomfortable at all.

I've gone to watch a movie alone. I've had breakfasts and lunches and dinners alone, multiple times. I've hung out in college an hour before college, alone.
But I've never really been lonely because I'm not actually alone. I have many different fictional worlds that I can delve into (with background music!), where I can spend minutes and hours and days and years thinking about things that have nothing to do with my own life. That's the dream!!!

3) You're just not a hugger:

There are always these people in every school or college or workplace who are obsessed with hugs. And I mean obsessed. They feel the need to hug you every time they see you. A simple 'hi' or a 'what's up' or even a fist bump isn't enough. Nope, they have to touch their body with yours just to greet you.
(Wow, that sounded weird.)

We introverts like our personal space. We have a little imaginary bubble around us that you just can't cross unless you're authorised to. The only people allowed to cross my bubble are my sister and my parents. (Once again, sorry, dear best friend.)

Hugs can be very comforting when I'm upset or when I've just had a horrible day. But all the time? No. Just... no.

4) You like talking, just not with random people about random things:

You're waiting in line for the lift, headphones in place and a nice train of thought forming in your head about that science fiction movie you saw yesterday. And then suddenly, the person in front of you turns around, and hey! It's your classmate whom you only know on a semi-first name basis!
And the lift is still five floors away, the classmate is opening her mouth to talk, so you have to take off your earphones and talk politely about things like homework or the weather or tell her why you left so early from that rad party last night.

Ugh! Is there anything worse than talking to mere acquaintances about things that are zero percent mentally stimulating?
I'm a talker once you get to know me. I can talk your ears off. I'm doing that right now, aren't I? Look how many words I've said so far on this very page!
But that's because this topic interests me. And because I know that a lot of my favourite people will be reading this blog.
If you're not my best friend or my family or one of my closest friends, do not talk to me about pointless things. Talk to me about the life lessons learnt from your favourite book, about new innovations in science, about the many problems with our justice system (do you know how many people are wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit? Do you?!). That's how you make friends with an introvert.

5) You're secretly happy when plans get cancelled:

So you finally agreed to go to your friend's friend's friend's birthday party. You agreed to go to that concert with the really cool DJ that you've never heard of. You said you'd love to go to that fancy dinner place with the really expensive food that you can't pronounce.
But then... the birthday party gets postponed. The DJ changes his mind about coming to your city. The fancy dinner place turns out to be fully booked.

And all you can think is... HURRAY! Now you can stay in your pajamas, hang out with a friend or two, have some tasty food, have a Sherlock marathon... and you won't even have to feel guilty about cancelling.
That's the dream, people. That's the dream.

These are the top five things that really define who I am as an introvert. Do you have any other awesome quirks that only we introverts exhibit? Do you have any cool quirks that you, as an extrovert, exhibit? Tell me in the comments below!

So... are you an introvert or not, fellow Geek? If you agree with some but can't relate to the rest, check out this personality test to find out a lot more about yourself. It'll also tell you how much of an introvert or an extrovert you are.

I hope you enjoyed reading this semi-personal post. Next time will probably be a random update, because my semester ends in just a few more days and I absolutely cannot wait! And after that.... the review for Mockingjay Part 1 will be out on November 28th, after I finish watching it, first day, first show.

See you then, Geeks. Bye! :)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

'Boyhood' Movie Review

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. Boyhood is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. 

An anonymous reader asked me to review this movie a few days ago, and this was my first review request, so of course I had to go and watch this film!

You don't get too many films like this one. This one doesn't really have a story, per se. There's no shocker in the middle of the film, there's no climax towards the end. This film is very general, but it's not generic.

It starts off very well, with some amazing music by Coldplay, and the first half will completely suck you in as you relive your own childhood, full of sibling rivalry and fandom moments and moving to new cities and schools (at least in my case). The first half is also very funny, but at the same time, it isn't light-hearted. There are a few moments which are very tragic and, unfortunately, a tad too dramatic.

The dialogues are very witty and the music is simply lovely. Watching all the actors age in front of your eyes is also really enjoyable.

However, as much as I related to the first half, I couldn't relate to the 'teenage' moments at all, although I'm sure many of my fellow classmates could. I was never a rebellious kid and I never really succumbed to peer pressure the way many people did and still do.
I guess in a way, the second half was sort of a let-down. Mason, as a child, is very likeable, but as a teenager... he becomes so clich├ęd! So does his sister, as a matter of fact. 

And a few moments do seem to drag... it doesn't help that the movie, within around 165 minutes, tells a story spanning 12 years. 

But at the end of the day, you don't get too many movies like this, whether English or Hindi. And with so many mind-numbing and brainless Bollywood movies releasing every week, it's good that we still have some sensible cinema to look forward to. 

I'm going to go for 3.5 stars out of 5 for this one. 
Great acting, dialogues and music, but if you don't have any patience, skip this one. Or, you know, if you're under 18, don't watch this. Because it's rated R for language.
Otherwise, keep an open mind and enjoy this movie. Be sure to check out the trailer below.

Thanks to the anonymous reader who requested this review. You rock, stranger! 

And the rest of you lovely readers - feel free to request any sort of blog post that you'd like me to write. Seriously, you have no idea how happy I feel when I realise that people actually like reading the stuff that I post online.

I've got exams just around the corner, but I've got a ton of ideas for some more blog posts this week. Stay tuned, Geeks. Bye. :)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn: A Book/Movie Review

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favours with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Wow. Just... wow.

I'd read this book about a month ago and I'm not sure why I didn't review it... probably because I didn't know how to.
But now that I've seen the movie (which, to be honest, is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've seen till date), I just had to do a blog post about it. 

Let me be honest with you - this book and this movie may scar you. You might spend some time thinking that people can't be that crazy in real life... can they? You might even wonder what you'd do if any of it happened to you.
But you probably won't be able to stop thinking about it for quite a while.

Nick Dunne isn't the kind of character you can root for. He's the protagonist of this novel, and who likes a protagonist that can't be trusted? Nobody. But that's the beauty of this story. We may not like villains, but we absolutely adore stories about them. And that's really where Gone Girl hits the mark. 

This story has more negative characters that you can count. There's creepy and crazy oozing from every main character on paper or on screen. There will be a hundred thoughts running through your head as you follow the story. This book or this movie has a lot of sucker-punch moments, especially a really big shocker around the middle of the story. And it only gets better and better with every passing minute of the second half. 

Gillian Flynn is quite the writer. She has a way with words, although that way is rather... twisted.
Here are some great quotes from the book:

“My mother had always told her kids: if you're about to do something, and you want to know if it's a bad idea, imagine seeing it printed in the paper for all the world to see.” 

“I often don't say things out loud, even when I should. I contain and compartmentalize to a disturbing degree: In my belly-basement are hundreds of bottles of rage, despair, fear, but you'd never guess from looking at me.”  

“Because you can't be as in love as we were and not have it invade your bone marrow. Our kind of love can go into remission, but it's always waiting to return. Like the world's sweetest cancer.” 

“We weren’t ourselves when we fell in love, and when we became ourselves – surprise! – we were poison. We complete each other in the nastiest, ugliest possible way.” 

David Fincher's direction is also exceptional. He truly has brought the book to life. But the credit goes not just to him, but to the actors as well.

I'll admit that when I saw the trailer, I wasn't too psyched about it. Ben Affleck as Nick was still understandable, but Rosamund Pike was not the Amy I had imagined.

However, she did a really good job portraying Amy. And trust me, Amy is one of the most complex characters to portray on screen.
Neil Patrick Harris, as Amy's ex-lover Desi Collings, was just the perfect mix of creepy and cool. Carrie Coon, who plays Nick's sister Margo, and Tyler Perry, who plays Nick's lawyer, are both commendable as well.

I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for Gone Girl: the book and the movie.
It's the perfect book to read just before bedtime, in the dark, and the perfect movie to watch if you're looking for something that's equal parts suspense and humour. I'd recommend it for all mature audiences and readers.

A fair warning, though, that this story is a psychological thriller. (It's rated R. Tread with caution.) It will mess with your brain. There are a lot of gruesome moments that will leave you cringing and averting your gaze. There are also moments that will leave you wide-eyed.
If you have a weak stomach, the movie especially is not for you.

Otherwise, go for it. Read the book, watch the movie. Make the most of this weekend. You won't regret it.
Here's the trailer, for the curious:

If you've read the book or seen the movie, let me know what you thought about the story. What did you think of that ending? How had you expected it to end?

Until the next post, Geeks! Bye! :)

PS: Make sure to like my Facebook page! I post regular updates about my geekie life.