Friday, July 19, 2013

Time off?

People grow up, finish their studies and then eventually start working and go to work every day. They wake up, get dressed and stay away from their family while at work. Some of them have to go through the difficulty of losing a job and in that case most of them start looking for a new one. A middle-aged, family man loses his job and is unable to break the news to his wife and family. Vincent (Aurelien Recoing) chooses to lead a life of an employed person even after losing his job in Laurent Cantet's L' Emploi du temps (Time Out, 2001). 

Vincent loves driving, maybe even more than interacting with human beings. After getting laid off, he makes up a new job, an idea that he gets by reading brochures in an office in Geneva. This whole invention of him getting a new job at the UN office also enables him to spend time driving, an escape he clearly enjoys and at the same time it also hides his unemployment from his family. With time, it is noticed that Vincent likes being without a job and there is an obvious liking to the freedom that he has gained. It shows how uncomfortable he was working and interacting with people at his work place. He seems to enjoy his time on the road and being away from everyone. However, things get difficult as he starts running out of funds and because of that he is forced to lie and use unfair means to collect money. His wife Muriel (Karin Viard) is shown as a loving wife who is always supporting him but as times passes she gets suspicious and senses that something isn't right. His freedom to explore different avenues of life by being unemployed comes with a cost of him being drawn into doing things he shouldn't do. He gets into conning his family and close friends of their money which also extends to people he doesn't know. With time he realizes that he is in trouble and can't go on fooling people by taking their savings under the pretext of a profitable investment, and his scam is eventually noticed by a stranger. 

This movie unfolds Vincent's character at a very slow pace but the process is admirable. We witness how he hides from reality, pretends to live a life that doesn't exist, lies and manipulates and is forced into doing things so that he doesn't get exposed. Recoing's performance is strong and certainly a rewarding experience to watch. He made me like his gentle and laid-back presence and slowly shocked me with the audacity of his lies and deception. As the drama unfolded I was trapped between supporting his decision to carry on the way he was and the fact that he should confess to his family as he might end up destroying everything. This is a story of a man who is caught up between running away from the routine life he doesn't like and sticking with the people who love him the most. His desire to impress the elders and to win the love of young ones draws him into doing unreasonable things which lead to the truth being out in the open eventually. This is a simple and a telling story which made me like it more with every time I thought about it, and I haven't stopped.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Never be the same again

"You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible."

There are some books that are monumental despite the fact that they actually don't look like it nor do they give the impression they will be. Me Before You is more than that. I must admit that I kept seeing this title everywhere but given that I didn't know the author in any other way than from romance lists, I wasn't a big fan of giving it a shot. Until people whose opinion I value and who read anything but romances started shoving this book in my hands. 
When I started reading it, I noticed that it reads easily and quickly and even though it looked like a fat one, the pages kept slipping through. So when I started it, I read 30 pages and then went to bed. The next day (thank god it was a weekend) I read 200. Needless to say this was the story I cooked with, cleaned with, got up with and went to bed with. I was pretty much useless for two days. And very, very anti-social. My communication was restricted to sudden outbursts of laughter (that wouldn't end), cursing certain characters and weeping like a little girl. So that's all the warning you need.
The outline of the story you probably know and if you don't, here's the gist of it. Lou has been living in her small town all her life. She is the kind of girl who doesn't stand out in any other way than her ridiculous sense of fashion. She blends in and that's what she's liked in her job at the tea house. She could serve and be invisible and observe the world and lives happening in front of her. When she loses her job, she doesn't know what to do. With her job, with her family, with her fitness obsessed boyfriend Patrick whom she has practically had nothing in common for the past gazillion years. Will, on the other hand, likes his life loud. He likes living it to the fullest, using a big spoon for it, trying anything twice and never sitting still. Until a terrible accident lands him in a wheelchair, paralyzed from neck down. And Lou is supposed to be the one who takes care of him and keeps him company. He's miserable because he needs to be babysat and he's decided he will end that and she's fed up because he's just plain unpleasant. Until they realize they have more in common than they thought and more to teach each other than they ever would imagine. Is it time that Will realizes life can be pretty great after something so horrible? Is it even true? 
I cannot stress enough how much this is not a romance novel, how much it's not a love story and how you will not find any of the expected parts of that in it. It's an amazing book about life, about people, about prejudice and about someone who will change your life forever. If you're lucky enough to meet them. Romance or not.
I also cannot even decide what the best thing about this book is. Is it the characters that are so realistic and so true that they make your heart ache? Is it the knowledge you gain about how much people with such disability actually suffer? Is it the fact that you will absolutely never be the same again after reading it? I honestly don't know. And I don't know why you still haven't picked up the book and started reading it. Because it's high time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's your number?

               "Do you know what it's about? - No idea."

Every now and then world cinema throws up a gem from its closet which draws me into watching foreign language movies. Tzameti, which means the number thirteen in Georgian is a suspense thriller written and directed by Gela Babluani. Filmed in black and white, it is an unforgettable movia which left me restless and at the edge of my seat.

Tzameti is a story of a young Georgian immigrant named Sebastian (Georges Babluani) who works as a handyman supporting his financially weak family. He gets hired to repair a roof by a middle-aged junkie Jean Francois Godon (Phillipe Passon) who promises him to pay an advance at the earliest. Sebastian's chance of earning any money dies with the death of Godon due to an overdose. He loses his job and hope of getting any money for the work he has done. All he is left with is an envelope which belonged to Godon that had a train ticket and a paid hotel reservation. While Godon was alive, Sebastian overheard Godon talking about the envelope and how he could earn a lot of money if he followed the instructions in it. With nothing to lose and curiosity in his mind, Sebastian decides to take the trip which was meant for Godon in anticipation to get something out of it. Sebastian follows the instructions given to him once he sets off and in the meantime is also closely followed by the police. His curiosity ends him up being a part of a deadly game which he is obliged to play and chances of survival are minimal. The first half of the movie is slow and deceptive but it sets up the base for the unexpected twist that follows. Just give it time and suddenly you'll find yourself caught in the middle of a mind blowing thriller.

The best part about this movie is that it gives nothing away in the beginning. It makes you wait as things slowly unfold and once they are out, there is no escape. The fact that it's made in black and white gives it an extra charm. It offers a lot of tension and emotion and overall it makes up for the slow pace in which it started. A lot can be written about this movie, but it's best that one watches it without being exposed to any of the spoilers. Just sit back and let it take you on a ride, make sure that you buckle up first because it won't give you a chance later.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Darkest places in hell...

Here's a spoiler for you. If this is the next book you are gonna read, it's a Dan Brown novel. And in it is Robert Langdon. So there. That's all. If you've read any of the other three Langdon books, you know what to expect and therefore you have absolutely no right to complain. Because Dan Brown doesn't promise to deliver a life changing novel that will make you wonder about your own existence, that will rattle your mind and soul. No. Not at all. Dan Brown will give you a novel of chasing the bad guy, racing against time (most likely to save the world) and along the way you will visit certain historically important (most likely European) cities and learn of many secrets they keep, symbols they hide and stories they harbor. So if you're expecting anything else, you should just abandon all hope.
Now that we got that out of the way, there is not much to uncover about the story. This time Robert Langdon, however, doesn't even know what he's supposed to do. He wakes up in a hospital, with his last memory being of walking across Harvard campus. And now he's in Florence with a gun wound in his head, apparently being hunted down for digging somewhere and for something he wasn't supposed to. And then the hunt starts.
I never really loved any of Dan Brown's novels by the time I finished them. There's always a big James Bond-y twist (and abilities that certain characters develop), a ton of very VERY cheesy and unbelievable moments where you need to feel sorry for almost everyone and a trick with which there is no right or wrong. But I always enjoy the ride. Maybe because many of my courses at the university had to do with art (and art history), symbols, religion, etc. Maybe that's why The Da Vinci Code wasn't such a big shock to me, we spent a lot of time studying the Holy Grail. Even so, I love diving into the information that Dan Brown was collecting for a very, very long time, I always find something new I didn't know and then can't wait to go visit that place just to check it out. The book took him three years to complete and involved a lot of research. This time not only on his usual topics but also specific scientific information that I won't talk about much because I might spoil the whole story. Florence was an almost logical next choice for his novel, I guess to a large extent we have all expected it sooner rather than later. Of course it isn't confined to only one location and I must admit I liked it better than The Lost Symbol. Maybe also because it speaks of locations, quite known to me. And loved by me. And maybe because it isn't so easy to write interestingly about art.
So in very, very short, here's the truth. You will learn a lot about Dante, Florence and other places and no doubt they will receive a much larger number of visitors, trying to see what Robert Langdon saw and chased. And rightfully so, because they are amazing places, filled with art, history and wonder that deserve every bit of attention they can get.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Relativity Of Time

Being able to travel through time is probably the most desired super power to possess. However, not being able to control when it happens and to what year you travel to is not something you want with it. The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) is one such story about a librarian named Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) who has a genetic disorder causing him to time travel without having any control over it. With his time traveling occurring randomly he tries to build a relationship with a woman with whom he feels safe, Clare (Rachel McAdams). This movie is based on Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 novel of the same title.

"I wouldn't change one second of our life together."

The first time Henry is shown time traveling is when he is being driven by his mother and unfortunately they meet with an accident. His disorder saves his life but his mother dies in that accident. The very fact that he has no control over the timing or destinations of his time traveling makes him a victim of it. It gets more complicated with the shock that he is also left completely naked when he arrives to his destination and through that he learns how to break locks and steal clothes. With experience he learns different skills to defend himself through dangerous situations. He finds himself attached to certain people, places and events in his life as he keeps toggling back and forth in time. During his travels back to the past he meets a little girl Clare who finds nothing unusual about the fact that he is time traveling and develops a liking for him. He keeps visiting her occasionally until they finally actually meet in the present time in Chicago library where he works. There is an element of disbelief as they show him travel back and forth in time, it seems hard to digest but keep in mind that it's a fantasy movie so anything is possible. He has no control at all and he cannot stop the future events (which he learns about on his travels) from happening. Henry falls in love with Clare and they get married but her life is nothing but a constant wait for him as he disappears without notice and there is no fixed time for his return. This eventually takes a toll on their relationship as they go through tense and testing times till they finally manage to have a baby.

"What, you think that I wanted this life...this husband that disappears without any kind of
warning? Do you think anyone would want that? Who would want that?"
Both Bana and McAdams work well together on screen with their roles. They don't have a lot of time to develop as characters but they have done justice to their respective parts. With Henry constantly traveling and showing up in different ages, it makes the plot interesting. One would think of it to be more of a sci-fi movie after reading the title but it's a tale of love which comes with unconquerable complexities. This movie is based on a topic which is endless and I'm sure that the book is more detailed and evenly spread. However, showing it all in two hours is not an easy task so my word of advice is too keep all the logic aside and watch this one as a unique love story.

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