bookspluslife

February 26, 2017

Book: Desert God by Wilbur Smith

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:27 pm

imageThis is the second installment in the successful Ancient Egyptian stories from Wilbur Smith featuring the ‘I-am-so-good-at-everything’ Taita. This follows the first book, River God.

Taita is playing a bao board game with a friend and fellow strategist Aton. We learn that the Hyskos, who were vanquished in the original River God by him and Queen Lostris are regrouping and gaining strength. Taita comes up with a clever plan to break up the alliance forming between Hyskos and King Mintos. He takes an army disguised as Hyskos and plunders another king, thereby forcing him to consider Hyskos as the common enemy and enter into an alliance instead with Egypt.

 

If you have forgotten that Taita can do it all (superhuman, super intelligent, super musical and so on) he reminds you of this a million times until it becomes mildly irritating. He however finds that there are galleys with silver bars – untold wealth, being transported into a heavily fortified fort, which looks impregnable. Taita has of course an ingenious plan. He breaks the only bridge from the castle by going in a boat.

He successfully plunders not only unimaginable amount of treasure but also arms, releases some Egyptians captured and turned into slaves, and returns via the Nile, ramming into the Minoan emperor’s boat on the way. He kills the emperor too.

 

He now hatches a plan to give both his beloved girls (sisters of the Pharoah) to the womanizing Supreme Minos as a gift to get an alliance with Crete.

 

I realized while reading this that Taita is to Wilbur Smith what Odd Thomas is to Dean Koontz. The same tone of self-congratulation, the same idea that the person, though defective in some way (autism like behaviour in Odd Thomas and castration in Taita) have superhuman skills in almost all walks of life. And the mildly boastful tone that permeates all their stories – which, to me, spoils the story a bit – that results takes away from total enjoyment of the story.

 

He finds that the elder princess may have been kidnapped by an unknown intruder where they stayed. He follows and conquers Al Hawawi the Bedouin pirate but not before Zaras is grievously wounded.

 

Taita is in his element. He invents surgery, “mentally” copulates with a goddess, discovers that he is a demi god and excels in everything including self praise, all the while saying that he is embarrassed to praise himself.

 

He discovers that the Hyksos are preventing his plan to unite the kings against them and are trying to ambush him but they are of course they are no match for him. He ambushes them and takes them as slave. When a pirate ship attacks them, he reforms the pirate captain and enlists him to get him more ships for the impending war with Hyksos.

 

When he reaches Crete, he finds the king weird and the people weirder. He is attached by an Auroch and is saved by his stable boy who gives his own life to save Taita. The princesses were whisked away to be consorts of the king.

 

He meets and kills an Auroch, having his servant killed in the process. When he learns of Hyksos amassing chariots and guarding with too few people, Taita goes to surprise them in an attack but is in turn ambushed. Nakati helps him and warns of treachery that caused this.

 

They win over the Hyksos after nearly being defeated.

 

In addition, Loxias meets Taita and says strange happenings in the Supreme Minos and his harem. Forty women were sent to the king on the day of the earthquake but never seen again. We the readers can put together what happened but the suspense is revealed only much later in the book.

 

They rush back to the aid of the princesses in the midst of a roaring volcano (the wrath of Cronas) that seems to have destroyed Minoa. They reach just as the princesses are about to be sacrificed to an auroch.

 

This piece has its action pieces but overall I think this Taita book leaves a lot to be desired. Not up to his earlier standards in the first book.

 

5/10

–  – Krishna

Movie: Arrival (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:12 pm

imageI don’t know what to make of this movie. In one sense, it is not like many other alien movies, especially those of yesteryears (and some current movies) where the aliens are definitely humanoid and the problem in the earlier years could be really solved by having people wear suits. Done. And mostly the aliens speak English (or fudged by the statement that they communicate at a mental level, which seems like English to us humans).

 

As long as we are diverging in this preamble, I may also add that the one movie that was extremely impressive from yesteryears, based on Carl Sagan’s story, called Contact that came out in 1997, also sidestepped the issue of what aliens look like. The movie is beautiful in its own right, and if you have not seen it, I urge you to do so when you have a chance.

 

I am not claiming that this is this is the first movie I have seen that recognizes the fact that the aliens may not even look like us, not even a little bit, and their way of communication may be completely incomprehensible to us. Anyone who has seen the Aliens series can vouch for that. However, this takes the item in a different light. In Aliens series, for instance, people were not trying to understand what they were saying. In this one they do, and kudos to the team for that. Evolution can wreak wonders even in an isolated island in this world (witness the unique species in Australia and Madagascar, to name but two) and who knows what it would have wrought in other planets?

 

The reason for their arrival (the title of the film) is really interesting as well. The story is about Dr Louise Banks who is a language professor. We learn that she and her husband are separated and a daughter who grew up got a incurable disease and dies early. Seems unrelated to the main movie, because then you see her invited to help US when a spacecraft lands in US (and in many other parts of the world as well) since she is the best language expert in the world, but keep it in the back of your mind because it all connects later. She meets a theoretical physicist called Ian Donnelly.

 

The spacecraft is huge, oval, and seems flat as a cardboard and yet they all can get in and explore. The theories of language where they try to parse the alien speak is phenomenal. The daring Louise trying new things to understand the really strange beings is phenomenal and her exceptional gift, which is slowly revealed and that also helps in averting a catastrophe of epic proportions (when China refuses to listen to the aliens or make contact with them but threatens to nuke the spaceship that landed in their territory) is amazing.

 

The movie can be a bit confusing but all in all, it stands together, very intelligently crafted and the new emphasis on taking you backwards and forwards in time works well again in this movie.

Amy Banks and Jeremy Runner do a credible job in their roles.

 

To tell more would be to give away some of the interesting things about the movie.

 

I think it definitely is a 7/ 10

– – Krishna

February 25, 2017

Book: The Lords Of The North by Bernard Cornwell

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:33 pm

imageThe Lords of the North is the third in the Anglo Saxon series and follows The Last Kingdom, and The Pale Horseman. This continues the story via Uhtred, the central but invented character.

 

Uhtred buries his treasure because he has to leave for Babbenburg, his childhood home.  He reaches the place and goes to see the king, pretending to be another man in Alfred’s army. He is however exposed by the priest and realizes that he is among his old enemies, unmasked.

 

Based on the propaganda by priests that Saint Cuthbert himself had come to the aid of Alfred, the king of Babbenberg has the Danes slaughtered when the Danish army was away and now, fearing a massacre at the hands of the returning Danish forces, Uhtred just wants to get out of that place. When he makes a deal with a merchant to escort him and his family, he falls into the hands of his ancient enemy Sven. He covers his face and pretends to be a leper. He humiliates Sven and escapes with the merchant. In the same event, he meets Guthred, also called the Slave King, who is another Dane.

 

Guthred is crowned King of Northumbria by the priests, after a brief moment of confusion where Uhtred is confused for the king. He is captured by the men of Kartjan the Cruel who pretend that they have come to join his army and he gets saved in the last minute. He takes revenge on all of them except Kjartan’s bastard son and takes him into his fold when the latter declares an oath of fealty to Uhtred.

 

They go to expand the empire and capture the next kingdom without any resistance. However, Kjartan refuses to surrender and Guthred’s sister Gisel, who hoped to marry Uhtred, is dismayed by what she saw in the runes.

 

He finds out what it is when Guthrum sells him into slavery as a part of the deal and he is branded and manacled and made to row the oar of Trader, a slave galley. He gets saved by Ragnar and Steapa and pledges a second oath to Alfred and goes back to Guthred with Steapa as an emissary from Alfred.

 

He finds Guthred trapped and rescues him and his beloved Gisela. Then with Ragnar, he attempts an attack on Kjartan’s fortress Dunholm. How they fare in their attempt to capture Dunholm is exhilerating, with stealth, cunning plan and fortunes swinging constantly one way and then the other with stunning twists when they think all is lost… This is perhaps the best sequence so far in the series.

 

I thought that after such a climactic scene it would be time to end the story but the story continues. And keeps its tension till the very end. Brilliantly told, especially how Ivarr, the Danish king opposed to both Ragnar and Alfred, meets his end.

 

Excellent read, and I repeat: the best in this series so far.

 

8/10

– – Krishna

Movie : Moana (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:15 pm

imageDisney has figured out the magic formula to make hits. In 2016, according to the trade magazines, all top six hits were from the Disney stable. It of course takes a lot of money, especially in an animated movie like this.

 

This time they have gone to Polynesian culture for inspiration and the plot, really, is very simple. A Pacific Island nation has withdrawn into itself and has forgotten, and even fears, to do what should naturally come to them : go out into the sea on boats. Why? That is indeed the story.

 

The way the story unfolds is amazing. Moana, the young girl from the tribe seems to be unafraid of the sea and the water, unlike everyone else, with the exception of the crazy old grandmother.  The island of Te Fiti (What? No I did not say Tahiti, I said Te Fiti.) lost its “heart”, a stone with the spiral shape, to the arrogant and greedy demi-god called Maui. (What? No, not the island Maui, the demi-god Maui.)

 

When the desolation that this created threatens to overwhelm even the island where Moana lives, she wants to go after Maui and persuade him to return the heart to the island. In true Disney’s style, Maui can become any creature, a hawk, a lizard or himself and he uses all these to spectacular effort when he steals the heart of Te Fiti.

 

The other cute thing is that all of his life experiences become tattoos on his body and sometimes the tattoos move to tell the story.

 

Here in the movie, the sea (water) is a living thing that protects Moana and is an ally.

 

Like I said, the story itself is simplistic. She goes and meets the arrogant Maui and forces him to understand (and respect) her. We are introduced to his past and why he is what he is. The final confrontation with the fire breathing monster Te Ka and who that really is are good twists in the movie.

 

But where the movie really sparkles is in the animation. The worlds that it brings in front of you is fascinating, the images are brilliant and the dialog, though in my mind not as brilliant, supports the story and moves it along. The scene where baby Moana plays with the sea (water) is brilliant. She also gets a stone with the spiral heart in it from the sea. (We do not know what it is at this point in the movie.)

 

She goes on the inevitable voyage and the obligatory dumb animal (In this picture it is Heihei, a dumb rooster). She meets Maui and he reluctantly goes with her, arguing and wanting to quit all the way. There are also diversions like the cute Kakamora, tiny coconut shell wearing creatures.

 

A good entertainment, and brings to live Pacific Islander’s culture. Just don’t look for deep meaning in the story or any educational aspects.

 

6/ 10

– – Krishna

January 22, 2017

Book: Revival by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:29 pm

imageStephen’s ability to surprise with a totally different storyline never stops to impress. This book is unlike many others I have read from him and has its unique moments.

 

Of course, I may be biased because I have liked many of his books and reviewed many here. For a sample, see the reviews on Duma Key and Lisey’s Story in earlier entries.

 

A family of five kids, dad Richard and “Mom”. Jimmy Morton, Con(“rad”), Terry, Andy and the only sister, Claire.  Jimmy enjoys the toy army his sister gave him. He meets Charles Jacob, whose visit changes everything. Charles is the new young pastor who comes to the town to take over the duties when the older one died.

 

He shows the model town he has built with a motorized light sensor that can turn on the town’s miniature lights on and off. His wife is a bombshell and most boys in town have a crush on her and most girls on Charles, who is also good looking! His interest in science – especially electricity – and his unorthodox ways of preaching annoy the older people but young kids flock to his sermons.

 

His brother gets his voice impacted by a skiing accident and this causes a huge row between their dad and mom. Charles puts him in a contraption that passes (mild) electricity around his throat. It seems to cure him and bring his voice back!

 

A horrific accident where he loses both his wife and his little boy – involving a tractor with a vicious agricultural attachment and a driver who suffered a stroke at just the wrong time – seems to turn things for Charles. His next sermon is almost blasphemous and is forever called the Terrible Sermon and he is dismissed from his post.

 

Jamie goes to the Church basement to find out what present Charles left him and finds the mechanical Jesus. His faith shattered by then, he throws it on the wall and walks out.

 

He subsequently becomes interested in music and is chosen for a boy band. Astrid becomes his girlfriend. He drifts away from both and goes rapidly downhill, becoming a junkie fully and then meets Jacobs, who calls himself Dan Jacobs now and is a carnival artist. He offers to cure Jamie of his drug habit. When he passes electricity through Jamie (a special type) Jamie gets cured but has strange episodes of uncontrollable acts and nightmares. One of the people who participated in the act robs a jewellery shop in plain view of everyone in a state of fugue as well. There is something (“Something is happening!”) wrong with the treatment. Jacobs says goodbye and goes away and Jamie grows older by staying straight and working in a recording studio. The work was provided by introduction from Charles to a guy called Hugh and then Jamie discovers that Hugh was also one of those helped by Charles through the miracle of electricity.

 

When Jamie learns that Hugh was also one of Charlie’s clients with a side effect, they decide to go see Charles, who is now a ‘preacher man’ a televangelist. Jamie’s research with Bree, the daughter of Georgia, a coworker of theirs, turns up very disturbing rssults of Charlie’s miracle healing. He realizes that Dan Jacobs is not in it for benevolence or money but is in it for its own sake, not caring about what he does to whom.

 

He decides to stop him and travels to his hometown, where he now lives in a fabulous mansion, having made his money as a famous healer.

 

The story is interesting, but not one of the best of Stephen King’s. You wait for something serious to happen and it sort of happens now and then but the story drags a bit at times.

 

He learns that he has retired but asks Jamie to be his assistant. He refuses, goes back for a nostalgic trip to Maine and returns to Colorado, only to be emotionally blackmailed by Charles Jacobs into helping him.

 

When he returns for one last time, he learns that Jenny, a friend and lover of his Astrid, has been also roped in to help. The end is exhileratingly told, as only Stephen King can. Nice read, good book. But….

 

Yes. there is a but. I cannot but be disappointed. Stephen builds up Danny Jacobs and his lifelong obsession about secret electricity so much that when you finally find out what he is so obsessed about, you go ‘Wait… what?’. Not that it is not logical but it almost seems to be a let down compared to the build up. I don’t want to tell more in order not to spoil the story, but you tell me, after you read it, whether you agree with it or not.

 

Then there is Mother, who is like many of the Stephen King stories, is an elusive but horror inducing presence (Remember the Big Boy of Lisey’s Story?)  He is usually very good at the hinting of the horror – things left untold are scarier than clear descriptions, but here even the Mother’s description is kind of not up to his usual standards – at least in my mind. Still good story and the long epilog of what happens to Jamie Morton and all the characters we know in the book is interesting, for sure.

 

Let us give this a 6/10

 

  • – Krishna

 

Movie : Ouija: The Origin of Evil (2016)

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:14 pm

imageThis is a prequel to the popular movie called Ouija which came out in 2014.  For those of you who have seen it, this movie explains how Paulina Zander (“Lina”) who is seen in the mental asylum ends up there. Not that it is the main theme of the movie but the links are established here.

 

This movie is about a family that scams people into believing that they are talking to their dead relatives and makes money. They have elaborate rigged equipment to create ‘supernatural’ effects. The family, in addition to Lina, consists of their widowed mother Alice, and Lina’s younger sister Doris. Lina suggests that they incorporate an Ouija board in their scam to provide some variety and Alice gets one. Things, as they are wont to in horror movies, go downhill from there.  Alice makes contact with a sprit called Marcus and it begins to possess Doris, the youngest kid.

Alice, meanwhile believes she is talking to her dead husband. Even though a sceptic, she is convinced when the “husband” leads her to a place where there was money hidden so that they can escape the foreclosure notice she just received.

Doris changes weirdly, writing fluent Polish essays (she does not know Polish). Father Tom hears about it and arranges for a séance to talk to his dead wife Gloria. After several of the questions were answered by the board, he reveals that there was no wife called Gloria and that the entity was reading his thoughts and gave him exactly the answers he expected. Interesting concept, that.

There are some very truly unique and frightening moments in the movie. The one where Doris calmly describes to Lina’s boyfriend that she will kill him by asphyxiation if he did not stay away from Lina and also explaining calmly what it would feel like; her killing him when he disobeys and visits the house again.

When they finally realize the danger and get rid of the board, you can almost predict what is going to happen because that part, at least, is a cliché and a staple of horror movies.

Even though most of the cast does a credible, if not exceptional job, Lulu Wilson, who plays Doris, does an exceptional job. She has commanded critical acclaim at a tender age of 11. After seeing her performance in this movie, I think she deserves the praise she is getting.

A ton of rapid action scenes follow with most people not making it to the end. You already know that Lina makes it to the asylum so that is not something of a spoiler if I give that away.

Not a bad movie. Let us say 6/10

– – Krishna

January 1, 2017

Book: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:38 pm

image.jpgInteresting book from Steinbeck. Not what I expected.

 

A memoir-like description of a quaint Californian town depending on fisheries and the canning industry (hence the title). The story is not about the fishing or the very difficult conditions of work but about what happens after the factory closes down and the town comes into its own.

 

Populated by interesting characters like Lee Chong, a grocery shop owner to whom half the town owes money but who has a golden heart, Mack and his group of homeless folks, Dora Flood who runs the local brothel, the story is an interesting slice of American small town life.

 

The story of William who was the watchman before Alfred became the watchman and how he killed himself is interesting too. The thing about this book is that there is nothing that is earth shattering or game changing for the city. Small vignettes that could happen in any small town are strung together, almost like short stories linked to each other.

 

There is the mysterious Chinaman who does not talk to anyone and has an unvarying routine. There is Western Biologique which sells rare sea creatures. It is owned by Doc, a “half Christ half Satyr” faced man.

 

Because Doc is so nice the thugs decide to do something nice and after borrowing a broken down van from Lee Chong (against his preferences) and stealing a battery from another car, they go and find that it breaks down. When one of them goes to get some gas, he ends up in jail and does not return. They want to give Doc frogs, collect their fees and use the fees to give him a surprise party.

 

They meet a man who treats them well in his house and also shows them where they can get the frogs. In the meantime, Doc is fighting a kind of a pandemic of fever. He is not a medical doctor for humans (he is a vet) but tends to patients anyway.

 

In the well intentioned plot to give Doc a surprise party, Mack and the gang end up thrashing the entire laboratory!

 

There is good hearted brothel owner Dora, there is the town’s bouncer with a good heart really and many strange characters that populate the story. Like Mary Talbot, who likes to give parties at other people’s expense and to cats when she is alone.

 

It feels like sitting by the side of an old man from a small town and hear him listen to how it was in his city. But the problem is that there is nothing major that happened. It is a word picture of the town’s less fortunate residents in a poor town. Period.  No story beyond incidents narrated.

Perhaps a  4/10.

 

–    – Krishna

 

Movie: Dr Strange (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:25 pm

imageLet me make a confession first : I went with some misgivings to this movie. First off, Dr Strange is not a major comic book here. I know that he had some dedicated fan following (which comic book hero does not?) but he is not as famous as the Spiderman, Superman, Batman trio. Even the movie makers seem to have turned to him after exhausting every other character – maybe with the exception of even more obscure characters like Plastic Man or She-Ra.  Even Wonder Woman came before him.

 

But sheer movie making can make a huge difference and change my mind and this movie has done exactly that. In fact, it has done this so effectively that I now consider this movie one of my favourites of recent times, even on par with that all time new wonder, Frozen.

The story starts spectacularly, with the battle between Kaecilius, a sorcerer, who steals some pages from a very powerful book chained to a shelf and The Ancient One, who pursues him. The style and the battles, and even the ‘weapons’ used by the Ancient Ones are breathtaking. The first scene sets such a high pace that the next few scenes were a major disappointment. The only other movie I can think of where the first scene is totally unbelievable is that all time classic ‘The Matrix’. Remember the heroine jumping from one tall building to another and the pursuers saying ‘But this is impossible!’?

The next few scenes were disappointing to me because I am hasty to judge and I judged wrong. I thought that the movie was going to go slow after that. It is about a doctor Dr Strange, a famous neurosurgeon who gets into an accident. The neurosurgeon was too ordinary and “normal”. I should have waited. It takes off, and you find how much of a perfect match is the man to the role.

I love how the story has been updated for the times. I have not read the comic books and so do not know what Dr. Strange’s original occupation was, but I am not sure it was a neurosurgeon and also am sure  that he would not be distracted by his cellphone when the accident happened as cell phones did not exist them. (In the TV movie of the same topic made earlier in 1978, Dr Strange is a psychiatry resident – close enough.)

Dr Christine Palmer, his colleague and it seems, a budding romantic interest, saves him but his hands have become useless. He is obsesses with getting his hands back so that he can be that famous and rich neurosurgeon again, he meets a man called Jonathan, who completely recovered from a paralysis from which  the doctors had given up on saving him  and is now well enough to play basketball. On his advice, he goes to Kathmandu, Nepal, in search of the woman who helped Jonathan.

He meets her after showing his stubborn tenaciousness and is slowly absorbed into her world. The story is brilliant, and in not taking itself seriously – with several seriously comic moments in the midst of amazingly tense storytelling (reminds one of the same trick they pulled with Olaf in Frozen). The scene where he is injured and comes as astral projection is an example. Christine, shocked to see his ‘ghost’ near his comatose body asking “What are you doing?”. He: “Using astral projection to help you save me”. Christine “Are you dead?” He : “No, but I soon will be, if you don’t follow my instructions”. And who can forget the fight between the two astral projections as she is focusing on saving him? Astounding.

In addition, the opening of the portals, the way it is portrayed, seems fresh and an entirely new approach to visual effects. It has become the trademark of the man, and I have no doubt that he will join the pantheon of heroes in   Avengers.

 

Right up to the ending, where he confronts the infinitely more powerful Dormammu who is bent on destroying the world and how he wins using his brains and “some accessories” is brilliantly told.

 

Before that, the scenes where everything goes backward in time while three of the heroes and a villain walk calmly forward in time is also a new concept. ( I realize it may not be that difficult to do with special effects of today but for the concept alone, it gets my full admiration)

 

Even tiny touches like the never smiling Wong trying to constantly admonish Dr Strange or how the cloak likes him enough to choose Strange as its new ‘owner’ are all superbly woven together.

 

A great movie, a very good entertainer. Definitely worth a 9/ 10

–  – Krishna

November 6, 2016

Book: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:46 pm

imageFlaubert is said to have modelled the heroine on one Delphine Delamare, but was unable to say so due to the social mores of the time. He said that “Madame Bovary is me” which convinced nobody. The infamy followed the men whereby the man whom Rodolphe portrayed emigrated to US and returned years later. As scandal still followed him, he committed suicide in France!

 

And the story was considered so raunchy for those times that there was a movement demanding that this book be forbidden in France. So what is in that book that caused all this hullaballoo?

 

Charles Bovary is a dull student from a fairly well to do family. His mother somehow makes him a physician, against the wishes of Charles himself, as he was a dull student and could not get in through merit only. On top of that, she gets him married to an unattractive, older but a very wealthy woman, whom Monsieur Bovary does not love. She becomes a shrew, disillusioned with him.

 

He goes to take care of the broken bones of a wealthy farmer Monsieur Rouault and falls in love with his daughter Emma. When his wife dies, he marries Emma. He is besotted with Emma but Emma gets bored easily. She wanted to be a nun and then backed out. She does not feel the romantic dreams with a country doctor. The highlight is when they are invited for dinner by Marquis d’Andervilliers. Emma is, of course, the Madame Bovary of the title.

 

She longs for the rich life and hates her husband, fires his most trusted housekeeper over a trivial error and behaves abominably to him who worships her every footstep. They move to another town to help her, against the husband’s wishes and against the interests of his practice. She pines for extravagance and resents fate for denying her the share that is “owed to her”.

 

The new town offers friendship with Leon, which Emma eagerly receives. When he leaves town to go to Paris, she is devastated but a playboy called Rudolphe gets interested in her. He is bored with his current mistress, an actress and wants to conquer Emma. Makes his play at the agricultural fair where he gets her alone. He plots and slowly convinces her that he is in love when he is only after another fling.

 

When you read the book, you are struck by how the age of the book shows in the story : Rudolphe “feasted his eyes on the bit of white stockings [that Emma wore] that showed like naked flesh between the black of the [riding habit] cloth and the boot”.

 

He seduces her and she becomes brazen in seeking him out in his own house in the nights. She almost got caught by Binet, who was out hunting ducks, when she returned from one such visit.

 

His object acquired, Rudolphe begins to lose his passion and ardour for her, which stings her. After her husband bungles a clubfoot operation necessitating another surgeon to come and amputate the leg of the unfortunate Hippolyte, her contempt of her husband and ardour for Rudolph overflow and she forces Rudolphe  to plan an escape with her – to run away. He is in it only for fun and runs away one day earlier, leaving her devastated.

 

She also is so free with her husband’s money as to nearly ruin him and steals other money from him to hide the fact. She also flaunts her affair to the extent she dares (before he runs away, of course) so much as to scandalize her mother in law and half the town she lives in.

 

After Randolphe leaves her,  she is crestfallen but goes back to Leon as an easy prey for his seduction and spends her husband’s money prodigiously again while she finds ways to meet Leon on a weekly basis. I can understand why the book may have scandalized society in the nineteenth century when it was published.

 

Finally, her wayward ways catch up with her and her debts mount, Leon grows tired of her and she tires of him as well but still is unable to stop.

 

The heroine of this story is supposed to be understood and pitied by us readers. It is very hard to sympathize with her when she has no concept of money, has an unrealistic ambition of living an aristocratic life, tramples over her husband who even gave up his mother in her support and then makes him bankrupt too, when the noose tightens around her neck (figuratively speaking), when all the loans come due and no one will help her. In desperation she takes a lot of arsenic and dies painfully.

 

It is pathetic to watch Charles devoted faithfully to her memory and still blind to her infidelities even when he is drowning in debt and even when he comes across one of Rudolphe’s letters to Emma. He alienates everyone including his mother in his stubborn devotion. There are side stories of Monsieur Homais and his journalistic crusades etc.

 

The scales fall from his eyes when he finally stumbles across all the love letters of her various lovers. He soon dies.

 

The book ends with a mock trial where the prosecuting and defence ‘attorneys’ present the case for and against – wait for it – not Emma but the book itself! Kind of cute. Overall, not a bad book, and rightly judged scandalous all those years ago for ‘preaching immorality’.

 

The only complaint about the last trial is that it is mostly a rehash of the story. I like the idea of attacking and defending the author for immorality but instead of arguments, all you get is extensive quotes and repetitions as well as a summary of the story again. That drags down the impact a lot. On top of that the self-praise on how well Flaubert has written the story jars a lot. Like reading the Taita series of Wilbur Smith or even the annoying Seventh Scroll where Wilbur Smith is praising himself as a historian.

 

The theme according to the epilog is “the education that is given to a woman which caused her misstep and corruption”. Really? Women should not be educated above their station in life? Or else they start a series of adulterous relationships?

 

I would say this deserves only a 5/10

–  – Krishna

Movie : Sully (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:29 pm

imageI think that there is no one who was not aware of the feat of Captain Chesley Sullenburger who managed, in the face of a disaster to land a plane on the Hudson and managed to sasve the lives of every one of the 155 passengers on board. This movie tells the story of that man (Sully is the nickname of the man)

 

The story when told straight will not take more than 15 minutes. How can you make a full length movie on this stuff? The people who made Sully not only show how it is done but also show a new angle which makes this movie absolutely fascinating.

When the movie opens, the incident has already taken place and the investigation into the incident is starting. Not only are they hostile but they paint a picture where Sully has not taken basic precautions and also one where, if found to have done wrong, his entire career and his impending retirement with sufficient benefits is under threat.

When “evidence” mounts against him, he and his fully loyal co-pilot Jeff Skiles are very confused and Sully keeps insisting that he did the only thing that seemed to him as feasible under the circumstances.

When the investigation claims that all evidence points to the fact that only one engine was damaged by birdstrike and that the left engine should have been intact, and when they insist that the expert opinion indicates that he should have been able to get back to La Guardia airport or the nearby Teterboro airport. The left engine was lost and could not be found for an actual verification but the flight records and the log indicate that it was working.

In addition, a simulation by similarly experienced pilots in a simulator shows that both options of a return to La Guardia and to Teterboro were possible and would have been safer seems to add a final grim nail to the evidence coffin against Sully.

In a Superhero film fashion, how things end with them is the fabulous climax of the film.

The character of Sully as a man who bears responsibility totally for people under his care comes through bright and clear. And the contract between public and media adulation and the tension, even the hostility of the investigators in a private room is extremely well told. Focusing on the investigat­ion and bringing the events of the day slowly in multiple flashback is a crowning achievement of both screenplay and direction. The movie as presented is so full of suspense that it can vie with any written plot in an imaginary story.

 

And Tom Hanks does a phenomenal job as Sully, in mental turmoil. For the man who has portrayed Apollo 13 and Castaway, living the character comes naturally and the fact that he has been able to show a completely different personality from both of those movies is a fascinating achievement and is a testament to the ability of this method actor to immerse himself into any character. A brilliant portrayal. His wife Lorraine is played by Laura Linny but she might as wellbe called a ‘brief appearance by’ since her role in this movie is tiny.

 

The end is fabulous and the most memorable line comes near the end of the movie: “Well you are trying to prove whether there was human error through this simulation. Then put real humans in this simulation!”

 

A nail biting pace, satisfying end, brilliant plot, dialogs, and screen play. A pleasure to watch.

9/10

 

  • – Krishna
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