Category Archives: Movies

PopCon, IN, USA 2017

Being present at two pop culture events 8203 miles apart (miles!!! Yes. I’m in USA now) in the same year; both generating the polar opposite emotional response in a manner representing their geological diversity along with distance quoted above, could also be classified as event itself. While the former was tepid, same, boring with few exceptional burst of joy (check the blog here), other was stuffed to the brim with nostalgic, modern, novel and absolute maddening fan service events to the point of bursting out.

Above para also explained the dormancy of my blog for so long. First event I mentioned was ComicCon 2017, Pune, India while the other is PopCon 2017, Indianapolis, USA. Last week I got chance to visit the same during my probably long future working sojourn in USA.

Before I proceed further, first check out below amazing display of Cosplay culture presented by visitors. Please bear the fact that it was such classic display of geekiness which acts as an energy induced plasma to make the fun event more energetic besides professional Cosplayers.

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Merchandise galore; what was more prominent was the milieu of artists and writers of the pop culture world with their latest and best. With pack line of famous artists and TV stars available for signing events along with chit-chat with their devoted fans to you-tubers and twitch channel artists marketing their prowess in digital world what made the PopCon event true to its name.

If I have to describe the event in single word, I would shout “Nostalgia”. Rows of Arcade machines staked up for young generation to gobble up retro-feeling in large area was one of the prime attraction. Stores selling old Gameboys along with prized old titled cartridges along with comic vendors selling old comic runs 1$ each was meant for collectors and aficionados alike. In one large corner I saw rows of players getting their hands on most primeval way of gaming: Board-games. Hexagonal dice and character sheets of Settlers to D&D to civilization, played equal part role with massive rooms dedicated to competitive gaming on large with CoD, Overwatch and many more to entertain the mass. It was enchanted amalgamation of old and new.

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For me, event reached its nerd peak when I found the store of Troma movies along with none other than Lloyd Kaufman himself (I also picked up two movies personally signed by him). Troma movie is the satirical mixture of overtly used grindhouse, splatter, sex, nudity, violence and other 50’s themes in almost superficially farcical way.

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I bought Gaiman to Teen-Horror “Tomie” to R rated Troma movies

The event regarding to pop culture won’t have Star Wars fans is always unusual and hence a whole Star Wars section was dedicated to their fans to get their universe together. Separate section was having Yo-Yo tricks competition for kids and young ones. Indie game developers also got their chance to showcase upcoming or in-development titles to get instant user feedback.

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Yes, Force wants you to join next time.

I would like to end reporting on such spectacular event on its most prominent note which make it unique; uniqueness itself, whether among people who make them differ to established social norms or artists who made their own niche against usual career approaches. These people are rare and unique. Most of the time hiding their instincts against pressure of outer world and due to aloofness but when come to such event they found out that there is lot many like him/her. Let’s not differ. Let’s celebrate. Kudos to fan’s CosPlay for such boldness.

Till next event……………………….

 

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Historical Fiction or Fictional History?

I enjoyed 3rd entry in the Transformers movie series very much (I know, I also feel guilty but I did enjoyed); dubbed as “Dark side of the Moon”. Though tone of the entire series allow ample space for the viewers for suspension of disbelief, one thought pierced my mind and has been nagging me from that point onward whenever I try to entertain myself with fictional account which involves history. How grave impact popular media is having on the audience, especially juvenile or ignorant or uneducated in influencing their knowledge base which has been so partially, and in some cases completely dependent on entertaining media. I can understand the liberty of showing Dark side of moon playing key role in Transformers, but having shown forged video with then American president Nixon and proposing large-scale global conspiracies is definitely not correct way to get informed firsthand about moon voyage.

In the same track there was slapped on X-man story on true key historical event of Cuban missile crisis in X-men: First Class. Why so much bickering, you may ask. For me, movie is much powerful and influential medium as compared to books and games. There is limited fan base to books and other media. It is not “exposed” to all types of people. So if such maligned data be presented in book format one can also assume that people who got affected by it are readers in themselves and hence me very well be aware of the factual history. Similarly Gaming medium itself has never taken such liberty to account the presented story as facts or conspiracies. On the contrary, Games are evolving as most sought education medium when done correctly. True, Movies have disclaimers but who actually knows what is there.

Consider a case here in India with Bollywood (Indian movie industry) where nowadays the trend is to make movies “inspired” by true historical Indian events; Jodha-Akbar, Bajirao Mastani and now upcoming Mohenjo Daro. Producers somehow took unprecedented advantage of words “Inspired from true events” and presented the history in different light. Was Bajirao such an invalid to go gaga over Mastani with entire kingdom and his wife on hand? Is really Akbar in “true love” with Jodha as presented? Akbar had 13 wives in total. Even though in ideal case, he had “truly loved” each one than also Jodha would have to contend with 1/13th of True Love or should I say “divided love”.

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New upcoming trailer of Mohenjo Daro has surpassed things in terms of historical fiction. This part of Harappan civilization had been excavated in 1924-26 when due to its excavated situation named as Mohenjo Daro; translated in dialect Sindhi as “Mound of Dead”. Why the hell than actors in movie still call it the same when all of them are quite well and alive? This is blasphemy. One can easily search the Google for degree of discrepancies these so called historical movies spreading. And that brings us all to same question. Why so much bickering? Because how many of us really care to crosscheck the facts. Movies is accessible to all kind of people here in India and most of which are not keen on sharpening their historical know-how. My concern is what blasphemy they can spread further on with such tainted knowledge. Time will come when the curious child will have to fight hard just to contemplate what is true and what fiction is.

PS: I can understand that there is never easy way when you are taking reference of some historical events. There are always disputes. Much more views and counter-views. And that’s because if history is not documented well enough than there is no way to ascertain the factual events. Movies need not be historical documentaries for sure nor are directors and producers history teachers. Duty lies with audiences and viewers to gobble down such movies with pinch of salt and pepper; satiating the curiosity of mind (if there are) with proper dose of “knowledge-pill”.

PPS: I love both Transformers and X-men series.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohenjo-daro

Mumbai Comic Con 2015

One more checkbox is ticked off from the back of the game box titled “Real Life” where all the desires and dreams are listed out to make the “Life” worth “buying”. To attend expos which has “Comic” as their main subject was one of my desire; at east once in a lifetime. As planned out, I was proficient enough this time to attend my first-ever Comic Con held in Mumbai, India on 19-20 December 2015. And how was that, you may ask. I must admit, considering anticipation and excitement, saying that it was fun is gross understatement. It was blast. Though not as big and thundering as its western counterpart, but still noisy enough to notice with mouth wide open in utter amazement.

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Yes, that tiny happy fleck bursting with joy is me

Getting up at 4:00 in the morning and catching a cab for 3 hour drive to reach testosterone imbued highly energetic and insomniac city of Mumbai was refreshing enough to wear down all the lethargy and laziness of the early start. Reaching to venue well in advance of more than 3 hours has its own advantage of seeing volunteers and management completing the necessary activities before the fun begins. Amid handsome faces and beautiful hearts, Comic Con was guaranteed to be as exciting as expected even before it started. When it really started it was more than what I expected. While entering, I was no different than that ogling child jumping with joy and happiness at each new encounter along with us with it’s parents. There is no age of fandom; there is no age bar for Comic Con.

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Super Fan pass for both days has already sold out a month before.

Cos Play on high note, Announcements aired incessantly from various booths and mingling and adding to the cacophony of others, people pouring in from everywhere to get glance of the new on offer and takeaways, superhero quizzes and competitions getting the attention, large center stage accompanied with necessary technological advancements for latest release and special guest interviews, everyone trying to imitate superhero/villain belonging to both DC and Marvel, Plethora of “Jokers” (Most of Heath Ledger version) floating around, superb Indian sketch talent on display with send artist also pitching in, Pop culture dripping out from every nook and cranny; All fitting well to produce the ambience of new and different. It was courageous winning effort for Indian artists and all the publishers of Indian comics. It is not easy to find so true fandom and geekiness, all gathered and geared up among mass of billions until such events. It was special. Like belonging to brotherhood. Feeling is of absolutely satisfaction and joy that so many people are like you and you are not alone.

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If anyone need Medic due to high anticipation stress….
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Harley Quinn was getting popular with DC’s new 52 Suicide Squad comic series along with upcoming movie
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Best platform to display your sketching and drawing skills
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Unfortunately this was only for promotion and not for sale.

At last, I must also make special note on guest available at this year’s extravagant Comic Con. There were three international guest from Rob Denbleyker (Author: Cyanide and Happiness), Joe Harris and Gavin Aung Than (Zen pencils); Also special guest appearance by Sylvester Mccoy (Actor: Doctor Who and in The Hobbit as Radagast). Along with this there were many Indian artists to interact with such as Vivek Goel (Who’s amazing personal persuasion convinced me to buy entire “Aghori” series), Shamik Das Gupta, Abhijeet Kini, Saumin Patel, Reshmi Chandrashekhar, Leena Swamy and many more.

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Launch of new Indian title
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One of my friend has put up so genuine deranged look and style that if Nolan would have encountered him then he must have planned for Dark Knight 2
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Yaa…right. When exiting the Con, I was considerably lightweight with joy and of wallet.
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Resting out super villain personas for little refreshments.

Kiss of a Spectre

So it happened that country with renown visiting places called Ajanta-Ellora and Elephanta caves which were lauded as UN heritage sites; along with Khajuraho Temple, adorned with utmost beautiful depiction of human intimacy and nudity (male/female both) could well be considered as absolutely vulgar by Indian conservative government control bodies such as CBFC. This is just a small example. There is much more places and legacy in Indian culture; say “Kamasutra”, could also well be outright banned if these control body keeps doing the things which they are laughably known for.

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License to “proceed”

Why such rage and cry; you may ask. Recently, on the eve of release of the bond movie “Spectre” in India, Central Board of Film Certification, in short CBFC has decided that Bond is smooching too “long” (and without paying any respect to “Indian culture”) on screen. And hence, censored the scenes from movie along with few more “culture-spoiling” cuts. These brought along the painful memory of such incident which I already cried against few years back at release (actually not released) of movie “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo” (Again Daniel Craig, I think there is some debt to pay to Indian government by my all-time favorite Bond).

With already sarcastic and humorous backlash started by intellectual Indian Internet community with hashtag #sanskarijamesbond, there lies a very stark reality that nothing is moving in terms of Indian conservatism and hypocrisy. There must be controlled over such foolish decisions. There must be well-structured model in place against which such bodies has to measure their actions and not do the things on their own whims.

Though movies like “Spectre” has commercial aspect, movie can very well be still considered as art form. Artist must have all the freedom to express it as he/she deems fit. Such governing body must assure that they dole out appropriate rating system so as spectators have their expectations in place while going out for such movies. There is no point in giving a movie “Adult” rating and at the same time cutting out explicit contents (Actually funny thing is I am not sure if passionate and long kiss could be classified as explicit. I need to watch movie, unrated. Of course). Cuts must only be in place if contents have tendency to spark large scale unrest and turmoil due to particular sets of offenses.

Other foolish example:Every time I go for movie here in India, myself and other poor spectators like me are continuously bombarded with “No Smoking” campaigns. I can understand at start but every time one of the character on the screen is about to smoke, these so called control freaks use their “sixth-sense” and flash large “smoking kills” warning all over the place on screen (My mind turned this into little play: as soon as warning flashes on screen, I tried to guess which of the character is “cause” for such torture if there are multiple of them. And sometimes it’s hard to know who actually smoked which caused this warning as some faded out “back-in-the-farthest-corner-of-bar” character might have thought of smoking on screen and these foreteller having “superhuman power” knew and flash the warning before anything happen).

I am pretty much sure now that Smoking is that tenth circle which Dante forgot to mention.

Giving a funny bone a bit rest and considering consequences on serious note, India is nowadays becoming country of bans, censor, denial, protest, rules, laws, prevention and lot more. Necessity is there for rules and laws in formative way and in curing the justice system to reduce “beastly” rape mentalities, but not in such foolish, ridiculous and outright suppressive way. At one point, India churning out most sleazy and vulgar movies with item songs and all, while kisses of Bond not getting away; this itself shows farcical process and sarcastic slap to poor Indian spectators.

Closing with satirical incident: I was hanging out with myself one night in Swiss pub, probably first time such late in evening. Part of my feeble, shackled and conditioned “Indian” brain has blurted out the concern to beautiful bartender: “At what time this closes?”

“9, Sir”

“So early??!!”

“9 in the morning, Sir.” She replied with tender smile.

I still asked the same question here in India whenever I went to pubs and bars on weekends even though I know that it’s going to close at midnight or little after that. But here I earned the “responsible and respected customer” look. Same question. So opposite effects. Welcome to India.

 

Celebrate Feminism

First point: This is not a review. As now everyone knows that movie is absolute awesomeness on its own. It is grand opera or should I say waltzing of vehicular mayhem and breath stealing action sequences. Already internet is exploding with very positive reviews and hence there is no need for one more.

I am here to discuss second more profound but less concentrated aspect of the movie; underlying message, clues and wonderfully distributed social message in the name of post-apocalyptic brutality. There may be possibilities of minor spoilers. And anyhow if you are reading this blog before watching the most fun-filled summer blockbuster than first thing is to get yourself booked for conveniently timed show and save yourself from embarrassment for the lifetime.

There is a split over movie likings which was assumed as Mad Max series was definitely not meant for all. But I believe that even in this split where people criticizing with less involvement of Mad Max (brilliantly portrayed by Tom Hardy), movie has won the battle. George Miller, that veteran old experienced mind who had invented Mad Max could not make such mistake of prioritizing down the main character. Nope. He had played brilliantly with audience and have them use the dirty looking-glass he is going to offer to observe the world which he always wanted them to look at. Movie was never meant for Max. It was just beautiful, grand and opulent celebration of feminism. Not in the traditional way, tipping towards extremism but in rightful way of gender equality and some more.

Let me clear the debris from the path. How many post-apocalyptic media has given rightful position to female? Very few in my knowledge. So when Charlize Theron had such brilliant character, carrying the whole movie on her shoulders, it was the irony and the slap for those expectant who wants to see all men spectacle. For true fans, Mad Max movie was defined by world building and characterization. They least bother with otherwise. In such case Fury Road is a triumph. Miller played with audiences’ idea of portrayal of sexism’ in movies, especially men dominant movies and turned it upside down with brilliant stroke as making Max playing supporting hand to Furiosa played by Charlize Theron.

We can see the underlying social commentary of men-dominating world getting destroyed by female characters once they choose to fight back. You can feel the agony of feminist community in the name of “Breeders”. Pain emanating from such “Breeders” in escaping to distant green land. And then those small but significant visual cues such as snapping out of slave chains, old grandma passing on their legacies, mixed race of “Breeders” to represent larger demographic spread and lot more.

Movie has brilliantly conveyed the idea that however crumbled society is, women are absolute necessity to survive as all things precious possible only by them. Whether it’s advancement of generation through “Breeders” or most valuable “Mother’s milk” in terms of Mad Max world. Also there is node towards upbringing of them through unity and compassion toward each other and not from some savior belonging to male community. All along, it was story of Furiosa who led and took initiative to change the course, bunch of scared girls finding courage to fight back and party of grandma’s using their rare wisdom to noble cause. Of course there will be helping like Mad Max but he was moot spectator to rise of new dominion. More than that Max is wiser. Knew where his place is and how he should act. As part of male community do we also have same courage?

PS: Consider the climax scene where Furiosa was raising higher as prominent leader by War-boys children on platform when she gratuitously eyeing Max who was about to get lost in mass of other people. He is commoner meant to do unexpected. This is true definition of heroism.

PPS: One more allegorical signature move of Miller’s cynicism is where Max decides to take on bullet farmer leader on his own with rising audience expectation for one more action sequence. Cut to the next scene he was returning after completing his task with no on-screen action. Why would Miller betray the audience with such sequence when he already shown how spectacular action this movie can have? My interpretation: one more allegorical node to audience that movie is not about men’s expectations. Max is not important here. His actions are in background with all the action is centered around lead female character Imperator Furiosa.

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