• Movie Review

    Mandibules (2020)

    Mandibules (2020) is a French comedy about two petty thieves finding a giant fly and trying to train it for their personal gain. Reading the description, I had expectations for the film but it turned out to be routine. The film exhibited as part of the French film festival by ICAF gets my Raw rating. When driving a stolen car to collect a parcel, Jean-Gab finds a giant fly in the trunk. His friend Manu, gives an idea of training the fly and using that to earn money. The two go in search of a place to house the fly and do the training. Initially, they use a mobile home…

  • Book Review

    Falling Strong by Stephen J Alexander

    Falling Strong – A Novel by Stephen J Alexander, is a fiction set in a future (2032) Europe & then moves to the USA. The book is part 2 of a trilogy, but as the author says it can be read standalone as well, which is what I did. I liked the book, it kept me engaged that I had to read it in a single sitting in a few hours. Alice is the wife of an upcoming movie director Nathan. The young couple is living in a villa in Italy near Milan, when one-day Alice gets kidnapped by Catalan separatists to the city of Olot in Girona, Spain. Not…

  • Movie Review

    2 Alone in Paris (2008)

    During the early days of the pandemic, we saw pictures of the roads of the busiest cities in the world being completely empty and with subsequent lockdowns, the scene became familiar. But to see the famous parts of Paris being deserted and void of people in 2008, when this film was made, should’ve been eerie. That’s the feeling the film, 2 Alone in Paris (Seuls Two), by Directors Ramzy Bedia and Eric Judor tries to create in the audience, unfortunately, the rest of the movie in the name of being a comedy comes out absurd and makes you feel stupid. Available on Netflix it gets my ‘Rotten’ rating. Gervais is…

  • Movie Review

    What We Wanted (2020)

    What We Wanted (Was wir wollten), a German language drama from Austria covers the strained relationship of a married couple who are unable to have a baby. The lead pair of Lavinia Wilson and Elyas M’Barek make the film enjoyable, but the screenplay finds itself wanting in many places. Available on Netflix, I give the film a rating of Raw. Alice and Niklas are busy professionals with their individual jobs. They have been trying to conceive a baby for years and have exhausted the government-subsidized number of attempts (four) for fertility procedures. To take their minds off and rediscover the love in their lives they go on a vacation to…

  • Movie Review

    Spoiled Brats (2021)

    Spoiled Brats (Pourris gâtés 2021), a French comedy is a film that is as simple as it gets. It is about a millionaire in Monaco pretending to be penniless so that he can teach his three children the value of money and the importance of working. The city-state looks stunning in the visuals. This was a feel-good film that was predictable yet entertaining and I liked it. Available on Netflix, it gets my Raw rating. Philippe Bartek (Artus), Alexandre Bartek (Louka Meliava) & Stella Bartek (Camille Lou) are the three children of a super-rich single dad Francis Bartek (Gerard Jugnot). The eldest, Philippe is a gourmet and comes with useless…

  • Movie Review

    GoodBye Soviet Union (2020)

    The twentieth century will be remembered for the two world wars and the cold war. While a lot of movies had covered the western military and spy operations in eastern Europe including the recent The Courier (2020), there have been only a few that showcased the lives of ordinary people living on the wrong of the iron curtain. Exceptions were movies like Good Bye Lenin (2003), a period film that happens during the unification of Germany when a young man tries hard to keep his sick mother believing that East Germany hasn’t fallen. Goodbye Soviet Union (Hüvasti, NSVL), a film from Estonia made by Lauri Randla follows the life of…

  • Lifestyle

    European cinemas are smoking a lot

    Recently I have been watching a number of European films (Spanish, French & others) like Corniche Kennedy (2016),  The Girl with a Bracelet (2019), The Commune (2016) and more. Irrespective of the genre, I noticed that most of the main characters were shown smoking. Needless to say, outside India (and few other Asian countries) smoking is not exclusive to the Male gender. I was wondering whether European films were exaggerating real-world behaviour? In India, thanks to stricter laws and censorship, the number of smoking scenes seems to have reduced in the last decade. Also, awareness campaigns, increasing literacy, have reduced the smoking we see in the streets in India –…

  • Lounge

    My failed visit to Paris in 2016 and Schengen VISA

    Today I started re-reading Ms Pallavi Aiyer’s book on Europe “Punjabi Parmesan”. She starts by sharing her anxiety and feeling of being treated second-class as she waits with a blue passport (Indian) in the queue at immigration in Brussels while her Spanish husband and baby boy sailing through the area with their maroon (Spain) passports. This reminded me of one of the many incidents I have had with applying for VISA or the experiences I have faced at the immigration counters in a foreign airport. The below incident happened to me in 2016, for that year’s summer vacation, my wife & I decided to go to the beautiful city of…