Dunkirk Review – Part 2


Well, it’s like dBaseII, there never really was a dBaseI and look how successful it was in destroying the sanctity of the concept of 3rd-normal data. This review, Part 2, will likely destroy the sanctity of the concept of the film review. The reasons are simple. I have no idea how to review a movie, or a book, or a play. Did I tell you that I am the proud playwright of a 3-Act play? I did? Ok, that was a digressive plug for when I finally pluck up the courage to submit it to Amazon.

But now to the movie, the one I did not get to reviewing in Dunkirk Review – Part 1.

It started well, with chest-thumping action with a point-of-view feel to it. It broke down the action from Land, Sea and Air. There were no German soldiers to be seen anywhere. Except for the air action, we did not get to see any enemy action. Yes, we saw the torpedoes and shells causing damage and we heard German soldiers shoot at a boat where some British soldiers were hiding. Given the scale of the BEF forces lined up dutifully, one wonders why the soldiers were idling their time shooting at a beached boat. I, who famously failed to decipher on screen action once as a hormone-overloaded teenager ( click here to read that horrible date story ), now failed to understand that piece of action as a middle-aged dimwit. I searched the web, and interestingly, I’m not the only one mystified by that. Uh, yay?

For a while I thought it would become a story of that duo trying everything to get off the beach to safety. It didn’t. I thought we’d see the scale of the operation. We didn’t. I thought the sky would be filled with German planes and the few planes that Churchill allowed. It wasn’t. We didn’t get the feel of the Blenheims and Battles being outclassed by the Me109s. We barely saw the Hurricanes who did so much and focused instead on the lone Spit. Dramatic for people born in the 2000s, not so for those born less than 20 years after the end of the war and fed a steady diet of the heroics of the Hurricanes and Spitfires against the Me 109s and FW-190s. And where the hell were the Stukas? ( ok – don’t write in… there were no FW-109s at Dunquerque, I know that!)

The film focused on focused tales of a few soldiers among the thousands that were there, scared, defiant, angry, hopeful and resigned. From a film makers, perspective, not a bad way to dramatize. But we didn’t get any background on them, and they played their parts as pieces in Nolan’s chessboard, never really moving the game forward, never really standing out as defining moments in the film.

The Spitfire pilots, focused on their fuel, while holding off the 109s and shooting down torpedo bombers were  amongst the  most compelling actions of the film. We knew he’d be running out of fuel though. We knew he’d fight on, regardless. We knew, but it was watchable.

We didn’t see the scale I was expecting to see. For example, we didn’t see the hundreds of “Little Ships” that sailed across the choppy Channel. We didn’t see scale in the Air. We didn’t see scale in the Sea. We sort of got a glimpse of the scale on the ground with the BEF men lined up in long snakes.

By Stavros1 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9944300

The best part of the movie from a dramatic point of view, was the story of “Mr Dawson”, the dramatized version of Charles Lightoller story. It was human, it was brave, it was sad, tragic and an ultimate triumph of the human spirit over adversity, cowardice and personal tragedy.

You may now be wondering how many stars I’m going to give this. I’m not handing out any. In two separate articles that I have written before, I have discussed the issue of reviews, critics and their place in society. It is one of the reasons why I don’t offer written reviews of anything. A rule that I have now broken. If you’re interested in reading those views ( or if you are a glutton for punishment ), here is the first one and the other one.

Enjoy.

Hint: I like bhindi ( okra, if American ). You may not. Neither of us is right or wrong. We just have different tastes. If you still wish to judge, may I suggest reading this riveting and caustic article about judgement?

Thank you! Over and out!

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Dunkirk – Review Part 1


This is a first ever. A review on SloWord. A review of a movie. So lets get started. With some preliminary chatter in this Part 1 of The Great New World of Reviews.

On a Friday evening in September, with the eminently unwelcome autumn imminent, I arrived at Streetsville GO station after another week of toil and trials. As I stepped off the train, I had thoughts only of the Friday staple of junk food,  time in front of the tv and a late and welcome bed. As I got into the car, She Who Will Never Be Tamed  said “I was thinking, we could see a movie. You know, go to the theatre-hall. There are a couple of things that are a possibility.”

Ever ready for a date night, I accepted with the grace for which I am world-famous in my basement. First, however, we went home so I could dump my laptop, water the flowers at the back and the lawn in front, which I accomplished with Kronenbourg 1664 in one hand, my first alcoholic beverage in 2 months. ( And it was good.)  We  checked out what was playing and narrowed it down to Baby Driver and Dunkirk.

Dinner, it was decided, would be at Scaddabush. I called to make a reservation and was told they don’t take reservations. I asked about the wait and was told ten minutes. I drove there, dropped her off to book a table while I parked the car, to make sure we wouldn’t have too long to wait. She gave in her number and was told by the young girl that she would get a text in the next 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, we went back in to check on the status and were told that they had nothing available for at least another 45 minutes. The girls at the front could have cared less about two middleaged people. This was my second such experience at this particular Scaddabush. I am never going to attempt going there again.

So we went next to Jack Astors, where the music’s loud and the lights are low. The food is usually forgettable and so it proved. The Feisty Bird Sandwich didn’t live up to its name, arriving as it did in a large hot dog bun. Still it did have some sharp sauce, pickled banana peppers and french fries on the side. Having already had my regulation one beer for the evening ( see above, flowers, yard, lawn, watering of ), I had Coke. We got through the meal, chatted with the server who sported a rather large piece of yellow fauna in her hair, which matched her large persona, but provided a slightly lopsided look, like a ship listing home from a severe storm.

Talking of ships, but hang on a second, we still had tickets to buy. We drove across the street to the theatre and walked in prepared to visit the counter and buy our tickets to the show. We were greeted by a large sign where the ticket counter used to be, that said, “Counter Closed – Go Away and figure out how to use the internet or those ticket machines on either side of you. Behind you! On either side! Pick anyone of them!” or words to that effect. So we walked over to the ticket machine and touched the screen where it said “Dunkirk”. Baby Driver was not playing, even though the internet site we had checked before leaving had said so. I resolved, then and there, never to trust the internet again. Of my profound loss of trust in an institution into which I had placed my soul, my mind, and to which I had entrusted my news, my opinions, my facts, I shall speak no more. Suffice it to say, faith was broken.

So the machine said, “Ok, what kind of human are you? Child upto the age of 12? The usual sort between 13 and 65? or Senior 65+?” Resisting the urgings of She Who to pick pretend I was 65+, I picked “Usual type”. It then asked me how many of this type. I pressed the + sign and it said “Forward two! Bring forth your wallet! Now pick what kind of payment method you want to use?”

I picked, at the urging of the elbow to the left of the solar plexus, “Gift Card”. The machine, said “Pay up $25.86. “. The card mewed “I have just $25 on me”. I expected the gentlemanly response of “It’s ok. I’ll take $25 off the gift card, but you still owe me 86 cents. So handover a credit or debit card”.

Well, machines are not gentlemen. This one was most certainly not a gentleman. It denied the transaction. Proving yet again that computer programmers are morons and their bosses are imbeciles. She who walked away to find someone, went to the popcorn counter and bought tickets. ‘Oh yeah, those ticket machines do that…”.

Muttering darkly under my breath about Business Analysts, Programmers, and business leads who I’d have fired forthwith if they had been under my command, I was dragged off by the good lady before I had a chance to let a few people know my  true feelings. Then we were seated in well lit, but bedraggled theatre, with seats that were quite the worse for wear, spilled water in the aisle. There was another middle aged couple already seated, speaking in strong East European accents. We sat in silence for about 10 minutes, before an interminable series of advertisements, app-based trivia games that you could play along with the big screen did not enthrall us. More people trickled in, the trivia game kept coming on, ending in “Demo Mode” because no one was signing on to play.

Eventually, the movie started.

In Part 2, yet to be written, we shall actually review the movie. Patience is a virtue, remember!

My ( final) Thoughts on Elections 2016


English: Apple pie.
English: Apple pie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank the American God it’s over. What we have now is One Nation Under God. It says so, right there, see? United States. United. Capital U. How can it be anything but united? Small u.

Four years ago, I wrote an article about the US Elections. I said racism had a major part to play. I also said, that White America was caught napping the first time around. The second time, it figured that lightning wouldn’t strike twice and failed to deal with it. I posted a video from a major Republican strategist to bolster my theory. You can read that here.

Now, you’ll say, how does race come into it, this time around? It’s a woman candidate, an eminently qualified, experienced candidate, with real experience in dealing with world leaders and world problems. My birthday coincides with Women’s Equality Day and a couple of years ago, I’d wished myself Happy Birthday, and ranted a bit sarcastically about the fact that the US could not dream of electing a woman as President. You can read that post here.

So, on the one hand, you have a party that has championed a POC as it’s leader. That leader has served 8 years as President! Eight years!! A non-white leader! A non-white leader who has a Muslim father! A non-white leader whose middle name is “Hussein”! A non-white leader whose name is just one character from the most-feared, most-hated terrorist Americans know. How could Democrats do this to the people? And now, now they want a woman? White America was appalled.

Now, remember what I said about reading conspiracy theories? I’ve read many tales of the Clintons. There is one thread that talks about a trail of dead people behind them. Frankly, Benghazi was a bit of a non-issue. The email thing was a major error of judgement.

Why did she lose? Here is my considered and deeply analytical opinion. Let me tell you a story to illustrate. ( Stop groaning!! )

Once upon a time, I used to play cricket for the local club. We had some good players and me. Unfortunately, the good players were seldom all available all at the same time. Then, one fine day, we found ourselves faced with a very rag-taggy looking team. On that day, by some miracle of the sun, moon and other planetary bodies, ALL of our best stars ( and I ) were available. They had hardly any equipment, were dressed poorly and looked completely out of place on the cricket field. They batted first. Our star bowlers, all available, fit and fast, rolled the rag-tag team over for a total score of 18. Eighteen poor runs. It was all over bar the shouting. We started our innings, with smiles all around. Members low down the order settled down to chew sugar cane, smoke and lie around, secure in the knowledge that their work was over for the day.

Ten minutes later we had lost 5 out for about 8 runs. The mood didn’t change. We were relaxed. I was still in and there were 5 more to come. And 11 runs were not a challenge. We were smiled all the way as we lost all 10 men for 14 runs. I remember this game, it was on the old Behala airfield ground, behind the Calcutta Mint. I remember the barefoot batsman, getting his foot in the way of our fastest bowler. I remember the leather cap with flaps one of the others wore. Yet another played in leather dress shoes. 18 runs. We lost by 4. Our well-dressed, well-oiled style did not help.

There is a word for it. Complacency.

Bottom line as I read it: Ah.. what the hell. Wake me up in 3 years time, when this whole shitty thing starts all over again. Hopefully, the USA will wake up ( soon ) to the realization that

  1. The Two Party system is like shooting yourself in both feet with that automatic weapon you bought with your Second Amendment Rights and your Third World Mentality.
  2. A Major Overhaul may be in order for this Electoral College thing. Like, maybe distributing state electoral voles on a pro-rata basis on percentage of votes instead of winner takes all.
  3. The USA is just like every nation in the world. Racist. Bigoted. Hypocritical. You’re one of us.
  4. Elections in the US are now forever like elections everywhere else.
  5. Politicians are just that.

Welcome to the human race y’all. Watch for the pie in the face.

On the other hand if it’s apple pie, it’ll be alright, right?

Legspin and England


English: Adil Rashid bowling for Yorkshire aga...
English: Adil Rashid bowling for Yorkshire against Somerset at the County Ground, Taunton during Day 3 of a County Championship match. Image sharpened using Paint Shop Pro 7. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve just been reading about the England vs Pakistan series and the exciting sight of a leg spinner on each side. Yes, an English leg spinner! A sight as rare as a Posh Spice smile.

Of all the countries that play cricket only three really understand it. All three have had legendary legspinners. Australia has truly made legspin the art it should be. India and Pakistan are the only other country to have sported a few good ones, Qadir the loopy windmill, Mushtaq and Kaneria for Pakistan and Kumble, Chandrasekhar, Gupte for India. Even Shahid Afridi is a better legspinner than he’s given credit for.

South Africa haven’t seen too many spinners, since the quartet of Vogler, Faulkner, Schwarz and White ages ago. New Zealand have always relied on an assortment of Dibbly, Dobbly, Wibbly and Wobbly and really haven’t seen too many spinners. The West Indies didn’t need spinners, after Gibbs retired, a generation after Ramadhin and Valentine. A West Indian spin bowler somehow just feels wrong…..

The SriLankans prefer off spin or tricky finger spinners. The Bangladeshis and the English believe in left armers. I suspect the English thinking is that left armers turn the ball the away from the righthander just like legspinners do but since they rely on the fingers rather than the wrist they offer far more control. Which they do. Unfortunately. For in the modern era of limited overs cricket, economy rates matter.

But Australia has always had a legspinner or two hanging around in the attack. And they haven’t been part timers, either. O’Reilly, Grimmett, Mailey, Benaud, Higgs, Warne, Macgill; these are names to fear, to respect. These are names that have led the bowling attack. They haven’t been afterthoughts, nor are they “allrounders” expected to bowl a few overs to offer respite to the fast bowlers. Of course, Benaud was a pretty handy batsman and Warne wasn’t a slouch either, but these were bowlers who were expected to take wickets.

The last English legspinner of any skill was Doug Wright and he played his last Test in 1951. In fact, Robin Hobbs played his last Test in 1971 and then there were no legspinners until Ian Salisbury. Since Salisbury, England have managed without, except for misguided and badly handled one-offs. Anyone remember Scott Borthwick? England remain suspicious about legspin.

I remained suspicious about England ever allowing Adil Rashid to actually play in a Test match. His expensive first outing should have sealed his fate, indeed would have sealed his fate in any other England team. However, England’s coach is Australian and Rashid picked up 5 wickets in the second innings as England narrowly failed to win a match heading inexorably towards a draw. ( Digression Alert #1: Why “inexorably” always? )

In the second Test match, Rashid got all of 2 wickets for 191 runs. He played a horrible shot in the first innings to score 0 and a horrible shot in the second innings to cost England the game, that was heading not so inexorably towards a draw.

So what conclusions can we draw from this?

  1. Moeen  Ali will remain England’s #1 spinner.
  2. Once Moeen drops down the order for the Third Test ( where he belongs ), Adil Rashid will have already played his last Test match for England.
  3. I could be deliciously wrong.

India in SriLanka 2015


2-1 to India and an overseas series win after a long time. Does it partially take away the horror of the 4-0 England trip and the equally horrible Australian trip?

The England trip I was lenient about. There were loads of injuries to key players and it’s England where India hasn’t done particularly well. ( Summer of 42, anyone?) Of course, Rahul Dravid made it look easy and I like him, so it was painful, but not a disaster. Australia was. Even Dravid struggled and retired. Tendulkar should have Continue reading “India in SriLanka 2015”

#Ashes2015 – The Final Report


The Ashes Urn
The Ashes Urn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So that’s it then. The Great White Hype is over.

This must rank as the worst Ashes series over. With both teams vying for underwhelming batting performances the not particularly brilliant bowling looked much better than it actually was.

This series will, Continue reading “#Ashes2015 – The Final Report”

#Ashes2015 – The Summer of 60


 

Back in the day, growing up in India at the tail end of the Great Spin Quartet, I had to endure the ignominy of the Summer of 42. A classic tale of loss, heartache and the end of a dream. The Summer of ’42 was a Continue reading “#Ashes2015 – The Summer of 60”

#Ashes2015 – Midpoint Analyses


It’s a brave man or a cricket journalist who would dare to offer any predictions at all on the #Ashes2015 at this,  the so-called midpoint of this edition of the age-old rivalry. I’m neither. I’m just a watcher eating rye. With marmalade.

The first Test went to England emphatically. Everywhere in the cricket news ( is there any other Continue reading “#Ashes2015 – Midpoint Analyses”

Prosper, Race and Chucking


English: The World Custard Pie Flinging Championship, 2013, Coxheath, UK. By DavidAnstiss via Wikimedia Commons
English: The World Custard Pie Flinging Championship, 2013, Coxheath, UK. By DavidAnstiss via Wikimedia Commons

Prosper Utseya, the Zimbabwean pie-chucker offspinner, has laid a claim of racial discrimination against Zimbabwe Cricket. This news was reported on Cricinfo. Strangely, it has been ignored completely by every Cricinfo reader. The article has no comments at all, which is strange , given how readers there are quick to Continue reading “Prosper, Race and Chucking”

Oh, England!


What an entertaining past few months we’ve seen in England! I’d love to have been a fly on the wall, a fly capable of listening to and understanding the doublespeak and management gobbledygook Continue reading “Oh, England!”