Monday, December 26

Film: Rogue One Click for more info

It could have been so easy for Rogue One to just have been another cash in. But it wasn't - it was rich, well produced and respecting of both the franchise and its target audience. Of course the main value is for the Star Wars fans, but I can see those who aren't so bothered enjoying a pretty decent science fiction movie too.

The context (ie, that it's a prequel) both allows and forces the film to take some pretty serious risks as well, and in both cases I felt that the film benefited from the chances that were taken.

A small note to talk about Riz Ahmed - before we start gushing about the first prominent Pakistani in a Star Wars role, it's worth thinking about exactly what that role entails. I was slightly disappointed myself, but hey, baby steps.

All in all though Rogue One was a great film and one which manages to vindicate the tick tock release schedule Disney has come up with. I'm already counting down to December 2017 for Episode 8.

Wednesday, December 21

Film: Passengers Click for more info

Passengers was not the film I walked into expecting to see. What was supposed to be a sci-fi thriller turned out to be more of a romantic drama.

What's really surprising is that the film was probably better for it. The "escape room" in space would probably have been way too predictable and although the resulting themes here weren't entirely original either, the context and placement were more than enough to keep things novel.

So although not deep and pretty familar Passengers is a solid offering in a time when everything else tries so hard to be fancy. Recommended.

Friday, December 9

Film: Dear Zindagi Click for more info

There's a pretty explicit qualifier at the start of this film warning no one to take any medical advice from any of the story of scenes to follow. This is a good thing since, right from the start, Dear Zindagi sucks as a film about mental health issues. It treats the subject with such shallowness and cliche that it's probably worth ignoring that whole facet of the film altogether.

What the film is good at is 1) being cute, 2) being philosophical about life and 3) Alia Bhatt. Which if you're keeping track makes it a great Bollywood film.

The music is largely forgettable (although that was more due to it not being to my taste), but the production was good, the actors and their acting equally beautiful. It's all also paced rather well, something which the industry seems to be getting better and better at.

All in all, it's a great romp if you're looking to enjoy yourself and have a good time. On the other hand if you're looking for something to challenge you and make you think about a serious topic... it's probably best to look elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 6

Film: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Click for more info

Yes, it's a Harry Potter film, and yes it's very American. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - in fact it's nice to have the HP universe expanded some, and differing perspectives given. The wizarding world now has more colour, more scope and that's a good thing.

What's not so great is the quality of this film. My immediate thoughts were of how rough around the edges it was, with some really bad acting, production and editing. Unfortunately this was all enough to ruin the film for me, which is a shame since all the magic, mystery and adventure you'd expect is all there too if you look hard enough.

Still, it's Harry Potter so gets a recommendation. Whether it's one to watch in the cinema or not I'm having a harder time to decide.

Sunday, December 4

Karachi 2016

This year's trip to Karachi marked a little bit of a failure on my part; my intention was to visit at least annually going forward, as Pakistan becomes a bit more of a staple destination for me. And yet it has been a whopping two years since I last visited, having missed a trip earlier this year (I was in Vegas instead).

The trip was different for a couple of (related) reasons. Firstly, I had some Canadian (ie English speaking) cousins there with me. These are a bunch who, although I had only seen earlier in the year, I haven't been in Karachi with for almost 20 years. The trip was also different due to the scarcity of time - a wedding took up most of the first week, which left things compressed during the second, if not lacking altogether - I already feel that I need to return in order to make up for the shortcomings. Oh and the resulting late nights meant that I didn't really have to deal with any jetlag issues on my return to the UK.

New things then? Well there are a few. Careem and Uber are now relatively well established, giving us a level of independence and freedom we might not have had before. It remains to be seen how long the initiative lasts.

I saw a fair few Chinese in the malls, a sign of the ongoing investment coming in from the country. So far the effect is a positive one.

Clifton is becoming more and more built up as I visit. You don't have to squint too hard to imagine being in a place like Dubai instead. Again, a positive sign... and again, it remains to be seen how long it lasts.

The rest of Karachi appears to be relatively stable in its ongoing decline, and yet there is a renewed sense of hope as cracks start to show in the incumbent rotting of the place. That said, I was woken each day by a young girl shouting down each street asking for food. Change will take longer than the one year I hope to leave before my next visit.