Tuesday, February 13

Film: Black Panther Click for more info

At first glance, Black Panther is a great film. It has great tech, good humour, decent action and even ties it all together with a decent enough plot. The effects were a little rough around the edges, but not enough to spoil the film... all in all on the surface it's a fun film and all the stronger as it stands on its own without having to lean on the rest of the MCU.

... But of course we can't just leave it at that. It's also a black film and although I'm the last random guy on the internet to assess the credentials of the film in that context I did find myself considering how the film tackled the inevitable baggage it was always going to carry.

So yes, on the whole I felt that Black Panther initially did well with handling its heritage and colour - it wasn't apologetic about what it was, yet managed to not caricaturise itself on the way. It was a little unfortunate that the film ended up being about black on black war, but I can see how anything else would have attracted criticism too, so overall I think it did okay on this front.

Aside from that Black Panther makes a great entry in the MCU - the last before the really big event starts. Recommended.

Monday, February 12

Film: Padmavati Click for more info

If indeed Padmavati is to be considered the third in the SLB-Padukone-Singh epic period set of films, it is also by far the weakest entry in the trilogy. Apart from the shallow plot, the acting is shoddy, the special effects laughable, the music forgettable (and I mean that literally)... and although I really should be above this in a work of fiction, the portrayal of Muslims as nothing less than douchebag extraordinaires was kinda jarring.

This is both unfortunate, but also a relief since it highlights just how brilliant and good Ram Leela and Bajirao Mastani respectively were. You can't just expect magic; no, that requires something special that even established dream teams struggle to continually always provide. I guess things would just be boring otherwise.

Wednesday, February 7

Book: Elantris, Brandon Sanderson Click for more info

I can see why Elantris is seen as "a decent enough start" to the Cosmere. From the first page it contains such characterisation and construction of plot that you can't but help marvel at the genius and scope of what is yet to come, yet the whole thing collapses under its ambition toward the last few chapters. In short, it seems to be full of the kind of mistakes you just know will be fixed in future stories, and that's something which, if true, holds great promise for what's to come.

I can see why Sanderson was asked to complete The Wheel of Time, and its the accessibility he gave to that series that I see here in Cosmere.

Monday, February 5

Karachi 2018

My annual trips to Karachi are quite well established now, up to the point where I actually start itching to go back 10-12 months after my previous trip. This one was a couple of months overdue due to South Africa, but it did coincide with a couple of weddings so it worked out pretty well.

I find it to be a humbling habit, somewhat rooted, and that not in a "I wish I could save them all poverty porn" sense. I'm not a tourist here, I'm family. This makes it personal not just because there's blood involved but also for the more pragmatic fact that the life I see around me could have been my own if my grandfather had made different decisions in his own life all those years ago.

Things are always relative and perhaps this is why I don't have the same sense of ambition or success that others back in the UK have - I already have these things in a way, no matter how they were earned (or not). My peers aren't necessarily the people I live and work with in London, but my cousins, relatives and the 25m other people who reside here in Karachi. In the same way I find myself also more conservative and traditional, whether it's the manner in which I dress or the fact that I prefer squatters to commodes.

It's a cliche but despite the poverty and hardships people do seem more happy and content here than they do elsewhere. One can accuse them all of living in ignorance of course - how can they miss something they've never had - but us who spend the time to visit do know what's out there... and yet there's much more of a sense of peace where choices are much more limited.