August 15th, 2022

Raiders of the Lost Ark: What is a summer movie season without talking about a summer blockbuster? Top Gun Maverick is clearly the blockbuster for this year. Back in 1981, crazily 41 years ago, there was Steven Spielberg doing his almost annual blockbuster. The director who started blockbusters with Jaws back in 1975. He teams up with his good buddy George Lucas to recreate the look and feel of the movie serials that he grew up with as a kid. Each episode would end with a cliff hanger, leaving the audience wondering what would happen next week. Raiders is a masterpiece from the opening sequence which immediately captures the audience’s attention in the jungles in South America. Indiana Jones, not known to us yet, is a figure in shadows working his way through the jungle clearly seeking something. Within a nearby cave, we see Indiana and his cohort tiptoe their way through a maze of traps and creepy crawly creatures. The prize is a gold artifact. Indiana returns to his university, where he is a professor, and is told about Hitler’s new obsession with the occult and digging up antiquities. Specifically he has a massive dig near Cairo looking for the Arc of the Covenant. The Arc, from folklore, is where the Hebrews took the broken pieces of the tablets inscribed by God himself and carried them in their travels. The adventure continues. From the streets of Cairo, to the sea and then to a remote Greek island.

Of course there are bad guys, and Nazis for Spielberg is a favourite target. His one of many master stroke in casting was Ronald Lacey as the Nazi SS interogator. Brilliant. The movie holds your attention, doesn’t let go until the final credits. Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones and embodies the role. So much so, that even now in his 80s, he is reprising this role for the fifth installment which is due in 2023. Remarkable.

This movie holds up remarkably well, even with the special effects for which itn won Oscars. There is humour, snappy one liners, more killing than I had remembered, but it is after all around the war time. People die. Of course you temporarily have to suspend disbelief like when Indy manages to ride a U-boat submarine far longer than you would have expected. But it doesn’t matter. This is a popcorn movie at its finest with a director hitting on cylinders. If your kids haven’t seen this, then they should.

Indian Matchmaker: This is season 2 of this Netflix series as a Mumbai based matchmaker is asked by young people and their families to find a match for them. The matches are mostly in the US but not all. This is a guilty pleasure, because it is interesting to see all people struggle with modern dating. In an age of apps and swipes, profiles, they are dealing with real people attached to profiles and their families. Typically the first meeting is the family and the suitor. Then the couple can go and have their meeting. Dating is not for the feint of heart.

We also find as the audience that there is more spirituality in this process for the matchmaker. She takes the pictures of her clients to a face reader. She also uses the stars and does charting for the clients. All this along with advice on what they seek, versus what she thinks that she can deliver. For those with a laundry list of needs, she typically says “you may get 60% of that list”. This shocks her clients. But she will say, find a person with a kind heart, who is a good person and things will grow. Sprinkled in the beginning of the episodes are stories of long term marriages who only knew each other for minutes in some cases. She doesn’t provide too many choices, she feels that it takes away from the focus. Analysis paralysis in other words, the paradox of choice. Her younger clients do though look for the ever elusive chemistry, and sometimes when they think that they have it, they don’t. Oh the joys of navigating uncertain waters. Some individuals and couples from Season 1 appear and we are introduced to others. I will continue to watch.

The Ghost Writer: The cast for this 2010 spy thriller (of some sort) is impressive with Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams and Kim Cattrell. The basic storyline is that the former UK Prime Minister is looking for someone to finish writing his memoirs. The previous writer, and speech writer for him ended up washed up on the shores in Cape Cod having fallen off a ferry. McGregor has his agent convince him to finish the work for a sizeable sum. He reluctantly agrees. As he reads to catch up on the story he formulates some of his own questions to ask Brosnan who seems to keep himself very busy and away from his brooding wife. Ewan finds new items about the former PM and the web gets more and more complex. In the end, the story falls flat for me and the performances are more or less mailed in. So I cannot recommend and actually would say that you actively avoid it. I watched this so you wouldn’t have to.

You’re welcome.

July 27th, 2020

As a follow up to the posting from last week where I noted I had started watching the 1940s era Manhattan which was a dramatization of the creation of the atom bomb by the US authorities.  I finished the first season, and began season 2.   I read however that the characters and stories about them are fiction, except for the names of Albert Einstein and J Robert Oppenheimer.   Key characters in the story like Charlie Isaacs and his wife never existed.   Others on the two teams as well.   This was disappointing news but not altogether surprising.   The drama among the characters just seemed too outlandish.   I have little doubt that there was latent homosexuality and infidelity and other things happening given the number of people cooped up in a site for so long.   Still much of it didn’t seem very plausible.   The end of season 1 still doesn’t have a viable working bomb.  This unending debate about whether or not implosion was even possible rages on.   Interestingly as we know, two bombs were dropped and they were of each type worked on at the site.   Both worked equally well.   I won’t delve further into the merits of utilizing the atomic bombs, but suffice it to say that the desired effect of ending the war in the Pacific was accomplished.    I will continue to watch season 2 (it was cancelled after this season) but I will be a little less enthused.   Incidentally, Harry Lloyd who played spoiled Viserys Targaryen  plays the same type of weasel-like character in this series as in Game of Thrones.

A new release on Netflix was the series called Indian Matchmaker, and it getting some buzz, not all of it is positive.   The premise is pretty straightforward as we have an older East Indian woman who is assisting other East Indian people and their families to find a match/marriage partner.   Arranged marriages are not uncommon in India, and the show brings forward many examples of long term married couples and their stories.   The matchmaker in question has hundreds of families that she is working with, from all around the globe.   We see young people in places like Houston, Colorado, New York, Mumbai, etc.  She is quite the jetsetter to be seeing all of these various people.   No where do they talk about her fees.   She can’t be cheap.  Still with a divorce rate in “love marriages” hovering around 50% one would think that arranged marriages can’t be any worse.   In fact, they could be better.   As a single person, I take solace that there are many around there like me.   The struggles faced by meeting and finding the right person are real no matter where in the world you are, or your station.   I was surprised at her use of biodata forms, astrologers and facial reading people.   So much of all this for these people is fated, and in the stars/signs.  I admit that the facial reading guy who sees a number of her clients was surprisingly good at seeing traits of these people just based on a phone picture.   Now whether or not one can see someone having twins from just a picture is another story.   You have all sorts of characters in this series, for me a couple that stuck out was the female lawyer in Houston, who has a pushy Mom and her own prickly, picky personality.   She seems so set in her ways and not really willing to open herself up to almost anything new.    The other was the young man with the overbearing Mom who dictates all that happens in her household.   The young 25yo man has a younger brother who is engaged, and he is told that he MUST get engaged and be married within the year, to make Mom happy and allow the younger brother to get married himself.   He rationally asks how these two events must be tied together, but all around him side with Mom.   Such pressure on him.   He sees hundreds of profiles and you wonder whether he is just being overly difficult or that he just isn’t ready.  Maybe a little of both.   Sadly, though there are other stories that the viewer doesn’t see finish.  You would think you get to see what the results of the matches are and this dating, but it just isn’t so.   Not even a follow up at the last episode with a review of who was met and what their latest status is (married, still dating or single).   I was also somewhat surprised at the continuation of the separation of duties and attitudes about women.   Our matchmaker can through herself or her colleagues put pressure on women to be subservient to their future husband; they must take a back seat to him and his desires.   I was quite shocked at how bluntly this was put to these independent women, one in particular runs her own online clothing store and is quite successful.  The cultural pressures are substantial, and add to that the pressures of thinking that one might want to have children and for women it is a daunting task.   Never mind the later conversation if you are a single Mom in these communities!   One very pleasant was told that her chances in the Sikh community would be very limited because of her status being divorced and with a child.   There’s nothing quite like turning back the hands of time to the early 1960s for us in North America!!   Everybody in the end has a story.