Jesse Pinkman’s El Camino

AMC’s Breaking Bad had made things very miserable for Jesse Pinkman. We see him liberated in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Pinkman’s last shot in Breaking Bad was driving away from his captors while bursting into tears of joy which still breaks his fans’ hearts. Pinkman’s world turn topsy turvy once Walter White re entered his life. They both are the characters they are not. Walter White was the bad guy pretending to be the good guy whereas Jesse Pinkman was the good guy pretending to be the bad guy.

The movie intends to deliver a happy and satisfying ending to such a beloved character like Pinkman. And it succeeds in doing that. Pinkman can be seen suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Stockholm Syndrome because of his captors. The editing in the movie with scenes from the past and present move as smooth as a thief.

One of the recurring scenes in Breaking Bad was Walter White taking a shower. There was a similar scene in the movie with Pinkman. White’s shower scene every time was to reflect on the new decisions he made each time while washing off his old self. It was a deterioration of his good, old self which is ironic. However, Pinkman’s shower scene was to indicate his freedom from his captors and the beginning of his new life in Alaska, all the while he has terrible flashbacks from his torture.

The movie was the perfect way of saying goodbye to Jesse Pinkman. It was the perfect ending his character deserved. The final shot of the movie is a parallel to Pinkman’s final shot from Breaking Bad. He is calm, peaceful, content, and serene in the movie whereas he is hysterical, loud, relieved, and heartbroken in Breaking Bad. Pinkman finally found the El Camino to a life he wanted to lead.

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World Mental Health Day

 

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Last year, I adopted a cat. Our family was thrilled to welcome this feline being into our home. Immediately, my parent’s curiosity regarding cats grew and the next thing I know, they are reading about cat behavior and facts related to cats on the internet and pet columns in newspapers. One such fact my mom once read out to me, was that cats get overly anxious even if the colour of their carriage box changes or the position of their food bowl is changed.

And that is just about cats. Human beings are absolutely more complicated than animals. We are a vastly diverse species learning and growing everyday. Our behavior, habits, intelligence, feelings regarding certain things, likes and dislikes and so much more form our mental state of being. People with mental health issues often wonder, why is this happening to me. The truth is, it is happening to everyone. They just aren’t aware yet or refuse to acknowledge it, is what I feel and tell myself.

Now the interesting part about being brown and dealing with mental health issues is that you deal with it alone most of the time. There is one friend in the picture, or two, not more. Then, there is regret about “why did I share it with that one particular person”. Now, my intention here is not to take this serious and dark subject of mental health and turn it hilarious for the purpose of comic relief.

Mental health is never given the same importance as physical health. Mental health is never “seen” like physical health. Because the injury in a mental health issue is sometimes invisible. People talk, listen to them. We are often made to feel guilty for prioritizing our mental health knowing a certain situation or person might trigger us. If a person’s leg is broken, no one asks them to get up, walk and shake it off, right. But that’s not our same attitude towards mental health. That has to change. Giving someone the right help and mental guidance they need, is the same as giving painkillers and medication to a person with a broken leg.

 

The Exoneration of Joker

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Set in the early 80’s, Joker is a period movie tracing the path of Arthur Fleck’s ironic descent into Joker. The movie managed to garner enough praise and love even before the official release in USA. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was lauded by everyone. It is his comeback movie and honestly, it is a one man show by Phoenix.

The movie intends to make a statement. Its relevance, especially in present day USA, to today’s degenerating and degrading society is spot on. There were a number of sub plots that could have been explored more, but they were just left out in the open. It was just a touch upon the subject.

There were various dichotomies in the movie which were explored well. To begin with, the rich and the poor was the recurring and underlying theme in the movie. Bruce and Arthur can be seen as the two distinct poles of this dichotomy. The scene where Arthur is talking to a young Bruce Wayne aka Batman with a gate in between them is a metaphorical barrier diving the rich and the poor. Bruce’s background is surrounded with greenery and a huge mansion whereas Arthur’s background is just a long,dark, and  plain road.

Mental illnesses were dealt with carefully in the movie. It is no news that mental illnesses were a taboo in the 80’s. Even the State refused to acknowledge this and do the needful. The fault in the Government to look after both, the sanity and sanitation of Gotham, is critiqued in the movie. The overflowing garbage in the city only reminds me of The Colonies from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. 

The choice of music in the movie was quite confusing as it didn’t made sense whether they glorified the situation or not. The public outrage and riots towards the end of the movie show the rise of the powerless over the powerful, by killing Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne. It was another dichotomy of the powerful and the powerless. The movie is two hour long process of justifying the becoming of Joker by Arthur Fleck exploring his family, work life, non existent love life, and his social circle.

IT Chapter 2: The Adult Losers Club

EDfp3U0XkAQWoLLHorror genre in movies quite often leave me unimpressed. There is either a starkly similar repetition of stories or the visual effects are a failure. IT Chapter 1 had a different impact. Of course, its an adaptation of Stephen King’s work which places it on a higher pedestal. The movie addressed various issues, mainly through the character of Beverly Marsh, the visual effects of gory had the classic Stephen King touch, it was gritty, and had a long climax. IT Chapter 2 is no different.

As the first movie had hinted, the Losers Club reunited in IT Chapter 2 as adults to kill Pennywise once and for all. A glimpse of their life as adults outside Derry is shown before they all meet, which was important to understand their characters. Beverly is in an abusive marriage with her husband which is a parallel to the life she had with her father as a young girl. Bill is a writer whose book endings are hated by everyone. His inability to deliver a proper and satisfying ending mirrors how he finally realized his brother was actually dead by the end of IT Chapter 1. Richie, the kid who was the funniest in the group and was used as a comic relief literally became a stand up comedian. Eddie, a germophobe and a kid with hypochondria became a risk analyst. It shows how he chose his profession to calculate and weed out the risks before doing something. Ben, the new shy and fat kid who joined the Losers Club quite late is seen leading a quiet and alone life and away from his office colleagues. Mike, or the token black member of the Losers Club is the only one who didn’t leave Derry like the rest of them. He seeks the answer to killing It properly. However, Stanley felt it better to kill himself rather than facing Pennywise again because he was scared. He saw himself as a liability to the rest of the group.

There was a brief moment in IT Chapter 1 where the kids have a fight and get separated. The individual events during those moments explain the characters more in IT Chaper 2. There was a subtle hint towards Richie’s sexuality. He is a closeted gay man and Pennywise teases this personal demon Richie is dealing with, in a brutal way. Turns out R+E wasn’t about a girl after all. Ben’s one sided love for Beverly is what Pennywise used to haunt him. Eddie’s germophobia was used to scare him. Bill’s guilt and conflict with dealing with the reality of his brother’s death is teased again when an adult Bill is dragged by Pennywise into the same sewer his brother went missing in.  Furthermore, Pennywise kills another kid in front of Bill as a cruel reminder of his brother.

The ritual of Chud was learnt by Mike from Native Americans in order to kill Pennywise. This subverts the trope of the White Savior Hollywood has been feeding its audience for so long. The collection of artifacts by the Losers Club was to show that they’re letting go of the past and trying to live a new life. Bill’s boat he made for his brother, Beverly’s postcard which she assumes was given by Bill, not Ben, Eddie’s inhaler, Richie’s token from the gaming arcade, Ben’s yearbook page that only Beverly had signed, and Mike’s rock that started the Rock war with Bowers and company that introduced Mike into the Losers Club all signify an important phase in their lives.

The movie could have been cut down a little in length definitely. The climax scene was too long just like in IT Chapter 1. IT Chapter 2 was the perfect ending to the IT saga. Everyone had a satisfying ending. Mike finally left the town of Derry looking into other ventures. IT Chapter 2 wasn’t just another horror movie, but a story about genuine relationships, personal demons, gaining power over our weaknesses, and friendship.

 

Evil Superhero Universe

Amazon Prime’s The Boys creates its own Vought Cinematic Universe in a world where superheroes are mainly used as agendas for commercial, nationalistic, capitalistic, and religious purposes. Based on the comics of the same name, The Boys is a superhero series which has a completely different take on the superhero business. As an avid fan of superhero movies and TV series, I must mention, it wasn’t easy to watch the show with a happy and understandable experience. The show dismantled the idea of superheroes I had in my mind for a really long time in a brilliant way.

There are a set of ideas and images one has while thinking of superheroes. Hope, Sacrifice, Selflessness, Generosity, Righteousness, Integrity, Humility, the list goes on. The show not only does rob the superhero characters of these qualities, but gives them the opposite of these qualities as character descriptions. Imagine an evil Captain America, a lecherous Aquaman, and a Flash who kills people “accidentally” frequently. The thought itself is bewildering and difficult. It’s not the powers and super skills that makes a superhero what they are. Their choice to use those power and skills in a manner that is benefiting for all makes them one. Homelander misuses his powers and is full of pretentiousness. Translucent is a peeping Tom. Deep asks female superheroes to give him oral sex. They are more concerned about movies made on them and their merchandise being sold in the black market. They propagate religious fundamentalism. They are the real villains despite having the powers of superheroes.

So who can go against them? They have superpowers, physically fighting them is out of question. It’s a group of common people who take down the Supes’. Common people who have regular jobs, have families to look over, have lost their loved ones in the name of “collateral damage” by the superheroes.

The narrative that USA creates its own demons is strong with this one. The revealing of Compound V and it’s usage since 50 years gives us an insight into what happens when the superhero life is forced upon you, instead of you choosing it. Steve Rogers made his choice to take the super soldier serum. Bruce Wayne chose to be a masked vigilante to save Gotham from evil elements. Tony Stark chose to use his intelligence in his tech to save the universe. They’re superheroes because they made a righteous choice to do good. However, there are instances where superheroes are created through accidents too. Barry Allen, Carol Danvers, and Peter Parker and many more led a normal life before the so called “accident”. But in The Boys, superheroes are in plenty. They’re not rare, because of the injecting of Compund V. They have to compete each other to secure a position in The Seven. They’re commercial superheroes.

There are direct references to a few DCEU and MCU movies. The series is a critique of the capitalism, white supremacy and religious fundamentalism prevalent in present day USA. It will be interesting to see the origin of The Boys and their attempt to take down Vought in season 2.

Bella Ciao Ciao Ciao

Netflix’s Money Heist is about a bank robbery that goes on for 5 days. A group of robbers with pseudo city names breaking into the Royal Mint of Spain AND the Bank of Spain is the subject of the show. Money Heist is just like any other heist or bank robbery movie. There is a mastermind behind the heist(The Professor) and one main official negotiator(Raquel Murillo). Sometimes things go wrong for the robbers, hostages try to break out, personal relationships mess things up or unplanned and improvised situations occur. Except, the robbers ask the bankers to print their loot money in those 5 days. That was one unusual element in the heist for me.

The brilliance of the show always depends on one character outwitting the other character i.e The Professor and Inspector Murillo. The tables turn so quick even Barry Allen won’t be able to keep up. (That’s indeed a Flash reference). There are nail biting crucial moments where the viewers are in a dilemma as to support whom. The editing is a key factor in Money Heist. The robbery going on presently along with the planning and plotting session from the past playing parallel to each other is excellent. The viewers don’t lose track of each scenarios. The build up to each of their plans planned and the robbers carrying them out with precision is a treat to watch.

Money Heist is an European Spanish show. As someone who doesn’t know Spanish, I was glad when the show had an English dubbing as well. But dubbings can go wrong as well. It didn’t work out well with me during watching Netflix’s Dark. The voice cast has to be perfect and in sync with the characters. The Professor is a leader but he doesn’t have a commanding voice, that’s how he is. That understanding of the characters was important to have the voice cast accordingly. This show was much different from all the American and British shows I’ve watched so far. The negotiator in power Raquel, is a woman who is vulnerable, makes mistakes, and isn’t perfect. She isn’t Sandra Bullock. She is faced with the same and everyday issues women face all around the world. Domestic abuse and child custody are the challenges placed in front of her and she always doesn’t have the upper hand. Nairobi’s motherhood is often questioned because she was a drug dealer and once her son had to face the brunt of it. Tokyo is a hot headed woman who put the group in jeopardy several times. She and Rio are the reason the heist takes place in the Bank of Spain. Stockholm left behind her bank job to accompany the man she loves along with her unborn baby. These characters aren’t flawless women, because women aren’t flawless.

However, Alicia Sierra, the negotiator of Part 3, is a woman hated by everyone. She is not the type of woman patriarchy expects women to be. She isn’t kind, sweet, nurturing, and filled with empathy. She is pure evil. She is a woman in power who will do anything to do her job. And she was the woman who gave an equally tough competition to The Professor. It’s ironic how The Professor was so much against the idea of romantic relationships within the group and all hell broke loose once he realised the woman he loved had died. Talk about hysteria in women,eh. It would be interesting to see how The Professor emerges back from the mess created by the end of Part 3 and do his thing in Part 4.

Love, Sex, and Drugs

Zendaya is the sole reason I started watching HBO’s Euphoria. The show’s bold storyline did stir up controversial opinions. The show’s first episode itself gave me Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why vibes. But it was also the opposite of 13 Reasons Why in many ways. A female narrator with a tired voice, a really shitty, abusive and privileged teenager, teenagers constantly in conflict with their parents, exploring sexuality, each episode focusing on one single character, guys filled with toxic masculinity, graphic scenes and so much more. Instantly, one can draw several parallels between both these shows.

But Euphoria stands out in its storytelling and representation which unfortunately 13 Reasons Why failed to do. Sexuality is a spectrum in this Zendaya show. In the words of Hunter Schafer, the characters don’t carry the burden of a sexual orientation label and it lets them breathe. This itself is the show’s biggest achievement in portraying teenagers. Sexual orientation labels tend to restrict the actors in conveying the character’s story they want to. There needs to be no justification for each actions of these characters. Jules is a transwoman and is currently dating Rue, but she used to date men too. Is Jules a bisexual or polysexual or heterosexual is left to the imagination of the viewers. This is a much needed representation for LGBT characters. LGBT characters are often placed under the lens of scrutiny to examine every move they make. This was a fresh and much needed change of air.

Generation Z is the main focus of this show. The show specifically pointed out that Rue was born three days after 9/11. Their generation is the Lockdown Generation. They are dangerously unapologetic about almost everything they do . They have parents who are sexual predators. (That sex scene between Cal and Jules made me feel bad for Grey’s Anatomy fans)

Rue’s drug addiction was a plot line the writers dealt with brilliantly. Her conversation with Ali which broke down every ugly and toxic side of addiction was impeccable and important. Drug addicts’ dependency on a romantic relationship to stay clean was deglamourised perfectly. The show didn’t go down the path of “love solves everything and it’s the purest feeling in the world”. It claimed that drug addiction doesn’t ruin just the addict’s life but everyone close to them.

Each character had their own plot line and issues they’d been dealing with. The intertwining of all these characters together was excellent writing. The cinematography and editing of the show is aesthetically pleasing. Rue’s trippy moments when she’s high on drugs are visually amazing. The rotating room in the first episode of the show surely gave us a peek into the brain of a junkie. The execution of that experience by Zendaya was creatively appealing.

The Monterey Five

“5 women commit a murder. They try to cover it up.” Now that is a very common crime mystery. But, add some useless and annoying husbands, 7 year old kids, personal and traumatic events from the past, a house with a beach view, really huge sunglasses and you get Big Little Lies. HBO’s Big Little Lies is a remarkable show when it comes to powerful and really badass women delivering impeccable lines and mind blowing acting (looking at you Laura Dern). Solidarity and sisterhood are the two pillars of this show. However, that doesn’t apply to season 1 of the show. Women- The Monterey 5 -are pitted against each other, they constantly hate each other and can’t stand them. It’s a man’s world where that happens. The 2nd season showed progress. They had each other’s backs, put aside their differences and made sure everyone was safe, while still loosing their cool sometimes, Renata Klein level.

The show aptly portrays how women are so different from each other and are dealing with their personal issues. From Bonnie’s abusive childhood to Jane’s single motherhood, the show was realistic in everything. The show exactly depicted what every women around the world go through.

The show’s way of dealing with abusive characters is very genuine. Perry is that guy who conveniently convinces everyone that he’s the perfect father, husband and man. I’m sure pretty much all of us have met a guy similar to him in our lives. Abusers make sure they isolate their victim from everyone else into their personal world. The scene in season 2 where Perry is (literally) enquiring Celeste about her family is just the beginning of his psychotic, evil, and well executed plan.

The abuser ensures their victim is an easy target, that no complications follow when the victim realises what they’ve fallen into. The abuser’s life is a facade. A facade of flattering their victims with gifts and compliments. A facade of going to couples therapy and acting like they’re willing to fix everything. They live a double life. What’s more dangerous is that they’re aware of it. This step by step way of showing the psychology of an abuser by the show was art.

Nature vs Nurture is a recurring subject of matter in the show. Ziggy, a child conceived by rape and Josh, a child who’s father is naturally abusive are two conflicting characters in the show. It’s very common to blame children’s wrongdoing in the name of their parents. However, people need to understand that it’s an inappropriate way of blaming people. The comparison could be triggering and scarring for some.

Mary Louise appeared on screen and effortlessly made everyone hate her together. Well, it’s easy to find loopholes and blame a woman for a man’s actions. Consciously, I was trying not to hate her, but it’s even harder than the Avengers teaming up to kill Thanos and Mary Louise doesn’t let you love her. She is a cynical, manipulative, narcissistic and hateful woman. She is the living embodiment of the phrase- the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her constant efforts to find out how Perry died and separate the kids from Celeste boils the audience’s blood.

The therapist is an interesting character in

Big Little Lies. She broke her ethical rules of therapy and went out of her way to make Celeste understand how she was a victim of physical and sexual abuse. Convincing a victim that they’re a victim is the hardest part of most psychologists’ job as they are deeply blinded due to the abuser’s manipulation. The therapist’s way of breaking down things and making Celeste understand them wasn’t just a patient doctor treatment, but a woman’s effort to help another woman see the truth and reality. The solidarity shown between them without any prior relationship to them is the most heartwarming part of the show.

Big Little Lies never glorified abuse, rape, trauma, but showed the necessary and ugly side of it, and it’s impact on the victims. Its brutally honest portrayal of such sensitive topics was not sabotaged in any way. Just watching women in action is my good place and to see actresses like Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Zoë Kravitz, and Laura Dern TOGETHER is the cherry on the top.

Why Crazy,Rich Asians was important for Asian Americans

I love taking Buzzfeed quizzes. Finding out my Hogwarts house or which Avenger is my soulmate is pretty essential to my knowledge. It’s utter joy and excitement for me sometimes.

Which of the following Hollywood movies didn’t have any white actor?” was a question I stumbled upon one day and I was fascinated to know Crazy, Rich Asians as the answer for the above question. Now, I understand the title is self explanatory, but it’s Hollywood we’re talking about. A film industry that has predominantly used persons of colour only as token characters,exotic characters or to cast them as an Arab terrorist. All Asians are generally called as ‘Chinese’ by others even when they’re from Korea or Japan which is racist.

Some would say the movie is capitalistic. But it’s important to remember that capitalism is patriarchal in nature. And to know that the richest family in Singapore is headed by a matriarch is refreshing. Astrid is unapologetic about her choices and her family. The bachelorette party supposed to celebrate sisterhood which turns into a Black Friday sale is hilarious. The movie is filled with references to Asian culture and language and they never stop a minute to explain them to their white audience. Just as white movies never stop to explain why a 16 year old teenager pulled up an assault rifle in a high school.

The movie beautifully deals with Asian immigrants and how their own kind perceives them. Immigrants are seen as outsiders in USA, and to top it, their own kind treats them as “Americans” because they didn’t grow up in Singapore. This concept of the “Us v/s Them” was layered so much. The narrative of diaspora had its effect on the storyline very well. Especially with Rachel’s mother, who escaped to the USA from her abusive husband. Immigrants have a story but not necessarily everyone. Each story has its own emotion and justification. There’s no judgment there.

The movie has to be praised for their sensitive handling of Asian immigrants.

The Asian feminism is a tricky one. The basic- family vs work -subject of Asian feminism would be offensive to people ignorant or unaware of Asian culture. Once again, the movie doesn’t ever stop to explain this. It’s important in Asian culture to place one’s family above everything else. It’s a known fact, probably all around the world. Nick’s mother takes pride in acknowledging that she left a prestigious job to get married and be committed to her family. Family’s approval is important for your marriage, your career, every life choices.

Crazy, Rich Asians isn’t just a movie, but a celebration of Asian culture. It’s the reclamation of Asian narrative that Hollywood has stereotyped and failed to deliver as a good story. The movie shows why it’s important to have minorities as writers, directors, actors and give them the space to tell their story instead of taking their story and making it into a half baked disaster of a movie.

It was Never Just a Dog

Focus, Commitment, and Sheer Will- Viggo used these words to describe John Wick in John Wick. As an 8 year old girl who watched the movie Speed and fell in love with Keanu Reeves, John Wick was a treat to watch. “An assassin with a heart”- was my first impression of John Wick. It is a delight to watch John Wick in such intense action. Whether it was to take out 12 men and dispose them professionally or go for a bulletproof vest and guns shopping in Italy, John did it with class and style.

John Wick cannot be thought about without speaking about his dog, Daisy, or as some would like to say—the dog that started all the chaos.

Gang wars and rivalry usually begin because of double crossing, over a woman(the most common) or over territorial control. This new concept captured everyone’s attention in a sentimental way. The internet had its field day creating memes about John Wick and Daisy. It was different and accepted by everyone. Speaking of Daisy, one has to talk about Helen. Daisy isn’t just a dog, but the last living, breathing reminder and symbol of remembrance of Helen for John. “The assassin with a heart” would make sense now (well, assassins don’t have a heart is what I thought, but Bucky Barnes happened to me). The reason of conflict is Daisy in the first movie and John doesn’t stop for anyone coming in his way.

Being John Wick has its pros and cons. He’s super skilled, takes care of his dog dearly, a master assassin but also vulnerable and alone at times. His helplessness shows when he is forced to kill Gianna D’Antonio in John Wick: Chapter 2. Even a line like “Time’s ticking, Mr.Wick” would give goosebumps to the audience and put their stomach in a knot. In the underworld, John doesn’t always emerge as a winner. He loses, gets up and fights to win. He is on the run throughout John Wick-Chapter 3: Parabellum. You cheer for him, want him to win and want him to live.

The movies also made sure they are diverse and inclusive in their casting. Ruby Rose, a lesbian was cast in as an assassin in John Wick:Chapter 2 whereas Asia Kate Dillon, a pansexual, non-binary was in John Wick-Chapter 3: Parabellum as a member of the High Table.

Halle Berry had a remarkable role in the third movie as an ex assassin living with the memory of her daughter. Some would say, she’s like the female John Wick.

The action scenes are memorable once you watch them. Be it killing with a pencil or killing with just a book from the Library. Action scenes are never cliché in the John Wick movies. They’re choreographed gracefully, executed with perfection and drop Easter eggs from old Keanu Reeves movies (“Guns, lots of guns”- The Matrix)

It will be exciting to watch what happens in John Wick 4 to see John going after the High Table and Winston for betraying him.