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Twilight May 25, 2009

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Book Reviews, Fantasy Fiction.
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twilight book cover

Many of us have ideas and imaginations, but being able to transform your illusions and dreams into believable fantasy is a rare gift. With her very first book , Stephenie Meyer has brilliantly captured her fantasies to create an enchanting saga of the Twilight series,through the character of seventeen year old Isabella “Bella” Swan.Twilight” is a unique book with a mesmerizing charm – it makes you turn the pages with expectant wonder, and reminds you of the sparkle and fascination in teenage love!.

Bella has just moved into the dull sunless town of Forks, Washington to stay with her father and continue her education. Right from her first day at the new school, she is unconditionally and irrevocably drawn to the excruciatingly handsome Edward Cullen. His perfection and beauty dazzle her, to the point that she begins to wonder if he is really human. And thus begins an unusual love story – made all the more unusual because Edward is actually a vampire!!

You get to see ingenuous high school chit chat, with many boys falling for Bella’s attractive looks – much to Edward’s vexation. Instinctively attracted to her, he courts Bella –  confused by his feelings for her, and whether his affection for her will really fit into the whole scheme of things. You actually end up feeling charmed by her vulnerability, and his fiercely protective attitude towards her. The idea of love transcending all borders is appealing, and of course – don’t we all love “love stories”?!

The romance is neither torrid nor sensual, but retains a sensitive and dream like hypnotic quality. It goes on like a fairy tale, until things suddenly take a sharp turn – changing this engaging romance to an exciting thriller. There are many breathtaking moments, and the author has been able to masterfully blend romance, adventure and suspense in one irresistible package.

The character of Edward as a forever-seventeen picture of perfection is designed to make hearts flutter, and the realization that he subconsciously thirsts for the blood of the girl he loves is an interesting theme for psychoanalysis. 😉

It sort of reminds me of something I read somewhere –

“It is impossible to love and be wise” – FRANCIS BACON

A link to the author’s website is here:  www.stepheniemeyer.co.uk

Cloverfield(2008) May 24, 2009

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi.
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We live in a society that constantly feels the need to be in touch with our past and present – through mobile phones and instant cameras. We film, record and photograph everything, not willing to let go of any bit of our life undocumented. So, what if you are in the middle of a heady celebration, happily recording and then something suddenly goes terribly wrong??… You are caught documenting something catastrophic, and inadvertently – the last moments of your life!!!

Cloverfield is one movie that preys on these innermost subconscious fears, and terrorizes you with the shocking realism with which it has been portrayed. Completely presented through the perspective of a camcorder, it begins with the recording of a farewell party for Robert “Rob” Hawkins. Amidst cheerful flirtations and celebrations, Hudson “Hud” Platt goes around the gathering recording farewell messages for Rob, who is moving to Tokyo for a new job.The upbeat party atmosphere is suddenly shattered by an earthquake rocking the building. Merriment swiftly transforms into paranoia and then panic as we realise that a monster has struck downtown Manhattan, wreaking havoc and “eating people” everywhere. As the military swings into action, it announces a mandatory evacuation of the city, and thousands are seen fleeing the streets. In the middle of all this, Rob realizes that his girlfriend Elizabeth “Beth” McIntyre is stuck in her collapsed apartment, located in the neighborhood where the monster is causing destruction. He is faced with an impossible choice – whether to evacuate to safety or go back and rescue his love. Rob and his friends decide to risk their lives and rescue Beth.This is the turning point of the story – and a beginning of the shock and drama which is about to unfold.

Giant monster movies tend to be usually stereotypical. It will either be a Godzilla or a Frankenstein let loose in a city or some mutated aliens descending from space to annihilate the Earth. There will be gory pictures of the slimy creatures destroying buildings, killing people and crushing cars as they go around spreading mayhem wherever they go. Cloverfield is also a monster movie, but the treatment is different. You don’t see the monster much, but you can feel it there throughout the movie – in the fear it generates in the protagonists of the movie. It strikes you in-the-face, and you feel like you are in the skin of characters, and actually running for your own life!! The suspense is spine chilling, and keeps you frozen to your seat while your mind screams –  “Run.. run.. RUN!!”

Overall, it is a one-of-a-kind thriller with an uncommon experience. To watch the trailer, link here:  http://www.cloverfieldmovie.com/

To kill a Mockingbird May 18, 2009

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Book Reviews, Classics.
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to kill a mockingbird

A perfect blend of innocence and maturity – this book is a fascinating fable of human attitudes and perceptions, narrated though the ingenuous eyes of an eight year old girl. With masterful strokes, Harper Lee paints a vivid picture of a small town in Alabama at a time when racial prejudice and apartheid were burning issues in the United States. The fabric of the novel is strikingly believable and authentic, probably derived from the author’s own experiences as she attended local schools in Alabama.

The story begins with the merry adventures of eight year old Scout and her twelve year old brother Jem. You begin to get completely engaged in their childhood gambles and escapades, and how the siblings discover the attitudes and realities of the society around them. With a brilliant wit, the author describes how these kids build imaginary worlds, recreate weird stories about the townspeople enacting them, and react to the prejudices and racist mentalities of their town. They are strongly protective of their father, who is a white criminal lawyer in the town court and also a single parent. He is fighting a case for a black man who has been falsely accused by the testimony of a white girl, and here the story begins to get  darker as the details of his struggle trickle in.

Reading ahead, you get to see a long and tortuous courtroom scene, when one man struggles in a bitter fight for equality and justice for all mankind – irrespective of race or colour. At a time when it is unthinkable for a black man to win over a white man’s verdict in the court, he exhorts the Judge and the Jurymen – “In the name of God, do your duty!” . In spite of his efforts, once again the unspoken rules stay unbroken. The court pronounces the defendant “Guilty”. The young kids, who have been watching the trial unbeknownst to their father, are devastated. All they can do is to feel cheated by a society that “ain’t fair”!!

This book is a rare gem, leaving a lasting impression after you read it. It traces the trajectory of human thoughts right from innocent childhood, and the loss of this innocence to the so called “worldly wisdom”. It is witty, funny, emotional and sensitive, and demonstrates that even people in the toughest professions can have the gentlest of hearts.

Quoting from the first page of the paperback –

“Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.”

                – CHARLES LAMB

The Secret (2006) May 10, 2009

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Mumbo Jumbo, Non Fiction.
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I am usually wary of psychological mumbo jumbo – basically because it has a huge potential to influence you. Also because the way you think should be entirely according to you own calling, and not according to how X or Y advise you to. So, I was a little sceptical of this documentary style movie – “The Secret”, which claimed to hold the secret of all success, fulfilment and accomplishments.

The Universe has a secret which had been hidden from all mankind. Only the hugely successful and immortal geniuses could decode “The secret” and kept it under wraps across centuries and generations. This powerful secret was the cause of their successes, and it is so compelling that it has the potential to transform the life of anyone. This is how the movie begins. Based on a book of the same name by Rhonda Byrne, the movie has been filmed like a run through of the Discovery channel, with psychologists, nuclear physicists, doctors, healers, priests and scholars sharing their experiences and revealing the power of the Secret.

This all powerful secret is “The Law of Attraction”. The human mind is amazing, and it is so potent that we can do anything just by having the desire to do it. We attract whatever we desire and visualize. We create our own universe, with the power of our minds and our entire world rearranges itself according to our actions and aspirations.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” – Buddha

The idea is intensely appealing, and the thought that we can chart our fortune only by thinking about it is anybody’s dreams come true!  The whole movie is shot like an investigative report, in which we are given clues, examples, hints and situations which support or prove this theory. The arguments seem too preachy sometimes, but the basic message of positive thinking makes an impact.

It is a movie which can be watched with an open mind, so go for it when you are in the need for some aggressive positive thinking. I haven’t started trying it out yet, and will let you know when I discover whether this thing works  🙂 !!

A link to the movie’s website is here: http://www.thesecret.tv/

Death du jour May 10, 2009

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Book Reviews.
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This is one book that I just stumbled upon and didn’t know what to expect from the content. Apart from the cryptic name which sounded pretty ominous, and a back cover description full of adjectives like “thrilling”, “chilling”, “startling” and  “nerve-shattering”, I had never heard of the book or the author before. So, I decided to attack it with an open and investigative mind 🙂 – a search on Google explained “du jour” is a French phrase for “fashionable, currently for the day”. It turned out that the story revolves around a chain of murders which happened around the same time, but were discovered throughout the narration of the whole story. Hence the name – Death du jour.

The book begins in the bitter cold of a church graveyard where Tempe Brennan, an anthropologist, and the author’s heroine is working on exhuming the bones of a burial which took place 200 years ago. This sombre and dark beginning sets the tone of the chain of events to follow, in which Brennan is involved in the discovery of burnt, mutilated and decomposed bodies in separate incidents throughout the state. Death seems to follow her wherever she goes. She makes startling discoveries and unearths evidence which point to the involvement of a Cult group, which has turned violent and horribly wrong. Incidentally, the dark happenings of her professional life invade her personal space, when she finds that her sister is involved with this dubious “Inner Life Development” group too!. Many tense and nerve wracking moments await the reader as he wonders – “Can she or can she not?”.

The beginning of the book is a bit awkward, and it takes some time to get a hang of the plot. Kathy Reichs uses abrupt sentences and bits of phrases, which tend to confuse. However, a few incidents and fifty pages later, you are completely immersed in the story. The perpetual question at the end of every chapter is “What Next?” The author is aptly able to hold the attention of her readers, because there are so many clues and bits of the puzzle floating around, so it’s almost irresistible to stop until it ends!

Overall, it is an “unexpected” good read. And, if you are in the mood of some experimental reading, then it’s definitely a “worth it” try!!

The novel’s brief excerpt is here:


Rear Window (1954) April 26, 2009

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Classics, Movie Reviews.
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Rear Window 1954 Movie

A magazine photographer recuperating with broken bones after an accident.. His pretty and perfectionist girlfriend who he feels is too perfect for him.. A bustling neighbourhood in which an array of rear windows open into the lives of all the people living there… This is the setting of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1995 thriller “Rear windows” starring James Stewart as Mr Jeffery and Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont. 

Loneliness, love, lust, anger, desperation – all shades of emotions are available for Mr Jeffery to contemplate upon as he sits whiling away his boredom and waiting for his broken leg to heal. This row of windows becomes his lifeline, and amidst this ennui, he comes across a startling discovery of strange going-ons in the window across his. But haven’t we heard the saying – “Curiosity killed the cat”, and truly enough it landed Jeff in trouble too!!. The sudden disappearance of the wife of his across-the-window neighbour piques his curiosity, and make him suspect that the neighbour has murdered his wife. Jeff briefly toys with the ethical dilemma of “Should we spy at our neighbours?” , but as the plot unravels, he finally vindicates his stand. The rest of the story is a roller coaster ride of how he finally does it.

The main protagonist is a witty young man, with a la Sherlock Holmes kind of detective instinct, and a thirst for excitement that fully engages the audience throughout the film. Grace Kelly as Lisa startles us in the end with her pluck and audacity, making Jeff finally rediscover his lover through this adventure. The movie has its own share of whodunnit moments, and that’s what keeps you riveted to it till the end.The dialogues are crisp, the screenplay commendable, and you can feel a distinct old world charm throughout. Definitely a worth watch film!