Thursday, August 31, 2023

Aachar & Co

At this time I had plans to blog about a big budget film and its sequel, but in the meantime discovered something unique offering a simple change for a change.  No sex, no violence, not even romance.  How can such a film hold your attention?  It is in what many would consider an odd language, Kannada.

What you get is a family story.  A family with ten children (3 sons and 7 daughters) and a generous indulgent father.  No romance might seem boring, but marriages were arranged in a patriarchal manner with the daughters fantasizing about rich husbands.  The father dropped his youngsters off to school, actually drove his car while they walked or cycled beside him.  And at least one of them snuck off and avoided school.  The father was an engineer and made good money and tried to prepare his children for the future.  One marriage was arranged and paid for.  

Unfortunately he died.  And so did his income.  Nobody could replace his income.  For awhile it seemed nobody could handle the responsibility.  The eldest son was offered a job promotion in far off Delhi and was encouraged to take it.  Arranging marriages didn't go quite as planned.  One prospective groom rejected Suma because her lack of education.  Surprisingly her younger sister was chosen and Suma accepted it. 

The rest of the film demonstrated how they faced adversity and each matured.  Suma is the only one I mentioned by name and in the end she shines.

Below are some of the contributors.  This is the first Kannada film to hire a group of female technicians with the intention of leveraging female equal pay and opportunities.

Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy was the director, writer and played the role of Suma.  She is little noticed at the beginning, but gradually gets more attention.  She became involved with theatre at the age of 16.  She has 9 film credits as an actress.  She had prepared a 6 minute presentation film to attract the attention of a film production company that led to the full feature.  I look forward to her next film "13 Days" which won a nationwide script contest of 600 entries.

Kanan Gill was the co-writer, best known as a comedian.  There are more than a few moments when you will laugh and it is likely he had something to do with it.  He was a software engineer and entered and won the "Punchline Bangalore" contest following up with another comedic contest in Mumbai.  Quit his job to concentrate on comedy.  He had been the lead singer of a band and became noted for writing funny songs.  He has 9 film credits.  You can check him out in English on Youtube where he has a number of popular clips.

Bindumalini Narayanaswami provided the music.  She has 6 film credits.

Cinematography was provided by Abhimanyu Sadanandan with 5 film credits.

Ashik Kusugolli was the editor with 3 film credits. 

Sudha Belawadi played the mother.  She has 86 film credits.

It seems there is a lot of competition for your attention and sex, violence and romance are tools.  Maybe "Aachar & Co" cannot hold your attention, but if so, examine yourself and how much you crave the unhealthy violence.  Is there more to life?  Family movies are usually boring, but I highly recommend this for appreciating a maturing process as it tangles with responsibility.  

Monday, August 28, 2023


I love watching Korean tv series, but admit other than a few stars I have trouble identifying some of the lesser roles which too often results in confusion about who is the good one and who is not and of course in reality it is more complicated.  This phenomenon is not as rare as I thought.  Author Jennifer L. Eberhardt recalls as a young black student her parents moved to a mostly white neighborhood where she found it very difficult to distinguish the faces of her new white friends.  

Another (true) story recounts how elderly Chinese women found their purses being snatched by young black men, but they couldn't identify them in a police lineup because they all looked alike.  This of course leads to fear of all black men.  The point of these stories is that most people are better at recognizing the faces of their own race.

Personal stories are one of the tools used by the author to help us understand bias.  Her stories come from Harvard, Jamaica, grocery store, prison, school, children, relatives, etc.  There are a lot of scientific studies referred to, but for some stories have more impact.  Check

Blacks perhaps represent the most obvious example of prejudice.  Prejudice starts with a bias for one's own group.  To justify the degrading handling of black people the white elites dehumanized them.  They lacked intelligence and morality.  When evolution was publicized it was pointed out that whites were at the top of the human scale.

Discrimination is pointed out from many angles.  Under Jim Crow, blacks were poorly educated, kept outside of white neighborhoods, unable to vote and forced to defer to whites.  They were very restricted for available housing and had to pay a premium for loans.  Going through until current times blacks were far more likely to run into problems with the law.  The United States has the highest  incarceration in the world and blacks are over represented.   The bail system handicaps blacks who in turn spend more time in jail exasperating problems with employers and family.  The discrimination is to an extent self reinforcing which further justifies prejudice.  The color black itself triggers prejudice.

Police officers are also biased like the rest of the population.  The nature of their job creates stress, that heightens bias, even among black officers.  They witness violence and people they are trying to help turn against them.  Police are not trusted which results in witnesses refusing to testify.   This creates a vicious cycle.

Jennifer Eberhardt visited Charlottesville a few months after the riots.  In truth the racists were outnumbered and many of the students and staffs were very upset about what they saw as an invasion.  Eberhardt points out that although there have been some victories towards equality we take too much for granted and much work remains.

Another story with deeper implications.  Two black men waiting for a colleague at Starbucks found themselves handcuffed and escorted to a police vehicle.  Starbucks did try to remedy the situation not only with an official apology delivered in person, but also spent a lot of money for bias training sessions.  The author then reflected that perhaps the original complaining waitress was trying to do her job and was concerned about how other customers were reacting.  Perhaps she was just reacting to a public bias. 

A reference to Donald Trump is short, but impactful.  Ron De Santis is not mentioned, but his attacks on Critical Race Theory bring out biases from his supporters.  Such politically powerful men set an example that for many reinforces their deepest biases.  I have always felt that education is a key to minimizing prejudice.  Also close contact, but the author contends we need to realize there will be bumps along the road.

AirBnb found that both whites and black hosts would turn down blacks.  A pledge to abide by some ethical standards helped to reduce discrimination, but some potential hosts declined the opportunity.

Oakland police alarmed over criticism took some steps to improve.  Training for greater awareness of bias is one aspect the author has been directly involved in.  In the past, pursuing suspected criminals too often led to innocent people getting hurt.  The new policy would call off pursuit when suspects entered back yards or dead end alleys.  Backup was to be called and officers to slow down.  It was acknowledged that bias kicked in for high stress situations.   They were also an early adopter of body cameras which helped make officers aware they were being recorded.  The result was less civilian injuries while the crime rate was lowered.

Blacks are far from the only victims of bias.  Other racial minorities, women, gays and Jews are referred to in this coverage.  Whatever one feels affiliated with must be okay, but others not necessarily.

The term bias is perhaps the key to understanding prejudice.  One of my university sociology professors told us that "pride" in your own group makes you think those outside your group are not as good.  Now I would substitute the word "comfort"  We feel most secure with those like us and too often are afraid of others.  We need to seek common ground.  From the same course we were asked to write about our own prejudice and I chose older people, even though I had good relations with two grandmothers.  Now that I am 75 I feel there definitely is prejudice against older people as there also is against younger people.

I have been a bit self-righteous, thinking I was beyond prejudice, but digging inside I learned that was never true. 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Mask Girl

A most unusual story.  Seven episodes each focused from a singular perspective.  You will see some of the same events repeated, but from a different point of view.  Not wanting to give away too much of the plot a few things could be pointed out.  Three actresses are used for one adult role not due to aging--in fact a fourth is used for a younger version of the same role.

A common theme is bullying.  At first we are introduced to Kim Mo-mi as a young girl.  As she grows older her looks turn very plain (ugly to many).  The first episode is concerned with the young child who receives a lot applause as a dancer, but next we see her as an adult office worker who had learned her appearance with a large nose and high cheek bones is a turnoff.  But she still craves applause and decides to wear a mask and perform song and dance routines that do generate positive responses on the inter-net.

The second episode is told directly from one of her admirers who is able to uncover her disguise and realize she actually works at the same office.  However he is still extremely shy and has endured bullying as a youngster and being mostly ignored as an adult.  Of course you know circumstances lead to inter action.  

The third episode is told from the viewpoint of the obsessed fan's mother.  You can easily imagine an interfering mother, but it is more complicated.  Once she decides on a course of action she is like a bulldog, but she is very resourceful about it.  By this time if you are not hooked I would like to assure you there are lots of surprises and conflicting role perspectives. 

The actions from the first three episodes drive the plot, but it probably is too difficult for most of us to guess what happens next.

Apparently in a very short time it has gained a lot of popularity.  There are a lot of very capable people responsible who deserve some credit.

The director is Kim Yong-hoon with only his second film as director.  He is credited as a content developer for "The Thieves" (2012).  

The writer is Mae Mi who wrote the original webtoon.

The music was by Jang Young-Kyo.  He has composed for "The Good the Bad the Weird" (2008), "The Thieves" (2012), "Assassination" (2015), "Train to Busan" (2016) and "The Wailing" (2016).

Three actresses were used for the adult main character, Kim Mo Mi.  The first was Lee Han Byul in her first feature film.  

The second was Nana who did the dancing as the Mask Girl.  She is best known as a member of the girl band, After School and others.  She has 40 film credits.  She provided a brief nude scene.

The third actress was Go Hyun-Jung and she carries the role over the most episodes.  She had been runner up to Miss Korea in 1989.  She has 20 film credits.

Ahn Jae-hong played the obsessed fan.  He has a theatrical background and even as he established himself in films he returned to the stage when time permitted.  He has 30 film credits.

Yeom Hye-ran played the mother of the obsessed fan.  She also has a theatrical background.  Her film credits include "Memories of Murder" (2003), "Live Up to Your Name" (2017), "Lawless Lawyer" (2018), "Chocolate" (2019) and "The Glory" (2022).  Check

At first it is confusing, but after awhile you will appreciate it is well put together.  

I have started to notice that with dubbed films IMDB lists the dubbers ahead of the original actors and I have sought other sources to give proper credit.  Wikipedia is excellent.  I suspect that IMDB with a history of listing the voices for Japanese animated features just carried that practice on with regular films.  Dubbing has opened up foreign films for many film watchers and has its own required skills.  In the future I intend to note dubbers when appropriate, but still feel that the actual actors deserve more attention.

Currently available in both dubbed and subtitled versions on Netflix.

I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Taiwan Cinema

 Taiwan is a hot spot.  China covets it and threatens harm to all of us who give it any support.  I believe Taiwan's cinematic history deserves support.  This post is not comprehensive, just reflecting some films seen over the past few years.  The film series that prompted me to do this blog was "Wave Makers" (2023).  A negative factor was that the movie "Gravity" distorted reality to avoid offending China and to gain admission to the Chinese market.

The Wave Makers is a political series, without any reference to the obvious hot issue of China relations.  They may have decided that to get on a streaming service they should avoid offending China.  The series does cover other issues such as the environment, immigration, and sexual harassment at work.  Sexual harassment had become an unspoken issue in Taiwan.

 Ying-Hsuan Hsieh played a politician who had recently lost an election, but was highly regarded as an advisor.  How can a loser help, but she does, partly learning from mistakes.  She was also in Dear Ex playing a widow whose dead husband left his money to a gay lover.

Jaag Huang played another political advisor.   She appeared in "Life of Pi" (2012)

Gingle Wang played the girl who had  been harassed.  She also appeared in "The Falls" (2021)  and  "Light  the Night" (2021).

Leon Dai played the sexual harasser.  He also appeared in "Yi Yi" (2000) and "The Assassin" (2015).  "Yi Yi" achieved international attention.

"A Sun" (2019) is a tough story to watch as a family deals with bad breaks.  The Writer Director Mong-Hong Chung had been a cinematographer including for this film. 

"Dear Ex" (2019) is about a widow and her son who learn their ex husband/father when he died left his (limited) fortune to his male lover.  The film is about a reconciliation.

"A Thousand Good Nights" (2019)  A series about an abandoned girl picked up by a station master.  There is a mystery there, but the focus of the story is a tour of Taiwan.  Bor-jen Chen played the adoptive father, also in "Light the Night"  (2021).

"Warriors of the Rainbow:  Seedique Bale" (2011) combined two parts to qualify for Oscars.  It was about indigenous fight off the Japanese.  The indigenous were headhunters believing they had to have an enemy's head to cross the rainbow bridge to the spirit world.  The Japanese controlled most of Taiwan between 1895 and the end of WWII 1945. 

"American Girl"  (2022) about a girl living in America returns to Taiwan during the Sars epidemic.

Man in Love (2021)  Roy Chiu plays an uneducated gangster courting a woman with the hope to leaving his criminal life.

"The Post Truth World" (2023) is a mystery thriller involving a hostage situation.

Light the Night (2021)  Mainline Chinese write negative reviews and lower rating   Welsh/Mandarin actor  The series consists of 24 episodes of approximately 45 minutes each, starts off with the discovery of a dead body.  The rest of the series is flashbacks gradually revealing relationships and motivations and the attempt to unravel the mystery.  Lots of complications.   It is well done.  A very lot of smoking from many characters.  

"Eye of the Storm" (2023) Just became available as I was finishing this blog.  Set at a Taipei hospital with the onset of the SARS epidemic.  Everyone is stuck inside the office with lots of sub plots.  At the end the hospital survives, but not every character.

Ang Lee is perhaps the most famous Taiwan film maker.  Like other Taiwanese film makers he wrote, directed and produced.  Raised and educated in Taiwan he went to America to study film making studying with Spike Lee.  After graduating he spent a few years as a house husband and then struggled.  His wife encouraged him.  Won Oscars as director for "Life of Pi" (2012) and "Brokeback Mountain" (2005).   His Mandarin films include "The Wedding Banquet" (1993), "Eat Drink Man Woman" (1994), "Lust, Caution" (2007) and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2010).  English language films include "Sense and Sensibility" (1995), "The Ice Storm" (1997), "Ride with the Devil" (1999) and "Billy Lynn's Half Time Walk" (2016).
Despite the political factor (or maybe because of it) Taiwan has much to offer the world including their film makers.  We need to understand their dilemma that affects us.

A book about Taiwan was an earlier blog selection:

I have seen each of the movies mentioned.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Women's World Cup 2023

  •  I am not a rabid soccer fan, but always look forward to the (men's) World Cup in expectation of seeing great examples of athleticism and some dramatic moments.  It has taken awhile but I now reserve the same expectations for the women's version.  

 I missed most of the earlier matches, however from little snatches I was amazed at their dexterity and team work.  Defense in one sense is measured by low scores.  There have always been blowouts, but this year many of the games were decided by one goal including the final (Spain 1 to England 0).  But it is mostly goals that draw fans.  One of the most outstanding one was by Sam Kerr of Australia against the English.  The most goals came from Japan's Himata Miyazawa with 5.  Altana Bommati of Spain was judged to be the most valuable player. The top goal keeper was England's Mary Earps.  Salma Paralluel of Spain also scored an impressive goal was awarded top young player.    A fair play award was given to Japan.  Referees were honored as well.  

Previously I felt they were not ready for a 32 team format, but this time there was more equality, possibly a measure of increasing gender equality.   The organization had progressed from previous efforts.  Although not the first World Cup to be hosted by two nations it was the first to be hosted by two conferences, with Australia part of the Asian Federation while New Zealand was part of the Oceania Federation.  It was also the first host to be in the Southern hemisphere.  

The prize pool had been increased by $80 million US. to $110 Million US.  More importantly steps were taken to make sure some of the money is to go individual players although administered by national associations. 

Both the Australian and New Zealand agreed to allow flags from indigenous to be displayed.  

There was concern that distances required for air transportation needed to be offset and there were some programs in that regard.  Some decisions were made to minimize air flights between Australia and New Zealand.

I had been expecting the Americans to dominate and the Canadians to hang on to the top tier, but both were eliminated early on.  In some ways the two English speaking nations were more emancipated than others, but the world has caught up.  Still many associations were in legal battles with players over finances and rights.  The Spanish association was one which may be settled after their victory. 

From the previous Women's World Cup:   I would like to acknowledge that Wikipedia provided some important information for this post.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Us Against You

 This is a bit of an awkward selection.  I didn't realize Fredrik Backman had written a book between two favorites, "Beartown" and "Winners" on the same topic of a hockey team in northern Sweden.  If you are not a hockey fan you might be put off by the topic, but if you really enjoy character and relationship development you would be a loser.  Politics plays a surprising or not role.  As one manipulative character explains, "Everything is political.  Everyone needs allies."

Fredrik Backman is perhaps best known for "A Man Called Ove" which was made into a Swedish movie of the same name and more recently an American movie called "A Man Called Otto" starring Tom Hanks.  Another book made into a tv. series was "Anxious People." 

The repercussions of the rape of the coach's daughter related in the first book plays out further.  To add to the social turmoil gay bashing is recounted from which one quote is worth remembering:  "They've <most of us> lived their whole life assuming it was something you could tell about a person at first glance.  But you <a central character> them."

A lot happened between the first and the third book.  Some new characters were introduced that carry on to the third book.  There are some deaths.  The relationships that we were made aware of progress with circumstances.

A female coach does not fit any stereotypes.

Sponsorship played a bigger role between two rival nearby teams and also a foreign player with their own agenda.  

I have read a few other of Backman's books and seen a movie.   I highly recommend this series, but suggest read it in proper sequence as developing relationships are very key.  Start with "Beartown" then move onto "Us Against You" and finish up with "The Winners".  Personally I would like to read another sequel.

I spent two years in a small rural town where hockey was king.  One of my classmates made it to the NHL.  Track and basketball were my sports and I did very well at the local high school, but those sports didn't attract the crowds or interest generated by hockey.  As for me, hockey was the Saturday nite entertainment and I attended most games.  Elsewhere I have mentioned meeting hockey celebrities like Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe and sharing a common influencer with Wayne Gretsky.  My sports preference is for basketball and increasingly soccer.

Other blogs for Fredrik Backman

Wednesday, August 16, 2023


"Coloseum  is a docu drama series with some insights to Roman history.  One point made clear at the beginning is that the Romans became connoisseurs of violence.  Juvenal, the satirist came up with the phrase "bread and circuses" as a prescription for Emperors to maintain power.

The Coloseum was built to appease the masses and demonstrate Roman ingenuity.  Construction was started in 72 AD and completed in 80 AD.   Haterious was put in charge.  The building required one million bricks and 300 tons of iron clamps.  Concrete was not invented by the Romans, but they included volcanic ash that added strength.  Slave labor accounted for the heavy work.  It could seat from 50,000 to 80,000     

A few years later it was decided that special effects were needed and this required an underground network where animals and people could stay and literally pop up when the show was ready.  A lot of difficulties had to be overcome to finish the Hypogeum and one of the developments was a tread wheel crane to move objects up above ground.

A variety of entertainment was offered.  A favorite was gladiator combat which often, but not always led to a violent killing.  Gladiators and worker slaves were selected from the many Roman conquests.   Another crowd pleaser was executions, sometimes by animals.  The meat from dead animals was given to people.  Later when Roman leaders saw Christians as dangerous they were a prime target.  One episode told the story of Ignatius.  He was from Antioch where a series of earthquakes had spooked Roman leaders who blamed them on Christianity.  Ignatius had decided he could not bow to a Roman Emperor as above his Lord and thought of the concept of martyrdom.  Eventually martydom did help Christianity to become dominant.

It was very possible for slaves to become free and fairly common.    

Two historical characters were given coverage and connected to the Colosseum.  Marcus Aurelius has been considered a philosopher king who is still quoted today.  Galen was a medical expert who was ambitious wanting to provide his expertise to the elite.  He started in Pergomon where he worked at a gladiator school.  It is easy to think gladiators were expendable, but they were actually valuable with a lot of time and money invested in them.  Galen learned to keep them healthy.  From there he went to Alexandria where he learned about dissection.  He developed surgery employing sophisticated tools (for the time),  pain killers and disinfecting.  He was also a pharmacologist and developed an antidote to poison.

His goal was to meet Marcus Aurelius and used his philosopher teacher Eudemis who knew the emperor.  It did not work out, but a few years later Eudemis fell ill and Galen diagnosed a type of malaria with no known cure.  However Galen was able to help.  Reminding Marcus Aurelius didn't have much effect, however in a distant battlefield his boasts were recalled when a plague (likely smallpox) affected large numbers of soldiers.  He was called and although he was not able to cure the disease he was able to help some survive and earned the trust of Marcus.  The two actually shared similar viewpoints.  Galen was a prolific writer on medical concerns and some of his ideas are still used today.

Marcus Aurelius did not like gladiator games and replaced metal swords with wooden swords that proved to be unpopular.  With the plague depleting soldiers he decided to convert the healthy gladiators to soldiers promising them freedom.  Marcus Aurelius marks the point when the Roman Empire went downhill and waves of barbarians assaulted the Roman Empire..  

Christianity gradually gains power with at one point pagan statues taken down including at the Colessum. 

The violence is intense and repetitive.  There is significant historical information from experts if you can deal with the violence.  I watched it from a DVD borrowed from the local library.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Untouchable How They Get away with it

Why do some people avoid repercussions for their criminal behavior?  How do they do it?  The rest of us live by rules which we may occasionally break, but usually pay a price for.  

This book is really about Donald Trump, but Honig uses many examples of people who have gotten away with something.  It was written before the most recent indictments, but anticipated them.  His prosecutor experience is well used, not for just for legalisms, but also the psychology.

Jeffrey Epstein was very wealthy and very connected with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew.  With lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr he was able to have charges dramatically reduced.

One way mobsters controlled their subordinates was to hire their lawyers.  Intimidation would be a tool.  Cassidy Hutchinson had to break from her Trump lawyer (after testifying three times in his presence), in order to testify against him.

Trump threatens opposition and often follows through.  After the Ukrainian attempt at bribery, Trump was able to demote Alexander Vindman, his uninvolved twin brother and the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.  Another notable victim was Liz Cheney.  Threats reversed testimony in the prominent cases of Kevin McCarthy and Michael Flynn.

 Mobsters use intimidation to control witnesses.  Some of it is blatant and behind the scenes.  Some of it is more public such as when they pack the courtroom with gangsters. 

Trump has used pardons (and the promises of pardons) to stop t or prevent criminal testimony.  Some examples include Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort and Steve Bannon.  As he is no longer president the promise of future pardons when re-elected carry some weight.   Honig pointed out that President George H.W. Bush pardoned five insiders who had been indicted with regard to the Iran Contra case, thus preventing a potentially politically damaging trial from happening.

Executive privilege had been used as far back as George Washington who felt the need to block the public from sensitive information.   At the time of the Nixon scandal his team claimed executive privilege regarding some sensitive tapes.  For the first time the Supreme Court acknowledged executive privilege as legitimate, but also declared they could not block the tapes which scared Nixon so much he resigned before a trial could be held.  Trump took advantage of interpretations and was able to block communication between staff and Congress.  We can only guess what incriminating information was buried. 

The Mueller report actually depicted a case against Trump being helped by the Russians, but Honig feels Robert Mueller was handicapped and was too easy in letting William Barr distort the findings.  Still many of Trump defenders mock the whole procedure.

Honig feels that Merrick Garland has been too soft and that delays will likely end up tied up with the election schedule.  Also for many people the delay seems political.  My view is justice delayed is justice denied.  Check:

Dealing with reality Honig last line hits home; "Imperfect justice is preferable to no justice at all."  It will always be infuriating that such as Trump might well get away with it.  He speaks with credibility, but like the rest of us admits Trump might still get away with it.

Trump's hard core supporters believe any illegalities Trump may have done are justified by all the good he did.  One cannot be indicted for mismanagement, but his supporters should bear his other many faults in mind:

Sunday, August 6, 2023


Power struggles are a common theme in stories.   Caste still plays a powerful role in India and is often tied to money, i.e. old money.  Political power is tied to economical power.

The relationship between Maamannan and his son Veeran is generational.  The father accepts the caste reality and tries to work within it. Veeran resents his father's compliance with the upper caste.  Ratinavelu is a brash upper caste man who is ruthless.  In one scene we see him beat a hunting dog to death.   In others he beat humans and humiliates Maamannan by forcing him not to sit.

Ratinavelu raises hunting dogs which are sometimes let loose.  He reveals his violent nature by on at least two occasions he kills his own dogs in a rage.  Veeran on the other hand raises pigs which sometimes are victims of the dogs.  Leela is brought into the script not so much as a romantic interest as a feminist protagonist who has had her fitness studio attacked.

The situation escalates when an election is called.  The violence is to intimidate.  Maamannan's style is not to retaliate and in the end his style wins him another election.  He is reconciled to his son Veeran.  

Violence is throughout the story, most of it mindless or in retaliation.  Some what exaggerated, but more realistic than I have seen in other Tamil films.  The end provides hope of progress for true equality and left a good feeling.  Freedom is not won cheaply.

It takes a good cast and crew to make such a fine film.  Here are some key ones.

Mari  Selvaraj, writer/director with only his third film. 

Udhayanidhi Stalin is the producer and also the lead actor, Veeran.  He started as a producer and got acting roles.  He has 15 credits as a producer and 18 for acting.  His father has been the  Chief Magistrate for Tamil Nadu.  Udhayanidhi  has become involved in politics and has decided to drop films for the time being.

A R. Rahman, one of the foremost composers in India and beyond provided the music.   He studied piano at age 4 and became involved with his father's musical business  including composing.  His father died when he was 9 and it was a scramble to get education.  Nonetheless his education did include music and at a young age involved writing music for  tv. ads and organizing rock bands.  At the age of 23 he converted to Islam and adopted his current name.  Mani Ratnam approached him to write music for the Tamil film, "Roja" (1992).  He has 204 film scores including "Bombay" (1995), "Fire" (1996), "Dil Se" (1998), "Lagaan:  Once Upon a Time in India" (2001), " Kannathil Muthamittal" (2002), "Swades" (2004), "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008), "Gajini" (2008), "Rockstar" (2011), "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" (2012), "Kadal" (2013), "The Hundred Foot Journey" (2014) and "Pele:  Birth of a Legend" (2018).  He has won 2 Oscars and numerous other awards.  He has performed as a playback singer in several films including this one.

Theni Eswar was the cinematographer.  He has 13 film credits including "Taramani" (2017), "Peranbu" (2018), "Merku Thodarchi Malai" (2018) and "Paava Kedhaigal" (2020).  Check my top film for 2020:

Silva Rk, the editor has 19 film credits.

Vadivelu plays title character who rose above his Dalit background, but is still deferential to those above him.  He normally is seen in comic roles or supporting.  He has 224 film credits including "Kanthaswamy" (2009), "Mersal" (2017) and "Thambi"(2019).

Fahadh Faasil  played Ratinavelu a real rotten bastard such a contrast to many of his other roles.  He comes from a film family, but his first film was an embarrassing failure.  He left and amongst other things got a philosophy degree from the University of Miami.  Returning home he renewed his film career and now has 60 film credits as an actor and another 4 as a producer.  His films include "Bangalore Days" (2014), "Take Off" (2017), "Nijan Prakashan" (2018), "Kumbalango" (2019), "C U Soon" (2020) and "Pushpa: The Rise" (2022).  Check another top favorite movie:

Keerthy Suresh plays Leela, the female lead.  She came from a film family and had a few roles as a child actress.  In school she won some swimming awards.  She went on to get a degree in fashion design and participated in an exchange program in Scotland and an internship in London.  Back to films she has 35 film credits covering Tamil, Malayalam and Telegu including "Mahanti" (2018), "Penguin" (2020) and "Vaashi" (2022).  At one time she was the highest paid actress in south India.

Ravenna Ravi played Jyothi, the wife of Ratinavelu who occasionally restrains his temper outbursts.  Her career started with dubbing for Tamil, Malayalam and Telegu films with 19 film credits.  She has compiled 9 credits for acting.

Lal had a small role as a political operative.  He has been an actor, directer, writer and producers.  He has over 150 film credits including "Thottappan" (2011), "Pulimuragan" (2016), "Helen" (2019) and "Kaaval" (2021). 

There is violence and cruelty to animals that would disturb some viewers.  The rest of us might feel a bit nauseous, but message would be visible.  Good production values.

As usual I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

See You In My 19th Life

Reincarnation is a fascinating concept which is at the core of "See You in my 19th Life" (2023).  There may not be any evidence to support the concept.  But it makes for interesting story lines and complicated relationships.  There might be a lesson in there as well.

In a university course one of my fellow students dismissed reincarnation saying if he couldn't remember any past lives it doesn't matter.  I now think it is better if you don't--eternity is boring and there are no benefits to carrying on grudges.

The heroine, Ban Ji Eum is notable because she remembers her past lives while nobody else does.  As we gradually learn that is not quite true, some others do.  In her case she feels she encountered her one true love in her most recent incarnation and decides to pursue him even though their ages have reversed.

We learn past events weren't quite as they appeared.  A common problem is who to tell and what happens if you do?  Reconnecting with past lives is not always good.  One character points out it is best to forge new relationships.

One positive thing is to forgive those who may have (or apparently) wronged you in the past.

There are a lot of complications and misunderstandings we expect in romantic comedies/dramas.  Relationships are occasionally upended.

A fine cast and crew have been assembled to make this series an enjoyable one.

Originally was based on a webtoon of the same name.  Two women were involved in the script, Han Ah Reum and  Choi Young Rim.

Director Lee Na-jeong had graduated from journalism school.  She started as second unit director and went on to get another 7 director credits.  Along the way she won an award for an international film.

Hye-Sun Shin plays the lead female Ban Ji-eum.  She has 16 film credits.

Ahn Bo-Hyun plays lead male, Moon Seo Han.  He graduated from the Busan Sport High School.  Despite a heavy emphasis on boxing he started a modeling career.  He has 16 film credits including "Itaewon Class" (2020) for which he won some awards.  In this series he sings a song in the background.

Ha Yoon-kyung played the younger sister in previous life.  She has 10 film credits including "Extraordinary Attorney Woo"  (2022). Check

Ahn Dong-goo plays another who remembers a past life.  He has 9 film credits.  

Cha Cheong-hwa played a friend who also had knowledge of past lives.  She has 17 film credits including "Train to Busan" (2016), "Crash Landing on You" (2019), "Beyond Evil" (2021) and "Hometown Cha- Cha-cha" (2021).  Check: 

Choi Jin-ho played the father to Moon Seo-Ho.  He has 34 film credits including "Silenced" (2011), "The Thieves" (2012), "Designated Survivor:  60 Days" (2019) and "Beyond Evil" (2021).

You may flinch at reincarnation, but will enjoy the series if you can see it as a tool that tests relationships.  Available on Netflix.

I have bolded first mention of films I have seen.  In this case that includes some of the most enjoyable I have seen.