Tuesday, January 30, 2024

My Love Affair with Libraries

I have a few addictions that are potentially expensive.  They are Reading, Listening and Watching.  Libraries have enabled me to discover a very big world without the expenses of other addictions.

I can't remember very much before libraries were a normal part of my life.  Probably my mother introduced me.  Oshawa was my home town and a big benefactor was R.S. McLaughlin who donated lots of money and one of his projects was the McLaughlin Library within walking distance of my home.  

My father moved to Haliburton a rural tourist town that when I first went there had no library or at least none I was aware of.  By my last year of high school someone took what is remembered as a railroad car and brought in some books for loan.

At university I was surprised to learn the library was another McLaughlin project.  At university the library was also seen as a study area with literally hundreds of cubicles for study.  The books tended to be ones good for student essays.  

After graduation I went through a series of jobs that took me to many different cities and didn't really settle down.

Going to libraries was a favorite place to eat my lunch which often gave me a chance to read newspapers and magazines.  At one point I had three library cards--for Burlington, Hamilton and Wentworth overlapping with memberships in Etobicoke and Oakville, borrowing books, music and films.  McMaster Library for a research project (basketball book)

Libraries provided musical opportunities. Not so much for popular music, but really opened me up to foreign music that became a major part of listening.  At one time I decided to check opera and was able to borrow from the Etobicoke Library.  That effort turned to be a lifetime interest.  Musical concerts were often presented.  

In the last decade  several libraries started declaring books of the year that involved discussions and a generous number of copies.  Burlington sponsored “The Beauty of Humanity” which made me very curious about Pho soup that I learned to love.   I tried to make it a practice to read all of these special selections.The libraries have kept up with the time.  I took some lessons on social media from the Burlington Library.  E books actually were easier to read and gave more opportunities   The Hamilton library employed one man who was an expert at fixing e readers.  They have moved with the times--ebooks, audio downloads.  I am learning that streaming services are competing for DVD's.

Libraries also provided opportunities to listen to authors in person.  I have been fortunate to hear Robert J. Sawyer, Gary Barwin, Gwynne Dyer and Jian Ghomeshi,  One author had historical significance, Ziauddin Yousafzai who was the father of Malala.  On one occasion called the Human Library  I was fortunate to have a one on one with Lawrence Hill who had written two award winning books I had bought.

When I retired I volunteered to help immigrants practicing English in the library.  While supposedly helping them I learned a bit about their countries, their perspective as immigrants and surprising other facts.. 

Another way I helped pay back my debt to libraries was when making deliveries for The Rider, a horse newspaper I sold ads for.  I was able to offer current free copies.  Libraries included Brantford, Georgetown, Acton, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton including copies for branches.  I am sure some horse riders were pleased to keep up with the news, but perhaps better would be to catch some potential riders.

The Covid19 Pandemic was most annoying as it has restricted access.  For a day or so my local library was completely closed, although there was some access to their website.  Then we were able to pick up reserved materials at the front door.   Then were allowed in with masks and a limited amount of time limiting browsing.  Fines were eliminated which meant circulation was slowed.  Things are not quite normal, but much better.  Some were used to fight the pandemic with vaccinations and gave us cards to certify our current vaccination record.  With climate change our local library has been designated a cooling and warming center. 

Libraries are evolving  with the concept of knowledge being freely distributed.  Students with computers at home have a real advantage over those who don't.  Most libraries provide access to computers.  Libraries help make up some of the gap.  This also helps adults. 

Libraries benefit the whole community.  

The photo at the top is of a mural by Conrad Furey in the central branch of the Hamilton Public Library.

Friday, January 26, 2024

David Brooks helps us to know a person

David Brooks has been a regular part of my schedule on the PBS Newshour.   He represented the conservative view although lately not so much.  He always came off as an intelligent man, but when this book was first mentioned it seemed out of character, but upon further reflection not really.   He does come off as a reflective man, thinking carefully before speaking.

 From the author, "Before a person is going to be willing to share personal stuff they have to know you respect their personal stuff".  As a reporter he soon realized questions were tools to finding out what a person really knows and feels.  

A childhood close friend committed suicide.  Confronted with depression he and others tried to cheer up his friend.  More important he realized later was to listen.

When responding to what a person said repeat what they said to be sure you understand.  Paraphrasing their words can often get closer to the truth.  Before replying it is often a good idea to give yourself time to get it right.  One gesture David suggested was to hold your hand out front.  

We all have an ongoing story.  Daniel Gilbert says "Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished".  The strangers we meet all have interesting stories and many of them are willing to listen to yours.

It is natural to judge people from superficial information, but be slow to assume.  Everyone is part of a group, but not everyone is the same.  We have all been influenced by our "dead ancestors".  

The subtitle "The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen"reaches out to our human needs.  For many of us it is well worth the effort.

A lot of what I read reinforced what else I had read.  But learning of his personal experience and his study gave a fresh impression.  I have received a lot of good advice and wish I had followed more of  it better.  Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/12/an-antidote-to-chaos-series-of-rules.html

A few years ago at a Toastmasters meeting one speaker suggested you could read the New York Times Book Review and not bother to take the time to read the book.  You could appear very knowledgeable.  My intention with my blogs is not to summarize a book or a film, but acquaint any readers with some reasons why they might want to follow it up.  Not everyone would (or should), but I believe there is some wisdom or bit of enjoyment to be had if you are in the mood.   My belief is that if good ideas are allowed to percolate the world will be better off.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Orange Days--still worth watching after 20 years.

 I never saw Orange Days when it was released 20 years ago.  I glanced as some customer reviews and was intrigued.  Netflix probably didn't carry the series when it came out, but lately they have picked up some more current series, some of which I have enjoyed.  Still 20 years is a long time for films as a lot of details have improve.

"Orange Days" has a plot very reliant on misunderstandings, but believable.  A lot of likable people who are also capable actors make a  viewer very sympathetic to the problems of young relationships.  

We are introduced to Sae and Kai when they first meet.  She was playing a violin and caught his attention.  He approached her to thank her for the music, but she countered that she expected some cash reward.  He didn't have any cash, but had just picked an orange from a nearby tree and offered it.  She was not impressed, but over a short time they encountered each other and he learned that she was deaf.

From there connections are made with three others that form a group of senior college students.  A few others get involved to cause a few complications.  There are lots of misunderstandings (and mistrust).  A complication is the deafness of Sae who used to be a top notch young violinist.  She is still able to play the violin and after that is considered impractical she switched to the piano and was good enough to get a job playing at a hotel lounge.

Misunderstandings and mistakes are similar to what you have seen elsewhere, but they are well done. 

Although some of the cast and crew are still active I don't know much about them.  The result does actually hold up twenty years later.

Here are some of the contributors

Nobuhiro Doi was the director.  He was born in Hiroshima  He has 37 credits.  He is still active.

Eriko Kitagawa was the writer.  He has 24 credits and is still active.

Naoka Sato wrote the music.  He has 132 film credits. and is still active.   He wrote music for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Santoshi Tsumabuki plays Kai.  He has 93 film credits and is still active.

 Ko Shibasaki played Sae.  She is barely able to speak about two words, but in reality she is an established singer and lyricist who had been discovered at age 14.  She has 71 film credits and was in the first English adaptation of "47 Ronin" (2013) with Keanu Reeves.  She is still active.

Hiroki Narimiya played Shouhei, a close friend of Kai. He has 87 film credits, but in 2015 he was caught up in a drug scandal and retired.

Miho Shiraishi played Akane, a close friend of Sae and romanced Shouhei.  She has 54 credits with her last film released in 2018.

Eita Nagayama played another close friend of Kai and a member of the Orange Days gang.  He was the odd man out, a nice guy, but never able to couple up.  He has 88 film credits and is still active.

I have seen numerous Japanese films, but have not yet encountered any of these cast and crew.  They made a strong impression and will be looking for their other films.   I have enjoyed listening to some of Ko Shibasaki's music.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Killers of the Moon Flower

 Many years ago I read the book.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/01/killers-of-flower-moon-bit-of-history.html

 One idea I recall from the book was that J. Edgar Hoover used this case to push for more power.  The case was not totally resolved.  The essential idea that the Osage had been poorly treated is true as with many other European interchanges with the indigenous.

The Osage had been re-located several times before this move to Oklahoma.  One difference was this time they were able  to get mineral rights.  As luck would have it oil was discovered in such amounts that most became millionaires.  They had legal rights to the revenue generated by the oil, but by law the court appointed guardians for each recipient assuming the Osage were incompetent.

One powerful man, William Hale encourages his nephew Ernest Burkhart to marry an Osage woman Mollie pointing out he could inherit oil income.  We learn that many of the Osage died under suspicious circumstances and soon others were murdered.

Other people were involved and we probably will never know exactly who.  It is another mark against Americans involving not only demonstrated self-righteous greed, but also racism.  One can only hope that we have all learned a lesson.  After several attempts Tom White of the Bureau of Investigation, not yet the F.B.I.was called in to sort out the mess. 

At almost 3 1/2 hours it takes a lot of professionalism to maintain your interest.  Here are some of contributors.

Martin Scorsese director, writer, producer and actor.  His formal film education took place at New York University;s School of Film.  Later as a lecturer he taught Spike Lee and Oliver Stone.  Scorsese has been involved with restoring and finding lost films He has directed for 19 Oscar nominated performances.  He has 85 credits as a producer, 68 credits as a director, 36 credits as an actor (mostly cameos) and 16 as screenwriter.  His credits include "Taxi Driver" (1976), "Raging Bull" (1980), "After Hours" (1985), "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988), "The Aviator" (2004), "The Departed" (2006), "Hugo" (2011), "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013), "Silence" (2016), "Rolling Thunder Revue" (2019) and "The Irishman" (2019).  Martin likes to work with proven cast and crew and that will be evident with the other biographies.

Robbie Robertson wrote much of the music although he died two months before release of the film which was dedicated to him.  I had not realized until researching him that I probably saw him in person as a young adult.  He was part of Little Caesar and the Consuls and later of Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks.  He was already a lead guitarist and a song co-writer.  Later he became guitarist for Bob Dylan and worked with Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton and Nelly Furtado.  A big step was forming his own group called the Band.  He approached Martin Scorsese to do a film of the band, but also intersperced with other groups.  This became "The Last Waltz" (1977).  From there Robbie worked with music from Scorsese and others including "Raging Bull" (1980), "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013), "Silence"(2013) and "The Irishman" (2019). Robbie became a member of The Canadian Songwriter Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  He also wrote and arranged music representing the indigenous.

Rodrigo Prieto the cinematography got his start in Mexico with Mexico directors.  He has 20 film credits including "Amores Perros" (2000), "Frida" 2002), "Brokeback Mountain" (2006), "Lust, Caution" (2007). "State of Play" (2009), "Biutiful" (2010), "We Bought a Zoo" (2010), "Water for Elephants" (2011), "Argo" (2012), "The Homesman" (2014), "Passengers" (2016), "Silence" (2016), "The Putin Interviews" (2017) and "The Irishman" (2019).

Thelma Schoonmaker was the editor.  She had been born in Algiers, but her family fled to Aruba and as a teen she came to America.  She has been a friend of Martin Scorsese who introduced her to a future husband, Michael Powell, a mentor for Martin.   She has won  3 Oscars all for Scorsese films.  She has 39 film credits including "Raging Bull" (1980), "After Hours" (1985, "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988), "The Aviator" (2004), "The Departed" (2006), "Hugo" (2011), "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013), "Learning to Drive" (2014), "Bombay Velvet" (2015), "Silence" (2016), "The Snowman" (2017) and "The Irishman" (2019).  Some critics think Scorsese films are too long, but is likely discussions between him and Thelma are agreeable.

Ellen Lewis was in charge of casting and also has a long working relationship with Martin.  She apprenticed for over 8 years.  Ellen has cast 5 Emmy winning performers and 4 Oscar winning performers.  She has 92 film credits including ""The Aviator" (2004) "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006),"The Departed" (2006), "Charlie Wilson's War" (2007), "Hugo" (2011), "Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close" (2011), "Her" (2013), "Bridge of Spies" (2015), "Silence" (2016), "The Post" (2017), "The Irishman" (2019), "Bad Education" (2020) and "The Queen's Gambit" (2020).    http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/05/bridge-of-spies.html      

Leonardo DiCaprio played Ernest Burkhart and was also an executive producer.   He started in a supporting role for a tv. sitcom.  Later he became a teenage heartthrob.  By the 2000's he became a leading man in diverse roles.  He has 44 acting credits and 48 producing credits.  His films include "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" (1993), "Titanic"(1997),"Catch Me If You Can" (2002), "The Departed" (2006), "Shutter Island" (2010), "Inception" (2010), "J. Edgar" (2011), "The Great Gatsby" (2013), "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013), "The Revenant" (2015), and "Don't Look Up" (2021).  He is a staunch environmental and wildlife advocate.

Robert De Niro played William Hale.  He lived in the same neighborhood and time as Martin Scorsese, but didn't each other, but when the were formally introduced years later recognized they had seen each other.  De Niro has 129 acting credits and 36 as a producer.  His films include "Taxi Driver" (1976), "Raging Bull" (1980), "Once Upon a Time in America" (1984), "Brazil" (1985), "The Mission" (1986), "Everybody's Fine" (2009), "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012), "The Family" (2013), "The Intern" (2015), "Joy" (2015), "The Irishman" (2019) and "Joker" (2019)

Lily Gladstone played Mollie.  She graduated from the University of Montana with a major in acting and directing and a minor in Native American studies.  She has 22 acting credits including "Jimmy P." (2013).

Jesse Plemons played Tom White, representing the federal government.   He had been a child actor.  His 63 film credits include "Breaking Bad" (2013), "The Post" (2017), "El Camino:  A Breaking Bad Movie" (2019), "Judas and the Black Messiah" (2021) and "The Power of the Dog" (2021)

Tantoo Cardinal  played Lizzie, the mother of Mollie.  She had been an activist and has said "I got into acting through my political involvement through a sense of justice.  I wanted to see things change, to offset some of the lies that we have been told throughout history."  She has been named a member of the Order of Canada and won numerous awards including as far away as Portugal and Zimbabwe.  She has 130 credits including "Dances with Wolves" (1990), "Black Robe" (1991), "Legends of the Fall" (1995), "Smoke Signals" (1998), "A Thief of Time" (2004), "The Englishman"s Boy" (2008), "Older than America" (2008), "Maina" (2013), "From Above" (2013), "Wind River" (2017), "The Grizzlies" (2018) and "Three Pines" (2022). The blog link includes an embarrassing admission .http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/01/an-unexpected-canadian-film-gem.html

 These movie is likely to win a few Oscars.  It is available on Apple.  Well worth the time.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Kaatha--The Core

 "Kaatha--The Core" (2023) is one of the more delicate stories I have ever seen.  Lots of films these days cover homosexuality and many convey the agonies of hiding one's true self.  This takes a little different perspective.

It might seem a bit like "Maestro" (2023) which I have not yet seen.  But it is not bombastic and a lot more dignified.  You might think Indians are not as civilized as us, but this film shows otherwise. 

We are introduced to Mathew and Omana, a well respected couple in their community.  They live with his father while their daughter is away at a nearby college. 

Mathew was well regarded and is asked to be a candidate for an upcoming by-election in fact they won't consider anyone else.  Even as his wife is divorcing him and revealing embarrassing information.  She had already set the divorce proceedings into action. It might seem strange, but all through the proceedings they continued to sleep together.  They even went to the court together.  She didn't want him to give up his candidacy.  

An interesting sidelight was with the supposed homosexual partner who was a driving instructor.  He claimed that he had received a lot of calls from fathers who felt he was a safe choice as a driving instructor for their daughters.

The whole community was more accepting of Mathew, but for most it was an adjustment.  They all admired him and his wife.  Some prided themselves as progressive while others admitted they were more traditional.  Silence is strikingly used to demonstrate thought.

The court case was interesting in itself, but I leave that and the followup for you to check out.  

The film was very professionally done as you might better appreciate when you read about some of the contributors.

Mammootty who played Mathew was also one of the producers.  He is one of the most popular and talented of Malayalam film people.  He is actually the only actor who has been the lead in six different languages:  Malayalam, Tamil, Telegu, Hindi, Kannanda and English.  Altogether he has 425 acting credits, 10 as a producer and 8 as a playback singer.   His film credits include "Bhoothakkannadi" (1997), "Karutha Pakshikal" (2006), "Kerala Varma Pazhassiraja" (2009), "Varsham" (2014), "Pathemari" (2015) and my top overall film seen in 2020, "Peranbu" (2018).  See   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/03/peranbu-top-film-out-of-india.html

Jeo George was the director who had earlier been involved with writing tv sitcom scripts.  He has 12 acting credits, 7 directing credits and 7 writing credits.  One credit (in all 3 categories) was "Kilometers and Kilometers" (2020).  He has won awards at international film festivals.

Adarsh Sukumaran was one of the writers. He has 3 writing credits, two as actor and one as playback singer.

Mathews Pulickan composed the music.  He has 8 credits for composing. The music is described as soulful.

Salu K. Thomas the cinematographer has nine film credits.

Francies Louis was the editor.  He learned editing working while working on some shorts he had written.  He also gained experience editing advertisements.  He has 5 editing credits including "Kilometers and Kilometers" (2020).

Jyotika (or Jyothika) played Omana.   She has performed in Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam and Hindi films.  She has 50 acting credits including "Raatchasi" (2019), "Thambi" (2019) and "Ponmagal Vandhal" (2020).  She has been a producer for 6 films.  For her acting check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/04/raatchasi.html  For her producing check where she was heavily involved with my top overall film for 2021."Jai Bhim" (2021).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/11/jai-bhim.html

Sudhi Kozhikode played Thankan the alleged partner. He has two film credits  including "Virus" (2019).

RS Panickar  plays Mathew's father.  This was the film debut at the age of 72.  His role is critical although he doesn't say much.  He knew his son was gay at an early age and thought a marriage would help smooth over the situation but came to regret that decision.  Omana stated at one point she tolerated her unhappy arrangement because of him.  RS Panickar was a retired University Joint Registrar.

Mathumani played the lawyer for Mathew.  She has 45 credits including "Kilometers and Kilometers" (2020), "Kaaval" (2021) and "Night Drive" (2022).

Chinnu Chandni Nair played the lawyer for Omana.  In her early grades she spent time in Tanzania with her parents and developed an interest in theater while there.  Her parents took her back to India for high school.  She has 7 film credits.

This film may seem boring to some, but it deals subtlety with a situation that societies all over world are adapting to.  Homosexuality has been something that was hidden, often in films a subject for blackmail.  Giving new rights people, both straight and gay are adapting generally in a tolerant direction.  For part of my adjustment see  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/05/sex-in-classroom.html the fourth paragraph.

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Food is the Driver of Civilization

The author, Mark Bittman in this book, "Animal, Vegetable, Junk" contends that it is food that has drives civilization.  Unfortunately he sees a disaster unless we take steps to reverse trends.  The subtitle is "A History of Food from Sustainable to Suicidal".

Society was a long time arriving at the so-called Agriculture Revolution.  At one time there were no tools and our human bodies had not evolved to the more effective ones we take for granted today.  Those who could process available food would have their brains evolve.  Cutting and scraping tools boosted the process.  Spears made it easier to kill wild animals.  Fire made food more edible.  We learned to communicate and to cook.

Property concepts developed as claims for plants that had been seeded.  Of course rules are no good unless they can be enforced.  

Some areas got off to a head start where plants were easier to plant and harvest.  The Fertile Crescent (from the Nile River to the Tigris and Euphrates and over to the Persian Gulf) was such an area which in turn necessitated more rules and an enforcement system.  The author notes that foragers found children a burden, but when they settled as farmers children could be helpful.  A net result as farming gained a foothold was that surpluses were created.  This led to inequality.

Soil was learned to be a key part of the process and systems were developed to maximize its quality.  Four methods were established for maintaining nutrient quality during repeated plantings.  Fallowing, planting cover crops, crop rotation and fertilizing.  Plows allowed long straight lines which encouraged monoculture, meaning single crop on a field which in turn has led to poor soil maintenance.  

During the 'Dark Ages" (500 C.E. to 1500 C.E.) Asia and the Muslim world were thriving.  Spices inspired exploration.  Vasco da Gama made it to India by going around Africa.  Christopher Columbus was sent to find India by a different route, but instead discovered America.  Before too long Europeans found potatoes, tomatoes, corn and lots of other foods that became staples.

 Industrial agriculture developed as labor needs increased.  Along the way slavery spread underlying the desire for profit regardless of the suffering of others.  Cruelty to livestock came down to efficiency.  Tractors and heavy financing encouraged a monoculture farming that increases the need for pesticides and depletes the soil.

Processing food is part of the profit efficiency.  Marketing helps steer consumers to make eating and drinking choices to the most profitable for big money. 

There are enough calories available today to banish human hunger, but a large percentage are fed to livestock.  In 1917 neutral Denmark suffered a German blockcade of critical food imports.  They reduced alcohol production, rationalizing white bread, cutting out raising of pigs and other measures.   Dr. Mikkel Hindhede said, "Meat is the last requirement <for a diet>.  If the people must wait until pigs and cattle have sufficient food, then they will die of starvation."

Hope for the future.  The concept of agoecology is becoming more accepted and like the linked problem of climate change gaining more urgency.  There are many food lobbyists who have controlled government legislation, but there are more consumers who can exert pressure to to adopt a more sensible food system.

A powerful message from the author is "Power is at the nexus of all the interlocking issues that define the food system and an ethical restructuring of food systems must right the historical wrongs of land and wealth distribution and empower the world's most vulnerable people".  You would better appreciate the message as you read the book.

An earlier book that has been a life changer for me has been "VB6 Eat Vegan Before 6" .  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/11/vb6-vegan-before-6.html

Monday, January 8, 2024

Hi Nanna

 "Hi Nanna" (2023) is family drama and a tear jerker in more than a single issue

 At the beginning we are introduced to a young girl, Mahi and her single father.  He happily reads stories to her at night.  She is disappointed that he refuses to tell her the story about her mother.  We are led to believe it must not be good because he is very adamant.  Another day she is walking their dog Pluto when he escapes and she chases after.  The dog is stopped by a new character, a woman who introduces herself to Mahi and in a short time learns the desire to learn about her mother is told.  The father shows up and in a short time Yasna shames the father to tell the mother's story.  The story is not all good.  Going any further would start to reveal the plot.

One key thing is that Mahi has cystic fibrosis which we are told is next to a death sentence at a young age. We sometimes see her with an oxygen mask at night, but mostly she appears "normal".

Gradually more details are piled on including a few coincidences and a few surprises.  This crude description doesn't do justice, but the story is very engaging.

Shouryuv was writer and director.  A few years back he presented the idea to a production studio that referred him to the eventual star, Nani who loved it.  Previously Shouryuv had only been an assistant director.  This was his first film as writer and director.  One song featured a favorite singer, Shakthisree Gopalan.

Hesham Abdul Wahab composed the music.  The film score was re-recorded using artificial intelligence, the first such instance in India.  He had earned a degree in audio engineering.  He has 34 music department credits, most, but not all as playback singer.  He has 24 composing credits and 3 as an actor.

Sanu John Varughese was the cinematographer.   He has 22 credits including ""Karthik Calling Karthik" (2010), "David" (2013), "Hasee Toh Phasee" (2014), "Wazir" (2016), "Take-Off" (2017), "Badhaai Ho" (2018), "Shyam Singha Roy" (2021) and "Declaration" (2022). Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/02/take-off-brutality-in-tikrit.html

Praveen Anthony was the editor.  He has 18 credits.

Nani played Viraj.  He is very popular and has been the leading man in some big box office successes.  He has 39 acting credits, 4 producer credits and 4 Assistant director credits including "Eega" (2012), "Shyam Singha Roy" (2021) and "Ante Sundharaniki (2022).

Kiara Khanna played Mahi.  Her cuteness and charm is an important ingredient to the film.  She drew attention modeling for print ads and tv commercials.  She has four film credits.

Mrunal Thakur played Yasna.  She had been offered a Telegu movie role while in College.  She 26 credits including "Super 30" (2020), "Made in America" (2029), "Dhamaka" (2021), "Jersey" (2022), and"Lust Stories 2" (2023).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/11/dhamaka-is-this-what-tv-is-coming-to.html

Jayaram played Mahi's Grandfather.  He has played in Malayalam, Tamil, Telegu, Hindi and Kannanda films.  Wtih that versatily he has 231 film credits including "Summer in Bethlehem" (1988), "Friends" (1999), "Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo" (2020), "Ponniyin Selvan:  Part 1"(2022) and "Ponniyin Sevan:  Part 2" (2023).

Angel Bedi plays Tony, a close friend and uncle to Mahi.  He was born the son of a captain of the India cricket team and played cricket at a high level until 19 years of age.  He has 22 film credits including "Soorma" (2018), "Gunjan Saxena:  The Kargil Girl" (2020) and "Lust Stories 2" (2023).

Shruti Haasan was listed as a leading character in most promotions, but in fact she was only used for a cameo.  She is a big draw.  Her father Kamal Haasan was a top writer, director, producer and actor  Shruti was a child actress, but altogether she has 49 film credits as an actress including "Hey Ram" (2000), "Once Upon a Warrior" (2011) and "'D-Day" (2013. She has appeared and/or sung in Tamil, Telegu and Hindi. Earlier in her career she studied music in California and has also become a serious playback career including 24 music department credits and one as a composer.

 I have tried to limit plot details, because the film is very rich in surprises and yes there are a lot of coincidences that add irony to the story.  It is one of the more engaging films to be seen.  Subtitled on Netflix.

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

Thursday, January 4, 2024

"Three of Us" is a subtle drama

As we live longer it seems there are more dramas involving dementia.  "Three of us" demonstrates a subtle breakdown in the early stages.  The story begins with a middle aged woman, Shailaja who has recently learned she has an early onset form of dementia.  We are shown a few instances of forgetfulness while still displaying some intelligence.  She resigned from her job at Family Court, Divorce Division.  She requests her husband, Dipankar to return to a town she spent a few years for her schooling.  Her husband concerned for her safety and with support from their son decides to go with her.  She presses as she feels it is urgent or she might forget.  Once there she is drawn to a name, Pradip and asks about his availability.

 The three refers to Shailaja, Dipankar and Pradip  The wife of Pradip, Sarika is also involved in a supporting role.  Dipankar is more concerned about his wife's mental health than being jealous.  Pradip at first is not aware of her dementia and is confused as he had put her out of his mind for many years.  Sarika doesn't feel threatened at all and encourages him to meet Shalaja and all four get together a few times.  The two men get along very well and eventually Dipankar explains Shailaja's gradually building dementia.

We learn that Shailaja has memory problems and cannot remember too much of her relationship with Pradip, but it was meaningful.  Towards the end we realize she broke their relationship, but she doesn't remember that, but feels guilty.  At the end we feel the four all get along, but Shailaja is well aware of her deterioration.  

The feeling left with this viewer is relief of the relationships, but sadness that one of them is in declining mental health.  It is like a tragedy, but with the satisfaction she is being treated well and gets some satisfaction out of life.  If we live long enough we all will know more people with dementia and unfortunately some of us will succumb.  The people close to the victim will feel the pain as much or even more.  Others may react differently, but most of us will be a little more sensitive to dementia.

This emotional and intellectual feeling took some deft handling.  Here are some of the people who made it a memorable film.

Avinash Arun was director, a key writer and cinematographer.   Before really rolling with his film career he did videos for weddings and birthday parties.  He has 24 credits as a cinematographer including "Drishyam" (2015), "Masaan" (2016), "Madaari" (2016) and "Hichki" (2018).  He has 4 director credits including the Marathi production of "Killa" (2014) that he was also the cinematographer.  Directors are mostly concerned with the actors, but a perspective on the visuals adds value to the film.              http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/11/driishyam-bollywood-remake-masterpiece.html        

Arpita Chatterjee was another writer.  A former journalist she has 6 credits as a scriptwriter including    "Bheja Fry"(2007).

Sarita Patil, was one of the producers.  She has over 25 film credits including  "The Dirty Picture"(2011), "Drishyam" (2015),  "Lucknow Central" (2017), "Thambi" (2019), "She"(2020) and "Monica, O My Darling" (2022)  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/11/driishyam-bollywood-remake-masterpiece.html

Alokananda Dasgupta provided the music.  She received a music degree from York University, Toronto, Ontario.  She has 32 composing credits including "B.A. Pass" (2012), "Trapped" (2016), "Sacred Games" (2018-2019) and Ajeeb Daastaans" (2021).

Sanyukta Kaza did the editing  Her 44  credits include"Ship of Theseus" (2012) and "Trapped" (2016).         http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2017/01/ship-of-thesus.html

Shefali Shah plays Shailaja, the woman with early onset dementia.  She started her career on the Gujarati stage.  She speaks Gujarati, Hindi, English,Tulu and Marathi.  She is noted for being selective and has won many awards in a variety of roles.  She is a critics' favorite.  She has 39 film credits including "Satya" (1998),"Monsoon Wedding" (2001), "Gandhi, My Father" (2007), "Mohabbatein" (2009),"Karthik Callilng Karthik" (2010), "Dil Dhadakne Do" (2015), "Once Again" (2018), "Delhi Crime" (2019), "Human" (2022) and "Doctor G" (2022).  She also wrote and directed two short films on the subject of the Covid-19 pandemic.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/12/doctor-g.html

Jaideep Ahlawat  played Pradip, the long ago boyfriend.  He has 32 film credits including "Gangs of Wasseypur" (2012), "Raees" (2017), "Raazi" (2018)"Ajeeb Daastaan" (2021), "Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar" (2021) and "Jaane Jaan" (2023).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/jaane-jaan-from-devotion-of-suspect-x.html

Swanand Kirkire played Dipankar, the husband.  A lot of film career involves music where he has 69 credits including "3 Idiots" (2009), "Barfi" (2012) and "Kai Po Che" (2013). awards for both lyrics and playback.  He has also got 35 credits for acting including "Chameli" (2003), "Badrinath Ki Dulhania" (2017) and "Qala" (2022).  Furthermore he has 10 writer credits.   See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/05/kai-che-po.html

Kadambari Kadam plays Sarika, an understanding wife.  Her background is in the Marathi theater.  She has 16 film credits.  She is married to Avinish Arun.

Mental illness is not funny and this film reflects the seriousness of dementia, something most people fear.  Available on Netflix with subtitles.

Monday, January 1, 2024


 2023 is history and everyone can carry their own version.  My habit has been to start by commemorating people who left us with some sort of connection.  

Joe Ratigliano.  Visited us from Watertown,New York with his wife wife Mary and in-laws John and Joan Oddi just before the Pandemic.  Joe was really a first cousin to my mother-in-law.  Over the years we have visited each other across the border.  That is Joe on the back row to the left.  Beside him is his wife Mary Ratigliano and next to her is Joe's sister in law and Mary's sister Joan Oddi.  In the front row is Sharon and John Oddi


Jeanette Heney was not someone I knew well, but I knew her daughter Susan and her son in law Rob much better.  I supposed I met her at the wedding back in 1977 held in Mitchell, Ontario.  I was pleased to learn she had won an award for her butter tarts as I had been eating butter tarts over a period of years on sales trips through Mitchell.  I believe Susan reflects many lessons her mother must have taught her.  The photo shows Susan, her mother Jeanette and a sister Karen enjoying a laugh together.

 Betty Canavan, the mother to our neighbor Glen Canavan and 3 Facebook friends.  We had visited her a few times at Glen's house.  She made it to 100 about a month ago.  She will be missed.  Her obituary:  https://www.arbormemorial.ca/en/oakview/obituaries/betty-martha-canavan/115210.html?fbclid=IwAR2Amcsme8U56vT4-ys





This year I would like to include a dog.  Lexie seemed to defy the odds.  She had been through a few medical issues and not too long ago was scheduled to be put down, but she recovered a bit.  But the decision was made that she was suffering too much.  Two photos with Sharon and Peter  from our refrigerator.   Lexie left everyone with smiles.





             Down by Confederation Park

When Lexie visited Peter.





 Rosalynn Carter was one of the best advocates for mental health and one of the most active partners of an American president and carried on many campaigns after the presidency.

 Burt Bachrach--his songs gave a lot of leisure to a lot of people

Gordon Pinsent--The Rowdyman, born in Newfoundland before Confederation.

 Gordon Lightfoot was a favorite singer/songwriter from my youth.  I remember singing (not always sober) the Canadian Railroad Trilogy with close friends.  Many of his songs were hijacked and sold millions.

 Jim Brown known for football and movies and later a social critic.  I loved to watch him carry the ball for the Cleveland Browns.  He parlayed that to a movie career and a platform for progressive causes.

Tony Bennett was a unique singer.   I first heard him on the hit parade.  But really he was a jazz singer and later a supporter of other singers such as Lady Gaga.

Hazel McCallion, long serving mayor of Mississauga.  Met her in a Blue Jay locker room with a few social niceties.  I was waiting to help a newspaper carrier throw a ceremonial ball as was she. 

on the other hand   

        My niece Samia gave the world Kenza Natalia.

  Winter Wonders

The Royal Botanical Gardens puts on a display that helps us get through the cold winter.  This year we went with my sister Rebecca.  Saw Facebook friend, Michael Maguire performing.

A play we went to at the CAA Theatre.

 "Things I Know to be True.

Hiking at the Royal Botanical Gardens  Arboretum Trails


I had heard about Jane's Walks, but had never before been on any.  This year after two years of Covid and management changes they were renewed and I was ready.  Jason Thorne led our group.  On Saturday watched  all the developments on our Harbourfront.  A lot to look forward to.







July 1st enjoyed Canada Day with the Blue Jays.








 A Canadian citizenship ceremony before the Blue Jay Game on Canada Day, July 1, 2023.







 July 11 watched  "Bed and Breakfast" at the Lighthouse Theatre  

Bautista Day August 12





 Serendipitous discovery after Blue Jay Game.  The crowd had its own traffic flow.  A group of 7 offered us a place in line.  Turned out very good and would recommend Scaddabush for food and service



On Labour Day I spent my second year volunteering with Fair Vote Canada with Martin Reid.





 Another convention with a group of Fair Vote volunteers plus a MP from British Columbia.


In mid September we left for Italy.   Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/italy-beginning-of-journey.html  and  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/our-italian-adventure-part-two.html photos





















 We like to end the year with a New Years' Eve party with friends.  This year we had an Italian theme.
















 Restaurants are an art form much appreciated.  Some we enjoyed include  Bhindia in Toronto Saigon House,  Mesa, the Bread Bar, Bangkok Spoon, Wild Orchid,  Avani, 211 Main st/Port Dover, Caro,     'Scaddabush (Front and Simcoe, Toronto)

Books   My list of books read:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/books-read-in-2023.html

English speaking films you might also have seen:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/films-2023-english.html

Foreign language films: Here are some great films: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/2023-foreign-films.html

For those who think our Canadian voting is fine my most popular blog post suggests otherwise: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/01/do-elections-guarantee-mandates.html

My second most popular blog post comes from the movie world:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/01/all-quiet-on-western-front-german-remake.html

For all you Trump bashers my third most popular blog:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/untouchable-how-they-get-away-with-it.html 

If you are interested, last year had some good moments as well http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/01/memories-of-2022.html