Friday, February 09, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Here it is, the promised review, as spoiler-free as possible. It will be rather biased, though, because I loved Pan's Labyrinth to bits and will hence proceed to rave about it and about how perfect it is in every possible way. Well, almost. If you haven't seen it already, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO. WATCH. NOW!!

Right, so, where to begin? A brief synopsis might be in order here. Well, Pan's Labyrinth is set in Franco's Spain and juxtaposes the story of the antifascist struggle against the regime to young Ofelia's retreat into an extremely creepy fantasy world. The film takes place almost entirely in a military campsite deep in a mountainous and forested area, with lots of eerie-looking woodland to add to the setting. There's Mercedes, one of the servants, there's Ofelia, there's Ofelia's mum, and then there's Ofelia's mum's husband, the Capitan. The Capitan is a bad, bad man. Ofelia doesn't want to call the Capitan 'father'; all she wants is to read her books and sit with her depressed mum and be left alone. But she's also extremely observant and curious and innocent, and she discovers a portal to a hidden world, one day, guided by a slightly shifty-looking faun. She's not going to be left alone after that.

The interplay between fairy tale and reality is astonishing. Ofelia's fantasy is populated with typical fantastic creatures and, very much in the manner of classic fairy tales, she has several 'tasks' to fulfil. My memory of the literary conventions of fairy tales is somewhat rusty, but I do remember Karl Popper and the elements he identified. Popper talked about protagonists and antagonists, tasks and magical helpers, balance and disequilibrium. Ofelia's tasks may be all rather magical in nature, but her antagonist is human and unambiguosly real. Her helpers are the Faun and Mercedes; one magical, one human. The disequilibrium is constant and overwhelming; people get murdered in this film, but not by monsters; by other people.
This, perhaps, is what makes the film such a powerful experience. Well, that and the fact that the acting is amazing, the storyline gripping, the ambiance just the right amount of eerie.
The fantasy world and the real world are so tightly interwoven that the viewer (in this case, me) entertains serious doubts as to the fictionality of Ofelia's world. Is it really just in her imagination, or is it somewhat more concrete than that? Del Toro never gives us a definitive answer, but to overemphasise this question would be, in my opinion, deceptive. It doesn't really matter if Del Toro meant for the Faun and the giant toad and the Pale Man (see below, but don't be scared, it's just a photo) to be real, or if he meant them to be figments of Ofelia's imagination. What matters is that they are there and that they feel real to Ofelia.

That's the point, I suppose. Believing is what counts, it's what brings hope and makes everything better. Another point is that you shouldn't stress children out by smashing bottles into people's faces (don't look at me like that, it happened in the film!), because otherwise their fantasy world will have fairies that look like grasshoppers and toads that live in the dirty, dirty mud. Ew.

Next review: Music and Lyrics. Best romantic comedy I've seen since You've Got Mail.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Randomisms III

Friends, Romans, countrymen...

I am back. This time for real.

Fo’ sho’!

Moving on.

This shall hopefully be the last in a series of posts in which I moan about uni life, mostly because uni life is finally starting to become a little more than bearable. Yes, dear readers, I am actually doing fine this term.

Your comments on the previous posts were much appreciated. I’m not trying to say that I’m glad none of you had it easy in uni, but I was rather relieved to know I wasn’t the only one. As airy voices says, it’s good to know!

Nitin suggests Scrubs as comfort food. I have yet to be sucked into the Scrubs mania, but I am doing a lot more in the way of watching movies and generally suspending disbelief for a couple of hours, at least once a week. Just an hour ago, in fact, I was busy watching Pan’s Labyrinth – MASTERPIECE. But more on that soon, as I think it deserves a post of its own.

Ash wisely advises finding my own niche. Well, I seem to have found a small number of niches to squeeze into. I’ve stopped trying to be close to everyone. That truly is impossible, unless you are some kind of rabid social animal, which I’m obviously not. And really, it’s useless to pretend to be. All it does is make me tired, grumpy and unhappy. You’ll be happy to know that I am no longer permanently tired, grumpy and unhappy. And I’m now close enough to people to practice my very own brand of sarcastic, derisive humour. You’d be surprised how much people enjoy being made fun of, as long as they’re sure you’re joking.

Whether you are joking or not is your own little secret, of course.

Szerelem (whom Pan and I have met – did we mention that?) reiterates the universal truth of the ubiquity of idiocy. Oooh, I like that. The Ubiquity of Idiocy: a universal truth. I should write a book. Anyway, having established that idiocy is, in fact, ubiquitous, it is much easier to embrace that and move on, is it not? Well, it is for me.

The all-knowing Pan tells me that the first term is always the worst term. How right she is! No amount of monetary compensation could ever persuade me to go through Freshers’ Week again; forced conversation, forced smiling, forced niceties, forced everything… Those were possibly the most exhausting and draining three days of my life. But they’re over now, and I’m free to ignore people that I don’t like, and I can stay in my room if I want to without feeling like I should be out there, socialising at all costs.

Sophia points out the importance of direction. Hmm. Well, I am currently seriously considering doing linguistics in my third year; apparently, you can switch to that after two years and get some kind of double degree. The more I think about it, the more I realise that what I really, really love is knowing how languages work. I just never knew you could get a degree out of it! So yeah, I am seriously thinking about that. Of course, in TPF-world, that means I won’t start doing any research or talking to anyone about it until the last possible minute. Viva procrastination!

In summary, I am taking matters into my own hands, dear friends. So far, so good. Very soon, I shall post about Pan’s Labyrinth, and then maybe, maybe I shall start introducing you to some of the people that populate my new social circle. Be there.

Or be square.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Randomisms II

Sigh. Yes, I know, I haven't written anything in ages. I might as well have been abducted by aliens.

Truth is, I haven't really felt like blogging, these days (or shall I say 'these weeks'?). It's not that there wasn't anything to blog about. Au contraire, things have happened. I have, for instance, seen a number of films that I would have muchly loved reviewing. Casino Royale, for example.

Is amazing.

Other things have also happened. Pan and I met Ash a few weeks ago. He even has a lovely post about it. Apparently, Pan and I are quite the freaks! OK, the 'apparently' is superfluous, we truly are freaks. Poor Ash. Anyway, the highlights of this blogmeet were unquestionably the Krispy Kreme doughnuts. See, I am not a doughnut person. I don't like doughnuts. I like things that contain chocolate, and most doughnuts don't. But Krispy Kreme... God, I am having cravings now.

I have met many people. Many people that are easily mocked, easily nicknamed in an amusing fashion. I have had two men attempting to seduce me (no, not in a dramatic Thomas Hardy, pic-nic-in-the-woods-with-attached-sexual-trauma way, but rather, in a drunk, let's dance together, do you want to go for a walk by the river? way. I mean, seriously, Do you want to go for a walk by the river? What the fuck? What am I, Meg Ryan?). I have carried drunk people up to their rooms. And now that I'm back home, I have met Pan's uni friends and have yet more amusing stories to tell, more people to nickname, possibly mock and definitely blog about.

I would now expound on the hotness of Daniel Craig and Eva Green and generally gush about Casino Royale and perhaps shrug about The Prestige which Pan and I saw today for the discounted price of 4.50 Euros each. Then I might mention Paolo and his band, and Mexican Girl and her fight with Dirty Vibes, and Solarium Boy (all people from Pan's uni). I might talk about the ditzy Turkish girls that have moved into my building. I might talk about the weather.

But I won't because there are more serious things to talk about. Please bear in mind that I don't do this very often. I prefer blogging about the frivolous and I don't like talking about such personal matters on here, but I'd also like to explain why I've been absent for so long. Forgive me if this all seems a little forced or irrelevant or downright boring.

OK, I will now get to the point: I don't like uni.

I mean, I don't hate it. I love, love, love the town. It's absolutely beautiful. And I love my bike. And my course is not what I hoped it would be, but I know for a fact that it'll be better in my second year when I won't have to do so much British history, and it's all right anyway because at least I've done well, whether I enjoyed it or not. I also have a number of friends that I'm really close to. The only problem is that they're in a different college, so I don't get to see them very often (in case you're wondering, one of these is that very same Fatty mentioned in the previous post. Pan and Fatty have actually met, and they get along like a house on fire. Mind you, Pan still refuses to say anything nice about Fatty that goes beyond 'She's bubbly,' but that's an improvement on 'She's fat!', don't you think?), but that can also be a good thing, can it not? At least there's not risk me getting bored of them or vice versa (highly unlikely, though, as I am so incredibly witty and adorable).

So what is the problem, you say?

Ha. I wish I knew.

Well, OK, I do know, and I've mentioned it before, and I sound like a whiny bitch, but really, uni is such a letdown at the moment. I mean, I'm in one of the world's best universities, and yet, I am surrounded by idiots. How did these people even get in? Oh, I'm sure they're all very intelligent and everything, but I'm not sure how much a person whose aim for the first term was to get more than 200 Facebook friends deserves to be in this university.

The problem with living in uni is that I can't avoid it. I have to be there night and day, 24/7, which wasn't the case in high school. That's why high school was bearable. I could go home every evening and forget about it. But uni doesn't let you do that. You live in it. Thankfully, I am on holiday right now. See, we have ridiculously short terms, so I've been on holiday for the past three weeks, and back in Milan, and I have three more weeks to go. But honestly, the thought of going back to uni in three weeks' time is enough to put me in a bad mood for half a day. So I try not to think about it. I'm sure it will be better next term. It has to be, I suppose.

So yeah, that's why I haven't blogged in so long. Disappointment can truly sap all the energy out of a person.

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Monday, October 23, 2006


Well, then. It's been a while, hasn't it?

Do you like lists? I don't particularly like them. Or bullet points, for that matter. But here goes. Bullet points.
  • I've been busy nerding it out here. I've got to write an essay every week, and because I'm so disgustingly nerdy, the last two have been above the 4000 word mark. Sigh. I know, I know. Shame on me. I just can't help it. I write. And then I write some more. And I use big SAT words. It helps to know Italian; I actually know all the long English words that derive from Latin. Like, uh, television. But maybe that's Greek.

No, I don't like bullet points. But I can't stop now, can I?

  • They have these chocolate chip cookies at Sainsbury's that are absolutely divine and they cost nothing. Also, they have 55 calories per cookie. This is the first time in my life that I have checked calories on food, but I only did it because I finished half a packet (more or less 10 cookies) in half an hour and was freaked out by how deliciously addictive these things were. So I looked at the little box that has all the weird numbers on it and saw 55 calories per cookie. This did not make me feel better. So I had another one. Just to make myself feel better.
  • I have a new Indian friend. Pan hates her and calls her Fatty. Which isn't very nice. How Pan can know that Fatty is actually fatty is beyond me, though, as they haven't even met. Anyway, Fatty (she's not even fat, for goodness' sake, it's just Pan being a bitch) is from Delhi. She says Delhi is better than Bombay. She also dislikes Himesh. That seems to be the consensus on Himesh in India. People don't like him.
  • There is a lecture on Monday morning at 9 that I am actively skipping. Every week. I feel rebellious.
  • I am absolutely in love with caramel Frappuccinos. I feel debauched and vaguely like a sitcom character. But there's just something about caramel Frappuccinos. They're just out of this world. They truly are. Sigh. Now I want one.
  • Uni is just like my high school. There are groups. There are many people that are not very nice. People that aren't as smart as I expected them to be. Then again, maybe the not so nice people are smart but also not so nice. Maybe I was making the mistake of equating smartness with being nice, which apparently is so wrong! Who would have thought?
  • I have a bike! ME! A BIKE! And I use it all the time! Even though there is a shortcut to my department that cannot be cycled that takes exactly the same amount of time as it takes cycling the long way. But, it wakes me up in the mornings. And also, my bike is soooo pretty! I have yet to name it though. I can't even figure out if its a girl or a boy. Oh! I just had an idea. I'm naming it Blaise. Oh, that is so clever. I love being a fangirl.
  • British people are weird. I shall expound on that some other time. Now I'm off to socialise. Wheeee! Yeah.

Sigh. End of bullet points.

I'm actually enjoying it. Some bits are fun. And I've met some great people. Although I do seem to be tired all the time. Hmmm.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

On our favourite midget

If there's one thing that one learns upon coming to uni, apart from the root causes of population growth in England in the 18th and 19th centuries - Freshers' week my ass, I had lectures this morning at 9!, one thing apart from one's way around tiny medieval towns full of old university buildings and crazy bikers, one thing apart from just how expensive Marks and Spencer's is, that one thing is the value of true friendship.

I was always one of those people who never particularly fit in any friendship group. I always got along well with most people, but I never got along with anyone well enough to consider them anything other than people to pass time with. The problem is, I was usually a little too mature, a little too intelligent for people. So I ended up getting a lot of respect, some dislike, and generally very little love.

But that was OK, because I'd rather be respected for who I am any day than pretend to be someone I'm not just to get approval.

I wasn't too worried anyway because I figured uni would be full of people like me and then I'd finally be able to have a bunch of a few close friends, as well as a larger group of people I could simply have fun with.

And then, I met Pan. Pan came to my school 4 years ago. She must have been very lonely and very angry because of all she had to leave behind. It must have taken a huge effort to manage to make friends, because it's always so hard to go to new schools (I've never done it myself, except for this week, and it's hard enough as it is with nobody knowing each other; it must be near-impossible to join high school cliques). I never noticed any of this. Pan was one of the new students. I was busy passing time with my not-quite-friends.

But Pan and I had a mutual friend. Our mutual friend, who will now have the dubious honour of being referred to with her real name, Thais, was in fact about to leave. I hadn't been friends with Thais either for a long time, but one day our maths teacher moved her to sit next to me for reasons that I forget, and we got talking and realised that we had a very similar sense of humour and everything.

Thais was also friends with Pan, and the week before she left, Pan and I went out with her quite often and generally spent time with her, and hence with each other. Sometimes, Thais would randomly announce: 'You two are going to be best friends.' Pan and I would exchange looks and smile uncomfortable smiles. Who knows what Pan was thinking. I thought: 'I don't know Pan at all. She must be weirded out that Thais is saying this. And so am I.'

OK, OK, my inner monologue is not quite so boring, it's usually liberally sprinkled with hilarious little jokes and comments, but you get the idea.

Anyway, one day, a couple of days before Thais left, I went and sat next to her and Pan in economics. I don't think I'll ever forget that lesson. It turned out that Pan and I had uncannily similar interests; we must have been the only two people in our school who were into fanfiction. And for some reason, in that 1-hour lesson, we actually told each other about that. It's not something you go trumpeting around to semi-strangers, you know!

Before we even knew it, Pan and I had become inseparable. And the rest is history.

It was Pan's birthday 5 days ago. I'd promised her a post, but I've been very busy pretending to enjoy freshers' week (parts of which I actually did enjoy, but would it be very nerdy to say that I enjoyed this morning's 9 am lecture more?), socialising and generally having very little time for myself. But I have realised something; that true friends are the hardest thing to find. I thought uni would provide a bunch of people that I could pick and choose from. Apparently not. Apparently, being in one of the world's best unis does not mean that all the people are nice, and friendly, and mature. Apparently, it just means that they're all very intelligent. But clearly, intelligence is not enough.

And that's why I thank my lucky stars that I have Pan. No matter what happens, no matter who pisses me off, no matter what people around me are like, Pan's there to be my best friend. It's entirely OK for me to be myself with Pan; I don't have to try to make her laugh (she's so silly that she'll laugh anyway), I don't have to try to make her like me. I know she doesn't try! She's such a bitch sometimes, I don't know why I even bother with her!

OK, well, I do know why I bother with her. It's because I get to go to India every now and then. And who doesn't want to go to Incredible India?

So, happy belated birthday, Pan. Thank your parents for having had sex! And thank you for being so adorable.

PS: Pan and I share other interests apart from fanfiction. Like, uh, for example Veronica Mars. And books. And Bollywood. All very geeky. On the other hand, Pan likes Snickers. EEEEEW!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Uni time!

TPF has left Italy. TPF will soon be going to uni! TPF may or may not be able to blog regularly through the next couple of weeks. All things considered, it might be a better sign if she doesn't, because that might mean she actually has friends!

Anyway, you people keep blogging. TPF will visit! [ASH - I WANT THAT SILLY PICTURE AND I WANT IT NOW!]


Monday, September 25, 2006

In which a meme is born

Well, I guess I could blog about how I'm leaving on Wednesday for uni and how uncharacteristically little I'm looking forward to it. Or I could blog about how it's raining here today and it's also quite cold and really, how irritating. Or perhaps I could blog about how my beloved AC Milan has managed a flimsy draw against Livorno and how cute is Gourcuff?

But no. Today, I have decided to go for answering one of mankind's fundamental questions; how do memes begin?

It's a bit like yoghurt, if you think about it. To make yoghurt, you need yoghurt (at least that's what my mother says, and my mother makes the best yoghurt in the world). So if you need yoghurt to make yoghurt, how did they make the first yoghurt?

Who knows. And yes, yes, this is a crappy analogy. But still. I bet half of you didn't know that yoghurt needs yoghurt! You learn something new every day.

Anyway, after much pondered research and analysis, I have come to the conclusion that memes begin because someone begins them. And so, to test my theory, I have decided that I will start a meme and see if it works. For this, I will need your support, gentle readers. Please be patient and do what this meme asks of you, in the interests of scientific enquiry.

The meme is as thus:
List the ten most played songs in your iTunes library.

Yep, it really is that simple. And it might have been done before. In fact, I'm sure it's been done before. Do you see me caring? No, I don't see me caring either. Oh, of course, you might not have iTunes, in which case you may or may not have a play counter. Suit yourself.

I shall set the example and do the meme myself.

1. Rang de Basanti (from the homonymous movie), played 34 times. Yes, 34. I can't believe it either. But it's such a great song! Of course, I have no idea what it means. Except for 'rang', which is 'renk' in Turkish and means colour, and 'basanti' which is a colour. Something like saffron, but not quite. Anyway, the rest of the song could be in Polish for all I know.

2. Right Here, Right Now (remixed) from Bluffmaster. Pan and I loooooove this song. And the video is uber-cool. And Abhishek Bachchan has that gruff, manly handsome-ness that makes us swoon.

3. Chand Sifarish, from Fanaa (one day, I will review Fanaa, as I will Rang de Basanti). The remix, Fanaa For You, is also great. It played that night we went clubbing in Bombay, and I was positively skipping with delight, as they were playing a song that I actually recognised. My skipping might have been perceived as an attempt at drunken dancing, which probably explains the weird looks I was getting.

4. Beep, by the Pussycat Dolls. And finally, something in English. I used to play this song all the time, like thrice a day. I think it's possibly one of the catchiest pop songs of the last couple of years. Of course, nothing beats Britney. Britney RULES. I hope she dumps that sleazebag K-Fed sometime soon, because he's ruined her, that jerk. I hate you, K-Fed! I hope you keel over and go comatose from your own sleaziness!

5. Aashiqui Meri, by Himesh Reshammiya. The first time I heard this was on a rick in Bombay, sitting between Pan and Gary. After the first few beats, Pan and I were nodding to the rhythm, telling each other how cool the song was. Gary, on the other hand, was cringing, poor thing. Apparently, you either love Himesh or you hate him, and most people hate him. Pan and I were unhindered by such prejudices, of course, and quite enjoyed him. Although I hear Pan is starting to get tired of him too. Must be an Indian thing, though, because personally, I still think Himesh rocks. Eris is going to kill me.

6. Ruth Aa Gayee Re, from Earth - 1947. A great song from a beautiful movie. Sigh. It makes me want to cry to even think of the movie. Sniff. There, see? I'm sniffling.

By the way, are you starting to see a pattern here? So am I.

7. Jub Dil Miley, from Yaadein. Apparently, this movie sucks. I haven't seen it myself, but Pan has, and is possibly the only person in the world who liked it. Anyway, the song is a sex song. As in, it makes one want to engage in extracurricular activities.

8. Touch the Sky, by Kanye West. I love Kanye West. He's so good. His songs have a catchiness to them that make the average non-rapping listener very happy. You can always sing the chorus, you don't need to rap it! And he's a great live performer too. Also, Kanye is kind of cute. And you all know how important appearances are in life!

9. Taal Se Taal Mila, from Taal. Another one of those sex songs. Now, I don't speak Hindi, but apparently this song is about how much the female lead (Aishwarya Rai) wants to engage in the aforementioned extracurricular activities with the male lead (whom I shall not name because he's a stupid idiot who can't act). Now this might all be the product of Pan's overactive and perverted imagination. But then again, it might be true. Whatever the case, I know I enjoy it. The song, I mean. What were you thinking?

10. Çakkıdı, by Kenan Doğulu. Sadly, there is only one song in my mother tongue in this top ten. But it's a great song, with a great video (I'm sure they have it on YouTube). Strangely enough, although it's one of the very few songs in this list that I can sing along to, that's not very useful at all, because the lyrics aren't very interesting. I mean, the title isn't even a word. It's an onomatopoeia. 50 Cent could come up with this song. But hey, it's catchy. I like catchy songs.

And that, dear readers, is it. Don't ask me why 70% of the songs are in a language that I don't understand (in fact, are in languages that I don't understand, because they're not all in Hindi, as Pan tells me). All I can say is that Bollywood soundtracks are catchy. I loooooove them. They are my personal Britney Spears.

BRITNEY, COME BACK! I don't want meanigful alternative music, I don't want anything like that, I want POP! POOOOOP! Which sounds like poop. Oh well.

I tag Pan, Ash and Sophia. Come on guys, it's scientific enquiry!

PS: I do occasionally listen to music with a degree of depth. However, deep music is rarely catchy and often depressing. Hence, it is not played half as often as, say, Britney. Oh dear, I'm obsessed with Britney. Sigh. I just wish she'd come back to us. Sniff.