All The Money In The World

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I watched All The Money In The World with expectations. Didn’t read any reviews but know they are generally glowing. Especially the performance of the last minute replacement, the 88 year-old Christopher Plummer. He takes on a major role, with only nine filming days, and delivers a detached, gallantly considered, and at times vulnerable oil tycoon John Paul Getty. Yet the detachment is not one with the ruthless coldness needed to drive home the film’s message, which is just how shockingly cold the human soul can be, with or without extreme wealth and power. The Kevin Spacey scenes might have been reshot but the whole film was not remade. So although he is physically not in the film, his presence jarringly is. Which is the problem. I think the ensemble cast play against a much nastier Getty than the one we see in Plummer. Ridley Scott says Spacey played Getty harder. From the House Of Cards, we know the actor can summon a coldness bothering on evil from within. The level of disgust in Michelle William’s performance which is shared later by Mark Wahlberg’s character feels like a disconnect. The movie left me cold. The detachment makes the characters unreal even though they are based on real people. I am looking forward to Danny Boyle’s Trust, FX’s new ten part TV series, also based on Getty and the kidnap of his grandson…

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The Post

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Have you ever wondered? Why and how for some movies, you are on the edge of your seat when you already know the outcome of the story, when it is retelling a piece of history. It comes down to great storytelling, the makings of a great film. I am talking about ‘The Post’. A movie in which three names synonymous with great filmmaking come together – Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks. Comparison to ‘All The President’s Men’ is inevitable and it will fall short. But it is as polished as any good old fashioned well-made film can be, turning an American story of history, journalism, politics into a tense thriller of how those things came together over a couple of fateful weeks in the summer of 1971. When The New York Times, followed by The Washington Post, published extensive excerpts from the top-secret Pentagon Papers – despite clear signs of certain defeat, the government continued sending young American soldiers to fight the Vietnam War. Meryl Streep, in a role that will probably win her another Oscar nomination, plays the publisher who has to make the final most precarious decision – can The Washington Post afford to print the story given the dire consequences? And can The Washington Post afford not to print it? Her decision became an iconic moment – the media reclaiming its own freedom to call out the excesses of power. This movie celebrates what that means, but it also takes you back to a time when the outcome was uncertain, and the freedoms we thought we took for granted hung in the balance. Just as they do today.

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Good Morning

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This morning, woke up automatically at the exact time I wanted to. Felt refreshed from a reasonably good sleep. Checked emails and messages. Finally got the replies I was waiting for. My helper was her usual jovial self. Taking the lift down, I heard footsteps and held it. My neighbour entered the lift and thanked me profusely. As he was leaving the lift, he smiled happily at me and almost shouted, Have a good day! Before turning into Avenue One, I stopped my car ahead of a guy reaching the zebra crossing. He was hesitant if I had stopped for him. When he realised I had, he hurriedly walked then ran and upon reaching the other side of the road, turned to acknowledged me. I nodded and drove off. If any morning qualifies as a good morning, this morning surely does. Every little thing adds up. Good morning. Have a good Friday.

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The Darkest Hour

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I remember watching Margaret Thatcher on the big screen and within a few minutes forgetting she was played by an actress. Meryl Streep went on to win an Academy Award for her role as ‘The Iron Lady’. Catching ‘Darkest Hour’ today during my lunch hours, I knew Gary Oldman had just won his first Golden Globe this morning for his role as Winston Churchill. He will probably win the Oscar. Oldman is less known compared to Streep. But some of us are familiar with his work, and unlike John Lithgow who won an Emmy playing a post-war Churchill, he is quite unrecognisable beneath the makeup, and again within minutes we forget we are watching an actor playing Churchill.

The movie is not a typical biopic. It narrows its focus from May 8 through June 4 of 1940, framed by two important addresses in the House of Commons – the ‘Norway Debate’ and ‘We Shall Fight Them On The Beaches.’ In hindsight, the fate of the free world hinged on the decisions made in these few weeks. The evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk was Churchill’s first definitive act as prime minister, and ‘Darkest Hour’ chronicles his decisions whether to capitulate or fight as the crisis of invasion grew more imminent. Oldman proves why he is considered one of the greatest screen actors of his generation, delivering a fully inhabited characterization that rewards the audience’s appetite for familiar speeches and gestures, while also taking into account Churchill’s talent for self-invention and stagecraft, statesmanship and political survival. As a portrait of a leadership at its most documented, emotionally vulnerable and morally courageous, ‘Darkest Hour’ is the movie we need to see right now. It is a timely reminder that words, powerful words, can change the world…

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A Special Day

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At lunch, I was seated next to a man and a teenage boy in school uniform. The tables were close and I could hear the boy, who was crestfallen, explaining something he did which was not up to mark or which did not work. The man could be his father. My food came. I tried to concentrate on eating my lunch but the boy seemed emotional. At this point, from how the boy was addressing the man, I realised the man could be his teacher. There was silence for while. Then the man started speaking in a steady voice. What he said made me look up. “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” As I was leaving the restaurant, I remembered today is a special day. Happy Teacher’s Day!

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