Cashback – Time Freezing

Cashback is a little British film released few years ago. It was originally a short film nominate for the Oscars, which it didnt win. The film was expanded later to make a full fledged romantic comedy by the director Sean Ellis retaining the same caste and literally adding backstories, flashbacks, character stories to enhance the plot.

The film is about a budding artist Ben Willis who undergoes a painful breakup with his girlfriend and just cannot stop thinking about her. He keeps thinking about it and just loses sleep at night. He simply cannot sleep and then decided to use the extra night hours by working at a supermarket. There he encounters various characters and meets Sharon. He realizes how time means different things to different people.  How everybody just plays the time and does their own thing to pass time. How his colleagues fool around the supermarket and boss does inane things and Sharon doesn’t look at the time so that it passes faster. He begins to admire Sharon but his mind still cannot concentrate on his work and just meanders along. In this he develops the ability to freeze time or he imagines to freeze time where he can then just walk around people who have paused, especially beautiful women, admire them, strip them and paint them.  He begins to start enjoying his time-freezing act and then he begins to like Sharon more and more and begins to ‘not remember’ his ex and then finally when they kiss, a bit awkwardly, he finally connects more with her and then  he sleeps for the first time in weeks. There is of course that misunderstanding and getting back the lost love, like a standard rom-com. By the end the two leads are shown to be together having frozen time and enjoying the romance.

In between the film has lot of side-stories about various colleagues of Ben and his past and his earlier crushes and his slightly mental boss and his casanova friend. But mostly its about Ben. His voice over throughout the film makes it special and interesting. His ability to freeze time is a dream of every person I guess. As we say ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and the director shows this superbly when he introduces Sharon as just an ordinary girl whom you wouldnt give a second look and then slowly she beings to appear more and more beautiful and glamorous in the film as Ben falls for her and begins to like her. The movie is entirely from Ben’s eyes and what he sees and feels. Its about how he deals with lost love and finding love.

The film is a light romantic comedy and although it involves time freezing, it isn’t a science fiction. But the film is a different kind of romantic comedy then what we see dished out regularly from the Hollywood. The film has lots of nudity and foul language but it is advised to watch the unrated film to truly understand that the nudity shown in the movie is not for the sake of erotica but is shown as an artist’s viewpoint on his subjects. Only an artist can admire true beauty of a woman. The film is technically brilliant too and is beautifully shot, especially the scenes in which time and characters freeze and Ben moves around. The movie is a visual delight and also the soothing voice over gives it a warm feeling.

The actors are not well known but Sean Biggerstaff does a wonderful job as Ben Willis and Emilia Fox as Sharon is quite adapt too. Michelle Ryan as Suzie is shrill and doesn’t have much role but to shout and create confusion. Other supporting actors are nice and believable too.

My Ratings – 8/10 –  Watch it for the beautiful and different take on romantic comedy genre. The director is one to watch out for.

Why Oscars were big fail ?

Oscars are an annual party to reward the best of the Hollywood cinema. It is a glitzy affair featuring biggest of stars and Hollywood big shots walking down the red carpet. The nominations itself are much hyped about a month back and then the actual award ceremony is one of the biggest event ever and highly covered by television networks.

This year the Academy decided to take a chance by giving the prestigious job of hosting to two young stars James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Both big stars in their own way as Oscars wanted to attract the ‘younger demographic’ as they say. But the efforts of James Franco and Anne Hathaway fell largely flat, their jokes were simply amateurish, the drama was like a school play and they were generally off-key. They were so unbearable at times that moment Billy Crystal or Oprah Winfrey came on stage people were hoping that they would take over the hosting. The line ‘Sajid Khan would have done a better job’ says it all.

The ceremony itself felt long and boring with nothing exciting happening for long period of time. Most of the awards were a no-contest and were almost decided long back. There were hardly any surprises there too and whatever surprises were there, they were more like a shock. The Box office successes are very rarely rewarded by the Oscars and mostly the drams and tragedies win the bigger prizes and this year the case remained the same. ‘Inception’ , people’s favorite and box office conquerer was largely ignored in bigger categories and it was awarded the technical awards mostly to compensate for that. Most people expected ‘The Social Network’ to win one of the bigger award that of best film or best actor or best director but it didn’t win any of those. Toy story 3 was suppose to win the best animated film award even before the nominations were announced.

Thus there were hardly anything worth looking forward to. There were no controversies either, with the trouble brewing in the Arab world we expected lot more Political statements as well from the nominated big-wigs and winners but there were hardly any interesting speeches. There was no wardrobe-malfunction either  🙂

All in all it was a dull and boring award ceremony. Hopefully next year we’ll have better hosts and more deserving films would win.

Books I Read – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I had heard a lot about the ‘Millenium Series’ books since some time and came across them in bookstores at various points of time but never felt like reading the books as at first I thought they would be some ‘preachy- self-help’ kind of books!!  Then I heard about the Swedish movies made from the books and also the fact that Hollywood is coming up with its own version of movies soon and I had to read them now ! The author of this, ‘Millenium Series’ as they call it, is Stieg Larsson and the books are originally Swedish books. Unfortunately the young author wrote the manuscripts of the 3 books and died and never lived to see the International success the books have become.

The first of the series is ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. The book takes its own sweet time to establish lead characters, relationships, families, back stories, the settings, the crime etc. Once it does that it becomes a great ‘page-turner’.

The story is about a disgraced journalist being asked to find out details of a murder that took place forty years back.  The missing girl being the grand niece of a millionaire grand patriarch of the Vanger family, Henrik Vanger., head of the Conglomerate Vanger Corporation. Henrik suspects that a family member of his large family murdered his favorite grand niece forty years back during a family gathering and is still tormenting him. Mikael Blomkvist is the disgraced journalist of the ‘Millenium’ magazine who is assigned the job to research the truth.  Lisbeth Salander the heroine of the story is a young, antisocial, punk, anorexic of a girl who on first look would resemble a drug addict junkie with tattoos all over the body, dyed short hair, leather jackets, pierced nose and an attitude to match but in fact she is an expert computer hacker with a photographic memory and a passion for retrieving information about anything and anyone at any cost. Lisbeth and Mikael cross paths and together they create a wonderful team.

The interaction and subtle romance  between Lisbeth and Mikael, who is twicer her age is beautifully written.  The settings of the fictional town in North Sweden is described in such exquisite details, that you want to go there and live. The details of the Vanger family with multiple family members having varied back stories and complex realtionships is also described in quite details. The story is at times predictable but then comes up with wonderful twists and turns.

There are quite a few characters in the book, however the story revolves around Mikael first and then Lisbeth. The story moves slowly first but very rapidly as it nears the end and combines the personal vengeance very well with the murder mystery. The story is also about crimes against women , especially crude sexual crimes and the author seems to be simply hating the people associated with such crimes. The Swedish title of the book literally translates to ‘Men who Hate Women’.

The story is very intriguing and is much better than any other thriller mystery novel I have read lately. The book is intelligent, witty and has real smart characters. It is certainly one of the best crime novels of this era.

The characters of Lisbeth and Mikael are very well developed and you really want to know more about them, especially Lisbeth. Hopefully the next 2 books in the series will reveal more aspects of her mysterious life.

The Swedish version of the movies made from the 3 books has already been released and even dubbed in English for worldwide release, however Sony Pictures have aligned with David Fincher to produce big budget Hollywood version of the same books possibly starring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkwist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. It would certainly be a great watch.

But first, I am reading the other 2 books.

My Ratings : 8.5/10 –  Must Read …one of the most Important Series of this new Millenium.