Archive for April, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire is a very well-done movie. The picture and filming quality was excellent and colorful. I mostly enjoyed the beginning of the movie, which depicted the vibrant childhood of  the slums of Mumbai.

Jamal Malik is a contestant on the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. He seems to know all of the answers, which gets security guards and the show host bewildered. As he is punished and questioned by a policeman, he says that his life experiences led him to know the answers he was asked. Within each correct answer, the viewer sees a flashback of a part of Jamal’s life which led to him answer correctly on the show, eventually building up a picture of his life.  After his area was attacked by Bombay Riots, Jamal had to flee with his brother and try to survive by travel many places. Jamal aims to find his childhood friend, Latika, who got separated from he and his brother during an escape.

The terrible events that kept on happening after each other were overwhelming. It seemed that all of the characters were viciously standing against the protagonists Latika and Jamal. I don’t think that those opposing characters were very intelligent, but maybe the director, Danny Boyle, made them pure evil purposely.

I thought that some of the violent scenes in Slumdog Millionaire could have been reduced. Some people in India, after watching the film, were concerned that it did not rightly depict the poverty in India. I didn’t think that Slumdog Millionaire was a message movie; I found the terrible living conditions in Mumbay a backdrop in  the love story of Jamal and Latika. After watching it, I didn’t feel that it made me feel different toward anything or changed my views. It is a dreamy, but imaginative, love tale that will satisfy the audience.

Slumdog Millionaire may not be the best moral movie, but it is highly entertaining, dazzling and smart, with catchy music, too.

my rating: 3/5

nytimes review


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The 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird was very true to the book. I liked the way things were blended in the movie. For example, at the beginning of the movie, Mr. Walter Cunningham delivers a gesture for the Finches, since Atticus helped him with something in the past and Cunningham can’t afford to pay him with money. This was not shown at the beginning of the book, and it was blended in nicely in the movie. The important quotes were also kept, and the script wasn’t changed completely from the novel. Gregory Peck was the ideal person to play Atticus Finch, and he portrayed him very well. The hearing was also similar to the one in the book.

I think that it is significant to watch and read To Kill a Mockingbird as a pair. The movie supports the novel very well and makes the characters come to life. I liked the parts when Scout is often left out by Dill and her brother Jem, but she just keeps strong and runs after them. That’s how a movie visualizes the characters. But the movie also missed out on important things in the book. Scouts observations of Atticus weren’t as detailed as they were in the book.  To Kill a Mockingbird won 3 Oscars, and I think that it is major companion to the book. You should read To Kill a Mockingbird and see the movie ( I recommend that you read the book first).

You can rent To Kill a Mockingbird for $2.99 from iTunes or buy it for $9.99.

read about the film

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To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

I have just finished reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and in this post I’d like to focus on Atticus’ character, which I admire because of its decency and ethical behavior.

I think that although this book is about racial prejudice and injustice, it is also centered around the character and views of Mr. Atticus Finch, who is the narrator’s father and the lawyer defending the black man, Tom Robinson. I find Atticus a very idealistic, moral character. He has a great sense of humor and tries his best to raise his children as a single parent. I think that the hearing was not shown until the second part of To Kill a Mockingbird because the author wanted the reader to get to know Atticus as a person and a father, not just as a white lawyer defending an African American. The ending was so poignant and peaceful, and also showed Atticus as a loving and caring father. This view is best rendered by his young daughter because it shows his intimate and personal side. He is always pressured by his family to raise his children properly; he never hits them, and he doesn’t insist that his daughter act ‘like a lady’, as his sister thinks.

Atticus Finch also has strong views on the treatment of whites toward blacks. He considers his black cook, Calpurnia, as family and refuses to fire her even when his sister tells him to. In another moment in the book, he drives her home. He also tells Scout that he despises it when a white person takes advantage of a black person’s ignorance.

Atticus said a great thing at the end of the book, which was “Most people are [nice] Scout, when you finally see them”. When Jem shows dislike towards their dying, mean elderly neighbor, Mrs. Dubose, Atticus tells him that she already has problems and that she is courageous for fighting her morphine addiction before dying. Scout appreciates this, and realizes that Atticus was right when she notices Mrs. Dubose’s gentle side.

To Kill a Mockingbird is such a great novel because Harper Lee’s storytelling abilities are very moving, and she could play with your emotions at all the surprises, warm moments, and downturns in the book. To Kill a Mockingbird is a stirring book. For example, the cross-examination scene had a lot of tension in it and the moment when Dill secretly arrives without the knowing of his aunt had me flabbergasted. The dialogue of the book was very funny and filled with rich Southern culture. I think that it is loved by so many people because people could personally relate to To Kill a Mockingbird, which is an intimate account of the southern life, racial inequality and family. Harper Lee’s detailed and heart-warming writing brings the character of Atticus to life by observing him through the eyes of his daughter, making him an utmost idyllic, unforgettable character.

“… As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”
Atticus Finch


“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Atticus Finch


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Wandering Star - J. M. G. Le Clezio

Wandering Star is a book by the French 2008 Nobel Prize winner J. M. G. Le Clezio. It tells the story of two women, Esther, a Jew who has to flee her town from Germans and is amongst the people who dream of doing to  Jerusalem, and Nejma, a Palestinian girl who is staying at a refugee camp.

The worthiest thing in this book is its lyrical prose. C. Dickinson has translated this book making keeping the beautiful poetic language in it:

…”Then the music truly began, it sprang from the piano all of a sudden and filled the entire house, the garden, the street, it filled everything with its power, its order, and then it grew soft, mysterious. Now it was surging up, pouring like the water in the streams, it went straight up to the sky, to the clouds, mixed with the light. It spilled over the mountains, went all the way to the source of the two torrents, it was as powerful as the river”.

Reading this book was very soothing, and it was like reading poetry. Wandering Star is also a beautiful story of survival, and how characters cope during difficult times. 

At the beginning of the book, Esther is a young girl living in Saint-Martin. She is living a blooming childhood, but she and her family have to line-up with the rest of the Jews to get their ration cards, and their place is controlled by Italians soldiers. Later, they have to flee to escape from German soldiers, and the story follows Esther and her mother’s way to Jerusalem through France (her father dies helping fugitives escape). After boarding the Sette Fratelli, she meets a Palestinian refugee, Nejma, for a brief moment.  Then there is Nejma’s story, a girl who is staying at the Nour Chams Refugee Camp.

Points of view sometimes change. I think this is a very deep story which goes beyond what is going on in the book. I felt that Wandering Star is more about portraying how people live during devastating times, and Le Clezio renders a mesmerizing conscience through his characters.

I finished this book in only three days because the author really puts you through the mind of his characters and keep you absorbed in his melancholy book about human struggle and survival.

Le Clezio is not very well-known, and in my opinion he should receive more attention than he is getting because he is a great author who has a different writing perspective and describes in lyrical prose. I liked this book because it focuses on the deep thoughts of the people and doesn’t comment or take sides on the conflict going on in the book. Instead of the book being mainly about the conflict surrounding the nations, it is about vividly portraying the human mind, and the conflict is just a backdrop in the book.

my rating: 5/5 (definitely worth reading)

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The Slave Ship, by Marcus Rediker, is a very interesting human history of the ships that used to transport slaves from African regions to Europe. This book focuses on the ship in which slaves were transported, which people tend not to focus on. Slaves were treated with terror in the ship, and various forms of fear were used to scare them. They were tortured with different instruments and thrown aboard to hungry sharks. The thing that intrigued me the most in The Slave Ship is the slaves’ defiance when they are brought to the ship and throughout the journey. They would refuse to eat, which is when captains would have to force them to because they emaciated slaves would sell well. The book also captures the attention of the reader by showing how pathetically captains used to treat slaves: they were regarded as ‘cargo’ and the only interest of the captain would be to have them in good shape just so that he could sell them for a good price.  Another thing I learned from this book is that sailors were treated as savages, even worse than slaves were, because they weren’t going to be sold anyway, so it was not of the captain’s interest to make sure they were fed well. At times, sailors were even under the mercy of slaves. The first chapters of the book tell the story of a former Igbo slave and abolitionist, Olaudah Equiano, and several other people to give you detailed accounts of the slave trade. I thought the ending of the book was very touching and gave an excellent conclusion of the slave trade and the next step in this terrible system of the trade of humans.

Anybody could read this book. I assure you it is everything but boring: a very exciting and sad book. There are a lot of supporting documents and facts in the book, and it is written in a way that everybody will enjoy.


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