Tag Archives: moviereview

Never Have I Ever – Mindy Kaling’s Netflix Dramedy is the perfect depiction of the Struggles of Growing up Desi.

Never Have I Ever, Show Runner – Mindy Kaling

A Netflix teen drama starring an Indian lead? Well, that’s new and that’s exactly what attracted me towards the show the most. The show follows the life of Devi, a first generation Indian-American sophomore living in Southern California, who’s trying to re-brand herself and get popular at school. Right away, it was nice to see an Indian character not being portrayed as the nerdy stereotype in an American Sit-com. This story is very personal to Mindy Kaling, and it’s apparent from the care it is given to make these characters feel authentic – these are her experiences of growing up Desi in America, updated to a 2020 setting. Now, I’m not ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) girl, but these experiences are quite universal if you’ve grownup in a South-Asian household. Especially now, since our current is so much exposed to the western media through the internet, streaming apps, e.t.c. So, even if you’re living in a strict house under the super-spy vigilance of your parents, you’re not entirely living in a bubble. Teenagers today and opinionated, liberal, demand respect and frankly quite out there (and yeah, they’re still horny af). So, the divide between the generations is bigger than ever.

Devi is, needless to say, a virgin, and also an intelligent firebrand with a seemingly effortless command of power-points, witty barbs and topical-enough pop culture references (“Yeah, but he has a hot face. You’ll be like Zayn and Gigi,” she tells her friend as a boyfriend sales pitch). She’s also a master deflector, reeling, with a John McEnroe-style short fuse, from a massive loss. (McEnroe, for no reason seemingly beyond the fact they could get him, narrates the series.) “As you know,” she half-prays, “last year sucked for a number of reasons.” As abruptly revealed in what seems like a first-episode bit but is not, her beloved father – a sunny, unbridled presence in sepia flashbacks and dream sequences, and Devi’s only true best friend – died of a heart attack at her orchestra concert the year prior. The shock paralyzed her for three months (teenagers: not forgiving of the concept “psychosomatic”), forcing her to use a wheelchair. Only the sight of her crush, swim-team boy and said stone-cold hottie Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) – a layered mystery or stock jock character, depending on the scene – and the promise of a “rebrand” in sophomore year, zaps Devi back on her feet.

It’s so refreshing to see someone like Devi to be given plot like since most Teen Dramas limit the role of the Indian kid as the “dork”. Devi is given layers, she is not an ideal protagonist either, throughout the show she makes plenty of mistakes but that only make her more interesting as a character. But the biggest problem she has to face in the series is probably carrying the Indian baggage. Her ideal constantly clash with her mother, which is the primary conflict in the series. Her mother is very conservative and traditionally Indian, and panic at even the mention of a boyfriend. She doesn’t believe in therapy, American school system, privacy, having fun, talking back to elders or basically anything that is considered “useless” or “wrong” in India. Don’t get me wrong, she is no way a villain in the story, she does all of because she wants to protect her but like most Indian she doesn’t get that too much of anything is not good. I don’t want to tell you anything about the relationship between Devi and her mother, but it you defintely connect with the struggles of growing up Desi that she feels.

The show is really funny when it wants to too, most of the jokes land well. The writing is top notch and will definitely keep you hooked for the whole 10 episodes. It is also very quick and crisp with several great sub plots, and will be over before you know it. All the characters are given their own story lines and they land in most cases. Devi’s two best friends with seemingly one-note personality (the African-Latino robotic nerd and the east Asian drama queen) at first too get their own conflicts as the series conflicts as one of them realizes she’s gay and the other has mommy issues. The sub-plot concerning Devi’s cousin Kamala, also acts as a great commentary on the role of women in Indian households and the practice of arranged marriage.. Also some characters who are projected in the negative light in first half come around at the end and you realize why they are the way. Especialy Praxton, the guy Devi’s after, is probably the most human hot jock character in recent memory in a Netflix teen drama.

The only negative I have for this show is the overuse of voice-overs, which though funny at first, gets old very fast. Also the show has major problem with showing vs telling. Most of the big emotional plot points int story are told to you in a very short which makes it really hard to connect with. Like for example, in the last two episodes something which is meant to be this huge emotional tearjerker, but since it was developed well you just end up feeling a little shallow. But hey, if have a soft heart it will probably make you cry anyways.

Barring that one negative, this is really solid show. The episodes are well produced and tight and the star making performance from Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is a must watch (she is so likable and cute). The whole series is available to stream on Netflix right now, so just make some free time and watch this amazing show!

Movie Review: Bad Education – The True Crime HBO drama is the best “New” Movie out there.

Bad Education; Dir – Cory Finley

Rating – /Must see if you’re a fan./ (Plus, it’s free you know.)

Just the day after Netflix released it’s big budget film starring Chris Hemsworth, HBO is here to compete with its Hugh Jackman and Alison Janney film based on a real life school scandal. And yeah, it’s probably the best piece of new content we have got in this time of scarcity.

The top administrators at the Roslyn, New York, school district seemed not only to understand this instinct but also to exploit it for their own personal gain. “Bad Education” explores their real-life embezzlement scheme, which came crashing down when the high-school newspaper broke the story in 2004. Spending nearly $8 million on a sky bridge to beautify a campus seems reasonable when you’re trying to exude an aura of success—when you’re the fourth-ranked district in the country, gunning for that No. 1 spot. With that much money flying around, skimming a little here and there for a bagel or jewelry or renovations on your beach house in the Hamptons is no biggie.

Director Cory Finley finds the dark humor within this scandal, which he depicts with wit, style and a terrific cast. Hugh Jackman does some of the best work of his long and varied career as the superintendent, Dr. Frank Tassone, whose charisma and polished image disguised a multitude of secrets. Jackman plays on his usual charm and looks to great effect. But there’s something sinister within the slickness that’s unsettling from the first time we see him, spritzing cologne and trimming nose hairs in the mirror of the boys’ bathroom in extreme close-up. Frank clearly cares deeply and works hard to recall names and personal details of students and parents alike throughout the district; we can still see glimmers of the calling that drew him to this challenging profession in the first place. Fundamentally, he’s a pleaser and he wants to be liked—yet increasingly, he savors the fame and power that come with being in a position of authority in an affluent community. And as Frank and his second-in-command (played brilliantly by a brash Allison Janney) find themselves squirming to survive when their $11.2 million scheme comes to light, their flaws and follies become even more glaringly evident.

Finley’s follow-up to “Thoroughbreds” one of my favorite films of 2018, doesn’t seek to dazzle with sleek, showy camerawork like that film did. But it’s similarly interested in mining the depths of out darkest impulses, and doing so with sharp satire. (Mike Makowsky, who was a middle school student in Roslyn when the embezzlement scandal broke, wrote the script.) “Bad Education” also calls to mind the great Alexander Payne  film “Election” with its students who are smarter and savvier than you’d expect and teachers who aren’t as mature and responsible as you’d hope. Finley actually could have used a bit more of Payne’s sharp bite in tackling this material. Geraldine Vishwanathan radiates a quiet but increasingly assertive confidence as the high school reporter whose tough questions and thorough document searches reveal the district’s financial irregularities. Just as compelling as what she finds is her internal debate over how to handle that information. She knows what’s the right thing to do—but what if that’s the wrong move for her future?

Overall, it’s a really well made and tight drama that sheds light on some important issues. You can stream it for free on HBO and it’s not like you don’t have any free time, so just log in and give it a watch. And if you’ve seen it, do let me know what you thought about it in the comments.

Movie Review: Extraction-Great performances and stunt work save this generic Netflix actioner.

Extraction; Dir- Sam Hargrave

Rating- //stream it once it’s free// (that’s kinda ironic considering it’s a Netflix movie)

“Extraction. Indian kid. Drug lord’s son. A rival gangster is holding this kid in Dhaka,” a character tells Chris Hemsworth in the first act, explaining the whole plot (and the title) of the movie. Clearly, subtlety is not this movie’s forte. But let’s be real, this Netflix action movie releasing during quarantine, who cares it has a nuanced story? But does it have enough bloody action to compensate for it? Yeah, it does.

There’s nothing new in the story of Extraction, we’ve seen all this countless times now. The plot beats are predictable, and the messy and convoluted script by Joe Russo doesn’t do it any help. But enough action set pieces, great performances, and surprises make sure to hold your attention for it near two hours runtime. Also, the heart to heart moments that this film tries have as breathers in between action set pieces don’t work at all. They don’t make us care for the character and needlessly stretches the runtime.

First-time director Sam Hargrave, making a switch from serving as a stunt coordinator in popular MCU movies like Avengers: Endgame, is surely trying to pull off a Chad Stahelski/David Leitch here. And though the action in Extraction is never as innovative or beautiful as in the John Wick movies, it does come close. The fight scenes are choreographed with equal attention, but they are dirtier and less smoothly executed in here. Nonetheless, it the best action in a major Netflix release to date. And yeah, everyone’s talking about the one-take shot midway through the film, and yeah, it’s worth the hype. I also need to appreciate Sam Hargrave’s effort as an action director here and his willingness to do the dirty work himself, he’s surely here to stay. The camera work in this movie is commendable as well. The shots are long and wide, so the action is clearly visible and you feel the rush. There’s a little over-usage of hand-held camera, but let’s cut the crap, nobody is complaining about that. Oh and yes, if you don’t like blood and gore… why do you even wanna watch an action movie?

What might set this movie apart from other generic action movies, are the locations and the fantastic cast. The decision to use Dhaka as a backdrop to the film has really paid off, as it adds an extra layer of tension and dynamic to the film. But the yellow filter throughout the whole movie is a little overdone though – we get it, it’s a rugged down city. Chris Hemsworth is perfectly believable as the man who can do the job, I mean the dude’s Thor for real. He keeps it simple and delivers an effective and emotional performance. Randeep Hooda is brilliant as always, and makes for a really good action star. He is the only character in the movie that gets the chance to shine other than Chris Hemsworth. Rudhraksh Jaiswal, who plays the main kid, does a fairly good job even though his performance comes through as annoying sometimes. Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani kicks ass in the little screen time she’s got and looks stunning doing it. Other big names like David Harbour, Pankaj Tripathi, Priyanshu Painyullu do the best of the little they are given.

In conclusion, extraction is not anything great but it has enough fun action to keep you entertained and if you’re a soft heart, maybe even pull some heartstrings towards the end. That’s pretty good for something you can watch for free at the comfort for home and let’s not forget it’s the only new movie to release in last two week. So, go check it out Netflix whenever you can, it’s not like you’ve something better to do sitting at home. It might just be some harmless fun, but in times like these, we could surely use some of that.