Take this Waltz: A Review

What I figured after a good night’s sleep and some early morning analyses of the film I watched last night is this:

The problem with relationships is not marriage per se, but that it demands living together. It’s the sharing of routines, the demand to share interests, to share space… You shit, I’ll brush my teeth. You cook, I will mop. I’ll write, you sharpen my pencils. It’s that stifling expectation of togetherness. It’s being sentenced to ‘ever after’ happily or otherwise. It’s the choking feeling of having to work on being interesting, to work very hard on keeping boredom at bay. 

“New things become old,” a middle-aged lady tells three younger women in the swimming pool showers. She is responding to the desire for newer, shinier things.

 The protagonist (Michelle Williams) of the film is one of the three women. Her sister-in-law (Sarah Silverman) in the same scene says something to this effect: that after 10 years she at least still likes her husband, why would she want to trade that for something that may not last.

The three women are in their late 20s/early 30s. They all seem in happy(ish) marriages. 

Earlier, the man (Luke Kirby) who is wooing Michelle asks her what was wrong with her, because she was restless… not right now, but generally in life. (I am paraphrasing.)

Most women say they want a man who makes them laugh, and her husband (Seth Rogen) does a lot of that. So well, we realise that’s not what we really want though.

Still from the film. The scene that follows this is so so amazing.

This movie spoke to me. Oh my goodness, how it did.

It was so honest, so raw, and it was an echo of all the conversations I have with my very close bunch of girlfriends. Sarah Polley the director has done a tremendous job.

I don’t want to talk about the plot, what happens, who is hurt, who is not.

If you are in that restless phase of your life when you have little to complain about, but still can’t quite feel at peace with who you are and what you have, do watch the film. It won’t give you answers. It will probably confuse you even more. Yet, it will talk to you. It might tell you that you are not crazy for being the way you are, or it might tell you that it’s ok to be 10 feet away from the nuthouse.

PS: Thanks Chatura for recommending this movie, and attempting to push me over the ledge.
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Help! I’ve turned traitor… & a review

That's my Kindle library. I also have a library of iBooks and FreeBooks.

And that's how a page looks.

One month and three books later, I’ve turned traitor.

Before I bought the iPad — to be used primarily as a book reader — I was warned that it’s not the same. Ok for travel, but not the same as cuddling up with a ‘proper’ book. That it just doesn’t feel the same.

True enough, that it doesn’t feel the same. At first, it felt different, and now it feels better.

I’ve also cuddled up with it — on 18-hour-flights, at airport waiting areas, in strange hotel beds… and now, at home in my familiar lounging areas. I take it to the dining table and to the loo (one particular book was that gripping, read review below).

To the gym I carry a regular paperback, and somehow it just didn’t feel right. What kind of a tech ‘ho am I, that I abandon a lifelong love? I used to love the feel of just touching and flipping through pages of books that didn’t even interest me as a read. Now paper books are going the way newspapers and mags did; for a long time now, I’ve been reading mostly online editions and not the print. People like me are killing the careers of people like me!

I only see a couple of problems with e-book readers.

1. It’s way too easy to buy stuff and run up a huge bill. Kindle’s one-click buy is not for user convenience alone, let me tell you. It’s a cunning marketing ploy.

2. I can’t thrust my favourites down other people’s throat. I can’t force-lend my selection.

Barring these 2 small hitches, I am hooked to the e-book format it appears. And to my iPad — a really snazzy gadget that fits snuggly in my handbag. It’s not just my book. It’s my gaming device (the Scrabble app is kick ass), my iPod, my laptop and my video player. It’s my brag-de-jour as you can see.

Now for the review of the first books I bought and read on the device. I know I am late to this party, since the titles have been on the bestseller lists for eons now.

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

It’s so badly translated, it makes Dan Brown seem like a literary giant. The language is simply awful, and construction and repetitions that may have seemed ok in Swedish, are plain annoying in English.

The ‘hero’ fits the ‘Tom Cruise meets middle-aged Tamil film star’ mould. There is just about nothing he can’t do. He sleeps around, breaks stories, saves lives, is almost killed and is all very nonchalant about it.

His lover of 20 years is his best friend, who has her husband’s blessing to be an adulteress (let’s all move to Sweden right away).

Apart from her, he gives into the wishes of all the hot women who wish to bed him. That’s Mikael Blomkvist.

Then we have the heroine who is doll-like (every other para describes her so). A victim of social prejudices and cold war diplomacy. She is an eccentric genius, a hacker, and boxer par excellence. There’s little she can’t do, either. That’s Lizabeth Salander.

The two had a brief ‘relationship’, but otherwise they are just saving each other’s lives.

The book is full of stereotypes and promiscuity (that doesn’t involve children and prostitutes) is made out to be heroic.

But, the plot is fantastic. Larsson sure knows how to build a climax, weave a suspense and deliver a punch. I read the three books back-to-back, and every time I put it down to sleep or go to work, I was itching to get back to it. It did grip me.

The first book — The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — I liked best.

The second and third — TG Who Played With Fire & TG Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest — are basically one plot split into two.

While the first book focussed primarily on the two main characters, the other two ended up having way too many characters playing way too important roles, revolving around Blomkvist and Salander. It was not as satisfying, but are must-reads all the same.

The author apparently planned 10 installments of the Millennium (name of newspaper Blomkvist publishes) series, but he died before him books were published. I for one would have definitely bought 4 & 5 at least…

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

“Might you not hate all white men indiscriminately? You would have good reason.” A white abolitionist asks Aminata Diallo, the protagonist of the book.

“If I spent my time hating, my emotions would have been spent long ago, and I would be nothing more than an empty cowrie shell.”

The Book of Negroes is definitely worth a read, and for me at least, is a story very different from all the others I’ve read on slaves and the slave trade.

Though it is a novel, because it’s a first person rendition and it speaks of a very interesting and grave subject, I thought it lacked emotional depth.

It’s a gripping read all the same. It traces the life of Meena Dee (as Aminata Diallo’s name is corrupted to by the slave handlers).

From Baya, near Segu by the river, Aminata is stolen and taken to America. Years of perserverence and self-education later she comes back to Africa — as one of the first settlers at Freetown, Sierra Leon. She then becomes the poster girl for the abolitionists and travels to London.

What I liked best about the book is that it is complete in the point of view it takes — that of the ‘homelander’. The slaves neither know what Africa is nor identify with what the white man’s maps show. Their life is about their villages and communities*.

However, through the book, too much of an effort is made to show the ‘better side’, though I can’t imagine there could be one at all.

And towards the end (still set in early 1800s), there are way too many white people shown not as the perpetrators of the crime of slavery. It didn’t feel right — even if it had been true. Even if Aminata was not willing to indiscriminately hate all whites, I can’t believe that there had been so many against slavery and yet the practice carried on for as long as it did.

Reading the book — fiction though it maybe, it still draws from the truth — the sheer evilness of human beings churns your stomach.

Especially since even after centuries of supposed development, not much seems to have changed today.

* I’ve always found it supremely arrogant when people refer to Africa or Asia or Middle East as ‘one place’. Even highly literate people (Oprah Winfrey does it, Ann Patchett does it) refer to any country from Uganda to Botswana generically as Africa!