Calibre, with all its Thrills and Spills, Makes for a Great Binge-watch…

It certainly would be no hyperbole to say that the quality of content available on Netflix has improved quite considerably. 2018 saw some excellent feature films and web shows being churned out for viewers across all age groups. As far as the films are concerned, the American entertainment giant has treated its viewers to some excellent feature films this year around. Right from the Spanish period thriller ‘Gun City, which deals with the countless reasons that led to the outbreak of the Spanish civil war to the Indian romantic comedy “Love per Square Feet”, an Indian romantic comedy that deals with the ever-so-serious problem of housing in Mumbai, we’ve seen some top-notch stuff on Netflix this year around.

Within the crime-thriller genre, Calibre, a film directed by Matt Palmer, kept the netizens such as myself on the edge of their seats. The film is set in the Scottish Highlands and features two friends who embark on a hunting trip. The rest of the film deals with the trials and tribulations both of them face in their bid to keep their crime under the wraps.

An Overview

The story begins rather simply, with two childhood friends Vaughn and Marcus embarking on a hunting trip. Vaughn and his wife are expecting their first child.  Both of them make their way to the Scottish Highlands. The woods appear silent, but there seems to be a significant degree of uneasiness engulfing the highlands. The economic hardships of people, the lack of investment in the area. Both Vaughn and Marcus realize that the place isn’t as welcoming as they thought it’d be.

While hunting, Vaughn sees a deer, lines it up, and shoots, but the bullet accidentally hits a young boy, who happens to be camping in the woods along with his father. Things turn even murkier when Marcus, in his bid to protect Vaughn, ends up shooting the boy’s father.  Then begins a game of cat and mouse wherein Vaughn and Marcus try almost all tricks in the bag to cover their crime.

The Good:

The Locations:

The film’s story is pretty simple. It doesn’t have anything extraordinary, but what stands out in the entire film is the execution. The locations where the film has been shot are beautiful. Another striking feature of the locations happens to be the fact that they do look spooky and secluded. The locations add a certain degree of tension to the overall scenario.

The Storyline

The story might be simple, but it’s quite gripping. Kudos to the film’s writer for adding a pinch of salt and pepper to a cliché suspense thriller. All the ingredients seem to be in place. There’s a perfect blend of suspense, drama, tension, and adrenaline-pumping action. The writers have stuck to the basics and have nailed it, literally. The story is tightly-knit and nothing feels unnecessary. Also, the 100-minute runtime doesn’t feel long and keeps the viewer hooked and guessing.

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The Performances:

Take nothing away from the hard work put in by all the actors. The likes of Jack Lowden, Martin McCann, and Tony Curran have pulled off stellar acts to give us one of the finest thriller films of the decade. The actors haven’t relied on dialogues, but on facial expressions. The fear and uncertainty, both of which form the heart and soul of the film, can be clearly seen on the lead pair’s face. There’s no fancy make-up stuff. The faces of all the actors narrate stories. As a viewer, you can feel the tribulations both Vaughn, as well as Marcus, are going through after they accidentally murder the child and his father.

The Dichotomy, the Emotions, and Everything in Between

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Throughout the course of the film, there’s an uncanny uneasiness that a viewer can feel. There comes a moment in the film when both Vaughn and Marcus think “Should we confess, or should we not?” There happens to be tension and uncertainty brewing everywhere. Vaughn, in particular, is adamant on keeping the secret covered. He fears for his unborn child and his wife. The mental and emotional toil both of them are subjected to makes one develop a softer side for them. (Come on, you have to feel sad for them. After all, they didn’t murder the boy and his father intentionally. It was an accident. They were at the wrong place at the wrong time, to say the least.

Economic Problems

Logan (Tony Curran) tells Vaughn and Marcus about the economic problems their village happens to be facing. There seems to be a severe dearth of investment in the area. Marcus promises to bring business and investment into the village. The locals happen to be well aware of the economic prosperity Marcus can bring in the area. The director hasn’t stretched the issue too much. He’s left it wide open and moves on to concentrate on the characters.

The Bad

Just about nothing. The film stays true to its purpose. It doesn’t go haywire even once. Also, the climax happens to be quite inevitable but take nothing away from the way it has been executed. I hope there aren’t any spoilers in this review. The film makes for a great binge watch. Miss it at your own risk.

Panah…

For long, we have just been chasing shadows
Trying hard not to fall
Fear, war, worry
We’re always in a hurry
Rape, terror, disease
All of it seems ‘normal’

I just put on my earphones
And continue on my merry way
Not paying heed to what I get to see
Netflix, songs, films, and all else
Conspire to corrupt me

All we want is rosy cheeks
And paths covered with snow and leaves
nobody gives a damn about the accidental gas leaks
And about thousands who died last week

All we’ve wanted in life is space,
Space without a trace,
Of fear, misery, and disease
Is it a bit too much to ask for?
All the world’s filled with peril
It looks sophisticated on the face of it
But happens to be completely feral
It runs on war
With bullets and barrels
And all we do is sing Christmas carols

Today was one of the many days
When I saw people entering into the fray
Being butchered, slaughtered, and being stuffed into a pot of clay
All I did was put on my earphones
And continue on my merry way…

 

Picture Courtesy: Pinterest

Ushna

Staring deep into her eyes, I wanted to drown
A multitude of thoughts flew through his mind
As she began to frown

A faint smile escaped her lips, as she untied her hair
His eyes lit up at this moment, he gave her a stare
Words fell apart, it was all so quiet and calm
He assured her that he meant her no harm

The breaths became heavy, as she threw herself on the bed
His fingers running all over her body, exploring the crests and troughs
One moment it was gentle, other other moment it was rough

He began untying the knots, nakedness was real
Cold sweat began running down her tummy,
Everything was exposed,
and nothing was left for her to conceal

As he unbuttoned his shirt, the hair on his chest were visible
Looking at his bare skin, she felt helpless, but not miserable
And just then, their bodies met
like air meets fire
Emotions were running riot
And, all that could be felt was desire

Sweat came rolling down,
off his forehead
Onto her stomach
Sloppiness had never looked so beautiful

Their hearts skipped a few beats
With eyes closed, their breaths met
And the lips came closer,
And they lived a thousand moments in a single breath

 

Picture Courtesy: Pinterest

A belated cup of coffee…..

I had started off late that morning and was in great dread of scolding.Ah, not because I had to reach early but because I had not completed the tasks given to me by my group mates. OK, let me start from the very beginning. The incident I am talking about occurred while I was pursuing  a Post Graduate Diploma course in Advertising and Public Relations from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. A majority of people like to use the abbreviation and call it IIMC, but I’ve always used the institute’s name in its entirety rather than using an abbreviation.

Continue reading “A belated cup of coffee…..”

Simplicity and Innocence Form the Heart and Soul of Rehna Hai Terre Dil Mein

Before I begin, I must tell you that I have always loved watching romantic films. Being a 90s kid, I was fond of romantic movies that showcased love through the lens of sensitivity and innocence. Movies such as Mani Ratnam’s ‘Dil Se’ (1998) and Anees Bazmee’s ‘Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha’ would certainly feature on my all-time favourite list.

Then in October 2001, released Gautham Menon’s “Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein”. Starring R. Madhavan, Dia Mirza, and a very young and charming Saif Ali Khan in the lead roles, the film was a light-hearted romantic comedy film with a pinch of salt and pepper. The film might have bombed at the box office in 2001, but it has garnered a lot of fan following in recent times. Continue reading “Simplicity and Innocence Form the Heart and Soul of Rehna Hai Terre Dil Mein”

Big, Brutal, and Bold: Remembering Kevin Pietersen

“Generally, sporting legends end their careers on a tragic note. A tragedy is what makes these legends even more iconic and memorable than they are. “

This statement can be associated with Kevin Pietersen, the 39-year-old English veteran who, despite being one of the team’s most prolific run-getters, spent the backend of his career on the fringes.

The Twenty20 maestro

Pietersen was part of the first generation of players to grow alongside Twenty20 cricket. The thrills and spills of Twenty20 cricket turned him into a star. Even after being dropped from the side in 2014, Twenty20 franchises around the globe did not lose interest in Kevin Pietersen.

Some say that it was his aggressive mindset, which ended up earning him a huge fan. Others say that his ability to go after the bowlers made him an instant fan favourite. According to the pundits, it was his aura that made him an instant fan favourite.

 Coloured hair, tattoo-clad arms, rippling muscles, and above all, an ‘in-your-face attitude’ made him look like a high-school bully. In a team known for its classical batsmanship, he came as a breath of fresh air. Here was a player who could make brutal hits to the fence look beautiful. All cautions were thrown to the winds, and the bowlers, no matter how formidable, were taken to the cleaners. Such was the impact Kevin Pietersen had on the game.

A Special Mention

Watching a player of Kevin Pietersen’s calibre struggling to get into the English side was undoubtedly disheartening. Pietersen, an integral part of England’s line up from 2005 to 2014, was known for his aggressive style of play. The lanky right-hander from Hampshire created a splash during the memorable 2005 Ashes Series. His swashbuckling innings of 158 (187 balls) at the Oval ensured that England salvaged a hard-fought draw in the fifth and final test of the series. The Englishmen won the series (2-10 and reclaimed the Ashes for the first time since 1986-87. Pietersen was the team’s highest run-scorer with 473 runs.

Along Came the Controversies

It certainly won’t be an overstatement to say that Pietersen, wittingly or unwittingly, became controversy’s favourite child during the backend of his career. The man from South Africa was involved in several high-profile controversies throughout his career.

When he took over the reins from Michael Vaughan in 2007-08, he was widely regarded as English cricket’s trump card. In 2008, when Pietersen led England against India, his relationship with England coach Moores had already begun deteriorating. Soon after the incident, Moores was sacked and so was Pietersen. Andrew Strauss took over the captaincy from Pietersen, and Andy Flower was assigned the coaching job. Pietersen silenced his critics in 2011 when an Indian touring party landed in England.

 Pietersen played an instrumental r in England’s series victory against India after having amassed 533 runs in the 4-match test series. Breathtaking batting displays coupled with an average of 106 in the series meant that Pietersen’s reputation as one of England’s all-time greats could no longer be denied.

Drama, Drama, and More Drama

A dip in form in 2012 was followed by more off-field drama. Pietersen’s relations with the ECB and the then England coach Andy Flower began deteriorating. He landed in a high-profile controversy after sending defamatory text messages regarding England skipper Andrew Strauss to the visiting South African players. What followed the incident was Pietersen’s apologetic interview during a press conference. All this while, Pietersen’s reputation kept on deteriorating. 

His dismal outings against the Aussies during the 2013-14 Ashes series down under are believed to be the prime reason behind his untimely retirement. Pietersen’s autobiography, published later that year, added salt on the wounds and was arguably the most outspoken autobiography in the history of the game. It launched an emotional outburst on those he felt had wronged him and had brought his England career to a dead end.

The Legacy

With more than 8,000 test runs under his belt in 104 test matches, Pietersen is undoubtedly one of the greatest and the most celebrated cricketers of the modern era. A fraction under 4,500 ODI runs in 136 matches aren’t enough to highlight the impact he had on the game. His on-field presence spoke louder than words. 

The Gamechanger

People remember him for his swashbuckling hits, his unending tryst with controversies, and his charismatic aura, but his fans would always remember him for the impact he had on the game. It was Kevin Pietersen who transformed the way ordinary Englishmen looked at white-ball cricket. He was the first ‘white-ball star of English cricket’. 

Kevin Pietersen’s brand of cricket resonated well with the spectators. He was an ‘outcast’ in a team that was known for being too orthodox. Irrespective of the conditions and the quality of the bowling attack, Kevin Pietersen ‘dared’ to score runs. He lived by the sword and, one has to say, died by it.

Investment in youth the best way forward for Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich’s recent defeat at the hands of Hertha Berlin was quite a thunderclap. The club had some bitter pills to swallow after Ondrej Duda and Vedad Ibisevic scored to deny Bayern what many believed to be a straightforward win. This unlikely defeat broke Bayern’s nine-year-long undefeated over Hertha. Despite a few wobbles early on in the season, Bayern Munich is still in the race to win the Bundesliga is year around. Currently placed third in the points table, behind the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach, the lads from Munich certainly have the necessary firepower to turn the tables and reclaim the paradise.

A major reason behind the club’s sinister defeats has been the inconsistency ailing some of the club’s star players including the Dutch international Arjen Robben. Despite having rich cash reserves and adequate financial backing at their disposal, the club has refrained itself from making billion-dollar transfers of late.

Last summer, Corentin Tolisso’s transfer from Lyon to Bayern Munich attracted a few eyeballs. Acquired for a hefty sum of 41.5 million Euros, the transfer broke all records for a German club. At 24, the Frenchman comes into the side with a rich wealth of experience behind him. Going forward, he can certainly replace some of the bigger names in Bayern’s starting XI.

Similarly, German Right Back Joshua Kimmich was also signed by the club in 2015 in an attempt to strengthen the club’s youth reserves. Still, only 23, a player of Kimmich’s skill can be of immense value to Bayern Munich. Defender Jerome Boateng also joined the club as a 22-year-old in 2011 and, since then, has been a part of some of the most memorable victories in the history of the club.

Providing the right infrastructure

Bayern Munich’s strategy has also revolved around investing heavily in the youth system. Staying true to its essence of youth development, the club invested around 70 million Euros to establish a ‘Bayern Campus’ facility. The facility, located just 3 kilometres away from the Allianz Arena. The grand facility houses training areas, housing quarters, as many as eight football pitches, and a stadium as well. Money certainly can’t buy you everything, but investing such a heavy sum to streamline and nurture young players throws ample light on the club’s ideology of harnessing long-term prospects rather than spilling a billion dollars to acquire already established names.

Those who went searching for greener pastures

Whatever the club might think, but finding and nurturing players for a club as good as Bayern Munich happens to be a daunting task. Spanish star David Alba joined the club as a youngster and rose through the ranks to make a name for himself elsewhere. Tried and tested names in German defender Mats Hummels and mid-fielder Sandro Wagner began their careers at Bayern before moving to other clubs. Both of them returned to the club recently.

Not much Homegrown talent of late

Almost all of Bayern Munich’s star performers have been acquired from other teams. Polish national Robert Lewandowski was signed from Borussia Dortmund 2014. Since then, he has led the scoring charts with a tally of 111 goals in a 135 matches for the Bavarian giants. At 30, the star from Poland has entered the autumn of his playing career. With Lewandowski’s and Robben’s age running out, James Rodriguez would surely run out of midfielders in a season or two. Adding a few young midfielders into their ranks would not only provide them with a much-needed breath of fresh air but would also allow the club to nurture long-term prospects.

An eye on the future

Going by the popular notion football is a young man’s game. Investing in the youth might sound like a tedious process at first, but having some fresh and energetic raw material to work with gives you the liberty to carve legends out of talented youngsters. Thomas Mueller, the vice-captain is a roaring example of the club’s youth development system in the recent past. With manager Niko Kovak facing the heat of late because of some sinister defeats, the best way forward for the club is to invest heavily in the youth. This would allow the club to nurture a breed of players for the coming decade.