Category Archives: Review

Film Review: Mother India

Mother IndiaI’ve had this review in my blog’s draft posts folder for more than two years, but there’s no time like the present for talking about a 55-year old film.

Mother India is the quintessential Indian film of its time, combining themes of sacrifice, family, corruption, progress and honour (no name but a few).

It was also India’s first submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1958 and was chosen as one of the five nominations for the category, where it eventually lost to Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria. Continue reading

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Review: See A Little Light – Bob Mould’s autobiography

The last year or so has unexpectedly proved a bumper time for Husker Du-related books, with first Andrew Earles’ book on the band and more recently Bob Mould’s autobiography, See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody.

Mould, guitarist and singer first in Husker Du and then in Sugar, has always been a somewhat reticent figure in interviews, happy to talk about the music but rarely giving away anything in public that might be considered personal. Continue reading

Action Replayy (film review)

Action Replayy Bollywood filmThe glorious technicolour titles for Action Replayy, leaning heavily on an Austin Powers idea of retro, promise much more than the film can deliver.

In a little over two hours it under-performs with its script, jokes, songs and acting. And yet it still proved to be an enjoyable ‘time pass’, though unlikely to meet its billing by a lonely Amazon reviewer as one of the best Bollywood films of 2010.

But, rewinding the (ahem) action a little and, with no chance of a repeat of last year’s Channel 4 Christmas Bollywood season, I chose to browse YouTube’s free Bollywood films listings, finally alighting on a title I recognised. Continue reading

Britpop and Luke Haines’ Bad Vibes

“Why is there a cabbage listing to headphones on the cover?

“Luke Haines is insane,” noted Son1 on seeing Bad Vibes: Britpop and my part in its downfall.

And perhaps that’s as apt a review as the book should get, though I would add that Haines’ ’90s memoir is also extremely, and bad temperedly, funny. Continue reading

Review: Bengali (Bangla) Dictionary and Phrasebook

Bengali Bangla Dictionary Phrasebook Hanne Ruth ThompsonIt’s one of the quirks of Bengali that a language estimated to be the seventh most spoken in the world has not had a dedicated phrasebook available for at least five years.

Lonely Planet’s Bengali phrasebook ran to just a single edition in the late 1990s, seemed a little ropey in places and hasn’t been available for years. It may have been partly replaced by their combined Bengali-Hindi-Urdu phrasebook, but it’s not the same as a dedicated resource for Bangla leaners.

Happily this situation is remedied this year with the publication of Hanne-Ruth Thompson’s Bengali (Bangla) Dictionary & Phrasebook. Continue reading

Film Review: The Namesake

The Namesake film posterThe Namesake is as much a film about a Bengali immigrant as she searches for her place within America as it is about her son Gogol, the namesake of the title, and his journey.

The 2006 film is based on a Jhumpa Lahiri novel and tells the story of stars Kal Penn as Gogol, a young Indian American whose name, chosen by his parents Ashoke and Ashima (Tabu) after the Russian writer, causes him to question his identity.

Themes of identity and belonging abound – is he a first-generation American or from a long line of Bengali ancestors? And what of his mother’s journey from a headstrong young woman living in Kolkata to a young wife, then mother, then not-so-young woman living in the US. Continue reading

Film review: Satyajit Ray’s Days and Nights in the Forest

Days and Nights in the Forest titles

Aranyer Din Ratri

Days and Nights in the Forest (Aranyer Din Ratri) is a particularly watchable Satyajit Ray film.

Its themes – a road trip, a quartet of young men, the clash between urban and rural society – are such recognisable ones, but beyond that there’s a completeness about the narrative.

The Bengali director allows the story to unfold with a satisfying sense of momentum and the film has a French new wave feel about it, thanks to the beautiful way in which it was shot (and the western habits of the main characters).

Continue reading