Sachin: A Billion Dreams Movie Review: It Coasts Along on the Strength of Nostalgia, Familiarity

Image result for Sachin: A Billion Dreams Movie Review: It Coasts Along on the Strength of Nostalgia, FamiliarityIt’s a tricky thing reviewing a film that celebrates the life and career of one of the most loved sportsmen this country has produced. Because fans tend to have trouble making a distinction between the film and the man. Which means any criticism of the film, any attempt on your part to point out its shortcomings will inevitably be misread as criticism of its famous subject.

Told you it wasn’t easy being a critic!

Sachin: A Billion Dreams faithfully chronicles every major milestone in the career of cricketing god Sachin Tendulkar, from his debut at 16 in international cricket to his retirement from the sport four years ago. It’s a journey that’s been obsessively followed and documented, hence not a lot of this is stuff you haven’t seen before. Then there is the matter of Sachin’s reluctance to address the controversies you’re interested in.

The film acknowledges that there were tensions in the dressing room when Sachin replaced Mohammed Azharuddin as captain, but the master blaster himself reveals no details. On the prickly issue of the match-fixing scandal, he expresses disappointment and shock but refrains from any constructive discussion on the incident. It’s only in the case of Greg Chappell that Sachin commits to anything by way of a firm response, describing the former coach’s style as “divide and rule”, and squarely blaming him for the team’s poor performance in the 2007 World Cup.

He’s more expressive when it comes to sharing his own vulnerabilities and failures. His rough patch on the field, his debilitating injuries and their impact on his game, and of course his ill-fated stints as captain. Emotion runs strong when he speaks about his father’s passing, and about his continuing efforts to live his life in the way that his father recommended.

The film’s real treasure is the footage of Sachin Tendulkar in his private moments: holding his baby daughter Sara for the first time, holidays with the family, hanging out with his friends, training with his son Arjun. It is unguarded moments like these, many accompanied by revealing interviews of family and friends that help piece together the jigsaw puzzle that is Sachin, the man behind the legend.

Like his wife Anjali recounting the time after their marriage that he made it clear that only one of them could work. Or his telling her, quite firmly, that he wouldn’t change the baby’s diapers. Another unexpected revelation comes from a childhood friend who names the Bappi Lahiri track that is Sachin’s comfort music.

Director James Erskine’s patchwork quilt of significant moments from Sachin’s life includes a recreation of his childhood years with a cast of competent actors. This he melds with both incredible home videos and news footage from a storied career. Sachin’s achievements are placed in the context of India’s own modern history, and his rise and rise as one of the greatest icons of our time.

No matter how many times we’ve seen the clip, it’s impossible not to cheer at India’s 2011 World Cup Win, or choke up while watching Sachin deliver that heartfelt retirement speech at Wankhede. Sure there’s a lot more this film could’ve been, but it coasts along on the strength of nostalgia, familiarity, and our collective love for a man who’s name we turned into a chant.

I’m going with three out of five. Prepare for major gooseflesh.

Rating: 3 / 5

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[“Source-ndtv”]

Google confirms it’s rolling out new reviews format for hotels

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that it is now rolling out a new user interface and feature set around local reviews for hotels. Earlier this month, we saw Google begin testing new hotel reviews features, and now Google has begun to roll them out. Sergey Alakov was the first to notice these beginning to roll out.

A Google spokesperson confirmed this with us just now and said in a statement:

Google is continually improving the information shown to people to help them make decisions about where to go. When people are searching for a hotel to stay at, we want to ensure we make it easy for people to find useful and relevant web reviews about that place to help them make informed decisions.

The new hotel reviews interface added some core features. Here are a few:

  • Third-party reviews show in a carousel for some of the listings.
  • The review overview section has a more robust interface showing stronger colors and reviews also by attribute.
  • The detailed review section will show a graphical user interface based on type of travel.

Here are some screen shots we are able to see now of the new interface:

[“Source-ndtv”]

Cannes Film Review: ‘Loveless’

'Loveless' Review from Cannes: Andrey Zvyagintsev's

 

Alexey Zvyagintsev’s stark tale of a divorcing couple is a missing- child procedural that meditates on the corruption of Russia.

“Loveless,” the title of the compelling and forbidding new movie by the Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Leviathan,” “Elena”), seems, for a while, to refer to the state of the relationship between the film’s two main characters, a Moscow couple who are on the verge of divorcing. Boris (Alexei Rozin), bearded and officious, a kind of mildly saddened Teddy bear, and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak), beautiful and knife-edged, with a buried despair of her own, still live together in the same apartment. But they’re trying to sell it off as quickly as possible, because they can barely come up with three words of civility between them.

Their marriage, or what’s left of it, has reached the toxic point of no return. No one understands this better than Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), their pale and passive 12-year-old son, who doesn’t do much besides stare at his computer between crying fits. When Alyosha disappears without a trace, his emotionally estranged parents have to come together to search for him. But no, “Loveless” isn’t a story about how the search for Alyosha brings Boris and Zhenya closer together, or makes them take stock and stop hating each other. What the movie is about, in a way that’s both potent and oblique, is something larger than the charred ashes of one dead marriage.

There have always been oppressive societies that clamp down on filmmaking, but allow just enough wiggle room of expression for a shrewd — and poetic — artist to say what’s on his mind. That was true in the Communist Czechoslovakia of the 1970s, or in the Iran of the last 30 years. It’s true, as well, of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. As a filmmaker, Andrey Zvyagintsev can’t come right out and declare, in bright sharp colors, the full corruption of his society, but he can make a movie like “Leviathan,” which took the spiritual temperature of a middle-class Russia lost in booze and betrayal, and he can make one like “Loveless,” which takes an ominous, reverberating look not at the politics of Russia but at the crisis of empathy at the culture’s core.

Boris and Zhenya have both moved on to other relationships, which are far more affectionate than the one they’re in, so that seems to be a sign of hope; after divorce comes a new beginning. Boris is with the perky, very pregnant Masha (played by Marina Vasilyeva, who suggests an Eastern European Michelle Williams), and Zhenya, between visits to the salon and a consuming relationship with her smartphone, has found the man who answers her dreams, or at least her needs: the wealthy, handsome, doting, middle-aged Anton (Andris Keishs). Love, it seems, is possible. But what kind of love?

Zvyagintsev colors in a whole society’s romantic neurosis, and he does it with the details along the sidelines. Boris has to keep his divorce hidden at his corporate sales office, because the boss is a fundamentalist Christian. (If Boris isn’t married with children, he’ll be out of a job.) Zhenya’s lover, on the other hand, has given her entré to the one-percent echelon of the new gilded Russia. The film introduces us to it in a telling moment at an outrageously ritzy restaurant where the camera lingers on a woman flirtatiously giving out her phone number…before sitting back down to dinner across from the man she’s come with. That moment speaks volumes — about a clawing-to-the-top ethos of desperate avarice that scarcely leaves room for “romance.”

So what does all this have to do with a missing child? Everything, it turns out. “Loveless” has been made in a forceful and deliberate socialist-realist Hitchcockian style that recalls the most celebrated films of the Romanian new wave (“4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days”; “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”). The disappearance of Alyosha hangs over the movie and haunts it, and on some level it’s a missing-child procedural. Yet what’s meaningful is the way that he disappeared: He was left unsupervised, and his mother, coming home at night, assumed that he was in his room and didn’t bother to check in on him. A minor mistake…and an epic instance of neglect.

The Moscow police, who lean toward thinking that he has run away (because if so, the statistics suggest he’ll likely return, and they won’t have to add to their caseload), can’t do a lot, and a local citizens’ group is more proactive. They scour the area in their orange jackets and fatigues, leaving no stone unturned. As all of this goes on, the title of “Loveless” begins to expand. A society rooted in corruption becomes a petri dish for a loveless marriage that spawns a family in which a child isn’t loved — that is, looked after — in the right way. And the result, seemingly out of nowhere (but not really), is tragic.

The dramatic aesthetic of a movie like “Loveless” — rock-solid yet leisurely in its observance, grounded yet metaphorical — makes it a quietly commanding film, but it’s not clear, at least in the United States, that there’s much of an art-house audience left for a movie like this one. It culminates (in a resonant final shot), but it’s doesn’t always powerfully deliver. It’s a meditation as much as it is a relationship drama. That said, almost anyone who sees it is sure to recognize the virus it diagnoses, which is hardly limited to Russia. The forces that conspire in the fraying of love are now everywhere.

[“source-ndtv”]

Giphy Says Is the Coolest Thing Ever to Happen to GIFs

Giphy Says Is the Coolest Thing Ever to Happen to GIFs

GIFs have become synonymous with pop culture as messaging apps and social networks have grown rapidly over the last few years. No matter which social network you use, you’re more than likely to find GIFs from popular TV shows and movies.

Making GIFs has also become easier than ever. There are several awesome apps that let you do this, including Giphy Says. Giphy is one of the world’s most popular stashes of GIFs on the Internet. Its new app is exclusive to the iPhone for the time being, and lets you capture short clips, while automatically adding subtitles. Just point the camera anywhere and talk for a few seconds. When you are done, you’ll see your words plastered on the video.

This is perhaps the coolest thing to happen to GIFs since, well, the rise of cute GIFs of puppies and kittens. The idea is quite simple and has been executed very well. Giphy Says uses Apple’s Siri voice recognition tech to convert what you say into text and that works surprisingly well most of the time.

We tried this in a quiet room and Giphy Says managed to catch most of what we were trying to say. Some of the words it did not understand, such as “pulao” can easily be attributed to Siri’s unfamiliarity with Indian words. It picked up the correct phrase about nine of ten times, which is pretty good.

Giphy Says is a good example of an app that does just one thing and does it very well. It’s just like using a camera app with filters. You can swipe either side to reveal these “filters”, which are simply different effects to the text. You can have text plastered all over the screen or in a callout, like the dialogue in a comic strip. There’s even one filter that turns everything you say into emoji, which is by far our favourite filter.
Once you’re done, you can easily share these GIFs via iMessage, FB Messenger, or post them to Instagram. Alternatively you can save these GIFs to your photo library, or just hit the share button to send them to practically any app.

The experience overall is quite smooth and should present no problems to beginners. Just remember that GIFs, in general, aren’t as high-quality as videos you’d normally shoot on your phone.

The only thing it lacks is an Android version, but we’d assume that the developers will eventually ship one. It’s not often that we come across slick apps that do what they promise extremely well straight out of the box. Giphy Says is one of the few apps to manage this and we’d be very happy to recommend it to everyone.

You can download Giphy Says free from the App Store.

 

 

[“source-ndtv”]