The Big Girl

On an early winter morning in December, I was schedule for a physical inventory count as part of an Audit task at work. I drove down to Victoria, Texas on a cloudy morning hoping it wouldn’t be such a tough one to do. When I arrived at this coal power plant, majority of the blue collar workers were white. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any Hispanic or Latinos.  I was greeted by the facility manager and he gave me a tour. There were two silos (a cylindrical mount) I had to climb. Each Silo had a ladder attached to it and the each ladder had a narrow protective surrounding (see below for pic). Another girl arrived at the site, she was short and heavy. We put our helmets and steel toe shoes and waited for instructions. As we were getting nearer to the silos, I realized the girl wouldn’t be able to climb or she would hold us up. She was able climb, but it took us more than 2hours for us to measure each chemical in the silos. After climbing the first silo, the girl decided to take a break. However, I wanted to already climb the silo and take a measurement and leave. Instead of being on schedule, we decided to take a break for an hour.  
Facility Manager with a concerned look, said, “Who was going to conduct the physical inventory the next day?” I told her the name of the girl and he asked me her physical traits. I described her as a big girl. A little too heavy to climb the ladder and she was physically unfit for the job. The Facility Manager announced that I should call her and ask for someone else to do the task tomorrow. When I called her, I mentioned nothing about her physical traits to her, because she knew she was a big girl. She would not be able to climb it. Without hearing my side, she got very defensive. She sent me few texts, and they read as,” you need to more information as to why they’re under the assumption I shouldn’t come, or why you’re under the assumption I can’t handle the work?”
I didn’t want to have to argue with this logic. I knew I was right. So without going further into the conversation, I told her she will do fine. I didn’t care to be a concerned co-worker after such a defensive banter. During the phone conversation, she asked me if it was because she was a girl or that she was big girl? I didn’t want her to get offended so I ended the conversation by saying she will be okay.

So my question to the readers, how would you have handle this situation differently? Even if it was a guy, I still would’ve called. Why do “big” people get defensive, I know you’re big and I know you know that you’re big. Should an average size person feel uncomfortable telling a big person that she/he is physically unfit for the task? Has the society come to the term that being “big” is perfectly normal and healthy?  I don’t have any issues with people being big. It’s their body. They can do whatever they want, but when a job requires a physically fit person, “big” people do not need to get defensive. 

A Passionate Affair in Food Films

Delicious! Tasty! Spicy! 2014 was the year food was appreciated on cinematic scope. The year began with Chef followed by My Trip to Italy and The 100 Foot Journey. Each film had an original cuisine. Zesty Cuban sandwiches to Indian Murg Masalas. Water was running down my throat as I viewed each film. Healthy food consumption is important to human. Studies have shown that people who eat healthy have a stimulating brain. Beside the healthy food debate, as vibrant and spicy food can be, films can be bland and salty. Jon Favreau’s written and directed, Chef, “Independent film” doesn’t even inspire anyone to be a chef. Cuban Sandwiches fell flat on Jon Favreau’s food truck.

As most of the films I’ve seen this year revolved around a troubled father and his manageable time to spend with his son. Father and Son ~ zzzz it’s about time Hollywood changes subject matters. Chef and The 100 Foot Journey lacked an appetizing appeal. As much as I love Indian food, The 100 Foot Journey’s masalas weren’t spoonful enough in the film, sprinkled on top of an uneventful script. The 100 Foot Journey is Swedish director’s Lasse Hallstrom’s crafted dish and based on Richard Morais’ novel The Hundred-Foot Journey. An Indian-Muslim family settles into a small town in France hoping to score big with their loud music and loud food. A French cuisine is limited in terms of my taste. The next film I viewed was My Trip to Italy. The film is a journey of two friends eating and traveling into cities of Italy for a hysterical contest to see which man could do a better impression of Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Huge Grant and Al Pacino. My Trip to Italy is a sequel to The Trip, and at one point, Coogan says, “It feels odd to do something for the second time.” Although, I have not seen the first film, I thoroughly enjoyed and devoured each frame of Italian food. I developed a massive crush over how funny Rob Brydon is! 

My Trip to Italy was entirely better film in terms of food and comedic value. As much as food was important in the film, the scenery in the background which added a little more luxurious feel to the food. After My Trip to Italy, I took The Lunchbox break. The Lunchbox, a directorial debut by Ritesh Batra is as spicy and dramatic as cayenne pepper. Every meal should be satisfying. The Lunchox created an original recipe for the Indians after diving into Masala filmmaking throughout the past few years.  The film is a charming portrait of two lonely souls who connect through a mishandled Lunchbox in Mumbai, India. The film leaves you hungry for Indian food.

2014, a year where food was a central character in filmmaking and without a doubt, a tasteful one!

List of Food Films mentonied in this post:

1: Chef
2: The 100 Foot Journey
3: My Trip to Italy
4: The Lunchbox 

Top 17 Films of the Year 2014

So, 2014 has ended. It was one of the best year for independent films. With a new job (both an internship earlier in the year and a full time during fall) had me pretty much occupied throughout the year, but I don't think I would ever miss a damn good film. The ones in red I have seen more than twice.  I have yet to write reviews for majority of them. Keep watching! Keep reading! Have a great 2015! 

Here is a list in no particular order:

1. Calvary 

2. Whiplash 
3. Blue Ruin 
4. Under The Skin 
5. Ida 
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel
7. Alan Patridge
8. Rob The Mob
9. We Are The Best
10. The Guest 
11. Snowpiercer 
12: The Badabook 
12: Boyhood 
13: Interstellar 
14: The Imitation Game  
15: Obvious Child (Jenny Slate, I love you!) 
16: My Trip to Italy
17: The Lunchbox 

Here's another list of film I have not seen:

1: The Drop

2: Unbroken
3: Big Eyes
4: Birdman 
5: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
6: The Skeleton Twins
7: Foxcatcher
8: Teenage
9: Leviathan
10: Maps to the Stars
11: Manakamana
12: Stations of the Cross
13: Two Days, One Night
14: Mommy
15: Citizenfour 
16: Mr. Turner
17: Only Lovers Left Alive

A Most Wanted Man: Antone Corbijin

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last major film, “A Most Wanted Man” set in Hamburg where the conspirators of 9/11 lived at one point.  A Most Wanted Man is based on John le Carre’s novel, to tell a story of one intelligent and dissuaded man, Gunther Bachmann.  Bachmann is a persistent and alert character. The protagonist of in A Most Wanted Man is a bit fascinating. A shy, half-Chechen, half-Rsussian, and religious Issa (Grigory Dobrygin) from Chechnya comes to Germany after being tortured by Russians. He’s given shelter by Hamburg’s Islamic community.  Bachmann learns that Issa has inherited a large sum of money being held by a corrupt German banker, Tommy Brue (Willeam Dofe), and Issa also having ties with Dr.Abdullah to aiding terrorist organizations.  Both Germany and U.S. networks want to arrest them; however, Bachmann fabricates a plan to decoy them.

A Most Wanted Man is a gripping spy film and one of the best of the year.  The film has a stylish theme of 70s, but the cinematography of Benoit Delhomme is shabby.  The film required a moving frame. The scenes were glued at an unmoving storyline. Philip Syemour Hoffman’s last few movies proved he was a character actor; he had the amiable quality of becoming the best out of the best. Seymour with The Master became the bona fide leading man.  A Most Wanted Man is a hidden cat and mouse game for the audience.  This film is directed by Antone Corbijin.  

Boyhood: Richard Linklater

 Boyhood recently opened up in the theatres.  More than a decade in the making, Boyhood delivered a great script. Boyhood was filmed entirely in Texas. Texas is one of my home and being a Texan I was a tad bit partial with this film. I had no expectations, but as a filmmaker, there were few flaws in the screenplay that got under my skin. Life will be simultaneously underwhelming and overwhelming with a sudden burst of drama and love at tender times. At times, I felt as if I was living the characters’ lives, and growing up with them during the film.

Richard Linklater was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He moved to Austin after quitting his routine job and began his career as an independent filmmaker. In his Reddit AMA, he stated, “Once you devote your life to film you're kind of in for the whole thing. I've noticed different kinds of films have inspired me at different points in my life, but the goal is to see everything.” With Boyhood, Linklater has constructed an original film, a movie that will be remembered for the coming years.

Boyhood began with a scene of a perfect blue sky, partially clouded and a background song of Coldplay’s “Yellow.” Coldplay’s Parachutes was released in 2000. The film follows a story of Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and their mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and in suburban Texas.  Olivia moves to Houston to complete her studies at University of Houston while her mother looks over her kids. When in Houston, Mason’s father, Mason Sr (Ethan Hawk) visits them frequently. The kids and their mom face various challenges throughout the film.  

I have rarely seen such an accurate reality projected on the screen. Boyhood recognizes commotion of adolescence as well as raising children as a single mother. Just like life, the ups and downs. However, Mason’s character lacks a strong character development during teenage years. He was the same ole annoying kid you met during high school. The cynic who felt the world was out to get to him. There is a scene in the film where he goes to University of Texas at Austin to visit his sister with his girlfriend. This was his phase to losing virginity by having sex with his girlfriend in her sister’s dorm while her roommate is out of town. It felt forced. I wanted the character much more relatable in terms of sexual frustrations. Samantha, a clever kid goes through infamous changes throughout the film. She reflected many of my female cousins in today’s society. Hollywood scripts have made my very icky. During a scene in Boyhood, Mason Jr’s girlfriend is showing him a picture of a dog on Facebook while he’s driving. I had this sudden feeling that he was going to crash and end up in the hospital. The main reason I thought about this was because most Hollywood scripts add jibber jabbers.

Despite the few flaws, Boyhood is a poignant film. The film rewards our expectations at the end. The film has minimal camera movements and uses natural light making it more like a home video. Boyhood demonstrates the flow of time by using cultural references: Game Boys to Xbox, Coldplay to the Black Keys, and George Bush Jr. to the Democratic Campaign of POTUS in 2008.  What is unique about Boyhood is what each character learned from their mistakes. 

Interstellar: Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan was never in my list of favorite movie directors primarily because he wasn’t someone I paid much attention to during film school neither during his Batman movie series success. I’m lukewarm to rest of his films. I still remember the day I become a fan of his “A man with a movie camera” as known as “Inception.” I became his true fan boy only after seeing Interstellar 3x this weekend. 

Most reviews of Interstellar were a bit too harsh towards Nolan, and frankly, modern film critics go haywire comparing and contrasting films or looking for scientific inaccuracies (Neil deGrasse Tyson and Phil Plait ~ I’m looking at y’all).  Most reviews complained about the lack of sound quality and I wasn’t much troubled with sound expect one Micheal Caine scene, and Christopher Nolan disregarded any claims against bad sound quality by stating, “Information is communicated in various different ways over the next few scenes. That’s the way I like to work; I don't like to hang everything on one particular line. I like to follow the experience of the character.” Interstellar is a crossword puzzle; you get the most out of it by reviewing and filling in all the details.

Interstellar made an entry into Kip Throne’s mind tesseract, a theoretical physicist, when he decided to write a screenplay. Many studios shot down the screenplay because it lacked an appeal to the masses. Space movies meant little to no science, or bit of Star-trek and Aliens; however, Interstellar is much more than just science. Sending someone to space is very costly, and the GOP has told many dreamy and dream-on Astronauts to evaporate their dreams in the space by cutting NASA’s budgets left and right. Outer space is off limits in 21st century, while recently “third-world” countries like India are gearing up the race for space travel.

The premise of Interstellar is simple. Interstellar begins with Earth dying; vegetation is slowly killed by the conditions of dust bowl. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), an ex-NASA pilot turned corn farmer in the Midwest in the future finds the coordinates of a location; Murph (Mackenzie Foy), a young daughter of Cooper believes the ghost (“they”) is communicating with her. The father and daughter jump in their jeep and drive towards a metal fence where the secret NASA’s last remaining space center is hidden where Professor Brand (Michael Caine) is waiting for them. Professor Brand convinces Cooper to go through a wormhole into another galaxy to seek out for the three planets (follow up on “The Lazarus Project,” that sent 12 astronauts to 12 different planets in another galaxy that may or may not be able to tolerate human life and only three planets received YES vote.) with Brand’s daughter Amelia, and two other Astronauts and human-like Robots known as KIPP, TARS, and CASE (Cats Speak RIP?).

Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoteyma is known for films such as The Fighter, Her, Let the Right One In, and his work in Interstellar is magically smooth and divine. His new job involves Bond 24. However, most of the credit should be given to Nolan’s perfect execution through analog. Nolan minimizes digital usages and the film being shot on celluloid gave a more realistic approach to cinema. At times, Hans Zimmer’s score overpowers the screen, while many complained about the sound quality, but I felt it was need in a space film where there are no sounds present. For example, there is a scene where Cooper’s team is going near Saturn’s ring and there is absolute silence followed blast of music. Christopher Nolan has definitely changed my views on analog and the future of it.