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So as the year slowly draws closer to an end, we realise that we sort of, kind of have travelled the world by being right where we are - in our safe space - our home.
Would you believe if I told you that there are places on our planet which man has not been set foot to plunder the riches? Where predators rule and life is thriving? And because they thrive, there is hope for our planet. Even though sometimes we feel like we are hurtling rather rapidly towards a ghastly apocalypse of the global meltdown, plastic oceans, and heat, incredible heat from humans losing their humanity. But then naturalists have quietly gone to that part of the ocean that will perhaps save us.
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The limited series will make you think again about how you live, as it certainly did me. I now think ten times before I buy clothes or an electronic gadget... Not because Marie Kondo’s simplicity of living but because I understand how my carbon footprint works...
So as the year slowly draws closer to an end, we realise that we sort of, kind of have travelled the world by being right where we are - in our safe space - our home. Despite all kinds of threats, you continue to live with your head held high, but with humility, learning from stories from around the world.
I have always been fascinated by Japan. The people are inscrutable, their sense of food, life and aesthetics is like none other, and even though they can tell stories like Kyoto, Sosyun (Director: Hiroshi Toda, 2014) and Shoplifters (Director: Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018), stories like Earthquake Bird that have been shot in Japan make me sing, 'I'm turning Japanese...' just like The Vapors did...
The film stars Alicia Vikander and it’s about a missing person in a love triangle. The loneliness of living in a foreign land is perhaps very real, but it does not deter me from dreaming of moving to Japan to live a quiet, anonymous life eating ramen...
I was in New Zealand with the family and I stole some time to watch half an episode of a rather odd TV show called Casketeers. And I just spotted it on Netflix and had to watch it. It is a very different way to get introduced to a culture so far away from us. They pronounce it Kaas-kateers (as in the Kaas plateau in Maharashtra). And no, I am not focused morbidly on dying even though this show is about a funeral home. I just am fascinated by the island people and their customs...
Speaking of customs, it will be so easy for you to go over to the other side of the globe and watch manic Tom Cruise do his thing in a cloud of cocaine for the government in American Made. Did you read that right? Aye! It’s a 2017 film, and I’m not sure if it released in India, but watch it on Netflix. It’s a delightful watch. You’ve watched Narcos, Breaking Bad and even Saul. But this one film has Tom Cruise lose it brilliantly. Perfect cheese on your popcorn.
If you were to get to England though and bear with my current obsession with death, you will grin when you watch After Life which stars Ricky Gervais. It felt good to hear someone else say what I feel when people one is pitching a movie to say, ‘You’re too firang’ just because my characters are not cursing at the drop of a hat. See the trailer and count the number of times you have wanted to go postal on people who mouth platitudes and jargon and seem to agree with the boss in slimier and slimier ways.
I did try watching Hugh Grant and his posh accent on Amazon Prime in A Very English Scandal with Ben Wishaw (shedding his clothes again!) but it was just so tedious. Across the channel though, they are telling stories about The Man Without Gravity which starts off rather well, since it is such an interesting concept but then sort of gets out of shape... Perhaps you are better off watching Bad Seed. It’s a bunch of teens from a rough neighbourhood who have to learn to deal with a substitute teacher.
Watch it with subtitles on Netflix in the original language. Catherine Deneuve dubbed in English (or anyone French, for that matter) sounds rather ghastly. Across Europe though we are still in dark territory with all the documentaries that are historical. Unless you still have not seen the delightful Spanish film called Toc Toc which is available on Netflix.
The first book I read about the continent called Africa, it was Cry, The Beloved Country and the legend of Anansi the Spider, and then when I saw Kilimanjaro sans the snow, I realised the ravages of climate change, and my heart was broken again. The beautiful continent holds many unpalatable secrets. And the stories it tells are gut-wrenching. Watch Black Earth Rising and pray that we will all rise up one day, hold hands and never let the bad guys win.
Aha! You noticed that I have skillfully skipped the mention of any Indian show. That's because our stories are all coloured by Bollywood and even though we have a regional cinema that tells stories differently, there is nothing that comes even close to these. Until then, fly to faraway lands to find fabulous fables...
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
Read her columns here.