Fun, Frustrations, and Managing People

So, this month, I finished up a class I had previously failed in and got a letter grade of B this time; I volunteered all of my time at a field office closest to me for the Bernie Sanders campaign for the New York primary, and my relatives sold off an ancestral homeland that was supposed to be my inheritance from the family. They sold it for basically the equivalent of pennies when the full value was far above it. So, I can no longer pursue my parents dream of building a hospital to help people suffering in third world country poverty.

I’m not even age 30 yet and one dream seems far out of my grasp than before. My parents have feelings of finality towards it. I’ve mostly been dealing with my parents inability to handle stress on any significant or healthy level up until today when my mother finally calmed down.

Meeting people and helping the field organizer manage volunteers was a fairly eye-opening experience. I didn’t realize how effective the psychology books made me in managing people but I vastly underestimated myself. I’m no expert, by any means, but I am capable of managing volunteers, even difficult ones, by instructing them on what to do for phonebanking, explaining the reasons why we don’t make multiple facebook pages to sway young voters as this one difficult volunteer insisted upon, and asking if they have any questions to make sure I’ve fully explained everything and effectively got them to start their duties. It was an amazing experience. I met a lot of very kind and intelligent people but I suppose that’s par for the course among volunteers. A selection bias of only quality people emerges from volunteer work, it seems.

Although, take that with a grain of salt, as I can only speak of my own anecdotal experience and I cannot help but wonder what could conceivably happen if someone wanted to do something nefarious when assigned with a fellow volunteer. Of course, I would hope such a terrible outcome will never happen but people should try to keep safe. But, in this instance, it was nothing but meeting amazing, proactive, and encouraging people. One man in particular, a senior citizen by the name of Joe, told me that he had nothing but respect for the young generation and that we should fight against apathy because we do create real changes. He and several others of his age group and those in their 50s, pretty much admitted that the youngest generation today is the smartest, hardest working, and that they have nothing but respect for our dedication because they’re fighting apathy too. Moreover, they feel their generation just wasn’t as prepared or as intelligent enough to properly handle the ongoing problems of terrorism, climate change, and so forth like the young generation are. So, according to them, we shouldn’t feel useless, or apathetic, or like we can’t change our futures because of complexity. I can honestly say that I firmly agree with those sentiments.

In general, it’s actually been a pretty good month for me. I got a good grade on a course I wanted to prove myself in, I volunteered and made professional contacts from people I genuinely like, and I’m realizing I need to begin planning out my future immediately and that I’ve been too malaise while overthinking difficulties. The first step toward change is stepping forward.

Kamasutra: A Tale of Love (1996) / कामसूत्र अ टेल ऑफ़ लव

Warning: Film Spoilers!

This film, by far, is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Definitely the best Indian film that I’ve ever seen.

Admittedly, the transition is a bit hard to follow, and the love triangle may not be what people like to see in a film that was meant to be porn but was changed because Indian authorities watched over it. Instead, we have one of the best feminist films ever made in all of human history.

Maya, the main heroine, is a deeply complex, conflicted, and believable character who goes through changes in opinions as she grows up. Banished by her village due to having sex with the King before he was to wed the princess right before the wedding vows, she meets and falls in love with an artisan who rebukes her because she inhibits his professional career. Despite making love, Jai Kumar feels that she can only be a hindrance and make him lose focus.

Maya disavows love, after being burned twice, first by realizing the King was a philanderer who acquires servant women to have sex with, and then by being rebuked by Jai despite both of them being mutually in love. Maya decides, since she already lives with the stigma of being a whore and cannot find work by any other means, to become a professional courtesan. She learns, from her sex instructor, to exude her femininity, to not shy away from sexualization, and to take control of her life by controlling men’s hearts. What’s most interesting is the dichotomy between fate as a result of her stigma and her choice to improve her own living standards by making the best of a bad scenario. In the beginning, Maya shows independence by rebuking an ugly Prince’s sexual advances and even when banished, she stays firm in her belief that she can create her own destiny. It expresses one of the subtle characteristics of Hinduism and of Indra’s affirmation about life; if fate exists, if all is predisposed, then even in this setting, we exert influence and create our own destiny.

How can this paradox make sense? By making the best of our bad situations. Maya’s name has negative connotations of being a wicked goddess of illusion, however, in this scenario it expresses the fact that Maya seems to pierce through the illusions of finality in life itself.

By the end of the film, Maya saves the life of her friend Tara from committing suicide, but cannot prevent Jai’s death by orders of the King. Despite the supposed fatalism, everything in the film subtly points to “fate” being the result of our prior actions and inactions in life. Maya chose the life of a courtesan as a result of one youthful mistake, Jai chose to put his life in jeopardy to get back Maya after rebuking her love and making her believe that she would never have a genuine relationship; thus pushing her to decide to improve her own life without him, Tara chose to hide and ignore her problems up until the end when she finally confronts the King and points out that she doesn’t hate him because that would require a form of love, and the King despite having the best of everything, ultimately loses everything as a result of his lack of care for his own empire and subjects.

The final scene, with Maya leaving after Jai’s execution, shows her accepting the role that she’s made for herself and continuing on with her life despite regrets. It is the perfect ending to a great film.

10/10!

Definitely a must-watch film. It doesn’t have any of that terrible CGI nonsense in modern Indian films. Quite possibly, the greatest Indian film ever made.

Punch Drunk Love

Okay, so I get that this is suppose to be a “fallen superman” message within the film but Barry Egrem is a complete idiot. I can’t find this film enjoyable because of how terrible of a character he is. This was arguably Sandler’s best acting and . . . the character itself is the problem. It goes beyond awkward; some of the questions that he poses are utterly stupid. A lot of the actions that he takes – giving his social security number – is incredibly stupid. I know that there are desperate people like this, I met real life people similar to Barry when I heard cases as a juror, but I just can’t identify with such a character because it goes beyond awkwardness into utter stupidity. I truly find his character too pathetic to care about.

But honestly, I often wonder if it’s just this Christian mentality about life being an utter and constant tragedy that I find truly boring and disgusting. If you really believe that’s all life will bring you, then why do you not just end your pain and kill yourself? Such a life is perpetual self-hate, mental torture, and constant self-depreciation into becoming content with being an utter failure. It’s pathetic and I can’t force myself to feel sympathy for such a life style anymore.

I don’t think Barry is a good character, I don’t think any derivative from the Comic book Superman is ever truly a good character, and this stealth Protestant obsession with being a complete failure at life and accepting it as inevitable doesn’t make any aspect of a story endearing to me. You’re a pathetic person, that’s it, and that’s the ending of the tale.

Striving for one’s goals is way more interesting. Learning to improve yourself is way more interesting. Self-surpassing is far more endearing to me.

Amazingly enough, Barry does do this with his brash actions, demanding one of his sister’s shuts up or he’ll kill her and then essentially fixes all of his problems through force, violence, and threats but it doesn’t really redeem the beginning and middle being so utterly boring.

The film is a chore to watch. I don’t even know what else to say about it. Don’t bother wasting your time on it.

Snow White and the Huntsman Film (2012)

I am pleasantly surprised by this movie. It was fantastic from beginning to end. The main characters all have well-rounded depth, the use of the Grimm tale doesn’t feel forced, and the curse feels more real when it actually occurs.

I really liked the adventurism of the tale, the depiction of meaningful interactions between the Huntsman and Snow White, and a brief glimpse upon Ravenna’s horrific past and her comments on what led her to become crazy.

The interaction with magical forests was actually… extremely well done in this film. I was actually surprised. The blend of originality and cliche just gave a greater emphasis on the story’s depth. The actress for Snow White, Kristan Stewart, finally could show off her acting talents when playing a character that wasn’t simply a terrible concept strewn with idiotic cliches.

The deaths, interplay between the Duke’s son and the princess and lead up to the twist involving the apple, and the ending were actually very well done. I can’t say anymore without delving into spoilers, but needless to say the apple curse is actually smoothly transitioned in the film. There is, as typical of most action-adventure fantasy films, a war scene at the end. Of course, in any realistic war, running straight into a fortified castle would never work but I can look past the nonsensical part of the fantasy film.

What I disliked and couldn’t look past, however, was the end response by the princess to a specific death in the film. It felt so flat . . . virtually anything else, even silence with the last quote being a play by play of responding to the fairest of them all, would have sufficed over the stupid and out of place response.

Overall, the film is an 8.5/10. I can’t wait for the sequel. And, in fact, I was inspired to watch this film after watching this amazing rap battle:

Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda film

The beginning and set-up of this film is great. The theme of needing to tell the truth, even painful truths, is a great lesson to learn in people’s personal lives. The characters are well developed but the plot is a fairly generic “high-school musical set-up” kind of shtick.

I would say it’s worth watching. What surprised me about this film was that it was actually excessively generic in the middle parts but it still managed to keep me interested. I was surprised that I found such a generic plot so likable. What really sells it are the characters; they’re all believable, likable, and show relatable problems. Nagusa’s “plot” for the play is incredibly hilarious and I especially love the first story’s ending because it just seems so perfect as a realistic portrayal for what a high school girl would come-up with instead of generic, boring crap shown in most of films for this genre. Nagusa’s various expressions, both how they’re drawn and the execution, make for great comedy, an endearing character, and a very relatable depiction to someone who’s family has gone through divorce – at least from what I understand of it. The beginning of the film is great, the ending “twist” is actually nice and gives a far more realistic portrayal of what dating and human interaction is like in high school. That is why I give it such high marks.

If you like music, or an anime high school musical, or if you’re like me and like believable characters then this film is worth the watch. The beginning of the plot doesn’t really begin until the musical is being made; before that it’s just the rather interesting and realistic set-up for high school life. However, this is definitely not for everyone. If any of these factors are something that you can’t look past then you should probably skip this film.

But for me, I think it’s one of the finest anime films released so far this year.

8.9/10