Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 02 , 2010




Movie Review


By Sabrina F Ahmad

Rating: PG 13
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy

Is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream? Christopher Nolan isn't the first person to translate that Poe quote into film (Total Recall and the Matrix franchise both having had their stab at reality vs imagination mindfreaks), but there's no denying he approaches the subject matter in unbeatable style.

Starring Leo Dicaprio as Dom Cobb, corporate spy, the film is set in the future, when dreams can be infiltrated to steal information from the victim. Cobb and his partner Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) are the best in this risky and illegal business, but lately, their gigs have been going awry as Cobb's dead wife keeps popping up in the dream scenarios to sabotage the thefts.

One such botched mission has them crossing swords with their would-be victim, the Japanese energy magnate Saito, who offers them one shot at redemption: they would have to plant an idea in a rival's mind. Despite Arthur's reservations, Cobb is confident that this process of inception is possible, with the right team.

While recruiting such talents as Eames (Tom Hardy) as a 'Forger', who can take on any identity within the dream, and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), the chemist who doses the team and induces the dream states in all their levels, Cobb meets the young and inquisitive Ariadne (Ellen Page), who is purported to be even a better 'architect' (dream-scape designer) than Cobb ever was.

As plans progress to pull off the riskiest dream-manipulation scheme ever, Ariadne discovers that Cobb is slowly unravelling, and might put all their lives and minds in jeopardy. Will they succeed? Watch the movie to find out.

This is Ocean's Eleven meets Shutter Island meets The Matrix by way of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's like nothing you have seen before, and more. Anyone familiar with Nolan's other work will know to expect a high quality overall. Leo does what he does best, and the supporting cast are also brilliant. The relentless action keeps the plot from getting too theoretical, and there are some nice twists that will keep grinding your mental gears all the way.

The movie looks and sounds great too. The dream scenes are beautiful, surreal, and manage to turn the new Hollywwod cliche for colour-tinted scenes into a sort of device that helps one differentiate the different levels of the dream. The repetitions and the sound work together to reinforce the dream-like atmosphere. Riddled with juicy little details, this one is definitely for the trivia lovers.

Complaints? Well, this isn't one of those relaxing movies, and some might find it too cerebral for their tastes. However, if you like a little bit of a mindfreak, this is the movie to watch. Just do yourself a favour; wait for a decent print before viewing, or you'll miss the magic.


The Final Frontier

By Shaer Duita Fish Reaz

Iron Maiden's 15th studio album was launched two weeks back amid speculations that it would be their final curtain call. The venerable heavy metal group, running virtually unopposed these days, has been making music for 35 years now. So is this album a good way of saying goodbye to Maiden's countless fans?

1 - Satellite 15/The Final Frontier - Intro track is a two part song. It starts off with an uncharacteristic, hollow sounding song that will seem unfamiliar to most Maiden fans. The second part (The Final Frontier) makes up for any initial disappointment though, with classical Maiden riffs and Bruce Dickinson's charged vocals pulling the song up. It also sets the tone of the album lyrically, one of an impending farewell. 7/10

2 - El Dorado - This song was available for digital download slightly before the album release. Truth be told, it lacked Maiden's usual flow and ended up sounding nothing like Maiden. Some might commend that, but an experienced group like Maiden should be done experimenting, especially if it's their final album. Not one to come back to for repeated listens. However, the guitar solos are a plus point in this song. 5/10

3 - Mother of Mercy - A slow paced start with a familiar Nicko McBrain intro beat, with Dickinson's stunning vocals building up the pace and painting a picture of an apocalyptic battlefield. The tune is relatively addictive, and repeated listens are recommended. 8/10

4 - Coming Home - A ballad of sorts when compared with the rest of the album. Dickinson vocals again the highlight here - he does a brilliant job of controlling the song's pace. A patriotic theme to the lyrics and Dave Murray's guitar work make this song memorable. 8.5/10

5 - The Alchemist - Very fast paced, very energetic, this number does a good job revving up the album's pace after “Coming Home”. Transitions are smooth and the song has typical Iron Maiden lyrics. Not very memorable though. 7/10

6 - Isle Of Avalon - The tracks start getting longer after this one. Isle Of Avalon is almost fully composed of tandem guitar solos that's sure to keep you attentive. Again, soft intro built up into a feverish pitch by Dickinson and Nicko. Several repeats guaranteed. 8/10

7 Starblind - Gritty guitar work coupled with characteristic vocals makes this one a worthwhile listen. Other than that, it does nothing to get itself stuck in your head. Not at all a memorable piece. 6/10

8 - The Talisman - Very good intro. When it finally does pick up the pace, this song will make you come back for more, several times. It might have been a bit shorter though. 7/10

9 - The Man Who Would Be King - Awesome song, simply said. Sounds very new and original, without sacrificing any major elements that make Iron Maiden's songs so good. 8/10

10 - When The Wild Wind Blows - Absolutely stunning. A final hurrah for the band that gave us gems like Fear of The Dark and The Trooper. I could listen to this song all day long, every day, and it wouldn't get old. A future classic for sure. No other song in this album comes together like this one. Every transition, every solo, the intro, the outro, everything is spot on. Lyrically, it's a tribute to everything Maiden has been singing about from day one: Armageddon. It's also a nice way of saying goodbye, if they really want to retire. 9/10

A very good album, but nowhere near as good as Fear Of the Dark. Iron Maiden has made major improvement on their recent efforts though, and that last song ensures an exit on a high note. Overall - 8/10.

Anime Review

Arakawa Under The Bridge

By Kokoro-chan

Season 1 (2010), 13 episodes, Rating: 13+

Lots of laughter, sprinkles of romance and a truckload of stuff that is on whole new eccentric levels of 'weird': life under a bridge simply can't get any better than this. Yes, another sweet and hilarious anime series fresh out of the oven. Can't wait to find out what it's like? Check out the plot summary first:

“Isn't your butt cold?” is hardly the first line of conversation any guy would possibly dream of having with his future girlfriend. In that sense Ichinomiya Ko might as well be the world's unluckiest man. Yes, he had always been number one in everything in life, 'the elite of all elites', and he had never depended on anyone for having a single thing done. And yet in the opening scene of the anime he finds himself, thanks to a strange course of events, standing on a bridge in his boxers, his pants hanging high above on a pillar, 'just like a wavin' flag' in the air. Then one thing leads to another and he ends up falling into the river, along with the pants and the pillar, and almost drowning to death. It is under these queer circumstances that he meets the love of his life, the blonde and blue-eyed Nino, who rescues him and, after Ko's persistent pestering about 'returning-the-favour-because-he-will-never-be-indebted-to-nobody', would accept only one thing in return: Love (she says that with an expressionless straight face, it's funny).

Thus, begins Ko's strange life under the bridge (because Nino, being homeless, lives there and won't leave). But the bridge, it seems, holds many secrets and surprises, and Ko will come to find so much more than just love, being a part of this strange yet wonderful journey.

Long story short: this thing is really, really funny, in a nice way. It's one of those anime that succeeds in warming your heart, leaving a nice and happy feeling in it. The animation is pretty simple with sunny colours and occasional experimental themes, the music cheerful with three upbeat song numbers you can tap your feet to and the first opening animation that has Etsuko Yakushimaru's 'Venus and Jesus' number, is pretty creative, in an experimental way. But the best part of AUTB, the heart of the anime actually, is the fabulous storyline with its crazy array of characters. Each and every one of them is unique in their weirdness and you'll eventually come to love them as people. There's Nino who believes she's from Venus, a mayor who believes he's a 620-year old Kappa (cucumber-eating water demon) and walks around in a green rubber suit, a rock-star who sometimes believes he's a starfish but wears a star-shaped mask 24/7 anyway, a pair of 'metal brothers' who wear metallic bin-shaped masks because they believe they have psychokinetic powers and 'the people from the lab' are out to get them, Mr. Whitey who draws a white line wherever he goes because he thinks stepping off the line is a crime and an ex-military Sister, well actually more of a Brother, who carries a gun inside the church and holds weekly 5 second masses- seriously, the characters are all epic, every single one of them. And the best thing about them is, as rich-boy Ko discovers while attempting to knock some 'common sense' into them, that they are all, mostly, pretend-loonies; serious people who were formerly top-notch businessmen, millionaires, military masterminds or secret service agents, some of them still influential and having places to go, yet temporarily running away from themselves, from life, from society, and searching for 'something', gathered together under the bridge, on the riverbed of Arakawa. It's a strange family of people desperately trying to 'create' an alternate reality, pissed at regular life just because it doesn't have any, and eventually ending up discovering something really wonderful amid all the strangeness.

That, and buckets full of hilarious events and endless LOL
laughter, adds more colour to the anime. The show ended only a couple of months ago, in June, and received much applause for what it's worth. This reviewer will gladly give it a big thumbs-up. For your take on the matter, do give the series a try.


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