Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein

Looking for a gem on Netflix?

Well, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein may be what you’re looking for. It has everything. It blends comedy, romance, action, and drama all while holding the air with tension the entire time.

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is a show that begins with an unbeatable shootout against the main character, Vikrant (Tahir Raj Bhasin). By seeing the ending we have an expectation that our protagonist is going to do something that will land him in the iron sights of everyones guns. Next we see Vikrant as a normal child at school being pursued by Purva, a powerful politician’s daughter. Vikrant sees Purva as a source of bad luck for him and refuses her attempts at friendship. Many years pass and Purva is a long forgotten memory, as we see Vikrant having just finished college. At this point in Vikrant’s life he has found the love of his life, Shikha (Shweta Tripathi), although their relationship is being hidden as her parents share major political differences to Vikrant’s family. Without a well paying job Vikrant’s father brings him into the politician’s tendrils. Vikrant now finds himself working with Purva (Anchal Singh), who has been counting the days since their last meeting. Every time Vikrant pushes to escape Purva and her family, he is met with life threatening pushback, to him and his loved ones. Finally without his consent he is betrothed to Purva, and this is only the beginning of the story.

This was a show I knew nothing about and decided on it after seeing a preview for it while scrolling Netflix. Sometimes I challenge Netflix shows to captivate me in five minutes before I opt out, and this one certainly did. I finished it over two sessions. Due to the flash forward we see at the start of the show I thought it was going to be a one and done series. However, by the end we don’t see how Vikrant gets to we where we see him at the start. In hindsight it appears that producers saw the potential hit in their hands and opted for a second series to continue the story instead of finishing it off here.

I highly recommend everyone watching this fantastic show.

Robert Ring

Don’t Look Up

Every end of the world movie I adore gives almost no detail as to what will end the world. These movies are more about watching the characters deal with their own existence in the face of a shared extinction. Don’t Look Up spends the entire film talking about the fact that the world is going to end, and barely scratches the surface of the characters. I was hoping for something closer to Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and instead we got Mars Attacks.

Don’t Look Up starts with Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) discovering a new comet, which becomes a celebratory event for the observation centre. The celebration ends abruptly as Dr. Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) calculates the size and trek the comet will take towards Earth. Within hours the two are flown to the White House after the revelation that the comet will become a world ending event on impact. President Orlean (Meryl Streep) refuses to take action after hearing the facts as she is more concerned about re-election. So Kate and Dr. Mindy take it upon themselves to get the news out to the media. Roadblock after roadblock, it’s a fight to be heard so action can be taken throughout the movie and essentially the rest of the film.

Kate and Dr. Mindy are the only characters that share any relatable qualities, as everyone else is purely a satire of the role they are playing. It leaves no surprises and doesn’t play as well as I think it’s supposed to. With every one of these roles filled by star power and over the top acting it seemingly resembles Mars Attacks. By the end every character shows so little intelligence, you may wonder if they’re even worth saving.

In the end, Don’t Look Up is just another film about the government not listening, it’s just the stakes are higher in this one. The characters spend the film shouting to be heard, but we just want to know what they are thinking. It’s fine and forgettable after you see it. It would have been good if the material was thought provoking enough to carry conversations about it long after the film, alas it won’t.

Robert Ring

Marriage Story

Life is full of relationships that at the time feel as if they will last a lifetime. As is natural, things change and people are pulled in different directions. These people we once knew intimately become distant and sometimes better off left as memories. This happens with friends and family, but the one we gamble on is the one we want to spend the rest of our life with. A relationship with a partner you love can go the same way and under the same roof. It’s here where love becomes complicated and leads to the divorcing of two people now out of sync. Divorce easily becomes about two perspectives that turn quickly into two different narratives exaggerating the essence of what was essentially the drifting apart of two people. And this is what Marriage Story is about.

Marriage Story begins with Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) both talking about what they appreciate about the other. They say these things as if they’re still together, but we find they are actually separated. It’s amicable and without bitterness. Nicole moves to LA from their New York home with their son Harry so she can shoot a television pilot. While there people around Nicole move her in the direction of divorce lawyers. So Nicole meets with a divorce lawyer and Charlie, blindsided, gets served with divorce papers. The narrative of Charlie and the narrative of Nicole are presented with drama to which Charlie expresses that he feels like a criminal. The gauntlet gets worse and worse of a cautionary tale that happens to many people every day. This isn’t a story of two people that get together in the end, instead, it’s a look at two people transitioning through the ugliness of divorce. There is a lot of heartfelt moments, mixed with humour and sadness that will keep you endeared all the way to the end.

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Marriage Story is a likely Best Picture candidate for all the right reasons, and Laura Dern seems like a lock for Best Supporting Actress. This film will be healing to anyone that has experienced a divorce. The only successful marriage I’ve known in my years comes from my grandparents. Seeing the divorce of my own parents and many others makes you privy to vile perceptions given from each side. Quite often there is a villain in divorce, yet in Marriage Story I think seeing both perspectives shows it’s just about a relationship that has become distant like ones you’ve possibly experienced yourself.

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Marriage Story is available on Netflix and well worth your time.

Robert Ring

Disney Plus

Disney Plus is finally here in Australia, and the age of the Disney Vault is behind us.

The line-up available mirrors most of the Disney Plus US titles. There are heaps of 4K titles on here and the price is covered in the subscription at no extra cost. I watched my Blu-ray edition of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace last week, so I scrubbed through the 4K edition on Disney Plus to compare and it absolutely pops in 4K. All the movies appear to be presented in at least High Definition while there are Standard Definition showings in the television series from the 90s.

They have already begun putting some of the Fox films into the Disney library like The Sound of Music, and Home Alone. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of these make the move over in the next couple of years. There is also a slew of classic live-action Disney films such as Babes in Toyland, Treasure Island, and The Shaggy Dog (1959).

Anyway, here are a few movies and shows that have me excited to revisit.

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First of all, I think everyone that has not seen the documentary Free Solo should make it their first pick on the platform. There is usually one stand out documentary every year, and last year it was Free Solo. The film is about a rock climber that dares to climb without the use of a harness and it’s an incredibly gripping watch that will have your body tensed to the max in that last half hour.

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Heavyweights is that movie alongside Good Burger that I loved watching on repeat. I haven’t been able to see it since I was a child, so I sure hope it holds up, and it’s the first movie I’ll be watching on there. Basically, this one is about a group of overweight kids that are sent by their parents to a “fat camp,” but it’s a fun, laugh-filled ride.

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DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp is another hard to find gem, I purchased the DVD from the UK because it hasn’t seen a release here since the original VHS. It is probably my favourite straight to video movie from Disney. This one is a movie to the tv series DuckTales and it involves Scrooge finding a genie in a lamp.

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The Love Bug is the classic live-action Disney movie that stands out to me the most. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it now, but I’m looking forward to seeing it again, and perhaps even the sequels too. It’s titles like these that I’m happy that children today will get to experience on Disney Plus.

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Return to Oz is one of my favourite childhood films. It’s the darkest take on the Oz story as Dorothy returns to find Oz in ruins. I own this one on DVD, but scrubbing through this HD version is like getting to watch it all again for the first time and I can’t wait.

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Quack Pack, like most of the television shows on my list, was a part of the Saturday Morning Disney in the 90s. Starring Donald Duck and his three nephews. The nephews are all teenagers here so they are even more mischevious then they were in DuckTales.

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Goof Troop is another terrific show that even spawned two Disney movies. It seems like an odd choice to have made a show about Goofy with a son, but it works.

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DuckTales is something I never really saw although if it’s anything like the movie I’m going to love it.

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Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears is another show with a peculiar premise that I adored as a kid. I’m not sure if my nostalgia for it matches how it’ll be for me today, but you never know. Get this, the show is based on the Gummi Bear sweets, and you wouldn’t know it because that’s as far as it goes, the name of the show.

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The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was something I watched on LaserDisc and it’s just charming.

The problem Disney faces with Disney Plus is the lack of content for adults. However, that will likely change in time as they begin feeding more Fox films into the mix, as well as the other film studios they own under the Disney umbrella. For now, this bodes well for Netflix and the rest of the streaming platforms as it becomes clear that Disney is not competition in the streaming space, just yet. The one gripe I have is how The Simpsons has been handled as they’ve zoomed in on the image to fill the screen. Since the outcry was overwhelming in the US they have decided to give us the option to watch it in 4:3 at a later date. The other problem I have is with the censorship of Stark Raving Dad in The Simpsons, by not having it available at all because of the presence of Michael Jackson. That one I’ll discuss at a later date.

Also, I’ve been reviewing some of the classic Disney Animated films listed on this page HERE.

For now, hopefully you enjoy the library from Disney Plus

Robert Ring

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

When Breaking Bad ended I thought it was the best we would get for years. Even with so many great shows out there, Breaking Bad is without any rivals. It gave us the landmark for perfection. Nobody wanted the legacy of the show touched or messed with as it could potentially take away from it. But then creator Vince Gilligan shortly after the show’s end decided to make a prequel series that starred one of the favorites from Breakin Bad, with Saul Goodman. Everyone was skeptical about Better Call Saul and for all the right reasons. It seemed as if it would be a cash grab as Breaking Bad in the last couple of years took off and this would be a way to further capitalize on the franchise. It turns out that wasn’t the case. For one, Vince Gilligan could have gone on to do anything he wanted when Breaking Bad ended, and yet he stayed because he had more stories to tell in this realized world he created. When Better Call Saul premiered it was overall positive with some hesitation. The same was said about Breaking Bad when it premiered, and the further the show goes along the bigger the stakes and investments we have towards it. Today, Better Call Saul is heading into its fifth season next year and is servicing the characters in ways we didn’t expect. It’s not more Breaking Bad, but it’s close.

'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' film premiere, Arrivals, Regency Village Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 07 Oct 2019

After the success of Better Call Saul, we were willing to go anywhere Vince Gilligan wants to take us and without question… until he confirms a movie post Breaking Bad. For a show that ended so perfectly, it’s sacrilege to us fans for him to touch it. As the movie nears we make exceptions for the movie if it’s bad, thinking we can just scrub it from our minds. However, when thinking about it the one person who would not want to ruin the magnum opus of a franchise is Vince Gilligan. That being said we know he would only do this if he had a great story to tell, and I’m happy he did.

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El Camino starts us off right where we left off in the finale of Breaking Bad. Walter White has just got his revenge against the men who killed Hank. Walt then saves Jessie. Jessie flees the scene as Walt dies. And here we are. The movie is about watching Jessie get himself away from the manhunt out for him. While Walt may no longer be with us he is still with Jessie. Jessie is using what he learned from Walt to access each problem head-on. Jessie is thinking three steps ahead and what we have with Jessie is still this sense of innocence. That’s something we lost with Walt near the end until he redeemed himself to us in the last episode. A lot of the movie is watching Jessie come up against dead ends and trying to escape. Every time it seems he may be stuck we see a flashback that helps give us context on how Jessie can see a way out. By the end, one may think this is it for Breaking Bad, but we’ve had so many returns to this world that I’m not so sure.

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There are many surprises to be found in El Camino and it keeps you nostalgic in a good way. It doesn’t hurt Breaking Bad whatsoever. If you thought you knew what happened to Jessie when he got in the car at the end of Breaking Bad, you would not have guessed this adventure. It made me so happy to see more Breaking Bad in every possible way.

El Camino is a perfect companion piece to the last episode of Breaking Bad and acts as a bittersweet epilogue to the series. Watch it on Netflix now.

Robert Ring

Between Two Ferns: The Movie

YouTube is so packed with so much content from so many creators that it’s rare for any of us to be watching the same videos as our friends. That’s not to say that the stuff we watch is bad or mediocre, but YouTube now has niches within a niche. That’s why it’s great when we get a celebrity on YouTube making a show that is for one actually great. Zach Galifianakis being a celebrity makes him viral-worthy and we can share these clips with our friends and have these great watercooler moments.

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On Between Two Ferns Zach plays an exaggerated version of himself that is hilarious to watch as he mispronounces each celebrity on his cheap-looking talk show. The talk show is quite literally two chairs between two ferns. This makes it easy for them to recreate the sound stage anywhere. Apart from seemingly being aloof with his manners, Zach asks questions that make the guest celebrity feel awkward. As the years go on the show has slowed down quite a bit in what appears to be an effort for Zach to outdo himself. I mean he even had President Obama on the show. So how can you possibly beat the show?  Well, a movie of course!

Between Two Ferns: The Movie sounded too good to actually be good. We’ve seen this type of thing done before by others like Martin Short playing Jiminy Glick for years and yet his movie was pretty terrible. It has however worked well for Sacha Baron Cohen as he spun off The Ali G Show characters into their own movies. The thing that works about Between Two Ferns: The Movie is it’s like ten episodes of the show strung together with an interweaving plot. The entire movie is based on him getting ten shows of Between the Sheets recorded so he can have a “real” talk show. The interweaving plot is simple like a 90s Pauly Shore film, but it works well enough to keep our interest and flesh out Zach’s character.

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Overall, I am always up for more Between Two Ferns and I’ll be watching in whatever form it comes in. Please watch all the credits and the after-credits scene, it’s hilarious.

Available now on Netflix.

Robert Ring

3 Idiots

It’s hard to sell a movie to someone. It’s even harder when you tell someone that they should see a movie called 3 Idiots. Not only that, but it’s nearly three hours long and it’s a Bollywood film.

I was looking for something to watch on Netflix and the preview clip for 3 Idiots had me laughing. I put it on planing on only watching a couple of minutes because surely a film with this title can’t be good at three hours long. Three hours later and my girlfriend is in tears. She was sobbing at how beautiful the film is and I too was enamored with it. When it finished I was ready to watch it again because I wanted to spend more time with these characters. Every character is perfectly quirky and iconic in their own right.

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The story starts with Farhan (Madhavan) and Raju (Sharman Joshi), two friends learning of the whereabouts of one of their best friends, Rancho (Aamir Khan). They haven’t seen Rancho for five years, he just disappeared. The story then cuts to when the three friends first met at college. Farhan and Raju are met with the humiliation that comes with college hazing, although when Rancho arrives he refuses and instead uses his ingenuity to humiliate the hazers. Rancho is the smartest person in the school so he is always getting himself in trouble by calling the teachers out. The principle tries as hard as he can to catch him out so he can kick him out of the college. Rancho is this amazing friend and mentor to Farhan and Raju, and gets them to be the best versions of themselves they can be. When the two friends search for Rancho in the present they are met with constant dead ends. However, each dead-end teaches them something about Rancho they didn’t know. We also find out why he disappeared without telling his friends. There is so much more that happens throughout, and by the end, everything comes together unexpectedly and beautifully.

3 Idiots may have just opened me up to Bollywood films. It’s full of heartfelt moments, hilarity, romance, catchy songs, and a surprising amount of philosophy too. I’m surprised how much I liked it and thought it was this unknown gem. Was I ever wrong? 3 Idiots was a massive hit. It did well in most East Asian markets. The music video above has 112 Million views so far. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the film, and there is also a sequel in talks.

So maybe I’ve convinced you to give 3 Idiots a watch.

It’s available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Robert Ring

Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling

Spoiler Alert: There is a trans storyline in this special.
At least I gave you the warning… It’s just weird seeing that a great little kooky show from Nickelodeon’s stellar 90s catalog is being applauded for dealing with a trans character, and not much else. Every news article I’ve seen has ‘trans’ in the title. I went in completely blind, and it was a neat surprise, but it wasn’t even that big of a character. I’m unsure of why it’s such a big deal considering it’s done in the most clique way. Ok enough of that, and now on with the review.

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Nickelodeon in the 90s had this particular style in each of it’s animated programs. Shows like the Rugrats and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had a Russian influence in the animation. Shapes are always more obtuse looking, most notably in the character models. For me, I loved how different they felt from the more realistic scalings of Loony Tunes and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Nickelodeon also had a lot of pastel colors used throughout all of its shows, which I liked. Rocko’s Modern Life was like a more child-friendly Ren and Stimpy. The show aired between 1993 to 1996 and follows a wallaby named Rocko. Rocko being a wallaby comes from Australia, and essentially works his way through the modern world. Along the way, he finds himself in chaos usually from being led by his friend Heffer. Now, after twenty-three years Rocko has returned in an interesting fashion. For one it’s a special that runs for about forty-five minutes and not a feature-length. It also becomes very clear that this special has no interest in appealing to new audiences, which is odd considering the original series is not available to watch on Netflix. This special is purely for the fans.

I didn’t see the last episode that aired of Rocko’s Modern Life, however, the movie begins right where the last episode ended. Rocko and his two best friends Heffer and Filburt are launched into space inside Rocko’s house. Twenty years pass and nothing has changed for these characters as all they have done is rewatch the same videotape of The Fatheads every day. After the videotape becomes warn out and breaks they discover the control to get them back to Earth has been stuck to the backside of Heffer all along. Cleverly, the show essentially has kept these characters in stasis this whole time as they have no idea how the modern world has changed in all those years. All the changes Rocko and pals see are shown as quick gags, and it would have been more enjoyable if we got to spend a bit more time poking fun at today through the lens of yesterday. Quickly Rocko finds that The Fatheads was canceled years ago, so he quickly rallies to have it brought back. The second half of the special is Rocko clinging to The Fatheads revival because he can’t accept change. The moral than for the special is that we must accept change, and we even have a literal character named The Winds of Change telling Rocko as much.

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The special overall isn’t all I had hoped for in a new Rocko. The biggest problem was the pacing at the start that hindered it, and by the time it was near the end I was just warming up to the world again. I wanted more time surrounding Rocko with his friends, and especially Spunky. What we got was a nice taste of Rocko after all these years. It doesn’t set up future stories, instead, it’s just a nice little bonus for kids who adored the show.

I liked it and if you were a fan you will find some nostalgia in it too.

Available to watch on Netflix now.

Robert Ring

Remakes are Absolutely Fine

I think I know what my parents feel like when I see original movies from the nineties being remade. It’s becoming common. Sure, The Lion King was a dud, but Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast were great. I’m even interested in The Witches remake set for next year.

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I’m thirty now, and my friends and family are all starting to have children. I’ll be having children within a few years too. So there’s this passing of the torch between parent and child of experiencing the same idea in a new way. Film remakes are actually kinda perfect at helping to bridge the generational gap. Worst case scenario is that you could write off the remake and then make them watch the original. They may even be excited to find out there is another version of this NEW movie they’ve just watched. I think giving these movies a twenty-year breather from the original is pretty reasonable. The people that are making these remakes are usually inspired by the original and want to make something that can match it.

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Disney’s acquisition of Fox has given them a huge library of IP they can do with as they wish. They announced they have plans to reboot Home Alone, Night at the Museum, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these choices. These are likely going to be made for Disney’s streaming service (Disney+) and not see a theatrical release. Are you telling me if you subscribe to Disney+, you wouldn’t be down to watch a new Home Alone if it dropped in December? Besides, Home Alone is an idea that is fun to play with as technology and social interactions change. I would probably even watch the original straight after it.

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So I’m not sure why there is hate for remakes? I hate when features like the one HERE, by the Independent write “Home Alone is proof Hollywood’s dying a terrible death”. Reading these articles makes me facepalm so fast you could confuse me with being attacked by a face-hugger. Hollywood has been remaking movies since the beginning of the film industry. It wasn’t until The Wizard of Oz had been adapted for the screen a third time that we saw the beloved The Wizard of Oz (1939), yet I’m sure the newspapers weren’t going, Hollywood is running out of ideas. Looking at the list of the highest-grossing films of 2019 already shows that remakes don’t make up for nearly that many films. Yes, a lot are sequels, but most are still original films.

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Remakes are fine. Disney will be making plenty in the future and then remaking those remakes in another twenty years. I have expectations going into Disney +, and the content they’re making for it fits those expectations. That’s why Disney+ is not the Netflix killer. Netflix has so many weird cylinders it’s firing off that it will make Disney+ feel like a niche service. I think everybody would expect to be jumping into Disney+ for the nostalgia and the adaptations over anything else.

And after all, wasn’t Home Alone 2 just a remake of the first one?

Robert Ring

Movies in the Digital Age

I was a serious collector of DVDs from the mid-2000s. I amassed thousands of DVDs. I would buy more than I could watch, and to this day I still own much more than I have seen. The great thing about owning physical copies is the ability to view the title whenever I choose. By doing this I was able to grow my knowledge outside the norm of most. I own and re-watch nearly every television show from the 90s, making it feel as if I spent my teens during that time instead of my 1s and 2s. Then I would have no one to talk about my experiences with these shows because they had no idea what something like Northern Exposure or Twin Peaks is. Streaming has effectively started bringing people that were once like me to the front. I love streaming services for that fact. You get to have all these watercooler moments with people and share in your love for the latest season or movie that hits one of these services.

I rotate between Netflix, Stan, and Amazon. Amazon is the weakest. Stan is perhaps the one I use most, and I think its library of content is similar to Hulu. Netflix is like a made for tv cinema with new attractions debuting every week. Then there are times where I know what I want to watch and spend about twenty minutes looking for it. Alternatively, I search for the title on Just Watch, but usually, I think I remember which streaming service I saw it on, and find myself nearly always wrong. Other times you cannot find it at all. Then I’m forced to search online stores to see if it’s still in print. Even worse is when it’s not available in the country, and you need to order overseas. Look at Say Anything, and it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. You can’t buy it here, and I think you can only stream it on iTunes. I get why some titles are only available on specific streaming services, but why are some just straight out unavailable? Even streaming services only keep content on there for a certain amount of time. And it’s times like that when I’m happy with my collection of physical discs. Overall, it’s not all bad compared to the era of VHS, and at least we all kind of share the same film and television lexicon, while people like me need to help steer others to the stuff, not in the readily accessible content. I like where we are at, for now.

Robert Ring