So you wanna watch something...
The Invitation: This one is for fans of horror—especially of the gothic variety. It takes place, fittingly, in an English country manor—where an American woman (Natalie Emmanuel) arrives to attend a wedding at the invitation of her long-lost cousin (Hugh Skinner). Once there, she is very taken by the resident aristocrat (Thomas Doherty)—and is promptly plunged into lots of creepy things. Yes, she is Black in an overwhelmingly white environment—which reminds many of Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’.
The reviews are mixed, to say the least. New York Times calls it “a brittle, droning excursion into gothic horror.” Mashable appreciates the acting and plot twists—but admits the movie is “intriguing on the surface, but ultimately not as interesting as you're hoping it'll be.” We think it may still be worth a watch if you’re missing your fix of scary movies. The film releases in theatres today.
Andor: Disney’s attempt to spin-off the ‘Star Wars’ franchise in every direction possible has been mostly unsuccessful—other than the hugely popular ‘Mandalorian’. But this series—starring the wonderful Diego Luna—offers new hope. Set five years before ‘Rogue One’, it offers a very different view of the perennial battle between the Empire and the rebels. There are no grand Jedi warriors or princesses—or references to Star Wars lore here. As creator Tony Gilroy says, he wanted Andor to be about "real people", rather than Skywalker royalty.
The Guardian calls it a “gritty, kinetic spy thriller”—and “the best Star Wars show since ‘The Mandalorian’.” BBC News, which calls it "listlessly paced", still agrees that it "suggests an immense amount of promise" by the time it hits the third episode. Watch the series on Disney+ Hotstar.
Chup: Yes, this is another Bollywood film about a serial killer but this one comes with a very meta twist: the murderer in this case targets specifically film critics, even leaving their bodies with star ratings! Directed by R Balki and written by film critic Raja Sen (which explains the killer's unique MO) the film stars Sunny Deol, Dulquer Salman and Shreya Dhanwanthry (read her awesome I Recommend picks for us). The film releases in theatres today.
A list of good reads
- As many know, Elon Musk has a reputation for being kind of a creep when it comes to gender issues. This Rolling Stone investigation into lawsuits filed by seven former female employees of Tesla confirms the worst suspicions.
- Variety reports on Hollywood’s newest “miracle” weight-loss drug—the injectable drug semaglutide, whose brand name is Ozempic—and the inevitable ghastly side-effects.
- This eye-opening BBC News data analysis of North vs South Indian states underlines the vast gulf in quality of life in these two halves of the country.
- Wildlife expert Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh has an excellent thread that explains why we are not ‘bringing back’ cheetahs to India—but introducing a wholly new wild species—which will inevitably have consequences.
- Here’s some comfort to fans outraged at the government’s decision not to pick ‘RRR’ as India’s entry at the Oscars. The Hindu reports on the campaign to include it in the Best Picture category.
- The India Forum has an important piece on ‘labour violence’—the humiliation and even physical violence endured by rural women when giving birth in government-run health centres.
- BBC Future has a lovely piece on Indian architects reviving the use of jaalis to keep buildings cool without relying on air conditioning.
- This New Yorker interview with animal expert Alexandra Horowitz tells us what we long suspected—dogs are a reason our species has survived—along with other lesser-known puppy gyaan that will inform and delight.
- Moneycontrol has an excellent David and Goliath-themed story about a small, women-run business in Bangalore named Happy Belly that took on Amazon—and won!
- New York Times (splainer gift link) has an interesting op-ed on how the term ‘mental health’ has come to refer to “states of both wellness and distress.” And why this “euphemism” doesn’t help those who actually need help.