So you wanna watch something…
Running With the Devil: The Wild World of John Mcafee: This is a documentary on the bizarre life of billionaire John Mcafee, starting in 2012—when he was on the run, suspected of murdering his neighbor. It ends with his death by suicide in prison last year. Director Charles Russel draws from footage that the antivirus software pioneer commissioned himself, and an unreleased Vice film—where a reporter and his cameraman join Mcafee on the lam.
Mcafee was an enigma wrapped in a mystery—and this documentary won’t reveal very much about him. Engadget doesn’t think that is a problem in a film about a man whose grasp of reality and truth was slippery at best. OTOH, CNN is unimpressed, saying the movie “detours to tell the stories of those who followed McAfee around, which adds little to the larger plot beyond providing a temporary respite from McAfee's lunacy,” and “as presented, it's simply too much of a mess to even qualify as a good story.” The documentary dropped on Netflix on Thursday.
Liger: This is the big South Indian blockbuster of the month starring Vijay Deverakonda—that released in Telugu and Hindi. Liger—as in a ‘lion’ meets ‘tiger’ 🙄—is a kickboxer preparing for his big break representing India in an MMA tournament. Despite his arsenal of high-flying kicks and quick jabs, his one “weakness” is his stutter—for which he is mocked by his rivals and gangsters alike. His loud-and-proud stage mom (Ramya Krishnan) and love interest—a wannabe social media personality, Taniya (Ananya Panday)—all play their roles. Look out for the much-hyped Mike Tyson’s cameo.
To be clear, no one has anything nice to say about ‘Liger’. The News Minute described the romance as “so plastic that it should be classified as an environmental hazard”, adding: the director “appears to have started with the intention of making a sports film but changed his mind midway to make a hotchpotch of romance and gangster genres. The result is a script that’s gone to the dogs.” Indian Express says: “The plot, filled with all kinds of outlandish situations, is tired; the treatment is jaded.” Then again, the same can be said about the average Salman Khan movie—so feel free to check it out, but make sure you leave your brain at home:). The movie released Thursday in cinemas.
Three Thousand Years of Longing: This movie adaptation of an AS Byatt novel follows a professor of narratology, Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton), who has been dumped by her husband for another woman. On a trip to Istanbul, she chances upon an odd glass bottle that contains—ta-dah!—a djinn, played by none other than Idris Elba. They sit together in hotel bathrobes while the genie narrates his various adventures and incarcerations during the Ottoman empire. Directed by George Miller—of ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and ‘Happy Feet’ fame—this movie is less wacky fantasy than a meditation on the power of storytelling in the age of technology.
The Guardian says “the film still has one slippered foot in Alithea’s lit-theory seminar”—but adds that it’s “guileless, open-hearted, like an antiquarian bookseller’s dream of The Thief of Baghdad.” IndieWire has no such reservations: “George Miller could find more cinema in a single hotel minibar than some contemporary directors could squeeze out of an entire galaxy far, far away, and he manages to do exactly that without unbalancing the delicate soul of the intimate two-hander he wields here.” Drops in theatres today.
Delhi Crime: Season 2: Yay! The amazing series is back after three long years—as is DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah). This season focuses on the brutal killings of senior citizens—being targeted by the so-called kacha-baniyan gang. The tension this time centres not just on the hunt for the murderers—but also on the class and caste dynamics at play. The gang members belong to marginalised tribal communities—struggling to survive in the big city. While there are no reviews, here’s a revealing quote from Shah:
“In DC1, Vartika became a hero, in DC2, she’s human. She makes mistakes, she has flaws, but then she acknowledges and corrects it, even if it’s at the cost of herself. Also, in DC1, there was no wavering of moral compass for her, it was very clear, these are the bad guys, I have to go get them. It’s not as simple as that in DC2. She’s left with a lot of internal questioning.”
It drops on Netflix today.
A list of good reads
- New Yorker has a hilarious read on the perils of watching movies with actors that your parents may happen to know:)
- New York Times (splainer gift link) has an interesting reported piece on dating in the metaverse.
- Wall Street Journal (splainer gift link) has a good read on the healing power of water—to ease anxiety and stress.
- While we’re on the subject, check out The Guardian on the joy of dancing like no one is watching and other ways to recapture the delight of being young.
- Vox looks at the value of making small talk—and how to master this art even if you hate it.
- Here’s a valuable reminder for those of us mourning the state of the Yamuna: Slate on how the Thames staged a fabulous comeback from being a ‘biologically dead’ river.
- Also a good reminder: Huffington Post on the lost skill of squatting.
- The Wire has the horrific story of a Ugandan woman sold into sexual slavery in Delhi—and her brave escape.
- Also inspiring: NewsLaundry has the story of a boy who was born of rape—and helped his mother catch the rapists.
- GQ India profiles Vijay Deverakonda—who is the new ‘it boy’ in tinseltown.
- BBC News has a useful long read on fat—the kind in our food—and why we need to rethink our relationship with it.
- Newsweek profiles Anna Mani—the brilliant Indian physicist who defied gender norms long before we had words like ‘non binary’.
- Article 14 sums up the not-so-stellar Chief Justice stint of NV Ramana.