White Tiger

I feel blessed to be able to tap into international cinema.

The recently released ‘White Tiger’ the Indian film that in brutal fashion, explores class struggle with a feature length running metaphor of a rooster in the coop that holds its weight from start to finish. The film is a modern day Dickinson fable.

Rarely do I watch a film where nearly every scene has dialogue that hits like a sucker punch on the reality of inequality in India and beyond.

When I lived in Dubai, I was called ‘sir’ by people serving me more times than I’d like to. I heard stories of people from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh who send the majority of their salaries to support their families at home.

Hundreds of millions of lives, that are depraved of education, a proper financial net for basic needs and opportunity.

There is every possibility that this can change. We have the means and we have the resources but do the people in power have the desire?

There’s a running trend in impeccable films that are starting to explore the same theme of inequality. ‘Parasite’ and now ‘White Tiger’ don’t shy away from these themes that are of today and translate internationally.

‘White Tiger’ shines a light of truth of the reality on India, and in one instance, dismisses the hope of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ in a single line.

The situation for too many is hopeless.

I can’t recommend this film enough. It’s well worth a watch and make you think a lot.

Parameters

When I think about what my favourite films are of the last twenty years, a lot of them are not in my first language. Parasite (Korean), Pan’s Labyrinth (Spanish), Amelie (French), Shadow (Chinese), The Lives of Others (German) and Let the Right One in (Swedish) are a few examples.

When I recommend these films to people, a common question is ‘are there subtitles’ and it is also equally common to see these films written off because they have to deal with subtitles.

To me, that would be a shame because within the world of cinema is a plethora of amazing films with much to offer.

Similarly, there are music listeners out there who will only listen to the same music records and will not embrace anything new.

If that is what makes you happy then that is fine but it is worth being aware of the parameters you set for yourself.

Especially in an on demand culture where everything is at our fingertips. It might be worth jumping outside of our comfort zone and giving something different a chance.

My top podcasts – A remedy for self isolation.

Self isolation is becoming a situation that more and more people find themselves committing to. With that, there is the challenge of overcoming the pitfalls involved in this process, namely trying to resist climbing up the walls!

One of the best things I do on a now routine basis to pass the time when I am on my own is listen to podcasts.

Podcasts are becoming an increasingly popular media platform and I’m glad that this is so: because podcasts offer lots of opportunities for many beneficial experiences, namely:

1.) An opportunity to learn something new

2.) An opportunity to find out more about interesting people with interesting stories.

3.) It makes you a better listener. It increases your engagement in discussions.

4.) They encourage you to try something new and explore your own ideas.

5.) Keep up to date with current affairs and developments.

At a time when self isolation is becoming a reality, I thought I’d share some of my favourite podcasts. I hope it gives you an opportunity to find something that interests you and you can engage with over the coming weeks.

Happy listening!

Akimbo – Seth Godin

Link – https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/akimbo-a-podcast-from-seth-godin/id1345042626

Topics – Culture, Business and Marketing

I’ve been following Seth Godin since my university days. He is an extraordinary writer with a fascinating philosophy of business and marketing.

It’s a heartwarming, empathetic and optimistic podcast to listen to and it’s an easily digestible average run time of 25 minutes.

If you are interesting in doing better work and levelling up, this podcast is for you.

The Bob Lefsetz Podcast

Topics – The music industry, Culture

Link – https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-bob-lefsetz-podcast/id1316200737

If you are in the Music Industry, you really should know who Bob is. His weekly letter is read by tens of thousands, many of which are some of the most well known people in the business.

He’s opinionated, fiercely honest and that is a breath of fresh air in an industry that seemingly has plenty of nonsense.

On his podcast, Bob interviews a wide range of musicians, managers, engineers, CEOs and beyond. Some of the stories are incredibly funny and remarkable.

As a starting point, his conversations with Canadian manager Jake Gold (The tragically hip) are incredibly useful for anonymous artists such as myself.

Kermode on Film

Topics – Film and Cinema

Link – https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/kermode-on-film/id1436700945

Mark Kermode is one of my go to people for reviews and discussions about film and cinema and as a result I have discovered a lot of films I adore.

His regular conversations with Film reviewer Jack Howard offer a funny almost father and son dynamic and there are some great episodes where they share their opinions, debate and amusingly throw digs at one another.

There are also some live shows with great interviews with actors/actresses and directors as well.

Song Exploder

Topic – Songwriting and production

Link – https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/song-exploder/id788236947

This gem of a podcast is wonderfully insightful and you get a glimpse into the minds of many brilliant music artists.

The premise is simple. An artist unpacks the songwriting approach and explains the demo process as well as demonstrating different parts of their songs including sounds deep in the mix that you wouldn’t always expect.

Other noteworthy podcasts I listen to –

James O’Brien – Full Disclosure

Tifo Football podcast

The Intelligence by The Economist

If there are any podcasts you highly recommend, feel free to suggest them in the comment section below.

Bohemian Rhapsody

I know I am late to the party, having only seen this tonight.

The critics slammed the movie and I usually agree with them so I had my reservations.

But then all of a sudden, everyone is going Queen mental, including kids and I get a real sense of the movie causing a ruckus. Then Mark Kermode says on his podcast that the film made him cry thrice and I usher myself to the cinema whilst my inner dialogue goes ‘Ryan you idiot, go see this movie about one of your favourite bands, your childhood heroes’.

The production process certainly wasn’t without drama. Sacha Baren Cohan dropped out of the film due to creative disagreements, then Dexter Fletcher had to take over directing after Bryan Singer ended up behaving the exact way a director shouldn’t behave and this all had the spellings of a disaster.

And I get why the critics have a problem. The problematic moralistic subtext concerning Freddie’s orientation. The character portrayals themselves weren’t that particularly nuanced. And as someone who has avidly read Brian May’s biography and watched all the documentaries, the film took serious liberties with the timeline. Song releases, The American tour and then the biggest being Freddie revealing he has AIDS before the performance at Live Aid (he wasn’t even ill at this time). All for the narrative purpose to enhance the drama.

Then there is the constant stream of wink wink, referential parts from John Deacon jamming ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ to Mike Myers and that ‘Wayne’s World’ part and I could go on about the same problems already mentioned but the actual matter of fact is…

NOBODY CARES!!!

While I was to some extent hoping to see the full biography come to play, right up to Freddie’s passing and the wonderful musical material that would be released later in Queen’s career, the film set out to do something different.

This was to capture the magic of what Queen was and still is.

The film for the most part focuses on Freddie, who is wondrously recreated by Rami Malek, who’s performance is sensational. The interesting thing is the audacity of who Freddie was because, he was his own artist and he did things his way.

This kind of story is so engaging because Freddie is an outsider. Queen worked relentlessly hard and the world came to them.

Who are the artists out there now, playing by their own rules? Who are artists who can say no? Who are the artists who are artists first and not brands? Where are the risk takers?

I can name you some but they are nowhere near the mainstream.

We live in a different world today where Music is no longer important than politics and if Freddie was alive today, he would have plenty to say about it. I can’t help but think the film highlights a thing we all need that is well and truly and lacking in the Music business today.

The power of being an outsider and doing things your way.

Queen did it and they had the definitive front man in Freddie leading them, with a whole load of charisma enough to hold the arena filled audience at Wembley in the palm of his hand.

By the live aid sequence, my eyes started watering, because I started remembering what it was like to hearing this band for the first time, how in awe I was of their live performances when I watched the videos at my grandparents’ house and how Queen are truly something special.

And when you are truly special, you are something that stands the test of time.

This film has made Queen the biggest band in the world.

And in a world that is currently so divided, that tells you to stick to the rule book. Queen stand as a beacon for letting your freak flag fly.

‘But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise, I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, and I a’int gonna loose’.