Shutter Island (2010) – My Review

US Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner come to Shutter Island that is home for the Criminally Insane Prisoners. The Island, they learn is a place to conduct experiments on humans. The two US Marshals are brought to the island to investigate the case of a missing patient Rachel convicted for murdering her three children, but they fail to get answers as nobody says much about the disappearance.

Teddy’s wife Dolores was murdered by one of the inmate of Shutter Island – Andrew Laeddis, and finding him is the main reason for Teddy to be on the island. As the two Marshals dig deeper, Teddy begins to get migraine headaches, he gets demon hallucinations of his wife and a little girl, he takes asprins or pills given by a shady doctor (Ben Kinsley), he is warned by other patients to get out of the island while he still can… if you watch the film closely, observe everything happening and being said, the film no longer remains a thriller.

Shutter Island has been home to experiments on insane patients in order to cure them, everything that happens on the island is nothing but an experiment and so is DiCaprio…

In the end, it’s revealed that Teddy is actually a delusional mental patient on Shutter Island and is actually patient number 67 named Andrew Laeddis. He murdered his weird, insane and depressive wife Dolores after she drowned their three children. Dolores had earlier burned down their house forcing the family to move to a cottage near a lake.

Teddy Daniels or Andrew Laeddis has been a mental patient at the hospital for almost two years. The doctors decided to try a role-play experiment on him as Teddy was living in a delusional fantasy that he was a US Marshal investigating the case of a missing patient Rachel and finding Andrew Laeddis the guy responsible for setting up his house on fire that killed his wife. He was doing this in order to escape from reality.

The role-play plan works – and Andrew is retold what has happened to him. He accepts that he murdered his wife as she had drowned their three children.

However, the final scene, right in the end of the film appears to be a little confusing. Andrew relapses to his delusional state of US Marshal Teddy Daniels and says “He rather die a hero than a monster.” It is implied that he is faking his relapse so he will not have to deal with the mental anguish of his act as he feels personally responsible for his wife murdering their children.

“Why are you all wet baby,” asks Ben Kingsley to DiCaprio, is the only funniest line in the film.

DiCaprio has acted well, but nothing beats his role in “The Departed”

My Rating: 3/5

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

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Best Animated Movies of 2009

Up

The movie poster seemed a little bizarre, an old man, a kid and a dog all hanging to a house suspended by balloons. Another kiddie movie I told myself, but after watching it, I realized that it wasn’t.

Another compelling storyline offered by Disney & Pixar. It has the best and saddest opening sequence ever – the one that shows Carl & Ellie’s married life, shown in about 4 minutes, makes one smile and cry at the same time.

The films about a widower Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year-old balloon salesman who fulfills his lifelong dream of great adventure along with the dream of his wife of having their house on top of Paradise falls in South America.

Fave Sidekick: Dug the Dog

The sweet, nerdy and simple-minded talking dog, loved the hilarious reoccurring squirrel gag in the film. Time and again I want to use his line “I have just met you, and I love you.”

Coraline

This animated film was creepy right from the beginning, there is a sense of dread that makes you wonder should you gift a copy of it to your younger siblings? I think it can be a little scary and intense for little kids.

Coraline is a young girl whose parents are preoccupied with their own busy lives to an extent that they ignore their daughter. Coraline feels neglected. One night she crawls through a hidden passage to a secret world, where she finds new and improved mom and dad, who love her and take care of her needs, but if Coraline wants to stay back with her ‘Other Parents’ she has to get buttons sewed in place of her eyes.

Fave Sidekick: The Cat

The mysterious black cat that guides Coraline through her journeys. Thought the cat was one of the stooges of the ‘Other Mother’ as it had no counterpart in the other world and could travel freely from one world to the other.

Fantastic Mr Fox

During primary school, my American English teacher made us read Roald Dahl books, making him my favorite childhood author. Some of his books that I have read include – James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox, Matilda, and Danny, the Champion of the World

Not a fan of stop motion animation, but it was great to watch the film of the book I read while in Class III. Mr. Fox played by George Clooney, is a rebellious fox who tries to be a responsible father and a husband, but fails to keep his wild side away from him and does what foxes are known for – being clever, good in stealing and digging. And so begins Mr. Fox’s hen heckling, turkey taking and cider sipping adventures. Loved Mr. Fox’s trademark – the whistle with the clicky sound…try doing that, its kind of cool.

Fave Sidekick: Ash

Ash, the little dimwit and runty son of Mr. Fox was fantastically hilarious to watch. Loved the way he tries to be an athlete in order to impress his father and his jealousy towards his more than perfect cousin. He shocks Mr. Fox was when he says “I’m as light as a feather,” and dodges all the bullets and releases the hound allowing the group to escape.

The Princess and the Frog

Never wanted to watch this as it seemed like classic Disney 2D fairy tale, girly movies like Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella etc (although I grew up watching all of them, but now we all are so used to watching sleek 3D animation) and kept ignoring it for months. After reading some good reviews of it, I gathered all the courage to watch it.

The movie gets better in what seems to be the second half, where the transformation to a frog takes place. The films about Tiana, a young waitress who aspires to open her own restaurant. We have a classic villain, the evil voodoo man, Dr. Facilier who changes the visiting Prince to a frog. When the prince, now a frog meets Tiana, who is in guise of a princess, he tries to convince her to kiss him in order to reverse the spell, but something unimaginable happens – Tiana too changes into a frog.

Fave Sidekick: Ray

This lovesick Cajun firefly stole the show, if you know about ‘Evangeline’ you know what exactly I’m taking about. Loved the part when they show the two stars shining together, only Disney can come up with such wonderful stuff.

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

It was great to see Manny, Diego and Sid back in action after a gap of 3 years. The trailer and the poster showed that Manny was no longer the biggest thing alive

Yet again, in the third installment Sid does what he does best – gets himself into trouble. Sid adopts three dinosaurs and ends up in a strange underground Jurassic Park, where his friends must go to rescue him. The herd, along with Ellie, expecting her first child end up in the land of dinosaurs and meet the one-eyed weasel Buck, a dinosaur hunter who helps them in their journey.

Fave Sidekick: Buck

This one-eyed swashbuckling, fanatic weasel was a delight to watch. He replaced Diego as my fave character in the film. He is a complete weirdo, the best part was when he says “About three months ago. I woke up married to a pineapple… An ‘Ugly’ pineapple.” He is heroic weasel on a mission, i.e., to hunt the toughest, biggest and the most vicious dinosaur, he calls – Rudy. Let’s go Buckwild!

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Up in the Air (2009) – My Review

Every once in a while comes a film that is refreshingly different. A film you wouldn’t mind a second viewing and also won’t forget recommending to your friends.

Up in the Air is a blend of comedy and poignancy, romance and realism. It’s directed by Jason Reitman – remember his 2006 flick Thank you for Smoking. The film is about an isolated corporate assassin Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) who is obsessed with traveling and collecting travel miles. Clooney has also fooled himself into believing that he has no emotional needs.

Corporate Assassin? Ryan’s job is to fire people in the recession hit-America, for bosses who are weak-willed to do so. He does that by traveling to different offices all across America. For most of us traveling for work is fun, all paid travel and stay, free food and drinks, seeing different places etc but then love coming back home, stay their for a while, catch up with everyone until we are ready to fly again. But here, Ryan lives everywhere else and hates coming back home. Ryan loves interstitial living, and is more comfortable in all the places associated with airports and airplanes.

Ryan is also a motivational speaker. He uses the analogy “What’s In Your Backpack?” and delivers some really heavy-motivational speeches. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. Make no mistake, moving is living … was my favorite line from one of his speeches in the film.

Well if America is recession hit, Ryan’s company also needs to check on its expenses and decides to push a cost cut plan initiated by Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) that recommends cutting down the travel of employees and replacing it with lay-offs over the web-cam. Natalie Keener, last saw her in Twilight films, seriously doubted her acting skills but she proved me wrong by giving out what I would call her best performance till date. She fits into the movie perfectly and beautifully portrays her character. I think she shares the frame space with Clooney as equals.

While traveling, Ryan also meets another frequent flyer named Alex (Vera Farmiga) a fast-moving business women, with intelligence flashing all over her and they enter into a casual relationship. Well the relationship no longer remains casual for one of the players. Something that I’m sure most of us would have witnessed in our lives. Ahemm!!! Getting back to the couple, Mr. Clooney and Farminga looked fabulous together.

Wanted to write about the movie ever since I watched it in early Jan 2010. What to watch out for: Killer one-liners thrown mostly by everyone in the film, especially by Mr. Clooney with his gently raised eyebrows – Life is better with company. And everybody needs a co-pilot. Highly entertaining, nice soundtrack – liked the song Help Yourself – by Sad Brad Smith – great star cast and above all a fabulous film.

My Rating: 4/5

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Social Media – A Marketing Activity, Who owns it?

As a student, I remember drawing diagrams instead of writing lengthy notes to understand a particular topic as it made things simpler.  I have used the same practice to point out my views on the above topic.

As social media is a non-paid activity, it should be considered under PR

Although marketing largely owns SEO and email marketing, Public Relations owns the responsibility for making an online strategy plan that covers blogging, social networking, podcasting, micro-blogging etc

What bothers me is the fact that many PR Professionals do not pay much attention towards social media and focus primarily on media relations, press releases etc.

My suggestion to all the public relations and marketing professionals is that they should be well equipped to handle social media for future jobs in the industry.

Why use social media? They say…

Social media has become a best practice for marketing, public relations, business development etc and everyone seems to be embracing this new approach.

I rely on Twitter to get instant information and news on topics that interest me from across the globe. I keep asking all the interesting people I meet if they are on Twitter so that I can start following them to receive their updates.

Facebook for me, started like a place to keep in touch with friends and colleagues, but now maintain some fan pages and monitor competitors and conversations.

My recommendation to owners of restaurants, luxury retail stores whom I keep meeting,  is to increase their online presence. Many buy this but some don’t, as they have some doubts that I have tried to answer below…

Have never used it, my business is doing well, so why bother, will use it someday…

Haven’t you spent a fortune on advertising, or paid tons of money to PR Agencies. Not denying that they got the job well done, but you missed an opportunity that was cost effective and would have contributed in lead generation.

Someday you’ll use it! Not an issue, if you’re okay with someone else taking up your desired username, missing the opportunity to directly engage with your current and potential clients or loosing out to your competitors who must have already established themselves among your target audience.

Anyone can say anything about my company…

True, it’s an open platform; one can say whatever they feel like – but at least you get to know what is being said out there than being aloof. It gives an opportunity to listen, identify, engage and measure the output. For instance – if I go and badmouth something about your company and you never get to know because (a) you are not on social media (b) you don’t monitor as you’re not active, chances are that my message will grab attention and it will spread. However, had you been on social media you could have prevented this by getting in touch with me, get a hold of the situation, rectify it and then take my feedback for others. I would have appreciated this unless I’m your competitor’s rat

Twitter and Facebook are for students and for executives who use it to kill time at work, as a result we have banned this at work

Lol! Social media does a lot more; almost all the major brands, companies etc are using it, obviously not to kill time. It can increase the traffic to your website by Search engine optimization (SEO) i.e., the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines (still learning about this), lead generation, customer engagement etc

Banning these sites is a common trend in most of the offices. Well why not allow the usage of social networking websites and use it to your advantage – ask every employee to become a fan or follower of your company. Ask them to review your products, recommend it to their friends and ask every employee to get at least 30 fan or followers for the brand/company (Just a suggestion)

I do have a fan page on Facebook

I’m so proud of you! When was the last time you updated the page and informed your fans about the latest event or promotion or responded to a fans query?  It doesn’t mean by having a Facebook or Twitter page that the jobs done, it needs to be maintained and regularly updated. Use it to provide industry news, what’s new at your company, take part in conversations, announce ongoing promotions and events, user feedback etc

Whatever happened to print, electronic and radio?

Wake up! All of them – print, electronic, radio are using social media for almost everything mentioned above. Almost all the media houses are on Twitter. Journalists use it to hunt for news and topics; PR uses it to pitch company/industry news to the media. 

PR vs Advertising — What I understand

Even today a lot of people confuse PR with advertising, but please get this in your head that the two are dramatically different.

There have been many books, articles, blogs written by experts on the above topic, that I haven’t read. Well, the pic below is a sneak peak of some of the stuff they all must have tried to highlight…

Suggestion: For both short term and long term gains strongly consider to include Public Relations in your marketing mix

Punjabi Curries @Papa Pancho Da Dhaba — Mumbai, India

“Let’s go out for lunch.”

I was busy working on a document, but the moment my Boss said that – Ctrl>>Alt>>Delete, picked up my jacket and was ready to leave.

I was in Mumbai for some event. As I was new to the place, I let my colleagues decide the restaurant. We stopped at an average roadside restaurant in Bandra West, Mumbai called ‘Papa Pancho,’ now what kind-of-a-name is that? Papa Pancho!

While still thinking about the name, I saw a person driving away the car that drove us to the restaurant and was shocked to learn that the restaurant offered Valet Parking. Golden lights and parrots made from cloth and wool were hanging from the ceiling; a tandoor (clay oven) was kept at the entrance that sent out alluring aroma of tandoori chicken, teasing the guests greedily waiting for their order.

The ambience was like a typical Indian highway ‘Dhaba’ (highway restaurants in India that serve local cuisine, generally found next to fuel stations and are open 24×7), with traditional Indian furniture like jute beds, copper utensils etc. Punjabi numbers are played in the background to create the ‘Dhaba’ atmosphere

The menu was very limited and was written on a blackboard that hung from the ceiling and mentioned about 4-5 Thalis (a thali is a huge platter that has a selection of different dishes) + some Tandoori offerings

Non Veg Thali: Tawa Chicken, Handi Chicken and Bhuna Ghosht

Veg Thali: Paneer, Dum Aloo and Koftas +  Sarson Ka Saag with Makai Ki Roti

Both Non Veg and Veg Thalis are served with a fairly good helping of Black dal (lentils), a Paratha (Thicker than Chapatti kind of a bread, prepared with butter and salt… but don’t confuse it with a Naan) or Rice and a small cup of curd. In salads you get generous serving of onions, lemons + you also get chuttni (green spicy sauce)

One Thali is more than enough, its a complete meal and it comes for just $3.00/-

Papa Pancho tandoori chicken is not something unique, but the sliced lemon garnishing makes it look very tempting. Beverages include the traditional ‘Lassi’ (yogurt-based drink), ‘Jeera paani’ (Indian drink made from toasted cumin seeds and tamarind water) etc

Overall, Papa Pancho is a great place for people who want to discover the taste of real Indian homemade curries. Fine place to come with family or friends and a must visit for tourists – infact the restaurant had only the tourists seated during my visit). I ate like a hog and felt so sleepy afterwards that I didn’t feel like returning back to work.

I would rate it 3/5…