Review – X Men: First Class

With many prequels failing the expectations of viewers, I’ve tried to go into a prequel not expecting a single thing. X-Men: First Class however, magnified what little expectations I did have and blew them out into space. This movie was an entertaining, slick and enjoyable watch.

It traces the roots of the characters we’ve already seen in the X-Men movies till date. It starts where the first X-Men film did, in 1944, showing a young boy separated from his parents, and taken into a Nazi concentration camp. There young Erik Lensherr (to-be Magneto) meets Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who, like the Emperor in Star Wars, creates the X-Men world’s Anakin Skywalker, a young man angered by the death of his mother.

The plotline shows how the paths of Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) and young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) cross, how they become friends, how they learn to control their powers together and undergo a bromance that isn’t at all sappy or apparent. The two join forces with the government to stop the imminent threat of Shaw’s megalomaniac plans, with Lensherr having his own personal agenda on the cards. There are other mutants thrown in for good measure – we see the origins of Mystique, or Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) as she used to be called, Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and more.

In the process of fighting against the mutant threat, a rift is created between the two close friends and Magneto and Professor X are born from the ashes.

Why does the movie work? It has a fantastic story, the actors fit the characters like a well-made glove and the special effects are in no way overdone or tacky. McAvoy is a slightly cocky yet innocent Xavier, one who has not yet seen what the world can do, or what mutants can do. Fassbender is a wonderful Magneto; you almost feel sorry for him and wish he’d stay on the good side, even if it’s just to see the lovely friendship between his character and McAvoy’s continue. Lawrence as the vulnerable Raven/Mystique trying to fit into the world that won’t accept anything or anyone different is impressive. Bacon was slightly disappointing in the latter half of the movie, although his turn as the Nazi officer is chilling. Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, the human CIA agent is the only one who believes in helping the mutants, and does well. The rest of the supporting cast played their roles well.

There are two blink-and-you-miss-them cameo appearances by cast members of the X-Men 1-3 movies, so watch out for those. A word of warning to those expecting a teaser scene at the end of the credits: there isn’t one this time.

All in all, a fascinating watch that makes viewers hope that there will be more prequels coming along especially if this is how they’re going to do it. Kudos to the director Michael Vaughn and the writers for giving us a great movie at the start of the summer.

Of Audis and art

Guest post by Adita Divecha, Karan’s mother

We’re back to Karan’s Tuesday art class at the Jam Jar.

This time, when we walked in, there were many people around. It seemed that the staff from Audi had volunteered for the day.

They wanted the children to paint cars; they had bought the small models of Audi cars and said we could dip them into the paint and roll the tyres across the paper to create painted wheel tracks.

Karan was very excited, I think because there were so many people around and they were taking photographs. He dipped the car in the paint and started making tracks on the paper. He seemed pretty excited about doing it and was pretty quick about it.

Since he doesn’t like getting paint on his fingers, I had to go wash his hands every now and then. The second time he used a paint brush but he wasn’t interested in painting cars, so he just made strokes with the brush the way he wanted to. For the third one, they gave him a sheet with an outline of the car but he didn’t want to stay in the line. He was laughing a lot and having fun.

After that, they kept large sheets of paper on the floor and had drawn a large sized Audi sports car…I think it was an R8. They asked if Karan would sit down on the floor and paint and we decided to give it a try. He was helped by one of the guys from Audi who sat with him. He painted the rear of the car dark blue and the rear shell of the car red and black and silver.

He was fine with sitting on the floor and moving his hands, as his strokes have improved.

As usual I did not take photos, and now Devina is upset because of that. The people from Audi had painted their faces and they seemed to be enjoying themselves along with the children. When we left, they gave each child one of the small car models.

Thanks to Audi and Start for the day!

The #manzilbooks update

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Bookmarks designed by Saurabh Chhabra (@2S8)

What’s happening with ManzilBooks? For those joining in now, here’s my plea to the community asking to donate books, and here’s the first #manzilbooks event we held at Wild Peeta.

Initially, the school wanted to hold their booksale in June, but haven’t hit the required 10,000 books the people helping them organise the event have requested for the sale to be held in the first place.

Where have they reached? With our donations and independent ones, they’ve passed 4,000. For this reason, they’ve decided to extend the duration of collection over the summer, and hopefully hit the target and carry out the event after the summer, and after Eid.

So…what’s happening?

I’m the contact person for pick-up points near Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Emirates Hills, Greens, Meadows, Springs, Lakes, JLT, JBR, the Marina. Anastasia (@TDAllonsy) will be looking after Dubai Silcon Oasis, Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and the surrounding areas.

Alternatively, Wild Peeta has generously donated its Dubai World Trade Centre outlet as a drop-off point. If dropping the books off there is more convenient, then please do so. Do drop me an email (autism [at] devinadivecha [dot] com) to let me know you’ve done so. There’s a collection of books people have dropped off along with these lovely bookmarks for people to have a sit-down and read while they eat (make sure you don’t drop any food or drink on the books!).

We hope you’ll spread the word…if anyone is thinking of getting rid of their books, please point them our way!

What to say and not say to a parent that has a child with Autism | Stuart Duncan

What to say and not say to a parent that has a child with Autism

Written on May 30, 2011 by Stuart Duncan

Filed Under: Autism

I’ve written quite often about how having a child with Autism forces you to have far more patience than you ever thought you could have… but there are still limits. And even though your patience levels can seem limitless for your child, you may find that you don’t have the same tolerances when it comes to others or some of the ignorant things they say, whether innocently intended or not.

There are a few lists out there of things not to say to us parents, but this is more of a list of things not to say or else you may just push us beyond the breaking point. Don’t worry though, I’ll follow it up with some things that I think would actually be nice to say.

do not say

Do not say

  • Your kid just needs proper discipline
  • My kids would never get away with that
  • What made your kid autistic? Was it something you did?

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Read the rest of the post by clicking the link above.

Really identify with this post, and I’m sure Mom will agree with me. We’ve been told some of those things many times and it really, really, really gets our goat. This is a great list of things you should and shouldn’t say to us, so pay attention!!!

Manzil’s annual concert – “I Can”

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(First picture in the slideshow was taken at the dress rehearsal a few days before the concert by @SaharLatheef. I don’t have very many pictures from the concert – I’d left my camera with my parents while I helped @shru_ the best I could with the video she was taking of the event.)

As always, Karan’s school hosts a concert for its students to participate in. I’d missed last year’s concert because I was away in UK, so I was quite excited about this year’s. It was held at the Sharjah Cultural Palace and this year was called “I Can”.

The event started off as always with a slideshow of all the students photographs, then the UAE national anthem and the Surah recitation by one of the students. After a singing performance by the students and the Best Buddies from Millennium School, Sharjah, there was a dance performance called Fire and Water. We saw two students graduating from the school this year, much to everyone’s applause and encouragement. Then we had the musical play, I Can, which was an adaptation of Helen Keller’s life. The concert ended as always, with a vote of thanks.

I always love going to these events … whether it’s their concert or their sports days (which I’ve said before). Even if you’re going through a particularly bad patch, attending these events never fails to lift spirits. It works for me anyway. You can go in feeling really bad about something, and walk out feeling on top of the world. Just seeing the student’s enthusiasm, hard work and effort paying off is such a lovely thing. You see the students really giving their all to put on an awesome show for their families and you see how much they’ve progressed since joining the school. The atmosphere is even more charged because of the expectations and hopes the audience has; it seems like such a normal thing…to perform at an event, doesn’t it? Preps for these concerts are even more than what other “normal” schools would go through. The students are given roles according to their ability and are trained to do it well. Karan had to walk in and then go to the fringe of the stage – he was playing a mountain hehe.

Can’t wait for their next event; one of the most exhilarating experiences I have every year.

Review – Fast 5 | The Graduate Times

Review – Fast 5

The fifth film in the series is just as Fast and Furious as the previous four. And just wait for the sixth; I know I am, says Devina Divecha.

Review – Fast 5

★★★☆☆

Did you honestly think that the last scene of Fast & Furious (the fourth instalment) would signal the end of the racing franchise?

It’s been 10 years since audiences saw Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) hit the drag race scene, but interest in the series has not waned. If anything, the fifth edition has kicked it up a notch.  The film starts where Fast & Furious ended, with O’Conner busting Toretto out of jail where he has been sentenced for 25 years. They end up on the run in Rio, where along with Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) they have to bring together a team, Oceans 11 style, to get even with a head honcho in the area and pull a final job in order to stop running.

The team is filled with members from the previous films – we have Vince (Matt Schulze) from the first instalment, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Ludacris) from 2 Fast 2 Furious, Han Lue (Sung Kang) from a drift version set in Tokyo, and Gisele Harabo (Gal Gadot), Tego Leo (Tego Calderon) and Rico Santos (Don Omar) from the previous film.

To add more drama, they’ve thrown in Agent Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) to chase down the fast and furious crew, with new entrant Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky), a rookie cop in Rio, assisting Hobbs.
The film is filled with testosterone, cars, girls, races and lots of running. The plot is simplistic and the acting no great shakes, but it will keep fans of the series hooked. ‘The Rock’, as the new addition, doesn’t impress. His dialogue delivery seems stilted, and the beads of sweat literally sticking to his skin (and not rolling down) distracted me every time his face was zoomed in. Toretto and O’Conner are old pros at this game, and their chemistry as racing buddies and rivals is still there.

While Fast Five doesn’t have as many car sequences as the first three did, viewers would have probably noticed a shift from the fourth film onwards. The characters have developed from when we first saw them in 2001 and there’s a lot more to it now than just racing.  But the film gives us what it’s there for: car drooling scenes and the final race, involving the Fast Five crew and all the police cars you could have mustered in Rio, makes for a smashing finale.

This film also follows the formula increasingly used these days of having a teaser scene after the end credits. This one is honestly worth the wait. It made me gasp out loud, clutch my hair and drop my jaw. I did not see it coming. Bring it on, number six.

 

Review – Thor | The Graduate Times

Review – Thor

The visual scenery in Thor is almost as epic as the original myth itself, says Devina Divecha

Review – Thor

★★★★☆

When you leave the cinema after watching this movie, you will probably hope that The Avengers will have many scenes with Chris Hemsworth throwing his hammer about.  The movie starts with thunder, lightning and rain. And a flashback sequence. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and he is cast out of the wondrous Asgard by his father for disobeying him and banished to Earth. Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, which only he can wield, is also sent to Earth, where its presence draws the men in black. Thor is found by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), whom (surprise, surprise) he has a romantic entanglement with. Thor also has to deal with the threat of the Frost Giants, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and human elements that want to ‘get him’.

Thor undergoes a pretty rapid character shift – from being arrogant and egotistic at the start of the film to becoming understanding, strong and worthy by the end. A little too fast for our liking, but we’d imagine many things had to be rushed to accommodate it all into the screening time of the film.  You might be surprised to know Kenneth Branagh was chosen to direct the film, with his penchant for Shakespeare. But can there be anyone else to show the semi-Shakespearan drama between Thor and his family? The choices for the roles are perfect – Hopkins as Odin, Portman as Jane Foster, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig do well. Rene Russo makes a brief appearance as Frigga, Thor’s mother. But the two that really stand out are fresh faces –Hemsworth (whom Trekkies will recognise as George Kirk from the rebooted Star Trek) and Hiddleston (trivia: he acted with director Branagh in Wallander). Hemsworth steals scenes as the striking Norse God and makes us laugh in a few (especially the scenes where Thor has to deal with humans who don’t care whether he is the son of Odin or not), and has the audience falling in love with his mischievous sense of self. Hiddleston as the meddling Loki is inspired; you’ll end up hoping someone dangles him off an Asgardian cliff long before you realise what he’s up to.

The visuals are striking and to be expected, with Asgard looking like a futuristic city in the clouds. Absolutely marvellous; I did not see the film in 3D and did not need to – it can carry itself without the added gimmick.  As Marvel is propping up these movies to lead up to the final bang which is The Avengers, avid moviegoers would do well to stick around till the end of the credits. As always, there’s a little scene in there to pique your curiosity, confuddle you, and make the wait for the mega-epic seem just a little longer.  Twists and turns are aplenty in this movie, with a lot of action. Buckle up, because Marvel wants to take everyone on a fantastic ride.