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Will Springsteen’s Music Ignite The Spark? Blinded By the Light Is Certainly Hoping So.

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Bruce Springsteen begins his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town with these words…

Well, lights out tonight

Trouble in the heartland

Got a head on collision

Smashin’ in my guts, man

I’m caught in a cross fire

That I don’t understand

Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) sets her new film, Blinded By the Light, in 1987 Britain, and she sets it to the sound of Springsteen. And what’s she’s hoping for — and this is a film that is fueled by hope — is that her film speaks Bruce’s language, Bruce’s commitment and passion:

But there’s one thing I know for sure, girl

I don’t give a damn

For the same old played out scenes

Baby, I don’t give a damn

For just the in-betweens

Honey, I want the heart, I want the soul

I want control right now

You better listen to me, baby

Her success in doing so is mixed, but there’s never a doubt where her heart is, where her intentions lie, and how wide open is her embrace for her audience and for the power of music and film.

Just like at a Springsteen concert.

VIVEIK KALRA as Javed in New Line Cinema’s inspirational drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.Copyright: © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.
Photo Credit: Nick Wall

Javed (Viveik Kalra), a meek, first generation Pakistani-English teen, is trying to navigate the shoals of school and home; friendship and family; English culture and Pakistani culture. The classic immigrant story. He relies primarily on meekness and submission, even against those bigots who taunt and threaten him, but especially with authority figures, particularly his rule-the-roost father.

Then a Sikh stranger, a schoolmate, sees his struggle to find both himself and his place in the world, and slips him the key — Springsteen. Specifically, cassettes of Born in the USA and Darkness on the Edge of Town.

(For Springsteen devotees — and I have to admit that is me — the choice of that combination of albums is significant. Born in the USA is his most accessible and commercial album, his most popular and the one where his personal angst and existentialism is dressed up in the brightest and cheeriest of settings and music; Darkness on Edge of Town, in contrast, is his most naked and bare-bones cry of pain, disappointment, hope, and passion).

Once Javed plugs in and hears the Boss’ siren cry, he is transformed. Just like that! Here is his voice, his world.

Of course, the film keeps playing on the anachronism of a American rockstar from New Jersey speaking so directly to a Pakistani-English teen, but what the film sets out to do is shatter the restricting notion of anachronism and replace it with the ideal of the universal.

And if there’s a badge this film longs to wear, it’s idealism.

The question I left the theater asking, however, and one that I continue to ask, is whether idealism still speaks to a Trumpian and Brexitian world. Are things so dark, so cynical, that one can barely see the light, let alone be blinded by it?

VIVEIK KALRA as Javed in New Line Cinema’s inspirational drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a Warner BrosCopyright: © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.
Photo Credit: Nick Wall. Pictures release.

Director Gurinder Chadha certainly puts her bets on idealism. There isn’t a hint of irony in her presentation of Sarfraz Manzoor ’s memoir. Rather it’s heartfelt, even earnest, in a wonderfully Spielbergian way.

For instance, one way the film dramatizes that differences can lead to universalism is through period. And nothing says period more than music and the fashion that grows out it.

The film is set during the transition from the mascara-caked, draping locks of the New Romantics (Culture Club, etc.) to the Synth-Pop of Duran Duran and the Fine Young Cannibals.

The flannel, denim and leather of Springsteen was not appreciated among the young. That is, with the exceptional of Javed and his Sikh buddy. And they exist in a delicious Bollywood world of the Boss.

It’s in those musical moments in the film, when Bruce’s lyrics swirl around Javed’s head and float across the screen, where street fairs become flash mobs of Dancers in the Dark, that the movie is at its absolutely most delightful and enrapturing. These scenes both ground the film in the truth of the heart and the street and launch it into the movie musical stratosphere. They are as wonderful and elevating as any of the numbers in La La Land.

It’s Springsteen’s music, of course, that provides the fuel for both the street race and the liftoff, but it is Viveik Kalra’s performance — and this is true for every moment he’s on screen, which is pretty much the entire film — that carries the film. He is spot-on and a pleasure to watch.

NELL WILLIAMS as Eliza, VIVEIK KALRA as Javed and AARON PHAGURA as Roops in New Line Cinema’s inspirational drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.Copyright: © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.
Photo Credit: Nick Wall

The problem, and this is nearly inevitable when a movie mixes genres (in this case, Bollywood Musical/High School Dramedy/Social Problem Film) is that the results, and the acting, is uneven. Javed’s father and his girl friend’s parents are overdone, but perhaps that’s just the High School Dramedy trope at work. In the end, the connection we feel for Javed overrules all inconsistencies and wins our hearts.

And winning our hungry hearts is just what this film sets out to do.

But — and here I ask the question again — can our hearts be won in the times we currently suffer through? The film connects its actions and characters to the present moment, through the economic hardships suffered by the working class, the anti-immigrant sentiments, as well as the presence of Neo-Nazis marching in the streets. But if the film is going to heal, to offer hope, to lift us over the walls of division and cynicism that surrounds us, then it must move from analogy to activator.

When the music is playing it does just that. A little less so between songs.

Yet, I wonder if this film, if Springsteen’s music, will appeal across demographics. As a 64 year-old, uber-Springsteen fan, it spoke right to me. I think everyone will fall for Javed, but does Bruce still speak to the masses?

VIVEIK KALRA as Javed in New Line Cinema’s inspirational drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a Warner BrosCopyright: © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.
Photo Credit: Nick Wall. Pictures release.

I remember the night that Ronald Reagan won the White House. It was the night, Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town tour played Phoenix. He came onto the stage, announced Reagan’s win, and then in an act of resistance, protest and hope, he broke into Badlands:

Well, lights out tonight

Trouble in the heartland…

Badlands, you gotta live it everyday

Let the broken hearts stand

As the price you’ve gotta pay

Keep pushin’ ’til it’s understood

And these badlands start treating us good

Today, Reagan seems like a level-headed statesman, beloved even by the working class that Springsteen speaks from, to and about. In a Trump America, will the old connection fire? Will Springsteen’s music ignite the spark? Blinded By the Light is certainly hoping so.

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American Horror Story: Delicate

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As most of us are already aware, the 12th Season of AHS has been fraught with all kinds of differences to the previous seasons, mainly in that this is the first one to be based entirely off a novel, ‘Delicate Condition’ by Danielle Valentine. The first half of the season aired in October 2023 to mediocre reviews, while the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production and airing delays for the latter half of the season, and the episodes of Part 2 were all cut to less than an hour long apiece. And none of that is even getting into the disjointed attempt at storytelling for Season 12, so let’s dive into this! 

Meet Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts), former young ling star of Hollywood now struggling to recapture fame as an adult, who wants a baby, very very badly. Bad enough to drive herself and her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry) through multiple unsuccessful rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), bad enough to keep trying no matter how crushing each failure turns out to be, bad enough to involve her purported best friend and bougie publicist Siobhan Corbyn (Kim Kardashian) in her struggles, and maybe, just maybe, bad enough to give up on a burgeoning resurgence of her career after interest in her comeback role for The Auteur begins garnering her Oscar-worthy attention. 

So, Anna and Dex are going to go through yet another round of IVF, likely one of their last attempts at it, from a different doctor, Dr. Andrew Hill (Denis O’Hare), and clinic based on Siobhan’s recommendation. And already, strange things are beginning to happen to Anna – her appointments that she set herself begin springing up incorrectly, a doom saying woman called Preacher (Julia White) shows up spouting warnings about trusting no one, dire warnings appear in unlikely places, and BTW, it seems as though long-suffering but good-nurtured Dex has a side-piece too. It doesn’t help that Dex’s new partner at his art gallery, Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), bears a striking resemblance to his dead ex-wife Adeline, either. Those spiked emerald heels start appearing weirdly too, and it seems as though no one will listen to Anna as she grows more and more suspicious that some sort of sinister cult has designs on her as-yet-unborn baby. At the same time, Anna tries to live the life of a successful returning actress, attending parties and gallery openings while draping her rapidly-expanding middle in shimmering fabrics and actively ‘campaigning’ for that little golden statue that most actors covet. Competition is fierce, even among her co-stars of The Auteur, and while Anna wants to be supportive of her fellow entertainers, she clearly appears to be incapable of doing both at the same time – wanting the baby and the little gold award at the same time is too much to ask, apparently. 

Elsewhere, mostly in the past, various women in states of desperation formed from one situation or another are visited by sinister-looking women in prim black dresses, headgear reminiscent of – to me anyway – an odd cross betwixt birds and bunnies, my guess is an ostensive nod to fertility in general, and a general feeling of blood-bound witchery about them at critical moments of crossroad choices. 

Though the second half of the season moves a good deal faster than the first, the attempts at callbacks and reminder flashes to Part 1 hit with all the impact of a dropped bag of garbage onto their friends Talia’s (Julia Canfield) borrowed bougie kitchen floor – splat, into incomprehensible silence, from all parties, both characters and audience, concerned. Even the reminders that, in Part 1 of Delicate Dex’s mother Virginia Harding (Debra Monk) did indeed have perfectly valid memories of abuse at the hands of a black cult and Dex’s own father Dex Sr. (Reed Birney), the revelation pales and peels away in the face of Dex’s true parentage. 

Which brings us back around full circle kinda sorta, to the only real character worth a damn in this entire miserable season of strange feminism and aspirations of world domination through a kind of idiotic Rosemary’s Baby nightmare scenario, we should have known she’d steal the show when Kardashian was cast for it, Siobhan Corbyn, leader of the blood cult her high and mighty (old) self. Throughout the whole show her character has remained exactly the same, and it’s a wonder Anna can stare at her all stupefied while Siobhan does her villain speech at the end of the last episode. Siobhan never masked her ambition or greed, her mysterious protective vibe and even deep love for Anna, and can always be counted on to have secret plans of her own, already in motion, bitch. 

The idea that Anna herself was used as a surrogate for Siobhan and her incestuous eugenicist plans, plus the sweet little demon baby she just birthed, has an ironic the-world-is-tilting-the-wrong-way kind of witchy madness to it. Sure, Anna really can have it all, the baby and the golden statue, if only she joins the patriarchy-crushing cabal of blood witches with world domination plans, got it. 

I have questions, or I would have, but things are moving on and Anna is being saved by … Dex’s dead ex, Adaline the former member of the coven right okay her, she’s going to show back up and offer Anna a simple chant to Hestia her patron Goddess, and that is somehow enough to deal with Siobhan entirely – poof. And finally, after all that rigamarole, decades of planning and scheming and witchy plotting finally settled, Anna really can have it all as a White Witch of Hollywood, heaven help us, with her perfectly human baby and that damned little golden statue, clutched in an only slightly desperate grip. 

As with any season of AHS there are a great deal of statements that could be implied just under the skin of the season – the canker way of ambition, the millenia-old pain of a woman giving birth, the savagery and bloodshed that comes with bringing forth life, pushback against both the patriarchy and ultra-feminism, the absolute desperation of humans wanting to have a child, and perhaps strangest and most open to interpretation of all, what it means to be feminine. The worlds population of women who can’t or don’t or simply won’t have children, for any reason or none, are relegated to servants, expendable servants at that, for this new world order that Siobhan is proposing, and that is far too close a comfort to things like outright slavery. A dictator is a dictator, no matter how great she looks in those emerald spiked heels. 

It’s not the really beautiful grotesquerie that Ryan Murphy and his AHS gang are often known for, nor is it utterly terrible and should be burned at the stake. What Delicate should be, is put back together with missing and cut footage, an hour long per episode again come on folks, fleshed some more of Siobhan’s baby-stealing adventures in the past and given us an actual reason to like anything about the whiny Anna, at least the Part 2 we as longtime AHS fans deserve. Toss in some more spidery hijinks! Give us the actual origin of those weird feather bunny-ear headdresses! 

American Horror Story Delicate the whole season can be seen on FX! 

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Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

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Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

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Netflix’s Upcoming Thriller ‘Trigger Warning’ Promises Action-Packed Intrigue”

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Get ready to buckle up for an adrenaline-fueled ride as Netflix prepares to drop its latest original thriller, “Trigger Warning,” on June 21, 2024. Directed by Mouly Surya and boasting an all-star cast, including Jessica Alba, Mark Webber, Tone Bell, Jake Weary, Gabriel Basso, Anthony Michael Hall, Kaiwi Lyman, and Hari Dhillon, this film is set to keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

The plot centers around Special Forces commando Parker, portrayed by the talented Jessica Alba. Parker’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives the heartbreaking news of her father’s sudden passing, prompting her to return to her hometown. As she steps into her new role as the owner of the family bar, Parker quickly realizes that there’s more to her father’s death than meets the eye.

Reconnecting with figures from her past, including her former flame turned sheriff, Jesse (Mark Webber), and his volatile brother, Elvis (Jake Weary), Parker finds herself embroiled in a dangerous web of deceit and violence. With the influential Senator Swann (Anthony Michael Hall) casting a shadow over the town, Parker must navigate treacherous waters to uncover the truth about her father’s demise.

As tensions rise and alliances shift, Parker taps into her elite commando training, determined to unravel the mysteries plaguing Swann County. Assisted by her covert ops partner and hacker, Spider (Tone Bell), and the enigmatic local dealer, Mike (Gabriel Basso), Parker embarks on a perilous journey filled with twists and turns.

Penned by John Brancato & Josh Olson and Halley Gross, “Trigger Warning” promises to deliver a gripping narrative packed with action, suspense, and unexpected revelations. With a powerhouse cast bringing the characters to life and a talented creative team behind the scenes, this Netflix original is primed to captivate audiences worldwide.

Produced by Erica Lee, Basil Iwanyk, and Esther Hornstein, “Trigger Warning” offers a thrilling glimpse into the murky depths of small-town politics and criminal underworlds. With its pulse-pounding action sequences and compelling storyline, this film is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Mark your calendars for June 21, 2024, as “Trigger Warning” arrives on Netflix, ready to ignite your senses and keep you guessing until the credits roll. Don’t miss out on this adrenaline-charged cinematic experience that promises to be the ultimate summer blockbuster.

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