Monday, 29 December 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings. A Joke?

                                                                                       Image Credit: rgbaptist.org

Exodus: Gods and Kings may not be exactly what history buffs are looking for. It is also not being taken well by religious people. Why? Simply because the movie is both historically inaccurate and religiously incorrect. As in incorrect in terms of Torah, Quran and the Bible.  

I had already read the poor reviews before I watched the movie but I thought hey what the heck….soo maybe the movie is not all that accurate (okay, not accurate at all) but it still has Christian Bale right? I mean, hot, suave, made to be swooned over Christian Bale? So I decided to give it a try. I must say I am disappointed.

Christian Bale looks great. Let’s get that established from the very beginning. No matter how inaccurate the movie was or how I disagreed with most parts of it, there is no doubt that Bale looked gorgeous. Seven actors have played Moses so far and I can bet you anything, no one, not even Charlton Heston, has as gorgeous a smile as Bale’s Moses. Yes, Moses smiles in this movie. That too pretty sarcastically most of the time.

However, the movie itself falls flat. I was expecting much more from Ridley Scott but what I felt after watching the movie was that he had put more time and effort into the special effects and the sets and the whole nine yards and forgot about the story somewhere along the way.  

Egypt has already banned the screening of the movie because of historical errors and the racist image of Jews. Christians seem equally offended because they feel that Scott's version of the Exodus is severely altered from the actual Biblical story.

What bothers me most about this movie is Scott’s attitude. Scott's need for a "scientific explanation for the parting of the Red Sea other than divine intervention" doesn't really make him the best choice as the director of a religious/historical movie. He doesn't stop there mind you. In the movie, Scott shows that the Red Sea parting occurs because of an earthquake. I mean, I am no religious fanatic but seriously???? First, if you don't believe in divine intervention, please stay away from DIVINE stories. Second, if you disagree or think your main character (who is considered to be a PROPHET OF GOD by many) is not "a good human being", DO NOT make a movie about him! Are you freaking kidding me???

“You can’t just do a giant parting, with walls of water trembling while people ride between them,” said Scott, who said he failed to believe the sight when as a child he watched 1956’s The Ten Commandments. “I remember that feeling, and thought that I’d better come up with a more scientific or natural explanation.” Er... okay!!!!

Bale doesn't help either with his negative remarks about Moses. Calling the character you are playing “barbaric” and “schizophrenic” doesn’t do much for you as an actor now does it? I mean, do you want people to think you are best left to be Batman? Or do you have more depth? No doubt we love how you look and how you smile and what not but an actor in your position can pick and choose roles and if you do not like the character you’re playing, either don’t do it or don’t degrade him publicly. Apparently, Bale did significant research on Moses and read the Torah, the Quran and Jonathan Kirsch's Life of Moses. Don’t really know what he derived out of this comprehensive study!

Religion aside, there are several historical errors in the movie. I never knew the Egyptians had explosives ... I mean like proper explosives. As far as my historical knowledge goes and I can be wrong of course, gunpowder had not been invented in Moses' time. And while Scott is so quick to dismiss the parting of the Red Sea, he does not hesitate to show a chariot flying when Moses stabs it with his spear. I mean, make up your mind. Was Moses special or not?

Overall, I just don’t like the way they portrayed Moses. I am not much into religion but the story of Moses is one of the most interesting among all religious stories. But Scott’s Moses is cynical, sarcastic and downright arrogant. We all know Moses talked to God (as per the religious scripture) but in this movie, Bale has an attitude problem even when he is talking to God. I also didn’t think much of the actor who played Ramses. He just doesn’t fit the role but that’s just my opinion.

First Noah and then this. I’m really not sure what the goal of such movies is. I would take Gladiator any day over all these so-called religious depictions of actual religious figures. Seriously.

  

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

'Tis But a Dream Just Became a Reality!

             Image Credit: Books To Go Now

About ‘Tis But A Dream:

When ambitious and talented Snow Donovan finds the job of her dreams, she thinks she has finally found her fairy-tale ending. The right job, the ultimate home and financial security. However, a hostile supervisor is all set to shatter her aspirations. Snow is unprepared for not only the hostility but also the irresistible attraction she feels for Richard Wilder, a dynamic and successful business-man who is committed to protect her at all cost. Will Snow be able to control her attraction to him and keep things professional or will she finally give in and find her true “happily ever after?”

About Samna Ghani:

Samna Ghani is a published author. She writes romance novels and adventure stories for children. She also works as a creative writer and is an active member of the Mississauga Writers Group, Canada. Her work has been featured on several online platforms including Yahoo, Capital Liberty News and Career Addict. Samna has a passion for books and reads everything and anything under the sun. She has been writing since she was a young girl and her dream to become a published author finally came true in 2010. Now, Samna wants to write the kind of romance novels she would like to read. Her passion for writing has been inspired by the works of classic authors including Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and P.G. Wodehouse. Samna firmly believes that she would not be an author today without the inspiration she derived from these three literary icons.

Website: http://samnaghani.com/
Where you can find ‘Tis But A Dream:http://www.amazon.com//dp/B00P7284KO

My First Romance Novel - All Aboard!

              Image Credit: Books To Go Now

Violet Osborne, a successful lawyer and workaholic, had given up all hope of ever finding a man she could love and trust. Things change dramatically for her when she decides to go on a dream vacation to Europe. Her idealist romantic notions had made her believe that the right type of man did not exist ... until she met the wrong type.... Or so she thought.

Reed Kendall, a handsome and dashing playboy never thought he would feel the need to settle down. Wealth and women came easy to him. His work was all he was really passionate about until he meets Violet. Seducing women had never been much of a challenge for him and he didn’t expect it to be any different with Violet... or so he thought.

Sparks fly as Reed and Violet try to resist each other... but some people are just too hard to resist.

About Samna Ghani:

Samna Ghani is a published author. She writes romance novels and adventure stories for children. She also works as a creative writer and is an active member of the Mississauga Writers Group, Canada. Her work has been featured on several online platforms including Yahoo, Capital Liberty News and Career Addict. Samna has a passion for books and reads everything and anything under the sun. She has been writing since she was a young girl and her dream to become a published author finally came true in 2010. Now, Samna wants to write the kind of romance novels she would like to read. Her passion for writing has been inspired by the works of classic authors including Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and P.G. Wodehouse. Samna firmly believes that she would not be an author today without the inspiration she derived from these three literary icons.

Website:  http://samnaghani.webs.com/

Where you can find: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MWCP3MY

Word Fest, Celebrating Ideas!

Mississauga Writers Group proudly launches its first book, “Word Fest, Celebrating Ideas”.  Showcasing different themes, this anthology includes a diverse collection of poetry and prose. From playwrights to poets, from screenplay writers to journalists, from meditation experts to therapists, sixteen talented members of the Mississauga Writers Group have contributed to this collection. 

                                                  Image Credit: Mississauga Writers Group

The Mississauga Writers Group was established in January 2013 with the underlying objective of providing writers a forum to share their experiences and their dreams through creativity, knowledge and mutual respect. Word Fest is the first of many achievements of the members as a collective force and is a celebration of ideas, inspiration and dreams.

Whether you’re in the mood for mystery or romance or you’re looking for some well-needed inspiration, Word Fest has it all. With a stunning combination of prose and poetry, this collection is a symbol of diversity and reflects the inherent passion of the contributors for the written word.

Word Fest is the first of many literary achievements of the Mississauga Writers Group. The book is available in both print and digital versions and is available on both Amazon and Kindle. Word Fest will also be officially launched on September 27, 2014 during the Culture Days’ event at the Mississauga Central Library. The contributing authors will introduce their work and their inspiration behind it and will be available to share their thoughts and experiences. 


The book is available for sale on Amazon. For more information about Mississauga Writers Group please visit http://mississaugawritersgroup.com. You can also connect with the group through Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MississaugaWritersGroup.

The Casual Vacancy - Love it Or Hate it?

The Casual Vacancy may not be what Harry Potter fans are expecting from J.K. Rowling. However, there is no denying that the author's writing style is engaging and entertaining. Rowling has created characters that have a lot of depth and while they may not appear to most people as the ideal "heroes and heroines" generally found in books, she has succeeded in giving them a disturbing yet realistic identity.

                                                                                       Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

            The book highlights the negativity inherent in most human beings and how for the sake of selfish goals, normal people can become cruel.  This book will not appeal to everyone and will probably get extreme reactions from people - they would either love it or hate it.  An interesting aspect of this book is how Rowling has managed to use humor in an otherwise dark satire. 

This is no Harry Potter.  Readers will find less fantasy and more realism in this book as it talks about relevant social issues such as suicide, abuse, poverty, drugs and politics.  This may not be the ultimate novel from J.K. Rowling but it is a good piece of work and should appeal to readers with an open-mind and also to those who are avid fans of J.K. Rowling.  I personally enjoyed the book although if asked if I prefer her Harry Potter style of writing, I would definitely say yes. 

Why the West Need Not Fear the hijab

There are approximately one million Muslim women in America.  Around 43% of them wear the hijab (a headscarf). (Khalid, 2011) For years, the headscarf or the hijab has been a divisive issue not just within the Muslim community but between the Muslim community and the West. With all the anti-Muslim sentiments going on around the globe, wearing the hijab is becoming more and more of a challenge for Muslim women. It has also become a complication between Eastern and Western cultures and within Islam itself.

The general perception with respect to the hijab is that it is a tool to suppress women.  People in the West seem to think that women who cover their head or cover themselves from head to toe in a burqa are somehow oppressed and subservient.  I am a Muslim woman. I was born and raised in a Muslim country and I have been living in the West for almost a decade. A large number of women in my family back home in Pakistan and in the West wear the hijab.  They do not consider it to be a burden or something that has been forced upon them. What the West needs to understand, before reacting so aggressively to a piece of cloth, is that the hijab is not a radical statement. It is not a fight against other religions. It is not a battle with other women who do not cover their heads. It is not a political ideology.  It is not a sign of subjugation.  It is not by force. It is not a sign of suppression or subservience. It does not make a Muslim woman anybody’s slave. Muslim women who wear the hijab are not a threat. It does not make them less attractive or less appealing sexually. It does not make them weak.  It does not make them ignorant. It does not make them dumb. It is not a burden, it is a choice and for most Muslim women, it is empowering and equalizing.

The hijab (or in its entirety, the burqa) is a representation of one of the basic principles of Islam and that is modesty. The Quran states in Surat An-Nūr (The Light): “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s father, their sons, their husband’s sons [step-sons], their brothers or their brother’s sons or their sister’s sons, or their women, or their slaves whom their right hands possess or male servants free of physical needs or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex.” (Surat An- Nur, 24:31)

                                                               Image Credit: Flickr.com
The issue of the hijab has been fiercely debated for years now.  I would like to highlight one thing though: while the West may have misperceptions about Muslim women, there is also a misperception in the Muslim culture with respect to modesty.  For centuries, the burden of being modest has been placed on women.  It is expected of them to cover their heads and to dress modestly.  The Quran however is not so prejudiced.  The above quoted verse from the Quran clearly states that modesty is mandatory for both Muslim men and women. Muslim men are strong advocates of modesty among Muslim women. However, it is high time Muslim men accepted their share of the responsibility and practiced the art of modesty along with their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.  It is one thing for the West to take issue with a culture they know little about but ignorance within the Muslim community itself is clearly not acceptable.

I want to conclude this by reiterating that the West has nothing to fear from the hijab. To wear or not to wear it is a Muslim woman’s personal choice and decision. Islam does not believe in imposing anything on its followers.  Islam is a religion of peace and it welcomes those who follow its principles and its guidance from their heart.  A Muslim woman wearing a hijab is not oppressed. She is free. She is proud. She is comfortable with her identity. Those who do not understand this do not understand Islam.


                                                      

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Pemberley Chronicles - A Sweet Reminder of Jane Austen

I am sure I am not the only bookworm out there who craves the writing style of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, P.G. Wodehouse and other classic authors. Let's be real. While it's a treat to read the Ludlums, Grishams and Dan Browns of the world, the classics will always remain in a class of their own. Jason Bourne is all cool and sleek but would he have been created without Ian Fleming's James Bond? Would Grisham's legal thrillers be appealing if there had been no Perry Mason by Earl Stanley Gardner? And come on! We all know that the mushy romances of today would not even exist without the romantic works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte  and Georgette Heyer.

The sad part however is that a large majority of people today have forgotten the look and feel of a pure classic. Wasn't it Jane Austen who once said, "the person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not had pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." Well said Ms. Austen! Anyway. That is another discussion altogether. For now, I just wanted to introduce The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins. It has been written as a sequel to the acclaimed Pride and Prejudice. I for one, have always wished that Pride & Prejudice would never conclude but alas, that is not possible. It was again Jane Austen who once said and I quote, "but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short."That is so true for Pride & Prejudice.

 Nevertheless, it did end and for years all I have done is read and reread this book. I don't know somehow I feel reading Pride & Prejudice every year gives me a new or a renewed perspective to life. According to Cliff Fadiman, "When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before." That is seriously so true. For years now I have been searching for something even half as good.There is no doubt that Jane Austen will always be in a league of her own but after reading The Pemberley Chronicles, Austen fans will be able to relive the characters of Pride & Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is my all time favorite heroine and to read about her life after she marries Mr. Darcy is pure delight.

To think that I discovered these books so late! The series comprises of ten books and follows the lives of Elizabeth Bennett  and Mr. Darcy. Rebecca Collins has dedicated all her books to Jane Austen and I believe that Austen  has been her inspiration. Thus, for all you Jane Austen fans out there, The Pemberley Chronicles is not to be missed. Collins has been quite successful in carrying on the legacy of Austen and especially in an era like today where such books are so hard to find, The Pemberley Chronicles is beautifully written and is a breath of fresh air. So Austen fans, go ahead and pick up a copy. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!