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REVIEW

Books

Truth, torture, Trump and more: James Comey's eventful career

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This is Comey's memoir with the parts on Clinton and Trump the highlights, but the good lawyer he is, he builds up to them, showing why he acted the way he did by detailing his formative influences and his career.

Exploring the heart of matter - and why atoms are important

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Why the atom is so important is what science journalist and space historian Piers Bizony tells us in this installment of the Icon Science series recounting the significance of key moment in science over the last few centuries.

Exploring the heart of matter - and why atoms are important

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Why the atom is so important is what science journalist and space historian Piers Bizony tells us in this installment of the Icon Science series recounting the significance of key moment in science over the last few centuries.

The French novelist who fought for justice - and the price he paid

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The French Revolution brought the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity into modern political discourse, but the Dreyfus scandal of the 1890s raised the question whether these had permeated into their homeland. As this book tells us, the case exposed faultlines between France's monarchist, religious and anti-Semitic right and the liberal, republican, and (later) socialist sections -- a rift which would haunt the country in the coming century and cripple it in the face of aggression.

The 'home' of capitalism and the renovations it needs

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American financial journalist William D. Cohan leans largely towards the first as he seeks to make a case for Wall Street's importance to the world we have become used to. Many of today's innovations, from swanky mobile phones to credit cards to pension plans, he contends in this book, owe their genesis to it.

Solving a murder in a Nazi bastion, escaping the Stasi

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This entails going over to Britain and poisoning -- by thallium no less -- a covert woman agent, whom Gunther had deftly outsmarted in his previous outing ("The Other Side of Silence", 2016). And just to keep him on his toes, Mielke has his men arrange a near-fatal hanging for him.

Romantic repetitions: Love re-ignited and its redemptive course

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As the story opens in Mumbai in December 2015, it's been just a year or so that Maya Arya nee Sharma has divorced from her philandering husband after catching him in flagrante delicto in his office -- when he thoughtlessly left the door unlocked.

Love's different shades -- and their tryst with 'normal' life

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Can love survive the pressures of modern living and of careers, the changes in personality, the role of families, incorporate existing friendships or deal with myriad, mostly sordid things that are an inescapable part of life in the "happily ever after" phase? Or does it get replaced by something akin to an automatic acceptance of muddling through after the initial excitement and passion dissipates?

The other Pakistan: People beyond media and popular perceptions

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There are stories of a country beyond this -- of uncommonly common people, or nameless victims of regressive and violent patriarchy or social and religious pressure, but also of hopes, aspirations and love, of crimes, oppression and betrayal, and more. And then there is the curious love-hate relationship with its bigger, eastern neighbour.

The perils of negotiating with defectors -- and surviving

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While there are no definite answers to these questions or even a standard pattern of responses, the very fact of asking them can embroil those curious in what legendary (and by some accounts, cracked) American spy-catcher James Jesus Angleton called the "wilderness of mirrors" where the truth can be -- and frequently is -- distorted, elusive and lethal.

Movies

'Beyond the Clouds': Visually appealing but lacks soul

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Full of emotional turmoil, these moments are not a "surprise" in the sense of a plot twist, but a different perspective. It's the kind of shift you find in the sudden insight of life. It's about how you look at someone and realise that you have never really known them.

'Hichki': An emotionally inspiring film

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The film reveals how as a student she was expelled from twelve schools before finally being accepted whole heartedly at St. Notker's High School. The same school later accepts her as a teacher, mid-term, not because of her brilliant academic credentials but because of a crisis situation. She is hired to teach a class of underprivileged, reluctant misfits. How she wins everyone's hearts, forms the crux of the tale.

'Raid': A one-dimensional tale that hinges on a weak plot

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The raid spans over a couple of days with Rameshwar trying to use all his clout to put a spanner into the proceedings.

'Welcome To New York': Trips on tactless plot

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Touted as India's first comedy in 3D, this makes this film the dimmest, one has seen in years. The comedy here is not humour, but absurdity.

'Pad Man' is a noble masterpiece, period!

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There is the period film. And then there is the film about the periods. Excellence comes in many packages. But rarely in a small secret package wrapped a newspaper. Sometimes, these packages cost Rs 55 and are completely out of reach for the non-urban women of India.

'The Commuter': Typical Liam Neeson fare

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This film, like all Liam Neeson's previous solo endeavours, lands up being just another thriller, packed with Neeson's brand of badass action.

'Kaalakaandi': Black humour hard sold

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What makes "Kaalakaandi" interesting, though, is its dark comedy, easy to relate situations and characters. It is one of the easiest films to love and one of the hardest to think of as a work of art. It approaches the notion of pure filmmaking as entertainment; it is a nearly flawless example of- itself.

'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' is a stunner

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This is a film where we are expected to constantly keep searching for signs of emotions in characters that are not prone to being emotionally demonstrative.

'Kadvi Hawa': A timely warning about global warming

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Look at what we've done to Mother Earth. She is no longer Mother, she is Muddle Earth heading towards Murder Earth. In director Nila Madhab Pandya's new work aptly entitled "Kadwi Hawa", the bitter truth of ecological plunder, is wrapped in a parable about a blind restless patriarch played by Sanjay Mishra who wanders the merciless hinterland of Mahua.

'Spyder': Brings the thrill back into the thriller

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Innovative writing in Indian cinema is hard to come by. One that synthesises thrills with a certain sobriety so effectively is rare. Murugadoss' writing is always ahead of his (considerable) skills as a director. And that's a good thing. While he lets Mahesh Babu's star power do all the talking (even while the actor himself remains distractingly quiet through most of the mayhem), the director leaves nothing to chance.

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