Monday, February 27, 2012

The artist - Michel Hazanivicius

Good movie. Good acting. Good music. Good direction.

In terms of story, its a very simple age old one. A very successful actor of the silent movies, has to adapt to change, as the world around him moves from no dialogues, to the 'talkies'.

A tribute to the old style of movie making, no dialogues, no color, letting the situations and expressions speak for themselves. I loved some of the evocative scenes. The very first one, as the spy is being tortured, and he screams 'I won't talk'.  The dialogue on the stairway, as someone on the way up,  meets someone on the way down. The part where the wife is busy drawing on the photograph. The scene where a wannabe starlet plays out a fantasy as she steps into the overcoat of the famous star. The loud bang of a feather hitting the ground.

It was a throwback to some of the movies I'd watched in film festivals as a kid, sometimes getting through to the hall after hours of wait in serpentine queues, sometimes watching the movies in almost empty halls. Reminescent of Chaplin, Welles, Ray.

And yes, any movies with a dog in them, automatically get bonus marks from me ! 

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Unfinished Portrait - Mary Westmacott

Many years ago, back in college days, I'd once stumbled upon 'Absent in spring', while searching for another Agatha Christie whodunit. I was surprised to read the jacket which said something vague about Christie writing 'romance' novels under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott.

I'd picked it up on a whim, and completely loved it, which wasn't a romance by any stretch of imagination. Perhaps it could be called a study  I remember the story and its build up quite well, and I remember reading its quite satisfying ending and thinking ' yes people don't just change magically'. At that time I didn't know the internet existed, this was back in the stone ages when most of us wouldn't have email for another 3 years. So I never found anyone else to swap thoughts about it, since no one seemed to have read it. However, today while searching on the net, I found that Christie herself had described that book as something that satisfied her completely. I couldn't agree more.

This one, 'unfinished portrait', was equally moving, although it wasn't for its neat literary merit, like the previous one, but more for its raw emotion. Its probably the closest to an honest autobiography that covers the years of childhood and the initial years of the broken marriage. Although the world she lived in was very different, and I couldn't identify with some of the observations, there were other passages which resonated with me completely.

Although I found it boring in its description of childhood, the latter parts more than made up for it.

Was quite worth a read.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Step Across This Line - Salman Rushdie

The right book to talk about would have been Satanic verses for today, but since I'm not bold enough to court jail yet, I'll make do with this one.

Good read overall. Its a collection of essays on varied topics like books, music, politics, sports, movies and television . And not the least being the fatwa , ban and free speech in general.

Some of it is too high brow for my taste, but much is well written and was read with much satisfaction and pleasure.

An excerpt from from an essay, written on 14th of 1999, which was the 10th anniversary of the unfunny valentine as he called it.

The best defence of literary freedom lies in their exercise, in continuing to make untrammelled, uncowed books.

Amen to that.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Free Speech.

Liked this idea of a flashread on 14th. Shall post something tomorrow. Meanwhile for now, one of my favourite quotes has always been this

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Long back I'd posted another of my favourites from Tagore on this blog, tomorrow might be the day to repost it - where the mind is without fear.

The Lives of others - Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Quite liked this one. I'd missed this few years back when it was making news, and caught it on TV by fluke. Lucky that UTV world movies exists!

An east german secret agent ends up bugging a writers house, and listening in to his life.. ( hence the lives of others). The story has some predictable turns, but its  restraint and direction is just lovely.
And I completely and totally loved the ending.

Do watch!

I'm OK, you're OK - Thomas Harris

A good introduction to transactional analysis, something we've heard of now and again.

The idea behind the PAC ( Parent, Adult and Child) , along with the concept of a transaction is explained. I found it a useful tool at times, however like all such tools and techniques, its a lot of hard work, and you end up leaving it aside a lot of times, because the effort of making your parent and child go back and the adult come forward is just too uncomfortable.

Some things I didn't like were its constant harping about treating PAC like the proverbial silver bullet which can fix everything. Plus there are lots of chapters towards the end about morality and world affairs etc, which I just found pointless.

Worth a read though.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Screw Indian values. Hail individualism, hedonism, freedom!

Some days you just wake up wanting to pick a quarrel with someone. Anyone. Today is one of those days. After giving it back to an unreasonable conductor, and staring down some street gawkers, trying to push down a cars rearview mirror, I finally arrived at office in one piece.

Came across this post from amit verma, and I couldn't agree more.  So since this is still a free speech country ( or so I think, rushdie, teli, mochi, godse notwithstanding, ) thought I'd give a piece of my mind in response to the senior idiot pung. Before mr sibal sits down to his screenings that is.

So lets take apart this punj fellows bullshit. After all if he's got an opinion, so have I.

Demise of family = Some ass in norway gunned down tonnes of people. If I remember correctly, some ass in the nepali monarchy gunned down half his family some years back. And thats your poster child country, right mr punj? Would you say that was a right reading of 'our' hindu family values ? eh?

Society in decline = Under 16- pregnancies, another pet peeve of these assholes. Lets consider this one. A ton of our grandmothers, great grandmothers etc etc, were pregnant by their teens. A few were taught to revere women who burnt themselves on their husbands pyre. Heck, even we were taught how jumping into a burning pyre was preferable to getting raped. Really??? I mean really??? If you consider death a better option than rape, then you really need to think about your real reasons for being worried about teen pregnancies. So what is this really about ? Is this about the age ( teens)? Or about the pregnancy (without the marriage)?  Or , ah dear lord, the failing control over a womans' sexuality?  Sure it becomes a social problem, but teenage pregnancies ( within the accepted social constructs ) of 70 years ago, were an equal problem - for the women. We didn't hear you complaining about that.

Loss of abiding values in family life = Increasing divorce rates - amits written an excellant piece on that, let me not repeat it, except to say - Divorce is a damn good thing, specially if it threatens our rotten family values. The more the damn things are threatened, the better.

Family = Marriages - ah, where do I even begin. If marriage is not contracted for raising a family, apparently it becomes haram. I can't even counter his logic, because he doesn't have one. I guess his brain stopped funtioning at the very thought of gays and liberals, ( not to mention me - a human being with no desire or intention to produce another human being. )  Extremist liberals are demanding that gay and lesbians be given the right to practice what they believe in. , erm and that is worrying because???

Powerful ideal leadership = Singapore. Singapore, singapore, what can I say about singapore, why not pick one of the poster communist countries then? Who chooses what is to be controlled? What if the chooser turns out a little unbalanced? But then the lure of the good benign leader is endless. We've had a good example of that in India in recent times.

The failure of capitalism is also ascribed to a stagnant population. Although my knowledge of economics is almost zero, that simplistic statement seems full of holes, even to me. Just some common sense thinking about the implications of such a 'fact' make the mind boggle. Lets leave that one aside to the economists to debate over, but if its true, then I guess the human race is doomed any way.

In a nut shell, what Mr punj is calling 'values' is after all a social system, which worked, like all systems, at the expense of some. In this case the women. So forgive me, if I choose the immoral west, or world annihilation, to a patriarchal system ( thats all it is, not a bloody indian value, its a bloodsucking system in which some thrived at the expense of the others)