Monday, May 29, 2006

The reification of an ideal

One of this insighnificant one's significant aims in life was to become a culture fart, after noticing that once you start talking about why Hegel and Schlegel are better than Whegel to similarly-minded people, why, your opinion on such mundane questions like, say, the best way to burn a transistor[1] is positively sought after. Your sphere of influence immediately becomes a target needing a radiation-hardened bunker, and you spend the rest of your life wondering why the lambs run away as you approach with the butcher knife hidden safely behind your back.

So naturally, once opportunity knocked with an offer to "improve my cultural horizons", I ended up taking it: Winners of the Palme d'Or (foldly called the "pah! deo!" by those of us who can't pronounce it), screened in a fashion to enlighten uncultured pond scum[2] while still providing wholesome entertainment to the rest of the world.

Naturally, some reputations suffered.

Here's a list, and the recommendations:

  • Shadow Warrior(Kagemusha)

    A secret weapon created to avenge great loss of life, this movie succeeds in what it was created to do. The only doubt remaining is what, exactly, that was. It certainly wasn't to describe how Ieyasu Tokugawa became Shogun after Roman-descended missionaries sold him weaponry capable of converting three cavalry charges into dog meat. It wasn't a story of how one man reforms, discovers a purpose in life, and dies on losing that. This movie is watchable, in spite of possessing the trappings that a pahdeo winning movie seems to need.

    Of course, the fact still remains: play Total War: Shogun, and you get a much more immersive experience of how to become Shogun. You miss the human interest stuff, though - which might be a bad thing. Or not. The historical details (as much as I know, which isn't much) are very nicely done in the movie, and if you like that sort of thing, and are willing to endure directorial dictatorship. Besides, Kurosawa had no Kensai. No Legendary Geishas, either.

    Since this is supposed to be a movie that makes you think, don't be disappointed if all you can think is "Sank de Gott! Itt eis der Ower."

  • Underground (Podzemlje)

    Light relief after shogunnic wars consists of the Wehrmacht rolling into Yugoslavia, the resistance run by a pair of actors, Tito and the Balkan genocide. Watching this, I realised that there is a very simple-minded formula to make a movie that I am almost sure to enjoy:

    • crooked heroes

    • crooked villains (who are the villains rather than the heroes through no fault of their own: Maybe they were born under a swastika, maybe Broccoli decided that they needed a hole in the head[3]). Even better, if the villain has no screen time, and just his(her? their?) deeds show.

    • a plot that gets so complicated that keeping it in some sort of order requires a legion of auditors. It needn't make sense, thought that separates the truly great movies from the passing fancies. The Wacky Bros greivously disappoint on this score.

    • Eyecandy. It need not be the Bellucci, even the fires signalling the orc (or whatever) advance (or retreat) in LotR:RotK fits. Bellucci is just more likely to tilt the scale on the "right" side, though...

    • Humour. It need not be black, though that is always a bonus.

    • Only in strict moderation, "social messages". It helps if they're not obvious. Gobbels wanted.

    And of course, watch out for the chimpanzee.

    This is the best movie of the lot, even considering the rosebuttbud. Stolen news footage cleverly juxtaposed with Marko Markovich gives it a sense of immediacy about forty years too late, though the serbian shots make it worthwhile. Add in the wheelchair and the tolling church bell, to get one of the most powerful images of this movie (That the director promptly ruins with
    his own version of heaven. If heaven is like the wedding of the Corleone daughter, we prefer hell.)

  • A taste of cherry (Ta'm e guilass)

    No, it doesn't mean a Tam in a glass - imbibing that particular concoction will leave you lucky if you get off with the bubonic plague.

    Another of those sensitive movies, this time about a guy who wishes to commit suicide, and yet be buried properly in accordance with his religious beliefs, I presume. What other reason can anyone have to offer people money to bury him? At that - Tehran seems to be a well-behaved and proper city. Try that particular stunt in this hell-hole, and you're likely to get your
    wishes answered rather more quickly than you ever wanted.

    The ending doesn't tell us whether he dies or lives (I've spoilt the movie for you. Appy Polly Logies.) More seriously: it doesn't tell us why he decides to commit suicide. Now, since I'm an insensitive character, here's my take: Badii the bad is a professional goldfish racer, who races his fishies against those the Smart Set of Iran cultivate. Owing to a sudden shortage of fish at the local Dhaba, the cook breaks into B. the b's place, and steals his thoroughbred racer, which has forty-two generations of careful inbreeding behind it (Cleo, eat dirt. You had what? Seven?) Next thing you know, well, you have a depressed rich maniac running around the industrial wastelands searching for an accomplice to help him die. Technically, they're not accomplices, but his burial duty, for a special consideration.

    B. the b's even gone to the extent of digging his grave in an out-of-the-way place, so all they have to do is cause a landslide - no infrequent occurence in mud hills - which takes care of the problem nicely. So he finds his victim (accomplice, I mean), a loudmouth, talkative stuffer[4] whom he magically creates out of a stone shoveller, who is supposed to do his best to wake him up. Bad the baddy then goes, takes a sleeping draught[5] and goes to lie down in his makeshift grave.

    The movie would end there, but then Der Directornaut Kierostami got a sure-fire idea to get his movie the pahdeo. The (now sadly annihilated) Republican Guard invades, and puts B. the baddy into a dilution camp, where he plies his trade. Die End (or is it Der End? No matter.)

It seems that being a c.f. is a nice thing.

[1] There is a best way.

[2] and coincidentally induce severe spinal disorder in the long term. Not that it matters - the pursuit of liberty, freedom and culture is fraught with hardship to be endured.

[3] Sadly, he wasn't the best villain Bond had to deal with. Bond villains never die, they never say never.

[4] Taxidermist. Refer Sharpe T., "The Throwback".

[5] Water?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Presenting V for Vishesh Tippani

After reading Meghas latest post I decided to internalise a movie that one of my co-bloggers reviewed.

The movies name will be "V for Vishesh Tippani". Its hero will be the lovely person who is the object of Meghas post. The hero in this movie will quote Prabhuji, Chiru and Rajni of course not in that order.

Also his favourite movie will be this one rather than "The Count of Monte Cristo".

Next thing to do is figure out who will play the bald Natalie Portman in my movie, I will of course get Sushma Sworoj to do it since by then Sonia Gandhi would have become our PM.

I would like to ask Neha whether she would kindly agree to play the blood-thirsty-over-ambitious-oh-I-think-I-am-the-next-nobel-winner-doctor who makes VT to veer away from Mom, Aloo ke Parathe and Gajar ka Halwa to "Defend democracy in the holy and historical city of Chennai ruled by a vicious dictator with a scary-fear-inducing title called Bulla" (my tribute to the greatest villain in Indian movie history).

For people who are insane enough to visit our blog heres a sneak preview to one of the scenes as well (Part of a flashback of VTs previous life):
"VT is sitting on a metallic chair and Neha fed up of all heroes liking Aloo ke Parathe and Gajar ka Halwa has decided she going to convert him to liking Karela Juice and Baingan ka Bharta by electrocuting him. She flips on the switch, at the same time we see Nightwatchmen making his special appearance in his own movie a la Subhash Ghai (Hitchcock by reversing time copied these in his movies), start running and they show the blue streak of electricity travelling along the wire and straining his last sinew he throws VT off the chair, but gets himself killed since he comes into contact with the chair. (Of course there will be a whole flashback in a flashback where nightwatchmen is just another flundering poor mongrel on the streets who gets through IIT and then a job in the IT industry all because of VTs large heart.).Cut back to the flashback and VT is emerging out of a stinking Cooum (Bo Derek again copied this by reversing time) and take the pledge that was mentioned in the last paragraph."

And of course I am hoping that Megha would kindly consent to do an item number in the movie.

Now if only I could get someone to play the gay news reader, any ideas Ser Feenix or Mentalbaba ??

Monday, May 08, 2006

Gulliver's Travels, Redux

Or: The One-sided guidebook to the lands of Polemica, Disinformatsya and Rhetorika

Or: How not to stab yourself in the face when you decide to inform the world that
some entity is mutant scum.

Originally inspired by some seriously brilliant writing on Ze Hindoo by an almost-spawned tadpole from Das Mutterland's least greatest Great Technical Institution, this turned into a reasonably good guideline for excitable authors. Kaaawya included.

Zo, liebchen: you haff decided dat I are evil? And you wish to proclaim this fact to the world? Here's how you do it:

  • Grab attention. USE CAPITALS. Marx wrote Das Capital, a masterly exposition of this little-known emendation to fast leg theory (not to be confused with the long leg theory of, say, H.Klum[1].)

  • Generalise. All generalisation is true, for some particular value of true. If nothing else, it will always confuse the issue

  • Adjectives are your friend. When absolutely unnecessarily scatteredly used, analysis will definitely positively require more effort than the reader is prepared to give, thus making your statements true by default.

  • Be sure of your facts. Then distort them.

  • Innuendo is your friend. When used accurately, it is capable of a lot more damage than a list of long facts that no one reads anyway.

  • Conflation and elision are both very valuable tools. (Explanation elided, for various reasons rooted in laziness)

  • Volume overrules mass. The loudest idiot who shouts the longest is the most valuable supporter any team playing in the forthcoming vorld kup can ever have.

  • Sensation overrides substance.

  • Vox Populi always Whacks Dei.

  • Never underestimate the power of the majority, it can argue for you more coherently than you ever could.

Ze master, being Ze German, stated these points better. A link to him might just be included here, but you really should find him for yourself...

[1] I would be tempted to put in a google imagesearch here. Still, do it yourself.

Bericht von München der Film

Spielbergs latest offering Munich is a good movie but not quite there unlike some of his other movies. That Spielberg is very proud of his Jewish roots and Israel is quite apparent from some of his other movies primary among them Schindlers List.

11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and then murdered by a terrorist group called Black September during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. This movie is about the Mossads retaliation to assassinate Palestinian leaders suspected of planning and carrying out this attack.

A 5 person team lead by Avner (Eric Bana) are recruited and assigned the task of eliminating the Palestinian leaders who are suspected of carrying out the attack. Initially the team does not question about the roles played by the persons they are asked to eliminate and even rejoice when the kill the first guy pn their list.

But soon the disillusionment creeps in when they realise that the persons they kill are being replaced by some one whos probably far worse. And soon they are forced into killing civilians and also start becoming targets of assassinations. The disillusionment is totally captured by a pleading Mathieu Kassovitz when he opts out of a mission where the team plans to kill a Dutch assassin who has killed one of their team: " We are supposed to be righteous. That's a beautiful thing. And we're losing it. If I lose that, that's everything. That's my soul. ".

This is probably one of the highlights of the movie, it does not pass any judgement on either the Jews or the Palestinians. The internal conflicts are brilliantly portrayed by Eric Bana, one of many gripping performances in the movie. What the movie lacks though is a single theme on which the director tries to get through to the audience. There is a superficial handling of a lot of issues but none of them are examined more thoroughly so what one ends up getting is a lot of questions without many answers. But surely the movie is well worth a watch, if for nothing else then for the excellent cinematography and the great performances (I am leaving out Geoffrey Rush and the new James Bond Daniel Craig here since I am too lazy to write anything more).