Thursday, 26 February 2009

Pete's Dragon [* *]

I've got little patience with movies that treat animals as if they were somehow created for human use. Animals are solely around to propagate their own genes, same as us. We're of no particular use to any other species and they're the same. Every 'use' is an abuse of of their free will. If there's any adoption both ways it's a useful cheat, replacing relationships that are missing in both species.

Disney has often justified the keeping of pets for human amusement, in keeping with western tradition, reluctantly changing over the last few years. Paradoxically, Disney's the first of the celluloid world to grant animals equal rights (through controversial anthropomorphism), which has led to generations of children growing into animal lovers.

This one was about an orphaned boy befriended by a dragon (not unlike the way dogs attach to kids) which turns out to be a useful fire-starter (duspataki for that) and saves the day. Some goons try to capture it for a circus which the boy prevents. Eventually he asks the dragon to go away so that he can grow up in a human family (eh, what? riiiight ... I said it was just compensation, Elliot, ... but did we learn to abandon as well?).

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Walk the Line [* * * * *]

[Thanks, Lee, for talking about this movie on your blog!]

The movie is about Johnny Cash, the troubled country star, who did everything right (but felt he didn't do enough to live up to his father).

You know, atheism is a child's bid for freedom from imposed values and generalized guilt. If any of you have had catholic/hindu schooling, you'll know how much guilt a child can absorb from religion - about right and wrong, good and evil, and have no barriers to taking it all on their little shoulders (no doubt all religions impose the same).

Johnny Cash rebelled against the guilt heaped upon him as a child (eg., his father said, "god took the wrong one" when his brother died!:o), but unsuccessfully - he needed drugs to get through his day, until addiction ruined his career. Luckily for him, there was June Carter who cared enough to save him from himself. He beat his addiction and went on to become a compassionate performer working in prisons and for charities. It's a lovely romance in real life as well.

A lot of that guilt/regret is something he couldn't shake off, but not of his doing - I know what he felt - it's like a photographic emotional memory that you re-feel the emotions unchanged by time, even of distant events. Like you're hooked to the world, history and every living feeling.
[Alt: A deep review]
[Now, I've always loved the last song Johnny sang written by my favourite industrial band, Nine Inch Nails. Johnny and June asked Trent Reznor if they could record it on acoustic and it's terrific! Better than the original imo because of a lifetime of regret and apology in Johnny's voice. Both died soon after. Here's the vid of Hurt by Johnny Cash:
I hurt myself today ...
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become?
my sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end

Friday, 20 February 2009

Music - Kate Bush, 1978 [* * * * * *]

I was very much in sighing love with my Heathcliff(:D) when I heard this song - Wuthering Heights - it's brilliant and mesmerizing, and was eventually used in the movie. Kate Bush is early gothic and you can feel the darkness of gothic passion - the simmering heat of Emily Bronte's 1847 novel of two strong people whose love eventually destroys them ("Cathy and Heathcliff are two halves of the same soul, and are good and evil, angel and devil ..." struck down by 'earthly coils').

The song was born whole, like Cliffs of Dover, and written in a few minutes. Kate identified with the suffering heroine, her namesake, in the book. It's fascinating lyrics, the composition, the choreography, her voice have wild, untamed depth (A lot of men hate everything about it - see how you feel:).

You had a temper like my jealousy
Too hot, too greedy.

How could you leave me,
When I needed to possess you?
I hated you. but I loved you, too.
Too long I roamed in the night. I'm coming back to his side, to put it right. I'm coming home to wuthering, wuthering, Wuthering Heights

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Music - Cliffs of Dover, '90

Cliffs of Dover, this brilliant composition by a young Eric Johnson haunts me (and probably half the world:). Like the unreal chalk walls of Dover that you can't forget.

He acknowledges the muses modestly saying,""I don't even know if I can take credit for writing 'Cliffs of Dover' ... it was just there for me one day ... literally wrote in five minutes ... kind of a gift from a higher place that all of us are eligible for. We just have to listen for it and be available to receive it."

Some are just sensitively tuned to pick up the higher notes of beauty in all things.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Lost Horizon, 1937 [* * * * *]

This Frank Capra movie is a story of Shangri-La, that utopia where people heal and never age. This british foreign secretary crashs in the himalayas with a few people and doesn't want to leave the world of pure goodness he sees there, a utopia where 'Be Kind' is the only law.

The creator of shangri-la in the movie preserves in their valley all the art and books, 'the fragrance of history', so that 'when the strong have devoured the strong, and a new world stirring ... the meek will inherit the earth'.

The hero goes through some exciting trials before he realises that this dream is for real. I loved it.:) It's such an analogy of how we take Life for granted and lose our utopian vision from a lack of faith. The rest of our lives is a struggle to regain our earliest childhood dreams and capacities.

Most of us dream of a shangri-la of our own - where there's no suffering, no greed or mean, petty games and consequently, no stress and therefore, no aging. Where matter follows mind.

New Agers especially have hoped that moving into the Age of Aquarius (supposed to be from 2020 or a decade before) will begin the change. Some try to create it in relationships, others hope for politics to bring it in ... but we're all hoping for some distant memory of perfection.

I must add though that Shangrila seemed too namby-pamby and without bite. We may lack a positive model for comparison, but it might be like ending up in a Sri Sri Shri ashram or Auroville ... well, you know what I mean, horrors!;) Anyway, the hero fears it too, and later regrets the cynicism.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Action and Sex flicks are ...

... Hollywood's equivalent of Bollywood formulae!:)

It isn't really criticism about movies for men or women and who's winning- just about quality of scripting - we're all losing in these action/sex stereotypes.

For example, I wonder when Hollywood will get over their teenage obsession with one-liners and move on to two- and three- ... both 'action' and sexed up 'modern girl'ie movies are totally dependent on banter.

I've got two good one-liners that have stuck in my head - one from an action ("I'll be back"- T2) and one from a girlie flick ("Tomorrow is another day" - GWTW) - but I can't remember a single other as memorable.

They're packing entire scripts with quick repartee in an increasingly standard format to appear intelligent. But it's predictable, shallow and boring.

How much better to see two people talking like they have all the time in the world - even in a 3 hour movie. Good Will Hunting, Titanic and other movies managed that. Even Bollywood manages to pack a mean speech on dying and before dancing. What degree of attention deficit disorder are these western writers presuming us to suffer?

Spiderman 3 [* *]
I'm usually a big fan of Spidey and his movies, but this one was a loser. (Of course, the whole thing was dubbed in spanish, which might account for my lack of comprehension, but then ... what's so difficult to get about boys turned superheroes?;)

They bring in a bit of an abusive boyfriend in him, a weaker MJ who can't get a job, an alien (gawd why?:s)sticky thing which makes him a bad spider for a while. The colours are darker - probably following the darker Star Wars - he even dons a dark suit.

I can usually tolerate Toby McGuire's slackjaw appearance, but when he makes a fool of himself playing a jango, he borders on being slimy.

The movie did nothing for Spiderman's image, which was already weakening in woman troubles in the comics. This one makes him appear really confused between who he really ought to be fighting.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Die Hard 3, Pirates of the Carribean [* *]

I've been watching a bunch of guy-movies - a lot of screaming, fighting and lame humour. For some reason, I guess because guys get confused so easily, there's only one woman in each of these movies. Die Hard, Pirates of the Carribean and a few other indescribably shallow tales of male competition and greed cloaked in noble adventure.


Sunday, 8 February 2009

DreamGirls, 2006 [* * * *]

This was a really disturbing movie about the american music industry. The shift from blues to pop for black singers who needed to appeal to a white audience.

Somehow the glitter we get sold persists in our memory as gold - from bollywood, hollywood or motown. We forget that they've clawed to the top over their betters. They aren't just moments captured on film or record - they're the victors who wrote their own history.

Dreamgirls is a thinly-fictionalized version of Motown Records greatest success, Diana Ross & the Supremes. As Berry Gordy promoted Diana Ross, we see for the first time how 'Flo' Ballard, the lead, was mentally abused and driven to depression and death at 32.

It first hit Broadway as a play in '81. Diana Ross claims never to have seen it. I dislike fame (not fortune;) -related stories because they're always untrue. I disliked this movie.

But the vocals are terrific, and Beyonce looks fantastic with that peculiar finished quality of stars, like Diana Ross in real life. There's something strange about stars - they're complete, unhesitant, unlike the rest of us. Like they've been practising many lifetimes for this one. I often wonder how much learning they give up when they are forced to trade themselves as certainties.

Ambition, someone once said, makes monsters of men. Esp in entertainment biz. The women are caricatures too - they're very much 'anything-my-man-wants'-overdressed, always on display toons. They're hopping into bed and casting couch, looking for protection and promotion, redefining 'love' so that it's quite secondary to getting ahead and their egos - very urban america as it is even now.

(Somehow the movie reminds me of Bangalore in this IT/call center boom. The ambitious, desperate, willing, senseless boys and girls who've invaded our city. Sad... Recession, drive them away!:)

Friday, 6 February 2009

Good Will Hunting, 1997 [* * * * * *]

This movie is too close to my heart to see clearly. It touched me with sadness.

If there was ever a movie made about the struggles of matching talent with education - it must be this one. Some getting educated because they have money, others scorning education even if they're touched by genius. And everyone thinks everyone else is fucking up by not recognising emotional choice as the litmus for growth.

Will Hunting is a genius (like India's Ramanujan), a rebellious, angry, young man working as a janitor in MIT when he isn't cruising bars.

He's caught at finishing complex math that only 2% of mathematicians can do. The professor who tries to get him reach his potential can't motivate his protege. But a psychologist, Robin Williams (who's still mourning the loss of his wife), sparks a desire in him to start a relationship with Skylar, a med student. As it would happen with this kind of dork, he doesn't want to get started "because she's too perfect, why find out that she's not" (so Robin Williams points out that he's perfect too at this point, so maybe he doesn't want to find out that he's not so perfect either;).

Then it's only about fun and sex for him, so he's lying and manipulating and feeling king. But his house of cards collapses when she wants him to move with her. He panics and screws it up with a tantrum. Then screws up some more, because he again loses meaning, by quitting his work with the professor. In the end he goes after her to regain paradise lost (but then it's just a movie, right? Can you see a real-life god's-gift-to-women going back to clear anything up?;).

I fell in love with a guy like this and it's not funny how men fear real relationship and reduce it all to meaninglessness. Their egos make them robotic, nothing else. At least grow into a Wall-E, moron, it would be an advanced life-form compared to where you are. (Also, I hope you meet with a psyc like Robin who can break through your monumental ego and emo blocks. <-- that's just in case he's reading this.:). The creativity of Life is about making meaning. And you can only do that relating w.r.t. (with respect to) other living beings. lol, the movie pushed a bunch of buttons for me.

See it, folks! Written by Matt Damon (a Harvard dropout) and Ben Afleck. Got them an Oscar. The girl was modelled on Matt's ex-gf, Skylar Satenstein, who later married Metallica's brilliant Lars Ulrich.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Bach's Air and Pachelbel's Canon [* * * * * *]

I've got an addictive personality, probably. Does anyone else here love Baroque? I'm crazy about baroque architecture, music, that whole movement (proto-baroque, quasi-baroque, neo-baroque, you name it whether it's european, hindu, chinese, wherever - if it was dreamed up, I'll love its excesses!:).

Here are two youtubes of Baroque music:
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a violin piece now called Air on a G String (:o lol!) or on G Minor which makes me happier than anything else.

Funtwo did a guitar rendition of the Pachelbel's Canon in D Major I'm addicted to both the classical and the neo-classical rock version. Funtwo's vid is the most-watched youtube in the history of the internet.:) Joe Satriani did a version on acoustics. It's now called Canon Rock - it will make your heart burst with the energy, the joy of being alive. Listen a few times!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Thanks, Ilango!;)

Hey, thanks Ilango, for putting my blog in the 'Enriching' section with that awesome Zen site!

I'm slightly embarrassed by the honour... but totally thrilled. This quote's for you:

“Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.”
-Ben Okri, Nigerian author, 1959


Monday, 2 February 2009

Wall.E [* * * * * ... *! jackbot!]

The earth's laid to waste with garbage. Humans have moved to space to escape the toxicity, leaving behind robots to clean up. Wall.E is a little survivor robot who develops emotion and falls in love with Eva.

Love is a strange change. If you've ever been in love, you know you aren't the same person you used to be. It brings out something bigger than you; all the smallness of you - ennlarges to make meaning of life while reducing you to a detail.

Wall.E's love for Eva make for one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever seen. His loyalty, kindness, gentleness and sacrifice to keep Eva has a butterfly effect to save the planet and bring home the surviving people.

Amazing story. If there's a platonic love out there - representing all the finest qualities worth seeking, as Plato would have seen it - these two bots must represent it.:) A MUST see for romance buffs!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Hancock, 2008 [* *]

Hancock is an ... well, 'asshole' comes to mind ... for everyone who sees him in action. He's a superhero with a really bad attitude. Anyway, along comes this truly nice guy, a failed PR manager who's trying to sell the concept of giving to corporates (lol, no wonder he fails!) and trying to convince them to help the world.

Hancock saves him. That nice guy changes Hancock's public image and that nice guy's wife turns out to be a superwoman counterpart to Hancock. Sounds like fun? It is, kinda ... but it misses out on something essential. Something we probably value more than frankness vs. good PR - Heart.

The movie doesn't have heart. Will Smith is probably to blame for this - he's grumpy and lazy throughout the movie, mumbling and looking bored. Can't energize an audience trying to play it cool, Mr.Smith, not that cool anyway.

The heroine dresses skimpily and inappropriately and makes hungry eyes at Hancock all the time behind her husband's back and treats her precious hubby like an idiot ... what's with all this? Cuckolding is angelic now??? Still, if you can swallow this americanized marriage-for-convenience bullshit as gospel; and that the true way to live is repressed-superherodom, then you might like the movie.