Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Seen & Heard


I spent a week in Madras and managed to inhale eight movies while I was there -- WARNING: product endorsement coming up!! -- on my sister's gorgeous HP 17" screen laptop. At the Ah-MAAAAZING price of Rs 33K it is a glory to behold and works like a dream.

Anyway! I thought it was right and proper to file a handful of quickie reviews.
First up is PERFUME: The Story of a Murderer, directed by Tom Tykwer. I read the book of that name by Patrick Suskind maybe ten years ago and though I liked it, can't say I loved it or remembered it while compiling lists of favourites. The movie was faithful to the novel and strangely moving, all considered. After all, it IS about a murderer and his obsessive passion for the perfect scent but there was something deeply touching about the performance. I don't think I felt that way about the hero of the book, but in the movie, the English actor Ben Whishaw lent an air of extraordinary innocence and melancholy to the role. It was easy to sympathize with him. By the end of the movie, I could practically smell the flowers ...

I am going to list all the movies with their links right away and write my brief takes as and when I find the time.

THE KITE RUNNER directed by Marc Foster. I haven't read the book (by Khaled Abdalla) but I liked the movie even though the final third of it was so wholly unlikely that it was as good as a fairytale. I don't have any first-hand experience of the Taliban, but something tells me they would simply NEVER allow an USA-returned Afghan to leave their camp and/or their country alive and intact, no matter what the past connection. But I enjoyed the early scenes of pre-Taliban Afghanistan, which reminded me of my brief holidays in Iran as a child; I thought faces of the actors and bystanders in the movie were beautiful and I loved hearing the spoken language -- understanding odd words here and there -- which seemed highly refined, sweet on the ears; I thought the children's performances were good. And I was grateful that it wasn't too unbearably sad, even though I know that there must be a thousand-times-thousand stories that are both true and heart-rendingly tragic.

ATONEMENT directed by Joe Wright. I think I remember enjoying the book by Ian McEwan more than the movie -- right until the end, when I thought the book and the movie both produced a strange, unsatisfied result. All through the book, I had enjoyed the terrible sense of injustice which the book so knowingly explores, not merely that a child could get away with making an atrocious accusation but also that we can all be betrayed by time -- i.e., Time -- the cold imperviousness with which one moment of stolen pleasure separates the next moment of disastrous discovery, leaving us to spend the rest of our lives shattered by those intolerable if-onlys. Yet in the movie, just as in the book, I couldn't quite believe in the ending. It was appropriate, yes -- and clever, yes -- and insightful. But not satisfying.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. The best part of this movie, for me, was the way that one is allowed to remain bizarrely hopeful all the way through -- in spite of all the portents that Xavier Bardem is a monster par excellence. There's nothing more to say -- it cleans you out -- and at the end, you marvel at the exquisite emptiness of it all. It reminds me of a toy I read a description of -- a clockwork hand which, when you turn on a switch, stirs to life, reaches around to its rear and turns itself off.

I AM LEGEND directed by Francis Lawrence. I've been wanting to see this ever since it came out -- and wasn't disappointed. It scared me more than I expected -- no, really: I had to watch the final quarter with the sound off. I find Will Smith highly watchable so it was easy on the eyes and the post-apocalyptic theme is one that I am, for various reasons, especially interested in these days. I don't know if I'd recommend it -- those Nasties (they've got several different names in the movie -- Dark Seekers is one) really are creepy and hopeless -- they take off from where the red-eyed zombies in 28 Days leave off. But I'm glad I saw it. In a gloomy sort of way.

JUNO directed by Jason Reitman.
Bitter-sweet, mildly amusing fluff about a pregteen-finds-foster-mom-for-her-unborn story. It was a pleasant relief to encounter a father who was just ... Dad, The Nice Guy (rather than Dad, The Hairy-nosed Raver or Dad, The Impossible Angel) and a step-mom who was ditzy but came through. Juno, the pregteen was believably 16 -- i.e., not a child, and yet, in that sad, confusing way not yet an adult.

BEE MOVIE directed by Steve Hickner. Fun! And VERY odd. I mean, what kind of movie even WANTS to attempt a romance between a human and a bee? As in WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY(swat)? But -- as it happens -- I'm fond of bees, I bee-lieve in them and I'm glad that someone's paid tribute to these amazing little critturs from whom we steal honey so shamelessly.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA directed by David Frankel. And finally, this light but unexpectedly thoughtful flick set in the fashion industry. Nothing that happens in the movie is a revelation but it's got a little spark of magic -- Meryl Streep is her name -- umm, so make that a BIG spark -- and for that reason, it works.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On the air again at Another Subcontinent

Red Field

Back in December 2004, I had a show at the Sarala Art Centre in Madras. I showed a collection of prints and collages, of which the prints were later featured at Another Subcontinent, a lively US-based site for netizens belonging to and interested in SouthAsiana. Currently, AnotherSub has very graciously displayed the collages (or "squiggle paintings" or "hybrids" -- I haven't found a particularly good handle for them -- they're not exactly paintings OR collages) at the site, in a show entitled Dit-Dot-Dash. Please go visit!