Posted in Movies - General

The Ides of March

The emptiness when I walked out of the theater could easily be explained. I can’t remember the last time when I walked out feeling that kind of ’empty’. Literally, I was waiting for the story to move on when I saw the end credits rolling. Empty because, it felt like I was kicked out of my dining table just after I had my appetizer.

I love politics. To be specific, I love election politics. I love election politics in a democracy like India or the US. I love the dynamics, the strategies, the organization, the energy, the power to rally supporters, the play with words, the backstabbing, the alliances, the break-ups, the ambitions, the relationships, the analysis, the opinion polls, the media coverage, the talk shows covering the elections, the resignations, the quitters, the winners, the losers, the chemistry, the cheering, the feeling of empowerment that common people get, the paraphernalia, the speeches, the slogans, the posters, the stickers and pretty much everything that surrounds elections. Of course both India and the US have a totally different approach to most of the above items in the list.

Which is why, The Ides of March presented itself as a tempting piece of dessert ready to satisfy my sugar craving palette. A gripping story set in the middle of Democratic Primaries. The movie that starts off with one of my favorite topics – about how infantile the American public is even in 2011 as the thought of a Presidential candidate who openly admits to not going to Church regularly (forget about being an Atheist or following a different religion) is considered “UNAMERICAN” or simply scary to them.

The directorial style is very typical Clooney – close-ups, no wide angles, dark settings – mostly indoors, etc. etc. The story has 2 great twists which makes the movie all the more credible for the theme it is dealing with. Great performances by everyone – Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, P S Hoffman and Clooney himself.

Yet..Yet…I walked out thinking the movie could have been a bit more.  Unlike movies that end on an unexpected note like TIOM, this movie doesn’t leave room for the audience to interpret the ending and this doesn’t leave anything vague.

Is that really what the filmmaker wanted?

Posted in Poem

A “seasonal anomaly”

Crisp is the air with fallen leaves dried up and ready to ruffle;
Brisk birds are begirding the town as daylight breaks the sky.
Rare is the day with warmth bound to reflect of the quay;
Brats, Cubs, Boys and Girls are planning an outdoor gambol.

Autumn is the season, yet the rise in Mercury stirs up souls;
The sailors are ready to undock their boats in brief.
Sunny is the call, the weatherman made not just for shoals;
The bikers are unchaining their helmets to go on the reef.

Green is still the color, the grass withering the season;
The greenskeepers and growers are out to rake and mulch.
Frigid is the ground, the frost affecting the vegetation;
The runners and skaters are drying up their sweaty drench.

Change is the order, what the day brings with it;
Confounded and Elated, All welcoming it.
To each is his own, their love for the Sun;
A "seasonal anomaly", sure, every now and then.
Posted in Movies - General, On such things...

On “Seventh sense” and such things…

A haughty theory would be one that propagates a notion that the complicated structure of Deoxyribonucleic acid is a human sensory organ after all because it does sense certain characteristics of the human hierarchy that it inherited from in the first place and like human brain, it can actually recollect those patterns (and skills associated with those hence) when triggered by a certain stimulant, be it external or internal, be it artificially triggered or naturally triggered, be there a catalyst or not.

A haughty theory, specially when the said theory is propagated by a filmmaker who by any stretch of imagination doesn’t hold any academic credentials whatsoever, that could at least give him a platform to make that bold appearance, before he contemplates to propose such a theory. Yet, when a Christopher Nolan puts together a rather unimaginable and unscientific string of theories about how you can get into one’s dream to manipulate the individual through him and through the environ around him, we somehow find a way to tip our hats off at the marvel of science fiction that these moviemakers seem to dish out and somehow find a way to not only absorb the fictional theory with no questions asked like a sponge, but also become part of it to the extent that we champion the fictional cause by living in that world for a few hours…and yet, when an AR Murugadoss decides to tell a story that is probably as unreal and fictional as a Nolan dream penetration plot, we somehow find a way to get a sieve that doesn’t let even a microscopic fictional particle pass through it before asking 100s of questions and before deriding the filmmaker for trying to c-bull us or spin a garland around our ears (காதுல பூ) notwithstanding his attempts to explain the plot in dozens of interviews before, during and after the movie release.

Call it an inherent (genetic??) trait that most of us possess which prevents us from appreciating someone’s work unconditionally without any riders, when that someone belongs to us or is one of us or one amongst us. Bloated ego of self aggrandizement leading to absolute disrespect for that person because – only because he/she could have been ‘us’ but it was not. And that work could have been ours because we had the exact same background as that someone and yet that someone did it, which we didn’t and that can’t be accepted. Simply not possible.

Before the reader, that is you, are ready to formulate your thoughts and present them to me, I already know what they could be. Fiction is not the issue but how it is presented and how it is narrated that makes it believable or not and that really is the issue. In principle, I agree with that argument. Hitherto in Indian movie industry, Shankar may be the only director who has managed to weave a fictional story with a riveting & entertaining plot line and somehow make it all work together in a believable sort of way. Dasavatharam tried that and came close to Robot in its execution, but as a storyline, was 100 times more complicated than Robot, thus getting caught in a web spun by itself not allowing it to express freely like Robot was able to. Thus it is not surprising when an ARM product would fall short in terms of building a convincing repertoire with the audience when dealing with an intricate  and a very original fictional story line. But it only fell short because of its attempt to oversimplify the sequences, for the sake of  providing an universal appeal to all and alike.

Now throw in a very interesting page taken out of Indian (Tamil) history, which even if mixed with a fistful of creative liberty taken by the maker, needless to say, provides a canvas larger than anything ARM has ever handled before. Incidentally, this historic reference was the real trigger for this movie and to tie the knots of this forgotten history page, with some loose ends of the DNA science fiction thread (aka ‘the seventh sense’ thread) is an absolute original idea. Well, may be Kamal Hassan did that with Dasavatharam in a distant way but in my books, ARM deserves lots of credit for this very original idea.

The churning of numerous ideas and the many emotional turnovers in ARM’s mind as he worked on merging these two entirely different ideas into a single story cannot be easily understood. As he sipped some tea with legs crossed and scratched his head to think of  the right lines that a genetic engineering student in the form of Subha Srinivasan (Shruti Haasan) would have to say to a group of scientists or to a circus artist Aravind (Surya) to explain the kind of research she is involved with, I am sure ARM tossed several papers into his nearest waste basket. The urge to dumb down some of the concepts and the ambition to ensure that everyone appreciates ‘DNA memory’ would have acted as a constant hurdle, as ARM continued to develop his plot.

Finally, I found nothing wrong with the constant harping of how most of us don’t know our history. Although a bit cheesy and could very well come across as preachy to some audience mainly because of where the scene is placed in the movie, the scene towards the end, when Aravind explains the importance of passing our knowledge in tact without any color coating or sugar coating, especially that pertaining to our culture, traditions, customs, etc.  — What’s wrong with that? I have personal memories of arguing with my grandmother and mother whenever there were traditions and customs that they wanted me to follow for all the wrong reasons (such as religious).  So, in many ways, the whole Tamil culture underscoring was done just enough. Could it have been less? Yes, of course. But as long as it wasn’t overdone and as long as it was presented with good reasoning, I have no gripe.

3 days after watching the movie, I am in a better position to swift through the movie as a whole and as a complete creative product. So do I believe in “seventh sense”? I certainly like the idea of having seventh sense. Given the retributions that this movie may bring to both ARM and the producers, Red Giant Movies (not so much to the actors as both Surya and Shruti have the advantage of just moving on after being part of a grandiose movie, box office numbers notwithstanding), could be bouquets as well as some brickbats, I merely would like to be a voice which makes those people who are ready to throw brickbats….think. Yes, just “think”.

Unless, we develop this habit of absorbing original creators and their creations with a certain warmth, the distance between where the Tamil movie industry/Indian movie industry is and where it would like to be will continue to widen. The widening distance will only act as a deterrent to the audience who on a Saturday night wants to plan a family evening out and wants to watch an Indian movie.

That just doesn’t make sense to our Sixth sense. Does it?

[You can read my other posts on such things here…]