Sunday, December 18, 2005


Caught another brilliant film the other day. Kiarostami's Close-up. Not so much a film as a documentary. Or was it a film? Thought it was brilliant in its ingenuity and treatment. And was deeply impressed by Kiarostami's honesty in the interview that followed (in the DVD).

PLUS: Saw Andrei Rublev after 12 years. Strangely, found the movie about an hour-and-a-half too long. Bad, when it's over three hours. Worse, because I couldn't keep my eyes open after about an hour. Remember liking it ages back in Calcutta during some festival or the other.

Million Dollar Baby

How good does a movie have to be before we can - everything taken into consideration and all quarters given - call it a bleedin' masterpiece? No clue. Have never been good with these things. But as far as Million Dollar Baby is concerned, I am willing to go the whole hog and call it just that: A bleedin' masterpiece.

Clint Eastwood wasn't the best actor when he played the lead in so many films through the 1970s and 1980s. Really. He was, of course, brilliant enough. But not more brilliant than that. Just stopped short of being a really great actor. Similar to John Wayne maybe. So similar, the two of them. Though Eastwood did get off the horse oftener than Wayne did. But starting with Unforgiven, what a fantastic director he has turned out to be. What a mind! Never got around to seeing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Did see some of his earlier directorial attempts like The Outlaw Josie Wales, Sudden Impact, Pale Rider (this one I liked), Honkytonk Man and a couple of others. Middling, really. Nothing more. And Bridges of Madison County was bad. Worse than the book was (wonder why I ever read it). But then there was Mystic River a couple of years back. Pretentious, yes. But the pretentions of an able mind often lead to great things, and that's exactly what Mystic River was.

But cut to Million Dollar Baby. A really simple sort of story - quite Hindi film-ish actually in its simplicity. But what a brilliantly crafted film. Not an extra inch anywhere. Taut as taut can be. Moving as moving can be. Intelligent as intelligent can be. And so many other things.

Eastwood's greatest achievement in Million Dollar Baby is probably his attention to all the supporting actors (bar Eastwood himself, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman). Be it the priest who Eastwood meets (almost) every morning or Danger - the Fit Hit Gym fool. The beautiful cheatin' champion Swank fights her fateful fight with. Everyone.

The other great thing is what I call off-the-ball acting during conversations with friends. There are a number of scenes where this happens - most notably when it is Swank doing the off-the-ball bit. Eastwood and/or Freeman do the talking, and Swank does the listening. And reacting. And acting. All off-the-ball. And brilliant. She stands out each and every time. And steals scenes which belong to the other actors, not that either Eastwood or Freeman is bad. They can't be. They never have been.

NOTE: Isn't Morgan Freeman absolutely the most gorgeous man ever? What do you look for in a face? Power? He has it. Gentleness? Kindness? He has them both. Can he look scary? Stern? He can. All this while just waiting to break into a smile. And what a smile! Plus, he's black. If he could even be a per cent of the actor he is, it would have been enough. No one should be so perfect.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Believe me, this is true

I hadn't posted anything on the blog for a long time. And interestingly, the very day I did, which is last night (some time back actually), I came back home and had Ajitha tell me the very same thing that I blogged about. The one about Disco Aaretoo, that is.

Ajitha has Dum Maaro Dum as her 'hello tune'. And apparently, more than one of her more intelligent friends have told her "hey, you think you are Zeenat Aman!"

Seriously. More than one person. And the same lines. Again and again. Believe me, I did not mention the blog to Ajitha at all. She just told me this out of the blue.

Man! People really take this seriously, don't they? The bit about all these 'hello tune' ads that say "choose a song that defines you best" and so on...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Disco Aaretoo

All right, I find this interesting.

My 'hello tune' currently is Disco 82 (pronounced Disco Aaretoo). Which, I think, is quite cool in a heck-I-want-to-stand-out kind of way. It gets people talking. Which is not such a bad thing.
But some of the 'talking' I have got recently has been quite radical.

The ones that go "Hey, quite cool" and "what's the Disco song; rather nice" and "Hey, Disco" and "Arre Mithun" aren't so bad.

The ones that are, are - appy polly logies to all and sundry - the ones that come from our Hindi-speaking colleagues. When they call me up, and listen to Disco Aaretoo, 99 per cent of them actually go: "Hey, that's not a nice song". One of them added, "I have Aap ki aankhon mein" and another said he has "Tum ko dekha to yeh khayal aaya". "Get one of those, dost, this one's a bad song".

Heck, I know it's not Bach, brother. And that's precisely the point. I don't listen to Disco Aaretoo before going to sleep. It's just a moronic high school sort of statement.

Corollary: And even funnier is that if I were to use something like, say, Black Muddy River or Ripple, the same people will call up and say, "Arre, English gaana; bhai, mujhe to samajh nahin aaya".

Nice and complex set of people, aren't they?

Films, Lara and bad health

How often have I had to sit down and write this: "Yeah, it's been quite some time since I blogged last..."? Well, here I am again. Back from the dead, as it is.

And, as always, without much to say.

First, why haven't I been blogging?

Primarily because my life revolves around office-sleep-office and the cycle. Holidays are spent sleeping. Secondly, the only relatively momentous thing to have happened in my life (or our lives) has been a series of health-related issues, for which the blog is a really inappropriate place to talk.

As a result, no writing.

Time really has been at a premium. I have already crossed the deadline for an article I was supposed to have sent the Routledge University Press by over a month. Was supposed to have sent it in by October 31st. It's now December 6th, and still no go. Have been getting reminders from there practically every second day.

Anyway, since I am writing this, might as well give an update of sorts...

Some decent films seen:
The Seventh Seal (revisited; had last seen it during a Bergman retro in Calcutta some 12 years ago; loved it all over again) - Whichever way you turn, your backside is always behind you! That's just a line I remembered, but more importantly, was fascinated all over again by the Dance of Death sequence. Brilliant!
Andrei Rublev (revisited again; had last seen it many years ago) - Couldn't watch all of it. Really, couldn't. Thought I was loving it, but found my attention drifting more often than not. Far too wordy, especially for a three-hour film.
A Clockwork Orange - Strangely, had never seen it before. Fantastic! All the famous scenes are as ridiculously awesome as they are made out to be. And more...
Breathless - Quite interesting. Hadn't seen it before. Thought it was really interesting. In bits though. Because for the most part, there wasn't anything as fascinating as you tend to expect from such movies.
Now, what else did I see since blogging last? A whole lot of Kurosawas: Rashomon, Ikiru, Yojimbo, etc. Have since bought Throne of Blood (my favourite Kurosawa), which we haven't gotten around to seeing yet.
Also saw Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, Amores Perros, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, etc... And a wonderful, absolutely fascinating film called Turtles Can Fly. It's an Iraqi film, actually the first made in the country after the end of the Saddam Hussein regime.
Well, also saw Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire. Fantastic. Easily the best of the four so far. The third - Prisoner Of Azkaban - is my favourite story, but the fourth has been made into an absolutely brilliant film. Obviously, the story is hugely chopped off because of its length. But it still makes for awesome viewing.

Also saw - by chance, because the DVDs we bought turned out to be different from the cover - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Once Upon A Time In The West. Both brilliant.

Last month, incidentally, was mighty rough in terms of finances. Primarily because my parents were over, and a big chunk of the money went on that. Plus, we got Ajitha's parents car serviced and that cost a whopping six-and-a-half grand!

And yes, we still owe you that four grand, Yusuf!

Which meant that once we got our salaries in time this month, the first off day was obviously spent in Palika Bazar. They couldn't replace out Passion Of Joan Of Arc or The 400 Blows (pity!). But we ended up buying Throne Of Blood, Strangers On A Train, In The Mood For Love (Wong-kar Wai), The Hidden Fortress, Amarcord, The Birth Of A Nation (YES!), and a couple of others.

All right, that's as far as the movies are concerned.

Loads of good food as well while my parents were around (and before all the health-related issues cropped up). Since then, it's been wake up early morning - go for walk - eat sprouts and fruits and stuff - and so on and so forth.

And finally, Brian Lara happened! The gorgeous man went and beat the world record for highest Test aggregate. Now that in itself is a great thing. But that's not the best part. The best part is that the mark - and the names following the number one - had thus far been in the name of a host of complete morons: Allan Border, Sunil Gavaskar (well, occasionally not very moronic), Steve Waugh (awful looker, great batsman) and suchlike people. But Brian...ohh, he's a totally different story. And while, on the one hand, it's a bit of a disappointment to see him perched atop the charts, it is encouraging in a sense too. Geniuses are supposed to do only so much and no further. But such is this particular genius that he has all these major marks against his name. Fantastic, considering the fact that he has missed so much cricket for so many reasons and been so out of things so often.

Am not sure about this theory in its entirety. But I feel really serious geniuses should fall short. Their names shouldn't be in the record books. Like Boris Becker can remain the greatest tennis player in my book despite winning just six Grand Slam titles and losing in straight sets to Michael Stich in the Wimbledon final. Diego Maradona, George Best... It would probably have been best if Lara had left all the 'establishment' stuff to lesser mortals like Tendulkar (it's another matter that he is such a loser...) and others.

Anyway...that's that.

Quite a bit updated and said. More later. After a few months maybe.