Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Michelangelo Antonioni (1913 to 2007)

Less than 24 hours after Bergman copped it, it was Antonioni's turn now.

Can't put it better than Amit Varma, who says, "If I believed in God, I’d assume She was holding a film festival up in heaven." So true.

And of course, a couple of SMSes that came in almost immediately after I got the Google flash included blog-king Jabberwock's "Antonioni has died now. It is surely the end of the world. David Dhawan next."

Blow Up remains among the 50 greatest films I have ever seen - probably among the 30 best now that I think about it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Little Bit Of Cinefan

Just managed to catch three films at the Osian's Cinefan Festival despite waiting for ages to try and watch as many films as possible.

The first was the practically silent, often too slow and immensely engrossing and stylish I Don't Want To Sleep Alone. The mattress works brilliantly for me as do the occasional flashes of great humour.

Then on to the greatly recommended Yacoubian Building. Not terribly deep. Often disturbingly pessimistic. Too long, at close to three hours, but immensely watchable nevertheless. In fact, you get past the unnecessary pessimism and get into the grandness of the scale of the film, the fascinating colours and the beauty of the people, their expressions and the sets in no time at all. What doesn't work for me are the predictability of the circumstances and the outcomes (especially because it is such a long film).

And finally, Opera Jawa.

I don't know what this very singular form of Indonesian theatre is all about, but what I saw, I loved. Admittedly, a two-hour film composed of no dialogues and only two-line songs in an alien language is difficult to sit through. And if you haven't seen the film, it's difficult to explain what makes it as fascinating as it was. But it was. The dance. The storytelling itself. The mundaneness of the concerns. The elaborateness of the settings. The complete lack of adherence to tradition in some senses. I would watch this one again. And again.

Ingmar Bergman (1918 - 2007)

It was many, many years ago that I first saw an Ingmar Bergman film. Not one. About four of them. I was 15 or 16.
Didn't take a shine to too many of them. I was too young, I guess. But it was around the age when I was figuring out cinema and had an idea of what I should watch and what I should not watch. Directors from around the world fall in the typical compartments a regular Bengali boy creates for himself around those impressionable and formative years - take it from me.
But I remember liking Wild Strawberries even then. Not so much the rest, as I have mentioned. Don't even remember which ones I saw apart from Wild Strawberries. It of course remains Bergman's easiest film to bring close to your heart. Even after all these years and having re-watched Wild Strawberries along with many other great films like Autumn Sonata, Fanny and Alexander, Scenes From A Marriage, This Can't Happen Here, Monika, Smiles Of A Summer Night and many others, names of which slip my mind at the moment. Oh, and The Seventh Seal of course. The greatest of them all! And Cries And Whispers, which I possess but haven't gotten around to watching yet.
Going though his filmography now on IMDB, I realise he has made more than 40 films. Obviously all of them can't be great and there's a big likelihood that the ones I have seen are among his best anyway (the usual recommendations and festivals and stuff). But to me he is among those few directors who has only made great films. How strange that sounds, doesn't it?
And what I don't like in cinema per se is something that I oh so totally like in Bergman's cinema - the lack of stylisation. Strange again, but that's Bergman as far as I am concerned.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The End Of An Era!

Seriously. No more Harry Potter! Life will lose quite a bit of meaning. There will be one significantly less thing to wait for. Every two years. All those loose ends that had to be worked out are a thing of the past. It's a sad situation.

The last weekend was seriously important for Ajitha and me like all committed and dedicated Potterheads. The movie released. A week later the book released. I wanted to love both of them, and I did.

The book, and there were so many questions that the book needed to answer:
1. Is Harry one of Voldemort's horcruxes or not?
2. Is Snape going to turn out to be a good man or not?
3. Which of Harry's friends are going to die?
4. Will Dumbledore come back - did he make a horcrux as well or not?
5. How is harry going to kill Voldemort, seeing that Harry is not clued in about any of the serious magic that Voldemort knew?
6. Where are the remaining horcruxes anyway?

All the questions have now been answered. Along predictable lines of course. Snape is a good man - Dumbledore was right. Lupin dies. Tonks dies. Fred dies. Dobby dies in one of the saddest episodes in the series. The Death Eaters are destroyed. As is Voldemort along with all his horcruxes.
But I thought Snape's pre-death act of passing on his memories to Harry was a wonderful touch. And that provided the nice, neat, new touch to the story and introduced a whole new angle. Snape's old memories of Harry's mother Lily, their relationship, Snape's love for Lily. As also The Snape Story, as known only by Dumbledore. Everything I always believed of Snape came true. Admittedly, it was not all very well hidden in the previous books. But it was all rather nicely done. And necessary to put the story in its right perspective.

I loved the book. It was everything I expected it to be and more. Except that I would have loved for it to be slightly longer. 606 pages were just not enough in the eventual analysis.

And now, life will get back on track, unless Miz Rowling throws us a surprise something. And she's certainly left a couple of loose ends to pick up the thread from.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Post on the Blue Line nonsense

So Blue Line buses have been leaving bus terminuses (or is it terminii?). They have built-in radar where they track pedestrians. Then they kill. Sometimes they pack in some people to enjoy the fun. Sometimes people like Delhi's CM - Chachi Minister - choose not to get into them. Why would she, I also wonder, seeing that she wouldn't have needed to since marrying into the Dikshit family (father-in-law Uma Shankar D and husband IAS Vinod D).
Surely the buses are not to blame unless they have become so old that their brakes don't work or something like that. Surely it's the drivers who are to blame and the condition of the roads in this city.
Change the drivers. Improve the roads. Upgrade the buses.

What's the point of taking the buses off the roads and making the citizens go through this?