Wednesday, September 23, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

In this age of information overload of face book, twitter, cell phones et al, the beauty of this movie lies in the fact that it has a retro feel to it. Los Angles minus Beverly Hills, old buildings, simple dresses, peppy pop numbers and beautiful cinematography is what (500) days of Summer presents you.

Summer, the surreal love of Tom’s life does not want to be anyone’s girlfriend. She wants a tag-free relationship, which, according to her, is only friendship. But to put it in perspective, let me borrow the words of Tom, ‘one doesn’t have shower-sex with their friends!’

A kaleidoscope of memories of Tom’s 500 days of his life with Summer. So we shift from day 353 to Day 11 and back to maybe Day 282. But when did chronological order make sense with nostalgic moments?

Tom believes in love and that she is THE ONE, but Summer just lives the moment. Tom is a greeting card writer, a profession many of us would envy but his heart lies in architecture.
‘I guess I just figured, why make something disposable like a building when you can make something that last forever, like a greeting card.’

Tom’s quirky friends and precocious little sister are guffaw-inducing and if that is not all, there is Tom’s love for architecture and his talent for sketching. No Auto-Cad there for you but good old pencil sketches of buildings and greeting cards.

There is one specific scene heavily inspired by Annie Hall - the split screen between Expectation and Reality which reminds me of something similar to where Woody Allen shows what he says and what he means in a horizontal split screen.

But 500 days does have a distinct flavor of its own – whether it is the music of The Smiths or arguments about Ringo Starr or having fun shopping at Ikea, watching ‘The Graduate’, this movie reminds us that in this era of action packed flicks, there is still beauty left in a simple love story.

Agreed it is not a classic like ‘Before Sunrise/Sunset’ or Annie Hall but it certainly has its fine moments with its wit and leaves an after-taste of the bitter sweet memories of a relationship gone awry.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

An always within never from 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog’

At some point while reading ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’, you stop and wonder if this book is about external appearances or philosophy or the mediocrity of the bourgeois?
I think it really is contemplation on life – that ephemeral beauty is eternal.

Beauty, a dazzling apparition that we can only contemplate through the singular, but that opens a tiny window onto eternity and the timelessness of the sublime form.”

The protagonist is fifty-four year old Renee, who during the day dons the mask of a dull and mundane concierge of a high-end apartment complex.
But secretly, she is an autodidact.
Lover of Japanese culture, admirer of still art form by the likes of Pieter Claesz, master of the works of philosophers like Descartes and Kant and a devotee of Tolstoy, Renee tries to hide behind a façade of an inconspicuous poor woman.

In her words….
At nine in the evening, I put a cassette into the video player, a film by Ozu, The Munekata Sisters.Why? Because Ozu is a genius who can rescue me from biological destiny.

Here is the key to the film.

True novelty is that which does not grow old, despite the passage of time.
The camellia against the moss of the temple, the violet hues of the Kyoto mountains, a blue porcelain cup- this sudden flowering of pure beauty at the heart of ephemeral passion: is this not something we all aspire to? And something that, in our Western civilization, we do not know how to attain?
The contemplation of eternity within the very movement of life

The second important character is 12 and a half year old, Paloma. If she were to live in the United States, she would be attending the school of the gifted and talented!

Like Renee , Paloma too hides her above-average intelligence and really makes an effort to appear stupider than she actually is. She loves to read Haiku and manga while noting profound thoughts in her journal.

Profound Thought No:7
To build,
You Live
You Die
These are consequences.”

The truth about Renee is recognized by a new resident of the apartments, Mousier Ozo, during an innocent conversation about the previous residents.

“You know ,all happy families are alike,” I mutter. “Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” he says, giving me an odd look.

All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way is the first line in Anna Karenina and like any self-respecting concierge, I am not supposed to have read it”

It is endearing to see Renee, Paloma and Mousier Ozo become friends and lead us to a denouement which, though surprising, leaves us with a peaceful feeling similar to what Renee felt while watching the Munekata Sisters.

Monday, March 09, 2009

How can I miss you, when you won't go away?

The moon over Saigon. A car battery sits on the make shift podium, A Street of sizzling snails, a boy fire-eater, screamingly fresh sea food, buttered snails in tamarind sauce.
That is Anthony Bourdain – sporting a blue jeans and a white shirt, he rides a scooter in Vietnam as easily as crossing a street in NewYork.
Travel to exotic places would never be the same again!
These days I revel in the virtual tours along with Tony.

(Photo Courtesy: Travel guides from the Travel Channel)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.

Is life worth going through the pain of a relationship which affects us so deeply that it changes our life forever or is it best left forgotten as time goes by?

If the latter is true, we wouldn’t have the story of ‘The Reader’. A young boy, Michael, has a brief affair with an older woman, Hannah. This takes places in the Germany of the ‘50s. Besides the obvious sexual emancipation of Michael, Hannah takes immense pleasure in Michael reading aloud to her during these trysts.

Hannah makes no pretense of the fact that they could never have a future and one fine day, Michael finds her gone. Decades later, as a law student Michael comes across a case where Hannah is accused of being the prison guard of a Nazi camp and not allowing the prisoners to escape when there is a fire. Hannah is the same old stoic woman, who knows no other world other than her duty as a prison guard and is so ashamed of her secret of being illiterate that she accepts prosecution to admitting it.
Michael, who has been deeply affected by his relationship with her, watches the proceeds of case agitated and is guilty of not helping.
The last part of the story deals with Hannah spending her old age in prison listening to audio books sent by Michael and learning how to read and write.

And if you are thinking Kate Winslet of Titanic fame, you must watch this movie to see her acting prowess and of course her every curve!

My mind is flooded with numerous questions even as I was absorbing this poignant tale – are we ashamed to admit our misdemeanors even if it means losing sleep? Are people affected by their insecurities so much that they would rather prefer prosecution? Can we redeem ourselves of the crimes we commit under the pretext of our duties?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hiatus, Hibernation or Sabbatical ????

When you have been away for so long that you forget what it feels like to bring words from your brain to the keypad, it must be called a sabbatical, I bet.

Okay people, I am going to disappoint you completely and not write too much today.
Did you get a chance to watch ‘The Dark Knight’? and did you just come out of the theatre with a hangover of the Joker? Well, that is Heath Ledger for you. Yes, the very guy who played the soft romantic in the ‘Brokeback Mountain’!
Here is a link which has the most beautiful memories shared by his close friends –
Heath Ledger, Enjoy.