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.