Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'The chair is not gay, obviously' - Hal in 'Beginners'

There is a moment in ‘Beginners’ when I felt like shaking Oliver (Ewan McGregor) to pull him out of his reverie of depression but then death is a life-altering experience and I think everyone goes through this phase while in mourning. ‘Beginners’ is a story of life, death, childhood, irreverent love, vintage moments and gay relationships. But at the core of it is a story of a father and son. If you are over thirty then you would have experienced this already, if you are not yet thirty, you are yet to experience this –change in your relationship with your parents. Fathers who haven’t had time for you when you were a kid suddenly have all the time in the world to spend with you.

Oliver’s dad is no different. He is conspicuously absent when Oliver reminiscences over his childhood while during his final days of battling with cancer, it is Oliver who takes complete care of him. Gay relationships is no surprise these days but the father coming out of his closet after his mother’s death and dating someone the same age as his son, is indeed astonishing.

It is 2003 and Oliver is trying to get over his father’s death. His father (Christopher Plummer, as brilliant as ever) deals cancer with fun and fervor. Having come out of the closet, he visits clubs, has parties with his gay friends and like any other self-respecting gay person, he wears it on his sleeve. Cut to the present and Oliver has a new and mysterious girlfriend Anna. Anna is the perfect mystery woman lover that any man can ask for and that is my biggest grouse with her character. She is wooden caricature of a mysterious French lover.

The scenes of Oliver’s childhood with his mom are both nostalgic and sad. He seems to have only his mother as company and his mom him to accompany her to art galleries. Her whimsical behavior there is left unexplained. As with Anna, the mother is left an under-developed character.

The movie works as a good montage of Oliver’s relationship with his father and the past but fails in establishing the women’s characters. Nevertheless it is a good indie movie to watch on a lazy Saturday evening.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Think Before You Ink

The afternoon was bright but deceptive – it was windy and the chill bit into my skin; in a pair of casual jeans and black flats, I headed towards ‘Hot Shots’ along with my cynical friend, who exclaimed that I was getting a ‘tramp stamp’.

I reach the place at the appointed hour. John, the tattoo artist, was busy drawing someone else, so I had to wait. I had been warned by a maternally protective co-worker (who is almost the age of my mother) to be prepared to meet some horrible crowd out there. But it wasn’t the crowd that was horrible, instead those hundreds of tattoo design books held some really horrible stuff ‘infants with devilish looking eyes’ –really??. A woman there thought I was too polite to which I replied feebly ‘That is because I am a tattoo virgin’.

I had a couple of designs in mind – Scorpio (my zodiac sign), a Chimera (the pen name I use), a clover (feminine design) and a compass star (for direction). I ruled out the first two because of their elaborate designs, the clover because I did not completely relate to it, so I was left with the compass star. John showed me a few designs online with a compass star and I did not like most of them. I had seen a nautical purple star in one of the design books and I decided on going ahead with it, purple being my favorite color.

When I told John where I wanted it, he said that it would be the most painful part of the body and naïve as I am, I said ‘but would you not be using some painkiller?’ and he replied in the negative. I almost passed out, I mean how stupid can I be? Not only did I assume that they would use some sort of painkiller but I also did not bother to look it up online!

Now the question arose ‘To do or not to do?’ I would have run away from that place, had it not been for my friend who said ‘Turn back only if you really don’t want a tattoo but do not turn back because you are a chicken.’ That did the trick; I decided to go ahead with it.

My friend and I went inside the saloon or whatever it is they call the place filled with weird looking things where the dyes and the needles await your skin. John made a sketch of the nautical star on my left foot (yes that is the place I wanted the tattoo) and boy! When the needle touched my skin, I almost screamed ‘Mummy, please stop, it is too painful’ and that is when the teasing started. My friend and another man who worked at the place joined forces and started teasing me for being a wimp. But I was in pain and beyond the point of caring. I openly declared that it was painful and let out a whimper now and then. After 25 minutes, I emerged out victorious, my nautical star on my feet guiding me into my future.