Friday, March 19, 2010

Mary & Max/Harvie Krumpet

Give it to Adam Elliot to create a perfect imperfect man. Max and Harvie are not just underdogs, they are truly the guys you wouldn't like/see/accept yourself to be. With a million idiosyncracies, and other 'issues', these weird and quirky outcasts go on with their lives, with their own rules, own paradigms of relationships, and are warriors forefront fighting loneliness. Elliot really really sketches them well, details every aspect of their being, and makes sure they end up to be endearing characters.Elliot's way of making extraordinary stories out of normal characters and everyday lives is amazing.
While Harvie Krumpet is a short experiment with Clay animation and Krumpet's character, fairly optimistic, Mary and Max is on a much larger scale, and a lot darker. Mary and Max is about an unsual and very deep friendship between two pen pals, Mary and Max. While Max and Harvie are very similar, and sketched really well, Mary has a very standard story - drunk, self obessessed parents who are uninterested in her, a lonely childhood with no friends, an outcast in school for almost no concrete reason et al. I wish Mary was quirky too, cos that is the only thing that could have kept their friendship alive for such a long time. Otherwise, Mary was perfect to have a lot of friends and forget Max. Somehow, Mary's almost unflawed character takes away the believability of the story. But, you must watch the movie for Max. And try and catch Harvie here

Spring, summer, fall, winter...spring

Kim Ki Duk should stick to sex and themes around it. This movie is his attempt to understand Buddhism, but I thought it was oversimplified. It takes us through a boy's journey through the different stages of his life. How he lives with his master and undergoes training with him, how he decides to runaway with a woman  and enter the worldly life of Samsara, how he gets so involved in the material world, murders, and suffers and then reclaims his life back after returning to the monastery again. Havent we heard this a hundred times?
Of going through a worldly life, experiencing attachment and suffering and renouncing everything to attain Nirvana. Also to note, the second lifestage when the boy explores his sexuality has to be the longest segment (Kim ki duk!). My problem with the movie was the lack of details in the most crucial stage of his life, when he starts suffering, realises and resurrects his life. Which is precisely what I loved about Samsara, or even Herman Hesse's Siddhartha...both don't refrain from barging into the explosive confusion space filled with a myriad complex questions.
Overall, visually very beautiful, but lacking in substance and questions.

Un Buda

Un Buda is about Buddha's idea of balance. Depicted through two brothers, affected by a tragic incident of losing their parents in their childhood, who grow into two starkly opposite people. The elder one - Excessively logical and rational, never to embrace mysticism or spirituality or God, and the younger one - constantly self - depriving, ever trying to attain nirvana, by enforcing detachment, self imposing confines, too quick to sacrifice - his love, his desires, without really considering the middle path, the balanced way

This movie takes us through their heads and their arguments and logic for being the way they are and their realisations and moves towards finding balance. There is no other way out, every extreme is a wrong path.The women in the movie are brilliant, following their heart, providing for the much needed calm, perspective and balance to both the men. Un Buda is contemporary, relevant and makes the point it sets out to make

Good night and good luck

Its on the News media business. Its got Clooney :D. Its about responsibility of media, content vs advertising debates, politics and media nexus. et al. Its slick, well made, and has a whole lot of good actors.You can read up on all that elsewhere. For me, the interesting argument the movie raises arises out of this last dialogue in this last scene.

"Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information.
Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night.....the time normally occupied by Ed given over to a clinical survey on the state of American education.
And a week or two later, the time normally used by Steve Allen... is devoted to a thorough-going study of American policy in the Middle East.
Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged?
Would the shareholders rise up in their wrath and complain?
Would anything happen...other than a few million people would have received a little illumination......on subjects that may well determine the future of this country......and therefore the future of the corporations

To those who say, "People wouldn't look, they wouldn't be interested..."
"...they're too complacent,indifferent and insulated"...
...I can only reply: There is,in one reporter's opinion...considerable evidence against that contention.
But even if they are right,what have they got to lose?
Because if they are right...and this instrument is good for nothing...
...but to entertain,amuse and insulate...
...then the tube is flickering now...
...and we will soon see
that the whole struggle is lost.

This instrument can teach.It can illuminate and it can even inspire.
But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it...towards those ends

Otherwise,it is merely wiresand a box.

Good night, and good luck."

Being in the media industry, just as I hear the words,'clinical survey on American education' and "American policy in the middle east"
My instant reaction is "Who is going to watch this stuff???"
The movie and most debates are about Media taking advantage,
Media having to be responsible,
Media taking initiative to educate audiences

But Why does noone talk about evolution of audiences?
If the audiences really want to know the truth, they will ask for it
Do they ever appreciate honest and bland news?
Doesnt any onus lie on them?
Why do we always let the audience go scott free?
Why dont we give their intelligence some credit?
May be they know what they want and are getting it???
Which is not perhaps true stories and genuine in depth knowledge of issues

Isle of flowers

Isle of flowers is a 10 minute short film. To me, its all about communication that can make a bloody good impact. About how to build a case.How to be funny, build curiousity, connect seemingly disconnected facts and pieces of information and then slash everything with a sword of a message. So if you have 10 minutes to spare, do watch this here

Samsara (2001)

Samsara is a Ladaki film shot in the mountains of Tibet by an Indian director named Nalin Pan (You must read his biography sometime here). Its a powerful, thought provoking and visually beautiful film questioning the spirtual value of 'detachment'.

The movie begins with a band of Buddhist monks going to the caves to rescue and revive Tashi - who has been meditating for 3 years continuously, cut away from the world, in a state of trance. Tashi is really weak when the other monks find him, but has mastered equanimity, and has transcended notions of physical pain. They take Tashi to their monastery. Here comes the interesting part, I really loved the way of life portrayed in the monastery...slow, simple, calm...but full of life...I have never seen monks shown laughing and having fun;their loud, childlike laughter is heart warming; their everyday practise of compassion shown is refreshing and genuine. Tashi while convalescing realises, that he has sexual needs,and therefore manifests and meets the beautiful Pema. Tashi argues with his master in monastery that he hasn't experienced life in its entirety.
"Even the Buddha left everything only after experiencing its worldly offers, then why should we renounce everything just since we are kids"
And leaves the monastery to live a worldly life..the rest of the story is about how he falls in love, builds a family, does business, development of attachment towards everything worldly and his journey thereon...

A very interesting thing to notice in this world is how grey different characters are portrayed. Its as if they belong to a different plane of evolution, A plane above the rest, that is.Not flawless, but more capable of understanding non - violence and the concept of 'letting go' than most collectives. Pema's jealous lover gives her up on his own when he realises that she does not love him, but Tashi instead. Pema knowingly lets her husband make love to another woman understanding his desires, again without much ado; The landlord has much to lose, hates Tashi, but does not attack the angry Tashi back and says 
"You think I burnt your field? No one does such a thing here.Grow up!"

At a time of his lowest phase, Tashi wants to renounce everything and leaves his wife and son in the middle of the night...Pema questions if he is trying to escape or if he has really conquered his desires?? The movie makes you think about detachment,and if it can really be enforced? By trying to escape from our daily duties, lives and mundaneness, do we delude ourselves into believing that we attain detachment? And ultimately
What is more important? Satisfying a thousand desires or conquering just one?

This is one of the movies that has given me so much to think about, provided relatable characters with depth & flaws and very intelligently questions and counter questions assumptions we make about spirituality through Tashi's journey.Very rare, in books or in movies do we find human characters like us detailed, searching for things that we all search for with the same intensity, confusion and angst. Without any miracles that rescue or teachers who appear to show the way, just leaving the two protagonists by themselves to find answers


I love watching movies, and love reading. They entertain me, teach me, show me a new world...Usually, the magic of story and characters does it for me...
This is a attempt to put down all my thoughts about them.So that I can share, and you can too.A platform for discussions, conversations, and learning
Mostly, will write about unusual films and books. Every body has already said everything I have wanted to say about the popular ones,and in a much better fashion.