These are a few of my favorite things: #43(Boris Yellnikoff from the Movie ‘Whatever Works’ by Woody Allen)
Sometimes my favorite thing is not a thing but a person,a fictitious person who lives only in a book/movie but is real to me nonetheless…somebody interesting,off-the-wall character with whom I can identify n admire. Howard Roark from ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand is one such my all time favorite person. Recently I met another eccentric movie-character ‘Boris Yellnikoff’ from ‘Whatever Works’ by Woody Allen. Boris, who was once upon a time a Professor of Physics specializing in string theory n who now teaches chess to children has is quirky, witty, philosophical, pessimistic & has a cavalier attitude about human beings:
~All great ideas. These are all great ideas, but they all suffer from one fatal flaw. Which is they’re all based on the fallacious notion that people are fundamentally decent. Give them a chance to do right and they’ll take it. They’re not stupid, selfish, greedy, cowardly, short-sighted worms. All I’m saying is that people make life so much worse than it has to be and, believe me, it’s a nightmare without their help.But on the whole, I’m sorry to say we are a failed species.
~The human race. They’ve had to install automatic toilets in public restrooms, because people can’t be entrusted to flush a toilet.
& He has very interesting theories about life:
~There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ‘em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly.
~Everybody’s happy to talk, full of misinformation. Morality, science, religion, politics,sports, love. Your portfolio, your children, health. Christ. lf I have to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day to live,I don’t want to live. I hate goddamn fruits and vegetables.And your omega-3’s and the treadmill and the cardiogram and the mammogram and the pelvic sonogram and, oh, my God, the colonoscopy! And with it all, the day still comes when they put you in a box and it’s on to the next generation of idiots who’ll also tell you all about life and define for you what’s appropriate.
He Doesn’t think twice before insulting anybody, whether it be his chess protege/their parents/his girlfriend…wow that’s so charming n endearing 😀
~Look, you’re a sweet kid. Stupid beyond all comprehension, but you’ll never survive here. You got nothing going for you. Zero, zilch. Ya know, you may be beauty queen material in the deep south, but this is the big time. Here you’re a three. A five maybe after you bathe.
~Boris Yellnikoff : I mean it. I’m a profound and sensitive soul with an enormous grasp of the human condition. It was inevitable you would eventually grow tired of being so grossly overmatched. Greatness isn’t easy to live with, even by someone of normal intelligence.
Melodie Celestine : You’re upset. I don’t expect you to understand. How could you?Boris Yellnikoff : Believe me, if I can understand quantum mechanics, I can certainly comprehend the thought process of a sub-mental baton twirler.
& his ultimate philosophy in life is :
So, basically I liked Boris Yellnioff (Larry David) and his way of thinking n saying the truth without any sugar-coating whatsoever so much that I din’t really care about the story line or the plot.For me it was the guy who ruled!
“Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ. I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty five years and you pay it back and then one day you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then one day you step off a curb at Sixty-seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a city bus and then you die. Maybe”
― Denis Leary
In ‘A Serious Man’ we meet Larry Gopnik( Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor whose life starts resembling the situation described in the above quote. His complacent & normal world starts falling apart from all directions. His wife of so many years has a fling (with a guy named Sy Ableman) & unreasonably expects Larry to move out of his own home while she files for a divorce,his son is a music buff n a pot addict, his daughter has started stealing money from his wallet for an expensive nose job, his sick, somewhat mentally retard brother has moved in with him, his neighbor is encroaching on his property, one of his students is trying to bribe him to give the student passing grades n someone is sending anonymous derogatory letters to the college committee while Larry is being considered for a tenure at the university. In short everything that can go wrong is going wrong in Larry’s life. As the movie proceeds he starts facing serious financial problems as he has to engage various lawyers to deal with divorce n neighbor etc. n then in a hilarious turn of events his wife’s suitor dies n wife expects Larry to pay for his funeral. Larry just can’t understand why all this is happening to him especially when, “I didn’t do anything”. This assertion is very heart breaking but starts to acquire comical proportions when he forgets to do anything to get his tenure, he doesn’t do anything, he doesn’t even publish research papers that are so crucial in academia. In trying to make sense of his troubles he tries to meet three rabbis but their advice proves to be superfluous, irrelevant, unhelpful n even laughable. So our guy Larry’s life is growing more n more pathetic n confusing but this may be just the beginning of trouble! Things do start to get a little better for Larry but only to get worse. There is some calmness before the real storm hits him hard. He finally succumbs to the lure of money offered by bribe n no sooner than he changes the student grade from F to C he receives a call from his Doctor who wants to discuss Larry’s X-Ray Report which is apparently too grave to be discussed on phone. n in another shot his son gets caught in a tornado. So there is no happy ending here. Welcome to reality.
The underlying question in the story of Larry n in all our life stories is why do bad things happen to good people?(This movie is a modern retelling of ‘The Book of Job‘) n when bad things happen how are we supposed to feel n react. Larry’s situation is appropriately highlighted by the Jefferson Airplane Song: When the truth turns out to be lies n all the joy within you dies, don’t you want somebody to love; Schrodinger’s cat n Heizenberg’s Uncertainity Principle.
The Uncertainty Principle.
It proves we can’t ever really know…
what’s going on.
So it shouldn’t bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term.
Opening Scene n lines: “Why do i want to kill myself? I don’t know. I wouldn’t kill myself for the same reasons as other suicidal people. Money problems…broken heart…hopelessness…no, not me. Many books say “death is relaxing.”did you know that? No need to follow the latest trends, no need to keep pace with the rest of the world. It’ll be like taking a nap before waking up refreshed and ready to begin your next life. That’s what they say; “this is bliss.”
This is the story of Japanese guy Kenji, working in Thailand, who is always thinking about suicide & trying to commit suicide, though half heartedly ‘cos he never quite succeeds. One thing or another distracts him at the last moment n then the mood is gone!!
He loves reading books. His home is almost a library. He is introverted & super organized.
His brother works for a Don(mafioso) in Japan. Bro sleeps with Boss’ daughter n Boss now wants him killed. Brother flees n comes to Kenji’s Apartment. At that very moment Kenji was preparing to hang himself. As he is about to tighten the noose, the doorbell rings & the brother Arrives!! The Don sends a hit man to kill the bro. Hitman kills the bro n Kenji Shoots the hitman.Now this is a bit strange n paradoxical. If Kenji really wants to die he would have let the hitman kill himself too.
By some twists & turns in fate he meets a girl Noi, who has recently lost her sister in an accident & holds herself partly responsible for it. Kenji moves in with Noi (‘cos two corpses are now lying in his home)n a beautiful friendship is formed. They are eventually romantically involved. Noi has to soon move to Japan. Noi’s Apartment is as as messy as Kenji’s is organized.
The story is extremely gripping.Both Kenji n Noi are interesting, eccentric n likable. Though it with dark material it is extremely humorous. The humor is subtle n situational. 3 comedy scenes stand out for me. One, when the bell starts ringing as Kenji is about to kill himself.Two, Kenji starts reading a Japanese book in the bus, another Japanese man starts to talk to Kenji seeing the book. Kenji is in no mood to talk n he gets down the bus, suddenly just to avoid the man. Three when Kenji’s brother’s boss is at the Airport, he is coming to Thailand to shoot Kenji to revenge his hit man’s death at the hands of Kenji n this conversation transpires between the Don n check in girl:
Japanese/Thai Movie: Last Life In The Universe,
Director: Pen-ek Ratanaruang,
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Sinitta Boonyasak,
Director of Photography: Christopher Doyle
Queen of Versailles is a peek into the (sad & pathetic) lives of (filthy) Rich n Famous. We always try to speculate whether money buys happiness or not. We philosophize & wonder about it. We reason n we argue. There is no definitive answer to this quest. Everyone has their own hypothesis n conclusions. Now this Award winning Documentary by Lauren Greenfield gives us an excellent lens to see things with our own eyes. n then decide!! It’s a commentary on the emptiness of consumerism driven life & failure of the American Dream.
The Queen of Versailles” began as a documentary about a time-share billionaire, his ditzy wife, and their grotesque quest to build the largest house in the United States of America. It ended as perhaps the single best film on the Great Recession.”
The Siegels have a plan to build a 90,000 square feet home, bigger than the White house n modeled on the Palace of Versailles, ‘cos their life can no longer fit into the 26,000 square feet home!! Now just look at what all it will have when finished:
When completed it will have:
30 bathrooms, each with a full-sized jacuzzi tub
10 kitchens and a sushi bar
2-3 Theater sized Entertainment Centres
3 swimming pools
20 car garage
10 Kitchens!! Are you fucking kidding me? I mean what do you need 10 kitchens for?? Reminds me of one of my favorite stories, ‘The Billionaires‘ by Maxim Gorky in which he wonders what do billionaires do with all the wealth..Do have stomachs twice/thrice the size of normal people? or do they have more mouths?? or maybe more teeth!
Now about the Siegels:
David Siegel is the founder n owner of Westgate, the pioneer n biggest player in Timeshare holiday industry. He is 74 something. He married Jackie, a beauty pageant winner n 30 years his junior when he was 60. Together they have 8 children!!!. Jackie has a fondness for shopping n she shops things by truckloads (or rather limousine loads) when the stuff is already overflowing in their huge mansion. There are too many children, too many (neglected) pets,too many nannies n housekeeping help n too much clutter, n too little appreciation for anything, n no Savings. Obviously they fly in their Private jets n when the recession hit their fortunes, the ‘poor’ folks had to fly commercial…one of the son asks, ‘What are all these people doing in our plane?’ !!
David says everyone wants to be rich,if they are not rich, they want to feel rich n if they don’t want to feel rich, they are dead!!!
But is he himself happy with all this wealth and opulence?? The Answer comes from the horses mouth. David openly admits to the camera that nothing makes him happy any more. Asked if he draws strength from his marriage, he flatly replies, “No.” Finally , some sense starts to prevail when it becomes clear to him that recession has actually hit them too. Then he is like a normal middle class person getting worried about electricity bills, Housing staff is cut down drastically, but regardless the X’mas shopping n party are celebrated with fanfare.
As a person who actually enjoys frugality n living beneath the mean,I really don’t understand a lifestyle filled with so much extravagance n wastage. Period. Even if I had billions n trillions I would really want to stay the way we live now. The big mansions don’t even excite me. I dream of shifting into smaller n smaller homes n finally ending up in tiny house (1100 square feet). Tiny houses n simple lifestyle with low footprint is what excites me. I am not even interested in how their life fell apart during recession…I don’t like that extravagant n wasteful lifestyle even if had continued being so without hiccups. That kind of lifestyle is empty n hideous. I’m simply not interested in too much money, ‘cos all it gets you is a super ugly gold throne. I’m happy lounging in my easy chair, reading books n daydreaming.
- Queen of Versailles Jackie Siegel wants a reality show: bad idea (realityblurred.com)
- The Queen of Versailles (goodeveningclarice23.wordpress.com)
- Queen of Versailles – Movie Review (simplyjosephine.net)
- The 11 Best Movies Of 2012 (buzzfeed.com)
Mary & Max is the story of beautiful & endearing (pen)friendship between two misfit, lonely souls. Though Mary & Max may be misfits from the typical point of view of society I found both of them endlessly fascinating & engaging, especially Max who certainly has very profound insights about life.
Mary Daisy Dinkle is an eight year old girl living in Australia. She has ‘eyes the color of muddle pond n birthmark the color of poo’. She lives with an alcoholic n kleptomaniac mother, who bakes with sherry, listens to cricket commentary & who doesn’t hesitate to tell Mary that she is an ‘accident’. Mary’s father works in a tea factory attaching strings to tea bags & has a passion for taxidermy & no time for Mary. Mary adored her grand poppy Ralph who told her children are found in beer glasses. On a whim Mary decides to write a letter to Max (whose name she chooses at random from a telephone directory), an American & asks him if children are found in cola cans in America!!
Max Jerry Horowitz is 44 years old, obese, has Asperger’s syndrome & doesn’t understand people.
(Humans were endlessly illogical.
Why did they throw out food when there were children starving in India?
Why did they clear the rain forests when they needed the oxygen?
And why did they create bus timetables when they never ran on time?
He agreed with his favorite physicist that there are only two things infinite:the universe and man’s stupidity).
Max lives with his Fish named Henry, a parakeet called Mr Biscuit, a cat called Hal (short for halitosis, ‘cos it suffers from bad breath) & imaginary friend Mr Ravioli who is fond of reading self help books n smoking cigars!! This is how interesting n quirky Max is!!
Mary & Max find somebody who can understand them, in each other. A special bond develops as letters, pictures & gifts fly back n forth between Australia & America. They share their innermost feelings n details of their everyday life n people around them. I found the letters very endearing, heart touching, & full of profound observations about life.
(Mary’s first letter to Max:
Dear Mr M Horowitz,
my name is Mary Daisy Dinkle and I am 8 years old, 3 months and 9 days.My favourite colour is brown and my favourite food is sweetened condensed milk followed closely by chocolate. I have a rooster called Ethel that looks like this.
He doesn’t lay eggs but will one day.My mother likes smoking,cricket and sherry
and my father likes playing in his shed with dead birds.
Where do babies come from in America?
Do they come from cola cans?
they are found in beer glasses.
Here is a drawing of me.(Inserts picture)
I can’t draw ears proper
but I’m good at teeth.
It would be great if you could write back
and be my friend.
Yours “sincerealy”, Mary Daisy Dinkle.)
Dear Mary Daisy Dinkle,
thank you for the letter, which I opened and read at 9.1 7pm after my Overeaters Anonymous class. I am trying to lose weight because my psychiatrist,Dr Bernard Hazelhof,says a healthy body equals a healthy mind.
He says my mind is not that healthy.
Your drawing is an interesting visual portrayal of yourself.
I have never met anyone from Australia.
Firstly, I will answer your question.
Unfortunately, in America, babies are not found in cola cans.
I asked my mother when I was four and she said they came from eggs
laid by rabbis.
If you aren’t Jewish,
they’re laid by Catholic nuns.
If you’re an atheist,
they’re laid by dirty, lonely prostitutes.
So this is where babies come from
I share my home with a fish,
some snails, whom I have named
after famous scientists…
..a parakeet called Mr Biscuit
and, finally, a cat called Hal.
“Hal” is an abbreviation for halitosis,
from which he suffers.
He followed me home after a gang of children
shot his eye out with a beebee gun.
Do you have a pet kangaroo?
When I was born, my father
left my mother and me on a kibbutz.
She shot herself with my uncle’s gun when I was six.
Do you like chocolate hotdogs?
I invented the recipe for them
and can send it to you.
When I was young, I invented
an invisible friend called Mr Ravioli.
My psychiatrist says
I don’t need him anymore
so he just sits in the corner and reads.
Last week I picked up 128 cigarette butts.
People are always littering in New York.
I do not understand why people break laws.
Butts are bad because they wash out to sea
and fish smoke them and become nicotine dependent.
I am just joking because, of course,
it is impossible for a cigarette
to remain lit underwater.
Also, fish do not have pockets
to keep cigarette lighters in.
I am 44 years old
and have 8 tracksuits
the same colour and size.
I weigh 352 lb…
..and am as tall as a 6-foot tree.
I enjoy entering the lottery
and have chosen the same numbers
for 9 years.
I have had many different jobs
during my life.
My first job was collecting
subway tokens in the subway.
My second job was at Yiddel’s
Gourmet Kosher Supplies
where I worked at the machine that made
pre-packaged noodle kugels.
I was born Jewish
and used to believe in God
but I’ve since read many books
that have proven God
is just a figment of my imagination.
People like to believe in God because
it answers complicated questions
Iike where did the universe come from,
do worms go to heaven…
do worms go to heaven…
..and why do old ladies have blue hair?
Even though I’m an atheist,
I still wear my yarmulke
as it keeps my brain warm.
My third job was for a company
that printed logos on novelty items.
I worked at the frisbee printing machine.
A frisbee is a circular plastic disc
that people throw at each other.
It is like a boomerang
but it does not come back.
My fourth job was when
I was called up for jury duty.
I didn’t get paid much
but got free cookies and coffee.
Jurors are outstanding members
of the community
who haven’t murdered anybody.
I made it to the short list
for a trial where a man
killed all his friends
at his own surprise birthday party.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get selected
because they found out
I’d been a mental patient at one point.
Have you ever been hang gliding?
My fifth job was as a garbage collector.
I got to clean up after litterbugs
and didn’t have to talk to anybody.
One time the police took me in
but let me go when they decided
I wasn’t a threat to anybody
The sixth job I had
was for the United States Army
in the stationery supply department.
Because I am good with numbers
I had to work out how many
ballpoint pens the Army needed.
One day they did a security check
and asked whether I was a member
of any radical groups.
I told them I was a member of
the New York Science Fiction Fan Club.
They said this didn’t count
but dismissed me anyway.
Fortunately, I did not remember
to tell them I was once a communist.
Have you ever been a communist?
Have you ever been attacked by a crow
or similar large bird?
When I was 9, a crow attacked me
on my way to school.
I had to have three stitches
and in spring I now wear a helmet
with eyes I have painted on.
People laugh at me
when I wear my helmet.
I’m not sure why.
People often confuse me
but I try not to let them worry me.
New York is a very busy
and noisy place.
I would prefer to live
somewhere much quieter
Iike the moon.
I don’t like crowds, bright lights,
sudden noises or strong smells.
New York has all these
especially the smells.
I often wear nose and ear plugs
when I go outside.
It helps keep me calm.
I find humans interesting but I have
trouble understanding them.
I think, however,
I will understand and trust you.
You appear very happy and I think
you would smell like a shrimp
as I know Australia
has a lot of shrimps.
Can you speed-read?
I have taught myself to read
two pages at once
one eyeball per page.
I have to go now
even though I have not told you
about my 7th job,
in a condom factory.
Write back soon.
Your American friend,
Max Jerry Horowitz.)
The claymation is extraordinarily beautiful. This is animation movie for grown ups. The soundtrack is also excellent & so is the rendition of song ‘Que Sera Sera’. A movie worth watching n re-watching.
Once Upon a Time Was I, Verônica is a Brazilian movie by writer-director Marcelo Gomes that tells the story about a woman who lives in a Brazilian city with her sick elderly father Jose, whom she adores to the point that she doesn’t really want comit to any guy n thus leave her father (Father: Are you thinking about Gustav? Veronika: No, I am thinking how happy I am to be at home with you). Veronica(Hermila Guedes) is undergoing a crucial time in her life, a period full of doubts: about her professional choice, her most intimate bonding and her ability to cope with the adult life that lies ahead. Once Upon a Time was I, Veronica is a fairy-tale in reverse. There are no fairy godmothers, no weddings, no dreams. It is a story that reveals itself through adventures, misfortunes, desires and songs.
Veronica works in the psych department of a public hospital, and spends most of her days listening to accounts of her of her patients’ mental problems. Her encounters with the patients are very interesting, they come to her with complex psychological problems, A boy suffering from Catatonic Schizophrenia doesn’t respond to anything around, he’s almost like a living mummy,another lady suffers from inexplicable lethargy, despite having fairly good things in life she just can’t get herself out of bed. Veronica feels she is not really able to help her patients but apparently she is very popular with them.
But Veronica’s trickiest patient is herself: she conducts daily sessions in which she examines her motives and neuroses, speaking into a dictaphone. (I, patient Veronica, uncertain about life like everyone else. I, patient Veronica, scared about future like everybody else. I, patient Veronica, in a crisis. I patient Veronica, not knowing what to do with the sense of loss invading my soul).Veronica is a believably complex and intelligent protagonist, facing up to and articulating universal insecurities in a world of increasingly challenging turbulence. Veronica is undergoing an existential crisis or to put it a little mildly, Quarter Life Crisis. At times she tries to escape the angst by indulging in excessive sex, partying n such but the inner turmoil doesn’t fade. Escape or avoidance is never the solution, only facing it squarely is. Veronica finally realizes through intense introspection that she’s “sick of suffering” and “trying to dream more about life.”
The movie proceeds at a laconic pace, no action taking place. I really liked the scene when Veronica & Gustavo meet to break up after Veronica indulges in sex with a random stranger at the Carnival. They don’t fight, they don’t shout, they don’t get overly emotional. The imminent breakup is conveyed through silence, both of them sitting n looking in different directions.
I had to love the movie ‘cos I love all movies/books/songs/even paintings which give us a sneak peak into the character’s mind. & surely Veronica has a very rich inner life. Lot more goes on inside her head as faces her external n internal demons. My interest was piqued by the title of the movie n the protagonist’s name ‘cos ‘Veronika Decides to Die’ by Paulo Coelho also happens to be among my favorite books. Both Veronikas haven’t disappointed me n gave me fertile ground to grow my own thoughts.
The Film has been showcased at & received accolades at several Film Festivals.
Pondering over the imponderables like the meaning of life, Karma, etc is one of my favorite things. As is the nature of such enquiry I get no definite answers but these exercises help me shape my personal ethics n value system.
Karma is the basic law of cause & effect: As we sow, so we reap. Intuitively we all know that Karma seems to be a basic law operating all our actions but at times I wonder, is it so really? n if it indeed does, then how exactly? The thing about karma is that it is sometimes hard to discern it’s effect because Karma weaves a complicated Web. It’s not a simple case like we get wet in the rain n we catch flu the next day.
Right here, Right Now, a short film by Anand Gandhi (Who is currently making huge waves with his Magnum Opus, ‘The Ship of Theseus’) explores this complex web of Karma rather brilliantly. A good story can convey obscure ideas more powerfully than anything else. An ounce of story is worth tons of theory.
A young man in his haste to go some place takes two actions – he screams at his mother for making him late, and he lovingly appreciates his brother’s painting. By doing so, he strikes off two cycles – one of frustration and sorrow and the other of love and joy. His mother vents out her anger on her maidservant. His brother gifts the painting to his girl friend. Thus begins the cycles of sorrow and joy, forming a Domino stairway, leading to an unknown doorway. After shaking hands with 15 other characters and traveling through 17 locations, in just two shots, both the cycles meet at the end in an attempt to give a logical understanding to the seemingly absurd human life. It’s a humorous look at the bizarreness of the cosmic accident, otherwise known as life.
- Ship of Theseus (The Film): A Philosophical Exploration (ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com)
- Review of 2013 Film ‘The Ship of Theseus’, a ‘Hinglish’ Film Directed by Anand Gandhi; Starring Aida Al-Khashef Neeraj Kabi and Sohum Shah (sashankkini.wordpress.com)
- Ship of Theseus: The Most Original Indian Indie Film (madaboutmoviez.com)
- ‘Ship Of Theseus’ simplifies the complex ideas: Anand Gandhi (ibnlive.in.com)
- Ship of Theseus: This one is too Special (cinemaunchained.wordpress.com)
- Karma – Cause and effect (chaitanyaiimc.wordpress.com)
- Ship Of Theseus (bumblebee31.wordpress.com)
- Is the Ship a Trojan horse? (thehindu.com)
Ship of Theseus:
After a long long time there comes a movie which is intellectually stimulating & which stays with you beyond the 2.5 hrs in the movie theatre. It makes you think and think and think……… ‘Ship of Theseus’ by Anand Gandhi belongs to this rare category.
The intrigue of this movie starts with the title itself, ‘Ship of Theseus’ also called ‘Theseus Paradox’.
The paradox engages in the idea of identity: “If parts of an object are replaced with similar parts, does it remain the same?” (In ancient times, there was a ship, called the “Theseus” after its famous former owner. As the years wore on, the Theseus started getting weak and creaky. The old boards were removed, put into a warehouse, and replaced with new ones. Then, the masts started tottering, and soon they, too, were warehoused and replaced. And in this way, after fifty years, this ship now has all new boards, masts, and everything. The question then arises: Is the ship in the harbor, now called S2, the same ship as the ship that was in the harbor, fifty years ago (called S1, for convenience)? In other words, is S2really the “Theseus”?~ Wikipedia). A simplified way to express the same thought is ‘George Washington’s Hammer’: A guy is admiring a hammer at an antique shop, he is informed by the dealer that it belongs to George Washington, so the guy says it’s in a pretty good condition considering it’s rather old age to which the dealer says sincerely, why should it not be considering he had replaced it’s head twice n it’s handle thrice. 😀
The film also refers to ethical issues brought out by applying the Theseus paradox to human beings, “All the cells in a person’s body regenerate entirely in seven years. An individual goes through a shift psychologically, ideologically and physically. Is it still the same person?”
Main theme is the theme of identity…or what makes Me, Me? What makes You, You? What makes Us, Us?? If some of our organs are replaced we are still the same person. That means we are something more than the sum total of our body parts..who are we then? Are we our thoughts? But even the thoughts theory is not satisfactory ‘cos as I look back on my life most of my thoughts n behavior patterns have changed totally. I have transitioned from a shy teenager to a confident Professional to a laid-back oops a hard working 😉 housewife and yet I am the same person that I used to be!! Even my passions have changed completely. Earlier I was a bookworm, then I became a travel enthusiast & a fashionista, now I’m more into cooking n yoga etc..yet I remain the same person! This thought is mind boggling to me at this moment. This argument builds a strong case for the existence of a Soul. Despite the changes in physiology n psyche it is the soul that provides continuum to a living object as a single identity. (Ask yourself this one. I was born John Doe.<Insert your own name in place of John Doe> The cells and organs in our body die off and become entirely new cells every 7-10 years. In essence, I become an entirely new person every decade. At age 80, am I still John Doe? Am I still that tiny infant? Some would argue no, but following my line of prior reason, we are ourselves for our entire life, because of emotional memory.)
Several other themes like Atheism, Ethics, Compassion, Vegetarianism, limits of human goodness, Death, Soul, Reincarnation etc. are explored.
The movie comprises of 3 stories which are beautifully weaved together as the movie approaches its end. The first story is the story of a blind photographer n how her Art changes as she regains her vision. Is she a different person with eyes than what she was before?(“A frog once asked a centipede how is it able to walk on a hundred feet, so gracefully synchronized while the frog finds it difficult to manage even two. The centipede took a moment to analyze its own walk and was baffled. So as it tried to walk further its feet got entangled and it tripped.” – Aliya in Ship of Theseus)
The second story is about Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi) ,an Urbane, suave, good-natured, rational, compassionate, atheist monk!, as he faces the dilemma of choosing between his ethics (compassion towards all living beings n not just human being) and his very life. The Philosophy of the Monk is Brilliantly captured in the Song ‘Naham Janami’ . This is the Quintessential Atheist Anthem. By large Atheists are a misunderstood lot. We are accused of behaving as we please in the absence of fear of God. But Atheist Ethics are stronger than blind faith ‘cos we take responsibility for all our actions and our firm belief in ‘cause & effect’. This part has some very Cerebral & witty conversation between Maitreya & a young Lawyer Charvak . Charvak asks Maitreya a question which I too have pondered for many years. How does one reconcile the paradox of existence of soul and reincarnation without the existence of God?? Buddha too propounded that there is no God but asserted about Reincarnation. Maitreya initially held Buddha’s view on the matter but later as he grew physically n emotionally exhausted he admits that he doesn’t know anything definite about the existence of soul. (Charvak:”you say you’re an atheist and at the same time you believe in the concept of soul, which I think is rather convenient. I don’t think karmic causality is a reason enough for anybody to behave ethically. You know, that there is retribution of any kind in this life or any other. It’s like a weak man’s hope for some kind of cosmic revenge.”)
(Charvak:”We invent God, soul… heaven, afterlife…even life-imitating technology, all sorts of transcendence to cope with the idea of an absolute end. And then, we die for an idea that promises us some sort of immortality.”)
(Charvak:– “Exactly. See, it’s pretty clear how inconsequential our actions are in the larger scheme of things.”
Maitreya- “Main is baat se sehmat nahi hoon. Hamaare har kaam ka prabhav karaakash mein rehte har parmanu par padta hai. Agar yeh baat sach nahi, toh phir sab nirarthak hai. What is the sense of existence then? The hedonism and nihilism of your namesake, Charvaka?”)
(Maitreya- “You see, in his world, it’s not all humanity that’s equal, it’s all existence that’s equal.”)
The third story is of Navin (Sohum Shah, also the co producer of the movie), a stockbroker, who has his kidney transplanted. He apparently loves only money & is shown doing his business even when critically ill ,as opposed to the so called finer things like music, literature et al which his Granny(Ajji) would like him to explore & appreciate. But as the narrative progresses he shows great empathy n compassion for a poor bricklayer whose kidney has been stolen.
(Navin-‘Kuch ho nahi paaya’
Ajji-‘Jitna kuch hua, kyunki tumne kuch kiya. Itna hi hota hai’)
Everything about this movie is immaculate and Superlative. The Script, Direction, Acting, Cinematography, Subtle Humor, The Underlying Philosophy, and The Very title of the Movie.
Also read about my other all time favorite movies:
- VOTE and DEMAND “Ship Of Theseus” in your city (moifightclub.wordpress.com)
These are a few of my favorite things:#4 (Ferdinand, the Bull, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson)
Ferdinand, the gentle, peace loving & content Bull is everyone’s favorite. Though the story is meant for children, Ferdidand is equally loved by adults. To me Ferdinand’s story is about embracing your true nature rather than succumbing to the pressure of society . If you are a bull but like to smell flowers rather than fight then there is no good reason that you should fight. I discovered this book n video only a couple of days back but wish I had known it in my growing up years when I had a little tough time being comfortable with my introversion & solitude loving nature. You were supposed to love meeting new people, making loads of friends & enjoy partying. I would rather read books & daydream. Eventually I learned that my choices were as valid if not more valid than the more popular choices of the day. Today I don’t feel the pressure to be a super-woman. Like Ferdinand I’d rather be smelling flowers & enjoying afternoon naps.
Chalo Dilli is a light hearted movie with a serious lesson & the lesson is ‘to lighten up’ in life, take the chill pill, let go of big concerns over petty issues.Mihika Banerjee (Lara Dutaa) who runs a multi crore investment bank is very uptight about every small thing in life. She is totally career oriented & doesn’t know how to relax. Every trivial thing irritates her. She wants the things to happen as She pleases, but life obviously has other plans & life of course goes on as IT pleases. Mihika misses her flight to Delhi n one thing leads to another & what would’ve been just a short flight from Mumbai to Delhi becomes one hell of a memorable long Cab, Train, camel, jeep & what not ride with an unlikely co-passenger, Manu Gupta (Vinay Pathak) who is everything Mihika is not. He is a totally chilled out guy, nothing unfazes him. His answer to all the troubles big n small is ‘Kaun see badi baat ho gayi?’ (What’s the big deal?). He makes friends with everyone along the journey, be it a truck driver, waiter at restaurant, goons or co-passengers or a politician. He has fun no matter what. By the time this journey ends Manu’s attitude rubs on to Mihika & she also learns to have fun on the way instead of making a big deal out of trivials. The movie is refreshing & light hearted though it gets annoying at times like where Mihika is given a crash course in the importance of having children in life…the lessons went a bit too far with Manu declaring something along the lines of ‘Everything in life is done for children only’!!! Go man get a life n gimme a break!!!..
Mostly when I enjoy a hindi movie, I invariably learn that it’s a remake of some English movie…this movie is also no exception. I read in another review that ‘Chalo Dilli is a reworking of John Hughes’ 1987 comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles, in which Steve Martin and John Candy played mismatched strangers who take a life-altering trip together. ’…not that this fact took away any of the fun for me…Vinay Gupta’s acting is impeccable as ever & his character just takes up from where he left at “Bheja Fry’, a goofy person who can do no right despite always being well meaning & a guy who despite of his goof ups of epic proportion has his heart in the right place. Lara Dutta too suits her role n has acted well.
Book Reviews on my Blog:
English Movie Reviews on my Blog:
Hindi Movie Reviews on my Blog:
My List of Must Watch Movies (With Reviews)
Know More About Me:
- What is Really Impotant in Life? :Putting Things in Perspective (ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com)
Up is an animated story (in 3D as well as 2D) of adventure of Square faced & round nosed, ex balloon seller Carl Frederickson but more than that it’s a tender story of enduring n eternal love (Quite unusual for an animation film but I guess this film is meant for adults as well as children). When Carl first meets Ellie they share a passion for adventure. Their story is presented in the form of a four minute montage with beautiful background music. It was always their (or rather Ellie’s) dream to go & live in Paradise falls in South America. Though they start saving for the trip but the money kept getting spent for more pressing urgent, mundane needs. Finally when Carl buys the tickets to go to Paradise Falls as a surprise for Ellie, she dies before Carl can show her the tickets. This is powerful, evocative story of joy, sorrow, and enduring love. That part of the movie was brilliant. It is one of the great love stories in cinematic history. The next few scenes present Carl as a lonely old man who misses his wife terribly. This is very Heart wrenching. Though she is no more he always feels her presence & converses with her (Picture). Carl’s love for Ellie is the proof that Death may leave a heartache no one can heal but love leaves a memory no one can steal. True love doesn’t have a happy ending, because true love never ends.
Carl decides to go to Paradise falls to fullfill Ellie’s dream by tying a million balloons to his house. Russell an over enthusiastic ‘wilderness explorer’, inadvertantely but joyfully become his companion. Together they meet a colourful bird, snipe ‘Kevin’, a talking dog (Dug) & Carl’s childhood hero (Charles Muntz) who doesn’t turn out to be so heroic after all. It’s fun to watch the bright colourful visuals of the movie with some cool lessons too.
~How does a person define adventure? Is adventure out there in great deeds, or can it also be between people in the small moments that make up a life. Carl and Ellie’s love story helped us tell that theme – that small moments lead to a life’s adventure.
~ Let go: Carl has to let go of many material things in order to make the house fly again to save Russell. In the end he loses the house to which he is quite attached but still he lets go n says ‘hey, it’s just a house’.
~ No to Hero Worshipping: Carl’s childhood hero turns out to be a villain after all. Many people worship & emulate celebrities without realizing who those people really are. Instead of hero worshipping we should embrace the best in OURSELVES. Who is a bigger hero in our life than our own self??
~ The journey is more important than the destination. Carl & Russell have an adventurous & full of lessons journey which develops a bond between them. Carl had set out to reach Paradise falls but the journey was the real fun n adventurous part. The journey is the reward.
I must confess this is the first animation movie I’ve watched if we don’t count Tom n Jerry/ Mickey n Donald & I am hooked. Up next are: Toy Story (I, II, III), Finding Nemo, WALL-E……
Other Movie Reviews on my blog:
Mirch | Roman Holiday | Babel | Guzaarish | 7 Khoon Maaf
Book Reviews on My Blog:
Roman Holiday is a 1953 Romantic comedy that enthrals the audience even today. It is a Fairy Tale in the reverse. Usually all girls want to be treated like Princesses but here a Princess is longing to be an ordinary girl. Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) who is on a tour to Rome is sick n tired of her boring Royal Duties & wants to explore the city as a commoner. So she runs away from her caretakers. She meets a Journalist, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) who is at first thrilled to have run into an opportunity for an exclusive & intimate interview with the princess & so hides his real identity. Together they spend a fun n carefree day exploring the famous sites of Rome on his Vespa scooter. (we see not just a romance between the lead pair but also love affair between the camera and the city of Rome) But his plans fall apart as the pair falls in love by the end of the day. They know they can’t be together. So their love story ends rather abruptly. It’s an ephemeral love affair yet eternal ‘cos it gives them a lifetime of memories (Princess Ann at a Press Conference: “Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.”). Usually when we think of Romance we have images of roses, choclates & candlelit dinners but a day spent together idly doing fun things can be much more romantic.
The movie is full of charming scenes mainly because Audrey Hepburn gets the demeanour of a Princess just right.
I would rate Roman Holiday as a very good but not great movie. It’s good because it’s a cute bitter sweet love story & acting is impeccable & the comedy very subtle. But for me to be great a movie should have some underlying message, something you can learn from it that makes you think & that stays with you for a long time. So I prefer films in the genre of ‘The Ground Hog Day’/ ‘Bucket List’, but still it’s a good movie to watch on a lazy weekend when you don’t want to think too much.
Director: William Wyler
Cast: Audery Hepburn, Gregory peck, Eddie Albert
Writer: Dalto Trumbo
Year of Release: 1953
Won Oscar for: Best Actress & Best Screenplay
Other Movie Reviews on my blog:
- The Hepburns at Cinerama (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- John Farr: For Valentine’s Day, Ten Movies Sure To Inspire Romance (huffingtonpost.com)
- Rose’s top 10 favorite movies (and why) (thenerdymodel.wordpress.com)
Babel is a story that reflects how one (seemingly random & improbable, out of the blue) incident can change our lives in a way we never imagined. It is a collection of four short stories, set in four countries: Morocco, USA, Mexico & Japan, in 5 languages: Arabic, English, Mexican, Japanese & Sign Language.
A sheep herder in Morocco buys a Rifle & gives it to his two sons for shooting wolves that have been eating their sheep. The boys instead try (rather foolishly) aiming at a passing car n a bus to test the effectiveness of the rifle. A bullet from their Rifle hits n American tourist (Cate Blanchett) who is on a holiday to Morocco with her husband (Brad Pitt). They have come on this holiday to sort out their marital problems, leaving their two children behind in the US with their Mexican Nanny & Housekeeper who has to attend her son’s wedding in Mexico during the same time. As the couple is stranded in a small village town trying to get a Helicopter to transfer the fatally wounded Lady to the Hospital, the Nanny finding no other alternative goes to her son’s wedding taking the children along with her with disastrous consequences. The fate of the Moroccan family, the American family & the Nanny are altered with this random shooting of the bullet. The movie alternates among these three & also moves to the life of a deaf & dumb Japanese Teenager who is coping with the trauma of her mother’s recent suicide & her own handicap. She is also desperate to lose her virginity. Her life is also affected by the shoot-out though in a very round about way. You must watch the movie to find out how.
The movie keeps one glued to the seat in a tense suspense of what is the ultimate fate of all involved. The movie is like a piece of puzzle, the pieces of which get connected only in the end. Some stories reach their logical conclusion whereas some are left vague & open to subjective interpretation.
The movie is named Babel after the story of the Tower of Babel in the Biblical Book of Genesis. In the story, the people of the world are all united and speak a common language. They begin to build a tower to reach the heavens and become godlike themselves. God, seeing this, decides to confuse the language of the people and destroy the tower. When the people could no longer understand each other they gave up work on the tower and spread out to different parts of the world. It also refers to the connections -or lack thereof- that come through the use of language. In each storyline the characters struggle with surviving and self-identification based on misunderstanding through a language barrier. This film ultimately looks at the fact that we are all intimately connected on a life-and-death level, yet the trivialities of langauge and misunderstandings break us apart.
Some Facts: (Gleaned from Wikipaedia)
Babel is a 2006 international drama film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and written by Guillermo Arriaga, starring an ensemble cast. The multi-narrative drama completes Iñárritu’s Death Trilogy, following Amores perros and 21 Grams.
The film portrays multiple stories taking place in Morocco, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. It was an international co-production among companies based in France, Mexico and the US. The film was first screened at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and was later shown at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Zagreb Film Festival. It opened in selected cities in the United States on October 27, 2006, and went into wide release on November 10, 2006. On January 15, 2007, it won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture — Drama. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and two nominations for Best Supporting Actress and won for Best Original Score.
Other Movie Reviews on my blog:
- The lessons of the Tower of Babel (respiratorytherapycave.blogspot.com)
- Alejandro González Iñárritu interview for Buitiful (telegraph.co.uk)
- Mexican director honored by ‘Biutiful’ Oscar nod (foxnews.com)
- Director Alejandro Inarritu Barely Beat the Recession With New Film (walletpop.com)
- Nine Films Make Oscar Foreign Film Shortlist (slashfilm.com)
- ‘Biutiful’: Javier Bardem is striking as a dying father in the slums of Barcelona (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Javier Bardem in Biutiful reviewed: Get ready to be really depressed. (slate.com)
- Director Alejandro González Iñárritu Interview BIUTIFUL (collider.com)
Guzaarish is a very sensitive & beautiful movie dealing with the taboo subject ‘Death’…the other touching hindi movie dealing with death is ‘Anand’. In both the movies the protagonists are dying yet are ‘full of life’.
Ethan (Hritik Roshan), an erstwhile famous magician becomes a paraplegic after meeting with an accident & is confined to his wheel chair & his bed bravely surviving fourteen years celebrating life with immense courage and verve. He has totally lost the use of his limbs. In a very poignant scene he is shown struggling with a fly hovering around his nose. At first he’s greatly disturbed because there isn’t a thing he can do to squat the fly away but after a while he accepts the situation with a smile & an attitude of let go (The serenity to accept the things one cannot change). After losing his Magician career he sets out to be a RJ hosting Radio Zindagi, a show about celebrating life amidst all odds and is an inspiration for his listeners. He is dependent on his nurse Sophia D’souza (Aishwarya Rai) for brushing his teeth, shampooing & even for scratching his nose. (In Fact Ethan is totally dependent on her…he asks her to break a vase as an outlet to vent his anger on his behalf!!!). Sophia is also madly in love with him Despite all this Ethan has had enough of his confined life & he files a petition for Euthanasia. Evidently very few people support him in this, everyone feels he must live & the show must go on. No one can understand what he has been going through. There’s a night when drops of rain are falling on his face from a leaky roof & he can’t move away to protect himself. He spends the whole night getting drenched in the rain.Though he makes a very strong case for his right to die (In one of the moving scene he confines the prosecutor in a box for 2 mins, the prosecutor starts panicking & Ethan says if 2 mins of confinement can make you so terror stricken think of how I am living my confined life), the Judge rejects his petition quoting no one but God has the right to take away life. I suppose it is pertinent to note here that Euthanasia or Mercy Killing is Legal only in Netherlands, Beligium, Luxomborg, Switzerland, Thailand, & Washington & Oregon in USA. The Debate over allowing Euthanasia keeps emerging from time to time when some Terminally ill Patient petitions to the President/Courts to allow them the right to die with Dignity.
I guess this is the 1st movie in India that talks about the Right to Die…I feel people are unnecessarily anti death…why does one want others to go on living when they lose the faculties to enjoy even the basics of life??…In Aruna’s case her nurse is saying she shouldn’t be allowed to die because she is not a problem for others…the nurse has missed the basic point…it is not about others…it is about the person’s own right to die.
Incidentally today also turns out to be the day When the Supreme Court has rejected Aruna Shanbag’s plea for Euthanasia.
<“According to the petitioner, Pinki Viani who has also written a book on Aruna Shanbag’s plight, in the last 37 years after the incident, Aruna has become “featherweight” and her bones are brittle. She is prone to bed sores.
Her wrists are twisted inward, teeth decayed and she can only be given mashed food on which she survives, Virani had said, adding that Aruna is in a persistent vegetative state, her brain is virtually dead and she is oblivious to the outside world.
She can neither see nor hear anything nor can she express herself or communicate in any manner, whatsoever, she had said in her plea for mercy killing. >
The Movie makes an ultimate case for regarding Death to be a part of life & not as something to be dreaded & abhorred. One must live life to the fullest enjoying all the joys it provides but should not hesitate in embracing death too. Life & death are the two sides of a coin n yet we go on desiring life & shunning death. Ethan Mascarenhas shows that both can be embraced with equal chutzpah.The film has a certain Magical quality about it like all Sanjay Leela Bhansali films.
Both Hrithik & Aishwarya & the supporting actors are perfectly cast in their roles. The songs especially ‘Udi’, ‘Sau Gram Zindagi’, & ‘Tera Zikra Hai’ are very good.
One thing I didn’t like the premise that Ethan’s life is now more horrible than other person’s because he had achieved glory n fame in his past.What he misses most in his new life is the applause. I totally don’t buy the concept of a person valuing applause over a quiet n serene existence. I believe his condition would be equally good/ bad despite of whether or not he had glory in the past.
The film is believed to be inspired by a host of Hollywood films—The Prestige, The Sea Inside, Whose Life is it Anyway ….
Other Movie Reviews on my blog:
- Guzaarish (makeyourreview.wordpress.com)
- Guzaarish- A Paraplegic Film (acrazymindseye.wordpress.com)
- What a wonderful world! (ithinkincinema.wordpress.com)
- Guzaarish rocked (boxofficereport.wordpress.com)
- Guzaarish (calmdev.wordpress.com)
- Guzaarish (2010) (faheed6196.wordpress.com)
- Guzaarish – Beauty sans Soul (chin512.wordpress.com)
- My Bakwas on Music:- Guzaarish. (mclodha.wordpress.com)
- Legal stamp for mercy killing? (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- ‘Euthanasia’ woman to be examined (bbc.co.uk)
- The Case for and Against Euthanasia (socyberty.com)
- Euthanasia : What’s Changed? (billpeddie.wordpress.com)
- Guzaarish (ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com)
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffery Rush
Oscars, 2011: Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay
This is a biographic film about how King George VI (Colin Firth) overcame his stuttering problem to become the King when his elder brother is abdicated from throne because he marries an American divorced woman (apparently marrying a divorced woman is a disqualification for the post of king!!!). Now there is a major hitch, Albert has a bad case of stammer & hence can’t be an effective King because that essentially involves making speeches. He tries several speech therapists but to no avail, then he is referred to Lionel Logue (Geoffery Rush) whose methods are off the wall & some what eccentric (Shouting Profanities, Singing) but nevertheless apparently effective. He deals with George VI on an equal footing, refuses to drop in at the his palace but demanding that he drops by at his (lionel’s) office for therapy sessions (As Lionel puts it: My Game, My Castle, My Rules), addresses him as ‘Bertie’ instead of Your Royal Highness…at first George VI is very uptight & very upset about this rather radical behavior but gradually he realizes the effectiveness of Lionel’s ways & the warmth of his spirit. A friendship develops between the two. & then the Dreaded speech has to be delivered..on one level the story is about how George VI overcame his stuttering problem but it is also a poignant story about the friendship between the two..The King realizes that he has had no real friends in life so far….performances by both Colin Firth & Geoffery Rush are impeccable in their respective roles as the Duke/King & the friendly Speech Therapist. The movie doesn’t have any Action but holds your attention till the end.
Other Movie Reviews on my blog:
- The Real King’s Speech: Watch Rare Footage of King George VI Speaking to a Crowd (moviefone.com)
- The Oscars 2011: glory for The King’s Speech, Colin Firth and director Tom Hooper – Telegraph.co.uk (news.google.com)
- The Oscars 2011: glory for The King’s Speech, Colin Firth and director Tom Hooper (telegraph.co.uk)
- The Oscars 2011: glory for The King’s Speech, Colin Firth and Natalie Portman (telegraph.co.uk)
- The King’s Speech enthroned as best picture (guardian.co.uk)
- The King’s Speech (everyonelookbusy.wordpress.com)
- Colin Firth: Oscars 2011 Best Actor Winner (huffingtonpost.com)
- The King’s Speech gets rating change ()
- Colin Firth Oscar acceptance speech: Stuttering’s star role (cbsnews.com)
- Firth against censoring Speech (guardian.co.uk)