Baroque

To spread or not to spread is the question
There is a certain delight
To disseminate the palpitation
The throbbing ache at the lump near the throat
Through nothing but words
Jotted hastily on the pulpit of my dream.

Perhaps I should remain silent,
Perhaps I should make an attempt
To bear all my agony and deprivation
With a little more grace and propriety.

I will stay here alone
In this gutter of endless reverie
Waiting to crawl beneath the earth
My solitary self,
I am so divested that all I can miss
Is the solitude of days bygone.

Film Review: A separation

A_SeparationAny modern day sincere film-viewer cannot but be a fan of intricate neo-realist Iranian dramas. The way the pioneer film-makers like Kiorostami or modern masters like Majidi or Panahi or Fahadi captures intricate drama in the celluloid is not only worth watching but savouring to its last bit. A separation, is a complex drama as well, unlayering the story of through baring different characters  in a magnanimous yet minimalist way.

The film opens with a scene of appeal for separation between the parents of a 11 year old girl whose mother don’t see a future of her daughter and her family in the country, while her father clinges on to whatever he has: his octogenarian invalid father, his meagre existence in an apartment and a regular day job, and his daughter. Somehow the psychology of the middle-class of the entire nation, torn between the wish to flee away and the will to stay and fight, is alluded in a single opening sequence.

The story unfolds more, to involve other characters as he hires a working class guy  to look after his father, only to find his wife to come to his apartment to fill up for him. Thereon, things turn to more complexity, more tragedy, more  commotion and intricacy with incidents precipitating over each other. To the credit of the director, never for once did he try to work with the dichotomy of protagonist and antagonist. Refraining from daubing characters into particular negative or positive light is something not only strengthened this film, but also put the motion into a very fine tune. The inner turmoil of each character is not only palpable throughout the film, but also the strength and weakness of every character, their vulnerability and reciprocity is something almost oozes out of the screen with each turn of camera.

The performance of each actors and actresses is top notch, like you expect in most of these Iranian films which usually heavily really upon the virtuosity of the actors and actresses and they never let the director down. A separation was no exception. The use of child actors in crucial roles is something almost indigenous to Iranian masters and this film is no different in that respect either. So to conclude, I would say that this gem of a film is a must watch, especially for those who cannot live without the works of Iranian masters.

 

Film Review: Footnote

Footnote_(poster_art)The intricacy of the father-son relation meets the bitterness of a self-obsessed unrecognized genius: this is what the highly critically acclaimed film “Footnote” comprises. Among myriad of comedic moment of the film, the darkness of ambivalence, the reticent love and affection and the vociferated wrath, all are co-mingled with a touch of distant indifference and that was turned the work from a intense drama set in the world of academics, to a relatable humane effort.

While one cannot fail to notice that the story is full of oxymoronic elements: such as the exposure of rivalry and acerbity amid the pristine-looking whitehead academicians, the envy of the father to his son’s success who to the contrary upholds him as his inspiration; the private disdain confronts the publicly showing affection of the son, never finding the recognition of his own father while the world approves of him; all in all the film is there to stay with its viewer, not to prove a point, not to ram it home with intense drama, but as a bitter-sweet taste that does not go away.

Film Review: The informers

220px-The_Informers_(film_poster)The informers is a period drama, or at least it’s fashioned as one, that is supposed to be a film on pointlessness of the hedonism and moral bankruptcy of the opulent America. Instead it ended up being the epitome of absurdity as it was intended to expose. And all it’s left with is the nudity of Amber Heard, a lots of major loop-holes in the screenplay and obviously the cynical tinge of the Bret Easton Ellis novel on which the film is based.

Had I read the novel by Ellis I would have been able to compare how colossal the waste was, since I can certainly conjecture that the novel would had have much more depth and finesse. But rather I would try not to waste any more words on a film that took Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger and Billy Bob Thronton, anyone of whom can single-handedly render a film epic and did absolutely nothing with them. That, ladies and gentlemen, demands applaud.

Book Review: Soul Mountain

 

“You’ve slapped together travel notes, moralistic ramblings, feelings, notes, jottings, untheoretical discussions, unfable-like fables, copied out some folk songs, added some legend-like nonsense of your own invention, and are calling it fiction!”

 

GAO XINGJIAN (SOUL MOUNTAIN)

 

imagesThis is how Xingjian described his own novel: as a part of the novel. In the 72nd chapter of the book when an argument is broken out in between his conscious self and his dream-like projection of himself: this is how things transpire to him. And perhaps this is the place from where we should start to recount his novel as it is the lowest possible point of the estimation.

 

Gao Xingjian is a maverick. He takes his tale to the furthest corner imaginable especially for someone who is weaving a tale sitting in the Eastern corner of the world, almost forgotten, despised, ridiculed. And here lies his strength: in the collective assault of rejection that he had received. It is what enables him to walk away, to be the insurgent for individuality in a land under a regime where individual never existed. Being the part of a tradition somewhat similar to his, I often share or dare to share the agony of his lost soul.

 

Soul Mountain, the magnum opus novel of his creation, is the triumphant journey of an individual through the soul of a country trying hard to catch up to the world, to the illusion of progress and prosperity and in that effort obliterating its own history and tradition. The novel takes shape as a story told by an unnamed traveler while on his journey to the mysterious soul mountain or Lingshan. The author uses alternative pronouns as I and you at first in alternate chapters to follow two different narrative arks, evidently following the same person and same journey only in different stages of their journey. It obviously reminded me of his autobiographical work “One man’s bible” where almost through the entire book he used the pronouns You and He in alternate chapters. But later other pronouns are introduced; unlike One man’s bible, here, the story arks get muddled more and more; the dreamscape like scenes intervene into the mundane of the travelogue in a way that the boundary between fiction and memory and imagination does not remain clear. A ‘She’ is emanated from the acute loneliness and lust of the central character and yet she departs on a whim unnerving the story-teller as well as the readers, cultivating more doubt regarding her existence.

 

If we try to read the novel in an earnestly literal way, initially what it speaks of is a semi-autobiographical tale of a Beijing based writer who had a near-death experience in the form of being misdiagnosed to have terminal lung cancer. After he was informed off his not being in danger, he sets out for a journey through the mountains of Sezwan province of China, partially to evade the Communist authority hunting him as a righting element needed to be ‘cured’ by reform through labour and partially out of his yearning for the past of his nation that he never encountered, that remained hidden for his generation for years past. While on his way, he encounters that history of the traditionally sumptuous nation through mythologies and folk-lores, through religious traditions of Buddhist and Daoist (Taoist), through the simple unaggravated lives of the people living at the fringe of the modernity, through a journey towards his own past, to search the grave of his long-forgotten grand-mother. The linear story ark is lost after a while as both the writer and the reader loses interest in keeping account of the day to day realism. The reader enmeshed in stories and anecdotes told through carefree yet captivating manner remains true to the writer till the final page of the long novel.

 

In a way, Gao Xinjian’s novel is not afflicted by the absurdism as is expected from the “Beckett of the East”. Rather he concentrates on revealing an obscure history of what the world know very little. In that sense he can be paralleled to Orhan Pamuk.

 

 

 

Unlike Pamuk or Murakami, he is not impaired with the choice between two world: eastern or western. Rather Gao’s world is a world torn apart by different projection of self, a world very private and very universal at the same time. Sitting in a part of the world where the annihilation of self is mandatory both politically and traditionally, Gao’s endeavour to embrace his kaleidoscopic self image is not only laudable; it also transpires us to a world we seldom experience.

 

Film Review: Premium Rush

Premium_rush_filmPremium rush can be described as a film for adrenaline junkies or speed junkies or thriller lovers or the ones who like to watch a neat Hollywood production that even with a few glitches in the plot delivers a happy ending. So Premium Rush is a good film made within the domain of main-stream.

The film is centered upon the delivery-messengers on bike roaming the streets of New York to drop a package from one spot to another. I do not know if any such delivery system exists there or not; what I know is no films were ever made on them.

The speed the film maintains from beginning to end is something extra-ordinary and for that the editor deserves a standing ovation. The actors did not have much of a chance to show their acting skills since most of the work is done by stunt double, but Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon worked pretty well within their bounds. Darker places inside a character is not ventured at all; for example why a law student like Wiley is working as a delivery boy riding like a mad person through the city streets amid the rush hour traffic almost hell-bent to kill himself on the Manhattan street; why he is defying to put up a corporate suit and be what society wants him to be: these themes remain unexplored.

In conclusion Premium Rush is a film that is forgettable but worth experiencing, especially for the mainstream Hollywood fans.

Film Review: Excision

If novelty and shock-value is set as a bench mark for the greatness of a film, Excision is definitely a great one, but unfortunately a film is expected to be much more than that.

The film Excision cannot decide if it is going to be a dark comedy or a horror films and in that indecisiveness lies the strength or weakness of the film. I am never really much of a fan of a typical ‘genre’ movie Hollywood often regurgitates as a factory product and hence, for me Excision is definitely worth watching, but I must admit that the film may not suit everyone’s stomach.

Excision_posterThe Director evidently stole a page from the books of Passolini when he described the vivid horrid erotic dreams of a sociopathic teen-ager girl who is the central character of the film. Her position as a social pariah and her venture to reject the world back at her own expense is something touches many hearts. Had the character been penned more sympathetically, it would have been a better watch for the most, but the script-writer was hell-bent to create characters that are very hard to like or love. Whatever emotional attachments one may feel with the central character is shattered in the final bizarre scene which somehow reminded me of the novel (and the film) “We need to talk about Kevin”.

There are some brilliant sequences in the film: apart from the disturbing sexual dreams and practices shown, the candid confessions made by the girl, the stubborn stupidity of her mother, the emasculated father, the orthodox society around everything created a world of its own. But then again the film is not an attack on conservative America, at least not intentionally, though a few scenes, such as the dim-witted reverend’s psychoanalysis, the mother describing Afro-Americans as generally a straying populace, the school-principal worshipping George Bush and Ronald Regan, may make one wonder if the psychosexual disturbance and angst described in the protagonist is but the reaction to that orthodoxy and zealotry.

The film’s resolution to be a difficult watch and to remain unlikable is something not often seen. Perhaps that’s why it would remain a very distinct work amid the generic products of horror.