Monday, August 25, 2008

A rant...

Lately, I have been noticing how, almost always, it is a white man who is the centre of any Hollywood movie. Of course, there are those that scream at you that they are about a White Man, like movie titles like "Bill" or "Good Will Hunting" or "Run fatboy, run" which makes them easier to avoid. But even movies like 'Laurel Canyon' which would pass The Bechdel Test, by the way, somehow end with placing the white man at the centre...

From now on, I would prefer to watch movies that do not do that. Which means more of Asian cinema. Not Bollywood, though.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Seppuku

Seppuku's narrative style is very similar to that of Rashoman, in that the main plot is revealed in the words of characters in the story and give different perspectives. But where Rashoman uses the differing versions of the same story, Seppuku uses different stories as witnessed by two characters.

The movie requires a little knowledge about the samurai culture. You can read the wikipedia entry on seppuku (hara-kiri) which would give you some idea of what goes on in the film. The samurai code of honour is quite well known, I guess, and it plays an important part both in their culture and in this film.

The samurais were prosperous when Japan was a basically ruled by numerous feudal lords (daimyo) and there were numerous wars and clashes in Japan where the samurais came in very handy.

The film is set in the 17th century when Japan had been more or less unified. A time of peace, as the film observes. For people whose lives depended on war, this was disastrous. Dialogues such as "But in a world of peace there is no hope" and "But in such times of peace, all was in vain" seem to be cynical on the surface but as the character played by Tatsuya Nakadai says, "But in times of peace, the honored warrior is no longer in demand."

If you think about it, all samurai films you have ever watched have had some kind of war or major conflict in the plot. And the emphasis is on the action and the samurai is dignified by being elevated to a super-human status in combat. Here you see a more human side of the samurai. You see what happens when a samurai is unemployed and poor and what choices he makes in times of crisis.

Nakadai is an amazing actor and he does justice to this role of a veteran samurai who has been through a lot and he conveys the extreme sadness and anger through his intense eyes like no one else can. He portrays a man who has lost everything and who wants a bit of revenge. Without him, this film might not have been so great. He really carries the film through with his performance and he looks every bit the weathered father as well as the skilled samurai that he plays.

But what I liked more about the film was its cinematography. Black and white film is such a beautiful medium but to use it well requires real skill and even though, the cinematographic technique is pretty traditional in this film, it is used very effectively.



But I am usually very partial to cinematography. There is no aspect of this movie that I think was less than perfect. Kobayashi's direction is, as usual, brilliant. The background score is evocative of the situation. I also liked the fact that the dialogues were pithy. Nothing in excess. Measured and just right.

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PS. Alok calls it the best samurai movie.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sickness..

I hate being sick. Perhaps, the main reason is because I was always a sick kid. I would get the Cold on the slightest pretext and would have to be doped with cetirizine and nasal drops so as to be able to function normally. This was until I got surgery done on my nose to correct my nasal septum. For the medically challenged, it might suffice to know that I was afflicted with an inherited congenitive disability (if I may call that) that needed surgery that could only be performed at an adult age.

Anyway, I was down with a viral the whole of last week and it seems like the viral is gone but since it affected my immune system, I still have a cold...

I stayed at home the whole week, resting and trying to think about what to do next. My travel plans were halted because of heavy rains in the hills and the coast. I postponed the plans for the rest of the trip to the end of september or october, perhaps. I watched a lot of crappy movies, including ones like Transporter and Lucky Number Slevin. I was really disappointed with Hellboy 2. I also watched a much talked about Korean movie, Oldboy, which though promised a lot in the beginning but just degraded into a simple, and quite implausible, revenge story. One movie that I really liked was Seppuku, featuring one of my favourite actors. I will write a review sometime later today.

Other plans include trying to shoot daily and perhaps, pick up some theme that I can do atleast once a week. Of course, this all needs a level of discipline that I have rarely displayed...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Something to think about..



I do not agree with everything he says but it is something to think about..

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm back

Mostly because it is raining non-stop from Madikere onwards. Interestingly, there was not a drop of rain on the way back from Kushalnagar. It was truly frustrating to be in one of the most beautiful places in south india and not being able to whip out my camera and capture a part of what I saw.

some pictures..







More pictures here:

July 08

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