Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gone baby gone and inner city decay


This has got to be one of the best movies I've seen in recent times. An earlier non-existent respect for Ben Affleck is now at a high. (Although to be fair, I should also state my admiration for his and Matt Damon's Oscar-winning original script for the brilliant "Good Will hunting").

Casey Affleck's performance took some time to get used to during the movie, mainly because you're expecting so much more emotion from someone in his role. Rather than waste words, I'll just quote Manohla Dargis
Most actors want you to love them, but Casey Affleck doesn’t seem to know that, or maybe he doesn’t care. Patrick doesn’t cuddle or kiss up. He takes the job Bea offers despite the reluctance of his live-in girlfriend and partner, Angie (a solid Michelle Monaghan), but he doesn’t look like anyone’s idea of a savior. With his sneakers and jeans and small-man’s swagger, he comes off like one of those toughs who never leave the neighborhood and would sooner swing a bat at your head than at a ball.
Old reliables Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman's deliver predictably strong performances. On the ratings front, no surprise then that the movie gets a 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes

But leave aside all that. I loved the movie for the beauty of the camera work. And this, expectedly as the DVD features showed, was a key element of the movie. From the first frame to the last, city and community form the vivid canvas for the movie. Some scenes of decay reminded me of HBO's path-breaking and recently concluded "The Wire" (whose depiction of inner city decay was of course on a totally different and deeper level).

Also, if you are going to see the movie look out for the opening and closing lines. Haunting lines of dialogue. I haven't read the book, but if I eventually do, I'll write that down as one of the rare cases of a movie making me want to read the book.

Inner city decay on film has always been an issue close to my heart and I wish it was delved into depth more often in India. And no, despite it's alluring title, I do not include the tepid "Life in a Metro" because that movie was more characters and not city. And no that Irrrffann Khan line of "Ye shehar bahut deta hai aur usse jyaada leta hai" left me unmoved. Yawn.

Still, I shouldn't crib because there's still so much better cinema with Bombay as an integral, even central, character. This theme was explored on this blog in the Reel Life Bombay series where fellow bloggers Filmiholic and Punds were kind enough to pen some fine posts on Bombay in movies. Do read and let me know if you've seen any movie where you also remember the city it was shot in.

[Disclaimer: For those expecting racy, exciting, detective, murder-mystery kinda stuff that makes you fall from your chair every 10 seconds and leaves you bum sore, please don't see this movie.]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Let's see how far we've come

I haven't heard as many songs of Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty, but what I've heard ("Bent", "If you're gone" and Thomas' single "Streetcorner Symphony"), I've really liked.

But "How far we've come" is the best so far and it's currently on repeat mode on my player (just like Speed of Sound was once). Then I checked out the video and totally tripped on it too.



Brilliant song, seemingly introspective and definitely a commentary on the world if the video is anything to go by. A video of that kind, with clips of some of the most unforgettable moments in history, really takes the song to a different level.

I don't know why it reminded me of Billy Joel's "We didn't start the fire", a song which also had a great video, which you can see here (embedding disabled by the poster, a certain, er, billyjoel. huh.)

Good music, I tell you, can change stuff. Ah. Must hear it hear it again.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Life post break

is different. Bombay post break is different. Three short scenes on this different life so far. Thoughts and comments, as always, welcome.

*****

When did this being on break become cool? We (self and wife) were out for an evening walk the other day and I get a call from someone I know who was – as the term goes – slogging away at office. And it’s not the first one of these types I’ve got. Now I don’t think I’m appearing cool because it’s a decision I took and remember it’s you who’s getting the monthly paycheck. But if you’re gonna shower me with all the “lucky you, how does it feel” thing, then well, what do you expect? So here, this is what I’m up to. I’m taking a walk, seeing the sunset, soaking it all in, on a weekday. I never thought I could do it, and believe me, I wish I can keep this going for the rest of my life. And since you asked, yes, it feels great.

*****

The Bombay I knew from my office cubicle is so distant from the Bombay I see now. One thing I’m sure about is that Bombay sure isn’t dead. As long as its people run, Bombay’s full of life. Overflowing with life. Man, except me, everyone’s running. The poor run, the rich run. So do the young and the old (this seemingly 70+, woman almost trampled me when I came in her way today). Rich and poor alike. Running on the road, running on the railway tracks, running with their cars. All running for something, with something, because of something, towards something. I don’t know what makes them run. But as long as they run, Bombay runs. Don’t mistake this for the “spirit of the city” – if you did, then you’re probably a Bombay romantic. Or work for the media. Me? I’ve never believed in a “spirit of Bombay”. The only spirit Bombay has is money and it sure as hell keeps it high.

*****

The scene that will remain me for a long time is when I’m at a school playground catching up with someone I haven’t met in a while. We’re sitting, watching the kids play. They’re practicing running, athletics or whatever it is. Instructors are pacing the kids, the kids are racing with each other. The older ones are running laps. Over the playground and over the mud-kicked dusty air, the sun is setting, setting off its usual riot of colors in the sky that makes me linger on more to sunsets than sunrises. And there’s this palpable sense of freedom. Of absolute, boundless freedom. I can see it in the children, I can sense it in the air. As a passing thought, the concept of open space becomes more real to me than it ever has in my life. But there’s this freedom. As if all that’s there is that moment. That’s what it’s about really. How free do I want to be. Everything else kinda settles down around. Just like the dust and the grass around those kids.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Twitter

So I am on twitter, courtesy of this person who invited me a few months back and I've not looked back since then.

And I'm going to conveniently blame my absence here to twittering, because - oh ok, there I admit it - I'm hooked on to twitter.

But no, I refuse to embed it to my side-bar or "micro-blog" it here. Call me old-fashioned, but that's twittering and this is blogging. I'd like to keep them apart, thank you very much.

See you soon here. Or sooner, you know where.