Sunday, August 18, 2002

A typical 70s Bollywood product, Oscar-winning visual pornography, and a weekend of darkness

I began my movie spree on Friday night with Trimurti (which I got last weekend). The film had all the ingredients of a typical Bollywood entertainer: lost-and-found children, the rich/poor divide, devious relatives, a touch of mystery, mandatory (yet unwanted) comic relief, songs of love, hope, innocent fun and platitude, thodi si maara-maari (aka clichéd fight sequences) and the ever-late-for-everything Indian police force. That in a nutshell was Trimurti. A longer review is in the works and is the latest addition to the unfortunately growing pile of things to do.

I finally got an AC/DC adaptor for my Sony walkman on Saturday from Radioshack. Have been meaning to do that for over two years -- talk about taking procrastination to new heights!

Got two more DVDs from the India store trip this time: the B Subhash howler Tarzan and another Dev Anand exercise in hogging footage, Des Pardes (which is more objective circles is regarded as his most coherent work -- NOTE: the word coherent is not to be used lightly when one discusses the corpus of Mr. Anand as a director). An interesting sideline: The title of the film is set in a red font (evidently Mr. Anand's favourite colour -- perhaps for the hidden message it holds for unwary viewers) styled so that the letters appear to drip blood! Since the film is ostensibly about traditional family values and the pull of the west, I guess one must interpret this as another subtle cautionary signal to viewers who should have known better than to have ventured into this.

The movie for Saturday evening was the winner of 7 Academy Awards: Out of Africa, using the life of Karen Blixen (played wonderfully by Meryl Streep) to unfold yet another tale of the triumph of the human spirit, the film is a terrible exercise in visual pornography -- on display here are different visages of Africa put together to create breathtaking visual after breathtaking visual connecting often empty scenes of now clichéd vignettes in the life of Ms. Blixen. I offer my most humble apologies to everyone (including the Academy that never awarded the only deserving Oscar for this film -- Best Actress for Ms. Streep) who liked this film when it was made, but I am sick of travelogue tripe that seems almost packaged to appeal to the committee: schmaltzy epigrams about life, love and the whole yada-yada, sweeping irritating pompous orchestral music by John Barry (who perhaps deserves plaudits only for the Bond theme) and Robert Redford looking like the suave sexy Robert Redford and spouting Redfordisms (watch him revisit his role with added pizazz in the equistrian disaster The Horse Whisperer. Sidney Pollack has an interesting body of work as a director (and even as an actor: Husbands and Wives, Eyes Wide Shut and Random Hearts), but I have nothing to say in his favour for this one. Perhaps I've become too cynical for my own good, unable to appreciate the candy-floss Enid Blyton-ish happy world movies anymore.

I made up for that environmental disaster with The Brides of Dracula, kindly furnished by AMC. The second Hammer Dracula film, this doesn't have Christopher Lee playing the Count, since he died in the last one. Good fun, nevertheless.

I tuned in to Music from India on WRFG 89.3 FM, and the only uplifting aspect this time was the sole R. D. Burman song featured in the oldies section: Hum dono do premi from Ajnabee. I was happy enough to forgive them for citing the reason for playing this 1974 song as "we have to play some eighties"!!

In the evening, Chris and I attended the final double-bill of the Weekend of Darkness at the Rialto. The movies on show were Sweet Smell of Success and Kiss Me Deadly.

Sweet Smell of Success was a very tight film with great dialogue (reminding me of Laura) and great performances by Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.


Roger Ebert's Greatest Films


Kiss Me Deadly, which I have read about in several articles on film noir was anything but expected!! While firmly drenched in the conventions of the genre, the film is a campy tongue-in-cheek adaptation of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer novel of the same name. With moments of sheer scientific inaccuracy and jaw-droppingly funny random violence this irreverent film deservedly got resounding applause from the audience once it was over. Starting off with creepy credits proceeding top-down as opposed to bottom-up (something modern filmgoers will remember from Se7en), the film has great lines, funny moments (intentional and unintentional) and an ending that presages modern cult favourites like Pulp Fiction. Highly recommended.


Film Monthly
Other what's in the box movies {NOTE: potential spoilers}

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