Monday, September 09, 2002

A marlowe marathon, another indian restaurant and some terrible DVD commentary

I dedicated Saturday night to indulge in the pleasurable pastime of watching old flicks on the boob tube. TCM was running a weekend special on Philip Marlowe movies and I caught three of them at a stretch on Saturday.

* I started off with Murder, My Sweet, the adaptation of Farewell, My Lovely. Dick Powell played Philip Marlowe, with a vulnerability that Bogart's popular interpretation lacked, but with a lot less cynicism and a tad more humanity. Dick Powell was famous as a star of the musicals (he starred in 42nd Street, which I caught last month. He was working on a change of image, and believed that the original title would give the audience the incorrect impression that this was another Dick Powell musical. The film was renamed only his insistence. That apart, the film is entertaining, noirish and adequately tongue-in-cheek.

* Next up was Lady in the Lake, starring Robert Montgomery who also directed it. This would be my favourite for the evening. In addition to presenting the dark cynicism of the genre the film also provides us with an interesting perspective on the events: that of Marlowe himself. Just like the popular games like Doom and Quake, we share Marlowe's point of view for a majority of the film. Fans of Duke Nukem 3D will relish the nice moments when we see ourselves/Marlowe every time he looks at a mirror. The film is narrated in flashback, and the narrative is broken only when Marlowe steps back to talk to the audience.

* Last in line we have the 1945 pre-release version (as opposed to the official radically changed 1946 release) of The Big Sleep followed by a documentary tracking the differences between the two versions. Bogart rocks as Marlowe.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

The hosts of Music from India on WRFG 89.3 FM tossed a challenge to the listeners. A guest in the studio had a few fragments from a Lata song of yore that she wanted information about. Being the Hindi film geek that I am, I called up my friend who lives most of his life connected to the Internet via DSL and coordinated a search on Google. Needless to say, we found the song. The lyrics may be found (in Devnagri) here. Strike one for Google. {more on me and WRFG}

The Indian restaurant du jour was Heera of India. The only thing that hampered an otherwise decent lunch buffet was a power failure. This is the first time I have seen this in the United States, and boy did it bring back memories:). Needless to say, Chris was rather ticked off. It would have been interesting to see the consequences of a long power failure on commerce, but the power came back on as soon as we were done with our buffet (a coincidence?).

We devoted our evening to the commentary on The 400 Blows by Brian Stonehill. In one word, terrible. He clearly had nothing much to say and failed to address the basic question of why the film was so influential. All he kept saying was that it turned the world of filmmaking upside down (which as you may gather is not a very profound statement). All we gathered was that this film (along with Godard's Breathless) marked the advent of the French New Wave in cinema. He also kept repeating facts about Truffaut's age when he made this film, how Truffaut died at an unfortunately young age, how old Antoine is in the film ad nauseum. When he found nothing to say about what was happening on screen, he resorted to bios of the different players in the film. It is rather unfortunate that the only good DVD commentary I have heard this year was Roger Ebert's commentary accompanying Citizen Kane.

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