Melting Pot

 

This post is going to be used for all kinds of non-specific (but not meaningless or inane) discussions and blabber on the blog. I will try and make it constantly accessible from the main page.

22 comments on “Melting Pot

  1. Saw Ek Thi Daayan today and liked it a lot. I must say this at the very outset that this is by far the best horror film Hindi cinema has seen. Stuff like Bhoot and Raat does not even stand near this. The first half especially is very engaging. The fact that the film plays so well with the folklore associate with ‘daayans’ is alone worth the price of the ticket. Will try and write more on it later

  2. hey minor–its only fitting that i ‘inaugurate’ this 🙂
    I was hesitant esp after my harsh words to u earlier but i somehow couldnt resist.
    Good job with the format and background–like it. Keep it up.
    I sincerely wish this blog does v well and goes from strength to strength.
    and u have the passion n drive to run an active blog–all the best mate

    • Thanks a lot for your wishes (though this blog is not a business venture which I have to keep running 🙂 . Since I had time till the end of August this year I just wanted a place to put up things which I like. So I have no such ambitions.) and glad to see you here. Our previous altercation(s) notwithstanding I don’t think you should have felt (or feel) hesitant in commenting here since Anu also ‘owns’ the blog and I assume that you share a very friendly equation with her. The format/theme was also chosen by her so she deserves the thanks more than me.

  3. The recent viewing of Gangs of Wasseypur reminded me of another film I saw recently and revisited bits today. Two films cant be more diametrically opposite interms of the setting, scale, tone, language and style, yet theres a wierd commonality in that it explores the psyche of a wounded man manifest differently. Made me expand some previous thoughts on this.
    Descendants: the pussillanimity & ‘recession’ of manhood-‘ Man-cession’!!
    This is another film which was quite good but leaves you wondering if it really was worth any oscar nominations-so near yet so far. Having said that, it does grow with time and lingers somewhat. The tone and texture is light with comedic and emotional undertones flirting with serious issues as well. The way Payne treats humour and serious elements in an interchangeable way was admirable in this dramedy.
    After being the visible face and flag-bearer of quite a few machismo ventures, Clooney (Matt king) is a sight to behold when he awkwardly runs in his neighbourhood in hawwaiian shorts and flipflops, his handsome visage a mixture of confusion and helplessness. In another telling scene, Clooney grabs hold of the wife of the adulterous lover of his dying wife (phew!) and nearly forcibly kisses her!
    The guy has everything being a rich land-owner in the paradise of Hawaaii. But trouble strikes him in waves successively that forces him to take up parenting duties of his daughters and cope with the knowledge of his (now-dying) wifes infidelity.
    Following a common thread from ‘about Schmidt’ this is another Alexander Payne film . Not quite matching the brilliance of the former – Nicholsons face is a marvel but Clooney tried earnestly though and did a good job. The ‘heroic’ clooney is more than a symbolic choice to portray this increasingly new ‘man identity’. The ‘resolution’ of certain anxieties seem to be ‘resignation’ to certain modern truths attached to the uncertainty and newly configured roles of the modern man .
    Amongst all the bravura and chest thumping euphoria of machismo, there is a lingering sense of the ‘uncertain and beaten man’. This is not to say that this is necessarily a negative development! Being empathetic and sensitive are always welcome additions to a man’s repertoire. Theres also some good interesting interactions between clooney and his daughters boyfriend who is ‘miles from smartville’– but is content with just being ‘hygienic’, a reasonable cook and a weed consumer. Clooneys wife’s adulterous lover too is a cowardly creature and so is his henpecked friend!
    In other words, its an ‘emasculation festival’ wherein everyone is supposed to be applauding this. But when so many of the traditional ‘macho tendencies’ are being attacked from all one does feel-
    How long/far will this sissyfication and pussification of men last?? By the way, this is not a misogynist rant please. A creditable look at the fickle family/psychobehavioral dynamics that abound dealing with the dualities of situations. Good performances all around including the younger cast. They force Clooney to treat them as equals . The guy playing Sid and Clooneys daughters were competent. Not the Oscar contender it was pretending to be though. Some may feel that Clooney is cast a bit too out of his comfort zone, struggles inspite of best efforts and is ut-acted even by his ‘daughters’. But either ways, it is an honorable defeat, even if one. Also one didnt help but feel for poor clooney when he says here –” nowadays women are never wrong”!
    The film benefits from exquisite ‘paradise’ Hawaaian scenery and background music and ambience but this is what the angry Clooney has to say about it that pretty much sums it up for him
    “Paradise? Paradise can go fuck itself !” haha

  4. Thanks for letting me post stuff here folks and plz feel free to delete where you feel.
    Just to add an afterthought on descendants to the rant above-
    Don’t want to discourage any potential viewers to this film since some I know loved this a lot. Besides this, there is also a parallel current about inheritance, legacy, landownership and heritage. There is subversion and the use of humour in terse situations and the choice of ‘peaceful paradise’ hawaaii for certain troubling proceedings add an edge to this bitter-sweet saga. Clooney does look detached and ‘cold’ for stretches and as pointed out above gets out-acted by his own ‘daughters’, especially the rebellious Alexandra played sensitively by Shailene Woodley.
    Another movie that may be a companion viewing to this seems to be (and this hasn’t been pointed yet, I think) seems the ‘Company Men’ starring Ben Affleck about a few big shot guys who lose their high flying corporate jobs during recession and how they cope with it. I have seen only bits of it but may not check it out immediately.
    The films soundtrack is an integral player to proceedings and blends traditional and Hawaiian music. Payne keeps it subtle and somewhat low-key that only adds in crucial scenes of ‘conflict’ wherein a heavy handed treatment would have killed the scene.
    This is actually based on a book by Kaui Hemmings (just came to know). Finally seeing Clooney here reminds of this apaarently from the book- “I like the way men cry. They’re efficient.” :-)

    • thanks for your views alex. and thanks for visiting, saurabh has already scolded me for being rude to you although i didn’t mean to be, but let me take the opportunity to correct that.
      anyways, i haven’t watched either film yet, will offer my opinions when i do. though i don’t agree with everything you said, i do agree with the fact that these films are over-hyped.
      reminds me of something a colleague of mine said after being dragged to SLP ‘one had Bipolar, one had addiction, now I have PTSD’

    • Meant to say this earlier but thanks for these fine notes Alex. Also liked your Company Men reference. And as Anu said thanks for visiting and commenting here.

      “plz feel free to delete where you feel”-

      Not sure why do you keep mentioning this but we have never intentionally deleted any of your comments. What happened the last time around was that Anu deleted her entire post in order to repost it and so we lost all the comments, this was purely unintentional on her part. Hope this sets the record straight

  5. SLP ‘one had Bipolar, one had addiction, now I have PTSD’–u forgot deniro-think he had OCD .. So another one… Lol
    Btw Thanx folks–obviously with u I don’t need an ‘invitation’ but one is unsure so good to clarify.
    With this place, I feel a bit ‘guilty’ & ‘responsible’ for its creation but also ‘excited’ about it-keep it up…
    Btw blog hasn’t started yet and trolls like me are already there hahaha 🙂
    Ps-“Also liked your Company Men reference”– thanx but haven’t watched that film yet only few minutes..feel free to make it a separate post m8. Will try but am not used to write structured tidy reviews –if I think of doing that Im reminded of the long list of pending professional work of my own
    –but am learning from u folks & getting the ‘Chaska’ if writing reviews from u folks!!
    Btw wish to add one line—the ‘sissyfication’ of manhood was obviously a bit exaggerated and written only in jest …

    • Don’t know why this comment went into moderation earlier. Anyway I will make it into a post later tonight (and would then get around to reading this) but thanks for continuously posting these extremely valuable notes here Alex. If not for your comments the blog seems to be dead

  6. Thanx for the separate thread, saurabh. Btw anu doesn’t seem that busy-she is lurking on her own blog and on Ss regularly 🙂 hope she is safe & gets over whatever ‘depression’ or ‘hurt’ & ‘sulking’-cheers –can’t spare the jokes hehe
    Ps: reminds me if/ when possible-consider merging the ‘descendants’ comments into a thread.. For variety beyond rom-com hahaha

  7. SAVAGES—Drugs, ‘Inner urges’ and all that…

    This is a weird ‘companion viewing’ of mine along with last week’s ‘A Late Quartet’. They couldn’t have been more different? Well, not totally. One can suppress inner urges but only for so long. For instance, Oliver Stone returns to revisit his basic instincts of crime, drugs, sex and exploitation with a bang in an unabashedly dark take. The drugs lords, the South Americanism and the attempted Documentary-like vibe on Cuba and Chavez are all there. Plus its unrepetentently amoral, excessive, manic and consistently wayward.
    The camera gaze and the ‘light intensity calibration meters’ range from a warm glow in the beginning with episodes of hazy hallucinatory indulgences culminating in the ‘colourless’ climax. Theres no excessive complexity here, other than the twists, ‘betrayals’ and the apolitical tone is the weakness (as well as a relief sometimes).
    Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson live in Laguna Beach in idyllic locations, are best friends/ partners in business ( and share a girlfriend O). One is an ex-Navy Seal and the other is a botany expert, both having specialized in growing a particular strain of pot in their get-rich-quick-schemes. O benefits from every which way possible in this ‘alliance’ including sexually. Enter Salma Hayek as a convincing drug cartel matriarch which has Del Toro as her brutal enforcer. Add in John Travlota as a reluctant corrupt officer and one does has a promising mix of actors. that deliver (though only partly). Theres something interesting about the disparate personalities of the peaceful ‘Buddhist’ Ben and the militant ‘Baddist’ Chon early in the film, but eventually they merge into a ‘similar’ character.
    Its essentially a macho story of drug dealing and extreme measures. Though Hayek does have an interesting part that she more or less deliver well. And Blake Lively does have a certain ‘spark’ and physicality . She does bring in a mix of vulnerability and her ‘rich-girl spoiltness.’ Who also narrated this tale . Apparently , O is loosely inspired from,an erotic BDSM novel about a polyamorous consensual sex slave (that was welcome & useful info to me!). Expectedly she is subjected to chaining, whipping, branding, piercing and ofcourse consensual sex and she does give ‘permission’ for ‘everything’. Similarly, Lively looked ‘needy’, vulnerable and overall didnt appear a misfit to the ‘O’ vibe . She lacks the acting chops in a flick wherein she clearly has the ‘dominant part’—seems shes more of a sub(missive) !! At points, the chemisrty between the Talyor and Aaron is more of a ‘bromance’ just like the high THC concentration marijuana their marijuana brand contains. Personally though, I could ‘overlook’ Livelys acting flaws, being a generous guy!
    Theres probably a subtext (though im not sure if Stone meant it) that well behaved, educated folks are also dictated by basal primal instincts when up against it. Obviously this is nothing we didn’t know already though. Basically, I don’t think this was meant to be a deep, philiosophical take anyways with more emphasis being on the visceral and instant gratification (cant complain on that either actually beyond a point!)
    One issue here is that as an audience, it becomes confusing whom to root for (in this uniformly amoral tale). For me, that wasn’t that difficult though—with Hayek and Lively providing reasonable ‘scenery’.
    Amongst all that goings on with Hayek and Lively, I did sense Stone perhaps has a subtle pro-drug message !! This is cunningly and hallucinatingly laced on an ‘anti-war-on-drugs’ message. Stone has a certain history of that perhaps. But what was new was his attempt at giving the message without the ‘bold underlining’–
    “Everything falls apart once controls start being exerted.”

  8. A LATE QUARTET

    Don’t get taken in by the slightly ‘senior citizen’ look of the promo. Had the same vibe myself, but was coaxed to to it out by a musician friend (the idyllic location helped!). I ended up liking it better than the musician buddy who got hung up with some technicalities of string music. As I’ve said earlier, a good film doesn’t come with reputations, statutory warnings or groundwork-it works for itself! These words dont convey my complete sentiments on this film and so have used some key extracts from those I value. The moments when and idea for a story, the intelligence of a script to tell it, the sensitivity of the director to make it work, and the cast of extraordinary actors to make it visual come all too infrequently these days in the films that cross our theater screens. It is such a complete success on so many levels that it should be considered a standard for filmmaking excellence. It is cerebral, yes, it is best appreciated by people who are involved in some way with classical music even if that be solely as an audience, but the dynamics of this little ‘community’ of people drawn together by a lasting contract to rehearse and perform for the better part of their time and the effect of physical proximity and the risks of intellectual/artistic distances have rarely been so exquisitely painted.

    The honored Fugue Quartet has been living and performing together for 25 years: first violin Daniel Lerner (Ukrainian American actor Mark Ivanir), second violin Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman), cellist Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walkmen), and violist Juliette Gelbart (Catherine Keener) make such perfect music together that we would never guess their lives are askew. Peter is diagnosed as
    having Parkinson’s Disease and understands that his performing days are now severely limited; the Gelbart’s marriage is at risk because of the tatters of time and the dealing with daughter Alexandra (Imogen Poots) who reacts to her history of being an alone child by entering into a physical affair with obsessive Daniel and Robert’s ill-advised one night stand with the young beautiful Pilar (Liraz Charhi); Robert’s surfacing jealousy of wanting to be first violin: the struggle with whether the quartet should disband due to Peter’s illness or continue with a new cellist. All of this complex interplay of human relationships is underlined by the quartet’s rehearing of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14, opus 131 – a long quartet of seven movements played without interval. It is a sensitively drawn allegory that takes us all the way to the end of the film.
    In addition to the bravura acting of the four lead actors there are side stories that are enormously touching: the affair between Alexandra and Daniel, the conflict between Alexandra and her absentee mother (a brilliant scene), the schism between Robert and Juliette as the foundation of their marriage begins to crumble, and the extraordinarily sensitive moment when Peter longs for his deceased wife Miriam – as the image of Miriam (Anne Sofie von Otter) is seen and heard in is mind.
    An obvious glory of the film is its music. Beethoven’s No.14, Op.131 is one of his most profound late quartets, and its colours illuminate the drama that develops, right up to the climactic concert.
    The film does two other things miraculously well. First, it takes us behind the scenes and convincingly shows us how a musical ensemble works — or fails to work. Anyone who has performed music with other people — even in a rock group — will recognise themselves in these characters. Secondly, A Late Quartet cleverly dramatises its central message, which is that some combinations of people are much greater than they could ever be on their own or in another group.
    To add, this has a grope of middle aged /ageing actors but has a universal theme executed maturely and sensitively whilst maintaining the requisite sentimentality and gravitas. For ‘real’ music lovers.
    But above all, this one has no big budgeted franchise, no action set pieces, not even pseudo-reputation helping along and definitely not red bikini clad/ superhero costume laden ‘extravaganzas’. But it’s got not one but multiple acting clinics and many superbly nuanced acting moments.
    Some good acting moments I remember –
    Walken– the slightest quiver of Walken’s hands as he lays eyes on his cello — once an object he knew so intimately, it has cruelly turned into a constant reminder of inadequacy.Seymour Hoffman–gettin rid of his beard just before the crucial concert–was like having a life rethought …Mark Ivanir-a guy immersed in achieving perfection & a superbly understated act(I personally liked it a lot). Catherine Keener and Imogen Poots both had their moments..
    Perhaps the moment was where Walken finally publically accepts his decline and disability and declares mid-performance that this will be his last performance ever….
    My own liking for ‘ a late quartet’ made me question my own tastes! Nobody I know (including a musician friend) liked it or had even seen it. U then look for the minority who are with u-(on the net)–like this one….
    “Our instruments must, in time, go out of tune, each in its own and quite different way.”
    A Late Quartet is a dramatization of the intertwining problems of the members of a string quartet: a film that ironically also is the main topic of the movie, a meticulously composed musical piece.
    This wonderful albeit slow composition stroke just the right chords for me. When it comes to my personal musical taste, I am a bit indifferent with the classical genre: in certain moods, I can enjoy it, but I don’t consider myself a lover or fan of the music. However, after seeing A Late Quartet, my appreciation of violin grew at least a little bit, especially because I could see what it was trying to do for the movie. As I mentioned, the film metaphorically resembles the main element of the story: it is a violin quartet. Frequently, it falls out of its regular pace, but returns from this with power every single time. This is what I found to be the main achievement of A Late Quartet. It effectively made the music a metaphor for the story.
    If it wasn’t for this stylistic addition to the story, the plot outline would have never been as smart as it was right now. Without this backbone, it would have been a relatively empty drama about an unrealistic turn of events. However, because of this classy take on what happens to the characters in the film, it feels much like a Victorian age drama – which still is quite disturbing at heart. A Late Quartet does not include love triangles, it features love quartets or even freaking pentagrams. Much of the film reminded me of Roman Polanski’s Carnage with its witty dialogue and amazing acting. This film officially confirms it for me: Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors. For me, he convincingly stole the show in A Late Quartet, which is incredible, keeping in mind that he is in the same cast as Christopher Walken. I would never speak bad of Walken either though, he was almost just as stellar as Hoffman. Come to think of it, the cast was solid all round, making this
    depressing story not nearly as blue as it could have been. Again here, I am thankful for the metaphorical meaning of the quartet. The ups and downs that only the tones of a string instrument can transform into music might bring the movie’s tone out of balance sometimes, but one way or another, it still felt very much as a whole.
    In contrast to the rest of the film, I have a difficult time with bring the camerawork to words. It is undoubtedly beautiful, but I did have my problems with the pacing of the film. Although it worked for the concept of the movie, in the eye of arthouse, A Late Quartet is still quite slow – and that says something. Oddly enough, the classical score amplifies this. Don’t get me wrong, the score was very well-done, but I think it is just me considering classical music too slow (I don’t want to call it boring) that slowed the film down even more for me. I can imagine that this is different for others who are able to appreciate this genre of music more, so I highly recommend this film for anyone who considers him or herself to be a part of this group.
    In sum, A Late Quartet is exactly like the classical piece that it discusses most: Beethoven’s Opus 131. It is slow at times, played with quick passion sometimes (or attaque in pretentious terms) and all the more beautiful for a certain set of people. Even if you do not belong to this category, there is no denying that the screenplay is powerful. The audience distinction only brings this movie from a “good” to a “great” rating.”
    Have never been a fan of Christopher Walken! But this film showed how actors can turn a new leaf (for you) even so late in their careers (as Walken). His predicament and dilemma here seems even more disturbing because hes done demonic, monster-ish fearless characters.Read this somewhere and fitted with my own views
    It’s unnerving to see Walken confront his own mortality. Yet his character in A Late Quartet shares similarities with his villains; Walken specialises in creating a sense of deep-rooted psychological damage, such that even when he has a blank expression on his face, there is something in his empty eyes that is like volcanic molten rock.
    But as i always say—Even pure madness deserves a ‘method’!!

    • Alex: Great to see you here again. You make us feel important! Both the comments sound interesting, will read them later tonight. Do keep visiting. And you and hesitant about posting, C’mon 🙂 . Please do keep commenting and putting up your views on films etc.

  9. Thanks for the very detailed and well-written comments here Alpex. Saurabh is right, you help keep the blog going.
    But, “this film showed how actors can turn a new leaf (for you) even so late in their careers (as Walken)” – wtf?!! I am sure he is good here, but turning a leaf? You mean, the actor from Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, A View to a Kill, The Comfort of Strangers, Pulp Fiction, Catch me If You Can is suddenly very good here? Oh goodness!

    • I share Anu’s surprise on Walken. have always felt though that Walken, good as he is, does not have too big an actor’s range. He is always interesting on screen but more often than not, he keeps repeating himself- a bit like Nana Patekar. When on their game these guys can be scintillating on screen but they hardly ever surprise you. Then again I am one of the few who hold this thought on Walken. BTW loved him in True Romance- he has a terrific scene with Dennis Hopper there

      Which film is The Comfort of Strangers? I am slightly ashamed to say that I have no clue about it

      • You are right about the repetitiveness. They are good actors but stuck in the same place more often than not. But I do think Walken does ‘barely holding on to his sanity’ thing very well. I liked True Romance a lot (did you suggest it, I forget)

  10. Don’t feel bad, I don’t think many people do. I only remember it due to Walken and Helen Mirren. It was based on Ian McEwan’s (much superior) book.

  11. “Thanks for the very detailed and well-written comments here Alpex. Saurabh is right, you help keep the blog going.”–no problems @ all, my pleasure..
    btw im also selective where i visit/post….Suggest spearate threads for all my ‘hard’work (lol) which shouldnt go ‘unrewarded’-will give my mound of , sorry ‘pound’ of flesh & ‘encourage’ ‘kids’ like me. .
    As for Walken, dont mind him but this is a more ‘central’ lead role unlike the others which were more or less wierdos or monster-ish, but yeah, hes been a good actor.
    imo the best performance in this wasnt seymour or walken…(who both were brilliant)
    but Mark ivanir…liked his role…..(but perhaps im the only one to say that lol)

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