Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Red Beard, the Guru

Dreams by Akira Kurosawa was a movie of abstract dreams of different people. While Red  Beard is also a movie of abstracts that form part of a concrete storyline. The lives of people touched by Red Beard and that which mould the character of a young doctor. 

Akira's movies amaze me. Having been fed on Indian movies where the protagonist always has a larger than life image and the movie revolves around just one character, mostly, Akira Kurosawa's movies have an unparalleled depth. Unlike High & Low, this movie has lots of strong tangential subplots but each contributing the main plot. 

It's a story about a young and brash Dr. Noboru Yasumoto (Yūzō Kayama) who against his wishes is made to intern in a rural clinic under the guidance of Akahige ("Red Beard"), Dr. Kyojō Niide (played by Toshirō Mifune).

Red Beard is introduced to Young Yasumoto by others as a character who is tyrannical and a task master. But I, in the entire movie, didn't see a sign of this.

The story is about metamorphosis of Yasumoto with each experience in the clinic. His interactions with characters in the movie chisel his ego and make him a compassionate doctor. Every patient has a story to tell and make an impression. Despite the so many sub-plots, the movie doesn't lose its direction.

The movie of the young patient saved from brothel who is nursed back to health by Yasumoto is interesting and touching. Because of gratitude or the age, she falls in love with the doctor. Her reaction and behavior when she finds another lady vying for Doctor's attention, is not only natural but also brilliant.

The movie is also about the role of a Guru in one's life. The movie reminded me of my own experiences with Naru. Interestingly, Naru's description made to me by others had striking semblance to Red Beard's. And as I figured out, he was as congenial as the character in the movie, at least towards me. Role of a Guru and my experiences in another post on Stupid Thoughts, some other time.

It is a long movie with short sad stories peppered with feel good factor and a very positive ending. Do watch it!

Side note, on research I found that Mifune who was probably Akria's favorite actor had financial stress as he had to maintain the beard for two years. Due to this, he couldn't take up any other assignment. This is sighted as one of the causes between the director and actor. The two of them never worked together again.

Monday, June 28, 2010

'Crash' Course On Racism

Directed by Paul Haggis, Crash was release in 2004. The subjects mirrors the reality of life. Discrimination and the divide in the society. A strong lacing of Racism that intertwines the lives of all the characters in the movie. Brilliant!

There are these two young black boys who are on the streets to teach the white a lesson. Mugging, car jacking. It doesn't seem that they themselves would have been subjected to racism, but are skewed by legacy effect.

There is a District Attorney who like a good politician wants to keep his vote bank intact. Going an extra mile to ensure that 'minorities' are happy. His wife on the other hand is very uncomfortable with the minorities to the extent that she despises them.

A cop who finds it difficult to get his father, suffering from Urinary Tract Infection, treated thanks to a very unaccepting black HMO administrator. Upset, the cop molests, in the name of enforcing law, a black lady right infront of her Director husband.

The Director, though black, has grown to be accepted by the 'white' society. His wife unable to bear the humiliation caused to her, chides him that he has forgotten his 'roots'.

Then there is this Persian family (not Arab). With a probable risk of their store being looted the man buys a gun. When the locksmith advises him to change the door instead of complaining about lock, he abuses the person only to find that his shop has been looted in the night. As insurance company rejects his claim sighting negligence, he wants a revenge on the locksmith.

The locksmith probably has been a criminal, though reformed now. He is very attached to his family, his daughter in particular. They have recently move out of a bad neighbourhood but the daughter is scared of the experiences. I loved the scene where the father to comfort his daughter tells a story about fairy and invisible impenetrable cloak.

And then there is this black detective who while being successful professionally loses his mother's love as he is not able to find his younger brother. While he is upright, he does make compromise for personal reasons.

Despite so much of intertwining, the plot is very clear and the movie moves symmetrically. I told Savitha after watching the movie that while the movie was good, it wasn't great. But overnight the movie grew on me. Having written a blog on racism, myself, I realized that I wasn't wrong in my observation that everyone practices discrimination, in some form or the other. Our experiences as an individual or as community defines our actions. By the way the movie isn't negative. In fact, it is very positive. It's about human behavior.

Watch it and feel it!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

High and Low! Realistic

Every movie of Akira Kurosawa that I have watched seem to be different. But one thing that is common to all is that I have loved each one of them.

High and Low, released in 1963, is a movie about the fight between the mind and heart, if I can say so. Of course, it also happens to be a thriller.

The movie is about Kingo Gondo played by Toshirô Mifune. He heads the factories at National Shoes. He raises money by mortgaging his every asset to take over National Shoes. Just on the day that he is to finalize the deal, a telephone call wrecks his future. The caller informs him that he has kidnapped his son and demands a ransom of 30 million Yen. Fortunately, it is soon discovered that it's only the chauffeur's son who is kidnapped due to mistaken identity. An immediate sigh of relief leads to a profound dilemma. The forces within him battle. One, lobbies with him to pursue his dream of owning the company that he works at. The other, with emotional pressure from wife and chauffeur, nags him to be a good human being and save the kid.

After having decided to be a good human, sacrifice his dreams and risk his fortunes, Gondo decides to save the kid.

The movie, thereafter, is about the police investigation leading to nabbing the kidnapper. This part of the movie, as it is in other parts, very realistic and detailed. I was, often in between, reminded to Indian movies or for that matter Hollywood movies. The investigation was team work with no larger than life characters.

The movie is about details which kept me engaged. Must watch!

Friday, June 18, 2010

GI Jane, lovely and brutal!

G.I. Jane is an American action film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Demi Moore. The movie held my attention from the start till about the end. But the end doesn't matter much and it is in quite expected lines.

The movie is about the first woman to undergo training in U.S. Navy Special Warfare Group. Fictional, of course. The movie deals with the experiences of the lady. It's also about how overconfident men deal with a beautiful woman thrown in their midst. And to their astonishment, she outperforms them. If not outperform, at least, is as determined as they are.

I am not sure how far the SEAL/CRT (Combined Reconnaissance Team) course depicted is true, bu it must be. Churned my gut. Demi Moore impresses in the role. She equals, if not beats, the Hollywood hulks. The other aspect that is covered very subtly in the movie is the relationship between the husband and wife. How does the husband feel when he knows that his wife may have to be surrounded by some of the toughest and roughest men on earth? How does it feel if wife does something even men don't dare to do? How does it feel when your wife is on the verge of being a celebirty and you are still some unknown guy?

Not being a male chauvinist but does the gentler sex need such training? Do women prefer to get into such roles? The answer may be a big YES! The inclusion of women in the armed forces is not new. Women have proven themselves in the roles which were traditionally believed to be in the men domain.

But yes, the training program depicted in the movie tests the boundaries of human beings' physical and mental strength.

The movie is a good watch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

10,000 BC: Outdated! No Apocalypse About It!

Full of violence and gore, Mel Gibson's Apocalypse is a lovely movie. By the way, Apocalypse means any revelation or prophecy, for those who, like me, didn't know what the word meant.

So, I watched 10,000 BC, yesterday. The only good thing about the movie is Camilla Belle. She looks very desirable. Otherwise the movie lacks anything exciting to hold the attention. The storyline is pretty much like Apocalypse's. David Vs. Goliath. Both movies are set in 'pre-historic' periods though Mel Gibson's movie is supposed to be Mayan era. While in Apocalypse, the protagonist fights for his own survival and helps save his family and clan, 10,000 BC is about saving the loved one and in the process uniting different clans to fight against the 'advanced' society.

The negative camp in these movies are strikingly similar!

While Apocalypse is a brilliant film, 10,000 BC is a cheap B-grade movie that failed to evoke any interest. Wish there was an apocalypse about 10,000 BC before I had ordered the discs!

PS: In addition to Camilla, the other thing that I managed to like about 10,000 BC is the dialogue about how great men differ from good men. Reminded me of Gandhi Ji.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thin Red Line, A Long One

Was it that I started watching it little late in the evening that too after a strenous session of yoga and active game of tennis in the morning?

The movie with an impressive star cast and seemingly good story line, just didn't keep me glued. Just when I thought, it got over, it didn't. Then, finally, I just didn't watch it fully.

The IMDB review is pretty positive but despite having a decent home theatre, many words were missed. Maybe it was some micro-accent.

Set in the second world war, it is about American soldiers fight with Japan to the capture of an island. This island apparently would provide strategic advantage. The movie that way is pretty realistic, as IMDB review put it. The characters had real and varied emotions. Some dealt with the pains of war, others lose it.

I lost it after Americans win the first battle. You can check how long you last!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shrek, No More

Like it is said 'All Good Things Must Come To An End!', Shrek & Gang will also not be seen again.

In the fourth edition Shrek tells Fiona, his beautiful ogress wife, that he understood what he had only after losing it. Holds true for the franchise, too. Principle of diminishing marginal utility derived would have applied and continuously eroded the liking.

One good friend told me that she was quite disappointed by the movie. But for me the brand pull was huge. And I certainly came out of the theatre very happy and holistically entertained.

Actually, the problem with many sequels is that they aren't managed well. But Shrek goes through the life cycle quite graciously. While the first was a love story, the second was about test of relationship and the third about moving to the next level in that relationship (read parenting). The fourth is extension of responsibilities. The resultant mine over I; monotony caused by the daily chores of life. Shrek desires for a break, petty much like the way I dream of a sabbatical.

Ah, there it goes. My wife and that friend rightly captured it. I, probably, was relating to the movie as I, like Shrek, was experiencing mid-life crisis.

Shrek, too, desires in the movie to go back to his old life. When he was carefree and didn't have to bother about anything or anyone. Where life moved at a pace that he set. The movie is about what Shrek does to do reverse his timeline. It is his (mis)adventure, thereafter. As all the previous editions, it has loads of fun and twists. But, of course, the movie ends with the reinforcement of love in life. Shrek 4 is about letting go and adapting to the 'new' change.

Yes, it may not be necessarily a children's movie.  They may not be able to decipher it and analyze it as much as I have done. But it has all the fun to keep them occupied. For adults, it is a must watch.

There is a different incarnation of all the important characters in the movie. Most importantly, Puss in Boots! I loved the scene where Puss begs Donkey to lend its tongue.

Don't miss it! And keep an open mind.