Sunday, October 27, 2013

MetaCritic : The Fifth Estate

                                     Image Courtesy: Hindu, Oct 26, 2013

This blogpost is not really to attack anyone; not any person definitely. This is probably to attack a trend in film review, especially reviews in Indian media.

A review of the just released Fifth Estate calls for some introspection. For a long time, past Cahier du Cinema, almost no popular newspaper or magazine indulged in such reviews.

Review, as I see it descriptively, has become a personal liking of the film and a musing over that taste. Inevitably that includes the plot structure, a one liner and the USP of the film.

But is that all about Cinema?

The Fifth Estate may not be a great film. It may not even be a mediocre one. But, that should not be the reason to start the review as the CNN-IBN film journalist has started; The film doesn't tell us anything we don't already know.

Why should a film necessarily tell us anything that we do not know? Is it like an investigative journalism?

Mumbai Film Festival has just ended. After watching 3X3D, a student asked me, "What is the moral of the story?"

I do not see any need to answer this. Why should there be a moral of the story? What makes one think that only one kind of cinema is possible? 

This is a gradually prevailing notion among the student filmmakers of the country - that film should have a social message.

Making cinema a vehicle for social messages can be one approach. But, why must that be all about cinema?

That would be the same as saying all music should be hard rock. 

However, when a trend becomes too monolithic, it says something about the society.

In a monolithic society, there is no choice. The idea of choice itself is mostly absent.

That happens when there is rarely any space for breathing.

Especially, in a city like Mumbai, where people cram themselves with others in a small room for decades, and see that as a very normal existence, choices cannot exist.

I cannot be normative, saying that such a thing is not good for the society. 

But, I can certainly say that Cinema is not monolithic. It is pollysemous, multilevel and multilayered, just as any other spontaneous or consciously crafted form of expression.

There would be revolutions when watching and talking about Cinema become too predictable.

This is the time for that revolution!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

SCUM : Reality of British Life

I just went through the sort of horrible pleasure one gets from watching a movie like "Scum" for the first time. Set in a typical borstal in sometime around 70's this sophisticatedly (in terms of art) made crude reality-spark deserves much much more than this brief piece of blog. Apparently the daily dregs of a rehab centre seen from the POV of Carlin, a juvenile delinquent, this film is about government, state, justice and humanity. The very essence of legality, trust and justice comes to a questionable halt when we see the Law itself permiting lawlessness in the name of 'might is right'. Surely this is a part of our day-in -and-day-out existence; occuring over and again in Vietnam, Korea, Russia, Gulf and Iraq; let alone the numberless official and unofficial prisons worldwide ---- the biggest being the USA itself. Shot entirely with mostly unknown cast members like Ray Winstone, Mick Ford, Phil Daniels and Martin Philip this film was inspired by the banned but widely acclaimed TV film of the same name. However, in this film the sate is not directly challenged, and in this regard this movie should be appreciated before viewing real anti-state movies like "A Clockwork Orange".

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Elephant Man

The other day I saw David Lynch's "The elephant Man" for the first time I got more .... much more than I expected from the short reviews posted to and fro on the net that connect us. Photographed in greyscale, with a highly symbolic light and grain scheme; and ... above all .... with John Hurt's (John Merric) and Anthony hopkins' (Sir Frederick Treeves) role-plays this film takes us easily and absorbingly into the realm of the interior (the sensitive mind) and a reactive exterior (the centre of the world), the Victorian London. Before our eyes gradually unfolds a beautiful mind covered in repulsive deformities; and an aberration of nature truly becomes an angel. This film may carry a christian message to some viewers; but it is quite possible to get at it from a totally existential point of view. The birth was not in his hands, but it was Merric himself who revealed his core (remember he journeyed through the continent to London alone, when he fled from Bytes), our Doctor merely assisted him by love. However, to me this film carries the message of racism and class over the other possible ways of seeing. In Victorian England the 'scientific' study of eugenics was first initiated by Darwin's false disciples like Galton and Spencer. And that validated the 'society's mockery and torture of 'sub-human' races and classes of man. Lynch, in the film, started his journey from that societal structure. The end, however, is like a fairy-tale ending. But isn't it only right to dream in your mind's eye when all other ways are barred? I get an inspiration to live whenever I watch or merely think of this film ---- the true story of how a banal 'elephantine' existence was overridden by a mind that 'loved'.