{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Year End Post # 1

In Guy Maddin's Tales from the Gimli Hospital, patients are shown puppet shows during their operations to distract them from their immediate pain. Both tragic and funny, as Maddin's most sequences are, this one says much about our affair with entertainment. They distract us from something immediate, painful or boring. A good film uses that distraction for something worthy and a bad film wastes these moments. As one of the character in Yi yi says, "we see films because we can live three times as much in films as we do in normal life", we must also acknowledge that this extension is as imaginary as life, or as other character in Yi yi, who takes pictures of people from behind, says, "I am just trying to help you to see what you can't by yourself", films exists as a perspective of life which we might miss but for them. There can be several such arguments to support why I see films but nothing will be more honest a reason than smug escapism. I say this because I enjoy in a film what I abhor in real life. It caters to my need to observe from outside, on some higher platform but never get myself dirty. It is as passive as it comes. Yes, it’s a year end post and I should move in that direction.

I keep on fixating on the number of movies seen in a year (ostentatiously putting the year-wise list on side bar of the blog) but, as we all know, it really does not matter. What matters is the increase in the level of understanding and appreciation of the film art. On that criterion, this year was a failure for me. Not only did I not enhance my understanding, but most of the times, I felt confused after seeing the films. There were less and less Fat Girl or 3 Women or Weekend or Body Double moments where you knew that the film is a masterpiece as you saw. I know on one level it is a struggle between what you want to admire (based on accepted highbrow opinion) and what you really love, and on the other - between, what you understand/sense and what you don’t. Griffith's Intolerance only worked for me in pieces, not as a whole. In its worst moments, I felt it was preachy and propagandistic and it definitely lacked the charm of Silent Era. And I found some films like The Mist and Music and Lyrics good, may be because I had set too low standards for them (The Mist is directed by the same guy who directed super-shit Shawshank Redemption, which is the second worst movie of all time, the first being Benigni's unbeatable master-piss Life is Beautiful). A rather lesser known silent film, Tod Browning's The Unknown worked greatly for me, which I thought was well ahead of its time. When I saw No Country for Old Men, I was baffled a bit but gathered myself (and the film) after the end sequence of Sheriff's meeting with his Uncle. Later I felt both ways - The last sequence as a bravura film making which beautifully pulls all the loose ends without any awkwardness, and also - a sense of easy closing by an insightful scene. I felt same about Redacted too (but I have a higher opinion of film than most of people). May be, unable to drawn any clear cut conclusion about a film say not only about oneself distrusting his own tastes (which I believe one should, at least one should be critically aware of ones tastes) but also trying to align them to someone else' and may be, a late revelation that end result doesn’t matter to the extent we assign importance. Whatever it may be, it’s lesser and lesser that I eat with eye, i.e. enjoy films the way I feel one should.

Following posts will be small, random and insubstantial notes on films seen this year and some related topics which are written along the year, mostly on train. I wanted to make them a single consolidated post but opted for this serialized version.

Pic: Maya Deren looking out of window in Meshes of the Afternoon. Nice description of the image here (in first para)

Clip: Full Bollywood in one song. Palti kamar hai from Raj Kapoor's Barsaat.

1 comment:

Alok said...

ah finally some activity on the blog...!

pls get on with the lists, quick.