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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Where the Wild Things are.

These three films collectively caught up with the child within us. Their handmade craft and quirky imagination shows us a world which is not Pixer perfect. Films like Walle and Up are great, but un-child-like, they are films by adults (and I dont mean it as a compliment). One of the biggest eureka moment of my movie watching career was a realization after watching Kiarostami's Where is my Friend's Home. I realized that none of the adult in that film understood our little hero's state of mind, and that was the whole point. He was like a zombie cruising through an adult non-caring (When I say care, I certainly dont mean food, clothes and general nagging by moms and dads) world. Kiarostami treats him as a full grown human being with his own world around. His world is not incomplete, its just unlike ours. Max of Where the Wild Things are is one such creature too, with a different world and imagination, and his journey into the wild is his own exploration into his own imagination. Director Spike Jones gets that. Second thing about this trio is the hand crafted quality which is infinitely innovative (Mr Fox is so story-book-flat and its so amazing that way) and endlessly spooky (could Caroline be so spooky if it were pixered? Could Mr. Fox be so playful and rollicking otherwise, Could Wild Things be so child-like wild in an adult animated world), and to a kid, this craft looks somehow achievable - sew a button for an eye, make a puppet to dig a burrow, make a monster deadly but not without the possibility of friendship. How can an able child match the perfection of an able adult, that is cruel. Up has perfect balloons and chubby baby, quantum of nostalgia (or are they just fucking cute) for me and you, but plain quotidian for a different world. This trio is all about prolific puerility, a blue pill for the kids.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bright Star

Bright Star is about Keats (Ben Whishaw) love affair with Fanny Browne (an excellent Abbie Cornish) during his last 3 years (Keats died at 25 of tuberculosis). Bright Star is an oddity, old-fashioned, apologetically romantic - about dreamers and their heartfelt love. Any sniff of wits is of no use here. The brightest moments in the film are where the lovers are together and feel the bliss, sometimes reading poetry and sometimes doing nothing, these quite moments of romantic ecstasy are deeply felt and treasured by lovers. Jane Campion creates elaborate period details without fanfare and her use of nature (all four seasons, bees, butterflies, flowers, fruits, lush trees, lakes, snow, rain, countryside, sounds of the nature) and poetry as a backdrop gives it a distinctive contemplative mood, a whiff of immortality (Fanny walks and disappears in woods as Whishaw read Keats' poetry in the last reels) to this unusually passionate and brutally short love affair.

Monday, July 06, 2015

24 City

24 City chronicles 9 first-person recollections (out of which 4 done with professional actors) of their lives and times in a state-run military factory complex in Chengdu, China that is being demolished to erect luxury futuristic apartments (eponymous 24 City). Jia Zhangke, a master of composition, records passage of time by juxtaposing the old and the new - a lady retelling an old story as the new constructions overlooks in the background, a modern young girl in designer clothes chokes while telling about her parents, getting a breath and strength by saying "I am the daughter of workers". Also Jia Zhangke takes notice of how fast landscape of China is changing. One thing which cinema is good at doing is preserving past. It should be noted that where as in Still Life Jia Zhangke was trying to preserve a collapsing landscape though camera, here in 24 City, it is mostly memories (untold and soon to be forgotten) attached to the factory complex. And when you deal with memories there is always a re-creation of past, and which involves imagination. So it is no wonder that 4 of the 9 interview are fictional accounts. It is not a post-modern approach to make it a pseudo-documentary but its like connecting unfinished story segments (Jia Zhangke took numerous interviews) and use fiction and imagination to fully comprehend and convey the feelings of the people involved. It also connects with the Jia Zhangke's use of pop culture to evoke collective memory of their times. Also, Jia Zhangke does something which I coined as "moving portraits". Moving portrait is a shot created when a subject stands for a still portrait but the portrait is captured as a moving image. The worst thing about photography is its lack of depth in terms of time, usually I am more interested in the space and time before and after the pose. Jia Zhangke does exactly that in his "Moving Portraits". It captures the sublime - the uneasiness, the pre and post-pose person, and by definition if camera lingers, it invariably captures some truth. The pose in the moving portrait is a hint of unreal but it helps reveal something real. Jia Zhangke’s 24 City too reveals more than it shows.