Friday, October 05, 2007

with great difficulty or with foolish abandon?

The other day, a friend, while chatting online with me, spoke about an interesting incident that had occurred about a decade ago. It was mundanely interesting—the kind of interesting some of us need to hear every day to feel a sense of amusement. So, I thought about the incident after that and made up a story revolving around it. I narrated the story, or rather my version, to three other friends. Didn’t tell them about my concoction; just recounted it with some friend of mine as the protagonist. I liberally added details (not as far as sub-plots) as I expatiated upon my story, as they occurred to me. When they asked me questions, I proffered answers that seemed plausible given the fabricated circumstances.

Sometimes, I do this; it is rather engaging.

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I’ve run a decent distance this week. More than 30 km in 5 days. Tomorrow, next morning that is, I plan to run 10 km. I’m excited about it, but I’m not too excited by the sameness in the morning sights. I hate the old woman who puts her sac down at roughly 6:30 every morning and starts wailing for alms. It beats me. Her motivation toward this daily activity seems redoubtable. There’s this hunk who runs as if he’s in a photoshoot, swinging his hair wildly. And, the aunties in salwar-kameez and sneakers who parade woodenly and gossip. All of them quite fit their respective stereotypes too, which is what adds to my miff. I like watching the kids waiting for their school buses though. They are lost, sleepy, curious, and bright. There was a phase in the 2nd standard when I dreaded going to school. A wave of melancholy would sweep over me—or rather I would allow it to do so, so as to loll in it—every morning. I used to go in a rickshaw (not auto), and throughout the duration of the ride I would be grumpy. The rickshawwala, I forget his name, had a big mole like a watermelon seed fixed near his nose. It’s funny I remember him by that. My mum used to be paranoid about him, always checking if he was drunk.

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I’ve been wanting to blog, and now I’m writing about wanting to blog. Reminds me of “Adaptation” and Charlie Kaufman. It’s about a writer trying to adapt a book into a movie screenplay. Anyway, I haven’t been able to blog because I just didn’t want to blog for the heck of it. [This is how unstructured thought reads.] So, this movie, Adaptation, has twin brothers Charlie and Donald. “Charlie writes the way he lives... with great difficulty. His twin brother Donald lives the way he writes... with foolish abandon.” Donald is the more successful writer, of course.

I’ve been on this extended movie trip for over a month. Have watched quite a few brilliant movies, the experiences of which I cannot do justice to by elucidating in a blog. Have been paying attention to a few things—most importantly, to how footage is shot and compiled.

In “Central do Brasil,” an old woman is shown working at the busy Rio central station. The camera follows her weaving her way through the crowd enroute home from work. When she reaches home, however, the camera is already inside the house. The shot is that of an observer in the house looking at someone entering it. This shot is not her point of view; it’s that of an outsider who, ironically, is inside the house. A little later, a window of the lady’s house is shown being opened, from across the street. Again, it’s the view of an observer who’s outside the domain of the lady. These scenes evidently do not showcase her vantage point.

Flip to “Le Fils.” The camera follows Olivier, a carpentry instructor, as he moves, whenever he moves. When Olivier looks around a corner, we look around the corner. He looks at a boy huddled up; we look at him too. The shots are very faithful to what Olivier sees.

Given the fact that these examples belong to different movies, it is quite interesting to understand their relevance to the themes portrayed. I don’t agree with “Central do Brasil”; I have a feeling the director didn’t pay enough attention to why he wanted his shots the way they were shown.

This is why I prefer watching films by myself. I’ve been ribbed about this habit by friends. Anyway, some of the movies I’ve seen—persona, blowup, wild strawberries, 12 angry men, bleu, the double vie de veronique, color of paradise, seven samurai, the tenant, sonatine, blue velvet, 2001: a space odyssey, talk to her, the big lebowski, central do brasil, le fils, mountain patrol.

14 comments:

nutty said...

lol at the story fabrications :) I usually liberally sprinkle my stories with my take on why what happened :D

I completely agree with you .. you shouldn't blog just for the heck of it... unless you seriously want to be a writer, in which case you need to discipline yourself and work at your writing. But it still doesn't have to be on your blog.

your observations on the movies is really interesting .. going to try it from now on .. I usually get soo involved in the story I forget if its a movie or a book or a play :P yea I can be that silly!

satyajit said...

nutty: the camera-angle thing is just one aspect... there are so many things to take note of in a movie...such a cliche though :-)

Still searching said...

Hehehe, well don't we all tend to add just a little bit of our own imagination to the stories we tell?

I am reading a novel currently where the protagonist is also preparing for a 5 mile marathon, and there are pages and pages dedicated to describing her runs and who she sees, what she sees etc etc, its quite interesting... The hunk one was funny! :)

I loved the description of Charlie and Donald, this sounds almost philosophical... I've never really watched a movie thinking of the camera angles, but its an eye opener for me, because it sounds interesting! You should meet my cousin though.. you guys would hit it off perfectly with your love for the movies and analyzing them etc.. her Dad is a documentary filmmaker in Orissa, so she's got it in her genes I guess!

satyajit said...

still searching: ya, we all add our dose of masala, but here, i'm not talking abt just spicing up a story... I meant making an entire story based on an incident

charlie kaufman is one of the most brilliant writers in mainstream hollywood who has also managed to earn fame. His screenplays are wonderfully ingenious--being john malkovich, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind.

Ya, I could meet your cousin :-) Is she Oriya?

And pray tell me still searching, why is the name of the book such a well-kept secret?

Goli said...

hi,

It was a great observation, with respect to camera angles. It is nice you noticed it, and I do think that this things make a difference to the overall effect of the movie.
I also believe that, such things bother other people and make it subconsciously disturbing, but just that most of the people cant identify the disturbing elements.
This overall affects our total perception of the movie.

satyajit said...

goli: I agree it can be disturbing at times, but sometimes the director intends it to be. Like there are different ways you can show an action sequence: in matrix, you have a wide shot where you can get the entire picture (and i'm not considering the slow-mos and freeze frames), while in the Bourne series, the cation scenes are shot in semi-closeups with the focus clearly on the actors and their movements.

Further, in "Dancer in the Dark," for example, when two people are shown in conversation, the camera shifts back and forth between their faces, scrutionizing every small detail and expression.

Sometimes, such "tricks" (if you can call them so) are necessary to convey certain aspects; at other times, they can be plain gimmicks or glossy style. Its up to the viewer to decode these elements so as to be able to have a more complete movie-watching experience.

shantanu said...

oye got to know ur coming for the delhi marathon. gonna be fun

Still searching said...

Name of the book? Shiva Dancing, by Bharti Kirchner.... the book is not brilliant, but it has its moments, like the scenes from running, and couple of other things...

And yes, ofcourse, my cousin is Oriya :) In Delhi :)

satyajit said...

still searching: ask your cousin to watch "dancer in the dark" and "breaking the waves" by lars von trier and ask her if she got a headache following the shaky camera (both movies are brilliant)

and, my question abt her being an Oriya was a non-sequitur. I didn't imply that I could meet her if she was one.

Still searching said...

I didn't imagine that you would want to meet her (only) because she is Oriya.. but out of curiousity, why did you ask if she was Oriya or not? Just to understand how you think, that is.

satyajit said...

still searching: I don't know of anyone back home who is very into films; so, my first reaction to your comment was "wow! really? she's an oriya and she loves films." It's a habit of associating through other channels when you find someone sharing your interests.

Still searching said...

I think its because her Dad is a documentary filmmaker, and also we went to the same school where they had a lot of "literary" and "arty" stuff going on! :)) I dont think its something she would have come up with if she had only lived and studied in Orissa, and without her parents influence!

satyajit said...

still searching: ya, true in her case but never say never. look at me--no cinematic bone in the entire family, born and brought up in Orissa :-) The world opens as much you allow it to be... [sigh] [fade in] a shot of the sea with the hero serenading deep, meaningful; little later, the trance is broken by fifty dancers in the background in chorus [fade out]

Still searching said...

Haha! I liked the "scene"! Agreed, if you never stepped out of Orissa and still have the interests that you do, kudos to that!