These are some of the ideas which I collected after some thinking and looking around, about the movie Babel. If you have not watched it, you are advised to not read further. I am writing this mainly for the group of friends I went along to watch the movie. By the way, it is both a baffling and beautiful movie at the same time.

1. The three threads in the movie, are all brilliant human stories touching us with delicate moments. The Japanese storyline is infact the one I liked most. The disco scene was wonderful. Note that all three storylines have different color palettes and background sounds. The camerawork is brilliant, many scenes manage to stay in the memory (esp. the Tokyo ones, younger brother shouting at the cops hands raised, the maid breaking down and crying before the indifferent cop, etc). It is also a notable point that the moroccan and the Mexican stories end bitterly, the American ends almost happily and the Japanese one in an indeterminate state. This makes them more life-like stories. (Yes, the Mexican one is a little bit stretched, but who knows what happens to border crossers.)

2. Babel means confusion. (It is also refers to an old Christian story which everyone knows about.) As the name suggests, the movie is about failure to understand and the failure to convey ourselves clearly to another. The deaf-mute being the most straight forward example. Having lost an infant son to SIDS, the American couple are probably struggling with their guilt and grief. (SIDS according to wikipedia, can cause parents to feel a lot of guilt). Failure to convey and understand each other’s mental state was the possible reason of their strained relationship. The Japanese girl and father are similarly not able to help each other. Also, the girl is in more trouble because everyone except the kind policeman have trouble realizing what her actions mean (esp. the dentist). The Americans and Mexicans have their own version of misunderstanding each other because of the filters of intolerance, distrust.

3. Are you wondering that problems of miscommunication are not mainly due to language barriers in this movie? Husband and wife, father and children are the ones having trouble conveying each other. The arid desert in Morocco understood the call of distress immediately. Modern Tokyo is still having trouble understanding the distress signals of its deaf-mute daughter (because of her inability to convey it properly?). Strangers from different worlds tend to understand each other when their own are not (Remember rest of the Americans leaving the couple to fate).

4. Apart from all this, what did Chieko’s note say in the final scenes? I still have no clear idea, but these are the general ideas floating around: a) The note says that she killed her mother b) A suicide note c) a confession about the truth of her mother’s death and apology. I personally thought that the note was a suicide note. (In which she would jump out of the window as she explained). The cop’s kindness has probably made her not do it. I cannot really see the reason for (a). Anyway since the director thinks the contents are immaterial, I would consider it as her final attempt at conveying herself to someone, after all her earlier utter failed ventures.

5. Is all this instantly clear from the movie? No, that is why I wrote the movie is baffling. Its left to our intrepretation. There are lots of other small themes which I omitted (Like everyone lost someone to death in the story arcs, the butterfly effect: one small act of kindness resulted in so much loss and chaos.) This is also why analysis makes no sense. It spoils the fun too. Well, the movie’s name is Babel for no reason. But hey, it sure was fun to write this much. One thing is for sure though, I enjoyed the movie very well. But certainly not more than 21 grams. Some notable reviews are listed below which I came across:

NyTimes: Faces are better understood than words. (And goes into the details of the shots and camera angles)

Slate: Globalization is God’s weapon against the tower of Babel (Or how an American weapon destroys lives across the globe…ugh, but its a point of view.)

DenverPost: Interesting. Butterfly effect and the cynical world. And they like it better than 21 grams!

Rolling Stone : They are stunned by the movies complexity. After all, the story spans 4 countries, a number of languages, and races and still works. And look at the sheer quality brought about by its truely international cast.

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Books again!

January 2, 2007

1. Happy new year to all.

2. 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 Its already an interesting start!

3.  A glorious Horror streak, as I read the legendary “The Call of the Cthulhu” over the weekend. This short story is regarded as a genre defining creation. While I was not overwhelmed by horrible nightmares during nights, I immensely liked the language and the narration style. The story will invoke in the reader the ancient fear that is probably inscribed in our racial memories. What happened on Earth before humanity rose? Were there any other beings who ruled over like we do now? Is there any of it left which is waiting anxiously to take over the territory once lost? Were we once so dumb to be their slaves? In our hectic race to mastery on Earth’s resources did we forget that we were once slaves?

Most of H.P Lovecraft stories evoke such fear in the reader’s mind. Cthulhu, or the great old one as he/it is known became so popular that it became a pop-culture phenomenon in itself.

So if you are ready for some horror, maybe you can start with this masterpiece. And hey, I have something else for you, if you cannot find a book. The Horla which is an old short story (originally in French) which is said to have inspired Cthulhu.  And then, when you come back from reading the Call, you can maybe visit this interesting short called I, Cthulhu, written by Neil Gaiman. *

And I am relieved to be back among some books.

4. 6 ! by the time I was writing this post. Awesome Max!

5. Bob Dylan! I am finally starting to like his songs. 🙂 Starting with “Like a rolling stone” and “Desolation row”.  Really strong lyrics for the former. But Desolation row, now, that is a very interesting song. The song forms an interesting mental picture, involving a number of interesting characters (some of which I don’t know about) and interesting situations in a place called Desolation row. If anyone finds out what exactly the song is about, please tell me. 🙂

6. Had a remarkable time with friends on the first day of the year.  It will be cherished for a long time.

* These are horror stories. Except maybe for the Gaiman short story. Approach them if you are comfortable with the genre. 🙂 (In other words, you are warned)

Happy Christmas

December 25, 2006

to you all.

My thoughts as usual.

1. Phillips SHP 805 headphones. Alexy’s. Since I discovered them, the poor guy had to literally fight with me each time to actually listen to something. So I got out this weekend and with some support from my roommates I finally bought them. (finding them was tough). 1150 bucks of pure blissful sound*. So my friend, here is my unplanned christmas gift to you, your right to listen to music on your headphones any time you wish 🙂

2. Another great christmas gift that I saw presented: Gifting each other a chance to actually meet each other in person. After a year or so. Top that!

3. So why does VH1 show all that reality bullsh*t? They are so good when they actually play music. Whatever happened to storytellers? Infact, VH1 Classic is the best that TV offers nowadays imo. Why do they need “Pimp my Ride”?

4. Tina Turner discovered! 🙂 “What’s love got to do with it?” and especially “We don’t need another hero”. My incredible ignorance in music is only matched by the happiness I feel when I think about the infinitely large musicscape left for me to explore. 🙂

5. Motorcycle diaries is a great movie. Watch it somehow. Please.

6. This whole, numbered list thing is working so well**. Why ever did I not think of it earlier? And yes, I am trying to hold that story in my mind, while trying to get to sit still with a pen and paper in hand.

*If any audiophiles are around, suggest me good headphones below 2k (If you think SHP805 is not the best one available) and I will be eternally grateful. I am not into ear/canal phones,Too risky for hearing according to a good friend. And ya, sennheizers at Apple showroom are a bit too hot to handle.

**No chalams about whole numbers please.

Some interesting things

December 22, 2006

1. 12 degrees cold = white knuckles when riding

2. 11 pm to 1 pm is a good time for TV(Atleast yesterday): Powerpuff girls, Dexter, Courage the cowardly dog, VH1 Classic hour etc

3. Vodafone and Reliance compete for Hutch.

4. I lust for a UMPC (maybe, look at the battery life: See the Russian link )

5. I lust for a dual core. (Core 2 Duo and Core Duo are almost same now? Office PC is Pentium D)

6. I badly want to write a story. One is brewing and dangerously taking up mindshare.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I am not a big fan, but some of my close friends are crazy about these books. And ya, its the 7th book, and 7th in this list, etc.. )

8. I over-laugh at jokes now. Is that bad?

Revived!

December 19, 2006

I haven’t been getting time enough to read other’s blog. So where would I get time to write.

Anyway:

1. Sandman series by Neil Gaiman is very good. I mean, very good story-telling through comics.

2. Transmetropolitan written by Warren Ellis is great comics, describing and criticizing the futuristic world which it is set in. The best part is, you can see the glimpses of now in this world. It strongly reminds one of The invisibles, which it is not. Which is a totally different beast.

3. Wow, I have been reading comics more than books nowadays.

4. The elitist bastard and long time friend is getting married!

5. I am drowned in the C of code.

6. I gloriously wrote zero words for this Nanowrimo. That’s right, absolute loser me.

International Film Week

June 15, 2006

Me, SB and a mutual friend of ours were keenly following the International Film Week that is going on in Bangalore.

Even though we missed the first three movies, we will make it 4 out of 7 when we watch The Beat That My Heart Skipped today evening. The three movies that we watched were all good.

The Emperor's Journey was the first movie/documentary we saw. It follows the annual march of the Emperor Penguin to the place where they breed and bring up their young. Shooting anything in those hellish conditions in Antartica must be regarded with respect. For this, they must have spent months in those conditions. The narration was in French (subtitled) and was surprisingly from the point of view of the penguins. Which is justified when you see, really how much effort and sacrifice goes into raising those cute little penguins. All those mothers from Hindi movies who keep repeating how they suffered for 9 months might want to watch this.. 🙂 Ofcourse no disrespect meant to human mothers and fathers, but this film will surely bring tears to their eyes. For us boys, we can open our mouths wide and wonder at how complex nature can be. And those li'l ones are so cute. If I had fridge, and a freezer wide enough to have an ocean, I will maybe keep one as a pet!

The next movie was King's Game (Danish). This was a political thriller which exposes how complex and cheap the power-game can get. But in stark contrast to Hollywood or Hindi movies, there are no guns, explosives, drugs, sex or financial scams worth the GDP of a small country. The acting was amazing, nothing felt out of place. But you know, if you keep reading our newspapers, I don't think you will regard anything in the movie as thrilling 😉 But it is depressing to know that bad people are there everywhere.

Barbarian Invasions (Canada – French) was the story of a dying old father. His family and friends come together at the time of his death (brought together by his son) and we get to know interesting facets of their lives. The movie was funny as hell at times. Nothing too sentimental, sad, funny and satisfied at times, this movie also stands out for some good acting and extremely good dialogues (even though subtitled).

Although I am yet to see the last one, (I will update that later) all these movies were like good appetizers; clearing the track for some more movie goodness from abroad. They will surely help beginners like me to keep the interest and widen one's range in movies. All the hellian traffic and skipping dinner is justified after those two hours well spent. Hats off to the organizers.

Details: Today is the last show (I guess), at Pallavi theatre: 6.30 and 8.30 PM. The theater is near Kanteerava stadium.

Slaughterhouse Five

May 18, 2006

by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

One of the strongest anti-war novel I have read. Catch-22 comes in first whenever I hear about anti-war novels. It must be the epitome of how to pull off a plot of stark contrast and irony. Mix and match dreadful conditions with silliness and humour, mock bravery with cold fear, death and insanity with life on the edge. And in the end, the protagonist escapes somehow.. (Or I hope he does so safely).

Slaughterhouse Five sets things straight. Sometimes in war, there is not even hope left. There is nothing but misery and death and pain. Desperation and severe mental trauma drives our protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, into dreaming up time-travel and alien worlds to which he often escapes.

The book is primarily about the Bombing of Dresden, which killed more people than the Hiroshima bomb, and destroyed almost all of the German City. The author himself was present as a prisoner of war in the city at the time of the bombing. (He appears in the novel as himself at times). The story is about how Billy Pilgrim, in the most terriblest of these consequences comes unstuck in time. That is being able to travel back and forth in time, essentially moving around in his own life time. He mentions that he is in a constant state of stage fright as he is not sure which part of his life he will have to play out next :).

Later he meets beings from Alien planet called Trafalmadore, who are beings of four dimensions. That is, they can look at their timelines and move along it, as we can look at a long mountain range. They find it interesting that, in all the inhabited planets, only on Earth, there is talk about free-will :D. We are all ants stuck on amber according to them, unable to change the past-present-future. Since they can move along their time line, the concept of death is not something final to them, and they are immortal. Interestingly, at the planet, he has to spend time 'mating' in their 'zoo' along with an erotic movie star from Earth.

Upon return to Earth, he spreads this philosophy among people giving them peace, and becomes famous. The book also gives us glimpses to parts of Billy's life from where his fantasy life elements might have come from.

The story threads between the war-time, his life on trafalmadore, and his later life. Since this plot involves time-travel, the author could beautifully skip across Billy's life at wish, providing us much relief because the true continuous account of the war is unbearable. The book does not glorify war at any point of time (which is mentioned as a primary objective in the first chapter). Beautiful book, totally worth the time spent.