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Fast Death And Its Furious Aftereffects!


Weeks ago I woke up to read that Ali Eskandarian, an Iranian-American musician and author, who was a friend of some of my friends had been shot dead by a band member they had ousted because he was stealing from them. In the wee hours of one morning, the band-member who was asked to leave (Ali Rafie) chose to seek his vengeance by taking the lives of those whom he had no right to hurt. If that was not heart-wrenching enough for everybody, Ali’s mother and father extended their condolence to the family of the other deceased band members and in a turn of courageous faith posted what follows on Ali’s fan page on Facebook:

To the parents of Soroush and Arash Farazmand, we are Ali Eskandarian’s parents and want to extend our condolences to you. To the parents of Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, we share the same grief. May all of our sons rest in peace and may you be at ease. To Ali Rafie, from the bottom of our hearts, we forgive you.


While the rude awakening of Ali’s untimely death was merely beginning to sink in, one awoke once again to hear of the devastating death of actor Paul Walker in a car crash that hit a light pole and then a tree and went up in flames. What’s distressing is that he was on the way to an event organised by his charity Reach Out Worldwide. What’s even more distressing is that Walker wasn’t even driving like some creative folks do, more often than not, under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I haven’t seen any movies of Walker, and I am not one to follow columns therefore I had no clue who he actually was, yet what saddened me is the look in his eyes when I became known of his death. The look that clearly indicated that he was a humble man with a good heart. 

I have always nurtured this notion that we deserve what we get, but death, that’s harsh, don’t you think? Wonder what the giver of life designs and why. Doesn’t the almighty comprehend that taking away the lives of those who could make a difference to the world by their craft is such a loss to mankind? Such people, coming from the vantage positions that they are in could help the world by being who they are. For a moment one could philosophically debate that indeed death begins with life’s first breath, and life begins at the moment of death, but unfortunately all of that sounds fancy in philosophy. In reality, I am led to wonder what the one who gives us life is trying to tell us? It is a given that we ought to live each moment as if it were our last, and as cliché as it sounds this is becoming a drear reality that we simply cannot afford to ignore in our daily lives. While some might find it disheartening and end up questioning the very fact of existence, I think we must take what is happening positively and thank our kismet that we are getting to live another day to do what best we can do in order to be good, do good. 

It is indeed a jolt that the family members of Ali or Paul or the countless others who lose their lives will never overcome. They may come to terms with it in time, but the pain will remain raw. We can only hope their faith gives them the strength to deal with the sudden shock of such tragedies.

I happened to read something that an actor friend had inscribed as his status message couple of weeks ago. It said: Every year you pass your birthday and know that you were born on that day, but every year you pass your death day and have no clue. 

Human life has become rather volatile today. Death can come to us without warning, regardless of age. We must learn to respect time. We must learn to respect life. That’s the least we can do in order to make today memorable for us and for those around us if something were to happen to us out of the blue. 


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Cigarette Smoking! Really?



Cigarette smoking causes the penis to shrink an inch every 3 to 5 years.

Read that on Health Facts.

Well, for starters, I cannot in all earnestness fathom how the scientists arrive at such hideous hypotheses. If one were to use that postulate as a measure of truth, then I should be sans a penis as I sit authoring this piece!

How about women? What happens to them dear researchers? Will you now try and acquaint us with the fact; a thoroughly empty one at that, that smoking would shrivel their breasts and as a consequence their upper body would resemble the nipples of the male chest?

I understand the medical fraternity wants people not to smoke (mostly for their own good) but that does not mean that they use the penis which, according to their psychological logic, might be wanting to frighten men armed with the assumption that the man’s most coveted possession is indeed his penis. The same applying to women and their breasts!

Come on clowns, grow up and engineer creative ways to work around the human mind.

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Aashiqui 2 - 2013


Getting me to watch a movie in Hindi is as difficult as taking a horse to water and yet not being able to force it to drink. I say so mainly because I have been fortunate to know some of the significant names that Indian cinema could lay claim to and yet it pains me to say that some of them recycle the old garbage over and over again in newer packages with each new attempt worse than the last, and you have but no recourse than to put on a bogus smile and cheer them on their stupidity. Even then I haven’t yet fathomed how one can cast a 45-year-old in the mould of an 18-year-old college student, or how the lead pair can break into a dance in Switzerland and return to Bombay the very next moment. The irony is that these films that would customarily make us hang our head with embarrassment make millions, and then there are those like Sudhir Mishra, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Aamir Khan, Farhan Akthar, Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra to name some who craft cinema that would put any of these commercial clowns to shame. What’s more? Whilst I am cracking up at the oddity of these atrocious movies raking in the moolah, I am further appalled when I hear the same jokers announce that their junk has been chosen by prestigious libraries and academies across the globe to be included in their study material. When you feel that there is little hope left, Mohit comes along with his profound depiction of one of the finest representation of people on the screen that goes a layer below the skin and enters your bloodstream engulfing you with its brilliance so very quietly, simply.


It is now past twenty-four hours since I have watched Aashiqui 2 and I still find myself quite numb with the stirring influence it has left on me. I know Mohit is a man who is surrounded with some of the best talent that his family has given cinema, but this is the first time I felt that he has grown up and understood human emotions and nature as no one else in his age group has understood with great intelligibility and perfection. It appears that Aditya Roy and Shraddha Kapoor in the hands of Mohit Suri emerge no less like the masterpieces in marble that took shape in the able hands of master sculptors.

Out of thin air people enter our lives and give us all that they have. Sometimes we are caught rather off-guard that we don’t quite know how to welcome their benevolence although we find ourselves flattered by the security of their presence in our lives. Then we are also afraid that we might not be able repay that trust that they seem so easily to have placed in us, and as a consequence end up making a mess of things. At that brink appear people like Aditya Roy who breathe life into a character like Rahul Jaykar by bringing their originality to the role with such élan that you stop a moment, hold your breath, and take cognizance of those around you (like him), who quite ceaselessly provide you ‘their’ light by burning ‘themselves’ into the ether.

Mohit’s films have changed the course of Hindi cinema not only in terms of raising the bar of narratives and melody, but also in how he turned around the dynamics of the business of film making itself by engaging the fairly new in their respective disciplines and yet inspiring them to produce the finest. He gave them the opportunity to do more with less and they never let him down. By virtue of that consequence we were given the man whom I have seen grow, film with every film, and how proud I am of Mohit that he has achieved what many have only strived to. Although I revered most of his radical work in the past, with Aashiqui 2 I reckon he has made life a wee bit tougher for himself, especially when it would come to having to transcend his own genius. However, knowing Mohit I would not be surprised if he were to push his own limit and deliver something that would set the world afire with its sheer skill with his next venture Villain. I say so because I have observed two things about Mohit:

1 – He is a rare figure who understands both sides of the coin: and such a man would rarely ever go wrong merely because he possesses the ability to deliver more than expected of him since he places the highest expectations on himself

2 – He is his own harshest critic: and if you can look into the mirror and accept the truth it throws back at you, you learn not to think anything else but surge forward with righteousness  

I wonder why people sign super stars, celebrity directors, shoot at superb locations, engage A-list music directors of International repute and yet are unable to come close to the poignant approach and attitude that Aashiqui 2 emits. 

When you watch Arohi Keshav Shirke you figure that it is indeed such a misconception that only the finest breeding yields offspring’s of culture and propriety. Like there are exceptions to every rule: in murkier waters grow the prettiest flowers, Arohi is shown to be the savvy, spotless and street-smart woman who handles her life most charmingly. She is a dream any man would want to love and give himself up for. And Rahul Jaykar, with his altruism, evokes in you without prod the notion that love most often comes in unfamiliar packages, and yet to inject positivity to the negative is an accomplishment only the senseless or the saints manage to attain.

The symbol of purity that has been depicted about love in this film is something that no common man can ever attempt to deliver unless he abandons himself ceaselessly in the pursuit of true love and despite all its ups and downs, agreements and disagreements, egos and all, the film upholds a very stoic semblance of timeless positivity.

Another intrinsic aspect of this film was that death must mean nothing to those who are in love, although there would be no words to appease one’s wonder at the stark reality of it. It is incredible, and yet strangely so that the very word death elicits such bitter responses in people when it is inevitable. A chip of the creative block, I don’t find it something of an unusual circumstance since the creative are quite inclined towards the insane, and it is this insanity that lends them the virtuosity that they achieve. If only people could appreciate that one is able to live free when they are free from the obligation of love, and when that love is set free by death, it would make life easy for the people who love us, they would have then perhaps understood the real essence of existence. Unfortunately, in the drama of life, majority of the societies seldom seem to reach such higher standards of intellectual aptitude.  

I loved the manner in which Mohit has handled the rather touchy topic of live-in. It could have turned into a preachy representation otherwise, but hats off to his craft it says everything without a fuss and with such a powerful impact too. That said, I must admit how I loathe the gossipmongers at large, who instead of minding their own business, sniff about to enrage others with their double standards. What bastards I tell you!

There is no thread that one can discount as uncalled for in Aashiqui 2. It looks as if every word has fought hard for its existence, and justifiably so, since the exchanges are like tiny nuggets so marvellously strung into a fine assembly to adorn any neck ready to sport them.

The scene amid Mahesh Thakur (Aditya’s uncle in the film) and Shraddha after they bring Aditya back from the police station is one of the finest I have seen in a long time. The humility with which Aditya stops Shraddha’s mother from joining hands to pay her respect for what he has done for his daughter, or the way in which he nods his head only to emphasise his decision just before he leaves the party after he argues with his friend Vivek (Shaad Randhawa) are simple, but spectacular moments. Then there are those that touch you to the very verge of tears like the one where Aditya asks Shraddha to help him abandon his drinking, or the soul stirring visual representation at the bar where Aditya tells his father (Mahesh Bhatt uncle’s voice) that even though he is lost he is not alone because he loves her like no one else and so does she. Those scenes are to last as landmarks so long as cinema does.

Isn’t it also interesting to note that there are no item numbers? No showcase of booty to lure the dirt? No larger-than-life star casts who can barely act, but genuine actors who can move you beyond words could describe. No melodrama but real life personified on screen, and despite all those ingredients that the trade pundits say are warranted to make a movie a work, this one has made a huger impact on the public and what a momentous feat indeed. Isn’t it lovely how beautifully it shows that a man who can hold onto the love of his life can yet find himself shaken when he finds that indeed his life is finished when certain instances around him (card dishonoured at the bar for example) could (even with him being her rock) still injure his ego. Isn’t it the deepest expression of the insecurity of the creative mind that nearly always thinks ordinary of themselves; and while the world is applauding their gift they are always questioning themselves in order to reach newer heights? Aashiqui 2 tells you that all you have to do is believe in what you are doing and that nothing moves you as simplicity does. It dons every facet of human emotions that possesses the capability to reach into the nucleus of your soul and change you for life, only if you let it.  

The cinematography by Vishnu Rao is befitting and quite in harmony with the tonality and mood of the film. One also has to thank Shagufta Rafique for a lovely story: what are actors without the content that makes them stretch to perform such?

The very fact that the music is on a constant loop in cars, bars, homes, hostels is proof enough that it has struck the right cord in the desired nomenclatures. The lyrics are eloquent and dainty; something that is the hallmark of Mohit’s movies. The delicacy of the language will imprint itself on your heart and stay there forever and that is a guarantee that even a layman would give you when he has been acquainted with the poesy in the stanzas. Interestingly, this soundtrack has left the same effect on my heart and soul that the stellar soundtrack of Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee had left years ago.

Aditya Roy
Adi is natural. He is innocent. He is incredibly talented. He is an original in an era so bursting with artistes who rely purely on histrionics or weak mimicry. He makes room in your heart with his honesty. He quashes all claims that training is the hallmark of good talent because other than working on polishing his diction he is an acteur naturel. Training no doubt polishes you, but the ones who are born with talent seldom need training to prove their talent and Adi seems the brightest and steadiest entrant to establish that fact. I wish he could have brought some more angst to his eyes in certain scenes though; then again I admire the personal touches he has brought to his role overall, as well as the naïve tonality to his emoting prowess that makes you fall in love with him instantaneously. The childlike manner that he reflects on the screen and off it makes you want to hug him and say – Adi, my dear Adi, you my bro, are by far clearly the best that the industry has seen in a long time.

He reminds me much of my buddy, another refined actor and fantastic human being Akshay Oberoi. They look as if they were brothers and I so wish they were brothers.

Shraddha Kapoor


When I was in school I remember how Shakti Kapoor had left an unmistakable mark on my mind by the amazingly hilarious role he had played in the movie Andaaz Apna Apna, and now to see his pretty daughter having grown up into this sophisticated, gifted and delicate beauty gives me immense joy. I don’t know what the others might think of her, but I think that she is here to stay and nothing can come in the way of her growth because she is a livewire of talent than mere gorgeousness. Her body language is poetic. She seems a bit shy, but I reckon that with time she will relax. The elegance with which she has approached the delivery of the dialogues is adorable. She has an inborn flair to make people fall in love with her without effort.

It has been said that time heals all wounds and what bollocks. Neither the pain nor the wounds fade. The mind, in order to protect its sanity pretends to cover them in time, with the scar tissue so that it only lessens, and that’s what happens: it lessens, but is never erased, and these emotions she portrays with such ease.

Finally, when you see the steadiness in the connection between Rahul and Arohi it is tough to make a correct assessment of the prodigy that Mohit has brought to the film. Life. Love. Trust. Friendship. Respect. Selfishness. Selflessness are merely keywords that cannot and will not sum up a film like this so long as those who know what to draw from it can draw from it. It is like a drug that if you once taste, you will find yourself addicted to. People like Rahul and Arohi are a rarity, but they are not impossible to stumble upon. I know of some such who will wipe their slates clean for the sake of the ones they love, but the problem is that the rest of us are so very lost in our own worlds that we fail to grasp that the ones who are giving away their life to us are also those who are in some corner of their heart and mind silently screaming for help.

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Remember Me - 2010



But there is that within me which I shall
tire
Torture and Time, and breathe when I
expire

Lord Byron

Unable to deal with my baby brother’s silence on a matter that troubled me immensely, I found myself utterly disturbed. The impending fear of ‘what if’ triggered the unusual reaction in me that comprised erratic mood swings and when it dawned on me that the boy was an adult and not in need of me holding a finger to help him cross the road, I calmed down a little, however, I knew that at the slightest provocation a showdown was inevitable. It was a blessing in disguise that work had kept me insanely busy to even keep track of where he was, or how he was doing, although his thoughts were always at the back of my mind gnawing at me without any respite. Sitting somewhat restless one evening, I began sifting though my DVD collection and one of the cases slipped out of my fingers and landed on the floor. I glanced down to see Remember Me staring back at me and decided that indeed ‘Remember Me’ was on the agenda for the evening. Moreover, Pattinson had played Salvador Dalí in Little Ashes and Dalí was one of my favourite artists, so perhaps I sheltered an additional soft corner for the youngster.


I am certain that the digital world is rife with material on the movie, so I would prefer to eliminate familiarising you with the abridgment and getting down instead to what made me enjoy something that, I later learnt, was so uncouthly disdained by the critics.


Death has always been man’s prime occupation since the inception of life. As much as we are interested in it, we erase it out of our mind due to the impending fear of not wanting to confront it. Remember Me begins with the death of Ally’s (Emilie de Ravin) mother (Martha Plimpton) at the subway. It is an irony that even though her husband Sgt Neil Craig (Chris Cooper) is a slightly crisp but able police officer, he is unable to protect his own kin from the filth of society. When the final time arrives, one but cannot beat destiny, and the sooner one accepts this harsh reality of life, the better it is. From the subway station we jump to ten years later where we are acquainted with the rebellious, yet ruminating Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pattinson). He lives in a neglected apartment with a distinctive character: the Amnesty poster on the wall, the bicycle, and how can one forget the coasters (indicates most succinctly that you can take a man out of his surrounding but you cannot separate him from his innate polish and culture). The rich visual disposition that cinematographer Jonathan Freeman brings to the otherwise scattered dwelling is noteworthy. I seriously think the critics who wrote Robert Pattinson off are foolish, especially when Tyler’s temperament is that of someone who regardless of the pain in his own life unhesitatingly offers light to the world. What’s more? This he does with such uncompromising regularity. Appalling that they give an absurd film like Playing For Keeps five stars when it is anything but unbearably tormenting and this only one and a half. Weird ways of the world I tell you!


Everybody is obviously hopelessly in love with those who are dear to them, but it is only the gifted who have the ability to rise above their immediate surrounding and become a phenomenon. Only such bright stars hold the magic wand to touch every single life with their benevolence and purity, and fortunately for me, these attributes and many more were to be found in abundance in someone around me: my baby brother. Even as a child everyone thought of him as a reincarnation of the best gods all nestled in his little heart. Back then it was very funny to hear people talk such until the time when his aura began to work its wonders on me as well. In order not to lose what people thought of him, what he said, or did, I began recording it in form of stories rather than just jotting them down as private ruminations. In time people appeared intrinsically interested in my work and I assumed that they were merely being polite, but when I saw his stories get published in various journals and then in The Chicken Soup For The Soul series, I realised that the inspirational treasure I had with me was no ordinary since he elicited such life-changing responses in those who hadn’t even met him, as the fan mail indicated. Precisely, this intimacy that I shared with my baby brother made me appreciate the sensitiveness that Tyler and Michael had shared in Remember Me.


They say that when two people feel a bond as deep, not even death can obliterate that closeness. In watching how Tyler keeps Michael alive on his body by tattooing his name, by letting his presence felt around his house with his photographs placed at strategic places where his eyes can nearly always be cast on them, and cherishing the guitar that Michael used to play, is so indisputably true that even when someone is physically dead, we never let them die so long as we want to keep them alive, and so long as we keep that spirit of them alive, they stay in us, forever. What additionally touched me far too deeply was when I witnessed how Tyler revisits the coffee shop where Michael and he would meet regularly for breakfast (and had met the fateful morning of the day he killed himself) in order to relive the memories and to make some new ones whilst engaging in these profound conversations and unburdening his innermost secrets before him. All of this might sound a bit off kilter to the majority, but those who experience that mental union will tell you, if you are receptive to accepting it, that such a feeling is incredibly therapeutic to ones existence at large.


Sounds clichéd, and perhaps over-quoted as well, but to hear somebody speak about loss is entirely different than actually going through the pain of loss. Loss can change the course of life. It could dent us to an extent that nothing can ever repair that dent. No doubt that each one of us confronts enough anguish in our daily life, and we deal with it in our own unique ways, yet only some amidst us can acquire the skill to ingest the poison and miraculously convert it to an antidote like Tyler does. Cinematically, one knows right from the start that it was a role etched purely to glorify Pattinson, but at the same time one should not forget that the inspiration for cinema is often absorbed from real life and Tyler is the perfect candidate for such a representation. In my opinion, it is only fair since the effect actors have on the viewers is stellar and if his actions could help restore peoples fading feelings then it is a huge service to the viewer who might after watching this movie learn that it is not in holding on that we show our strength but in letting go.

LOVED

1 – The way he politely teases the receptionist at his heavy-weight lawyer father Charles Hawkins (Pierce Brosnan) fancy office when she elucidates that the bowl in which he empties his cigarette ash is meant for ‘completing the room’ and not an astray as he views it. That was indeed such a defining moment really, and such a potent statement on the wannabe world of the so called hoity-toity. I notice so much of this fake lurking around me even though I make certain that I try and keep away from anything even remotely resembling the pseudo even though at times I am left with no recourse than to digest their drama with a pinch of salt.

2 – How the writer Will Fetter hasn’t buckled under the expectation of providing everybody a character that oozes saccharine is an aspect of the film I quite savoured as well. I see, in particular, that the critics have written him off lethally, but then I guess those who haven’t understood the premise of this brilliant film ought to get their heads examined because the very same ones would have given glorious reviews for bullshit that would have made no logic or touched no one as I have mentioned earlier. They have further failed to realise that to invent a character like Tyler’s it would take the odd and the strange combination of years of painstaking knowledge and experience, and I don’t give two hoots to them for not having respected the effort here. Then again, isn’t this one of the biggest contrarieties of life? The lack of vulnerability and sound common sense to see things as they are rather than wanting to see them the way we would wish them to appear! That said, I don’t think we should care much about people when we write, because when we write, the intention is to make people remember us even if they didn’t quite enjoy reading us. In that I feel is half the work done, and the other half, well, life would most eloquently take care of that.

3 – Adored how it is shown that sometimes we must not ask ourselves why because we will never know why. That at times we merely need to move forward, even if it were with a heavy heart and stop regretting the past because that is something that is not in our control just as today and tomorrow too aren’t.

4 – I wonder which moron termed this movie melodramatic. Perhaps it does tend to get a bit worked up, especially when Tyler and his father Charles clash at the boardroom, but that apart I thought it moved along with a steady and handsome tempo. Why is that we continually search for drama in life? Isn’t simplicity equally moving?

5 – How Tyler is happiest when he is in the company of his baby sister Caroline Hawkins (Ruby Jerins) who is an artistically inclined child prodigy. A strong character herself, she is constantly mocked and harassed for being different at school, and even though she takes it courageously in her stride, somewhere it does trouble her. The manner in which Tyler handles her delicately as one would do glass is commendable. It is nice to see their onscreen bond, something we have rarely seen in a long time with people of glaring age differences.

6 – Janine (Kate Burton), the calm and collected personal assistant of Tyler’s father seems to foster a motherly bond with the boy and has a bit of an edge given that she understands him much like a son. Every one of us have Janine’s in our lives, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we acknowledged their presence by giving them the due respect and credit they deserve to help us be grounded and felt loved?

7 – The background score by Marcelo Zarvos is clearly and mightily one of the best I have heard after the exhilarating soundtrack of my favourite Emily Blunt’s, The Young Victoria. It has been playing continuously, and I am certain one of these days my friends would fling the CD out of the car or tuck it away from me indefinitely.  

DISLIKED

The bet on Ally to get back at her father was a lame principle to incorporate in a film that dealt with something seriously sensitive such as the elegance of human nature even in the wake of melancholy. Then again, if you look at it pragmatically it is Cooper, who unable to deal with somebody challenging him, ends up badgering and arresting Tyler when he knows full well that Tyler was only speaking the truth. Cut to, the exceptionally annoying nasal-toned roommate Aidan (Tate Ellington) prodding him to impress Ally and seek revenge was uncalled for considering that Tyler vehemently rebuffs him by saying that he is not interested in seeking revenge with the man. Perhaps the writer could have invented something a bit more credible than the trivial ‘bet’ ploy considering that it is evident right from the start (even before the scuffle with her father outside the bar) that Tyler was somewhat interested in her as she had caught his attention while expressing her point of view at the global politics class they attended together.

SUBTLETY

Ally’s admittance of not wanting to use the subway was a lovely detail. He thanking his roommate Aidan for letting her stay as long as she wanted was another subtlety that I loved. The usage of the two words ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ seem much on a decline today and it was good to have seen them incorporated in this screenplay. I loved the way Tyler writes Ally a hand-written note requesting her not to leave and retreats to the coffee shop where he enlightens his brother Michael about her presence in his life. How Tyler sneaks in a quick query to check on Diane Hirsch (Lena Olin) his biological mother’s whereabouts while he is keeping Caroline engaged in matters of her interests was rather smoothly embodied without much fuss or murmur. 


Another nuance that shook me up from my roots is how when Ally asks Tyler what he would prefer in breakfast, French toast or pancakes, he walks out with his landmark bright smile saying most nonchalantly – “Doesn’t matter.” If taken lightly this is something that anyone amongst us would not pay attention to, but ask anybody who has lost somebody and they would tell you that the cryptic nature of such messages has bothered them as much as it has bothered me about how on earth would they have known. To elaborate, the pattern I have ascertained is that the deceased mostly say or do something that is quite an indication of what is to come. It is as if they would have sensed this nearly uncanny sort of premonition, something deep within them perhaps telling them that their time has come, that this would be their last day or their final moments. Only we are too preoccupied to even observe that sign.

I WISH

I sincerely wish the female lead had been Emilia Zoryan (Falling Overnight) than Emilie de Ravin. Although Emilie has gorgeous blue eyes and shares a fabulous chemistry with Robert Pattinson, Emilia Zoryan would have added the much warranted grace to the role. Emilia Zoryan is mischievous, sensual, and yet quite reminds one of the pristine beauty and charm of say Audrey Hepburn. Pattinson and Zoryan certainly would have enlivened the screen with their delicacy, depth, chemistry and what a delight it would have been to watch them do just that, jointly.

FINALLY

I think that we each come into this world with a purpose, and once that has been achieved, we are no longer required to waste the reserves of Mother Nature. In accordance with that belief, Tyler mends the broken ends and then becomes one with nature. I have no idea what the others might have made of it, but for me his death came as the death of the nobility in man.


The terrorists who kill in the name of religion, I am unable to fathom how they show such a lack of feelings. Are they so ignorant to the fact that it is only god who gives us this life and god is the ONLY one who can take that life at his will. I agree that some of us, by virtue of who we are born, are discriminated against. We are tormented and troubled than the ones to have taken birth in the privileged classes of creed, but that still does not justify merciless killing, does it? What use would blowing ourselves achieve when we are, in actuality committing the gravest sin if one were to go by the very tenants of religion by violating the very doctrines of it? I’d say please leave lives alone. Don’t rob a family of their loved ones. In taking a life you might be taking the entire world away from the lives of whom they love, and isn’t that a bigger sin to leave behind dead souls in living bodies?


To sign off I have nothing else but Maria Rainer Rilke’s words that echo in my mind. He had once said, “...the longer I live, the more necessary it seems to me to endure, to copy the whole dictation of existence to the end, for it might be that only the last sentence contains that small, perhaps inconspicuous word through which all laboriously learned and not understood orients itself toward glorious sense.”

PS:

As the end credits were rolling, I called upon my baby brother and told him that it was not anything else but the protective streak in me that had made me a bit edgy and although I might be stronger than the strongest substance on earth, when it came to him I was even more permeable than sponge. He smiled angelically and hugged me as I further articulated how much I valued him. He was no stranger to that notion: he had heard it from me a million times before, but I knew I would never tire of it until the day I died and therefore I renewed the sentiment all over again that I loved him immensely, immeasurably and infinitely. He studied me searchingly and ruffled my hair. Observing the confidence in his sparkling eyes I buried in my chest my anxieties and stepped out of the door taking in the breeze and feeling life. My brother, my world, was next to me, and it felt like I was born anew!


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El Sexo De Los Ángeles - 2012



Whilst exploring online for some new European movies to watch, I quite chanced on El Sexo De Los Ángeles. The poster seemed rather enticingly old school and therefore I followed the link to IMDB. As I hadn’t seen many films in this genre other than Drei by Tom Tykwer, I decided at once that this movie merited an addition into my collection more so because the topic of my current book was experimental sexuality given that the world was fertile enough to accept such concepts without much storm.



El Sexo De Los Ángeles begins with a man Bruno (Llorenç González) from Barcelona watching a dance performance on the street. Soon after the show somebody tries to pickpocket him. He tumbles in the hustle and injures his forehead badly. One of the dancers, Rai (Álvaro Cervantes) also a karate instructor, rescues him and helps him clean up his wound at the place he is staying. We then learn that Bruno has a photographer girlfriend Carla (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) whom he is ardently in love with and discloses as he and Rai get chatting that her folks do not think much of him and would prefer someone in the nature of an architect or the likes for their daughter.



One observes that Rai is quite smitten by Bruno. Bruno too senses a certain attraction to Rai although he rebuffs his overtures openly. From here the director Xavier Villaverde builds up the yarn to a comfortable degree where Bruno begins to internalise the conflict about why he is feeling the way he is feeling and wantonly allows Rai to kiss him after the party, and then in a natural progression submits to the direct invitation at the apartment of Carla’s colleagues when he lands up to return Rai’s tee that he had worn when they had first met.

El Sexo De Los Ángeles is based on the semiotics of the heart and mind. It is a surreal parable to the observance of modern society that does not desire to conform to any norms that have remained redundant since eons. A society that is susceptible to obey their hearts without letting any sort of encumbrance invade their senses when they know what they want out of life. In tune with that trait, I found this film to be a brilliant character study of such notions. The approach has sure been dealt with a casual lilt for a mass appeal I reckon, but it is anything but, since the director manages to induce the precise reaction of daring to live according to what the characters of Bruno, Carla and Rai deem fit regardless of the world’s judgement of it.

Rai


Rai is somewhat furtive, a bit selfishly manipulative, decidedly postmodern, rather ambiguous and free-willed to an extent that he is aware of his seductive effect on people and knows how to lure them in order to muddle with their minds. This he does purely out of innocence and not with an intention to injure. However, underneath those turbulent thoughts and wisdom, he seems to be nurturing a hurtful heart that prods him to find solace in people, dance, martial arts and a certain sense of abandonment in order to fulfil a void caused due to the trauma of his father’s early death and moving about cities with his mother that seems to have given him no sense of belonging. The vulnerable man that he is, he happens to get entangled in his own web when he realises that in order to love someone you have to think of ‘the someone’ before your own self. Experience reveals that the ones who feign control and power are the ones who most require support, and Rai certainly craves the emotional mooring of Bruno and Carla to truly discover himself and when he does, he appears so harrowed that in order to escape from his demons and avoid the dread of acknowledging such sentiments, he packs his bags and hurries away trying to dissociate from the very belief he has been in search of since a long time.

Bruno


Bruno is an affable, soft, sporty, sensitive, and somewhat emotionally restrained young man. He is the Good Samaritan who cannot hurt anybody even if meant getting hurt in the bargain. Although he is not initially inclined to experimenting with anything other than the normal, the very proximity of Rai imbalances him and being the type to explore unexplored territories, he decides to follow his impulses unrestrictedly, freely and fearlessly and embarks on an uncharted journey. Somewhere it is the predominant power of Rai and the comfort that he is trustworthy beyond doubt that induces Bruno to drop his guard claiming that sexuality has nothing to do with love and instead has everything to do with feeding the animal instinct that lies within each one of us.  

I appreciated how the director has displayed the fact that Bruno tends to think that he can have what he wants (from whomever he wants) but when he detects that his very own Carla is attracted to the unmistakable magnetism of Rai, he is suddenly struck by this uncontrollable pang of envy, jealousy and even and finds himself threatened by the very man whom he is so hopelessly beguiled with. This was a lovely onscreen representation of the banal insecurity of human nature.

It is the vulnerability in Llorenç González’s personality that lends Bruno’s character that additional pizzazz. Llorenç is smart, suave and exceptionally charming. His strength reclines in his simplicity. He reflects an alluring spirit and scores optimal in the spheres of an irresistible and winning mass appeal.

Carla



Carla is cute, impulsive and slightly anxious. She tends to get carried away in the moment and adopts this aggressive approach that could actually (in real life) ruin matters. What’s more, she has a wonderful support system in her colleagues and in some way or the other the people in her life seem to salvage her from any doom. It is nice to see how nervously and witlessly she is in love with Bruno until Rai enters her life to complicate and confuse matters making it implicitly evident that she is drawn to him like iron is to a magnet although her love for Bruno, with whom she has been in love since they were fifteen years, remains utterly intact.

The people at her office add just about the right comic quotient to the plot. The cohesion they all share despite the inquisitiveness is something that is a recent phenomenon where one notes that your colleagues become your extended family in a time where people are starving for meaningful company. Together, they go through the ups and downs as anybody would in the situation, and make sure that they watch out for one another.

Another facet of Carla’s character I liked is how she gets out of hiding, pulls back the layers, stares truth in the face and accepts her feelings with verve as she forgives, forgets and flows along with life like water that assumes the course of its current.

The film is packed with some powerful scenes and dialogues. The one in the beginning where Carla elucidates Bruno about how much she has had to put up with his jealousy over the years (even though he has never enforced his insecurities on her) was enough to deal with, than becoming aware of the fact that the man who avows his love for her had cheated on her with another man. Bruno’s natural reaction, “I didn’t plan any of this but I couldn’t help it either.” was an incredibly honest rendering of human emotion and about the fact that the human heart and mind wants so many things that defy logic and yet the prudent way would be to follow ones instinct rather than rationalising it.

Carla’s colleague suspecting Bruno’s sexuality I felt hardly holds any ground here owing to the fact that his character is merely an examination into how we are each made to confront and question our own limitations when faced with the entry of another person into that sequestered space that we do not permit anybody to colonise.

In some ways it is not easy for the mainstream to accept what is being portrayed in El Sexo De Los Ángeles: they are too calcified in their age-old beliefs to accept anything novel. Besides, the film at times is a bit too easy to be true, specifically the part where Carla and Rai get entangled, then again, one has to give the benefit of doubt since life is in the habit to hurling at us unthinkable surprises.

At the end of the day, this is a first-class film about utopia. It is fascinatingly cerebral, ferociously atrocious and incredibly sensual on a level so as to appease the youth, the segment it is intended for. It has an almost magical power, despite its density that makes certain that it keeps you spellbound by its brutal honesty. On several levels I felt it was about personal growth sans any judgement. It was an ode to the present shifting interests in people based on biological wants rather than ethical pedantry. The determinist view here about how we view gender, love and sexuality grasps you with its complexities and advocates you to let go of any such unchartered sentiments that you might find yourself enmeshed by helping you crack the cast due to the taboos laid out by the societal boundaries at large by making you love, laugh and hope with the three angels! It is not a work of genius such a Drei, but it certainly is a work of cinema that is most likely to grow in stature and cited as an example with the passage of time.

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To Us!

This does not need a footnote from me.

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Love Me - 2012



Love Me could very well be mistaken for something like the umpteen teenage movies to hit the screens, except that this one is nothing like any of those for the sole reason that it doesn’t try too hard to make the characters lovable like most such movies with similar subjects try to enforce upon the audience. Here, the characters play out the feelings that any adolescent might be going through while progressing through that discerning and trying phase of their lives, add to that the plotline of three months having passed since the disappearance of Melissa Kennedy in the town of Ridgedale where the suave, silent and sweet Lucas Green (Jamie Johnston) is the lead suspect in her vanishing. Whilst we are being familiarised with the soft and dashing Lucas, enters the strong and nearly mannish Sylvia Potter (Lindsey Shaw) who, if not anything, harbours unrealistic notions of falling in love with an ‘ideal man’ even as she brushes away the overtures of her childhood friend Harry Townsend (Jean-Luc Bilodeau) who keeps renewing his love for her with regularity. Sylvia stumbles over Lucas’s stretched-out feet at Hampton Prep and feels this instant connection with him. Despite her initial animosity for the guy and warning by her close friends, in particular Dayln (Kaitlyn Leeb) she falls hopelessly in love with him until the mystery surrounding Melissa who was Lucas’s girlfriend when she went missing threatens the entire fabric and tests the waters with these school kids.  



As it trudges along, the lesson that this movie teaches us is about how many times have we not had people who are genuine get mistaken for being ‘arseholes’ when the real arseholes are the ones who go about injuring us invisibly and yet we aren’t smart enough to detect who they are amidst us until it is a bit too late.



Psychology brings to light that when someone intends to lie, consciously or unconsciously, the worded expressions they instinctively take refuge in are ‘trust me’ or ‘frankly’ or ‘believe me’ but when Lucas utters those words ‘trust me’ you are instantly overcome by the emotion that you can blindly trust him since those are not words stemming from the hidden untruths one is trying to cloak, but expressions that are most humbly originating from his soul. What’s more, his dialogues are nearly always supported by the blatant truth: it is as if what’s in his heart is on his lips without any hesitation, and isn’t that how we are all supposed to live – believing in ourselves when we know that we are right, even if the world were to think contrary of it?



People say that pain evokes in us the words that touch hearts, and it is also a presumed norm that the mega rich do not have a heart. What people don’t know is that feelings have nothing to do with ones financial touchstones and Lucas’s character is so well essayed in conjunction to that misconception. I was delighted to watch Jamie: the perfect choice for the role. He doesn’t fail to impress you with the genuine hues he lends to the character. Those hues come from his own experiences owing to the fact that he is quite the rock to those who require his attention in order to make their lives better. I say so because Jamie is someone who besides being an actor, has a natural flair to spread love via his work and is quite the man with a golden heart. He plays in a band, and has helped raise money for a school in Kenya, and it would not surprise me that while we are reading this, he might be planning or even doing something in his own capacity to better this world.


If you have observed closely, what Lucas does at every instant on the screen is confess nothing but the facts to Sylvia, and I didn’t quite appreciate how she distrusts him. In one frame of mind, she gives Harry a piece of her mind about how they could try and understand him rather than judge or talk about him, and in another, she falls a victim of hearsay. Agreed the young are unsure and confused, but the golden rule regardless of age is that you ‘never give up’ on the ones you think you know. True love knows to discern between the real and the fake, and instead of standing by him in a moment of her uncertainty, she fails him rather miserably.



Loneliness makes people do many things. While some take the crutch of addiction to beat their desolation, some become the crutch of others to make sure they never let another feel what they are missing. What I adored is how the character of Lucas has been made to be like the ocean, forgiving and yet festive. Forbearing yet frightened. I appreciated the manner in which he follows his heart (in attaining the peace of mind) by doing what he likes even if it is as simple as writing reviews of the music he loves. That apart, there were some beautiful refinements to this film, for instance when Sylvia asks Lucas what his dad does while she’s exploring about his bedroom, he replies with immense modesty, “He travels a lot.” That is a marvellously delicate method of handling an instance that one normally would use to brag or boast being in the position that he is in the film. It only shows us the maturity of the character regardless of what people surmise of him. It takes wisdom to be able to find peace in oneself, to be able to seek solace in loneliness, and what a brilliant man this Lucas is really. Some have argued with me that his character is a bit too forgiving, but aren’t there many amidst us who are like that: who harbour feelings much deeper, while the majority thinks them to be shallow. The other subtlety I treasured, and many of the teens ought to take heed, is how Lucas doesn’t pursue Sylvia until he has made certain that she and her friend Danny do not share any romantic interest. This might sound a bit trivial to the age that thinks they know everything, but that is a great on-screen display of manners and I only wish the youth, specifically men, could nurture such an attribute in case their innate nature hasn’t genetically yielded them this very quality.

The three glaring flaws I found in this film are:

1 – How Lucas tends to always show up at Sylvia’s classroom. Obviously he had classes of his own to attend.

2 – How the super attentive comic book killer friend Harry cannot hear the car approaching the driveway of the cabin when he is forcibly making Lucas write his suicide note. For a moment one could give him the benefit of doubt that he was a bit too self-absorbed to notice what was happening around him, and yet that explanation holds no good really.

3 – Coming to the largest cavern: the female lead’s character could have been essayed better. It seemed as if writer Kat Chandler was in a bit of a hurry given that her characterisation lacked any range and depth.

When someone turns to you in life and expresses, “You know me better than anyone!” and pleads, “Please, please I am losing it, everything seems to messed up. I don’t have anyone.” you NEVER leave them and walk away by uttering coldly, “I can’t be a part of this.” When somebody reaches out to you earnestly and you fail them, you certainly don’t deserve a second chance, but Lucas being Lucas, forgives even that flaw in the character of the woman he loves, although in reality only a handful are like him, and beware people that not all Sylvia’s would be lucky to get a chance to make up for their stupidity.



The supporting cast was satisfactory in their own unique fashion that added the much warranted flavour to the tale. I only wish that specialists had handled the cinematography and the soundtrack in order to lent it the much necessitated charm and enchantment.



To sum up, the kernel of life is such that each of us gets someone who cares for us in some form or the other, and in an instance of that not happening, we find solace in ourselves by giving to others what we have missed in our lives just like Lucas does. A bow to you, Jamie, to having added verve to such an unpretentious and yet profoundly balanced character because what you have done really is service to mankind since those who follow you ardently will try to mimic your good nature and even if it were to change the outlook of a single person, on screen, or otherwise, I think you would consider it a job well done!


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