Monthly Archives: August 2006

Jaws

All right, cribbing time. In the summer of 1975, Spielberg unleashed on unsuspecting Americans a movie called Jaws. The movie gave birth to the term “summer blockbuster” and is singularly responsible for the scores of summer movies we are often burdened with. The marketing is simple. Get the movie released in as many theatres as possible and hope that the word of mouth and pre-release advertising makes it a hit. Yesterday, I sat down and watched about one hour of the movie, which left me no better enlightened on its astounding success. Why was Jaws such a great fodder for summer audiences? And why is it that I am not able to even sit through the movie today? I really don’t know and that irritates me.

A Clooney weekend

Syriana, starring George Clooney, may be a challenging movie to watch, but is a rewarding one as well. It is also a story of terrorism and oil politics that needs to be told and seen. Stephen Caghan, Oscar winning screenplay writer for Traffic, is at the helm. The screenplay is complicated and it took me a while to know what the heck was happening, but after that it was a stimulating watch.

The other movie that deserves to be seen is Good Night, and Good Luck. Clooney directed this movie and starred in a supporting role as well. My notes are here.

The ACJ gang

In 2000, I joined the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai as a student in the first batch. Six years later, on August 21 this year a friend that I first met in ACJ got married in Hyderabad. In these last six years, the gang captured in the photos have always met up almost as a ritual at each other’s weddings. These photographs I guess are precious to me and just worth a watch to most visitors.

(From right Me(Nandhu), Narayanan, Parry)

(From left)Binoy, Shireen, Madhav, Jose, Prachi, Parry, Narayanan, Nihal, Me

(From left)Binoy, Shireen, Madhav, Jose, Prachi, Parry, Narayanan, Nihal, Danny

Jaideep and Parry deep in conversation

BlogCamp at TIDEL Park


The venue of the BlogCamp has been shifted to TIDEL Park in Taramani, Chennai. The website of the camp at www.blogcamp.in has all the details about the camp.

On a heavy day

What is in the picture? I am aware it’s the Firefox logo. Guess how it was created?

Booker Longlist

This a note to myself. Don’t accuse me of doing a cut and paste job. I was a bit aghast that I haven’t heard of even one book in this list. The Booker Longlist follows, guys:

Carey, Peter Theft: A Love Story (Faber & Faber)
Desai, Kiran The Inheritance of Loss (Hamish Hamilton)
Edric, Robert Gathering the Water (Doubleday)
Gordimer, Nadine Get a Life (Bloomsbury)
Grenville, Kate The Secret River (Canongate)
Hyland, M.J. Carry Me Down (Canongate)
Jacobson, Howard Kalooki Nights (Jonathan Cape)
Lasdun, James Seven Lies (Jonathan Cape)
Lawson, Mary The Other Side of the Bridge (Chatto & Windus)
McGregor, Jon So Many Ways to Begin (Bloomsbury)
Matar, Hisham In the Country of Men (Viking)
Messud, Claire The Emperor’s Children (Picador)
Mitchell, David Black Swan Green (Sceptre)
Murr, Naeem The Perfect Man (William Heinemann)
O’Hagan, Andrew Be Near Me (Faber & Faber)
Robertson, James The Testament of Gideon Mack (Hamish Hamilton)
St Aubyn, Edward Mother’s Milk (Picador)
Unsworth, Barry The Ruby in her Navel (Hamish Hamilton)
Waters, Sarah The Night Watch (Virago)

Well, how many have u heard of? Have you read anything at all? Do you read? Answer me……

More details are here.

Brokeback Mountain: Last but not the least

A reviewer writing this late aboutBrokeback Mountain has to face the backlash that all critically acclaimed movies suffer. After reaching critical mass, the reputation of all movies goes only in one direction: down.
Everything I say here about Brokeback has probably been said before. But I liked it quite a bit and so I am going to write about it anyway.
‘Brokeback’, now a popular euphemism for being a homosexual, was upon its release tagged as a gay western, probably the world’s first one to gain a wide release. It is pointless to get into a discussion about whether it’s indeed the first gay movie. But like Anthony Lane writing for The New Yorker says it, the movie isn’t particularly a western or a gay movie.
I think it’s about love, only between men. That feels a bit queasy to write, one reason why you have to see the movie. So that you no longer feel so queasy when men kiss on the screen.
(Just like many movies have undergone a feminist re-reading, others have been subjected to a gay reading. There are those who feel that Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston, and Messala, played by Stephen Boyd, shared a gay relationship in the 1959 classic Ben-Hur. In fact, it is said that Heston, the macho man who later became the voice of the gun-toting American, wasn’t told of the gay relationship as he would have declined the role.)
One reason Brokeback works so well when set in the Wyoming and Texas of 1963 is because it manages to easily hint at the relationship that cowboys in their jeans and leather belts and boots would have shared, away as they were from their women and children. Another advantage is the use of the broken, rustic tongue of the west.
The inarticulate, mumbling and submissive Ennis Del Mar (Health Ledger) and the rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) meet as farmhands as they graze sheep on the idyllic Brokeback Mountain. Without knowing what they are getting into, they begin a relationship that will dominate their entire lives. Both aren’t gay, probably just lonely. Jack is quick to realize what has happened between the two, but Ennis is shrewder. He knows that their love has to always remain secret and forbidden. Both, however, seem not to know what they have started.

Ennis: This is a one-shot thing we got goin’ on here.
Jack: It’s nobody’s business but ours.
Ennis: You know I ain’t queer.
Jack: Me neither.

But it isn’t a one-shot thing, and both are queer as hell. And, it is not just their business. It is society business and society has a way of dealing with such abnormalities. But that isn’t the point.
The two part ways and start families, but neither one is happy. After four years, Jack – always the aggressive one – visits Ennis. The two men embrace and as Ennis’s wife Alma watches them in shock through a window, they roughly kiss each other, years of frustration visible on both faces.
Unhappy with their wives and unable to declare their relationship in the open, the two “friends” are caught in “one unsatisfactory bitch of a situation”. They renew the uneasy but intense relationship that began in Brokeback. Through this second chapter, Ang Lee (in the picture on the sets of Brokeback) conveys the feeling that Ennis has of always being watched. For the consequences are severe. If caught, both will be killed in a gruesome fashion that will serve as a warning for the rest of them. Jack is persuaded that they can never live together. “If you can’t fix it, you gotta stand it,” Ennis tells him.
After years when Ennis is finally divorced, Jack is hopeful. Now at last, they can begin a new life. But Ennis isn’t sure and finally is forced to turn Jack down. And we aren’t sure why either. This sort of a relationship is not just possible. Period.
“I wish I knew how to quit you,” Jack says in exasperation.
Jack is killed in an “accident” and when Ennis hears the news from Jack’s wife, images of people kicking him to death flash through his mind. Jack wanted his ashes scattered over Brokeback Mountain, and so Ennis pays a visit to his folks.
There at his parents’ house, Jack has the shirt, wrapped inside his own denim, which Ennis missed in Brokeback. Ennis brings it down delicately like a trophy and wraps it and leaves. And in any case, he doesn’t get Jack’s dad’s permission to scatter the ashes.
Their secret like the shirt will always remain under wraps. It would never come out in the open, like the ashes that are never scattered on Brokeback Mountain.