A Hundred and Twenty Six

Amelie is amused by Nino’s growing bald spot. She rubs this spot every night when she is done creaming her feet and stuffing them into socks, and likens it to peach fuzz. She is older, the skin around her mouth has softened a little. She finds herself appraising her shoes more and more, wondering, is this a little cloddish? There is a young colleague who is trying to get her to appreciate bold colours of lipstick, but Amelie is mostly captivated by how expertly the young colleague applies a steady line of red on her lower lip in just one stroke, and how when she purses her lips together, a perfectly symmetrical other half blooms on the upper lip like a red Rorschach butterfly.

The manufacturer of her favourite eau de cologne has shut shop. She has discovered a weakness for clove cigarettes. In the world outside, a few kings and princes have been overthrown by artful coups that she is lesser inclined to follow. These days, Nino mostly goes down on his knees at birthday and bachelorette parties where photobooths have become a big hit. Amelie has fashioned patches for his trouser knees, and is starting to insist that Nino doesn’t ruin his good pairs of pants. She thinks he works in the DVD business, but he’s actually growing into a millionaire. Neither of them knows this yet.

Across from where they live, an American chain of donuts has appeared. When it is summer, Amelie indulges herself a donut with a syrupy core of orange peel. She reads the English on the paper bag in careful pauses, and realizes she has never been to America. This may not have bothered her before, but now, she’s not so sure.

Ever since her father passed, Amelie has wondered off and on about Mathematics. She read somewhere that long ago in China, the government forced couples to have just one child, so after parents passed, they had effectively halved the population. She thinks, they may now be at 1/64th their strength, and yet, they remain the world’s most populous country. She tries hard to wrap her head around how large the world is, and how random and scattered her own acts of goodwill must seem. She hopes it will pass, because she hasn’t even admitted it to Nino yet, but she’s not sure she believes in solitary moments of gold and god-light anymore.

She dusts cocoa powder on a batch of freshly baked muffins. The cat tinkles the bead curtains and slinks away in apology, but nothing tears Amelie away from watching the cloud of cocoa settle. She is awed by how each and every individual speck of this chocolate has come from somewhere in Ghana, that she, here, remembers her mother recommending. She feels a familiar flutter. She has understood with great clarity her undertaking for humanity. These are not acts of randomness. These are choices that she has known in her every pore; knowledge that has only now made it to her brain. She knows she is not cruel to be unmoved by drunkards crumpled by dawn. But it definitely rules out being Florence Nightingale. She stirs her tea and analyses all the things that break her heart – a car with a teddy bear being towed by a helpline truck, a dead pigeon by the road, dirty snow, a blind man trying to key a hole – and finds that these are things that nobody in this world can exercise the illusion of control over. She cannot remedy these, but she can, using that same Brownian system of the universe, cause kindness and wonder, and maybe, just maybe, gold.

But she pauses. Does the dust of cocoa matter on a hot muffin?

She reminds Nino to brush his teeth. She peels the duvet and slides in. It takes her a while to fluff the pillow into comfortable submission. She sits in bed worrying the band-aid on her finger. Nino is scrapping together what seems to be a hairy –

“What do you think this is?”

She leans over and tilts her head and runs through all the words that Nino has taught her these past few years. They were appalling words, words far more potent than “shit”, “nincompoop”, “retard”, or “Idiot”. She locates the right one and smiles remembering how they had giggled conspiratorially and had said the word over and over and over till it lost all elasticity and became a strange lump of sound, not knowing which the bigger offence was – the word itself or the undignified stripping of its definition. It had been a moment when the universe’s hollowness had been exposed, but they had taken to it like the brave new world under a tablecloth.

Amelie looks at Nino, and smiles.

They can’t stop laughing.

Inspired by a conversation with the extremely talented Philip John.

Second in a lifetime movie update.

So, to cope with I’m-not-sure-what, I’ve been on a steady diet of caramel popcorn. Meaning, I have been haunting and making full use of PVR’s 100 bucks Wednesdays, or 160 bucks other days, and spending so much time (and money) ingesting celluloid that I have fine filmmaking leaking out of my ears.

If I may stretch that metaphor a little more, the following are my gleanings from my earbuds.

Since there has been fanboi jizz everywhere about John Carter, The Dark Knight Rises, Ice Age: Continental Drift (haha, gotcha!), I’ll start my rambling from October. Please note, this is standard box office fare, so hold on to your National Market DVDs, ye of Majid Majidi chest-tattoos.

This means I’ll have to skip the quite enjoyable Barfi!. Just stopping to note Ileana’s badly-concealed fake eyelashes. I suspect they were actually invented as forks to be used by war-serving soldiers, but the orders got mixed up. And her wig in her character’s twilight years was as offensive as her head-knocking imitation of the elderly. Actually, no, it wasn’t a wig, it was a whitener, Fevicol, turpentine, and talcum powder streaked tofun.

English Vinglish sent my barely-inner Francophile into a hormone tizzy. (I’m such an unbearable prat, I correct people who mistake macarons for macaroons.) I also loved the motichoor laddoos. And totally wanted to kick the my-wife-was-born-to-make-laddoos Adil Hussain in the nuts. My grouse as a nitpicking bitch was this: Sridevi’s character did not have to appear to be functionally challenged. She just didn’t know English. However, I am deeply in love with New York. I love the cellos in Gustakh Dil. And I will admit there were points in the film where I wanted to give Sridevi a gigantic hug, and follow up with a head-pop and an, “Uh-uh. Don’t let that jerk treatch you like that gurrl.”

Looper made me want to get my (ladies, I called dibs first) Joseph Gordon-Levitt a pair of glasses to cure him of his myopia. Bruce Willis does not squint that much. I have raved to everyone about the kickassness of this story. Full points for script that stuck firmly to the simplicity of the idea. Full points for slight-disturbia atypical of Sci-Fi movies. Full points to Willis playing one of the best assholes on the silver screen this year.

Minus points for Willis’ wifey (too lazy to consult IMDb) flipping the bird. There are few things more crass than featuring the bird, irrespective of how in or out of character it is. Future filmmakers, please remember, the bird is for characters that are incapable of wit and/or are preoccupied with something syphilis-infested in their mouths.

Also felt Emily Blunt’s sudden onset of wanting sexytime (and being indicated to audience as a tug at her dress’ hemline?!) was a laughable, blatant cop-out to explain history and context of her son. If you’re still reading this, it might not really sound like it, but I do recommend watching Looper.

Premium Rush is such awesome timepass. If there is a film this year that thankfully does not take itself seriously, it is this.

Villain cop that looks like a villain from the word go. Mandatory oh-so-fuc.. err.. unfortunate Chinese immigrants. Mandatory white guy superhero. Cyclists shouting lukewarm flirt things into Bluetooth dongles. Latino with no sense of dressing, sweating profusely into her electric blue tank. JGL’s character with a name like Wile E.. As in, Wile E. Coyote. Who is also a hotshot nerd who ditched a promising future as a suit, to, I quote, “get paid to ride. Without gears. Or brakes. Or insurance. Clearly I live in a Manhattan that has no application for reality. Like rent. Or food. Or savings. But hey, I am Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Watch me chicane the shit outta open cab doors and thank god for body doubles and Computer Graaaaaa-” THUD.

Argo is bloody brilliant. Ben Affleck apologizes three bajillion times over for his Daredevilry. Just go watch.

Ted. I was so looking forward to this film. A lot of its ka-pow was wasted on me, because Flash Gordon makes as much sense to me as foie gras. The script sort of galvanized my belief that the idea of a swearing, pot-smoking, who-gives-a-shit teddy is a fantastic idea for a comic strip. Like a truly messed up Calvin & Hobbes. Ted’s character was the exact opposite of what Family Guy’s Brian would have been as a teenage dog. Brian would’ve been a bespectacled social misfit, holed up in his room, listening to arcane Rock from Belarus, reading Freud. Ted, however, would’ve been, and continued to be, a smooth talking, sunglasses totting socialite, the center of the Pop scene, burning books, unhooking bras, mixed up with ‘shrooms and Norah Jones’ night clothes. Sadly, shallow character translated into shallow script. Strictly okay film.

Also, question, why does every film do Mila Kunis’ eye makeup like she came onto their set right after wrapping up at Black Swan?

Skyfall. What a dreary name for a beautiful piece of estate. Oops. That might be a spoiler.

Given most Bond films elaborately unveil the devious clue that is the title, “Skyfall” is an unforeseen delicious twist. A total gobsmack for Bond fans who’ve been weaned on conspiracy theories. Mr. Mendes has done a pretty decent job, giving an unusual, delicate theme to this chapter of Bond. For me, it was like a correction film, a setting of tone for the future film. Martini went cleverly unsaid. Sony’s gizmo product placement took precedence over Omega. Ben Whishaw as geek-guy Q came in to say some really lame things.

My attention flagged at points. Particularly when Daniel I Call Dibs Again Craig stands in a badass tux, at the prow of a boat floating amidst Chinese lanterns. And when he appears shirtless.

I think this has been the year of aging iconic heroes, TDKR setting the trend. Actually, the colours, mood, and feel of this film are all so TDK-trilogy. It does not help that bad-boy Javier Bardem gives a Heath Ledger Joker deja vu. 007 even cheekily throws in a “Storm’s coming”.

The Bond franchise has strictly been sexist about women, but this film’s a little more merciful to the ladies. Not saying they received exulted treatment, but surprisingly, the Bond girl of Skyfall was the one that’s always lurked in the shadows: M.

I did not really like Adele’s song, Skyfall. It felt like a mashup between Set Fire to the Rain and some other angsty I’ll fuckin’ cutchuu song. And I don’t think reproducing the tune every now and then really did much for the film. The title credits, as always, were beautiful. Skyfall is shot like a dream. When I grow up, I want to go on a Bond film recce.

Do watch. It’s a little hard to digest from the regular Bond fare. You actually might have to use your head and heart in this one.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is the best 100 bucks I have spent all year. ‘Nuff said.

Cloud Atlas, from the makers of the two-day-long Matrix Trilogy, (and Tom Tykwer,) is a beautiful mind-job. I’m sorry, I am the sort of person who thinks Source Code was a pretty damn awesome piece of awesome.

But Cloud Atlas. Do you know how brilliant the sound design and editing of this film is? My mind was blown when they transitioned from the beating of horse hooves, into a train chugging on tracks. Have you seen the gorgeous typography of the title? I insist you have a closer look at it, once you are done watching the film. My point of drawing to disparate things is this: the details in this film just neatly and repeatedly hammer in the idea the film’s exploring. I think the Wachowskis are fascinated with the role of coincidence, and by the connectivity of our lives. Remember what they said about deja vu, and how they toyed with Karma in The Matrix?

Trying to articulate what I so love about Cloud Atlas gives me the feeling the title itself captures. Such an evocative image. That to get there, I would need to consult an atlas of clouds.

I would’ve really liked for the penultimate montage of the film to have gone untouched by our scissor-happy censor board. The monologue was brutally maimed. And just why has none of this material surfaced on YouTube yet? Where are all the Wachowski fanbois? Where are the badly designed HTML websites of frog-level-dissections of this film? Or is that generation busy posting pictures of their babies on Facebook?

What movie am I going to torture next? I’m not sure. Thinking of watching Top Cat to compensate for missing out on Moonrise Kingdom. Maybe PVR itself is giving me a hint. Whenever I open their site on Chrome, hoping to check out showtimes, the Google Translate prompt reads, “This page is in Indonesian”. And emphatically adds, “Are you SURE you want to translate?”

Down with Sinusitis, I was pondering the meaning of life

and then I got bored, and decided to waste away before the tube.

What an opportune weekend I had chosen. It seems that most of IMDB’s 100 worst movies were playing on this weekend that man upstairs decided to acutely stuff my sinuses with green stuff.

I was reminded of exactly why I stopped watching TV.

A (sort of) brief review of the movies that I, I’m not sure why, subject myself to.

Maid in Manhattan:
Yes. I watched this movie. I’m amazed at J. Lo.’s acting abilities. She, who feels compelled to deliver a simple overture of love by a complex lock-pop of the head routine, with a mean “uh-uh, whatchoo lookin’ at?” And then, with careful thought adding, “sista”.

Oh, the Hollywood moment of the film wasn’t its uncanny resemblance to Pretty Woman or the 83,64,53,196 other movies with similar the same story-line. It was how the writers artfully slipped in a reference to J.Lo.’s autobiographical Jenny from the Block. Aww.

No Country for Old Men.
Actually, the last few minutes of No Country for Old Men. Which was as random as the beginning of it. I’d encountered that on an occasion where I’d tried to coax a DVD bearing the same title, to merely show me the movie.

Tommy Lee Jones dies? Aww.

Terminator 3:
Arnie proves why he is THE man. His facial dexterity has been consistent through three Terminator films.

Consistently absent.

The cleverest line in the whole film appears somewhere towards the end, after a lot of bombs have gone off. Arnie, surprisingly still functional, shows up and says, “I am back.”

From Hell:
I’ve watched this Jack the Ripper chronicle before. The first time I watched it for Johnny Depp, who looks impoverished and incredibly stoned. I’m not sure why I put myself through it for the second time. Maybe I’m a sadist, or rather, a masochist.

Or maybe my eyes had glazed over and I had matured as a tuber.

I loved this film. And I loved how neatly it was handled given it had every ingredient for to turn into flick-monster with three heads that spewed green goop. It had Patrick Dempsey outside of his scrubs. It was mixing film styles, time-spaces, narratives. It was doing abominable things like questioning Fairy Tales, dangerously close to becoming a History of Perspective, Deconstruction Theory & Other Such Brain Chow lecture. But it never forgot to be light-hearted and simple. The spirit of the film was just right. PD was pretty cute, and dances quite well.

Ok, I could go on and on. It’s more fun trashing films. So, onward.

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na:
I actually waited to watch this film, and marked it in my calender.

It took some getting used to. The over-the-top style, given most of the cast spoke like full-time Channel [V] VJs who REALLY REALLY LOVED their job yaa! TEE HEE! Also the fact that the plot took two days to progress.

Apart from the annoyingly frequent commercial breaks with terribly un-entertaining commercials, I quite enjoyed this film. Some patches took themselves annoyingly seriously, and some of the acting, well, showed. I totally loved the pet rat and the innuendo ridden dialogue.

Danny the Dog:
Morgan Freeman. And high-fly Kung Fu, courtesy Jet Li. The trailer even had funky-jazzy swoosh-swoosh haiyy-ya flashbacks. Adequately baited, I watched.

I could count the number of reasons why Morgan Freeman even chose this film. The drama of playing a blind father. Blind step-father. Blind widower step-father. Blind widower of a car-crashed best-friend-turned-wife step-father. Blind widower of a car-crashed best-friend-turned-wife step-father who plays piano.

Added incentive could be that he was easily the highest paid star in the cast.

Quite the ho-hum. Suffice to say I slept peacefully after.

I hope that in the future, when I have these impromptu movie-marathon urges, it’s a little better timed. Oh well.

Tonight, I shall treat myself to the foolproof Yo Momma! After all, what could go wrong with mom cussing contests? If all else fails, there is always sure-shot entertainment, on the ever reliable America’s Next Top Model.