Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Many times, a good Sunday is all about stumbling on a good movie playing on TV. Especially so if it is a movie you have never heard of. (Which also brings to mind the perils of depending too much on IMDB for movie recommendations. You end up missing some worth-a-watch movies that have not caught the user base’s fancy, or are not great enough to make into an elite must-watch list.)
My lazy Sunday yesterday became better with one such movie: The Good Girl (2002), where Jennifer Aniston plays a bored retail store clerk Justine. Justine has the trapped life synonymous with most of working class – an arid job which she has had for many years, and an indifferent husband Phil, who spends most of his time stoned on the couch, watching TV with his friend Bubba. Because she is bored, she craves for the opposite of her dull life. Thus the entry of a slightly eccentric and aloof ‘Holden’ as a new cashier in the store sparks her interest. Both characters are unhappy with the world, and this unhappiness brings them closer. Justine wants to conveniently keep this friendship as a mild distraction, but Holden is passionate, and insistent – and a flattered Justine gives in. They spend most of the relationship having passionate sex in a seedy motel. However, soon there are whispers in the store, and the Justine who is used to a quiet life, gets unsettled. Holden becomes more mercurial and demanding, sulking terribly when refused one of their secret trysts. To add to the misery, Bubba (Phil’s friend) sees the two of them going into the motel, and blackmails Justine into sleeping with him.
It is a rather well-knit story, in which Aniston slides in perfectly. It is hard to not sympathize with a girl who seems to walk limply beneath her unhappiness. She wants to escape her life, and you can see why. You can’t possibly grudge her this little romance, especially since you sympathized with a far less traumatized Laura in Brief Encounter. But at the same time, she is scared of Holden’s volatility, his youthful irrationality and even more of having to let go of Phil’s indifferent dependability. (He fixes her TV for her, holds her hand when a colleague dies – all the little things that seem to make many indifferent marriages work)
The movie is a work of contempt. Arteta/White (Director/Writer) do not seem sympathetic of the working class – they say as much in the stray characters, be it the Bible-reader Cornie, or the very-perked up Gwen, or the cretin Bubba. They even seem to regard Justine’s boredom and her distraction with contempt, looking at her as a sort of predator on Holden’s youthful passion. Yet, they depict her as a real person, and Aniston makes this person believable – regretful, indecisive, even a little evil and artful. A person, who sometimes, moved by a desire for freshness, is willing to blur moral boundaries. Arteta/White have also managed to get a comic touch in this otherwise depressive story of reality: through Cornie who curses non-believers with hellfire and the weird Cheryl, who is really ingenious in her marketing skills, but mostly with Justine's attempts to control the situation.
If you think Aniston can best portray only the spoilt and fashionable Rachel Green, this movie will certainly surprise you.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life in our bodies, we
are determined to rush to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework, inexplicable and impenetrable, at any view, instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams and have them, too?
And have we room for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?
But surely it would have been a pity not to have seen the trees along this road, really exaggerated in their beauty,
not to have seen them gesturing like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
--Not to have had to stop for gas and heard the sad, two-noted, wooden tune of
disparate wooden clogs carelessly clacking over a grease-stained filling-station
(In another country the clogs would all be tested. Each pair there would
have identical pitch.)
A pity not to have heard the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird who sings above the broken gasoline pump in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque: three towers, five silver crosses.
Yes, a pity not to have pondered, blurr'dly and inconclusively, on what connection can exist for centuries between the crudest wooden footwear and, careful and finicky, the whittled fantasies of wooden footwear and, careful and finicky, the whittled fantasies of wooden cages.
Never to have studied history in the weak calligraphy of songbirds' cages.
And never to have had to listen to rain so much like politicians' speeches: two hours of unrelenting oratory and then a sudden golden silence in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes:
"Is it lack of imagination that makes us come to imagined places, not just stay at home? Or could Pascal have been not entirely right about just sitting quietly in one's room?
Continent, city, country, society: the choice is never wide and never free. And here, or there . . . No. Should we have stayed at home, wherever that may be?"
What is it that drives our wanderlust? Why do we rush from the sea of our city, to enjoy the waves of one 3000 miles away? Or gaze out to the horizon to wonder what lies at the other end? Or even enjoy to just drive out a 100 kilometer and feel respite. Is it simply fickleness? An inability to be part of a constant scheme?
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I feel that there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and so effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by our name, and as soon as we have recognized their voice the spell is broken. We have delivered them: they have overcome death and return to share our life.
And so it is with our own past. It is a labor in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.
- Marcel Proust, Remembrance of things past, Swann's Way