Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Film Noir

The past few weekends have been very busy and I have only found time for a few movies - I decided to make those films noir to get the maximum out of the time spent. I love the genre - mainly for its terribly stylish heroes and the very twisted plots. I also love the dark shots of cities and vintage cars zooming around. Of course some may like the femme fatale best but I am not inclined that way. However, when it came to Laura, the mysterious Otto Preminger movie, it was difficult not to get drawn towards the 'dangerous' lead character. While the detective was definitely the coolest and unaffected detective ever, it was Laura's mysterious charms that were at the center of the story. By being the murdered character her enigma was no doubt heightened with the absence, but even in her presence, she seemed like an intriguing mix of helplessness and reserve.

The other noir movies watched lately - The Big Sleep and Kiss Me Deadly. Big Sleep is worth a watch simply for the crisp dialogues and the crispier manner in which Bogart delivers them. No wonder he has women falling all over him - from shop assistants to cab drivers. The mystery is never cleared, which is a little annoying and I am considering delving into the Raymond Chandler book to find out what really was happening.
Kiss me deadly - really, I think its not nearly stylish and intriguing as the other two - and the final secret is definitely over the top - no sorry, way over the top. Femme Fatales are missing, and though our detective is very good looking, his dialogues do not come close to those of Bogart, or Dana Andrews or even Clifton Webb. And if it was to be viewed as the depiction of nuclear paranoia - the fear didn't really present itself. It was more like having noir fun with the topic.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Favorite Book Cover of the year

Its the time of the year when yearly favorites come out. I like to indulge in this game once in a while, but most of the time it is hard to play favorites. However, this year a cover of one of the books I have been reading stands out above all the rest I have come across: The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz. I am afraid I could not find a better picture on the internet and will have to click my own copy once I get home.
The book attempts to explain why Eastern Intellectuals collaborated with the Russian/Stalinist regime and attempts to explain the thought process that went behind their cooperation. Written from an internal perspective, unlike Orwell's 1984, or even Koestler's Darkness at Noon which offered an external criticism of socialism, The captive mind is more an explanation than a critique.

Friday, November 12, 2010

patterns of fairytales - the national


What a beautiful baritone, Matt Berninger!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Aunt Julia & The Scriptwriter

Llosa has written on a variety of themes. In the books of his that I have read, he has created history in War of the end of the World, attempted a commentary on mindless violence of Latin America in Death in the Andes, sympathized with cultures vanishing into civilization in The Story-teller. And now, I read one in which he has presented comically a rebellious phase of his life.
Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter is as autobiographical as it gets. Llosa has not even made an attempt to camouflage the characters under a different name. The narrator appears as Varguitas, and Julia is Julia, the aunt Llosa married in his early life. He has of course played with the ages a little bit, making himself younger and her older in the caricature. (In reality, he was 19, and she was 29 when they married). Keeping company with Julia is an eccentric, Bolivian script-writer, who writes scripts for radio plays. Though a remarkable contrast is shown between the scriptwriter (at age 50, a dedicated writer who could fill pages worth a whole afternoon of radio in half sittings) and young Varguitas (who, at 18, struggles with numerous iterations of a short story), it seems that the script-writer could be yet another depiction of Llosa, who was also writing scripts at the time he met Julia.
Chapters in the book alternate between real-life and the scriptwriter's plays. Undoubtedly, the plays are much more interesting than the real life - where a dry romance is blossoming (for no compelling reason apparently), between Varguitas and his aunt. The plays themselves, are sleazy, and often comical in an ironical fashion. These are stories where the protagonist is usually a 50 year old male, is detached from the world around him, and great at his work. (In other words, a man crafted after Pedro Camacho - the scriptwriter). These stories are written for effect, no doubt, and highlight many sensational sins of modern lives - incest, parricide, lunacy, self-castration, various forms of cold and hot murders, etc. Despite their sleaziness, (or perhaps because of it) there is something engaging about these stories. They always end in a 'What will happen next...', and though they don't generate the kind of curiosity where you sit for pages wondering what happened to the last story, you are a bit unhappy when the story ends.
Towards the end, getting exhausted of his game, the scriptwriter begins to muddle up stories and characters, interchanging them, and in a bid to set things straight, blowing up the threads completely.
After all the fantastic build up of experimental narration and sinister stories, the end is surprisingly dull - there is no particular fun to the mangled stories of the senile script-writer, and the romance never takes off, ending in an equally dull and un-comical wedding. Perhaps Llosa, like many a writers got bored after400 pages. Or perhaps, like most writers, he could not find the perfect ending for such a build-up.
Since I will continue to believe that young Llosa and the old script-writer are one person, the author has brought out the dichotomy of popular writing and stylistic writing very well in this book. While young Llosa struggles to write a few pages of stylistic verse, the scriptwriter churns out popular text endlessly, giving Llosa a complex. Perhaps at one stage Llosa struggled with the choice between popular writing and painfully formed 'literature'. In the end it seems he leans towards the stylistic, thoughtful literature,hinted by the status he accords each character.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Last Samurai

I finished reading the book in week2; it is hard to slow down your pace when the book is cruising along splendidly.
As I had said, the book is pretentious in places, but enjoyable mostly. Once Ludo, the genius son takes over the narration, the broken sentences disappear, and the cyclic, repeating nature of the book becomes more pronounced. Sibylla appears only in conversations with her son, and she sometimes tells interesting stories. Stories of failed geniuses of course, since she (and Dewitt) seems to specialize in them. One of the remarkable stories is that of Hugh Carey and Raymond Drecker (not real people, irrespective of how Sibylla presents it) - two geniuses, of significantly different nature. While Hugh is an insatiable, hyper young achiever who wants to be constantly wondered at and admired, Raymond is a person who mulls, introspects and aches over philosophical questions (and wonders how they can be answered in an exam of two hours). HC, realizing the genius and the only worthy opponent in RD, constantly pushes the latter (through chess games!), so that his own achievements are more meaningful. In the real world, of course, HC jumps far ahead, while RD hides in an anonymous corner writing dictionaries.

HC, in a quest to achieve yet another un-achievable, goes to China and encounters a romantic story of tribes and hardships. A story that is both fantastic and ridiculous.
In the end of the story it seems, Dewitt refuses both kind of geniuses. One becomes obscure, other too worldly, and it is remarkable how she choses an uninspiring fate for each genius that she has picked up. Somehow this hopelessness has attracted me to her writing -I would have thought less of her if she had shone either of these two against the other. Because doing that would have meant that she has discovered a greatness that is happy in a world which is not great - something that is counter-intuitive. (I know my words are sloppy here, and I will phrase it better after more thought)

What Ludo is doing meanwhile, is going on a quest for a father. He finds his real one, rejects him for his fallacies, and then goes about finding the samurai-like fathers. These are people from his mother's stories, and one by one, he goes to meet them, and claims to be their son. The results are hilarious in most cases - dangerous in some. But with each meeting Ludo comes out with a conviction on where this father failed, why he would not want to be his son.
In the lists of these potential fathers also is HC, and eventually Yamamoto. Each of these encounters says a little about the absurdity of modern life, and the bogus nature of popular genius.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Nobel Man

The theme of this year's Nobels seems to be awarding men who long ago made their claims to the prize, were ignored, and then suddenly have been picked out of the old pile.
But it is nevertheless a delight to see Mr. Mario Vargas Llosa claim the prize. I have admittedly read very few Nobel-prize winning writers before they won the Nobel (I was in the middle of 'Snow when Pamuk was announced as the winner), but Llosa is a writer whom I have admired for sometime. Especially in his less celebrated work The Storyteller.
I think its time to pick out Aunt Julia...a book which lies on my LatAm shelf, ignored after I had enough of the Latinos in Hopscotch! (Not to mention the equally thick Bolanos)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Last Samurai - Week 2

The Last Samurai is one book, which, even without clearly knowing what post-modernism is, I can call post-modern with some conviction. It has so many stylistic elements that could have never been found in traditional literature. The perspective changes in the middle of the book, there are many stories and anecdotes in the book, and Kurosawa's Seven Samurai always keeps holding the background.
The book is going through many things, primary amongst them is a young woman's attempt to bring up a child alone, while still trying to earn her living in a foreign country. She has no idea of the best practices of bringing up a child, and neither the time nor inclination to consult anyone on the topic. Sometimes her methods are atrocious - like taking her child to an art gallery to spend the entire day (because the house is too cold), or shuttling all day on the train line. The child hardly meets any other kids, and spends most of his time reading.
The various other things happening in the book include a lesson on Greek language, a primer on Japanese, pieces of the script of Seven Samurai, the story of Sanshiro Sugata, a story of blocked geniuses, and various other snippets on music and linguistics. It seems like a mosaic painting, and though the pieces look brilliant, sometimes, it takes a while to appreciate how they fit together. In Dewitt's book, it seems so far that the pattern is 'genius', but that does not necessarily fit everything. The stylistic nature also feels a little irritating sometimes, because it is done purely for effect - like sentences left mid-way and erratic grammar, which are disconcerting, and do not quite blend. Nevertheless, there is no boring moment in the book, except may be page 54.
The book has become a little more interesting ever since the son has begun to take longer parts of the narration. This is when his curiosity about his father begins to form a prominent theme of the book. I wonder if the curiosity about one's father is really so strong in a child, especially if he has had no interaction with other kids. Much is made out of this curiosity in many books and movies - and it seems as overdone as the eccentricity of dysfunctional families. Nonetheless, an Odyssey is always a good story...
To appreciate the references to the movie, I have begun watching The Seven Samurai. A great movie so far, but not one that I will be able to finish in one sitting because it is 3.5 hours long - something I am unable to fit in the current schedule.

The Middle Passage

Naipaul's Middle Passage begins with the description of his ship journey to his birthplace- Trinidad. This was probably the first travelogue that Naipaul wrote, and perhaps that's why the book is written in the way of a typical travel account - a journey starts and then gets to the destination. Funny incidents, people, anecdotes line it along.
The description of the ship journey is mildly tedious. There are many people on the ship who appear boring. What is interesting is the ship on which he is traveling - an immigrant ship Francisco Bobadilla (named after, I learned, a Spanish administrator who was Columbus' successor as the Governor of Indies and had been responsible for Columbus being sent back to Spain on charges of mis-management) , which carries immigrants from West Indies and takes them to UK. A few interesting moments of this journey occur when the immigrants come on-board - the reaction of the remaining passengers is that of superiority and disgust - at best of passivity and feigned disinterest. The holiday is over. Wild cows are here.
I have started enjoying the book after Naipaul's observations on the West Indian culture begin taking shape. The very first appear on the dilemma of West Indian historian:
How can the history of this West Indian futility be written? What tone shall the historian adopt? Shall he be as academic as Sir Alan Burns, protesting from time to time at some brutality, and setting West Indian brutality in the context of European brutality….Shall he, like the West Indian historians, who can only now begin to face their history, be icily detached and tell the story of the slave trade as if it were just another aspect of mercantilism? The history of the islands can never be satisfactorily told. Brutality is not the only difficulty. History is built around achievement and creation; and nothing was created in the West Indies.
I am now in the pages where Naipaul is roaming around the streets of Trinidad, trying to come to terms with returning to a place which he apparently always saw as a prison while growing up. He still resents its limits, the 'second-rate' nature of everything - from radio to cinema to journalism. More than a travelogue, it seems like the grudges of a childhood finding a lovely articulate voice, and a space to vent those grudges.
Posted at Project Dogeared - a site for sharing thoughts on books while you are going through the reading process - much different from a post-read review.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Last Samurai @ Conversational Reading

At Conversational Reading, a rather interesting blog on World Literature, a second book read is happening. Their last book read was Javier Marias' famous trilogy'Your Face Tomorrow' - and it was this book read that prompted me to pick up the book myself.
The current read is an interesting book by an American Author Helen Dewitt, called The Last Samurai. The book is about a single mother, bringing up a child prodigy. Her methods of bringing him up are unique - to provide male role models for the fatherless child, she uses Akiro Kurosawa's Seven Samaurais. For keeping him occupied she asks him to mark words from different languages.
In the first few pages that I have read so far, it looks like a very interesting read - tied with anecdotes and references, which is lately becoming a popular trend in the books I have been reading.
It is a book a little hard to lay hands on in the Indian book-store, but since Conversational Reading gave enough notice, I ordered a copy from Flipkart.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Between the devil and the deep Blue Sea

Sebald's On Natural History of Destruction is a collection of essays on German literature and its handling of World War II incidents. The four essays in this book are:
  • Air War and Literature, based on lectures given in Zürich in 1997
  • Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: On Alfred Andersch
  • Against the Irreversible: On Jean Améry
  • The Renorse of the Heart: On Memory and Cruelty in the Works of Peter Weiss
As mentioned above, the second essay, Between the devil and the deep blue sea is Sebald's criticism of the mildly celebrated German author Alfred Andersch's work. Even reading the epigraph gives an idea of what Sebald is going to say in the essay. It quotes a line from the cover of one of Andersch's books where he is called a great German writer. Below the quote Sebald mentions that the words were written by Andersch himself.
So from the very onset, Seblad seems to be annoyed with Andersch's sense of self-importance. His entire essay points out examples from Andersch's work where he has twisted events and his memory of it to bring out a rather large self-image. Certainly from Sebald's examples, Andersch seems to stand in a poor light. In his personal life, Andersch abandoned a Jewish wife right before holocaust reached its nadir thus compromising her security, he indulged in petty ego clashes with critics, and he spent three months in a concentration camp himself. Andersch's work has dealt with many events in his life, but in neither has Andersch been honest, according to Sebald.
It is an interesting essay, particularly his criticism of the work Efrain makes me almost want to read Andersch. So far I have heard Andersch's name only in the context of 'internal-emigration' - a term which I found delightful to hear. Sebald's essay, however, takes away the enigma from this emigration and reduces it into an abeyance, an inertia to make the move.
I am a little surprised at classification of this essay as literary criticism - it focuses more on Andersch's personal life and failings - his desertion in Italy and the divorce to his wife, his inability to take criticism. In comparison it speaks little of the literary quality of his work.
In the first essay of the book, Air, war and literature, Sebald has criticized German authors for maintaining silence on the bombing and complete destruction of the German cities in the last phase of World War II. Sebald's demands from literature have been stringent in that essay, and that comes out in this essay as well. As in the previous essay, Sebald does not like Andersch taking a literary license to 'fictionalize' his accounts. In demanding a complete narration, Sebald seems to be very rigid, and arguably takes a restricted view of literature.
Surprisingly, this book is very Un-Sebaldian when it comes to its use of images. The book has very few images, and the lacuna is striking - especially when even in the description of Weiss' paintings in the last essay Sebald keeps the pictures conspicuously absent. This could be a reason why I thought this work was less evocative than his other works, but I think Sebald's rigid view of literature and its roles also had a significant part to play in my reaction to the work.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In both its parts that I have read till now, Your Face Tomorrow is a fascinating read. Each of these books are almost housed in single nights and in the disturbing, absorbing events of those nights. You are drawn to the mystery of the nature of Deza's work, but the plot is least of the writer's (and possibly the reader's) concerns. Those single nights are described slowly, thoroughly, painstakingly. (5 minutes described in 90 pages)It is more a journey into Deza's mind - how a drop of blood connects to another,how a hit against the walls takes him back to years before he was born, to the experiences of his father.

What I find so remarkable is Marias' grasp on the whole. The connection between events, and even the two parts of the book is seamless. He does not mention something and forget about it as he moves to the next story. He may be wandering to different places in his narrative, but he comes back - making even those wanderings focused.

Of course there were moments when his digressions test your patience. At least mine was tested a few times during the book when it simply refused to move forward, circling in the same ridiculous events, in the ugliness of Rafita or the vanity of Mrs. Manoia. During those times, carrying on seemed difficult, but that passed.

This second book is much darker than the first, and thus also more riveting. There are many teasers - Perez Nuix's request and what it means, the possibility of Rafita's death, and it all makes the thought of the next book more delightful.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reading Bernhard - Gargoyles

It is true that perhaps I would have paid little attention to Thomas Bernhard and his writing if Sebald had not been compared to him. By Sebald's own admission, Bernhard's influence on his writing is tremendous - an admission which makes it hard to ignore Bernhard.
It was surprisingly hard, then, to find Bernhard's books. Even on the online bookstores, his books have remained elusive. I am still hunting for Wittgenstein's Nephew (actually just recently found and ordered it), Old Masters - even the Losers. What I did manage to find, were two of his books - Frost & Gargoyles. I have already picked up and shelved Frost - it perhaps requires a different frame of mind, one upbeat enough to net the despair in stead of getting caught in it, and it will take me some time to get there.
Gargoyles, on the other hand has been a great read. (To describe Thomas Bernhard's books a joy or delight would be perhaps a defeat of his oeuvre). Each of the character in the book, except for the narrator, seems to be a gargoyle - an ugly oddity which serves a vague role.
The narrator has come home from his mining college for a weekend, and goes out with his doctor father on one of his medical rounds of the region. As expected from a medical visit, there is an engulfing sickness, but wrapped with it is also the unsettling oddity of human nature. The road that starts with a senseless battering of an innkeeper's wife, goes to a writer living in seclusion with his half-sister, to a caged young cripple tended by his young sister, to an old lady who had once sheltered her murderer brother. And then a mad prince, who rants about a flood, about some applicants for the role of his stewards, about family and a long long dream about what his son is writing. In this dream writing, he imagines his own death, his son's insistence on the destruction of his estate and a dialogue between his son and the town clerk.
What could be more insane - everyone who is met seems to have a dark life. The despair seems to become most pronounced in the story of an avian massacre in a haunting gorge. The stench of the scene is so strong that it permeates through the book into the living room.
Why would someone want to write of so much misery, monstrosity? Bernhard seems obsessed with the idea of human fallacy and sees only the worst in humanity. The city of Salzburg which charms so many people visiting it, was to him a 'terminal disease'.
But it would be wrong to refuse to face the fact that everything is fundamentally sick and sad...
This single statement seems to define his work, his outlook, his themes.

Reading Gargoyle, or even the few pages of Frost, I find it difficult to see the parallel between Sebald and Bernhard. Sebald's affair with misery is more of an external nature - a catastrophe, a natural decay, the destruction wrought by passage of time, a holocaust. His people are helpless people caught in this destruction, marked emotionally with the destruction. And his misery is as much about places as about people, while the harshness of Austria remains only a backdrop to Bernhard's writing. What is common, perhaps are the monologues of their characters, but while Sebald's stories are melancholic, Bernhard's monologue is more desperate, taunting and bleak.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Passport

The Passport (Masks) The Passport by Herta Müller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Passport by Herta Muller is a haunting tale of a village, where each life is repressed by totalitarian state. The narration is almost dream-like, ghost-like - in a Pedro Paramo way, but much more brutal and carnal. The entire village hangs on the dream to escape, and every sweat and the last piece of honor is invested in this dream. The dreams are mixed with signs of death, which people see in everything - the apple tree, its owl, the flowers... it is a slow nightmare, and it is very depressing.
But then, the brilliance of the work is in the way it brings the suffocation of an authoritative regime to your reading room and make you feel the alienation.
The Passport is at the center of all dreams, because it is the gateway to escape. All authorities whose stamp is required to attain this dream, fall to depths to make the road a nightmare.
In short, the work is seeped in tragedy - not as compelling as Land of Green Plums, but a tragedy which is disturbing.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Separateness

If orbits intersected like streets, and stars crossed paths like people, they would have all crashed into one another and the sky would be benighted and black. No, up there, everything turns on an eternal separateness. And if we won't unwedge our cramped everyday life with separations, if we won't convert our collectives from a close order to an extended one - we may perish. An old saying compares separations to the wind that douses the candles but fans the flames. So let us sow the wind. Let all the guttering tapers go out, and the sooner the better, all those tiny particles of feeling that produce more soot than warmth or light. The person who doesn't want his soup rattles the spoon and pushes the plate away; but people with no appetite for each other tend to rattle on and on, unable to push away what is unnecessary....
...We need strictly enforced rules: on odd days of the month, say, forbid acquaintances to recognize each other in the street; replace two-seater drokshies with one-seaters; impose fines on those who go about in pairs. Equate meetings of husband-wives with those of convicts; allow children to speak to their parents only on the telephone, give those who abandon their families reduced fares...
- Someone else's theme, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (From the collection Memories of the Future)

Another remarkable book that I got introduced to through Three percent and its Best Translated Book Award Shortlist. Each story contains so many unusual and wondrous thoughts that I just can't keep moving ahead.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Saramago

The 18th of June, a legendary Nobel-laureate author Jose Saramago passed away.
I came to read Saramago first only four years ago, but the Double was a book which completely blew me away with its power. It was the sort of existential writing that shocks. After such a powerful introduction, this Portuguese writer continued to amaze me with books like The Cave, Gospel according to Jesus Christ, Death with Intervals, The history of the siege of Lisbon. (I was less impressed with his most celebrated work - The blindness).
It is sad that we will hear from him no more. He was one of the very few writers who used fantasy and imagination to depict alienation, and how beautifully. I hope more of his untranslated works find a voice in English.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Discoverer (Jan Kjærstad)

In my limited access and awareness of world literature, there are many regions whose readings I have never been introduced to. Sometimes a Nobel laureate in an area helps bring it on the literary map, or sometimes it is an explosion of the kind that has helped Lat Am literature take the readers by storm. Sometimes it is the quietly persistent Three Percent, which brings a large part of contemporary non-English literature to the forefront. And it is in the longlist of their Best Translated Book Award that I discovered The Discoverer by Norwegian writer Jan Kjærstad.
This is not the first writing from Norway that I have come across. Not if you count Hamsun - but my exposure to Hamsun so far has made me see him more as a Dostoevskian writer than a writer from Norway.
Discoverer is a remarkable book - I am still in the middle of it and I am already quite taken with it. It is the final part of a trilogy, and though reading the last part of the trilogy before you have read the prequels may not be the prescribed order, the book stands alone on its own so that it does not become a handicap.
The book is about Jonas Wergeland, an elusive character, who is a TV-genius, responsible for some remarkable shows on Norwegian television. He comes back from a trip one day to find his wife dead. He is tried for the murder and he confesses to the crime. The fall of a celebrity is much loved by people, and this fall brings about two books on Jonas' life. One is written by Kamala Varma – a woman under whom Jonas is now working as a secretary, and another is a biography 'staged' by Jonas's sister Rakel – these are the two books which form part 1 and 2 of this trilogy. In the third and the final part, we hear Jonas' own voice giving his version of the story. (Though there is another narrator interspersed with Jonas, someone whose identity is not yet revealed)

This account is remarkable in its reminiscence. Jonas' account moves from one memory to another through a tenuous link, and he has not finished narrating one story before he reaches the other, and suddenly you find yourself into tunnels of stories. You have to keep track of which tunnel you are in, and then when you get out there is the other original unfinished story, which is capsuled in another one. The stories themselves are so full of thoughts and ideas, and you wonder if Jonas could have lived through so many thoughts at 12.

The book is about discovery – of self, of past, of memories and also of those beautiful regions of Norway which Jonas and his team is traversing on a ship. Jonas seems to be a boy wonder of sorts, but also seems to have so many moments of failing, disappointment which constantly plague him about his self-worth. What I have read so far seems like a coming of age story, though the part where the 'coming' happens has remained elusive. Perhaps it happens with Magrete's death which is the part he has only begun to speak about tentatively. But before that happens, there is much meditation – on films, on music, on sports and all the things a growing up is wound up in.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Angst

For days, perhaps months, the feeling of inadequacy and incompleteness is mounting inside me. There have been rare moments in my life when I have felt completely satisfied, but this dissatisfaction is becoming a burden too heavy to bear. For the first time, it has begun to flow into moments of minor joys.
What is it that is troubling me so much? What responsibilities am I failing in? I don't like where I live or have stopped enjoying what I do...but, changing a job or shifting a house are just distractions, which are only increasing this sense of failure. The peace has to be my own, it will never be found in these details.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Moon

I often find it hard to appreciate science fiction. It seems useless to waste a couple of hours on watching some man's boyhood fantasy finally being allowed indulgence. There is an abundance of automation and hi-tech gadgets. There are usually some aliens, trying to destroy the earth or America in the least (same difference huh?). There is high action, and equally high drama. Often, the hero comes – with a lot of Doctor D stuff and wham! Just in the last micro-second, the sun shines and everything is perfect.

But, like all genres, if the better of this one is picked out – there are many which classify as some of the finest movies ever made. Often, the speculative science is only a minor aspect of such movies. These movies put little focus on fantasy, and a lot more on personal, emotional, even philosophical aspects of certain situations. Take for instance Fahrenheit 451 which imagines a world where books are burnt – the story exclusively worries itself over the absence of books and the wooded individual which arises out of it. Or clockwork orange, which concerns itself with the perils of using brainwash as a possible remedy for fighting crime.

Another remarkable movie of the genre is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I regard as one of the most brilliant films I have seen. Everything in that movie is beautiful – the depiction of the slowness of life in space, its monotony, the perils of relying on a computer, however intelligent. The peril of artificial intelligence itself – the idea of Frankenstein replayed.

Moon by Duncan Jones, is a movie of similar beauty. It is unquestionably inspired from 2001 – even the description of the movie will give that away. Sam lives in a station on Moon, and helps send a material to earth which is required to solve earth's power problem. His only companion is a computer GERTY – a slightly diminutive version of HAL, who keeps him company – even encourages him to talk out his problems. Sam is at the end of his 3-year stint on Moon, ready and desperate to go back to earth and his family, when he meets with an accident – one which changes everything.

I cannot talk a lot about the movie without giving the plot away, which I am reluctant to do, even though it is not at all a mysterious movie.

At the beginning of the movie, you can observe the effects of isolation on Sam. There is his desperate eagerness to see his wife's video messages, his hallucinations about making love to her, the omnipresence of moon's monotones. You look at all that and wonder what kind of a man signed up this contract, this extremely washed up life, with just a computer for company. As the movie unfolds, the expendability of this man becomes more pronounced, and cruel. It seems then the same classical retort on capitalism – a corporate giant laughing away to the bank while the worker slogs and leads a miserable life. There is, must be, a hidden socialist in all of us.

There are some good dialogues in the movie, though talk is kept to a minimum. Sam Rockwell is very convincing in all his moods, and Spacey's voice as GERTY conveys the right distance and eeriness – you can't shake off the mistrust.

Surely a sci-fi that I loved.