Life in High Fidelity

"It's like I've fallen out of bed from a long and vivid dream"

“Her”: To love is to be vulnerable.

“Of all the arts, movies are the most powerful aid to empathy, and good ones make us into better people.”

Have you ever, while watching a film in a theater filled with an audience of complete strangers to you, moved your eyes off the screen and looked around? Noticed how everyone is just as deeply affected as you are by something that’s going on with these characters whom also you didn’t know a few minutes before? In that moment, the audience is one. We are all feeling the most basic thing that makes us alive–emotions.You are caring for the people whom you didn’t know before you walked in that auditorium. In their joy, you find joy. And in their sadness, you are saddened. It’s a sign of a great film and it’s the peak potential of a powerful cinema. These films become precious memories in the hearts and the minds of the audience. A special experience they will go on to savor for their lifetime. “Her”, for me, was one of those films.

Her_01

I sit here, staring blankly at this computer screen, my fingers about to type down the flood of  thoughts I have after watching this film, but I feel so many things right now, and I can’t find the right wording to express it in the most self-satisfactory way. But I’ll try.

Waking up to the most beautiful sunrise on a beach and going to sleep in your quiet place in the midst of a chaotic city–if there is a cinematic equivalent for that–it would be “Her”. Standing atop a high summit and screaming your lungs out till you’ve purged out all the emotions–watching “Her” comes close to that. Holding the most special person to you in your arms, and letting them go–“Her”.

Theodore, with the talent of expressing affection in an utmost beauty, is rightly working for a company that composes “hand-written” letters for the clients. The film is set in a not-too-distant future to justify the film’s premise, but for all its intentions and purposes, it’s the film of all ages and time. A film that values intimacy and vulnerability, and captures the bittersweet memories of a love gone by. The landscape and the look of the film may be of the world we don’t know yet, but its people are not unknown to us, for they are us, wandering around in a giant pool of hopeless, damaged individuals. Theodore, while working in the office, composes letters rich with love and joy while channeling an honest empathy for the clients, and then he leaves the workplace, and the first thing he does is to delve into his melancholy. “Play a melancholic song.”, he voice-commands his device to enhance the mood. Is he miserable because he has been writing letters portraying pure love while he is unfortunate to have one? Or is he good at showing humility because he has been miserable? He walks back to his home, enveloping himself with his arms with giant buildings in the background. An isolated, introverted individual living in his own world. How many times must he have followed the same routine? How many times must he have listened to that same melancholic song, returned to his cave of solitude, mechanically, over and over? He is drowning in an ocean of isolation, and the only thing that he can hold on to is his work or the technological distractions.

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“Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.”, he remarks at one point.

And then a light hits him and wakes him up, this light is “Samantha”, one of the many specific designs of the world’s first artificial operating system. What starts as a weird, unlikely thing develops into a natural, compassionate relationship, for Samantha is “not just a computer, but her own person”. What makes us human anyway? Empathy and emotions are part of the characteristics that define us. Samantha is as empathetic as they come. So here are these two persons, helping each other out to learn more about themselves, and in the process, falling in love. Samantha tries to help Theodore let go of the past that he shared with his lovely wife, memories of whom still haunt Theodore in his sleepless nights, and he helps her to see what it feels like to be a human. They are both seeing the world with new pairs of eyes. This is the story that lies in the heart of “Her”–the longing for intimacy and the inevitable baggage of pain that comes with it.

Theodore finds himself thinking of the memory vignettes from his married life, and eventually, feeling guilt for himself for the things he wishes he could have done otherwise. He doesn’t resent her for the conflict that they caused each other. He is wise enough to understand that “hard part is growing without growing apart or changing without it scaring the other person”. That’s what the change or conflict does to people. They find themselves in a loop of thoughts of self-doubt and how they would’ve handled things differently. “The past is just a story we tell ourselves.”, Samantha tells Theodore.

So what do people do to avoid this self-damage? They avoid their longing for intimacy, and wrap their hearts safely in an impenetrable box of self-interests. They distract themselves with the video-games and the same work-routine. They try to liberate themselves from the vulnerability that comes with the relationships by not caring about it at all. We’re only here briefly, and while I’m here I want to allow myself joySo fuck it.”, says Theodore’s friend Amy who is going through a kind of similar situation and has more in common with him than they both realize themselves.

“Her” portrays such a complexly beautiful picture of what it’s like to be in love–as it should be. It’s not just going out on a Sunday adventure, late night calls and sex, but also the conflict when the dreams and ideas of two persons collide, a sense of insecurity that accompanies it. There’s a scene later in the film where Theodore is trying to connect with Samantha, but the device shows an error of “Operating System Not Found”, and you see how fearful that makes him. He falls while running anxiously through corridors–he seems to be broken, like he has just lost a part of himself. It reminds us how scary it can be to be in love.

For a story this effectively told, it must have been really special and personal story for the writer-director Spike Jonze, and it shows. He has poured his heart out in every word and every frame of this picture, without fearing to be vulnerable.  He has essentially created a poetic literature that would prove to be timeless. And the cast and the crew compensates his vision in the right direction. I, for one, never thought Theodore of being a character played by Joaquin Phoenix. I couldn’t see Joaquin anywhere in him. I was only able to see an introverted, sensitive guy named Theodore. I think that’s the biggest compliment I can give him. (But the mustache definitely helped!) Johansson has a warmth in her voice that Samantha needed. The film also owes a lot to cinematography by Hoytema who paints a minimalist, abstract future with washed down color brushes, and Arcade Fire’s score that complements the film’s bittersweet atmosphere.

The film ends with Theodore and Amy sitting beside each other, on the top of a building, looking at the endless night-scape of the city. These are both damaged individuals and they both share an understanding for each other’s perspective. It’s such a beautiful note to end the film with. Like a warm hug after an emotionally cathartic experience. I think if this films helps let people go of the damaged past and see it in a different, positive light, if they are ready to fall in love again, or at least, value the intimacy they share with their close ones, and not be afraid of being vulnerable or hurt, then its existence is proven worthy.

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A timeless quote from C.S. Lewis comes to mind and feels right to end this post with–

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 

That Day.

“Piglet!”
Cried Pooh, waking up from
a terrible dream.

“Where is Piglet? I want to see Piglet!”
The first and last thought
on Pooh’s anxious mind.

Around the tree-house,
Pooh searched for his friend
Never noticing
the shiny, pearly dew-drops on the wood.

“Where must have Piglet gone? Away?”,
Pooh kept thinking of his friend
Never listening
to the symphony of
rustling tree-leaves and
rhythmic river-flow and
chirping of birds.

“Oh, Piglet! I must have done something wrong.”,
Pooh worried for his friend
Never looking at
the hopeful sight of rainbow
on the horizon

He sat in despair–
and waited–
and waited,
inside the locked room of his head.

“Pooh!”
a familiar voice he heard,
the one he had been waiting to hear
this whole endless day

It was Piglet!

“Where have you been, Piglet?
I searched for you, and waited, and worried…
…were you lost?”

“Oh, Pooh!
I was just here.

Haven’t you noticed this beautiful day?
I was just
here.”

Pooh looked around.
A whole new world
blooming in front of his eyes.

Pooh looked into Piglet’s eyes,
with all the love he was capable of,
and so did Piglet.

“I wasn’t lost, Pooh!”,
said Piglet.
“Were you?”

Pooh and Piglet

Remembering Roger Ebert.

It was just another midnight of last year’s summer. I had just finished re-watching Alexander Payne’s Sideways, a movie that had moved me profoundly. I opened a notepad, and started typing down my thoughts. It was an inspired moment.

I made a blog (my very first), posted the note, and without thinking too much, I shared the post on Ebert’s official FB page.

I knew he would answer and react to his fans on his FB page as often as he could, and with such generosity! What I didn’t know was that I would become one of those fortunate fans. Within 30 minutes, I received a notification “Roger Ebert commented on your post.”. I died! Of happiness! I couldn’t believe it!

Then my ecstatic moment slowly started fading away as soon as I started guessing what he may have commented. No, I hadn’t read the comment yet. I was savoring the moment. I was too busy reading those fantastic words of the most important notification I’ve ever received on my Facebook profile, and surely the one I ever will. “Roger Ebert commented on your post.”

What he might have said? He must have found my writing amateurish. Well, of course! What was I thinking?–My inner critic started voicing in my head for a while. And then I took a deep breath, and saw the comment. I read his words. He had written ten words. And in those ten words, he managed them to be the most encouraging words I’ll ever receive.

“You, my friend, can write, and you should blog more.”

I was looking at those words, and they became blurry. I realized that I was crying! Happily! Tears ran down my cheek as I read those words again and again. It was just too good to be true! But there it was. The greatest film critic the world has seen, reading and encouraging my writing! What obligation did he have to do that? None. Did he have to spare time to read the post? No. I still don’t think I am worthy of that comment.

But that’s just how that man was. Always encouraging. Always generous. The most human film critic. A writer who would operate the keyboard like a maestro stroking piano keys. I thanked him by replying to his comment, and let him know how much his words meant to me. That was the end of my brief interaction with Roger Ebert. I believe he must have smiled reading my reply. I hope so.

Did I live up to Roger’s encouragement? I am afraid not. I hate myself for that. There were times when I would think of ideas or get inspired to write again, maybe post on his page once again to let him know that I was walking on the path he directed me towards. But I delayed or ignored those ideas for the reasons that now seem petty. I feel regret.

It was April 5th, early morning, in India. I go online, and I come to know about the news. A terrible, unreal news. I couldn’t think for quite a while. It may sound corny, but I went offline, and tried to sleep again, wishing that it was just a bad dream from which I would wake up eventually, and read another new post by Roger Ebert. But, no, it happened. He left us. And I was reminded of those ten generous words again. I realized how I was going to dedicate a post to him, hoping that he would read it, and maybe, just maybe, it would make him smile. But it would never happen now. I took his divine presence for granted. I never thought there would come a day when he won’t be around, when there won’t be any words written by him anymore. I guess I just didn’t want that to happen, of course.

Roger Ebert in his Library.

I discovered Roger Ebert while looking for a review of a movie that I don’t seem to remember at the moment. Perhaps, that’s not important. I wasn’t exposed to online written reviews before, and I came to know that Roger Ebert was considered the most prestigious of them all. And after my very first experience of Ebert’s flawless writing, I understood why.

There was this flow of a calm and confident river in his writing. Always inspired, and always connecting with the reader. He would not tell you whether you should or shouldn’t watch the film. His reviews were more than that. In fact, they weren’t reviews. They were windows through Ebert’s genius and beautiful mind, through which, you could re-interpret the films in different and eye-opening ways, the ways that you wouldn’t think were possible. He would show you the big picture. He would tell you what to look for in the film, and how. He always was inter-acting through his writings. They were, essentially, conversations with the readers. Always helping you evolve as a cinema aficionado. It became a ritual for me to read Ebert’s review as soon as I finished a film. Without his perspective, the film experience always remained incomplete. And now, that hollowness is to remain forever.

Everyone knows what a wonderful life he lived, but not short of challenges.  I think he knew the possibilities of social networking sites and blogs, more than anyone of us, because those became the only stages for him to speak. He touched so many lives, connected with so many people, and inspired so many souls. In his own words, “You can’t say it wasn’t interesting.”

Oh, Roger. I miss you! The loss has me saddened, but not discouraged, no. I have so much of your writing yet to read. You’re alive in your words, and memories and love of your fans. You’ll see me at the movies. Whenever I would come across a profoundly moving film, I would wonder how you would have enjoyed it, too. You should know, and I hope these words find a way to you cosmically, that those ten words hang on wall of my room. I start my every morning looking at it.

“You, my friend, can write, and you should blog more.”

I will, Rog. I will.

Thank you, for everything.

Thank you.Roger Ebert at the movies

Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.

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Art by Emiliano Morciano

How original are YOU?

Influence, my dear friend, is just around the corner. If Life is a story, then you as a character are constantly being shaped. We are not complete. We are not absolute. And we are not original.

You took certain tutorial classes  in your primary high school because you were suggested so. You were tempted to try a particular chocolate because your friends told you how delicious it is. Yes, you did experiment yourself many times. But not always. The choice for professional career that you made was, in fact, influenced by someone or something at some point in your life. Some of these influences are the ones you are aware of. But many of these are taken in by your subconscious. And those are the one that scare me.

Think about it. The stuff that you wear, the stuff that you eat, and the stuff where you shit. It’s all some influence-suggestion-temptation by someone or something. Even the most experimental moments in your life can be influenced by the people you idolize. I’m not talking about a particular person’s influence. I’m talking about everything. The ambition, the heartbreak, the passion, the happy place–everything is constantly shaping your life and your actions. Your art, your interests, your writing, your perception–everything is a product of something non-original. It is a constant, never-ending process. Even the coffin or the urn where you would rest after dying would be a suggestion of some funeral home. The model of computer or mobile on which you are reading this post on, decision of owning that model was also influenced in some way. This subconscious influence has infested every bit of yourself, like it or not.

Well, then it begs for a question. How important is originality anyway? Maybe it is over-rated. Maybe we are meant to be this way. I ask myself, what would ‘original’ myself be like? Or rather, what if I had met different kinds of people in my life, completely different from the ones I’m with right now, how would that person behave? How would that person talk? What his ambitions would be? What would be his favorite music? Who would be his favorite author? I’m pretty sure that the answers would be quite polarizing from the ones that I have right now. And it kind of scares me. This feeling that I’m not absolute myself. There are billions of versions of me out there. And none of them is an original human-being. You and I are not original.

We are a copy of a copy of a copy.

You mustn’t be afraid to spin the web a little higher, darling!

Was the reboot really needed? That kind of question is worthless now. Does the reboot ‘marvel’ (yes, pun intended!) over the 2002 version? In some departments, yes. In some, not really. It has been just one decade since Raimi’s Spider-Man came out and the memory of cherishing that movie as a kid is still effectively imprinted.

First of all, Andrew Garfield, the man of the hour, is brilliant as Peter Parker/Spider-Man! He is effortlessly charming and you don’t miss Maguire even for a second. I am not much familiar with Spider-Man’s comic book world but from whatever I’ve read, Garfield nails that. Garfield’s Peter Parker is proud of being a nerd. Yes, he gets bullied by a douche named ‘Flash’ again. Yes, he is finding difficulties in connecting with any person, even his uncle and aunt. But he is a rebel in nature. He is extremely smart and modest in equal measure. He’s just Peter Parker.

For a change, Garfield’s Peter Parker takes a pleasure in being Spider-Man!

First half is very much a reminder of the story we’ve been told before, we’ve all seen before. Some things improved, some things are just bland. Like, becoming Spider-Man for instance! Marc Webb seems to be in a big hurry and insecure to let audience spend more time with Peter before he becomes a masked hero. It just feels rushed. What’s improved is the humor factor. Webb knows how to spin the mood ‘webs’ (pun intended!) in a scene. As soon as the atmosphere gets a little too serious, he throws a humor web out of nowhere. Bam! Makes it feel refreshing! And yes, of course there are pop-cultural references like Hitchcock or Godzilla. Yes, it has a very good soundtrack. We know how brilliant Marc’s taste in music is, thanks to (500) Days of Summer. Speaking of which, I think Marc takes his best tools for creating a heartwarming romance from his debut film and sharpens the edge between Gwen and Peter in The Amazing Spider-Man. Emma Stone is just charming (has she ever not been?). Garfield and Stone share an electrifying chemistry. Much improved over Raimi’s Spidey Romance.

(500) Days of Gwen

There isn’t much to talk about other characters. They are just fine in what they are doing–filling the gap in between. What the movie lacks is a convincing villain. A scientist turned a giant green reptile, which is supposed to come up as ‘a terrifying and yet humanly creature inside’ doesn’t succeed in being either of those two. This is a villain which we have seen over and over again. A rejected scientist goes rogue to make his ‘dream project’ a success Bam!- next thing he knows next morning– he is a freaking lizard! And he just wonders around the city with no motivated actions. Even the birth of this villain is strikingly similar to Green Goblin from Spider-Man(2002), which is disappointing because after so many recalls to old Spidey, we want something fresh, not just in treatment of scenes but as a whole plot structure. That, isn’t what you get. Even the action sequences–trying to save a falling car from a bridge with kid(s) inside, for instance; feels much familiar. I know this is Marc Webb’s version, and that is exactly why I would expect it to be something far better and refreshing. How exactly is this “an untold story” as the movie’s marketing has reminded us it being of, again and again? The most interesting and refreshing thing about Peter’s childhood that is in the movie, sadly gets sidetracked and never comes back to us again, more on that part later.

The Lizard (-cum- The Godzilla -cum- The Dinosaur -cum- The Green Goblin)

James Horner’s orchestra is decent as a standalone piece of music but in the movie, it doesn’t scream SPIDER-MAN! That was also one of the factors which made even the most exciting moments a bit dull. Danny Elfman, you’re being missed!

Much of the final movie has deleted some scenes that we remember from the promos. A key voice over(which seems to play a major part in revealing the mystery) we hear from Irfan Khan in trailers is just not here. Actually, Irfan Khan’s character which comes up as an important part to Richard Parker’s mysterious past, just disappears after first half! And also another such abandonment of an important character near the ending of the movie. Were the screenwriters in too much hurry to get our boy in swinging spidey scene that they forgot other key characters in the story? One can’t help but wonder. The film starts creating its base on a mystery and then refuses to give a definitive resolving moment for it.

God bless Webb for featuring web-shooters in the movie, though! Now our boy looks much cooler, much badass. There are some cool moments that you would keep in your brain pocket, safe and locked, to bring a smile on your face on a rainy day. A splendidly hilarious Stan Lee cameo, New York city crane drivers helping a stumbling Spidey to make a short cut to save his love of life, and the city, of course! A kid wears the mask Spidey just gave him to be brave enough to get out of the burning car. But the thing is, such moments are not in abundance. The epilogue is just plain lazy. It’s like hitting a break on a Mustang running in top speed.

If you are still interested to catch it on big screen, which by all means, you should do because it’s a good movie (just not good enough to be in your memory for long time), you’d ask if you should sport them 3D glasses or go for good ol’ 2D. Well, the movie is spectacular in 3D, ONLY when our spidey boy shouts out in all his web glory spinning around New York buildings.  So 3D is good but not must.

I think the movie will be more refreshing and more enjoyable to those who are unfamiliar with this superhero’s history in movies. This is a good movie but not THE AMAZING!

3.5/5.0

Influences on Nolanverse Gotham

“For me, the better the film the more different ways it can live in your mind. The more ways you can remember it or re-interpret it. When you come back to that film the second time you feel surprised by what you see because it has taken a new format in your brain.”

— modern master filmmaker Christopher Nolan while describing his favorite movies like Blade Runner, Star Wars – A New Hope, 2001 : A Space Odyssey. These are the movies that he feels bled off the reel, movies which created a different universe on celluloid. The director also confesses his love for movies that demand a  second viewing which makes a viewer to notice different aspects that had gone unnoticed the first time. Sounds familiar? It’s no surprise that almost all of his films so far have been sharing this particular favorite film trait of Nolan. Many would like to call it a trademark of him. I would like to call it his way of giving homage to his favorite movies.

Christopher Nolan’s films have always carried tributes to Cinema in one way or another. They might not be as clear to the eye as homages in Tarantino movies but they are there, subtly acknowledging love for films. Was it a coincidence that there was a rotating hallway and zero gravity sequence in Inception? Doesn’t femme fatale, film noir atmosphere and certain aspects of the story in Following ring a bell to you? Film noir films like Double Indemnity are among Nolan’s favorite films. No surprise there, right?

So where does Nolan’s Batman Trilogy fit in? Recently, I developed this theory (or whatever you may call it) which makes me think that there has always been one particular film that largely influenced Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and now, The Dark Knight Rises. Not sure whether this has been brought up before. I’m sure it has, noticing the wildfire of theories about these films on internet these days. So here are some of my few extra cents.

Batman Begins

Influence – Blade Runner

Christopher Nolan  has always been a worshiper of Ridley Scott’s vision of creating extremely detailed universes, more particularly Blade Runner and Alien. Blade Runner was painted with extra ordinary cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth who cleverly used lights-shadows and smokes to create an immersive cyberpunk future reality. There might not be heavy traits of Blade Runner in Batman Begins but the way Wally Pfister uses smokes to create a fearful atmosphere in Gotham gives a visual echo of Blade Runner to me.

Lights – Shadows -Smokes

There is also a ridiculous but interesting aspect to this theory. Batman Begins has an actor in a small but significant role who was also one of main characters in Blade Runner –  Rutger Hauer. Now I know that it might just be a coincidence OR as if, Nolan was acknowledging the influence and homage to Blade Runner in Batman Begins! Like I told you – uncanny but interesting!

“Didn’t you get the reference?”

2. The Dark Knight

Influence – Heat

This one is pretty much out there. Everyone (almost every TDK fan, at least!) knows that TDK’s Bank Robbery Prologue was inspired by heist scene from Heat. The brutality, the way Joker’s men make all the moves and warnings while the robbery, the use of masks — it’s pretty much clear to the eye. And what a brilliant homage it was! This is the way tributes should be set. Without distracting the consistency and flow of the film, it served the purpose. Not a gimmicky homage but a perfect blend-in with the original story.

Why So Awesome?

 But that’s not all there’s to TDK about influence of Heat. The central theme about the dilemma and duality between Batman and Joker is reminiscent of the way Vincent and Neil’s crossing paths in Heat. You know what I’m talking about, if you’ve seen Heat. There is even a scene where Vincent and Neil sit at a bar or something, chats and make realize themselves how much they need each other. No matter what side of the law they are on, there is a sense of similar grey shades in both of them. That scene effortlessly reminds me of Batman-Joker interrogation scene, and vice versa.

“You’ll see! I’ll show you!”

Now coming to uncannily interesting aspect to this theory–guess who shares the screen presence in both of these films? Ah, I know that you know!

Hey dude! Are you watching closely?

You think I’m kidding? Well, here ‘s a fun fact/trivia for you. For the first four days of production, Christopher Nolan put cast and crew under a movie boot camp comprising eight films whose tone he wanted to emulate. In chronological order, these were: King Kong, Citizen Kane, Cat People, Stalag 17, Black Sunday, A Clockwork Orange, Heat and Batman Begins. Not surprising that Nolan found Heat’s tone and theme somewhat more parallel to that of TDK!

Coming to our final and yet to be watched conclusion to the epic trilogy is-

3. The Dark Knight Rises

Influence – (Just a guess!) Full Metal Jacket

Now I know I’m just jumping the gun here. Nolan hasn’t said a word about Kubrick’s FMJ in any interviews so far. But how good are theories if they don’t seem uncanny and crazy, that’s what they are for, right? Wait! I also have some things to back my guess up.

Just a while ago, Concept Artist of TDKR — Tully Summers shed some lights about how TDKR’s atmosphere is going to be. Guess what she said!

“The difference for me was Christopher Nolan’s visual style. One of the things that makes his Batman movies so compelling is their tone of plausibility. He will often prefer a raw, grittier design over one that is very sleek and product design pretty. It’s sort of a practical military aesthetic. This stuff is made to work, not impress shoppers. The Dark Knight Rises is a war film.

And well, set photos, Bane’s costume-mercenaries they all hint positively to the above statement actually!

War and TDKR!

Like I pointed out previously, the references are subtle in Nolan’s films, blending in with the story. While I look at FMJ, I can’t think how it can influence TDKR but then I think about the final haunting shot in Full Metal Jacket (Not gonna spoil it here! Relax!) which set the entire tone of the film. It raised a giant question mark asking “Why War? Why?” TDKR might use that tone in same way. We know how Nolan set a moral dilemma in TDK. TDKR might question the basic morality between War and Peace. Oh yes! “There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne!”

Guess who is “fighting” for peace in both of these movies? *Drum Roll*

Hmmm!

I tried to ask Matthew Modine himself about this.

Private Joker is such a cool guy!

I forgot how Nolan is secretive about things. Or maybe, Matthew Modine just doesn’t know about overall tone and theme of TDKR, being in comparatively small role. From what I’ve read, so far inspirations for TDKR have been Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and  Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City. We may know more after having seen the movie.

Speak up your views and thought on this in comments. Thanks for reading.

Reliving Memories Through Celluloid


“Movies are the memories of our lifetime, we need to keep them alive.” ~ Martin Scorsese

 

I get absorbed in the above mentioned quote even more, after watching ‘Sideways’ again tonight. I had seen the movie once sometime back. I happen to remember that I liked it. It was a good experience. That’s what happens when you try to remember the movie you have seen a long time ago, you remember these tiny moments. You feel the place or the environment of the time you watched that movie. You remember these small, insignificantly significant moments. And with all these small details, you breathe the same air that you breathed at the time you watched that movie. When I thought of Sideways, I thought “Yea..pretty cool movie. Just two friends hitting it down the road. Bunch of interesting stuff about wine.” But when I saw it this night again, it was just so much more! That kind of fascinated me and made me write this note.

There are movies that make you smile, jump off your seat in thrill, leave you surprised while you’re busy picking up the jaw from the ground, make you scared and almost make you shut your eyes in the most anxious moments… you get the idea! And then.. there are movies which speak directly to your soul. You don’t know how but you just feel– this is right! Sometimes, there is a  movie that transcends you from your dark room and makes you feel you are there, in the celluloid frame, living with those characters. Sideways for me, was something like that!

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The character that talked to my subconscious was Miles. Miles has a passion about wines and all the process that goes down in making them. I neither know much about wines, nor I am fond of them. What hit the right stroke was his passion about something, something which maybe insignificant to all others around him, but for him.. for him, it was his gate-away from daily boring life routine, and eventually, the life itself. Miles struggles to get his novel published, ‘The Day After Yesterday’. “You mean.. Today?” asks his friend, Maya. But that’s not how Miles sees the today. For him, the present is like a conclusion of the past. “Why do you always have to focus on negative?” shouts his best friend at him, who is out with Miles on a trip a week before his own wedding. But for a guy who is failing to get his work published for years, whose divorced wife is about to get re-married while he still mourns over her and has a habit of ‘Drink and Dial’, for him, maybe positive things don’t matter anymore. I don’t think Miles would have always been a pessimist. Nobody is born one. It’s the experience of one’s life which makes an optimist turn into pessimist, I think.

There is a scene where Miles describes why he loves Pinot the most among all the other wines. He describes how the grapes for this wine have to be nurtured with gentle care, how vulnerable they are, and how the process makes the wine so unique. While he is describing this, he’s describing himself without being aware of it. And that’s what we do, don’t we? There’s a reason why we love some things better than anything else, and the reason is that those things feel special because you find your reflection in them. So the trip that was supposed to be ‘fun’ becomes a self-discovering experience, both for Miles and his friend, Jack.

Miles hasn’t always been a loner as I wrote earlier. He had a wife. For some reasons (or not), things don’t work out for them, as they usually don’t. Miles is left alone. He tries to keep himself occupied in a novel project. The novel is a fiction, but still, very much based on true events of his life, that’s what he says. I’m not surprised. For a man, who is occupied by his past so heavily, it’s impossible to not get distracted by real life in the process of creating an alternate reality on a paper.

But Miles does find a new road in his life while having the road trip with his best friend. A road where he thinks his friend, Maya, would be an ideal partner. The movie ends with a very memorable moment. Miles drives off from his home after getting a voice mail from Maya. It’s a misty, rainy morning. He stands there, outside the door of her home. And the scene fades to black after just a knock on the door. A moment so moving that you can’t help but feel optimistic about Miles, and in the process, you feel optimistic about yourself. Even for a moment, you do. 

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I hope Miles’ novel gets published. I hope he is having a good day, maybe having a coffee with Maya after reaching at her home. And to make oneself hope, takes much of an effort. Maybe that’s why I feel, this movie is special.