Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interpretation of a Nightmare

Last night was a disturbed one for me with a nightmare infested sleep (or lack of it). I saw myself surrounded by dead bodies of Oriental origin. I was struggling to put them in a big container, one by one when I woke up to a very dry throat and an exhausted body. I couldn’t go back to a proper sleep for the rest of the night.

True to its authoritarian ways, China is being unreasonable in a violent manner with the ‘Free Tibet’ movement and it leaves me highly disturbed. I’m sure it will have negative repercussions on China’s ambitious plans of hosting the Olympics in the best possible way.

On another front, there have been 1, 195, 524 causalities in the 5 years of Iraq war, out of which 4000 were American soldiers and 308 were soldiers from the coalition troops. Rest were Iraqis, both civilian and militant. What a waste of human lives and for what?

Below is an an email written by one of those 4000 American soldiers. Its extracted from the NYT article which appeared today. Its heartbreaking!

Hey beautiful well we were on blackout again, we lost yet some more soldiers. I cant wait to get out of this place and return to you where i belong. I dont know how much more of this place i can take. i try to be hard and brave for my guys but i dont know how long i can keep that up you know. its like everytime we go out, any little bump or sounds freaks me out. maybe im jus stressin is all. hopefully ill get over it....

you know, you never think that anything is or can happen to you, at first you feel invincible, but then little by little things start to wear on you...

well im sure well be able to save a couple of bucks if you stay with your mom....and at the same time you can help her with some of the bills for the time being. it doesnt bother me. as long as you guys are content is all that matters. I love and miss you guys like crazy. I know i miss both of you too. at times id like to even just spend 1 minute out of this nightmare just to hold and kiss you guys to make it seem a little bit easier. im sure he will like whatever you get him for xmas, and i know that as he gets older he’ll understand how things work. well things here always seem to be......uhm whats the word.....interesting i guess you can say. you never know whats gonna happen and thats the worst part. do me a favor though, when you go to my sisters or moms or wherever you see my family let them know that i love them very much..ok? well i better get going, i have a lot of stuff to do. but hopefully ill get to hear from you pretty soon.*muah* and hugs. tell mijo im proud of him too!
love always,
your other half

Juan Campos, e-mail message to his wife

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Black & White Gems

Certain major movements in the flow of life has kept me terribly engaged resulting in the neglect of this space. Not that I have stopped my aesthetic pursuits. I continue to swim in the pleasure mixed waters of music, movies and life but haven’t been able to gather that hour of peace in which a man sits down, armed with words to give some shape to his thoughts.

Finally, sipping on the Dreamy Dew, inside the yellow-lit comforts of my home, I’m trying to make a comeback. Its about some Black & White Classics, I managed to watch in the last month and a half. Some, thanks to the film society that I am a part of and some, because the DVD’s that I borrowed from a friend.

The Third Man (1949): A British film noir by Carol Reed, based on the excellent screenplay by Graham Greene. Greene later published a novella of the same name. Brilliant cinematography (for those times), mysteriously beautiful Alida Valli , strange but befitting score on zither by Anton Karas and a superb performance by Orson Welles appearing in the last 40 minutes of the movie are the high points of this classic. In fact, the entry of Welles in the movie is one of the finest I’ve seen.

The Battle of Algiers (1966): This classic Italian docu-drama by the master director, Gillo Pontecorvo is based on the events during the 1954-1962 Algerian War against the French rule. The gripping and disturbing real-life feel with a haunting score by Ennio Morricone and Pontecorvo himself kept me riveted to the TV screen. Anurag Kashyap has taken a few lessons from here for his Black Friday. So have Mira Nair, Steven Soderbergh and Oliver Stone.

The movie has a strong relevance today with Iraq facing a similar situation.

Roman Holiday (1953): Everything is beautiful about this all time great Romantic Comedy by William Wyler. No matter how many times you watch it. Lovely Audrey Hepburn and handsome Gregory Peck riding a Vespa on the streets of Rome. Charmed! (as Princess Ann would have put it)

The Grapes of Wrath (1940): Directed by John Ford, this adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic of the same name almost does justice to the epic tale of Joad family’s exodus to California from Oklahoma in search of greener pastures during The Great Depression. Great performances by Jane Darwell as Ma Joad and Henry Fonda as Tom Joad mark this American classic.

It’s known that the great Orson Welles used to say that true test of acting skill is in the Black & White medium as colours distract the audience to things other than the actor’s expressions. Using the same logic, one may argue that the converse can also be true. Because colour cinema is a distractive medium, it takes superior acting talent from an actor to keep the audience riveted to his/her performance. Another way of looking at the subject would be to say that it all depends on the actor and his role, irrespective of medium’s shade. Do let me know how you look at it.

ps: That is one of the many excellent shots from 'The Third Man'. The movie got the Academy Award for Cinematography in 1950.