Fading Gigolo

My friend told me about this film, was immediately intrigued by the name of the film and the fact that Woody Allen and Sofia Vergara were in it! The trailer piqued my interest, it was a short film, so I decided to watch it.

John Turturro is Fioravante, the sweet faced friend of Murray, the owner of a failing bookstore owner played by Woody Allen.  Murray is enterprising, recognizes his friend for the manly man he is and sets him up to a gigolo! They even give themselves professional names - Virgil and Bongo. Allen with his head full of white hair is probably the most endearing pimp in the history of films! Fioravante brings delight to many hot women’s lives - their rich, loveless lives now suddenly full of excitement and pleasure. And it is understated, he is sure of himself, pretty much. Murray has a colorful life himself (pun not intended), being a fatherly figure to five boys living with their young-ish mother. Their trips to the very Jewish part of Brooklyn is bizarre and almost funny.

The film is quirky and quite fun until Virgil is introduced to this extremely religious Jewish widow. Their rendezvous is odd. I felt it was a weird plot angle and felt like the film was missing its steps with the story. There is the usual “in love with her, can’t sleep with you” trope. In the end, the whole religious Jewish court scene felt like it was part of a Coen Brothers’ film!

It is a good film, but not a very memorable one. There’s nothing wrong with it, in fact there are several things right with it, but still it feels a bit amateurish.

My grade: B+ 

Broken ties

Finally found the Tagore story I have been looking for years!
It is called “Broken Ties” 

I just remembered “veneration in human nature is..” and had searched for the story with this line a few years ago. I had forgotten about it. I remembered it today after I read some blog which listed the blog writer’s favorite authors. (Tagore wasn’t even one of the authors in that list!) It was sooo easy to find it!

Anyway here’s the full quote: “ He held the opinion that veneration in human nature was a superstition, specially designed to make men into slaves”

Such joy this story was, during my youthful, rebellious time. Even though one of the central characters just keeps swinging to the extremes, it kinda made me wait for a sign. 

There was no sign of course. And I am too old to be waiting.

yaaro kannali kannanittu - Orata I love you

Gave into my lesser desires. Listening to the songs on radio from my time in Bangalore. The lyrics are making me barf, but whatevs.

Breath (Soom)

I saw this film a while ago and somehow forgot writing about it.

This film is part of the “watch everything that Kim ki duk has made” project. 

There is a certain weirdness about this film. Its protagonists are crazy and may have real mental illnesses, their fixations are absurd, the story that unfolds is just unbelievable and the subtext is hard to grasp. 
This seemingly well-adjusted, married woman starts getting obsessed about a criminal on his death row. She begins visiting him, decorating the waiting room with many different themes, seducing him, eventually carrying on a full blown affair, while the higher ups just watch everything on their camera! She still has her husband and her daughter, but her husband has an affair, so there is an angle of her saying “fuck you” to him through this. 

A lot of things need explanation, though. I didn’t understand the whole subtext of “breath”. It is probably used to signify “life”. And the climax asphyxiation seems to be there just to justify the title. I didn’t exactly understand the reason for the woman’s obsession and all the seasons she enacts. I guess there is a hidden meaning, I just didn’t get it.

It could have been a fresh, crisp romantic story - like “3 -iron” or a deeply symbolic one like “spring summer..”, but it just ends up being a self indulgent creative experiment. ( I don’t have a problem with that)

I don’t recommend this film highly

My grade: C+

Misery is wasted on the miserable. — Dr. Bigelow in Louie

Back to work

Oh god.

I heart huckabees

I was browsing for LInklater’s films after I saw boyhood and I read some about “Dazed and confused” and finally clicked on “similar films” for “Waking life”. This film’s plot read “.. is a philosophical comedy.. where the central characters hire detectives to investigate their existential questions” and I was drawn in.

it has a shiny starcast! The plot and the lack of it combined with endless chatter about don’t-know-what keeps the film quirky and even funny at times. It doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t take itself seriously (thank god!) and it’s ironic at the face of it. It could’ve been earnest, that’d have made it funnier and it could’ve had tighter direction, but it gives you a feeling that the director was high when he did this.  

And then, I found out. “Adaptation” was by the same director! It makes so much sense that he would direct both these films. I had a really hard time deciding if i totally hated Adaptation or would want to watch it again, keeping an open mind. This one was much better, perhaps because of the comedy. 

The existential questions are cool, though. The struggle between living by arbitrary meanings and embracing meaninglessness is illustrated rather explicitly. It is unclear if any of that is serious, however. It feels like the characters come of age and mature and find their places in the universe and for this, they need a bit of a push from some strange forces in the Universe. Do they go far, though? And realize themselves?

But hey, who am I to say! I am not even myself sometimes. “How are you not yourself?” you ask? No? 

My grade: B


If you lived your life by the moments, time is elusive. But if you lived it by the years, time begins to take a concrete shape. But the thing is, you can never live life by the years. You can only try to, like they say, “seize the moment” but that is possible only if you’re not already seized by the moment.  It is so easy to get lost in the everydayness, to cross off items from the to-do lists, to revel in the excruciating minutiae of daily existence, and then suddenly, so many years have gone by!

All that said, boyhood is an amazing film. I am very very impressed and I highly recommend that you see it. You won’t realize how 2 hours and 45 minutes go by. Just like twelve years of your life!

My grade: A 

My blueberry nights

One of my friends brought up this movie when we were discussing about “arty” films quite some time back and I had read the plot on IMDb. I remembered this again after I noticed some Wong Kar Wai’s films while browsing on Netflix. Thought I’d see.

It is a good film. Full of symbols and metaphors, pleasant and inviting colors and images, and many great actors! The film revolves around this girl, Elizabeth, who travels cross country to get over a heartbreak and possibly to find herself. It is not a poetic, road film, though. She works minimum wage jobs and tries her might to save up for a car, and we hardly see her “doing things”. We encounter very interesting characters with her. We meet the alcoholic cop Arnie and his ex-wife Sue Lynn (Rachel Weisz) and their painful separation in Memphis, TN. We go on to a hot, sweaty Casino in the middle of Nevada and meet the ever charming Leslie (Natalie Portman), the reckless gambler, and take a trip to Las Vegas! And finally, with so much of life experience, Elizabeth heads back home, New York, to the very same cafe that she started from, to the arms (lips?) of the baker boy with the British accent!

So, there are many problems with the film. The sub-plots are really interesting and make for sharp, charming stories. They’re out of a story book, almost. But the characters are thoroughly unreal. This is usually not a problem, but they don’t mesh well with the grounded stories. Don’t mix normal with the crazy, that’s what I always say! And there is the whole plot of our girl going all the way from NYC and back there. And this cute boy making blueberry pies for her night after night and reading the letters that she keeps writing from everywhere without a return address. Now, this is super unreal. And would be okay if our girl were a little more interesting. She isn’t.

But maybe, just may be, that *is* the point? 

I really liked this film much more as soon as i saw this and now that more than a few days have passed, I don’t like it as much. 

My grade: B+

In a silent way - Miles Davis