Friday, January 25, 2008

Eastern Promises

If you've watched Eastern Promises, I'd appreciate it greatly if you'd tell me how the fight scene in the bath was. You know the one I'm talking about. The one that the world and its grandma are hailing as the new benchmark for "spectacularly deployed gore"? No, no. Don't say "Watch the film." I already have. But you see, in this fantastic country, the blood and gore's been deemed too violent and hence, edited out almost completely.

To quote the Wikipedia entry about the "pivotal fight scene":
Adam Nayman of Eye Weekly reported that director David Cronenberg said "Just don't give the plot away" and Nayman wrote "His request is understandable." Nayman said, "There is one scene – the in-depth discussion of which prompted the director's anti-spoiler request referenced at the top of this story – that should rank not only in his personal pantheon of spectacularly deployed gore but among the most exhilaratingly visceral patches of cinema, period, full stop." Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert noted Cronenberg's quote and agreed, saying "He is correct that it would be fatal, because this is not a movie of what or how, but of why. And for a long time you don't see the why coming."
And this is what the article says about the use of weapons in the film:
The script made a point of excluding guns, and Cronenberg deliberately left any sight of them out of the movie. In an interview, Cronenberg explained, that the knives used in the film's pivotal fight scene weren't "some kind of exotic Turkish knives, they’re linoleum knives. [He] felt that these guys could walk around in the streets with these knives, and if they were ever caught, they could say 'we’re linoleum cutters.' "
Where I should have been watching Cronenburg's subtlety and vision play out in a film conspicuously devoid of the mandatory gun fights, I saw one nano-second of a flash of steel from under dark coats and that was bloody all!! And in what I saw, forget "pivotal", the fight scene was hardly even worth calling a scene. Read the Critical Reception section of the wiki article. Roger Ebert and ten other people are going on and on about the fight scene and our wonderful, protective censor board has very considerately saved us from the horror by ripping the whole bloody thing out.

And I do suppose it's not worth the time and energy to rant about whether the censor board is qualified to make any such brilliant decision. But that question begs asking if the people that constitute these committees are going to emasculate movies thus. It is, I think, equally useless to lament that a movie that good and interesting ran for a mere week. If I'd been working, I highly doubt that I would have been able to watch the film, given its warm welcome in theatres, but if you can, you must watch it.

Eastern Promises is everything the critics say it is... and more. The direction's superlative, the acting precise, and the film is superb in its overall effect. The story unfolds brilliantly and might have turned out to be just another ordinary crime thriller if it was told by a lesser director. The 'why' of the plot will keep you thinking long after you've left the theatre. And if you liked A History of Violence, you'll love this one. Watch it on DVD, people. It's going to be a while till I can and I'd like very much to know whether the massacred scene is as brilliant as everyone says it is.


One last thing. I know I'm flogging a dead horse but I JUST don't get it when people behave idiotically in cinema halls AND have the audacity to get irritated at you for telling them to shut up!! I don't appreciate added, jarring sound effects in the middle of a much awaited film and incessant chattering through innumerable others. What is most galling is that guy next to you who very indignantly asks you if you're happy now that he's stopped ruining the dialogue. Or that row of cretins that catcalls back instead of shamefully shutting up. I don't get it. Not at all!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Say a little...

... wish that the best works out for me tomorrow, won't you? I'm not a believer but if you are, a prayer is very welcome too!

I'm off in less than six hours to another city for the day. For an interview, you see. I've barely been looking for a job and I'm quite astonished that this lead has gone so far, so quickly, and so seemingly neatly. It's unbelievable actually, especially since anything and everything was so difficult to get done all of last year. And honestly, I cannot describe just how enthralled I am with this opportunity and how much I am looking forward to getting the job. In fact, in all excitement and trepidation, from pattering peacefully like a penguin, I have been jumping around like a crazed cat. The poor ex-reviewer went mad trying to get me to sit still on the bike. This is certainly to say nothing of the poor man going cross-eyed simply trying to talk to me this evening!

And now, as you can see, I am completely unable to sleep. But I should get to bed... not a good idea to tire myself out, no? I need to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning, if you will forgive the god-awful cliché. I'm all packed, notes to wow the potential employers and a day's travel essentials in place. Details when I'm back, of course — with good news hopefully . *deep breath* Now to sleep.

One last thing in case you're interested. The article's still not done. No surprises there I know, but I did discover this nice one about writing for a grant though. B, you might be interested. :-)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Troubling Tedium

It's been one of those days. More accurately, it's been a few of those days.

Despite all the deadlines writhing around me, I have been completely unable to concentrate. If I've been at the computer for six hours during each of the past two days, at least four-and-three-quarter of those have been spent browsing pages that have nothing to do with notions of sociability and what they mean in a technologised world. Nothing whatsoever, I assure you. And yes, I should have been done with this essay at least four days ago.

I suspect I'm just dragging my feet because I haven't written something remotely academic in nearly five years. To make me an even greater (procrastinating) wreck, in response to a draft, the ex-professor said, and I quote: "Good work on the outline. I look forward to the essay." This in itself is not a big deal, you see. But in all the years he's known and taught me, it's most complimentary thing he's ever said to me — I'm officially ready to weep in terror now.

And that non-existent God knows, I've tried hard to concentrate. Yesterday I even clanged around the house, attempting to drum up some enthusiasm or even interest for the writing and research. Not a good idea because predictably, the clatter engendered no great spurt of intellectual brilliance. Instead, I got comfortable in bed and finished The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles and The Firework-Maker's Daughter AND I got started on The Book of Imaginary Beings. Groan...

What's that? Yes, of course I know a day spent in such absorbing company is never a waste. But I've got to get that essay done. It is essential, don't you know, to the health of one of those academic begging bowl packages. And still, I'm just being aimless, pointedly ignoring the bloody thing! These are times when I wonder if I should actually get back to academia. No matter that the course is mostly professional in nature, it will still involve paper-writing, research, and all the things that are currently wrapping me in endless ennui...

Today, I've come back to my computer and stared at blankly it for what seemed like an age and hence proceeded to get thoroughly depressed. To cheer myself up a little, I went trawling through my daily reads. In more than one place I found some incredible poetry or stories about poetry. And so, with sickening alacrity, I abandoned the one paper I'd managed to open and went about some poem sampling. I just know it — this essay is never going to get done!!

You must check out this wonderful Philip Larkin poem — which cut too close to home right now. One day, you should also remind me to tell you about the time I bought the hardcover edition of the Collected Philip Larkin from the British Library in Hyderabad for a paltry 200 rupees. It was whacked from me by another beloved ex-professor who has appropriated it so completely that she even claims to have inscribed it, to herself from me!

In those guilt-ridden hours, I also found this lovely one by Robert Frost — and being so completely taken by the brilliance of it, I spent another hour looking for his company. I'll leave you though with this one by Mary Kinzie — it's something that loosened the guilt with a wintery, imperceptible "aaah".

The Close Path

What have I trained for what
have the years of
whatever I did
during them
made me
ready to take on
if the tears are to
stream coldly
like long streaks
of rain down the light
brick of the storehouse
and I become
afraid to look
lest the pain
with my breathing
its path
near enough
to disappear

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Like every other year, 2008 also arrived with a whole bunch of resolutions. Like what, you ask? Oh, I don't know... Like keeping in touch and like mailing/calling friends often. Like spending long, languid hours reading in bed and like writing/blogging more often. Like getting my camera out more and like seeing more of Bombay. Like eating healthier and like getting some exercise. Like learning to tune some people out and like focusing on the important things. Like finally getting back to work and like being proactive about the bloody, rotten job search.

I must admit, the prospect of leaving the lovely, lazy life when there's finally a winter about is so entirely daunting. But still, it's got to be done and unfortunately, it's got to be done by me. I've started looking for "gainful employment"... keep your fingers crossed for the alternate dream job to materialise and make up for the disappointments of last year!

And don't you know, 2008 has also squarely put an academic begging bowl in my hands. I'm busy thinking out articles and digging up old academic essays. I spend e-mails harassing old professors (now very dear friends) and sucking up to ex-bosses. All of this, lamentably, is taking just the wee-est bit precedence over typing out a post. I assure you, my dear, I do not like that. No, no, not one bit indeed, especially since I have some rather yummy pictures of Pune and some other nice things to share.

But since one of those aforementioned resolutions is to be proactive, I'm soldiering away and ignoring the urge to procrastinate. Also, despite some rather major roadblocks, things are shaping up slowly and I finally have the beginnings of an application package in place. Now only to conquer the nerves and I should be fine. All in all, I do not think I should be longer than a few more days and so, on the off chance that you'd missed me, this notice!