Sully Movie Review

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One of the risk of making a movie where the central character is a regular guy turned hero, there is much scope for a flat caricature in pursuit of grandiose over his/her humaneness.  But one of the advantages of having Tom Hanks as your movie protagonist is, he has the capacity to turn a caricature into a human, with a history and a heart. I had this sense of balance in deciding to watch the movie, Sully.

Let me admit I have the greatest respect and awe for the entire aviation field. The fact that a machine weighing hundreds of tons can float in the air is in itself like magic to me. What? In the era of quantum Internet? But if you really consider the Internet, once the computer was invented the internet was the logical next step. It was invented in the late 1940s and military was using it in its rudimentary form during the war. It is really a big repository of files that we access through wires. But the fact that we can fly a machine so high up in the air, which is more than a mere slingshot throw mechanism is a wonder.  At least for me a person whose motor skills have to be defined as something -challenged it is a wonder that something can be flown so high up.

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The movie talks about what happens to a man who assumes the responsibility, an unwritten pact that says, we will take you home alive and what happens when circumstances get in the way of executing this promise. Although the media and the people hailed the pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed his plane in the Hudson river, as the hero, his personal experience was different.

Besides, the emotionally taxing investigation of the case, the movie portrays his own trauma of all the likely scenarios that could have occurred is beautifully portrayed and neatly paced. Tom Hanks’ performance of Sully brings all the dignity and endurance of the pilot, Sully himself. Watch it see how Hanks can turn a static scene into a bunch of nerves and the entire space is throbbing with this energy. I had watched Sully purely for the love of Tom Hanks but I am tempted to explore more of director, Clint Eastwood’s work.

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Onibaba Movie Review

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Two days ago, on April 22nd was Japanese director Kaneto Shindo’s birthday. The first movie I had seen of the director was The Children of Hiroshima, which is entirely different from Onibaba and is more direct and realistic about the sufferings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima perhaps because it was made in 1952 very close to the tragedy. Instead Onibaba although about modern events sits on the framework of the past.

 I had seen the movie, Onibaba, referenced here and there and was curious about it. Since horror is really not my genre I had been hesitant in the past (because I am a scarredy-cat that’s why, not because they are beyond my taste). So finally today I had the chance to watch the movie.  

Japan has an old and enduring culture of horror stories. When I first came across it I was not very keen to check it out. You see, my knowledge of horror stories comes from the recent set of horror movies that focus more on supernatural entities and gore.

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And these laughable white lenses that the Zee team bought in bulk or received from the Ramsays.

While I enjoy a good story here and there, for the most part I stand at “from the time I discovered what monstrosities humans could commit, I stopped being scared of the monster under my bed.” But it is by sheer accident that I discovered the movie, Ugetsu, which has certainly piqued my interest in this genre. Onibaba is a film followed by that. Like Ugetsu, Onibaba is also a jidaigeki, meaning a period drama. While it is a period drama, this story is an analogy for the modern war, and especially the world wars which destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Onibaba, the movie is set in fourteenth century Kyoto, where wars between factions of samurais has led to a civil unrest. The story is centered on two peasant women who are pushed to manage on their own, as their son has left for a war. One of them is the older woman, and the other is her daughter-in-law. The film portrays their struggle for satisfying their most natural instincts. While hunger remains a constant struggle and no one hesitates to kill.

While hunger is not hardly met, sex becomes another struggle which for the younger woman is a matter of instinct, it is a matter of survival for the older woman. While there are few who could actively pursue the daughter during the wartime, the return of their dead son’s friend starts a challenge for the woman. She is forced to watch her daughter in law being drawn to the new man and fears that this would leave her alone.

THE SYMBOLISM

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Onibaba

the character of Onibaba is drawn from old Japanese folklore, which means a “demon woman” or an evil hag. The story itself had emerged out of the Kyoto region. An Onibaba is a woman who feasts on the flesh of a young pregnant woman and is depicted as carrying a knife or spindle. There are many alternative stories. The Onibaba of the movie is inspired from a Buddhist fable. What I loved about Onibaba is how myth is easily woven into such a realistic story.

The wilderness

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The wilderness is a very potent symbol used throughout the movie. A wilderness is a sign that the soil is fertile, not barren, however it also depicts that no one can be bothered to look after it. It is also a projection of the people living in it. It is possible the older woman is not that old at all but looks older due to the extreme poverty. Her own loneliness she can share only with a tree that is standing barren in the wilderness.

The Mask

The mask of the devil is yet another symbol that in a single scene conveys the real villain of the story, that is those samurais. The samurai is supposed to be a gallant and royal person, but underneath the mask is a rotten person. This “losing face” by losing the mask we realise has happened to quite a few people in the story’s setting.

Although the element of magic and myth is present in the movie, it does not take away from its stark reality. The woman becoming an Onibaba is due to necessity more than anything evil inside her.

Like me, if you have hated the horror genre, you should definitely check out Onibaba, definitely a classic fare.

Mesmerised by Cruachan – The Fianna’s Rendition

 Hello all! Hope you have had a good start to the new year. A tad late, ain’t I? Sorry for the disappearance!

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So the reason I could not sit without posting today is this song or this tune that seems to have drowned me. I am no music expert but music is so central to my life, and my choice of music largely depends on my mood.  I have found it hard to express anything about it and it remains a sensory experience that is very personal.  

So last time anything had me this spellbound is when I had a heard Rufus Wainwright’s Hallelujah! Or Beethoven’s Moonlight’s Sonata, again I don’t understand is but it was as if my flesh was infused with it!

So the original song is by Cruachan – The Fianna. Now they are Celtic Metal band, so it is not exactly my sound. But in this rendition here for Emirates Airlines Ireland promotion it just switches to an entirely new level. No seriously! But I think the Celtic comes across more beautifully and prominently in this one than the original.

So, is this beautiful or what? I think this appeals deep within to what they say is the collective conscious that flows through us all!

I can now see the Celtic connections in the melody connected with Paris. See like in this one… Needless to say, I am definitely going to explore more of the Irish folk music.

Has any song, sonata or any kind of music had this effect on you? What was it?

Fav Cartoon: High Note by Chuck Jones

It is rare to get an opportunity to get to talk about one’s favourite cartoon without sounding unusually nostalgic. So I couldn’t let go this opportunity to blog about it for the blogathon at moviemovieblogblog. Thanks for the opportunity!

Our love for emoticons, regardless of our age, is a sign that we find animated images very adorable. Okay I can’t say that about others but at least I know I do and include the gif trend as well. Of course this love has its roots in the Sunday morning cartoon of our childhood. Not that children don’t understand the laws of physics but what they don’t know is that they can’t be broken, so a world where animals speak, where one did not realise that they had walked off a cliff until they looked down, seems entirely possible! For one reason or the other I find these works of  imagination (and tenacity) always endearing.

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If I were to name my favourite cartoons the list would be long, and it includes a couple of mice, a couple of ducks and a dog — well two! But I know which ones were the most impressive. The one that tops the list is the animated short by Chuck Jones called High Note.

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Jones is mostly known for the duels between two anthropomorphic beings that fight incompetently and without conclusion — say in Tom and Jerry or the Road Runner Show. Then there are those that won Jones’ his three Oscars. But a better representation of Chuck’s genius is High Note. It is cartoons like High Note that turned the entertainment of cartoons into an art form. Jones followed his act after another genius, Walt Disney. He was as industrious as Disney too. Did he feel the pressure to contribute to the legacy? If so it only triggered his genius. 

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The film features the famous waltz The Blue Danube by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss. It is hard to say why Jones’ chose this particular waltz. There are three more compositions referenced in the cartoon,

How Dry I Am and Little Brown Jug are featured in visual as an album cover.

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As the composer starts playing the song, he finds a sole note has gone missing. He finds the note drunk in the Little Brown Jug. What ensues is a struggle to capture the drunk high note and bring it back in the waltz. The form that the notations take seem like a creative burst of how perhaps artists visualise musical notes.   

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High Note seems like a freewheeling exercise to understand the concept of a creative block.  The idea itself could have started in some stick figure doodling but how it progressed and the way it was utilised is the true beauty of this short film. 

Is it possible that what us mere mortals experience as earworm is experienced by artists too but instead of a song what their mind plays on loops is a note? The one I have heard is Robert Schumann hallucinating on an A in his final years.  Although I have no capacity for understanding how to even understand his trauma I can imagine this is how it could be visually represented. (Years after watching this short film in an episode of Seinfeld, George (Jason Alexander) gets a song from Les Miserables stuck in his head. And Jerry tells him that the composer Robert Schumann gets a note stuck in his head,) the reference reminded me of High Note.

The game of animation has changed since the arrival of CGIs. But it rarely reaches the height that the animation form in its early days achieved. Animation definitely is easier to create now and not there is lack of imagination as such either but I feel that these classics are definitely the golden days of the art form.

Lauren Bacall in To Have And Have Not: A Memory

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This blog was written for the blogathon at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Check out the other more interesting and more authoritative blogs here. Also check out the hostess’ blog of interesting Classic Hollywood times.

To Have and Have Not was adapted from a novel written by novelist Ernest Hemingway. However, not much of the novel made it to the movie despite the fact that Hemingway himself worked on the screenplay, along with William Faulkner and many others. There are some elements of Hemingway in it, as such the theme of World War, a bold female protagonist and a sort of “stuck” male protagonist. And although the film is categorised as a “noir” film, the romance is still central to it.bacall2

When I was growing up one of the first movies that got me interested in Hollywood classics was “To Have and Have Not” (it started with accidently watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s,). When I was done watching the movie I was very curious about this actress whom I didn’t know, (since this played on TV and I had missed the credits, and there was no Google). I was growing up on the Bollywood staples of the 80s (did any good come out of the 80s, anywhere?) where the chaste heroine was different than the vamp. She could be flirtatious, but anything even mildly sensual was to cross the line. And here was this woman saying what she wanted to but with such an air of dignity. Years later, I discovered that was Lauren Bacall!

And I am still as stunned by the line, “you know how to whistle, don’t you?” as I was those 10-15 years ago. Frankly, I did not know what to make of it, the fumbly early teens that I was in. Then a few days later I saw an advertise that said, “Anything more would be a suggestion.” And it reminded me of this scene.

Even if I were to compare her with the Hollywood actresses I had watched at that time, she still stood out. I think each of the actors have to bring an image with them to stand out. So there was the gentle but strong Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn who was a bit of a man, very gorgeous but I mean the personality and Ingrid Bergman who was the resilient, silent girl, who spoke more with eyes.

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And there was this actress with her feline charm, who looks very believable to have snuck on Harry. Who makes her presence felt if she wishes to but can be invisible if she wishes to. She does what she wishes to but is not manipulative.

The sensuality in To Have and Have Not can also be credited to the presence of Humphrey Bogart who she was in love with and later married. It is said that it was love at first, and the chemistry is visible between the two actors. Bogart was a much senior actor and yet Bacall, the rapport aside manages to keep the audience’s eyes glued to her.

She even has a different name, Slim, (actually Marie Browning,) which makes her feel — not beautiful, or so she says. She tries every way to get Harry to help her, moves that surprise Harry’s down-to-earth demeanour.

But even as she does all this and stuns you with her boldness, you can feel the vulnerability that lies just under the surface. When Harry cancels the plans of dropping the activists, she is naive enough to think Harry did that for her.

However, she does not ever get into damsel-in-distress mode, but is present enough for people to respond to her with kindness. And after all why not? When Eddie, the sailor, who keeps asking everyone, “Have you ever been bitten by a bee?” she is the only one who one asks him if he ever has. She brings to the character empathy and a rare sense of humour.

Despite her obvious helplessness of being stuck on the island due to lack of money, she gets along well due to her charm and worldly wisdom. She sings with Cricket (Gemini Cricket?) in a silly voice and then grabs the wallet from Johnson, which is only noticed by Harry. As an actress her job was to let us know that Slim was someone who had hardened up due to her circumstances, yet she has lost neither her pride nor her humour.

To Have and Have Not was launch vehicle for this actress and she made sure that she was noticed.

This was her debut feature film and she went on to act in many more movies where brought just as many nuances to the role as she did in this one when she was only 19. Whatever her age, she continued to bring her charm and vivaciousness to the role till her ripe age.

Announcing the Criterion Blogathon

The wow event in November schedule!

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We are pleased to announce the first annual Criterion Blogathon!

The blogathon will take place November November 16th to 21st, and I have the pleasure of co-hosting with two of my favorite bloggers and favorite people: Kristina from Speakeasy and Ruth from Silver Screenings. This is not their first rodeo, as they’ve hosted numerous fantastic Blogathons. Earlier this year they hosted the Great Villain Blogathon and the Beach Party Bash Blogathon. What’s great about these two is that they turn these Blogathons into events, which is what we are planning for November.

Just last year, The Criterion Collection celebrated their 30th anniversary. That’s an amazing accomplishment for a physical media label. They began with laserdiscs, transitioned to DVDs, and now are the top boutique label for Blu-Ray/DVD. They have established credibility with their film choices, ranging from mainstream classics to some of the best art films the world…

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