Friday, December 26, 2003

An article on Sex and the City which I read about in August in the New York Times and which I 've been searching for all this while. I finally found it!!!!!! Review TV WEEKEND; Adieu, Before Wrinkles Show

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

This is an interesting perspective on Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out that appeared in the Village Voice a while ago. The Village Voice: Features: The Queer Issue: Against His Will by Richard Goldstein Also Ben Brantley's review of Take Me Out that appeared in the New York Times.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Again an article that praises Karan Johar to the skies. I wonder what poor Nikhil Advani must be feeling now. Nobody can deny that Johar is not an adept story-teller. His Kuch Kuch Hota Hai screenplay was a masterpiece, a splendid piece of work, that somehow tells us why mainstream hindi cinema still holds its own. (Contrast this with the situation in Europe, where Hollywood has all but swept the local films away. ) There is a certain joy in watching in watching well-picturized song-and-dance sequences filled with dollops of melodrama that a western audience somehow can't comprehend. Johar's second screenplay KKKG on the other hand was a dud. It was a creaky screenplay that relied too much on star power. With Kal Ho Na Ho, he appears to have come up with another winner. However are we always going to be stuck in this mode? When is Hindi cinema going to think about new things? As long as there are the Karan Johars who make amazing (and not to forget, successful) movies within the same old tired framework, commercial hindi cinema will never change. If only Karan Johar, Sooraj Barjatya and Farhan Akhtar had the same courage to experiment like Ram Gopal Verma.Story-telling the badshah style - The Times of India

Monday, November 03, 2003

There are no ways of describing Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo; it is quite simply, a masterpiece. Perhaps its biggest difference from the master of suspense’s other movies is that Vertigo is not really a thriller; it is a twisted, almost perverse love story. As a thriller, it is competent, though a little implausible. (The murder plot is impossibly far-fetched.) But it is only after a second viewing that the layers beneath it become clearer. In a way, Hitchcock himself makes that clear when he reveals the big secret halfway through the movie. The emphasis is not on what really happened but how our besotted protagonist (played by Jimmy Stewart, in his darkest role so far) will react when he finds out. (In his book-length interview with director Francis Truffaut, Hitchcock says that everyone opposed him when he decided that the secret would be revealed mid-way into the movie. But he remained firm, just the same. )

So what is Scottie in love with? He’s in love with the image of a woman; a woman who did not exist but instead had been rigorously coached for the part. Consider the way that Hitchcock introduces Madeline (Even the name, Madeline, has just the right air of mystery about it!!). We see Scottie searching the restaurant anxiously for something. Slowly the camera pans the room in silence. Finally it stops. As Bernard Herrmann’s haunting score rises up on the soundtrack, Hitchcock slowly zooms in on Madeline sitting with her husband. And what a sight she is!! Blonde, cold, alluring, and mysterious with just the hint of something carnal (Truffaut’s words) inside. (Personally I think its Novak’s eyebrows. There is just something bewitching about them.) In other words, a perfect example of the woman, that Hitchcock himself was fascinated with. But there is a catch. The real woman has fallen in love with him too. In her real form she is nothing like Madeline; even her name is just plain Judy. She is earthy and beautiful in a rather coarse way (the eyebrows again!). But can he love her? In Vertigo’s most disturbing scene, Scottie makes Judy do a makeover so that she looks exactly like Madeline. He is obsessed; she agrees because she loves him. When she emerges from the bathroom looking exactly like Madeline (she is the same woman, after all) Hitchcock gives the scene the unreality of a dream. This is probably Kim Novak’s best scene in the movie, and it is heart breaking. But of course, Judy makes a mistake and Scottie begins to suspect. In his rage, he takes her back to the tower where Madeline committed suicide. Somehow everything comes together: his rage, his grief, and his obsession. The end, when it does come, is starkly ambiguous, yet fitting.

Vertigo would probably not be the same movie if it had not been for Bernard Herrmann’s beautiful (or is it haunted?) score. Among all the collaborations between them, this is definitely the best. There are long dialogue-less passages in the movie and Herrmann’s score makes up for that, enhancing Hitchcock’s visuals. The love-theme is a motif that appears throughout the movie; Scottie and Madeline are doomed, so are Scottie and Judy, the score subtly emphasizes that.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Funny but bland, Couplings lacks the edginess of Will and Grace or even the sheer charm of Friends. Lets face it. A show about couplings has to have an element of the risqué in it. If network television restrictions mean that a show about sex cannot depict sex or worse, not even talk about sex then it becomes impotent. (Word used intentionally) So what’s left then? Well, there are always the double entendres but really, how far (and more importantly, how many episodes) can one get by using those? Not too many, I fear. The word is that the original British Couplings was a parody of Friends (3 men, 3 women, all of them friends, etc). This one however seems to be a poor cousin of Friends. True, there’s a bit more of sex but it is still steeped in political correctness. All the men resemble each other, so do the women. They all claim to be friends but unlike Friends, they don’t even seem to like each other. What’s the deal here? So far though I am enjoying the double entendres. But its time we had some more political incorrectness and er, sex-talk. Otherwise, this show is not going to get anywhere.

Incidentally why is it that American television makes such a hash of British shows? Just look at the way Showtime bastardized Queer as Folk, Russell T Davies’ splendid 8-episode series, into a long interminable one, turning each character into a distorted politically correct version. The shy, unassuming, good-looking Vince became whiny Michael. Average-looking in-your-face-slutty Stuart became so-good-looking-he-could-be-a-filmstar slutty-but-healthy-slutty Brian. And worst of all, lanky precocious fifteen year old Nathan was transformed into some seventeen year old young-artist-in-the-making with not one whit of the original’s charm. And the less said about the platitude-spouting lesbians, the better.