Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

movies

Samurai Code Quote

With a few edits, this Samurai Code Quote from the Hagakure (or Ghost Dog, if you prefer), is more broadly applicable: “When one has made a decision … even if it will be very difficult … by advancing straight ahead, it will not do to think about going at it in a long, roundabout way.”


Black Swan

“If you had one chance or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?” That question is kind of insane, and while it comes from a different movie in which it is portrayed in a different light, Black Swan waves the red flag on just how out of perspective the question can be.

Black Swan is the story of a ballerina named Nina, pivoting (and pliƩing) her life around a narrow goal. The movie centers around her character and how this pivoting is simultaneously a reflection of the person she is, the person she wants to be, and the person it turns her into. And these three people scared the shit out of me.

What results is a chilling psychological horror film in the vein of Monster or The Shining, perhaps with a bit of Mulholland Drive thrown into the mix.

Here’s Neeeeena: pretty ballerina! (ABBA version)

And I just realized I’ll never interpret that song the same way again.


Unfinished Business

The Bride tells it like it is, whether it’s to O-Ren Ishii or Bill himself.

Perhaps it is inevitable that unfinished business accumulates, amassing on a bureau of procrastination into a pile that just seems to grow larger with time. Every once in a while, one has to attack this pile head on, and while one may never be able to reduce its size, it may be possible to reduce its rate of growth.


Kanchivaram

I just saw Kanchivaram, which is available online, and it is without a doubt the best movie I’ve seen from the subcontinent in a while. The movie is reminiscent of a Sophocles tragedy, with Prakash Raj playing the role of the tragic hero. There’s even a chorus.


Samsaram Adhu Minsaram

Wikipedia provides an excellent summary of the movie that may inspire one to go out and watch it, despite revealing the entire plot. This isn’t a typical Bollywood movie within a bajillion (or kabillion!) songs, but the few therein are mellifluous. It contains many potent quotables, often in the form of couplets, and they manage to retain their essence even when translated from Tamil. For instance, when referring to the education disparity between his sons, Ammaiyappan summarizes:

I sent the first to a college
And the other to a garage.

Samsaram Adhu Minsaram literally translates to Family Life, That’s Electricity! and might best be described as a study of those electric interactions within a family, from the static shocks of petty squabbles to the sparks that simultaneously make a family run and can simultaneously be cataclysmic when overly stressed. The stresses arise from a mismatch between one’s expectations for kin and the reality (e.g. educational prowess, marital prospects, etc.) and can be exacerbated by financial or social pressure.

What I like most about this movie is that it doesn’t try to place the blame squarely on external factors as so many other movies (and people, myself included) sometimes do. Oh, it’s not me, it’s the economy, the government, in-laws! In this movie, the daughter-in-law, far from being a villain, actually saves the day, and it’s a daughter’s childish behavior that leads to her problems.

I recently had a conversation with a friend whose family I met recently. The friend admitted to feeling a bit self-conscious, but then I mentioned I felt a little self-conscious a month earlier when the situation was reversed. Samsaram Adhu Minsaram is a reminder that the dysfunction many are self-conscious of in their own families may be more common-place than the idealizations one might expect from seeing the Huxtables or Donna Reeds on television. One might even summarize that sentiment in a couplet:

Samsaram,
Adhu minsaram.


Andha Summer Leavela

This is a really cute short film. At first I couldn’t understand the girl’s English, but then I realized it was French.


Anger

I’m thinking of Martin Sheen in that first scene from Apocalypse Now, in which he totally trashes the room. Broken glass everywhere while The Doors’s Jim Morrison sings “The End” in the background: “All the children are insane. Waiting for the summer rain!”

In Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, it is revealed that it was Martin Sheen– not his character Marlowe… err Captain Willard– who actually lost it, and Coppola just kept on filming.

What do you do when there’s no functional way to direct the anger? Do you break the glass mirror and weather seven years of bad luck, not to mention the bloodied hand? Or do you just push it in deeper, hoping that there are few casualties when the disaster eventually occurs? It’s a mistake to think that we are in full control of our emotions, and the disaster WILL eventually happen. The most you can hope for is to control the shape it takes, and even that may be hoping for too much.

Whenever and however it happens, like a natural disaster, it will leave some damage in its path while simultaneously dissipating a tension that once existed. Some people call that catharsis, but feel free to replace it with its equivalent earthquake, volcano, or forest fire analogy.