Monday, July 31, 2006

Three Movies & One Book

Last week was a bonanza - we saw three great movies – Amadeus, The Aviator and Crash. The book for July has been “The Plague” by Albert Camus.

Over the past two years, ever since Diya was born, our trips to the theatre and movie halls had all but ceased. There was a time when we used to set off on an impulse for a movie or drive to the Mandi House area to catch a play. Now the theatres are out of question – they don't allow children below 10. The rise of multiplexes has made movies much more expensive but we do venture out occasionally, after a lot of careful planning, which includes advance booking of tickets; keeping track of the reviews & awards to avoid vague movies and tweaking Diya’s bio-clock so that she is very, very sleepy by the time we enter the movie hall. This worked wonderfully till Speilberg’s “Munich”. Our last film – “Fanaa” - was a nightmare. All the planning went haywire and we spent most of our time chasing a kid who was all over the dark hall inspecting foot-lights, and scrambling up and down the stairs, calling out, “Amma-Acha aa jao!”,

After the “Fanaa” experience we have become regulars at a DVD-VCD rental joint called Selection Hut in Kalkaji. We’re now discovering the joys of rewind-replay anf of watching movies in installments!

Amadeus – a movie on the life and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It’s a portrayal of the genius though the eyes of Antonio Salieri, a court musician who discovers that “the god like gifts he desires for himself have been bestowed on a bawdy, impish jokester”. A jokester who goes on to write down an astounding collection of music, and then, is reduced to poverty and dies an indebted man; whose body is dumped carelessly in an obscure mass grave. It is quite difficult to imagine this description of somebody whom Albert Einstein once described as “the greatest composer of all”.

Crash is about multi-ethnic world of Los Angeles. It picks up threads from the lives of ordinary people – a high-strung Iraqi shopkeeper; a locksmith who nudges his little daughter out of her scary world of ghosts and hidden monsters; a pair of articulate car thieves; a black cop whose ailing mother dotes on the younger son; a white cop who is a tender son, abusive racist and selfless hero, all rolled into one…All these threads tangle, intertwine and ultimately present what could best be described as a rather optimistic patchwork of life evolving in USA.

The Aviator was about another real-life American hero – Howard Huges – billionaire aircraft tycoon, movie producer, bra designer and paranoid perfectionist. His life with Katherine Hepburn and Ava Gardner; his obsession with cleanliness and “quarantine”; and the incredible ‘Spruce Goose’ – a 2000T amphibious aircraft. Its an amazing story but somehow, Leornardo di Caprio looked like a round peg in a square role…

I had picked it up ‘The Plague’ out of curiosity at a discount book shop and had expected it to be something like Middlemarch – thoroughly enjoyable; but only after you managed to get into the groove. Albert Camus is an acclaimed master of Existentialism, and, in this book, searches the meaning of life in Oran – a small Algerian town on the Mediterranean coast. In this sleepy town, death of rats is followed by the onset of a plague that kills hundred and transforms the life of Dr. Rieux, Cottard, Grand and Rambert – a journalist from Paris who finds himself imprisoned in a city under strict quarantine.

It’s a book that I need to read again, sometime later.

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