Friday, June 29, 2012

Shoulda watched Brave

The girl ahead of me at the theatre bought her own 3D glasses while we waited. After the film - after the web came at us and the extra scene came and went unremarked (Marvel has figured out at least, that no one stays until the absolute end of the credits and so they now insert the 'extra' after the main people have been credited and before the caterers and lawers get their share of the limelight), I thought of this girl. I thought what she did was the most amazing thing about watching The Amazing Spiderman.

Because I have never seen a film that needed 3D less. In fact, I am wondering if the film might even be improved if all of us didn't watch it at all. Like, in some forest somewhere, reels of films will fall and fall and be richer and more loamy for doing it unwatched.

Spidey is that film. It has absolutely nothing going for it (ok, it has Andy Garfield, who is middling-cute, but just about): lousy, witless dialogue, no chemistry between any two - pick any combo - characters, a laughable villain and a cop whose one line ("Do I look like the mayor of Tokyo?") was said as if it was meant to fall flat.

I amused myself by imagining that the newspaper cutting of Peter's parents' death had his mother's name as June Parker. That's how boring it was.


Shoulda watched Brave.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Junot Díaz's decolonial love

In this two-part interview in The Boston Review, Junot Díaz says:
In Oscar Wao we have a family that has fled, half-destroyed, from one of the rape incubators of the New World and they are trying to find love. But not just any love. How can there be “just any love” given the history of rape and sexual violence that created the Caribbean—that Trujillo uses in the novel? The kind of love that I was interested in, that my characters long for intuitively, is the only kind of love that could liberate them from that horrible legacy of colonial violence. I am speaking about decolonial love.
One of the arguments that the book makes about Oscar is that he ain’t getting laid because he’s fat and nerdy. That might be part of it, but that is also a way of hiding other possibilities. Perhaps one of the reasons Oscar ain’t getting laid is because he is the son of a survivor of horrific sexual violence. In the same way that there is intergenerational transfer of trauma from mothers who are rape victims to their daughters, there is also intergenerational transfer of rape trauma between mothers and their sons. But most readers don’t notice how Oscar embodies some of the standard reactions of young rape victims to their violations. Many women in the aftermath of sexual violence put on weight—in some cases as an attempt to make themselves as unattractive as possible. Oscar isn’t fat just to be fat—at least not in my head. His fatness was partially a product of what’s going on in the family in regards to their bodies, in regards to the rape trauma.

For me, the family fukú is rape. The rape culture of the European colonization of the New World—which becomes the rape culture of the Trujillato (Trujillo just took that very old record and remixed it)—is the rape culture that stops the family from achieving decolonial intimacy, from achieving decolonial love.

At a time when I am moving between hectically different kinds of writing, and adjusting my mental lens to take in different textures of thought and language, this interview just had me in a puddle of gratitude and joy. When Díaz writes, talks or responds to questions, I want to make it all pause so I can take in the sheer dazzle. (via Aisha )

Oh, and for more Junotlove, please see this from some time ago.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dibakar Banerjee's Saturday moment

Haven't yet watched Shanghai and not sure I ever will, unless it turns up on TV and I accidentally land up on a channel that happens to be showing it. This is mostly because of a friend who sends out trenchant film criticism via (three or four) smses and his remarks on Shanghai were both funny and unrepeatable on a public forum.

Instead, let me point to a post and an interview with Banerjee.

The post (via Supriya):

Development projects, have a very political purpose, not only to hand over prime real estate land to private parties, but to remove every possible centre of dissent and political activity that is always incipient in the slums and working class neighbourhoods. The film, by portraying only the hypocrisies and the futilities of a middle and upper class characters, whose so-called good intentions and attempts for justice are constantly thwarted by ‘the system’, betray the one place where inspiration is found: the protest in the people’s movement, when the hungry go on hunger strike.
Thus, all of those who once stood before bulldozers, would not send anyone to go watch the film. A sentiment repeated by all of them – from Annabhau Sathe Nagar to Sion Koliwada.

‘They showed in the film, that the public is not agitating, that they’re only a few angry people who’re fighting for rights and dying,’ Says Santosh Thorat of Annabhau Sathe Nagar, who has been fighting for the right to a home, and against Slum Rehabilitation scams, since his home was demolished in 2005, ‘And this film is about how the state deals with the few of them, so you better keep your mouth shut.’

‘People who don’t have any knowledge of what’s happening in the street and in the morchas, in the andolans, especially the youth, whose homes have never been demolished, they’d be very badly influenced by this film.’ Said Jameela Begum of Anna Bhau Sathe Nagar. Four young boys from Sion Koliwada who experienced demolitions and violence, would add how a young woman leader from their slum is in jail for protesting against demolition, but their awareness was born by the realities of what they face. The lack of the realities of what they faced in the past week – one boy who was beaten up by the police after trying to protect his father from the police, simply replied, ‘the film was boring.’
And from the interview in the DNA:
Another criticism was that the daily trials and vulnerabilities of the working class and casual labourers weren’t really represented.

Anant Jogue’s character, who mows down Dr Ahemadi, is representing the working class. So is his wife, and the character of Bhaggu (played by Pitobash). I didn’t see the need to have more than one or two characters to represent that strata of society. The film, in the end, has been made for intellectual pleasure; it’s a story. It’s not to push the agenda of any particular set of people, but to ask some pertinent questions instead.
Oh nice. So Banerjee "didn’t see the need to have more than one or two characters to represent that strata of society" but of the few who do represent one of that strata of society one of them happens to have killed what appears to be 'the good guy'.

Plus, this idea that intellectual pleasure cannot exist in stories about people who are not the middle class is so incredibly hilarious. But the get-out clause that is the It's just a story plea doesn't cut much ice, I'm afraid. Especially not from someone who wants to provide intellectual pleasure.

And Banerjee seems to think that by making this a "story of middle-class people, caught up in an alien slum environment, and struggling to come to terms with various things" [from early in the interview], he isn't pushing any agendas.

How sweet.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Transit of Venus

The last one we'll see in our lifetimes.


We woke up at 5.30 to check it out, but of course the sun hadn't even risen then. Once it had, there were treelines and it's taken till now to get a glimpse.

The kid swears he can see Venus in the top left corner, but I could only see a dark red disc through a folded X-Ray (Don't try this at home, kids. It's bad for your eyes).

Now we've settled down in front of the computer, listening to dignified people from NASA singing childish songs to fill the time - transits take time - and annoying the heck out of us.

But! Transit! Of! Venus!

Zoot alors!*


* Guillaume le Gentil