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Clownin'

Remembering Myself, Travestying Time

MOOTHON (2019)

Dir: Geethu Mohandas
Language: Malayalam and Hindi

A film that addresses a myriad of taboo issues pertaining to gender and sexuality, such as homosexuality, sex work, and transgenders, as well as the “seamy side” of Bombay’s red light district, Kamathipura, Moothon is a gem. Having said that, it is also a fact that the film falls short of what-could-have-been and has a number of incredulous tidbits. How, for example, does Mulla reach Mumbai all the way from Lakshadweep? The boat, the storm, the mermaid and the fishing ship are stretching the credibility radar quite a bit. Then again the dependence of the film’s premise on the unspoken, the phrase left out, the hidden identity and other lapses in communication weaken the plot.

This is my first Geetu Mohandas film but I knew this was a film festival kind of film; still I was surprised by the direction. The acting, the excellent cast, the visuals (loved the camera), and the atmospherics are the graces of the film. On the script side, apart from the use of the sweet native language of the islanders, I felt it was too stiff and unnatural.

As for Nivin Pauly, he is remarkable in the role of a drug addicted, sad man of a dealer and gangster (the makeup job is commendable). At some points, he evoked personas of a Kuttan, Kurien, or a Jerry Jacob from his earlier films, but that might be just for me. I’m not going to go on about the rest of the cast except for one character: Latheef the transgender.

The biggest flaw of the film, to me, is the under-representation of Sujith Shankar. Who gives an actor of such immense potential a screen time of less than ten minutes? However for all the lack of screen time, he acts so wholeheartedly and movingly that he outweighs Pauly’s acting transformation. He has played only a handful of roles in Malayalam cinema, most notably as the antagonists Jimson in Maheshinte Prathikaram and Hari in Njan Steve Lopez. I hope he does a film in the main role, he’s a truly amazing actor.

In conclusion this film gets a 4 out of 5. I wish the plot and script were stronger.

Natural Born Killers (1994): A Paean to the Serial Killer Cult

Dir: Oliver Stone
Country: USA

A psychedelic ride into the lives of a serial killer couple, Mickey and Mallory, Natural Born Killers was once notorious for inspiring copycat crimes (famously the Columbine shootings, codenamed NBK) and potentially corrupting a generation of moviegoers with a selfconscious indulgence of the appeal of violent celebrity killers. The film attributes the story to Quentin Tarantino who however washed his hands off all association with the film for its being a big let-down of his original script. Explains the bloodshed and violence though.

The basic Bonny and Clyde tale, the film is remarkable for its narrative interweaving diverse pop cultural allusions and modes, including a sitcom version of sexual abuse and comic book animation. It tries to show the multifaceted layers of violence in postmodern American society. The renegade, romanticised outlaws are not alone in their pursuit of mindless homicide; the people in power, the penal system, the family, and the media are depicted as hotspots of corruption, of legitimate, normalised violence and brutality.

Continue reading “Natural Born Killers (1994): A Paean to the Serial Killer Cult”

Eraserhead (1977): The Horror of Spermatazoa

Dir: David Lynch (1st feature film)

An urbanized, mechanical wasteland. Creepy spermatazoa. One extremely premature abhuman infant. Creepy in-laws. Hot neighbour. Incessant noise of machinery and infant cries. Interspersed dream plots of a sweet lady singing “In heaven everything is fine”, of making erasers out of the protagonist’s decapitated head, and of floating in space, the man with the levers, and sperm landing on the moon. One of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen, Eraserhead is set in a nightmarish black and white dreamscape. There’s something so unsettling about the film despite its absurdity and lack of coherence. Its horror is immersive, funny, and ridiculous. The atmospheric horror and the sex scenes reminded me somewhat of Polanski’s 1968 horror hit Rosemary’s Baby.

The infant’s implacable suffering and insufferable cries drive the mother away leaving the protagonist (Jack Nance who plays Pete in Twin Peaks) locked up in a stifling messy room with his offspring, like a punishment which he must endure for his monstrosity. He kills the creature eventually and probably goes mad with guilt and shame.

Continue reading “Eraserhead (1977): The Horror of Spermatazoa”

Trance (2019): Misfired Meanness and a Troupe of Dandies

Dir: Anwar Rasheed
Language: Malayalam

(Spoilers ahead)

A film nice to look at because each shot has been created with such meticulous attention to beauty and style so much so that every frame is a potential poster image. Sadly that is also the biggest downside of Trance. The filmmakers’s attention seems to have been swallowed up by the demands of the marketing team so that the film transforms quite easily to a trailer, a teaser or a billboard but fails heavily as a coherent, sincere film.

A self made man (although it is unspecified how) pushes himself against life’s brutal slashes and yearns to climb higher and higher towards “success.” A motivational speaker, he dreams to be heard by a large, appreciative, and enthralled audience. Family lost to depression-induced suicide, Viju falls in the hands of two business sharks who revamp him as Joshua Carlton the charismatic founder and pastor of Glorious Church Ministries. A realistic drama so far, Trance falls into a pseudo mystical trance where a bitter critique of religious (Christian) exploitation becomes the only agenda for the filmmakers.

Continue reading “Trance (2019): Misfired Meanness and a Troupe of Dandies”

Quote #115: A curious “theomaniac” epidemic in the 13th century

Fifty thousand children in France and Germany braving pater paternal authority, gathered together and pervaded both cities and countries, singing these words, ‘ Lord Jesus, restore to us your holy cross.’ When they were asked whither they were going, or what they intended to do, they replied, ‘we are going to Jerusalem to deliver the sepulchre of our Lord.’ A great portion of this juvenile militia crossed the Alps to em bark at the Italian ports, whilst those who came from the provinces of France directed their course to Marseilles. On the faith of a miraculous revelation they had been made to believe that this year (1213) the drought would be so great that the sun would dissipate all the waters of the sea, and thus an easy road for pilgrims would be opened across the bed of the Mediterranean. On the coasts of Syria many of these young crusaders lost themselves in forests, and wandering ing about at hazard perished with heat, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Others returned to their homes ashamed of their imprudence, saying they did not really know why they had gone. Amongst those who had embarked, some were shipwrecked, or given up to the Saracens, against whom they had set out to fight.

Michaud’s History of the Crusades,Vol. II., p. 202

Quote #114

Never explain. That’s a very good motto. […] Everyone is far too full of their own private worries and fears to be in a questioning mood. They’ll take you for granted so long as you just seem sure of yourself. It’s a great mistake ever to say anything when you needn’t.

Crooked House. Agatha Christie. 1949.

Quote #113

Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

– Zhuangzi.

A Glass of Sparkling Tea

Rain

I died in late October

when the rot vanishes

like drops of rain

leaves no stench behind

just the pungent breath

of being that once was

I live to tell my life

to you to you to you my soul

I lie

like the rain beneath the earth

like the worm beneath your feet

Continue reading “Rain”

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