Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.

When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Cinema: Movies that move

M has asked me to list my top five favourite movies. This is something I have always avoided doing. I have never understood how to rank either movies or books. I get so confused. Do I like Toy Story better than Godfather or is it the other way around? I am sure scholars and critics, people who have some understanding of the art and craft of movies, will be able to say why one is better than the other. I am just a guy who watches a lot of movies. I can only talk about how a movie made me feel and that too at a very intuitive level. And I react to the same movie in different ways at different times. So how a movie makes me feel depends as much as on the frame of mind I watched it in as on the movie itself. However, not answering when someone asks about my favourite movies also feels like a cop out. There are movies that I like very much. Movies that have moved me in different ways. Even movies that have moved me in different ways at different times. So I am going to take a middle ground here. I will think of different genres and for each genre I will mention the movies that for me represent that genre. That is to say the movies that immediately come to mind when I think of that genre. They may or may not be the most "acclaimed" or well-known, or the most award-winning or money spinning movies for those genres but I don't care about all that.

I have decided to create separate lists for Indian and non-Indian movies to avoid the difficulties of slotting a lot of my favourite Indian movies into these genre definitions.

This is the list in no particular order.

Science Fiction
  • Gattaca
  • Blade Runner

  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring

  • Godfather
  • Il Postino

  • Tinker Tailor Sailor Spy
  • Notorious

  • Paths of Glory

  • Groundhog Day

  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Chinatown

I do not like romance movies unless they are comedies. By romance movies I mean movies where the drama is just around the trials and tribulations of love. A list like this is no place to go into the reasons for this bias - believe me, as irrational as it sounds, there are reasons for it - so I will elaborate on that some other time.
  • My Fair Lady
  • Notting Hill
  • Love Actually - Not all the stories in this movie are equally good.

There will be follow up posts to this as I add to the list of genres and movies. The only two genres guaranteed not to appear here are horror and blood-and-gore. I hate horror movies. Even the lousiest horror movie scares the shit out of me and I don't like being scared. And I despise gore for gore's sake. I don't like violence in general. Movies which have no point other than to show gore - "Saw", "Hostel" series and their like - turn me off. Read More

Monday, 13 June 2016

Six years to the day

A recent conversation with M reminded me of this blog. I am amazed to see that my last post here was exactly six years ago. How's that for coincidence? I did think about writing again from time to time. I even drafted a couple of posts. But, somehow, I could not. Whatever seemed worth writing about, whatever was most important to me, seemed too personal to share. And writing about anything else seemed pointless. I see that I had made exactly the same excuse for not writing for a year six years ago. I had just moved back home after the death of my parents. I had assumed then that I was making a new beginning, a fresh start. I was wrong. There are no fresh starts. Life is just one long journey. It starts when you are born and it ends when you die. In between, you walk, run or crawl. You stumble, you fall, you pick yourself up and you move on. You meet new people, some hurt, some heal. New wounds replace old ones. New memories add to old ones. You are the sum of your journey. Six years on I am in Bangalore, older - hopefully wiser - and still waiting to see where my journey takes me next. Read More