Finally watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas after months of wanting. This movie was being aired at an independent theater, but I missed it then. AT&T U-Verse recording system came to my rescue.
You must be thinking: Oh, another movie dealing with WWII and Nazi Germany. Another movie that highlights the sufferings meted out against Jews. Another movie showing Hitler. At the risk of sounding cliched, the movie is a “different” take on WW-II. It tells the story of a Nazi family from the eyes of an eight year old whose father is stationed near one of the concentration camps. The boy, Bruno, thinks men in striped pajamas are farmers. He is upset over the way an old Jew who serves them food is treated by his father. He’s much surprised to learn that the vegetable tending man was actually a doctor by profession.
There’s so much of meaning to everything that happens in the movie: A kid’s conscience is so clear compared to that of an adult. How as parents, humans try to protect their kids from the harshness that surrounds us. Yet it is this unequal and filtered information that might sometimes harm the kids. A mother’s instinct is so strong. She realizes the danger that her children face. It’s hardly suitable for them to live only a couple of yards away from a concentration camp. And at the same time, the father thinks it is his duty to stand by his countrymen. The movie doesn’t delve much into the actual propaganda and atrocities surrounding the era. All of us very well know what happened. The father, who is referred to as a “brave soldier” by his son, learns a very important lesson in his life the hard way. The mom suffers.
So the crux of the movie is this: Bruno’s Jew friend who stays in a concentration camp comes to work at his place. He is busy cleaning silverware. Bruno offers him some food which the Jewish boy gladly accepts. One of the Nazi officers stationed in the house catches the two boys talking. He reprimands the Jew and asks Bruno if he knows the Jew. Bruno denies knowing the Jew. The Nazi officer takes the Jew boy away and punishes him. The Jew boy appears several scenes later with a purple eye. I thought he would have been dead. Anyway. Bruno is guilt ridden over the fact that he let his friend down. He wants to make up to him. See, it’s his clear conscience that brings his downfall. If Bruno were a 35 year old, he would have still been alive. The Jew boy tells Bruno that his father has been missing since the past couple of days. Bruno offers to help him find his dad. Both devise a plan to smuggle in Bruno into the concentration camp. Now you’ll wonder, why would Bruno agree to enter the forbidden area? This is where “unequal and filtered information” is to be blamed. A couple of days ago, Bruno sees a propaganda movie spearheaded by his dad that shows Jews living very comfortable lives beyond the bloodied fences. The documentary makes him believe the Jews have a cafe, play area and everyone is one, big happy family. When the time comes for him to join his Jew friend, he gladly agrees. In the mean time, Bruno’s mother learns what goes on in the concentration camp just a couple of yards away from her house: the smoke emanating out is that of Jews being burned alive. Visibly distressed, she convinces her husband that they need to move their kids somewhere else. Before she can do this, her son manages to escape and join his Jew friend on the other side of the fence. A search follows. However it’s too late and the boys have been gassed. The new gas chambers promise to be more efficient and were masterminded by Bruno’s father. Cruel way of learning an important lesson, huh?
The movie is based on a book with the same title, written by John Boyne. I haven’t read the book. My biggest regret is the authenticity lost because of the main language. I wish the movie were in German with English subtitles. The direction and acting were all up to the mark. I did wonder a couple of times how a pair of eight year olds managed to escape the eyes of Nazis while they sat facing each other across the fence, exchanging thoughts and chocolates.
I remember visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC last December. It was a humbling experience. I got to walk through real coaches that were used to transport Jews to concentration camps. I saw the actual bunk “beds” in which they slept. There were striped uniforms, mountains of real shoes, and other personal items of the deceased on display. This June, there was a shooting outside the Museum. Neo-Nazis still live on this Earth. Each one of us is a Nazi as long as we, as common people, don’t realize that everyone has a right to live.
A collection for 18 short movies, directed by 21 world class directors. Each movie is about 5-8 movies long. Making short movies is an art- having the ability to pack a punch in only a couple of minutes. So, Dev , if you are reading this post, please do take a note.
About nine short movies are par brilliance. About 5 are very good. About three to four are pure hogwash. Since the average duration is about 5-6 minutes, sitting through some BS is tolerable. I did take a break for a couple of minutes every now and then because the stories are quite intense and it’s too much to take at one go. The Wikipedia page of the movie has a couple of lines on each short movie. Some reviews around the internet say that it’s worth watching this collection because it gives you an opportunity to compare the direction style of one director versus another. Doing this is a very difficult task for me. Compartmentalizing the direction of great directors like The Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuoron, Gus Van Sant etc. is not easy. Each story is so different. It’s not disappointing to not see familiar sights like the Eiffel Tower, various Parisian museums etc. in every segment. Instead, each piece is set in a different part of Paris and elucidates a different angle of love, suffering, joy and longing.
Some of my favorites:
“Tueleries” by The Coen Brothers- Story of an American tourist in a subway station in Paris and how staring at a young couple for a couple of seconds lands him in trouble. If you have five minutes, you can watch the movie for free on Youtube:
Loin du 16e by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas- A young woman sings a soulful lullaby to her baby early in the morning at the daycare. She goes to her employer’s house. The employer’s baby is crying and she sings the same lullaby again, sans feelings and emotions. This video has no subtitles. Even then, it should be easy to understand because the emotions are well executed through a simple lullaby. The movie hardly has any dialogues.
Place de Victoires- I’m a big fan of Juliette Binoche and Willem Dafoe. I didn’t care much for Nobuhiro Sawa’s director. Juliette Binoche stars as a young mother grieving the loss of her young son. Her acting makes this movie worth a watch.
Tour Eiffel- Brilliant acting by mime artists. And the boy with the oversized backpack is really cute. One of the few segments that is very light hearted and makes you smile.
Faubourg Saint-Deni- Natalie Portman’s contribution to this wonderful series. She stars as a young actor who falls in love with a blind guy. The boy talks about their love and how it turns sour eventually.
14e arrondissement- Best ending a series can ever have. Directed by Alexander Payne, an American tourist narrates her tale about her love for Paris and her recent visit to the City of Love. The American-French accent is so lovable. If you’re short on time, just watch this one segment because it’s totally worth it.
Absolutely loved this movie! The first part of Slumdog Millionaire was extremely good and actually has a very Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay kind of touch to it.At one point, I felt that by the end of the movie, I’ll probably walk out with a heavy heart. The second half of the movie is a little less intense…if you know what I mean. Overall, it’s a good watch for sure. Dev Patel plays the main protagonist and has done an amazing job.
Not sure if the movie will win an Oscar nomination or a win. But you never know! People are saying that it might win an Oscar. A.R. Rahman, the music composer has won a Golden Globe nomination. I love the OST of the movie, O Saya. In fact, I’ve listened to it more than 20 times in one evening. Yeah, I’m a bit of an extreme case. You can listen to the song on my tumblelog.
I watched this movie in an independent theater here and was pleasantly surprised to find the theater PACKED! There is this one scene in the movie where the main actor, as a child, falls into a pile of shit, and runs all the way to Amitabh Bachchan to get his autograph! The entire theater was roaring with laughter. I was no exception. The scene was very well crafted. Kind of silly, but it did the trick!
Anil Kapoor as the game show host is quite bearable. Nothing spectular, but good enough. Irrfan Khan was definitely a surprise element for me. I’m a huge fan of his and loved him in movies such as Maqbool and The Namesake.
Danny Boyle has made a phenomenal breakthrough by directing this movie Bollywood style. You won’t even know that the director is not Indian! I liked the fact that he showed the slums of Mumbai with an uplifting tone. Whenever Indian slums are shown in International movies, I always get the feeling that the movie makers are trying to cash in to India’s poverty. However, this movie is quite an exception.
I would like to think that this is the story of a boy who wins “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” because he’s lucky and because he knows how to differentiate between right and wrong. His circumstances are not stellar, but he knows how to get by his day to day life. And of course, were it not for the love of his life, he wouldn’t have done anything. The movie has a very strong undercurrent of love and loyalty. If I write more, I’ll give away parts of the plot. But you’ll know what I’m talking about once you watch the movie for yourself.
Within the first five minutes of the movie, Hindi slangs such as “Chutia” and “Madarchod” will make you feel completely at home. While Indians like me laughed out loud, Americans clearly missed the joke. Weird that not all Hindi dialogues (especially the slangs) had English translations…which brings me to this- I wish the director had let the dialogues remain in Hindi for most part. The 20-80 Hindi: English ratio didn’t go down very well with me and I’ll tell you why. First off, even I had trouble understanding the English accent used in some parts. Not sure if British/Americans etc. will understand. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t! Dubbing all the dialogues in Hindi (with English subtitles) would have given the movie an authentic feel. I didn’t like the way some of the dialogues were delivered. Dev Patel, however, was excellent with his Indian English pronunciation.
The movie has been released in the US with limited prints- it seems like the Producers were having trouble finding enough distributors.
It is a feel good movie towards the end. Not sure if this was a conscious decision made…but it seems to work this time.
I loved this movie because I’d gone with zero expectations and only wanted to watch Ranbir Kapoor. And boy, was he hawt! Couldn’t have asked for a better Independence Day gift. The movie as such doesn’t make sense. It’s a fun ride and watch it only if you can leave your brains behind. You’ll see Ranbir romancing with three women at different points in his life. It’s only after Deepika dumps him that he realizes how bad he’s been to his previous girlfriends- spoke ill about one, and left one at the marriage alter. Next, he goes back and tries to ask for their forgiveness. Soon, Deepika falls in love with him and everything is hunky dory.
Minisha Lamba’s acting needs a lot of improvement. She over-act almost everywhere, and for some reason, looks too old. But her character was really interesting- a girl who loves the movie DDLJ (like me) and has watched it 17 times! (Like me, again!). So she’s on this Eurorail tour and hopes to find her “Raj” and picturizes everything from DDLJ-Raj-Simran type angle.
Bipasha Basu looks sizzling! She plays the part of an upcoming model to the hilt and we couldn’t have asked for more. Deepika Padukone looks so pretty. I can’t believe that she’s only 22. She plays the role of a simple Indian girl who works as a cab driver during night time and as a cashier at a grocery store during day time to pay off her B-school tuition. She’s independent. And she doesn’t want to get married! In almost all the scenes, I really feel that she’s done a better job compared to Ranbir.
Ranbir with his chocolate boy look is simply adorable. It’s so difficult to not like him. He has done an amazing job in almost all the scenes, especially the title track “Bachna Ae Haseenon” that’s played during the name casting of the movie.
It’s a fun movie that can be watched for plain time pass. Don’t expect anything else! Oh, and I can’t stop listening to “Khuda Jaane”.
Rating: 5.5/10 +1 bonus just for Ranbir (eye candy)
I went “offline” in the sense that I completely stopped blogging. It’s not that I got bored of it or anything…just had a lot of other stuff lined up and didn’t know how to prioritize. Thank you all for reading and commenting. It feels nice to be missed. I’m sorry for not keeping in touch though. I can really disappear if I want/need to.
The WordPress page’s layout has changed- quite a bit. Just noticed it a minute or two ago, when I was trying to log in. I wasn’t even sure if I’ll be able to guess my password at one go. Yes, it’s been that long. I started on this new job about three months back and it’s been an uphill battle to try and wake up by 7 am and be in office by 8 am. I’m proud of the fact that I’m almost always on time. And what is my job related to? IT of course.
My folks came over from India for a couple of weeks. I finally took my long, impending trip to New York City. I so wanted to watch Woody Allen perform at Hotel Carlyle. Lallo, you can be happy now. Good enough reason to visit NYC again. I could write pages and pages about my trip. Unfortunately, I really don’t have the words. Some of the places that I visited- Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Queens, Soho, Liberty Island and The Status of Liberty, Ellis Island, Empire State Building, Wall St, 5th Avenue (did lots of “window shopping”), ate Brooklyn style pizza in some Italian restaurants, walked by foot and traveled by the famous subways all the time, ate honey roasted almonds, learned how to read the complicated subway map, Trinity Church, Ground Zero (site of WTC) of course. It’s only when you are in Manhattan that you realize how easy it is to fall in love with this city and New Yorkers. Woody Allen, this trip was for you.
Also heard that J.K Rowling is releasing “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” for everyone. I’d already predicted this, in fact. Who’s buying the $100 leather bound version?
I did some movie watching too! My top favorites are The Dark Knight (9.5/10), Turtles Can Fly (9/10), Terminator 2 (9/10), and Omkara (8.5/10). And finally, I bought the entire collection of Decalogue by Krzysztof Kieslowski off Amazon.
Now for some NYC pics-
Last weekend was fun! I finally got to watch No Country for Old Men and the new Kamal Hassan movie, …
No Country for Old Men was an interesting watch. Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin were outstanding. The movie really deserves an Oscar. It’s creepy in a good way. Anton Chigurh is probably one of the scariest killers ever seen on the big screen and I can’t think of anyone other than Javier Bardem who could have done a better job.
Dasavathaaram is the first Tamil movie that I’ve watched, thanks to English subtitles. It was a major disappointment in my opinion. There was no script! Looks like the director just came up with something at the end moment, in order to justify ten Kamal Hassan’s.
List of disappointments:
Kamal Hassan’s acting was very subpar. I think he should leave commercial cinema to Rajnikanth.
More time was spent on make up compared to anything else. Not that the make up was any good! The make up looks more like a pancake. In so many scenes, Kamal Hassan could hardly move his head.
The graphics were completely screwed up.
The action scenes were very unrealistic.
The actress, Asin, was quite annoying! She plays the role of this typical village girl, who is extremely pious and only cares about her God. In every single scene, all she does is talk about God and nothing else.
There were quite a few scenes that talked about the caste system, and the color of the skin, that didn’t go down very well with me. I’m not sure if this was even required.
Way TOO long.
All in all, $16 down the drains.
The best way to make a come back is to write about movies! And I happened to watch Sarkar Raj in the theater today. Before I write about my thoughts regarding the movie, let me thank you all for emailing and leaving me lovely comments. I really missed blogging- reading your blogs, writing and reading comments. And a lot seems to have happened while I was away- Nita‘s blog pictures got stolen by Hindustan Times, Nova’s blog got a face lift, Ish’s results came out and he passed with flying colors- these are the changes that I can remember for now. But it’s good to see that things are otherwise just the way I left them! So, I’ll try and play catch up with your posts and comment. Thank you all for sticking with me.
Surprisingly, I liked this movie quite a bit. And I haven’t seen the prequel- Sarkar. This being the first movie post Ash-Abhi’s historical wedding, I decided to give it a try. Plus, I’ve always liked Ram Gopal Verma as a director (even though he has made some very embarrassing movies like RGV ki Aag etc.). The plot of the movie is quite simple- Amitabh and Co. are people’s Gods and they do what’s best for the people of Maharashtra, even though it might mean killing his own son, who stands on his way of achieving his aim.
Aishwarya Rai plays the role of a CEO of an international energy firm and wants to construct a power plant in Maharashtra. She seeks the help of Sarkar (Amitabh Bachchan) and Shankar (Abhishek Bachchan). What follows is a lot of blood shed and power politics. Tanisha Mukherjee also has a small role, as Shankar’s wife. But she’s conveniently killed off a little before the interval, to make way for Aishwarya’s and Shankar’s love story.
Let’s talk about the positives first. Thankfully, no songs. The direction was quite tight in almost every scene. Abhishek Bachchan delivers yet another power packed performance. Tanisha looked really pretty, even prettier than Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Please don’t hate me for saying that. The dialogues are long and windy, but they go well with most of the scenes. Amitabh Bachchan is his usual self- neither too good, nor too bad. He delivers his typical straight-face-better-than-thou type of performance.
The negatives now- I know that Ramu probably tried to get creative with the lighting and his camera angles. But he’s not Wong Kar Wai or Krzystof Kieslowski. He spoiled some really good frames because of this. Most of the times, I was trying to move my head in different directions, trying to see the actors’ faces. But of course, I couldn’t do it because you see, that is what the director doesn’t want you to do. Probably the actors had a bad bout of acne and told Ramu to hide half of their faces?
Aishwarya Rai failed to impress me, despite her designer suits. She looked less like a CEO and more like a model. Even role wise, she doesn’t really have much to do in the movie, except for serve as a dummy in almost all the scenes. She’s just there…to listen to the men rant. And try to look pretty, with tons of lip gloss and kajal to go with it.
The background score could have been much better. There is this particular number called “Govinda Govinda” that keeps playing during every serious scene. The speed at which the chanting of the word “Govinda” increases can only be compared to the speed of your treadmill ramp.
Despite these idiosyncrasies, the movie kind of works and is definitely worth a watch. I’m quite choosy when it comes to Hindi movies and I would say that this is one of the better ones out there.
It’s funny how people forget to inform their friends that they are getting married, or how they feel that an electronic, scanned version of the wedding card, distributed through e-mail, Orkut or Facebook is enough. This is quite uncharacteristic of Indians, who take great pride in throwing lavish weddings, inviting thousands of people, preparing a ten course meal and wearing every possible Gold/Diamond jewelery that they possess. Times have surely changed. Unfortunately, I’m of that ‘age’ when all my friends are getting married or in the process of tying the knot. Sometimes I wonder if mass e-mailing electronic wedding cards suffices the purpose? Where is the personal touch? Perhaps I’m asking for too much.
I have this friend back home, who is very dear to me. She’s been a friend to me when I was facing great difficulties. After I shifted here, we e-mailed each other religiously for a couple of months. Then the number of mails that were exchanged started reducing. Finally, we realized that we don’t have much to talk about, except for the weather and some old memories. She is not the types who makes international calls nor is she the types who uses the internet much. Quite surprising, I know. So, it was mostly me who would try to communicate in some way or the other.
She got in touch with me a couple of days back (through a social networking site, of course), informing me that she’d gotten engaged a couple of months back and that she’s finally getting married by the end of this year. I was genuinely happy for her and gave her a call to congratulate her. We spoke for around 15 minutes. During the entire conversation, she appeared distracted, was busy changing her clothes, spoke in a monologue informing me about the guy and the marriage plans, forgot to ask me what I’ve been up to all these months, and then hurriedly informed me that someone’s at the door and she needs to get going. She asked me to call her back the next day to talk some more.
After a couple of hours, she emailed me a list of the things that she wants for her wedding. It doesn’t matter that she asked me to buy loads of stuff- I would have bought her something nice either way. What distresses me is the fact that she didn’t even ask me once how I am doing. The e-mail only contained a list of the things that she wanted me to mail her. Nothing else.