September 23, 2007

Three Films

Watching some films way after they release gives you a different perspective to view them. By this time you have read the reviews, heard people talk and have generally formed an opinion. In the last week I saw three films that people talked a lot about and came highly recommended. As the mind has preconceived notions, whatever unfolds kind of lives up to the expectations and if things are a tad better then the experience is heightened. Beware- the opposite can be true as well!

The first of the lot was Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa. Based on a true story the film is Karen Blixen who married Bror, fiancĂ©’s brother for the lover wasn't faithful. She marries him for the title and to get away from Denmark. Karen joins Bror in Africa and soon takes to the continent like some fish returning to water. She decides to take care of the coffee plantation that Bror started, instead of a farm as planned by both of them, as he is too busy hunting. Bror’s roving eye finally gets the better of him and he moves out. The events don't shock Karen for she never expected anything. In Africa she finds her soul mate in meets Denys Finch Hatton. A charmer extraordinaire, Denys is the very personification of a world that is giving way to too many changes too soon. Though Karen wants to marry Denys, he is quite happy with the way things are. Fate has other plans for the lovers; they break-up for Karen can't take any more of the bohemia that accompanies Denys; a fire destroys the plantation and Karen is forced to leave Africa. Denys finally comes around and decides to be with her the way she wants but dies in an air crash. Karen leaves Africa never to return.

The film is an account of Karen Blixen's time in Africa and what a woman! Legend has it that she remains the only woman who has ever been invited to drink in the men's bar at the Muthaiga Country Club, which soon celebrates its centenary. Even though, now the club has relaxed certain rules such as allowing men without jacket and tie in certain parts of the club, the rule for men only remains inviolate. The beautiful setting and a great performance by Meryl Streep kept me riveted to the screen for the entire running time of 2 hours and 24 minutes. I just don't know why I never got around watching Out of Africa earlier. That one scene where Robert Redford washes Meryl Streep's hair is one the most sensual scenes ever and they are fully clothed!

The second film was Being Cyrus. I recall the time it released I had seen some really shitty films and refused to pay money to watch non-sense. I was forced but I decided the film on DVD. This week I finally caught up with Cyrus and the dysfunctional Sethna clan in the film. The film is about a drifter who is swayed by an older woman to whack her father-in-law and sister-in-law so that she can end up with the ancestral property. The young Cyrus is set up by Katy who is in cahoots with her brother-in-law. Cyrus outsmarts them and the older woman ends up in jail. A twist in the last 15 minutes of the film turns the events when least expected. Finally the drifter finds a new direction and moves on.

Made by debutant director Homi Adajania, Being Cyrus is a quirky little film. Nattily made on a budget smaller than a regular Page 3 type marriage party, the film is unlike anything you'd see. Though at times I felt that the zany Parsi clan was over the top but this being the vision of a Parsi himself, I'm forced to believe it more than I'd want to. The music by Salim-Suleiman was decent for a change. Saif Ali Khan, for the better part, portrays Cyrus with the right mix of bravado, recklessness and retiring coyness. The delay kind of added to the excitement to the viewing process and oh by the way I still didn't pay for the DVD!

The third film I tried watching was the MTVesque Run Lola Run. Tried being the operative word. It's got to be one of the stupidest films I ever tried watching. I gave up at 30 minutes and 33 seconds. Wow! I could make a film about that and call it '30:33'. I have come across numerous aficionados who rate this film as something wonderful, refreshing and what have you but I'm sorry to say delay or no delay it's highly over-rated. The film is about a gal Lola (you guessed it) who has to run (you guessed this too) for she has 20 minutes tom come up with 100,000 DM to save her doofus of a boyfriend. There are three variations to the tale or so I hear for till 30 minutes and 33 seconds we just started with the first variation. Considering that the film is 10 years old, am sure in 1998 this would have been cool. Perhaps Lola, for me, ran a little too far.

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