Sunday Afternoon and the Church still on my mind…

Back from church and a quick lunch later, am at the comp, looking for a movie to see, but then decided to type out a few lines of the happenings at Wesley today, and then I went back a lil bit more.

The church I go to is a small beautiful place, made further small by the games we play on them grounds. It’s really a large space in the sense of a fast shrinking city spaces. It’s a Church of over 129 years, and though we say we are that old, we really are a small lot with a history (memory) of one generation. Memory so weak that we rely on the letter of the constitution which big made men and god’s chosen use to whip its sheep, we also have the memory of men who speak loudly telling us how a festival or event should be, and add a emphatic fullstop to discussion with: it’s ‘traditions’! (because of the previous year precedent)

Vast Riches

o feed my sheep*. This reading has been interpreted rightly as, feed off the sheep. The definition of the kingdom JC spoke about in the words that come out of the pulpit sounds so limited, that most in the congregation would feel that they could go out and buy it. So, the sanctity that would heal has been so diminished we cling to our purse dearly as if it was the lord himself, and thus our riches are vast here. The fears manifest as greed and we hoard up enough to live the heaven on earth. The relevance of our succor being the lord, a very thin tale whined out of the old wood-works of the pulpits and lecterns and alters. So much so, that the decision of the priest that churches like ours need is a person who has a degree in management. The present incumbent is no less in that degree, he played out the first corporate boardroom maneuver (read as the manipulation of the naive people who opted to serve the congregation in its vision and mission). And that very man, this morning said, he will work the next two weeks (the only time left before he moves to another site) to see that there is no one from the present committee will be in the next PC. This right after a Big Man asked him about the election processes he has to start before he left us in the care of another Priest. I thought you wanted the new Priest to conduct your elections? He retorted in his big voice reserved for big men. So, I chipped in with my small reedy voice: they still want that Pastor, they only want you to start the process which is a need given the specified time.

heaven waits only for those who congregate

Damn me!

I made it worse by asking him, if the destruction he set out to achieve was not complete? He retorted to that, with the reference to Paul, yes, the man from the bible, no, not the one who walks our grounds, though that would have been more apt. So, when I realized it was the man whose scales fell off he was referring to, I begged, ‘aren’t we going too far with this?’. Well, in tamil that sentence has the right meaning (neego engyo poyteengo)

He unleashed a poison dart and spat a Molotov spittle spray into my face. I straight batted with a smile, also reserved for Big Men. He continued, with his eyes reddened and aglow with the teachings of the lord of the Sunday: I will see to it that I do that, it’s my duty as a shepherd!. My smile slipped into my coffee cup and came out full grin: ‘you will do work, when the last 5 years you didn’t?’ and then as my stupid genes prompted me I said, the lord must be speaking to you. He blew a hot breath he had borrowed from Lucy (formerly) in the sky, and I wilted under the summer sun. He pronounced his curse: yes, you have to sit inside (the church he meant) to know the lord. Hey Don (Williams ie) eat your hat: heaven does wait only for those who congregate! **

I left the preist in the company of the Big Man who ofcourse didn’t want the heaven on earth he works for to be put on the same table as the unfortunate few who will face the wrath of the shepherd, when he will work to get them out. This Big Man has served many terms on the Pastorate Committee. And he also was on the PC of the last term and therefore would want the God-man to not add his wrath to the position he needs absolutely for his very relevance. We have in our shallow history a dude who serves a lifetime on the committee to attach the 2 letters with the full power of the Police Constable to his beloved name.

So moving further on in the compound, I introduced the talk of the man to a few who were around: the ring of the tittle ‘encounter specialist!’ rang clangy true as the bell in our Church tower that never ever rings to the clock hour ever. It is said that the bell strikes nine o clock on a Sunday morning when the pastor shows up. Oh! for those wondering about our traffic issues, he lives in the same compound which is 100 feet from the church building. The encounter reference is to the many killings that UP witnesses with the new CM who is a godman and an askance it to the encounter with the lord he said only he with the white robe was privileged to!

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

A lady told me about the parable of the man who stood outside the temple and said, ‘I am not like that fellow….’ *** Ah! Nice! She told me this cause she thought the priest’s view of god was very limited and very troubling therefore and she offered me this bigger god. And yes, I sure was glad that I was not the only one who came there to lean on to the invisible hard.

Live @ a funeral!

The first incident of this Sunday came with this one: Hey, K asked, did you see, that dude was live on FaceBook at a funeral. Ah! Right! Oh death where is thy sting! All in keeping with the season (passion) I suppose. The Lazarus pit did need a resurrection! Oh lord! Ofcourse we need healing!

But then, that dude was the same guy who went live on FB at a Church service, rather officially, and he nor the ‘shepherd’ nor anyone else informed (let alone ask) the sheep (the congregation with apathy as wool cover). And, yes, nobody seemed to have any thought on this act. Who is this nobody? Nobody (or everybody as the case maybe) is the silence that is taken for consent by the folks who do as they please in this public place.

It’s like informing a father about his son having a camera placed in the bedroom, and he says, ah ok! Yes eh? Oh! and make some such sounds. When I asked this powerful priest who is going to work hard in the next 2 weeks and also after he leaves the place officially, if he allowed such an act? Oh no? I did not ask the bedroom question just the one on having the camera on a service without informing the congregation, I hadn’t even asked who permits such acts. Just the question: did you know there was a camera on our service today and it was being beamed to the world outside? He answered meekly (this was last week), no, I did not know of it. And? I prompted. And got how bad it would be for him… and I waited to hear more, and he said: I don’t know what they do. I left with my think coat of apathy over my shoulder, which refuses to stay on.

But, this much he will work towards: take the people down ie, and the women especially who are anyway a lesser race. The 7 women shed tear and wrote bitter letters with it, but, the torrent or abuse and disruption from the top office continued, and he just with the supreme power bestowed on him from the lord above, he declared them defunct and took the secretary (the man who is in charge of calling the meetings) who understood his role as taking the pastor around in his car and other such personal acts as his role, with him to sup and drink, which has lasted more than 6 months to this day.

Just a Sec

A line on the secretary, this man came to our church only a couple of years before this priest was posted to our place, he was new to the faith too, and the priest sold to the rest his good intention of doing much for the church because he was a business man and with us easy going folks must have seemed like heaven sent. We are also the same lot who had the service under a shamina because someone decided to give it to us free. Oh, you must hear of the things we got for nothing. it’s a long list. We got a decoration of the church at a carol service for free. But, no one knew of the church premise he used to store his many furniture and other articles, and the catering service contracts to all the events on the grounds. Free free!!!! I shouldn’t mention the bell here, which we got 125 years after the church was built and no member to beckon to service staying anywhere close to this lovely building to hear it’s chimes.

The Purse and our idea of…

And now it is time for farewell (because good bye is too good a word) and a Purse for wonderful service to the flock. This purse is a custom that a congregation gives the priest for his service in the ministry in their midst. Well, what to give now? The coffers itseems is empty and our outreach programs don’t make money! Oh yes, the treasurer once made an announcement that the Sunday School was not making money. The people who heard thought that was a joke, or the dude was having a senior moment. But, itseems not, that announcement was made with a powwow that involved the sec and shepherd too. Sweet no?!

…OUT Reach

Oh you found that sentence problematic? We have no outreach, the one we called and were proud of and were aware of was the Old Age Home for Women. Which in our path to self serve, now houses men and pastors who have ‘served’ us. So much for outreach. So help us lord. And it is so with most other services we work at in Church. The Sunday School is run by parents whose kids are of SS going age, and they drop it once their children are out of it. The p & w team is a one-family affair, I think it’s cool really, they are the only ones who make lot of ‘sacrifices’ to come in early every sunday. I don’t know many who can say they do that or even want to do that. The church kind of fills up around the time the 4 songs and mini sermons are done about 45 minutes into the service. So, really, it’s big sacrifice. So the problem with it?: it is not part of our worship structure but we continue even though it involves very few. It is an emotional whip-up which works in the evangelical and Pentecostal set up followed by a moon-walking priest with hi-octane sermon in multiple octaves. Not at all intented for the meditative and please bring your brains to church kind of service that is our tradition. Some of the CSI churches adopted this p & w (really just a session of chorus singing, like the ones they have at the start of sunday school), which the ‘church elders’ at that time thought would help stop the flock migrating to new age churches which delivered gratification, instantly, and Sunday after Sunday at that, for a lot of folks. This has been reversed in many churches that had adopted this, and they have gone back to reinforcing the real meaning and fellowship and message of love to tend to the flock, knowing that half baked was never going to get the bread ready for the wine. But, no, we can’t have that conversation, cause the guitar will weep more melancholic than Sir. George (Harrison) . And tears are good tender at our place. It is said, a man was given a position on the PC one more time, which he had held for a few decades before that, because he wept.

To be continued….

More history and such like when we encounter the ridiculous in our midst and I am moved again.
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*The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. – John 21:17

**https://youtu.be/utdhk0ri9zY

***Luke 18:9-14 New International Version (NIV)

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Samarpanam: an offering far too stagey!

A whodoneit!

samarpanam

It’s always nice to find a movie in this genre. I would choose a private eye film or book if I find myself having to exercise it in all the abundance available in both mediums at our disposal in these lovely days of technologically created heaven. The romance of the cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth behind a glass door with his hat tipped over his eyes is the image of humprey bogart, a aluring romantic notion.

So when I happened upon Samarpanam, was glad it’s in that genre, had been on a binge with Homeland S O6 lately, and thought this would be a welcome break. But, the ride was like being on the Bangalore roads with a fixed time to get somewhere and then you find new one-way and traffic snarls. This movie also didn’t quite deliver what it seemed to promise. There were moments though, there was also some bad blocks you wished was dealt with more realistically, in this already realistic flick. for example how Arvindan and Sarvajaya just walk out of the back door when there are guys to beat her up at the front door. So there is another (70s) kind of era of theatre in this cinema, which was irksome.

But it is an important tale, no, no, not just because it got awards. D

o we award that which we don’t quite comprehend? Maybe we do, but maybe we also reward those that has set us thinking on things we have buried under all the new material we fill our lives with. And out will come more that will reveal further to awaken our dulled minds. Maybe!

Ah! The movie looks at our meaning of life in the pursuit of aesthetics and beauty. If we did then bring or worked at bringing beauty into our living spaces will we find the ideal? Well, this movie says many stories in the unsaid. And the screen is a really a mass of hyperlinks reaching for the deep abyss that will continue to elude us. 

It’s interesting storytelling overall. The pace slow and unhurried, the tarry on and smell the roses is Arvindan the healer’s (Anil Nedumangad) scream in a frequency that is at once literal and without the loudness. The answers are not easy, like the question of the girl the train got, did the victim hit the train or did the train just hit an empty shell? Well, sometime towards the end of the movie I didn’t quite care about the answer. Even though by now the 3 main actors: the healer, the cop and the doctor are all quite frenzied.

And when I looked up the meaning of the word (Samarpanam) which I just understood as, ‘an offering’, one place threw up all these words at one time, and that is bang on! Here it is: samarpanam

The movie touches on all this and therefore not easy flowing as the former plastic surgeon, now healer’s calm delivery. The staccato of the doctor really is the broad-based narrative. Virginia Rodriguez from the Bangalore theatre speaking an affected tongue and living gracefully amongst the dead is the real narrator. And Santhosh Keezhattoor makes for a fine brooding police detective.


It goes a lil eerie and with the red rose reference, Oh no, not a reference to that ol’ Kamalhasan, Sridevi of yore, but then again yes. The plastic surgeon in his attempt to get all things into a beautiful state and having blotched up his wife’s beauty trying to better the already beautiful with surgeries in an attempt to also stop aging, as probably did Sri Devi with a few tucks and pleats and poor Michael Jackson with his nose in that futile attempt to bring that awesome final flourish ended up cutting it off. Like those examples in real life, the metaphor of the rose that lives o

n in his life and the thorn that be the element that makes the beaut

y wholesome is all riveting thought, played on in slow monologue on screen.

But is bloodletting an answer? It is in one context, and not quite in another. The blood does add luster to the red in the rose.

And as he lies in the lily pond as it all collapses around him, there is new life in the remedy the healer found amidst the pall of death that would save the cop’s life who was trying to bury his sorrow in the desperate hunt for the killer.

The fine performances lift the dark tale to a liberating experience even as their darkness easily blends with the darkness of the hall and thus envelopes your own inner dark demons and gives life a surge to carry on. The journey itself, as it has been said many time, the destination.

another letter to Wesley :) a response to one, really!

Dear Manoj and everyone,IMG_0827.JPG

Dear Manoj and everyone,

Thank you for the letter.

It’s indeed sad that we don’t seem concerned (well, it could be silence of helplessness) about what happens on our church grounds.   Or could it be that we (the congregation) like children in our homes leave it to parents and feel secure to go about living life and thus adding color to all lives (the parents included), did we then just, leave it to the PC?   And then came a grandpa and chased away the parents?  And the children now have to grow up overnight?

The charges are serious, and even though we know that there has been correctives and reprimands that has followed this letter, it has been outside of those addressed here – at the diocese offices.   And because we as a Wesley family are unaware we might be waiting on a larger discrepancy, a sin of omission perhaps, therefore not so serious we may contend!   But, it really just leads us further into our cocoon of apathy.  And that really is just a wasted chance of experiencing the Joie de vivre of togetherness… The 2 or 3 in His name and He will be in our midst?!

When we do away with the processes or not replace it with better ones it will lead us to this bleak deep darkness.    These processes and the guidelines to lead us in spirit were laid down in wisdom and by invoking the presence of the Maker by those who came before us (founding fathers/mothers).  So in our doing away with systems that are to be followed, we mock the creator and then His creation.

 

In these 3 years of this new PC we have had zilch done because all committees have been brought to naught by the Chair almost immediately after the meetings are done – even just speaking of the committees I have been on.  Reduced to the expenses incurred on chai and vadas for that evening.   And talking of the PC:  it has led into some dark depth and was soon condemned to non-existence, and is now the furthermost from the good intentions the many newcomers and young had brought to this present PC.  I suppose most of the intentions now roast on the kitchen-fires they have been asked to ‘go blow’!.   How actively the office worked to keep people away from the grounds as much as possible:  and leaving people with nothing to do, and let them hide their light under the bushel also allowed them to keep their money away from here too.

So, when the grounds suddenly went abuzz 2 Sundays ago, after the treasurer asked for money/contribution into the empty coffers, the questions were the same, how has it come to this?  Shouldn’t the Treasurer bring this to the elected PC first?   OH!  There is no PC!   Well, if there is no PC why are the Treasurer and Secretary still called by their offices?

“Who said we could have a school in our grounds, who?  How can we run something we know nothing of? And that is eating up all the money, is it not?” one loud voice dared to ask of the bell tower, cause the other walls had not spoken in years.   See how our lack of process manifests itself?  People didn’t even know the major projects taken up, people don’t know of major projects being subverted and readied for the kill.  People with the capabilities and willingness to contribute are kept away so that small minds can expand their chair space in this public space.

As there is no-thing as too late as long as there is life, I suppose we must take this as a big kick in the posterior to wake up… no no, not to smell the coffee, that ship sailed!!

 

Going forward:

Our lessons therefore would be to find out who this ‘our church’ really is now, and not be defined by people who are not of us at all; even though theirs’ be the high offices.   In this age of narratives, we have been sunk by a loudly declared perception.   Let me give you a physical evidence of a narrative I refer to, even though that narrative may have failed in getting a letter from the pastor’s office into the Minority Cell Office. The evidence:  Wesley has been posted a new pastor!   He is a nice person we hear, though we hear lots of not nice about people from the diocese, and lots of not nice about the newly proposed incumbent too.  And like a senior pastor told us a couple of days ago, ‘every member of the clergy is brushed with a coat of slander, so that is nothing to go by’.  I can only but agree!   So, what we have been handed is a pastor who will serve out his last 2 years here!  And this step was taken because we (Wesley) are but a small bunch of old folks.  Yes! a few from the stationing committee stated that too.   Nothing wrong with a senior pastor for Wesley!  But, here is what maybe wrong for us, just from how it played out for us in the last decade:  if we thought that we will find direction only from the Shepherd we may be waiting on the apocalypse.

 

The other thing also is that, the corporate board room style is not for us (church) and the clergy and corporate takeovers and slime and personal slander, that is not how we conduct business at a public place of sanctity we call Church.  For Christ sake?!

 

My priest has often asked me, ‘what is this atmosphere we need to clean, that you talk about,  I don’t understand’.  Oh, that was easy like Sunday morning!   So, when people complained to him about the empty pews, his answer:  ‘what do you want me to do, stand at the gate and call people in?’.   if these are all accepted answers (well, even though they are just question for question) then the role of nurturing our community really lies in our hands – the spiritual and the bodily too.   The priest just comes to live in our compound for a few years.

May god help us to be the people he called us to become/transform.

The Church or being part of it is not a calling to come and be at the church all the time, that’s what is asked of by people who question the drastic deeds.  We just need to give our best to him in the time we got and let others do so too, this then will allow for all of us to work in the field.  This present system has very few participating, and therefore our giving is small and the name calling loud.    We!  Yes, We are the body of Christ, not I and my family alone.   So, if we continued the way we are today, of taking the office and position and keeping it at home.  We are doomed.   Our mandate as a church is to be open and love (charity) all!  And not like the charity of alms which really is not charity. Eg:  expecting the unquestioning obedience and gratefulness and meekness from the maid who was given your shirt that didn’t fit you anymore.   We have to continually work towards undoing wrongs and connecting again.   We must live the WORD that makes us the Church!  Just the loud utterances and whining about the other being be sinner is the way of the world, that the lord called us out of.   No shinning white cloth can hide our inner stains nor any Surf wash it away.  We will have to cling to the cross and believe and then take it up and walk.   Difficult?  Oh yes, and then NO!  He sent us an enabler/counselor/ Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39) and then love and our being together.

 

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” -Fred Rogers, television host

 

So as much as there is clarity in looking back, we have to live forward with the lessons we got and go beyond the values that only money can bring.  Oh yes, money will get us new generator and stained-glasses and an office assistant to blame for all our wrongs. But no! No right?   His kingdom has no end!   Our behavior of not believing in the abundance brings about the destruction of His Church!

Ok! Enough said!  Now I will go and try and find my daily bread.

Oh and this lil quote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke  (http://www.padfield.com/1997/goodmen.html)

 

God bless you all

Love

d

PS: Dr. Tony, we must be careful what we ask for, we might get it.   You definitely got me to do this  J.

PPS: all views addressed here are just my limited ones!

Ps: Dr. Tony, we must be careful what we ask for, we might get it.   You definitely got me to do this  🙂

and all views addressed here are just my limited ones!

 

the above is a response to this mail below!!!!

letter to PC 060218 – Building

 

 

Ms. Sloane :fight for a fair world can leave you feeling very alone.

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MissSloaneAnd chasing up on Ms. Chastain, we happened again on Ms. Sloane, yes, I had seen this earlier but it didn’t talk to me so much as it did today.  The gun-kills in America hadn’t had quite the impact yet on our lives in the subcontinent.   Oh, yes, I do still rememberseeing  ‘Bowling for Columbine’ at a docufest, it was shattering and very disturbing.  And even the funny momentwhen Michael Moorecalled out to Moses (Chartonheston) to take away the gun laws and Mosesjust turned and walked into the sunset unheeding, could only bring a sigh.  Moore is a documaker I like, as much as I doAnandPatwardhan.   I believed these guys were very good storytellers and their camera of realism would move around and back in to make the real come alive just when you thought the camera was looking away and awaken us in our nightmares: as opposed to numb us and perhaps only sympathize.  They were activist film makers.   They continue to work at that thankless job, even getting some stick ever so often.    But now back to Ms. Sloane.

This is 2016 flick must have been timely but we like most often refused to recognize the prophets in our own land.  And come 2018 we had the worst tragedy with guns that involved children.

Ok ok, back to the film,  Sloane is a lobbyist, mean and deadly deal breaker and go-getter!   From the right side she takes up a job on the other side to lobby and bring about the senators to vote for a law that would do away with guns.   What chance of her winning? When the firm she worked for has been hired by the gun lobby?  And Michael Stuhlbarg is no less mean former colleague.

In the midst of the engrossing drama of a career woman who would stop at nothing to get to the goal, there is the nagging questionof; do the means justify the end?   Well, there are no easy answers to those Qs in these days wherein every problem seems to have a solution that can be bought.   Well, not all of it can be bought! andalso no man or woman is made to only serve themselves.  And this truth we continue to want to erase from memory and run up the same path over and over again, getting up from the slush we buried our heads in, time after time.  But, the world will continue on this path, because the means do most often justify the end.  The means is the end maybe true, but that is for another day.  Today, Sloane will draw amazing figures in gray.

Do we become the game we play?  Ofcourse!  We do!  We will fall in the pits those roads have pre-dug, but we will venture on all the same, thinking we will not be the ones to be hit by the pitfalls of those before us.   Well, this gripping drama, does dare to take on a question that America somehow won’t answer in spite of many lives that are laid down for it, and many young at that.   Well and, How many seas should a white dove sail? 

Ms. Sloane beats the means to try and get to the end, she works the gray into super shades of strength, and her vulnerability causes the fragile around her to find strength take wings and then have their wings fail in mid-flight.All of this is still griping and not the perceived predictable.

The lobbyists work the tale to an almost staggering epic victory.  But, well as much as we would want to be taken to victory on screen atleast (you plead), but no! even as the screen turns dark in it’s end, the light seems to flicker on with hope. But, those ache dins are not yet, but there is hope.  And yes, ‘almost’!!!

Chastian does a wonderful job of finding steel from her real to live this on reel and vice versa too, perhaps.

We sure hope that the flickering hope will not shatter having come this close and would find that last mile surge to make that the world a better place: one small place at a time, atleast.

Mark is a Strong presence on the side of non-violence.GuguMbatha-Raw as the fragile beautiful former victim conquers, stumbles and finds strength again.  Sloane gives her wings but she then walks on confidently having discarded those, from the strength she gained from the fire pits that Sloane walks her through, with the courage of Daniel.   Ah, yes, she does, like we all must, to find our strength within after we have walked with a savior a while.

Thondimuthalum Dhriksakshiyum : ah! ever so nice to witness this crime story…

A very unlikely yet realistic love story is been told even before the beginning-credits have finished rolling out on screen.   SurajVenjarammoodu has moved on from the playing silly comedian to serious character artists and even lead artist with great smooth success.  No over the top comedy for him anymore it does seem.   And adds on to a very serious bench strength of character artistes in Malayalam cinema, some very good number are here.  There are folks who have come in from theatre and even mimicry troupes and have now become serious and very valuable additions to the character artistesrich pool.   And it is no wonder that Alencier Ley Lopez as A.S.I.Chandran even got the state award for acting.   The film is dotted with very good performances from its cast of character artistes and, that dude FahadFasil is so comfortable underplaying a complex role of a petty thief.   Thondimuthalum Dhriksakshiyum

Thondimuthalum Dhriksakshiyum ( to mean the loot and the Witness) is filled with such beautiful small moments, crackling dialogues, laced with sharp humor in retorts even in the time of very serious happenings, and all it does not take away anything from the engaging narrative but adding a dimension ever so welcome.    There is so much delight in the life these artistes bring to the role, playing every day routine lives:  the writer at a cop station, the culprit who is locked up, the autodriver father of the girl, the occasionally employed protagonist, the small time thief who rolled out parottas for a living before that, a supportive wife of a constable, all of them such good company too for the duration of the film.  Some of these guys stay with you for many days after.

DileeshPothan  has found a niche in what is already a good expanse of young talented filmmakersspace in Malayalam cinema.  His debut directorial MaheshintePrathikaaram was a so good, and TD just cements his place as a serious and consistent director.  Oh, and Dileesh is already an established actor,  adding to the same pool of character artist we spoke of earlier.   His turn as a cop with a major twist towards the end in Pokkiri Simonhad many shades of the characters he cast in TD.   His journey from assistant director to director is quite like the cliché: of the student going beyond the ways the teacher has walked with you.   Dileesh assisted Aashiq Abu in many of his films and am sure his skills grew and the treatment skills were liberally influnced.

It’s encouraging to find such a film that lifts up its narrative into a high clear view point in these days of rampant assimilation of fast depleting material wealth, this view of a slice of life is beautiful in its starkness and everydayness and fill it with hope in its realism.   It’s filmed too in what might look like rudimentary technique, but it is conscious unsullied looking camera that captures the subtleness of the life, and the camera completely into skin of its narrative,  thus invisible.

This movie turned the few viewing minutes into chuckles, edge of the seat and forgetting yourself completely as we walked the landscape with the actors and even spent time on the bench at the cop station.

There are films I watch just for the actors in them.  Fahad definitely is a fine actor I follow seriously and some of the fine directors I have known from his sensitiveness to the story and how then he delivers it.  These movies very often have good script and some also helmed by fine tellers.

Oscar 2018 – some of the films I managed to catch from the nominated list.

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Not endorsing the academy awards, and this time with all the noise about the women’s issues and racist issues it was not going to be much about the cinema.  One awards night trying to make all things right might not be the way to be fair and black and women, and then celebrate cinema as top priority.   Well, in these days of instant solutions, it’s getting weirder with every passing day.  For now, am just talking briefly about the films I saw from what is now, a list.

The Shape of Water

A very involving film made by an adult with the heart of the child (his 7-8 year old self perhaps).   Or like JC said, you have to be like little children (to see the wonder).  And Guillermo del Toro goes right back to a childhood and looked at the world with a modern filter, and in visiting his favorite tale, the beauty and the beast’, the grownup he could work wonders with that immortal tale. And he placed that fantasy in the cold war era and shone it right into today and beyond.   Love does make the world go around.

The visual delights and very good performances from the actors took the movie to a deserving Best Picture prize.  The Beauty here is furiously so even though she now is mute, and the Beast is powerful artistry.   When you get fantasy to walk alongside on the solid ground you tread, itgets strong wings.  Diving deep into the waters, this tale of love; triumphs, lifts and soars.

Best Picture:“The Shape of Water”
Director:Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Score: “The Shape of Water”
Production Design:“The Shape of Water”

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour is a History lesson of the English triumph in the Great War, and works at making the victory lastingly sweet.  Gary at the Oscars looked not at all like the English bulldog .  And that Gary has not been living in his native England for the longest time, only adds to the objectivity that brings soul and drive into the life of Churchill.  Oh, what if it’s manufactured history a little bit, all tales of valor are in the telling. And how much joy it is in the oral telling and how the myth adds to the legend and comes to life in us and gives wings to our dreams, lifts our today into rejoicing and hope, andshine light into the foreseen darkness.   The Darkest Hour is Gary’s complete grasp of his art.

Actor:Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Darkest Hour”

Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread is such a fine weave, with a very rich finish.  It’s riveting revelation of a Man’s relationship with his art and women.  The gives and takes of the relationship: like Alma Elson says in the film: “Reynolds has made my dreams come true and I have given him what he desires most in return, every piece of me.” Oh right, it cuts deep and into nice precise slices and is laid out as beautifully as the clothes Reynolds sculpts out on screen.   Is this really Daniel Day’s last appearance?  Boy!  Does a knowing (or decision) of that kind add more edge and bite to the craft? Daniel Day does a fine elegant walk with his Reynolds: a very careful man, even seaming to attempt and succeed in placing a soul into the dresses he caresses out.  And in the physical act of getting to that impossible he stitches memories (a part of himself, a piece of his life) into the fine folds.  ON screen the sense of being fully conscious being played out does not allow us the viewer any less. Does love include the anger in the other?  How do you read into acts that seem and have been clearly articulated to mean ‘be thou gone’!  HOW?  Oh, yes, Reynolds is a difficult man to live with.  But Reynolds and the people on screen playing their roles set in London’s couture world of the 1950s are beautiful people.  Clothes also do make this man.

CostumeDesign:“Phantom Thread”
Best picture (nominated) :Phantom Thread


The Post

A Spielbergquickie and I bleddy liked it.  I have very little to say about Spielberg films otherwise. (In Bangalore, India), The only thing I seem to remember clearly of Schindler’s Listwas being stopped by the cops on the way back home, for not donning a helmet when riding my 50cc moped, the cops further angered that there was a girl riding with me.  So Spielberg is all romance for me! J  I waited months before I could catch Raiders, it ran for near a year, at Plaza, a theatre that played that film, has in these years grown up and become a metro station.  So, yes, Spielberg and I have been around a whileJ.   This tale set in the time of the President’s Men: a movie so thoroughly enjoyable, who would have thought a tale of journalists meeting in parking lotswould make for good cinema.  It did and The Postis as engaging.   It’s also a  lovely little tale of a woman in finding herself and the courage to live fully, dignified and in a world of men – boardroom men at that.  Meryl does just fine, her smile endearing and gracefully, striding confidently in the world muddied byWeinstein. Meryl will do so in the new world of bold women.  It’s nice to find a strong role played out with grace: her gentle eyes that convey the boundaries and the full freedom of being civilized evolved creatures.  Tom Hanks is perfect foil in playing a nice man yielding the whip and power kindly, contradictory as that does sound – an editor feared and respected.  He plays it with dignity attributed to the real life Ben Bradlee.  The fine art of writing in the newspaper about the powerful people at whose table you have dined played out so well and plainly.  Oh you long for the days when television had anchors who read out news memorizing many lines so as to gaze into your eyes through the camera.   Today’s newsroomsare like the cockfights that have been banned for being cruel.  The sport every night at 9 on Indiannewschannels have led to shouting over and beating up the other for entertainment and power, shutting out the other, shaming the other.  This kind of cacophony is also reflected in the ugliness of our public spaces and lives.  The Postcould help bring some relevance to the values mentioned in textbooks of journalism, which the students thought was like learning calculus when training to be a bricklayer.  

Mathew Rhys playsThis side after his That side in The American.  And in that brief role add much heft to this quickie.  And Bob Odenkirk brings urgent energy even in underplaying his physical acting.

Best actress (nominated) : Meryl Streep, The Post
Best picture (nominated):The Post


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Another fine performances film, theOscar  for best actress, supporting actor and a just miss for Harelson who was absolutely brilliant. Even the gap in his front teeth oozed the complexity of the character battling morale and mortality.It’s a grim story of an unsolved murder, mother’s anguish.  Three billboards is very unlike Frances McDormand’s last Oscar outing – Fargo.  She is not at all like that seeming vulnerable pregnant cop woman walking carefully on Ice, she is more up and personal in this. Sam Rockwell does a turn as a racist who finds direction towards redemption, after Harelson having left and the cop station has been set on fire.  The fire has cleansing effects.   And Frances McDormand celebrated the Oscar in typical style and drama.   And adding further to the drama was  someonewho stole the Statue and then the authorities got it back for her, all on the same day.  So, yes, much excitement over that and she got all the women to stand up and celebrate womanhood and even asked the grand lady and fellow nominee for the same award, Streep to ‘please stand up and then the rest of them will do too’, she said.   Cool! No prudes here.  JOnward to a better world!   Yeah, yeah #metoo!

Actress: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

A Denzel Washington flick, as Denzel has been doing lately, here to hegoes out and defines a unspoken hero, outspokenly.  It’s a fine moral tale for the times and ColinFirth does well to show respect to a man who has no ambition. Roman’s life is a gory end, for a man in pursuit of a just world.  It just wasn’t cut well at the table and also didn’t work out a very important tale to be very engaging on screen.  It does take a while to get interested in this tale of a backroom crusader.    And Washington does not disappoint, he puts his stamp on a black lawyer way differently than did MarshallMarshall fought for justice but a few decades before the system decayed again and now Esq, (a title of dignity, slightly above gentleman, below knight, he does explain), has to fight to clean it again.  Well, an ideal state is not a stagnant clear water pond, it’s a dynamic, so no fight is the last fight in an evolving landscape. Ofcourse Washington plays Roman with the sure-footedness of a knight.  He goes about the role, with an excellent sound track playing on his iPodthroughout the length of the film, the music only stops with the gunshot.  His activism from a time gonebydoes not fit in with the aggression of capitalism.  Roman falls, like one man against a system will.

Best actor- nominated: Denzel Washington, Roman J Israel, Esq

Molly’s Game

A movie about card games, how can that be interesting?  Is that a sport? But Jessica Chastain just rocks this party.  She skates on at deadly pace even along very precarious bends, deftly.  Molly does break her spine, and that only adds more steel.   And then Kevin Costner comes along to play daddy,  who finds her every time she snaps her wings to add strength for flight again.   Jessica is a very good Molly!  And there is another ice skating movie which I haven’t seen yet, the cute Margo Robbie playing a toughie (I, Tonya).  Jessica is so good that I am now looking to watch movies which have her in them.

Best adapted screenplay – Molly’s Game (nominated)

Marshall

Chadwick Bosemanis having a fine year.  At the time of the Academy awards, he has had great success at the boxofficewith Black Panther, a first of a kind super hero who is Black.   We are not counting Hancock.  Though am sure that connection has been made and the market will work to see if Hancock and some bull can be flogged now that the viewers have bought into black panther, even if the only thing similar is skin deep.  But Marshall is good watch, the struggle of the first lawyer who fought on the side of the underdog, and in the days when everything seemed loaded against you.  There’s dignity and triumph  andBoseman is a solid defender.   An important piece of history that can add to the other lovely films like – Selma, The butler etc…  America, at this time in history might be fighting to keep the arts from the shallow politics of petty boardroom that Sri. Trump brings to the big fat white house.   But, all said, Hollywood still has rooms that are working on important stories being told well.  Unlike?   Unlike Bollywood which this year got Padmavati, a tale told grandly and not much else. It will probably be remembered for showcasing what a intolerant country we have become. A case of history having to repeat itself because we have forgotten our history. The burning and arson in this time of evolved materialism and technology went right back to the time of wicked Khilji.   So, that’s how we seem to play out reel and real.

Back to Marshall, it has fine performances by Kate Hudson and Josh Gad too.   This is enabling history lesson.

Best song : nominated : Stand Up for Something, Marshall

Along with I, Tonya we do plan to see: Coco – nice little Mexicantilt with even the big prize (Best Picture) going to another from the other side of Trump’s wall.   And then Call Me By Your Name, for the peach and also see another James Ivory treatment, so many years after Merchant having passed on.  The Disaster Artist which probably didn’t get much volume probably because Mr. Franco seems to have embittered a woman.
 

oscars

Solo – the bilingual that speaks in tongues like a fake Pentecost!

Featured

The girls are beautiful and so are the locales and both these are shot beautifully.   It’s sensuous!  and Dulquer is a rock star!  That is about sums the movie up succinctly.  Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City, would have sounded right when the credits rolled.  [Symbol]

There are 4 stories in here and Bejoy goes off on some Shiva path, for depth?  Well, can’t tell really why, all  it does is add an illustration to the title page of every each story

Dhansika, Arthi Venkatesh, Sruthi Hariharan, Neha Sharma are absolutely gorgeous and the camera is calm, firm and is often gentle and even  emits warm glow, not for a moment does it seem voyeuristic.  And then Ann Augustine who walks in and out of the ‘world of trilok’, with the camera looking on longingly for

solo-malayalam-movie-dulquer-salmaan-looks

The tales:
World of Shekhar
World of Trilok
World of Siva
World of Rudra

a wee bit more, we plead.  Haven’t seen Ann Augustine in a long, long time.    There is something to Bejoy’s camera when it gazes at women:  Juhi Babbar was ravishing in that short film where no words were spoken,  a movie Bejoy made over a decade ago with Mohanlal – Reflection.  Have you seen Aditi Rao Hydari in Wazir?  Exactly!, that’s the point!

There are strong performances in the film.  Dulquer Salmaan gets to play 4 very different characters in the 4 stories.  The stammer in the first story was over done so was that story, and it really seemed like Bejoy had gotten it all wrong.  But the other 3 tales are far better woven.

They are all tales or a very strong male, no no, the women are not just lookers-on, but it’s just that I felt the Solo was a Dulquer portfolio folder.

Bijoy was a director,  I found interesting from the very first flick of his I saw, Shaitan.   Oh! my o my, I thought it had huge promise and delivered too; it did seem to have a small flick feel with all the new comers, but what a lovely flick that was.  There was no better remix of the old favorite: Khoya Khoya Chand, that song of longing was fit with a beautiful eerie.   So there was great promise from very early on,  and he only somewhat delivered on them, somehow making one feel that he was holding back on that flourish which would have made it fantastic, or maybe he was just that touch impatient or restless to wait and find and let that magic work.  I felt that with David, Wazir and then again with Solo.  It’s like we felt about Ranbirmised but didn’t deliver, and still no denying that in there is a treasure trove in there,  and those stones were waiting to catch the light to reflect but does quite reach deep enough for that to happen.    These disappointments at the box-office could also be that process of the diamond being cut.  There is such throbbing energy of promise that is just short of that one deft cut.

So, we will wait until the next offering and sure hope Bejoy finds the right team that will light up cinema halls and make for film history.  Ofcourse it’s coming.