Saturday, September 20, 2014

Watch and weigh

Do we really identify that classification called genre be it cinema or literature? I'm not sure. For ages now, we've been calling Titanic (1997) a love story dipped in honey (or freezing water). This is also the reason why upcoming movie critics are often seen deriding the monumental film. They simply can't get over its romantic tinge. And while doing so, they conveniently forget that it's the greatest disaster film ever attempted or accomplished. If James Cameron hadn't gone ahead with this seemingly impossible endeavor, it's hard to imagine Darren Aronofsky doing the same with Noah (2014) almost two decades later. Building the ship wasn't as big an achievement as sinking it. And that climactic scene when the liner is literally standing at right angle—about to trudge downwards—is a prime moment in the history of cinema. Had that scene failed to achieve what it set out to, the movie would have sunk instead. However, a corny dialogue—perched on the top of the doomed ship—by Rose reminding Jack that they ARE precisely where they first met each other superseded the visual treat. The selfless love exhibited wouldn't let us appreciate the scale a movie based on a historical disaster can reach. 
     Something not-so-different happened with Fight Club (1999) too. Because of the uninhibited violence and never-seen-before style of filmmaking, we tend to forget that the film is actually a comedy. It was meant to make us point finger at our species and laugh our gut out. The characters—real or imagined—keep shifting from one situation to another with the required comic punch. Be it Jack's incurable insomnia or Marla's unpredictable personality or Tyler's desirable insouciance, each one of them is blessed by laugh-with-me lines and expressions. Not only them, even the supporting cast tickle you. A boss who wouldn't give in unless you beat the shit out of yourself. Or a fighter who gets punched in the balls repeatedly only to be helped up by the guy who punched him down there. Or a priest who'd do anything but fight. Even the dark Kafkaesque climax involving Project Mayhem is funny because of the way Edward Norton's character is helplessly tied to a chair in his white office shirt and boxer. During that instant, you predict something bad is going to happen because in the back of your head, you ACTUALLY want it to happen. At least that's what Jack wished for before you fell for Marla. All the gyaan that was directed at you was existential for a purpose. Adding a twist to a knotted screenplay—moreover, to quench everyone's thirst—he blows his head off. What follows is far from what you expect from an  action adventure or a gripping thriller. 
     Moving ahead to the twentieth century, we saw how Inception (2010) gave birth to innumerable  dream-within-a-dream joke formats. For excuses ranging from "I didn't get it!" to "I love it when Nolan fucks with my head!" the marvelous film was referred to as a cautionary psychological thriller instead of a tragic romance. Well, there's no denying that the director took us on a walk through human subconsciousness but a bigger fact can't be ignored either. Every little thing that happened in the film was a testament to Dom's desire to spend some minutes—if not moments—with his dead wife Mal. He hasn't gotten over her death yet. Going by his nature, he never will. So, whatever be the consequences, he needs to be with her and for that sake, he's willing to jeopardise a lot of lives. And he almost does. But there's a twist in the tale here. He can be with her in his dreams but he can't control those dreams. In other words, he can't stop his beloved wife from killing herself again in his mind. At the same time, he would rather have the privilege of at least trying to stop her for a change and thus redeem himself of guilt. He loves her, you see? Wait. There's a another twist here. In his dreams, Mal doesn't seem to share mutual affection for him. Maybe she too wants him to move on. But he won't and a stupid totem can't do anything about it. He's part of the most brilliant one-sided love stories ever told on the big screen.

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