Monday, 26 May 2014

What a shot!

So many thoughts running in my head about the movie I just finished watching - Kai Po Che. A rare real film. Sometimes a little too real. I mean to write about it in detail after I gather my thoughts, but I simply had to gush a little right away. My friend P didn't want to watch this on my birthday last weekend. She said it was too heavy and sad. I guess in a way it is. But that wasn't my take away at the end of the movie. Or if it was, it was sweet sorrow. I'm smiling but my heart is heavy. However, I don't wish that heaviness away. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014


Feeling like I should be doing something
Not work
Although I really should do that
And soon
Something more fulfilling than work
But what
Should write something more
A story?
Random words?
Or is that called free verse?
Sometimes having a brain can be such a

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Under the Skin

Saw this movie for the second time in as many days this evening. This is only the second time in over a decade that a movie has drawn me to the theater twice. The first was The Grand Budapest Hotel (which I may write about by and by), but I went back to see that one over a week after my first viewing. Part of the reason for my urgent need to see Under the Skin again so soon was, admittedly, external - tomorrow is the last day it is playing here and today is the last day I was free. But, even without that impetus, I don't think I would have been able to wait too long before going back for seconds. This film is just too compelling.

The first time I saw it, yesterday that is, I was simply spellbound. This despite the fact that there were some rather annoying distractions that marred my experience - multiple sets of people walking in late and taking their time to close the curtain at the back of the theater, an extremely loud party at the restaurant next door with obnoxiously loud country music playing over the movie (which uses sound in a brilliant way, but more on that in due course) and even louder women. But the movie broke through all these and held its own and made me hold my breath for most of its running time.

Scarlett Johansson really got under the skin of the character. She is fast becoming one of my favourite actors, having starred in two of the best movies I've seen this year (Her and Under the Skin). The film wouldn't have worked if she hadn't played the part just right. She is, after all, the only actor credited in the opening titles. And she was flawless. But this movie, like most all movies, really belongs to the director, Jonathan Glazer. I haven't seen a single feature film of his, aside from this. Only ever knew him as a music video director. A great music video director, truth be told (some of my all-time favourite music videos are his works), but that was it. Of course, I am now going to make it a point to seek out his other movies, both past and future.

Speaking of music videos, this movie in some ways feels like a long version of one of Glazer's best videos. There is very minial dialogue, and even so a lot of it is unintelligible (and unscripted too, I believe) because of the thick Scottish accents. But this matters not. This is a movie that doesn't need words. It speaks loudly enough with the visuals and even more loudly with that incredible background score. The music is pretty darn great in its own right, and I can easily see myself listening to it on loop for its own sake (Apparently it was scored by Micachu & the Shapes frontwoman Mica Levi - never heard of the band or this woman, but you can bet your ass I'll be looking both up and grabbing a copy of this score). But, the way it is used in this film! Seriously, this is hands down the best use of sound in a film I've seen in a very long time, possibly ever. Spoiler: The way that the recurring motif used when Scarlett's alien draws her prey in is used again when the roles are reversed - just wow. And silences are used just as effectively.

Sound editing deserves mention too. I especially liked how the sounds were abruptly cut off or changed when the scenes changed. It fit the mood of the movie well. And the mood is what this movie is all about. The atmosphere of the film is pitch perfect, and this is what draws the viewer in, I think. It is hard not to get sucked into it all. We are seduced in spite of ourselves. And once we're in there, it does strange things to us, that are hard to describe. Nay, hard to even make sense of. We are to this film what Scarlett's prey are to her alien.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Where did my Saturday go?

And I wasn't even sleeping all day. Oh well. Here's some cool music by a band playing at the Ende Tymes festival in NY this weekend. A festival I really wish I was attending. Maybe next year.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

A very belated show report

I've been to some really great live shows these past 4 weeks or so. And I keep meaning to write about them but haven't been able to get around to it. I shall remedy this somewhat now. I scribbled part of the following on the back of a grocery store receipt while waiting for A Minor Forest to take the stage at one of the aforementioned awesome shows. I meant to copy it over and finish writing it that night (week before last?) but never got around to it.

Mind Over Mirrors, Shawn E. Hansen and ISAM

I found out about this show a couple of days before it was set to happen. It was at the same place as that Midday Veil/Expo '70 show I stumbled upon sometime ago. This place as I later found out happens to be where Justin Wright of Expo '70 lives, which explains how they're able to set up shows there at such short notice. It also explains why these shows are invariably really really good.

So anyway, once again I got there too early, even though I had taken the precaution this time of double-checking beforehand about when exactly the show would start. I was told in response to my enquiry on facebook that the music would start shortly after 8:30pm, and so I rushed over straight from work without even stopping to get dinner. I still only made it around 8:40, but fortunately, they hadn't started playing. I sat myself down in a corner of the room and waited. And waited, getting crankier by the minute.

Finally, just after I had broken down and posted a snarky tweet (which I later deleted), the first person (ISAM) began playing. This was an evening of 3 solo acts, you see. I quite enjoyed the first set once I got off the bench, whose shaking with every move of my neighbour was distracting me a tad too much, and sat myself down on the floor.

Next up was Mind Over Mirrors. From the first drone of his harmonium, I was hooked. This harmonium was nothing like the ones I was used to seeing my music teachers playing back in the day during my short stint at learning Carnatic music. Instead of having the bellows in front of the keys, this guy had a set up where the bellows were by his foot like pedals in a piano. See pics below..

                               To be continued... 

I made a friend... real life! This hasn't happened in so long that I thought it never would anymore. I was resigned to only getting to know new people through the internets. Which, to be honest, isn't so bad. It's quite wonderful being able to connect with people with similar interests who're on the other side of the planet.

But, there's just something so exciting about finding someone like that within stone's throw. Someone with good taste and, more importantly, that certain undefinable something that makes me feel comfortable being around them and speaking my mind. Comfortable enough for me to not come off either condescending and arrogant or painfully shy.

Someone I can maybe actually go to a show with. Without worrying about whether they're going to hate it. Without being annoyed by their persistence in chatting whilst the band is playing (we did meet someone like that at the show though and I did my best to ignore him).

But, more than that, this is someone I am interested in getting to know as a person. Not just a concert buddy. I sort of had one of those (through the internet again) sometime ago and we fell apart. No, what makes this so cool is that this time I enjoyed the conversation on our way to the show and back almost as much as the time there. Real actual conversation. Not just small talk or simply talking about music, but wide-ranging intelligent interesting conversation.

I'm quite giddy with excitement. I only hope I didn't completely misread her and she really did mean what she said about having had a good time and hoping we could do this again. Time will tell.

What I find amusing in all this is that I never thought I'd be so thrilled to make a platonic friend. The few times before now that I have made new friends or almost-friends in the past few years, it was always with men. I think this is because the only time I step out of the house, or connect with people on the internet, is for the sake of music and I guess the music I listen to draws a largely male audience. Now, if I'm being completely honest, invariably, on some level I either read more into it than there is or want to or expect to or whatever. Bottom line, it's rarely purely platonic, even if it is so on the surface. There is almost always subtext (real or imagined). And again, if I'm completely honest with myself, I must admit getting a kick out of this. So to find in myself the potential for excitement over a friend who will be just a friend is exciting in and of itself.

Okay, at this point, I'm probably rambling and should stop, so I will. Blame it on the lateness and the tiredness from a long but fun day. I'm sorry for the self-absorbed nature of the last few posts. I actually started writing about a concert today but wasn't able to finish it. Maybe I'll publish the incomplete draft just so all my recent posts aren't about me me me. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Bayta Sings the Blues

Somethings in life you can never really fully prepare for. You know it is inevitable, but deep down somewhere you hold on to the hope that you won't ever have to face it. That somehow, magically, you alone of all the people in the world will luck out and not have to face this particular situation that innumerable people before you have had to deal with, and uncountable people after will as well.

And then you find that your lot isn't all that special, and you too have to suck it up and make the best of it. You tell yourself half-cynically that you were a fool to ever think otherwise. That, of course, this has come to pass, as you knew it would. You try to be brave about it and cynical and anything but vulnerable. But it still hits you hard. Right in the pit of your stomach.

Never mind. This too shall pass.

By a strange coincidence, I was listening to this gorgeous song over and over earlier today. I don't quite know what the lyrics mean (I can make out a word or two but that's about it), but the music and the singing deliver the message clearly enough. The sense of melancholic longing pervades Rekha Bhardwaj's vocals as much as the sitar(?) strains. *sigh*