Movie recommendation: Frances Ha

  

“Tell me the story about us”, demands a bored and weary Frances, somehow feeling the statement might rejuvenate her faith in life and the times to come. 

“Again?”, asks an exasperated Sofia, but then with the grim seriousness of a storyteller, folds her hand and sits upright, just because she loved doing this every goddamn time, and says, “Okay Frances,

“We’re going to take over the  world some day…”

“Frances is childish”, “Frances is immature”, “Frances is a dreamer”, “Frances is a loudmouth”, “Frances needs to get her shit together”, “Frances is awkward”, “Frances needs to grow up”, “Frances is disoriented”, “Frances is directionless”, “Frances is ‘undateable'”

“I fell in love with Frances….”

First world misery looks best in black and white.

A weird decision by the director, Noah Baumbach, to depict a coming-of-age (well, not exactly), lively and heartening film based in the colourful city of New York (literally and metaphorically) in grim shades of Black and white. At times the B&W does give it a hint of cynicism, even in the most liveliest of situations, but on the plus side, what it really does is make you feel a sore heartache in even the most recurring and common miseries of  films and story-telling. The first-world problems.

When looked from a greater perspective, a perspective that all intellectuals would visualise the world around them in, all our first world problems seem so superficial. You’ve got trouble at your job, relationship is sore, grades don’t work out well, friendships have broken. All of these problems, are only but problems. They’re not  situations. “Oh you and your dad don’t get along? Such a serious issue. The starving kids of Africa might be devastated to hear that!”

But what if all your first world miseries bundle up to such an extent in front of you, that it may feel as if the whole universe is conspiring against you? And even though our problems are only but petty, pretentious whinings against bigger issues like world hunger or women empowerment, they too are, in the end, our own. And like everything else which is our own, we feel for it and would consider it as a priority. And this is something that relates to everybody around us,  which is what books like ‘Catcher in the rye’ show us, that our individual feelings of alienation, of misery, of loneliness, are some things that are universal.

And the thing is, we, like all individuals against the forces of nature, bend against it. We let go of our dreams and accept the grim reality of the situation. People term this phase as growing up. Becoming mature. But what about the people who refuse to let go of their dreams? People who refuse to accept the reality of the situation and are still those starry eyed dreamers who believe that somehow everything would work itself out in the end and that ‘This too shall pass…”

still2

Meet Frances (Greta Gerwig), the 27 year old girl (not so much of a grown up) who lives with her college ‘bestie’/ sistuh from another mistuh, Sofie (Mickey Sumner). What does she do for a living you ask? Well, Frances dances. Is she really good at that? Umm.. well she’s strictly average. I mean she does work as an apprentice here and there and would do random gigs thrown her way, like teaching kids and stuff, but I think that counts. Is it a good paying job? Yeah, right! She’s an artist in New York. What do you expect?   So does she plan to get married then? No sir whatsoever! Well what does she want to do then?

Frances, well, just wants to live in the moment. She believes in a good life. A life where dreams do come true. Where she’d probably move to Paris with Sofie and she’d be a professional dancer there. Where they’ll have lovers and a studio apartment and no kids and a friendship that would last for a lifetime.

Well, atleast that was the plan.

Why, what happened then?

Life happened, my friend.

You know, Sofie moved out and then Frances lost her job and then stayed with these guys Benjie (Michael Zegan) and Lev (Adam Driver) and then Sofie got married and then Frances moved out again and then she stayed with another friend and worked odd jobs. Oh, it’s a long story. You’d probably have to watch the film for that.

It’d be an wild understatement to say Greta Gerwig played the character well. She went inside the bloody skin of it. She was the right kind of awkward and the right kind of cute and the right kind of miserable and the righ- well, basically the right kind of everything.

Frances relates to every individual in the world who still believe in their artistic dreams and carry them around like a baggage. She’s you. She’s me. She’s all of us until life gets to us. Until we become the boring married couple with their occasional foreign trips. Or the guy with a day job. Or the girl who does paperwork  but wanted to become a writer instead.

But Frances, no, Frances, is different. She’ll speak her mind even if it that’d lead to a break up with her boyfriend. She’s that friend who’d shout out “Ahoy sexy!” in front of the whole crowd and run over and hug you. She believes in friendships and relationships that would last forever. She believes dreams that may someday come true. She dances freely. Listens intently. Cries silently. And loves truly.

Frances-Ha

And when the chips are down, she’d even risk being the only 27 year old loudmouth with nothing relatable to say in a table full of hollow, civilized, married couples. Or would make an impulsive, disaster of a trip to Paris just for the sake of doing so.

And the world, sad to say, is a cruel, cruel place for somebody like Frances. There’s ‘fate’, who’s a bitch! Time, that changes. And people, who change with it. It’s like Ed Sheeran would say, “It’s too cold outside, for angels to fly…..”

Frances Ha is a nostalgic, meaningful tale about a character that we could relate to. That we could somehow acknowledge in ourselves. That was a part of us, but somehow who got lost on the way. Whatever happened to that guy? The guy who made the most randomest of rash decisions and would regret them later on. But if you ask him about it now, he wouldn’t trade the world for making them. Did he change? Or did he just grew up? If there was something you would take from this film, make it the impulsiveness and the madness about life and your dreams that you lost. Become, again, the starry eyed person who believes that the world around him would change, and that all of life’s miseries are just a phase. And like every other phase,  ‘this too shall pass…’ (Unless, ofcourse if the door is guarded by Gandalf. In that case, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!'(cheesy joke, I know. Had to do that, sorry 😛 ))

Throughout the entirety of the film, you do not realize the significance of it’s title, and when you do it comes with the  bittersweet realisation of the reality around you. Of accepting. Of moving on (in a way). It’s about making peace with the city you love that does not love you back. And in the end we just ‘accept the love we think we deserve…’

FrancesHa_2_normal

Of Physics and more

6a0120a765554d970b01676929a119970b-640wi My very recent read has been the renowned MIT physicist, Walter Lewin’s, biopic ‘For the Love of Physics’. An extremely fascinating and profound read  it depicts the physicist’s journey throughout the years, his love for physics and his inquisitiveness of a newborn that search for the various elements of Physics everywhere around him. The book is a silent reminder that even after everything that he has achieved, his primary aim had always been to do something that he had always loved and wanted to do, to teach Physics and science. And as the Greek saying goes ‘To teach is to learn something all over again’, he still learns physics from his surroundings and the elements around him.

                   InstagramCapture_24db02d9-b1c7-4df4-83b3-ef34eeae4271

Walter finds beauty in Physics and the science around him. He still finds the most mundane things bizarre and his body of work is something that makes Physics what it was supposed to be in the first place. Fun. I think one session that might have stayed with all his students as well as some of the video recipients of his work would be his session teaching the Physics behind a simple pendulum. He took a giant ball, tied to the ceiling of the classroom to demonstrate a pendulum. As he pushed the ball and the pendulum bobbed about, he explained to his students the various parameters associated with it, the time taken for its single reciprocating motion, the angle on the both the sides, etc. Now, to demonstrate the independence of  mass attached to the pendulum to the time taken in it’s oscillation, the 50 year old physicist, the bizarro freak that he was, climbed on top of the ball in front of the whole classroom and asked one of his students to push as the pendulum bobbed about in it’s motion swinging the too-engrossed-to-be-embarrased old man with it while the students, the awe-stricken audience to the illusionist, stared in wonderment at something never in their wildest dream they had imagined a reputed MIT professor doing. A lesson they may remember for a life time, I guess.

Recently I have been working as an intern in an organisation that designs some fun science experiments for middle school kids to practically demonstrate the various theories of science that they have been learning throughout their curriculum. Working with them, seeing them fascinated by things as little as the science behind the regrowth of a starfish’s arm via cardboard and a few strings to their awe at something as simple as the floating of  ice in salt water reminded me why I had been studying to become an engineer in the first place.

It had always been physics. Straight from the time when we blew up the light bulb by supplying high amount of electricity to the time when we built a backyard dynamo based turbine to generate little electricity via recycling the tap water, it had always been Physics. The curiosity to discover something new, anything new, is what was and had always been the driving force behind all the time we’ve invested in this occupation in our lives. What we, perhaps, do not realise is maybe the curious child who used wonder why his old books smelled like a tinge of vanilla, is crushed somewhere under a large pile of the same books. A child who used to wonder why were sunrises were blue and sunsets orange now stares at the same sunset with a beer in his hand wondering of the scintillating worries of a secure future. All the pressure, all the agony kills the physicist inside an engineer subjecting him to become merely a commercial raw material to the industries. A currency printing press.

Whatever happened to the little kid who once, bewildered, asked his mom, ‘Why was the moon following him?’ I look at those kids in the workshop and their glittering, utterly fascinated, inquisitive eyes and realise what had been missing. The whole essence of  curiosity and wonderment of anything, and everything, around us

Movie Review- Finding Fanny : “All that is FANNAtical about out lives….”

Our films over the years have had all these bizarre, contrasting images of Goa. From Goa being a suburban Christian community with music and intimacy and emotions (apropos Kabhi Hann Kabhi Naa), to Goa being the demonic and savage underbelly of Crime and Mafia to a Goa still in its deranged,  delusional state with all the young blood and all the liquid LSD flowing through it, but somehow Homi Adajania’s potrayal of Goa as a whimsical, Marquezian universe with characters that are neurotic and music that is quirky and colours that seem like a world dressed in Instagram filters is all so picturesque and  the whole unreality of it seemed so surreal that I had to had to write about it.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about a film, but then each and every other film that there has been, in it’s own genre, could be well perceived of being either good or bad and that could be well distinguished by the audiences that behold. Whereas ‘Finding Fanny’, in it’s own way is all too intricate and layered and has this tinge of unconventionality that somehow manages to knock the wind out of your stomach. Maybe during the end of it it makes you question the fact whether you liked the film or not? Was it an inspiring road-trip film or did it  have any poignant moments of self-introspection by the characters, to which I’d like to disappoint you by saying there’s none of this in the film. Then what is it that makes you like a film like this? To which I’d say are the characters, who are so incomplete in their own being (just like any of us) that they seem to complete you.

What is more questionable is the fact that all of this is being written about an Indian film, but then all of this could only be felt about an Indian film. That even among the cacophony of poorly made films lacking in both luster and substance there perhaps might be a few hidden Easter eggs that fill you up with all this inexpressible zeal of it’s discovery. Which is what I love about our films, that even after all these years, they never fail to surprise us. They did that with the highly unconventional ‘Delhi Belly’ which was all so mad and hysterical yet had so much substance and also with ‘Udaan’ that had substance and artistic integrity filled upto the brim. ‘Finding Fanny’ could be described as a film for me that was a sly reminder of two things, how much I love watching films and how much I miss writing about them. And it filled me up with all these delicate emotions that I almost felt like a Zeppelin on the verge of blowing up to pieces. So here’s my short, personally opinionated review of a film that I found interesting.

Pocolim- a fictional town in the whimsical parts of Goa, with people as whimsical as the location. Quoting a line from the film ” It’s a place where life doesn’t pass you by, but rather  moves along with you” It’s a village where somehow everybody knows everybody and where all that is unproductive and pointless is somehow a part of life. In the backdrop of this village is a young widow whose husband dies just a day after their marriage; a puerile, hopeless romantic postmaster with no mails to deliver and a broken heart to mend; an obnoxious mechanic whose father just died; another old widow with her nose up in the air and has the same bitterness towards the world as does the mechanic;a  fanatical artist with all the extremism for his art and his fetish for ‘big’ women; tightly- tuned guitars; accordions; a dysfunctional vibe in a village which speaks it’s English in tattered ways, with phrases like “What you doing?” “How this possible?” “How you speak!’; a dead cat; a rusty, foreign car; a bizzaro painting; and somehow all this quirky chaos is doing the one thing that it is set out to do- ‘Trying to find happiness.’

Now that pursuit of happiness may be initiated by the postmaster’s sudden revelation of the fact that after 46 years of his life, his love ‘Fanny Fernandes’ had never received the one letter of his confession of love to her and all his life was based on the illusion of rejection. He, along with all the other four nutbags, set out on a journey to find her. What happens next, perhaps, changes their particular lives for the better (and even for the worst). A film like ‘Finding Fanny’ never really lies in the conclusion of it all, but rather in the characters and their journey and Homi Adajania’s characters are all so messed up, that they all seem likeable. There’s the postmaster, naive and oozing in love Naseerudin Shah who is unarguably spot on with all the precise emotions at all the necessary times, but then this is the Naseerudin Shah that has been all so formidable in all his films and all those who’ve been to naive to notice that should perhaps have their eyes melted in a furnace. Then there is the all so egoistic yet pretentious artist played by Pankaj Kapoor and again, these are actors who never fail to deliver. A very appreciative revelation was Deepika Padukone as the widow with all her puritan beliefs and who somehow tries to find happiness for herself by finding happiness for others. Arjun Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia were all too sparse yet likeable in their respective, bitter roles filled with a tinge of sarcasm.

Homi’s style of film-making is a little similar to Wes Anderson (just a little) with the dysfunctional characters being involved in awkward situations, but the imagery of a Wes Anderson film is what our films would perhaps need quite some time to accomplish. There is also this serene yet humorous background music of accordions and violins, so as to create a sense of ethnicity. There are a few staggering situational humour instances, for say, when a Father reveals his intention of getting married the postmaster retorts by saying “Then what are you waiting for? The second coming? You’ve waited for that since the last 2000 years and look where it has got you.”

‘Finding Fanny’ leaves us with the most cliched question there is- ‘How do we find happiness in our lives?’ To which the answer might be that happiness doesn’t lie in the conclusion after it’s chasing, but in the journey there is in it’s pursuit. We may find it in lost love, surreal artforms, one night stands, flattery, sunsets or even in ice-creams. All we have to do is stop searching for the pot of gold and feast our eyes with the rainbow instead.

“Were we any wiser at end of it?” asks the widow. To which the answer is I do not know. Or it might be, as Antoine de  Saint Exupery had said, ‘for what is essential is invisible to the eyes…’

What was the first book you ever read?

Okay so what was the first book you ever read?

Or more like, how was the first book you ever read? What was the first piece of literature that really inspired you or intrigued you in a certain way? Or you could even tell me if it was forced upon you, like as in a compulsory literary reading in those excruciatingly tedious English classes? Or it could be a Hindi book or a Gujarati book or a Kannada book, you know, any piece of fictional writing from the works of Leo Tolstoy to Chetan Bhagat (I don’t really mind if it’s Chetan Bhagat. I mean I admit we were young and foolish and inexperienced), from J.K. Rowling to Rabindranath Tagore, it could be anybody.

Tell me the circumstances or the issues you faced reading your first book, whether it was magical or plain boring? Were you fascinated or well, felt absolutely nothing at all. Even do a review of it if you want to, you could criticize it or regard it as the most exemplary piece of literature that you ever witnessed and had changed your life for the better.( Don’t say this about ‘2 states’, I mean please guys!) Even tell me how has your journey been after that so far? What was the next book you read after that? (In case you remember) Which other books have you read after that, that have intrigued you and inspired you the same way your first book did?

Or you could simply not get into the details at all. Just tell me which was the first book you read. But I feel it’d be really fun if you got into the tiny details, kinda like a visit down the memory lane. This is something you could do taking some time out. I mean it’s not an assignment guys, nobody’s holding you at gunpoint, I know some of us have/are studied/studying in Engineering colleges and would regard this as another one of those 293832 assignments that you have done or would be doing throughout the entirety of your college life. Trust me, it’s not. It could be totally mundane, mumbo-jumbo flurry of words that might make no sense at all. You could rant, curse, and slang around, throwing LOL, OMFG, ROFLTOTALLYDOESNTMAKESENSE here and there. It could be a beautifully crafted piece, stating the book’s aesthetics, moral values and insightful writing, you know, like actual critics.

Now as far as I could remember, and trust me I remember quite comprehensibly, the first book I read was in class 7th. Now I don’t know if it’s too early or too late, I don’t know if there’s an age limit to find aesthetic beauty in a certain artform, but there was something very fascinating about Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. Now I didn’t actually read the book by Dickens’. I read a detailed illustration in simpler words. I mean I don’t know if that counts as a book. I really don’t care, you knwo. I told you it could be the most mundane of absurdities. To me, it was the first novella I ever read and I felt real proud doing that.

The answer to why I read the book could be simply put in one line as ‘because of ‘The Flintstones’.

Remember ‘The Flintstones’, guys? Fred, Barney, Velma. Bedrock. “YABBA-DABBAD-DOO!”  That pink Dino. That weird powerful kid who went *Bam Bam Bam Bam Bam*. The way they drove a car with their feet, the way they bowled with rocks, the way they saw Drive-in cine…..okay I’m getting a little distracted here. I do that. It’s horrifying. Don’t even ask how I round up during my lectures. Once I was actually laughing in class while a terrifyingly gloomy poetry about death was being recited. See, here I go again.

Okay now I’ll come to the point. The reason ‘The Flintstones’ were the main influence for me reading my first book was because they once did a Christmas special short film. Their own adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’. Does anybody remember that? Fred played Scrooge in a play, and how the play actually affected him in his own life? I mean, come on guys? Nobody?

Okay fine I won’t go into the details of that. The post is getting too long anyways. But it was a very good TV movie. ‘A Flintstones Christmas Carol’. I think its on youtube, or can be downloaded from ‘you know where’. Do watch it.

Anyways, so I was so intrigued by the film and the story, that I had to had to read the original story.( Yes. Had to had to) And so I went to the school library, the short, plump, 12 year old version of me. Not that there’s much difference now…See I got wayward again.

Yeah so I went to the librarian and said “Charles Dickens ka book kaha hai?” (Where are the books by Charles Dickens?) And then she looked down upon me and went “Charles Dickens ka book padhega?”( You’re going to read a Charles Dickens book?) To which I nodded like ‘Yeah bitch! That’s why I asked for it. I mean I don’t generally use books by specific authors to have ‘Bhel Puri’ on their pages.  (Obviously I didn’t say that guys. I was like 12. I mean, come on).

So anyways I took the book and sat there for the lunch hour. It was like a 200 page book, with large texts, hard binding and nice, catchy drawing on the front cover. I only managed to read a few pages and then kept the book and went back to class after the lunch time was over.(No. We weren’t allowed to bunk classes during those times.) So then I came back the next day during lunch time, and the day after that, and the day after that, after a sudden sense of enlightenment fell upon the librarian who came up to me and said “You know you could issue this book and take it home for a week.” And then I looked at her and thought ‘You know you could have told me this the first time. It could’ve saved me a couple of lunch hours.’ (Again, I didn’t say it guys *sigh*) And so well I issued the book and took it home and spent the rest of the hours of the day reading the book.

And I was so much in love, man. Obviously I had like a vague idea of the plot after watching the Flintstones movie, but still reading the very original version of it, READING in particular, had me in, you know, exhilaration about it. And the whole plot was so touching, so moving. The grumpy, cunning old character of Scrooge, “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!”, who thinks of Christmas as ‘humbug’, and who exploits his poor little clerk, who is such a nice fellow and has such high amount of family problems, but in the end still wishes well for his boss. How Scrooge gets visited by the ghost of his old partner on the night of Christmas and how the three Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future show him the three stages of his life. How neglected he felt as a kid, his relation with his sister, how people talk about him behind his back, his clerk’s son with an amputated leg and the grim future he has in store for him. How this leads to his change of heart. And at the end of it, I was all *sniff, sniff* (Okay this was a little emasculating).

But for me, this book was what then inculcated my love for further reading. I went on to read Charles Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘David Copperfield’, Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ and how miserably did I cry when they turned them into such filthy, shining, teen movie creatures. I then went on with the ‘Harry Potter’ books and well, I don’t even know how many books I’ve read since then. For me, my first read was like a certain sense of illumination you know. It was like being given a key to the vault behind which treasures of gold and silver and rubies lay waiting for somebody to grab hold of them.

You guys could tell me your experience with your first book too. I think we have already discussed that in detail. There’s like a 2000 word limit on the comments, you know you could send them to me via Facebook, emails (You could ask for my email in case you don’t have it), you could even text me. If you’re a fellow blogger, you could send me the link to the post and I’ll reblog it. I mean we’re standing over the plethora of communicative means guys. And you’re not bound by anything. You know you could shelve this task for eternities and then one day when we’re all somewhere in our lives, you in your wheelchair in an oldage home, I in my mansion smoking a cigar, maybe you could then remember this post and text me back like “Hey do you remember the post you asked us to do?” and to which I’d say “Yes. Yes, indeed I do” (Well only if I’m not suffering from Alzheimer’s, but well, I mean you get the drill right?)