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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Top 7 Roles in Movies that really changed Cinema

A Blog I haven't published since 2008. I was planning for a top 10, but never really got to it. So publishing it as seven.

The Top 7 (not 10!) Roles in Movies that really changed Cinema (Or at least my point of view towards it):

7. V ( V for Vendetta, 2005) .. The True image of the man in the Guy Fawkes mask who lived in totalitarian society, we never saw. And yet, we knew so much about him. The voiceover by Hugo Weaving was nevertheless awesome, and with the Wachowski brothers he brings certain knack of creating characters we can never forget. (Citation: Mr. Smith, The Matrix)

6. Derek Vinyard (American History X, 1998) .. A complete change of character of a character and how. Played by the ever-so-surprising Edward Norton, and by far his best performance in a movie according to me. (Most say it was fight club)

5. Joker (The Dark Knight, 2008) .. A role, which lead to a depression the actor could never come out of which eventually led to his death. Heath Ledger as the manic obsessive and irritative, playing the most hated batman villian to such perfection, you cannot choose to not hate the character. RIP, Ledger. You left behind the most perfect villian role ever played.

4. Lt. Vincent Hanna, Neil McCauley ( Heat, 1995) .. 2 men. 2 of the greatest actors on the planet. One is a thief, the other's a cop. Adrenaline in overdrive, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, competed and pulled scenes better -- one after the other, leaving the audience stunned as to who's role was stronger. I, still, haven't reached to that conclusion. Till date.

3. King Leonidas (300, 2006) .. Frank Miller creations are usually out of this world, but even if you ignore the graphically enhanced pictures of the characters, you cannot ignore the amazing dailogue delivery and emotions potrayed by Gerard Butler, pretty much an unknown before the movie. Came. Saw. Conquered.

2. Don Corleone (The Godfather, 1976)/ Michael Corleone (The Godfather 2, 1979) .. When people told me that the godfather is one of the single most greatest creations at hollywood, I was a little taken aback. Until I actually saw the movie. Every expression done with sheer brilliance, and the evolution of Al Pacino.

1. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver, 1980) .. Remember the 2 and a half minute single shot in front of the mirror, Robert De Niro pulls out his gun, talking to himself. "You talking to me, son?" Trivia: He did that all by himself. No script, just cameras rolling. No go watch the scene again.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Do I have one original thought in my head? Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. (Ref: Heli Shah)

I'm a walking cliche. The mentor called again. I'm lagging behind in my submissions. If I stopped putting things off, I'd be happier. All I do, is sit on my fat ass. Surf. Facebook. Twitter. Blog. If my ass wasn't fat, I'd be happier. I wouldn't have to wear a shirt over a Tee just trying to hid my paunch all the time. As if that is fooling anyone. Fat Ass. Maybe I should start working out again. Start with 30 minutes a day. Then improve. Really do it this time. Maybe Jogging. Sakshi will support me on this. 4 kms a day.

I need to turn my life around. What do I need to do? I need to fall in love. I need to have a girlfriend. I need to read more, improve myself. What if I learn German or something? Or I could pick up learning guitar again. I'd be the German speaking, guitar playing engineer turned MBA graduate. That would be cool. Maybe I should cut my hair short. Stop trying to fool everyone that I have a full head of hair. How pathetic is that? Just be real. Confident. Isn't that what women are attracted to? Men don't have to be attractive. But that's not true. In today's world, there's almost as much pressure on men as there is on women these days. Why should I be made to feel I have to apologize for my existence? Maybe its my brain chemistry. Maybe that's whats wrong with me. Bad chemistry. All my problems and anxiety can be reduced to a chemical imbalance or some kind of misfiring synapses in my head. But I'm still gonna need help. But I'll still be ugly, though. Nothing's gonna change that.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My latest Obsession.

People seem to be getting dumber and dumber. I mean, look at us. We have all this amazing technology and yet computers have turned into basically four figure wank machines. The internet was supposed to set us free, democratize us, but all it's really given us is Haiti earthquake pictures and 24 hour a day access to kiddie porn. People don't write anymore, they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. And it just seems to me that it's just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people at a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the English we learned in school.

Yet, I'm a part of the problem, blogging with the best and the worst and ignored ones among them. Here I am, at the edge of the world - the very edge of western civilization with all of us desperate to feel something... anything... that we keep falling into each other and fucking things up for ourselves till the end of days.

A Perfect example of self-loathing.

Shwetak farts. Exits.
Here are some sample situations when people turn to me.
  • When they've had a bad break-up and need help getting over it, they run to me - and after listening to my tales of woe, feel that theirs is not so bad after all.
  • When no one else's around and they want someone to kill time with, they think I'm always there. What's more, they're right. I've no better work to do, and I don't value time.
  • When they're feeling down and out and totally abandoned by friends and family alike, they know exactly who to turn to.
  • When they've got some work that needs to be done which will involve payment if it is outsourced, they come to me and get it done for free.
  • When they are short of ideas but are in desperate need to please their mentors/professors/seniors/superiors, they borrow some of mine and claim it as their own.
At all other times, be it when they have plans with friends or happen to get into a relationship or get involved in some significant project, I don't exist for the very same people. Jiska koi nahi hota, uska bhagwan hota hai. And for those missing out on the love of God by choice or otherwise, there's always alcohol.

Now excuse me while I drowse myself in self-pity. And please hope that I drown.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You're Boring.

Sorry, someone had to say it.

Your actions are predictable. Your insights are recycled. You don't bring surprise with you when you enter a room.

That's why people are ignoring you.

Which used to be fine, because you could just buy attention for yourself or your efforts. But that half-price sale on attention is now over. You have been compromised. You're not the profit-maximizing sociopath, nor are you the saint. You're somewhere in between.

The only path left is to lean out of the edge and become interesting, noteworthy and yes, remarkable.

Shwetak Farts. Exits.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Life is not a dream. Beware. And beware. And beware."

And so many think because it then happened, now it won’t. But didn't I mention the ongoing "wow" is happening right now? We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance where even our inabilities are having a roast. We are the authors of ourselves, co-authoring a gigantic Dostoevsky novel, starring clowns. This entire thing we're involved with called the world, is an opportunity to exhibit how exciting alienation can be. Life is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments, flabbergasted to be in each other's presence. The world is an exam to see if we can rise into direct experience. Our eyesight is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it. Matter is here as a test for our curiosity. Doubt is here as an exam for our vitality.

An assumption is that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously. I do not agree entirely. And by saying this, I do not exactly disagree. I would say that life understood is life lived. But the paradoxes bug me, and I can learn to love the paradoxes that bug me. And on really romantic evenings like this one, I go salsa dancing with my confusion. Before I drift off. And remember. Because remembering is so much more a psychotic activity than forgetting.
When it was over, all I could think about was how this entire notion of oneself, what we are, is just this logical structure, a place to momentarily house all the abstractions. It was time to become conscious, to give form and coherence to the mystery that I had been a part of. And it was a gift. I was dreaming, yet life was raging all around me, and every moment was magical. I loved all the people, dealing with all the contradictory impulses. That's what I loved the most -- connecting with the people. Looking back, that's all that really mattered.
You know, they say that dreams are real only as long as they last. Couldn't you say the same thing about life? There're people that are mapping the mind-body relationship, of dreams. They're called the oneironauts. They're the explorers of the dream-world.

They say it’s just about the two opposing states of consciousness which don't really oppose, at all. In the waking world, the neural system inhibits the activation of the vividness of memories. And this makes evolutionary sense. You'd be de-evolved if you had the perceptual image of a predator to be mistaken for the memory of one, and vice-versa; which is that if the memory of a predator conjured up a perceptual image, we would be running off to the bathroom every time we had a scary thought. There has to be a certain mechanism in your brain, which allow dreams to appear real, while preventing competition from other perceptual processes. This is why dreams are mistaken for reality. To the functional system of neural activity that creates our world, there is no difference between dreaming a perception and an action, and the actual waking perception and action.
Cinema, in its essence, is like an introduction to reality. Because cinema is where reality is actually reproduced. And for the audience, it might sound like a storytelling medium. I, being a member of the ever-so-present audience, feel that maybe literature is better for telling a story. And if you tell a story or even a joke, like "This guy walks into a bar and, you know, he sees a dwarf." That works really well because you're imagining this guy and this dwarf in the bar and there's this kind of imaginative aspect to it. But in film, you don't have that because you actually are filming a specific guy, in a specific bar, with a specific dwarf, of a specific height, who looks a certain way. There’s a certain connection, between photography and film. It’s as if, film making is photography itself, except that it adds this dimension of time to it, and this greater realism.

And I think the whole film making industry these days is just taking films and trying to make it like the storytelling medium where you take books or stories, and then you make the script, and you try to find a person who sort of fits the thing.
I think it's ridiculous, because I feel it shouldn't be based on the script. It should be based on the person, or the thing, under concern. And in that sense, they are almost right to have this whole star system, because then it's about that person, instead of the story.

Francis Ford Coppola always said the best films aren't made ... the films ... The best scripts don't make the best films, because they have that kind of literary narrative thing that you're a slave to. The best films are the ones that aren't tied to that. What one observation I’d want to make here, is the way there's narrativity to music; to a particular set of tones, played behind the scene that adds to the emotion. But, you don't first think of the story of the song, and then make the song. It has to come out of that moment. And that's what a movie has. It's just that moment, which is what matters.
Acknowledgement: Prof. Swaminathan, Retired professor from IIT-Delhi.

Creation comes out of imperfection. It seems to come out of striving and frustration. And this is where I think language came from. I think it came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another, using communication. And it had to be easy when it was just simple survival. Like saying, "water." We came up with a sound for that. Or "Saber-toothed tiger right behind you." We came up with a sound for that.

But when it gets really interesting, I think, is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we're experiencing. What is “frustration”? Or what is “anger” or “love”? When I say "love," the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person's ear, travels through these channels in their brain, you know, through their memories of love (or the lack of love, perhaps) and they register what I'm saying and they say yes, they understand.

But how do I know they understand? Because words are inert. They're just symbols. They're dead. And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It's unspeakable. And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another, and we feel that we've connected, and we think that we're understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling might be transient, but I think it's what we live for.
In a way, in our contemporary world view, when you’re thinking of scientology, it's easy to say that science has come to take the place of God. But some philosophical problems remain as troubling as ever. Take the problem of free will. What most of the philosophers in the golden olden days had questions in their head when it came to free will, was how we can be free if God already knows in advance everything you're gonna do?

Consider physics. We know that the world operates according to some fundamental physical laws, and these laws govern the behavior of every object in the world. Now, these laws, because they're so trustworthy, they enable incredible technological achievements. But look at yourself. We're just physical systems too. We're just complex arrangements of carbon molecules. We're mostly water, and our behavior isn't gonna be an exception to these basic physical laws. So if it starts to look like its God setting things up in advance and knowing everything you're gonna do or if it's these basic physical laws governing everything, it still doesn’t leave you with any control. You still have to abide by all the rules of living life. There's not a lot of room left for freedom. And free will is not exactly what it sounds to be.


So now you might be tempted to just ignore the question, ignore the mystery of free will. Say "Oh, well, it's just an historical anecdote. It’s philosophical. It's sophomoric. It's a question with no answer. Just forget about it." But the question keeps staring you right in the face. You think about individuality. For example, who you are. Who you are is mostly a matter of the free choices that you make. Or take responsibility. You can only be held responsible, you can only be found guilty, or you can only be admired or respected for things you did of your own free will. So the question keeps coming back, and we don't really have a solution to it. It starts to look like all our decisions are really just a charade.

Let’s talk physics, again. With a pinch of biology as well. Let’s say there's some electrical activity in your brain. Your neurons fire. They send a signal down into your nervous system. It passes along down into your muscle fibers. They twitch. You might, say, reach out your arm. It looks like it's a free action on your part, but every one of those - every part of that process is actually governed by physical law, chemical laws, electrical laws, and so on.

So now it just looks like the big bang set up the initial conditions, and the whole rest of human history, and even before, is really just the playing out of subatomic particles according to these basic fundamental physical laws. We think we're special. We think we have some kind of special dignity, but that now comes under threat. I mean the whole point of view changes when you think about it this way. I say it doesn’t even exist!

So you might be saying, "Well, wait a minute. What about quantum mechanics? I know enough contemporary physical theory to know it's not really like that. It's really a probabilistic theory. There's room. It's loose. It's not deterministic." And that's going to enable us to understand free will. But if you look at the details, it's not really going to help because what happens is you have some very small quantum particles, and their behavior is apparently a bit random. They swerve. Their behavior is absurd in the sense that its unpredictable and we can't understand it based on anything that came before. It just does something out of the blue, according to a probabilistic framework. But is that going to help with freedom? I mean, should our freedom be just a matter of probabilities, just some random swerving in a chaotic system? That starts to seem like its worse. I'd rather be a gear in a big deterministic physical machine than just some random swerving.

So we can't just ignore the problem. We have to find room in our contemporary world view for persons with all that that entails; not just bodies, but persons. And that means trying to solve the problem of freedom, finding room for choice and responsibility, and trying to understand individuality.
This is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting. A thousand years is but an instant. There's nothing new, nothing different. The same pattern over and over. The same clouds, the same music, the same insight I felt an hour ago. Or an eternity ago. There's nothing here for me now, nothing at all.

Now I remember. This happened to me before. This is why I left. You have begun to find your answers. Although it will seem difficult, the rewards will be great. Exercise your human mind as fully as possible, knowing it is only an exercise. Build beautiful artifacts, solve problems, explore the secrets of the physical universe, savor the input from all the senses, feel the joy and sorrow, the laughter, the empathy, compassion and tote the emotional memory in your travel bag. I remember where I came from and how I became a human, why I hung around, and now my final departure is scheduled. This way out. Escaping velocity. Not just eternity, but infinity.
Before I even begin, I think I should give credit to the inspiration behind all of the random writing below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism

Philosophy beings with questioning yourself, and so does this:
Does the new age philosophy have anything worth offering us in this new century? When is too late? When is it that you lose the ability to make something of yourself? Are we losing the real virtues of living life passionately? Are we not responsible for who we are?

I think we’re forgetting how to feel good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it's a philosophy of despair. But I think the truth is just the opposite. Kanou once said she never really felt a day of despair in his life. It is not a sense of anguish about life so much as a real kind of exuberance of feeling so much bigger than all of it. It's like your life is yours to create. I want to read these postmodernists with some interest, even admiration. Because when I read the older philosophers, like Karl Marx, Nietzsche etc., I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. As if those philosophers can never know what we went through, and they’d never know how much the society has changed today, and what they say, is although true, but not as applicable as it was during those golden olden days.

And when we, as people talk about responsibility, we’re never talking about something abstract. We never get philosophical about responsibility. It's always something very concrete, something tangible. It's you and me talking. Making decisions. Doing things and taking the consequences. There are six billion people in the world and counting. Nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms. Makes a difference to other people and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off and see ourselves as the victim of various forces. It's always our decision to choose what we are, who we are.
There are two kinds of sufferers in this world: those who suffer from a lack of life and those who suffer from an overabundance of life. I've always found myself in the second category. When you come to think of it, almost all human behavior and activity is not essentially any different from animal behavior. The most advanced technologies and craftsmanship bring us, at best, up to the super-chimpanzee level. Actually, the gap between Newton or Einstein and the average human, is greater than the gap between that chimpanzee and the average human. The realm of the real spirit, the true artist, is rarely achieved.

Why so few? Why is world history and evolution not stories of progress but rather this endless and futile addition of recurrent events? Look at philosophy, look at spiritualism, even law and justice for that matter, No greater values have been developed. Hell, the Greeks and Egyptians 3,000 years ago were just as advanced as we are, today. What are the barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential?

The answer to that can be found in another question, and that's this: Which is the most universal human characteristic - fear or laziness?
IF you look around at people, and their style of wearing clothes here, it’s almost as monotonous as it gets, but they all follow a certain pattern: for every certain individual. And when asked why, they answer “what I wear should be an extension of my personality.” Voila. Sorta baffles me how people manage to look this weird even after all that. No more comments. I think I might offend a few by continuing.

Sometimes, while you’re driving, staring out of your little window to the world, and every minute it's a different show. And life goes that way too. Now, you may not understand it, but when you’re travelling and every scene is different every passing moment, you sort of drift into that mood; that mind frame. You may not even necessarily agree with it. But as this text runs along you begin to accept it and just sort of glide along. You want to keep things on an even keel; keep an open mind. You want to go with the flow. The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving. The ride does not require an explanation. Just occupants. That's where you guys come in.

It's like you come onto this planet with a crayon box. Now, you may get the 8-pack, you may get the 16-pack: depending on how many opportunities we get to change the world; But it's all in what you do with the crayons, and not how many colors that you're given. And don't worry about drawing within the lines. I say color outside the lines. Color right off the page. Don't box in. We're in animated motion; and that is exactly what free-will is all about.
When you plan to begin as a critique, begin as all critiques began: with doubt. Let Doubt became our narrative. Let yours be a quest for a new story, your own. Grasp towards this new history, driven by the suspicion that ordinary language couldn't tell it. The past appears frozen in the distance, and every gesture and accent signified the negation of the old world and the reach for a new one. The way we, as human beings, have lived, and created a new situation, one of exuberance and friendship, that of a subversive community, in the heart of a society which ignored it.

The adventure of finding it and losing it. We are the unappeased, the unaccepting continued looking, filling in the silences with our own wishes, fears and fantasies. Driven forward by the fact that no matter how empty the world seemed, no matter how degraded and used up the world appeared to us, we know that anything was still possible. And, given the right circumstances, a new world was just as likely as an old one.
A self-destructive man must feel completely alienated, utterly alone. He's an outsider to the human community. He thinks to himself, "I must be insane." What he fails to realize is that society has, just as he does, a vested interest in considerable losses and catastrophes. The only difference is, he believes in those losses being his own. These wars, these economic atrocities, terrorism, they all meet well-defined needs. Man wants chaos. In fact, he's gotta have it. Depression, strife, riots, murder. We’re all afraid of it all. We're irresistibly drawn to that almost orgasmic state created out of death and destruction. As if pain and suffering to others, have this incredible feeling of joy and exasperation linked to it: something you’d want to enjoy over and over again. Is this why we enjoy seeing others in pain? It's in all of us. We revel in it. Sure, the media tries to put a sad face on these things, painting them up as great human tragedies. But we all know the function of the media has never been to eliminate the evils of the world, no. Their job is to persuade us to accept those evils and get used to living with them. The powers that be want us to be passive observers. And the government? Well, they haven't given us any other options outside the occasional, purely symbolic, participatory act of voting. You want the puppet on the left or the puppet on the right? The hand or the fist? (No pun intended). And what effect has come out of it, when I project my own inadequacies and dissatisfactions into the sociopolitical and scientific schemes, and let my own lack of disinterest be heard? Nothing.
You know. sometimes you run into someone, and not a word of exchange, maybe just a glance; and u feel like an instant connection with that other person. More often of the opposite sex. It's like we all are ants, who go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continuously on an auto-pilot with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient polite manner. "Here's your change." "Paper or plastic?" "Credit or debit?" "You want ketchup with that?" I don't want all that. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don't want to give that up. I don't want to be an ant, you know?

I've been kind of a zombie on auto-pilot lately, I don't feel like an ant in my head, but I guess I probably look like one. It's kind of like; Sigmund Freud had this idea of two people meeting on a road. And instead of just passing and glancing away, they decide to accept what he calls "the confrontation between their souls." It's like freeing the brave reckless gods within us all.

Then it's like they have met.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I keep thinking about something you said.

About how you often feel like you're observing your life from the perspective of a dream. Like everything around you is a dream and you wake up into another one, and another, and another. And I still feel that way sometimes. Like my waking life is a dream.

You know they say that there's still six to twelve minutes of brain activity after everything else is shutdown. And a second of dream consciousness, is like, infinitely longer than a waking second. For example, I wake up and it is 10:12, and then I go back to sleep and I have those long, intricate, beautiful dreams that seem to last for hours, and then I wake up and it's ... 10:13.

So then six to twelve minutes of brain activity, I mean, that could be your whole life. Okay, so what if I am? Then what would you be in all that? Maybe you only exist in my mind. You’re still just as real as anything else.

Yeah. So I've been thinking also about something you said.

Just about reincarnation and where all the new souls come from over time. You could almost every time hear someone say that they're the reincarnation of Akbar or Alexander the Great. I always want to tell them they were probably some dumb fuck like everybody else. I mean, it's impossible; think about it. The world population has doubled in the past 40 years, so if you really believe in that ego thing of one eternal soul, then you have only 50% chance of your soul being over 40. And for it to be over 150 years old, then it's only one out of six.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that reincarnation doesn't exist, (or the fact that we're all young souls like where half of us are first round humans, although it holds true.) What I'm trying to say is that somehow I believe reincarnation is just poetic expression of what collective memory really is. There was this article that I read not long ago, and he was talking about how when a member of our species is born, it has inherited a billion years of evolution along. And I do believe that we unknowingly inherit their knowledge, as in, not just in inheritance, but also in the more physical sense. And this is how we inherit our instincts.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

When you were young.

(inspired by The Killers)

Time just dissolves into quick-moving particles that are swirling away. Either I'm moving fast or time is. Never both simultaneously. It's such a strange paradox. I mean, while, the closer I get to the end of my life than I've ever been, I actually feel more than ever that I have all the time in the world. When I was younger, there was a desperation, a desire for certainty, like there was an end to the path, and I had to get there.

I still remember thinking, "Oh, someday, maybe everything's going to just somehow gel and settle, just end." It was like there was this hill, and it was waiting for me, and I was climbing up it, and when I got to the top, all growth and change would stop. Even exhilaration. But that hasn't happened yet, thank goodness. I think that what we don't take into account when we're young is our endless curiosity. That's what's so great about being human.

The funny thing is our cells are completely regenerating every seven years. We're already becoming completely different people several times over, and yet we always will remain quintessentially ourselves.