Friday, July 30, 2010

Salt and Pepper

Took in 2 good movies last weekend – one a breathless entertainer and the other a mellow reflective romantic drama. The first was the over-hyped – Angelina Jolie’s thriller - S.A.L.T . It was so fast paced that it didn’t allow any time to think or question the sheer absurdity of the script. The original screenplay, I believe, was written for Tom Cruise and had to undergo a sex reversal of sorts when he turned it down and Jolie stepped into the role. I must admit it was much more fun watching Angelina perform the high voltage stunts and (even though the sex sequences - as shown on the TV clips - had been censored) her feminine vulnerability succeeds in arousing the audience's adrenalin (and related hormones) more than a cold-as-steel Cruise could possibly have.


And some pepper ......


(Penelope Cruz in a scene from the film)

old age is not for sissies

The second movie, which I downloaded from the net, was more up my street – Elegy starring Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz (click here for synopsis and previews). In a screen adaptation of the Phillip Roth novel – The Dying Animal, Kingsley plays David Kepesh a charismatic author and professor who serially bedded the best looking student of his class (taking care to skirt the sexual harassment code of the college by waiting till they get their grades). “When you make love to a woman you get revenge for all the things that defeated you in life” says Kepesh. He finally meets his nemesis – when he gets into a erotic entanglement with the stunningly beautiful Cuban co-ed - 30 years his younger – Consuella Castilo



Not quite in the league of Brando’s – The Last Tango, Kingsley is brilliant as the ageing academic who is trying to come to terms with the existential enigma of growing old vs growing up – something I had touched upon in my earlier blog Midlife Delinquencies (click here to read). The subject of an older man having an affair with a woman much younger to him has been beaten to death in literature and the movies. But, this one treats a serious subject without making it heavy - made possible by a very intelligent screenplay and superbly calibrated acting by all the lead characters. The film is full of some profound dialogue - gain delivered very lightly. For eg - Kepesh says : "Beautiful women are invisible because we get so dazzled by the outside we fail to look inside."



Standing by the window watching the rain, he talks to himself - “Old age sneaks up on you, and the next thing you know you're asking yourself, I'm asking myself, why can't an old man act his real age? How is it possible for me to still be involved in the carnal aspects of the human comedy? Because, in my head, nothing has changed”

The sexual chemistry between Kingsley and Cruz palpably pierces through the screen. But, this PC (unlike another I was briefly obsessed with sometime ago !!) is something else. To call her ravishing or just hauntingly beautiful would be an understatement – sans her clothes she is like a Goddess – worthy of worship as her on-screen predator honestly admits (see clip).

After all, as Kepesh paraphrases Betty Davies, “old age is not for sissies”.

another kind of BIMARU

Reading the memoirs of Ashish Bose – Headcount. Bose is a pioneer of demographic studies in India and is credited with the coinage of the term – BIMARU states (referring to the population issues of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) and other theories such as “linguistic displacement” in states like Assam post-independence.

Though, by his own admission, Bose has at times got valuable insights from ordinary people such as his “maalishwala” – he is undoubtedly a man of great erudition, who has also led a full life beyond academia. But, the book is poorly written and badly edited (surprising for a Penguin title). Coming right after Fali Nariman’s autobiography it makes a disappointing read (especially his rather simplistic account of the Emergency and mild fawning of the Nehru-Gandhi clan).