Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

tron legacy . the autobiography of nicolas ceausescu

'tron legacy' was awful. the plot was silly as was the premise of a man entering inside a computer and being caught inside 'the grid'. his son enters too to find himself in a world of racing bikes and hot chicks. even the special effects couldn't save this one from being a bore.

of all the films in this set, my favourite is 'the autobiography of nicolae ceaucescu'. we only see the romanian dictator in his public persona. newsreel footage is loosely assembled almost chronologically. we see him take oath, survey disasters, give speeches, travel around the world. the film is also bookended by the ad-hoc tribunal before he was shot. the pace is easy and the film 3 hours long. there is no attempt at a behind the scenes or a psychoanalytic study of the man. instead in the gestures, looks, words that he gives to the camera; in the servile behaviour of everyone around him; in tiny gestures that happen in the margins when no one is looking but the camera is still running; we see him brutal and self obsessed.

cape karma . the kids are all right . the karen carpenter story . before night falls .

'cape karma' was more than most other new 'alternative' hindi films but much less than pankaj advani's other films that i had seen. some of the madcap free association madness creeps through in the beginning; but later on as the plot begins to unravel the film begins to become predictable. the pschotic madness of sankat city or urff professor is lost as all the plot lines are tied up in a neat ending.

'the kids are all right' is a drama about a lesbian couple and their kids from a sperm donor should be crazier than this. traditional feel good family values are extolled in a format seen many times before in too many hollywood films. still very watchable though.

on the other hand, todd haynes debut film twists the american dream. shifting between stop action animation, newsreel, songs and moral lessons about food disorders in a format we are all familair with and whatever he can lay his hands on he tells the story of karen carpenter the deep voiced popstar of the 70s and her eventual death by overdose.

julian schanbel's 'before night falls' is another biopic- this time about a cuban gay writer who is persecuted because of his sexuality in havana. eventually he leaves and comes to america only to die in new york. america here is the land of freedom and opportunity that everyone wants to get to. in one scene a friend tries a hot air balloon crossing that fails and in another our hero played by javier bardem, tries crossing in a tyre. for some reason the film started to piss me off.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

saibaba on the highway

early one morning on the highway


the agricultural institute

satyagraha memorial at dharasana

housing for the salt pan workers at dharasana

salt pans at dharasana
police station/prison at dharasana

school at dandi for lunch

saifee villa- the current memorial

a workshop on the design of a memorial for gandhi led us to dandi this weekend. shirish, paul and me in my santro last friday early in the morning, past the incredibly polluted vapi and landing at the agriculrutal institute at 9 in the morning. immediately whisked off in a van to see dharasana- the place where much of the actual satyagraha took place- and the place where salt was actually being manufactures. dandi, on the other hand, is mainly a place for wetlands and shrimp farms. a memorial marks the spot in in temple form and on the edge of the settlement barren flatlands of salt pans. nearby a police station/prison now abandoned- almost. later we find our way through a coastal road to dandi where we assemble at saifee villa through which the salt march ended, overlooking the large wetlands that lead to the sea where the actual act took place. today the building is a carefully restored museum. the memorial is to be part of a large complex that sees dandi as a tourist / pilgrim destination. modern day satyagrahis are seen walking the same route or at least bicycling it from samarmati to dandi, living in the same places gandhi lived with his 80 followers. we walked through saifee villa, crossed the new embankments and bridges all the way through to the barren lands that separate the babul tree forest that runs along the ocean, thorugh the thorny babul trees to the sea. later in the evening discussion revolved around the nature of the memorial to be created. about form and context and the responsibility of the project to the local community, to the landscape and to the memory of gandhi himself. what can a building say/do? with its language, scale, references to be able to evoke and remind. the discussions continued over the next day and are to continue further over the next few months.

cinema city at ftii, pune

cinema city arrived in pune with a two day exhibition at studio 5 in ftii. some of the older material in a new form and one new tower of crates with stories of studios and theaters projected on it. the package be complete without a panel discussion and film screenings?

drawing competition, bnrc / majuli exhibition

this year again after a hiatus we felt the winter morning sun around republic days at the bnrc courts. the 'sports day' madness where we all wore white; and the drawing competition. kids from all over the neighbourhood drawing and painting frantically. shirish and keya were co-judges with me. the topics- like the urbanists we are- 'my home', 'my neighbourhood', 'my garden'. we judged the drawings on the lawn.

and one of the best student exhibitions i have seen. the majuli drawings that the second years have made are exquisite. hopefully the energy will continue into the rest of the project.