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cinema cinema:tamil Parking Lot Notes

Parking Lot Notes: Vada Chennai

First Strike

Consider the carom board, a single strike shakes up an entire setup; displacing even disks that are not in the direct line of the striker.

Vetrimaaran,  believes that the impact of death has far reaching consequences even to those removed from the person. He supports these with the deaths of popular leaders; Rajiv Gandhi and MGR through the film.

<Eerily similar to how deaths of J and MK have in some way affected everyone in the state of Tamil Nadu>

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Vada Chennai begins with a gruesome murder; but we are constantly shown (and guided through Vetrimaaran’s narration) that this death would soon shake up things for all of the characters, and these characters come by the dozen.

Alliances that were forged in time look weak moments later and so begins a classic case of one gang vs the other in a fight over the city’s dominance.

Moments later, these gangs have divided amongst themselves two prison blocks and in-effect the city and there is one guy in between. This did remind me of A Fistful of Dollars; but nope the director is not just interested in the surface; let’s go deeper and show how the gangs establish their dominance and an economy within the prison; the stated revenues of which are astounding (Vada Chennai is a period film and the movie doesn’t try to be in the face about it).

I also got used to how the director keeps drawing attention back to the first murder; even if it at times it feels that he has gone pretty far away. Drawing back/moving forward is also done differently, sometimes it is just the voice-over;a visual cue here, an on-screen narration there, another time it is just a fade to white. I would really like to go over these punctuation again.

But what is always there in the background: how will THAT murder be avenged?

Second Strike

The title “Vada Chennai” too is very emblematic; represents a whole section of the city, referred here as “janam” but for most part the film is really about a select few from this population and the power they fight for; so when towards the end of the film when it moves towards the ‘us vs them’ narrative, the movie has a slight jarring effect. Maybe this has been done to elevate the story of Anbu? Only the sequels will tell.

Or to put it differently, there are far more interesting stuff for me in the film than the politics of gentrification, a subject touched upon by Kaala too earlier this year. For example, the thread of how history keeps repeating itself and how the players find themselves in different positions every time that happens.

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The kick-in-the head happens when the characters themselves realize this moment.

Wow, that’s complex and damn good writing; to be able to feel what a secondary character is feeling (At one point it is Guna, at another point it is Chandra). Vetrimaran also throws in a clairvoyant who seems to be the only person who knows how this will all end.

Superlative stuff.

Red & Follow

Yes, it does take it own time; but then this movie should. Even reading this as a basic revenge film needs convincing characters for viewers to revel in the avenging, but this isn’t just a basic revenge film.

The board is now set, the players are ready; we have a good game at hand.

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cinema Parking Lot Notes

Parking Lot Notes: First Man

Damien Chazelle’s First Man is an intimate portrait of the first man on the moon and not necessarily of his times; in absolute essence it is the tale of focus and realization. Look for the number of times the camera stays on the eyes of Ryan Gosling and then cuts to the solitary moon.

Unnaturally too for a space biography film which could have made us of the expanse, the camera lurks close to the astronaut and their families, but the emotions that come with the families are not not effective and as with most real lives do not readily lend themselves to drama.

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Ryan Gosling is fantastic as an distant archer with eyes always on target but using the moonshot as a way to get over his daughter’s death results leads to a contained movie.

This leads me to a question on the nature of bio-pics themselves; to establish the greatness of a person or in other words for a person to warrant a bio-pic shouldn’t the impact and hence the setting be also part of the story telling? Chazelle doesn’t seem to think so, but maybe he is right; everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon; here it is more about carrying the weight of ambition.

The Apollo Moon Landings is a very important moment in American history, it reestablished them as ‘the greatest country in the world’ and the ones who reached for the stars (to quote that monologue from the Newsroom) and to see a film that does not harp on this fact is a bit unnerving.

Probably greatness is incidental and that makes making greatness as the main goal pointless. To be the best versions of ourselves, space and time permitting seems a more fulfilling goal.

 

PS: The 2 biggies in the theatres currently (First Man & A Star Is Born) were both first optioned by Clint Eastwood; both were finished by others.

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cinema cinema:english Parking Lot Notes

God Among Small Things

Parking Lot Notes #3 : Wonder Woman

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It is one of those ‘just-go-wow’ in the theater but nothing much afterwards film that Hollywood manufactures at a healthy rate, the operative keyword here is healthy because the success of these films totally depends on how much we are willing to forget similar films of the past. Since the superhero origin module (probably a template document stored in the vaults of Warner Bros and Marvel) involves ever useable intangibles such as love, hope and discovery,(very difficult to have a superhero movie without stressing on this) the core of an origin is a known one.

Frankly I’m a bit tired of this, also I don’t really follow comic books, hence I have lost the WooHoo! enthusiasm that the comic book t-shirt target audience display in the theaters (I was young once), because in every super hero movie there is difference in only specifics.

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Patty Jenkins- breaking the glass ceiling

Here in Wonder Woman, it is about preventing the wrath of Ares upon earth by the Amazonian goddess Diana. Of course it is the single point of view narration which means that we get to hear the story in her own voice is the differentiator and how well the film races back in time (WWI, but of course Germans are the villains) by just the show of a photograph. A moment framed in time could be a trigger for an entire lifetime, also striking was the use of oil paintings to tell the tale of Zeus and the creation the island of the Amazons.

The film then goes the ‘it’s the same thing mister Sivam’ after that, there is the training montage, the charming love interest (I pine for Chris Pine), the ragtag group, the need to fight their own battles, a loss of hope, a couple of mad villains, a death of a dear.

Yet, it’s all so wonderful to see things from the perspective of a God and Gal Gadot brings the innocence which is very difficult to fake on screen and I did buy the idea that even Gods can feel that we lesser beings are not deserving of their kindness and grace. Good to see that they have retained the uplifting Zimmer and Junkie XL’s Wonder Woman theme. Repetitions like these when done well, shows. It all comes together nicely.

But when the lights came back on and when I walked back home my old friend memory, returned.

Parking Lot Notes covers the thoughts that go about in our writers’ mind when they walk back from the movies, sometimes they take Ola Auto also, but that is not the point.