Tag: genre film

Parking Lot Notes: Psycho (2020)

Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan sowed in me the fears that the director is not really interested in genre but more interested in using the genre to speak about larger themes, something I should have feared even earlier, when he released his reimagining of a ghost story in”Pisasu”. Sometimes I am late to these insightful fears and that hurts when I am sitting inside a theatre watching the movie unfold. 

Psycho is a continuation, it is really a different take on the serial killer or slasher sub genre, to the extent that it is devoid of any suspense and does not evoke any fear ( apart from my fear of this not being a true genre film). It does not even pierce into the psyche of the psycho and it is nowhere close to being a serious police investigation film. 

It paints a generic picture,oversells humanity. So now you see how far Mysskin has come away from the genre.There are still instruments from his flourish box- the calmness in the dark, the rustling of the trees (oh I wish there were more of this) but very little more. 

To understand my pain,then let’s start at the beginning. There is a serial killer on the loose in Coimbatore, he stalks, kidnaps and before our characters could enter, has killed 13 women.Our characters are introduced via a radio show discussing the recent spate of murders-one is Dahini played by Aditi Rao Hydari who somehow has the knack of finding herself in angelic roles in boring films, the other is of course Gautham played by Udhayanidhi Stalin who is introduced as her blind stalker but goes on to become the detective who solves this case. After a point, the movie becomes less and less about solving the murder and more about hero finding the heroine. 

In his efforts to paint a hyper unreal love story- Mysskin just drops the aforementioned 13 murders of women-just like that- it leaves a bad taste when the serial killer is almost portrayed as a saint by the end of the film. (breathe in deeply, hold, breathe out) 

I always return to my musings on genre, because that is what constitutes overwhelmingly to how I receive a film (also the mood) and I am amazed how uniquely Mysskin manages to make my favourite type of films dull and completely devoid of excitement. 

He did it to the detective thriller before with Thupparivalan, but Mysskin was not like this, he used to understand how important a thread is, a line of thought is, what is it to uncover a clue and how one thing leads to another- for that I should have just stayed home and watched Yuddham Sei. 

That film too had an underlying social message, but the movie by itself worked because of the right push given to these genre elements including one of Tamil cinema’s best portrayal of the obsessive detective (by Cheran). 

But am I really doing a disservice to Psycho by comparing it with other films and pushing it down by my own expectations of genre elements? Maybe I do not have the maturity to accept “subversion” in genre. 

Maybe I have begun to realize that I watch movies from the experience of watching other movies.

(Pause for reflection). 

True. There could be many reasons why the movie did not work for me at all, maybe that’s why I waited with ‘this’ languishing in the drafts for 15 days before putting out a Parking Lot Note (usually these are quick, I mean relatively). 

Honestly, I felt nothing really happens on the screen and with great difficulty I tried to keep my attention on the screen- even the later attempts at a horror thriller did not evoke my required response and I was asking myself again and again, why is it important for this director to sell this concept of “humanity” again at the cost of the story itself? So boring. 

That’s when I try to disassociate myself from the character and look for breaks in the story thread or logical holes. I couldn’t help myself but. 

But what really worked me up was that this thrill-less movie begins with the lines that they say that it is a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, it was like dedicating a movie without dialogues to Visu.  

Fin. 

MODERN PROMETHEUS

MODERN PROMETHEUS

 (Or)

Looking at film through Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Immaterial as it may be our opinion on this state, the movies that our generation will be associated with will be the comic book movie, three words now very close to my heart.

The comic book movie now, is the film noir of the past, the western of its time, a broad genre defining a certain time and recalling a certain sentiment. Like the above genres that have been mentioned, the comic book movie will surely get its due, but only in the future.

This sudden construction of a pedestal for the comic book movie is because I truly believe that the comic book movie has in fact erased the boundaries between word and visual which is something every great literary adaptation aims to be, comic books being truly the most visual amongst the printed forms of literature. The comic book movie is also accelerator in the fusion of the genres, and this is because of the variety that each comic character offer.

“Man creates his own demons”

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In Age of Ultron, Tony Stark fears for the future of the planet and creates a protective force under the hood. Ultron would be A.I enabled Iron Men to be called onto provide eternal peace for our planet, but as we can all guess, this save the world vanity project (TDKR reference done) goes not only out of hand but also turns back on its creator.

If we are looking to track the genetic genealogy of Avengers: Age of Ultron, then it is most certainly Mary Shelley’s gothic classic Frankenstein, only increment action here and there and populate the screen with powerful beings.

Some of the problems that people had with Ultron was that, the movie did not perhaps have a powerful villain, but I found that this movie had more character than its predecessor; because here (Ultron) there is no reason to create a powerful villain to justify and the characters have already been established.

The end is a more relaxed picture, where the intention is not to be blown away by the graphics of it all, but to go on this adventure with this bunch of misfits who are now emotionally charged rather than charged with heroics, and there is the inter-super banter!

Whedon also indulges momentarily into 1950s territory, the super hero movie giving way to over the bar talk between the troubled in-love damsel (Natasha Romanoff played by the super talented ScarJo) and the world weary-cynical-removed hero (Dr. Bruce Banner). A masterstroke of a love track between the noises.

This is the kind of genre inter-operate ability that is interesting for me to watch.

With Marvel trying to impress us with release dates for mega movies in the years to come, an Avengers movie is no longer about why and how the Avengers trounce their enemies, but about the characters, these heroes and their feelings, the setting, the worlds, the words. Action and villains can take the rear.

I was a partial Marvel movie convert after Iron-Man 3 and a fully changed man after the second Captain America flick and it seems I will remain so after Ultron. I hope that these films are seen beyond than what they are intended for, but I am sure it will now be an un-ignorable thing in the recent future, but right now if you go and tell your friend that Avengers:Ultron is about the perils of creativity and questions if man can really play God, super-men in this case, you will probably be chuckled at.

Post Script to Ultron

**** Captain America is amazing! (as if we needed to tell you that, this is also my answer to “which is your favourite avenger?” question”

****Mary Shelley’s 1818 gothic horror novel Frankenstein was subtitled Modern Prometheus as it mirrored the mythical tale, we have smartly made it the title for our Avengers: Ultron piece (we are amazing!). Our subtitle of course is over ambitious, I must confess.

****This piece was written under the utter influence of the Ultron soundtrack, specifically the “heroes” track. Soundtrack composed bby Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman.

**** Most of the times when we say Ultron we mean Avengers: Age of Ultron the movie and not the villain.

Thank you for reading.