Friday, November 09, 2007

Life, Death and Death...

1st November 2007

You have not seen life if you have not got on the Picnic Garden Minibus from Maidan Metro Station or Park Street at 6pm. The smell of sweat, the pressure of people around don't need to hold on to anything...the crowd itself keeps you standing...the pressure cradles you to your keep breathing despite the sweat and the suffocation. If you are lucky, you might get a seat and laugh as much as you want at the others suffering. The probability is such that you'll get both sides of the coin. Hence you'll laugh lesser and lesser and instead offer to hold the bags of those others, who are standing...

This is death, compared to the life I was pondering about. You have not seen death unless you have stood up awake all night staring at the ceiling and not being able to sleep, like an owl. I sometimes see an owl perching on a tree brach outside. It doesn't convey anything. Even the crow has taken the form of magpies. They are everywhere and fearless. They draw closer and closer to me if I have food in my hands. Brave and abated. YOu run instead of shooing them...cos' they come in gangs if you underestimate them.

Death is a place where there are more cars than the number of people. They (the cars) stand like beetles and crabs. How I wish they could be washed away by the waves lashing on the shore...

2nd November 2007

I got handed in a letter by the bank asking me to choose an insurance policy ($23.75 per month) so my loved ones don't have to worry about my funeral or liabilities when I die. It's worth $300,000. I just can't help thinking of the movie "Double Indemnity"! Makes me grin...only two days before my 23rd birthday!

My advice to all ye readers: insurance is a death trap. In fact, anything which makes a contract with you for more than 3 months is a death trap. Let the spiders weave it. Just ignore!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Laze around...

it's been long i haven't written anything mindless...disconnected....disjointed...yet meaningful...i want my sentences to do exactly what Eisenstein's montage does to meaning in films...i am sick of introduction, body and conclusion...sick of going by the rule...making my life a summary of the summaries that summarize the one big Summary...

what if i write an idea...and write another idea which is an implication of the former...but not having any conjunctive phrases to link??? what if??? i mean, are the readers of the brain too idle not to pick up the obvious link??? what if i choose to be a little cryptic?

moreover, what use is a conclusion if it doesn't say anything new not mentioned in the introduction??? i mean, whats the fun in writing if u cant surprise the reader in the end? it would reduce the fun to only reading the introduction....damn...

i need to breathe through words...not get stifled by them...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some Like It MONROE

Billy Wilder.

He may like it HOT...but I like it MONROE...

Film Genre and Perception

If we could think of films as paintings of different styles and forms, be it history painting, landscape or portrait painting, we would be able to solve only some of the problems of defining “film genre”. It is important to identify genre as a problem, and interpreting it, more so, at least from a film critic’s point of view. In Chapter 8 of his book “Image and Mind” (1995), Gregory Currie speaks extensively of the ‘interpretive problem’. He explores the ways in which film narrative and literary narrative differ. Others such as Noël Carroll and Richard Allen have theorized the nature of moving images in great lengths. Grodal presents models for interpreting film genre by transcending to a psychological perspective from a philosophical one. In this essay, we shall only ponder about film and film genres, and how we, as spectators or film critics, may interpret it.

Genre comes from the French word for ‘type’ or ‘kind’, which was initially used to categorize literary works or paintings, and is now widely used to classify films. The problem arises from the fact that no film of a particular genre can incorporate all the elements of that genre. In concomitant, no definition of genre is capable of defining all aspects of a film of a certain genre. (Langford 2005:Preface)

Genres are meant to be defining but not limiting a particular style or convention of all filmic elements. The building blocks of genre films are reflective of one another, thoroughly patronizing, and not original. ( However, there is no hard and fast rule to that concept. Genres are able to attract a specific target audience and so they exploit our portion of the brain that loves repetition or wants to feed itself with overtures of the same iconography or narrative. ( It is also surprising how the audience enjoy watching the kind and extent of violence that they would normally loathe in real life. (Altman 1996:279 in Langford 2005)

Torben Kragh Grodal has explored some of the important aspects of our thought processes which aid in our interpretation of films. He believes that “emotions are not irrational forces but necessary motivators for cognition and the possible resulting action”.(Grodal 1997) He describes how we interpret film genres from their narrative patterns, thus bringing about emotional effects in viewers. Signals from the screen travel via the visual cortex to the association areas and frontal areas, finally reaching the pre-motor areas of the brain. This process can be inhibited at any point or channeled in opposite directions to bring about a specific response in the viewer. According to his four-step model, it can be theorized that after the initial basic perception of image consisting of shapes, texture and figures, a memory matching occurs. The brain searches for visual cues that are stored in the memory as visual structures with affective values to be matched with the current image. A film which allows it to be represented/recognized in such a manner is termed as ‘lyrical’. The third step of this model involves “construction of diegesis”, which eventually leads to identification with the characters and/or context. This may produce different sorts of reactions, but Grodal stresses on three categories: voluntary telic (goal-oriented responses), paratelic responses (semi-voluntary ones that are repetitive and not goal-oriented), and autonomic responses (involuntary responses such as laughing, crying, shivering, or an increased heart beat rate). (Anderson 1998)

Cinematic images, like paintings, are ‘detached displays’ (i.e. they do not belong to the space and time the viewer resides in), but they differ in a way that in films, something or the other is happening, whereas in paintings there is no question of anything happening. This is because pictures or slides are static whereas films consist of moving pictures. However, this idea can easily be dismissed if we consider films of comic strips such as Oshima’s Band of Ninjas, or films of photos such as Godard & Gorin’s Letter to Jane and Michael Snow’s One Second in Montreal, or films made up of only sentences such as Michael Snow’s So Is This. Yet, the possibility and the expectation of movement in films will always be lurking in our minds, unless we are conditioned into repetitive viewing of static elements in films. Even then, stasis in films is always a stylistic choice rather than a necessity. It is aesthetically prescriptive in nature. On the other hand, describing paintings or slides as static is like stating the obvious. Carroll stresses that a more appropriate synonym for films is moving images rather than moving pictures, as the term image encompasses both pictures and abstractions. Then he goes on to locating the borderline between our perception of theatres in comparison with that of films by citing other theorists such as Roman Ingarden, elaborating on words versus spectacle as dominant factors in theatres and films respectively. He also engages in a fine brainstorming of the focus of performance in the two medium.(Carroll 1996) We may simplify our understanding of the matter as the difference between writing on a paper with pen and typing in a computer using a keyboard. The mental processes that differ in the two instances may be likened to the difference in perception of film narrative and literary narrative.

Richard Allen throws some light on fictional and non-fictional depictions being common in that both can be recognized by looking rather than by reading. To analyze depictions, it is important to recognize patterns without having to process imaginations of seeing the patterns. (Allen 1997). In her article on Cognitive Science and Film Theory, Cynthia Freeland ponders upon the debate of film as an illusion. She refers to two psychologists, Joseph Anderson and Ed S. Tan, who endorse the pro-illusion theory, as opposed to the philosophers Carroll and Currie who are contra. Anderson thinks of film as a set of illusive stimuli that can be run like a program in the viewer’s mind. (Freeland 1997). Contra-illusion theorists believe that the primitive subsystems of the brain cannot distinguish between an object seen and a depiction of the object seen. In such a theory, illusion is something that we can live with.(Currie 1995)

Film genres and sub-genres may be classified as the Western, the Musical, the War film, the Gangster movie, the horror film, the science-fiction film, Film Noir, the Documentary, the Holocaust film, Pornography, Transgenre and Metagenre films. But this is not a fully comprehensive list. When it comes to interpretation of films, Grodal’s typology of film genres is particularly helpful. This includes the canonical narrative, lyrical, obsession, melodrama, horror, schizoid, comical and the metafiction genre. The lyrical genre involves perceptual, nonlinear time, networks of associations, fusion of world and mind, intensities or saturations by proximal focus of attention, no telic enacting, possibly paratelic or autonomic 'motion'. Lyrical elements can be found in many film genres. The canonical narrative expression involves telic voluntary enacting (acting out), linear time, construction of objective world, cognitive and emphatic identification with subject, tension, distal focus of attention; the self is quite absorbed to the situation and the actions arise from intense, external desires or aversions. John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) and Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) are categorized as Western and Film Noir respectively but they can be both thought of having a canonical expression. Obsession involves paratelic/involuntary enacting, often progressive-regressive or non-linear time, some saturations and proximal focus of attention. Melodrama involves perceptual, causal enacting, autonomic reaction, construction of objective world, cognitive and empathic identification with 'object', fatalistic fusion of 'subject' with 'object', saturations and autonomic response combined with proximal focus of attention; one of two response is likely to occur - either positive (falling in love) or negative (tragedy). A lot of different kinds of films can have elements of melodrama in them. Early Neorealist films such as Roberto Rossellini’s Roma città aperta (Rome Open City, 1945) as well as many film noir movies have melodrama in them. Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara(The Cloud-Capped Star, 1960), Komal Gandhar (E-Flat, 1961) and Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Reason, Debate and a Story, 1974) have high melodramatic elements in them. Horror genre of films (e.g. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)) involve causal enacting, autonomic reaction, construction of subjective world, cognitive and emphatic identification with object, aversion between subject and object, tensions, saturations, or autonomic response, proximal focus of attention; the film experience derived from this genre consists of strong feelings of fright, hate, desire, heroic courage are enacted in a subjective world, experienced from the point of view of the victim. Schizoid films involve causal enacting, construction of subjective world, cognitive identification with object, fragmented space, intensities and saturations, proximal as well as distal focus of attention; the response is likely to be alienation, objectivation, the self is cued to take a 'voyeuristic' position. Comics involve causal and autonomic enacting, rejection of emphatic identification with object, rejection of objective world, autonomic response; the response is autonomic (parasympathetic) reception at a high level of arousal, based on a redefinition of the reality-status of the arousing phenomenon, and we laugh at the failures of the protagonists. Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot (1959) is clearly a comic. Some comedies of Chaplin are also capable of making us cry and laugh at different point. The metafiction genre involves mediated identification with subjects and objects via cognitive and emphatic 'frames' (personae, all types of schemata), several focuses of attention; the response is mastering, learning, true ideals, self development
strategies for avoiding conflict
idealized self images. ( Many of Satyajit Ray’s films such as Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road, 1955), Aparajito (The Unvanquished, 1956) and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959) are metagenre films according to Grodal’s typology, but are otherwise known to be feature films.

All said and done, it is important to appreciate film as a language, with the shots as words, the mise-en-scene as letters of the word, with editing and cuts resembling conjunctions and punctuations. The language of cinema is that of the camera mostly. In such contexts, it would be incomplete not to mention montage: Eisenstein noticed that if different shots, each meaningful on its own, can be joined together, a structured filmic sentence would emerge. If a shot doesn’t have a distinctive meaning of its own, it can be joined to another similar shot or a one completely opposite in meaning to the former one, to make a sentence out of a film. This technique of making meaningful shots directs the feelings and moods of the viewers, and undoubtedly serves to convey what the director actually prescribed.(Ray 1982) Again, we may please to think of the gaps between each paragraph in an essay as a montage. A montage may sometimes act as a brain-breather, especially following scenes which are quite intense. Paragraphs in an essay allow us to tread upon different seemingly unrelated aspects of the same topic or argument. Our mental processes are such that the moment we finish reading one paragraph and move on to the next, our preconceived notions prepare our mind to read a totally opposite, new and/or an elaborated form of the former paragraph. The same aim can be achieved for shots in a film joined together in a montage.

How we perceive film genres may vary between cultures and different regions. But as long as we have film as a language of its own, film makers and film critics will follow a certain grammar to interpret film. According to Ray, Westerns have a more ballad-like quality which is missing in Gangster films, which have harshness and less well-defined qualities. He also likens the twirl of lethal weapon around a finger to a trill or turn in Mozart or Haydn. (Ray 1976). André Bazin speaks of the lyricism in Westerns that the landscape and other iconographic elements have to offer. (Bazin 1956). Interpretation of film by mass viewers may vary substantially between people of the same culture/religion, let alone people of different regional or cultural origin. In 21st Century, the concept of genre is getting more and more complex and we are offered with films that have elements of different genres put together.



Film experience as a prototype for Self Experience

Allen, R. (1997). Looking at Motion Pictures. Film Theory and Philosophy. R. A. a. M. Smith. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 88-89.

Anderson, B. (1998). "Review: [Untitled]." Film Quarterly 52(Autumun No. 1): 87-88.

Bazin, A. (1956). "Beauty of a Western." Cahiers du cinema 55(January).

Carroll, N. (1996). Theorizing Moving Image. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Currie, G. (1995). Image and Mind. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Freeland, C. (1997). Cognitive Science and Film Theory. Santa Fe, American Society for Aesthetics. 2007.

Grodal, T. (1997). Moving Pictures. New York, Oxford University Press.

Langford, B. (2005). Film Genre. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press Limited.

Ray, S. (1976). Our Films, Their Films. Calcutta, Orient Longman Limited.

Ray, S. (1982). Speaking of Films. New Delhi, Penguin Books India.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Run Lola Run: A Review

Lola rennt is just another example of success in film-making, which results from the script-writer, director and the music director being the same person. That’s right, Tom Tykwer. Although this movie has ample elements of fantasy and fairy-tale twists, it basically dwells in the realm of metaphysical questions of our existence and fate, and thus, also to see if we can change our fate or not.

The scenes revolve in this trivial set of events that lead to the final result, as Lola runs to accomplish her mission in 20min. Here, the distance between her boyfriend Manni and the 100,000marks is only an excuse that triggers Lola to traverse through a set of seemingly unimportant events, which evidently take shape as defining factors, as Lola plunges into these same chain-of-events for the first, second and third time.

Like a theoretical physicist, Tykwer explores three possibilities of an uncertain future to any given, existing problem of Life. Here, the problem being as ultimate as Death. In a way, he also brings Death closer to show how Life is interconnected to Death only by a set of events. Through Lola’s running, he seems to shorten the span of time connecting Life and the inevitability of Death. Tykwer seems to stress on that in the first of the 3 possibilities, by giving clippings of what (death) will happen to the woman who simply passes by at Lola's father's office.

Surprisingly, the only factor that doesn’t seem to change is Lola’s mother, who keeps on being a telephonic philanderer with astrological obsessions, all throughout the three possibilities. Perhaps, her mentioning of the zodiac sign Sagittarius has something to do with running after any goal/challenge at hand. Tykwer probably wants to catch the film observer’s attention by implying that you can either go about your desired goal blindly, or knowingly, in which case you are more likely to succeed. In the three episodic possibilities, the protagonist (Lola) seems to get more and more conscious of trivial events as deciding factors. Her consciousness reaches an almost supernatural, semi-god height, each time she traverses the same path. This is noted by her ability to break glasses by screaming; each time, her power to do that increases. Her ability to scream and break glasses seems linearly proportional to her being able to control the situation.

As Lola transits from the first to the second chance, and from the second to the third, the events around her take the shape of a space-time warp, that gets more and more spiral, thus setting her free from the circle that seems to somehow bind her to her fate. Visual references to that are seen in the restaurant sign through the glass of the phone booth Manni called from, and also as the receiver and chord went spiraling as Lola keeps her receiver to start running.

There’s also a bit of off-the-hook soul-searching that goes on after Lola dies and after Manni dies, igniting honest and insightful questions in our mind about human relationships. These scenes, just like the tripartite movie itself, tell of other possibilities that are considered in human relationships. The element of uncertainty seems to be recurring.

Another factor that is defined from the very beginning is Lola’s father. That he is not going to help her is fixed, unchangeable. So is the cursing of the woman with the baby: she curses Lola all the three times even though Lola consciously keeps herself from falling onto her the third time.

All the other characters seem to be oblivious of Lola’s journey in the three possibilities, except for the guard at her father’s bank, who greets her as “princess Lola” and seems to almost know that she can make it, in this life or the next.

During the first episode of Lola running, Tykwer probably takes few conscious shots of camera moving in the opposite direction to her running, giving us visual clues of her not succeeding. Likewise, there are plenty of changes that occur in the last episode, especially that of the bicyclist finding the ragged-old man with Manni’s bag of money, and to satisfy it all, Manni getting back his bag from him, may account for Lola starting to believe in omens, and in signs that tell her of the possible outcome. This can be accounted for in the background oriental music in the film as well.

Strangely, we also see that Manni behaved as if nothing happened after Lola came on time with the sum of money after exhausting so much of her determination and will. To have done all that, and gaining new awareness into what keeps time and space ticking, not get as much as an acknowledgement from Manni, sets her wondering quizzically about rhymes and reasons. And there it all ends, as the camera freezes and cuts of in a close-shot of Manni, as Lola doesnt disclose the contents of her bag.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

And He Lives...

Okay...I was supposed to upload pictures of Australia....but, never mind...But it's so wonderful to find a Che-ist organization called Resistance in my University in Canberra here in Australia...could anyone have guessed???

Some things remain...

Modhu da's Canteen...Dhaka University....

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Sometimes I like to talk to you this way. I mean, of course you would listen to me if I called you directly, or even sent you an email. But sometimes, I dont know, I get sick of the new tabs, new windows and different account for blog, e-mail, networks etc. If I could do all with one explorer, whether mozilla, opera or microsoft, I would choose this. Yes. More Likely.

And it makes things more interesting, you see. Isn't it fun to look at somebody from the corner of your eye for a change rather than staring directly? But of course, if you tried that all the time, you could turn cross-eyed...then, it surely wouldn't be interesting anymore...

I was just wondering about the movie "Guru". I can't decide whether to praise Abhishek's acting or notice his resemblances to Ratan Tata!

My days are spent in a suspended waiting condition. I'm becoming a couch-potato. It's sickening. You should really see Cyrus's spoof on Simi Garewaal, mocked as Semi Girebaal...It's hilarious to the point of being ridiculous...or vice versa...whichever.

I'm not being able to read books at the pace I should, now that I have so much time to spend in solitude...It's always been that way.

I hate BSS! What does he think of himself? He thinks he can get away with such petty crime? He neither has quality nor grace. Neither honesty nor intelligence. And surely has zero personality. He is disillusioned into thinking he has a penis but I'm sure he has an ass stuck up just there, I'm NOT sorry to say that...His age doesn't/shouldn't call for any respect, cos' he has no self-respect either...I'll barge into his Bank one day, and tell everybody what he did for 200 rupees...I would even spend 300 taka just to make him feel bad...Reminds me of "The Mummy":

Eveline: I would pay 100 pounds to save this man's life...
Egyptian Jailor: Madam, I would pay 100 pounds just to see him hanged!

My keyboard isn't working...the key for letter A isn't working...So am having to type these in some other comp...

I don't want this visa anymore now. I really don't...I want to know what you saw in the last CD of the Woodstock video...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

That evening

On a bandh day...over a bridge...

Where's my cheque???

Damn...I miss those days so much...What is BSS doing??? Why can't he just pay us for our service? Mr. Ghosal, why can't you just threat this guy to give us our earned sum of money??? May be you should contact DSS to coax BSS to give us what we deserve...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues

(there ain't nothing wrong with this song...)

Well, I was feelin' sad and feelin' blue,
I didn't know what in the world I was gonna do,
Them Communists they wus comin' around,
They wus in the air,
They wus on the ground.
They wouldn't gimme no peace. . .

So I run down most hurriedly
And joined up with the John Birch Society,
I got me a secret membership card
And started off a-walkin' down the road.
Yee-hoo, I'm a real John Bircher now!
Look out you Commies!

Now we all agree with Hitlers' views,
Although he killed six million Jews.
It don't matter too much that he was a Fascist,
At least you can't say he was a Communist!
That's to say like if you got a cold you take a shot of malaria.

Well, I wus lookin' everywhere for them gol-darned Reds.
I got up in the mornin' 'n' looked under my bed,
Looked in the sink, behind the door,
Looked in the glove compartment of my car.
Couldn't find 'em . . .

I wus lookin' high an' low for them Reds everywhere,
I wus lookin' in the sink an' underneath the chair.
I looked way up my chimney hole,
I even looked deep inside my toilet bowl.
They got away . . .

Well, I wus sittin' home alone an' started to sweat,
Figured they wus in my T.V. set.
Peeked behind the picture frame,
Got a shock from my feet, hittin' right up in the brain.
Them Reds caused it!
I know they did . . . them hard-core ones.

Well, I quit my job so I could work alone,
Then I changed my name to Sherlock Holmes.
Followed some clues from my detective bag
And discovered they wus red stripes on the American flag!
That ol' Betty Ross . . .

Well, I investigated all the books in the library,
Ninety percent of 'em gotta be burned away.
I investigated all the people that I knowed,
Ninety-eight percent of them gotta go.
The other two percent are fellow Birchers . . . just like me.

Now Eisenhower, he's a Russian spy,
Lincoln, Jefferson and that Roosevelt guy.
To my knowledge there's just one man
That's really a true American: George Lincoln Rockwell.
I know for a fact he hates Commies cus he picketed the movie Exodus.

Well, I fin'ly started thinkin' straight
When I run outa things to investigate.
Couldn't imagine doin' anything else,
So now I'm sittin' home investigatin' myself!
Hope I don't find out anything . . . hmm, great God!

- Bob Dylan