Archive for the Movies Category

“Terror Masala”

Posted in Movies on December 31, 2008 by jkiparsky

A recent article in the Boston Phoenix (quod vide) discussed the recent phenomenon of terrorism as a theme and a plot device in Bollywood film. The article is quite interesting, and clearly written by someone who knows India and Indian film quite well, and who thought about her topic a bit more than usual for such a paper.
Not to defame writers for such papers by this: the pay rate for even a feature article in a local free weekly is not likely to be sufficient to pay for a lot of time spent on writing and revising. This is why their content is so often cheap throwaway stuff, and their humor so predictable. It’s not the writers’ fault – they are simply trying to build up portfolio and get to better-paid assignments!
In any case, Seetha Narayan has written an interesting article, which I commend to your attention. That is all.

Movies: Donnie Darko

Posted in Movies on November 11, 2008 by jkiparsky

Having seen Donnie Darko, a movie I’d heard praised for some time, I can only say that this is one of the most unpleasant movies I’ve ever sat through. The technical aspects of the movie are fine, the acting is effective, the movie as a whole is well-made. The problem? The problem is purely in the story. The movie is about a teen-aged boy named Donnie Darko, who appears to have some sort of condition on the order of schizophrenia – I’m fairly sure that no more precise diagnosis is possible, since the screenplay seems to simply call for exhibiting certain behavior, without particular regard for what symptoms a particular disorder might cause. As it happens, it doesn’t make much difference. The boy appears to hear voices, which, as the story develops, order him to perform more and more aggressively anti-social acts. His parents are concerned and sympathetic, but completely at a loss in dealing with this, so they send him to a shrink, who prescribes medication, which Donnie takes, but intermittently, as the side effects are unpleasant. Other things happen – there is a sub-plot of a personality cult around a self-help writer, which is somehow mixed up with a parody of fundamentalist Christianity and ultimately with child pornography, Donnie meets a nice girl who has some troubles of her own, suburban life goes on.
The problem? As the movie progresses, Donnie’s hallucinations focus on a coming event, which is vague but clarifies in the course of things. The event is a sort of phildickian combination of hallucinatory reality and gratuitous time travel that allows Donnie to return to a previous event to fix a situation – it’s not really worth explaining, see the movie if you want the details, although they’re really not worth the effort. And here we come to the problem with the movie: the problem, it turns out, is that Donnie is crazy, and the answer is that he, and everyone around him, would be better off if he were dead. His girl, we find out, would have been better off never knowing that he had existed. What are we to draw from this? A pretty major movie, with a sizable following, and the point is: if you’re mad, you’re better off dead, and you should see to that as soon as possible, before you make life inconvenient for the normal people.
I’ve known several people who have suffered from this sort of condition, and I can say, for my part, that for all they suffered from the tricks their brains played on their minds, I would not wish them dead and “out of their misery”, which seems to be the point of this movie. Sick, sick, sick.