Friday, April 30, 2010

Hyperlink cinema - part II

In fictional literature, no character is introduced, however insignificant he or she may seem at that point of time, who doesn't appear later on at some crucial moment to give the narration an unexpected twist. Hyperlink cinema is sort of reflection of this type of literature and has emerged in the movies over the last few years. It is being lapped up by the audience who have grown to accept that the chances of 2 strangers from different walks of life meeting at different times is probable with the advent of technology and the direct result of a shrinking and flat world.

The phenomena of ‘six degrees’ of separation as cited by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘The Tipping Point’ is a great supporter of this idea and which says that every individual in the world is connected to every other individual by via a minimum of six steps.

So now we have movies with several different, seemingly unrelated storylines that are all connected in some small way. The action of one character, unbeknownst to them, affects another character, and the film follows that effect, instead of the character. People are linked up in interesting, often surprising ways, and the whole thing has a ‘butterfly effect’ feel to it. Each event has its own ramifications and repercussions that touch several other lifes and characters are involved inadvertently in several stories at once, with subtle, passing or major influences.

These films unfurl slowly and methodically ,like layers of an onion or as a jigsaw that seems to take shape out of obscure pieces, a collage made from varied ingredients ,but beautiful regardless of that or more so because of that.

Hyperlink cinema is truly a new genre, with potential for telling stories across cultures,generations, and boundaries. It involves stories about people more than stories involving people, with plenty of subtitles and with climaxes that may not necessarily have any clear conflict resolution or summit clash. Many may come out the theatre with the feeling that nothing happened in the movie but essentially that is the aim- to show a slice of life, not the whole lifespan in entirety. Sometimes the subtext carries more significance than the main scene and you have to respect that point of view as well.

Cinema evolves; and the more the techniques, perspectives and vantage points, the more enriched becomes the medium.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hyperlink cinema - part I

Hyperlink cinema, the term itself sounds interesting; because it combines something we associate with websites to cinema.

Hyperlink is a genre of cinema in which the multi-threaded storylines tell different tales and the narrative cross and connect at unexpected points. These films are not multimedia and do not have actual hyperlinks, but are multilinear in a more metaphorical sense.

Playing with time and characters' personal history, interwoven storylines between multiple characters, jumping between the beginning and end (flashbacks and flashforwards) are its prime elements, as illustrated brilliantly in Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's films Amores Perros(2000), 21 grams(2003), and Babel(2006).

Hyperlink cinema are films where the characters or action reside in separate stories, but a connection or influence between those disparate stories is slowly revealed to the audience. The narration is often non linear with no specific timeline and events may be portrayed out of chronological order.

Hyperlink cinema is a term coined by author Alissa Quart, who used the term in her review of the film ‘Happy Endings ’(2005) which was used later by noted critic Roger Ebert when reviewing ‘Syriana’, also in 2005.

There's a growing influence of the world wide web and multitasking in the genre, where captions act as footnotes and splitscreens ,as elements of hyperlink cinema. Quart also
considers the television series '24'and Alan Rudolph's film Welcome to L.A. (1976) as early prototypes. Crash (2004) which beat Brokeback Mountain to the Oscars for best film, is an example of the genre, as are Robert Altman's The Player (1992), Steven Sodenberg's Traffic (2000), City of God (2002),Love Actually (2003) and Syriana (2005).

Mani Ratnam's underrated gem ,Yuva (2004) is a genuine addition from India ,so is its Tamil version Aayitha Ezuthu(he shot them back to back) ,where 3 stories ran parallelly until they all merged at one point in the movie and then there's a racy dash to the climax. Love Actually (2003) written and directed by Richard Cutris had seven stories that are fleetingly connected, and by the end seamlessly blend into each other resulting in an immensely watchable flick. Nikhil Advani tried to adopt the idea in Salaam-e-Ishq (2007) but it was a massive downer as the stories seemed too contrived. Earlier, last month we had Love sex aur Dhokha with its 3 vaguely connected stories, but there, the focus was on shooting it if it all was found footage.

To continue..…..

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pepsi has lost it

If we look at the beverage scenario of just the carbonated cola drinks in India, Thums up comes up trumps everytime..and why?
Because they have always maintained their core identity - to deliver the thunder.

Pepsi’s 2010 campaign is so pathetic, so downright ridiculous, utterly silly and bordering egregious that it has surpassed laughable territory to become – ‘I don’t care what they do brand’.

Pepsi used to be anti-establishment and about youth .remember how they started with Juhi Chawla and Remo and Aishwarya Rai ? The slide has been gradual and I don’t know who holds the advertising accounts of Pepsi, but their summer campaigns have been outlandishly bad for a while now.

Ironically they offloaded a lot of celebrities that they had on contract in quest for appealing to the younger generation and the same people like Sachin and Shahrukh have landed better deals having said their byes to Pepsi.

Pepsi will continue to languish ..for it continues to back expensive and stupid commercials.

I also believe that in India, the sale will shift towards the more healthy drinks and beverages instead to carbonated aerated water that Pepsi or coke is.
The lime and mango and pineapple based drinks will take over . Pepsi has lost it.
Coke tastes way better anyways.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ab Aeterno

I am finally catching up with the final season of Lost –the whole flash sideways. But episode 9, Ab Aeterno-Latin for ‘since the beginning of time’ looked most promising and is easily the best episode this season-the final season.

Ab Aeterno, is also one episode which didn’t have the flash sideways which is seen by many fans as a useless contrivance but I still have faith in the writers (I liked Sawyer’s flash sideways in Recon) .Mostly the end pieces are set in place only we need to know how and when exactly the timelines split and if they will bleed in and merge eventually. And when it all ends, we will know why the flash sideways were needed.

That’s the most beautiful part about all this .We are still clueless and curious.

We still don’t exactly know what happened in 1977 and what exactly did a dying Juliet mean when she was about to say ‘it worked’ before she died in the arms of Sawyer.

We need to visit the Dharma days, at least one last time, to know for sure what exactly ‘The Incident’ did to them and what was the purpose of the Swan with a button to be pushed every 108 minutes. Was it the huge electromagnetic exotic material release that caused the time jump or if indeed it was the detonation of Jughead or was it both happening simultaneously?

One episode should be there to explain the cause and effects of ‘The Incident’.
And it would be lovely to go back to the coolest time period on the island.

Coming back to Ab Aeterno, at 47 minutes running time, I was just engrossed at the proceedings and the revelations.

Ab Aeterno has given a lot of answers; as also given the credence and stamp of approval to the assumptions that the Lost community has lived with over the years. It answers in a mind boggling way drawing analogy and choosing metaphors and that is a welcome change from the tradition of answering the questions by posing more questions.

People have long speculated the hell and purgatory theory and this episode has shoved that theory to the bins.

We have the whole and extensive backstory of the island’s longest and ageless resident -Richard, except for the two warring forces since eternity in Jacob and The Man in Black.
It was kind of obvious that the they would figure in the Richard flashback .However the whole Canary Island and Isabella angle showed how and what made Richard make the choices he did.

I can stick my hand out and say that Ab Aeterno is the best Lost episode yet .Better than the Pilot, Through the Looking Glass and perhaps The Constant too. And probably can only be topped by the hugely anticipated episode 15 –Across the sea.

Richard’s flashback starts in 1867, with the shot of him riding a horse back to his ailing wife Isabella in their home in Tenerife, Canary Islands. With Isabella coughing blood, Richard goes back again to summon a doctor who refuses to come back to treat her and tells that the money he is offering for the medicine is just not enough. A desperate Richard falls into plead mode but somehow ends up accidentally knocking the doctor dead on the table edge. Richard ends up losing Isabella and in prison for his murder, for which the crooked priest wouldn’t absolve him of his sin.

However a ray of hope appears as the priest strikes a deal with Capt. Whitfield and sells Richard as a slave for Magnus Hanso’s expedition to the new world in the Black Rock. And the Black Rock gets caught in a huge sea storm ends up on the island breaking the Tawaret statue and landing shipwrecked a mile inside the beach. That was a nice ploy, answering 3 questions at once.

The Man in Black approaches Richard and convinces him he is in hell that Jacob is the devil and he has to kill him if he ever wishes to be with is wife again. Nice manipulation; after having killed the whole crew on The Black Rock in his smoke monster personification.

Richard sets about to kill Jacob but instead gets the living daylights kicked of him by Jacob. This is also the first time that The Man in Black has tried to kill Jacob. That was an interesting tit-bit. Jacob realises that Richard has been fed details by his nemesis and dunks him in sea water to shake his belief that he is not dead and not in hell.
That was quite in your face baptism, mind you.

And when Richard is receptive to him now, we hear the fantastic explanation of what exactly the island is. Quietly looking at the bottle of wine in his hand ,he says
Think of this wine as what you keep calling hell. There are many other names for it too: malevolence, evil, darkness. And here it is, swirling around in the bottle, unable to get out because if it did, it would spread. The cork is this island and it's the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs.”

Jacob tells Richard that he can’t bring his wife back, can’t absolve him of his sins but does grant him to be immortal in exchange of being the representative and intermediary between Jacob and the people he brings to the island and that’s how Richard is ageless.

However for me the last scene between The Man in Black and Jacob was just – super spectacular.Acted so brilliantly by Titus Welliver and Mark Pellegrino respectively. You could see the frustration of being kept on the island so long on Welliver’s face and Jacob’s faith in what he is doing on Pellegrino’s. Having said that, Nestor Carbonell as Richard gave his absolutely finest performance till date.

And finally, brilliant use of genie in the bottle metaphor.
Jacob gives the same bottle of wine, something for him to pass the time,
The Man in Black raises the bottle of wine, tries to uncork it, and when he can’t, turns it upside down, he smashes the bottle against the log, he is sitting on, splashing wine everywhere.
Just terrific!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The king of good times

Imagine this..
He gets a call on his private number from Deepika Padukone requesting a hotel suite for the IPL game later in the night. And he obliges graciously but hoping that he doesn’t get another call and also that Katrina Kaif is busy shooting someplace else. But surely life isn’t that easy, Ms Kaif will call and the cold war of the co-brand ambassadors of Royal Challengers Bangalore continues to soldier on.
But Vijay Mallaya has to worry about other things too.

Later this week he has to be in Shanghai as the owner of Force India and maybe fly back to be at the semis if Bangalore get through to the last four .However, such busy schedule has its benefits too. For who else in India has a formula one car named after him ?
Mallaya has.

VJ-1 last year and VJ-2 in 2010, in a Mercedes powered car that has potential to be in top 4 constructors by the year end. The man looks so hands on in his operations that may be he even interviews the air hostesses and cabin crew for Kingfisher Airlines.

Dr.Mallaya has to take care of the aviation operations; a very easily loss making industry ,good thing that his breweries are doing nice and fine ,serving the finest wines and with lion’s share of the Indian market share and number 3 worldwide.
Then there’s the Kingfisher Calendar shoot, the various business sittings, auctions of players and brands that he thinks should be in the UB portfolio.

But at such an age does he really have to globe trot and do all this?
Of course he has to !!
That comes with him being his umbrella brand's best known face and therefore he has to continue to dine with the businessmen, throw awesome after match parties in 5 stars and yatches, juggle trans world itineraries and more or less be ubiquitous.

What next for him?
Maybe an EPL team, or maybe not. He already has East Bengal in his kitty, why bother with foreign clubs? I am not sure, but he still doesn’t have a street named after him in Bangalore, his father Vithal Mallaya has though. That can be a silent ambition on the agenda of the stylish silver maned businessman.

Nowadays we see his son accompanying him, that is part of his growing up and on field internship .We all would kill to live like that .Won’t we trade to have the tensions that he has instead of worrying about where the next month’s money is going to come from? Such are the lifes and times of Vijay Mallaya-the king of good times.