Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Alfred Hitchcock's 'Limited-Setting' Films

"To make a great film you need three things - the script, the script and the script."
- Alfred Hitchcock.

There are some exceptional stories along with their story tellers who can amaze you and keep you glued on them by almost nothing except their flow and execution. A fine example of this can be seen in the 'limited-setting' films of Alfred Hitchcock, the great master of thrillers and suspense.

With this films Alfred Hitchcock has clearly proved that big sets, fancy cars, heavy action, etc can be of no match to one good story. Yes, its the script that matters. Its all that is required to amaze the audience. Four of his films can be said to fall in this category - Lifeboat (1994), Rope (1948), Dial M for Murder (1954) and Rear Window (1954). All of these movies have been highly acclaimed. They have been loved by both the audiences as well as the critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives them a rating of 95 %, 97%, 83% and 100% respectively.

Lifeboat (1944), is a brilliant film. The film starts and ends on just a small lifeboat. The storyline is such that in World War II, the German U-boats have attacked and have sunken an American passenger ship. The survivors, very few of them have come aboard a small emergency lifeboat. They come from different backgrounds like one of them is an international journalist, another is a rich businessman, one radio operator, a nurse, a steward, a sailor and an engineer are present. This people have a sole aim now i.e to survive. Things go fine until they save another man from drowning, he turns out to be the German commander of the U-boat that sunk them. Some of them demand to throw him out while some assert the fact that he is now a prisoner of war and should be treated as such, thereby beginning a wave of distrust and conflict on the boat. The story then goes ahead answering the numerous questions that arise in the viewer's minds like - Who are this people? Will they survive? Are they trying enough? Whats on that German's mind? Has he got any plans? How will this people come out of this situation?

Rope (1948), is another great film. It revolves around a party taking place in an apartment in New York. Brandon and Philip, two antagonists of the film murder their friend David just because they feel they are intellectually superior to him and therefore have the right to do so. They think this the perfect murder. They even throw a party to other friends and surprisingly the guest list also includes David's father and his fiancee Janet. And another person, Rupert, their prep-school's housemaster happens to come too. Brandon and Philip have hidden David's body in a wooden chest and they use the same wooden chest as a buffet for the food. Rupert, who is actually quite close to them had discussed these theories of perfect murder with the boys in school but he had in no way meant harm for anyone and remained unaware that the boys would go this far. Now with David's absence, Rupert senses some problem, Brandon appears calm and controlled but doesn't seem normal and Philip is depressed and scared. The story goes ahead with Rupert collecting evidences and how he finds out about the murder and thus hands the boys to the authorities.

Dial M for Murder (1954), was also based in similar settings. Much of the story takes place in an apartment. Tony Wendice discovers about his wife's affair with a writer Mark Halliday. He is so angered that he plans her murder. He exceutes a brilliant plan. He picks up a man named Swann, who happens to be petty criminal and his schoolmate, to murder her. Swann is reluctant but then Tony has left no stone unturned in his plan and has collected enough evidences against Swann to make his life hell. Tony has been anonymously blackmailing her too. As planned, everything goes smooth but for a minor error in achieving a proper timing, the plan fails terribly. It is Margot, his wife who ends up killing Swann in self-defense. Tony has a plan B ready and at once comes back and shifts the evidences like the key and the letter in such a way that now it seems like Swann was blackmailing Margot and she has killed him in cold blood. The rest of the movie continues with the investigation and Mark's efforts to prove Margot innocent.

Rear Window (1954), is the story of Jeff, a reporter who has been injured and is now bound to wheelchair for a few days. Confined within his apartment he has nothing interesting to do. Eventually he takes up the habit of spying his neighbors from the rear window of his apartment. His neighbors include a fun-loving composer, a middle-aged couple with a small dog, a dancer who seems to enjoy practicing her routines while scantily clad, a newly wed couple, a woman who seems to live in a fantasy world, and a salesman and his wife. All of them seem fine until the salesman's wife disappears, which  Jeff notices. Also the salesman has started doing strange things which just increases Jeff's suspicion that the salesman has killed her. He involves his girlfriend and his nurse too in this matter and they devise a plan to catch him red handed. Where has the wife disappeared? Is Jeff right about his discovery? Who is that salesman? Is he dangerous? The movie answers all this questions well.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Fountain

The Fountain released in 2006, is a film which mixes the elements of fantasy, history, religion, and science fiction in a love story. It was written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. The movie consists of a story in three different timelines. One in the 16th century, one in present 21st century and one in 26th century. It starred Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, both of them played different roles in three timelines.

The tree stories in each timeline are shown non linearly. Each story is divided by a gap of around 5oo years. Even the stories aren't told chronologically within their timelines but are told by frequently occurring flashbacks and other recurring visual motifs.

The main theme of the film is the fear and acceptation of mortality. The film takes us on a tour which does not guarantee a clear explanation but nonetheless its a visual treat. Arronfsky's work is very good on the themes and motifs in the story. The performances of Jackman and Weisz are brilliant.

 Jackman as Tomás, the
The movie starts with a 16th century timeline. Tomás is shown to be fighting off horde of Mayans to gain entry into a pyramid, where he is attacked by a Mayan priest with a flaming sword. It is revealed through flashbacks that he has been sent by Queen Isabella who is losing her territory to the Inquisition. She has sent her conquistador, Tomás to find The Tree of Life for his Queen. He goes in search of it to the Central American forest in Mayan territory. The priest has some revelation about him and thinks him to be devine. He offers Tomás to kill him. After that Tomás reaches a garden with a large tree but things don't go as he had expected.

Jackman and Weisz as Tommy and Izzi
The main story or the core story of the film is of the 21st century doctor, Thomas, who is working on a cure for cancer using samples of the "Tree of Life", found through exploration in Central America. He loves his wife very much and he is deeply affected by his wife's brain tumor and is determined to find a cure soon so that he can protect her. His wife has written a book but when she realises that she won't live long enough to finish the final chapter, she gives it to Thomas to complete it. Its a story about a 16th century Queen and her conquistador, Tomás.

Jackman as Tom, the space traveller
The third timeline in the film is of the 26th century. It has only one character, Tom. Tom is a space traveler, an astronaut. He is traveling in a spaceship which is enclosed of biosphere and contains in it the Tree of Life. He is traveling to a golden Nebula of Xibalba for a certain event. Its the Nebula, Izzi had mentioned about to Tommy. That they will meet there when the star would die. Many connections are made to the 21st century story here. Like the ink tatoos made by Tommy, certain conversations. It is somehow implied that Izzi is still alive in the tree and can be brought back to life once they reach the Xibabla. Even here things don't go as planned or expected.

If you wouldn't like it, you may shut it within 10-15 minutes but if you would get into it, then it would be an amazing experience, which you may feel to repeat again and again.

Friday, 2 November 2012

I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK

People can fall in love at anytime and anyplace. Its said that humans are born to love and to be loved. The world has known many love stories both real and fictional through literature, cinema, plays, theater, etc. So it wouldn't be hard to assume that any person can fall in love at any place. As in the Korean film I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK, released in 2006, the love story takes place in a mental asylum. It has been directed by Park Chan-wook. It was written by Park Chan-wook and Seo-Gyeong Jeon.

I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK, is the story of a young girl Young-goon (Lim Soo-jung),  who is mentally ill since her young age but it has not come to the attention of her mother and so she is not treated from the early stage. Young-goon thinks that she is a cyborg, a robot and not a human being. As a child she was very attached to her grandmother who too suffered mental iilness, her grandmother had a belief that she was rat and used to do weird things. When Young-goon's mother and her uncle-aunt sent her grandmother away to an asylum as she was not mentally fit, Young-goon's condition started to fall. 

She believes that she is cyborg with a cause for existence but she doesn't know the cause yet. According to Young-goon - 'the men in white uniforms' took her grandmother away just before she could tell Young-goon her cause for existence.

Another patient in the mental asylum is Park Il-soon (Rain), who has been hospitalized for anti-social behavior and kleptomania. He thinks he can rob the souls of people.
Park Il-soon because of kleptomania has this tendency to rob things, unnecessary things without feeling any kind of guilt or remorse. He is always accused by the other patients during their group therapy sessions for stealing various things. Of course those patients too are insane. A woman who has trouble with storing memories accuses him of stealing her memory, a patient who loses 5 table tennis matches accuses him for stealing his game skills, etc. Its very hilarious.

When Young-goon learns about him she wants his help. Since she believes the hospital staff to be evil - as they are like the men in white who took away her grandmother, she wants revenge. She wants to kill them. But she feels she cannot do so because she has sympathy in her. She asks Park Il-soon to rob away her sympathy so that she can have her revenge. Thus the story of these two starts.

Also Young-goon's health is deteriorating because she is not eating anything. Since she believes that she is cyborg, she does not eat the food thinking that will destroy her internal machinery. 

She only licks batteries as food. Doctors and other find it hard to convince her but its in vain. Park Il-soon does his best to make her eat. The way he convinces her and makes her eat is awesome. The story couldn't have been better.

The story has much more to offer. The final interpretation of Young-goon about her existence through dreams, dangers from pursuing it, Park Il-soon's efforts to save her without letting her know that he is actually protecting her and the end. What an end! A beautiful, innocent and incorruptible love story between two people who aren't in sanity.

The other characters of fellow patients, doctors and Young-goon's mother and grandmother has been developed and shown well. In terms of performance everyone gave their best. The movie currently holds a 90% 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

In a time where cinema is dominated with heavy action scenes, huge blasts, car chases, big conspiracies, etc there are films like Safety Not Guaranteed which still remind us what is it that entertains us. At the end a movie is nothing without a good story, without a simple idea that catches your mind.

Safety Not Guaranteed has been directed by Colin Trevorrow and is written by Derek Connolly. Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, are the main characters of the story. Its a sci-fi comedy-drama which is a complete fun and happy adventure.

The story centers around Darius (Aubrey Plaza), a college graduate who is working as an intern at a magazine. A writer, Jeff (Jake M. Johnson) who works at the magazine has an idea to investigate and write a article about the man who has posted a strange advertisement in a newspaper classified which reads as : 

"Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed."

Jeff chooses Darius and Arnau (Karan Soni), who is a geeky Biology student working as an intern in the magazine just to diversify his resume. And the three set out to Ocean View, Washington to find this person who has posted the advertisement. After working for a while they find out that it has been posted by Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass) who works at a grocery store. Jeff tries to make a contact but Kenneth who appears paranoid sents him away after getting bad vibes about him. Its left for Darius to go and make a contact and pose as a partner for him in his travel. 

Jeff who is also on this trip for his own personal agenda of meeting back his high school love sets out to meet her. Meanwhile Darius makes a good impression on Kenneth and he agrees upon taking her. But this is not concrete or final. She needs to undergo some training and learning and earn his trust. She does it well. Slowly she starts developing a bond with him.

When Kenneth asks her motive to go back she replies back with that she lost her mother due to her mistake and wants to go back and her prevent her death. When she asks Kenneth about his motives he replies back with the death of his love, Belinda.

But Kenneth's intentions don't seem such straight. Its altogether a different story of Belinda, from what he has told. Also some government agents are following him on suspicion. The movies progresses ahead in a brilliant way. 

Is Kenneth claim of his invention true? What is in store for Darius? Why are the government agents following Kenneth? What happens with Jeff and his ex girlfriend? How does Arnau enjoy his being? All these questions have been answered beautifully. And the end - is a class act. A smile on face along with a feeling of content of watching a good film is guaranteed.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa

I am not a big fan of love stories but if asked about the ones that I like, then Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa will surely be in top on my list. The title means 'Will you cross the skies and come?' 

It was written and directed by Gautham Menon. Silambarasan T Rajender and Trisha Krishnan starred in it. The music was composed by A R Rehman. The film's score can be said to be as one of the best scores in Rehman's career.

The movie tells the story of a guy, Karthik (Silambarasan) who wants to be a film maker. Due to some renovation work in his house, his family rents a place for sometime in Jessie's (Trisha Krishnan) house. 

As for most of Indian films, Karthik falls for Jessie at the moment he sees her. The story goes ahead in a way which is very usual and predictable for Indian audience but the style of the director in showing the story is magical. It at once makes us glued to it. The parts of Karthik following Jessie or disclosing his feelings to her or even traveling across the state to see her are very shown very beautifully and with the right emotion. The credit for this goes completely to Silambarasan who has done a superb job in portraying Karthik.

Its not hard to guess the main obstacle in Indian love stories - the girl's father. Also Karthik and Jessie belong to different religions but Karthik does everything he can or any human could ever do to get his love. Somehow fate doesn't shine on him and when it does, its very short lived.

With this he gets an idea to bring out his story on screen. He starts to work on a script and just alters the ending as if he has got his love. Also the reappearance of Jessie in his life again, her story and the different turn of the events amazes the viewer.

The basic story although not new has its moments. There are many scenes which make you laugh or cry, happy or sad. Gautham Menon knows exactly how to show a simple story perfectly, which has been seen previously with his works - Vaaranam Aayiram, Minnale, Kaakha Kaakha,Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu.

The movie was shot and released simultaneously along with its Telgu version Ye Maaya Chesave, which starred Naga Chaitanya and Samantha Ruth Prabhu in the roles of Karthik and Jessie. It was quite successful too. The movie was re made in Hindi as Ekk Deewana Tha, starring Prateik Babbar and Amy Jackson by Gautham Menon but somehow the Hindi version failed to strike the chords with the audience.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Beat That My Heart Skipped

The Beat That My Heart Skipped, original French title De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté, is a French crime-drama film released in 2005. It was directed by Jacques Audiard, a man who knows well how to bring out the internal conflicts within a person on screen. It was a remake of Fingers (1978) but it differed in some ways from the original.

The movie follows the story of Thomas Seyr, played by Romain Duris. Thomas is a real estate broker on the surface but in reality he is a criminal who adopts crooked ways and uses force to make illegal deals in his business. Fabrice (
Jonathan Zaccaï) and Sami (Gilles Cohen) are his business partners. Even his father (Niels Arestrup) is involved in a similar line of works and occasionally asks Thomas for his help. Although Thomas cares and tries to protect his father, his father does not exactly has the same approach towards Thomas.

Thomas on the other hand is also a very talented musician. He plays piano very well just like his mother who was a
concert pianist. Once he meets his mother's manager who remembers Thomas playing well in earlier years and asks him to audition. Thomas accepts immediately and finds a teacher in Miao Lin, who has just arrived in the country and speaks nothing except Chinese and some broken English.

The story goes ahead in a linear narrative with the day-to day events in the life of Thomas. His criminal activities, piano lessons, preparing for audition, affair with the wife of his business partner, caring about his father who has fallen in danger because of some trouble with the Russian Mafia. And towards the end we see a gradual change in Thomas. Thomas is torn between his two lives - crime and music. The ending is good too. Its very real and amazing.

Overall the movie is a good watch. Musically the film hits its goal perfectly in bringing out the emotions with the right kind of music played by the character in the right moods.

The movie was received well. It won a lot of awards and praise, it received Silver Bear at Berlin Film Festival, Best Film in not English language at BAFTA Awards, Best Film at The French Syndicate of Cinema Critics and a lot of César Awards.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Frankenstein : Two Centuries Of Terror

Mary Shelly
Published in 1818, Frankenstein can be considered to be a milestone in the history of English Literature. Written by Mary Shelly, who started writing it when she was just 18 and published at the age of 21, makes it a matter of huge astonishment.

An early step in science fiction, the book made its mark, making people realize the terrors in the way of pursuing the unknown.

The story starts with Thomas Walton, a sailer who has taken a dangerous voyage to the North Pole. Walton comes across two beings, a huge giant like creature who passes from a distance and later a weak man. Walton saves the man, Victor Frankenstein. The two of them bond really well since they both share a passion of pursuing the unknown. But Frankenstein is very skeptical about this passion, he tells his tale to Walton in order to make him aware of the dangers of wandering out in the unknown.

Victor Frankenstein, born in Geneva, has been extraordinarily genius and very curious from his birth. He is fascinated by the works of ancient philosophers and alchemists. When he goes to the university, some people mock him for having wasted time in that 'useless' knowledge and urge him to sing praises of modern sciences. Still Victor holds his stand and starts to work on his dream project of creating 'life'. Victor works for days and nights, he works like a madman. Leaving no stone unturned, not caring about his health, forgetting everything else except his goal, Victor Frankenstein finally succeeds. He creates a  creature, a living organism. But his happiness is short lived. It turns out to be a disaster. Victor falls ill and takes months to recuperate. The creature runs out from Victor's room at its birth.

After many months Victor is finally cured and he returns home when a bad news grips him - his kid brother has been murdered brutally. On returning he sees his 'creation' appearing before him to show him - that its responsible.

The confrontation of the creature or Frankenstein's monster with Frankenstein is the most interesting part, where the monster tells him how he survived after running away on his night of birth/creation. How did he learn to speak & read and many other things. The monster asks Frankenstein to create a female companion for him because he is alone in the world and no one wants to come near him. He assures Victor Frankenstein that he won't cause any more trouble if he would be given a companion. Victor earlier agrees but later starts having second thoughts on again creating another monster. Thus Frankenstein's monster vows a revenge and a bloody feud begins.

There have many movie adaptations of this great novel. Although not many of them are completely based on the novel, they drew many inspirations and took many cinematic liberties. Here I would like to mention about two such movies.

Frankenstein (1931) is a movie, which is much different then the novel. But it has the same core idea. In this movie even the first names of the lead character in the novel (Victor) has been interchanged with his friend (Henry).
It shapes the story into a simple linear narrative eliminating many inter-stories and characters from the novel.
The role of Frankenstein's monster was played by Boris Karloff, who went on to reprise this role for two sequels later - Bride OF Frankenstein (1935) and Son Of Frankenstein (1939).
The movie took many cinematic liberties to adapt the story into the screen in a time when attempting to make such a movie was very difficult. But still it was fruitful and the audiences then and even now experience the same wonder watching it.

Another movie, Frankenstein (also known as Mary Shelly's Frankenstein) released in 1994 is worth a watch. It was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also played the lead character - Victor Frankenstein. The role of Frankenstein's monster was played by Robert De Niro.
Proper justice was done to the sets and settings, wardrobe, etc to make the flow of the story smooth and understandable.
The film stuck to the novel in many ways but it took some liberties to make the story more interesting and appealing. It followed the structure of the novel and had almost all the characters and settings except for a few eliminations.
Although the critical reviews were mixed, Robert De Niro's portrayal of Frankenstein's monster was appreciated.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A Bronx Tale

A Bronx Tale, released in 1993, marks the directorial debut of the great actor Robert De Niro. It was written by Chazz Palminteri,  based on his one-man-show of the same name. Palminteri had written this one man show which was inspired from his own experiences in childhood. The show was quite succesful and had attracted many studios and producers but Palminteri had a condition before selling out the rights - that he would play the role of Sonny LoSpecchio.

Its the story of a young Italian-American boy, Calogero 'C' Anello who has two important but very much opposite sided father figures in his life. Out of which one is his father, Lorenzo Anello played by Robert De Niro and other, Sonny LoSpecchio played by Chazz Palminteri. The story is set in 1960s in the The Bronx, New York. Lorenzo, the father of Calogero is a simple and honest man who works hard for a living and wants to give his son a better life. On the other hand, Sonny LoSpecchio is the local mafia boss.

Calogero with his father
The story starts with a murder Calogero witnesses, when he is nine years old. It is Sonny who has done it in the broad day light. When the police question Calogero, he keeps quiet. Sonny starts to like the kid with every passing day and hangs out with him. Sonny even offers Lorenzo a better job offering more money which Lorenzo declines. Lorenzo, an honest and law abiding man, wants a peaceful and lawful life and tries to keep his son away from criminals.

Years pass on, Calogerro now a young seventeen year old is still under the influence of Sonny by meeting him secretly without the knowledge of his father. Sonny acts like a father figure to Calogero and brings him up well. Soon, Calogero falls for an African-American girl. They go out on a date, inspite of knowing the tensions between Italians and the Blacks in their area. For the date, Calogero asks for advice from both his father as well as Sonny. Sonny even lets Calogero take his car.  
Grown up Calogero with Sonny

Ahead are some events and turns to the story which make it worth a watch. The end is well executed. A perfect father-son story and a movie which shows the importance of father figures in life.

Robert De Niro showed some impressive skills inspite of this film being his first directorial venture.  The film holds 96% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, calling it "a very funny movie sometimes, and very touching at other times. It is filled with life and colorful characters and great lines of dialogue, and De Niro, in his debut as a director, finds the right notes as he moves from laughter to anger to tears. What's important about the film is that it's about values."

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

White Heat : A Classic Gangster Movie

White Heat, released in 1949, is a classic gangster film. It is one of the greatest crime thrillers ever made. The movie was directed by Raoul Walsh. The screenplay was written by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts based on a story by Virginia Kellogg. It starred the legendary actor James Cagney.

James Cagney plays the role of Cody Jarrett who is a brutal criminal and very much attached and depended on his mother 'Ma' Jarrett (Margaret Wycherly). In spite of being married to Verna (Virginia Mayo), he doesn't trust her. The other characters are US Treasury Investigator Philip Evans (John Archer) and undercover agent Hank Fallon (Edmond O'Brien) who goes under the name Vic Pardo.

The movie starts with a train robbery scene which has gained quite an appreciation over the years. When police come across during it, Cody fires and injures Philip Evans. Then later to avoid getting caught and being imprisoned for these heavy charges, Cody surrenders and confesses to a smaller crime committed by an associate during the same time, which serves as his alibi to this bigger crime.

Officer Philip Evans, decides to play smart and places Hank Fallon as Cody's cell mate to gain his trust. Philips's main task is to find 'The Trader' , who is a bigger fish and launders Cody's money. Fallon assumes the name of Vic Pardo on this mission. Cody's gang member Big Ed turns out to be dishonest and ambitious and tries to murder Cody in prison by assigning the job to another inmate but Vic's timely intervention saves Cody and thus Vic gains Cody's trust. Cody starts to worry about himself and his mother and thus breaks out of the prison with Vic to deal with Big Ed and continue with his usual robberies.

The story goes ahead in such a way that one cannot help but get glued to the screen. The robberies, the character of trader, the end sequence at the chemical plant with Cody's famous quote, 'Made it, Ma! Top of the world!', just before he gets blown up are shown brilliantly.

The movie was received very well. It is in Time Magazines list of top 100 films of all times. It has a 100 % fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.
The American Film Institute (AFI) too has honored it. AFI lists Cody Jarrett as the 26th greatest villain in its list of AFI's 100 years...100 Heroes and Villains. Its also ranks 4th in the AFI's 10 Top 10 list in top ten gangster films. Cody's famous quote, 'Made it, Ma! Top of the world!' ranks at 18th in the list of AFI's 100 years..100 Movie Quotes.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Dollars Trilogy by Sergio Leone

An admirer of the Western Genre of films would always know how great the contribution of Sergio Leone to this genre was.
If you are fascinated by people who wear Stetson hats, bandannas, spurs, & buckskins and use revolvers or rifles as everyday tools of survival, and ride between dusty towns, then these films are definitely for you.
Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy is an epic one . Clint Eastwood appears as The Man With No Name in these three films.They are some of the finest films of Eastwood's career. The films are realistic and portray real human emotions with the artistic form of Leone's direction. Each film has its distinct story and its setting, our main character, The Man With No Name is generally portrayed as an outsider, a mercenary or a bounty hunter, or even an outlaw. The three films released in this trilogy were A Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

A Fistful Of Dollars was the first movie in the trilogy and introduced the us to this character, the man with no name/stranger. The movie starts with our stranger arriving in a town and befriending an inn-keeper who briefs him about the crime structure in that town.  He learns that there are two families who are constantly in feud to wipe each other out and be the sole controllers of the town.
The man with no name immediately sees this situation as an opportunity to make a fortune for himself. He attempts to get involved in both the families and play them against each other, thus making out a win-win situation for himself.
The movie was executed and presented well and had many other elements to its story which made it more entertaining.

For A Few Dollars More has two main characters - our Stranger and the other Colonel Douglas Mortimer, portrayed as bounty hunters. They are in pursuit of the same fugitive named El Indio ("The Indian"). They both are trying to trace him from place to place and one day come across each other. Initially reluctant, they agree to unite in their quest for El Indio.
They trace him to a town, where is planning a huge bank robbery. Mortimer convinces our Stranger to join Indio's gang and keep a track of him. The robbery, Mortimer's personal anger towards Indio and other things form the latter part.
A rightful successor to the first movie, For A Few Dollars More turned out to be no less then what was expected of it. A complete entertainer which has its moments.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, is in no doubt the best movie in this trilogy. It takes you out on a cinematic adventure. Its the story of three guys - Tuco (Eli Wallach), Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), Blondie(Clint Eastwood).
Angels Eyes comes to know about a treasure through his weird assignments of killing people for money. Tuco, a bandit is on the flee and a huge bounty is on his head when Blondie captures him and hands him over. But Blondie later frees Tuco and divides the share from the bounty. One day Blondie ends the partnership and leaves Tuco in the middle of a desert, angering him.
When Tuco later tracks Blondie down to kill, something unexpected happens. Through a series of events they come to know about the treasure but in such a way that they both know only the half of secret each and to get it they must work together. So Tuco cannot kill Blondie now.
Later they are captured and come across Angel Eyes who is now in power and thus the three form an alliance. But will this continue? Would it all go well? The answer lies in this great movie. The Mexican Standoff at the end is well executed and this movie would go down in the history of Westerns as one great epic.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Soak No More

'SOAK NO MORE', shouted the young and wise, Hari. All the remaining seven donkeys shouted back with him.

'A long time ago there was a salt merchant. He used to get very irritated with his lazy donkey. One day while doing his usual work of carrying loads of salt on his back the lazy donkey fell down in a stream. The salt on his back dissolved, thus the load was gone and the donkey walked out joyfully, devising a  wicked plan for many such journeys to come. The lazy donkey continued to do so many times and he would walk back happily. The merchant although unsuspecting at first, understood this act and decided to teach the lazy donkey a lesson.'

Dharampur was flourishing day by day since the Independence, it was the year 1950. Since the British had left the country there was a lot of scope for the Indians to develop and prosper. One such villager was Shyamlal, a merchant in Dharampur. He bought and sold almost everything that he could get in his hands and make profit. Automobiles had yet to make their way in the lives of the Indians of that era so mostly people depended on animals. But this is not a story of Shyamlal or Dharampur, nor has it got anything to do with the Indians or British, it is the story of the DONKEYS.

'The salt merchant one day fed up with the cunning nature and the laziness of his lazy donkey thought of putting an end to this act. He packed the same quantity of load but this time it was of 'cotton' and not salt as usual on the back of the donkey. Today instead of sending his usual servant to accompany the donkey he decided to go himself. The stupid donkey didn't realize what was stored in for him' 

Shyamlal owned eleven donkeys for transportation of goods from his storehouses/godowns to the markets. Out of the eleven there were three cruel donkeys - Santhu, Biju and Lala. These three donkeys were the strongest and the cunning of the eleven owned by Shyamlal. They used their power and cunning tactics to oppress the other donkeys. They never worked hard in fact they didn't work at all. It was the other donkeys who suffered but they could do nothing since they were scared of these three.

'As the stream approached the donkey knew what he had to do. A cunning smile appeared on his face. He didn't care if it was his merchant and not the usual servant who was accompanying him. He staged his jump in the stream as if it was an accident but the merchant knew better.'

Hari, was a young and clever donkey. He was very idealistic and kind. He had a crave for learning. Watching humans he had understood that the only way to progress and improve life was to get educated. Babu, son of Shyamlal sometimes took Hari to school and used to tie Hari outside the school, it was good enough for Hari because he could hear the voice of the teacher teaching inside, thus Hari was the only donkey to get educated. Hari also learned that the three donkeys - Santhu, Bijju and Lala who said that they were from England were lying and also that India had got independence three years back. So now even if Santhu and the other two were from England there was no need to be afraid of them because if India was free then so were the INDIAN DONKEYS !!

'The moment the donkey jumped in, he realized what trouble he had put himself in, the cotton on his back just 'SOAKED' in more water and grew heavier. So it was difficult for him to walk, the merchant witnessing this, came down and starting hitting the donkey to walk ahead, continuing the journey with the increased load on his back. Thus the lazy donkey learned his lesson.'

One day the Babu's teacher was telling the students the story of 'The Salt Merchant And His Lazy Donkey', Hari was within the distance to hear it. He at once understood what needed to be done. But he wanted the story to end differently in his case.
The day Hari awaited finally occurred, Shyamlal had bought a new big godown and wanted to shift some stuff in it. As usual the three cruel donkeys declared that it would be the other donkeys who would carry out all the heavy things but Hari had something better in his mind. he divided the load in such a way that the eight donkeys had to carry five times more then the three cruel donkeys which pleased Santhu, Biju and Lala. But Hari made sure that those three donkeys carried nothing else on their back except 'cotton'.
On the day of moving too, he convinced everyone that it would be wiser to take the road from the bridge across the river. After the three donkeys left, he called in other donkeys and told them about his plan. After telling them what was in his mind, he shouted, 'SOAK NO MORE, we have soaked enough because of them, its their turn to be soaked now.' Everyone agreed.
'SOAK NO MORE', shouted the young and wise, Hari. All the remaining seven donkeys shouted back with him.

On the way while moving, when the donkeys came on the bridge, Hari along with the two other donkeys took positions besides - Santhu, Biju and Lala. At the signal of Hari, the donkeys pushed the trio into the river, the light weight of cotton on their back now suddenly increased. Hari smiled to himself, the river was deep and the donkeys had fallen in the middle of the river, so in a matter of few seconds or maybe a couple of minutes they would be drowned. Santhu, Biju and Lala, looked up and found all other donkeys enjoying at their dying sight, they kept praying for a miracle while muttering to the load of cotton on their backs to SOAK NO MORE please, because the weight of that cotton kept pulling them down in the river and thus caused their death.
Shyamlal was sad because he lost his three donkeys. Three years ago he had been very happy on this day when India got her Independence. But somehow the happiness of opening a new big godown surpassed the sadness of losing those three donkeys.
Hari went back to the other donkeys and said, 'Happy Independence Day.'
The era of soaking had been finished. Now they would have to SOAK NO MORE !!

This story is my entry for The Surf Excel Matic #SoakNoMore Contest at Indiblogger.