Monday, August 14, 2006

The 'Memento'us Citizen

Here are two 'must-see' movies that should be on every movie lovers' list


Mind blowing narrative, decent performances and a complex story that happens over different slices of time, keep you hooked till the end to reveal the twist in the tale. If you are into introspection, you may find yourself questioning your own memories and trying to separate the truth from the perceptions that you believe are true, after watching this thriller. Nerve wrenchingly intelligent at times, this is a masterpiece from Christopher Nolan, based on a short story by his brother Jonathan Nolan. Memento is so awesome that you wonder if it is the same Christopher Nolan who revived (if it could be said so) the Batman franchise last year with the very insipid and uninspired “Batman Begins”.

Teaser: Imagine having to live your life without a memory of what happened even five minutes back, a reality that is supported by a few polaroids, scribbled notes and tattoos serving as reminders of what happened in the recent past, a past that is thoroughly distorted and subject to manipulation by those who need you to go their way. How do you know who you are? What are doing here? And who really is the person sitting next to you? Is this today? What is today? What do you do today?

People with normal retention powers can answer these questions right away but what if you are one of those who can’t.

Citizen Kane

The greatest movie of all times….that’s what they say. Finishing comfortably at the top of every movie critic’s list, this movie is said to be unequalled in its concept, conviction and creativity. And that is true. But I had the unmistakable feeling of having missed out on that WOW factor that I would have had, had I seen the movie back in the 1941 when everything about the movie was must have seemed so innovative, so smashing, so experimental and so mind blowing original. But still with that missing factor, the movie stood out as bold, artistic and different.

The one thing that amazed me were the unconventional angles in which the scenes where cinematographed. Yes, for one of the few rare times, I actually felt the astounding power of cinematography as an art, with a strong presence of its own rather than just an aid to the actual story telling. This is the kind of legendary cinematography that makes the images not just impactful but forever entrenched in your visual memory. Gregg Toland, the maestro cinematographer has played around so skillfully with the lights, the shadows, the low angles, the sweeping shots, the blending and the merging and his patented deep-focus shot that it is almost unnerving to imagine what he might have done had he the advantage of our modern day wizardry.

The guy behind it all- Orson Welles, the man, the guts, the brilliance. I had read about how the movie was completed in spite of the extremely trying circumstances manufactured by the media mogul, William Randolph Hearst whose life was the inspiration for Citizen Kane and it made me even more reverent of Welles for his tenacity and spirit for standing by his work uncompromisingly, in the face of these odds. Personally I believe that Hearst and all his generations should be grateful to Welles for immortalizing him in such an unforgettable masterpiece.

There is also a famous story about how Welles unwittingly introduced the concept of controversial movie publicity to Hollywood by threatening to sue RKO (distributors) of dire consequences if they withheld his movie, under pressure from Hearst. As a result he got the audience excited about the movie and the studios to release the movie due to mounting public demand to do so. Anyways that’s just some trivia. What shines through the movie is the sheer courage and undeniable talent of the irrepressible Welles, who also gives a powerhouse performance as Charles Foster Kane, complete with all the nuances. Rest of the cast does well too. Citizen Kane does live up to the hype, but the unmistakable feeling lingers on….

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