Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Terminal

There are 2 kinds of movies -> one is the type by MNS which are clever and which make you say "wow" and put your hand to mouth in disbelief and marvel at the man's work.

The other is the accomplished director Steven Spielberg (SS) type where you go to see something you have heard or read about (even fiction like Jurassic Park by Crichton) - For example the Jews and the holocaust, the Normandy Landing or in this case the story of the real life refugee and then when you are watching, the movie warms the cockles of one's heart and if there's some such thing as gladdening the heart and wetting it (much like litmus paper which becomes beautiful upon wetting it with an acidic solution), then this is it!

The Terminal is a massive tribute to the abilities of Spielberg's movie making abilities. He has made a powerful movie about the plight of a man stuck in an airport due to the uncertain status of his country by the time he lands at JFK.

Airport terminals are vast, complex, irritating places. Most people are hassled looking or get there like that. If they aren't, then the airport will ensure that they do. For more on airport terminals, read the first few pages of "The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul" by Douglas Adams for some excellent imagery!

Tom Hanks revels as Viktor Navorski (based on real life character Merhan Nasseri at Charles De Gaulle Airport ]

The almost silly humour of the Charlie Chaplin/Buster Keaton variety plays out albeit in a modern setting in the first 15 mins when Tom Hanks meets the anally retentive Airport Commissioner-to-be played by Stanley Tucci. Again the entertainer in SS surfaces as it is vital to grab your audience in the first 15 mins. Remember the opening sequence in Saving Private Ryan?!

I am betting on Tom Hanks for Best Actor, Stanley Tucci for Best Supporting Actor and one for ...Bryce for Best Actress (from previous blog), strong contenders for the next Oscars.

The Zeta Jones character is also quite real and touches one's heart especially for her interest in historical origins of croissants! And all along, I thought they were Danish having consumed so many of them. Its not everyday you meet someone with such a lifestyle but with such an approach to life.

The Indian & the black characters are stereotypical and may offend a few Indians, but then there are other Indian characters with no lines in the movie, reflective of the changing landscape of the USA. There are some engaging sequences where the Tom Hanks tirelessly parades to the counter where the stamping is done, to try and convey messages from an admirer to the woman who stamps his "Light Green" form with a Red Seal, while receiving the messages. This is great fun to watch.

There is also this amazing setpiece (picked this from my pal, Rishi) where there is an authentic Italian dinner at the Terminal. Absolute heartwarming stuff. Reminscent of the classic humour genre with none of the Roberto Benigni style trivialization (Yo Rishi Yo!).

The details of the inspection process etc, reminds one of the details that one gets to read in Arthur Hailey novels - esp, the stuff on loopholes!

And the ending is vintage Spielberg - absolute deftness. no pandering to public (That's all I'll reveal here).

As another friend put it, one of the characteristics of a great movie is that it points out things in an ordinary setting and subtle human behaviour in situations which you never paid attention to before. This is what I meant by the Spielberg genre of moviemaking

When I had walked into The Terminal, I had high expectations, it being an SS movie and all, the fact that I had seen "The Village", another fantastic movie only days before, notwithstanding.
It is undoubtedly one of the best movies I have seen. The only movie I know which is better than this is "No Man's Land" -> an absolutely stark and rivetting portrayal of life. But then, that's for another blog.


The Village

First I shall write on The Village which I saw 3 days ago and then I shall write on The Terminal which I saw last night.

The Village is testimony to the M Nyattu Shyamalan's (MNS) incredible ability to weave a griiping story abt a small idea. He maintains a taut script while creating a world of his own. In fact the Village reminds one of the book Fahrenheit 451, which is also built on an idea, quite ahead of its time.
Quite a welcome break these days from inane, mindless violent movies such as "Alien vs Predator" masquerading as futuristic stuff! Bovine Excretum (B.E. TM)!!! Like Einstein said once, "I don't know what kind of weapons will be used in the third world war, assuming there will be a third world war. But I can tell you what the fourth world war will be fought with -- stone clubs." The Village is closer to what I think the future would be like rather than what most movies these days portray.

Its difficult to say write more abt this movie, without revealing the plot.

The blind character played by a relative unknown called ...Bryce is fantastically done. There are these 2 consecutive scenes wherein the blind woman's sister proposes to Jaoquim Phoenix and then another one where she reacts to his response. These are reminscent of Hindi films. There is this delightful interlude between father and daughter when she announces that she is in love and then the father says, "Have you told the boy yet?" When she replies in the negative, he tells his daughter that you should tell the boy first!!!

Adrian Brody also essays a fairly offbeat role here. There was a movie with him as a boy in love on Star Movies/HBO recently (Liberty Heights, I think) which had him in a vastly different role than the one we now him by - in The Pianist.

There is a nice cameo by MNS himself.

Good Watch, if one wants to challenge one's creativity!